Friday, January 18, 2008

Weekend Listomania (Special When Bad Records Happen to Good Bands Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental manservant Hop-Sing and I are ............ Whatever. In any case, posting by moi will necessarily be sporadic for a few days.

But in my absence, here's a fun project for you all to contemplate:

MOST EMBARASSING RECORDING EVER MADE BY AN OTHERWISE MAJOR ACT!!!!

You know -- the one that just makes you cringe or, frankly, question the artists' sanity for having committed it to tape, let alone approved it for release.

Okay, here's my totally top of my head Top Six.

6. Rod Stewart -- Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?



You young 'uns won't believe it, but there actually was a time you could use the words "Rod Stewart" and "artist" in the same sentence without eliciting gales of laughter. That historical moment had begun to slip away by 1979, but this song -- Rod's disco move, natch -- pretty much sealed his fate forever. To this day, I can't hear it without thinking of armpits....

5. The Byrds -- Mind Gardens

No YouTube for this one, which is just as well. Better known as "Crosby's Folly," it's the absolute epitome of wooly-headed oh wow, man! hippie psychedelic drivel; the fact that it's on Younger Than Yesterday, an otherwise brilliant album (with some of Crosby's best songs, actually) makes it stand out as a clinker even more. Poor Dave's been justifiably defensive about it for nearly 40 years now....

4. The Beach Boys -- Never Learn Not to Love



Originally written by flower power troubador crazed killer Charles Manson as "Cease to Resist" before he and Dennis Wilson had a falling out. Can you imagine if it had been a hit?

3. Bob Dylan -- The Boxer



Bob sings the Simon & Garfunkel classic, through the miracle of overdubbing, as a duet between his protest and Nashville Skyline voices. Maybe he meant it as a joke. In any case, it's beyond ghastly.

2. U2 -- Helter Skelter



"Here's a song Charles Manson stole from the Beatles...we're stealing it back."

Wrong on both counts, Bono. Cripes -- this is even worse than the song the Beach Boys actually did steal from Charles Manson.

1. The Rolling Stones -- Dancing with Mr. D



Why the Stones felt that this thoroughly contrived piece of comic book satanism was the first thing the world needed to hear from them after the great Exile on Main Street remains a mystery likely never to be solved.

Okay -- what track embarasses you guys the most?

32 comments:

Ripley said...

- Turn the Page - Metallica. A sub par cover of a song that should only be played at last call in some dive bar while drunk guys tell each other how much they love each other, and was never intended to "rock."

- Anything Chicago produced after 1980.

- Let's Put the X in Sex - KISS. Seriously, Paul?

- Mas Tequila! - Sammy Hagar. Could you put less effort into it next time, Sam?

- Limp Bizkit's entire catalog.

Brooklyn Girl said...

I would be perfectly happy if I never heard "One After 909" from "Let It Be" ever again ... and awful song, and a feeble attempt at sounding like they were having a good time. It was clearly time for them to hang it up.

Brooklyn Girl said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
dave™© said...

I agree 100% with you regarding "Dancing With Mr. D", but as you well know, I believe Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" is one of his most subtle lyrical conquests ever!

NYMary said...

"Comic book Satanism"--damn, I love you.

Well, "Revolution Number 9" is a must skip, obviously.

GBV'a "Showbiz Opera Walrus" is in the same vein, and almost as successful.

And if you're counting Cheap Trick's "The Flame," then how can you possibly leave out The Bangles' "Eternal Flame"?

TMc said...

First off, God do I love Friday Listomania
On to the business at hand

Paul McCartney - Silly Love Songs
I'll freely admit that I find his
post-Beatle work to be, at best, mediocre but this song set the standard for his personal limbo pole

Frank Sinatra - Something Stupid
What the hell was he thinking

The Beatles - Revolution #9

The Clash - Rock The Casbah
A dozen other songs that could (should) have been hits and this is the one that gets major airplay?? HUH

The Who - Squeeze Box
Coming off the brilliant Quadrophenia (their finest album, contrary to what my brother may think) I couldn't wait to hear the followup and this turd plops out. What a disappointment. Of course they went on to produce even worse, but this was the beginning of the end. As with many bands watching their fall from grace wasn't pleasant.

billy pilgrim said...

