vonFiedler's Big Album Tier List - Turn up your radio now, I'm calling out your name

vonFiedler

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This year I got into listening to albums in a big way, mostly due to Covid shutting down my gym and forcing me to go on walks for a time.

As I am wont to do, I have devised a complex system of math to grade each album I listen to. This factors songs good enough to add to my playlist (the biggest score), other songs (how much of the album is filler? do any songs annoy me?), cohesion or album concept, and a small score for personal bias (do I love the artist? how did their album meet my expectations? how enjoyable was it?).

Albums are ranked from S to F with a school grade system in mind. In theory, most albums should be Fs, but as I'm not going out of my way to listen to people like Cardi B, this has not happened much (look I dunno maybe Cardi B is really good, who are we supposed to hate right now?).

Now that I have 100 albums on my list, I present it to you for your approval/bickering.
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The following are explanations where warranted. I've been doing this for some time, so if I have nothing to say about an album, assume the grade has something to do with the quality of the band and amount of good songs on the album.

Electric Light Orchestra, Out of the Blue (1977)
My rating system can be biased toward longer albums, but this comes with a huge risk. After all, most albums struggle just to fill 40 minutes. Out of the Blue features 17 songs and somehow they are all bangers, on top of top-tier songs like Mr. Blue Sky, Sweet Talkin' Woman, and Turn to Stone. It's no wonder that this is ELO's most popular and successful album. It may be the album to beat for a long time.

Prince, The Gold Experience (1995)
JoJo didn't get it wrong here. Gold Experience is themed like a virtual exploration of the senses, covering the human condition in every shade from love to hate. It's the trippy structure that the album nails, and while it doesn't have Prince's best songs, one shouldn't ignore songs like Gold or Dolphin.

Cyndi Lauper, She so Unusual (1983)
Cyndi Lauper, A Night to Remember (1989)

Some people have their top albums crowded with a few favorite artists and it seems I am no different, but I must trust my formula. While almost none of the artists on this list are ones I dislike, there are those that have disappointed me with their albums. I think it's safe to say that is someone likes Ms. Lauper's style, they will find that she doesn't skimp on her albums. Both of these albums are very well-structured oldies throwbacks, being named after a 20s showtune and a 50s movie respectively. The latter has more songs, but the former features Girls Just Want to Have Fun, All Through the Night, and Time After Time. I can only think of one album with three comparable songs.

Prince, Purple Rain (1984)
And those songs are Purple Rain, When Doves Cry, and Let's Go Crazy. The soundtrack album for the movie of the same name, everything holds together remarkably well.

Daft Punk, Random Access Memories (2013)
Random Access Memories was kind of huge for me as I was pretty far removed from contemporary music at the time a friend showed it to me. I wasn't even a fan of Daft Punk. But this opened me up to every other newer album on the list and set the standard for a great album until I heard Out of the Blue.

Fleetwood Mac, Rumours (1977)
A legendary album. While many an album spastically swap between love songs and breakup songs, Rumours was actually written by four people over the course of falling in love with and breaking up with each other. It's insane and somehow works wonders.

Eagles, The Long Run (1979)
I was very disappointed by the first two Eagles albums I listened to, but I'm glad I stuck with them. They really redeemed themselves in The Long Run. Joe Walsh kills it and Don Henley's Hollywood myopia isn't so overcentralizing. Perhaps that is why this feels like peak Eagles.

The Cars, Heartbeat City (1984)
Fun, shameless pop rock but the most energizing album you might ever hear.

Fleetwood Mac, Tango in the Night (1987)
Perhaps their last good album, this is easily Fleetwood's poppiest but it doesn't hurt the enjoyability at all.

REO Speedwagon, Hi Infidelity (1980)
This one was a very pleasant surprise. REO Speedwagon has long been a meme band for me and my friends as I love their name but would never have called them a top-tier band. And while I wouldn't do that yet, this throwback album is a big step in that direction.

Depeche Mode, Some Great Reward (1984)
Duran Duran, Rio (1982)
Billy Joel, The Stranger (1977)

Heart, Dreamboat Annie (1975)

Another surprise, this is a very trippy and relaxing album.

Electric Light Orchestra, Time (1981)
With half the songs and a more gimmicky techno sound, this didn't have much chance of competing with Out of the Blue, but few albums do. Still a great one here.

a-ha, Hunting High and Low (1985)
Sleeper album from a band most people probably think of as a one-hit wonder. Take on Me is the greatest music video ever made, but Train of Thought and The Sun Always Shines on T.V. are much more indicative of what this band has to offer musically.

Roxette, Look Sharp! (1988)

Tom Petty, Full Moon Fever (1989)

Great album but I can't feeling that Tom Petty could do better. This was his first album without The Heartbreakers. It was also made at the same time he was with The Traveling Wilburys and it shows. It's just not what I really want from a Tom Petty album, but I'm in no way taking away from the quality it brings to the table.

Bjork, Volta (2007)
I really want to like Vespertine more than Volta. Vespertine is a much tighter package and the songs in Volta are really gimmicky and out there. But it seems that by the same logic I just like more of the songs here whereas a lot of Vespertine blends together.

Fleetwood Mac, Mirage (1982)
In terms of raw discovery, this tops Fleetwood's discography with a bunch of hidden gem bangers. Will probably only rise in score with relistens.

David Bowie, Young Americans (1975)
Plastic Soul might be the best sound in music.

The Moody Blues, Days of Future Passed (1967)
An album I touted as the best ever for a long time purely for its ambition. I really love concept albums like this and want to see more of them. Ultimately though, you really have to like every song on the "greatest" album. Another Morning is cliched and Lunch Break: Peak Hour feels undeveloped. Everything else is great.

Michael Jackson, Thriller (1982)
Jackson made some of the most spastic albums as he had two kinds of songs: edgy and saccharine. They are arranged on the album with little care. But it's still Thriller!

Madonna, Like a Virgin (1984)
Another one I didn't expect to love so much.

The Police, Outlandos d'Amour (1978)
Another band I've been disappointed with in terms of albums. This comes the closest to what you would want in terms of their edgy manic energy, but still feels a little basic.

Rick Astley, Whenever You Need Somebody (1987)
This was a huge surprise. Most people will know Rick Astley for Never Gonna Give You Up. I knew that this album had a handful of other decent hits on it. But if that were it, I expected it to rank much lower. Instead, the back end asks "Do you like classic Sonic music?" Why yes, in fact I do.

Asia, Asia (1982)
A supergroup consisting of people from Yes, The Buggles, and Carl Palmer, they are kind of a meme band and what this album lacks in artistry it makes up for in terms of hits. Known mostly for Heat of the Moment, but people really sleep on Time Again and I heavily recommend a listen.

Fleetwood Mac, Fleetwood Mac (1977)
This is Fleetwood's first proper album (with Nicks and Buckingham) and it shows. But it also shows just how great this band is for four of their albums to show up in A range.

Elton John, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)
A long album and kind of a mess with lots of wacky songs, a negative highlight being Jamaica Jerkoff (I'm not gonna mention every time one of these albums features white reggae but it happens a lot as we descend tiers), but mostly the length works in its favor with a lot of pretty decent songs including maintstays like Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting, Candle in the Wind, Bennie and the Jets, and the eponymous Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.

