Come On, “Purple” Isn’t Really That Bad

Jul 27th, 2007 // 26 Comments

gotpurp.jpgBlender‘s Web site recently asked a few of its “favorite musicians” to write a bit about an album that they love that is either terribly uncool or lacking in critical respect. This is all fine, but it operates on the assumption that musicians actually have “impeccable collections”–which may be true sometimes, but anyone who has ever met a musician knows that many of them have really bizarre collections, and tend to get into weird, obsessive jags where they will only listen to, say, dub reggae or The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway for months on end. Anyway, behind the cut we go through a few of the selections, and decide whether or not these artists should feel ashamed of their “guilty pleasures.”

Artist: Franz Nicolay of the Hold Steady
Favorite Bad Album: The Carpenters, Singles 1969-1981
Why?: “No one wears their naked neediness and colossal codependency on their sleeves like the Carpenters.”
Should He Be Ashamed?: No, not really. Nicolay’s case for the duo’s music makes their over-arranged, sad-sack ballads sound like something that would likely get a fawning review on Pitchfork these days.

Artist: Marcus Congleton of Ambulance LTD
Favorite Bad Album: Michael Jackson, Invincible
Why?: “Those of us who weren’t so easily distracted were rewarded with some of the most expensively produced and carefully mixed songs of his career. And there was even a video that featured comedian Chris Tucker, who was popular at the time.”
Should He Be Ashamed?: Oh God, yes. Congleton’s dispassionate comments sound more like an airtight case against the drab, lifeless album. And we really, really don’t need to be reminded about that Chris Tucker thing, alright?

Artist: Battles
Favorite Bad Album: Stone Temple Pilots, Purple
Why?: “It’s been hard to understand why Stone Temple Pilots get a bad rap when so many of their contemporaries were much worse–here’s looking at you, Pearl Jam.”
Should They Be Ashamed?: Definitely not. STP may have been careerists, but they were ace songwriters, and Purple is their finest hour. That said, Battles–and I assume it’s the entire band, since there’s no particular member credited–ought to take it easy with the Pearl Jam hate. They may not have been nearly as glam, but they were pretty great too.

Artist: Felix White of the Maccabees
Favorite Bad Album: Mike & the Mechanics, Hits
Why?: “I remember my dad having friends ’round when I was about 10, all sitting at the table listening to “The Living Years,” with the lyrics “Say it loud, say it clear/You can listen as well as you hear”; and they were all going, “I love this.” I thought to myself, Shit, I really shouldn’t be enjoying this, too.”
Should He Be Ashamed?: Yes. I can relate to the childhood sentimentality, but even when I was an eight-year-old fan of Invisible Touch, I knew that Mike Rutherford was the wackest member of Genesis.

Our Favorite Musicians’ Favorite Bad Albums []

  1. Moff

    When “The Living Years” was released, they played that song at least 82 times a day. It’s been, what, 20 years? It’s still stuck in my head.

  2. Bjork Rhymes With Pork

    Purple is one of the few grunge-era records worth saving. It’s way better than No Code.

  3. HUGE_Hefner

    I LOVE “Purple”, best STP album by far. I haven’t heard it in a while. I will when I get home. Scott Weiland used to be so cool, I love his “12 Bar Blues” also.

  4. katieee

    Purple was a good one – I remember buying it the day it came out. But I like Core better.

    What are some of your guys’ guilty pleasures? I’d like to submit, for your consideration, the first three Charlatans UK albums. Also-ran Madchester origins? Pretty boy lead singer? Check and check.

  5. Dead Air ummm Dead Air

    @HUGE_Hefner: And here I thought I was the only person dumb enough to own/like 12 Bar Blues.

    That being said, Velvet Revolver are not very good.

  6. CortneyH

    My father, who usually has good taste in music, was obsessed with “The Living Years.” I think it came out right around the time my grandfather passed away and he related to the lyrics. It’s definitely boomer-parent-death anthem of the eighties.

  7. blobby

    He should be ashamed of liking Mike and the Mechanics for the sole reason that it was Gareth Keenan’s favorite band.

  8. tigerpop

    “Interstate Love Song” is one of the 10 best songs of the 1990s. The rest of the album is almost as good. The existence of Purple almost makes up for the dated sucking sound of Core. And the STP rhythm section is one of my favorites ever.

    My guilty pleasure: The second Enuff Z’Nuff album, Strength. Not that I’ll get any flak for that from the Idolator crowd.

  9. the rich girls are weeping

    Yeah, just chiming in with the STP lurve — but sorry, I just can’t endorse continued PJ adoration. They never deserved it and they never will. I was EMBARASSED and HIDING BEHIND A PILLOW when a PJ video was on 120 Minutes a few weeks back. *shudder*

    Meanwhile, my uncool black mark? Any 70′s or 80′s-era Manhattan Transfer. But not the newer stuff.

