Naming an album seems to be hard to some artists. Maybe U.K. arty-boffin Peter Gabriel got it right: the ex-Genesis frontman’s first four solo albums were all simply called Peter Gabriel. He said he wanted each of his albums to be akin to a magazine. Even when he decided to name his following releases, he went for minimalistic two-character words: So, Us, and Up.
Led Zeppelin released Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II, Led Zeppelin III and the fourth which didn’t even have their band name on it (it’s widely known as Led Zeppelin IV, of course).
But other artists seemingly can’t resist wordplay. Here’s just some that make you think: what were they thinking?
If you’ve already named your band Butthole Surfers, things can only get better, right? But not much better. The Surfers already had an album called Rembrandt Pussyhorse (what?) when they released their 1988 fourth LP, Hairway to Steven. A terrible pun on the Zeppelin classic song, it’s all you’d expect from an album that includes a song called “I Saw an X-Ray of a Girl Passing Gas.” Dudes, you are just weird.
Others similarly go for titles that pass letters around. In 1994, NOFX released Punk in Drublic. This isn’t even as good as the Buttholes’ - “drublic” is not even a word. Ministry’s 1999 album was a pun on Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Spoon at least noted leader Al Jourgensen’s battle with heroin.
Some puns are just all too predictable. Witness The Fools’ Heavy Mental (1980), Al Di Meola’s Kiss My Axe (1991) and Blink-182’s Enema of the State (1999). At least Blink perhaps knowingly named one of their hits “What’s My Age Again?” Can we guess: seven years old?
Other times, old jokes are the
best worst. Did R.E.O Speedwagon really release a 1978 album called You Can Tune a Piano but You Can't Tuna Fish? They did. Other times, titles need explaining. When in Cream, Eric Clapton had been thinking of buying a racing bicycle and was discussing it with Ginger Baker. A roadie named Mick Turner was there an apparently commented, “it's got them Disraeli Gears,” meaning to say the derailleur gears found on many bikes. Instead, he seemed to allude to the U.K’s 19th-century British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli. The roadie’s malapropism was deemed funny enough to actually name Cream’s next album.
Joe Walsh is a man fond of joke album titles. His early solo album was The Smoker You Drink, the Player You Get (1973). It was early ‘70s slang, it seems, for the higher you get the better you play. In 1983, Walsh released an album You Bought It – You Name It. That’s actually quite clever, in a surrealist sort of way.
Others are just irritants for editors’ spell-checking. R.EM’s Lifes Rich Pageant (1986) deliberately has no apostrophe (it should, grammatically correct, be Life’s…)
In no particular order, here’s 20-plus terrible or just silly album titles. Add your own favorites in the comments.
Enema of the State
Life's Like a Chox of Bogglets
Slaughterhouse on the Prairie
From Fear to Eternity
The Tip of the Weisberg
People Like Us
Abridged Too Far
The Electric Amish
Barn to Be Wild
You Can Tune a Piano, But You Can’t Tuna Fish
Blood on the Slacks
Follow My Liebe
Lead Me Not Into Penn Station
Night of the Living Shred
Merry Axemas (series of guitar instrumental albums)
Pump Up the Valuum, Punk in Drublic and The War on Errorism (The punning punks deserve treble points!)
Endless Bummer (Max awful points for bandname and title)
Rust in Peace
The Song Remains Insane
Dread Zeppelin at least had the excuse that they were a comedy band. Everyone else, have a word with yourselves!