Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Rolling Stones' "25 Greatest Songs Off Bad Albums"

The editors of Rolling Stone have put together a list of the 25 Greatest Songs Off Bad Albums.
Here is the list with my reactions:

1. "Under Pressure" off Queen's Hot Space
I pretty much hate everything Queen ever did except this song and "Radio Ga Ga." 

2. "This Is England" off the Clash's Cut The Crap
Never heard Cut The Crap, I know it only by reputation.

3. "Eminence Front" off The Who's It's Hard
"Eminence Front" is a great song? Really? I did not know that.

4. "Brownsville Girl" off Bob Dylan's Knocked Out Loaded
I actually liked this album when I was in high school, but haven't heard it in years. My wife's grandmother (still rockin' at 81 years young) is a Dylan and Springsteen fanatic. I believe "Brownsville Girl" is her favorite Dylan song. Next time I see her I will ask her why.

5. "Hallo Spaceboy" off David Bowie's Outside
Never heard the album or the song.

6. "Kill Your Sons" off Lou Reed's Sally Can’t Dance
Strangely, I don't own Sally Can't Dance. I do like "Kill Your Sons" though.

7. "2000 Light Years from Home" off the Rolling Stones' Their Satanic Majesties Request
Wrong. Great song off a great album. People who say this is a bad album are clueless. Someday I am going to do a post on this album that explains why it is a far more awesome artistic acheivement than Sgt. Pepper. If I had any attention span or discipline I would write a book about what a great album this is. (I have neither, so don't hold your breathe waiting for the post either).

8. "Goin' Home" off Neil Young's Are You Passionate?
Again, never heard the song or album, but when Neil Young misses, he really misses. The fact that he named a song on this album "Let's Roll" was reason enough for me to skip it.
9. "Song For Guy" off Elton John's A Single Man
Clueless on this one too. Was this written for our Guy?

10. "Don’t Look Back" off Boston's Don't Look Back
I can't remember this song. I'm sure I would recognize it if someone played it for me, but I don't remember it.

11. "Jammin' Me" off Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' Let Me Up I've Had Enough
I never liked this song, but I didn't think the album as a whole was bad. Not one of Petty's better albums certainly, but not bad.

12. "Shipbuilding" off Elvis Costello's Punch the Clock
I think Punch the Clock is a good album, and "Shipbuilding" is a great song.

13. "Go Let It Out" off Oasis's Standing on the Shoulder of Giants
Never heard it, never understood the fuss about Oasis in the first place.

14. "Big Love" off Fleetwood Mac's Tango In the Night
I own a copy of this on LP, but I've never listened to it. Tusk is my favorite by Fleetwood Mac.

15. "Tonight" off Elton John's Blue Moves
I guess I am not very up on Elton John. I can live with that.

16. "Celluloid Heroes" off the Kinks' Everybody's in Show-Biz
Again, if someone played me this song, I'm sure I'd remember it, but right now I'm drawing a blank.

17. "Country Death Song" off the Violent Femmes' Hallowed Ground
I am embarrassed to admit that I once liked this juvenille garbage. An awful song.

18. "Busy Doin’ Nothin''" off the Beach Boys' Friends
What exactly makes Friends a "bad" album? Is it the excess of great songs on it? Great song, definitely.

19. "Supernova" off Liz Phair's Whip-Smart
There was a good song on Whip-Smart? I'll have to take Rolling Stones' word for it. Can anyone think of another artist who put out such an amazingly great debut, and went on to suck worse than Liz Phair? Neither can I.

20. "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" off Prince's The Gold Experience
Man, Prince really lost it there for a while. This was a terrible song. Was the rest of the album really worse?

21. "Human Touch" off Bruce Springsteen's Human Touch
I will never say anything bad about the Boss (in part because my wife's grandmother would beat me senseless, and in part because I have nothing bad to say about him). My grandfather (RIP) was born in Asbury Park, NJ too. That is my closest link to rock royalty.

22. "Learning To Fly" off Pink Floyd's Momentary Lapse of Reason
Did anyone actually listen to this album? Pink Floyd should cover Tom Petty more often.

23. "I Don’t Want Your Love" off Duran Duran's Big Thing
If you are thinking I never heard this song either, you are correct.

24. "Wild Wild Life" off The Talking Heads' True Stories
Maybe I'm nuts, but I liked True Stories (more than Little Creatures anyway).

25. "My Love" off Wings' Red Rose Speedway
This truly is one of Macca's worst moments. "My Love" is one of my least favorite songs ever. May Linda McCartney rest in peace, but I never, ever want to hear this song about what an especially skillful lover she was again. Yuck. I have to believe John would have beaten Paul senseless before allowing this song to be released by the Beatles, which makes their breakup all the more tragic. As for the album, this is one of the few Wings albums I don't own, but I doubt it could be worse than Wild Life, which I do own. I loved Ram though, and especially the "easy listening" version of the album released under the name Percy "Thrills" Thrillington. Genius.

Do you have any other nominations?


Peter Hennig said...

I heard Oasis' "Wonderwall"(I guess thats the name of it) on the radio yesterday. They were God-awful. And that song is terrible, terrible, terrible.

I cannot think of a band with less talent that has achieved that level of success. They absolutely cannot sing -- and the songwriting is even worse.

And Friends is one of my top two Beach Boys Lps! Love that one.

Pete Bilderback said...

I agree, but curiously I really like Paul Anka's version of "Wonderwall." Rock Swings was a much better album than it had any business being.

Dumbek said...

I don't understand how they can defend "Don't Look Back", but say the rest of the album is really bad. If nothing else, it all sounds the same except for the ballad (which, I admit, sucks). DLB is a guilty pleasure for me.

