The Best Of The 50 Worst Rock-n-Roll Albums Of All Time

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This list is taken from Jimmy Guterman & Owen O'Donnell's book The Worst Rock n' Roll Records Of All Time (Citadel Press, 1991). Whatever its limitations, it's oodles more fun to read than Guterman's The Best Rock n' Roll Records Of All Time.
Here you're voting for what you think is the best album out of these 50. I thought it would be more fun to bitch about where they went wrong. And I suppose we could do a Worst of the Worst poll later if the masses want it.
Quite bizarrely, the site where I lifted this list from had Journey: Greatest Hits at #27. But my copy lists the Iron Butterfly record there so I went with that.
And if you'd like to vote for # 20, here's the tracklisting:

1. You Light Up My Life - Debby Boone
2. Let Your Love Flow - The Bellamy Brothers
3. Kiss You All Over - Exile
4. December 1963 (Oh What A Night) - The Four Seasons
5. My Melody Of Love - Bobby Vinton
6. That's Rock 'N' Roll - Shaun Cassidy
7. Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast - Wayne Newton
8. Burning Bridges - Mike Curb Congregation
9. The Candy Man - Sammy Davis Jr.
10. Different Worlds - Maureen McGovern

The book also features a 50 Worst Singles list which I'll do after this one.

Poll Results

OptionVotes
32. Donovan - Greatest Hits 17
2. Reed, Lou - Metal Machine Music 10
50. U2 - Unforgettable Fire7
16. Shaggs - Philosophy of the World 6
9. Grateful Dead - Europe '72 6
26. Bon Jovi - Slippery When Wet 6
13. Queen - Queen II 5
23. Parks, Van Dyke - Song Cycle 5
3. Dylan, Bob - Self Portrait 5
11. Jethro Tull - Aqualung 4
10. Yes - Tales from Topographic Oceans 4
33. Astley, Rick - Whenever You Need Somebody 2
19. Moody Blues - Days of Future Passed 2
30. Willis, Bruce - The Return of Bruno 1
28. Beach Boys - Still Cruisin' 1
1. Presley, Elvis - Having Fun with Elvis on Stage 1
38. America - History: America's Greatest Hits 1
48. Lowe, Nick - Pinker and Prouder than Previous 1
49. Parker, Graham & the Rumour - The Parkerilla 1
14. Queen - Live Killers 1
37. REO Speedwagon - Life as We Know It 0
8. Doors - Alive, She Cried 0
39. Starr, Ringo - Stop and Smell the Roses 0
40. Starr, Ringo - Old Wave 0
41. Franklin, Aretha - La Diva 0
42. Phantom, Rocker & Slick – same title 0
18. Travolta, John - Travolta Fever 0
43. Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - Original Soundtrack to the Motion Picture 0
6. Milli Vanilli - The Remix Album 0
45. Bowie, David - Never Let Me Down 0
46. Moore, Scotty - Guitar That Changed the World 0
47. Sheridan, Tony & the Elvis Presley TCB Band - (same title) 0
5. Boone, Pat - Pat Boone 0
4. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - American Dream 0
36. Grey, Joel - Black Sheep Boy 0
35. Starland Vocal Band - 4 X 4 0
21. Dylan, Bob - Live at Budokan 0
22. Waters, Rogers - Radio K.A.O.S. 0
17. Shaggs - Shaggs' Own Thing 0
24. Who - Who's Last 0
25. Rolling Stones - Still Life (American Concert 1981) 0
15. Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe - (same title) 0
27. Iron Butterfly: Live (Atco 1970) 0
29. Starship - Knee Deep in the Hoopla 0
7. Chicago - at Carnegie Hall 0
31. Blood, Sweat and Tears - Blood, Sweat & Tears (1969) 0
20. Various Artists - 70's Hits: Great Records of the Decade - Original Recordings, Vol. 1 0
12. Byrds - Byrds (1973) 0
34. Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Tarkus 0
44. Costello, Elvis & the Attractions - Goodbye Cruel World 0


Kevin John Bozelka, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 02:05 (fifteen years ago) link

Here's some of their reasoning (courtesy of here:

1. Presley, Elvis - Having Fun with Elvis on Stage
This 1974 monstrosity was subtitled "A Talking Album Only", but it was packaged like a standard live album. There was only one minor problem: this live album had no songs on it, just the rote between-song patter, repetitious non-jokes, and flat-out stupid scarf disbursements that were epidemic at the King's arena shows in the seventies.

