Established popular artists who released real stinkers


So yesterday, I was at my local library getting some beach reading material and out of curiosity,  I checked out a copy of U2's "Songs of Innocence". I remember the controversy about U2 distributing the album to all Iphones without permission, but had not heard the release. I have been a fan of U2 from their very beginning and even in the past few years as they have aged, I have always found at least a couple of tunes on their releases that I enjoy. Man, does this album suck. I appreciate the fact that sometimes artists can no longer hit the high notes like they used to, but it seems to me that the best ones still manage to write compelling arrangements and create rewarding releases. It got me thinking, what are some other examples where artists have laid eggs to stink up an otherwise worthwhile body of work? Lou Reed's Lulu comes to mind.
maxnewid
@maxnewid - I felt the same about "Songs of Innocence" the first couple of times I listened. I'm going to see U2 next week and I've been revisiting their entire catalog. I've played "Songs of Innocence" a couple of times recently, and it's starting to grow on me now. Maybe give it another try, or two.

For me, some of the highlights are the last 3 cuts - "Sleep Like a Baby Tonight", "This is Where You Can Reach Me Now", and "The Troubles".

I think part of my acceptance of the album was to not compare it to some of my old favorite U2 albums, but instead compare it to other contemporary albums from other bands. When I did this, I felt much more highly of the record.

OK, that said, it is not my favorite U2 album and I would likely have not paid to buy it (I got the free iTunes download). 

That's a really good question.  I'd have to think a while,  but what comes to mind first is The Rolling Stones.  Every album since Exile on Main Street,  which I don't think was that good either. 
IMO: Paul Simon - Songs from the Capeman
Todd Rundgren: Second Wind & Nearly Human




I am a big Bob Dylan fan but his Christmas album... Come on Bob. 
I happen to love the Dylan Xmas disc, and of course Voodoo Lounge from the Stones, way after Exile.  One of my very favorite RS discs.  Oh well, there is no accounting for taste, right?!  Perhaps a few Neil Young discs, like arc/weld?
Bryan Ferry ... 'As Time Goes By' 

Does it get any worse for a Ferry fan? I don't think so. 8(

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGkhBQVD4po
"Trans" - Neil Young

Fulfilling a contractual obligation to a record label should never involve your fans, Neil. You owe me whatever I paid for that POS. 
Neil owes me for that one as well as "a letter home"
rpeluso, glad you like the Christmas album
I was really surprised to learn that "Pros and Cons.." could have been The Wall if things went different among The Dudes! Now, reading the latest (in Scientific American) about the concept of multiple Universes I want to get into the one where Pros concept been chosen instead of The Wall. Herein my say on the worst and the best in prog rock...
Love Jethro Tull but praise the God that English is not my even second foreign language and I can "turn myself off" to the lyrics!
Ok, I thought of another. After two great albums, The Cars, and Candy O, and a good third one, Panorama, they came out with Shake it Up. I was disappointed and saddened by that one. 
Okay, I think we're gonna have some disagreements here.  Todd  Rundgren's "Nearly Human" is IMO nearly perfect and a top ten record in my collection.  Yes, the SQ sucks and it sure sounds crappy, but the songwriting is flat-out fantastic and Lyle Workman's guitar leads are beautiful.

l think the obvious Lou Reed choice is Metal Machine Music, but some argue that Lou deliberately tanked that one in a contract dispute with his label

I'll nominate one band with two choices:

Of the five classic line-up Fleetwood Mac studio albums, you could either argue that Tusk came off the rails or that Mirage was a d*ckless capitulation to commercial pressure.  For me, it's the latter.






The common denominator here seems to be successful artists trying something new that didn't work out. I would rather them try and fail than just use the same formula over and over. Particularly if that formula is dictated from a corporate label trying to recreate whatever sound is selling at the moment. I remember when Pearl Jam got popular and suddenly there were 10 or 15 Eddie Vedder wannabes on the radio. I can't really tell the difference between Myley Cyruss, Arianna Grande, Katie Perry, or the other pitch software corrected songstresses these days. At the end of the day I admire originality and would rather listen to a bad Fleetwood Mac or Todd Rundgren album than any of those folks.