Friday, September 05, 2008

Run, It's The List!: 60-56

I’m pretty wiped out from politics this week. So instead of crowing about these records myself, I’m going to deal with them in an appropriately democratic way -- by accompanying my choices with unfavorable reviews from users on Amazon. Of course, democracy has its limits, so I’ve corrected the spelling and grammar. Here we go:

60. Idlewild -- 100 Broken Windows (2000)

Yeah, you know what, I don't know why I got this. I listened to the sound clips and said "Not bad..." So, when I noticed this in a big, fancy electronic store, I bought it. And you know what? I feel like I'm listening to R.E.M. I don't even like R.E.M. Michael Stipe sounds like a goat, and so does this guy. I do like the actual music, though. That's why it got two stars. I don't know. If you like R.E.M., then get this. You'll like it. But it almost sounds like he's TRYING to sound like Michael Stipe. For some reason, this makes me want to wash a car on an autumn day. This is car washin' music. So, if you like R.E.M., goats, David Hasselhoff (?), or washing cars, buy it. If you like to laugh at David Hasselhoff, go watch "Knight Rider." Heh heh. Ehh...

59. Tracy Chapman -- Tracy Chapman (1988)

"Fast Car" was a remarkable single for its time. We all talked ourselves into the rest of the filler on this CD, about which the best you can say is it's all extraordinarily average. If however art to you is didacticism, you will be in heaven. This has twee rhetorical questions ("Why are the missiles called Peacekeepers?"), exhausted imagery (I know somewhere in here a baby is crying) and worst of all an a capella sermon. All it lacks is some sort of "Save the bunnies" track. I HATE these songs. Some liberals feel that music is just another place to be a drag. (And these remarks are coming from a massive liberal!) I don't subscribe to that hogwash. 10,000 maniacs, Midnight Oil and Tracy Chapman are the bottom of the barrel; a very humorless barrel. This CD is an unrefined brow-beating.

58. Sinead O’Connor -- I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got (1990)

I'll admit it. I'm a sucker for marginalized artists, especially those that have suffered inordinate criticism for being a bit different. (Nb. Marines get buzzcuts. Swimmers get buzzcuts. Head lice sufferers get buzzcuts. There's nothing bizarre about Sinead O'Connor getting a buzzcut.) I was all prepared to listen to every track on this album and love them. And...look, I'm sorry, but it just didn't happen for me. It's the same bland, harmless, unremarkable tone from beginning to end. I'm especially surprised because she's so outspoken and rebellious in real life; she should at least be capable of the same level of outrage as, say, Bad Religion. Bottom line, if you want a nice, peaceful album that's not going to offend anybody, this is the perfect choice. ("Waiting room music," I think it's called.) In fact, I dare say you could play it start to finish at a party full of right wingers, and they probably won't mind a bit.

57. Pixies -- Doolittle (1989)

Doolittle is almost universally revered as the godhead of the Pixies, but I can't for the life of me understand it. Instead of a fully realized work, Doolittle is instead an incredibly promising work of a band that just hasn't matured yet. The Pixies would go on to produce their masterpiece in Bossanova. Trompe le Monde is also far superior. Doolittle does have one truly fantastic song -- "Monkey Gone to Heaven," which is a gift. And it has a few good to very good ones, like "Here Comes Your Man," "Wave of Mutilation" and (depending on my mood) "Debaser." But many of these songs (even "Debaser") would qualify as filler to people who aren't caught up in the hype. "La La Love You," for instance, is just some random noodling -- not a song at all -- with Frank Black trying his hardest to create some vocal interest with every whacked out sound at his disposal. Unfortunately, it -- like a lot of the other non-songs here -- comes off as just a little too cute.

56. R.E.M. -- Document (1987)

R.E.M.’s fifth album continues the course set by Life's Rich Pageant of awkward political stadium rockers. Even filtered through the band's gift for offbeat melodies and flair for compelling arrangements, the likes of "Exhuming McCarthy," and "Disturbance At The Heron House" are unforgivably uninspired and stiff. The obnoxiously over-amped drums and guitars are no help either; tentatively playing some new type of music that you're slightly uncomfortable with is not made better by turning everything up to 11. Then there's "It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)," which, depending on your mood, is either classic R.E.M. or the worst song ever recorded. This album is smack-dab in the middle of R.E.M.'s late-eighties political period, and as such, whether or not you accept this period depends on your level of fandom...



Blogger Muriel Carrot said...

Excellent idea, these funny Amazon reviews. I was thoroughly enjoying them until I got to "Doolittle," when I freaked out. I can't believe that any so-called Pixies fan is condescending about "Doolittle" and says it's not a mature work! I'm going to go scream into a pillow.

By the way, the other Amazon reviews of "Doolittle" are also hilarious—there's a whole angry debate about the merits of "Crackity Jones."

12:52 AM  
Blogger Dezmond said...

Great idea! I bought that Idlewild album long ago on your suggestion, and I kinda agree with the Amazon reviewer. Didn't do anything for me.

Never could get into Sinead, likewise the Pixies.

I like to make fun of REM mostly because you are such the superfan, but at the same time I do own almost every one of their albums. DOCUMENT is great, prime REM.

I used to love that Tracy Chapman record, but again, I now kind of agree with the Amazon review. It hasn't aged well overall, but at the time it was so different than most other mainstream releases. There are some powerful tunes on there. "Fast Car" still resonates, and "For My Lover" is fantastic.

2:18 AM  

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