Train started way back around 1993/1994 in San Francisco, California. Their first album didn’t arrive until 1998 and I remember hearing their first hit on the radio for “Meet Virginia”. However, it wasn’t until the song and the album “Drops of Jupiter” came out until I became a fan. I met my wife around that same time and Train became “our band”. We have seen them many, many times together and even met the band several years later. Now my wife had met them before as my Brother-in-low worked with the band back around the Drops of Jupiter era.
Train has seen many line-up changes and their sound has changed over time. They have gone from a pure alternative rock band and are now kind of like a Vegas act (and I don’t mean that in a good way). The lead singer, Pat Monahan, is the only original member left and Train doesn’t feel like Train anymore. Now, that doesn’t take away from the fact the band has had some fantastic albums. And with that, let us explore the band’s catalog. We are looking at 12 albums which even includes Pat’s only solo album, a live album and even their Christmas album. If you are ready, sit back and let us get started. If you are not ready, take your time and go at your own pace.
THE WORST – ‘Christmas in Tahoe’ (2015):
Really??? Do we need a Christmas album? I like when bands do a Christmas song, but not a whole album. I can’t think of one I have heard that I like and this is no exception. I do not own one Christmas album by an artist. I have compilations because there are only certain versions of songs I want to hear.
TO ALL ARTISTS: We do not need a full Christmas album…EVER!!!! Don’t get me wrong, I like Christmas…hell…my birthday is Christmas Day so I am all for the yuletide joy, just not this way.
11. ‘A Girl, A Boat, A Bottle’ (2017):
The band’s most current album is actually the one I almost hate the most. There are many reasons, but mostly because the band is now a Vegas Act. Train is now only Pat and no other original members are left. The album doesn’t feel like a Train album. It is pure pop drivel. At times there are drum machines (which Scott Underwood would never allow) and lyrically it is almost absurd at times. Gone are the witty lyrics and the awesome word play Pat would have. Now it seems forced and sad.
An example of what I hate is the song “Play That Song”. It is so cheesy and formulaic that it is just awful. I know it was somewhat of hit for them, but really?? Why? This is a hard album for me to get through as they have done so much better and there was a time when ever their worst stuff was better than this album. This album has kind of made my wife and I start to lose interest in the band and I am not sure if they are “our band” anymore. The band is now just the Pat Monahan and I don’t like the fact it is still called Train. Maybe it should be called ‘Pat Monahan of Train’.
10. Pat Monahan: ‘Last of Seven’ (2007):
Now during the band’s hiatus after their album ‘For Me, It’s You”, Pat went and did a solo album. This album made me feel the band was done since Pat was now doing his own thing. Thankfully that wasn’t the case. The album didn’t really sound any different than Train’s previous album and it did nothing for me.
The first single “Her Eyes” is actually really good and for you Bon Jovi fans, John Shanks is a co-writer on the song. Also, Richie Sambora plays guitar on the song “Someday”. There were only about 5 songs out of the 14 on the bonus track edition were any good in my book. Other than “Her Eyes”, I liked “Two Ways to Say Goodbye” (not to be confused with the Train song “50 Ways to Say Goodbye”), “Ooh My My”, “Always Midnight” and “Girlfriend”.
9. ‘For Me, It’s You’ (2006):
The band’s fourth studio album was a hard time for the band. They had seem to have lost their way and even after the album the band took a brief hiatus to figure things out. The bass player, Charlie Colin, had left the band and we thought it might be the end of the band as we know it. The album is kind of somber. There are some upbeat songs, but overall, it left me feeling down. After the last three albums, it was a disappointment.
There are some good songs such as “Get Out”, “Am I Reaching You Now”, “I’m Not Waiting in Line” and “If I Can’t Change Your Mind”. I even liked “Skyscraper” which was a little slower song, but was done so well. Most of it was lacking for me including their first single “Cab”. It was all a little depressing overall which mirrored the band’s feelings at the time I would believe.
8. ‘Bulletproof Picasso’ (2014):
The band’s 7th studio album saw another departure from the band. Original drummer, Scott Underwood, left the band. And with it, more of what made Train…Train. Now only 2 original members, Pat and Jimmy Stafford. The album had some great songs and some incredible music videos (“Angel in Blue Jeans” with Danny Trejo). The album still had a lot of the fun that Train had brought with them upon their second revival and still a lot of Pat’s great lyrical gift. The album also was better on the first half than the second. All the good songs are at the front.
A lot of the songs had a little Western feel to them but it isn’t country. The album was also varied with the some old time 50’s sound and some modern pop. It was a decent attempt, but still had too many songs that I didn’t connect with. Still “Cadillac, Cadillac”, “Bulletproof Picasso”, “Give It All”, “The Bridge” and “I’m Drinkin’ Tonight” helped make this a good album which great because after writing on the previous albums I was beginning to think I wasn’t a fan at all.
7. Train Does Led Zeppelin II (2016):
This is an interesting release. It is a complete reinterpretation of Led Zeppelin’s II album. The band did it for charity and it isn’t half bad. Train was heavily influenced by Led Zeppelin and they have done Zep songs during shows for years. Pat is able to hold his own when tackling the songs and I have always felt Train could be more of a Rock band. Pat can tackle anything vocally. Are all songs perfect, no, but is still fun to hear Pat go for it on this album.
