Sep 092008

In the last week we were reminded of The Great 48‘s admission that he’s yet to hear John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band album. We also learned that Hrrundivbakshi was just aboutt to pop his Four Seasons’ Genuine Imitation Life cherry. If you’ll recall, HVB even found an old quote from John Lennon, who praised the album at the time of its release.

Speaking of albums Lennon (and McCartney) praised, just a few minutes ago, while researching another possible topic, I was reminded that I’ve never heard Nilsson‘s debut album, Pandemonium Shadow Show. The album cover alone should have been reason for me to check out this album, but I’ve long been afraid of digging too deeply into anything by Nilsson. Don’t ask me why; I’m not sure that I understand it myself, although his album of Randy Newman covers helped me finally give Newman a fairer shake.

We rightfully pride ourselves on our dedication to knowing all there is to know about all that’s worth knowing in rock ‘n roll. We need to know these things to conduct the high-level, in-depth discourse that brings us to the Halls of Rock. However, I’m sure we all have a shocking gap in our accumulated rock knowledge. This is your chance to step forward and confess to not ever having heard an album over which rock nerds typically take pride in flaunting their educated opinion.

You are forgiven.


  63 Responses to “RTH Confessional: Legendary Albums You’ve Never Heard”

  1. Truth be told, the only time I ever attempt to listen to one of those things is when I’m in the basement, chopping up cardboard for LP and 45 mailers. Every month or so, I find two or three of these hidden efforts from the once justifiably forgotten, and bravely flop them on the turntable. Know that I’ve been scrounging around for waz for the last 30 years or so, and I can honestly say that 99% of these finds are unlistenable. Rather than having RTHers admit to the titles they’ve never bothered to spin (who can blame them?), I’d like to see a few come forth and actually try and defend one of these dogshit sandwiches, with none of that “the second track is really cool because. . .” I want someone to step up to the plate and take a full swing for a good 75 percent of an LP that should have never made it to the pressing stage.

    Waiting for enlightenment,
    E. Pluribus

  2. Nilsson is a must. God, how I love that man. Maybe it’s a little unhealthy.

    My sin is almost unforgivable in light of recent discussions here:

    Trout Mask Replica

    I’m not trying to bring up the Beefheart discussion as I actually own Shiny Beast and Safe as Milk. I’ve heard lots and lots of Beefheart. I’ve probably heard Trout in some weird lifetime, but, for the life of me, I honestly can’t remember it.

    There will probably be others as this thread continues, but that one sprung to mind.


  3. Mr. Moderator

    E. Pluribus, I know this isn’t the Plastic Ono Band thread, but since that album and The Great 48’s never having heard it that was used, in part to set up this frank discussion, what IS your take on that album, musically? Can it be we’ve never discussed the ins and outs of that album during one of our numerous planning sessions?

    I guess there was a time when the two Syd Barrett albums were “must hear” obscurities, right? I picked them up at the time and will stand fully behind them, especially the second one. They sound cool, there’s a lot of emotion in those scattershot recordings, the lyrics have enough interesting couplets to hold my interest. As I’ve said before, I prefer those albums to Piper at the Gates of Dawn, which beside 2 or 3 songs has little to offer beside cool sounds (not that there’s anything wrong with that – I enjoy The Pretty Things’ SF Sorrow, another one of these “must-hear” albums, based on nothing but the cool sounds, especially the dual fuzz guitars; there may not be a worthwhile lyric or song on that entire album, but I love it the way I might love a completely unhealthy chocolate-iced French Cruller doughnut).

  4. 2000 Man

    I went and looked at one of those classic rock lists of stuff I’m supposed to have and love, and there’s some pretty famous stuff I’ve passed on. Like The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society and The Beach Boys Pet Sounds. I’ve heard some of each of them, and I just don’t like The Beach Boys and I like The Kinks when they’re noisy garage rockers a lot more than when they’re doing that British dance hall crap.

    I’ve never heard The Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo, either. I know I’m supposed to not only own it, but to love it as well, but I’ve checked it out at listening stations throughout my life, and I’ve never bothered to buy it because it underwhelms me every time.

  5. Mr. Moderator

    Stay strong re: Sweetheart…, 2K! You are forgiven.

  6. I too have never heard Trout Mask Replica. Don’t think I’ve heard a note of the Minutemen.

    Right now, I’m listening to Wire’s Pink Flag for the first time.

  7. Plastic Ono Band gets a huge thumbs up, warts and all.

    In “Little Miss Sunshine” (great movie, and if you thought it sucked, you’ve got problems), there’s a character named Dwayne who takes an oath of silence as some sort of self disciplinary training to get himself ready for flight school. During a ride in the family van, he finds out he’s color blind, and therefore ineligible to gain an aviator’s license. He asks the driver to pull over. He bolts out of the car, runs down a hill, and belts out a lengthy “FUCK!!!” for a good 10 seconds or so. That’s more or less how I hear Plastic Ono Band.

