Theatre Of Tragedy

Theatre Of Tragedy (1995)

Thy titles are fancy, thy songs are cr@ppy.

Grade: D

Velvet Darkness They Fear (1996)

‘Ode To A Pretentious Wanker’ OR…
Thyest titles are fancyerest, thyest songs are cr@ppierest.

Grade: D-

Aegis (1998)

Conquering their fear of showing beauty.  Occasionally.
(“Venus”)

Grade: B-

11/19/12: “Venus” IS beautiful, and haunting.  Nothing else matches that, but if you could switch tracks 1 and 8, you’d have a seamlessly pretty (and powerful, if not quite haunting) side two.  I mean, last four tracks.  Ahhh…those were the days…  Grade: B

Assembly (2002)

Just sad.  Except “Automatic Lover”, which is just danceable.

Grade: D-

Queen

Greatest Hits (1981)

Indescribably silly, sure.  But a lot better camp than Rocky Horror.  And Brian May is some sort of guitar hero.
(“Another One Bites The Dust”, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”)

Grade: A-

Lynyrd Skynyrd

Gold & Platinum (1979)

I originally dismissed (or more accurately, ignored) this band because I was SO SO SO sick of hearing “Free Bird”.  But that’s as unfair as dismissing Led Zep because you think “Stairway” is overplayed.  Of course it is, but there’s plenty of other music worth playing.  Not the band’s fault that radio stations don’t understand this the way their fans do.  So I listened to these songs, and came to the conclusion that in their brief career these Proud-to-be-Southerners pulled off quite a neat trick:  They showed the difference between being a Redneck and a Proud Southerner.  Intelligent, angry, faithful, and Pro-Humanity.  And they weren’t afraid to take on Neil Young’s swipe at Southerners, either.  Amen.
(“Gimme Back My Bullets”, “Simple Man”, “Saturday Night Special”)

Grade: A

Warren Zevon

A Quiet Normal Life: The Best Of Warren Zevon (1986)

I’m getting near the end of my reviews and yes, I’m slacking off.  I’ve earned it, d@mnit.  
A decent record.

Grade: B-

2011:  Warren Zevon was always much more of a genuine weirdo than he was a real musical talent.  It’s a bit surprising that he achieved even the modest level of cult popularity that he did, because except for the one-shot “Werewolves Of London”, which is about as relevant and indicative of his “talent” as “Detachable Penis” was for King Missile, he’s pretty boring.  I mean, when you write a pleasant little ditty about the trials and tribulations of a deranged killer (“Excitable Boy”) and it’s still not particularly interesting, even in a gruesome macabre sort of way, that’s not a good sign.  I’ll take “Detachable Penis”, thank you.  Grade: C

2012: It just gets more meaningless with age.  Grade: C-

Rob Zombie

Hellbilly Deluxe (1998)

TWO good songs and then cr@p.  It’s better than White Zombie’s one, isn’t it?  Does anyone really care that much?  Oh, by the way…his movies SUCK, unless you take “gratuitous” as a compliment.
(“Living Dead Girl”, “Dragula”)

Grade: C

Neil Young

Decade (1977)

SO much overrated, mediocre music.  It’s enough to make one nauseous.  Occasionally a good one marches by, but it’s just not worth it.
(“Like A Hurricane”)

Grade: C

2010: (I was an idiot) Grade: B+

Harvest Moon (1992)

Forlorn and gently beautiful, the peak of this album is high indeed.  I fell in love with “War Of Man” from the first time I heard it, and it hasn’t lost an iota of power in fifteen years.  The first song, “Unknown Legend”, is a great introduction to the album.  Not a great song, but it shows where Young plans on going this time around.  Which is to play softly and sing softly for the most part, with a little harmonica thrown in.  I love the general atmosphere here.  I would be totally enraptured and handing out an A+ if all the writing and performing had the same magic as “War Of Man”.  Dare to Dream…
(“War Of Man”)

Grade: C

Greatest Hits (2004)

Neil Young has always had a remarkable, unquenchable spirit and vitality, a purpose to his music and to his life that I perhaps can’t fully understand because I’m not nearly as deep.  When this spirit comes through fully in his vocals/lyrics, especially when it’s matched by music of a similar quality and standard, it can be haunting, scary, or both.  Capable of intense fury and complete and utter wistful longing, he makes music as he always has – for himself.  If you like it, fine.  If you don’t, fine.  I like a lot of it.
(“Cinnamon Girl”, “Ohio”, “Rockin’ In The Free World”)

Grade: A-

The Who

Who’s Next (1971)

