Someone got me the series as a gift christmas before last and I've felt obligated to re-read them, but a second reading isn't improving them, it just draws attention to how repetitive a lot of it is. I've never read the last two which even the fans don't rate!
The weird thing is, as of book three it's quite hard to see why he'd find it so hard to finish. It's basically a bunch of factions slowly moving towards some kind of gigantic showdown somewhere down the line. All he needs to do is keep them moving towards the showdown, finally show the big showdown, and then spend a bit of time on the aftermath. Job done.
I'm almost curious to read the fourth and fifth books just to see how he managed to botch this fairly straightforward trajectory to the extent that he's not able to finish it.
Re: Stones, if you've heard Some Girls, not too many highlights from here on out I'm afraid, though you probably know to expect that.
When I went through their catalogue I did find though that the maligned albums like Undercover and Dirty Work were more tolerable than stodgy 'respectable' comebacks like Steel Wheels or A Bigger Bang, just because back then they were still working to the good old vinyl 40 minute format, so even if they're not great at least they don't overstay their welcome.
I do think if the two 90's albums had been 40 minutes instead of Exile From Mainstream length they would've been on the level of at least their later 70's stuff.
Re: Pixies, I thought Beneath The Eerie was okay as well, though I didn't listen to it much after it came out. I actually think Indy Cindy has the best songs of the reunion period, it just had bad sequencing and had everything mixed too 'big'. Production on the second two albums is decent. If they'd all come out ten years earlier they probably would've been better received.