    I’ve always been a firm believer in mastering craft before you begin to fuck with it. In my estimation, those who’ve adopted that approach have a better chance at succeeding in creating something of import via the somewhat abstract. It’s not a route Lennon consciously took, but it paid off nevertheless. And granted, Plastic Ono Band isn’t Metal Machine Music, but it’s hands down something a little different.

    The craft is a little weak, but then again it’s an album that’s not intended as a piece of craft. It’s 10 or so diary entries crammed with pain, humor, and insight (I’m always a sucker for all that confessional stuff) that use craft as an organizational tool, nothing more. It’s more or less the first time Lennon’s creative scales aren’t perfectly balanced, which is startling (and continues to be startling).

    The only track that doesn’t work for me is “Working Class Hero”. It’s pretty much all craft and not very good craft at that. Still, I’d never want to remove it from the LP. It needs to be there, as an example for his listeners that he was actually capable of making mistakes once in a while.

    E. Pluribus

  8. BigSteve

    I know this is heresy, but I find Harry Nilsson’s voice annoying. I’ve never heard any of his albums, even the Randy Newman one.

    And there are a lot of albums that appear to be on the basic RTH syllabus by hard rock bands — Thin Lizzy, Van Halen, Deep Purple, Kiss, etc — that I’ve never heard and would only listen to against my will.

  9. BigSteve

    epg wrote:

    In “Little Miss Sunshine” (great movie, and if you thought it sucked, you’ve got problems)….

    Wouldn’t it be kind of a problem to feel compelled to claim repeatedly that people who don’t like what you like are defective human beings? I mean, I’ve never even seen the movie in question, but de gustibus non est disputandum and all that.

  10. Ouch on Harry’s voice. Harry is easily one of my top favorite male vocalists. But, so is Bob Dylan. What do I know?


  11. hrrundivbakshi

    Never heard any Pere Ubu or Wire. Heard some Rocket From the Tombs and thought it sucked.

    That “Pandemonium…” LP is a total turd.

  12. I’ve never heard Trout Mask, I think International Submarine Band is probably my fave of the “Sweetheart…” genre, and I think Kiss’ “Music From ‘The Elder'” is one of their best. Seriously! It’s the only example of KISS singing about something besides themselves, and it works!

    In fact, I think I’ll listen to it right now.

  13. dbuskirk

    Not to be Mr. Know-It-All, but working in record stores for years, I’ve listened to record round-robin with so many staff members I’ve begun to feel like I have heard most “classic” albums, whether I’ve wanted to or not. I finally consulted the Rolling Stone Top 500 hundred list and going down I got to number 62, and I’m glad to report I’ve never heard ACHTUNG BABY by U2. I hope to be able to say that on my death bed.

    It’s easier for me to play this game with films. I’ve never seen THE SOUND OF MUSIC, although I’ve seen a high school production once. I’ve been waiting to see it in the theater but I’m adamant about not wanting to sing along.

    As for LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, I believe I have a problem. Like JUNO (which also bugged me), it seems like one of those films that acknowledges that life presents serious dilemmas, then spends the rest of the film minimalizing and trivializing them. That’s not my bag, like Joey Ramone once said “I’m Not Afraid Of Life”.

  14. Wow, there are guys on this list who have real holes in their listening knowledge and don’t mind flaunting it. I’m impressed in a genuinely embarrassed for you kind of way.

    I really can’t think of any major rock album that lots of other people like that I’ve never heard, except maybe Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. Does anybody actually like that record? I don’t think I ever intend to hear it, although if a free opportunity came around I wouldn’t reject it.

  15. Given that there’s not a Rock SAT, I feel more embarrassed for the people who believe that there’s a set canon of albums everyone should be familiar with. Why?

  16. If there isn’t a Rock SAT, Rock Town will create one some time soon. But I appreciate you taking the bait, Great 48. I was afraid no one would notice.

  17. Okay, the Rolling Stone Top 500 sure makes this easier. Mine start in the Top 10 and it goes downhill from there:

    What’s Going On
    Exile (had it sitting around, listening now)
    Kind Of Blue
    Born To Run
    Astral Weeks
    Robert Johnson
    Allmans Fillmore E
    Appetite For Destruction
    My brother and I were just talking about Billy Joel last night: haven’t heard it.
    James Taylor

    That’s just a chunk from the top 100! It’s like I don’t like music or rock at all.

