Tuesday 28 February 2012

Derided Albums

Just to be obtuse, I have decided to listen to a raft of albums that are "less than favoured by critics and public alike" (I read that somewhere, can't remember where or when though)
  • Dire Straits - Brothers In Arms
    Yuppie coffee table staple.  Apart from "Money for Nothing" (far too over-played) and the frankly atrocious "Walk Of Life", this is actually an eminently listenable album. Is it their best? No - that would be 'Love Over Gold'
  • Bryan Adams - Reckless
    This was mainstream American Rawk in 1985. Mr Adams has never bettered it.
    In the summer of 1969, Bryan Adams was 9 - did he really buy his first guitar then? He may well of done, but I'm not convinced him 'and some guys from school, had a band and they tried real hard'.  Especially when he says one of them left to get married.
  • Meat Loaf - Bat Out Of Hell
    Overblown  - would make a good stage musical (see previous post)
  • Fleetwood Mac - Rumours
    Glossy sound.  Much made of the 'couples breaking up' legend, but the music herein is top drawer
  • U2 - Rattle & Hum.  The album where U2 discover America (and/or America discovers U2), and begin to "get a bit up themselves".  Never mind, 20 years on I still reckon its a great album, a good sound, and (to my untrained, slightly wonky ears) a better album than 'The Joshua Tree'.
  • Dido - No Angel.  OK, worth listening to again - but do leave a fair amount of time between visits (personally I found 11 years about right)
  • Mike Oldfield - Tubular Arms
    In short, a masterpiece.
    One man, 9 million instruments.  Never surpassed, which is why Mike Oldfields probably re-recorded it so often (is this a case of Ridley Scott/Bladerunner Syndrome?)
  • Oasis - Be Here Now
    Nowhere near as good as the previous two albums, Oasis really did seem to believe that they could operate at half power and still produce an album equal to 'Morning Glory'.  A sort of "Sod it, that'll do.  Now wheres my cocaine?" attitude is apparent in the messy, lumpy, self indulgenge that inhabits this album.  With all the hype leading up to it's release, it never stood a chance to be honest.  But, listening again after (nearly) 15 years since its release, it's not that bad - it sits nicely in a sort of after 'Morning Glory', before 'Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants' type way
  • Simply Red - Stars
    No, still an awful album.  But, Mick Hucknall has shown (at least to a doubter like myself) that he can really sing (see the cover version of "Positively 4th Street" and the reformed Faces for proof)
These albums are often derided not necessarily for the content, but due to the sheer numbers they sold in, and their relative familiarity/ubiquity (or, in the case of 'Be Here Now', a complete and utter let down from what was expected (in the words of Public Enemy "Don't Believe The Hype"))

There, that wasn't too painful was it?
Conclusion: Don't be afraid of mass appeal, critically looked down upon albums - they're usually not that bad
(mutters to self: "now wheres my copy of 'No Parlez' by Paul Young?" - oh dear, that might be a step too far I think)

From Albums that don't seem to have a lot of love, to a band in a similar position.
Ladies and Gentleman, may I present for your delectation:

Status Quo

'12 Gold Bars' was one of the first albums I owned.  I remember playing the tape so much it wore out.  It was eventaully replaced with a double vinyl copy of '12 Gold Bars Volume I + II'.
Proper 'head down, no nonsense boogie' - if you were an aspiring Rock fan, this was the album(s) to own.

Quo are one of those bands that (nearly) everybody has heard of, but few admit a liking for.  Actually, these same people don't exactly admit a DIS-liking for either.  They are just one of those things, like the ravens at the Tower of London, which if they were no longer there civilization would cease to exist (a bit extreme perhaps, but you get the general idea) and a longevity that any band should be proud of.
OK, since "Anniversary Waltz" they have basically become a cabaret band and a parody of their former selves.
But they have: an envious song catalogue, two frontmen who could do a half decent turn as a comedy double-act.
And there always remains the one question: "Will they ever stop?"

First heard this aged 10 - what my pre-adolescent brain defined as a "proper rock song" (as I recall it was introduced by Sally James on Tiswas)

Status Quo - Something Bout You Baby I Like

1 comment:

  1. For what it's worth, I believe Bryan Adams' Summer of 69 refers not to the year 1969 but rather to the fact that the summer he formed his first band he was party to lots of sexual awakening. The lucky so and so.