Do any of your favorite bands have 100% good output?

Here’s what I’m getting at. All of the bands (or solo artists) I would call my favorites are well-established, meaning they’ve put out many studio albums and have been around for a long time. But most of them, from time to time, have put out some real clunkers (I’m talking individual songs, here).

By way of example, one of my all-time favorite bands is Genesis. I like them in all of their incarnations. Obviously, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway is vastly superior to Invisible Touch, but I still think IT is a good album, taken for what it is ('80s pop). Genesis doesn’t have any albums that I don’t like, but there are a few individual songs that I can’t stand, and always skip: “Who Dunnit?,” “Follow You Follow Me,” and “In Too Deep” come to mind.

Another example is Yes. 90125 and Big Generator are no Close to the Edge, but they have some good stuff on them. They also both contain songs I can’t stand. In Yes’s case, they have done an entire album that I like to pretend doesn’t exist: Open Your Eyes. The jury is still out on their latest album… I want to like it, but I’m not so sure.

So I’ve found myself thinking… are there any established bands that I like, who have NEVER done a bad song? Where I can honestly say I like 100% of their output, or can at least tolerate it? How about for you?

I don’t want to bog this down with specific criteria on what makes a band “established,” this is purely subjective. But I think contenders should be bands that’ve been around, and have released more than a few studio albums. I mean, I could say yes to the '70s supergroup UK, because they only put out two albums, both of which are great from start to finish. But that’s too easy.

I’ve come up with two possibilities, which are debatable (in my mind): Dream Theater and Spock’s Beard.

Before Mike Portnoy left the band, I would have said yes to Dream Theater without hesitation. The two albums they’ve put out since are ok, I don’t hate them, but I don’t listen to them regularly, either. When I do, I don’t skip any songs, but I may get to that point in the future.

As for Spock’s Beard: their first album after Neal Morse left, Feel Euphoria, is the weakest of their eleven albums. Again, I don’t outright hate any of the songs on this album, but some of them kinda plod along. I don’t skip any of the songs, but I find myself looking forward to their later, better output.

What are yours?

No. Not for me personally.

The Beatles were legend, but even they spawned a few clunkers. There’s always something that should have never left the studio vault that wound up filling a space on Side B.

The Gaslight Anthem.

First 3 albums - absolutely freakin’ stellar. 4th album - only one good song, IMO. I see now that they just released a 5th album, will check that out tonight.

Led Zeppelin


Both have many albums and it’s hard to pick even a few bad songs.

Nope. Even my favorite bands had plenty of clunkers. (Zeppelin–um, “Hot Dog” for one of many.) Maybe some one-and-done bands like the La’s, but with more than two or three albums, it’s hard for me to think of any band that doesn’t have some stuff that is less-than-worthy.

Camera Obscura - 5 albums and enjoy every song on them. I even like the non-album singles that they’ve done.

First Aid Kit - I actually discovered this band just a few months ago. The first album was a bit weak in comparison to the last two, but even then there really wasn’t a bad song on it.

Florence + the Machine - 2 albums filled with excellent stuff.

Lykke Li - 3 albums of great songs. I think Wounded Rhymes is the only album where I’ve rated every song a 5 out of 5.

IMO, Joy Division didn’t record a duff track in their career. That’s only forty-odd songs right enough, but still counts I think.

I was going to say Led Zeppelin too because I couldn’t think of a single song I’ve ever forwarded through and most I think are just amazing. Then pulykamell had to go and mention Hot Dog.

I was about to say Kevin Gilbert. I can’t say I love every song he wrote but there’s nothing I’d heard that I really disliked. Except when taking a look at his discography I saw the Kaviar sessions, listened to “Picnic” and found one to hate. It sounds like a bad Mojo Nixon song, and even if that’s intentional, I still can’t stand it.

If we’re allowed to pick and choose, then I could say everything that is labeled solo work by him I’d say I like, along with Toy Matinee too (and what few Giraffe songs I’ve heard).

I knew someone who once had just about everything by Better Than Ezra, and while I wouldn’t call them one of my favorite bands, there’s nothing I really disliked.

IME, any established band that has released more than say, five full-length studio albums is going to have at least one that is of a considerably lower standard than the others.

I can’t think of a Queen song I don’t like…

The only counterexample I can think of to this rule is REM. I think their ninth album Monster is the one where the standard dropped considerably. I’m ruling that Radio Song isn’t in itself a bad enough track to completely devalue Out of Time.

The Black Keys have a consistently good output.

A bit obscure, but Sleater Kinney is pretty close to perfect. And they’ve released over 100 songs.

Not to say they’re my favorite band, but IMO Steely Dan was remarkably consistently good.

Maybe there’s a band or act that made one great album and then died in a plane crash immediately afterward… but otherwise, it’s almost impossible not to record some bad songs.

Even the Beatles had “Mister Moonlight.” Even Zeppelin had “Down By the Seaside.”

Any act with nothing but good songs has to have been a mighty short-lived act.

They’re one of my favorite bands (finally got to see them on their current tour), but that first self-titled album they were just finding their voice and is, in my opinion, only necessary for completists.

The Bronx have yet to record anything that I don’t like or am indifferent to (5 albums now if we include the El Mariachi Bronx stuff).

Funkadelic doesn’t have any bad songs, IMO.

Gay For Johnny Depp’s output was 100% awesome.

Ditto for Iron Monkey and Kyuss and The Machine and Morphine and My Own Victim and OFF! and Refused and Rodrigo y Gabriela and Steely Dan and UFOmammut and Universal Congress Of and Zeke.

I didn’t include a lot of 1-and-done bands nor did I include any bands that had even a single song I don’t care for; I could prolly make an even longer list if I was at home and could look over my whole collection.

Aww, “Down By the Seaside” is one of my favorites! “Hot Dog” is more tolerable if you think of it as a joke.

Until last year’s atrocious Pale Communion, Opeth would’ve won this category hands-down.

Aside from their debut album and several ill-advised demo/outtakes collections, Porcupine Tree has yet to release any genuine clunkers.

There’s very few Nirvana songs that I dislike, although they have the advantage of releasing only three albums before breaking up.