Sunday, 4 March 2018


Two years ago, at the end of a fortnight’s holiday in Asia, my mother, my brother and I had a rest day in the scorching heat of Ho Chi Minh City, where we had had a good walk around the previous sweltering day.

I had bought copies of the 1903 and 1904 Wisdens with me, and I began to re-read familiar sections of the former issue, when I said:
“of the Surrey bowling there is nothing to be said except that 锁木 (“swǎw–mòo”) had some wonderful days and that Richardson, though no longer great, worked most strenuously.”
锁木 means “Lock Wood”, and referred to William Henry Lockwood, a deadly fast bowler for Surrey between 1891 and 1894, and between 1898 and 1903 after a series of accidents completely nullified his effectiveness between 1894/1895 (Ashes tour) and 1897.

My brother, who studied Chinese vastly more seriously than I ever did, still did not recognise what I meant by “锁木”, and – as I tend to do myself, read “swǎw–mòo” (I have never mastered the tones in Chinese) as “swarm–oo”. Without understanding who this “swǎw–mòo” was, my brother joked that he “died because he was stung by a swarm of bees” based on the mispronunciation! Bill Lockwood was very accident-prone and during his Australian tour severely cut a hand when a soda syphon exploded, and narrowly escaped both drowning and losing an arm. However, there is actually no evidence Lockwood (锁木) was ever attacked by a swarm of bees as my brother joked during any point of his life!

In the two years since we returned from Vietnam, I have again mentioned “锁木” and my brother repeats the joke about him being stung by a swarm of bees – to the extent that my mother finds it offensive even though she does not understand the Chinese pronunciation. In recent months, as I have actually tried to look at real cases of people being stung by a swarm of bees, this has become embarrassing because – although the claim is my brother’s joke – I have found that people can indeed be killed if a swarm of bees stings, and Mummy had known that for a long time. However, the joke is just too funny despite it’s silliness and the fact that my brother has long been pointing out to me that foreign names (“Lockwood” etc.) are almost never translated into Chinese by meaning (“锁木”) but are almost always translated more prosaically by the nearest allowable sound (thus “洛克伍德”, “lwàw–kèr–wǒo–dèr”).

Are these the worst albums ever?

A couple of weeks ago now, one anonymous person published a list of the 100 worst albums he could think of. It is given as a very large poster and then listed in a user-friendly text format in alphabetical order by artist:
  • Measure of a Man – Clay Aiken
  • The Click – AJR
  • Two the Hard Work – Allman and Woman
  • Dirty Work – All Time Low
  • NOW + 4EVA – Architecture in Helsinki
  • Generation – Audio Bullys
  • Sounding the Seventh Trumpet – Avenged Sevenfold
  • Never Gone – Backstreet Boys
  • Maroon – Barenaked Ladies
  • Lions – The Black Crowes
  • What the. . . – Black Flag
  • Forbidden – Black Sabbath
  • The Beginning – Blackeyed Peas
  • The E.N.D. – Blackeyed Peas
  • Epic – Blood on the Dance Floor
  • Evolution – Blood on the Dance Floor
  • #NEWGOREORDER – Borgore
  • Never Let Me Down – David Bowie
  • I‘m Not a Fan but the Kids Like It – Brokencyde
  • Fortune – Chris Brown
  • Graffiti – Chris Brown
  • Camino Palmero – The Calling
  • Charmbracelet – Mariah Carey
  • Glitter – Mariah Carey
  • Memories. . .Do Not Open – The Chainsmokers
  • Testify – Phil Collins
  • Scream – Chris Cornell
  • Full Circle – Creed
  • Milley Cyrus and Her Dead Pets – Milley Cyrus
  • Outta Sight/Outta Mind – The Datsuns
  • Destiny Fulfilled – Destiny’s Child
  • A Moving Picture – Devlin
  • One – Dirty Vegas
  • Thank You – Duran Duran
  • Revival – Eminem
  • Streets in the Sky – The Enemy
  • A Day Without Rain – Enya
  • Mania – Fall Out Boy
  • Playing with Fire – Kevin Federline
  • Angelic 2 the Core: Angelic Funkadelic/Angelic Rockadelic – Corey Feldman
  • Animal Ambition: An Untamed desire to Win – 50 Cent
  • Wake Up! – Pope Francis
  • Enclosure – John Frusciante
  • Music for Tourists – Chris Garneau
  • Cardiology – Good Charlotte
  • Good Morning Revival – Good Charlotte
  • UNO . . . DOS . . . TRÉ – Green Day
  • Listen (Deluxe) – David Guetta
  • Take It to the Limit – Hinder
  • FOR(N)EVER – Hoobastank
  • No Shame – Hopsin
  • Cyberpunk – Billy Idol
  • And Then Boom – Iglu and Hartly
  • Virtual XI – Iron Maiden
  • Blood in My Eye – Ja Rule
  • Speeding Bullet 2 Heaven – Kid Cudi
  • Music from ‘The Elder’ – KISS
  • Something about Kreay – Kreayshawn
  • The Rebirth of Venus – Ben Lee
  • ReBIRTH – Lil’ Wayne
  • Results May Vary – Limp Bizkit
  • One More Light – Linking Park
  • Authentic – LL Cool J
  • Sorry for Party Rocking – LMFAO
  • Slick Dogs and Ponies – Louis XIV
  • Baytl – Gucci Mane and V-Nasty
  • Red Pill Blues (Deluxe) – Maroon 5
  • Super Collider – Megadeth
  • Louder – Lea Michele
  • Hotel – Moby
  • Travistan – Travis Morrison
  • Dark Horse – Nickelback
  • A Lively Mind – Paul Oakenfold
  • Heathen Chemistry – Oasis
  • (One) – The Panic Channel
  • Metal Magic – Pantera
  • One of the Boys – Katy Perry
  • Liz Phair – Liz Phair
  • Having Fun with Elvis on Stage – Elvis Presley
  • Life on Display – Puddle of Mudd
  • Doll Domination – The Pussycat Dolls
  • Nine Track Mind – Charlie Puth
  • Eoghan Quigg – Eoghan Quigg
  • Lulu – Lou Reed and Metallica
  • Wanderlust – Gavin Rossdale
  • United Nations of Sound – RPA and the United Nations of Sound
  • ****hole – Gene Simmons
  • Get Your Heart On! – Simple Plan
  • – Soulja Boy
  • Underclass Hero – Sum 41
  • 1989 (Deluxe) – Taylor Swift
  • Paula – Robin Thicke
  • Title (Deluxe Version) – Meghan Trainor
  • Jewellery Quarter – The Twang
  • Hotel California – Tyga
  • Famous First Words – Viva Brother
  • Raditude – Weezer
  • #willpower –
  • Warlord (Deluxe) – Yung Lean
What is noticeable to me is that I have bypassed almost every one of these albums, because all but a few were made after I stopped listening to the radio in the middle to late 1990s when I felt that what was played was just too loud, tuneless and noisy to interest me. It is true that within my occasional present-day readings of music that these or similar albums are listed as very bad, and I do almost always accept that viewpoint. Whenever I have listened to these or related albums, I can only say I dislike them quite intensely.

However, as I reflect on past music reading, I always have scepticism that the list is too ephemeral and is not focused on records whose badness will endure with those who attempt to remember them. With hindsight, most of the worst of the popular music I listened to in the cloistered environment of Keilor Downs was nothing more and nothing less than ordinarily bad. For this reason, I wonder if the albums listed here will simply become regarded as just that in the future, and do so desite finding them much worse vis-à-vis what I listed to as a child.