Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Twelve Unjustly Maligned Albums Part 3

Part 1
Part 2

Wow it actually took me less than a week to write all of these. It's an Easter miracle. Anyway, here's the last four:

4. The Smashing Pumpkins - Adore

was at least reasonably well appreciated by critics but it was a total commercial failure, coming as it did on the heels of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, one of the most successful albums of the Nineties. The reasons for this are fairly obvious; on this album Billy Corgan abandoned a more familiar heavy grunge sound in favour of subdued electronica, acoustic guitar and piano to the tune of millions of angsty teenagers hitting the 'eject' button.

It's still a great album, and even though music snobs generally seem to recognise this I'm still surprised by how many people I meet who claim to love the Smashing Pumpkins but hate this album.

Bold Statement: Adore is better than Siamese Dream.

3. Pink Floyd - The Final Cut

As with A Momentary Lapse of Reason, the drama of Roger Waters leaving Pink Floyd probably soured people on this album more than it deserved, but at least in this case there are also stylistic reasons to explain why it is so disliked as all of the electronics and ambience that found Floyd the success of Dark Side of the Moon and it's immediate successors has been stripped away and replaced by orchestral arrangements.

If you can tolerate the change in musical medium it's still a great album; similar in subject matter and style but less bloated than The Wall, and full of plenty of humour and quirks in the traditional Pink Floyd style.

I must admit however that it did take me a few listens to appreciate it. In fact if I recall it wasn't until the first time I listened to it on headphones that I thought “Wow, this is really good!”

Bold Statement: The Final Cut is better than Dark Side of the Moon

2. Skinny Puppy - The Process

It's no surprise that this album is universally hated by Skinny Puppy fans, as it has a history far more full of unpleasant details than the juvenile shenanigans of Pink Floyd breaking up. Not only were the two founding members, Ogre and cevin, barely speaking to each other while recording, but the third member, Dwayne Goettel, actually died of a heroin overdose while the album was being made. On top of this the record company (American) applied a lot of pressure to make a more commercial album and generally shafted the band so the results were (somewhat understandably) a huge disappointment to fans after the crazy noisefests of Too Dark Park and Last Rights.

It's too bad, because besides a regrettable early attempt by Ogre to sing (rather than growl or squeal) on 'Cult' this album is actually pretty good and the first four tracks are absolutely brilliant as long as they're approached as the best Nine Inch Nails songs Trent Reznor never wrote rather than genuine industrial. The standout track is 'Death'; my conception of the Platonic ideal of an industrial song. No album that contains a song that good deserves the bashing that The Process gets.

Bold Statement: 'Death' is better than anything on Last Rights.

1. Barnes Drunken Karaoke to Radiohead

If you can look past some small difficulties with the high notes, Barnes' rendition of Radiohead's 'Let Down' after half a bottle of vodka captures the plaintive ennui at the heart of the song; that muted sadness found when the initial buzz of intoxication has worn off and you realise that you're just drunk (again). “Just let down and hanging around.” Critical response was unnecessarily harsh, leading to disparaging reviews along the lines of “Oh God Barnes and Jon are drunk and singing along to Radiohead again”, but those in the know recognised it for the understated gem it was.


Ed said...

"Barnes – Drunken Karaoke to Radiohead"

You're a bad man Jon :)
Also, I have fond memories of it always getting to "Tool o'clock" late at a party and us all thrashing around like drunk monkeys in a storehouse.
White Pony was another popular choice.

Skarnz said...

Tee hee.

I was just thinking about this the other day.

and yes. I agree that was another gem that was callously overlooked. A pure gem it was (snigger).

Although, the same can't be said for a number of excruciating versions of muck from 'singstar' that we were forced to sing. Forced by Steph's breasts, mostly, I guess. Well, maybe Hayley's too. (ahem).

Jacob said...

That reminds me. I have an awful awful video of Tool's 'Sober' sung by the same two guys at Parade Court. One was wearing Rabbit ears for some reason; so it may not be remembered..

Jon said...

ed: I think while I was living with you it was Tool o'clock pretty much 20 hours a day.

skarnz: I won't ever let you forget that I bet you at singstar! But lets not blame everything on Steph's breasts, her arse had something to do with it too.

jacob: I remember that video and I definitely remember wearing the bunny ears (I went to rocky with them on later on that night), but I can be excused from the singing as I was the one playing the guitar.

Joel said...

I think we should all meet on the equator, perhaps Hawaii, get drunk on whatever is available and then start a Tool tribute band. Or at least start a bunch of people that stand around singing Tool.

I remember driving around in cars singing A Perfect Circle loudly. That was fun.

Jon said...

Sounds cool. Why does it have to be on the equator though?