Albums You Hate By Artists You Love

broken-recordAlbums you hate by artists you love. Okay, so those are some strong words. But, as recently evidenced by the comments given in response to Kevin’s review of Martina McBride’s new album, Shine, even our favorite artists put out occasional stinkers.  Those so-called stinkers may be universally acknowledged as such or just a reflection of our personal tastes, but, regardless of how they got there, they are most notable for the dust they acquire on our back shelves or their unapologetic dumping from our iPods.

Here at Country Universe, we try to be honest about the material, even if the artist involved is one of our favorites.  It is definitely more painful to write a bad review about an artist you love, but unearned praise is the worst kind.

Therefore, I have no compunction about stating that despite the praise George Strait’s recent album, Troubadour, has received, it’s no longer on my iPod. And while generally I’m a Toby Keith fan, I felt Honkytonk University was a waste of money.  Similarly, although Bruce Springsteen is one of my favorite artists ever and has put out two of my favorite albums of all time (Nebraska and Live in Dublin, both of which give me permission to write about him on a country music blog), I’m not afraid to admit that his recent Working on a Dream is a complete stinker, and Magic not among his best.

Now it’s your turn.

What are some albums you hate by artists you love?


  1. There’s only one song from Vince Gill’s Lets Make Sure We Kiss Goodbye on my ipod and only two or three from his When Love Finds You. I don’t hate the latter album, but it just lost its flavor over time.

    This is a fun topic. I’m on my way out the door, but I’ll think of more.
    Oh yeah, while I’m thinking of it, I didn’t especially like Alan Jackson’s Like Red on A Rose, though it’s rather respected. Then again, I didn’t like What I Do for the most part either, with the exception of “Monday Morning Church.”

  2. Great topic!

    For my favorite artists, there are some albums where I only like a handful of songs. That’s as close as I get to hating a project, simply because I cherry-pick the few songs I like and never revisit the rest.

    Some albums like that are:

    Pam Tillis, Thunder & Roses
    Trisha Yearwood, Where Your Road Leads
    Tim McGraw, Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors
    Madonna, Bedtime Stories
    Patty Loveless, On Your Way Home

  3. OK, I love Sara Evans, she is probably my second favorite Country singer, period. But there are two of her albums I don’t care much for at all…

    First, Born to Fly,(ironically, her most sucessful) I love the title cut, and “You Don’t” but the rest of it? Not so much. I can see that it is very well done, quality material, but it is way too pop for my tastes and consequently I hardly ever listen to it anymore.

    And the second is her “Greatest Hits” album. Honestly, I can say that I only love three of the songs on the album..”Born to Fly”, “Suds in the Bucket”, and “No Place that Far”. “Cheatin'” is OK, and real Country, but not one of my favorites…and the four songs written for this album, the added material?… very forgetable and cliche ridden. “As If” is catchy Pop, but I think the other three are basically just filler, heartfelt as they may be.

    But it’s not just Sara, I think with a lot of artists, there is a real difference between a “Greatest Hits” album and a “Best of” album…the two are not necessarily the same. Sara’s biggest chart sucesses are in no way representative of her best material. Which in a way is good, because if one likes her hits, that is only the tip of the iceberg, and there is so much more to discover.

    Album cuts like “Unopened”, “Love Don’t Be a Stranger”, “New Hometown”, “Supernatural”, and “Coalmine” far outshine many of her hits, Imo. And the fact that her single “Three Chords and the Truth” didn’t do well enough to be included on her Greatest Hits album is just a scandal, in my opinion, and an indictment of Nashville’s pop-diluted, quality compromised, and watered down soul.

    My tastes have definately changed, and evolved into more Traditonal preferences over the years..and my above statements are more a reflection of this change than a negative judement on the overall quality of Sara’s chart singles, or of the two albums I mentioned.

    I still think that Sara Evans has one of the purest and most authentic COUNTRY voices in Country music today.

  4. Kevin, How dare you sir?! :) You singled out one of my favorte albums of all time, Patty’s On You Way Home, lol…You and I certainly differ on this one.

    Just curious, what are some of the handful of songs that you like from this album?

  5. From On Your Way Home, I like the title track, “Lovin’ all Night” and “I Don’t Wanna Be That Strong.” I don’t actively dislike the album as a whole, I just didn’t like it enough to revisit it. The production was cool, but I didn’t care for the songs.