Lady Gaga, Born This Way (2011)
I did not expect to like a Lady Gaga album as much as I did here, let alone Born This Way, an album with singles that I slept on when they were popular. But it's a fascinating journey as it transitions from a sort of internationally inspired pop early in the album to almost metal in the second half.

Meat Loaf, Bad Attitude (1984)
Meat Loaf did what I think a lot of artists should have done, which is separate his more fun songs and his more serious songs onto separate albums. I'd like to say this was the serious one but we'll get to that. Anyway, a lot of shameless fun here and Surf's Up in particular is a very underrated song.

Billy Joel, An Innocent Man (1983)
I've mentioned some loose throwbacks to oldies but this one goes really deep, with each song honoring a different style or singer. I really thought this would be my favorite Billy Joel album and I respect it a lot, I just can't be asked to love every single style of music he has on display here. Still, Uptown Girl and Tell Her About It are serious bangers and An Innocent Man is pure art.

Tears for Fears, Songs from the Big Chair (1985)
If you're looking for an anticapitalist anthology from one of the best new wave bands, you should definitely check this out. A bit overindulgent but features my current favorite song, Everybody Wants to Rule the World.

David Bowie, Labyrinth (1986)
It was perhaps foolish to listen to so many soundtrack albums going by the bottom of my tier list, but this is a soundtrack album done absolutely right. Bowie's music is interspersed with Trevor Horn's wild fantasy gamish score in such a way that it almost tells a complete story by itself. Frankly, this is a perfect album, it just can't score much higher because it only has five real songs on it.

Bruce Springsteen, Born in the USA (1984)

Spandau Ballet, TRUE (1983)

New wave in its purest and possibly even best sound. People who only know this band for the song True will be pleasantly surprised by how punchy the rest of the tracks are.

Men at Work, Business as Usual (1981)

Creedance Clearwater Revival, Cosmo's Factory (1970)

The closest a studio album may ever come to just being a greatest hits album, but with no surprises beyond the songs you would already know.

Lady Gaga, The Fame Monster (2009)
For a long time I thought this was the same album as The Fame, probably because Gaga wants you to see it that way. But I think I frown on delux albums (see Lights), so I judged this on its own merits and having done so, I don't see why this couldn't have been expanded into a "real" second album. It's good.

Boston, Boston (1976)
A standard setting album for me for a long time as it is incredibly consistent, but at the end of the day it's a lot of basic rock and we've seen better than that.

Fine Young Cannibals, The Raw & The Cooked (1988)
Huey Lewis & The News, Sports (1983)

Bruno Mars, 24K Magic (2016)

Bruno Mars becoming one of the best artists of the decade was probably one of the more unpredictable outcomes after the laughable Doo-Wops & Hooligans, but copying 90s Prince has worked rather well for him. Held back by the fact that he sings about sex with all the bravado of a 12-year-old on Xbox Live, but musically very impressive.

Bjork, Vespertine (2001)

Eagles, Hotel California (1976)

I had to listen to it twice to appreciate it this much. Don Henley definitely provides a strong statement of "The American Dream is dead" as he is always wont, but it's a smidge boring in places.

Billy Squier, Don't Say No (1981)

Men Without Hats, Rhythm of Youth (1982)

The "Safety Dance" is moshing. I just feel everyone needs to know that.

Toto, Toto IV (1982)
Bit of a meme band but I'm a sucker for piano.

The Cars, The Cars (1978)
Wacky album as they were really trying to find a sound that works for them. Sometimes they sound like themselves, but other times they sound like The Police, and still others dip into techno.

The Cure, Disintegration (1989)
Long album with long songs. I'll never understand the connection between sorta rhythmic bands and really long songs that go nowhere.

Bob Seger, Stranger in Town (1978)

The Police, Synchronicity (1983)

You would think this would be The Police's philosophical tour de force, but the composition is baffling with most of the good songs pushed to the back, and also Mother is just a crap song that randomly sounds like bad Ramones.

The Traveling Wilburys, Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 (1988)
Legendary group of artists (Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, and Roy Orbison) even if the result is a little quaint. Shame Roy Orbison died. They never really recovered in spirit.

Meat Loaf, Bat Out of Hell (1977)
This was Meat Loaf's serious album, and it's good, but he's just not really a capital A Arteest. It's a bit drawn out and slow, and it's a shame the quality of the whole thing isn't up there with Two Out of Three Ain't Bad.

Footloose (1984)
Holding Out for a Hero, I'm Free, Never, Almost Paradise, and Footloose. Enough said. Hardly matters that as a soundtrack album there's no cohesion at all.

Michael Sembello, Bossa Nova Hotel (1983)
Little known but easily my favorite session artist, you might know him for one of my favorite songs, Maniac. This album features a mix of wacky songs (about robots, cowboys, and godzilla) alongside tepid love songs. I wish it was all the former and none of the latter.

Journey, Escape (1981)
Bob Seger, Against the Wind (1980)

Paul McCartney & Wings, Band on the Run (1973)

Michael Jackson, Bad (1987)

The negative things I said about Thriller hold true here, only this ain't Thriller. Bad is good, but not great.

Foreigner, 4 (1981)

Gazebo, Gazebo (1983)

Gotta stop for a moment to appreciate italodisco. Lot of out there songs on this album and I wish I liked more of them.

Ellie Goulding, Lights (2010)
This album infuriates me as it does not have the eponymous song Lights on it. What is even the point of listening to it then? I also listened to Bright Lights but didn't even feel like ranking it. It's crap. It adds the songs Lights and a bunch of dogshit. Still, while most of the songs on Lights are not very good, I think the product as a cohesive whole is an enjoyable listen. Shame it doesn't have the obvious showstopper on it.

Celine Dion, The Colour of My Love (1993)
Adele, 21 (2011)

Dire Straits, Brothers in Arms (1985)

Possibly a controversial rating. I really wanted to like this one more. The songs are just very out there, which sometimes works wonders (Your Latest Trick is a phenom), but sometimes flops.

CeeLo Green, The Lady Killer (2010)
An album I used to rate much higher, but listening to it now it sure feels very rapey. He was a musical genius and it's such a waste that he ended up being a fuckhead.

Cyndi Lauper, True Colors (1986)

Pink Floyd, The Wall (1979)

Given that I'm really looking for strong concept albums, I hoped to get a lot more out of this. It feels like 90% build up. There are so many songs that are two-thirds quiet and one-third noise, so many one to two minute songs that are transitional, but also some proper songs just don't hit the mark either. Act One is basically just one long version of The Wall, which is okay, but Act Two is pretty dreadful. Act Three is where the album really shines (but don't be confused, there's also a lacking Act Four).

Wilson Phillips, Wilson Phillips (1990)
An album that I really wanted to fuck with as a meme. It's just okay.

Eagles, One of These Nights (1975)
Billy Idol, Rebel Yell (1983)
Foreigner, Foreigner (1977)

Heart, Heart (1985)

Not bad here, but not a band that got better as it got poppier.

Van Halen, 1984 (1984)

Prince, Diamonds and Pearls (1991)

Objectively it's hard to say that Prince struggled in the 90s. It's an era that killed most 80s artists and even as a kid I remember him being relevant. This album does show growing pains however. It bounces between funk rock, early 90s dance, and rap. Prince raps. Prince is not a terrible rapper, but he's not a rapper nonetheless.

