26 Albums I’m Told I Should Remove From My Collection

100albums2.jpgThe author, with some of the offend­ing arti­cles

Chalkills, the XTC fan­site, wants to help you sift through the detri­tus of your music col­lec­tion, pron­to: One Hun­dred Albums You Should Remove from Your Col­lec­tion Imme­di­ate­ly (spot­ted on DGM­Live).

I own (or once owned) a whop­ping 26% of these over­rat­ed (so they say) canon­i­cal clas­sics! Hey, Chalkhills, what did I ever do to you? I love XTC (Apple Venus and Wasp Star being two of my all-time favorite albums, hands-down), so my tastes can’t be all bad, can they? But hav­ing read your list, I find that for every one of your selec­tions that brings steam out of my ears, there’s anoth­er with which I have to begrudg­ing­ly agree.

So here’s my anno­tat­ed list, includ­ing, for fun, the for­mat in which I pur­chased each offend­ing title and whether or not I even­tu­al­ly dis­card­ed it:

U2 - The Joshua Tree
2. U2 — The Joshua Tree
20th Anniver­sary Edi­tion boxed set
U2’s true mas­ter­piece Achtung Baby was yet to come, but the com­plex depth of that record wouldn’t have been pos­si­ble with­out the uniron­ic earnest­ness of The Joshua Tree. And yes, maybe I’m a snob (not to men­tion old) for upgrad­ing to the remas­tered anniver­sary edi­tion, but just the oth­er day I lis­tened to the revived record­ing of “Moth­ers of the Dis­ap­peared” with my jaw lit­er­al­ly hang­ing open and the prover­bial chills run­ning up and down my spine.

Nirvana - Nevermind
3. Nir­vana — Nev­er­mind
cas­sette (dis­card­ed)
It was a gift, I swear. While I intel­lec­tu­al­ly under­stand what the mass-mar­ket break­through of Nir­vana did for music (basi­cal­ly, spark­ing a fresh explo­sion of so-called “alter­na­tive” music com­pa­ra­ble to punk’s effect on a stag­nant world of dis­co and sta­di­um rock in the ear­ly 1970s), I always pre­ferred the rock ‘n’ roll songcraft of Pearl Jam to the loud ‘n’ slop­py depres­sion of Nir­vana.

The Beatles - Let It Be
5. The Bea­t­les — Let It Be
cd, The “Naked” ver­sion
Any antipa­thy towards the Bea­t­les seems a bit strange com­ing from an XTC fan­site — sure­ly Andy Par­tridge and Col­in Mould­ing are acolytes. Do I still have to dis­card Let It Be if I own the McCart­ney-approved “Naked” edi­tion, as opposed to the orig­i­nal with Wall-of-Schmaltz orches­tral over­dubs by Phil Spec­tor? Let it Be is not my favorite Bea­t­les long-play­er (that would def­i­nite­ly be The White Album), and obvi­ous­ly one the lads tossed off at the tail end of their (actu­al­ly quite brief) asso­ci­a­tion. But how is that any dif­fer­ent, real­ly, from their ear­ly quick­ie LPs record­ed in mere hours with the aid of amphet­a­mines?

The Police - Synchronicity
7. The Police — Syn­chronic­i­ty
cas­sette (dis­card­ed)
I agree with Chalkhills’ assess­ment that Syn­chronic­i­ty is a sur­pris­ing­ly dark album for a main­stream plat­inum hit, but I believe that’s exact­ly what makes it spe­cial. What oth­er band, at the peak of their com­mer­cial suc­cess, released such a para­noid, neu­rot­ic album? OK, maybe Radiohead’s Kid A.

Lou Reed - Transformer
8. Lou Reed — Trans­former
Agreed. “Walk on the Wild Side” and “Satel­lite of Love” are both mas­ter­pieces, but I couldn’t name a sin­gle oth­er song from the album. Am I redeemed by own­ing the vinyl edi­tion? It must be said that it earns extra Cool Points for being pro­duced by David Bowie, but the back cov­er pho­to­graph of Lou with the bon­er in his tight jeans is just plain gross.

Miles Davis - Bitches Brew
9. Miles Davis — Bitch­es Brew
Com­plete Bitch­es Brew Ses­sions boxed set
Yes, I am that poseur that owns the Com­plete Ses­sions boxed set. I have to very, very strong­ly object to Chalkhills’ dis­missal here (and I do I detect a strong anti-jazz bias?). Miles changed music for­ev­er when he plugged in to rock, fusion, and funk. Try­ing to pre­tend Bitch­es Brew nev­er hap­pened is as fruit­less as still com­plain­ing about Bob Dylan going rock (or coun­try, or Chris­t­ian, etc…) or The Sex Pis­tols giv­ing the world the fin­ger. The dif­fer­ence is that it still sounds fresh and new.

Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti
12. Led Zep­pelin — Phys­i­cal Graf­fi­ti
I love me some Zep­pelin, but I have to agree that Phys­i­cal Graf­fi­ti isn’t a keep­er. It is, how­ev­er, bet­ter than its fol­low-up Pres­ence (but that’s not say­ing much).

Beck - Midnite Vultures
19. Beck — Mid­nite Vul­tures
cd (sold)
Agreed. I lis­tened to it once, and then sold it as quick­ly as I could. Blech!

Derek and the Dominoes - Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs
21. Derek and the Domi­noes — Lay­la and Oth­er Assort­ed Love Songs
cd (sold)
I could not agree more: two bril­liant songs in “Lay­la” and “Lit­tle Wing,” padded out with a for­get­table batch of filler. Leg­end has it the sub­stance-abus­ing Clap­ton lit­er­al­ly does not recall record­ing the album.

The Who - Tommy
22. The Who — Tom­my
vinyl (triple gate­fold with lyric book­let)
I don’t dis­agree that Tom­my is loaded down with a lot of silli­ness and filler, but hey, it’s a rock opera, and the first one at that. What do you expect?

U2 - Zooropa
26. U2 — Zooropa
I firm­ly, absolute­ly dis­agree. Zooropa may be a prod­uct of its time (the cut ‘n’ paste post­mod­ern media over­loaded 1990s), but it includes some of U2’s all-time best songs, includ­ing the title track and Stay (Far­away So Close). The mul­ti­lay­ered pro­duc­tion by Flood and Bri­an Eno may make the songs “sound weird,” but it also rewards a life­time of repeat lis­tens.

The Flaming Lips - The Soft Bulletin
32. The Flam­ing Lips — The Soft Bul­letin
I regret­tably agree. Give me Yoshi­mi Bat­tles the Pink Robots any day, but I just can’t get into this one.

Dave Brubeck - Time Out
34. Dave Brubeck — Time Out
Blas­pheme! Blas­pheme! Again with the jazz hate! I was not aware any­body dis­liked this album. What’s wrong with you? If you had includ­ed Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue on your list, I think I would have had an aneurism.

Wilco - Being There
39. Wilco — Being There
cd (sold)
Like the rest of the world, I loved Yan­kee Hotel Fox­trot, so I sought out some old­er Wilco albums. And I sus­pect like most of those peo­ple, I got rid of them.

The Police - Zenyatta Mondatta
42. The Police — Zeny­at­ta Mon­dat­ta
Dis­agree! Zeny­at­ta Mon­dat­ta is my favorite Police album. Grant­ed, “De Doo Doo Doo, De Da Da Da” is the epit­o­me of pop silli­ness (except for maybe “Louie Louie” and R.E.M.‘s “Stand”), but the rest of the album is full of clas­sic reg­gae-inflect­ed new wave pop.

Jane's Addiction - Nothing's Shocking
44. Jane’s Addic­tion — Nothing’s Shock­ing
As Per­ry Far­rell him­self once sang, “Stop!” Jane’s Addiction’s debut stu­dio album Nothing’s Shock­ing is a fan­tas­tic batch of songs. Per­ry Farrell’s wild per­sona and Dave Navarro’s famous­ly louche lifestyle got all the press, but my god, haven’t you lis­tened to the rhythm sec­tion? Jane’s Addic­tion proved that prog could live with­out shame in a new world after Led Zep­pelin, and they got even bet­ter in their next album Rit­u­al De Lo Habit­u­al (before self-destruc­t­ing, alas).

Cocteau Twins - Heaven or Las Vegas
50. Cocteau Twins — Heav­en or Las Vegas
I don’t have a real­ly strong opin­ion about it, but I enjoy lis­ten­ing to it from time to time. I didn’t even know it was espe­cial­ly pop­u­lar. Sor­ry, jeez.

Radiohead - I Might be Wrong
51. Radio­head — I Might be Wrong
It’s a fair state­ment that most live albums begin life as con­trac­tu­al oblig­a­tions. But what actu­al­ly does both­er me more about I Might Be Wrong is that it’s basi­cal­ly an EP sold at LP prices. That said, the per­for­mances are strong, and prove that the weird, arty music on Kid A and Amne­si­ac can and real­ly do come to life on stage.

Tori Amos - Under the Pink
54. Tori Amos — Under the Pink
cd (sold)
I loved Tori’s offi­cial solo debut Lit­tle Earth­quakes, but I sus­pect my sen­si­tive teenag­er self may have been crush­ing on the cute & quirky red­head at the piano.

Arrested Development - 3 Years, 5 Months, & 2 Days In The Life Of...
55. Arrest­ed Devel­op­ment — 3 Years, 5 Months, & 2 Days In The Life Of…
cd (sold)
“…non-threat­en­ing rap-lite for sen­si­tive white lib­er­als who want to “keep it real” and expe­ri­ence hip-hop safe­ly.” Zing! Bust­ed.

