All posts by Puppy

The Police

Every Breath You Take: The Classics (1995)

I’ve always liked The Police (except when “Roxanne” is played on the radio and I have to comfort myself in the knowledge that it will be over in 3:12, Hallelujah!).  I’ve just never really liked them QUITE enough to buy any single album of theirs.  Behold, the answer to my prayers.  A great album without doubt, it makes me a little sad that they broke up at their peak.
(“King Of Pain”, “Every Breath You Take”, “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic”)

Grade: A+

The Police (2007)

Everything you could possibly want by The Police (Therefore better than ‘The Classics’) and, unfortunately, more (Therefore worse than ‘The Classics’).  For the dedicated fan.
(“Can’t Stand Losing You”, “So Lonely”, “Synchronicity I”)

Grade: A

The Pretenders

The Singles (1987)

Even their good songs always struck me as a bit lacking in one area or another.  Actually, to be honest, I just don’t like them for some reason.  Some of their songs I recognize as quality songs that I SHOULD like, but I don’t.  I find them dull, boring, and occasionally annoying, even when I know in my head that they aren’t.  At least, not ALL the time.  That being said, there’s a lot of (to me) boring sections here, and I’ve never liked Chrissie Hynde’s vocals.  Oh well…sometimes your best just isn’t good enough.

Grade: C

The Pixies

Come On Pilgrim (1987)

No hooks (except maybe on “Vamos”), lots of stupid lyrics (including “Vamos”) and Black Francis’ sometimes annoying voice lead to a total clunker.

Grade: D-

Surfer Rosa (1988)

Solid, solid.  The decent songs just keep on coming, with only minor setbacks (what the hell were they thinking with “Tony’s Theme”??).  Definitely worth owning, it’s got some great rock guitar in it.  Just don’t pay too much attention to the lyrics.
(“River Euphrates”, “Where Is My Mind?”)

Grade: B+

2011: (I still hate “Tony’s Theme”, which I could have written in about 3.2 seconds, but every other song is decent.  Which is good and bad.  “Where Is My Mind?” is the only one that REALLY sticks, and in today’s age, that’s dangerous.  Luckily it already sold oodles of copies) Grade: A-

Doolittle (1989)

Solid ALL the way through for fifteen songs is quite some achievement.  Unfortunately, only “Monkey Gone To Heaven” even hints at anthem status.  They try to make up for good-but not-great quality with mass quantity.  If you like to be moderately interested in an album uninterrupted by filler or failure, you’ll love this.  If you want killer tracks, not so much.
(“Monkey Gone To Heaven”)

Grade: B+

2011: (Take ‘Surfer Rosa’, scramble it around, and VOILA!) Grade: A-

Bossanova (1990)

I used to absolutely ADORE this band, and especially this album.  The love affair has fallen off, though, and I believe I can grade them impartially.  The music is almost always interesting here, but (as with all Pixies releases) the lyrics are sometimes just plain stupid, and a nice instrumental becomes a tolerable bit of noise.  One of the worst lyricists that I actually LIKE (because he can write catchy tunes), Black Francis enjoys indulging himself far more than he enjoys pandering to his audience.  Fair enough, but don’t expect anyone to stay for the words once the music starts to fade.
(“Rock Music”, “The Happening”)

Grade: A-

2011: (Space-Age Prog-Rockish Mysticism livens things up a bit) Grade: A

Trompe Le Monde (1991)

The dropoff is obvious, and this is their worst album since ‘Come On Pilgrim’.  That said, it’s still pretty good (all their albums after ‘Come On Pilgrim’ are at least pretty good).  I’m just begging Kim Deal to start writing more of the lyrics.  When given enough good musical backup, Black Francis’ subpar lyrics achieve a semi-mystical quality.  Otherwise they’re there to be focused on and laughed at.
(“Alec Eiffel”, “Space (I Believe In)”)

Grade: B

2010: (Spacey) Grade: B+

Death To The Pixies (1997)

LOTS of music here, good and bad.  It doesn’t get all their best songs, and dismissing “The Happening” in favor of the utterly f’n ridiculous “Tony’s Theme” is beyond my comprehension.  But, as written previously, there IS a lot of good music here, easily outweighing the bad.  Their “Greatest Hits” could have been so much better.  But hey, you take what you can get.
(“Monkey Gone To Heaven”, “Rock Music”)