I wish I liked this album just a little bit more than I do.  Why?  Because I “admire” the songs more than I actually LIKE them.  There are lots of good points on the album, but also a lot of something I don’t like.  No, not filler…there isn’t a truly weak track on the whole thing.  I’m talking about maudlin sentimentality.  If Pete Townshend could (or would) just rock a little more, I think the whole album would improve.  It’s got a fey sort of quality that turns me off even as it turns me on.  Very strange, I know.  And there are definite rocking and/or intriguing moments aplenty.  At the heart of the album is “Behind Blue Eyes”, which I like completely and without reservation, partly because like many others, I can relate to it on some level.  And because the lyrics, for lack of a better term, kick a$$.
(“Behind Blue Eyes”, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”)

Grade: B+

2010: (I’ve grown to like it more) Grade: A-

Quadrophenia (1973)

This band seems to enjoy sampling itself on some albums.  Basically, using the same riff and musical structure over and over again in different songs.  This could signal two things, depending on how much you like and “trust” them.  Either Pete Townshend has a limited musical resource collection and uses this “building riff” system to make songwriting easier, or he’s intentionally building up to several climaxes at the “high points” of the albums.  ‘Tommy’ is an obvious example of this.  The one thing that always seems to be different on this album is the lyrics.  Townshend obviously enjoys the rock-opera stylings that grace this album and others, and he seems self-absorbed enough to write the entire thing any which way he chooses, without regard for public regard and/or sales. Personally, I get sick of it pretty quickly.  When he doesn’t try so d@mn hard to make a story out of an album, this gets pretty good.  But those moments aren’t enough.  Townshend’s rock-opera stylings have much in common with musicals.  And as far as musicals go, I don’t go for them with some notable exceptions (‘Rocky Horror’).
(“Love, Reign O’er Me”)

Grade: C

My Generation- The Very Best Of The Who (1996)

Never been a big Who fan, so even their best isn’t all that great to me.  Lots of it, though, and it’s mildly enjoyable (almost) throughout.
(“I Can See For Miles”)

Grade: B

2010: (…VERY enjoyable (almost) throughout) Grade: A-

Yes

The Yes Album (1971)

No contender to rival their best album, it still knocks out their worst (assuming you can’t get much worse than ‘Close To The Edge’.  Then again, I’ve yet to have the honor of hearing ‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’.  Yuck.).  “Yours Is No Disgrace” is constructed around Steve Howe’s killer riffs, and “Starship Trooper” features some great mounting guitar-plus-noise, culminating in a guitar war with himself for Mr. Howe.  His contributions are marvelous, and I’d dare say he’s one of my favorite guitarists, when he’s on.  Which he certainly is here.
(“Yours Is No Disgrace”, “Starship Trooper”)

Grade: B

2011:  Steve Howe is the attraction here.  Without him they’re mediocre, and with him not caring/trying they’re mediocre.  He’s trying on this album.  I don’t think there’s anything special about “I’ve Seen All Good People” lyrically, because Jon Anderson just writes whatever he thinks is profound at the moment and while most of the time it’s just nonsense, statistically you have to be coherent once in a while.  I like the SONG because of the music, the way the different parts mesh together and form a synthesis (like, I don’t know, classical music and hard rock) that is greater than…you know.  But the real reason to listen to this is that Howe’s riffs will rock your socks off.  He is absolutely out of his mind on “Starship Trooper” and “Yours Is No Disgrace”, and the other band members contribute well enough to back him up and make it stick.
(“Yours Is No Disgrace”, “Starship Trooper(Wurm)”)

Grade: B+

Fragile (1972)

A great art-rock album, this one never lets up.  The song fragments are interesting and appropriate, providing imagery to enliven the longer proceedings here very well.  The two long songs that open and close the album are d@mn good.  There are no bad songs…this is one of the few that you can put on and never have to worry about when to fast forward past that embarassing track. Admittedly, it’s much better when you’re drunk.  But that’s only to say that it is bordering on heaven (ahem, “We Have Heaven”) when wasted.  Sober, it falls back to ordinary run-of-the-mill great.
(“Roundabout”, “We Have Heaven”, “Heart Of The Sunrise”)

Grade: A

Close To The Edge (1972)

Too close to the edge.  They must have fallen in.  The only one I’ll really miss is Steve Howe.

Grade: D

Tales From Topographic Oceans (1974)

Finally having heard this album, I run to the safety, comfort, and incredible quality of ‘Close To The Edge’.  Compared to this, ‘Close’ is a masterpiece.  There are four “songs” here, and they’re all incredibly boring and completely free from musical quality or anything even approaching a good vocal or instrumental hook.  Quite possibly the worst album I’ve ever heard.

