Friday, April 03, 2009

Weekend Listomania (Special More is Less Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental nutsac restoration expert eye candy with benefits Fah Lo Suee and I will be attending the big Spandau Ballet reunion tour, making its debut at an IHOP parking lot somewhere in the mid-West. Could be a hot one, and since we'll be following the band for the next few days, this means that posting by moi will necessarily be sporadic, or at least until we've recovered our composure after hearing the first several live versions of "True."

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

Post-Beatles Album, Song or Video That Best Exemplifies the Phrase 'Wretched Excess'!!!

Self-explanatory, I think, so no arbitrary rules of any kind this time. Except whatever you pick has to appear on a commercially released CD or video. A bootleg of Phish playing Wagner's complete Ring Cycle might be over the top, but it's not something that was deliberately inflicted on a mass audience.

In any case, my top of my head Top Seven would be...

7. Smashing Pumpkins -- Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness



Ah, the triumphant return to these pages of Billy Corgan and his pretentious cueball noggin. Hey -- what can you say about this album except that although it's shorter than Sandinista! it has fewer laughs.

6. Bonnie Tyler -- Total Eclipse of the Heart



Actually, you could just print out the entire Jim Steinman song catalog and stick a pin in it at random to find an equally worthy candidate. This one's pretty hard to top, however.

5. Led Zeppelin -- Moby Dick



The most painful drum solo in history, for my money, and depending on how Bonzo was feeling, among the longest (a version I saw at Madison Square Garden in the early 70s clocked in at 17 minutes, if I recall correctly.)

4. Iron Butterfly -- In a Gadda da Vida



A painfully obvious choice, I know, but everything about this song just screams ridiculous-on-steroids. And this is the short version.

3. Coldplay -- Viva La Vida



Okay, shooting ducks in a barrel, but between the preening self-importance and the big bogus dramatic moment when the kettle drum enters, you would need (per Oscar Wilde) a heart of stone not to laugh.

2. Gwen Stefani -- Wind It Up



This one still makes my jaw drop, frankly. Honorable mention: The Janet Jackson "Rhythm Nation," video, which in terms of costumed Nazi extras, at least, is almost as ridiculous.

And the numero uno most excessively wretched pop music artifact in the history of the universe, I think we'll all be on the same page with this one, obviously is --

1. Richard Harris -- MacArthur Park

"

As a friend said after hearing this wafting from a car radio one summer afternoon..."Oh no --- NOT THE CAKE!!!!!"

Awrighty, then -- what would your choices be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: best use of outdoor locations in a non-documentary film -- is now up over at Box Office. As always, I'd be profoundly grateful if you could go over there and leave a comment, thus allaying management's fears that my gargantuan post-AIG freelance rate is unjustified. Thanks!]

39 comments:

TJWood said...

Let's start with Deep Purple's "Concerto for Orchestra and Rock Group"--No explanation necessary.

Others worth mentioning:

"My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion--I was surprised not to see a Celine entry in your top seven, maybe because this one's already gotten enough mentions in negative Listomania categories.

"November Rain" by Guns 'n Roses--Not the band I want doing epic power ballads. Not that I can think of any bands I would welcome those from.

"Come Sail Away" by Styx--Still on my list of one of the 10 most annoying rock records in history, merely because of the wretched excess of lyrical cliches ("I'm sailing away", "I've got to be free", etc.) that turn up in the first verse alone,


and because it's only inevitable that it will get a mention somewhere:

"Tales From Topographic Oceans" by Yes--Actually, I consider myself somewhat of a Yes fan (I know) and still have some fondness for a lot of this album (I know, the sequel). But there's no getting around the idea of any album based on four movement versions of the Shastric scriptures being anything but wretched excess.

Crusader AXE said...

Does anybody understand what this was supposedly about? Senility? Pederasty? Australians?

Dave said...

I know the conditions stipulate WRETCHED excess but may I post a few songs that I love that I assume most people will find wretched.

