By Andrew Blumetti
Just remember, you can’t spell iTunes without “CD”. Well, technically you can, if you spell either word incorrectly.
Let me rewind. First off, so I don’t sound like a dinosaur, CD’s (or compact discs) are circular discs that hold music for your listening pleasure… or can be used as mini frisbees to toss to Danny DeVito or your neighborhood fat kid if you so choose. An advancement on once-commonplace cassette tapes, they were quite popular in the 1990’s to the early oughts until impersonal digital music files took over as the listening medium of choice amongst music listeners and plagues of frogs took over the world. …or something.
So, now that I do sound like a dinosaur, I still love CD’s, and I still proudly buy them.
The pride of any music owner is their collection. Actually, collections have always been something I’ve loved since I was a young lad. From Masters of the Universe figures to baseball cards, and eventually recorded music. Cassettes to compact discs to vinyl records, music is a natural for a born collector, cause after all, who needs that money anyway? Albums display perfectly and within those displayed spines is a history book of sorts– each record is a snapshot to a time in your life:
Perhaps Nirvana’s Nevermind brings back memories of your mushroom-haircut teenage years, maybe Green Day’s Dookie is reminiscent of a summer spent skateboarding with buddies with a slightly less embarrassing mushroom-haircut, or that copy of The Chemical Brothers Dig Your Own Hole reminds you of when you bought raver jeans the size of freakin’ Kansas and got caught up in the electronica boom of the late 90’s.
That’s the beauty of music– Even when you’re not physically listening to it, the sentimental value is still there in spades. Each album is a smaller picture of something bigger. I advise anyone reading to take a few minutes to look at your music collection sometime, and watch the memories start flowing like a busted dam.
Although, before you pull a Balki Bartokomous and do the dance of joy like your favorite Eastern European sheep just gave birth, remember, not everything always comes up roses. One natural growing pain music collectors run into is the purchase that just didn’t go as planned.
Maybe it was the album you anticipated for months, and when you excitedly ran to rip open the plastic and push track one, it just fell flat. Or maybe it was that gamble record you decided to give a shot based on one radio single, and the music slot machine came up: LEMON, LEMON, LEMON.
Well, in the musical history book of my life, this is pretty much my Bay of Pigs invasion. Let’s turn those three lemons into slightly crappy lemonade as it took forever to stack this house of card-clunkers without tumbling.
…here’s my PYRAMID OF REGRETTABLE CD’s:
FROM BOTTOM TO TOP (L to R)
1. CHUMBAWAMBA- Tubthumper (1997)
This doosey was just doomed from the start. When you’ve got eight people in a band, and they all decided to do this to their hair, the warning sirens in your head should be deafening.
A one-hit wonder who’s one hit was so overplayed on the radio, there was no need to listen to it voluntarily. There was a follow-up single titled, “Drip, Drip, Drip”, which honestly was about as exciting as a song called “Drip, Drip, Drip” should be. I give these musical anarchists credit for having a career of longevity, even without any further commercial success.
I also give them credit for taking my money.
Dirty pool Chumbawamaba, dirty pool.
2. THE NIXONS- Foma (1995)
Technically, this was a gift-certificate (yes, certificate, not card) purchase, but considering I could’ve spent it on anything else that wasn’t a Nixons CD, shame on me.
Two radio singles, “Happy Song” and “Sister” were what I bought it for, but both quickly fell to the “meh” curse over time. What a bloody shame this band was, because if they had just worn Richard Nixon masks, I’d be a little warmer towards them. Not really warm, just a little.
3. LIMP BIZKIT- 3 Dollar Bill, Ya’ll$ (1997)
The giant red-hatted elephant in the room. Better to get this over with sooner than later cause no list of regrettable music would be complete without Fred Durst and Co.
Let’s face it, when we’re teenagers, we’re more or less freakin’ idiots. Teens do stupid things during those awkward high school years- some might get detention for smoking in the school bathroom, maybe someone gets grounded for swiping some Schlitz brews from the fridge, or perhaps suspended from school for fighting.
Well, considering I never drank, smoke or was one for fighting, this one right here is my colossal shame.
Sure, I’ll be the first to admit, at the time, the Bizkit boys were shamefully fun. Dopey nü-metal, chock full of dumbed-down metal riffs and fifth-grade lyrics spouted by a frontman who was permanently on the verge of an adult temper tantrum, it was a turn-your-brain-off good time. Of course common sense eventually kicks in, and post-“Nookie” hindsight is 20/20, but I’ll just blame all of that on pre-Y2K jitters.
Good luck selling this one back to one of the three music stores left in America.
4. PRIMUS- Brown Album (1997)
For the record, I really like Primus a lot.
Try as you might, it’s impossible to find a band in the past 20 years that sounds just like the California alterna-funk trio. Low-end master Les Claypool is one of the most innovative and original bassists of our generation, and they’re responsible for churning out some interestingly fun and quirky records in their heyday.
This wasn’t one of those.
It’s not that I didn’t like Brown Album, the Pri-guys’ fifth full-length, it’s just that it had very little replay value. Back when CD’s constantly cost $17 and up, the importance of replay value couldn’t be overstated enough. Although, when the lead single is titled, “Shake Hands with Beef”, it’s really buyer beware, leading me to wish I had payed “Les” for this record.
5. BLUES TRAVELER- Straight On Till Morning (1997)
Wow, 1997 was not my smoothest year, was it?