    Then again, my favorite Patty Loveless albums from this decade are Strong Heart and Dreamin’ My Dreams, which are probably her least acclaimed of the past ten years. My favorite albums by her remain When Fallen Angels Fly and Long Stretch of Lonesome, though Dreamin’ comes very close to those two in my book.

  6. I’m with ya on Dreamin’ My Dreams…but I see a lot of stylistic similarity between this album and OYWH. I love the songs you listed from OYWH, but some of my favorites are “The Grandpa That I Know”, and “The Last In A Long Lonesome Line” as well.

    I think Strong Heart gets a bad rap, unfairly..some of Patty’s most sublime vocal performances ever are on this album, (Thirsty, My Heart Will Never Break this Way Again) and innovative stuff like “You Don’t Get No More” really distinguish this album as well.

    I love Patty’s 80’s and 90’s material too, including the ones that you cited as your favorites. But I have a distinct preference for everything she has done since the turn of the century..a string of mastepieces, in my book anyway.

  7. I really like On Your Way Home too, Steve. I think like Kevin, however, that it’s the production that I like the most about it.

    Over time, as Steve mentioned, my tastes have changed. I remember loving Vince’s When Love Finds You when it first came out and not appreciating The Key very much at all. Now, it’s the complete opposite.

  8. A few of mine:
    Emmylou Harris, White Shoes and everything from the Wrecking Ball period
    Martina McBride, Waking Up Laughing – the new one isn’t much better, but it does at least have one genuinely good song on it (I’m Trying)
    Sara Evans, Restless and Born To Fly
    Lee An Womack, Something Worth Leaving Behind
    Clint Black, One Emotion

  9. I will second Kevin’s mention of Where Your Road Leads by Trisha Yearwood. It’s the only one of her studio albums that I’ve ever sold off: its uncharacteristically weak song selection and overblown pop production are not only well below Yearwood’s usual standards, but they’re also just plain poor on their own terms.

    I’ll say that, like Leann, I really enjoy the production on Loveless’ On Your Way Home moreso than the actual songs on that set: The production on that record strikes a great balance between the traditional Mountain music of its immediate predecessor (and, as I’ve said elsewhere, I’d go to bat for Mountain Soul as the most critically rich album of the last decade in any genre) and the contemporary sounds of the albums from her commercial peak. But, on a song by song basis, I’d say that Dreamin’ My Dreams is the stronger album. Thad said, I don’t think Loveless has ever released an album that I don’t at least like, let alone one that fits into this particular topic.

    With her first four albums, Allison Moorer arguably surpassed her older sister, Shelby Lynne, in terms of artistry, but Getting Somewhere, her first collaboration with Steve Earle as producer is a real dud that tries too hard to shoehorn her mile-thick Alabama drawl into some ill-fitting pop styles that recall some of Martina McBride’s gauziest singles.

    Lynne’s Love, Shelby is also one of the worst albums I’ve ever heard. Glen Ballard should’ve been tried for homicide for what he did to her career after her Grammy win attempted to break her to a wide audience.

    Outside of the country genre, I’m a bit of an R.E.M. fanboy, but their Around the Sun is horrid. I’m only a casual fan of Bruce Springsteen– though I’m a big advocate for Nebraska— but I have to agree with Lynn here about Working on a Dream: I don’t care if he was joking with “Queen of the Supermarket,” that song was just indefensible.

  10. Given my advocacy of Linda Ronstadt, it might surprise people here to know that I can be critical of her too. But the truth is, I wasn’t wild about her 1996 album DEDICATED TO THE ONE I LOVE, in which she recast a lot of rock and pop classics as children’s lullabies (I was especially turned off by her doing Queen’s “We Will Rock You” this way). And although I have warmed up to it a little bit over the last few years, her 2000 Christmas album A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS, I’m sorry to say, still leaves me somewhat cold more than eight years on.

  11. It’s funny how tastes differ. Two of my favorite Emmylou Harris albums are Wrecking Ball and White Shoes. I really dig Lee Ann Womack’s Something Worth Leaving Behind, too.

    Back to Loveless, I’m somewhat lukewarm on Mountain Soul. I appreciate it from a distance, and for how it works as a cohesive album, but it’s not one of my absolute favorite Loveless records. (Though like Jonathan, I can’t name a record of hers that I don’t like. Just some that I prefer more than others.)

    Also, when thinking about this topic, did anyone else dismiss early albums by artists from consideration? It seems like the frustrating albums are the ones that come along when you already expect greatness from the artist. Hence Madonna gets no love from me for Bedtime Stories, but I don’t have any issue with her first two albums, which were pretty shallow.