Grade: F

White Zombie

La Sexorcisto (1992)

Deja Vu.  Or Vuja De, since this was reviewed after ‘Astro-Creep’, but came out before it.  One good song leading us trusting folk astray.
(“Thunder Kiss ’65”)

Grade: D+

Astro-Creep: 2000 (1995)

A friend of mine many years ago bought this album based on (in his view) the great single, “More Human Than Human”.  His direct appraisal of the rest of the album was that it, and I quote, “sucked”.  But that’s too strong of a negative analysis.  “An album far less cr@ppy than the previous one” might be appropriate.

Grade: C

Weezer

Weezer (1994)

This is rather silly.  I never was much of a fan of silly rock.  Silly pop, maybe.  But I don’t want lyrics about sweaters and such bringing down my enjoyment of power chords.  Inconsistent, too.  A good band could get away with inane lyrics, but I’m afraid this band isn’t quite good enough.
(“Say It Ain’t So”)

Grade: C

2012: (Comparatively brilliant.  Come on, I just listened to ‘Degradation Trip’) Grade: B-

The White Stripes

Elephant (2003)

I’m definitely racist in terms of my musical Jacks.  I prefer White over Black any day.  Which isn’t an insult to Jack Black…after all, he has acting skill (?) to fall back on.  And he still beats the hell out of Jack Russell.  Oh…the album review.  Sorry.  Uneven but entertaining rock/pop with hooks.
(“Seven Nation Army”)

Grade: B-

Get Behind Me Satan (2005)

The sound of most of this album is so similar to Elephant that it’s either comforting or depressing, depending on whether or not you prefer musicians who “grow” or those that use the same formula each time out.  That’s not a criticism, just an observation.  Myself, I like to hear a good formula repeated over and over again as long as it produces similarly good results.  When the results start to wane, perhaps it’s time to branch out a little.  I suppose the guitar parts here are a bit different than ‘Elephant”s in that they perform at unexpected and unusual times, with mixed results.  I know, you’ve heard this before: songwriting.  ‘Elephant’ without the hits.  It’s not embarassing…maybe some good cocktail music at your next party.  You know, music that doesn’t demand attention and just sort of fades into the background as you go about your business.

Grade: D+

Various

Braveheart Soundtrack (1995)

I’m a bit biased, as this is (one of) my favorite movie(s) of all time.  That probably makes me overly generous in reviewing the soundtrack.  I will say that it does drag and/or become overly repetitive at a few points, and if you hate classical music you’ll probably hate this.  I myself am neutral on classical music.  This soundtrack, however, captures quite well the spirit of each scene it was written for.  Now go watch the movie, if you haven’t yet.
(“Revenge”, “Making Plans/Gathering The Clans”)

Grade: A-

MTV Buzz Bin, Volume 1 (1996)

I absolutely adore compilations like this.  That is, compilations of (mostly) good songs that make it unnecessary to shell out good money for the entire album.  Of course, today it’s a little different, given that you can get any single song you want online.  Some of these songs are on worthwhile albums, but there’s enough that aren’t to make it quite a nice little purchase.
(“Low”, “Creep”, “Everything Zen”)

Grade: A

The Rocky Horror Picture Show – Original Soundtrack (1975)

Do you like camp?  Really?  I’m talking major-league camp.  I’m talking original ‘STAR TREK’ CAMP!  If your answer is still yes, you’ll enjoy at least some of this.  In my opinion this demented little album peaks a little too soon, then fades.  Generally people either love it or hate it.  I don’t hate it.  I SHOULD, I know…it’s utterly ridiculous.  But sometimes, when you’re in a bad mood, “Time Warp” will come on the radio and get your toes a tappin’.
(“Time Warp”)

Grade: C

2010: (Hey, it makes you smile) Grade: C+

Singles Soundtrack (1992)

The “soundtrack to my generation”, I’ve heard this called.  And while I like that idea in theory (it would make a nice conversation piece), the material is far too spotty to even approach such an accolade.
(“Would?”, “Nearly Lost You”)

Grade: C+

Stevie Ray Vaughan

Greatest Hits (1995)

I have nothing against guitar Gods.  Sure, I think Hendrix is overrated. He had a revolutionary style, but his songwriting skills were far below his guitar playing.  So I listened to this album with an open mind before deciding that despite a beautiful (and superior to the original) cover of Hendrix’s “Little Wing”, this wasn’t really for my tastes.  Will you like it?  If you don’t demand songform with your (d@mn) good guitar noise, probably.
(“Little Wing”)

