Editors note: As most healthy heterosexual males are, I am a big admirer of the female form. My appreciation of which is how I met our next contributor. Hailing from the state of Oklahoma, Keith Daniels has landed several lucrative interviews for the archives of the world famous Suicide Girls (link not necessarily work safe). Back in 2004 I was involved in a bit of a voters scandal in the state of Ohio, and Keith was instrumental in bringing national attention to the story via Atrios and other prominent newswires. Check out some of Keith’s interviews here (link is work safe… rest of site, not so much).
Listening to Hawkwind (who once released an album which gives this post its title) the other day got me thinking about album titles, specifically bad ones. Bad album titles are interesting to me because of the disconnect between the amount of time, effort, and talent it takes to make a good record — and some of the records listed below are undeniable classics — and the lameness or laziness of the title with which those involved christened said album for posterity. It’s as if you spent all day concocting a marvelous new pasta sauce, only to slap a label on it of “Shit, Vomit and Puss” when it was done. There are many types of bad titles, but it occurred to me that bad album titles can be broken down into five basic categories:
It’s Funny Because They Think It’s Serious:
Progressive (or “post-“) rock is a great repeat offender here, but any band who consider themselves “artists” is bound to squeeze one of these out at some point. Notables excesses include:
1. Fiona Apple’s When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks Like a King What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight and He’ll Win the Whole Thing ‘Fore He Enters the Ring There’s No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might So When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights and if You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where to Land and if You Fall It Won’t Matter, ‘Cuz You’ll Know That You’re Right. This was almost immediately shortened, Prince-like, in the press to When the Pawn…
2. The Mars Volta Amputechture / De-Loused in the Comatorium. What the fuck?
3. Smashing Pumpkins Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (Edging out MACHINA/The Machines of God only because, by that point, no one cared.)
4. Coheed & Cambria’s Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Vol. 1: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness. This one’s implication of more to come is, alone, enough to terrify.
5. Kansas Leftoverture
The Bad Joke (a.k.a. The Bad Pun)
Spinal Tap canonized the idea that rock’n’roll is one of the last great preserves where forever-adolescents are allowed to roam in their natural habitat, and some bands decide to advertise their inner sixth-grader right on their record sleaves. As our good friend Fiona shows above, women aren’t immune to bad titles, but this sub-category is almost exclusively dominated by men. Examples abound, but here are some of the most groan-inducing:
1. Limp Bizkit Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water. The fame, however temporary, of Fred Durst provides all the evidence anyone needs that Satan is still firmly in control here on Earth.
2. Van Halen For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (Get it? GET IT?!), just edging out their previous OU812. Yuk yuk.
3. REO Speedwagon You Can Tune a Piano, but You Can’t Tuna Fish. Good one, grandpa.
4. Butthole Surfers Hairway to Steven. Hard to choose with the Buttholes, but this one always made me chuckle.
5. William Hung (remember him?) Hung for the Holidays.
Whether through pre-meditated, cynical malice or the inevitable ego inflation of the momentary superstar, these album titles promise more than their makers could ever possibly deliver. You’ll notice a lot of hip hop in this category, and, also, that many of these titles double as threats.
1. Puff Daddy Forever. Did you just shiver a bit?
2. Will Smith Willenium. Oh God.
3. Good Charlotte The Chronicles of Life and Death. Oh really? These cretinous, mouth-breathing frat-punks feel they’re qualified to tell us about life and death now? I guess the brilliant social commentary of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” would prepare one for that.
4. Michael Jackson HIStory: Past, Present and Future: Book 1. As of 1995, did Michael Jackson really think he had enough hits left in the “future” for a Book 2? Judging from the Jackson-as-gay-fascist-stormtrooper-Statue-of-Liberty cover — a statue he also floated down the Thames river while promoting this album — yes. Was he right? Doubtful.
5. Anything by Terence Trent D’Arby. Who could choose among such gems as Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D’Arby, because this…
..is the guy we look to for the “hardline”, Terence Trent D’Arby’s Symphony or Damn, or worse, TTD’s Vibrator (vomit).
“None more black.”
1. FEAR The Record
2. Leonard Cohen Ten New Songs
3. Filter Title of Record
4. The Kinks Something Else by the Kinks
5. Biz Markee I Need a Haircut
I Want What They’re Having
Because who the fuck knows?
1. Captain Beefheart Trout Mask Replica
2. Frank Zappa Weasels Ripped My Flesh. But it does work well with that cover..
3. Guns ‘n’ Roses The Spaghetti Incident?. The question mark really makes this one.
4. Jimi Hendrix Axis: Bold as Love. Axis of what?
5. Beck Stereopathic Soul Manure. I’m not sure what that is, but it sounds gross.
… and there are really a thousand more. Comment with your favorites.
Additional note: Keith argues that some of the mentioned albums are so bad they’re not worth sampling. I say these song titles help further illustrate the points he was making. Plus this bonus track from the limited edition of “Chocolate Starfish” is too hilariously awful to pass up. The same can be said for Jimi’s “If 6 Was 9″… except in that case it’s too good to pass up. The following .mp3’s are my selections not his.
Mars Volta – Viscera Eyes
Limp Bizkit – Snake in Your Face Michael Jackson – Earth Song
Fear – I Love Livin in the City Jimi Hendrix – If 6 was 9
We are currently having more issues with our .mp3 hosting service than I would like. If any of you readers can suggest a service that offers direct linkage or “hotlinks”, decent storage and bandwith capacities, reliabilty, stability, and a comprehensive interface for a reasonable price please let me know. Yes I realize I’m asking for a lot, but you never know unless you ask.