Over .500

 Posted by
May 152012

What major rock acts, with 8 or more studio releases, have a “winning percentage” over .500 through the course of their career? In other words how many acts with 8 or more studio releases had more great–good albums than stinkers in their career? Only studio albums will be computed: no comps, no hits or outtakes collections, no live albums, etc. All eligible studio records released under the band’s name count, even those stinkers that may have been released following the departure/death of key members.

I would have to guess that the Beatles would probably be a rare act that hit close to 1.000 (ie, 100% great–good albums).


  81 Responses to “Over .500”

  1. cherguevara

    Talking Heads might be contenders. I think I was supposed to revisit “Naked,” now that I think of it… but generally their stuff fell off for me starting with “Little Creatures,” which is #6 of 8.

    Also, I think XTC makes the cut if, especially if you allow the Dukes stuff in.

  2. Led Zeppelin managed seven good-to-great studio albums in a row, with only the eighth (In Through the Out Door) betraying any real weaknesses. However, even that one has a few enjoyable high points.

  3. I agree they belong in the near-.1000 club, although I think Presence is the turd in the bunch.

  4. trigmogigmo

    Longevity’s a bitch, eh? Skimming my collection there are very few acts with 8 albums (let alone that I have), and it’s the later albums that usually bring down the average. There are only few artists I like so much that I even keep and appreciate the clunkers. I’m grading harshly, with a “miss” for an album that I enjoy listening to that just has too many skippables.

    Cheap Trick have 13.5 studio albums. I would give them about a .600.

    What’s Bowie lifetime average? Must be good — his ’90s output alone is a solid .500 despite being way past his “prime”.

    Non-solo Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers have, I think, 11 at bats. They were batting 1.000 for the first seven, but since then, despite a few good swings and cracks of the bat, I have to admit they are not beating the throw to first. .636.

    Stan Ridgway is at least .625.

  5. tonyola

    King Crimson is a long-lived band that maintained a very high batting average, with only a couple of genuinely weak albums. It helps that they’ve released only 13 real studio albums since 1969.

    I was going to include Yes and Paul Simon for they’ve both had a fairly impressive string of albums at their peak. However, they also suffer from the longevity’s-a-bitch that trigmogigmo mentioned and have loaded their catalogs with later and weaker stuff.

  6. diskojoe

    I think the Kinks are a .565 band (13 for 23), with their core great years as being from The Kinks Konterversy to Muswell Hillbillies, w/a good streak from Schoolboys in Disgrace to Word of Mouth.

    That’s a gincy illustration that Mr. Mod put up. However, he didn’t mention the article that inspired me:


  7. alexmagic

    I think some of the average being thrown around may indicate that the Rock Mendoza Line needs to be higher than baseball’s .200 – maybe that .500 is the bottom line for passable? – or that we need to explore the good-to-bad ratio of some of the outlying albums for these artists with more depth to see if they really count as hits.

  8. tonyola

    The ’80s threatened Bowie’s average for sure, but he did make a nice comeback in the 1990s.

  9. 2000 Man

    How do you pick out the turd in that bunch?

  10. 2000 Man

    The Stones had no albums I actively disliked until A Bigger Bang. So they’re batting real high if you ask me. If you want a more balanced perspective, I’d say up through Tattoo You (there’s only 6 studio albums after that) that those albums are pretty much great accross the board, and a good percentage are essential to any serious collection (not that mine’s very serious but I think that’s what Christgau would say).

    Love ’em or hate ’em, Steely Dan has nine studio albums and the only one that isn’t super cool is Everything Must Go. If you like them, then they’ve been really good to their fans. Toss in Donald Fagen’s The Nightfly for a stolen first base!

  11. hrrundivbakshi

    Merle Haggard has released a grillion albums, but there are only a small number of real stinkers in there. I haven’t heard them all, but I’d be willing to bet he’s batting at *least* .500.

  12. Out of Bob Dylan’s 34 studio albums (as listed on wikipedia), at most 10 are generally considered to be bad. .706. Neil Young’s about the same.

