I’ve just listened to Rise Above for the first time in years and my core issue with it remains the same as it was back then; that for all its clever musical trickery, it feels completely disconnected from its source material. They might as well have sung The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society over the music, for all the difference it would make. Their last two albums are far superior in my opinion.
A couple of recurring trends in the comments here:
– So many different Nick Cave albums have been referred to as “underrated”, further underlining just how uniformly strong his discography is.
- He knows how to keep all his fans onside. Those who loved the Birthday Party seem to find particular joy in Grinderman, whilst those put off by the relative levity of his recent releases seem to have fallen in love all over again with the release of Push The Sky Away.
Absolutely, spot on. Given the state of Cave at the time, it may be better to regard it as Mick Harvey’s finest hour, rather than Cave’s.
The first thing that struck with me with this list – as has already been mentioned above – is how low Your Funeral…My Trial is. For me, it’s the first truly great Bad Seeds album, the one that really gave the Bad Seeds a true identity in terms of sound, as expansive and multi-facted as that sound may be. For me it’s right up there, with only Let Love In, Abatoir Blues/Lyre Of Orpheus and maybe Tender Prey rating higher.
With that said, I’m in complete agreement with #1, amazing given the astonishing quality across the entire Nick Cave canon. If Your Funeral… established the Bad Seeds various songwriting modes, then Let Love In brings top-drawer examples of all of these: ballads in Nobodys Baby Now and I Let Love In; unhinged rockers in Jangling Jack and Thirsty Love; songs of unrepentent lust like Loverman; gallows humour in Lay Me Low, and of course one of his most iconic songs in Red Right Hand. It’s the closest thing to a definitive Bad Seeds album.
In general this is a great list. Abatoir Blues/Lyre Of Orpheus is always a favourite for me as it was my entry point into Nick Cave, and I’m pleased to see Henry’s Dream fairly high up, as it sometimes gets a bad press. I too agree that it’s difficult to know exactly where Push The Sky Away stands in the grand scheme of things, but every listen seems to push it upwards in my estimation. I’ve never been that into The Boatsman’s Call; when I want Cave in reflective mode I tend to turn to the more interesting musical arrangements of No More Shall We Part, for me perhaps Cave’s most underrated album.
In many ways though, as daft as it sounds, I think Cave’s entire discography is underrated. Cave’s unwavering quality (let’s ignore Nocturama) and diversity puts him alongside, if not above his peers, and yet because there is not one standout album in his canon, he’s not – in the eyes of those who compile these tiresome Best Albums Of All Time lists – judged to have released an album that can rank alongside Blonde On Blonde, Revolver, Rain Dogs and the like. Simply not the case.
Is #1 really just Yeezus:Expanded Edition?
Interesting list. Hissing Fauna at #1 is a no-brainer for me (The Past Is A Grotesque Animal is a contender for Song of the Century Thus Far). I was a fan of Skeleton Lamping on its release and remain so to this day, so no arguments there either. But The Sunlandic Twins is too high for me, way too inconsistent to be placed above Satanic Panic, possibly their best straight-up pop effort.
False Priest initially seems low at #11, but having listened to it again recently it’s a pretty weak effort: too many paper-thin songs, whilst Janelle Monae and Solange Knowles are completely out-diva-ed by Barnes, and so add nothing to proceedings. Glad to see Paralytic Stalks so high, as I felt it was criminally underrated on release (and remains so). Having said that, Lousy with Sylvianbriar’s back-to-basics approach felt like a necessary reboot, and with it I feel confident that Barnes can once again conjour up something approaching the brilliance of Hissing Fauna.
Despite being a fairly big E6 fan I have to admit to being largely unfamiliar with their pre-Satanic Panic material. I have some investigating to do; I’d always assumed The Gay Parade was the place to start with early OM?
Next, Madonna sues Arcade Fire for ripping off the Like A Virgin bassline on We Exist. Then the Michael Jackson estate catches wind of it and sues both for ripping off Billie Jean.
Glad to see another person with love for Daphne Descends; thought I was the only one. Some years ago, I bought a new guitar pedal and it came with a copy of Cubase; I promptly set about trying to record all the different guitar parts of Thru The Eyes of Ruby. Ridiculous!