1. How many pop songs contain an instrumental introduction that occupies almost half the length of the entire song? I think Thom Bell was one of the great producers in pop history. At a time when his career was at his peak and the singer's recording career couldn't have been lower, he signed Johnny Mathis to Philadelphia International Records and released "I'm Coming Home." It's a fabulous album, actually, but it's hard to find a more over-produced or self-indulgent track than the first song on the album -- "Life Is a Song Worth Living." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DeX70ebDc_s

The album reinforced my respect for Johnny Mathis. Love him or hate him, he is always professional, and he gave his all for material that wasn't in his wheelhouse.

2. The cool version of "Funny How Love Can Be" is by the Ivy League (beautiful harmonies, to be sure) -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KYSdeshp-c
but I like the crazy version by Danny Hutton. I love the exuberance of the throw everything plus the kitchen sink production.
I can't find a video of this.

3. And then, of course there's a certain bird that surfs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrnL4yYSme4

Dave said...

Did you know that McArthur Park was written about Webb's breakup with Linda Ronstadt's cousin? http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/la-ca-socal10jun10,1,3641385.story

Peter said...

Van Dyke Parks - Song Cycle "Widows face the future/Factories face the poor/The fact remains/The whole thing strains/The mind a bit/So have done and quit with it/Widows walk and wail among the willows/Widows walk ado walk on"

I could go on.

Anonymous said...

Bonzo's drum solo was 25 minutes long, the hand druming segment was 17 minutes as I was timing it for our amusement. Another major excess moment from that show was the fire dancers coming out at the end.

ROTP(lumber)

MBowen said...

The entire career of one Marvin Lee Aday, a.k.a. Meat Loaf.

steve simels said...

Dave:

I love the Ivy League's Funny How Love Can Be (it's actually on my iPod) but until now was unaware that Danny Hutton had wretched it up.

Thanks for sharing!
:-)

FeralLiberal said...

First a few obvious ones

Jethro Tull - Thick as a Brick
ELP - Welcome Back My Friends...
Tommy - the movie

Anyone indulging in vocal gymnastics a la Whitney Houston.

Neil Young - Arc

Dare I mention any of the Glam Rock crowd, or is wretched excess for wretched excesses sake just ironic posturing?

Steve simels said...

Dare I mention any of the Glam Rock crowd, or is wretched excess for wretched excesses sake just ironic posturing?

I think Wizzard, for example, is way ironic. In a good, drop dead funny, way.

I mean "See My Baby Jive" is totally over the top Phil Spector pastiche, but who can resist?

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

I am I said, the chair don’t care song. Raging existential angst with a toupee by mr. cracklin rosie himself.

David said...

Triumvirat: Pompeii -- nothing like a concept album by the German ELP. (Certainly any band that emulates the wretchedly excessive ELP is already treading in a sea of wretched excess in excess of the original.)

megisi said...

Queen, the whole damn thing.

But, Bohemian Rhapsody...

... inspiration for an SNL comedy bit. Little more.

Brooklyn Girl said...

Madonna's "Like A Prayer".

I love Patti, but LaBelle was too much.

And I'm surprised that there's no David Bowie on the list!

Gummo said...

I have to nix teh Thick as a Brick nomination in favor of Tull's follow-up, Passion Play -- everything that was wretchedly excessive about TAAB was turned up to 11 on Passion Play, plus you had to get thru Anderson's pointless spoken word nonsense.

And in one of the worst matches of producer to artist in pop music history, Bob Dylan's Empire Burlesque, "produced" by 80s flavor-of-the-month Arthur Baker. Baker took a collection of mediocre-to-good Dylan songs and drenched them in booming, gated drums and rererereverb. The only song still listenable on that record is the last-minute acoustic afterthought, Dark Eyes, which closes the album.

And for wretched excess in general, you can't beat ELP,though I did enjoy a lot of their early stuff up to Brain Salad Surgery.

And for modern artists, you can't beat The Darkness. They START at wretched excess, and turn it up from there!

Noam Sane said...

Marvin Lee Aday, a.k.a. Meat Loaf.

Or as the NYTimes refers to him, Mr. Loaf. Now a game show host...the Peter Principle strikes again.

