Lo, the cry of the music snob: "I prefer their early work". We've all been guilty of it - even if it's motivated by a genuine enthusiasm for the singles/albums in question rather than merely as a means of suggesting we were somehow ahead of the curve. Contributors to the Quietus - who've earned (with some justification) a reputation for perhaps willfully perverse judgements - have put together a list of 40 albums from the twilight of artists' careers that are exceptionally good, if not necessarily better than anything that went before.
Among those artists featured are The Beach Boys (Keepin' The Summer Alive), Alice In Chains (Black Gives Way To Blue), Can (Saw Delight), Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band (Bluejeans & Moonbeams), The Fall (Sub Lingual Tablet), Iron Maiden (A Matter Of Life And Death), Manic Street Preachers (Postcards From A Young Man), Mudhoney (The Lucky Ones), Pet Shop Boys (Electric), Pink Floyd (A Momentary Lapse Of Reason), Pulp (We Love Life), REM (Up), Smashing Pumpkins (Zeitgeist) and Neil Young (Le Noise).
I can't comment on any of those, other than to say that Up is a good album within a sizeable back catalogue with which I'm not sufficiently familiar. I'd quibble with the inclusion of Dinosaur Jr's I Bet On Sky, Mogwai's The Hawk Is Howling, Queens Of The Stone Age's Era Vulgaris and The Jesus & Mary Chain's Munki, though - while all of them are decent enough, none come close to the heights of their finest efforts.
Nevertheless, it's nice to see Quietus editor John Doran making a strong case for the qualities of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds' Push The Sky Away, and I'm in complete agreement with Patrick Clarke's assessment of Sonic Youth's The Eternal as "one of their very best" and "the worthiest of send-offs" - though, of course, as he says, "There's not really such a thing as a bad Sonic Youth album".