The Rolling Stones

Let It Bleed (1969)

Moments of genius, moments of stupidity.

Grade: B

Sticky Fingers (1971)

I was a bit excited to discover this album in a nearby library, so that I could check it out and listen to the entire thing, knowing all the time I was mainly just using it as a means to get my kiss-a$$ review of “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” in print.  It starts off with a signature riff, one of Keith’s best.  And when I say best, I’m putting it in “Satisfaction” territory.  It doesn’t stop there, though.  Richards plays some amazing guitar while Jagger comes up with some nice lyrics and even goes Led Zeppelin for a while with his perfectly timed recitals of the song’s name in conjunction with Richard’s riff work.  Ahhh…I feel better now.  On to the rest of the album.  Not a great album, but a good one.  Other songs you might find interesting include “Brown Sugar” (although I’m rather sick of it) and “Bitch” (Which I don’t think I’ll EVER get sick of).  Yes, there’s some cr@ppy filler and a cr@ppy-as-usual blues cover.  So it’s pretty much half of a great album.  Which is all you can really hope for these days.
(“Can’t You Hear Me Knocking”, “Bitch”)

Grade: B

Hot Rocks(1964-1971) (1986)

This could easily be an A+ if it was just comprised of better selections.  As is, there’s loads of good music here, nothing truly revelatory but pretty d@mn good.  Only “Heart Of Stone” and “As Tears Go By” make me wince.
(“Gimme Shelter”, “Street Fighting Man”)

Grade: A

Flashpoint (1991)

Doesn’t sound that bad, and I usually think that live albums tend to suck.  Unfortunately, the song choices are somewhat suspect, and it IS a live one, so it’s not quite as good as it could be.  If you love the Stones, you’re gonna buy it anyways.  If you’re more of a casual fan, I’d recommend withholding purchase unless you spot it in a bargain bin in a few years.

Grade: C

Forty Licks (2002)

A very expansive greatest-hits package, this is separated into two cd’s worth of music.  The first disc is a wonderful collection of some of the Stones’ best early-to-middle period songs.  The second disc relies heavily on later material, and consequently suffers from the decline of the Stones in their later years.  If you want to buy one Stones album, ‘Hot Rocks’ is the way to go.  I’m sure there’s a later-period-only best-of out there somewhere that you could buy if you wanted a complete overview of their catalog.  I personally find a lot of their later material embarassing by their standards.
(“Street Fighting Man”, “Honky Tonk Women”)

Grade: B+

2010: (Chock-full of too much goodness to resist) Grade: A

Salt

Auscultate (1995)

I enjoyed “Bluster” very much from the first time I heard it on the radio.  So, guess what happened?  I bought the album!  Thinking there would be more good songs! (Well, “Honour Me” isn’t bad).
(“Bluster”)

Grade: D+

R.E.M.

Murmur (1982)

This is the world at large’s full-length introduction to Michael Stipe and company.  I find it a bit boppy and very non-threatening.  I don’t know what the hell Stipe is talking about, a pattern which would continue over their next few albums and, let’s be honest, their entire career.  The man seems to enjoy writing lyrics that make you think.  Which is a good thing, in general.  But when I put on my favorite artists, I want to KNOW what they’re talking about, and be able to just sink into a bubblebath with a contented sigh, and enjoy it.  Besides, I don’t think on command, thank you very much.  Unless this really is just a jambly mess of chaos.

Grade: C

2010: Stipe gets even more twitty in retrospect.  Grade: C-

Eponymous (1988)

They weren’t very good at all until ‘Document’.  Three of the good songs on this best-of-up-until-’88 are from ‘Document’.  And thus this album is elevated from mediocre to pretty good.
(“The One I Love”)

Grade: B

Out Of Time (1991)

“Losing My Religion”.  No.  I will not listen to that song ever again.  Michael Stipe has always been a pretentious twit, and here his music and lyrics combine to full twit-effect.  What about the rest?  Well, it’s not bad…better than I would have expected after the first single.
(“Texarkana”, “Belong”)

Grade: B-

2011: He does mean well in a lot of ways…and True Believers are hard to find.  Grade: B

Automatic For The People (1992)

“Everybody Hurts” has achieved the same status as Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven”, both as a prom song and a song that has been played continuously and mercilessly since its release.  It’s a very good song, but how many times can we keep playing the d@mn thing and still enjoy it?  With that noted, my two favorites here do NOT include that song.  Btw, Andy Kaufman stinks.
(“Ignoreland”, “Drive”)

Grade: B-

8/20/12: Not to be morbid, but he certainly does by now.  Oh shut up, he’d say it himself if he wasn’t dead.  Grade: B

Monster (1994)

Nice hardish rock guitar throughout on this album, beginning with the killer riffs on “What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?”.  Most of this rocks pretty hard…there’s certainly filler but it’s more tolerable than it could be.
(“What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?”, “Star 69”)

Grade: B

8/20/12: All the meaning in the world didn’t save any of their other albums from being worse than this, and all the meaning in the world doesn’t make this any better than it is.  Perhaps they should, with some exceptions, find another medium with which to bore the life out of their clientele.  Thank you, Diane.
Grade: B+

New Adventures In Hi-Fi (1996)