  12. Kevin, would it be correct to say that you like Country Patty more than Mountain Patty? :)

    Patty’s label, Saguaro Road Records did a poll asking her fans how they wanted her next album to sound, like another Mountain Soul, another Sleepless Nights, or a mix of both…

    A Mountain Soul 2 type record won out by a whopping 95% vs. about 4% for another Sleepless Nights type record, and roughly 1% for a mix of both.

    I was stunned, but not dissapointed by the results, as I happen to have voted with the majority in this case. But I don’t think the results indicate any lack of love for Sleepless Nights, and some of us posted words to that effect in Saguaro’s comments section. As much as we love Sleepless Nights, it just seems Patty’s fans on the whole are even hungrier for a return to her Mountain sound once again.

    It will be interesting to see what SRR, Patty and Emory do with this input, and how much of a consideration it will be in determining the directiion of her next album.

  13. Well first off I must say that I don’t necessarily hate the following albums…I just don’t like them.

    So here we go. First off, Brad Paisley. I love Brad, he is probably my current favorite male vocalist in country and I’ve loved all of his stuff. The exception is 5th Gear. I sometimes like the comedic songs, but an entire album of it isn’t just my style. It did have some strong moments in it with “Letter to Me” and “Oh Love” (w/ Carrie Underwood) but it was mostly filled with songs like “Online” and “I’m Still a Guy.” It’s probably my least played Paisley album on my iPod.

    Martina McBride is also one of my favorite country artists of all time, but her Timeless and Waking Up Laughing albums were real duds. I was excited when I first hear she was going to cover some traditional country stuff, but I was disappointed with the finished product. I’m not sure if it was her voice or the production, but she made the songs more pop-sounding than traditional. The latter album was just a mess in my opinion. I really didn’t like any of the songs on it except for “Anyway” and it just never impressed me much.

    Also I’m a huge Kelly Clarkson fan, but My December wasn’t one of her best albums, imo. I bought it on iTunes and I wish you could return music because that’s one album I’d return.

  14. I intensely disliked Reba Duets, except for one or two songs. I didn’t much care for Patty Loveless’ Strong Heart CD or Trisha’s Inside Out, either. And I agree completely with Steve about Sara Evans’ Born to Fly. I’ve found most of Sara’s albums to be inconsistent except for Three Chords and the Truth. Martina’s Waking Up Laughing was a huge disappointment. I don’t much care for Shine either, but can’t say it’s a disappointment since I wasn’t expecting much. It’s actually a little better than I expected. Vince Gill’s High Lonesome Sound is not of my favorites, though it does have a handful of excellent tracks.

  15. Andrew, are you running a Dr. Strangelove avatar there? That is hysterical!

    Great topic Leeann, I just hope we’re not getting TOO far off topic…

  16. Make that three votes for Trisha Yearwood’s Where Your Road Leads and add Faith Hill’s Breathe, Wynonna’s New Day Dawning, Reba’s If You See Him and So Good Together, Tanya Tucker’s Can’t Run From Yourself and Fire to Fire and Garth Brooks’ Fresh Horses. Fun topic! :)

  17. I like Kathy Mattea but I really didn’t care for TIME MARCHES ON.

    Reba,who as of 1990 was my third favorite female singer behind Connie Smith and Loretta Lynn has since then issued a whole bunch of albums I didn’t like.

    Vince Gill’s WHEN LOVE FINDS YOU was poor.

    I regard LIKE RED ON A ROSE as the nadir of Alan Jackson’s career, mostly due to Alison Krauss’s inane production and failure to mix up the tempos – I liked the individual songs but taken as a whole, the album is a snoozer

  18. …and one counter vote, I like Where Your Road Leads. I love Toby but I didn’t like Honkytonk University or White Trash with Money. I think it is time for him to sing somebody else’s songs. I don’t know if it completely fits the category, but I hated Garth’s “Chris Gaines” album.

  19. I’m a huge Martina fan, and actually like her new album, but I’m not a fan of “Evolution” – I know everyone else loves it, but I didn’t like the album cuts at all. I mostly only liked the singles – Which is odd for me. And with Sara Evans, I loved “Restless”, it was a good overall album, but “Real Fine Place” was disjointed to me. I’m not sure why, but I just didn’t like it that much.