Grade: A-

Pink

Missundaztood (2001)

I put this album on fully expecting to either hate it or find it dreadfully boring and/or sappy.  Then I heard the first song…not bad.  Then the second…hey, I’ve heard this one before.  Then the third…ummm, this is getting scary.  Then the fourth…alright, alright d@mnit.  I was wrong.  It does not suck.  It’s pure pop, which I often loathe, and it’s GOOD.  D@mn thing is actually good.  But not great.  After all, I didn’t stop at track four.
(“Numb”)

Grade: B

Pink Floyd

Meddle (1971)

The composition on side two has its moments.  Not enough for 23 minutes of your time, but decent background music.  The songs on side one include a very moving “Fearless” (with some help from “You’ll Never Walk Alone”) and a scary/funny/very bass-heavy “One of These Days”.  So they go 3-for-6, with a single, a double, and an inside-the-park home run.  Not bad.
(“Fearless”)

Grade: B

Obscured By Clouds (1972)

Thoroughly relaxing and potentially sleep-inducing most of the time, this album mainly serves to illustrate how much Roger Waters and Company eventually improved from as writers.  It’s not horrid, it’s not even bad, really…just nothing special, nothing of particular interest with the possible exception of “Free Four”.

Grade: C-

Dark Side Of The Moon (1973)

I’m not sure exactly what the concept here is, but all the guitar noise and bass and synth hooks and strange, unexpected sound effects merge together quite nicely, thank you very much.  Since it’s made to all blend and work together, single songs maybe don’t have as much chance to stand out from the rest quite as well as one might like.  But I’ve heard this album a million times, and I can still get into some songs more than others, either disregarding or enjoying the effects around the tune.
(“Time”, “Money”)

Grade: A-

Wish You Were Here (1975)

From all accounts that I’ve heard a tribute to former leader Syd Barrett, this is a good album bookended by “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” (Parts 1 and 2) and featuring a great guest vocal on the vitriolic “Have A Cigar”.  Roger Waters is taking over here, and thus the cynical and depressed will find a nice pleasant place to hang their hat.  He’s a bit of a downer, but the man can write.  And, more importantly, the other Floyd members can’t, unless you count the lessening and lessening contributions from lead guitarist David Gilmour.  Nothing here to knock your socks off…the peaks aren’t all that high, to be honest.  But the only real failure is “Welcome To The Machine”, which fails musically and as an album cut that fits well with the others.  I mean, I’m a big Roger Waters fan…and he always will be Pink Floyd to me.  But “Machine” makes no attempts at commerciality or even listenability.  Perhaps Roger just did it for himself.  If so, he has really bad taste.
(“Have A Cigar”)

Grade: B

2010: (Andy Kaufman was never anywhere near this entertaining when indulging his whims) Grade: B+

2011: “Machine” isn’t really all that bad…the sound effects are decent and the lyrics are good, I just don’t care much for the music.  But with subject matter as depressing as this, it’s not really a good idea to have a lot of catchy hooks, I suppose(?).  The whole album is sad, and besides “Machine”, it’s really good.  Sort of like ‘Animals’ except thankfully “Machine” doesn’t go on as long as “Dogs”, but without a “Sheep” to really push it over the edge.  Very borderline, but…Grade: A-

Animals (1977)

It was a bit difficult for me to grade this one.  I knew its approximate grade, I just had to decide exactly how much damage David Gilmour’s “Dogs” did to the overall proceedings.  In the end, though, I decided that even that song had its moments, and then my decision became clear.  Based loosely (I think) on George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’, or at least an homage to it, it commands attention to the lyrics even as the hooks come out and grab you.
(“Sheep”, “Pigs On The Wing(Part Two)”)

Grade: A-

The Wall (1979)

I enjoy a fair amount of these songs, but Roger Waters sounds so pretentious and self-pitying that I’m turned off enough to skip a track unless interesting music accompanies said track.  I mean, I still think Waters thinks way too much of himself, but he does produce results the majority of the time (‘Animals’ and ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ both attesting to that).  So perhaps his pretentiousness is justified by his results…in the past, that is.  Here we see a sharp decline in the quality of his material…I never thought I’d say this, but here at least, David Gilmour is the best songwriter.  He’s got the first writing credit on no less than five of the best songs here.  Without him, this album sinks into a murky, bloated Roger Waters experiment.  Sad as it seems, Waters may have run out of material.  The decline here only hints at the poor quality of the next Floyd album and the subsequent splintering of the band.  From what I’ve read and heard, Waters doesn’t even approach a quality Floyd-ish album in the 25+ years since.  All that being said, this album has quite a few good tracks/moments on it that I can’t help but enjoy…I refuse to listen to the album all the way through, but I occasionally enjoy it in limited doses.
(“Run Like Hell”, “Comfortably Numb”)

