Category Archives: Puppy

Green Day

Dookie (1994)

The music here is solid, carrying them over the hump on several songs that combine interesting/fun lyrics and rocking music.  Elsewhere the attitude is still there but the material stretches a bit thin.
(“Longview”, “When I Come Around”)

Grade: B

Insomniac (1995)

A bit of a letdown after ‘Dookie’, this album boasts my favorite Green Day song in terms of both music and lyrics in “Walking Contradiction”.  Downright tedious in some places, at least the bad songs aren’t any longer than the keepers.  I just wish the keepers were more worth keeping.
(“Walking Contradiction”)

Grade: B-

2010: (More consistent than I thought.  Like oatmeal.) Grade: B

4/13/16: Hey, that was pretty good.  And you can rid your worries with it.

Nimrod (1997)

Continuing the falloff after ‘Dookie’, it makes one almost think that ‘Dookie’ was a fluke- that these guys really ARE just a mediocre punk/pop ripoff.  None of the songs here could stand next to their best so far.  “Good Riddance (time of your life)” may be a reaching out to the pure pop world, and it worked, but where do they go from here? Their forte is power pop/punk, and here’s hoping they return to it in style before it’s too late and “Good Riddance” becomes more than a bit ironic.

Grade: C

International Superhits! (2001)

I didn’t have much of an urge to get their last studio album, ‘Warning’, after the decline from ‘Dookie’ to ‘Nimrod’.  But I was presented with a chance to listen to this, their (and I quote) “International Superhits!”, and I couldn’t say no.  I was mildly surprised that until the very end, there wasn’t a SINGLE bad or even mediocre song on the darn thing. 1-17 out of 21 were all listenable and, at least to an extent, enjoyable…some more than others of course, but who am I to quibble with 17 decent songs on one album??  Number 19 isn’t bad, either.  Yikes…I don’t know how they did it, but this looks like a great album.  Talk about making the most out of your talent and your past successes.  ‘Dookie’, their best album IMHO, is a B.  This, culled from ‘Dookie’ and each of their other albums (and a soundtrack), is A- range.  Finally, a Greatest Hits album that really IS all the hits, and all the music by the group that you’ll probably ever need.
(“Longview”, “Brain Stew/Jaded”, “Walking Contradiction”)

Grade: A

Great White

The Best Of Great White 1986-1992 (1993)

Before looking at the song list I was sure this would be at least another mildly entertaining best-of from a rather minor group.  Two out of ten is not entertaining enough though, especially when you claim to cover seven years of music.  Some hair bands produced interesting material before bowing to Nirvana/grunge and exiting stage right.  This album shows why Nirvana was so badly needed.  
(“House of Broken Love”)

Grade: C

Goo Goo Dolls

A Boy Named Goo (1995)

For some reason this album makes me not in the least bit curious about their previous, harder-rocking selves.  And in time I discovered I wasn’t particularly curious about where they went from here (the answer- poppier).  I had picked them at their peak of my enjoyment, was my assumption.  And until someone proves me wrong, I’m sticking with it.  Of course as soon as I write this, I happen upon their next album, and am proven wrong yet again.
(“Naked”, “Only One”)

Grade: B-

Dizzy Up The Girl (1998)

Fairly consistent and surprisingly good (to me, at least…I thought ‘A Boy Named Goo’ would be their one and only fifteen minutes).  Surprising not because of the level of good-ness (a nice, decent “fairly good”) but because I thought A Boy N…wait…I said that already.  It’s not my fault, really.  I could write “competent, occasionally compelling” as my review and it would serve the purpose well enough(that is, telling the truth).  Nothing too fancy here, I’m afraid.  But if like me your expectations are low, you’ll be in for a mildly pleasant surprise.

