Not all that many people around here in Alabama are picking the Bulldogs to beat the Crimson Tide this weekend, which shouldn't come as much surprise to anyone. Hey, that's fine; I have a long and rich history of liking things nobody else does. We've explored that topic many times before on this blog and will no doubt explore it many more in the future, but for right now I'm applying it to music and making this week's +5 the Five Albums Nobody Liked But Me.
I still can't quite figure out why so many people, even some diehard R.E.M. fans, hated this CD. Was it because R.E.M. appeared to be following the grunge trend by going with a rougher, harder-edged sound? I got news for you -- after frigging "Shiny Happy People," they probably needed to do something a little edgier. But anyway, I liked this album, and the closing date on the accompanying tour (at the Omni in Atlanta in 1995) is still one of the best concerts I've ever been to.
Best track: "Strange Currencies"
At a point in their career when they could've either a) released something that sounded exactly like the groundbreaking Achtung Baby or b) released something that sounded like grunge (like R.E.M. eventually did), U2 instead chose c) releasing something that sounded like absolutely nothing else anywhere. Plenty of people turned up their noses at it because they didn't want U2 to go techno, which I guess is understandable in a way, but this album still sounded really, really cool -- and honestly I still have more fun listening to it than more earnest efforts like All That You Can't Leave Behind or How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, which have been much better received.
Best track: "Daddy's Gonna Pay for Your Crashed Car"
Pet Shop Boys, Release
Honestly, I wasn't crazy about this album myself when it first came out; maybe it was because it departed so markedly from the Pet Shop Boys' technopop roots, but somehow it seemed to me like a collection of B-sides that had been separated from more mainstream, more substantial singles somewhere along the line. But then I thought, you know what? Even the Pet Shop Boys' B-sides are a lot better than what most of the rest of the world puts out as A-sides, and I stopped worrying about it. Release still isn't my favorite PSB album, but if you can get over the guitars and give it a chance, there's a lot to like here.
Best track: "I Get Along"
Milli Vanilli, Girl You Know It's True
Go ahead, make your jokes, but deep down you know this album sounded great back when you were in junior high. And if Arista had just marketed it straight instead of arbitrarily fronting it with two random male models they plucked off a runway somewhere in Europe, they might've had one of the best pop albums of the pre-grunge era; it'd still hold up pretty well today (as well as any '80s pop album could, at least) if it hadn't been completely sunk by that silly, embarrassing lip-sync controversy. (Unfortunately, the real singer, Charles Shaw, doesn't appear to exactly be an angel himself, but at least he can sing.)
Best track: "Baby Don't Forget My Number"
Passengers, Original Soundtracks Vol. 1
Yeah, a second U2 album -- because that's really what this was, with the boys collaborating with Brian Eno on an album full of ambient-sounding pieces, instrumentals, and just plain weird tracks they knew would completely ruin them if they released it under the U2 name. So they came up with the name "Passengers," conjured up 100-percent-contrived backstories for the indie films whose soundtracks each of these songs was supposedly taken from, and released it as a side project. Not everything on here works by a long shot, but it's interesting if you don't go into it expecting to hear "Where the Streets Have No Name" or even "Zooropa," so what can I say? I guess U2 is one of those bands I'm willing to give considerable benefit of the doubt.
Best track: "Miss Sarajevo"
Now the Ten, which also might be liked by nobody but me:
1. Pete Heller, "Big Love"
2. Led Zeppelin, "D'Yer Mak'er"
3. Radiohead, "Motion Picture Soundtrack"
4. Underworld, live set from Creamfields 2002
5. Right Said Fred, "I'm Too Sexy"
[Yes, I also like this song still, even if no one else does -- Ed.]
6. David Holmes, "Living Room"
7. Starship, "Sara"
[OK, seriously, iTunes, that's quite enough -- Ed.]
8. NFL Films, "Playmakers"
9. David Cross, "'You Go, Girl!'"
10. The Who, "You Better You Bet"
Your favorite unloved albums, as well as your Random Tens, are welcome in the comments -- particularly if they somehow manage to be embarrassing as mine.