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AMG Challenge

I'm throwing down the gauntlet...

Using AMG (All Music), find the lowest ranked album(s) that you legitimately enjoy and post your findings. No three star (or higher) albums allowed, and no William Hung/Nickelback/Toby Keith posts either -- that's much too obvious.

Why AMG? I don't know... because they're less arbitrary than, say, Pitchfork (and AMG was the first site that I tried this with).

This is easier said than done (at least, it was for me)... I only found four, which I'll post later. And to the poster of the lowest ranked album? Why, laughs and good-natured embarrassment at their expense, of course.

Happy hunting.

Re: AMG Challenge

This is easy since there's always one review that sticks in my mind.

Blur's Think Tank is a brilliant album and is in my top 30 and the AMG review reads more like a gripe about the fact that Graham Coxon isn't in the group. I mean, I loved Coxon too (I kinda look like him), but that doesn't negate the fact that the album was great. In fact, this review made me avoid the album for so long since I had always been such a fan of Blur that I got all their other albums first since I thought Think Tank was the black sheep of their discography. It's actually my 2nd favorite.

I'm not sure if this URL works, but if it does, here's the crappy review:

Re: AMG Challenge

They gave Guided By Voices- Do the Collapse two stars. I think I can probably find one lower than that but that's one that everybody underrates. The album is not consistent by any means but 4-5 excellent songs should be at least a 3 star album.

Re: AMG Challenge

Can't spend too long on this... but I'll have to go with their 2 1/2 star review of The Magic Numbers s/t. They were pretty harsh about the band, who I will admit are not quite as good as my enjoyment of the album would have it.

I also kinda like The Cardigans' Gran Turismo, which got 2 1/2 stars as well.

Re: AMG Challenge

I've only been able to find 2, which on 1 hand surprises me but on the other hand doesn't seem too surprising now that I've seen how little <3/5's AMG gives.

Anyway, one album rated 2 stars that I like very much (it's even in my top 200): Dune - Forever.

And the other one, which I gave 8/10, and gets 2.5 stars: Tim McGraw - Everywhere.

Re: AMG Challenge

The Dune one actually says that it's an AMG Album Pick too. Odd.

As for me, the already mentioned "Think Tank" would probably be the album of choice for me too.

Re: AMG Challenge

I'm not much of a Blur fan, but the low rating of Think Tank is somewhat surprising. And a 2 star AMG pick is something that I didn't know even existed. Nice.

Here's a couple critical stinkers that I personally enjoy:

Live - Secret Samadhi (2.5 stars)

The one that followed Throwing Copper. It's got an atrocious-lyric-to-good-song ratio somewhere in the neighborhood of 2:1 ("Let's go hang out in a mall/or a morgue/a smorgasbord" or how about "This puke stinks like beer and everybody's here/Come on, come on, come on" or "The collapse of the justice/I can smell your armpits/You stole my idea"), and unfortunately, I could go on. But it's got some great songs too: Turn My Head, Lakini's Juice, Graze, etc. The 2.5 rating seems about right, actually.

Bush - Razorblade Suitcase (2.5 stars)

Another follow-up to a hugely successful album. Could this be a trend? It was criticized for not having any memorable hooks, unlike its predecessor Sixteen Stone, but at times I actually think it's a more rewarding album. Not that anyone cares though -- Bush have never had (and will never have) any credibility among critics and music nerds. But I kinda like 'em.

Re: AMG Challenge

"Take away the orchestra and Forever wouldn't sound too different from a night of karaoke."

Ha! Ouch.

Re: AMG Challenge

Great idea! There are many albums that I really enjoy that fit the criteria here, perhaps unsurprisingly! The lowest rated album that I really enjoy (enough to be in my top 200 anyway) is Blondie's The Hunter. One of its songs ("War Child") even threatens to be in my top 10 tracks of all time! It's definitely a strange album, but I adore Debbie's voice on it, and I tend to like strange albums! Other highlights for me include the primitive, tribal and seductive "Orchid Club", the weird space-epic "Dragonfly", the sultry "For Your Eyes Only", the "Rapture" rehash of "The Beast" and the pop sheen of "English Boys".