Grade: B-

4/13/16: Sometimes I tended to stretch out the reviews.  But it was quite genuine, you know.  I mean I was trying to be clever, I guess, but I took it pretty d@mn seriously.  I tried.  Ah, reminiscing…

Godsmack

Godsmack (1998)

I love this band’s sound, which recalls early 90’s grunge, Alice In Chains in particular(AIC even has a song named “God Smack”).  That’s musically, not vocally.  The lead singer here may be trying, but he can’t quite yowl, scream, or even sing soft and pretty like Layne Staley.  That being said, he’s not horrible, and the music makes up for any complaints when it’s on.  Too much filler, but that’s hardly a complaint unique to them.  Respectable.
(“Voodoo”)

Grade: B-

2010: (I just watched the video for “Voodoo”.  I couldn’t stop laughing) Grade: C+

IV (2006)

Lots of good riffs here, without a doubt.  But they don’t seem to fit together and form anything of much quality.  The vocals are decent, the music is decent…but it just doesn’t add up to much of anything.  It is as if they came up with the riffs first and then wrote the songs around them, lyrics and songform taking a back seat.  The difference between good riffs and good hooks- riffs require other music around them to be of any use, hooks can carry a song and/or album just by themselves.  Many riffs here.  No hooks worthy of mention.

Grade: D

Girls Against Boys

Super-Fire (1996)

Consisting of one song about to be released on a full-length album and three(what I assume are) throwaways and/or B-sides, this generates some interest in the forthcoming album, at least for me.  A single with 3 B-sides, or an EP?  Hopefully the first, as the single blows away the rest of it.
(“Super-Fire”)

Grade: C+

Gin Blossoms

Outside Looking In (1999)

A one-hit wonder in my eyes, it doesn’t matter how much low-grade material they lump around it, it’s still just one song.  The rest is marginal, which would be bad enough on a regular-release album.  It’s downright depressing and sad for a greatest hits package.  Yes, I’m ignoring “Hey Jealousy”, because it’s become annoying and horribly dated.
(“Found Out About You”)

Grade: C

2010: (“Hey Jealousy” is fun to listen to again, after many years) Grade: C+

Garbage

Garbage (1995)

This is a Butch Vig creation and vehicle, despite your extreme desire to spend some quality time with lead singer Shirley Manson.  She was picked up for sex appeal, not talent (Yes, I enjoy pointing out the obvious).  Near (or at, or after…it’s been a long night, ok?) the end of grunge as a major musical force, this album sprouts some pop hooks and flies away from the wreckage Vig himself helped create.  I vaguely hate it, even as I bop along to it.
(“Stupid Girl”)

Grade: B-

2012: “hate” is a strong word.  The catchiness here is much less guilty than, say, ABBA.

Version 2.0 (1998)

A slight alteration on their debut, adding electronica to the boppy pop-grunge.  But the overall results are about the same.
(“When I Grow Up”)

Grade: B-

Absolute Garbage (2007)

What do you get when you make a greatest-hits album from a band that had only two decent albums?  A really good first half.  The pop leanings become more pronounced as one goes along, almost to the point of absurdity when you consider this was, at one time, considered an “alternative” band.  But it’s a really good first half!
(“When I Grow Up”, “Push It”)

Grade: B

5/27/12: A really good first half is more impressive when there are 18 songs on the album, since half of 18 is 9, and nine is about what a good album normally runs, give or take.  Grade: B+

Peter Gabriel

Security (1982)

I want to like Peter Gabriel more than I do.  I’m basically constantly frustrated by his musical output, because some part of me keeps insisting that can he do much better.  Perhaps it’s a case of refusing to be “commercial” at the expense of one’s integrity.  But I get depressed a lot, and the last thing I worry about when I’m analyzing all the things that affect me is whether or not Peter Gabriel is vastly overrated or I’m just ignorant to his music’s power.  In any case, with a couple of exceptions, his songs here are annoying and/or pretentious.
(“Shock The Monkey”)

Grade: D+

Shaking The Tree: Sixteen Golden Greats (1990)

Peter Gabriel has always fascinated me.  Seemingly extremely intelligent and independent, his music is often a bit too uncommon for the common folk.  At least, it used to be.  The problem I have is that even when he goes simple and commercial, the quality rarely ever approaches his reputation among many.  Although I do give him kudos for teaching me some French.
(“Solsbury Hill”, “Games Without Frontiers”)

Grade: B+

Us (1992)

It’s not good enough commercially; that is to say, catchy enough.  And since Peter has by this point long since abandoned weird, that makes it pretty dull.
(“Digging In The Dirt”)

Grade: C

The Definitive Two CD Collection(Hit) (2003)

It’s not definitive, not by any means.  You can’t really define this guy without listening to every d@mn song he ever wrote, but that’s too painful (And I LIKE him).  But it IS very good.