Don Henley, Building the Perfect Beast (1984)
One of my favorite artists and his album showings disappoint me the most. He could have benefited a lot from having one fun album and one serious album, but instead his albums just feel aimless and dull. Stick to his greatest hits.

Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)
Great movie soundtrack and about as good an album as you could expect from a wide variety of artists that had no real careers. I Can't Break Away and In Time are stunners.

Def Leppard, Pyromania (1983)
I'd like to think I like Def Leppard but one can only take so much dumb butt rock. This one elevates above Hysteria due to the presence of Thomas Dolby.

The Police, Ghost in the Machine (1981)

John Cougar Mellencamp, Uh-huh (1983)
Prolific singles artist. We'll leave it at that.

David Bowie, Let's Dance (1983)
So what happened here? Bowie's pop album struggles to reach 40 minutes. No one needed the eponymous Let's Dance stretched to seven minutes. Less disappointing than it is bizarre.

Don Henley, The End of the Innocence (1989)
John Cougar Mellencamp, American Fool (1982)
Genesis, Invisible Touch (1986)

Gotye, Making Mirrors (2011)

Interesting experimental album. Instead of saying negative things, I'd rather just hear more from this guy. Sadly, his career has been sidetracked by a quest for vengeance (look it up).

The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
The Beatles are not one of my favorite bands and they also came from an era that really didn't put any stock into making good albums. I know they make better ones later, but this one exemplifies the joke of every other Beatles song being beautiful and every other one being goofy shit.

Childish Gambino, "Awaken, My Love!" (2016)
Comedian and actor I like turned rapper, turned soul rocker. Very ambitious but he's just not as good a singer as he wants to be here.

The Beatles, Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
In truth two small albums, the first a really shitty movie soundtrack and the second a pretty good sample of Beatles music. But an album that you only listen to one side of is not a good album.

Depeche Mode, Violator (1990)
Very controversial ranking. Contains well known DM songs like Policy of Truth, World in My Eyes, Enjoy the Silence, and Personal Jesus, but not much else. Very influential album for 90s and 00s artists that I really don't like. Just not my Depeche Mode.

Stevie Nicks, Bella Donna (1981)
Bit sad.

The Who, Who's Next (1971)
What remains of a scrapped musical and the quality shows. Baba O'Riley and Behind Blue Eyes are dope though.

Fleetwood Mac, Tusk (1979)
One of these things is not like the other things. I really wanted to defy the status quo here and like this album. After all, Tusk is my favorite Fleetwood song. But the discordant nature of the song doesn't work for the album as a whole. Tusk is long and I have no idea why. It feels like so much filler. Most of the songs here, if you've heard them for 10 seconds then you've heard the whole thing.

Bon Jovi, Bon Jovi (1984)

Bryan Adams, Reckless (1984)
With Summer of '69 and Run to You this might easily be his best album, but that doesn't say good things about him.

Def Leppard, Hysteria (1987)

Sing Street, Sing Street (2016)

Fantastic movie and fake band. This album features songs from the band, some of which needed a little work, and a sample of good futurism songs from the 80s that the movie draws inspiration from. But there's also weird choices, like Motorhead and for some reason Adam Levine felt the need to write a song for the album. Heavily recommend Drive It Like You Stole It however.

Scarface (1983)
Great movie soundtrack, incompetent album.

Phil Collins, Tarzan (1999)
If any Disney movie could make for a good pop album, it should have been the one comprised mostly of non-diagetic Phil Collins music. And most people seem to like his music here. But in assembling this album, they just didn't give a fuck at all. Yeah, I really wanted to listen to Two Worlds four times.


Let me know what you think, what I got wrong, and maybe what albums I should be listening to. I'll update in batches of 5 or 10.
 
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vonFiedler

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what kind of homophobia encouraged you to put the fame monster below born this way?
I didn't expect it to be this way, but your confusion may stem from the fact that The Fame Monster is both a deluxe album bundled with The Fame, and also its own thing. I judged it on its own merits, which are considerable, but perhaps because Gaga tried to cop out of making a real second album, it feels like it could have been better. I will get to rating The Fame eventually.
 

Myzozoa

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cardi b good

prince bad

80's bad

stripped down music bad

all prince songs are like the low-cal no fat equivalents of that gotye and kimbra song that is barely decent
 
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vonFiedler

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Things got delayed a bit but here's my update:
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Supertramp, Breakfast in America (1979) A
Relatively new band for me but they are super dope. Just a real smooth as hell sound that I could probably listen to for hours. Doesn't go above and beyond, but is never bad.
The Hits: The Logical Song, Take the Long Way Home, Breakfast in America, Goodbye Stranger

Toto, Toto (1978) A+
I used to think of Toto as being too soft, but the two albums I've listened to are really bringing me around to them. Okay, they're still soft, but their debut album is actually incredibly funky. It's this overall good sound that elevates this album even if Toto IV has a few superior core songs.
The Hit: Hold the Line
Hidden Gem: Takin' It Back

Kiss, Destroyer (1976) B
There's a whole that could be said here. Kiss was my favorite band for a long time, but I held off on ranking any of their albums because they are definitely singles artists, and because my taste for hard rock is not what it once was. I'm happy to say that this is a pretty fair grade. Destroyer is a microcosm of what Kiss is all about, 10% real creativity, 30% dumb butt rock, and 60% oldies worship. What makes Kiss actually good is that they are so willing to experiment with different styles, but always sound uniquely themselves.
The Hits: Detroit Rock City, Beth, Shout It Out Loud
Hidden Gem: Do You Love Me?
Worst Song: King of the Night Time World

Madonna, Madonna (1983) C-
I said that Like a Virgin surprised me. This is more in line with my expectations. It has a bunch of hits to be sure, but not very good ones. I could probably live without Holiday entirely. Very vapid, but it's almost refreshing to listen to an 80s pop album that wasn't super fun. I couldn't even say what the worst song was because I definitely zoned out by the time it was over.
The Hits?: Borderline (actual best song easily), Lucky Star, Everybody, Holiday

Matchbox 20, Yourself or Someone Like You (1996) C+
This is outside of my comfort zone if that's not obvious, so all things considered, not bad at all. Its kinda the edgy sound that would dominate the early 2000s, but it's very smooth.
The Hits: Real World, 3AM, Back to Good, Push
Hidden Gem: Busted

Queen, A Kind of Magic (1986) B-
Possibly one of the worst Queen albums I could start with, but I'm rather attached to stories about historical figures killing each other in the modern day, if you haven't heard. This album is very over the top indulgent in the fact that it's a soundtrack and that does make it tacky, but the first half is very plastic soul, so I dig it.
The Hits: Princes of the Universe, One Vision
Hidden Gem: Who Wants to Live Forever?
Worst Song: Gimme the Prize

Phil Collins, No Jacket Required (1985) B+
Phil Collins is a legendary hack fraud. He is the king of pop rock. I however am incapable of lying and saying that the man didn't make hits, and this album has some of them. It's a very easy listen. It does showcase a bit of what people hate about Collins, like there's a serious song whinging about divorce rates, but it's on the same album as Sussudio.
The Hits: Take Me Home, One More Night, Don't Lose My Number, Who Said I Would, Sussudio
Hidden Gem: I Don't Wanna Know
Worst Song: Only You Know and I Know

