Daily Top Five: Least Essential Albums

Dolly Parton RainbowWe’ve all got ’em.

What are the five albums from artist you love that you try to pretend didn’t happen? (Or at least just don’t copy over to your iPod)

Here’s my list:

  1. Sugarland, The Incredible Machine
  2. Tim McGraw, Emotional Traffic
  3. Trisha Yearwood, Where Your Road Leads
  4. Dolly Parton, Rainbow
  5. Randy Travis, Full Circle

24 Comments

  1. 1. Zac Brown Band – Jekyll + Hyde
    2. Brad Paisley – This is Country Music
    3. Eric Church – The Outsiders
    4. Kenny Chesney – Welcome To The Fishbowl
    5. Lee Brice – I Don’t Dance

  2. Females
    1. Kellie Pickler, Kellie Pickler
    2. Sheryl Crow, Feels Like Home
    3. Olivia Newton-John, Back With A Heart
    4. Jo Dee Messina, Delicious Surprise
    5. Lorrie Morgan, The Color of Roses

    Males
    1. Vince Gill, Let’s Make Sure We Kiss Goodbye
    2. Alabama, When It All Goes South
    3. Brooks & Dunn, Tight Rope
    4. The Kentucky Headhunters, Electric Barnyard
    5. The Moffatts, The Moffatts

  3. Randy Travis’ Full Circle? Really? Okay, it’s not a great album, but I can pick a hundred other albums that are better qualified as “least essential.”

  4. 1. Brad Paisley – Wheelhouse
    2. Lady Antebellum – 747
    3. Chris Young – A.M.
    4. Lee Brice – I Don’t Dance

  5. 1. Tim Mcgraw – Tim McGraw & the Dancehall Doctors
    2. Eli Young Band – 10,000 Towns
    3. Emmylou Harris – Evangeline
    4. Crystal Gayle – Hollywood Tennessee
    5. Anne Murray – Heart Over Mind

  6. My five (tough choices):

    1. WHERE YOUR ROAD LEADS–Trisha Yearwood
    2. FRENESI–Linda Ronstadt
    3. HELL FREEZES OVER–The Eagles
    4. DEDICATED TO THE ONE I LOVE–Linda Ronstadt
    5. SAY WHEN–Nicolette Larson

  7. 1. Sugarland – Incredible Machine (gave it away)
    2. Little Big Town – The Road to Here (gave it way)
    3. Band Perry – Pioneer (should have just bought “Better Dig Two”)
    4. Collin Raye – Never Going Back
    5. Lonestar – Let’s Be Us Again

  8. Just sticking to artists that I like, and not including things that have already been mentioned…

    1. Shelby Lynne, Love, Shelby.
    2. Allison Moorer, Getting Somewhere.
    3. Old Crow Medicine Show, Tennessee Pusher.
    4. Rosanne Cash, The Wheel.
    5. Drive-By Truckers, The Big To-Do.

  9. @caj

    Dancehall Doctors is the one album among the ones that have been mentioned so far that I strongly disagree with. That’s one of my favorites of the early 2000s.

  10. 1. “Jekyll + Hyde”: ZBB (shudder)
    2. “Get Closer”: Keith Urban
    3. “Pain Killer”: Little Big Town
    4. “Numbered Doors”: Lori McKenna
    5. “Why Should The Fire Die”: Nickel Creek

  11. 1. Dierks Bentley–Feel That Fire
    This album just felt like Bentley jamming a bunch of radio friendly singles and some yawn inducing filler in an attempt to get back on Country radio after his bluegrass detour. It worked, but it also signaled a period in Bentley’s career where his material became very uninteresting. Thankfully “Riser” pulled him out of that rut.

    2. Gary Allan–Living Hard
    Much like Bentley, this would mark a period where Allan fell into a creative lull that he pulled out of with his last album that was filled with a number of very good songs. This album has “Watching Airplanes” and little else sadly.

    3. Tim McGraw–Two Lanes of Freedom
    Honestly, I cant think of one song that I liked on this album. McGraw has been inconsistent in his career, but he has usually been good for a good to great song or two per album. Not here though.

    4. Eric Church–The Outsiders
    Honestly, Church can be a bit much with his faux-outlaw routine, but the man can write and sing some damn good songs. This album was incredibly weak in comparison to all the other Eric Church albums.

    5. Alan Jackson–Good Time
    Honestly, I like “Small Town Southern Man”, but a number of the other tracks felt like Jackson on creative cruise control or him trying to hard to make radio friendly songs.

