Tuesday, January 22, 2013

#626: 25 Really Lame "Pop" Albums

OK, here's 25 really lame "pop" albums, a sorta companion-piece 2 that last list I posted. There R likely 2 B some repeats from that "Worst!" list of Strange Music albums I posted awhile back, but I've tried 2 think a little farther out than that -- some of these actually date back 2 my record store daze when I was hearing more lame music than I can even remember.
These R listed in more-or-less descending order of ... er ... "quality."
I know you've all been waiting patiently -- on with the show!

- Bangles: EVERYTHING -- 4 decent songs outta 13, & that's counting the nursery-rhyme-simple "Eternal Flame," a song Barry Manilow woulda been thrilled 2 sing. My picks R the dreamy "I'll Set You Free," the gutsy "Be With You," & "Glitter Years." The rest is sludge. The rousing outtake "Everything I Wanted" sure woulda helped. This superb pop band shouldn't have let the songwriting pressures get 2 them....
- Billy Joel: GLASS HOUSES -- His "New Wave" album, worth it all 4 the great "All for Leyna," which I couldn't get any radio stations 2 play, back in my record store daze. Mosta the rest died from overplay, if it wasn't already DOA. "You May Be Right" is at least funny, "Sometimes a Fantasy" isn't COMPLETELY terrible....
- Little River Band: FIRST UNDER THE WIRE, TIME EXPOSURE -- The definition of "average." There's a handful of good songs here: "Lonesome Loser," "Cool Change," "Take it Easy on Me." But the rest is so smooth & mainstream it's completely boring & forgettable. & producer George Martin's smoothing-out is about the last thing they needed....
- Spooky Tooth: SPOOKY TWO -- "Feelin' Bad" is classic late-'60s British rock with great group-vocal choruses, & "Hangman, Hang My Shell on a Tree" isn't bad. But the rest is flat & dull -- Xcept 4 "Evil Woman," a mean-woman blooze which is SO over-the-top you gotta hear it 2 believe it. Led Zeppelin was listening....
- Gentle Giant: GIANT FOR A DAY -- Well, they were TRYING 2 go pop, here. This actually isn't terrible, 30 years later. But it IS lame compared 2 their earlier, classic stuff. & the New Wave-influenced herky-jerky title song is REALLY annoying.
- Styx: PARADISE THEATER -- Heavy-handed & obvious concept album about The Good Old Days, with none of the flash or enthusiasm that made "Lorelei" such an infectious hit. There's no "Fooling Yourself" here, or even a "Why Me?" But "Too Much Time on My Hands" & "Snowblind" R almost camp classics.
- Journey: DEPARTURE -- "People and Places" is a great lost prog-rock track. But the rest is cliched & obvious, & it was a big hit of course.
- Rare Bird: EPIC FOREST -- 2 best songs R the artiest, "Birdman" & the title track, which shoulda Bcome prog-rock classics. The rest is absolutely flat, uninspired British pop-rock of the least noticeable kind. Not BAD, just BORING. Now available at Goodwills everywhere 4 99 cents....
- Heart: BEBE LE STRANGE -- Their albums have ALWAYS been uneven, but this 1 was all over the place, from the brilliant "Rocking Heaven Down" (worth putting on a best-of) 2 Ann Wilson's annoying screaming on "Break," & the lame "Even it Up." They were lucky they got another chance....
- Blondie: AUTOAMERICAN -- I keep this 4 the gorgeous ghost story "Angels on the Balcony" ... & maybe 4 "Rapture," in my more perverse moments. But the rest is so arty & twisted.... There R nice group vocals on "T-Birds" & OK moments in "Go Through It" & "Do the Dark," but the rest is numbing. What happened 2 this fun, punchy pop band? & was THE HUNTER even worse...?
- The Who: IT'S HARD -- Apart from the dull "Eminence Front" & the silly "Athena," there's nothing memorable here. No future TV-show themes.
- Beach Boys: FRIENDS -- Best is the wordless roller-rink music of "Passing By." Dennis Wilson's "Be Still" & "Little Bird" R OK, but they're fragments. As is the pleasant 30-second opener "Meant for You." Mosta the rest is lighter than the lighter-than-air "Anna Lee the Healer." Brian's "Busy Doing Nothing" is Xcruciatingly boring. "Diamond Head" & "Transcendental Meditation" R just awful. Avoid.
- Steely Dan: GAUCHO -- The title song is a CLASSIC worthy of their BEST OF, & "Third World Man" is a nice moody sleeper, but the rest is lethargic & spineless, & I don't care how SMOOTH it is. Some talent consumed by drugging & drinking.
- Genesis: DUKE -- They were trying 2 go pop, but "Turn it on Again" is as good as it gets, & the rest is even slower than the sludgy "Misunderstanding." Most of the music is murky & tuneless, & I got lost well B4 the end of Side 2. Suprising that they came back with the mostly clear & straight4ward ABACAB a year later....
- Asia: (1ST) -- Speaking of obvious.... "Heat of the Moment" & "Only Time Will Tell" sound better now, but. Can't believe I actually BOUGHT this when it came out. I was fooled by the idea of a prog-rock supergroup, 2. This ain't prog. & I thot John Wetton was GREAT when he was with King Crimson....
- Fleetwood Mac: BEHIND THE MASK -- I hoped that the pop lift from this would help me get thru my 2 years in Turkey, but without Lindsey Buckingham's off-the-wall weirdness it was unbelievably dull & flat. Only the hypnotic "In the Back of My Mind" made NE kind of impression. & was their later TIME actually worse? Don't know -- never heard a note of it.
- Coldplay: A RUSH OF BLOOD TO THE HEAD -- The worst album by any "major" Grammy-award-winning musical act ever? 1 great song, "Clocks." The rest yields not even 1 decent musical hook or phrase worth hearing again. What's all the fuss about?
- Keane: UNDER THE IRON SEA -- A great little punchy sweet-pop trio adds guitar & Gets Arty. & other than the too-brief opener "Is it Any Wonder?," the result is murky boredom. Did they ever do a 3rd album?
- Moody Blues: SUR LA MER, KEYS OF THE KINGDOM, STRANGE TIMES -- 3 decent songs over 3 albums? They shoulda retired after THE PRESENT. KEYS has NO memorable songs at all....
- Boston: WALK ON -- Not a single memorable song. What happened? & did NE1 ever hear CORPORATE AMERICA?
- The Knack: GET and BUT THE LITTLE GIRLS UNDERSTAND -- "Power Pop" should never have been this slimy & smarmy. But Capitol Records pushed it & millions of people bought in. There might have been maybe 1 or 2 songs on GET THE KNACK that I could stand -- can't even remember titles, now. 1 of the slow, insincere ballads, maybe? Definitely NOT "My Sharona" or "Good Girls Don't." & LITTLE GIRLS was even worse....