Obviously, AMG doesn't agree, lambasting it with a putrid rating of 1.5 stars. Here is the carnage:

Autoamerican was Blondie's last real album (until their 1999 reunion with No Exit), after which the band collapsed in legal problems and solo aspirations. The Hunter was only made because they still owed Chrysalis an album on their contract, and it sounds like the obligatory record it was. "Island of Lost Souls" (the album's only U.S. singles chart entry and, in fact, the only song released as a single in the U.S.) was a try at remaking "The Tide Is High," while "The Beast" tried to re-create at least the rap section of "Rapture." "War Child," which made the U.K. Top 40, was a dance rock effort in the style of "Call Me," and one of two somewhat autobiographical Debbie Harry lyrics, along with "English Boys." (Harry wrote all the album's words except for those to keyboard player Jimmy Destri's "Danceway" and the cover of the Marvelettes' 1967 hit "The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game," which was written by Smokey Robinson.) "For Your Eyes Only" had been intended as the theme song for the 1981 James Bond film, but rejected (rightly) in favor of a competing entry by Bill Conti and Mike Leeson that went on to become a Top Five hit for Sheena Easton. The rest of the material was equally second-rate, consisting of funk-rock tracks with the barest of melodies, and lyrics that ranged from impenetrable ("Orchid Club") to incoherent (the science fiction epic "Dragonfly," which alternated recited and sung sections having something to do with a spaceship race). Blondie was always a band with ideas — musical, lyrical, and visual — but The Hunter found them running short conceptually as well practically. It was a disappointing end.

Re: AMG Challenge

The only one that comes to mind right away is Bright Eyes' "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning" (2 stars). I'll have to do some further research.

Re: AMG Challenge

I think I will fight a few on my youth love albums.

First The Fake Sound of Progress by Lostprophets which I still regard as a really pleasant and solid album only gets 2 stars (while their 3rd release which is much more soup get 3...)
I'm more than glad to see that Thrice's "Illusion of Safety" get 4,5 stars ! This album is brilliant but I thought it would be on 2 stars too, regarding the usual critics disregard on that musical genre. Same good surprise for Millencolin's Pennybridge Pioneers (4 stars) and Rancid 2000 (4,5 stars). Even better, Blink-182's Dude Ranch gets 4,5 stars, more than that horrible Enema of the State (well... 4 stars is still too much)! OK now I like this site !
Horse the band's R Borlax deserves more than its 2,5 stars, I really like it even if it is quite messy and disturbing !
The only other album coming to my mind right now is Architecture in Helsinki - Places Like This. I have been disappointed by it, since it is way less interesting than In Case We die (my #9 of all time) but still quite good, except some awful fillers. I would give it more than those 2,5 stars.

I have a non ranked album in my top 20, Puppetmastaz's Creature Funk ! Does that count ?

Re: AMG Challenge

Rocky Raccoon: I really like that album too.. I didn't think to check because I figured everyone would at least like that album.

Re: AMG Challenge

Bright Eyes - I'm Wide Awake It's Morning offhand.

I'm not a huge Bright Eyes fan, but there are some legitimately good songs on it.

I actually find AMG more arbitrary than Pitchfork. They have like 200 different people giving reviews, so the rating depends on what the tastes of the guy who draws the straw happen to be.

Pitchfork, on the other hand, has a clear, predictable formula.

Re: AMG Challenge

while we're talking AMG and re billadama's comment...are there some reviewers you guys like more than others? i really like s.t. erlewine's taste...thom jurek, on the other hand, is an atrocious writer and might also be a retard...those are the only two i can think of offhand but it might be nice to have a handy reference of which writers people seem to like and trust and which seem to be hacks...

Re: AMG Challenge

I'm willing to bet that AMG's ratings are agreed upon by committee, and not the sole responsibility of the writer of the review. Maybe not for obscure releases, but I'm sure that the majority of albums (especially new releases, top sellers and classics) are listened to by a panel of people who then decide on an appropriate rating.

Re: AMG Challenge

Live - Secret Samadhi gets 2 1/2 stars.

It's super-inconsistent, but I think it has a handful of really good songs on it, like Turn My Head.

It's also got a few major cringe-fests, of course.

There isn't any particular AMG writer I especially like or dislike. There are too many for me to really get a sense for any individual writer's style. But there are so many reviews written I can't imagine they have special conferences about every album.

Re: AMG Challenge

Cocteau Twin's Garlands only received two stars, although I can sort of understand why, even though I like it fine myself (maybe three to three point five to me?).

Also, perhaps it shows a bit of my favoritism, but I can't help feel that just about all the My Bloody Valentine LP's and EP's could go a half star higher than they currently hold, including their 2 1/2 star "Ecstasy" EP.

The ones I find more strangely low ranked are the 2 1/2 stars for R.E.M.'s Monster and Out of Time? C'mon now, is there really only only half of a star separating those albums from Around the Sun? I'll agree that neither of those is packed end to end with classics (and that Out of Time can sometimes be severely overrated by die hard R.E.M. fans such as myself), but the strength of the better songs I feel is more than enough to outweigh the oddballs and catapult each album into at least the 3.5 star range.

Re: AMG Challenge

Albums in my personal top 100 that AMG gives 2.5 stars or less:

#12 Eurythmics- 1984: For the Love of Big Brother: 2 stars
#41 Janet Jackson- The Velvet Rope: 2.5 stars
#44 David Bowie- Earthling: 2.5 stars
#85 Prince- Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic: 2.5 stars
#87 Madonna- American Life: 2.5 stars
#95 The Cure- Wish: 2.5 stars

Re: AMG Challenge

Monk Hughes & The Outer Realm (Madlib) - A Tribute To Brother Weldon (2.0 Stars)
Review focuses on Weldon Irvine instead of the music.