  13. trigmo, you’ve always been one of the nicest Townspeople around, but this may have clinched your title as Nicest Townsperson Around. Taste is clearly taste, so I’m not qualified to comment on Cheap Trick, but Mad props! to you and tonyola for your ability to listen to and enjoy Bowie’s albums from the last 30 years:)

  14. I’m only counting 11 hits for the Kinks, may 12 if I go easy on Schoolboys in Disgrace.

  15. Bowie’s .680 if you treat everything from Tonight to Hours as the only duds.

    I love Cheap Trick, but I give ’em .471.

  16. I can’t go by “conventional wisdom” or “critical acclaim” when it comes to Dylan. I’ve got to rely on my ears. Including The Basement Tapes I’m counting 12 or 13 albums I personally feel are good to great.

  17. Harsh but admirable. If you’re giving Lou Reed a better average, though, I might call bullshit.

  18. diskojoe

    You know, I tried to be objective about it, but I did include Everybody’s In Show Biz since it was one of my first Kinks albums & it has one of my favorite Ray Davies songs, “Hot Potatoes”

    Getting somewhat off topic, today marks the 100th anniversary of a infamous act by Ty Cobb:


  19. Of Roxy Music’s eight studio albums, Flesh + Blood is usually cited as the only dud, and even that one isn’t that bad.

  20. BigSteve

    Maybe the problem is that any artist that has eight albums probably has 12 or 15, and those will tend to bring the average down. Also any Townsperson who likes an artist enough to own all 12+ albums by anyone will probably not hate too many of them.

  21. I get your point but I love GBV and I wouldn’t nominate them. Too many valleys even though the peaks are higher than most.

  22. Tom Waits fits the bill. He has 20 studio albums out. I have all except the latest and three from his 1970s barfly phase. While some are more challenging than others, I think that most of the ones that I have are no less than pretty good, and at least 5 or 6 are great.

  23. I don’t know much baseball but was there ever a guy who got called up from the minors, hit a World Series-winning grand slam, and then retired? He is the La’s.

  24. trigmogigmo

    Also difficult in this scoring system is that a home run and a ground ball single up the middle are both hits. I felt somewhat harsh in my ratings, because a so-so album with some enjoyable material did not qualify as “great-good” and therefore, despite not being a strike out, wasn’t even credited with getting on base.

  25. mockcarr

    Wilco has enough albums to qualify for an excellent average I believe. Even the ones I don’t like as much, Sky Blue Sky and A Ghost Is Born, have some good songs on them. The Mermaid Ave albums are also good but a lot of it is Bragg. I don’t have the live album though, so I can’t comment on that.

  26. Solo Reed’s got a .273 mark in my book.

  27. All diskojoe is asking for is a winning record, a notch over .500. As for your 12+ comment, you would think so, but I own 12+ albums by Lou Reed and Dylan yet have managed to think less than half of their solo albums are “good to great.”

  28. Live albums don’t count, so you’re off the hook there.

  29. Think in terms of wins and losses rather than hits and outs and this exercise becomes a little less difficult. I keep a lot of the albums I consider “losses” because they do contain some highlight-worthy hits. Overall, though, an album like Bob Dylan’s Planet Waves is still a loss on my score sheet.

  30. tonyola

    I’d have to raise the average. Outside, Earthling, and the Buddha of Surburbia soundtrack are all pretty good in my book. Hours and the first Tin Machine record are weaker but not bad. Black Tie White Noise has a few great cuts but overall doesn’t quite make it.

    Cheap Trick, on the other hand, only get a 0.375 from me. Their first four albums are great and the next two are OK, but things get really spotty after One on One.

  31. tonyola

    I’m a little harsher on the Stones. To me there’s nothing really essential album-wise after Exile on Main Street. There are still a few dozen good to great songs in the later albums, but I find it best to pick them out and assemble them into a “Post-’72 Greatest Hits” collection. They get a 0.455 from me.

    Steely Dan might be one of the ultra-rare 1.000 contenders. Even their weakest albums remain listenable.

  32. Happiness Stan

    I’d give Pink Floyd 7 out of 14, with Atom Heart Mother and The Wall as almost-good. I haven’t heard the last three albums, so have gone with my gut-instinct that they are probably not good, although I may be wrong.

    Beefheart I’d give nine out of thirteen.