Grade: C+

Type O Negative

Bloody Kisses (1993)

If they have one, this is the definitive, good Type O album.  Sure they went a little commercial, but you can’t call them sellouts when they include a little ditty called “Kill All The White People” on their album.
Inspirational Quote: “Lovin’ you was like lovin the dead.”
(“Christian Woman”, “Black No. 1”)

Grade: B+

2012: Proof that “goth” can be intelligent, snide, and funny without being mean.  Rarely.  It’s a huge bundle of riffs, harmony, fake-vampire growls and jokes.  It’s also the best “gothic”-ish album I’ve ever heard.  And I’ve heard a lot of them.  P. Steele was laughing the whole time. Grade: A-

October Rust (1996)

A huge dropoff after ‘Bloody Kisses’, this pretty much destroys any pop credibility that this band had gained from their previous effort.  Not that they really care at all, necessarily.  ‘Bloody Kisses’ made them comfortably well off, and they can tour all the time and put out the occasional album with the occasional good song and keep chugging for many years to come.

Grade: C-

World Coming Down (1999)

I guess this is what non-fans (I’m on the fence) hear when they listen to Type-O…murky, overblown, overly dramatic, poor in the lyrics department and without a single noteworthy musical idea.  I’m not even going to acknowledge the Beatles cover.  This album should be avoided at all costs.

Grade: F

Life Is Killing Me (2003)

Full of filler and a couple of decent songs, this is Type O Negative at their true talent level: mediocre, if that, with one brief shining moment of very-goodness (‘Bloody Kisses’).

Grade: D+

U2

Boy (1980)

Talk about your rock n’ roll turnarounds.  Starting off as a fresh-faced, young, peacefully Christian band, they eventually moved into some pretty strange areas, musically and image-wise.  Bono wearing all black and sunglasses??  What the fck is that all about?  Was it artistic freedom on display as they changed their image and sound so much by the time of ‘Achtung Baby’?  Maybe.  But I liked them a lot better when The Edge’s guitar rang out strong and pure, saving even the most inane Bono-produced lyrics from the garbage heap.  Like here, for instance.

Grade: C+

October (1981)

Let’s get to the two main points here.  One, I like this widely dismissed album.  Two, Bono has never written worse lyrics than he does here, and he probably never will.  That being said, the question is why like an album whose lyrics range from competent-at-best to downright embarassing and grimace-inducing?  Because even on the bad ones, The Edge chimes in with wonderful, crooked guitar noise.  He’s never been as consistent in his playing before or after this album, and it is an absolute pleasure to hear his commentary.  Too bad Bono couldn’t at least provide decent lyrics.  Then this might be a classic (seriously!).  Example- “Scarlet”, which has one word in it (repeated several times, and not for effect, but because Bono couldn’t think of anything else), but which is made by The Edge’s repeated, slightly altered call-and-response guitar.
(“I Threw A Brick Through A Window”)

Grade: B

The Joshua Tree (1987)

Well, they certainly know their good songs from their not-so-good ones.  The four best start the album off, and make it worth owning even if the rest is old tat (and most of it is).  Sadly beautiful, elegantly framed by The Edge’s guitar, their best album is a treat to listen to on occasion.
(“With Or Without You”, “Bullet The Blue Sky”)

Grade: B+

The Best Of: 1980-1990 (1998)

“Best of” is, of course, a matter of opinion.  I really don’t know why some bands call their compilations “best of” and others “greatest hits”.  In either case, it’s generally untrue, whether based on opinion (everyone has a different idea about what the absolute best is) or based on absolute fact (if you call an album “greatest hits”, you should probably put all their…wanna guess?  RIGHT!  All their GREATEST HITS on it).  Invariably that doesn’t happen, as the band chooses to slap on an album cut they like and stiff you on the other HIT you thought you paid for.  This is not, in my opinion, the best U2 album that could have been constructed from 1980-1990 material.  I’d stick three or four different songs on it, including of course “I Threw A Brick Through A Window”.  But I’m just quibbling for the sake of padding out the review.  It’s a great album, no question.  I could have made an A+.  They apparently are content with a slightly lower grade.  Fine.  See if I care.  Sniff sniff.
(“With Or Without You”, “Desire”, “I Will Follow”)

Grade: A

Robin Trower

Bridge Of Sighs (1985)

Don’t get excited by comparisons to Jimi Hendrix, good or bad.  He’s obviously not Jimi Hendrix, but to say or believe he’s worthless because he sounds verrrrry similar to a guitar God is to say that all Jimmy Page, Joe Perry, etc. imitators and followers are cr@p.  Which wouldn’t be fair to a lot of good music.  Bottom line, almost every song has been written at least in part by someone else already, so if that bothers you so much you should throw out all your “imitator” albums.  The only problem I have with my own logic and my strong defense is that this album sucks beyond the title cut.  But that’s no reason to hate the man.