Grade: A-

For Squirrels

Example (1995)

Like most rock n’ roll deaths, the ones affecting this band make me wonder what could have been, musically.  I don’t call the event a “tragedy”, because the death of any decent human being is just as tragic and worthy of mourning.  As to the musical quality here, it does seem as if we may have been robbed of something good.  The two hits show two starkly different sides, always a good sign unless you’re AC/DC or The Cure or Depeche…oops, sorry, I appear to have rambled a bit.  Am I a bit more touched by them given the circumstances?  Yes, probably.  But it’s still a shame, for life and for music.
(“8:02 PM”, “Mighty KC”)

Grade: B

Fleetwood Mac

Then Play On (1970)

I just don’t appreciate the music here, so whether it’s a blues masterpiece or a piece of hackwork, I really couldn’t say.  Whatever it is, only one track really stands out, and I was most certainly taken by surprise at its beauty.
(“Oh Well”)

Grade: D+

Bare Trees (1972)

As murky as the cover.

Grade: D-

Mystery To Me (1973)

If this band wants to be commerical and actually sell a few dozen of their albums, which seems to be the goal now that they’re morphing into a pop band, they need to learn how to write pop SONGS.  And they need a much better success rate than Bob Welch gives them.
(“Hypnotized”)

Grade: C-

2012: “Forever” is the only song that doesn’t completely bore, aside from the out-of-nowhere “Hypnotized”.  Grade: D+

Fleetwood Mac (1975)

A nice change from the Bob Welch years, this album is intermittently good and boring.  The difference is the ratio of good to boring, a fairly decent one here.  “Rhiannon” is an undeniable classic and I still get a kick out of some of the other songs, none of which approach “Rhiannon” but which give the consumer reason to buy this instead of waiting for the inevitable compilation.  The ship is certainly set in the right direction after several years of upheaval.
(“Rhiannon”, “World Turning”)

Grade: B

Rumours (1977)

Some of these songs haven’t aged as well as one might like in a pop classic.  But some of them have held up just fine, thank you very much, and even the weaker tracks have a certain charm about them.  A couple of songs you probably won’t find on any greatest-hits package appear here and are minor pleasant surprises.  “Gold Dust Woman” is beautiful and powerful, Stevie Nicks’ shining moment in my eyes, and a complete triumph that finishes off a very good album.
(“Gold Dust Woman”, “Never Going Back Again”, “The Chain”)

Grade: A-

2010: (Never attained, before or after) Grade: A

Tango In The Night (1987)

I really should buy more Fleetwood Mac.  Their older (but still pop) albums had some great songs and some interesting minor ones.  This album is split in half between commercial ambition and personal conceit, most notably Lindsey Buckingham’s attempt to prove he can still rock and Stevie Nicks’ attempt to prove she can still write songs.  “Perhaps she’s saving them for her solo career?”, you may ask.  “What solo career?”, might come the response.  At least Buckingham threw some heart and soul into it.
(“Little Lies”, “Everywhere”)

Grade: B

2012: No, I shouldn’t. ‘Rumours’ is the only necessary album, even compared to ‘Greatest Hits’.  If you like it, try ‘Fleetwood Mac’, and then ‘Tango In The Night’.  As for ‘Mirage’, act accordingly to what you’ve been taught:  Ignore it and it may remain a somewhat-tantalizing thing, run for its beauty and you’ll find out you’ve been swindled.  Grade: B

Evanescence

Fallen (2003)