  20. Jane, I think I know what you mean about Sara’s RFP album…it is really a mix of styles, and seems to pull in different directions. Pop Country songs like “You’ll Always Be My Baby”, and Bluegrass flavored songs like “Coalmine”, and Traditional Country sounding songs like “Cheatin”…seems kinda chaotic when taken as a whole, but song by song, there are some darned good ones on the album, as least the way I see it.

    Restless was far more unified, and though not my favorite style from Sara, I think it is some really well done Country pop, with “Suds” kinda tacked on at the end, but what a great afterthought it was!:)

  21. I don’t mind Vince’s When Love Finds You or Alan’s Like Red on a Rose. If there’s a stinker in AJ’s catalogue, my vote is for When Somebody Loves You or High Mileage. Also worth mentioning, Tim McGraw’s All I Want and Brooks & Dunn’s Tightrope.

  22. Steve,
    Actually, this is Lynn’s topic, but I wish I could steal the credit.

    Well, White Trash with Money is my favorite Toby Keith album, though I think it’s certanly not his most popular or acclaimed. I just really enjoy Lari White’s production choices and I think the songs are more relaxed/fun with the exception of “There’s No Right Way to Do the Wrong Thing” or whatever it’s called.

    Maybe because it’s newer, but I think my vote would have been for more of the Sleepless Nights sound for Patty’s next album. I will definitely be happy for more bluegrass from her though.

    I was thinking of Garth’s Chris Gaines thing too, but I refuse to count it as one of his normal albums.

    I had more to say, but it’s escaped me at the moment…

  23. Thanks for that correction, Leeann,I realized that just late last night, but wasn’t sure of the best way to make the correction…so you just gave me an opening;)

    Lynn, my apologies…and thanks for another awesome and fun topic! :)

  24. And Leeann, I could certainly understand and appreciate votes for a Sleepless Nights sound as well…There are so many possibilities there as well, and I for one would love to hear a Patty Loveless interpretation of Hank’s “I’m so Lonesome I Could Cry” as an awesome counterpart to her rendition of Cold Cold Heart, wouldn’t that be incredible?! My guess is that momentum would favor a sequel to Sleepless Nights, but they could always revisit that possibility sometime in the future as well.

    Whatever they decide, I’m sure it will be incredible.;)

  25. I liked Vince Gill’s When Love Finds You. As far as Alan Jackson goes, his current Good Time was a disappointment. I’d also like to add Emotion to the list of disappointing Martina albums.

  26. Hate may be a bit strong on some of these, but in general, the record I list is far below par for the artist.

    Metallica – St. Anger
    Brad Paisley – Play
    Steve Earle – Everything Post-Transcendental Blues
    Travis Tritt – The Storm

  27. Yeah, I really like Travis Tritt, but The Storm wasn’t one of his strongest, though there were a couple of great songs there.

  28. It’s a shame too, because the album’s musical style was right up his alley, and his vocals were great. The songs were just BAD for the most part. I think he’s due for a big comeback with the right songs and the right push. Still one of the best voices in music.

  29. Hey, he just came up on my ipod! He’s one of my favorites for sure. One of my favorite Tritt songs is actually from The Storm come to think of it, “What If Love Hangs On.” I think it’s one of his most nuanced vocal performances and the song just strikes me as sad.

  30. I saw mention of Reba’s “If You See Him” and, honestly, while it’s taken ten years, that album has really grown on me. It’s now one of the (surprisingly) few Reba albums I can sit through once or twice. As an almost lifelong fan, I’m surprised how many of Reba’s albums seem now to be just a bunch of songs, instead of a cohesive collection.

    I agree, that new Martina album ain’t all that. And I finally got the Heidi Newfield; the fact that these first two singles really REALLY stand out isn’t a good thing.

  31. Metallica – St. Anger

    I actually liked that album better than anything they’d done since the self-titled “black” album, as its sound was closer to those earlier records than anything they’d done since then…I think it was a good concept, just badly executed. (No Kirk Hammett solos? WTF?) The experimentation with the Load records just didn’t do a thing for me. I think Death Magnetic is the best thing they’ve done since Justice, though.
    As for country albums I hate from artists I like…AJ’s Like Red On A Rose. It might have been great had it been recorded by anyone else, but it was quite the ill fit for Mr. Jackson, IMO.
    George Strait’s Always Never The Same…well, I didn’t hate it, but it just didn’t do that much for me. More songs like “That’s the Truth” and less like the string-laden “Peace of Mind” would have made it much better.

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