Knowing when to call it quits is always the hardest decision when it comes to any pursuit with no built-in time limit. When athletes play too long, they can get injured, or their diminished skills will be so apparent that any legacy they’d built up could be forgotten. The same idea is true for musicians and bands. When a band can’t figure out that it’s time to hang it up, the results are often tragic to say the least. These are five of the worst final albums in history.
Bush – ‘Golden State’ (2001) When Bush exploded onto the music scene in 1994 with their debut record “Sixteen Stone” many of us thought we were welcoming the newest Brit-based rock band that would be around for years to come, feeding their fans with a steady diet of rock gold. Yet by the time they released “Golden State” in 2001 it was clear that the band was on its death bed, and they had the record to prove it. Devoid of any of the infectious hooks of “Sixteen Stone,” Bush’s final effort fell heart-breakingly flat and mostly came off as a band trying to sound like Bush once did, leaving all their early potential in the dust.
Guns N’ Roses – ‘Chinese Democracy’ (2008) Admittedly, this record could also be classified as a “comeback” record, since it was released 15 years after their previous album. That aside, this is still the worst album released under the band’s name, and therefore is on this list. Anticipated for a decade and a half, what Axl Rose finally unleashed was a “trying-too-hard” LP devoid of any of the true musical genius the band’s records used to embody. Axl’s voice is shot, and without Slash at least providing some great musical backing this album should have stayed buried in its tomb.
The Beatles – ‘Let it Be’ (1970) How could I, a devout disciple of The Beatles possibly put an album of theirs in a list of the worst anything? Phil Spector, that’s how. The sessions for this record all took place before “Abbey Road,” which was made for the sole purpose of giving the fans a legitimate send off. The Beatles themselves were not happy with what came out of the sessions that resulted in the material on “Let it Be.” They shelved it, only to have it later resurrected by Spector, who completely butchered the tracks with over-blown production. Songs like “The Long and Winding Road” were made overly orchestral, and generally the life was sucked right out of the performances. If you don’t believe my assessment of this record do yourself a favor and listen to “Let it Be…Naked,” which is the same album with all of Spector’s “wall of sound” producing removed, and tell me it’s not superior in every way to the 1970 version.
The Clash – ‘Cut the Crap’ (1985) With Mick Jones and Topper Headon absent, the remaining members of The Clash created this epic failure of a record with hired guns playing the guitar parts. Widely hated by die hard fans of the band, “Cut the Crap” was an abysmal last gasp from a group whose catalog is quite stellar apart from it. Jones, the other guitarist in the band up until about 1984, was also the primary songwriter, and his not being in the sessions for “Cut The Crap” was immediately apparent. None of the tracks registered as coming from the same group that had become so popular with songs like “White Riot,””Career Opportunities,” or the smash hit single “Rock the Casbah.” Instead, their final record was a milquetoast, cookie cutter collection of aimless and meanings rock ramblings.
Guns N’ Roses – ‘The Spaghetti Incident?’ (1993) Okay, so maybe I’m being a little harsh on Guns N’ Roses. I don’t think so, though. In all seriousness, this record was so bad it should have been the end for Axl, Slash and company. There is nothing of redeeming quality on this record from start to finish. The only bit of buzz that was generated around it was when Axl decided to use lyrics written by Charles Manson for the “hidden” track on the album, but even that novelty really doesn’t do anything for this complete dud of an album. What made this record’s failure so shocking was that it was coming off the heels of the band’s insanely popular and critically acclaimed two-album salvo of “Use Your Illusion I” and “Use Your Illusion II.” The fall was sudden, and really painful for both the band anyone who bought their last record.