I have never listened to an album by

I think of myself as someone who’s listened to a lot of records, at least within the segment of music I pay most attention to (1977-2000 Anglosphere indie.)  But there are some weird holes.  I have never listened to an album, all the way through, by:

  • Radiohead
  • Sonic Youth
  • Neutral Milk Hotel
  • The Fall

These are meant to be in order from most to least surprising.   I know one song by Radiohead (“Creep,” natch) sort of know one song by the Fall (“Prole Art Threat,”) have certainly heard a few songs by Sonic Youth but couldn’t hum one (except I know there’s one where the lyric “I don’t think so” is central) and I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a song by Neutral Milk Hotel.

If you define “album” to exclude best-ofs and singles comps, one must add to this list New Order, the Smiths, Squeeze, Elvis Costello, the Ramones, and quite possibly Prince (I know I own one of his mid-80s records on cassette, but I’m not sure I’ve listened to it.)  And Joy Division, before I bought the box set.  Really!

I don’t own a U2 album, but it’s unthinkable that I didn’t at some point in college I didn’t hear one in toto.  I first listened to a Beck album (Odelay) last April.  Also, the only Guns N Roses album I’ve listened to all the way through is their covers record, The Spaghetti Incident. Their version of “New Rose” is completely successful.

Share your own surprising rock lacunae in comments.

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16 thoughts on “I have never listened to an album by

  1. D. Eppstein says:

    Albums that I *have* listened all the way through for which I think this fact is surprising: Lou Reed, Metal Machine Music.

  2. nissim says:

    Radiohead, as i’ve been told, are not performing “Creep” any more since they think of it as their worst song. this version of the song, which became their first hit, was made as a joke at other rock style they found too linear. their producer at the time told them he is going to keep this version cause he needed a hit that will catch in the radio.

    so even the one song you know of radiohead, is probably their least favorite. try “fade out” or “airbag”

  3. Toby Gee says:

    I’ve just woken up and can’t think of an obvious one for me – although it’s actually quite possible that I’ve never listened to a real Dylan album all the way through. I’ve never listened to a Fall album either. Or GnR, I think.

    On the other hand I’ve definitely listened to every album by NMH, Radiohead and Sonic Youth all the way through. In fact I’ve probably listened to every song by Radiohead or NMH (released or unreleased) all the way through – Radiohead were my favourite band when I was 18, and ITAOTS is still in my non-existent top 10 albums of all the time. It is the one album in there that I can’t really imagine recommending to anyone else – I can certainly see its flaws, but on the other hand I listened to it straight through twice in a row a couple of days ago and it still sounded like the best thing ever.

  4. Em says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever listened to a non-comp Ramones album straight through, but somehow I still know the words to most of the songs. I wish I could get back all of the hours of my life that Cary made me listen to OK Computer.

    Hmm, never listened to a Public Enemy record straight through. Or GnR but not sure I care. Or ACDC.

    Try Hex Enduction Hour or The Wonderful and Frightening World of the Fall to get your Mark E. Smith fix.

  5. Nathan Dunfield says:

    Hmm, I have so many gaps, the word lacunae isn’t really the right one. But eg Aerosmith and Nirvana.

  6. Sean Prendiville says:

    I own albums by The Fall, Faust and Gong which I’ve never listened to! Maybe the covers put me off.

    To my mind, New Order are a ‘singles’ band, so you are probably qualified to pass judgement on their music. Arguably, it’s the same for The Smiths (I know, I know; ‘The Queen Is Dead’ is close to perfection).

    Finally, I would class Buzzcocks as one of my favourite bands, yet I’ve only ever listened to their compilations. Again, is this because they’re a singles band? Having never heard one of their ‘proper’ albums, I’m not qualified to say.

  7. Tom says:

    I’ve somehow never heard “Freebird,” at least not to know it. “Sweet Home Alabama” I’ve heard lots, so go figure.

  8. JSE says:

    Nirvana and Dylan are good examples. I’ve listened to both Nirvana albums a bunch but for Dylan, only the Freewheelin’ and Highway 61 Revisted.

    Buzzcocks, I too have only heard the best-of.

    And I thought of another of my never-heard-an-albums that belongs on the top list: David Bowie!

  9. Richard says:

    Highway 61 Revisted is Dylan’s masterpiece. Unfortunately the CD seems to have been mixed way too brightly, and consequently sounds a little thin. I never noticed this until I recently upgraded to loudspeakers in the audiophile class with a quite flat frequency response. I wonder if Dylan’s high frequency hearing has greatly degraded with age. Most of my CDs now sound substantially better with the new loudspeakers, but this is one of the few that sound worse, along with Hendrix’s Are You Experienced. If you like Dylan, you may also like a couple of Ferron’s very musical recordings: Testimony and Phantom Center. I’ve also found with the new loudspeakers that Mile’s Davis’ In a Silent Way can blow me away, especially with the volume turned up.

    My music collection has huge holes in it because I like music dating all the way back to the Baroque and Classical periods, and I have neither the time nor the money to collect recordings of all the great music out there. I pick at it one genre or composer at a time. Recently I have concentrated on French baroque.

    I wonder if someone should do a survey to find out what percentage of mathematicians either play music, enjoy attending concerts, or cherish their sound systems and music collections.

  10. Sean Prendiville says:

    Bowie is also one of my lacunae – as is the whole genre of glam rock. Similarly, I’ve never knowingly listened to a prog album, or any hair-metal (would this category include GnR ?). Shamefully, I once bought a Jesus and Mary Chain album (possibly ‘Automatic’), got half way through listening to it, ejected the CD in disgust and took it straight back to the shop. In my defence, I was young. Now I find many of my current favourite bands cite the Mary Chain as an influence. Perhaps it’s time to give them a second chance – and The Fall a first.

  11. Em says:

    Bowie! Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust are worth the effort.

    I realize now I had it easy when it comes to the late 60s and early 70s because I had my parents’ records, so I heard Paul Simon, Jimi Hendrix, the Stones, and the Beatles from them.

    I just realized that I only had a T. Rex comp, so shame on me.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Hmmm, let’s see, Rock music I haven’t listened to. That’s a pretty extensive list. I don’t think I’ve heard any Beatles record in it’s entirety. I’ve only ever listened to the Rolling Stones on Microsoft ads. Three of the bands you listed I have never heard of before, and I have no idea what Radiohead sounds like (although I did see them make a cameo on South Park). If I search my iTunes collection for “Rock” and order by Play Count, the first thirteen matches come from the album: “”The Shepherd on the Rock” & other favourite Lieder”. Rounding out the top 15 is “Barbie Girl” and a song by Ace of Base. Putting all this together gives me a “Rock cred” score of 1/100.

  13. JSE says:

    Oh, you and your elevated tastes! Go listen to Revolver and eat a burger, extra lean if you insist.

  14. CCW says:

    Didn’t I make you listen to OK Computer on the drive to the Midwest Topology Seminar last spring?

  15. Abraham says:

    I recommend the fallowing!

    The Fall – Hex Enduction Hour
    The Smiths – Meat Is Murder
    Prince – Dirty Mind
    Elvis Costello – My Aim Is True
    The Ramones – Rockets To Russia (the release with the bonus disc has a demo for a song called Slug thats probably my favorite Ramones song)

  16. harrison says:

    It’s hard to not listen to NMH all the way through — in my experience, the kind of people who like their music tend to really like their music, and the kind of people who don’t will stop listening fairly quickly. (I fall into the first camp).

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