The only thing wrong with "Everybody's in Showbiz" is that it's too long. It's not a bad record. "Sitting In My Hotel" and "Here Comes Yet Another Day" are nice. "Celluloid Heroes" is one of the greatest songs ever written. Ever.

The Stones album may pale compared to other Stones albums, but cmon - "Citadel" and "She's A Rainbow" are both great songs.

Pete Bilderback said...

I really need to fill out my Kinks collection, that is for sure. It's shameful really.

Their Satanic Majesties Request is a flawed album for sure, but it is more interesting for its flaws, and does have some other great songs beyond "2000 Light Years From Home." No doubt.

Adam silverman said...


First, I thought you loved "Hallowed Ground." I reember in college you going on and on about the christian/spiritual aspects of the album and how it was much better than the first Femmes release.

I proudly admit I own the first Femmes album (I was an adolescent in the 80s and there is no getting around that). Never owned the others.

As for the Kinks, if you are going to call out one as awful it should be "Give the People What They want" By this point they were just trying to catch up with early 80s arena rock - journey, styx, REO Speedwagon. If you doubt me just listen to lead off track "Around the Dial."

By the way, I can't get "The Cutter" by Echo & the Bunnymen out of my head. Any suggestions?


Anonymous said...

"Good Times," the collaboration between INXS and Jimmy Barnes, is the only decent thing on 'The Lost Boys' soundtrack. While this example might not be what the creators of the RS list intended, it's still a great song off an otherwise rotten album.

Also, the Rolling Stones' "Undercover" is a cool one offa the lukewarm 'Undercover.'

Finally, "Friends" is a fantastic record. So is "20/20." It's a shame that most rock critics spend all their time congratulating themselves for buying "Pet Sounds," when they could be listening to the Beach Boys' other (great) records.

Pete Bilderback said...

I still have the first 3 Femmes albums. I find the first two unlistenable now. Strangely, the third one has worn the best for me. I like the cover of "Children of the Revolution" better than the T-Rex original. Anyway, I don't doubt I that I raved about the 2nd Violent Femmes record in college. I was an idiot then (I'm still an idiot, BTW, just a different idiot).

I admit to having liked this stuff at one point (and worse--I used to own Asia cassettes, and possibly even something by Air Supply), but there's nothing I can do about how I feel about it now. Certain music I liked as an adolescent just makes me cringe now. The Violent Femmes are near the top of that list.

Also, keep in mind this is a list compiled by the editors of Rolling Stone--I disagree with a lot of it. But I'm not sure there is "one great song" on Give the People What They Want for it to qualify for this list.

BTW, I saw the Kinks play at Dickinson Junior year (I think you were away). They were horrible. They made everything sound like an arena rock anthem. They also had a midget bass player, which gave the whole thing a bizarre feel. Thousands of people chanting along to "I'm Not Like Everybody Else" was weird enough. Throw in a midget and I felt like I was in the middle of a film co-directed by David Lynch and Leni Riefenstahl.

As for getting "The Cutter" out of your head, I think the best cure is the same one your Dad used when he caught you smoking. Lock yourself in your closet and listen to it over and over again.

dan said...

Give the People What They Want sounds pretty damn great after much of the Kinks's 70s output (yes, this is damning with faint praise). Celluloid Heroes is a popular choices of AOR radio (or used to be when I listened to AOR radio in the 80s), you'd definitely recognize it ("Everybody's in show biz/And everybody's a star...").

Their 60s output is phenomenally great, though. Virtually every album from their first through Muswell Hillbillies ranges from really, really good to outstanding. I just listened to Village Green the other day, which is among my favorites.

Also, Pete, as bad as My Love is (I can remember an embarrassed laugh from my mother when I asked her if he was singing "My Love does it, too"), that's gotta rank pretty damn high on Macca's drippy 70s ballad list (Warm and Beautiful?). I actually really like the Back to the Egg and Ram albums. And while the 1960s John Lennon may have punched him for submitting a song like My Love, the 1970s John Lennon would have been jealous that he hadn't thought of it first and worked Yoko's name into it.

I haven't listened to Hallowed Ground in 20 years, but I liked it at the time. I can't stand Gordon Gano's voice any more, now. I recall my friend and I copying the Country Death Song on my living room stereo one afternoon, when at it's conclusion, my grandmother, who had been so silent that we forgot she was there, uttered in a very concerned tone, that the song was terrible and she never wanted to hear it again. Good times.

Pete Bilderback said...

I will say this for "My Love" I heard it played by a string quartet at a friend's wedding, and I have to admit, the melody is absolutely beautiful. It's the lyrics, arrangement and production that really agitate me. But there is no denying McCartney's is a gifted melodist--that is for sure.

Back To The Egg is an under-rated album. Dan, do you have the Thrillington album? I've been meaning to do a write up on it. Very interesting.

dan said...

No, I don't have the Thrillington album, but I'd love tp hear it. Let me know if you find any releases from the Country Hams, while you're at it.

Pete Bilderback said...

I don't usually post links to whole albums, but WFMU's "Beware the Blog" posted a (poor quality) vinyl rip of Thrillington:

I should also point out that it is available for purchase as an import CD. It is a very interesting album that will either confirm your worst suspicions about McCartney, or make you think he is much cooler than you gave him credit for.

Anonymous said...

"Big Love" is very much in the Tusk vein. Was quite a big hit in 87 too, I'm sure you've heard it.

I'll also vouch for "Learning to Fly", it has a nice guitar solo and sadly, at the tender age of 11, was my introduction to Pink Floyd.