Among my favourites, I would have to include Soma, Hummer (I have a thing for their shimmering epics), Stand Inside Your Love, Slow Dawn from Machina II, For Martha (obviously a very personal song for Corgan and one which appropriately features one of his tenderest vocal performances) and Drown (which gets its due in the Singles soundtrack article elsewhere on this sight). Also, I think Untitled from Rotten Apples is worthy of a mention; one of the few occasions an obligatory new recording appearing on a “Best Of” is actually capable of holding its own.
Well done for this great piece. The thing with the Smashing Pumpkins is that I think they are the last rock band of their kind who were/are capable of creating such an obsessive fanbase of that kind of scale. The very reason Corgan rankles even his most devoted followers at times is because his opinions, actions and music still matter that much to them.
I can’t really argue with the order you’ve ranked them though Mellon Collie will always be my favourite (again, a product of the fan-delirium they are so good at generating: even that album’s inherent flaws seem endearing, almost strengths, when viewed as part of the massive picture Corgan was deftly painting). For me, Thru The Eye of Ruby is less a contender, more outright winner, of the greatest Pumpkins song. To think what that album could’ve been had they swapped some of the songs for superior ones off The Aeroplane Flies High boggles the mind; in fact I remember burning an alternate version of Mellon Collie (there’s that obsessive fandom again) where disc 2 was closed out by Medellia Of The Gray Skies and Tonite Reprise, for me the perfect counterpoints to disc 1′s Porcelina Of The Vast Oceans and Tonight, Tonight, respectively.
From an objective viewpoint, however, Siamese Dream is undoubtedly their best. Gish was a terrific debut, and in hindsight almost seemed a warmup run to Siamese Dream, which ultimately perfected everything that was so sood about Gish. What I love about those early Butch Vig releases is the unusual warmth that comes from them, even during the most scathing tracks (the honey-like multi-tracked vocals go some way towards erasing Corgan’s less desirable vocal attributes). One thing you brushed upon several times, but cannot be understated, is Jimmy Chamberlain’s drumming; I cannot think of another drummer (aside from maybe Meg White, albeit for all the wrong reasons) with a more distinctive and recognisable style. His work on some of those early songs (hello Geek USA!) is simply breathtaking, and even a song like The Aeroplane Flies High, with its relatively rudimentary rhythm (try saying that ten times quickly) is lifted immeasurably by his expertly placed fills.
Thanks also for acknowledging the greatness that lurks amongst their subsequent work; Adore and Machina II are works I particularly enjoy returning to.
Does anyone else think that the lack of a single XTC inclusion is, even at the best of times, unforgivable, and for the british publication, an astonishing oversight?
Just seen the rest of the list. The tissues are out :-(
There’s a lot of great stuff here (how could there not be when you’ve got 500 shots at it?), but the obligatory inclusion of the usual NME indie-crap (I can accept Arctic Monkeys and Metronomy, even if they’re way too highly placed but The Cribs, Klaxons, Mystery Jets, Glasvegas? Urrrgh!) and the seemingly random order (Crooked Rain nearly 200 places below Brighten The Corners and Homogenic in the bottom 100 are the least of this list’s problems) render it completely worthless.
I’ve worked my way through 500-201 on their website, and reading on here that there’s no Husker Du, Dinosaur Jr, GBV or Replacements records (and nothing besides 13 Songs from Fugazi, nowhere near their best release even) makes me very sad indeed. If I don’t see a Minutemen or Built To Spill record in the top 200, I may actually cry.
Really enjoyed this article and this list. I had to go back to Lost Dogs to dig up Undone and to realise what a great inclusion it is; if Pearl Jam were routinely writing songs like this I would still be buying their records.
So glad to see Corduroy at #1; as you rightly say it is their quintessential song, an exhilirating listen and the first song of theirs I learnt to play on guitar. Like so many others I came into Pearl Jam through Ten, and it was my favourite album – by any artist, period – for many years, but now it is Vitalogy, No Code, Vs and to a lesser extent Yield, which have really stayed with me. Vitalogy in paricular remains a fantastic album; even songs I originally baulked at like Bugs and Aye Davanita make a twisted kind of sense in hindsight. With that said, I’m still partial to a bit of Ten-era PJ; I would’ve liked to have seen Black and Yellow Ledbetter on this list, as well as one of my personal faves from Lost Dogs, Footsteps (a bit histrionic, yes, but Vedder’s vocal performance on that song is incredible).