  12. Andrew
    Sorry you disagree with me but for me, after three masterpieces in Everywhere, A Place In The Sun, and Set This Circus Down, I was really disappointed with Dancehall Doctors. But I’ll also add that nothing he’s released since then has impressed me either.

  13. Micke W,
    I agree that Feel That Fire is Dierks Bentley’s weakest album, but it actually came before his bluegrass influenced album, Up on the Ridge.

  14. 1. Dixie Chicks Taking the Long Way (Self-indulgent pop music)
    2. Gary Allan Living Hard ( What Mike said)
    3. Dierks Bently Up on the Ridge (Many others can do bluegrass far better)
    4. Aaron Watson The Underdog (Sounded more polished than other efforts)
    5. Emmylou Harris Wrecking Ball (Heretical I know but I just couldn’t get into it as much as I wanted.)

  15. I can tolerate a lot of creativity, so I don’t criticize too many artists because I have been photographed wearing bell-bottom jeans.
    That said, there are a couple of visible career meltdowns that come to mind.
    1. First came when the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band decided to make themselves look like the Partridge Family or the Scooby Doo characters and shorten their name to “The Dirt Band.”
    The album “Make a Little Magic” may have been what they later refereed to in “Partners, Brothers and Friends” about going straight to the discount bargain bin.
    2. Then there is Chris Gaines – Greatest Hits (when aliens from Venus took over a country star’s body) which science still has yet to fully understand. I’m not sure if we really want to know.
    No, really. We don’t want to know.

  16. Man, y’all are breaking my heart! I might come back later and defend a few of these misunderstood and maligned albums, but before I go off-topic into all that, I want to post my off-the-cuff five. These are in alphabetical order by artist, and don’t reflect a ranking within this group. Also, I restricted myself to albums that are still in my library and not ones that I’ve parted with and/or deleted in the case of digital purchases, so these are the ones that I didn’t outright hate, but if I find myself needing shelf space or drive space, they’re probably the first to go.

    Brooks & Dunn – Hillbilly Deluxe
    Yeah, Tight Rope is the go-to choice here, but in truth I wasn’t all that into B&D when it came out so I didn’t feel the same disappointment that most fans felt for it. I started with their Steers & Stripes album and I was fully into that and their next few releases, but then this was a brick wall. It came out the day that Hurricane Katrina made landfall. I bought the CD on my way to class that morning, and even all the way up here in Kentucky the rainfall was so torrential that I gave up even trying to drive and went right back home. I popped in the CD. I loved “Play Something Country”, which opens the album, and then…just wow.

    For awhile I thought that I just wasn’t into it because, like the rest of the country, my mind was on our fellow citizens in harm’s way. I came back to it later that week and I think I was even more let down than I was on my first listen.

    Garth Brooks – …In the Life of Chris Gaines
    This one is like the free space on a bingo card. I don’t want to pick it just because it’s such an obvious choice, but it really is disappointing. I love “It Don’t Matter to the Sun”, but the rest of this album is so awful that I’ve told iTunes not to play those songs when shuffling.

    Alan Jackson – Good Time
    Here, I concur with Mike W. This was AJ’s first album after Like Red on a Rose (which I’m on record as loving), and I feel like this was an overeager effort to distance himself from that commercial flop. Unfortunately, by throwing in the kitchen sink, he wound up with possibly the thinnest album in his discography. It almost feels like a pastiche of his own music at times.

    Willie Nelson with Waylon Jennings – Take It to the Limit
    I love these guys. I love these guys together. But this one? Total snooze fest. The songs don’t grab me. The production doesn’t grab me. Even Waylon and Willie sound like they’re mailing it on, and that’s rare for them. I chalk it up to being in the mid-80’s, when neither was in peak form creatively. To be honest, I only really keep this one because I want to have as complete a Waylon library as I can.

    George Strait – The Cowboy Rides Away: Live from AT&T Stadium
    One word: Autotune. There’s probably a great live album in here somewhere, but damned if I can find it for all the truly awful engineering that persists from beginning to end. Not only is it frustrating to hear, but it’s disappointing that King George elected to hide behind such sloppy tweaking rather than just concede that his vocal range isn’t what it once was. The guy’s in his 60’s. There’s no shame in losing an octave or two.