(Christopher Cross's (1ST) album would normally B Xpected 2 appear in a list like this, but I actually liked at least 3 songs on that album -- "I Really Don't Know Anymore," "Poor Shirley" & "Minstrel Gigolo." & tho I haven't played it much since 1980, the rest of the album -- tho definitely mainstream MOR -- at least seemed a little livelier than the Little River Band albums listed above....)

OTHER DISHONORABLE MENTIONS (added 24 Jan 13, 12:30 pm -- hey, it's a work in progress....):
Doobie Brothers -- ONE STEP CLOSER.
Little River Band -- BACKSTAGE PASS/LIVE.
Foreigner -- 4, HEAD GAMES.
Journey -- EVOLUTION.

Recent Xcellent late-nite listening:
Fleetwood Mac -- Hypnotized.
Icehouse -- Great Southern Land.


R S Crabb said...

Hey Tad, invading my record collection again?

I know we both our disagreements on Asia or Glass Houses but I find those albums to be worth a listen although classic rock ran both albums' hit singles into the ground. In my later years I have to come to enjoy Billy Joel's stuff but will never stoop down so low to buy the odious Piano Man ever.

By the time Walk On came out from Boston that everybody gave up on them. I come to find that album kinda bland, Corporate America was an improvement, at least Brad Delp sang on a few numbers but out of all the Boston albums, that was seems to be their odd ball album. Especially when the girl singer does a folk number.

Departure from Journey has its charm but this is where Steve Perry begins to really oversing on some of the songs on here. They got more popluar with each album but i simply got bored with them, including Escape, their 1981 breakthrough to which you can't escape Don't Stop Believein' or Open Arms.

And I'm still trying to figure out how the hell I got three Coldplay albums in my archives section. I keep telling myself to listen to the new one but I simply forget to do that whenever the moment comes up. In fact, I better throw that CD in my case to listen to at work come tomorrow or i'll forget again ;)

Perplexio said...

I love love love Icehouse's "Great Southern Land."

I'd argue it ranks up there with Men At Work's "Down Under" and Goanna's "Solid Rock" as the quitessential Australian song.

About 2 years back I made a mix CD of music from Down Under featuring only Aussie and Kiwi bands. I started it off with Split Enz's "I Got You" and closed it out with Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over."

Kiwi band, Dragon, got the best representation on that mix CD with 3 songs ("April Sun in Cuba," "Still In Love With You", and "Rain") not to mention a solo track from their late lead vocalist, Marc Hunter ("Big City Talk").

Icehouse's "Great Southern Land" also made the cut as did a "solo" version of "Down Under" by Colin Hay backed by Latin horn band Cecilia Noel and the Wild Clams.

Perplexio said...

PS: Speaking of Fleetwood Mac (your other Late Night Listening...) I've had Lyndsey Buckingham's "Trouble" and "Go Insane" stuck in my head for close to a week now. I can't complain though as I know there are far worse songs that I could have stuck in my head... There's something about Buckingham's guitar work on "Trouble" that's subtly delightful.

TAD said...

Thanx Plex, thanx Crabby.
Plex, I'm suprised you didn't jump on me about my LRB "issues." They've done some good stuff -- I'm a sucker for "It's a Long Way There" & "Happy Anniversary" & "Help is on its Way," & even summa the later stuff. But then I thot they blanded out....
Haven't heard much by Buckingham solo that has really grabbed me, "Go Insane" was OK -- except 4 his "Holiday Road," which is REALLY simple, but it's freaking GREAT....
Thanx 4 commenting, guys.

R S Crabb said...

Hey TAD,
Forgot about LRB, had First Under The Wire years ago and outside of Lonesome Loser and The Rumour, rest of it just bored me to tears. I still have the Greatest Hits but it's more of a dust collector than anything else. Didn't like the John Farnham albums after Time Exposure, whatever they were reaching for they fell flat on their faces.

I'll say this, Monsoon, their 1988 comeback album is I think their best studio album since Glenn Shorrock returned and the songs were much better, next album Get Lucky was pretty bland and forgettible. LRB is still around but since Shorrock isn't singing with them, Wayne Nelson is the only remainding dude from the glory days and I think they played the Casino circuit a few times.