REM - Shiny Happy People. Lay of teh Ecstasy, Michael.

The Violent Femmes - Do You Really Want To Hurt Me. Gordo, don't ask questions when you won't want to hear the answer.

Anonymous said...

Todd Rundgren's "With a Twist" album was truly awful stuff from a guy who is usually pretty dependable. He bounced back nicely with "Liars" though - a pretty great album.

I like "Squeeze Box" for what it is - a novelty tune - and I love the album it's from, which for my money is their best.

-Noam Sane

NYMary said...


I like "Squeeze Box" for what it is - a novelty tune - and I love the album it's from, which for my money is their best.


It's no "Eminence Front"!

(PS. I think steve went to a Chris Matthews/Robert Bly He-Man Woman-Hater's Club Encounter Weekend.)

Cleveland Bob said...

I'd have to agree with the comment regarding the general distaste for Squeeze Box. Dumb song.

Um, let's see...anything by the Eagles, of course.

What else?...I really hated Elvis Costello's cover of "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood".

Oh, and one last one...Why oh why would the Righteous Brothers record "Rock and Roll Heaven"? It has got to have some of the worst lyrics ever written.

And I quote...

If you believe in forever
Then life is just a one-night stand
If there's a rock and roll heaven
Well you know they've got a hell of a band, band, band

Jimmy gave us rainbows
And Janis took a piece of our hearts
And Otis brought us all to the dock of a bay
Sing a song to light my fire
Remember Jim that way
They've all found another place
Another place to play

If you believe in forever
Then life is just a one-night stand
If there's a rock and roll heaven
Well you know they've got a hell of a band, band, band

Remember bad bad Leroy Brown
Hey Jimmy touched us with that song
Time won't change a friend we came to know
And Bobby gave us Mack the Knife
Well look out, he's back in town
They'll all be there together
When they meet in one big show

There's a spotlight waiting
No matter who you are
'Cause everybody's got a song to sing
Everyone's a star
(Everybody's got to be a star)

peter spencer said...

I had never heard Dylan's "The Boxer" before and kinda liked it, I regret to say.

There are a couple of songs on the Band's last two studio albums (in the Robertson era, that is) including one whose title I can't remember that talks about "a young Caruso on the fire escape."

"Passing the Time" from Cream's "Wheels of Fire" album.

If you count Jefferson Starship and/or Starship as a continuation of Jefferson Airplane then pretty much anything they did after "Bless Its Pointed Little Head."

And people will be mad at me for this, but I thought Steely Dan's "Two Against Nature" was a comvincing argument that some acts should not reunite.

return of the plumber said...

Most anything Paul McCartney recorded after 1976.

But here it the real winner for me: Chuck Berry's "My Ding A Ling". Wee Wee jokes from the Architect of rock & Roll.

NYMary said...

Oh, thanks, plumber. I had utilized all the tools of Freudian repression to forget that "My Ding-a-Ling" existed, and all I had as a symptom was a slight cough.

On the bright side, at least that's gone.

return of the plumber said...

Your cough may be gone but "My Ding A Ling" will haunt us forever!

Whenever I saw Chuck Berry in the 1970's (which was quite a few times) "My Ding A Ling" was the perfect time for a bathroom run and/or to smoke a joint.

Each time he sang it live the crowd of hippies would go wild. It was weird to see.

Kid Charlemagne said...

I love these guys otherwise, and I know this is Mary's fave group, but Shoes' "Silhouette" is almost unlistenable to me. I wish they'd re-record it and get rid of the awful drum machine.

TJWood said...

Note to Peter Spencer: The Band lyric you're referencing comes from "Rags and Bones" (Northern Lights, Southern Cross). I would not rate it on the level of "The Weight", but it's not a truly horrid song either. The album also has one of Robertson's best ballads, "It Makes No Difference", heartwrenchingly sung by Rick Danko.

Just a few random choices here:

My number one choice is "The Girl Is Mine" by Michael Jackson with Paul McCartney. One of the true low points of either career, and a number that that, IMHO, singlehandedly keeps Thriller out of the greatness category.