Slow I don’t mind, pretty I don’t mind, mournful I don’t mind.  But put them all together and add a dose of poor songwriting and it makes for a dismal bit of filler, broken up occasionally by a decent song.  Is it worth your money?  I don’t think so.
(“E-Bow The Letter”)

Grade: C

2011: Moving away from both rock and pop is very dangerous for your career.  This does both.  It’s intentionally obscure and minimalist in the same way as ‘Murmur’, except here you can actually understand what the heck they’re talking about.  Not their best album by a long shot, but in some ways this is their triumph…Peace, Love, and Community over Money.  For once, I applaud.
Grade: B-

Reveal (2001)

REM goes easy listening/cocktail lounge act.  At least on parts of it.  It’s laughable, because you expect at least a stab at innovation from them each time out.  And because Stipe has to be the frontman for this occasionally annoying, horrible synth-sound album.  He’s always been a bit full of himself, but he seems to be losing it.  Where the hell is Peter Buck and his bag of riffs?  I guess Michael decided he WANTED to actually make a semi-easy-listening, mostly hookless quiet album.  I hope he likes it, because I sure the hell don’t, and thankfully the album-buying public seems to agree with me to a certain extent.  Stop with the synth moves, guys.  You have no clue what to do with them.  Either get back to GOOD pop music, or (my preference) straight out rock, e.g. ‘Monster’.
Grade: D

2011: “Any sort of commerciality” and “Doing whatever the fck we want” went to war…they raised the stakes, forcing the other side to, forcing the other side to, and so on…they won.  Grade: D+

In Time: The Best Of R.E.M. 1988-2003 (2003)

It’s a good thing that 1988 was when they started to rise above persistently meaningless mediocrity.  It’s a bad thing that they didn’t take all the good sh1t and put it here.
(What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?”, “Orange Crush”)

Grade: B

Rage Against The Machine

Rage Against The Machine (1992)

I’ve always liked good rock with meaning more than good rock without.  So that’s not a problem here.  And I enjoy Zach De La Rocha’s lyrics and performance.  The backup from his musical mates is impressive as well.  All that being said, I’d love to love this album, but the songwriting just doesn’t hold up throughout.  A solid effort, though, and worthy of a follow-up.
(“Killing In The Name”, “Bullet In The Head”)

Grade: B

The Battle Of Los Angeles (1999)

The synth attempt on track eleven is silly and sad.  They have one method of delivery, and frankly sound really boring/annoying/silly when they try to “branch out”.  On another note, “Born Of A Broken Man” is a completely obvious(and sad, there’s that word again) ripoff of Jesus Jones’ “Right Here, Right Now”.  It actually brought back some memories that left me humming inside my head.  The rest(“Guerilla Radio” excepted) is so formulaic and repetitive on this, their third album featuring the same music (hello, AC/DC) that I have no choice but to say that this year’s model is easily the worst of the triplets.  I see why they broke up.  Quite frankly, I’m sick of them and am glad that the band (except Zach, maybe?) made the right decision.

Grade: C-

Red Hot Chili Peppers

BloodSugarSexMagik (1991)

Lots of songs here.  Going through them all, I found a few keepers.  But something about the Peppers just rubs me the wrong way, and even the keepers don’t do all that much for me anymore.  The filler is torture.
(“Under The Bridge”)

Grade: C

What Hits!? (1992)

A collection of music one track more than ‘BloodSugarSexMagik’, it boasts one less interesting song.  If only grading was always this easy.
(“Higher Ground”)

Grade: C-

2010: (I’m overcome by their average-ness) Grade: C

Radiohead

The Bends (1995)

I never thought they’d do it, but they did.  They actually came back with an album that wasn’t horrid after the one-shot “Creep”.  Soft, melodic, and pretty at its high points, this album may take a while to kick in, but it’s not bad if you give it half a chance.  Don’t get excited or anything, but maybe crack a LITTLE smile.

Grade: C+

OK Computer (1997)

First half is worthy of an A.  Second half has to scratch and claw to achieve mediocrity.  It’s supposedly a breakthrough, hands-down classic according to some.  It’s a good album, and it’s worth buying.  But it’s not going to change your life or change music as a whole.
(“Karma Police”)

Grade: B

Kid A (2000)

Very atmospheric.  But the atmosphere is rarely backed up by good music.

Grade: C-

2010: (Kid Average) Grade: C

Amnesiac (2001)

Them boys do enjoy indulging themselves, don’t they?

Grade: D-

Hail To The Thief (2003)

“Sail To The Moon” is a beautiful song that represents their peak in that area.  “Myxomatosis” is some good solid noise-plus-vocals music, perfect for when you just want to listen and not have to think.  A couple other songs are pretty good.  There is no big deal with this band.  It’s fair quality (art?) rock, nothing more.  A few good songs don’t make a great album, let alone a great career.
(“Myxomatosis”, “Sail To The Moon”)

Grade: B-

Primitive Radio Gods

Rocket (1996)

Most certainly a one-shot album(and possibly career), this is mediocre noise and lyrics that rise to respectability only during “Chain Reaction” and the Hit.
(“Standing Outside A Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand”)

Grade: D+

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-

Ruff!