Category Archives: Puppy

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.

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


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


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.

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

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-

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-

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-


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.

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

Sandra Collins

Tranceport3 (2000)

That’s right, I’m having a little introduction to electronica/dance/trance/whatever else you call this.  I’ve run out of rock records, and a friend of mine was kind enough to allow me to borrow some CDs to listen to and review.  Keep in mind I’ve never reviewed anything like this before, and also that after listening to it I discovered the songs all sort of melded together in a way, not good or bad just…interesting.  Track 1 can safely be skipped, I’d say.  The rest of it sounds pretty darn good, although after 2 listens I still have no idea where one song ends and another begins.  Then again, that’s the POINT of some club music- to create a seamless musical world for you to flirt with the opposite sex in.  If, like myself, you prefer your music to be enjoyable without the benefit of drugs or hormones, this may not be the best buy for you.  I like it…but when it comes down to it, it’s club music, and there are probably many, MANY more albums that are as good as this or better.  Which is very good for me, as I like this one well enough just on its own.

Grade: B-

The Clash

The Story Of The Clash, Volume One (1988)

I can’t help it.  I just don’t see how this is a great band by any stretch of the imagination.  The vocals can be horrible, and most of the songs are just decent exercises in “punk rock”.  Yes, I’ve listened to the entire thing several times.  Yes, punk rock changed the musical world.  But so did Bob Dylan, and I think he’s pretty d@mn mediocre too.

Grade: B-


Tubthumper (1997)

I hate the album’s spoken introduction, but this does have some interesting material in addition to the (probably) one-hit-wonder single “Tubthumping”.  It also has a lot of decent music reduced in appeal by spoken-word pieces that smell vaguely similar to Frank Zappa’s catalog of horrors.  But if you want something a bit out of the ordinary, this might do the trick for occasional listening.

Grade: B-

Cheap Trick

The Greatest Hits (1991)

Comparisons to The Beatles are absurd, given the respective quality of the output of each band.  I don’t even hear all that much similarity going on sonics alone…not only were they horribly outclassed, but they lacked the basic sound itself.  In short, even when they actively tried to imitate their betters, it sounded like nothing except Cheap Trick, actively trying to imitate their betters. Their own sound, on the other hand, wasn’t bad…although I grew to rapidly dislike Robin Zander’s vocals if not Rick Nielsen’s guitar.  All that said, there’s no need to purchase any individual album by this merely-OK group, which only had a couple of decent releases and a short run of major fame after touring for years building up a modest catalog of songs that was quickly exhausted.  Rick Nielsen is no guitar genius, he just wrote a bunch of songs and a few of them happened to be quality.  At least they were merely average on their own, and didn’t buy songs.  Ummm…well maybe just a few, near the end.  Trust me on this one, buy this if you must, and assume the rest of it sucks, because most of it does.

Grade: B

P.S. – I (since corrected) mistakenly dubbed Nielsen “Roger” instead of “Rick”, probably because Cheap Trick sold out around the same time Heart did, and Roger was formerly a guitarist for Heart.  My apologies to the angry guy that notified me of this.

Catherine Wheel

Ferment (1992)

The first half of this album is quite impressive.  The vocals are top-notch, the playing is energetic, and the music tends to reach out and grab you.  They lose gas, or just figure it’s good enough already, after track six.  So feel free to cut your music media of choice in half and drown yourself in repeated listenings.
(“Black Metallic”, “I Want To Touch You”)

Grade: B+

Chrome (1993)

OK…what’s happening here?  Instead of the first half being worthy, now it’s the first third.  And it’s not nearly AS worthy.  Evidently they’ve developed their own sonic style, which I assume sells well in the UK.  Therefore, the need to write surefire hits, semi-classics, even decent songs is lessened considerably.

Grade: C

Happy Days (1995)

Nice cover art.  I’m just masking my frustration at another mediocre offering that I bought based on one song(and on previous glory).  In fact, I’ve acquired five albums from this band based mostly on my fascination with two songs.  I think I’d like them to gather some supplies, move into a fallout shelter for ten years, and emerge with enough good material to rival ‘Ferment’.  Or better yet, a mental ward.  There’s nothing much to do there, so maybe they’d use the time apart from the world to develop a non-cr@ppy post-‘Ferment’ album.  At this point, that might be overly optimistic.
(“Judy Staring At The Sun”)

Grade: C-

Adam and Eve (1997)

In the beginning, Catherine Wheel created good music.  This is more like Armageddon.

Grade: D+

Wishville (2000)

Judy’s staring at bankruptcy.

Grade: D

2010: (Actually not that bad, I was just REALLY angry at them for fcking up my Y2K celebration) Grade: C

The Cardigans

First Band On The Moon (1996)

The lead singer’s voice I assume is supposed to be either seductive or cute, but it certainly doesn’t seduce me.  The cuteness factor is there only when she pitches her voice just so.  This is achieved for parts of “Lovefool”, enough at least for this album to be placed on one’s shelves…never to be taken out, of course.

Grade: D+


Prolonging The Magic (1998)

Interesting sound, this band has.  And some interesting lines, including those in the interesting minor hit “Sheep Go To Heaven”.  But the hooks just aren’t there in enough abundance to make up for the fact that they’re mainly saying nothing at all.  That’s only forgiveable when the hook-to-song ratio is undeniable.  Go ask Led Zeppelin.

Grade: C+

The Breeders

Last Splash (1993)

So Kim Deal moves on to (hopefully) greener pastures, escaping the grasp of the royally annoying Francis The Black.  The hope? Greater commercial success while at the same time being able to flex her muscles for a change(for more than one track an album).  So she goes and writes a hit bigger than the Pixies ever had, “Cannonball”, a true hit single(“Monkey Gone To Heaven” never made as much of a Splash).  Great for her, I always liked her vocals in the Pixies, and maybe just maybe she kept Black Francis from going totally off-the-wall insane with his lyrics.  That said, the problem here is that there are precious few other moments where any evidence at all is found to support the supposition that she was “stifled” in her previous band.  The George Harrison of the early-to-mid 90’s, perhaps?

Grade: C