Plus, like I said, it was for charity as all proceeds went to the San Francisco charity Family House. Sadly, this is only Pat as there are no more original members since Jimmy left before this release. At least Pat has done one decent album by himself even though it isn’t really his music…so what does that say. Is it as good as Led Zeppelin? No, but who cares…it is still fun hearing Pat do Zep as he does it so well.
6. Train (1998):
Train’s debut album back in 1998 was the self-titled album ‘Train’. This is not the band you have come to know. Train was a pure Alternative / Indie band. I say Indie because they self-produced for only $25,000. The songs were so different than anything else that was to come. It was experimental and the band took risks. Not every song worked, but those that did were sensational.
“Meet Virginia” was the only radio hit, but the band wasn’t really radio friendly at the time. Okay, “Free” and “I Am” were also on the radio, but didn’t grab the attention as much. I liked some of the more unusual songs like “Eggplant” and “Train”. I also dug “If You Leave” and “Heavy”. All around, great beginnings and a wonderful album to check out and see their roots.
5. Alive at Last (2004):
Yes, I ranked a Live album this high. For one, it is the only official release of one of their live shows and it does capture how good they are live. That is why we have seen them several times. We really enjoy Pat and the boys and how Pat controls the crowd. He is a great frontman.
The album is great cause you are getting a greatest hits live plus the songs are done just slightly enough different from the originals. You also get some rare songs including “Landmine” and “Sweet Rain” plus a cover of the Faces’ song “Stay With Me”. And to top it off, you get two new songs. The first was from the Spiderman movie at the time “Ordinary” as well as a new song “New Sensation”. These two songs are two of my favorites by Train. They really a hard rock songs or as hard as Train had done up to that point and it excited me as I thought this might be the new direction they would take. That new direction turned out to be ‘For Me, It’s You’ which wasn’t very good and almost saw the end of the band.
4. My Private Nation (2003):
The follow-up to ‘Drops of Jupiter’ and produced again by Brendan O’Brien brought the band even more success. The album was very radio friendly after the success of the previous album. They were becoming more of a Pop band than an alternative rock band which is okay. For them, it works. The album had three singles, “Calling All Angels”, “When I Look Into the Sky” and “Get To Me”.
But those weren’t the best songs on the album which is always the sign of a good album. I liked the title track “My Private Nation” and “All American Girl”, but even better were the final two songs “Lincoln Avenue” and “I’m About to Come Alive” which are so well written. It doesn’t get much better than this (okay maybe three of their albums do). Probably only one song I never gravitated to and that says a lot right there.
3. Drops of Jupiter (2001):
I was surprised at myself when I didn’t rank this the #1 album and a lot of people might disagree with me. The song “Drops of Jupiter” is the best song they have ever done. The lyrical colors Pat effortless paints just bring to life such a vibrant and beautiful song that words can’t describe how good I think this song really is. That isn’t the only good song either. You have “She’s On Fire”, “Respect”, “It’s About You” and “Something More” and I keep coming back to this album.
There are little treasures as well such as “Let It Roll” and “Hopeless” so why isn’t it higher. The final three songs on the album don’t hold up for me. When going back and listening to everything for this article, I really lost interest at the end which pushed this down a couple slots. But I had to be honest to myself that isn’t their best, it just has their best song.
2. California 37 (2012):
I just love this album, especially the title track “California 37”. The song is so different than what they are known for plus I think I love the bitterness Pat has towards his ex-wife. It is brutal. They are still inspired and the songs are meaningful at times and plain fun. You get the hilarious song “50 Ways to Say Goodbye” (with David Hasselhoff in the video) and serious song like “We Were Made For This”. Pat is on fire with the lyrical content.
Let’s not forget the beautiful duet with Ashley Monroe called “Bruises” as well as classic sounding Train songs like “This’ll Be My Year”, “Drive By” and “Feels Good at First”. I could go on and as “Mermaid” is another fun one and “You Can Finally Meet Me Mom” is enjoyable as well. What is great about this one and my #1 is that these were the albums my entire Family enjoyed, yes even my two girls. We even took them to see the band in concert. I think that is why these two albums are my favorite. They have a much more personal connection and that is really what you want in an album.
#1 – Save Me, San Francisco (2009):
The first album back after their hiatus and what I thought was going to be a break-up, Train deliver their most inspiring and refreshing album to-date. It was a breath of fresh air. The band sounds so great and so renewed that you can’t help but get caught up in the excitement. The band is down to just three, Scott Underwood, Jimmy Stafford and Pat Monahan, but this is Train. This is how Train should sound.
“Hey Soul Sister” was a family favorite and we would sing it loud around the house or in the car, it didn’t matter. That ukulele sound even made one child want to learn to play (she hasn’t though even if she now has one). In listening back to this one, I enjoyed it from beginning to end and had a smile on my face most of the time. I like the title track, “I Got You”, “Parachute”, “If It’s Love” and “Marry Me” the most but you can’t go wrong with “This Ain’t Goodbye” and “You Already Know” either. The #1 and #2 album still get listened to by the entire family as I think they hold a special place in their hearts as well.
And there you have it, the Train albums in order of how I rank them from the worst to the best. Let me know what you think. Where did we differ and where did we agree. What is fun about these list is how differently each album impacts people. What I like, you might not, but we like the same band and that is all that matters really.
I hope you enjoyed. If you want to listen to any of them or buy them, just click below…