There was once a record store in my town called CD Den. A small store that carried everything a music geek could desire. Without a doubt, it was my favorite hangout as a teenager. About a two minute walk from my house and directly on the route of my walk home from school, it was a must-visit at least three times a week.
On July 1, 1997, I went on the day of release to go pick up OK Computer, the highly anticipated third album from alterna-gods Radiohead and electro-smash, The Fat of the Land, by The Prodigy (an album that might have possibly made this article if that stinkin’ pyramid could be built bigger).
The woman who worked at the counter was going on and on about how amazing the freshly-released new Blues Traveler album was. What could go wrong? Their tubby singer could wail on the harmonica, and I sure liked that “Run-around” tune from a few years back.
So, I trusted her judgment, plunked down my hard-earned teenage dinero, brought it home, put on the Radiohead album, and of course after that, I didn’t really care about listening to then-zoftig John Popper and his merry jam-band. I still don’t as this thing collects dust faster than Brett Somers decomposing in her seat on The Match Game.
And if you think I’m being too rough on them… try and find anyone else who actually owns this album.
6. BUSH- The Science of Things (1999)
I really should’ve known better.
I honestly don’t know why I gave Bush’s flat third album the time of day. I wasn’t a fan of “The Chemicals Between Us”, the overplayed leadoff single peppered with electro drips and drops, and lyrics that couldn’t have been any less relatable if they were picked out of Fred Durst’s red cap (see: No. 3).
I guess there were follow-up singles, but the impression they left was as non-existent as an episode of The Neighbors. The money must’ve literally burned a hole in my pocket and I was itching to to buy anything that day.
Note to all the kids out there: Don’t spend like that. You’ll end up with a record of a red-haired Gavin Rossdale in your collection.
7. LIVE– The Distance to Here (1999)
Back in the mid-90’s, I couldn’t have been a bigger fan of the York, PA foursome, Live.
They were my first concert experience ever, the singer had a killer rat-tail, and their sophomore album, Throwing Copper, still remains one of my favorite records of all-time. Its follow-up, 1997’s Secret Samadhi, was an underrated record with a terrible name, but rest assured, as much as I didn’t want it to, the wheels didn’t hesitate to start falling off the Livemobile soon after that.
The Distance to Here, their fifth album, had some good songs, unfortunately they were few and far between. Much like Primus’ inclusion on the pyramid, its replay value was short-(live)d especially for the price back then. For a while, Live continued to release music every couple of years following this before a bitter breakup and I blame Distance for pushing the barrel over the waterfall.
I just blamed a piece of plastic.
8. CANDLEBOX- Lucy (1995)
I take almost a sickening level of pride in the fact that I went out and bought this disc the day it was released.
Candlebox was really an odd band when you think about it. Musically, they were far from unique, they rode the coattails of the grunge movement all the way to the bank, and their songs contained oddly-placed swears in them that came off like your grandmother dropping the F-bomb during bingo.
Bizarrely enough, all through that, they were honestly quite enjoyable- their 1993 self-titled debut sold four million copies, and spawned some really fun singles. It’s hard to deny that “Far Behind” or “You” weren’t hugely succesful 90’s alt-rock staples, unless you’re a grouch.
Lightning certainly didn’t strike twice, as Lucy, their second album, was the epitome of a sophomore slump. It had a kinda stupid cover, a forgettable first single, and a bunch of other songs that were the equivalent of musical Ambien.
They should’ve renamed the band “CandleBLAHx”. Wokka wokka.
9. GRAVITY KILLS- Gravity Kills (1996)
Back in math class in 11th grade, amidst a flurry of variables and probables, a buddy of mine offered to sell me his used copy of Gravity Kills self-titled debut for a mere five bucks.
Skepticism hit for a minute- I wondered to myself, “Why?- What’s so wrong with this album that he’d want to sell it for so cheap?”. I rolled the dice, placed a crisp Abe Lincoln in his hand, waited till the school bell rang, feverishly popped it in my Discman (!) on the walk home, and like a splash of ice-cold water in the face, I soon realized the sobering answer to my question.
This band is a one-hit wonder, and that one hit (the pseudo-industrial “Guilty”) was clearly the highlight of this snoozer. Unfortunately, my interest in industrial music was incredibly short-lived, (about as long as my walk home from school that day) and this album never stood a chance with me. That five dollars could’ve bought me five tacos at Taco Bell, and that thought still haunts me to this day.
10. METALLICA- St. Anger (2003)
There’s honestly no excuse on my part for this one, and there was no doubt in my mind that Metallica’s crapfest St. Anger had to occupy the summit in this shameful pyramid of regret.
After hearing the 2003 album’s seven-minute title track first single full of tin-can drumming and missing guitar solos, I scratched my head. While scratching, I decided to walk. While walking, I passed by the Sam Goody in the mall. Wouldn’t you know, Sam Goody was selling it for seven dollars!
A mere bag of shells!
The hamster in my head started spinning its wheel, and I instantly felt a handlebar mustache start to sprout and my inner James Hetfield said “why not?!” I figured for that price, it could never be that bad… right? Hop in the car, pop in that disc… bring on the metal… Metallica!
Fast forward one car ride home later: If this rubbish wasn’t packaged in a cheap cardboard Digipak case, I’d have used it for a coaster years ago… for drinks I didn’t care for.
Now take a walk down memory lane and look at your music collection- What are some of your favorite least favorite albums? What makes up your own pyramid of regrettable CD’s? Feel free to share in the comments!
You know James Hetfield wants you to!