Grade: B

2010: (Limited by concept, it exceeds the boundaries) Grade: B+

A Collection Of Great Dance Songs (1997)

The choices are good, if not perfect for me (I’ve found very little use for the Syd Barrett tribute song “Wish You Were Here”).  Even there, though, it has its moments, and there isn’t a bad section on the album.
(“Sheep”, “Another Brick In The Wall(Part Two)”)

Grade: A

Echoes: The Best Of Pink Floyd (2001)

What a waste.  What could have been an absolutely fantastic 2-part release is reduced to a pretty great one.  The reason?  The inclusion of Syd Barrett songs, most notably for their awfulness: “Jugband Blues” and the indescribably bad (or insane, you pick) “Bike”.  Most of the material is Roger Waters-era material, and is consequently quite good.  I hate to say this, but Barrett’s insanity may have been the best thing for this band.  The way he was leading them was most certainly not towards stardom, or even competence.  Anyways, with that said and my mind cleared from a rather pissed off state, this is a great Pink Floyd album to own if you only want one.  But don’t take the bait…go out and buy their individual albums from ‘Meddle’ up until ‘The Wall’, excluding ‘Obscured By Clouds’.  Then you’ll have all you really need, and have it in the correct context.
(“Sheep”, “Time”, “Money”)

Grade: A-

Phish

Billy Breathes (1996)

They’re not the next Grateful Dead.  The Grateful Dead, at least many years ago, could write some decent songs.  It’s hard to get into their famous twenty minute jams when they’re forced to go into the studio and actually pare them down to the trifles that they are.

Grade: D

Liz Phair

Exile In Guyville (1993)

She’s got a lot of attitude.  She’s not in Tori’s or Ani’s class popularity wise, and that’s no surprise after listening to this.  I don’t hear anything except annoying and/or boring noise, some soft and some hard.  Infinitely overrated.

Grade: F

Whip-Smart(1994)

Phair.
(“Supernova”)

Grade: C

A Perfect Circle

Mer De Noms (2000)

When this works I love it: dignified beauty and plenty of power to call upon to blast away any doubts.  Unfortunately they can’t keep it going past the halfway point.  Their songwriting fits Keenan’s output with Tool in terms of quality songs per outing.  I actually prefer their sound here to Tool’s usual sound.  But despite my weakness for them in theory, their musical dropoff mid-album makes them unable to get any grade better than this.
(“The Hollow”, “Magdalena”)

Grade: B-

Thirteenth Step (2003)

One of their best songs yet is on here.  So I didn’t buy it totally without reason.  And I sort of liked ‘Mer De Noms’.  So it’s disappointing that nothing else here comes close to their best songs.  As always with a Maynard James Keenan band, there’s filler(more here than on ‘Mer De Noms’).
(“Weak And Powerless”)

Grade: C

Emotive(2004)

An anti-war album of covers, that’s what this is.  Just in case you see a new cover and think they’ve put out something truly new.  The covers aren’t bad, but there’s nothing really revelatory.  It’s basically a statement album, with songs only because albums without them don’t generally sell all that well.  There’s nothing much here of any real consequence.

Grade: C

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

Full Moon Fever (1989)

Not a bad album.  I once adored it, but then again I once adored Heart when I was young and impressionable (and, in Heart’s case, horny).  Some of the songs have lost some of their power over the years, at least to someone who had them playing for hours and hours for days and days and weeks and weeks.  But “Free Fallin'” is still nearly irresistible pop/rock, “Runnin’ Down A Dream” is a true road anthem, and songs like “Love Is A Long Road” still kick pretty well.  Decent Byrds cover, too.
(“Runnin Down A Dream”, “Love Is A Long Road”)
Grade: B+

2011: There’s really only one bad song on the entire album(“Zombie Zoo”), and while the good songs aren’t usually VERY good songs, it’s remarkably consistent and manages to sound fresh because it mixes up the approach from song to song.  Grade: A-

Greatest Hits (1993)

