Updated: May 5, 2020
Earlier last week, Fiona Apple's 'Fetch the Boltcutters' came out and Pitchfork gave the album a Perfect 10 rating.
How many times has Pitchfork given out the 10 rating? Well Apple's Perfect 10 was the first one given out since 2009 (Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy). Do I believe Fetch is a good album? Absolutely. Is it perfect? Uh, no. Even though there are excellent songs (Rack of His, Shameika), there are also some clunkers (Title Track, Ladies.)
Then I started to play word association with myself. What are some Perfect Albums in different eras and categories?
1968's L.A. Woman by the Doors
The Rolling Stones have great songs, but uneven albums. The Beatles have great albums, but I can't remember the last time I dusted one off and listened to it. L.A. Woman by the Doors is timeless in both its Rock and in its Mysticism.
1970's Bitches Brew by Miles Davis
Bitches Brew came out 50 years ago last month. 50 years, let me say it again, 50 years later Bob Guccione Jr. took yet another run at the opus of jazz fusion, claiming 'Bitches Brew' Turns 50 and it Still Sucks. You know who sucks? Bob Guccione Jr. and SPIN Magazine.
Somehow he couldn't hear the sounds of music evolving in real time. Bitches Brew was nearly 2 hours of spontaneous genius.
1990's Ritual de lo Habitual by Jane's Addiction
If Nirvana never existed, it would have been Perry Ferrell and Jane's Addiction that were the torch bearers of alternative music. Ritual de lo Habitual was front loaded with Alternative Hits and back loaded with sprawling classic rock. A deep, deep listening experience.
1994's Clerks Soundtrack
No soundtrack captured the feel of a movie better. Ever.
Kevin Smith never even approached that level of musical magic in any of his following movies. All the more stunning considering that most bands from the soundtrack were never heard from again.
PUNK (ORIGINAL ALBUM)
1992's Untidy Suicides of Your Degenerate Children by Alice Donut
From the desperation of the opening song (Magdaline) to the reflective last song (In My Head), no punk band has ever made a better album from top to bottom.
You've never heard of Alice Donut? That's not my fault. Last year John Prine was nominated to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. At the time, I had never heard of John Prine. I did a little research and found out that John Prine was one of Bob Dylan's favorite artists and had a cult following in the folk music community. You know who had a cult following in the punk music community? Alice Donut. John Prine benefitted from having more famous fans.
Sadly, John Prine was one of the first victims of the coronavirus outbreak.
PUNK COMPILATION 1991's Loco Live by the Ramones (Sire Version)
The Ramones did not have perfect albums, but for a 2 hour live set, the Ramones cranked out hit after hit songs, not a stinker in the bunch.
Can I hedge here?
The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails is Perfect, but....
Is it Industrial, Rock, or Metal?
When I think of, dark, hammer-to-the-ground industrial music, I think of 1992's Last Rights by Skinny Puppy.
Last Rights almost killed the band (and The Process finished off Goettel).
1986's Appetite for Destruction by Guns & Roses
I racked my brain trying to think of the last great, down and dirty, Rock and Roll album and continually came up with pieces OLDER than Appetite. The only 2 albums I could even remotely come up with that were more recent than Appetite were hybrid Rock albums like the aforementioned Nine Inch Nails' effort or Marilyn Manson's AntiChrist Superstar.
Trapt? Shinedown? Nickelback? Ughh.
2002's Oceanic by Isis
When Isis created Oceanic, it was meant to be consumed over a full hour time period. Not to go off topic, but how many formats today support that type of artistry?
If you click on the link above, how many ads do you think YouTube is jamming in the nooks and crannies of Oceanic? That wasn't the original vision from Isis.
1989's Paul's Boutique by the Beastie Boys
You're yelling at the monitor, "what about Kanye? What about Jay-Z? What about Drake?"
Sorry I tuned out of the rap game around the year 2005.
1966's Wonderfulness by Bill Cosby
No one loves Weird Al more than me, but he puts out wildly uneven albums. When I think of a great comedy album, I think of a comedian telling stories that leave you glued on every word. There was no standup comedian in history better than Bill Cosby.
"But what about all those women he raped?" Is your reply. Listen, long, long ago I had to come to terms that musicians are not always the best role models. If you review just the albums listed above, do you have any idea how many drugs, and how much alcohol, was ingested to create those masterpieces? You know how many laws were broken behind the scenes? You never really know artists, and yes, Bill Cosby was an artist. He was also a criminal.
1987's Kick by INXS
I learned when I was, like, 10 years old that pop albums were largely garbage. Usually one or two hits and then the rest was filler. 40 years later, I still feel the same way. I can only think of one Pop album where every song was good and we don't want to talk about that lead singer's personal habits, either.
1995's Jesus Freak by dc talk
It is very curious to me that a Christian band would release a Perfect Album, then win a Grammy for said album, then tour the crap out of that album, only to go on a 20 year hiatus a few short years later. Jesus Freak should be celebrated today, instead of largely forgotten.
If Christian musicians can't get along....
1984's Ride the Lightning by Metallica
You could argue that I'm wrong, and that it's 1986's Master of Puppets, I'll listen to that argument. But Ride the Lightning pummels the listener in a ferocious manner only to step off the gas to pour salt in your wounds for the finishing Fade to Black.