I'd nominate any Flaming Lips concert.

Also, The Wall.

YesSongs, and YesSongs the Movie, which was reviewed by Creem with a single sentence: "Linseed oil renders celluloid opaque."

That album (actually 3 vinyl records when I first spent my teenage dishwashing money to buy it) is redeemed, for me, by the fact that I love the hell out of it.

The Phantom Creep said...

Two words:

Polyphonic. Spree

Brooklyn Girl said...

And for modern artists, you can't beat The Darkness. They START at wretched excess, and turn it up from there!

Oh, for modern wretched excess, I nominate Polyphonic Spree. Jumping, pointing, lunging, howling, thrusting, flailing ... all while wearing satin Day-Glo graduation gowns. Drink the Kool-Aid!!!

And, since our host mentioned Janet Jackson ... how about the video she did with her brother for the aptly-named "Scream"?

Of course, we also have Cher wriggling her tattooed ass in this one. Fortunately or unfortunately, I couldn't find the original video ...

Brooklyn Girl said...

I see the Phantom Creep and I are on the same page! :-)

Gwen De Marco said...

If playing guitar faster than the speed of light (for no reason other than he could) can be considered wretched excess, I nominate Alvin Lee.

For a wretched excess of self-indulgent self-pity, nobody beats Janis Ian. Grow up already.

Steve Simels said...

Sweet Jeebus -- who do I have to fuck to get somebody to go leave a comment at Box Office?
:-)

Steve Simels said...

Oh, and incidentally, I'm putting up a much fuller account of the Vangelis concert that inspired all this on Monday.

You're welcome.
:-)

FeralLiberal said...

Oh, and let's not forget contestants in the "Darker Than Thou" competition. Who can have the bleakest, loudest, most tuneless outlook on life?

Gummo said...

Sweet Jeebus -- who do I have to fuck to get somebody to go leave a comment at Box Office?
:-)


It's your own fault -- you said no urban environments -- and then you mentioned all the best "pretty" outdoor movies already!

Anonymous said...

as i said yesterday PETER GABRIEL -

TMink said...

"I Am I Said."

Who cares?

"Smoke On The Water."

Most of "The Wall."

"Deja View" the song.

It is funny, sometimes an over the top song is exactly what I am looking for. I love these songs and records with the exception of I Am I Said.

Trey

Steve Simels said...

For a wretched excess of self-indulgent self-pity, nobody beats Janis Ian. Grow up already.

Ah, that sensitive, tormented soul, fatally scarred by adolescent acne.
:-)

I am so going to hell....

TMink said...

You are all going to hell!!!! Ms. Ian lives here in Nashville and I love her and am telling on all of you.

As soon as I can stop laughing at how right you are.

Trey

teve Simels said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Steve Simels said...

I actually like Janis Ian, from the Society's Child days. That's a pretty amazing song for somebody so young to write.

Anonymous said...

ELP....oooh what a lucky man he was.........

phil

jackd said...

Jim Steinman being responsible for Mr. Loaf (unforgettably introduced by Christopher Lee on SNL: "Ladies and Gentlemen! Meet (pause) Loaf! (longer pause) Meat Loaf!"), he really deserves extra credit in this thread.

But am I the only one here who spent the 70's wishing the Electric Light Orchestra would go away?

Noam Sane said...

and of course, Todd Rundgren was "the third Loaf".

Anonymous said...

How could this one be left out, Simel's all time favorite album: Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music!

ROTP(lumber)

dave™© said...

"I Am I Said."

Who cares?


No one cared
At all
Not
Even the chair...

dave™© said...

Of course, if you really want bombastic Neil Diamond, you're talking "Soundtrack to 'Jonathan Livingston Seagull'"...

Steve Simels said...

No one cared
At all
Not
Even the chair...


A lyric that inspired Dave Barry to remark

"Mr. Diamond -- your barcalounger on line four!"
:-)

TMink said...

Good one Dave.

Trey

Live Butterfly said...

Live Butterfly Garden That's Good!!