  18. Mr. Moderator

    Hey Great 48 (and Mwall, for smugly agreeing), check it out:

    A personal message for The Great 48

    EPG, thanks for stepping up with your thoughts on Plastic Ono Band. You basically agree with me, which makes you an OK human being after all. I don’t know why BigSteve has trouble seeing this.

    Little Miss Sunshine, by the way, is one of those movies I squirmed through for about 75 minutes before finally getting something out of it and realizing I liked it a lot (ie, Miller’s Crossing Syndrome).

    db, I’ve never seen more than a few minutes of The Sound of Music either. Good luck in your quest to get through this life without hearing Achtung Baby.

  19. Mr. Moderator

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard a lick of a Roy Harper album. He’s the celebrated cult artist I only know of thanks to Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. I saw that some “classic” album of his was recently reissued. Can anyone recommend checking it out?

  20. 2000 Man

    G48, I’ve always had a problem with The Rock Canon, too. But aren’t there some albums we should all be familiar with? I never agree with those lists of the however many greatest rock albums, mainly because they seem to think I should be familiar with some albums I know I won’t like. I’m familiar enough with U2 to know that I don’t want to hear anymore of their music. Side on of the first album said all they had to say if you ask me. Plus these days I’m apparently supposed to find some merits in Run DMC and Public Enemy albums, and I find those to be as interesting as Wayne Newton albums, so I’ll pass.

    But if you’re going to talk to people about rock music, don’t you knid of need to know the music of The Beatles, The Stones, Elvis, Chuck Berry and some others? If you’re looking into southern rock, wouldn’t you need to check out Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Bros?

    I’d rather have a rock cannon, but for the sake of conversations more than, “That ROCKS!” or “That SUCKS!” I think we need some kind of rock canon.

  21. 2000 Man

    I haven’t heard any Roy Harper either, Mr. Mod. Considering the bands that seem to be recommending him, I think I’ll pass. In trying to understand where the music of The Stones and Beatles came from I checked out Lonnie Donegan once. I didn’t get that at all!

  22. Mr. Moderator

    BTW, as I poke fun at The Great 48 and Mwall, don’t think that I’m necessarily on board with some Rolling Stone-approved canon. What I am trying to get at here are albums that YOU can’t help but think you should have heard by now yet, for whatever reasons, have not. You may sometimes think you should have heard these albums owing to rock nerd peer pressure, but that’s OK. Confess on!

  23. BigSteve

    I haven’t heard Roy Harper either, or the sensational Alex Harvey.

    And then there’s ELO. Of course I’ve heard songs on the radio (depending on how far away the dial is), but I’ve never heard a whole album. Thank god.

  24. I love how disgusted we all are with one another right now.
    Sides 1 and 2 of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway are pretty awesome. Sides 3&4 loose me. I started liking this album in college, so maybe if i tried it out now for the first time, I wouldn’t like it so much. I don’t really know.

    I’ve never heard Blonde on Blonde.

  25. I’m not sure, Mod, but I think you may have committed yourself, and Rock Town, to the development of a Rock Town Rock SAT. That’s not the same as the Rolling Stones like canon of albums, but I think it’s your turn to fess up and say that you probably do believe that there’s a basic cultural literacy (E.D. Hirsch’s term, I think his name is) that committed rock listeners should have.

    Even the SAT subject exams, I believe, no longer engage in pure fact checking. The new model is to define those questions about a subject which an informed critic of the subject should have something substantive to say.

    To be fair, no one puts together one of those test lists alone. But if you wanted to put together a list of 20 (or even 50) essential rock cultural literacy questions, I’d bet you could get some input around here, even and especially from those who will think that the whole idea is hogwash, since they’ll help define suitable limits for these questions.

    Then again, maybe I’m just kidding. And I’m also now confused about this thread; are we talking about major albums we haven’t heard, or just any old album. Has anyone around these parts ever even seen a Roy Harper record? I’m quite sure I never have.

  26. hrrundivbakshi

    The Sensational Alex Harvey Band! Talk about an act that doesn’t deserve canonical status. A classic example of an intermittently good bar band that happened upon the scene just when rock critics were dying for a shot of *something* different.

  27. Any Roy Harper between 1971 and 1978 is worth buying. Unfortunately, much of this is not on CD. So you kind of have to sift through record bins. The guy is an ace songwriter and a fantastic guitar player. He comes across as a British eccentric, sort of like Robert Wyatt, if Wyatt was into progressive folk rock.

  28. First off, I’m against the idea of cultural literacy, because it begs the question whose cultural literacy? Too often, it’s what upper class white guys think is important.

    Same goes for a rock canon. The great thing about rock, I think, is that it is so diverse and it freely absorbs and assimilates other musical genres. Its real strength is that it is a giant sprawling mess.

