As it turns out, even best-selling rock bands come out with a horrible album now and again. From AC/DC’s Fly on the Wall to Fleetwood Mac’s 1995 album Time, there are so many records that should be lost to history. Unfortunately, they’re not.
So, here they are — the bad, worst, and awful albums that even make the artists cringe.
The Doors – Other Voices
Jim Morrison is who people think of when they hear the band The Doors. So, fans weren’t sure how an album with solely Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek, and John Densmore was going to go after his passing. Answer: not well. On Other Voices, Manzarek and Krieger attempted lead vocals.
But, the fast of the matter was the duo didn’t have the same “it factor” as Morrison. Their vocals weren’t up to par. The album’s title was pretty much the only thing going for the band because “other voices” was right!
Fleetwood Mac – Time
By the time Fleetwood Mac’s Time rolled around in 1995, the band had lost two of its most integral members — Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. Foolishly, they thought they could carry on with Bekka Bramlett and Billy Burnette. The result was Time, a commercial disappointment and the band’s lowest-charting album in the UK.
On Colin Larkin’s All-Time Top 1000 Albums, Time was voted the number 10 All-Time Worst Albums Ever Made. That’s a long fall from the pretty much perfect album Rumours.
Def Leppard – Slang
Def Leppard was on top of their game in the 80s, becoming one of the pivotal bands in the new wave of British heavy metal. Well, they didn’t get the memo that their time has come and gone. Instead, they decided to switch up their sound and release Slang, their sixth studio album.
Not only did the album disregard the band’s distinctive melodies, but it decided to include horrible grunge and industrial sounds to virtually every track. It was a disaster from start to finish. Sorry, Def Leppard, but the darker lyrics don’t suit you.
Michael Bolton – Soul Provider
The thing about Michael Bolton is that it’s hard to dislike his music. It’s what’s called “agreeable.” Even so, it can get boring to hear the same vocals, guitar riffs, and general themes happening throughout his albums. And once Soul Provider rolled around, it was cited as being more of the same.
That’s not a great critique for an artist to get, especially when it’s album number six! Even so, its watery lyrics didn’t stop people from purchasing the album. It spent almost four years on the Billboard 200!
Bob Dylan & The Grateful Dead – Dylan & The Dead
When it was announced Bob Dylan would be collaborating with The Grateful Dead on not one song but an entire album, rock fans were thrilled. Too bad the album didn’t live up to expectations. While the album sold, critics weren’t too pleased with what could have been an all-time record.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine’s from AllMusic gave the album one star, saying, “[it’s] quite possibly the worst album by either Bob Dylan or the Grateful Dead…a sad, disheartening document.” Now, Dylan & the Dead is just a reminder of what could have been.
Mötley Crüe – Generation Swine
Heavy metal band Mötley Crüe has come out with some hits over the years, including 1989’s Dr. Feelgood. So when a comeback album was released in 1997, fans couldn’t have been more excited. Lead singer Vince Neil was coming back into the picture, after all! Well, Generation Swine was a comical disaster.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic actually went as far as calling the album “nothing short of an embarrassment.” Apparently, not everyone appreciated the band experimenting with a more alternative sound!
Van Halen – Van Halen III
Since Van Halen is known as one of the greatest rock bands in history, it’s strange that they are on a list of horrible albums. But not even the legendary Eddie Van Halen was immune to a dud. In this case, it was the album Van Halen III, which is the only album to feature Gary Cherone (pictured) as lead singer.
Although Eddie was known for his amazing guitar riffs, the band’s eleventh studio album was missing them, leaving out the energy of previous albums and songs. Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic reviewed Van Halen III, saying it “suffers from the same problems as Hagar-era Van Halen – limp riffs, weak melodies, and plodding, colorless rhythms.”[
Scott Weiland – The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
Arguably best-known for his time as the lead singer of the Stone Temple Pilots, Scott Weiland had a successful career spanning over three decades. That’s why more than one person was confused when he announced his 2011 Christmas album, The Most Wonderful Time of Year.
For fans of the rock star, it was difficult to listen to him making his way through strange versions of Winter Wonderland and White Christmas. It was a long fall from the ’90s rock sound people were used to hearing from the artist.
Black Sabbath – Forbidden
The English rock band Black Sabbath went through many lineup changes during their storied history. But their eighteenth studio album Forbidden saw the return of their 1990’s line-up, bringing back drummer Cozy Powell and bassist Neil Murray. Well, the once-well-oiled machine fell flat for the album, something that guitarist Tony Iommi called “total shambles.”
Forbidden received negative reviews from both critics and fans, with AllMusic’s Bradley Torreano giving the album a solid one and a half stars. He said the album was full of “boring songs, awful production, and uninspired performances, this is easily avoidable for all but the most enthusiastic fan.”
Bad Religion – Into The Unknown
In 1983, the rock band Bad Religion proved that not every band has the talent to switch up their sound. For their second studio album, Into the Unknown, they opted to ditch their customary hardcore punk sound and switch to slower tempos. It wasn’t a smart move.