Being wise enough to wonder how good they REALLY are, I checked the writing credits, which revealed that they did in fact do-it-themselves.  Unfortunately, they also revealed a bit of possible disunity(or maybe it’s just honesty), meticulously crediting each and every person who wrote on each song, and thereby revealing who didn’t.  Of course, I say this in retrospect, after the departure of one of said writers.  Being male enough not to idolize Amy Lee for her voice or appearance in true teenybopper fashion, I have little difficulty handing out a fair, proper grade.
(“Bring Me To Life”)

Grade: B

Eminem

The Slim Shady LP (1999)

Vastly overrated by critics, this is basically what my first impression told me it would be when I heard “My Name Is” on the radio.  That is, a one-shot deal with a lot of occasionally annoying filler.  “My Name Is” is funny, clever, and (most importantly) catchy.  The other funny and/or clever songs buried amidst the boring and/or annoying filler are not up to par.  I’ve heard he got better after this, but I haven’t felt much urgency to check out his whole catalog.
(“My Name Is”)

Grade: C-

The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)

“Stan” borrows a beautiful vocal hook from Dido, one of his betters.  Then again, almost any legitimate rock act is this guy’s better.  Talking the talk, walking the walk, I have no doubt he’s the real deal.  I also have no doubt he sucks, even with outside songwriters helping to beef up his sound and give the poor starving artist some hooks to go with his rhymes.  I can rhyme, too.  So can most 6-year olds.  Doesn’t make them great artists.  When they think it does, that’s called delusions of grandeur.  So there’s one more thing Shady needs psychiatric attention for.  Every critic seems to love him.  Is that because he’s great, he’s white, he’s “real”, he’s better than friggin 3rd Bass?  No, maybe/maybe not, yes, yes.  Sorry, that’s not enough.  And I don’t really have much sympathy for him, given that he seems to like to talk to and treat people the same way he was treated.  That is, abusively.  I mean, I personally don’t give a sh1t about Em’s opinions, so I’m not slamming him because I think he’s sexist or homophobic. I just think his music sucks, that’s all.
(“Stan”)

Grade: D

Elton John

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)

Everything that moves me, from disgust to pleasure, apathy to exhilaration, is grouped here in tracks 1-6.  “Candle In The Wind” makes me gag at its bathetic sentimentality, and “Bennie And The Jets” makes me want to gouge my eyes out and put plugs in my ears.  Check out the choice cut.  It’s very choice.
(“Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding”)

Grade: C

2010: (More than meets the ears) Grade: B-

The Doors

The Doors (1967)

Jim Morrison, a great artist?  Well he certainly thought so.  Look at the cover of this album and tell me someone doesn’t have delusions of grandeur or an overflow of pretentiousness.  It’s as if the other members of the band are just secondary tools to be used for the Great One’s musical and lyrical visions.  It just so happens, though, that Robbie Krieger is mostly responsible for the best song here, the epic “Light My Fire”.  I’m not saying Morrison couldn’t write…I’m saying that the other members could too.  That goes unnoticed when your lead singer inhabits the vocals the way Morrison can(that’s a compliment).  Anyone who thinks this is a great, classic album has obviously not heard the entire thing; there are some truly boring moments, especially near “the end”.
(“Light My Fire”, “Break On Through”)

Grade: B

2010: (Oops…I overlooked the songs they didn’t write) Grade: B+

Waiting For The Sun (1968)

“Hello, I Love You” may be the most blatantly commercial song they’ve ever recorded.  “Love Street” is a mildly tuneful exercise.  Those are the first two songs.  The rest is basically soft/love songs that are so sickeningly sweet they would be frown-producing if they weren’t so pitifully funny.  This guy is a Rock God?  I’ll take Robbie Krieger any day over the pretentious and overblown Morrison.  I mean, if he wasn’t sexy I think they’d have quite a bit of difficulty pushing this horsesh1t on the poor poor pitiful public that is their fanbase.