    But for the sake of argument, let’s say we wanted to create a rock canon. This raises several questions:

    1. Should it be on the basis of artist, song, or record?

    2. How big? Top 10, 100, 500, 5000? How long is it presumed to take to acquire this knowledge? 1 month, 1 year, 10 years, a lifetime?

    3. Should it reflect the perceived dominance of certain artists, that is, should the Beatles, Stones, or Dylan be prominent, or should it be more democratic? Should one hit wonders be allowed?

    4. Should there be lines drawn? Would country rock or punk rock be allowed?

  29. 2000 Man

    I don’t think The Sensational Alex Harvey Band would really make anyone’s canon, but here in Cleveland if you’re in your mid 40’s and you listened to rock radio, then Alex is a major touchstone, and a much loved dude. I saw a lot of high school bands back then and even the teenage metalheads played at least Midnight Moses. Another much loved band was Artful Dodger, so there may be no accounting for taste among my age group here (though I still like them, too).

    Dr. John, the way I’ve always kind of looked at my rock canon is that it more or less goes by bands, more than by albums. I think even if you don’t like them, you should be familiar with The Beatles, Stones, Led Zeppelin, Elvis and a slew of others. I think it’s more telling to see what people omit.

    Oh yeah, when I look at that RS list – I’ve never heard any entire album by Marvin Gay, and I’ve tried to listen to some Miles Davis, but I just don’t get it. Maybe it’s getting to be time to try again.

  30. BigSteve

    The only reason I mentioned Alex Harvey is that, never having heard either him or Roy Harper, I always get them mixed up.

  31. dbuskirk

    ” Dr john [Member]
    First off, I’m against the idea of cultural literacy, because it begs the question whose cultural literacy? Too often, it’s what upper class white guys think is important.”

    Of course you can take canon to seriously but it seems any art movement is going to end up solidifying around certain works. The student in me thinks its important to be familiar with the popular favorites as a starting point to developing one’s own taste. Luckily I’ve worked at radio stations and record stores where sampling these things was free and easy.

    I took this approach even more earnestly in the film world (I’ve worked in video stores as well) and it has been very unpredictable which films I would find personally captivating and which left me cold. Even with the films that didn’t grab me, I found it interesting to divide up those that captured the imaginations of their time (something like EASY RIDER, which I think is pretty clunky) from the films that struck me as timeless and relevant (something like the Satyajit Ray’s APU TRILOGY, which left me unexpectedly spellbound).

    I accept that this isn’t the way everybody approaches things, especially the musicians out there, who may be more productive practicing their instruments than listening to old records.

    Even though I’ve found myself dismayed by people who ignore recording considered non-essential in the canon (a popular approach among some jazz fans I know) I’m equally in awe that a rock fan that has never checked out BLONDE ON BLONDE or EXILE ON MAIN STREET. If I want to dismiss a popular favorite I’d like my criticism to stem from actual personal knowledge.

    Funny, the one Sensational Alex Harvey Band fan I know is a native Clevelander in his mid-forties.

  32. Mr. Moderator

    I think db has a better read on what I’ve been getting at than Mwall, and that’s cool – I’m not down on you, Mwall, or unaware of the humor you’ve injected into the discussion. I sincerely ask for these confessions based on your own sense of rock literacy. If you don’t think you should have checked out Pet Sounds, that Love album a lot of people slobber over, or even Genuine Imitation Life, that’s fine. I am comfortable with the fact that I feel like I should have heard a lick of Roy Harper by now. So I confessed to the guilt I feel for not having heard it. If you do not feel the guilt personally, save the confession. This is NOT about some canon; liberal, white notions of literacy; and so forth.

  33. Mod, I think most people have been answering not out of personal guilt about not having listened to something, but out of pride at not listening to something that they’ve been told is important. Or it’s about 50-50 anyway. A number of people have also been answering with names of people whose music is difficult to get ahold of–Harper, Alex Harvey Band, and so on. Now, I’d welcome the chance to hear Roy Harper if anyone wants to put some up here, but if the other approach is to scour used record bins or drop down a bunch of money to get a collectable, then I doubt very much I want to hear his music that badly.

  34. BigSteve

    I don’t know that I’d say I feel truly guilty about it, but I usually try to keep up the better sort of recent music, and I’ve still never heard current critical faves Modest Mouse or Death Cab for Cutie. Given the historical bent of many Townspersons, there must be a few who have never heard a band like Arcade Fire. Anybody give a pass to Kid A and/or Amnesiac? (I almost wish I had.)

    And speaking of movies, I’ll see you The Sound Of Music and raise you Casablanca and Gone With The Wind. Never seen any of them.