Thompson Twins, Into the Gap (1984) B-
New Wave is my clear favorite genre of music and the Thompson Twins are certainly worth checking out, but they're just a little too wacky for too little substance and I think this album showcases that well.
The Hit: Hold Me Now
Hidden Gem: Doctor! Doctor!
Worst Song: Who Can Stop the Rain

Eagles, Eagles (1972) B
At this point I obviously didn't expect an Eagles album without Joe Walsh to impress much, but this at least has a better sense of identity than One of These Nights, even if that identity is very soft.
The Hits: Take It Easy, Peaceful Easy Feeling, Witchy Woman
Hidden Gem: Earlybird
Worst Song: Tryin'

Billy Joel, Glass Houses (1980) B+
In contrast to The Stranger and An Innocent Man, this one is more about fun individual songs and it certainly has some gems, though it does peter out a bit at the end.
The Hits: You May Be Right, It's Still Rock and Roll to Me, Don't Ask Me Why
Hidden Gems: All for Leyna, Sometimes a Fantasy
Worst Song: Close to the Borderline

Albums that were adjusted on relisten:
Heartbeat City up to S
Synchronicity down to B-
Magical Mystery Tour down to F

Okay so I wouldn't usually explain these, but I fucked up the first time by thinking that this was "basically two albums". That was only true in America, where they shoved a bunch of non-album singles onto it. I don't respect that and neither did the Beatles. As such, it's a short soundtrack album that peaks with The Walrus and that's just not good. On the plus side, I had a sneaking suspicion that Sgt. Pepper was significantly better and I was right.

A lot of other albums had their positions changed because I tweaked the math formula a bit, but it'd be lame to go over all those in detail.
 
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phoopes

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Not really going to comment on your placement of albums because I feel like musical taste is very subjective. If you like something great, if it's not your cup of tea, it might be someone else's. I will say I disagree with your assessment of "most albums are Fs." Like if I were ranking things I would probably grade it on more of a bell curve rather than most albums being shit and the stuff on your list being the exception.

But anyway, I'm really interested in your formula though. You mention the factors a bit but I'd like to know the actual formula and if there's been any cases where you've been surprised at what the formula outputs.
 

vonFiedler

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Not really going to comment on your placement of albums because I feel like musical taste is very subjective. If you like something great, if it's not your cup of tea, it might be someone else's. I will say I disagree with your assessment of "most albums are Fs." Like if I were ranking things I would probably grade it on more of a bell curve rather than most albums being shit and the stuff on your list being the exception.
What I mean here is that the grades literally function like a grading scale, as in theoretically 60% of albums would fall below par. I could do like Anthony Fantano and have negative rankings, but my scores aren't really built for that and I'm not going out of way my way to listen to music I'm not likely to enjoy at least a bit. I'm sure everyone could find a lot of music they don't like, but I'm not going out of my way to be negative here.

My system is:
Song Score
Rate songs that I enjoy enough to add to a playlist on a scale of 1-6, gaining that many points.
Other Songs
How much of the album did I not particularly like? 0-1 scores 8, 2-3 scores 6. Otherwise it scores 4 unless less than half of the songs I liked, which is 2, and less than a quarter is 0. Also, if I just really don't like a song, such as Mother from Synchronicity, that might subtract 2 points (or more for multiple songs).
Cohesion and Concept
Score of 0-8 depending on how well put together the album is. High concept albums that tell a story are 8s, but it doesn't take a lot of effort to make an album more than just a bunch of songs so that can net a 6. Most albums are 4s but there are some messes out there too.
Bias Score
0-4, how much did I enjoy it! Did it meet my expectations? Exceed them? Disappoint me? How much do I generally like this band? Not a big effect but it's there.
The last three categories can add up to 20, for a "perfect album". So far those are Gold Experience and Labyrinth.
The scoring does skew towards longer albums, Out of the Blue is evidence enough for that, but on the other end of the spectrum you risk losing a lot of points like Tusk.

Obviously it's subjective but I would say that the rankings match pretty closely how I feel about the albums. Some outliers might be 24K Magic, which is obviously very good but a bit out of place in my collection, and on the other end, Wilson Phillips, which I'd like to enjoy more but it's just not all that. The one to watch, which I'm gonna add to my next round of downloads (not my next 10 I post, but after that), is White Album. There's 30 fucking songs on that thing, Beatles productivity is just ridiculous.
 

vonFiedler

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Would Tarzan move up into A-tier if Son of Man was on there four times instead?
It just seems to me that if you were making this soundtrack album, you could either lean on Phil Collins and throw in some of his singles from the time (I have no idea if this would be good, but it would be better), or you could intersperse the album with more background music from the movie like they did with Labyrinth.

If there's a running theme to my rankings, its that clearly no one gives a shit about soundtrack albums.
 
vonFiedler i agree with you on walrus but disagree with you on sgt pepper. i think its easily the beatles most overrated album, i put it firmly mid-table every time i go back to the drawing board imo. i do think you're kinda a madman for not liking their other albums though, i fucking love the beatles overall, and think all of revolver, rubber soul, and the white album would be an S if i did a similar ranking, let it be would be an A, and abbey road would be S+++++++
 

vonFiedler

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i do think you're kinda a madman for not liking their other albums though, i fucking love the beatles overall, and think all of revolver, rubber soul, and the white album would be an S if i did a similar ranking, let it be would be an A, and abbey road would be S+++++++
I haven't ranked any of their other albums. I could easily imagine White Album being A-S and look forward to Abbey Road as well. I'm not the biggest Beatles fan but on my big artists ranking I kinda mathematically proved that they are one of the top bands, so, eh. I'll leave you in suspense as to how I'll actually feel about White Album.
 
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vonFiedler

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Ok so things changed a lot. We were getting more S tier albums than A+ and that doesn't make sense. I've made third major adjustments. First, I put 50% more weight on overall album attributes so that really long albums have less of an advantage. Second, I widened every grade. Third, I shifted everything down. Maybe this is a harsher grading system but it feels sort of right. B is still very admirable and C albums are still worth listening to. Ds are not total failures but they are worthy of criticism.