Pink Floyd - The Dark Side of the Moon
64. Pink Floyd — The Dark Side of the Moon
30th Anniver­sary SACD
Again, blas­pheme! Yes, enough copies of Dark Side of the Moon exist on this plan­et to form their own con­ti­nent, but don’t you think there is a rea­son for that? Mere momen­tum alone can’t be enough to explain its appeal. If you want to sin­gle out one Pink Floyd album for being over­rat­ed and over­pur­chased, please allow me to direct you to The Wall, which unlike most oth­er Floyd albums, appeals to sullen imma­ture teenagers but does not grow in sophis­ti­ca­tion as they do.

Sarah McLachlan - Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
65. Sarah McLach­lan — Fum­bling Towards Ecsta­sy, Sur­fac­ing
cds (still on my shelf but I real­ly ought to sell them)
Ouch! You got me here. I once liked both of these, but quick­ly fell out of love with them. I main­tain there are some decent songs under­neath the slick adult con­tem­po­rary over­pro­duc­tion.

U2 - War
69. U2 — War
U2 charts no less than three times on this haters list, rival­ing the Bea­t­les and the entire genre of jazz for rais­ing Chalkhills’ bile. I sug­gest revis­it­ing “Sun­day Bloody Sun­day” and tell me if the drums don’t make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

R.E.M. - Out of Time
80. R.E.M. — Out of Time
OK, maybe it’s not their best, and it is espe­cial­ly dis­ap­point­ing for hav­ing come right after the leg­endary, essen­tial album Green. But “Shiny Hap­py Peo­ple” is maybe the best 3/4-time pop song ever, and the whole sec­ond half is superb.

Grateful Dead Reckoning
83. Grate­ful Dead — any album
Reck­on­ing (lp) & Infrared Ros­es (cd)
Yep, I picked up a sec­ond­hand vinyl copy of Reck­on­ing for pen­nies and it’s pret­ty loose and ram­bling, even for the Dead. But I do dig the crazy elec­tron­ic jams on Infrared Ros­es, man.

Sting - Ten Summoner's Tales
90. Sting — Ten Summoner’s Tales
cd (sold)
I’ll cop to lik­ing “Fields of Gold” back in the day. Oh god, did I just admit that out loud on the inter­net?

There, done. Final­ly, I just want to say that yes, I do have a sense of humor and I get the point of Chalkhill’s rant. Respond­ing to their List of Hate was just an excuse for me to scrib­ble out a few words about some of the dusti­est old arti­facts from my music col­lec­tion. Thanks!


Across the Universe

Across the Universe movie poster

I believe I’m in the minor­i­ty opin­ion here, but I real­ly liked Across the Uni­verse. Already lov­ing the songs of the Bea­t­les and the films of Julie Tay­mor, per­haps I’m pre­dis­posed. Tay­mor rounds up all the usu­al sus­pects from the Lennon & McCart­ney oeu­vre: Lucy, Jude, Maxwell (as in “Sil­ver Ham­mer”), Jo Jo (from “Get Back”), Sadie, Pru­dence… even the Blue Mean­ies from Yel­low Sub­ma­rine kick up their heels as Mr. Kite’s Rock­ettes. But unless I missed them in the crush, Rocky and Rita didn’t make the cut.

At two plus hours, Across the Uni­verse may in fact be too much of a good thing. The Bea­t­les wrote a great many won­der­ful love songs, but even these canon­i­cal clas­sics can seem a lit­tle redun­dant when strung togeth­er in a series, illus­trat­ed by Jena Mal­one & Jim Sturgess swoon­ing over each oth­er over and over.

Jena Malone in Across the UniverseChris Cun­ning­ham & Por­tishead called & asked for their fish tank back

The best sequences are the weird­est, espe­cial­ly the “She’s So Heavy” num­ber which resem­bles some­thing out of Alan Parker’s cracked Pink Floyd The Wall. But some­times the inter­pre­ta­tions are ruined by being a lit­tle too lit­er­al; the “Rev­o­lu­tion” sequence starts out great with Jude try­ing to sway a rad­i­cal rev­o­lu­tion­ary group away from vio­lent protest (“But when you talk about destruc­tion / Broth­er you know that you can count me out”), but he pre­dictably points at a por­trait of Chair­man Mao right on cue.

Across the UniverseShe’s so heavy, indeed

Topped off with cameos by Salma Hayak (times five) and Bono in a rare dra­mat­ic role as a sort of Tim­o­thy Leary fig­ure (sport­ing an enter­tain­ing­ly loony Amer­i­can accent mod­eled, at least to my ears, after Den­nis Hopp­per), this rumored-to-be-trou­bled pro­duc­tion can be a lit­tle over­whelm­ing and redun­dant, but it’s real­ly some­thing to see.

Offi­cial movie site: www.sonypictures.com/movies/acrosstheuniverse

Buy the DVD from Ama­zon and kick back a few pen­nies to me.