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2. Alien Sex Fiend

Drive My Rocket (Cleopatra, 1994): So much of Alien Sex Fiend's work came to us in singles that your best bet with them is a compilation album. There's simply no other way you'll get to have massive Numbers hits like "I Walk the Line" and "Now I'm Feeling Zombified" on one record. Drive My Rocket is one of the easier ones to find (in physical form), has the best mix of tunes and gets its name from one of their greatest songs to boot. Sadly, it's not on iTunes, so if that's your preferred method, go with The Best of Alien Sex Fiend instead. JEF WITH ONE F

1. Sisters of Mercy

ACL Music Festival:
Florence & the Machine's Florence Welch ran around the stage and jumped into the crowd during her ACL set Friday.
Photos by Marco Torres
ACL Music Festival: Florence & the Machine's Florence Welch ran around the stage and jumped into the crowd during her ACL set Friday.
ACL Music Festival:
Questlove and the Roots paid tribute to late Beastie Boys rapper MCA to start their set Saturday.
ACL Music Festival: Questlove and the Roots paid tribute to late Beastie Boys rapper MCA to start their set Saturday.
ACL Music Festival:
Iggy Pop and the other Stooges' ACL set Sunday evening was unnerving and chaotic.
Photos by Marco Torres
ACL Music Festival: Iggy Pop and the other Stooges' ACL set Sunday evening was unnerving and chaotic.
ACL Music Festival:
South Africa techno-rap group Die Antwoord's profane set Sunday was alarmingly close to the Austin Kiddie Limits Stage.
ACL Music Festival: South Africa techno-rap group Die Antwoord's profane set Sunday was alarmingly close to the Austin Kiddie Limits Stage.

First and Last and Always (Elektra, 1985): How could it be anything else? Actually, both authors are partial to 1987 follow-up Floodland — by which point everyone but Sisters mastermind Andrew Eldritch had split acrimoniously — but First and Last and Always will not be denied. Eldritch begins with the befouled world of "Black Planet" and drives on from there, down a long and lonesome highway full of abandonment and despair ("Walk Away," "Marian"). Eldritch's foreboding baritone makes him sound like a prophet of doom throughout the album, but the true pièce de résistance is closer "Some Kind of Stranger," which stretches past seven minutes of baroque, exquisite anguish that drips off lines like "I'd settle anytime for unknown footsteps in the hall outside." Chris Gray
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Hollywood Shuffle

Is Adele's "Skyfall" the Worst Bond Theme of All Time?

Fifty years after the release of the very first Hollywood adaptation of Ian Fleming's superspy, James Bond returns to make his 23rd appearance on the silver screen this month in Skyfall, Daniel Craig's third crack at the character. The media blitz for the film's premiere is already in full effect, led by the release of Adele's new Bond theme song, the sensibly titled "Skyfall."

While the new movie's success has yet to be determined, the theme has all the makings of a hit. With Adele in the midst of a self-imposed hiatus from music as she carries her first child to term, pretty much anything the "Rolling in the Deep" singer puts out right now is going to be snatched up greedily by her fans. Expect it to make a big splash on the charts. Just don't expect a masterpiece.

Sure, Adele has won the hearts of millions worldwide with her bold, rich tone, but "Skyfall" diminishes her somehow. Falling well short of sultry, her soft cooing on the track threatens to disappear into the lush arrangement instead of blasting it into the stratosphere where it belongs. Chart-topper or no, this one ain't likely to appear at the top of any Bond best-of lists anytime soon.

But is it bad enough to rank among the worst?

003. Sheryl Crow, "Tomorrow Never Dies": "Tomorrow Never Dies" starts out fairly promisingly, thanks to a return to the rich string arrangements that have come to define Bond themes. The problem here is with the artist chosen to sing the tune. Sheryl Crow is a fine singer, mostly, but she's spectacularly unsuited to this style.

Crow's easygoin' West Coast whisper simply can't carry a track this big and swaggering. Her voice sounds thin and nasal on "Tomorrow Never Dies," falling far short of the sensuality required to pull it off. You wouldn't think it'd be so easy to rob a star like Crow of her sex appeal, but this dull ditty manages the feat in well under four minutes.

002. Lulu, "The Man with the Golden Gun": The bizarre, syncopated brass-and-xylophone line that opens this track sets a disorienting tone right off the bat, but it's the grimace-inducing double entendres in the lyrics that really crank up the crap quotient. Lulu's voice is entirely wasted on this crippled mess of a song, which longtime Bond composer John Barry considers his worst ever. It ain't hard to see why: It's entirely free of any coherent musical ideas.

Shock-rock demigod Alice Cooper claims that his song, "Man with the Golden Gun," was dropped from the film in favor of this one, begging the obvious question, "Fucking WHY?"

001. Madonna, "Die Another Day": Full disclosure: I'm a huge Madonna fan, and I absolutely can't wait to catch her latest act at Toyota Center next week. But "Die Another Day" is shit, plain and simple. In fact, it's far and away the stinkiest green turd in the Bond theme-song bowl.

Owing entirely to Madonna's hard-won global fan base, "Die Another Day" was one of the most commercially successful Bond themes ever released. Shame, too, because no one should pay money for this dreck. Not even Q employed this many electronic sweeteners!

It's tough to say what's most annoying about the song: The incessant refrain of the title, the egregious use of Auto-Tune or the entirely nonsensical Sigmund Freud name-drop. It's like trying to pick out your least favorite pubic louse.

This embarrassment represents not only the nadir of Bond music, but of Madonna's 21st-century reinvention, as well. It won her a Razzie for Worst Original Song in 2002, and if against all sanity it makes an appearance in Madge's October 25 set list, I'm walking the fuck out. Nathan Smith

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