    Clear winners for me are The Fall. I could make a very strong case for 26 of their 28 albums, (and have only marked them down because of the two I’ve not got around to hearing yet), about 80 to 90% of their 38 singles, and any of their 7 ep’s.

  33. tonyola

    Pink Floyd gets a pretty high batting average from me. I think the truly weak albums include Atom Heart Mother and The Final Cut plus I’m ambivalent towards the studio stuff on UmmaGumma, but I also probably have a more forgiving attitude than most towards the early soundtrack albums and the two post-Waters albums. I give them a 0.786 but maybe that includes a prog-lover’s bias.

  34. trigmogigmo

    OK, I was making it harder than necessary. I got stuck on thinking of batting percentages… wins and losses is simpler. But I suppose I still ended up rating a hit or not as a win or loss.

  35. Weeding out UK vs US releases, I’ve counted 24 studio albums by the Rolling Stones. Of those, I consider 12 of them winners.

  36. Can’t say it’s unexpected by I’ve got my man Elvis Costello playing .423 ball.

  37. misterioso


  38. I like the Beefheart selection. “Unconditionally Guaranteed” and “Moonbeams and Bluejeans” are clearly the turds. “Strictly Personal”, “Spotlight Kid” and “Ice Cream for Crow” are a little weak, but they might even make the grade. Nothing else that I would consider losing.

    By how did you get thirteen? Counting the A&M sessions, I’m only at twelve.

  39. misterioso

    If you go by “conventional wisdom”” or “critical acclaim” on Dylan you’ll get maybe 10 or 12 great records. I count 6 stinkers out of 32 records, or 7 out of 33 if you count Dylan, which I really don’t. That puts him at an .813 clip. Mind you, I do not, repeat, do not think he has 26 great records. I think I count 14 out of 32 as great.

    1 Bob Dylan-good
    2 Freewheelin-great
    3 Times-good/great
    4 Another Side-great
    5 Bringing It All-great
    6 Highway 61-great
    7 Blonde on Blonde-great
    8 Basement Tapes-great
    9 JWH-great
    10 Nashville Skyline-good
    11 Self-Portrait-stinker
    12 New Morning-good
    13 Pat Garret-good (I mean, here we’re in a gray zone. It’s ok. But it isn’t a “stinker.”)
    14 Planet Waves-good
    15 Blood on the Tracks-great
    16 Desire-good/great
    17 Street Legal-great
    18 Slow Train-good
    19 Saved-stinker
    20 Shot of Love-good
    21 Infidels-good
    22 Empire Burlesque-stinker
    23 Knocked out Loaded-stinker
    24 Down in the Groove-stinker
    25 Oh Mercy-great
    26 Under the Red Sky-stinker
    27 Good As I Been to You-good
    28 World Gone Wrong-good
    29 Time Out of Mind-great
    30 “Love and Theft”-great
    31 Modern Times-good
    32 Together Through Life-good

  40. Hey! You forgot Christmas in the Heart!

  41. Out of 18 full studio albums, The Mekons have only 4 that I can’t get behind.

    Out of Tom Waits’ 19 or 20, there are maybe 3 I think are less than great.

  42. tonyola

    Number 13 is Bat Chain Puller, released a couple of months ago as an official Beefheart album. This is the original 1976 recording that was held from being issued due to lawsuits.

    I’m very much on the fence about Trout Mask Replica. It’s a timeless classic – you either get it or you don’t and if you don’t you’re an artless Philistine yadda yadda yadda but it still has the sweet stink of being the Emperor’s New Album to me.

  43. tonyola

    Man, you’re a generous soul.

  44. Happiness Stan

    As a big fan of “classic” Dylan who has been rather nervous to approach his work since “Infidels”, and haven’t heard any of his subsequent albums in their entirety since then, I’d still give him slightly over .500.

  45. Happiness Stan

    I quite unashamedly enjoy Christmas in the Heart, admittedly mainly for the moments when he takes a hearty run-up to a not- particularly- high note and doesn’t so much stumble over it as refuse to even try to take the fence. “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” is extraordinary, I heard the album first in the car and had to stop because I was laughing so much. It stands proudly with “Tiny Tim’s Christmas Album”, “Christmas with Little Marcy” and “Christmas with the Three Stooges” as Christmas albums which somehow seem to rise above the sheer ghastliness of the genre and make one feel better about things in general.