I guess he senses the end is near, or maybe he just wanted to give us regular non-fans something worth buying, which this is.  Either way is fine with me, and this serves as an excellent sampler of all his worthwhile work.  In retrospect, he should have waited at least a few more years…I’d like to have “You Don’t Know How It Feels” on this, and a coupla others.  Oh well, life’s not fair.
(“Refugee”, “Runnin Down A Dream”)

Grade: A

Pearl Jam

Ten (1991)

There are FOUR truly classic songs on this eleven song album.  I’m not talking about four good ones, I’m talking about legitimate anthems, on the level of Nirvana’s best and Soundgarden’s best.  In fact, probably a tiny step above both of those bands on this album, because while this has brief valleys that ‘Nevermind’ doesn’t, it also has four great songs, which ‘Nevermind’ doesn’t.  Most groups would be plenty happy with one anthem.  The “filler” is pretty d@mn good itself.  The result- a classic debut, which hasn’t aged a bit in 20+ years.
(“Black”, “Jeremy”, “Alive”, “Deep”)

Grade: A+

Vs. (1993)

The follow-up to their amazing debut, it doesn’t disappoint (much).  The strong songs at times aren’t as strong and the weaker songs at times are weaker.  It’s as if a magic wand was waved over ‘Ten’, draining it by a small but very noticeable amount and affecting each and every track.  In other, plainer and sadder words, it’s ‘Ten’ without the instant-classic anthems.
(“Dissident”, “Rearviewmirror”)

Grade: A-

2012: Very small…maybe a magic twig.  Grade: A

Vitalogy (1994)

Here’s where things begin to go bad.  ‘Vs.’ was a worthy followup to ‘Ten’, if not as strong as the debut.  That could be overlooked, though…after all, their debut is one of the best albums I’ve ever heard.  This isn’t as good as ‘Vs.’  The dropoff is clearly noticeable.  I’m hoping the dropoff effect goes away and doesn’t infect future releases, or this band will become embarassing, given enough time.  Get it while you still can.
(“Stupid Mop”, “Tremor Christ”)

Grade: B

2010: ((too)-Much maligned) Grade: B+

2011: Listening to vast amounts of sh1t makes me realize just how non-sh1tty this is.  There are low points, and it’s very weird.  But it’s also very good.  Grade: A-

No Code (1996)

Yet another album worse than the previous one.  Pearl Jam better take care that they break this pattern next time, because the songs here are not top-notch.  There are some decent ones, but nothing that could properly fit on ‘Ten’, or even ‘Vs.’  Maybe Eddie’s just a little tired.  I certainly hope so.  Take a long nap, big fellow.  And awake with music to go with your passion.
(“Red Mosquito”)

Grade: C+

2012: The decision to write less pop-friendly songs was fine.  But why did they decide to write less good songs? Grade: C

Yield (1998)

A very mild retreat from ‘No Code’, which is very bad news to those who thought maybe ‘No Code’ was an aberration and not a dire statement of decline with each passing album.  So they maintain a level of averageness that has probably cost them a lot of potential new fans and fickle (intelligent?) old fans.
(“Given To Fly”)

Grade: C+

2012: Again…the good songs question. Grade: C

Binaural (2000)

Another mediocre album from a band we know can do better.  Believe me, my heart is still with them, I still love the band, but the decline here is undeniable.  They’ll probably never write another ‘Ten’-ish anthem, but decent and nicely strange is hopefully still within their reach.

Grade: C

Riot Act (2002)

Now I know how fans of the Rolling Stones feel.  Not that I’m comparing this band to the Stones.  But Eddie Vedder is either hoarding good songs for one GREAT album, or he’s lost it.  But on and on they go…outlasting all the rest, the once-mighty Seattle-rockers of Pearl Jam begin to look like an oldies act.  Sure, great song catalog.  Nothing new, really, but you still pay the money to see them live or to hope that maybe, just maybe, they’ll snap out of their nearly decade-old collective funk and rock out to a GOOD new album.  I’m waiting…

Grade: D-

Pearl Jam (2006)

Keeping in mind that I did, do, and hopefully always will love “grunge” music or the so-called “Seattle Sound”, and that I’ve given this band chance after chance to right their ship, this is the final straw for me.  They don’t like Bush or war.  Neither do I.  So what?  I don’t listen to PJ or any rock act for political commentary to latch onto.  I listen to them because they (used to) rock with hooks galore, musical and vocal.  I think this is finally the end, the last gasp for PJ for any casual (NEW) listeners.  If they want, they can tour on their oldies for many years, as their oldies were at times truly great.  They could also release a half-dozen compilations and other bullsh1t albums to have something to tour behind.  Sad.  Very, very sad.  I hope this is the end.  I don’t want their star to diminish any more than it already has.  I mean, I waited four years for THIS?  Fck ‘Backspacer’, I’ve had enough.