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Savage Garden, Savage Garden (1997) A
This is one of the earliest CDs from my childhood, so I really just hope that this score isn't nostalgia blindness. But damn, this is a hell of a Prince album. It's funky as shit, is astonishly good at taking turns at rap and symphony, and has some songs that are really very good.
The Hits: To the Moon and Back, I Want You, Truly Madly Deeply
Hidden Gem: Carry on Dancing
Worst Song: Break Me Shake Me

Supertramp, Crime of the Century (1974) B-
This seems like one of those bands where at specific times they feel like they should be one of the greatest of all time, but are otherwise spotty (like Yes). This really doesn't hit the same heights at Breakfast in America in spite of some bangers. I feel like it relies too much on longer songs that don't necessarily have a lot of artistic value.
The Hits: Dreamer, Bloody Well Right
Hidden Gems: School, Rudy
Worst Song: Asylum

The Steve Miller Band, Fly Like an Eagle (1976) C
Typical singles artist album. Though the singles are strong, this is a mess of genres mashing up, from psychadelic rock, to blues, bluegrass, honky-tonk, and a crooner ballad. While good albums can explore genres, this one wastes Fly Like an Eagle's strong intro by transitioning into the very slow Wild Mountain Honey, and goes from funk with Serenade to the gaudy Dance Dance Dance. A bit of album candy here is nice but really doesn't help.
The Hits: Fly Like an Eagle, Take the Money and Run, Rock'n Me
Hidden Gem: The Window
Worst Song: You Send Me

Madonna, True Blue (1986) B
Working my way through Madonna, this is certainly a lot better than her debut album but suffers a little because it couldn't decide on an oldies theme (White Heat, Jimmy Jimmy) or tropical theme (La Isla Bonita, Love Makes the World Go Round).
The Hits: Open Your Heart, Papa Don't Preach, True Blue, La Isla Bonita
Hidden Gem: White Heat
Worst Song: Where's the Party

Tom Petty, Damn the Torpedoes (1979) B
I said that Full Moon Fever wasn't quite the Tom Petty that I want to hear. While this is much closer with a lot of good examples of his really fast-paced heartland rock, it's also an album where he just seems to start screwing around by the end and that's a pretty bad thing to say about an album that barely makes it over 35 minutes.
The Hits: Refugee, Here Comes My Girl, Don't Do Me Like That
Hidden Gem: You Tell Me
Worst Song: Louisiana Rain

Tears for Fears, The Hurting (1983) C+
The best Tears for Fears songs, like Mad World, are excellent examples of dissonance between sad lyrics and upbeat melodies. Unfortunately, a lot of The Hurting is drab on drab, and without trying to make a statement like Songs from the Big Chair.
The Hit: Mad World
Hidden Gems: Pale Shelter, Change, Start of the Breakdown
Worst Song: The Prisoner

Bob Seger, Night Moves (1976) C-
Seger was one of my favorite artists in high school, back when I loved Rock and ballads a lot more than I do now. I've been trying to find an album to recapture those old feelings, but this ain't it. Outside of its good hits, everything feels a bit weak and it's maybe a little misogynistic as well.
The Hits: Mainstreet, Night Moves, Rock and Roll Never Forgets
Hidden Gem: Sunburst
Worst Song: Come to Poppa

Stevie Wonder, Songs in the Key of Life (1976) B+
Remarkably similar to Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, this is a long experimental mess but you don't mind that coming from a great artist. Have a Talk with God proseletyzes in electro-funk and then immediately transitions to Villege Ghetto Land, a medieval lute song about how bad the ghettos are. The album is also often very politically incorrect, which is very excusable but makes it tricky to put on for others.
The Hits: Isn't She Lovely?, Sir Duke
Hidden Gems: Pastime Paradise, I Wish
Worst Song: Village Ghetto Land

The Rolling Stones, Some Girls (1978) B-
Album dips from funk to country rock and back again, making it weirdly repeatable with modern methods of listening. Unfortunately at it's worst Mick Jagger is sing-talking in a very poor southern accent and it's maybe a bit misogynistic. This dips in and out but rocks hard at times.
The Hits: Shattered, Miss You, Beast of Burden
Hidden Gem: Before They Make Me Run
Worst Song: Far Away Eyes

Duran Duran, Duran Duran (1981) B-
Much in the same vein as The Cars' debut album, we see a band with a very established sound trying to find that sound. Their hits are on point, while Careless Memories feels like The Cure and Night Boat is oddly beatnick in style (which makes a lot of sense given Duran Duran's bent towards poetic lyrics).
The Hits: Girls on Film, Planet Earth
Hidden Gem: Careless Memories
Worst Song: Sound of Thunder

On the next episode... White Album
 

vonFiedler

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Got sick, which stopped me from going to the gym, and bad weather prevent me from walking, but here we go.

It almost wouldn't be a proper update now if I didn't mess with the whole thing. I've refined how I rate songs a bit. I've been rating them on a 1-5 scale. 5 for personal favorites, 4 for radio classics, 3 for cool but strange songs, and 1 for songs that really never belonged on my playlist. But for too long I've sorta just relegated 2 also to songs I didn't want to hear and as such I was rating a lot of songs as 2s. But now I have a great kind of song to give 2s to... album filler. Yes, as I listen to albums, and certain genres, there are plenty of songs that I like the sound of but could never pick out of a lineup later. This is where they will be placed now. Consequently, a lot of albums can expect to drop a few points, and as such I shifted the whole benchmark down a bit. I have not rerated everything and it will take some time. However, list looks kinda nice right now. Thriller and Days of Future Passed are A- again which feels right, now we just need to find a way to justify giving one more point to An Innocent Man.

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The Beatles, White Album (1968) B+
teal6 Insert Gus Johnson Meme. With 30 songs, it seemed like I was destined to love or hate this, but it ended up more in the middle. It feels like two albums. The first half is much more daring, and contains the strangest, worst, and best songs. Then in the second half I zoned out a lot. It is actually somewhat cohesive with similarly styled songs being grouped together, but it still really feels like it could have been edited down.
The Hits: While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da, Revolution, Helter Skelter, Back in the USSR
Hidden Gems: Rocky Raccoon, Dear Prudence
Worst Songs: Glass Onion, Wild Honey Pie, Revolution 9

ZZ Top, Eliminator (1983) B-
In the first half of this album I was really prepared to put a real hard rock album into the A range, but the quality drops off at the end.
The Hits: Legs, Sharp Dressed Man, Gimme All Your Lovin'
Hidden Gem: Thug
Worst Song: TV Dinners

The Doobie Brothers, Toulouse Street (1972) D
Aggressively hit or miss songs on this album. The socks that have energy rock, but the slower ones are just boring. This is before they had Michael McDonald, so we'll have to see later what a difference that makes.
The Hits: Jesus Is Just Alright, Listen to the Music, Rockin' Down the Highway
Hidden Gem: Mamaloi
Worst Songs: Cotton Mouth, Snake Man

Steely Dan, Countdown to Ecstacy (1973) B
Then again, Steely Dan also didn't have Michael McDonald yet here and they seemed to do just fine. This is the kind of jazz rock that I've been geeking out about lately, although some songs drag just a bit.
The Hits: My Old School, Show Biz Kids
Hidden Gem: Razor Boy, Bodhisattva
Worst Song: Pearl of the Quarter

Van Morrison, Into the Music (1979) C
I was perhaps overeager to listen to this super folksy album. Not quite for me. At times it bangs but by the end it just drones on and on.
Hidden Gems: Full Force Gale, Bright Side of the Road, You Make Me Feel so Free
Worst Song: And the Healing Has Begun

Steve Miller Band, Book of Dreams (1977) A
This has the same IDGAF experimental energy of Fly Like an Eagle, but contrary to that album, it just works. This bangs from start to finish.
The Hits: Jungle Love, Swingtown, Jet Airliner
Hidden Gems: Winter Time, Wish Upon a Star

Alphaville, Forever Young (1984) A-
Now we go from probably the hardest rock in my A range to something much more typical for me, synthpop. And of course it smacks, with quite a bevy of hidden gems. I'm sure this album will only rise in score on relisten. Oh, and it's gotta be said, brilliant album cover.
The Hits: Forever Young, Big in Japan
Hidden Gems: A Victory of Love, In the Mood, Lies
Worst Song: The Jet Set