  35. Casablanca is friggin great.
    I don’t care about those other 2,
    but I’ve seen them.

  36. BTW, as I poke fun at The Great 48 and Mwall, don’t think that I’m necessarily on board with some Rolling Stone-approved canon. What I am trying to get at here are albums that YOU can’t help but think you should have heard by now yet, for whatever reasons, have not. You may sometimes think you should have heard these albums owing to rock nerd peer pressure, but that’s OK. Confess on!

    Well, that’s what lets me off the entire discussion, actually: it’s you lot who think I should have heard PLASTIC ONO BAND by now, not me.

  37. I really can’t think of any major rock album that lots of other people like that I’ve never heard, except maybe Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.

    Am I the only person here who immediately wanted to “stump” Mwall after reading this? Mwall, did you write this even with the understanding that not everyone defers the likes of E. Pluribus, instead daring to consider albums made after 1982 (or even 1992 and 2002!) to be major works of rock?

  38. trolleyvox

    I’ve never heard PIL’s 2nd Edition.

    I Don’t ever recall hearing a full playing Exile on Main Street.

    I don’t think I could name one song by Humble Pie.

    I am not well versed in early Roxy Music (except for Virgina Plane and Do the Strand).

    I did finally hear XTC’s Drums and Wires a few months ago, and I was quite underwhelmed. I think prefer the anticipation of wanting to hear it for the first time.

    I’ve heard only bits and pieces of Fun House and Raw Power.

  39. Go ahead and stump me, Oats. I’d love to know about a major album I don’t know about so I can hear it, and I would appreciate the recommendation. By the way, I’ve heard Modest Mouse and Death Cab For Cutie, as well as all of Radiohead. Not much that’s “major” there in my estimation, although some Radiohead comes close. So if you suggest something, I hope you’ll suggest it with the “major” issue in mind.

  40. Are you interested in what I consider major, or something a little less subjective. Interestingly enough, I just found a website that lists all the albums that received five stars in the most recent Rolling Stone Record Guide (published in 2004). I realize Mr. Mod cautioned against using such a list in this thread, so if anyone has any better ideas about what I consult in a stumping attempt, please let me know.

    Also, Mwall, how do you define “hearing” an album? One time playing in the background enough? More? Less?

  41. sammymaudlin

    The only The Band I’ve ever heard is Big Pink.

    Tvox’s list is startlingly similar to my favorites of all time list.

    Not much, if anything, is closer to me than Fun House and early Roxy Music.

  42. Oats, I would say by “major” that one is implying that there is at least some general critical agreement on the crucial significance of the album. I don’t mean popular agreement, but some level of critical consensus. Of course, if you’re feeling prophetic, you’re welcome to suggest albums that you feel sure will have at least some level of consensus in the future.

    Speaking personally, I almost always give something a couple of plays before I make any final decisions about it, except in those instances when something seems so transparently to suck that I don’t want to hear it again, although sometimes even then I’ve given some things the benefit of the doubt and tried them a second time.

    I’d also like to see that Rolling Stone list, if only to find out how Rock Town would respond to these supposed essential albums.

  43. +1 on love of Nilsson, and that album is one I really like, much moreso than his later re-working of it. Yes, it is perhaps an acquired taste, but not too hard to acquire.

    Never heard the Temptions’ “Psychedelic Shack”, never heard any Pere Ubu other than the “Urgh: A Music Way” soundtrack.

  44. Music War. Stupid butterfingers I got.

  45. Mr. Moderator

    Mwall wrote:

    I’d also like to see that Rolling Stone list, if only to find out how Rock Town would respond to these supposed essential albums.

    RTH would respond “No shit, Sherlock!” to a third of the entries (eg, Beatles, Dylan, Rolling Stones), with the caveat that there are too many albums by these titans; “Give me a break!” to another third (eg, U2), tisk tisk the sixth of the entries that have already been forgotten since 2004 (eg, probably some album by a briefly celebrated artist like Bjork), then cut up on Hrrundivbakshi for the sixth of the entries relating to Prince.

  46. This whole thread is very related to what I tried to do a couple years back when I was G-Mod of the old RTH.

    I went decade by decade (’50s onward) trying to establish the artists who had expanded the footprint of rock & roll. The idea was to determine music that you would expect anyone who professes a knowledge of rock & roll to be familiar with.

    Without going back to check, I’m not sure I was any more successful than this thread appears to be.

  47. BigSteve

    That reminds me, I’ve never listened to any of Bjork’s records.

  48. Steve,

    Heard one, heard ’em all. I like her, but mostly what I like is her voice. For me, Post is my fave.

  49. dbuskirk

    Her last few albums have felt uninspired, but I’ll stand up for Bjork. She’s definitely got a style sure to alienate people but she is one of a handful of artists with any sense of eccentricity to be seriously promoted on a major label in the last couple decades. Looking at the industry in the last decade I feel like they haven’t really launched many artists with similarly extreme quirks. At best we have Amy Winehouse’s hair, Kanye’s ego and Jack White’s color scheme.


