Sometimes a musician gives it their all, and just doesn't make a good record. But other times, they have a terrible idea nobody can talk them out of, push it as far as they can, and don't make a good record. Many of the best musicians of all time have faltered here and there, releasing their worst album, or a record that is just plain weird, and doesn't impress fans... or the critics. What are the worst albums made by great musicians and bands?
Nobody remembers the mediocre records, but everyone knows the terrible, career-killing ones. These are the worst of the worst, awkward veers into genres outside of their strengths, insane concept albums that nobody in the band understands, contractual-obligation filler, arrogant stabs at replacing a lead singer, or just flights of fancy fueled by cocaine and ego. And they're all by musicians that have done great, timeless, platinum-selling work.
Sure, some of these albums even went platinum. But that doesn't mean they were good. In fact, they were all odd forays into musical worlds unknown, and probably would have been better left unexplored. Including Paul Simon's Broadway musical, Elvis's spoken word album, and Garth Brooks's alt-rock record released under an alter ego with a soul patch, these are the truly worst records by good musicians that would have been better left unrecorded.
Upvote the most ill-advised and terrible records by great bands and singers in rock, R&B, and pop below... and listen at your own risk.
- Photo: Legacy
Cut the Crap - 1985
A dispute between The Clash leaders Mick Jones and Joe Strummer over the album Combat Rock led to Strummer firing Jones. The record this lineup made, Cut the Crap, was a Clash record in name only, with plenty of attitude, but none of the musicianship and political acumen that made The Clash "the only band that mattered."
What's more, the record was made with instantly dated mid-80's production techniques, and stuffed full of decidedly non-punk elements like synthesizers and drum machines. It received scathing reviews when released in 1985, and Strummer disowned the album. The Clash would never record together again.Was this a bad album?
- Photo: RCA Records6
Having Fun With Elvis On Stage
Having Fun with Elvis on Stage - 1974
This is an entire album of between-song banter from Elvis Presley live shows – without the songs. It was the brainchild of Presley’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker, who figured out that he could put out an Elvis album on his own if it didn’t have any actual music – and that the Elvis-obsessed fans would buy it.
RCA records ended up releasing the bizarre record, which features almost 40 minutes of out-of-context Presley babbling, pontificating, audible sweating, humming, bantering with women in the crowd, and introducing songs that we never get to hear. Despite the fact that it was labeled “A Talking Album Only” it still made the top 10 of Billboard’s country charts, so maybe Colonel Parker was right all along.Was this a bad album?
- Photo: Warner Bros.7
Van Halen Hit Rock Bottom
Van Halen III - 1998
In between an endless carousel of firing and rehiring lead singers David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar, Van Halen hooked up with former Extreme lead singer Gary Cherone to cut Van Halen III. The result was mostly an Eddie Van Halen solo record with some other guy on lead vocals and unsurprisingly, both fans and critics thought it was a terrible idea.
Cherone left the band a year later.Was this a bad album?
- Photo: Cash Money Records
Rebirth - 2010
Though it went gold, rapper Lil Wayne’s album of guitar-driven rap was savaged by critics. While Wayne had gone out of his way to declare he was making a rock album, reviewers claimed it wasn’t so much a rock record as a collection of clichéd boasts, rudimentary guitar playing and singing Auto-Tuned beyond recognition.
All this performed by someone who had heard of rock, but knew nothing of how to actually make it. Wayne ditched the guitar with due haste.Was this a bad album?