Eddie Money, Eddie Money (1977) C+
Generic rock album that is just fine across the board. It has some good hits, but most of the album is just really even. I can't pick a hidden gem or a worst song.
The Hits: Two Tickets to Paradise, Baby Hold On, You've Really Got a Hold on Me

Go West, Go West (1985) B-
There's a popular internet music scene called synthwave and one common but incorrect use of it is to make "80's" versions of modern songs, but almost all of these covers sounds a lot more like Japanese city pop than they do most western 80s music. The sole exception I know of is this album, so I can really fuck with it's sound and the two songs I recommend below are superb. Unfortunately, Go West is not exactly a good band and there are a few misses on this album that are superficial and/or tacky.
The Hits: Call Me
Hidden Gem: Goodbye Girl
Worst Song: Haunted

Kansas, Point of Know Return (1977) A
This was one of my favorite bands in high school, so I was ready to see them fall in favor like a lot of other twangy American rock groups. Except it's not a twangy group, not yet anyway, but instead one of the best prog album's I've heard. And if it's good enough for Socrates, it's good enough for me.
The Hit: Dust in the Wind
Hidden Gems: Point of Know Return, Paradox
 
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my album suggestion for you to review is funkadelic: standing on the verge of getting it on. we all need more funkadelic in our lives
 

vonFiedler

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No major changes, but a lot of standard shuffling around:
Rio down to A-
Full Moon Fever down to B+
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road down to B
One of These Nights down to C
Bon Jovi down to D+

Sing Street up to D+
Hysteria up to C
Synchronicity up to B-
4 up to B
Disintegration up to B+
Bat out of Hell up to B+
Damn the Torpedoes up to B+
An Innocent Man up to A-
Hotel California up to A-
Born This Way up to A-
Tango in the Night up to A
Dreamboat Annie up to A
Some Great Reward up to A+

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AC/DC, Back in Black (1980) C+
I've talked about my decline in love for hard rock, and that didn't bode well for a band I never loved a whole lot in the first place. Too much of this in one place just feels a bit silly, even with far and away their best song, You Shook Me All Night Long.
The Hits: You Shook Me All Night Long, Back in Black, Hells Bells
Hidden Gem: Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution
Worst Song: Let Me Put My Love Into You

Funkadelic, Standing on the Verge of Getting It On (1974) B
kd24 Given how much my tastes have started to orient toward stuff like funk, it was as good a time as any to get my first experience with George Clinton. As such, any score I might give this album is very preliminary. For now, I would say it's a pretty good sampler platter of funk, though the low number of songs hurts it in my rating system. I'll have to deep dive into the rest of his discography soon.
The Hit: Standing on the Verge of Getting It On
Hidden Gem: I'll Stay
Worst Song: Alice in My Fantasies

The Beatles, Help! (1965) B+
This is still surfer boy band era Beatles, not really my vibe, that's why I was so pleasantly surprised when the back end of the album starts to get a lot more interesting. The only real misstep here is Dizzy Miss Lizzy, not even a bad song but bizarrely derivative of Good Golly Miss Molly, which is probably why they didn't put it in the American version.
The Hits: Yesterday, Help, Ticket to Ride
Hidden Gems: It's Only Love, I've Seen a Face
Worst Song: Dizzy Miss Lizzy

Thin Lizzy, Jailbreak (1976) B
I've always loved this band in theory. Phil Lynott was black and Irish and sang songs about American cowboys. I liked this album too. It surprised me with the depth of some of its songs, though I didn't think the fantasy inspired ones were as good.
The Hits: The Boys Are Back in Town, Jailbreak
Hidden Gems: Romeo and the Lonely Girl, Running Back
Worst Song: Warriors

Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin IV (1971) A-
Uh-oh, it's one of those albums you're just supposed to like. And while there's a lot of good here, I can't help but shake the feeling that this an early overrate due to peer pressure. We shall see.
The Hits: Stairway to Heaven, Black Dog, Rock and Roll
Hidden Gem: Going to California

Kajagoogoo, White Feathers (1983) C+
If you don't know who Limahl is, you're probably at least familiar with his one major solo hit, the theme from The Neverending Story. Limahl was a seriously hyped up-and-comer in the early 80s and his band's first album was well-received and sold decently. Then the band fired his ass. Turns out he was just terrible to work with and subsequently burned all his bridges until he didn't have a career. Consequently, this album has a nice sound but with all the infighting it's no surprise that it doesn't really impress in hindsight.
The Hit: Too Shy
Hidden Gems: Ooh to Be Ah, Hang on Now
Worst Song: Frayo

The Police, Zenyatta Mondatta (1980) C-
Good lord, why are Police albums so fucking boring? They come up with two good songs and then fail to fill 40 minutes with repetitive walking beats and random instrumentals.
The Hits: Don't Stand so Close to Me, De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da
Hidden Gem: Canary in a Coalmine
Worst Songs: Behind My Camel, Shadows in the Rain

Flashdance (1983) A
It's been a minute since I listened to a soundtrack album and given how generally underwhelming they have been, I didn't have a ton of hope for Flashdance in spite of being bookended by two of my favorite songs. But turns out that Flashdance is surprisingly consistent 80s cheese. If you wanted a sampler of what the 80s sounds like but without resorting to a playlist of hits, this is the album to listen to. The movie is pretty mediocre sadly.
The Hits: Maniac, What a Feeling
Hidden Gem: Manhunt
Worst Song: Seduce Me Tonight

Depeche Mode, Music for the Masses (1987) A-
An album with two of my favorite songs and a really good flow. It drops off a bit at the end but there's a lot to like here.
The Hits: Strangelove, Behind the Wheel
Hidden Gems: Sacred, Little 15
Worst Song: I Want You Now

The Rolling Stones, Let It Bleed (1969) D+
I lamented the Stone's faux-country in Some Girls. That's this whole fucking album, complete with awful country cover of Honkey Tonk Women. Pass.
The Hits: Gimme Shelter, You Can't Always Get What You Want
Worst Song: Country Honk

Thanks to kd24 for the suggestion. I'm definitely open to future suggestions from you guys.
 

Sam

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vonFiedler I am interested in your thoughts on Brian Eno's solo pop albums (Here Come The Warm Jets, Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), Another Green World, Before And After Science). If you would only have time for one, Taking Tiger Mountain.
 

vonFiedler

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I started giving extra points to epic long songs if their length is necessitated, so that albums with less songs but the same runtime are treated more fairly. Because this bumped a handful of albums up, the entire scale got shifted a tiny bit.

