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”)
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”)
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.
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.
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.
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”)
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-
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.
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.
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.
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”)
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”)
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.
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”)
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”)
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.
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”)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”)
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.
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”)
Adam and Eve (1997)
In the beginning, Catherine Wheel created good music. This is more like Armageddon.
Judy’s staring at bankruptcy.
2010: (Actually not that bad, I was just REALLY angry at them for fcking up my Y2K celebration) Grade: C
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.
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.
The Burdens of Being Upright (1996)
I have no idea where she came from or for that matter where she disappeared to after this album. That said, she does produce a fair number of decent songs here. Her voice is a bit grating (think Geddy Lee-ish, only female. On second thought, don’t think of that. Ever). The hooks, however, dig in well enough for that to be a tolerable nuisance.
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?
The Best of Blondie (1981)
This kind of music (whatever friggin kind it is, I don’t really know) isn’t exactly my “thing”. It reeks too much of extremely commercial pop. I can appreciate some nice beats, though, and some occasionally fine lyrics. Even a mediocre band should get (or be able to get) a decent best-of put together after a set amount of albums. This is a decent best-of.
(“Heart of Glass”)
Enema of the State (1999)
Usually I do not make hasty purchases based entirely on one song. Actually, that’s not completely true…I have done it many a time, with very mixed results. But I’m not on trial here! Usually, if I DO make a hasty purchase based on one song, it’s a pretty d@mn good song. So I’ll plead temporary insanity and contemplate tossing this in the garbage disposal. It wouldn’t fit, but it’d be fun to try, I think.
2010: (Not completely unsatisfactory!!!) Grade: D+
Blind Melon (1992)
Of COURSE the dancing bee is cute. I won’t deny that any more than I’d deny liking ‘Babe’. But unfortunately cute video plus cute sleeve plus a coupla good songs does NOT (or should not) equate to cult status, anyone’s death notwithstanding. Shannon Hoon is part of an overblown, overhyped effort here, and that’s just the way it is.
(“Tones of Home”)
Three years later, they’re back. Did I say Shannon Hoon was dead on that last one??? Shame on me. To quote a fairly macabre commercial from the early-mid 90’s, regarding the song “Legend Of A Mind”: Timothy Leary – “Hello, I’m Timothy Leary, and I’m not dead.” Caption – “Yet.”
Bjork’s appearance is similar to her music. Almost entrancing, yet at the same time borderline ugly and/or weird. So for me, she has to hit it right on the mark to connect. Which she struggles to do once, on “Big Time Sensuality”.
Teenager Of The Year (1994)
Whatever happened to catchy-songwriter-with-meaningless-lyrics, by the name of Black Francis? Is he just indulging himself here, or has he truly lost it? Because if “Headache” is all he has left(and I suspect it is), then he should seriously consider a new line of work. I mean, even with the Pixies he nearly ruined some perfectly good songs with some embarassing lyrics. Think “Space(I Believe In)” for one. Beware thee a musician with lots of riffs and no words, for once the well runs dry it can be pretty sad. This surely is.