7 Pairs Of Albums With The Same Title: Which Is Better?
A while back, I wrote an article comparing songs that happen to have the same title. Though two songs sharing the same title is fairly common (I could rewrite that list many times over with new songs), two albums sharing a title doesn't happen nearly as much. Let's unfairly compare some albums whose only similarities are their titles.
1. Let It Be - The Beatles/The Replacements
Legend has it that the Replacements chose the title "Let It Be" for its third album simply because the Beatles' "Let It Be" happened to be playing on the radio at the time, and the famously snotty band thought it would be funny to so blatantly rip off the Beatles. The Replacements' Let It Be became a classic of American alt-rock and is widely considered to be one of the best of the '80s. The Beatles' Let It Be, on the other hand, is perhaps the band's least-loved effort, and not nearly as masterful as its other classics like Revolver or Abbey Road.
Winner: The Replacements
2. Smile - The Beach Boys/Boris
Until the 2011 release of The Smile Sessions, the Beach Boys' Smile was perhaps the most famous unreleased album in rock history. Though The Smile Sessions is technically an incomplete version of the album, it still comes together as a classic, mind-bending pop album, on par with the band's other masterpiece, Pet Sounds. In 2008, Japanese metal trio Boris also released an album called Smile. It's a pretty good experimental metal album, but it's definitely not a classic.
Winner: The Beach Boys
3. The Black Album - Metallica/Jay-Z
Yes, technically Metallica's "Black Album" is titled Metallica, but if you went around calling it Metallica, ninety-five percent of the time you'd have to clarify by saying "The Black Album" afterwards. It's one of the biggest selling albums in history, but I'm one of those people who greatly prefers Metallica's early thrash metal albums (though some of these songs were used excellently in the Paradise Lost documentary series). Jay-Z's The Black Album, which is its official title, is also not one of his best (that would be his debut Reasonable Doubt) but it remains true to Jay-Z's sound. Plus, it has "Dirt Off Your Shoulder," "99 Problems," and "Lucifer," which are all awesome songs.
4. This is Our Music - Ornette Coleman/Galaxie 500
I completely understand how important Ornette Coleman is. I understand that he's one of the most important figures to not just jazz, but to music as a whole, and I understand that This is Our Music is considered a classic album. With that said, I just don't get Ornette Coleman. I'd be lying if I said I would ever want to listen to him again. There's some jazz I enjoy, such as Miles David and John Coltrane (how's that for predictable choices?), but I'm a white suburban kid who plays guitar, and Galaxie 500's This is Our Music just makes more sense to me.
Winner: Galaxie 500 (though Ornette Coleman is probably better)
5. Tempest - Bob Dylan/Broken Water
When I was Music Director for WMSC at Montclair State University, I received two albums in 2012 that were both named Tempest. The more popular one was Bob Dylan's album, and though it's admirably weird and Rolling Stone gave it a five-star review, it's not a five-star album by any stretch of the imagination. The other Tempest I received that year was by a Washington band called Broken Water, who sound like a cross between Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine. Broken Water's Tempest was one of the most unexpectedly excellent albums I heard that year.
Winner: Broken Water
(Bob Dylan's music isn't on Youtube, sorry)
6. Third - Soft Machine/Portishead
The third albums by Soft Machine and Portishead were both titled Third, and though they're equally abstract albums, they take completely different approaches. Soft Machine's Third is essentially a jazz-fusion album of lengthy instrumental pieces, with just four tracks in 75 minutes. Portishead's Third, however, is a terrifying, noisy, industrial monster, like Nine Inch Nails but more influenced by krautrock than metal. I'm not the biggest fan of Soft Machine, or any of those quirky Canterbury bands, but Portishead's Third is easily in my top 25 albums of all time.
7. 13 - Blur/Black Sabbath
Considering Black Sabbath formed over 45 years ago, its most recent album 13 had no right to be as good as it was. It's not a great album, and absolutely nowhere near Paranoid or Master of Reality, but 13 is surprisingly well written and muscular, and most of all, not embarrassing. However, Blur's 13, released in 1999, is a great album. While Oasis was failing to musically progress at all by this point, Blur was ably incorporating noise rock and electronic music into its sound, paving the way for the more experimental music Damon Albarn would make later on.