  10. Silverfuture

    I want to know why all the opinions are credited to a certain member of the band, except for Battles. Battles thinks as one!

  11. Thierry

    I’ve always thought Tiny Music… was significantly better than Purple – it’s a great bubblegum glam pop record that crosses the Sweet with the second side of Abbey Road to great effect. It’s too bad Scott Weiland hit his lowest point around the time of its release.

    As far as guilty pleasures, the second All Saints album does stand out on my shelves. I won’t defend it – it’s not really much of an album – but I’ll put the shimmering “Pure Shores” up against any pop single of the last ten years.

  12. AquaLung

    @Dead Air ummm Dead Air: Thirded, actually. Still can’t believe I bought “12 Bars” and actually enjoyed it for 2-3 weeks.

    Battles also recenly hated on the Strokes too and I’m beginning to think it’s becoming the math-rock Kasabian. Both PJ and the Strokes have made more enjoyable albums than “Mirrored.”

    As far as guilty pleasers, “Future Sex/Love Sounds.”

  13. Ned Raggett

    As an eternal STP hater from birth to death (of the band, not me), I regretfully conclude you are all insane. (Though whoever mentioned Enuff Z’Nuff has a much better sense of how to get Cheap Trick, y’know, *right.*)

  14. Thierry

    @Ned Raggett: So many people have told me that if I love Cheap Trick and Jellyfish, I should try Enuff Z’Nuff, but I just can’t get over the shiny production and the wanky solos. And I’m a Rick Nielsen fan.

  15. King of Pants

    @HUGE_Hefner: I thought it was just me as well. Holy hell.

  16. Ned Raggett

    @Thierry: They are an incredibly uneven band, *incredibly.* So it’s a matter of cherry-picking after the first couple of albums, really. I have a very soft spot for Tweaked, though — a drug bummerz album that works beyond the obvious context. I might well be alone on that, though!

  17. Thierry

    @Ned Raggett: That’s what I’ve found – for every great song on an album (something worthy of Cheap Trick’s first three, or the self-titled comeback, or Rockford), there seems to be 3-4 overproduced average ones. Jefito or someone out there should really try doing an Idiot’s Guide on EZ’N.

  18. nonce

    I’ll whisper these quietly: Red Flag and Nitzer Ebb. The Ebb always deserved more respect than they got, especially for the later (cough) “mature” stuff on Big Hit.

    Red Flag– knock off of a knock off of a Depeche Mode cover band, but oh so enjoyable.

  19. janine

    Je ne regrette rien. My favorite U2 album is Zooropa, I prefer the second season of Twin Peaks, and I enjoyed Cop Rock when I was in the sixth grade. The only pleasure I feel guilty about is heavily processed food; I should eat local. I always figured that a side effect of being really into this stuff is to develop an idiosyncratic aesthetic and collection. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to look up the TAB for Sussudio.

  20. Bob Loblaw

    @janine: Season Two of Twin Peaks rooolz. The last episode, with the extended Black Lodge sequence, might be my favorite ever.

  21. janine

    @Bob Loblaw: Totally, the second season was awesome. With the release of the second season DVD, critics are pretending that they liked it all along, but it was common knowledge for years that the second season got “off track.”

    @Thierry: No matter. According to many, many U2 fans, you’re wrong either way. Though the opinion of post-Joshua Tree U2 may have changed, I haven’t been paying attention.

    How about this, then? I like Duran Duran’s “Thank You.” I actually prefer their version of “Watching the Detectives” over the original. …and I hate Neil Young so very much. As Diamanda Galas sang, “God, I’m grateful to be real with you, baby!”

  22. Thierry

    @janine: Zooropa? I’m always hesitating between Zooropa and Pop – I think I may be the only one.

  23. number six

    Ohhhh, Twelve Bar Blues.
    I am totally not ever ashamed of owning/enjoying that album.

    Bad album everyone I knew hated that I loved?
    “Women in Technology”, White Town.

    Also anything by Mr Scruff.

    I suck.

  24. Thierry

    @sinnesloeschen: Women in Technology isn’t really that bad – and the single still holds up.

    @FunkyJ: I’ve always been fascinated by the revisionist history surrounding those two records – the press hailed All That You Can’t Leave Behind as U2′s “comeback”, when both Zooropa and Pop actually had hit singles, generally did pretty well commercially all over the world, and got tons of positive press in both Europe and North America.

  25. FunkyJ

    @Thierry: No, you’re not.

    I loved U2′s early stuff, but both those albums showed that unlike so many other pop/rock groups, they were willing to have a bash at something a little different.

    Then again my favourite band is Pop Will Eat Itself, so I’m pretty much out on my own in most of my musical tastes anyway…

  26. number six


    I am less ashamed. You’re right about that single, though, even though I think it was really about communism.

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