Back in JANUARY, I summarized the first half of the book Kill Your Idols, edited by Jim DeRogatis and Carmel Carrillo, about classic albums that were overpraised. I promised the rest the following month. Well, the book then disappeared in my home office, until my wife tidied up (mostly HER stuff, I might add), and I found it again.
Patti Smith, Horses. Arista, 1975. By Melanie Haupt.
The writer’s point: I really want to like it, but I just can’t get down with it.
My point: Actually, I tend to agree. I bought this, on LP, and listened to it several times, trying to “get” it, but I don’t.
Bob Marley and the Wailers, Exodus. Island, 1977. By Dave Chamberlain
The writer’s point: overly commercial, not his best effort, lacks fire.
My point: I don’t know the other albums well enough to say, but I enjoy it on its own merits.
Fleetwood Mac, Rumours. Reprise, 1977. By Jim Walsh.
The writer’s point: Actually, I don’t know WHAT the point is. Mostly, how he wants to get a gun so he can kill the members of the band, I think.
My point: I own it on vinyl. There are a few songs on here I actually like (Go Your Own Way) – I know people who would disagree – but I am surprised that it became the utter phenomenon it did.
Paul McCartney, Ram. Capitol, 1971. By Tom Phalen.
The writer’s point: bombastic, over-produced weak songs.
My point: OK, it’s definitely a goofy album, and even at the time of its release, it took some heat, so I’m surprised it’s even included in the book. That said, I enjoyed it well enough, and don’t care that Paul swiped stuff from his previous band.
John Lennon/Yoko Ono, Double Fantasy. Geffen, 1980. By Allison Stewart.
The writer’s point: The album is impossible to separate from the events of December 8, 1980. Lennon’s contributions were moving, if slightly cloying. But Ono’s atonality interrupts even that.
My point: Yes, 12/8/80 is all over it. I liked that John was (finally) comfortable in his skin. And I sorta like Kiss Kiss Kiss. But truth to tell, I haven’t listened to it in so long, that except for the Makin’ Whoopie swipe I’m Your Angel, I can’t even REMEMBER the Yoko songs.
The Sex Pistols, Never Mind the Bollocks…Here’s the Sex Pistols. Warner Brothers, 1977. By Jim Testa.
The writer’s point: Except for Anarchy in the U.K. and God Save the Queen, he’s got the feeling that he’s been cheated.
My point: Agree. I find the rest all but unlistenable.
Dead Kennedys, Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables. Alternative Tentacles, 1980. By Marco Leavitt (of Albany, NY).
The writer’s point: Hard to take because they take themselves so seriously, even when they’re trying to be humorous.
My point: Actually, I’ve never heard of this album.
Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run. Columbia, 1975. By David Sprague.
The writer’s point: The Newsweek/Time hype of this bloated album with characters devolved from his previous releases was muscled by the pre-release of every song to a rock station in Cleveland.
My point: O.K., it isn’t the messianic departure the hype suggested, and maybe is a bit overproduced in that Phil Spector way, but still enjoyable.
Bruce Springsteen, Born in the U.S.A. Columbia, 1984. By Rob O’Connor.
The writer’s point: Springsteen is corny, mundane, and conventional. He doesn’t recognize rock and roll as the rebellious forbidden fruit, and obviously never had a real job in his life. He intentionally misled people into misreading the title song, ripped off the other songs from other artists, and generally panders to his audience. The album sounds like mud.
My point: I was never hot on Dancing in the Dark, but that aside, I think this is an interesting, diverse piece of Americana.
Various Artists, My Greatest Exes. By Carmel Carrillo.
The writer’s point: Since I’m the co-editor of this book, I can write an indulgent chapter about music my ex-girlfriends like and dis them (the songs, and, by extension, the ex-girlfriends).
My point: Not worthy of comment.
Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Imperial Bedroom. Columbia, 1982, By Michael Corcoran.
The writer’s point: It’s trying to be Sgt. Pepper or at least Pet Sounds. Instead the album is bloated and pretentious.
My point: I was totally distracted by this sentence:
I was there when they unlocked the front door at Strawberry Records in Albany, New York, the day Imperial Bedroom came out. I KNEW this guy! He used to write for a variety of publications, some of which he put out himself, that he would drop off at FantaCo, the comic book store I worked at in that time period. Knew his then-girlfriend, too, who was MUCH younger. AND I used to buy albums at Strawberry’s, and at Just A Song, which was virtually in the same space before that.
As for the album, I just didn’t play it all that often. There were three or four great songs that stood out, but the rest, not so much.
U2, The Joshua Tree. Island, 1987. By Eric Waggoner and Bob Mehr.
The writers’ point: U2 hemorrhaged sincerity to produce “one of the most relentlessly banal albums in the pantheon of the greats.”
My point: As early as 1988, I had this album on my 20 desert albums. When I told that to someone, he thought it was too soon to tell. Fair enough; it’s still on my 20-30 desert albums.
Public Enemy, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. Def Jam/Columbia, 1988. By Arsenio Orteza.
The writer’s point: Shrill noise similar to “Chinese water torture” with a 20-year-old message. And racist to boot.
My point: I have never owned this album, so feel unqualified to comment.
Nirvana, Nevermind. Geffen, 1991. By Anders Smith Lindell.
The writer’s point: It “made punk safe for the shopping mall.” The overdone soft/loud schtick wore out its welcome.
My point: This is first album that made me feel old. I thought the lyrics to Smells Like Teen Spirit were laughable or a parody, though I appreciated it musically. Upon more plays, I appreciated it more, though it DOES have too much of that soft/loud schtick.
The Smashing Pumpkins, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. Virgin, 1995. By Rick Reger.
The writer’s point: It was “designed to create the impression of ‘significance’ where, in fact, none existed. The scope of the album isn’t its strength, it’s its “fatal flaw”.
My point: I’ve never owned it, so can’t speak well enough of it.
Radiohead, OK Computer. Capitol, 1997. By David Menconi.
The writer’s point: Completely boring and unmoving, though marketed well.
My point: I bought it. I listened to it thrice. I don’t get it, either, though the last time, I heard it in 2- or 3-song chunks and it was (surprisingly) better.
Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Nonesuch, 2003. By Allison Augustyn.
The writer’s point: Tranquilizing, with a few catchy songs
My point: This was on my “to buy” list -I have other Wilco, which I like – but I haven’t yet.
That’s it, except for About the Contributors, which is a lot of fun, actually, because at least half of them have one or more albums on their Top Ten albums that someone else has royally panned.