    I hope now that he’s done touring, and unfortunately probably going to be abandoned by radio soon, that he begins to record songs better suited to his current vocal range rather than try to cheat his way into hitting those notes. When I play albums recorded by other artists who were his age – or older – when they made them, there’s a more organic aesthetic than what’s here. Look at Cash’s brilliant American Recordings series, or the plethora of albums Willie’s cut just since turning 70 in 2003. (Or, hell, the handful he’s released since turning 80 two years ago!) C’mon, George. You’re better than this.

  17. 1. Jason Aldean, Old Boots, New Dirt
    There’s a Chris Stapleton co-write, one about his ex-wife, and the rest… filler/party anthems. I used to
    2. Kenny Chesney Life On A Rock
    I don’t know why he keeps going back to the island theme. Judging by the lack of commercial success following Pirate Flag, others agree.
    3. Chase Rice Ignite the Night
    If you can get past the barrage of party/women anthems, there are several pretty good songs on his debut independent album Dirt Road Communion. He took those handful of bad songs and added them to more bad songs to create this bro- album.
    4. Luke Bryan Crash My Party
    I don’t know if it’s the lack of quality music on this one or the fact that he’s so popular he records the low level crap and it goes to #1 that bothers me so much about this one. Aside from “Dirt Road Diary” and “Drink A Beer” there’s pretty much nothing here. I think we all miss the old Luke.
    5. Toby Keith Bullets in the Gun
    This one was just forgettable. “Bullets in the Gun” was a cool song the first time I heard it, but got boring after that. “Trailerhoood” was another song that’s funny the first time. No real substance to anything.

  18. 1. Emotional Traffic – Tim McGraw — His material has been pretty uneven for a long time, but this is his only album that totally fell flat for me.

    2. High Noon – Jerrod Niemann — He’s never been one of my favorite artists, but I really liked his first album, and I appreciated a lot of the experimentation on Free the Music. But High Noon was garbage, plain and simple. The worst sellout moment I can think of.

    3. Haywire – Josh Turner — It’s not that it’s a bad album, it’s just pretty meh. Especially compared to all his other albums, which I have loved.

    4. A.M. – Chris Young — Ditto Haywire.

    5. Jekyll + Hyde – Zac Brown Band — I liked this a lot more than most critics seem to have, and there’s a handful of songs that I love. But this is my favorite band and each of their first three albums ranks among my all-time favorites so my hopes were impossibly high. I don’t think it’s a bad album, but it was still a letdown.

  19. Agree with Mike and Travis on Alan Jackson’s “Good Time.” The singles on that album outside of Small Town Southern Man are among the weakest in his entire catalog. I guess Good Time itself would be a decent song if it was coming from Montgomery Gentry or Jason Aldean, but I expect better from the guy that put out gems such as Midnight in Montgomery, Between the Devil and Me, and Remember When. Jackson’s music since “Good Time” has been some of my favorite from him and I’ve always looked at “Good Time” as being a last ditch effort to get radio play.

    On the topic of Alan Jackson, I’ve always felt that “When Somebody Loves You” also stands out as being weaker than his other work.

  20. 1. Good Time – Alan Jackson
    2. Jekyll + Hyde – Zac Brown Band
    3. A.M. – Chris Young (Hated to see him shift away from his earlier neo-traditional leaning sound)
    4. Something Worth Leaving Behind – Lee Ann Womack
    5. Read My Mind – Reba McEntire (I’m in the minority here. Most love this album, but it’s just too slick and pop-leaning for my tastes)

  21. Most of the Dixie Chicks albums.

    “Carolina” would be the weakest Eric Church album for me. Some of the songs are genius (“Longer Gone”, “Smoke a Little Smoke” “Without You Here” “Love Your Love the Most” and “Lotta Boot Left to Fill.”), but others just seem weak compared to his standards. I used to love “Hell on the Heart”, but I applied it to a high school crush and well, that killed it. Plus, it felt too much like a calculated radio hit.

  22. 01 Tim McGraw – Emotional Traffic
    How or why would he blast that this is as his best album ever?
    02 Dierks Bentley – Feel That Fire
    Didn’t have the same energy to me as the other albums he did
    03 Joe Nichols – It’s All Good
    Nothing on this album stood out to me
    04 Alan Jackson – Good Time
    Too long and monotonous
    05 Garth Brooks – …In the Life of Chris Gaines
    the alter ego, the wig, the falsetto voice, WHY GARTH WHY?

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. Lettuce Reconsider Sexism; “Kick the Dust Up” Gets Rave Review; Harlan Howard Stories | Country California

Comments are closed.