Aug 262015

I’ve been on a big Wilco kick the last week or so.  I guess I got kind of egged on by the free download for the new Star Wars album. I’ve been going back and listening to some of their older stuff on Tidal, even though I have everything except the new one on CD. (God, I can’t believe what I’ve turned into — too freaking lazy to dig out my CDs most of the time.)

I’m transported back 20 years ago when A.M.  came out — and remember the collective shrug that greeted its release. I sure didn’t like it much — and thought Son Volt’s Trace kicked its ass.  I still like Trace but have really came around on A.M. in the last 5 years — “Pick Up the Change,”  “Passenger Side,” and “I Thought I Held You” are pretty decent songs. Yeah, it’s straight ahead alt-country, but it holds up. The “hit”  — “Box Full of Letters” — is kind of cute for those of us that wrote or received love letters and remember trying to sort out “merged” album collections after break-ups.

Anyway, can you think of an album you initially dismissed, but have come to appreciate? I look forward to your responses.


  20 Responses to “Albums You Initially Thought Sucked — and Now Like”

  1. Elvis Costello’s King of America was initially only worth it for 2 or 3 songs for me. It took me years to appreciate it for what it was, which was something akin to a Paul Simon album, an artist whose entire body of work and approach to songwriting/recording it took me years to appreciate.

  2. Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, actually. I’d heard it was the greatest thing since sliced bread, and not having heard any Wilco since A.M., I had a really hard time getting a handle on Yankee Hotel and just found it pretentious and conceptually a mistake, taking fairly conventional songs and wantonly making them unattractive and abrasive. It was only later, after I’d heard the rest of Wilco’s discography, that I was able to understand it and recognize it as the masterpiece it is.

    But I still like A Ghost Is Born and Sky Blue Sky better.

  3. I was just listening to Simon for the first time in a long time last night. I think the only CD I have is Graceland but Was streaming some of his stuff and Garfunkel’s Breakaway.

  4. Being There and Summer Teeth are my faves.

  5. ladymisskirroyale

    Back in the mid-80’s, I worked part time at a record store. There was always tons of vinyl (and then tape) compilations brought in to play in the store to highlight a label’s bands. Even after I stopped working there, friends would continue to give me these promotional compilations, and they allowed me to be exposed to quite a bit of music.

    A few years later, I drove cross country to move to Rhode Island and brought my tape collections with me to listen in the car. I dug out some of those compilations and rediscovered a lot of bands that I ended up pursuing more avidly. One of these bands was The Go-Betweens and it was on one of those compilations that I first heard some of their later 80’s things first, like “Streets of Your Town,” which was melodic and accessible. When I had time, I would drive up to Thayer Street in Providence and amble around the large number of record stores there. There was one that had a very cute guy in it, so I would go in and chat with him, and look for music that might be interesting. I came across another tape by The Go-Betweens, “Metal and Shells.” Unfortunately, after I bought it and started to listen to it, the songs drove me crazy with their “Borgesian multiplicity of obscure time signatures”, Robert Forster’s emotional keening, and all that noise, noise, noise. I put the tape away for years.

    Fast forward to one my “I’m bored, I don’t have anything to listen to” phases, and I pulled out the tape and started listening to it again. Instead, I heard Jangle Pop, great lyrics, and two very different alternating singing styles. “Metal and Shells” turned out to be a semi-obscure rerelease through Jem Records, and a compilation of tracks from the first three Go-Betweens albums. As Mod knows, the Go-Betweens is one of my Holy Trinity of Rock, and that album helped me really get to know some of my favorite musicians and songs.

  6. I’m certain it’s a common one, but Trout Mask Replica really threw me for a loop at first. The weird thing is, I had already bought and really liked Lick My Decals Off, Baby, which was pretty far out there. I think a big part was the density, particularly of the leadoff song, “Frownland”, which sounds like a piece of granite. I put it away for a couple of months but liked it when I got back to it and haven’t stopped listening since.

