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The Ten Worst Rolling Stones Albums

List Of The Day

Contrary to popular opinion, music bloggers are real people. We have friends. When we get together with those friends, we discuss music. All this talk about the whether or not Exile On Main St. is the "best" Stones album led my naturally cynical friends to discuss which were the worst. I promise to follow this list up with that list of the best and then you can really give me hell. After all, how does one rate Let It Bleed "over" Beggars Banquet or Aftermath. It depends what day it is.

As a testimony to the Stones' greatness, I had to cheat a little for this list. I had to throw in two live albums and include a couple albums I don't actually dislike. But if I had to rank all of their albums (excluding only Greatest Hits compilations), these are the ten that wouldn't be at the end of the line.

By all means, share your personal thoughts on these matters in the space generously provided below by the folks at Y! Music. I may not know you personally, but as a fellow music fan, I enjoy hearing your perspective. It's a relief from listening to the voices inside my own head. Redrum, anyone?

10) Black And Blue: I used to own a copy of this on a pink cassette, which meant it was nearly impossible to jump past the songs I didn't care for. I felt as if the Stones deliberately sequenced this album for maximum annoyance. "Hot Stuff" is either a likable groove or the sound of a headache taunting you. "Hand of Fate" is classic. 'Cherry, Oh Baby" is their worst attempt at reggae on record. "Memory Motel" is an all-time fave. "Hey Negrita" makes for a great punchline. You see where this goes. It's their most bi-polar album and whenever you're in the mood for one half of it, you're not in the mood for the other half. I guess in the CD/ iPod age, we all program it our way. But not with that pink cassette.

9) It's Only Rock N' Roll: "Till The Next Goodbye" and "Luxury" are my favorite tracks. "Dance Little Sister" sometimes sounds pretty good. "Short N' Curlies" is funny when you're in junior high. I don't think I've ever listened to "Fingerprint File" all the way through before picking up the needle and finding something else to do. Mostly, it's the sound. Goats Head Soup still came across like a wasted affair, but this album sounds too clean and the title track has never done a thing for me.

8) Dirty Work: I love "One Hit To The Body." Keith's "Sleep Tonight" is a keeper. "Fight" is pretty funny. And the oversized 1980s production with its shoulder pads getting in the way of the Stones' natural fluidity is interesting. But it makes the album more of a curiosity than a great album. It usually makes me feel like I should be listening to something else. Which is a feeling that gets more pronounced the further we head down this list.

7) Undercover: I remember the first time I heard "Too Much Blood" sitting in a friend's apartment. The "new" Stones track was being previewed. I should've been happy that they branched out beyond their basic sound. This was no "return to form," but it also wasn't very good. These days, it's pretty funny. But last I checked Mick Jagger wasn't looking to become the next Shecky Greene.

6) Voodoo Lounge: This one was the Stones' first real collision with the CD age. It's one of those albums, like so many from this era and beyond, where more is not better. There might be a great album hidden in here somewhere. (Unlikely, but we're trying to stay positive to some degree, as my therapist suggests). But it takes so long to get through that it doesn't really matter. For example, a reader of this blog suggested I check out "New Faces" and, sure enough, it's a pretty cool track and I'm glad to meet its acquaintance. But it's taken 16 years for me to get around to finding it. Music isn't supposed to be work. That's what work is for.

5) Steel Wheels: Oh, how I remember listening to this album over and over, trying to believe the reviews that the Stones were BACK. They weren't. Again, Keith's tunes, "Can't Be Seen" and "Slipping Away" are the best cuts here. "Sad Sad Sad" sounds like they're trying. But does anyone put "Break The Spell" on a mixtape? Does anyone still make mixtapes?

4) Bridges To Babylon: The tune that sounds like "Constant Craving"--"Anybody Seen My Baby?"--is a keeper. But I remember cruising with a friend and getting about seven tunes in and one of us asking if we could take the advance cassette out. There was no hesitation in ejecting the thing. I'm told I left the cassette in his car. I still don't want it back.

3) A Bigger Bang: I actually used a computer program to edit down a track or two to the two minute mark to see if maybe the reason I didn't like new Stones tunes was because they were all too long. Why so many performers insist on taking a decent two minute idea and turning it into six minutes of Don Henley is perfect subject matter for someone's Master's Thesis. (Not mine, I'm still working on Bill Cosby's cosmic question, Why Is There Air? and Kordosh still won't be give me the answer. Or he has and I keep falling asleep.)

2) Flashpoint: The inclusion of the song "Highwire" was supposed to prove the Stones still had their pulse on current events. Except the first Iraq war was over before anyone noticed the Stones had a new tune. Timing is everything. And this wasn't timing.

1) Still Life: Is this album provably worse than other Stones live albums? The fact that there are no official live albums from their 1972-73 tours, or even 1978, where they played with some punkish glee is just so true to their odd form. Instead, we have Love You Live documenting the mid-1970s and this album presenting their Jovan Perfume-sponsored tour where Jagger spent more time up in a cherrypicker than he did paying attention to the fact that Bill Wyman was more bored than usual. The World's Greatest Rock n' Roll Band seem determined to hide as much evidence as they can. If you really want to get bored, try watching the video from this tour, which I've referred to as: Let's Spend Some Time Together: An ABC Afterschool Special With the Rolling Stones.

Australia, 1973, anyone?

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