Grade: D-

Ozzy Osbourne

The Ozzman Cometh (1997)

I’ve always been a fan of his.  Sure, his theatrics are way overboard and at times maybe a bit distasteful, but he had a very early knack for songwriting (starting with Black Sabbath) and a definite appeal to “rebellious youth”.  He was a safe Marilyn Manson…you knew he didn’t actually believe one tenth of the cr@p he was writing.  I was a rebellious young lad once…allright, maybe I didn’t rebel until my 20’s.  I’m just a late bloomer.  And hey, you have to start somewhere.  In any case, there’s a decent selection here that I wouldn’t much quibble with.

Grade: B

2011: I don’t see how anyone can truly hate him.  It’s like hating Nigel Tufnel.  Grade: B+

Orbital

In Sides (1996)

Alright.  So Orb sucks.  Now here’s Orbital. The name is so close it makes me shiver with fear and rage.  But when I LISTEN to it, it causes no pain and has some nice, even MOVING portions to it.  I’m calm now.  In fact with the help of this album I might just take a nap.  That’s not a putdown…the melodies are just so gentle at times.
ZZzzzzz.
(“The Box(Pt. 2)”)

Grade: B-

Orb

The Orb’s Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld (1991)

Who the hell signed this band, and why?  Why oh why did I buy this album in desperate hope, and instead of hope to at least listen to a few tracks first.  Purchasers will be happy to know that there is at least one decent song here, “Little Fluffy Clouds”, whose spoken-word comments only add to the music’s appeal.  Unfortunately, after “Clouds”, there is about 2 hours of almost completely useless music/half songs/etc.  I VERY rarely throw out CD’s, but if I had to sacrifice one, this would be right near the top.  MAN do I want to fail them, fluff or no fluff.

Grade: D-

Orbus Terrarum (1995)

I blame the record company.  Or maybe it’s like Tori once said- “God, sometimes you just don’t come through”.  I don’t usually throw away CD’s (See 1991 album review).  So give me a hammer.  Or a crowbar, a baseball bat, anything with good dense strength perfect for mangling a poor defenseless CD.

Grade: F

Oasis

Definitely Maybe (1994)

The next Beatles?  The Fab Four return?  Hardly.  And if another band comes out and goes after that position, please bury them under guitar noise.  I’ve actually always preferred the Stones to the Beatles, myself, but the Beatles were undeniably great.  The reason doesn’t lie in their meaningless pop period, but in their concept albums and more unique beautiful songs and melodies.  Oasis might be able to approach the “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”-period, but who really cares at this point?  They need to learn how to CONSISTENTLY write good songs before we heap even a tenth’s praise as is heaped upon The Beatles.  They do have some talent, but let’s wait a few dozen years and then try the comparison, hmmm?
(“Supersonic”)

Grade: C

(What’s The Story) Morning Glory? (1995)

A giant step in no particular direction.  They cut down on the hard rock guitar, up the melodies, polish the lyrics to a lustry shine, and end up not a bit better than they were.  I mean, at this pace, they’re barely edging out Ringo Starr, and are in a dead heat (No joke intended or implied) with George Harrison.  The problem is the songwriting.  How to fix it?  Well, sometimes you’ve either got it or you don’t.  Inspiration can be a fickle thing.  
(“Wonderwall”)

Grade: C

2010: (Almost good enough to be a Beatles throwaway) Grade: C+

The Offspring

Smash (1994)

Here are the three hits and what I assume is the best of the rest they had to offer.  Then again, maybe they’re pulling an early Cheap Trick trick and rationing out good material to prolong album sales and keep all the money rolling in.  I eagerly await their next album for purposes of my theory, and I listen to the three good songs on this.
(“Self Esteem”, “Come Out And Play”)

Grade: B-

Nonpoint

Statement (2000)

I don’t know if I like their sound as a general rule…some bands have such a great sound that even their weaker tracks retain some interest.  I find the lead singer quote obnoxious and loud (I know, loud isn’t necessarily bad.  But obnoxious certainly is).  His voice just rubs me the wrong way.  What saves this album (and, for now, this group) for me is the power and momentum of the music.  The loneliness of the long-distance rocker.
(“What A Day”, “Endure”)

Grade: B-

Development (2002)

Sometimes grades are relatively easy to give.  Other times I think (or try to) and consider the possible placement based on several factors.  I don’t think there is anything here that could at least be called “decent”.  I’m so happy they made it easier for me.  Anything at all would have taxed my brain.