Grade: D

Traffic

Feelin’ Alright: The Very Best Of Traffic (2000)

I’m not even a fan, really.  I just kinda like “Low Spark” and had lots of available cash at the time.  So I bought a best-of, figuring it would be, at least, tolerable.  And it is, for the most part.  But it isn’t any friggin GOOD.  Back to the drawing board.
(“The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys”)

Grade: C

The Traveling Wilburys

Volume 1 (1988)

I love the idea of this “Supergroup”, even though it claims Bob Dylan as one of its members.  Dylan and Geddy Lee are waging a furious battle for worst vocalist in the known universe.  Dylan’s winning, because he refuses to disguise the vocal terror that is his natural singing/talking along with music voice.  But I have no objections to the others, and it seemed something really nice could come from this.  I’m not wholly disappointed, as this album does have two viable good songs on it, but it should have more…especially considering that there are four decent songwriters in the band.  Oh well.  You live, you learn to accept disappointment.  Great vocal by Harrison on the opening cut.
(“Handle With Care”)

Grade: C

Tool

Opiate (1992)

Still your worst drug value.

Grade: F

Undertow (1993)

In retrospect, they’ve gotten better and better with each album up to 2001’s ‘Lateralus’.  This is a leap ahead of ‘Opiate’ (thank God) but several steps behind ‘Aenima’, not a bad thing.
(“Sober”)

Grade: C+

Aenima (1996)

GREAT first two songs and album cover.  Could it turn out to be a masterpiece?  No.  Reason?  You can’t really have an entire album full of only good/great songs, unless that album is called “Greatest Hits”, and even then it’s iffy depending on the song selection and the quality/consistency of the band.  The song fragments here are annoying and unnecessary, they add nothing to the album.  The final song is a waste of time, and rather annoying itself.  Besides that, there are several other fairly-good-to-good songs here to back up the opening salvo.
(“Eulogy”, “Stinkfist”)

Grade: B+

4/20/13: The album cover don’t enter into it, but it’s still cool.  Re: the “reason”, that’s not true.  You CAN have an entire album full of only good/great songs, but it’s not common, and you need more talent than this band has.  And “Eulogy” should have been last, not second, unless the actual concept here is “wretched song-order placement”.  Grade: B+

Lateralus (2001)

Lurking at that point between B and A, I’m torn.  Some of the songs are hooky, well sung, and well written.  Some others merely have mild atmospheric charm.  In the end, the good songs just aren’t quite good enough to push them over the edge and into a stellar grade.  Nice try, though.
(“Schism”, “Reflection”)

Grade: B+

10,000 Days (2006)

It all sort of blends together and it all sort of sounds the same.  A bit boring after two good albums, both of which had the advantage of much better gloomy riff/vocal noise.  This may well be the end.

Grade: D+

Third Eye Blind

Third Eye Blind (1997)

They put all the good stuff at the beginning.  After track 6, do yourself a favor and reset it to the beginning, or better yet take it off and put on something better.
(“Losing A Whole Year”)

Grade: B-

Tonic

Lemon Parade (1996)

The big hit got boring REALLY fast.  So then we move on to the lesser hits and album tracks, which have their moments.  They’ve either aged better, been better right from the start, or (probably) have not been listened to nearly as much.  It’s comforting to know some of my albums degrade and date themselves as the days go by.  Do I sound bitter to you?
(“Open Up Your Eyes”)

Grade: C+

Temple Of The Dog

Temple Of The Dog (1991)

I used to ADORE this album, especially the hypnotic and powerful “Hunger Strike”.  But I’ve found myself getting sick of the (two) songs I never really loved all that much, and my passion for a lot of the “good” songs has turned into more of an admiration at accomplishment than a desire to actually listen to them.  Of course, things like that can happen when an album’s in heavy rotation in one’s playback device of choice for months.  Take this grade as a composite of my former adoration and my current admiration and simple appreciation.  It could go back up, it could just as easily plummet off the radar.  I hope it goes up, because I WANT to like this album.
(“Wooden Jesus”, “Hunger Strike”, “Say Hello 2 Heaven”)

Grade: A-

2012:  This is a beautiful and moving tribute made for one reason – Love.  Twenty years later, it still blows me away at times.  A classic.  Grade: A