Judging an Album by Its Title

Jeff Giles: I was listening to Charlie Hunter’s Gentlemen, I Neglected to Inform You You Will Not Be Getting Paid the other day, and thinking about how it might be my favorite album title (with the possible exception of Yo La Tengo’s I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass, which I’ve been tempted to listen to for years but have never gotten around to).

How about you guys? Are there any albums you just had to buy because the title was too perfect to resist?

Annie Logue: You Can Tune a Piano, But You Can’t Tune a Fish.

Giles: I love that title, but I knew better than to see if the music measured up to it.

Dave Steed: I hate Mogwai, but had to listen to Hardcore Will Never Die…But You Will. And I realize I should have listened to it long ago, but I always pause when I see Big Black’s Songs About Fucking. Also, I keep a Jayo Felony CD single around just because it’s titled “Hotta Than Fish Grease.” I don’t even know what that means, but it’s fantastically stupid. Oh, and I couldn’t resist the second record from The Tony Danza Tap Dance Extravaganza, called Danza II: Electric Boogaloo.

Dave Lifton: The Essential Bruce Springsteen.

David Medsker: I was always amused by the title We’re the Meatmen and You Suck. Not enough to buy it, but pretty close.

Zack Dennis: I actually saw the Meatmen play at a festival in D.C.  They’re the ones who sucked, not me.

Kelly Stitzel: It wasn’t a full album, but I bought the Allo Darlin’ EP Henry Rollins Don’t Dance based on the title (and cover art, which is amazing). I ended up loving it, and their other stuff.

Dan Wiencek: If we can count bootlegs, the boot of Pink Floyd’s 1977 show at the Oakland Colosseum is called Who Was Trained Not to Spit on the Fan — a witty reference not only to the Animals LP, but to the notorious act of expectoration that happened at that very show.

Jon Cummings: I can’t identify an album whose title forced me to listen, but I can quickly name one whose title put me off so much I wouldn’t go near it: This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours by Manic Street Preachers. The album
was HUGE in the UK and Europe right after I moved to London in ’98, but to me the title represented everything stuffy and overblown about English culture that rubbed me the wrong way in the first couple months after we moved there. (The garbage lead single, “If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next,” didn’t help.) In fact, I place a decent chunk of the blame for my culture-shock depression those first six months in the UK on the fact that the Manics were so inexplicably popular during that time. It took a belated attachment to Robbie Williams’ Millennium, which had come out a couple months after the Manics but whose greatness I didn’t recognize until around Christmas, for me to give the music on British radio a chance — after which I was endlessly thankful that I could listen to Robbie and Stereophonics and Texas through 1999 instead of Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park and N’Sync in the US.

Zack: Had I not already heard of them (and fallen in love with their music), I would have been intrigued by any of the album titles from Explosions in the Sky, particularly Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever.

Jeff: Seconded.

Dw. Dunphy: This is a great subject, not only because it’s getting me thinking, but because I realize just how safe most bands play it when it comes to naming these things. If you’re pop, you stay around sexy-lovey-sexy territory. If you’re metal, it tends to be Unpronouncable-Blargh-Evil (it happens a lot). Off the top of my head, I like Nilsson Schmilsson because it says nothing about how the album sounds and comes across severely self-deprecating. Then you hear it and it is, by turns, sentimental, angry, poppy, and the title gives nothing away.

In terms of post-rockers, Explosions in the Sky is a good example as is their Northern counterparts Godspeed You Black Emperor and Lift Yr Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven.

Brian Boone: I just listened to this album by Pugwash, which should be the name of a rap-metal or Puddle of Mudd-esque band, not a decent power pop outfit. That thing has been sitting in my itunes for weeks and I didn’t listen specifically because of that terrible, terrible name.

Annie: Johnny Cash had a 3-CD box set a few years back called Love, God, Murder. That was a genius title, and it pretty much sums up his entire career.

Chris Holmes: A Ding Dong Dandy Christmas! – The Three Suns
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots – Flaming Lips (no, I was not already a fan)

Matt Wardlaw: For me, it’s the sarcastically titled What Else Can Go Right album by Terry Anderson. Both the album title and the cover (plus the tunes within) are a winning package!

