Not everything is worthy of review. Some artists I just won’t because they’re irredeemable, and I can just lambaste them here. Some are just too mediocre for words, but I’ll write reviews for a few anyway or maybe post it in quick hitters. Other artists are just, well, too weird or strange or odd or incomprehensible even for me. (a/k/a “I JUST DON’T GET IT. AT. ALL.)
I may have one or two reviews of some artists before I move them here – or I may have them here and review some of their more palatable albums. But, this is a list of buyer beware, or something, or other…
BRYAN ADAMS – In college, we pledges of our fraternity had to paint the cold dorm we slept in. My pledge brother Ralph played a couple of Bryan Adams records while we were painting, and I didn’t think they were bad. Must have been the paint fumes. Past 1985, not even the wafting odor of latex would help.
ANGEL – Combining the worst parts of prog, metal, and power ballads into a stew of yick. Frank Zappa made fun of Punky Meadows, the guitarist, quite a bit. He’s not a bad guitarist. I’m blaming this mess on Gregg Guiffria and the ‘singer’ Frank DiMino.
APOCALYPTICA – Finns playing metal with cellos. Almost sounds like a Monty Python skit. It just leaves me a bit cold, myself. I think if you do something neat like having a cello in a metal song it should be a part of the entire metal ensemble and add that great texture to it, not bloody replace everything.
THE ASSEMBLED MULTITUDE – Somehow, this group, playing very white-bread instrumentals, got a hit with their rendition of the Tommy overture. What’s even more incredible is that most of these cats became MFSB.
JUSTIN BIEBER – I’m not ready to review this yet, or maybe every. Especially not the one with Skrillex. Just…no.
STEPHEN BISHOP – There’s a reason Belushi smashed his guitar in Animal House.
BON IVER – People are going to ask me, “What the Hell?” and I’ll say that I like my music to keep me awake on occasion, thanks.
THE BROTHERS FOUR – The whitetest white people ever.
THE EDGAR BROUGHTON BAND – They played heavy blues and psychedelic music. They reminded me of what would happen if Captain Beefheart kept playing the blues (they did cover “Drop Out” from the Captain’s first record). But these free festival champions’ records are incomprehensible messes for us non-stoned Yanks, and his UK hits were cheap chants.
BULLETBOYS – Thank goodness grunge came along and exiled this tripe to the margins where they always belonged. The worst of hair metal and 80’s production meet and have lousy albums.
CARCASS – Well, I tried. The riffs are good, but I do not cotton to the vocals, which sound like someone belching the alphabet in the bass clef. Oh, and the song titles…yeesh. How can I put “Crepitating Bowel Erosion” on a mix tape? “I made this for you!”
SHAUN CASSIDY – Nostalgia clouds your judgement. Though “Cool Fire” from Wasp, his collaboration with Todd Rundgren, is interesting musically at least.
CLIMAX – No, not the female group Klymaxx, nor the Climax Blues Band. This is a bunch of cold schlock only redeemed by the warm schlock of “Precious and Few”. They came from the Outsiders, and for a very minor band with one notable song to their credit they have a disturbingly long and thorough Wikipedia page.
CREED – Take ponderous music, freshman-year philosophy writing, and sub-Vedder vocals. What do you get? Gunk. Pure gunk. Can’t listen to them. Won’t listen to them.
DANNY & THE JUNIORS – It’s not that “At the Hop” or “Rock & Roll Is Here to Stay” are bad. They’re not. They’re just kind of played out. What puts them here is the blatant re-recordings by various and sundry iterations of the band that are deceptive.
JAMES DARREN – He was the boy toy in the Gidget movies, and he kinda sung OK. But his high point (1961) was the absolute low point for rock, so the competition was slim. Really, he rocked about as hard as talc on the Mohs Scale.
DeBARGE – When the 80’s were bad, they were really, really bad.
DINO, DESI & BILLY – Nepotism is the only word that I can use to describe them.
DAVID DUNDAS – Oh, sorry LORD David Dundas. “Jeans On” was a hit in 1976, adapted from his jeans company jingle in the UK. He had another Top 20 hit that absolutely no one remembers. His music is as slight as the jingles he used to do.
EINSTURZENDE NEUBAUTEN – They’ve mellowed over the years, but still their mix of heavy machinery, industrial, and German ranting is incomprehenible to me, and I can hang with a lot of art damaged bands. Still, I dig “Kalte Sterne”.
THE ESCAPE CLUB – They had two other Top 40 hits besides “Wild Wild West”. One’s just as puerile, and the other is goopy 80’s gunk. They’ve got three albums streaming if you dare. Don’t dare. BTW – they never charted in the UK, a show of taste by their home company.