    Another record that took me a while to warm up to was the Mekon’s Rock’n’Roll, probably for similar reasons. I liked the Virgin Albums and early singles, but wasn’t really paying attention when they regrouped in the mid-80’s and started with their faux-country phase. After reading a lot about how great the new-revitalized version was, I finally bought Rock’n’Roll on one of my used CD searches. I didn’t like the sound at all and couldn’t begin to get past it, thinking it was some weird blend of shrill and sludge. A while later, could’ve been a year, I heard a pretty minor track from it, “Cocaine Lil”, and something clicked, The mix seemed totally slapdash, but in a good way, as if they just randomly pushed up the faders and let it happen. I’m not sure why, but this totally unlocked my appreciation for them and they’re a band I now listen to more than any other. There is, however, an alternate version of “Memphis Egypt”, (the actual title of the title song probably better known as “Rock’n’Roll”), on one of their Hen’s Teeth compilations, that I prefer to the album version, mostly because it is better sounding and more weird, with some of the synthesizer noises dominating the sound.

    I provide the link below for Mr. Mod, who I believe mentioned jeans-busting aged Peavey amped guitarists in his complaints about the sound of the original version. I think this is a big improvement…and I love the original.

  7. BigSteve

    The Mekons Rock n Roll was one I was thinking of even before I read geo’s post. Now the Mekons are one of my favorite groups, but at first I couldn’t hear why that album, which was the first thing I believe I had heard by them, was so highly touted.

  8. I can’t wait to check out your link and expound on my feelings re: the Mekons as well as my first experience hearing “Frownland.”

  9. I need to check out their back catalog. Found this playlist on Soundcloud.

  10. I dig Sally Timms!

    When the Roses Bloom Again

    Laura Cantrell also does a fantastic version of this one.

  11. Geo, I’ve told RTH story of my introduction – by you – to Captain Beefheart before but it has taken me (gasp!) 43 years to learn that you had some difficulties with it as well.

  12. ladymisskirroyale

    Cool! I got the vinyl of this for Christmas. Songs from this that are also on “Metal and Shells” include Cattle and Cane (one of my favorite songs ever), Bachelor Kisses, Part Company, As Long As That, and Unkind and Unwise. That compilation gives you a good sense of the early Go-Betweens.

  13. ladymisskirroyale

    Sally Timms is the Bomb! The Mekons “So Good It Hurts,” is another favorite album of mine, and is from that Discovering Myself in Providence phase.

  14. ladymisskirroyale

    I’d agree. I couldn’t get into it after “So Good It Hurts,” but like it nonetheless.

  15. 2000 Man

    I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of days and for some reason it seems like a really hard question. I kind of either like a band at some point in their career or I don’t, so I either just don’t like them in general or I like a cluster of albums (or more). I remember I bought The Replacements’ Pleased to Meet Me way back when it came out but I bought a bunch of things that day and somewhere in there was something I really liked and I either never played it or gave it such a cursory listen that I totally ignored them until they were long gone. I like them an awful lot these days, and have for a long time and that’s usually what I remind myself of if I feel I’m buying too many records at once. I love Pleased to Meet Me and that’s probably my favorite Replacements album. If just seems like exactly where they should have wound up after Let It Be and Tim.

    Within the last decade I’ve reevaluated Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Old Fogey switch seems to have budged a little and I have been genuinely enjoying their original lineup. Those are much better records than I ever gave them credit for. I will also grudgingly admit to liking Aerosmith through Rocks. I actually saw them way back when and they sucked like I imagined they would, but either nostalgia or the Old Fogey switch moved enough for me to let those first four albums in in spite of how utterly awful they’ve become since.

  16. misterioso

    It’s scary, but I seem to find my own views of Skynyrd mellowing somewhat as well. No real explanation for this.

    There’s nothing grudging about my regard for Aerosmith up through Rocks, but my God, what a catastrophic falling off there was after that. And I know we’re supposed to accept that they righted the ship with Permanent Vacation, and I guess on one level they did, but who can actually listen to those records?

  17. tonyola

    It took a raft full of songwriters, song doctors, producers, and studio musicians to right the Aerosmith ship for Permanent Vacation. The results speak for themselves.

  18. 2000 Man

    I think Tyler’s moved on. Now he’s got over 8 million views on his country song. I think he’s made of plastic, though. He sure looks like he’s plastic anyway.

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