Grade: F

Recoil (2004)

A quantum leap forward from a total music disaster, this album features enough hooks and melody (REALLY!) to make it a decent hard-rock statement.  The real winner is in Spanish, so I don’t know exactly what it’s about, but it’s angry (like all the other songs here) and catchy.  Now let’s hope they don’t fall backwards again into utter failure.
(“Rabia”)

Grade: B-

Heather Nova

Oyster (1995)

I used to be enraptured (I say that a LOT, I’ve noticed.  Very sad) by this young woman and her moderately pretty voice.  I still like the hit, and “Island” has some great lyrics.  Recommended to anyone who didn’t think a young white female would put a song about sex two songs before a gentle, lovely song about killing a man via drowning.  Nice touch, I think.

Grade: C+

Nirvana

Bleach (1989)

The best piece of discordant random noise ever recorded, dollar-for-dollar.

Grade: C

Nevermind(1991)

A masterpiece of early 90’s grunge-rock, not a single poor track on the whole thing.  “Smells Like Teen Spirit” sounds like an anthem that will never lose its power, starting things off with a thunderous, defiant blast.  “Something In The Way” finishes it off with a haunting, lovely, faintly eerie performance.  Everything in between is worth your time to a certain extent.  They could never hope to top this, so maybe it’s (in some small way) a good thing they made only one other studio album.  It’s better to burn out, of course, according to Mr. Young.  I certainly agree here.  A must-own.
(“Smells Like Teen Spirit”, “Lounge Act”, “Something In The Way”)

Grade: A+

Incesticide(1992)

Not much here of note.  Stick with the big three (‘Nevermind’, ‘In Utero’, ‘Unplugged’) and you’ll get all you really need, with the exception of “Sliver”.
(“Sliver”)

Grade: D

2012: (“Aneurysm” isn’t worth listening to the rest of the sh1t between itself and “Sliver”, but it ain’t bad.) Grade: D+

In Utero (1993)

Yes, they’ve done it.  A follow-up almost as good as the original release.  In fact it’s better than Nevermind overall, but it doesn’t have a killer track to match “Teen Spirit”.  “Rape Me” is as close as they get this time, and I have amazing difficulty playing that song around any member of the opposite sex.
(“Rape Me”, “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle”)

Grade: A

Unplugged In New York (1994)

Why the HELL did they cover two mediocre songs here? (“Plateau” and “Oh Me”).  Because Kurt liked them and he doesn’t pander to or even really care much about his “audience”.  No “Smells Like Teen Spirit” acoustic version here, but that’s a good thing.  Tori Amos already made a “soft version” that is definitive.  Some nice covers, one of which is from the same group as the two bad ones.  I could argue with some songs(“Polly” was always the worst song on ‘Nevermind’, even if it wasn’t a bad song at all), but the atmosphere is wonderful, the ambience welcoming and forgiving, and this captures the group at its absolute best acoustically.  Hear them display their mastery over light, after having done so with dark on ‘In Utero’.
(“The Man Who Sold The World”, “Where Did You Sleep Last Night”, “Lake Of Fire”)

Grade: A

From The Muddy Banks Of The Wishkah(1996)

I love Nirvana, but this live one just doesn’t capture their power and melody the way the studio does.  A bad day at the office?  No, because the selections were taken from different concerts.  Bad days, I guess.

Grade: C+

Nirvana (2002)

“You Know You’re Right” isn’t worth it.  And neither is “Been A Son”.  Everything else you should have already, and if not you should buy ‘Nevermind’, ‘In Utero’, and ‘Unplugged In New York’ instead of this.  Maybe ‘Bleach’, too, if you really want to.  Too many good songs on the first two to be covered here.  But if you have a choice between this or no Nirvana,  and almost anything else, take this. 