EXILE – Got a hit in the adult contemporary arena with “Kiss You All Over”. Switched to country and got hits in that genre. Hits do not equal quality, and thus I have Exiled Exile.
SHELLEY FABARES – The worst kind of teen dreck from the early 60’s. “Johnny Angel” you know, and the rest is just way too bad, especially the crud with Paul Petersen.
FABIAN – A blah voice can’t overcome equally blah material. He had the looks but was usually flat in singing, unless he was sharp.
FLO RIDA – Hell is being in Florida when he was popular. A think hook or two doesn’t redeem mediocre beats and lazy lyrics. He stole his best hook from Dead or Alive.
FOETUS – J. G. Thirwell’s project of a million pseudonyms is staggeringly well-crafted and encompassing, but you really need a definite palate for outrage and industrial noise.
KIM FOWLEY – Opportunist, creep, and not in that order.
DEAN FRIEDMAN – One listen of “Ariel” and you immediately thought he was a poor man’s Billy Joel, or Barry Manilow, or someone. Gawd. He had a #3 hit in the UK with “Lucky Stars” in 1978. They didn’t have much taste over there at that point, either.
DAVID GEDDES – Some of us recall the schlocky “Run Joey Run”, or the even worse “The Last Game of the Season (A Blind Man in the Bleachers)”. What would your reaction be if I said that “Run Joey Run” was the LEAST annoying or manipulative song in his career.
GARY GLITTER – His music is harmless, he, however, is not.
GONG – In my study of rock music, the European psychedelic scene has always come up, especially as it moved towards either Krautrock or Prog or Hawkwind (their own genre, of course). Gong was always described as the hippie’s hippie music, moreso than the Incredible String Band. They’re streaming, so I threw some tracks in my library, and, well, I just don’t know what to say. They have long (multi-album) concept albums and the music is just WAAAAY to acid-damaged for me.
GREEN JELLY – The video for “Three Little Pigs” was clever. The song, ehhh. The rest of their stuff, triple ehhhhhh. Isn’t parody supposed to be funny?
HENRY GROSS – The falsetto in “Shannon” is both impressive and annoying. He’s boiled down a decade long career in the 70’s to a self-deprecating one man show now. His 70’s output was the epitome of mellow singer-songwriter dreck. Yet, despite his show’s claim, he’s not technically a one-hit wonder as he had another song in the Top 40. Details matter, people!
HAMILTON, JOE FRANK & REYNOLDS – Faceless 70’s tripe – their two hits sound good because they’re cheesy. The others are just bad sans cheese. I can say faceless because Reynolds left after their second album and they recorded a couple more with a guy named Dennison, but didn’t change the name. Oh, and their two hits aren’t licensed together, so you know, that’s good for everyone involved – especially the accountants.
BERTIE HIGGINS – His ‘best of’ has 36 songs on it. 36! You know one. That’s one too many for most of us.
ENGLEBERT HUMPERDINCK – Anyone who grew up watching talk and variety shows in the 1960’s remember this guy. Sure, there are a couple of guilty pleasures, but there was also a lot of MOR goop that made it big on the Adult Contemporary charts. Tom Jones sang swingin’ songs for hep cats. Humperdinck sang for yer ma.
THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND – I didn’t really get Gong because it’s just way, way, too much. This is also too much, but in an acoustic way. I know they’re well regarded and have a lot of fans, but it just bores me. It’s like every hippie cliche come to life.
JACKYL – I do have do give them credit for “Down on Me”, as it’s catchy as hell (as well as sleazy as all get out). Points for riffs, but huge minuses for being terminally stupid.
THE JETS – Minnesotan Tongan Mormon Osmonds, in a sense. They had six Top 20 hits from 1986 through 1988, but the only one that makes me smile now is “Crush on You”. The rest are just horribly dated and bland, even the fast ones. It’s like they borrowed the Mary Jane Girls’ backing tracks.
DON JOHNSON – Seriously, you want to hear anything else but the single “Heartbeat”? You only want to hear that ironically, or while you karaoke it. Both of his albums are in print, if you dare. You don’t want to hear what he did to “Tell It Like It Is”, nor his duet with his girlfriend at the time, Barbra Streisand. Just don’t go there.
MICHAEL JOHNSON – “Bluer Than Blue” is about as schmaltzy as it gets, except for the rest of his material. Gawd…
R. KELLY – …I don’t have words. Just watch the doc.
KINGDOM COME – Gary Moore had it right with “Led Clones” (sung by Ozzy). “Get It On” sound like an outtake from Physical Graffiti with terrible 80’s drum sounds grafted onto it.
KORN – The farther along they went, the more depressing and desparate they sounded. What the hell were we thinking in the 90’s?