Donald Byrd - Places & Spaces (2.5 Stars)
Review is much better than the rating, but the Mizell Brothers have had most of their catalogue's ratings increased in recent years.
Like Johnny Hammond's "Gears" used to be 1 star with the worst review ever by jazz critic Scott Yanow, and now it is 4 stars with a good review probably based on the previous review.

David Axelrod - Strange Ladies (2.0)
I'm thinking that this rating is for its obscurity & that it rarely gets mentioned compared to his late 60s albums.

Stereolab - Cobra & Phases Group Play Voltage In The Milky Night (2.5 Stars)
My pick for best album of the 90s, and clearly better than Emperor Tomato Ketchup which gets a 5 from AMG.

Re: AMG Challenge

There are probably some very low ranked albums I like, but I couldn't think of one right now. Of the top 100 albums list I almost submitted to the album poll, here are the lowest ranked.

2.5 stars
Adam Green - Garfield
Johnny Cash - American IV: The Man Comes Around

3 stars
Adam Green - Friends of Mine
Babylon Zoo - The Boy With the X-Ray Eyes
Daniel Johnston - Rejected Unknown
The Faint - Danse Macabre
Garth Brooks - In the Life of Chris Gaines
Mansun - Six
Manu Chao - Proxima Estacion: Esperanza
Rufus Wainwright - Release the Stars
Soledad Brothers - Steal Your Soul and Dare Your Spirit to Move

3.5 stars
Beirut - Gulag Orkestar
Magnetic Fields - I
Ryan Adams - Gold
Satyricon - Now, Diabolical
Voltaire - Then and Again

also, two albums weren't ranked
Moneybrother - Blood Panic
Voltaire - Devil's Bris

Re: AMG Challenge

thom jurek, on the other hand, is an atrocious writer and might also be a retard

Some would say the same about you.

Re: AMG Challenge

I don't think anyone who posts here would.

Re: AMG Challenge

thanks, john

yeahyeah, if you're thom jurek, sincerest apologies

Re: AMG Challenge

I am appalled...APPALLED..that they give 2.5 stars to Johnny Cash's "AMERICAN IV: THE MAN COMES AROUND" which is probably my favorite of his Def American output. (It's that or AMERICAN RECORDINGS...mostly depending on whether I want stripped-down or full band that day.)

Re: AMG Challenge

I agree Greg Rumpff, absolutely appaling. I'll even go as far as saying it's my favorite Cash album ever. Just edging out Folsom Prison by two spots.

Re: AMG Challenge

How about the Moldy Peaches s/t which only got a 1 and a half

Re: AMG Challenge

Well, that album is bad minus a few great songs. It maybe could have been a little higher but it really only has Who's Got the Crack, Jorge Regula and NYC's like a Graveyard. I should listen to it in full again, it's been about 5-6 years since I've heard it, but I remember the rest of it to be really horrible.

Re: AMG Challenge

Fave artists of mine have albums that I intensely enjoy and which are rated 2 stars on AMG (Dylan: Hard Rain, Saved, Shot of Love; Bruce Cockburn: Sunwheel Dance -- and no, I don't enjoy everything these guys've done).

A couple of albums I enjoy a lot are given no rating at all on AMG (Runrig: Heartland; The Men They Couldn't Hang: Waiting for Bonaparte).

But what takes the cake, I suppose, is the 1½ star rating of The Swans' "The Burning World" which I'm sure has been high on my top 100 for both the 2005 and 2008 AM polls ... but I'm told that Michael Gira himself thinks the album is crap, so I guess I'm just misguided.

(And while I'm at it, I agree that The Man Comes Around should be rated 4½ or thereabouts)

Re: AMG Challenge

Ok... I don't why I'm doing this, but I secretly like this 2-star stinker.

That's the lowest (legitimate) one that I can find. And yes, it's shit. I know.

Re: AMG Challenge

2 stars for Orange Crate Art... good job.

Re: AMG Challenge

they gave ghosts i-iv by nine inch nails two stars! bastards!

Re: AMG Challenge

Sorry for coming in late on this thread, but I've only just discovered that Peter Green's THE END OF THE GAME (currently #2505) - which I don't own, but only because I haven't been able to find it - received a ONE-star rating on AMG. Does anyone know if there are any other albums on the current 3000 (or even Bubbling Under, for that matter) with an AMG rating that low? (It seems to have attained its Acclaimed Music ranking solely because, for some reason, it's worshipped by Italian critics.)

Re: AMG Challenge

Nice find, Harold Wexler.

No, other than that one, I don't know of any 1-star AMG albums in the AM 3000. But it would be fun to compile list, just for shits n' giggles.