Ok, bear with me…I am a complete and utter obnoxious snob when it comes to music. I make no apologies for it. I think the record industry has destroyed in general, music, and more specifically, rock-n-roll. But maybe rock was destined to destroy itself. Was Neil Young correct, is it “better to burn out than fade-away?”
For me there are two eras of rock-n-roll. Everything after the Beatles up until Nirvana, and then everything after Nirvana. Both these bands defined how rock would be sold to the public. The Beatles for defining main-stream pop and Nirvana for redefining it.
The Beatles certainly didn’t invent rock-n-roll but they invented rock-n-roll celebrity in a way that no band has matched since. Not only this they were conscious of the effects of pop-culture on the general public even in their infancy as rock stars.
What balls they showed. One minute we’re singing “Hard Day’s Night” and before we could pause for breath, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” As another example, I cannot think of a greater contrast in social awareness than the point in time from “Rubber Soul” to “Revolver”. Lest we forget, “The White Album”, which in my mind is the greatest double rock album ever released.
The point I am trying to make here is that this band used their celebrity to gain legitimacy and then launched their real agenda for rock-n-roll on the public. They also knew when to call it quits–and quite apropos, “Let it Be” would be their last joint effort as a band.
So it pains me to see the likes of the Rolling Stones out doing world tours in support of their crappy 50th release of “Emotional Rescue” when they should be home rubbing ointment on arthritic joints.
In an effort to distill the media circus, rock industry mega-gods gone jurassic I have composed a list…completely of my own opinion…of bands and artists and the albums that should have been career-enders for them so that we could look back with nostalgia and remember our rock heroes with fondness.
This list in in no particular order and is only a generalization of how I feel now:
EDIT:I should probably mention that the bands I name and the individuals therein are gods of music to me.
Metallica – …And Justice For All
Cliff Burton is gone but not forgotten and we gave Metallica the benefit of the doubt with this one because hey, “Master of Puppets” rocked. I dare any one not to bang their head on the rhythm intro into the bridge on “Sanitarium”.
The Rolling Stones – Some Girls
I think two decades is plenty for a career in rock. However, I give them this album because “Beast of Burden” is probably the best ballad they ever conceived on their own. What a sweet gig–becoming ultra mega millionaires on other people’s music done just above sub-par.
Bob Dylan – Blood on the Tracks
We all love the way Bobby Boy gave the finger to his folk following and we even applauded his effort with his attempt at Christianity and gospel music…but then he became incoherent and we gave up. I give him his dues on this album for “Tangled Up in Blue” and “Shelter from the Storm” everything after this is superfluous.
Kiss – Destroyer
Does anyone really care what happened to this band after the face paint came off? I give them credit for scaring the hell (literally) out of moms and the cult following precursor that would become MADD.
Prince – Purple Rain
This man got an award named after him when he changed his name to a symbol (for androgyny?), “The Get Over Yourself” award. You may remember Bill Maher handing out, on his show “Politically Incorrect”, an award in the shape of “his purple holiness’” symbol to individuals who may have become to big for their britches. I will grant that he has contributed to rock-n-roll, even if his contribution is nothing more than ass-less purple hot pants and a fluffy pirate shirt.
David Bowie – Young Americans
I think this album sums it up nicely with the track “Fame”
U2 – War
They made a great political statement and then pissed all over it with their whiny PC release of “The Unforgettable Fire”. They get an honorable mention for “Achtung, Baby” for pissing off their fair-weather pop fans.
The Velvet Underground – Loaded
I wasn’t going to list this band but Lou Reed pisses me off…his career should have ended with his band. Seriously, when you’re feeling bad pop in “The Velvet Underground & Nico” and listen to “Venus in Furs” and “Heroin”, you can’t but help feel better just for never having ridden the “H Train”.
REM – Green
Gasp…yes I listed REM as they were very influential in the underground rock scene and probably could have had a very self sustaining career had they stayed there. But they didn’t and we got subjected to “Shiny Happy People”. Their career can be summed up over 5 years when they were on IRS. The track, “Driver 8” off of “Fables of the Reconstruction” is probably their most definitive sound during this time.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magic
I think we all got tired of seeing their collective “joints” stuffed into tube-socks on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Ok we get it, they are crazy, wild fun. This band defined a genre and helped bring the funk back to main stream and for that they get a mention.
Ok, there it is. I know I alienated most of my friends with this list but I am sorry, it had to be done for the very sake of rock-n-roll. Please chime in and tell me how full of shit I am and provide some of your rock-n-roll pain.
I am thinking of adding onto this a list of honorable mentions for burning out early.