McCartney has shown over the years that he doesn't need any help creating embarrassments: "Mary Had A Little Lamb", "Bip Bop", and "Ebony and Ivory" are just three random pickings here. He has, however, produced his share of work (and not just Band On the Run) worthy of his talent, if not his '60's band.

I'd have chosen "All Along The Watchtower" over "Helter Skelter" (both from Rattle and Hum) as my U2 entry. The "all I've got is a red guitar, three chords, and the truth" rambling in the middle helped make it safe to dislike U2. While I'm a major fan, the band has had a few missteps over its career--the consensus would probably be "Elvis Presley and America" (The Unforgettable Fire), their equivalent of "Revolution #9".

Speaking of "All Along The Watchtower", there are the two Noel Redding songs that Jimi Hendrix allowed to appear on disc--"She's So Fine" (Axis: Bold as Love) and its virtual twin, "Little Miss Strange" (Electric Ladyland)that I can safely say most of us agree should have been passed up for numbers by the leader of the Experience.

Finally, and while this may or may not score any points with Steve, there are couple of Bowie numbers to mention: "Starman" (The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust) has a couple of lines (particularly the "Let all the children boogie" one in the chorus) that placed it into cringeworthiness. Then there's "Song for Bob Dylan" (Hunky Dory), a plea for Bob to return to protest bard mode that seems rather disingenuous coming from an artist who would make adopting and discarding musical styles and personas his personal calling card.

Jim Steele said...

Beach Boys - Kokomo (ewwwwwww)
Sir Paul McCartney - Simply having a wonderful christmastime
Rod Stewart - When I need you (Leo Sayer cover, need I say more?)
Lou Reed - The original wrapper
Blondie - Maria you gotta see 'a (sorry, I know someone here likes that song)
Eric Carmen - All by myself (though this monument to self-pity and annoying hooks was partially redeemed by its sarcastic inclusion in that scene in "To Die For")

And the two-for-the-price-of-one winner is . . .
Bangles / Prince - Manic Monday

TMink said...

Wow, I am so square or something. I liked most of the songs that got dissed! Now none of them were favorites, but, for instance, while Do You Think I'm Sexy does make my toenails curl a bit, it was not as bad for me as the other stuff he was doing about then. And after that, I lost all interest. So for me it was Rod's last interesting song. Pity that.

OK, Silly Love Songs is really tripe, we agree there. And Chicago after Terry Kath died was not even Chicago, so those albums don't count for me.

I guess when I like a particular group or artist, I am in for a dollar.

Trey

Mister Pleasant said...

Wow, some really awful and deserving choices mentioned here so far.

Thanks, TJWood who said "McCartney .....has, however, produced his share of work (and not just Band On the Run) worthy of his talent, if not his '60's band." You may be the first poster here to give the man some credit. I agree wholeheartedly. However, let me add "My Love" to this week's list.

The 60's Kinks rarely took a misstep in my book, but "Plastic Man" was a toss-off that never should have been.

The Stories "Brother Louie" was unfortunately their only hit, and totally unworthy of their lovely self-penned material.

morbid puritan said...

Rattle and Hum caused the defection of many a U2 fan. I passed on it because of the bad press; seeing the Helter Skelter clip reassures me I didn't miss anything.

Nevertheless, I would put down their bizarre, portentous cover of Cole Porter's Night & Day (on the Red Hot + Blue comp) as their prize stinker. The video trumps the recording, in that you get to see Bono perform like a method actor covering a Joy Division song: http://youtube.com/watch?v=orSBHem9e3s

One more: While I would never call ELP "great", they've certainly had greatness thrust upon them by some demented fans. For years this has been my favorite party record; even in the deepest funk it, and a bottle of vodka, can have me laughing my ass off in no time:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=LQEqb70yW8A

Brooklyn Girl said...

Speaking of Rod Stewart, I had the misfortune to be visiting some friend, and they had his recent CD of standards ... easily one of the most painful listening experiences i've ever had.

And Brian Wilson fans may raise an eyebrow, but I really didn't like "Smile" at all.