Rob Smith: John Hiatt Comes Alive at Budokan.  And I love it because it wasn’t recorded at Budokan.

I also loved SeepeopleS’ Apocalypse Cow Vol. 1.  The music was all right, but the title makes me laugh to this day.  And I understand the Simpsons used the title for one of its episodes.

Dan: When was that? A beast named Apocalypse Cow also appeared in the short-lived live-action Tick series. As I recall, she was 40 feet tall and shot fire from her teats.

Peter Lubin: God help me for mentioning it, but Caravan’s Cunning Stunts has never completely vacated my consciousness.  They also had For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night, and the immortal If I Could Do It All Over Again I’d Do It All Over You.

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  • dslifton

    I love that Lubin got the last word in this one.

  • dslifton

    I love that Lubin got the last word in this one.

  • Gerald Wetzer

    Great collection! However I would have expected to find Seasick Steve’s “I Started Out With Nothing and Still Got Most of It Left” in it….

  • Anonymous

    One of my favorite titles is the Replacements promo EP “Don’t Buy or Sell, It’s Crap”, which works on multiple levels. First, because it was a promo EP, I don’t think it (originally) was meant to be sold or bought. Also, it was just like The Replacements to do something like this: in order to promote their final album (a band album in name only, really), they told people not to actually bother with it. And finally…well….it is kinda crappy, especially the old, in the studio outtake “Like A Rolling Pin”, where an unbelieveably drunk Paul leads an unbelievably drunk Replacements through a semi-coherent version of “Like A Rolling Stone”, starting off with the challenge “Come on Bob, and put on a guitar!”, because Bob Dylan was recording in the same studio block that they were at that time.

    Added note: What Paul didn’t realize until the end of the song, and what can’t be heard on “It’s Crap”, is that Dylan actually walked into the studio while they were playing, and he was right behind them by the time they finished (or rather, petered out). He actually then hung with them in the studio for a bit, during which he asked Tommy Stinson something like “Say…what’s Minnesota like nowadays?”.

  • RoyBatty

    Some great ones mentioned.  I’d add:
    Butthole Surfer’s “Hairway to Steven”
    Negativland’s “These Guys Are from England and Who Gives a Shit”
    Therapy?’s “Suicide Pact: You First”

  • Matthew

    I remember seeing an album called Somethin’ Gonna Jump Out The Bushes one time, but I can’t remember who it was by. I regret not buying it. 

  • Anonymous

    Without needing to hear a note, I was all too eager to buy Spooky Tooth’s “You Broke My Heart So I Busted Your Jaw.”

  • arensb

    Swiss singer Sarcloret called his debut album “Les plus grands succès de Sarcloret” (Sarcloret’s Greatest Hits), and his second one “Les premiers adieux de Sarcloret” (Sarcloret’s First Farewell Tour).

    But for my part, I bought Caustic’s album “Booze Up and Riot” largely on the strength of the song titles, like “All Your Heroes Are Dildos” and “The Reason I Broke Up With You Is A Million Reasons You Psychotic Wang”.

  • Richard Brandt

    Spooky Tooth’s “You  Broke My Heart So I Busted Your Jaw”

    John Mellencamp’s “Nothin’ Matters And What If It Did” and the most self-deprecating greatest-hits title ever: “The Best That I Could Do”

  • Richard Brandt

    Spooky Tooth’s “You Broke My Heart So I Busted Your Jaw”

    John Mellencamp’s “Nothin’ Matters and What If It Did” and the most self-deprecating greatest-hits title yet, “The Best That I Could Do”

  • Ozarkamtt

    I can come up with two titles. Although they didn’t make me buy them (I had my money out walking into the store), I still think they are genius.

    Black Sabbath (w/Dio) live album: Live Evil – I am surprised that palindrome wasn’t used before.

    Monty Python : Contractual Obligation Album – Nothing like calling it what it is.

  • Pico

    Miles Davis used the Live-Evil title on a 1970 album.

  • Ozarkamtt

    Hmm, well I guess “it’s the more you know . . . “

  • Ozarkamtt

    Hmm, well I guess “it’s the more you know . . . “