Eleven More Old Albums

There are actually seven other albums between the last music post and this one, but I’ll cover those on Wednesday.

23. Pixies, Doolittle 

I really liked this as a kid, but found much of the B-side hard to get into. Not anymore. This is an enjoyably eccentric success from start to finish.

New verdict: A


24. Depeche Mode, Music for the Masses 

For a while I’ve felt that, of the bands I really liked as a teen, the one that still holds up the least has to be Depeche Mode, but I was only thinking that from memory, so I was worried about revisiting a few of their albums. Imagine my surprise at really liking this one still! Some tracks are weaker than others, but overall, I got back into this one pretty cleanly. Not awesome, but not bad at all.

New verdict: B


25. Depeche Mode, Violator 

The first album I heard by this band, when it was new, is still my favorite. I once read a disparaging remark about DM to the effect that their catalog is so simplistic that a truly talented musician like Leonard Cohen could have tapped it out on a keyboard while eating breakfast. That had a ring of truth, and maybe it’s why I devalued them in hindsight. But putting this influential album back on brought it all back, and even the minor tracks felt great, maybe even more so than the hits. Alas, nostalgia is like that, isn’t it?


New verdict: A

26. Depeche Mode, 101 

This is both the strongest and weakest of DM. Live, their best songs resonate with electronic electricity, but their weaker tracks sound even duller (ugh, try enjoying the super lame “Stripped” live). Some great memories here, and–as with some other albums I’ve heard again this year–some great tracks I’d completely forgotten existed, but which I knew all the words to as soon as they popped up again.

New verdict: B


27. REM, Eponymous 

The “Greatest Hits” album of my youth, it might as well be the soundtrack of the 80s’ “greatest hits” themselves, whatever that means. For years, I liked this remix of “Radio Free Europe,” since I heard it first; then, through most of my adult years, I’ve preferred the earthy original. Now I think I’m actually coming around to liking this one more again.

New verdict: A+


28. REM, Green 

After Automatic For The People (which I still listen to once or twice a year, I think), this is their best studio album. Not only did I still enjoy this, as I have for many of these other albums, but I felt the same elevated emotions I remember this one eliciting as an adolescent. That’s pretty rare.

New verdict: A+


29. REM, Life’s Rich Pageant

Some great stuff on here, but I only ever thought it was second-tier stuff compared to Green and Eponymous, and it still feels that way. I liked what I remembered, and I liked some of what I’d forgotten, but there’s little here to really love. The best track in undeniably “I Believe.”

New verdict: B


30. REM, Out of Time 

Maybe the biggest surprise of this whole project so far. Yes, there are some great songs on here and, yes, REM is deft squared at making weird variety sound good, but this album is just way overrated. It’s full of forgettable filler. Most of these tracks needed much more work, or never should have seen the light of day.

New verdict: C


31. The Clash, Singles 

Wow, going back to this one was just a ton of fun. Man, there’s a reason classics are classics, you know?

New verdict: A+


32. Nirvana, In Utero 

I was blown away by how much better this was than I even remembered! I still listen to Nevermind on occasion, but i always thought this one was too loose and pretentious, but nope, I was way wrong. Artistically, this must be their best studio album. I thought “Tourette’s” pushed it a bit, but there’s just so much quality here. Even the stuff I did remember is even better than I thought it was–man, “Scentless Apprentice” is such a masterpiece!

New verdict: A+


33. Beatles, Sgt. Pepper 

A weird one–yes, it’s a classic full of masterpieces, but it strikes me as a bit artificial now, and simple, obvious, even weakly contrived in places. I enjoyed it, but not much here really meant anything special to me. From now on, I’ll probably skip this and just listen to the awesome Star Wars parody version that came out last year.

New verdict: B

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