Grade: D

2010: (Not quite as nauseating as I had originally thought) Grade: D+

Morrison Hotel (1970)

The first side is rock-solid and undeniable.  The second side is forgettable and mostly unnecessary.  Morrison’s vocals throughout are right on the money.  Soft, loud, louder…he’s got it all covered.  This album actually rivals the quality of their debut.
(“Waiting For The Sun”, “Blue Monday”)

Grade: B

2010: (The Lizard Elevating Moment) Grade: B+

Greatest Hits (1996)

I’ve always liked The Doors, even though I’ve never really had much use for Jim Morrison the great poet.  The Doors were not just Morrison, as a quick look at their songwriting credits will tell you (hello, Robbie Krieger).  The Doors were good despite Morrison’s poetry, not because of.  If there was one good thing Morrison was, it was a very good singer and (ok, two things) a confident, sexy, and commanding stage presence.  Can’t argue much with these selections, although I do wish they could have squeezed “Waiting For The Sun” on the album.  Nonetheless, a great album, well worth owning.  And kudos for having the sense to rip ‘Hagakure’.
(“Break On Through”, “Light My Fire”, “Riders On The Storm”)

Grade: A

Diva Destruction

Exposing The Sickness (2002)

I once had a girlfriend that really adored this group.  She also really adored the lead singer, who happens to be female.  But that’s beside the point.  She played one of their (at the time) two albums for me.  I actually liked it alright.  We broke up, so I never got the chance to borrow it.  So when it came time to buy it, I had two choices and I tested my luck.  Either I was in a very good mood and feeling generous the first time I heard it, or this was the wrong choice.

Grade: D-

Depeche Mode

Violator (1990)

The only Depeche Mode non-compilation that I own, and for my purposes the only one that warrants any sort of individual consideration.  I discovered this band by virtue of this album when I was but a wee one, and I should have stopped there, “Master and Servant” notwithstanding.
(“Enjoy The Silence”)

Grade: B-

The Singles 81-85 (1998)

I’ve never really liked too many mopey bands.  That is to say, bands that are(or pretend to be) perpetually depressed instead of the far preferable perpetually angry.  “Anger is an energy”, a wise man once said, and I agree.  Anger fuels some of the best songs I’ve ever heard.  Perpetually depressed I can like, but usually only when I understand what exactly they’re depressed about, or when they smother my objections with depressing vocal/musical hooks galore.  Perpetually depressed WITHOUT hooks, without power chords, full of “feeling” but short on memorable tunes does very little for me.  The Cure is my odious example of the kind of music I love to hate.  How then can I like the Cowboy Junkies, you may ask?  Well, their vocals are a lot better, and they’re more layered and gentle in the proper places.  So after all is said and done, why do I rate this album so relatively high?  Because there’s a little BDSM devil on every shoulder, myself included.
(“Master And Servant”)

Grade: C

The Singles 86-98 (1998)

Their last best-of, or should I say the companion piece to this one, spanned five years.  This one spans thirteen.  You’d like to think there would be more good music on this one.  Early warning sign – a live version of one of “81-85″‘s songs in this songlist.

Grade: C-

Def Leppard

Pyromania (1983)

Harmless, catchy pop-metal at its finest when it works.  Better than their first two albums combined, but not as good as ‘Hysteria’.  The kind of “rebellious” music parents PRAY that their children gravitate towards.
(“Photograph”, “Foolin'”)

Grade: B

Hysteria (1987)

I loved 80’s pop-metal when it temporarily ruled the world, aided in no small part by the appeal and (dare I say) influence of this band.  I turned my nose up at most of that kind of music when Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” debuted on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball, and promptly kicked pop-metal’s collective a$$.  So with that being said, only the strong survived from the pack of pop-metalists.  This band survived the initial onslaught by virtue of this album and was one of the last of the dinosaurs to give up the ghost.  A nice accomplishment.  The songs are long, but for the first side and the title cut, that’s the way you want them.  Impeccably crafted pop-metal product.  Will it age well?  So far, yes…but who can say?
(“Women”, “Rocket”, “Love Bites”)

Grade: B+

2010: (Response to Def Leppard lyrics: “…what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent yelping were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone on this Earth is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”  But it SOUNDS good.) Grade: A-

11/18/16: Not really fair to insult this band’s lyrics when there’s a lot of other (mostly) meaningless pop sh1t I like that isn’t as good to listen to. The long songs are great when they’re good, but when they’re mediocre they’re tedious. Hence: Grade: A-

Days Of The New

Days Of The New (1997)

This is depressing, yearning-for-better-that-will-never-come music.  Unfortunately, that dark sound doesn’t produce any classics.  Or semi-classics.  The mood is established, but there has to be good material to support it.