All of your selections are great and well-reasoned, but other than the songs I’ve mentioned above, special mention needs to go to:
WMA (another great rhythm-led track, pre-Jack Irons)
Nothing As It Seems
All Or None
You In Reverse is probably the most underrated BTS album, and one I go back to a lot. It probably doesn’t help that it features two of their least interesting cuts (Saturday and Wherever You Are) back-to-back but there’s a lot of real gold here too. Goin’ Against Your Mind is top-10, if not top-5 BTS, Gone is them at their Neil Young-enthused best and Just A Habit, just like You Are from AMOTF, does so much with seemingly so little. Then there’s Mess With Time, surely one of their most overlooked songs, which twists and turns just as well as the best BTS material,
Very glad you’ve done this list, such an easy band to unfairly dismiss, when they have a wealth of great songs and a couple of great albums. Of those, The Colour & The Shape is so easily their best and an album I still hold as one of my all-time favourites, as it brings back a lot of great memories. Everything the Foo Fighters have ever done well, grade A examples can be found on TCATS: power-pop gems in New Way Home and Up In Arms; anthems in My Hero and Hey, Johnny Park!; scream-a-thons in Monkey Wrench and My Poor Brain; their best ballads in Doll, February Stars and Walking After You. And then of course, there’s Everlong, a song which has no equal or parallel amidst their catalog. For a band with such a supposedly established sound and formula, it’s an effortlessly diverse record. Beats me why its greatness continues to elude P4k reviewers (only 5.8 on its 10th anniversary edition and I seem to recall a sub-3 score first time around).
I’m utterly perplexed by this list. Aside from the top and bottom entries, I would turn the remainder of this list upside down (maybe keeping Pure Phase ahead of LGM). Surely the fantastic Royal Albert Hall live set is testament to the greatness of their first three records?
In future can these lists please come with a disclaimer?
* May not accurately represent the best 10 songs by titular artist or band
Say a word for Charlie Brown, ain’t got nothin’ at all
Ummm, any four-song run from PFNO which includes Velvet Waltz in it?
Built To Spill may just be my favourite band of all time; the guitar interplay on their albums is truly astonishing at times, and no other band has such a magnificent knack with a song coda. It’s not surprising to hear of their hiatus but it is a damned shame, and I hope it’s not the end for them; Martsch can take all the time he wants to make an album if the results are as special as There Is No Enemy (rightly placed on this list just below their trilogy of classics).
I just can’t see how Perfect From Now On can’t top any self-respecting BTS list; it’s a monumental achievement with astonishing attention to detail, and the juddering, monolithic Velvet Waltz is the jewel in its glittering crown (with Kicked It In The Sun not far behind, a song that captures the irresistable gooiness of TINWWL and expands it to epic proportions). Whilst KILAS is only third on my list (behind PFNO and TINWWL), however, it’s such a great album that I can’t really work myself up about it topping this particular list.
I think the list could’ve been expanded to include The Normal Years; it’s a brilliantly cohesive listen in its own right, and is BTS at their most pop (and possibly more twee than TINWWL).
Possibly my favourite Counting Down so far, and really enjoyed reading your article. MMJ really are the greatest live spectacle I’ve ever witnessed, and Okonokos is just about as good as live recordings get. Pretty much agree with everything you’ve written, though I find the top 3 pretty much inseparable, in terms of which is my favourite. Go Team Highly Suspicious indeed!
Why Bloodbuzz Ohio gets so much love is beyond me, less a perfect distillation of their sound, more The National on auto-pilot. And the utterly derivative Lemonworld is way out of its depth on this list.
I will give credit for including Afraid of Everyone so highly, but otherwise this is a pretty terrible list. Where is Racing Like A Pro, Mistaken For Strangers and Ada? And a whole host of songs from Alligator?
Probably the best list you’ve done so far, and goes some way towards righting the Husker Du/Sugar/Bob Mould monstrosity of the previous week. Personally I would put My Father… quite a bit higher, and would swap the top four around (The Seer ahead of Annihilator, Soundtracks , then Children Of God), but that’s just my opinion.
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds next please.
Another Stereogum list, another attempt to rewrite history. Zen Arcade only at #7? Really?
Great list, but surprised by the inclusion of Yanqui U.X.O., as I thought Albini’s production was the weakest thing about it; it just doesn’t put chills up the spine the way the rest of GSY!BE’s catalogue does.