GEORGE KRANZ – Annoying dance music is annoying.
VICKI LAWRENCE – She was funny, I’ll give her that. She could sing, too, in a sense that she’s a much better singer than me. That one song, you know which one, is all you’d ever need to hear. Her two albums were testaments to hackney.
LIGHTNING BOLT – It’s fun to make noise, sure. And I guess there’s something to this, but I’m at a loss to discover what that is.
LIMP BIZKIT – Pluses: Wes Borland. Minuses: Fred Durst, Fred Durst, Fred Durst, Fred Durst….
MAHOGANY RUSH – Frank Marino aped Hendrix so much instead of just trying to play like him he tried to make every song sound like an actual for real Hendrix song. The issue is, he’s no songwriter, and the schtick got old fast.
THE MARMALADE – They’re on here thanks to shady re-issues and re-recordings of their best songs. I mean, it’s criminal that how have to get very creative to find those and most of the time it’s not worth it.
RICHARD MARX – I debated whether two decent songs can put someone here, or in another category. Whatever pluses he gets for “Don’t Mean Nothing” (which, frankly, are almost Joe Walsh’s slide guitar) and “Should’ve Known Better” are erased by the minuses for everything else, and doubly for “Right Here Waiting”.
C. W. McCALL – Did you really think there was anything else worth listening to besides “Convoy”. Did you really think “Convoy” is worth it?
JON McLAUGHLIN – Not the great, tremendous guitarist, but a singer-songwriter that writes treacle. Just because he’s from my home state and named an album after my home state doesn’t mean I’m contractually obligated to like him.
MINDLESS SELF INDULGENCE – Never a name rang truer.
CHAD MITCHELL TRIO – The move A Mighty Wind was a perfect satire for groups like this. It was safe folk music for the WASPs.
MICHAEL MURPHEY – Fuckin’ “Wildfire”.
THE NEW VAUDEVILLE BAND – Can you believe it? First, that “Winchester Cathedral” became a hit. (Well, I can it’s a freakin’ ear worm). But that they had a damn career long enough for a 29 track retrospective. I can’t even think what people were up to when they made this a #1 in 1966.
JOANNA NEWSOM – This is a personal thing. I don’t like her voice – her wild untrainable voice. I can’t get past it. The songs are great and the arrangements on Ys. are so damn great. But the voice. Please don’t revoke my critic card.
NICKELBACK – This is music reduced to its basic commercial elements. It’s soul-less rock. Nothing is left to chance by them – it’s all calculation and no inspiration. I don’t know how this became the band for on-stage adult entertainment.
LEONARD NIMOY – I mean, he really couldn’t sing. His first couple of records were mostly recitations of sort, and then he really tried to sing. Really tried.
NOUVELLE VAGUE – The world didn’t need lounge versions of punk and new wave hits. Maybe one, for a lark, but not albums upon albums.
PIGFACE – The really outre avant-garde industrial stuff is, to my ears, a load of art damaged hooey.
THE PIPKINS – If played enough, and if enough pre-teens like something, it will sell. “Gimme Dat Ding” hit #9 in the US, no doubt thanks to nursery schoolers screaming for it in the car.
PITBULL – More annoying than DJ Khaled, and when they both get together the world loses. He was almost redeemed by “Fireball”, but in reality the whiskey and Pitbull deserve each other.
THE POPPY FAMILY – Gawd. Canadian hippy-dippy treacle. “Which Way You Goin’ Billy” is the one you may have heard. I’ve heard more. Don’t. Just don’t.
PLAYER – You just hope beyond hope that one of these late 70’s laid-back one-hit groups would have songs equal to their hit. Nope. In fact, “Givin’ It All” is almost a clone of “Baby Come Back”. Yeesh.
PUSSY GALORE – Glancing at their song titles early in their career (“You Look Like a Jew”, “Fuck You, Man”, “Pussy Stomp”), they were just there to shock. Most of the band came from the suburban elite (Jon Spencer went to Brown, Julia Cafritz’ family were high society in DC) or in the boho no-wave scene. Later, they moved to more experimental but still trashy tunes, all in the name to provoke the unhip and create a ‘cool kids’ club for those who got ‘it’. There were other, actually decent, bands the evolved out of this band, but together their attempted outrage was easily foiled.
RED CRAYOLA (KRAYOLA) – The Parable of Arable Land was a freak out to the nth degree, but even my Beefheart-loving self didn’t get it. I tried. I know it’s art and all, and acid-damaged art at that. But this eludes my grasp of understanding.
AUSTIN ROBERTS – “Rocky” was a huge hit in 1975. It’s the cheery story of a man whose wife dies and leaves him a single father. Yes, I said cheery. It’s hooky, catchy and kitschy. The rest? Goopy and icky.
