Wednesday, October 21, 2009

All-Time Overrated Album List

Over and over again, they appear on the kind of “Best Album” lists music magazines like to publish. I give my own star ratings out of five. Ranking is based on difference between critical status and actual quality.

10. The Beautiful Letdown – Switchfoot – No critic’s darling, this makes the list because I’ve heard scores of Christians use it to justify the artistic worth of an entire subgenre. I’ve bashed CCM enough already, but this album deserves special mention for its miserable eclecticism. Few records manage so many different kinds of unpleasant: cracker jive poetry (“The Beautiful Letdown”, “Gone”), self-help as salvation (“Dare You To Move”) a Soundgarden cast-off shrunken in the wash (“Meant to Live”), and a ballad whose inscrutable conceit at best guess comes from a Benthamite network action program (“24”), and pervasive preachy cultural commentary. 1 star
9. Nevermind – Nirvana – The most important album of the 90s as far as the industry is concerned, but hardly the best. The opening of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” never fails to cause some impressive recoil, but the tune itself outstays its welcome by two or so minutes. The next four cuts are undeniable, but then along comes “Polly” and only like three people in history have even made it all the way through side 2. Note: The follow-up, In Utero, is a truly great album. 4 stars
8. Rumours – Fleetwood Mac – Tell you the truth, I like this album quite a bit. It’s warm and it’s melodic and a couple of its cuts shed some light on my own past romantic dysfunctions. I can say exactly the same thing about hundreds of other albums, including one or two in the band’s own catalog, and none of them ever were ever called the 25th best album of all time. 3.5 stars
7. At Fillmore East – The Allman Brothers Band – It boogies like hell. Trouble is that I often find the rhythm section, which cheats by having two drummers, more compelling than the guitarists, and often as not, the solos piledrive a single lick to death. An enjoyable but hardly revelatory affair. 3.5 stars
6. Tommy – The Who – The music is fitfully gripping, but the plotline of the world’s first rock opera is moronic (woot), especially on film. I like people on drugs just fine, so long as they realize that they’re on drugs and don’t try to go all philosophical on you. Commentary on empiricism ignored, even the best cuts here are gimmicks, and the ferocious physicality of the band’s best work is missing. 2.5 stars
5. Untrue – Burial – I still recall my first time listening to this record, being fully drawn into the pleading soundscapes of “Archangel”. Then cut after cut tried to draw me in again, employing the same timbres and rhythmic hiccups, with exponentially diminishing returns. 2.5 stars
4. (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? – Oasis – Admittedly, their first album has some dumb fun to it, but the pretentions arrived an album earlier than critics generally acknowledge. “Wonderwall” is melodically stunted, “Champagne Supernova” contains some of the stupidest lines ever penned this side of Neil Diamond, and the rockers tread water in a sea of atrocious production. To their credit, I don’t think they took a single thing from the Beatles. 1.5 stars
3. Paranoid – Black Sabbath – It birthed heavy metal, which explains most things detestable about the genre. The rhythm section is slovenly, the production has the girth of an anorexic and Ozzy has a grand doubles the guitar parts at a quarter tone flat. The titular anthem is an admittedly good time. 3 stars
2. Hotel California – The Eagles – 3rd wave hippies think the title cut “means something”, people who don’t play guitar are impressed by the solo and white people from the suburbs dig da reggae riddim mon. There’s an album attached to it that nobody gives a rat’s rear about. 2.5 stars
1. Never Mind the Bullocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols – A little secret: I’ve not once listened to this album from beginning to end. It’s poorly played, which is fine if the songs are short and light and peppy, but not when they’re long and sluggish and nihilistic. It broke punk about 8 years after punk was invented, so it might as well have invented it, right? For my money, The Buzzcocks’ “Singles Going Steady” is twice as offensive (see: “Orgasm Addict”) and ten times as fun (see: “Orgasm Addict”). 2 stars

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"I Can't Win, Cause I Don't Have a Thing to Lose"

Customer name week was unfortunately cut short by travel. It was worth it.

Damn Right Ive Got the Blues - Buddy Guy

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

"What Sea Shall I Say is Calling?"

Stephanie Says - The Velvet Underground

Customer Name Week

When a customer places a drink order at our bar, we typically take the customer's name so as to call out his or her drink when it is ready. Whenever that name has a song associated with it, I have the urge to sing that song. Unfortunately, I discovered long ago that most people have heard their song before, and they do not appreciate it. This week, I will use the blog to provide a little catharsis for myself by featuring songs using the names of frequent customers.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Incredible Piece of Obama Memorabilia...Cancelled

There is a medium sized American industry dedicated to collectibles bearing likenesses of Presidential visages. Such items are typically manufactured in lots of 5000 and advertised in word search puzzle anthologies and coupon sections of the Community Press. Said collectibles are generally inoffensive. One notable exception is the Barack Obama chia pet, recently pulled from CVS pharmacies due to customer complaints. I suppose it is offensive because: (a) Barack Obama is a Muslim, (b) Barack Obama is a prophet (c) Muslims don't like visual representations of their prophets.

Note: I was just inspired to begin writing my Christmas list.