  50. Dan,

    You only hurt the ones you love. The rest suck too much to bother.

  51. OK, getting back to what Mwall and I were talking about…

    At the risk of starting something unseemly involving lists and canons and such, here are some of the more recent five-star rock albums, according to the ’04 Rolling Stone Guide. (I’m not including five-star hip-hop, jazz, folk, country, etc. albums.) Mwall, do you know these albums, and what do you think?

    Belle & Sebastian – If You’re Feeling Sinister
    Buckley, Jeff – Grace
    Cure – Staring at the Sea: the Singles
    Cure – Disintegration
    Def Leppard – Hysteria
    Def Leppard – Vault: Greatest Hits 1985-1990
    Flaming Lips – Soft Bulletin
    Green Day – Dookie
    Green Day – International Superhits
    Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction
    Guns N’ Roses – Use Your Illusion I
    Harvey, PJ – Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea
    Hole – Live Through This
    Jayhawks – Hollywood Town Hall
    Jesus & Mary Chain – Psychocandy
    Los Lobos – Kiko
    Luna – Penthouse
    Morrissey – Your Arsenal
    Morrissey – World of…
    My Bloody Valentine – Loveless
    Oasis – Definitely Maybe
    Oasis – (What’s the Story) Morning Glory

    OK, that’s enough for now. The full list is here, if you dare!

  52. I’ve never heard anything by Brian Eno and I’ve only heard two songs by Roxy Music.

  53. Thanks, Oats.

    Belle & Sebastian – If You’re Feeling Sinister

    I know many of their singles but haven’t listened to a whole album and don’t really want to. Do I have to? Their aesthetic is designed to rub guys like me the wrong way. And they succeed.

    Buckley, Jeff – Grace

    Sort of okay if you like that sort of thing. I don’t, much. I prefer his Dad.

    Cure – Staring at the Sea: the Singles

    Have it, know it, ugh.

    Cure – Disintegration

    Don’t think I can go there.

    Def Leppard – Hysteria

    Some pop metal from the day. Not my favorite but playable.

    Def Leppard – Vault: Greatest Hits 1985-1990

    Well, mebbe. I’m unsure how Greatest Hits albums relate to the “major” album notion.

    Flaming Lips – Soft Bulletin

    I like this one quite a bit. Later releases have dampened my enthusiasm for it though. Qualifies as major maybe barely.

    Green Day – Dookie

    At first I liked this album fairly well. You know, retro. It wears thin though although I don’t mind hearing the songs on the radio.

    Green Day – International Superhits

    More or less the soundtrack for SoCal alt radio. I hear these songs twice a day just by breathing.

    Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction

    This one’s decent, the only Guns and Roses album I can bear though.

    Guns N’ Roses – Use Your Illusion I

    Forget about it. The singer is a poser idiot and the band doesn’t really rock. Seriously.

    Harvey, PJ – Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea

    I’m a big Harvey fan. Prefer the earlier records though.

    Hole – Live Through This

    Still in my regular rotation. Qualifies as major without doubt.

    Jayhawks – Hollywood Town Hall

    Still in my regular rotation although it falls off a bit on the back end. Qualifies as major.

    Jesus & Mary Chain – Psychocandy

    Okay, if not really as gripping as it’s supposed to be. Too much fuzz and not enough oomph.

    Los Lobos – Kiko

    Has any band made more good records without ever making a great one? I’ve heard Kiko a number of times but I can stick with their two CD compilation I think.

    Luna – Penthouse

    Wow–don’t know this one and have never even heard of it. I’m stumped! But do I want to hear a band with a name like this?

    Morrissey – Your Arsenal
    Morrissey – World of…

    Morrissey? No thanks. I didn’t like the Smiths even when they were good.

    My Bloody Valentine – Loveless

    Almost a genuinely major album. In occasional if not regular rotation around here.

    Oasis – Definitely Maybe
    Oasis – (What’s the Story) Morning Glory

    I’ve heard some Oasis. Maybe not enough. They’re one of those bands, I hear a song and I think, “That’s not terrible, but I can’t imagine wanting to own it.”

  54. diskojoe

    I have heard bits ‘n pieces of Exile on Main Street, but I never heard it all. I have heard the Beatles medley from the 1st Nillson album. I also haven’t heard most of the stuff on that RS list & I think I could live the remainder of my life cheerfully ignoring it.

    Also, after nearly 30 yrs., I did pick up a copy of Singles Going Steady by the Buzzcocks last week & I was rather impressed. Better late than never, I supposed.

  55. Hey Mwall,

    Thanks for responding. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on those album.