Mike said...

How about Randy Newman's soundtrack work?

Almost along the same route, I suppose you could list much of Elvis Presley's soundtrack work as well.

steve simels said...

NYMary said...

And if you're counting Cheap Trick's "The Flame," then how can you possibly leave out The Bangles' "Eternal Flame"?


Kiddo, you're reading my mail. It was down to Cheap Trick and The Flame and the Bangles Eternal Flame as the clue.

For obvious reasons, i.e., both awful songs from outside writers pretty much killed their careers.

The irony, of course, is that as bad as they are, Robin and Susanna sang the very pants off of both of them...

Mister Pleasant said...

Indeed Cheap Trick's last commercial gasp came with that wretched song, but they have bounced back artistically with some killer albums since then, especially 1997's Cheap Trick on Red Ant. But with their luck the record company crashed just as the CDs were hitting the shelves.

Anyone have comments on The Bangles "comeback" album Doll Revolution?

Gummo said...

All of McCartney's "Red Rose Speedway" album. Ouch. Cringe.

Dylan - "God Gave Names to All the Animals" - gee, I didn't know finding religion meant your IQ had to drop 75 points.

Grateful Dead -- their 'disco' version of "Dancin' In the Street" on Terrapin Station. Pigpen must've been spinning in his grave.

Dammit, I like Revolution No. 9! But Lennon hit his nadir with Sometime In New York City. You don't have to throw out your melodic and lyrical gifts to be relevant and topical, dude.

Most of Lou Reed's recent work. Wordy, unsubtle, charmless.

And Do Ya Think I'm Sexy may have some of the worst lyrics in the history of pop/rock music, but it also has one of the best musical hooks ever, dammit.

I can't hate Squeeze Box - I had a very sexy girlfriend in college and she loved the song so the two are connected in my memory....

steve simels said...


I like "Squeeze Box" for what it is - a novelty tune - and I love the album it's from, which for my money is their best.

-Noam Sane


I won't go that far, but I think "Slip Kid" is one of the absolute best things they ever did...

steve simels said...

Mike said...
How about Randy Newman's soundtrack work?

Almost along the same route, I suppose you could list much of Elvis Presley's soundtrack work as well.

Well, his score for "The Natural" is gorgeous. It's like he was chanelling Aaron Copland at his most American-lyrical....

TJWood said...

Mister Pleasant asked:

Anyone have comments on The Bangles "comeback" album "Doll Revolution"?

I just gave this album a listen and have to say it deserved a better fate. The best tracks on the album--"Tear Off Your Own Head" (an Elvis Costello cover), "Stealing Rosemary", "Nickel Romeo", "Ride the Ride", and "Song for a Good Son"--belong with the best of this band in its heyday. There are a few ordinary songs here and there, but nothing as embarrassing as "Walk Like an Egyptian" or "Eternal Flame". I'd rate 60% of the album as well worth hearing, not a bad percentage in the CD age.

MBowen said...

"Doll Revolution" has some pretty good tracks on it, and at its worst is merely pleasant and competent. I think tjwood nails it.

R.E.M.'s big embarrassment wasn't "Shiny Happy People", which can at least be written off as a goof, but "Everybody Hurts".

Mister Pleasant said...

Thanks tjwood and mbowen for your feedback. This is good news. I dearly love the first EP and album by the Bangles, but was afraid to test the waters on Doll Revolution out of fear it would be a continuation of the travesty that big record company $$ brought to their output.

NYMary said...

Kid C,
Actually, a song or two from Silhouette made it onto Fret Buzz, and stripped of all the synth crap, they're quite lovely. I didn't recognize "Turnaround," for example.

I think the blame for Silhouette rests on two things: the mid-80's, which sucked musically for a lot of reasons, and a band without a contract trying to DIY on a shoestring. Yes, they'd done it before, and better, but I can see why they'd think they needed technology after all that.

midnight caller said...

I want to throw out a few Zeppelin songs:

The Lemon Song - ugh! - not even the slightest bit of value.
Fool In The Rain - Jimmy must have been completely out of it at this point.
Tea For One - ripping off their own song to try to fill up an album.