BOBBY RYDELL – Elvis was in the Army, then he became a movie singer. This was the kind of dreck we were left with. It’s no wonder the kids like Motown better.
SACCHARINE TRUST – Up above, I said there were going to be bands that I don’t get. This is a prime example. I admire the free-formy guitar of Joe Baiza, who was a contemporary and friend of the Minutemen, but the songs have no focus (that’s intentional, but not necessarily a good thing here), veer into and out of free jazz and post-punk without warning or reason, and vocalst Jack Brewer is one that you take or leave.
THE SANDPIPERS – This kind of crud gave a bad name to Easy Listening. Orchestrated folk music without anything threatening or menacing, or even fast. “Come Saturday Morning” is about all I’ll give them credit for, and you won’t believe what they did to “La Bamba” and even “Cast Your Fate to the Wind”.
SEETHER – Let’s see…acoustic guitar intro, growly vocals for the first verse, band comes in loud, growly vocals for the second verse and loud chorus…alternate and add a bridge. Viola. Every fucking Seether song, ever. You’re welcome.
SHA-NA-NA – There’s no reason for their records now, since you can find almost every song they covered in much better versions by the original artists.
SIGUE SIGUE SPUTNIK – Oh, the hype. I mean, they were hyped 100X more than Frankie Goes to Hollywood. I remember hearing the album after the hype and was just left speechless at how audaciously horrible it was.
SIGUR ROS – Don’t be alarmed, people. I don’t get it. You may, I don’t. It’s all on me, probably.
SLIPKNOT – I’ve heard them but I don’t understand their appeal at all. Every time I hear a track by them I feel someone has trepanned me, in a bad way.
S.O.D. – It may have been a joke in 1985, but it hasn’t worn well. Puerile is as puerile does.
FRANK STALLONE – He may think his career is “Far From Over”….
STARLAND VOCAL BAND – “Afternoon Delight” is their best song. You probably could have guessed that. The rest of their output is just the worst soft-rock dreck (pesudo country and laid back adult contemporary) hack songwriting and harmonies covering up the glop. I don’t think many people listened to their albums after they bought it for that one song. To think they had a summer replacement TV show in the 70’s.
STARZ – This was a late 70’s band that took the most mediocre parts of generic hard rock and tried to add the most mediocre parts of power pop. I listened to parts of four albums and I think the needle moved past “meh” once. Their Wikipedia page is no doubt written by a band member’s loved one. The best line: “Although not being able to build up major commercial success and not well remembered, Starz has proven to be influential far beyond their commercial success.” They list Nikki Sixx and someone from a band called the Wildhearts as people who Starz influenced. HA!
TACO – “Putting on the Ritz” is probably one of the most notable and loved one-hit wonders of the 80’s. He kept at it though, and what was charming once became tiresome later on.
THEORETICAL GIRLS – The “No Wave” scene in late-70’s NYC had some arty moments and some dreadful moments. While I kinda get where they’re gunning for, it’s a chore to listen to. Glenn Branca would have better ideas later.
THROBBING GRISTLE – Important for their art, sure. Important for their influence, yes. But important doesn’t always mean listenable. And I can listen to almost anything!
THE TRADEWINDS – Not as abjectly horrible as anything else here, but they were just opportunists to the 100th degree. Their hit aped the Beach Boys, and they also tried to ape the Lovin’ Spoonful and others. Pass.
JOHN TRAVOLTA – I have “Let Her In” in my collection for laffs, so I’m contractually obligated to put this here. But if you listen to his songs in Grease, he couldn’t really sing there. This…this is worse.
2 LIVE CREW – Sometimes you can’t pick your champions.They did a great service to us who believe in the freedom of expression. HOWEVER….
JENNIFER WARNES – Sappy movie ballad singer who had a hit with “Right Time of the Night”, and then a couple of big songs with Joe Cocker (“Up Where We Belong”) and Bill Medley (“(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life”). Her song for Norma Rae (not streaming) beat out “Rainbow Connection” for an Oscar in 1979. For that alone, she’s here.
WARRANT – Every once in a while I nod my head to “Down Boys”, but as far as their other crap, it’s stinky or misogynistic, or stinky AND misogynistic. Thank God grunge came around and saved us from more of this gunk.
MATTHEW WILDER – “Break My Stride” is it. God help you if you hear the rest. It’s hard to get the 80’s synths out of my ears.
ZEPHYR – Tommy Bolin’s first band, and not even he can save this fifth-rate Big Brother & the Holding Company mish-mosh. Then they released an album without Bolin, that’s more laid-back and even more insipid. It’s a waste of a good name.