  56. Mr. Moderator


    The selections you’ve chosen are worth responding to, despite this list encouraging folks to skirt addressing their own personal sense of guilt. I feel it’s worth confronting society’s sense of guilt, as follows:

    Belle & Sebastian – If You’re Feeling Sinister: A friend burned it for me on tape many moons ago. It’s got a couple of songs I like a lot and a lot of other songs that make me think about what The Kinks would be like if they had no balls whatsoever. I’ve since grown to like some of their later albums, starting with the Trevor Horn-produced one. This has helped me like the older ones more, granting them forgiveness for not having grown any pubic hair yet.

    Buckley, Jeff – Grace: Hate it. This guy obviously had a lot of talent but he took it in ALL the wrong directions, in my opinion.

    Cure – Staring at the Sea: the Singles: This is an album I should one day buy but have long been embarrassed to be seen buying. I spent so many years wanting to bully them and their fans during the period when they first got really big, that I’m now rightfully ashamed for overlooking the fact that I actually like some of this stuff. I confess.

    Cure – Disintegration: I think this is one of those Siouxee and the Banshees-inspired “dark” albums, right? If this is the one I recall hearing a few times, I still hate it.

    Def Leppard – Hysteria: I’m embarrassed to even look at these guys let alone hear their music. I’ve heard some of the songs but maybe not a single one from beginning to end. They’re the heavy metal Freedy Johnston, for me, in the Rock Sex Appeal department.

    Def Leppard – Vault: Greatest Hits 1985-1990: See above.

    Flaming Lips – Soft Bulletin: I own this and plop it on the carousel once a year. It continues to bore me. They badly need a rock wedgie. I’ve got an earlier album by these guys that I like better because they play some songs that don’t suffer from the melodrama. I’ve heard an album or two since Soft Bulletin and have been equally unimpressed. (We opened for them at Revival when their first album came out, and they were pretty good. The live show, with the bassist operating a smoke and light show with foot petals, was killer.)

    Green Day – Dookie: I’m too old for this. I feel like I’m breaking into a Nickolodeon chat room.

    Green Day – International Superhits: See above.

    Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction: I pretty much hate this band. I’m not a big fan of Aerosmith in their prime, and these guys are like Aerosmith on the Hallmark channel. Too much drama. I could see the hair weaves coming from miles away.

    Guns N’ Roses – Use Your Illusion I: I’ve heard this too. This stuff sucks. Bands like this have contributed to our culture’s overall decline.

    Harvey, PJ – Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea: This album’s OK. I much prefer her first two albums, when she cut loose and did not use much reverb. The glamourpuss thing she started getting into wasn’t backed up by the “walk,” in my opinion. I find her dirtier when she’s actually dirty.

    Hole – Live Through This: There are few people I don’t know personally on earth who I despire more than Courtney Love. She can’t sing. Her songs are terrible. I’m embarrassed for people who purport to like her music.

    Jayhawks – Hollywood Town Hall: I own and like this album. The first few songs are especially great. Like their next album, they front load and then wind down into a little too much Eagles-inspired country rock for my tastes, but I always like the way their voices blend. Sadly, The Jayhawks sucked bigtime as soon as that one guy left the band.

    Jesus & Mary Chain – Psychocandy: Snooze. I have a lot of personal problems with this band, beginning with both the band’s name and the album’s title. Anyone who was digging this album upon its release was missing out on more substantial mixes of fuzz guitars, reverb, and the like. I will hear your confessions.

    Los Lobos – Kiko: This is the first Los Lobos album that didn’t make me want to punch producer Mitchell Froom, Mitchell Froom-produced Richard Thompson, The Blasters, and all the other beret-wearing roots rockers who’d banded together in the early ’80s. I would actually like this album and went onto buy the 3-CD collection of Los Lobos that came out around the same time. I’ve never bought another Los Lobos-related album, but at least the band no longer bugs me on the strength of their Blasters-like debut. Now I enjoy them the way I enjoy a fat, aging bench player who contributes to a baseball team.

    Luna – Penthouse: I don’t think I’ve heard this album, although I generally find this band boring and hold a grudge against them owing to Galaxie 500 opening for us on a bill where we opened for The Lemonheads in Boston. Galaxie 500 were as mediocre as any sub-VU band of that era in Anytown, USA. To this day I’m jealous of their eventual level success. I CONFESS! The Lemonheads’ set was incoherent. For their own sake I hope they were on heroin or something. I’ve never seen a band as bad as them that night.

    Morrissey – Your Arsenal: This album’s pretty good, and this is coming from a guy who can’t stand The Smiths.

    Morrissey – World of…: I think I’ve heard this one too. I like Morrissey solo much more than I like ANYTHING by The Smiths.