    Clearly he wasn’t taking it seriously, obviously it was rattled off in the time it takes to listen to it, but for me it demonstrates the same “human Dylan” who wrote “Chronicles”, and who has barely been spotted in public for half a century.

  46. Happiness Stan

    Yep, Bat Chain Puller was the one – it was released over here about ten years ago, Mrs H bought it for me for Christmas and handed it over on condition that I never make her listen to it. Perhaps it wasn’t released quite as legitimately as it should have been, although it was widely distributed and not at all hard to get hold of.

  47. Happiness Stan

    I feel like Mr Grumpy tonight, (I’ve started my new job and it’s absolutely exhausting!) but even giving Sgt Pepper the benefit of the doubt (I used to like it but am sick of hearing it now), I’m struggling to get to 50% of Beatles albums which meet the criteria. The early ones sound dated to these ears, while the later ones seem a bit self-indulgent.

    I’d accept “A Hard Day’s Night”, “Rubber Soul”, “Revolver”, “Sgt Pepper” (see above), “Magical Mystery Tour” and “Abbey Road”. By my reckoning I need one more.

  48. “Beatles For Sale” ?

  49. 2000 Man

    I kind of drop out after Manifesto. They just got too loungy for me.

  50. cherguevara

    Dismissing Sgt Pepper is totally “rockist.” Seriously, you rate the dismal “Magical Mystery Tour” higher than Pepper? Crazy talk.

  51. tonyola

    Speaking of “rockist”, any Beatles album that has “Strawberry Fields Forever”, “Penny Lane”, “Baby You’re a Rich Man”, and the mad, brilliant “I Am the Walrus” can’t be dismal. OK, so Mystery has the terminally cute “Your Mother Should Know”, but Pepper has the dreary “Within You Without You”.

  52. cliff sovinsanity

    HELP, of course. Am I missing something here??

  53. hrrundivbakshi

    Hold on a second — I demand a recount with more than a one-dimensional indicator of “badness.” You have two categories for goodness; you should have a category for “mildly shitty” or “not truly good” for this list to be useful. I suspect once you add that label, Dylan’s batting average will drop precipitously.

  54. If we’re going to go with the batting average analogy, I’ll call GBV the Dave Kingman of rock–tons of strikeouts, an overall low batting average, but holy crap, that’s still a lot of home runs in there.

  55. cherguevara

    My take on MMT as an album, is that side two is fantastic, but it is a collection of singles. Side one, with “Fool On The Hill,” “Flying” and “Blue Jay Way” is an odd quagmire of relative misery, bookended by the title track and “Your mother” and “Walrus.” I rate “Within You” higher than those three tracks from MMT.

  56. trigmogigmo

    Allrighty, I shall justify my winning pct for the boys from Rockford IL.

    Cheap Trick 1977 – great
    In Color 1977 – very good
    Heaven Tonight 1978 – great
    At Budokan 1979 – excluded (live) (but great)
    Dream Police 1979 – very good
    Found All the Parts 1980 – good (0.5 for EP)
    All Shook Up 1980 – good in enough places

    Then the dreaded longevity curse starts to kick in. Mere coincidence that Tom Petersson left for two albums, then outside writers were brought in by the label for the third?

    One on One 1982 – good material, but the sonic/production quality is hard on the ears
    Next Position Please 1983 – weak
    Lap of Luxury 1988 – weak
    Woke Up with a Monster 1994 – very listenable but not memorable enough to rate good
    Cheap Trick 1997 – similar, but makes good
    Special One 2003 – filler
    Rockford 2006 – filler
    The Latest 2009 – good, saved by a couple of really bright spots

    8.5 out of 13.5 = .630

  57. trigmogigmo

    (Aw, shucks!) … My relationship with Bowie’s music is on again / off again. His ’70s work is of course very very familiar, but half from various collections rather than studio albums, so I am constantly being introduced to new songs like stuff in your “Mr. Mod’s next 10 Bowie songs he likes”. His post-Monsters ’80s work is familiar just because it was of the MTV heavy rotation era, but I don’t have any of it and can’t even opine on which ones are good. Then I caught up again in the ’90s with the new Bowie incarnation and found that Outside and Earthling are GREAT, while Reality is pretty good.

