Friday, April 5, 2013

Kahuna Files: 10 Most Overrated Albums That I Like


Disclaimer: these are B.J. Kahuna's not-so-humble opinions and in no way reflect the opinions of anyone else affiliated in any way with the Decibel Geek podcast, or their extended families, or their friends on Facebook.

Also please note, these are albums that I like, I just think they are overrated. But I like them!


Bon Scott was an incredibly charismatic guy. He was a natural on stage, the guy oozed personality. His omnipresent smirk was endearing and contagious. He was a one of a kind frontman and lyricist and a perfect fit for a one of a kind band. It's a harsh reality, but when Bon Scott died much of what was AC/DC died with him. I enjoy Brian Johnson, but he's no Bon Scott. I can only imagine how great the next AC/DC album would have been if Bon had lived. I like Back In Black, I like most of the work AC/DC has done with Brian Johnson, but there is really no comparison to me between the Scott years and the Johnson years. Back In Black has some great songs, but all of the albums the band recorded with Bon Scott are better, a lot better, and for a variety of reasons. Johnson delivered some great melodies but the lyrics on Back In Black are terrible, often embarrassingly so. Bon Scott dabbled in wit and subtlety. "Let Me Put My Love Into You" is the antidote to wit, the opposite of subtlety. Much of the personality that made the previous AC/DC records so original and so much fun shuffled off this mortal coil with Bon. The fact that Back In Black is AC/DC's most successful, acclaimed and appreciated album is offensive. Consider this: how many of the millions of people who at one time or another purchased Back In Black did not even know who Bon Scott was? That's a problem.


The fable reads thusly: the noble, virtuous knights of Nirvana rode in on grungy steed and saved us damsels in distress from the dreaded hair metal dragon. The problem is they left the damn gates open and the "modern rock" and "nu metal" hordes that stormed through in their wake were far worse than the worst "hair metal." I mean, you tell me, Roxy Blue or Seven Mary Three: which band sucked more ass? I'll take Heavens Edge over Three Doors Down any goddamn day of any goddamn week. Google "Sister" by The Nixons or "The Freshman" by The Verve Pipe and tell me that those piece of shit bands were any better than Sleeze Beez or Bad 4 Good. Nevermind is a good album, but world changing? Hardly. A temporary cultural shift occurred but pretty soon everything reverted back to shit. The lemmings switched fads is all, from pop metal to grunge. But a fad is a fad, what makes one fad superior to another? It was just the NEXT fad, and as soon as all of the Alternative Revolution bullshit hype fizzled out we got the return of the boy bands. So what changed? Hairstyles.


The Sex Pistols did not invent or even perfect punk rock. I like this album a lot but if it is the sum total of your punk rock knowledge then that is exactly why I am listing it here. For example, there was an American band called the Dead Boys who were doing the same thing at the same time except they were way freakin' cooler and had better songs. Never mind the Sex Pistols, here's "Sonic Reducer."


Okay, they were an inventive and influential band and given the time frame they were making some important headway here in terms of rock and roll past and future but "Whole Lotta Love" is mostly stolen and that's not the only steal on the album. Half this album is junk. I love a couple of the songs but is it really the holy grail of rock and roll? Nah.


This album was sandwiched between far superior releases, I mean there's absolutely no comparison, I like Killers and Piece of Mind a whole lot more. This is one of my least favorite Maiden albums (the Blaze years don't count), I really cannot fathom why it is always ranked so high. I once read Steve Harris say that if he could do it over again he'd replace "Invaders" (the first song and it sucks!) with "Total Eclipse" (relegated to a b-side). That would improve things but not enough. Everyone loves "The Prisoner" but it annoys me for some reason. "Run to the Hills" is great and I like the slow numbers but coming on the heels of the band's best album, Killers, and right before their second best album, Piece of Mind, this album just doesn't hold a candle.


This album is fine but far from the band's best. I find it odd that one of my favorite Pink Floyd albums, Obscured By Clouds, is completely overlooked. A quick glance at their Wikipedia page and you'd think the album didn't even exist! Is it just me? Am I a contrarian by nature? Not really, I love The Wall. I'm sure in an alternate universe I'd enjoy putting on Dark Side of the Moon before bed, but it's virtually impossible for me to listen to it objectively since classic rock radio destroyed it for me in my formative years with the constant fucking airplay. Yet I'm certain that even if I hadn't heard "Money" ten million times I still wouldn't like it, that song is annoying. Obscured By Clouds is a better album.


I own every Payola$ album and even the Rock & Hyde record, but Bob Rock needs a talking to. Metallica were one of those chosen few bands that accomplished an extremely rare and monumental feat: they created a new genre of music. Metallica made music so different, so compelling, so goddamn good that other musicians heard it, loved it and immediately formed bands so they could do it too. Metallica were a truly inspirational band. Kill 'Em AllRide the Lightning and Master of Puppets were revelatory records, epochs in rock history. Even after suffering the catastrophic loss of Cliff Burton the band still forged new ground. And Justice For All was an ambitious, forward-thinking work. So what the fuck happened? Why did they decide to dumb it down to such a startling degree? Is it fair to blame Bob Rock? Not entirely, but mostly, yeah, I think so. I feel certain that Bob Rock convinced James Hetfield to change the way he sings, not only in a lower register, that goddamn growling shit, but also that extra syllable! One of the main reasons I have a hard time listening to anything the band recorded after Justice is the extra fucking syllable James has to add to the end of the last word of every line, it drives me nuts, and I blame Bob Rock. I can see him now, brushing his hair back and coaching James, teaching him how to ruin Metallica. This album is Metallica minus the heart, minus the passion, minus the ingenuity, minus the originality, minus the sheer creativity, minus minus minus. Did they take the easy way out? Cash in? I don't know why they did it, but if Cliff Burton had lived he never would have allowed it. Well, he either would have talked Lars and James out of it or quit the band. Cliff Burton's death significantly impacted rock and/or metal history, that's what I think. It's difficult to fathom the fact that the band that made Ride The Lightning went on to make Load and ReLoad, aptly titled since they're loads of shit.


