A pretty entertaining - and, I reckon, accurate - post on Consequence of Sound the other day pitched The 20 Most Regrettable Albums Ever - the idea being that the artists were likely to have regretted making the album. Of course you run into problems when you make such assumptions, part of the fun of a list - there's no likelihood that Neil Young has regretted the recording or release of any of his albums, but it was a good call seeing Everybody's Rockin' as part of the list, a stinker. And one that was slopped up with nothing but contempt for the audience and record label.
Future versions of the list will probably include Lou Reed's final album, Lulu. But again, there's really little chance that Reed would have ever admitted to regretting any of his albums. In a weak moment he finally played it straight regarding the disaster that was Metal Machine Music, but he also turned that album into a cult piece. It has its fans. Eventually it was given that ultimate accolade - the version performed by an orchestra. Lofty! (Alright, so it was a very small orchestra...)
Over the brief summer break I read Mick Wall's slim volume dedicated to Lou Reed's life. Written, presumably, while the body was still warm. It's an entertaining read in parts, because Wall knows how to write. But it runs out of steam, you can imagine him writing faster and faster knowing the Christmas sales deadline was approaching. Absurdly he tries to suggest that Lulu was a return to form for both Reed and Metallica. When it was no such thing. And it continues the poor form Metallica has shown for what is now two thirds of their existence.
Incidentally, Metallica makes the Consequence of Sound list.
Give that list a read, it's pretty spot on I reckon - in terms of highlighting a couple of handfuls of commercial suicide served up with complete lack of awareness. That bonkers Chris Gaines album by Garth Brooks. Terrible albums by Smashing Pumpkins and Weezer. I couldn't see anything on the list that didn't deserve to be there. The list could have certainly been a lot longer, many of the artists featured could have been represented by more than the one title chosen.
This makes me ask the question for today - what's the most regrettable album for you in your lifetime?
Or, put another way, maybe it wasn't a giant flop, maybe it wasn't commercial or artistic suicide for the band that made the album, maybe everyone else loved it and you're alone in your disdain but what's the one album you really regret being sucked into buying? You're a fan, you read the advance reviews and hype, you've followed all the music leading up to this moment and you're excited for what has been termed either a comeback or a continuation of great form - and then you press play and...it stinks! It really stinks. It's worse than you could ever have imagined. You feel let down, maybe so let down it puts you off all the other music by that artist, or maybe it's just the sore thumb within that artist's discography, sticking out, annoying you, embarrassing to think about let alone to listen to.
Can you think of the one biggest single failure in your lifetime? I tell you the new Pixies EP is pretty close - except it's probably better than the previous Pixies EP. That's still not a compliment. But it means I can't claim to have been shocked by such a load of junk. It wasn't a surprise, just a continuation of awful, bloated self-parody.
But I'll admit I was sucked in - for a moment - when it came to Metallica's St. Anger. I wanted, still, to like them. Even though I'd only grudgingly kept up with the live albums, the orchestra collaboration, the closet-cleaning and retooling of the band ever since it released its classic album that I can (now) no longer listen to. And then news of St. Anger, a new bass player, a fresh start. It seemed, for a second, almost believable. It was a hand-over-the-eyes/can't look kind of a situation but I paid the money and pre-ordered the disc. So I started to get a little excited at the idea that this new record was going to really be something.
And then I received it. I took it home. Pressed play. What a steaming pile.
I gave it another try. Then another. It sat on the shelf for a year or so before I got rid of it. It had a few more plays - and I saw the band live (my second time seeing them).
But St. Anger really was a turkey. From day one. And it killed any interest I have in Metallica. Oh, as I've said before I'll still go for Ride The Lightning, now and then, sure. And I can deal with the albums either side of that too. But that's it really. And these days I can't really be bothered with any of them.
But St. Anger - and the broken promise that it was going to, I dunno, be something is totally the thing that killed Metallica for me. And it's the most regrettable album for me - the worst I've purchased (and wanted to like) in my lifetime. It was horrible. It still is. It always will be.
So how about you? What's the most regrettable album/album purchase of your life?
You can also check out Off the Tracks for The Vinyl Countdown, reviews and other posts.