Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Odd Man Out

I had an interesting chat with an old friend of mine, who like me is a Who fanatic. The conversation got under way after I referred to "Odds & Sods," The Who's collection of stray tracks, as a "killer compilation. He replied with "I don't even like that record, some of my least favorite Who tracks."

Okay, so what?

Well, for one thing, the talk did not become your standard, "cranky old men who proclaim the last good record by the Stones was Sticky Fingers" type of talk. He and I both agreed that the criminally underrated "The Who By Numbers" was one of the band's best, that "quirky" Pete tunes are some of "his" best, and that even the mostly terrible "It's Hard" had its moments. So, it really was just a difference of opinion on that one album, as we both professed our love for this band on their 50th anniversary, but seemed to knock heads over "Faith In Something Bigger."

This got the wood burning.

Unlike Elton John and Rod Stewart, who arguably released some of the best albums in rock and roll prior to 1975 and then some of the worst albums for the next 40 years, is there an artist or band you love and still listen to, with one specific release that you just can't get behind?

First one that comes to my mind is Bob Dylan's "Time Out Of Mind." It's really that trilogy of "comeback" records that everyone seems to think are brilliant that I find average at best, but I will
stick with "Time Out Of Mind," since that's the one that receives the most praise.

I may love "Desire" more than others and tolerate Dylan's God years more than others, but the general consensus on most of Dylan's catalogue, I think, has been pretty close one way or the other. But "Time Out Of Mind," which I admit has a handful of brilliant Bob moments, feels bland and samey. That blandness continued with "Love & Theft" and "Modern Times" and then peaked with the awful "Together Through Life."

There is probably one brilliant, "Blonde On Blonde"-caliber record that can be extracted from these four records. Yet, so many go apeshit over "Time Out Of Mind," specifically "Make You Feel My Love," which is now rivaling "Yesterday" in the oft-covered department. And don't get me started on Lanois' production.


Shriner said...

I love Juliana Hatfield. Very solid solo career for the past 20+ years.

But the only album of hers I ever got rid of (never even ripped it) was "Juliana's Pony". I thought it was just noise. Some of her best stuff came out after that, so I figured it was just something she had to get out of her system.

That -- and Flo & Eddie's Reggae album - "Rock Steady with Flo & Eddie". But that was their last official album release, so that may not count here.

There are a number of albums I could list that I really don't care for from some artists I've followed for years -- but those two albums are the only two albums that I could never ever bring myself to listen to again from artists I otherwise love everything else.

Anonymous said...

Hello all...no, please remain seated,

In answer to your question about one release I can't get behind from an otherwise beloved artist...well...look, I reserve the right to change my mind later this morning but, yeah. The White Album by the Beatles (ducking....hey! was that necessary?). In that incredible run from Rubber Soul thru Abbey Road, the White Album is the one I like and listen to least. Of course it has its moments; it's the Beatles. But to my ears and tastes, there's many tracks that rightfully belonged on an "Odds 'n Sods" collection, rather than on the original album. So, sue me.

Next...can't help but make a comment on Dylan's Time Out of Mind. I'm in the camp that generally loves that album (except for the execrable Highlands...hey! again with the throwing things???). But, originally, the song that was the object of my scorn on that album was Make You Feel My Love. Hated it. Then, years later I heard Adele's cover of the song and absolutely adored it. Truly. To the point of learning how to play an instrumnetal version of it on acoustic guitar (Fine...I deserve it, go ahead....).

Isn't musical taste a remarkable thing?


vanwoert said...

Born in the U.S.A. The moments are there, but the album as a whole leaves me cold.

Sal Nunziato said...

RichD, I feel ya, re: The White Album. I think more people are going to come out now that you've paved the way.

And vanwoert, yes on BITU! I blame the production, but I never listen to that record. Not even one song finds its way onto a playlist.

buzzbabyjesus said...

Ha! If I could only have one Beatles album, it would be The White Album. I like it for the reasons Rich D doesn't.

I love "Odd's and Sods".

"Pet Sounds" The Beach Boys "(ducking....hey! was that necessary?)"

"Give'em Enough Rope" by The Clash.

"Adventure" by Television

"Babbacombe Lee" by Fairport Convention

"Anthem Of The Sun" by The Greatful Dead.

"Feats Don't Fail Me Now" by Little Feat

"In Space" by Big Star

John Peden said...

Dylan records after Desire that I like: "Street Legal", "Infidels", "Oh Mercy", "Good As I been to You", "World Gone Wrong"and recently the live album of Rolling Thunder "Hard Rain" after reading Sid Griffen's "Shelter From the Storm" which is such a good read it made me want to see "Renaldo and Clara" again but what would you expect from me?

Anonymous said...

Fleetwood Mac's "Mystery to Me" - a combination of too little Christine McVie, token reggae stabs (with a drum machine!), the baffling cover art, a throwaway cover of "For Your Love" - the Mac is one of my lifelong go-to's, but I've tried and never got "Mystery". Of course, I later met a bassist who rated it his favorite, and finally convinced me that "Hypnotized" was at least an interesting song.

Noam Sane said...

I'm 100% with you on "...By Numbers." Extra points for the fact that it hasn't been overplayed on rock radio. Great record, no pompous overblown concept, just kickass songs and even the throwaway isn't that bad.

And I spent years trying to understand the greatness of the White Album. Never did.
Lotta lazy writing.

I have been a Don Fagen acolyte forever, and have been known to describe him as our Ellington. A stretch, probably, but he surely is a singular writer in the idiom. But the last record, Sunken Condos, makes me want to puke. The tunes are not just bad, they're fucking actively annoying, and even I am tired of the young-girl-doesn't-appreciate-old-guy schtick that he's been peddling since the 70s. C'mon, Duke!