Grade: A

Live At Reading (2009)

I’m sure if I was there I’d probably appreciate it a lot more.  But I wasn’t.

Concert albums are invariably wonderful nostalgic mementos to those that were at said concert, but no set is perfect.  You can’t multitrack, you can’t re-do fck-ups, you can’t try 10 takes until you get it just right.

So the only reasons I’d ever listen to this again are “Drain You”, “Lithium” (which Kurt really rips into),  and “About A Girl”, because they’re the only ones as good as the originals, or different in an interesting enough way.  

But that doesn’t mean they’re not still d@mn good songs, at least until you get near the end and Kurt decides to fck around.  Good for him, but not for me.
(“Drain You”, “Lithium”)

Grade: A-

Icon: Nirvana (2010)

See ‘Nirvana (2002)’, scratch the “Been A Son” comment.

Grade: A

Nickelback

Silver Side Up (2001)

It’s difficult grading this album as high as I have to, because the songs all have a sort of sameness that can be good if you’re a great band, but if you’re a mediocre-to-average band it’s generally not so good.  I can play it in the background without wincing or worrying someone else will hear it.  And it does have one song I actually like.  Take this advice to heart- if you didn’t like the single, you’ll hate the album.  You might not like it much anyways…but I grudgingly must admit it’s not as bad as I thought it would be.

Grade: C+

Nine Inch Nails

Pretty Hate Machine (1988)

Not a big Nine Inch Nails fan, here.  I was, when this was the entirety of their catalog, oh so many moons ago.  But their later output never really struck any chords with me.  Personally, I think Trent Reznor is vastly overrated in the long haul, but he’ll survive.  He looks good and there’s always a whole new group of angst-ridden teens at the ready for his product.
(“Head Like A Hole”)

Grade: B-

2010: (As good as they ever got) Grade: B

My Bloody Valentine

Isn’t Anything (1988)

This is mood music, but it’s not good enough to immerse yourself into and go for a trip.  I find a couple of songs decent and worthy of existence, but most of them are either completely forgettable (moreso than normal, that is) or mildly annoying.  I can’t bring myself to truly dislike it…it’s so soft and gentle, and I would probably hate myself in the morning.

Grade: C-

Loveless (1991)

This is soft, pretty trance music for the most part.  Great for when you want something pleasant to wash over your ears.  It’s slightly hypnotic and lyrically indecipherable(to me at least, feel free to try…but the point isn’t in the words anyway, it’s in the music).  Adjust the grade accordingly if you need to hear the lyrics to enjoy a song.

Grade: B+

2010: (I mean, it’s flawless…but what IS it?) Grade: A-

New Order

Substance (1987)

Gods have mercy on my soul…I had to listen to all 24 of these songs.  I learned two things during my horrific experience – New Order basically sucks, and I HATE double albums that weren’t even good enough to be singles.
(“True Faith”)

Grade: D

Mother Love Bone

Mother Love Bone (1992)

EVERY-thing Seattle to the music stores at once!  Yes, they did it, Nirvana debuted on Headbangers’ Ball and delivered the killing blow to an already quite-ill collection of music dubbed “80’s hair pop/metal”!  Now let’s rush out and sign EVERY Seattle band we can get our hands on.  What’s that you say? MLB had Pearl Jam’s bassist AND lead guitarist??!!  Release it, you fool, release it NOW, before it’s too late!  No, there’s no need to listen to it first.  It’s certified gold upon release!

Grade: D-

3/5/13: Slight overreaction caused by HUGE disappointment.  As you can probably tell by all the caps.  I mean, I was expecting Pearl Jam, or Temple of the Dog…and no offense to the guy, I know all his friends loved him and all (and he did inspire some GREAT music) but Andrew Wood was no Eddie Vedder.  Or Chris Cornell.  When I’m in the right mood, though, “Stardog Champion” can blow me away given all the layers of historical context and the energy, gone with Andrew’s death.  Grade: D

Mudhoney

Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge (1991)

Curse you again, Nirvana!  Curse you for opening the floodgates for this kind of cr@p!  I mean, did they have to release this album and have it land in ANY music store to fool passersby into thinking it might be worthwhile?  There’s virtually nothing here of any discernible interest.

Grade: D

2012: Really, this is the sort of tuneless, non-melodic noise that grunge started off as before Kurt Cobain decided to introduce something called a “hook”(vocal or musical).  Grade: F