Ah, you hate these intros as much as I hate writing them. Let's just get to the list!
25) Elvis Costello & The Brodsky Quartet -- The Juliet Letters: I've met a total of two people who enjoy this collection. Most others consider this to be the moment where the shark was officially jumped. The records had been fair-to-middlin' at this point, but this was the album where I had no idea whether or not it was any good. I like the bands with the electric guitars and the drums and the problem is that once you do something like this, you can't go rock again the way you once did. It changes you as a musician. So be careful. Don't learn too much.
24) Guns N' Roses -- The Spaghetti Incident?: The Sex Pistols had the good fortune to break up at the end of their only U.S. tour. Sure, McLaren kept the farce running a little while longer with the outlaw Ronnie Biggs getting some action, but Guns N' Roses just overdid the entire thing. Had someone been able to keep Use Your Illusion a single 43:22 minute album, the band might not be scrounging around for covers to get them through another difficult year. Boys, "Ain't It Fun" says nothing about sticking around for decades with just your lead singer holding the rights to the name of the band.
22) Bruce Springsteen -- In Concert / MTV Plugged: Bruce nearly cashed in all his Atlantic City chips at this point for Vegas tokens. He dumped the E Street Band and thought the 1990s would be all about a new multicultural band that could swing. Except he's Bruce and he doesn't swing and as a result one of the great live performers of his era turned in a live performance for MTV that was flat-out dull and had people wishing he'd remembered more of his old songs.
20) Billy Joel -- River of Dreams: Let's not say anything. Wouldn't want to wake the poor bastard.
19) 10,000 Maniacs -- MTV Unplugged: I sure hope the other 9,999 Maniacs made some decent money before Natalie ditched them for the solo career that everyone on Earth saw coming.
18) The Cranberries -- Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?: Great question, eh? The answer: because the other people are doing it because they have an inner need to do so and not because they see everyone else doing it, OK? Now, go to your room.
16) Loudon Wainwright III -- Career Moves: At the time of its release, this live album seemed like a serious career summary unlikely to be topped. Then Loudon ignored whatever edicts and decrees were handed down from Mount Whatever and went on a streak that continues pretty much to this day where he writes and sings songs every bit as good if not even much better than the ones he wrote during the first half of his career.
14) Warren Zevon -- Learning To Flinch: Zevon deserved to be an electric performer 'til the day he died, but economics didn't bear it out, so when times got tough, the tough went solo-acoustic.
12) Bob Dylan -- World Gone Wrong: Oh Mercy! suggested Bob had a way out of the 1980s. But then Under the Red Sky suggested he had no way in to the 1990s. So, what better way to keep costs low and to keep Bob comfortable than to go back to the solo voice and guitar he hadn't tried for a whole album since Another Side of Bob Dylan? It worked and Good As I Been To You led to this one.
10) Van Halen -- Live: Right Here, Right Now: Van Hagar appealed to those folks who wanted/needed something to crank on their car stereos that was new but still in debt to the 1970s. Who was more in debt to the 1970s than Sammy Hagar?
8) Van Morrison -- Too Long In Exile: Too Long In Exile? Maybe 'Too Long Making Records That Sound Remarkably Similar'? I'm a fan and I don't know what to make of his royal blandness when it comes to album productions. The voice can still phrase like no one else and some tracks are magical, but there's also a lot of goop on the overall sound.
6) Sheryl Crow -- Tuesday Night Music Club: I don't think the people who didn't like her music had any really strong feelings about it. Just that it was everywhere and you wished you'd hear it less and something else more. But she kept up the profile and is now far better known than someone like Christopher Cross or the fellas in Counting Crows, for that matter. She knew her music and what she wanted to do. And she plays a cool guitar.
4) Donald Fagen -- Kamakiriad: What's the difference between a Donald Fagen solo album and a Steely Dan album? Ask Walter Becker's accountant.
2) Neil Young -- Unplugged: After a decade of being weird and trying out anything that amused him for a few months, Neil showed up for the 1990s ready to resume 'old Neil' status. Nothing, of course, seemed more natural than for 'The Godfather of Grunge' to sit down with an acoustic guitar and a pump organ and sing the old songs like he'd always been doing it this way all along.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Bruce Springsteen
- Bob Dylan