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Erasure, The Innocents (1988) S
Erasure were the only openly gay mainstream band in the 80s, which seems implausible but is apparently true. This is why a lot of their love songs aren't gender specific. They are also quite a silly band at times, but this album leaned a lot more toward awesome for me. Starting with my current favorite song (A Little Respect) doesn't hurt, but the whole thing is just great. Legit hard to pick hidden gems here.
The Hits: A Little Respect, Chains of Love
Hidden Gems: Ship of Fools, Hallowed Ground, Phantom Bride

Iggy Pop, Blah-Blah-Blah (1986) B+
Basically a David Bowie album given that Iggy sings like him and shares a lot of his punk period style, and also Bowie literally produced the album.
The Hit: Real Wild Child (Wild One)
Hidden Gems: Shades, Isolation
Worst Song: Baby, It Can't Fall

David Bowie, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972) A+
Speaking of Bowie, here is the concept album where he plays a fuckboy alien that saves the Earth with music. Concepts are good. The only downside it's a bit too honest. Bowie is the chameleon, he's known for taking many roles and music styles, but if I had to point a newcomer to the most basic Bowie song, it would probably be Starman. Time will tell.
The Hits: Starman, Suffragette City, Ziggy Stardust
Hidden Gem: Five Years
Worst Song: Star

The Beatles, Abbey Road (1969) A
Finally, a really good Beatles album. It starts out slow at first but stays afloat due to some good hits. Then it shifts gears into this long jam session that I didn't expect to like, but it grew on me quickly. Definitely the most consistently interesting album of theirs I've listened to yet.
The Hits: Come Together, Something, Here Comes the Sun, Octopus's Garden
Hidden Gems: Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight
Worst Song: I Want You (She's so Heavy)

Brian Eno, Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) (1974) C+
Sam I'm very familiar with superproducer Brian Eno by way of Bowie, U2, and Coldplay's good album. I was a bit surprised that I'm not sure I've ever heard his solo work. It took me three listens to get a good grasp on this. It feels very McCartney to me in its wacky experimentation. There's a lot going on in the production of each song, but structurally too many of them drag out. It's hard to say how much I would want to relisten to any of this, but I eventually leaned on liking some songs more than others. Will look more into his solo career later.
Hidden Gems: Mother Whale Eyeless, Burning Airlines Give You so Much More
Worst Song: Back in Judy's Jungle

Nelly Furtado, Loose (2006) D
I hated modern music growing up in the 2000s so my friends would be surprised to know that I even gave an album like this a chance, let alone that I didn't give it an F. I definitely erred in picking Nelly's sellout album over her debut, but this does have some good songs and good production on it. It just also has a lot of the lamest tropes of the decade and some odd decisions, like how there are two versions of Te Busque and one of them is 1/3 Spanish and the other is 2/3 Spanish. Seems like an asinine way to lengthen an album that was already long enough.
The Hits: Maneater, Say It Right
Hidden Gem: All Good Things (Come to an End)
Worst Song: No Hay Igual

Foreigner, Double Vision (1978) A-
This singles band which used to be one of my favorites is just all over the place with its albums. Like comparing Toto to Toto IV, what this album lacks in 4's megahits it makes up for in its consistency. It's never dull though it is fairly soft and suddenly becomes a bit funky at the end.
The Hits: Double Vision, Hot Blooded, Blue Morning, Blue Day
Hidden Gems: Tramontane, You're All I Am

Electric Light Orchestra, A New World Record (1976) B-
ELO holds the current record for best album I've listened to, and ironically this doesn't come close to beating it.
The Hits: Livin' Thing, Do Ya
Hidden Gem: Telephone Line
Worst Song: Above the Clouds

Duran Duran, The Wedding Album (1993) B-
I had very high hopes for this one but it left me hanging. It's a very experimental album for the band and that did lead to two of their best hits, but unfortunately it also led to a lot of generic 90s dance beats. While I can fuck with that, I do expect better from Duran Duran.
The Hits: Come Undone, Ordinary World
Worst Song: Too Much Information

Kiss, Love Gun (1977) C+
When I reviewed Destroyer, I said that it had exceeded my expectations. This was my expectation. A bunch of butt rock, all perfectly serviceable but with no oomph.
The Hits: Love Gun, Christine Sixteen
Hidden Gem: Almost Human
Worst Song: Plaster Caster
 
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vonFiedler

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The title is a reference to Crux's post don't hurt me

Bossa Nova Hotel down to C+

Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure up to C+
Making Mirrors up to C+
"Awaken, My Love!" up to C
True Colors up to B-
The Wall up to B-
The Fame Monster up to A-

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Daft Punk, Discovery (2001) C
Daft Punk were always mainstream successful at times when electronic wasn't really and that probably makes them geniuses. It took me a while to see that. Anyway that was the write-up in my head before the album got to its copious instrumentals that go nowhere. That's not a knock against instrumentals, Aerodynamic is a good example of an instrumental that tells a story. You'd think that would be the status quo for a soundtrack album, but most of the tracks here sound neat but barely qualify as songs to me.
The Hits: One More Time, Harder, Better, Faster, Strong
Hidden Gem: Aerodynamic
Worst Song: Viridis Quo

U2, The Joshua Tree (1987) B
I'm honestly annoyed that this album is as good as it is. I never loved U2 and my enjoyment of them has only diminished over time. Their singles present a brand of post-punk that is so soft yet underproduced that it's a miracle any crowd ever liked it. But this actual album shows some sides of them I hadn't seen before and is all around pretty decent.
The Hits: Where the Streets Have no Name, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, With or Without You
Hidden Gems: Running to Stand Still, Red Hill Mining Town
Worst Song: One Tree Hill

Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Welcome to the Pleasuredome (1984) C
Supremely disappointing. Overly indulgent, but also the song quality is just not there. Tries to be this big production but just gives up halfway, right around when they start throwing in song covers.
The Hit: Relax
Hidden Gems: Two Tribes, The Power of Love
Worst Songs: Welcome to the Pleasuredome, The Ballad of 32

Peter Frampton, Frampton Comes Alive! (1976) B
For my first live album review I picked one out of legend. Granted it's long, has a lot of simple rock, and some overlong jams, but it hits hard in some great places.
The Hits: Baby, I Love Your Way, Show Me the Way, Do You Feel Like We Do?
Hidden Gem: Wind of Change, It Ain't Easy Being White
Worst Song: Jumping Jack Flash

Bon Jovi, Slippery When Wet (1986) B
I really didn't care for Bon Jovi's debut album, but his "best one" does a decent job of diversifying his music so that it's not all butt rock.
The Hits: Livin' on a Prayer, Wanted Dead or Alive, You Give Love a Bad Name
Hidden Gem: Never Say Goodbye
Worst Song: Let It Rock

The Beatles, A Hard Day's Night (1964) B-
This is peak boy band Beatles and while I don't love what it's doing, it does it damn well and is able to shake the uniformity of the era a bit with some interesting if simple songs. It does however lose momentum near the end, which is not uncommon but pretty unfortunate for a tiny 30 minute album.
The Hits: A Hard Day's Night, Can't Buy Me Love
Hidden Gem: And I Love Her

Cutting Crew, Broadcast (1986) A
This is a truly great new wave album. It basically feels like what Disintegration should have been if the fat had been trimmed, a slick platter of ambient rock. The band's tonal style holds the album together but there's also neat variance between the tracks.
The Hit: (I Just) Died in Your Arms
Hidden Gems: Any Colour, Life in a Dangerous Time

Duran Duran, Seven and the Ragged Tiger (1983) B+
Duran Duran aren't always firing on all cylinders the way they did during Rio, but I still think they're always pretty cool and this is a more than decent second best album for them at the moment.
The Hits: The Reflex, Union of the Snake, New Moon on Monday
Hidden Gem: The Seventh Stranger
Worst Song: (I'm Looking for) Cracks in the Pavement