  58. tonyola

    Your logic is fine but you’re missing a few unmemorable albums from your calculations:

    1983 – Standing on the Edge
    1986 – The Doctor
    1990 – Busted

    Excluding the EP, I give Cheap Trick 6 out of 16. That equals .375.

  59. misterioso

    I would agree in general. There are several records that fall in that precarious middle zone. But still he’d be well over .500.

    And, Oats, you’re right–how could I forget Christmas in the Heart?!? Add it to the stinkers, though I think that is a little harsh.

  60. I was so anti-Zep in the 80s, that when I started to like them in the 90s, I went straight to Presence. I thought it was funny that they trademarked that object on the cover.

  61. I know how much many here like R.E.M — but they are well above .500 in my book, although their great albums are limited to the 1980s.

    Murmur Great
    Reckoning Great
    Fables of the Reconstruction Great
    Lifes Rich Pageant Great
    Document Great
    Green Good
    Out of Time Good
    Automatic for the People Good
    Monster Good
    New Adventures in Hi-Fi Stinky
    Up Stinky
    Reveal Fair
    Around the Sun Fair
    Accelerate Good
    Collapse into Now Good

  62. cherguevara

    Another grenade I’d like to lob out is that describing something as sounding “dated” seems very silly to me. Music is a product of the time in which it was written (or perhaps the time in which the writer is stuck creatively, ie the new Beach Boys song) and the time in which it was recorded. All recorded music either sounds dated or is going to sound dated. Most of the recordings my the artists mentioned in this thread sound “dated.” Zep. Cheap Trick. The Dan. Boy that Ethan Frome, it’s like it was just written yesterday!

    I’m not sure why Pepper is so disliked in these halls. I suspect it is a combination of a few factors. One is backlash against the hype that it is one of the greatest albums of all time. Second would be reacting to the idea that it is a concept album, where the concept is not even halfway formed – though we did have a thread where it was summarized as “if there was a band from the 1920’s which came into the late 60’s to perform a concert with electric instruments” (something like that). This half-baked concept is clearly coming from the cutesy side of Macca’s psyche, leading even John Lennon to pen some very vaudevillian tunes. Having said that, the “concept” was not really brought to the table until the album was probably half-finished, the original idea being songs about their childhood but scuttled after EMI wanted a single and Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane were now off the album.

    The album is, as we know, meticulously crafted, only the Pepper Reprise at the end really offers any kind of honest-to-goodness rock thrills. With it’s tucked in production and relatively twee compositions, I can see how a more rock-inclined fan wouldn’t take to Pepper. I won’t even say it’s my favorite Beatles album, preferring Revolver and Rubber Soul (esp the US version). But that doesn’t make it a bad album, and even within the context of the Beatles’ discography, I think it rates at least in the top five.

  63. High five on everything you say here, cher! I, too, was a little surprised by the “dated” comment. It’s cool to think that works of art are “timeless” – and some might be said to be so – but it can be equally cool to enjoy other works of art for their sense of time and place. Sgt. Pepper’s is just such an album, and for that reason alone I think it justifies its spot as one of the most critically acclaimed albums in rock, no matter how cool I am and how infrequently I care to put on that specific album. We’re all so digital now, but try pulling out a vinyl copy of the album and savoring the packaging. It’s like holding a piece of moon rock.

  64. alexmagic

    Re: Pepper, I don’t think it’s just an RTH thing. There’s a general backlash against it because it has sat so long in the Citizen Kane spot as the go-to “greatest album” answer and manages to hold the “most famous album” spot, which is no small feat. Somewhere along the line, Revlover picked up critical mass as the replacement for Pepper, and that’s not without merits, obviously; I think it’s a better album and the case could be made that Revolver was the one that really blew things open before Pepper did.

    That said, I think the meh reaction that Pepper gets now is more about perceived familiarity and less about whether it’s any good. I happen to think it is, but I also wouldn’t put it in my Beatles top five, though that says more about how much I really love Abbey Road, The White Album, Rubber Soul, Magical Mystery Tour, Revolver, A Hard Day’s Night, Help, Let It Be and maybe even Beatles For Sale.