I admit it: I don't get it. What exactly is so great about this platter of noise? I simply do not hear any melodies. Sure, as musicians they are playing some insane shit. If you listen to music to appreciate how hard it is to play, good for you, but I like songs, with melodies. A barking dog could have delivered these vocal "melodies." I'm the weirdo that prefers Metal Blade Slayer. And as long as we're talkin' overrated: RICK RUBIN. Take that beard and shove it.


This album is always near the top of the "best ever" lists, but why? It was sandwiched between far superior albums (III and Houses of the Holy) and "Stairway to Heaven" is completely ridiculous. Much of this album is pretentious and/or self-indulgent and "When the Levee Breaks," which is the coolest song on the record, was mostly stolen. The album title is four nonsense symbols! To paraphrase Dee Snider: trite and jaded.


The nearly universal praise this album gets confuses me. Guns N' Roses were a sunset strip glam band, a good one but there were many other good ones, yet for some reason Guns N' Roses are the only "hair metal" band that snobs and hipsters are allowed to take seriously. Every other "hair metal" band is shunned and ridiculed but Guns N' Roses get invited to all the parties. Don't forget, Axl's hair was just as high as anyone else's in that first video. I agree that Slash's guitar style and tone set the band apart, but how much did Mike Clink have to do with that? I will also concede that Izzy had some songwriting chops and his many solo albums contain some quality tunes. As for Bill Bailey, he lifted most of his schtick from Dan McCafferty, Richard Black, and Michael Monroe. I simply do not think the songs on this album are as great as everyone else seems to, half the songs are mediocre at best. (Remember, these are my opinions, and mine alone: blame Kahuna). I never liked "Welcome To The Jungle," not since the first time I saw the video, and I always hated "Paradise City." Those songs just don't do it for me, I don't like them. It's this simple: I don't hate this album but I literally NEVER want to put it on. The craftsmanship of the songwriting just does not match up with the acclaim as far as I'm concerned, and that is the definition of overrated. Somehow this album became a pan-genre phenomenon, one of those albums imbued with greatness by the universality of its appeal, but what exactly is behind the ubiquity of its coolness? Was it a domino effect? This friend and that friend and every friend and then everyone agrees, because it must be true, because everyone agrees? Guns N' Roses were a gritty rock band with an outlaw image, smug and dismissive of their peers, and people love that shit. Believe me, I dig a good band dynamic, but in the end what it comes down to for me is the songs. Sure, it's a matter of taste, but what bugs me is that Guns N' Roses pretended to be above the genre of music they rose out of even though of course there was a time when they used just as much hairspray and wore just as much make-up as any other band on the strip. Look, I think the rest of the guys are pretty cool, but as far as I can tell Axl is a pretentious and childish douchebag and Chinese Democracy is all the proof you need that this band was the sum of its parts and Axl ain't shit without the rest of 'em. Footnote: "Sweet Child O'Mine" is exempt from everything previously stated, I love that song and think it is a masterpiece (well, except for the lyrics, which are dumb as shit--thanks again Axl).



Anonymous said...

I would disagree with your inclusion of Nevermind. Although it wasn't the first grunge/alt rock album of course, at least it was a breath of fresh air compared to all the lame bullshit hair metal,and synth-pop which preceded it and almost neutered rock n roll.When grunge/ alt rock came in, bands would stop wanking around and playing with their hair and start taking themselves seriously and start playing instruments and writing meaningful songs again. Just my opinion,I'm not knocking you.

Brian J. Kramp said...

I couldn't disagree more, and why is taking themselves seriously a good thing? Staind took themselves seriously, but their music was HORRIBLE. Were Puddle of Mudd better than Trixter? What is a meaningful song, anyway? Far more "lame bullshit" came out of the grunge/modern rock/nu metal fad machine, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Hi, it's me, Anonymous again. Musical taste is entirely subjective. There's good and bad in every genre. IMO, a meaningful song is the sound of musicians playing with conviction and passion and not wanking around in the studio doing 10 million year long guitar solos. Personally, if I were forced at gunpoint to choose between the likes of Motley Crue and Poison on the one hand (I've really know idea how they got famous, were people that desperate?!), or guys like Nirvana, who actually seemed to care about the music (even though they weren't exactly the best musicians themselves) I would know who to choose. Again, this is just my view, I respect yours, this is a good list. Sorry to bother you, and thanks for uploading this file.

Brian J. Kramp said...

I get it, you like Nirvana more than Poison, BOLD STANCE :) You kinda missed my point, which wasn't about whether Nirvana were better than Poison but whether Puddle of Mudd were better than Hericane Alice. When Nirvana and Pearl Jam broke a fad replaced a fad, period, end of story. And a fad is a fad.

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