Ever heard a record described as ‘seminal’ and then listened to it and thought:
“What the fuck was that? Am I missing something?”
When you are in a band there is nothing more infuriating than working your life off in a recording studio to make an album and reading a fresh copy of Mojo on the sofa in the control room of which half the magazine has been dedicated to praising an album which at best is just not very good.
You know the issue I’m talking about; the Dark Side Of The Moon one with previously unreleased photos of the Fab Four.
So it got me thinking about some albums that I think are talked about as being great but that I think just aren’t. Or perhaps good to OK albums that are too highly praised or put on a pedestal by the music press to sell more of their shit.
Here is my top ten….
1. Public Image Limited – Metal Box
I haven’t got anything good to say about this record. In fact, if we had of made this album, or anything remotely like it and handed it over to our record label we probably would have been refused our next advance or even dropped.
In a nutshell this record sounds like 3 different people playing 3 different things at the same time with Larry The Lamb braying a load of made up on the spot lyrics over the top. You might think that makes it sound good right? Not really. It’s actually been re-released and re-fucking-mastered. Who would put a mastering engineer through that twice? Who would inflict this on the public twice? This is the musical equivalent of fake news.
2. Captain Beefheart – Trout Mask Replica
More fake news. I defy anyone to get through this record let alone listen to it twice. In fact, I would go so far as to say I don’t trust anyone who actually says they like this.
I sold my vinyl copy for £50 on discogs, I couldn’t get rid of it quick enough. The person who bought it has probably never listened to it and is right now in a pub telling someone he owns it on vinyl and that it’s Beefhearts most seminal album.
3. Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation
This is a record full of meandering dreary tunes that are atonal and meaningless. A totally and utterly and completely boring record which people bang on about like it’s the alternative rock equivalent of Pet Sounds. Fake news people and guess what, it’s a double album. The only good thing about this record is the Gerhard Richter painting used for the sleeve. How did they manage to convince this incredible artist to let them use his painting for this melody-less open tuning twangy guff of a record? I think the cover is actually a lot to blame for it being touted as seminal. People get confused you know.
I once had a signed copy and gave it away to someone as punishment. They are probably still listening to it now, looking at the cover and trying to convince themselves of how incredible and ‘seminal’ it is. The musical equivalent of having the test card sung to you.
4. Coldplay -Any album by them
I just don’t get this… but then I sort of do. It’s more than just being about a band.
I once was in a studio and I read an old copy of the NME in which Keith Cameron perfectly described why Coldplay are utter guff. An entire generation disagreed with him and his days at the NME were probably numbered if he was going to carry on writing the truth. An entire generation suddenly wanted their rock music served up with a large dose of vanilla and sprinkled with hundreds and thousands of banality.
It all started with that song Wonderwall and then developed into Travis and the coffee table trip that is Urban Hymns. It couldn’t possibly get worse could it? Yeah! Next the acoustics were traded for piano’s and along came Coldplay and Keane and everyone basked in the glory of middle of the middle of the middle of the road music.
Kurt Cobain was turning like crazy. It was no longer better to burn out or even fade away, the intention was to fade in gently and not cause any trouble and be super polite all the way (whilst sort of skipping across the stage of your local arena). It worked.
I recently saw Royal Blood at my local arena and they were such lovely rockers; they took selfies of themselves and their audience from the stage and kept on telling everyone how humbled they were ‘that anyone had even turned up’. The singer even did a spot at the front of the stage which involved him ringing his Mum on his mobile phone to sing her Happy Birthday (with the audience). Can you imagine Deep Purple doing that?
Thanks Coldplay (they knew not what they were doing).
Incidentally, the NME and Melody Maker didn’t know what they were doing either and by pandering to this generation they firmly unloaded both barrels into their own feet.
5. Van Morrison – Astral Weeks
Always in the seminal albums features. Why? Van has done better stuff. This album is boring.
6. Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On
Again, always in there (see also Blue by Joni Mitchell)
Marv has also done better stuff. If you reach the end of this album, you will feel like you’ve listened to one long dreary soul song delivered by a singer who is high and it will leave you thinking you shouldn’t and couldn’t give a fuck anymore. Providing you reach the end that is.
7. Radiohead – OK Computer
Too prog for me. Although it has some majestic moments on it, I find this album hard to listen to and never return to it. The Bends was better, but as a famous American A&R man once told me, the music industry felt bad about ignoring The Bends (because it didn’t have another Creep!!!) and so they heaped this one with the praise they all knew should have really gone to the much better album before; The Bends.
8. Rolling Stones – Exile On Mainstreet
This is always in one of those ‘records before you die’ things or other famous bands always talk about it being extremely influential. I don’t get it? It sounds like a load of bad clanky blues to me (like most Stones Albums).
9. Sgt Pepper…
An amazing album but forever pushed way up too high on a pedestal. Rubber Soul is better, so is Revolver and The White Album too. Also Abbey Road and possibly Let It Be too (not the Naked one though, that’s utterly terrible and a terrible idea to do it).
Still Sgt Pepper is a Beatles album and just imagine if it had of had Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane on it… we would never hear the end of it! (which loops up over and over incidentally!).
To me this record is kind of claustrophobic and over-done and it sounds proto-ELO. When I hear it I can’t help but think of the Electric Light Orchestra and I have no idea why!
10. six by seven – The Things We Make
This one got so much praise when it came out. It was voted 13th best album by the NME that year. Why though? I can also only really recall one really bad review but I knew from the record label reports that everyone at radio hated it.
It didn’t even scratch the surface of what the band sounded like live.
This was something we tried to capture with later albums and that is why, for me, Closer You Get, :04, The Way I Feel Today and Love And Peace And Sympathy are all much better albums. However, because it was the debut, for some reason which I don’t get, most people I meet seem to like this one the best.
The Things We Make was also a real drag to make and seemed to go on and on in the studio. For You, Candlelight, Beautiful Shape and Oh! Dear were all recorded after the mammoth 9 week session at Moles Studio in Bath was finished. European Me and Brilliantly Cute had already been finished before the session. What exactly took us 9 weeks to record? Something Wild, 88-92-96 and Spy Song?
Incidentally, Beggars Arkive are re-releasing it on blue vinyl early next year. Seminal!
…and one last thing….anything by The Grateful Dead and don’t even get me started on electronic music….mmmm….next blog.