    I say “perceived” familiarity above because I do think, in general public terms, the average person assumes they’re intimately familiar with the album even though I doubt most have listened to half the songs on it in a while. I like everything on it except “Within You, Without You”, and I’d be willing to defend everything but that and maybe “She’s Leaving Home”, which is a take it or leave it song that I’d take, but get why others would, er, leave. But both Peppers, Lucy, Getting Better, Mr. Kite, Rita, Good Morning and A Day In The Life are all great from my POV.

    Back to the “perceived” familiarity again, I saw an interesting comment on Twitter last week after Mad Men spent major money (reportedly $500,000) to use “Tomorrow Never Knows” in an episode-closing montage. Talking about how cost-prohibitive it is to license a Beatles song for a movie/TV/ad spot, someone remarked how strange it is that The Beatles – arguably the biggest cornerstone of musical pop culture ever – almost never appear in pop culture works. They’re namechecked, obviously, but I think the person was specifically referencing how characters in films/TV can never actually be listening to the most famous band of all time.

  65. Despite my love of Tom Waits, when I heard that on SO, I laughed out loud.

  66. I think I am alone in these Halls in thinking that Let It Be is great.

  67. trigmogigmo

    Tony, you are absolutely right! I don’t even have those albums, and totally forgot about them. For good reason, it seems.

  68. alexmagic

    Nah, I love Let It Be. I honestly don’t know how someone could not enjoy “Dig A Pony”.

  69. I’m in your camp as well. Although I couldn’t make the case that it’s the “best” Beatles album, it may be my favorite Beatles album. The highs are really high. There’s a lot of chooglin’ going on too, which you don’t get to hear too often in Beatles songs and which I never tire of hearing.

  70. Definitely – and now the mind reels at the possibility of an entire post around the topic of “The [insert unique baseball player’s name] of rock.”

  71. alexmagic

    Pete Best: The Wally Pipp of Rock? Though I guess at this point, it might be that Wally Pipp is the Pete Best of Baseball.

  72. Happiness Stan

    I wasn’t dismissing Sgt Pepper, only saying that I personally never want to hear it again.

    Having looked at the track listing again I’m having second thoughts, though – I mean, Within You Without You, followed by When I’m Sixty-Four (can anyone here genuinely defend that song? Even when I was ten it was pretty obvious that one was a stinker), and then Lovely Rita (which sounds like a prototype for Obladi Oblada) is a bit of a triple-whammy which Good Morning Good Morning isn’t really good enough to make up for.

    I just checked the track list for Help and even though I own a copy I couldn’t remember two-thirds of the songs. Beatles For Sale is probably the closest I come to tipping the scales over the half-way mark.

    I’m sure we can agree to differ on MMT, I the film stinks, but I think the album stands up as their last great collection of original and innovative pop songs. I don’t mind any of those three songs, and prefer them all to the three on Pepper which I’ve just taken such exception to.

    For me Pepper has always been the least rocky of the canon, and even in the days when I was seriously, seriously into the Beatles, the one album of theirs which discouraged me from wanting to listen to any of the rest. Sure it was, and is, a fabulous artifact beautifully presented, absolutely it’s iconic. Would I want my kids to hear it and enjoy it – absolutely I would. I just think that the iconography gets too much in the way, and that the music looks back in a way which the albums they released either side of it didn’t.

  73. Happiness Stan

    I wouldn’t disagree with very much of that, actually. If they’d kept Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane and dropped any two of With A Little Help From My Friends, Within You Without You, When I’m 64 or Lovely Rita it would still be a great album.

    Ringo could have been given “Getting Better” and probably made a half-decent fist of it, if somebody had suggested to George that he came up with something else instead it would have helped.

    The principle target of my “dated” comment was their early albums, with all those cover versions which to these ears have not stood the test of time as well as the originals. The honourable exception is “A Hard Day’s Night”, all originals and still a stonking good listen.

    Obviously everything dates, but the reason I used that word to describe the early albums was that – as a result of EMI wanting product – I would still maintain that almost half of them are filler, (and if that was stripped out and the songs they recorded throughout their career were weighed individually then they would easily end up in credit).

    As I said above, and originally, I don’t actively dislike it as a whole, and did place it in my top five. I used to listen to it a lot, and know that I feel this way about it through over-familiarity – and just don’t have any interest in hearing it again.