    My Bloody Valentine – Loveless: This band makes no sense to me. I’m seeing my dentist/drummer/friend tomorrow. The sound of his drill will be more pleasing.

    Oasis – Definitely Maybe: Their presentation is so pompous that I have trouble liking the occasional bits and pieces that I should like. Is this the album with “Champagne Supernova”? I find myself liking bits and pieces of that song, but then I’m put off by the pompous delivery of every bit and piece.

    Oasis – (What’s the Story) Morning Glory: See above.

  57. alexmagic

    Regarding a few of the artists Oats mentioned:

    I’m probably more amenable to Def Leppard than most on the site, having been at the right age to have found Pyromania perfectly rock-out-to-able at the time, but they do seem like a bunch of good guys you might hang out with who have the same taste in music that you do, but the unfortunate situation of being in a band that doesn’t really sound like any of those bands that you and they mutually admire.

    Overall, though, I can appreciate a song like Photograph, their pseudo-KISS musical tendencies and references to T. Rex, but I do distinctly remember how hilariously bad Adrenalize and “Let’s Get Rocked” were when they came out.

    On GNR, I’m probably again one of the people on the site of the right age to truly enjoy Appetite For Destruction, and everything after that is the best train wreck entertainment in music. If you haven’t, I recommend delving into the post-“Welcome To The Jungle” video insanity of the band. I’ve kind of wanted to do a retrospective of the infamous GNR video “trilogy” for a while. A truly awesome overblown rock meltdown captured on tape. With dolphins. Dolphins!

    The Flaming Lips are a good musical example of something that people would probably expect me to like based on other things I like, and yet I don’t. Kind of like Monty Python and non-hallucinogenic mushrooms.

    Like Def Leppard, Oasis seem like a bunch of guys (or two guys and some interchangeable bald dudes) who have the same taste in music as you do, but unlike Oasis, probably aren’t a bunch of good guys you’d hang out with. I hated Wonderwall and Champagne Supernova, but every now and then they’d throw in a real obvious Beatle-y musical curlicue, like some note in the middle of that 20 minute long “All Around The World” song, that I’d like. I might have liked them better if it had only been Noel Gallagher.

  58. Great stuff from Mr. Moderator and Alexmagic. Should I post the rest of modern-day five-star albums from that list?

  59. ,blockquote>Great stuff from Mr. Moderator and Alexmagic. Should I post the rest of modern-day five-star albums from that list?

    You dissin’ me, Oats?

  60. Never mind, Oats. I didn’t see your earlier response to me. I just felt left out, man, and hurt. It’s been a fun exercise.

  61. 2000 Man

    Man, I’ve never understood why Morrissey or The Smiths were liked by anyone other than terminally depressed people. The Cure look depressing, and I don’t think I’d play an album here in my house or car, but I like to hear them on the radio. They seem like they’re terminally depressed too, but they seem a little optimistic.

    mwall nailed it on Guns N Roses!

    My problem with Belle and Sebastian is that they’re everything I don’t like about Indie Rock, all wrapped up in one cute little band.

    I saw Def Leppard when they were touring their first album, On Through the Night. I still like that album, it’s a nice, catchy pop metal thing that was pretty cool when I was 17 or so. I dont like where they went after that.

    Hole and PJ Harvey just seem to be of a gender that has a hard time breaking into my collection. Maybe I listen to music less for understanding others than validating my own ideas, but I don’t have that much stuff by women.

    I think I’m too old for Green Day, but I’m glad the kids have them. I had the bands that did that the first time around, and I think Green Day can help turn kids on to even better stuff.

    I can’t stand Oasis. A Champagne Supernova always sounded like something two older men in love keep between themselves in polite circles.

    My kids tell me Flaming Lips are awesome, man. They burned me with Radiohead, so I haven’t taken them up on these guys yet. But I will one day.

    Los Lobos, Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine just never seemed to grab me when I’ve heard them enough to buy their stuff.

    But just so I’m not a complete turd – I absolutely love that Jayhawks album. The guy that gave that five stars deserves a raise. I play that one a lot.

    I’m pretty sure all of you guys that haven’t succumbed to Exile on Main St. are going to hell.

  62. Re: Los Lobos – I genuinely like Kiko, but my favorite remains “how will the wolf survive”, which is much more straight ahead. I also, oddly, really like their EP, La pistol y el corazon, which is acoustic renditions of Mexican folk songs. They are one of those democratic bands with multiple members, so the guy with the sunglasses gets a bluesy rocker on every album, etc. I once read an interview with Eddie Van Halen and I remember he made a great statement about making albums: the worst thing you can do is compromise for everyone’s sake. This is probably why there are always some great high points to their albums, but also some lows (which are not really that low, all things being relative).

  63. BTW, when I wrote “multiple members” what I meant was “multiple songwriters”.

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