The album was a commercial failure, as fans wanted more of the same. It was only their second album, after all! It was too soon to go in a different direction. Guitarist Brett Gurewitz has gone on record calling the album a “terrible misstep.”
AC/DC – Fly On The Wall
After albums like For Those About To Rock We Salute You and Black in Black, AC/DC has a lot to live up to when it came to their ninth studio album. Unfortunately, they probably should have stopped at eight since Fly on the Wall was such a bust.
Steve Huey of AllMusic describes the album best, saying, “Fly on the Wall continues AC/DC’s descent into cookie-cutter mediocrity, with the leering humor of past glories seeming forced and uninspired, and the music remaining somewhat underdeveloped and directionless.”
The Who – It’s Hard
The rock band The Who released more than one hit album during their storied career. But, as it goes, not all albums are created equal. Their tenth studio album, It’s Hard, proved that saying to be true, as it was missing virtually everything that made the band one of the greats.
From the lack of charisma to the cookie-cutter songs, It’s Hard was a disappointment. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic commented on the record, calling it an “undistinguished final effort with few memorable melodies and little energy.”
Phil Collins – Testify
Between his ridiculous drum playing and powerful vocals, Phil Collins pretty much has it all. He was an integral part of Genesis before going solo. And even when he did that, he was able to hold his own in the music industry. Then his seventh solo studio album was released.
Testify was, in a way, boring compared to his other work throughout the ’80s and ’90s. According to Uncut, “Collins sounds dated with his glossy production, precision session-playing, and radio-friendly songs all done by numbers with a great big hole where a heart should be.”
Nickelback – All The Right Reasons
When it comes to Nickelback, people don’t really expect much more than catchy lyrics filled with every cliché in the book. Their fifth studio album, All The Right Reasons, was no different. Filled with horrible rock absurdities that leave listeners confused as to why the album was allowed to be released to the public.
The webzine Tiny Mixed Tapes reviewed the album, saying, “Like all Nickelback releases before it, All The Right Reasons was made for all the wrong ones and follows all the formulas and clichés you should be bored to death of by now.” Ironically, it’s the band’s best-selling album.
Creedence Clearwater Revival – Mardi Gras
As one of the greatest rock bands to come out of the ’60s, it’s a sad fact that the Creedence Clearwater Revival left off on a sour note. Marred by creative differences and tension, their seventh and final studio album Mardi Gras was pretty much a flop.
Guitarist John Fogerty doesn’t even count Mardi Gras as one of their albums, telling Rolling Stone, “I figured that Creedence made six albums. Let me count… the first one, Bayou Country, Green River, Willy and the Poor Boys, Cosmo’s Factory, Pendulum… yeah, six. I wouldn’t even count Mardi Gras and neither would anybody else.”
Bloodhound Gang – Hefty Fine
The alternative rock band Bloodhound Gang should have stopped with their third studio album, as their fourth, Hefty Fine, was a monumental disaster. With a new electronic feel, the album has the pleasure of having the second-worst review on Metacritic with a solid score of 28/100.
PopMatters reviewed the album, saying, “As if the lyrics (and the poop) weren’t painful enough, the band actually makes us listen to music that, for the most part, amounts to cheap Blink 182 ripoff – that is, if Blink 182 used more synthesizer and were (get this) less funny.”
Iron Maiden – Virtual XI
In 1998, English heavy metal band Iron Maiden released their eleventh studio album, Virtual XI. As it would turn out, it would be lead singer Blaze Bayley’s final album with the band. It was probably a good time to get out, too, since the album was met with horrible reviews for being pretty much forgettable.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic reviewed the album, saying, “The problem is that there’s nothing memorable about the hooks, riffs, or songs, and there’s little visceral energy to the music or production. As a result, it sounds lifeless to all but the most devoted fan.”
Billy Idol – Cyberpunk
The album Cyberpunk is a great example of an artist trying to keep up with the times. Granted, Billy Idol pretty much immersed himself in the techno-cyberpunk sound before diving into his fifth studio album. But that doesn’t mean it turned out well. In fact, it didn’t.
Cyberpunk was met with negative and poor reviews. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic reviewed the album, saying it’s “padded with pretentious speeches, sampled dialog, and underdeveloped songs.” He also said the record was the proud holder of one of the worst covers ever created!
Neil Young – Everybody’s Rockin’
Twenty-five minutes of horrible rockabilly, that’s what Neil Young wound up recording for his 13th studio album, Everybody’s Rockin’. The record was met with astoundingly negative reviews, with people questioning what the rock star was thinking when he decided to release the album.
Robert Christgau of the Village Voice reviewed the album, saying, “The covers are redundant or worse, as are all but two of the originals…I hope Neil realizes that for all the horrible truth of “Payola Blues,” nobody’s three thou’s gonna get this on top forty.” In 2006, Everybody’s Rockin’ was listed as one of the Top 50 Worst Albums ever made.