  74. I’m sure a lot of us feel the way you do. I know I can’t argue with much of what you’ve written. You’re still a Townsman in good standing – the Cool Patrol won’t be knocking at your door anytime soon. I think what the Magic Man and I were getting at is that we need to maintain some balance on this album. If we’re not cool enough to respect all that actually is great and groundbreaking about it after we spent the last decade poking holes in it, who is?

  75. tonyola

    So tell me, Stan, what pre-1965 rock and pop albums don’t have filler? The early Beatles albums might have some less-than-wonderful songs, but their good/bad ratio is still better than the contemporary albums by the Who, Kinks, Beach Boys, Stones, Motown, or just about any other artist. As for the Beatles’ cover songs, the group did better than most. Their versions of “Money” and “Twist and Shout” are far better remembered than the soul originals. They also had the smarts to use their harmonizing ability to cover girl-group songs like “Please Mr. Postman” and “Chains”. Ringo’s singing on “Act Naturally” remains a charming delight. Listen to Paul on “Long Tall Sally” or John on “You Really Got a Hold on Me”. The Stones, Kinks, and Who could be terrible in their covers while the Beatles rarely put a foot wrong. Finally, the Beatles’ songwriting prowess grew so rapidly that by A Hard Day’s Night they were able to drastically cut back on the covers in favor of their superior originals.

    The early Beatles albums might have been a product of their time but they still remain pretty much fat-free and sound fresher today than most any other pop record from the same time frame.

  76. I’m with you, I reached a saturation point with ‘Pepper’ a long time ago…it doesn’t interest me anymore. And all the cutesy/trippy stuff on there, I find vaguely annoying. It may be a groundbreaking album in terms of studio production, but I find much of the material a bit twee. I’ll take The Velvet Underground’s first album, released the same year, over ‘Sgt. P’, any day…I think it’s held up better and is just as groundbreaking an album, and in ways that resonate more with my sensibilities.

    Honestly, I don’t listen to any of the fabs stuff much nowadays, despite still counting them amongst my all-time faves. I still find myself frequently revisiting others in my top 5 list, but not so much with The Beatles….probably for the last 20 years. I’ll still play their fan club Christmas records every year, but beyond that, I don’t find myself feeling the urge to slap on any of the albums proper. I’m sure I’ll get back to ’em at some point, but these days they just aren’t on the playlist very often at Rancho Del Bittman.

  77. Happiness Stan

    An interesting question Tony, but surely more of a reflection on the early 60s sausage machine than the artists themselves, (plus it would also be tricky to name many albums from any year which contain no filler at all, so the Beatles are clearly way ahead by 1966).

    The ones which spring to mind from ’62 to ’65 are the first two Byrds albums, (well, okay, I’ll grant that each end on a throwaway one, but they work in the context of their collections), all of Dylan’s albums from “Times They Are A Changin'” to “Highway 61 Revisited”, Donovan’s “What’s Bin Did and What’s Bin Hid” and “Fairy Tale”, and I’m going to sneak in Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence” which was released at the beginning of January 1966.

    All acts of that period suffer through having been forced to churn out two, three or even four albums a year while touring, so obviously the fact that the Beatles managed to record “Hard Day’s Night”, “Rubber Soul” and “Revolver” during this period demonstrates that they were way, way ahead of just about everyone else, but that doesn’t make the weak material they recorded in the early years stronger – it just meant that the strong stuff they wrote and recorded led to being allowed total artistic control, (which in itself was a double-edged sword for them) and kicked down the doors for other acts, for which they also deserve credit.

    To put my attitude into the context from which it originated, I came to those early Beatles albums at about the same time as I fell in with a crowd who buzzed around the coolest girl at the High School, whose elder brother had all the Isley Brothers and Motown and rock’n’roll stuff that the Beatles covered on their early albums, and I was enough of a music snob by then to prefer originals as a matter of principle. Which is not always a reliable position to try to maintain.

  78. cherguevara

    We are beyond cool, aren’t we? After all, what’s cool today is passe tomorrow. We’re in it for the long haul!

  79. Happiness Stan

    Thanks Bobby, transatlantic High Five coming over!

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