Grade: D+

Dave Matthews Band

Before These Crowded Streets (1998)

Hmmm.  I’ve never liked nor listened to this band since a brief flirtation with ‘Under The Table And Dreaming’.  The reasons?  Well, I find Dave Matthews a bit corny.  I also hate his voice at this point.  That hate is enough to keep me away from anything potentially interesting that might be on any DMB album…most of the time.  Besides the little intro song, the shortest song on this album is over five minutes long, and several songs reach towards nine minutes.  It was very difficult to listen to it.  I imagine a Yanni cd would have much the same effect.  His songwriting can be interesting at times. 
Which it better be on 8+ minute songs.  On this album I count three “compositions” that are fairly well-written to my tastes.  The rest I regard as unlistenable and shiver when I think of.  Thanks, Dave.

Grade: C-

Dandelion

Dyslexicon (1995)

After further review, I’ve decided that the lyrics to their hit single are a bit pathetic.  The lyrics on their ending opus seem much less so, maybe because the singer is singing WITH the groove and not against it, making the meaning irrelevant as the music swirls around you.  Just writing that makes me yearn for some Zeppelin, but that’s not until the L’s.  Oh, the pain.
(“Weird Out”)

Grade: C

The Crystal Method

Vegas (1997)

Upon repeated listenings, I’ve noticed only one song besides the hits that does anything much for me.  Maybe if I put the album on shuffle and listened to it one lonely drug-influenced night, that number would improve.  But I doubt it.  On lonely nights I need a proven winner.
(“Trip Like I Do”, “High Roller”)

Grade: B-

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Chronicle: The 20 Greatest Hits (1976)

There is nothing here that is embarassing, but there is content that’s just plain boring, and I hear nothing at all that really knocks my socks off.  But it’s good almost all the way through, which is a rarity, even for a greatest hits album.
(“Bad Moon Rising”, “Lookin’ Out My Back Door”)

Grade: A-

The Cranberries

Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? (1993)

“Dreams” charmed me so much for so long, that I had infrequent daydreams of proposing marriage(to noone in particular) during the appropriate point in the song.  It lingered, you could say(A little song title humor there).  But some songs just age better than others, and I’ve had little use for this entire album for quite a while now.  If you’ve never heard “Dreams”, you should.  But do it off someone else’s album.
(“Dreams”)

Grade: C

No Need To Argue (1994)

A bit jarring in points after their debut sleeper(very relaxing, that is), this album boasts songs that sound as good today as they did in ’94.  Which isn’t really good enough…but they’ve improved, no doubt about that.
(“Zombie”, “Ridiculous Thoughts”)

Grade: B-

Cowboy Junkies

Studio (1996)

My favorite is “A Common Disaster”, but with this band it really IS all about the mood, not the music.  The mood is soft, sensitive, and beguiling.  There is no filler, because they’ve perfected their style to the point where no song sounds entirely different from any of the others.  Call it the gentle pop/rock version of the AC/DC effect.  And ask yourself, as with AC/DC, how much of it do you really want?  I find it soothing, myself.
(“A Common Disaster”)

Grade: B

Counting Crows

August And Everything After (1993)

The best song here is the hit “Mr. Jones”, but a couple of others chime in with their own particular melodies.  Said melodies are faintly wistful, depressing, and a touch hopeless.  I happen to like that flavor combination, at least in theory.  If you don’t, steer clear.
(“Mr. Jones”, “Round Here”)

Grade: B