Everything else in the catalog, solo or Dan, is remarkable. What happened?

wardo said...

I love TOOM, and still don't like Desire. I listen to Desire at least once a year to see if it takes, and it doesn't.

DaveF said...

McCartney's catalogue of solo records certainly have their highs and lows. But the lowest point of all was reached with McCartney II. One of the worst records of all time. Nothing redeeming on it. I didn't get understand it in 1980 and I still don't. Because it was made by a pop genius makes it all the more shameful.

itsok2beright said...

Blue Oyster Cult - "Agents of Fortune"

Zeppelin - "In Through The Out Door"

And from a different era, Tool - "Opiate"

mauijim said...

Presence is my usual go to boy I hate this lp now going on nearly 40years. But I will pick on Prairie Wind by Neil. I have not played it since seeing the dvd and i dont watch that either. Think its telling Neil does not play anything either since the dvd.
and I do listen, happen to like Fork in the road!!

jeff said...

Hardly a day goes by when I don't listen to something by The Band, but aside from "'Right as Rain" and Richard Manuel's vocal on "Georgia", there's not a lot to love on "Islands."

Anonymous said...

I'm a fan of McCartney's recent solo albums, from Flaming Pie on, with the exception of Memory Almost Full, which if I recall was as well reviewed as any of them, but which I can't stand. I'm not even sure why. It SOUNDED like a good late-period McCartney album, I guess I just didn't like the songs.

I've always hated Double Fantasy. Thought it was a crushing disappointment at the time, have tried several times over the years to give it another shot, but nah, not even the stripped down version they released a few years ago. Then again, I recently listened to Mind Games and found it a lot better than I remembered, so maybe time to give Double Fantasy another shot?

Bruce H

A walk in the woods said...

Mostly disagree about the late-period Dylan... Time Out Of Mind has 2 of my favorite recent-era Bob songs (Standing In The Doorway and Cold Irons Bound) and generally is awesome - although I agree it's samey-sounding. But those songs sound great live, which means a lot. And even more importantly, this was the album that really consolidated his turnaround (that had started with the 2 folk-acoustic albums of the early 90s). So it's almost like, even if I didn't like Time Out Of Mind, I'd appreciate it because of what it has done for the last 20 years of touring and recording - it let him turn a corner from being a nostalgia act who most people think was "bad" in the 80s.

Love & Theft is actually an album of his I'd listen to before most of his 60s stuff... not to say it's better, but it's fresh, hasn't been overdone, and has a lot of very good songs on it to my ears. I mean - does Mississippi not grab you?

I think Modern Times is way overrated, but I like a LOT of Together Through Life.

Anyway... for me, there aren't many artists I like who have big LPs that I don't like. I'm interested in the journey, and if they're a great artist it can be hard to knock me off. That being said - boy has Neil Young made it hard to maintain interest in him these last 15 years or so. Whew, some of those thrown-together albums, my goodness!!

cmealha said...

I did but then I got better.

Sal Nunziato said...

AWITW--there are days when I think "Mississippi" is the greatest song ever written. But as I said, pull that and a dozen more from the last four, and you've got a Dylan record better than the last four have been purported to be.


kevinpat said...

Okay, please don't tell her. Please don't tell her. Please don't tell her…..but Patti Smith's Radio Ethiopia I have always found a challenge to get through. LOVE the woman and her catalogue….but besides "Ask the Angels" (which is classic, even though for years I thought she was chanting "Quaaludes! Quaaludes! Quaaludes!" instead of "Wild! Wild! Wild!". Which just goes to prove we all have different ears) this one's a bit over my reach. But shhhhhhhh………….!!!

REM's Fables of the Reconstruction. Great song, tight and Peter Buck rings on this one. But it sounds like it's being transmitted through a string between 2 soup cans. Where the f is the treble???!!! Like it's been polyurethaned. The songs sound great live but this one I can't get through despite my efforts always to play with the dials. Other than that I really like all their albums, even the later ones are good.

The Clash's Give 'Em Enough Rope also was destroyed by the leadened production. Great way to kill a killer set.

That and those gottam synth drums. Many a good band and album sabotaged with that awful sound.

U2 Zooropa. Enough said.

Joni Mitchell Dog Eat Dog. The double Dog in the title says it all. Thomas Dolby??? Really Joni???

God bless John Lennon, but I concur re: Double Fantasy. A genius falls into the quicksand of schmaltz. Ugh.He sounds like a cat on a fence at midnight. It's like he's trying to "sing" like Yoko, rather than the other way around. Goodlawd.

I can always find something wonderful on every Dylan release, if not the entire set. Truly. But Christmas In My Heart??? So confounding one has to wonder if he's just so genius we don't have the capacity to understand it….?? Nah. Vanity project?? Nah. Nothing to be vain about here. Cash in on the Christmas craze?? Like he needs the money or exposure. Why. Why? Why? Why? He sounds like Louie Armstrong without the pitch, joy, reach, rhythm and soul. Sorry Bob, but take it back!! An album only a mother could love.

Thanks for the conversation Sal! That was fun!

dogbreath said...

For my ten cents worth, I've always had trouble getting past Bowie's so-called "Berlin Trilogy" (Low, Heroes, Scary Monsters), some cracking stuff on those albums, of course, but for me it was a move too far removed from what had gone before. Perhaps I was just too much of a glam rock freak (surely not?) and wanted more of the same. One man's meat, etc.... Plus there was still Tin Machine to come as well. But look at what The Man has done since and is still capable of & all is forgiven.

Michael Giltz said...

Re: "To Make You Feel My Love."

Joni Mitchell was asked if even she was tired of people covering "River" for their Christmas/holiday albums and Mitchell bitingly responded, "It's called a standard. That used to be considered a GOOD thing!"