I’ve got great news! Okay, let’s call mediocre news. Regardless, as I right this, an internet company is finally laying fiber optic cables out here in the middle of a big cornfield in Central Indiana, which means sometime in the next 12-18 months I will have a new internet provider. The past couple of days have left me without an internet service on which to write my insightful and meaningful articles.
Now, let’s do a little reminiscing. If you are a nut for rock music like I am, many of you have spent much energy in anticipation of an artist’s upcoming album. You are so full of excitement because that last album they had released meant so much to you that this new one HAS GOT TO be at least the equal of that previous album. For instance, I LOVED Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ 1979 classic Damn the Torpedoes, that when I heard he was releasing a new album just days BEFORE my high school graduation in 1981, I KNEW this album was going to be great. And, to my ears, Hard Promises was everything I had hoped for.
But, other times, I got nothing but disappointment from that new album. For example, I was a lukewarm REO Speedwagon fan. I had LOVED their 1978 release You Can Tune a Piano, but You Can’t Tuna Fish. Their next album, Nine Lives from 1979, was solid. But, at the end of 1980, the band released their masterpiece, Hi Infidelity. That album was the album of my senior year of high school. Now, it was not my choice to give it that title, but a majority of my classmates sure thought so. When it was time for their next album to be released in 1982, I was interested to hear how this band grew and dealt with their success. What they gave us was a platter of total crap that made it so very easy to predict that they were going “pop” instead of remaining in their hard rock/pop groove they shared with Journey, Styx, Foreigner, to name a few.
So, today, I give to you My 20 Most Disappointing Albums by Some of My Favorite Artists. I have listed these albums in alphabetical order according to the artist’s name.
AC/DC – Fly on the Wall (1985). So, the Young brothers wanted to get back to the band’s basics at this time. But, why did they think they should be the producers? I think I found this album on fire on my mom’s porch one night after the doorbell rang.
The Cars – Door to Door (1987). The Cars conquered the world in 1984 with their classic Heartbeat City. By the time they released this follow up, the band wasn’t speaking to each other, and you can tell. The music sounds like they were no longer communicating.
Cheap Trick – Standing on the Edge (1985). My heroes lost themselves on this album, and it took them over a decade to recover. Outside of the should-have-been-a-hit “Tonight It’s You”, while the rest of the album sounded as though the label wanted the boys to be a hair metal band.
Chicago – Hot Streets (1979). Chicago had been known for never having a band photo appear on an album cover, and all of their albums up to this point had been numbered. Then, they lost their leader/hot-shot lead guitarist Terry Kath to a firearms accident, and the band released this disco-fied album that totally lost their jazz-rock fusion they had been so successful with up to this point. The band recovered a bit in 1982 and 1984, but the decline in quality music had been set in motion.
Green Day – ¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, ¡Tré! trilogy (2012). They were coming off their last two rock opera albums that had been so successful that Billie Joe Armstrong turned those albums into a Broadway show that was also highly successful. So, his bright idea to follow up all of that success was to record THREE albums for release with a month between each. These stunts are NEVER a good idea as we were treated to CDs worth of crap. Billie Joe had a breakdown in the midst of all of this, like no one saw that coming.
Janet Jackson – janet. (1993). Miss Jackson had release two classic Eighties albums with former Time members Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis producing. But, when the three went to the well again, all they could come up with were these lame ballads.
The Jacksons – Victory (1984). During the tail end of Michael Jackson’s Thriller days, it was announced that ALL of the Jackson brothers would reunite for an album and tour. Things got off to a bad omen when Michael’s hair caught on fire during the filming of a Pepsi commercial. Then, Michael wouldn’t share any of his good material, so what we got was one decent song that was thrown together with Mick Jagger adding vocals (rumor is that it was supposed to be Queen’s Freddie Mercury). The rest was written by the brothers, so the quality of the tunes was sub sub-standard.
Elton John – Blue Moods (1976). Elton was out of gas by the time he recorded this double album. Why do an album in the first place? Things were going downhill quickly after that one.
Madonna – Erotica (1992). In the beginning, Madonna’s attempts at shocking the public’s conservative values was fun. Until this album, when Madonna released her version of a Hustler magazine instead of the usual Playboy.
John Mellencamp – Mr. Happy Go Lucky (1996). Throughout the Nineties, Mellencamp had been making some very muscular-sounding rock music with one of the tightest bands in the world. Then, he wanted to push himself musically. He got some different players AND a DJ (WTF?!?!) and gave us the crap sandwich.
Pink Floyd – The Final Cut (1982). This is NOT Pink Floyd! This is a Roger Waters solo album. Next!
Prince – Come (1994). I am a huge Prince fan, but even I know when I am being fed crap. And this was crap.
Rush – Hold Your Fire (1987). On this album Rush transformed from everyone’s favorite virtuoso power trio into a synth-based New Age band. Barf! Next time out, they dropped those damn synthesizers.
Stone Roses – Second Coming (1994). Stone Roses were a UK band whose debut album channeled dance rhythms with rock music that caused a huge sensation across the pond in 1989 and 1990. Then, the band got big egos, fought with each other, took more drugs that an individual could handle and dropped this rotten egg of an album on us in 1994. BUT, they did start the whole Britpop craze of the mid-90s.
Styx – Cornerstone (1979). I knew this band was turning into a soft rock band after listening to this album. And, another good band was out of ideas.
Weezer – Make Believe (2005). Weezer were in the midst of a little comeback with two great power pop albums that followed their previous two albums by six years. Then, they hooked up with Rick Rubin who did not seem to be sympathetic to the needs of this 80s new wave caught in the 21st century.
The Who – Face Dances (1981). The Who made the wrong choice when they added drummer Kenny Jones to the line-up in place for the recently passed Keith Moon. This is a tired set of songs from a group in mourning and directionless.
Stevie Wonder – In Square Circle (1985). The genius behind so many terrific Seventies and Eighties albums, that I gave him a pass for 1979’s Journey Through the Secret Lives of Plants because he followed it up with 1980’s Hotter Than July and 1982’s brilliant song “That Girl”. But this!?!? This was New Age-ish bland synthesizer music.
Van Halen – III (1998). I couldn’t leave this one off my list. C’mon! Gary Cerrone? Of Extreme? Please!
Neil Young – Trans (1982). I give Mr. Young an A for attempting to make music with electronic instruments that allow his son to communicate. But, the music sounds like crap, so the album gets an F. Wouldn’t it be cool if Neil rounded up the best songs of his lost decade, the Eighties, and re-record them with Crazy Horse. Just think how some of those Trans songs would sound with a little human emotion behind them. Then, throw in songs that he did with the Shocking Pinks, the International Harvesters, and that late-80s blues band, and I bet we’d get another late-in-his-career masterpiece.
Those are just a few of the disappointing albums I have picked up in the past. There are others, but these are the most disappointing. Now, tell me which albums disappointed you. I’d love to hear your choices.