Van Halen, 5150 (1986) B-
Eddie Van Halen is a hell of a guitar player and not very well known for writing music. As such, while every track here has interesting parts, whether it's just Eddie shredding or the nice hook here or there, it does not always coalesce into an overall compelling track. Nevertheless, when Van Halen makes good tracks they slap and there are a few of those here.
The Hits: Dreams, Why Can't This Be Love?, Love Walks In
Hidden Gem: Inside
Worst Song: Good Enough

Rush, Moving Pictures (1981) C+
Obviously I can't say I dislike prog when bands like ELO, Supertramp, and Kansas score highly on this list, but I've never abided by the sort of prog worship that exists and I think the overhyping of Rush is the sort of flagship to that clique. This band spent decades making the same music over and over again. Ostensibly their best album, this does have some of their best tracks and I do appreciate kind of the broader story it is telling, but it gets bogged down with them playing the same song for 11 minutes, 1/4 of the album.
The Hits: Limelight, Tom Sawyer
Hidden Gem: Witch Hunt
Worst Song: The Camera Eye
 

San Tomas

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seems you're not one for soundtrack albums but I'd be sinning if I didn't recommend the Secret Life of Walter Mitty soundtrack album
 

vonFiedler

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seems you're not one for soundtrack albums but I'd be sinning if I didn't recommend the Secret Life of Walter Mitty soundtrack album
Just to be sure you're talking about this soundtrack of pop format music and not this score right? And if you're talking about the soundtrack, is there a fair bit of original music on it (whether that's original compositions or covers)?
 

San Tomas

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Just to be sure you're talking about this soundtrack of pop format music and not this score right? And if you're talking about the soundtrack, is there a fair bit of original music on it (whether that's original compositions or covers)?
I was talking about the first, and as far as I'm aware some of the songs were made for the movie, some are covers/adaptations of existing songs, and some are just good already existing songs. I think the overall aesthetic of the album (if you don't vibe with the compilation aspect) is best summed up in Jose Gonzalez' 2006 album Veneer, which you should give a listen. Mostly, I wanted to know what you thought of the Gonzalez songs on the soundtrack, because they are originals.
 

vonFiedler

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The Innocents down to A+
Toto down to A-
Sports down to B-

Yourself or Someone Like You up to C+
The Colour of My Love up to B-
Footloose up to B
Don't Say No up to B
Lights up to B
24K Magic up to B+

Lynyrd Skynyrd, (Pronounced 'Lĕh-'nérd 'Skin-'nérd) (1973) A-
For better and worse this is a wide smattering of country rock. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. But at the same time, almost half the album is devoted to two of the best long songs ever made.
The Hits: Free Bird, Tuesday's Gone, Simple Man
Hidden Gem: Things Goin' On
Worst Song: I Ain't the One

Michael Jackson, Dangerous (1991) D+
Made at the wane of his popularity, this album takes a shotgun approach to the art, throwing everything in and seeing what sticks, which is very little, and even the songs that are kind of good are admittedly silly.
The Hits: Who Is It?, Black or White
Hidden Gem: Give in to Me
Worst Songs: In the Closet, Heal the World

Jackson Browne, Running on Empty (1977) A+
Last time I covered one of the most well known live albums. While it's debatable how much of a live album this is, I think that it's themes of loneliness, stardom, and the road show in conjunction with it being recorded on the road captures the feeling of reality while also being focused enough that I can call it the third perfect album I've covered. It might even be S grade.
The Hits: Stay, Running on Empty
Hidden Gems: The Road, Rosie

Crosby, Stills & Nash, Crosby, Stills & Nash (1969) C+
My track record for appreciating folk rock has not been very good so far and we can see that continuing here. While I can vibe to this better than Into the Music or Toulouse Street maybe due in so small part to the occasional funk bit, a lot of the album is so stripped down that it barely even feels like all three members are contributing, leading to another album where I can't feel strongly enough about most of the tracks to like or dislike them, with the exception of the hit singles.
The Hits: Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, Marrakesh Express

Iron Maiden, The Number of the Beast (1982) B
Iron Maiden is about as metal as I like. This album is propped up heavily by imo their best song, Hallowed Be Thy Name. The whole back end is pretty good though there are some lesser songs in the beginning.
The Hits: Hallowed Be Thy Name, Run to the Hills
Worst Song: Prisoner

Lionel Richie, Can't Slow Down (1983) C
I've flip-flopped so much on this album. I play-listed Lionel Richie when I was young and I think over time he became the person on my playlist I liked the least. Then I recently got into The Commodores and decided to give him another chance. I added this album to my phone, got excited, and then started regretting it before I listened to it. So I was really prepared to do this album dirty. After all, it's titled Can't Slow Down and the easy joke is that you really don't get much slower than this. But there's an undercurrent of technical funk that makes most of the album very tolerable.
The Hits: Running with the Night, All Night Long, Stuck on You
Worst Songs: Hello, Love Will Find a Way

Rod Stewart, Every Picture Tells a Story (1971) B-
Finally we are making some real traction in terms of folk rock. While this album doesn't blow me away it does demonstrate that not everything with a twelve-string or mandolin needs to slow down to a crawl or feel stripped down. And the occasional tonk works wonders too. I do question the secret track inclusion of Amazing Grace though.
The Hits: Every Picture Tells a Story, Maggie May, Reason to Believe
Hidden Gem: Seems Like a Long Time
Worst Song: Mandolin Wind

Jose Gonzalez, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013) D+
San Tomas Oh boy, you gave me an indie folk album. The good news you want to hear is that your boy Jose Gonzalez, and more so his band Junip, is the highlight of the album. The various one-off bands however kinda suck. Unfortunately like Sing Street there's not as much originality on display as you'd like. Some of the covers are okay. I haven't seen the movie so I'm giving it a bit of the benefit of the doubt with the composition as there's nothing too wild here, though having Kristen Wiig lightly sing over Space Oddity doesn't do any favors (I understand this is a big thing in the movie but the soundtrack doesn't convey the significance). I bumped this up a bit after going through Jose's discography.
Hidden Gems: #9 Dream, Maneater
Worst Songs: Dirty Paws, Don't You Want Me

Phil Collins, Hello, I Must Be Going! (1982) C+
Now to follow up an album request by listening to everyone's favorite hack. This is actually a lot more experimental than you might expect, but doesn't get that much out of it.
The Hits: You Can't Hurry Love, I Don't Care Anymore, I Cannot Believe It's True
Hidden Gem: Thru These Walls
Worst Song: Like China

Styx, Pieces of Eight (1978) C-
I've been miffed in the past with people talking trash about Styx. I assumed it was the kind of snobbery that wants to confine "real rock" to a very small hole. But after listening to this album, I'm not so sure. It's super weak at points and almost makes the good songs worse by association.
The Hits: Renegade, Sing for the Day, Blue Collar Man
Hidden Gem: Pieces of Eight
Worst Song: Great White Hope
 

Bughouse

Like ships in the night, you're passing me by
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hm if you are looking for more things to try in the general amorphous area that is folk rock, I'd try these

Indigo Girls - Indigo Girls
By the Way, I Forgive You - Brandi Carlisle
Tracy Chapman - Tracy Chapman
Luck of the Draw - Bonnie Raitt
Noble Beast - Andrew Bird
Soundtrack from Once - Glen Hansard, et al
Heart Like a Wheel - Linda Ronstadt
 
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