Prince — Emancipation
Look, everyone knows that Prince hated being on Warner Bros, and everyone understands he was super excited when he finally broke free of the contract that he, um, chose to sign in the first place. But even so, a three-CD album featuring a cover of Joan Osborne’s “One of Us”? Come on, dude.
The Mars Volta, generally
It was the tension between At the Drive-In’s prog-loving wing (i.e., Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez) and its hardcore wing (i.e., the other dudes) that made the band such an exciting proposition. Their music was a perfect balance of intimidating musicianship and taut, spartan song structures. Once the prog wing went out on its own, however… well, then you got impenetrable concept albums with songs called things like “Day of the Baphomets” and “Cassandra Gemini (Parts 1-8).” (Although it must be said that their fourth album The Bedlam in Goliath gave rise to one of the greatest sentences on all of Wikipedia: “Despite finding a permanent drummer and getting the band back on track, the recording and production of the album was reportedly plagued by difficulties related to a bad experience with a Ouija board purchased in a curio shop in Jerusalem.” Bummer.)
Metallica — St. Anger
There’s a theory that an album freezes its creators in time, providing a snapshot of the state the band members were in at the time they recorded it. If you’ve seen Some Kind of Monster, then, you’ll perhaps understand why this is an overblown, self-indulgent mess wherein Metallica crammed as much music onto one CD as possible, sadly neglecting to take note of the fact that it was largely utter codswallop.
The Clash — Sandinista!
I love the Clash as much as anyone, and their desire to give their fans as much material as possible was certainly laudable. But in retrospect, Sandinista! really could have done with a judicious edit.
Rick Wakeman — The Six Wives of Henry VIII
It’s really a case of pick-your-ludicrous-’70s-prog-artist here, but come on, it’s hard to go past the man who once staged a live version of his concept album about King Arthur on ice. This is a six-song concept record about, yes, the six wives of Henry VIII. It’s gloriously, utterly bonkers.
Kiss’ solo records
Four superfluous solo records, released on the same day. Game over.