Take these records, please

Or: Yes, it was as bad as you think

Making a list of the worst records of the 1990s takes just as much effort as compiling a concise countdown of the best records of this past decade, maybe more. Sometimes, a few slip through the cracks, such as on Jim DeRogatis' run-down of the most influential discs of the '90s ("The show-me slate," December 30), which featured not only Arrested Development, but also P.M. Dawn. Of course, DeRo is a big fan of Kid Rock, so it could have been worse. Not much, but still.

Fact is, every year bad records outweigh the good ones by a ratio that even a team of researchers at MIT would have trouble figuring out. Every Monday, we patiently await the week's mail crate full of albums, and every Monday, we end up back in our cramped cubicle muttering to ourselves about the taste of music business execs, or lack thereof. I won't bore you with a list of all the terrible discs we've received this year, because that would take more time and space than I'm willing to commit. Similarly, I won't try to be completely inclusive when my attention turns to the decade as a whole.

This was the decade that the alternative became the mainstream and everything went to hell. There are only twenty-something records on this list, but there could be hundreds more -- hell, we could've come up with 20 records just released in Dallas that are worthy of our scorn. As it stands, three made the list, and you probably already know which ones I have in mind. You, unfortunately, would be wrong, at least partly.

Alanis Morissette set the standard for late-'90s dreck.
Sheryl Nields
Alanis Morissette set the standard for late-'90s dreck.
Pretty much any Sonic Youth record could have made this list.
Sheryl Nields
Pretty much any Sonic Youth record could have made this list.

We won't get into all the atrocities that many an indie label has slung at us, and there are enough to fill this entire paper. You've heard of all of these albums before, and judging by the letters we receive, you own most of them. Suckers. You probably won't agree, but then again, you never do. So enjoy, or don't, really. I never expected you to in the first place.

Extreme II: Pornograffiti
A&M Records, 1990

Took a minute to remember just how much we loathed this record back in the day. Then we recalled how singer Gary Cerrone further sullied Van Halen's already damaged rep, and it all came back. To fully explain the breadth of depth of this album's ability to, uh, suck would take "More Than Words." Actually, that's all you need to hear. Everly Brothers, my ass.

Natalie Cole
Elektra Records, 1991

This is probably Natalie Cole's last chance to sing with her dear departed pop, Nat King Cole, because when she dies, she's going straight to hell. Apparently, grave-robbing isn't a punishable offense if you're in the music biz.

Tin Machine II
Tin Machine
Victory Records, 1991

You could sub this one out for David Bowie's 1993 solo joint Black Tie White Noise, and it wouldn't make a damn bit of difference. In fact, Bowie, like the Rolling Stones, overstayed his welcome a long time ago. Moralists tried to keep this disc, with its naked-ancient-statue cover art, out of stores. If only they knew they were doing everyone a favor.

Some Gave All
Billy Ray Cyrus
Mercury Records, 1992

Here's where Nashville bought in, selling the house so it could buy the farm. One mullet + one pair of tight jeans + one "Achy Breaky Heart" - any semblance of musical ability = huge success. God help us all.

The Sign
Ace of Base
Arista Records, 1993

No one needed a new version of ABBA, but God bless 'em, Ace of Base tried to give it to us anyway. And unfortunately, a few people actually did need a new version of ABBA. Even thinking about this record gives me a headache.

The Spaghetti Incident
Guns N' Roses
Geffen Records, 1993

If you've been wondering why it's been so long since GN'F'nR has been in the spotlight, take this bad boy out for another test drive.

Supermodel to the World
Tommy Boy Records, 1993

No need for too much explanation here, though I would like to point out how appalling it is that Tommy Boy Records released this catwalk crap. For shame. Then again, this is the same label that just signed Pimpadelic.

Hell Freezes Over
The Eagles
Geffen Records, 1994

If any band ever made a promise that I wanted kept, it was the Eagles' declaration that they would reunite when and if hell froze over. The bastards. For the record, Satan is still hot, the Eagles still aren't, and the only place we want to see one of the Eagles is on The Drew Carey Show, when guitarist Joe Walsh makes one of his frequently hilarious guest shots.

Mind Blowin'
Vanilla Ice
SBK Records, 1994

Sure, you could take your pick when Robbie Van Winkle's pseudonym is attached, but this is the real shit sandwich. Ice ditches the shellacked high-top fade and Hammer-approved genie pants for white-boy dreads and predictable pot references. You know, 'cause he's keeping it real. You'll need to roll one up to get all the way through this crime against recording equipment.

Bringing on the Weather
A&M Records, 1994

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