As with any artistic pursuit, musicians can often feel let down by their past work. Whether it’s a lack of connection, cringing at their younger selves, or growing tired of hearing the same tunes over and over, there are a number of artists that have publicly admitted they hate their own albums.
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Below, we’re going through seven albums that, despite their success, aren’t very well-liked by their creators and why they feel they missed the mark.
1. Atom Heart Mother – Pink Floyd
Though Atom Heart Mother was one of Pink Floyd’s most successful post-Syd Barettt releases, the band has long marked the LP as their worst album. Guitarist David Gilmour has described the record as “a load of rubbish.” He told BBC Radio 1 in 1984, “If somebody said to me now – right – here’s a million pounds, go out and play Atom Heart Mother, I’d say you must be fucking joking.”
2. Born in the U.S.A. – Bruce Springsteen
Despite being arguably one of the most iconic albums of all time, Springsteen has expressed some mixed feelings about Born in the U.S.A. While he believes Nebraska to be some of his strongest writing, he feels the 1984 follow-up fell short in some areas. “[The title track] more or less stood by itself,” he once said. “The rest of the album contains a group of songs about which I’ve always had some ambivalence.” Despite this, he does concede that “‘Born in the U.S.A.’ changed my life and gave me my largest audience. It forced me to question the way I presented my music and made me think harder about what I was doing.”
3. Around the Sun – R.E.M
In the years following the departure of drummer Bill Berry, R.E.M’s work began to waver. None so much as Around the Sun. Released in 2004, critics skewered the work heavily—a rating the band seemed to agree with. Guitarist Peter Buck once said the album “wasn’t really listenable,” which, though a brief statement, chalks the album up as a futile pursuit.
4. Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles
As many musicians will tell you, it can sometimes be the work you think is the worst that makes the biggest waves for you. Though The Beatles had long been household names by the time Sgt. Peppers came around, many fans mark it as some of their most impressive work. However, the Fab Four disagrees. John Lennon described the work as one that “doesn’t go anywhere” while George Harrison admitted in the Beatles Anthology documentary that he “didn’t really like that album much.”
5. Unknown Pleasures – Joy Divison
Though the majority of the world recognizes Joy Divison’s debut as a paradigm of post-punkism, Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook were not fans upon first listen. Their qualms largely stemmed from Martin Hannett’s production. Hook once said, “I couldn’t hide my disappointment then, it sounded like Pink Floyd.” They eventually changed their tune after the album became a certified classic.
6. The Smiths – The Smiths
In the same vein, Morrissey hated The Smiths’ debut album when it was first released in 1984. He felt the record “wasn’t good enough” to be put out, but his label (Rough Trade) released it nevertheless. The singer marked sloppy production as the album’s downfall.
7. Never Let Me Down – David Bowie
After 17 albums, it’s easy to see how an artist could begin to feel rundown. That’s what happened to David Bowie as he geared up to release Never Let Me Down in 1987. As he puts it, the album featured some good songs that “I mistreated.” He added, “I didn’t really apply myself. I wasn’t quite sure what I was supposed to be doing.”
Photo: Jimmy King / Nasty Little Man