2. Reed, Lou - Metal Machine Music
Capturing a sequence of squawks, screeches, and squeals, Reed uses no instruments, just electronic effects. The same drone vacillates for as long as it takes you to take the disc off the turntable.

3. Dylan, Bob - Self Portrait
... exactly what you don't deserve to confront on a Dylan record: lush string arrangements, a lazy angelic choir, dumb lyrics repeated until you want to drag “all the tired horses” out of the sun and into the glue factory.

4. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - American Dream
Young has since noted that the only reason he agreed to take part in this record was that he promised Crosby a CSNY reunion if the selfish, appetite-driven free-baser cleaned up, but that doesn't excuse the quality of his own compositions... Young's contributions to American Dream were its biggest embarrassments...

5. Boone, Pat - Pat Boone
His self-titled debut album (well, maybe he didn't title it himself) contains covers of contemporary R&B hits bleached a paler shade of white.

6. Milli Vanilli - The Remix Album
"Musically, we are more talented than any Bob Dylan. Musically, we are more talented than Paul McCartney". Half the record is remixes, with the expected random echo, scratches, and synthesizer slashes that are supposed to indicate remixing. The other half is made up of early tracks left off Girl, You Know It's True (American Debut Album).
Imagine, if you can, the existence of songs not good enough to make it onto a Milli Vanilli record.

7. Chicago - at Carnegie Hall
The music on this three-hour blast of bombast lives down to expectations. The packaging, which apes a high-class opera package, is wishful thinking.

8. Doors - Alive, She Cried
... another in the seemingly endless parade of Doors product that Elektra continues to release to capitalize on Morrison's refusal to die as a commercial prospect. The album consists of non-studio recordings made from 1968 to 1970 and focuses on the cheap theatrics and ho-hum sex fantasies that people are actually talking about when they describe Morrison as 'dynamic'.

9. Grateful Dead - Europe '72
Europe '72 captures the Grateful Dead precisely at the moment they turned into a parody of themselves. The back cover... depicted a cartoon cretin pushing an ice-cream against his rainbow-colored hair. It was a perfect descriptive image for this set: messy, unnecessary, and, well, dopey-looking.

10. Yes - Tales from Topographic Oceans
Tales from Topographic Oceans is a seventh-hand distillation of world thought, according to five of the most diffuse personalities (hence, when brought together, the most muddled thinkers) ever to try to coexist in a rock group. Keyboardist Rick Wakeman and drummer Alan White were the only genuine rockers of the bunch, although Wakeman's idea of inventiveness was often to try to coax fart noises out of his
Hammond B-3 organ and White often seemed so bewildered by the band's elaborate non-arrangements that he neglected to keep a beat.

11. Jethro Tull - Aqualung
Look at the back cover of Aqualung and you'll see a nine-verse pseudo-sacred text, penned in Gothic script by Anderson, starting with, "In the beginning Man created God; and in the image of Man created he him". Aside from the syntactic and theological nightmares implicit in these words, it's baffling why Anderson thought the text would be a good way to lure record buyers.

12. Byrds - Byrds (1973)
Many listeners of Byrds did not get past the first track, “Full Circle,” which limps out of the gate like a one-legged chestnut mare. The sound is listless, mid-tempo country rock, suggesting Poco in a stupor. The only thing the Byrds lost on this record was their
credibility; the only thing they found was the end of their record deal.

13. Queen - Queen II
What does the 'White Queen' stand for? Why do the band members want to go to 'The Seven Seas of Rhye'? Why do all four members part their hair in the middle? None of these questions are answered.

14. Queen - Live Killers
... the quartet ruins its few passable rock riffs (like “Now I'm Here'” with harmonic nonsense. It then collapses into an a cappella sing-along full of hoarse, off-key singing and Freddie Mercury joking, "Aah, the things you have to do for money."

15. Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe - (same title)
The question asked at the time was whether the Chris Squire-led band that held the legal right to the name Yes could possibly put out a worse record than this Yes (Not Yes).

16. Shaggs - Philosophy of the World
Groups like the Shaggs are the perfect justification for a book like this; the group is fundamentally awful, yet you can't help loving them.

17. Shaggs - Shaggs' Own Thing
... the Shaggs turned their talents to cover versions, most notably Tom T. Hall's nursery-school ditty, “I Love.” An atonal Dorothy recites Hall's list of lovable items (among them puppies, onions, and bourbon) with tremendous concentration, as if she's having trouble reading the lyrics and holding chords at the same time. It's a kitsch masterpiece.

18. Travolta, John - Travolta Fever
Why are we wasting our time with the music on Travolta Fever? That's not what was important to the performer, the producer, or the audience. What matters is that this record comes with a large poster of the idol, suitable for framing. We wonder how many young girls bought the package, threw away the records, and pulled out their thumbtacks.

19. Moody Blues - Days of Future Passed
Never before had any band displayed such a pompous approach to the seemingly straightforward act of putting together a record.

20. Various Artists - 70's Hits: Great Records of the Decade - Original Recordings, Vol. 1
... stands as a primer of the worst hits from that ten-year period.

21. Dylan, Bob - Live at Budokan
Bob Dylan went to Japan and made the most preposterous live album by a major performer in the history of rock & roll.

22. Waters, Rogers - Radio K.A.O.S.
Every few years a special kind of album emerges. An album fueled by colossal ineptitude and a perversely fascinating inability to communicate even the simplest idea without wrapping it in pretension. Radio K.A.O.S. ... was such an album.

23. Parks, Van Dyke - Song Cycle
Song Cycle's twelve over-orchestrated tracks are rampant with bad rhymes sung in a fey voice designed to make you say, "Oh gosh, what a genius." Instead, you lost interest after the first two minutes. Just because you've been told something is a masterpiece doesn't mean it is.

24. Who - Who's Last
Who's Last documents the final show from what must now be considered their last farewell tour (!). We just happen to know it was the last show; the information wasn't in the factually vacuous packaging. Perhaps the band members knew the record was a stinker and didn't want any of their names on it.

25. Rolling Stones - Still Life (American Concert 1981)
Still Life is a perfectly descriptive title for a live album that is as energetic as a plastic-fruit centerpiece.

26. Bon Jovi - Slippery When Wet
How many clichés can you squeeze into a single pop song? Probably not as many as Jon Bon Jovi can. The callous clinker, "Remember when we lost the keys/And you lost more than that in my back seat," is Meat Head Jovi's idea of evocative storytelling.

27. Journey - Greatest Hits
Those who insist that nothing in the Eighties rivaled the awfulness of the Seventies haven't had the distasteful experience of listening to the oeuvre of the San Francisco band Journey. They made Vanilla Fudge sound sensible.

28. Beach Boys - Still Cruisin'
For those waiting for the Beach Boys to hit rock bottom, the suspense ended with the release of this record.

29. Starship - Knee Deep in the Hoopla
The synthesizers heard throughout this album, provided by producer Peter Wolf (not Faye Dunaway's ex), do what synthesizers are supposed to do in the hands of minor talents: they mask the fat that there's no song in the immediate vicinity.

30. Willis, Bruce - The Return of Bruno
A host of backup singers and arrangements busier than Willis's accountants barely managed to prop up these songs. One could say they died easily.

31. Blood, Sweat and Tears - Blood, Sweat & Tears (1969)
They watered down Kooper's original concept until rock was all but eroded and aimed its fuzzy concept of jazz and blues to a mass audience who never listened to or cared for either.

32. Donovan - Greatest Hits
Sounding more like a be-in accidentally recorded than a bona fide song, “Mellow Yellow” is also notable in that it marks the first appearance by Paul McCartney on one of the worst records ever recorded. (There would be many, many more)

33. Astley, Rick - Whenever You Need Somebody
... his vacant smile was augmented by the desire to say absolutely nothing of importance either inside or outside a studio.

34. Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Tarkus
There's a picture of ol' Tarkus on the cover. He appears to be a giant armadillo with the body of a tank. Tarkus represents something (technology? nature? a rat that once bit Greg in the ankle?), but this symbolism is too obscure.

35. Starland Vocal Band - 4 X 4
... a quartet of laid-back studio hack singers who somehow managed to score a hit in 1976 with a sophomoric double entendre about making love during the day, the wretched “Afternoon Delight.” Not recognizing their status as lucky one-hit wonders, the band turned this unfortunate lapse of judgment by record buyers into a summer television variety series and the chance to record ever more insipid songs showcasing their vapid talents.

36. Grey, Joel - Black Sheep Boy
Grey's covers of Joni Mitchell and Donovan tunes have even less substance than the originals. The record's earnestness is what makes it truly rank.

37. REO Speedwagon - Life as We Know It
... the bland-rock group REO Speedwagon grasped at maturity and fell down so hard all you could hear was us laughing.

38. America - History: America's Greatest Hits
You still don't believe they're dumb? Well, what if we told you the band thought it was clever to start the title of seven consecutive albums with the letter H? We thought that would quiet you down.

39. Starr, Ringo - Stop and Smell the Roses
At the end of the first side of his worst album, formerly interesting ex-Beatles Ringo Starr says, "I'm going crazy with this record business. I want to stop it. You want me to stop it."

40. Starr, Ringo - Old Wave
... a collection that rocked somewhat harder than Smell but still had the misfortune of being built around an over-the-hill entertainer who had lost his interest in drumming and no longer worked to charm audiences with his off-key, rangeless singing.

41. Franklin, Aretha - La Diva
Blame disco. For every worthwhile new singer it uncovered, like Donna Summer, it ruined the careers of one hundred soul and blues singers.

42. Phantom, Rocker & Slick – same title
Mediocre talent on its own is just dull: a partnership of mediocre talents can generate something truly awful.

43. Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - Original Soundtrack to the Motion Picture

It was doomed from the start. Beatles fans are excused for hoping that when the Sex Pistols toured around the time this album was made, they came armed with guns, not guitars.

44. Costello, Elvis & the Attractions - Goodbye Cruel World
... even diehard fans like us came away from Goodbye Cruel World wondering if it was really a suicide note for his career.

45. Bowie, David - Never Let Me Down
"Day-in, Day-out, Stay-in, Fade-out/Day-in, ooh ooh/Day-in, ooh ooh ooh ooh".

46. Moore, Scotty - Guitar That Changed the World
You're unlikely to find a stronger bunch of rock songs, but you'll never hear them played with any less vigor unless the Mike Curb Congregation reunites.

47. Sheridan, Tony & the Elvis Presley TCB Band - (same title)
... proves that any Elvis project without Elvis is likely to fall short.

48. Lowe, Nick - Pinker and Prouder than Previous
Why does nearly every rock and roller we trust let us down sooner or later?

49. Parker, Graham & the Rumour - The Parkerilla
For Parker's part, either he is practicing being Foreigner's opening band or he's poorly parodying such a unit. The live stuff on The Parkerilla is bad, but the fourth side is a studio disaster.

50. U2 - Unforgettable Fire
They think they are the most important band in the world, and sometimes they are. On The Unforgettable Fire, they don't even come close.

Kevin John Bozelka, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 02:07 (fifteen years ago) link

btw I used to LOVE this book, despite some of its awful rockist assumptions.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 02:08 (fifteen years ago) link

Oh wait! There's another discrepancy. #33 in my copy is Joey Bishop: Joey Bishop Sings Country Western. Oh well. Vote for Astley instead of Bishop there if you want.

Kevin John Bozelka, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 02:14 (fifteen years ago) link

btw I used to LOVE this book, despite some of its awful rockist assumptions.

It's a riot! How often are you going to read several paragraphs on a Starland Vocal Band album that doesn't include "Afternoon Delight?"

Kevin John Bozelka, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 02:17 (fifteen years ago) link

I think they hated "Emotional Rescue" too.

xpost: the SVB entry had a HILARIOUS exegesis of their rewrite of "La Bamba."

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 02:18 (fifteen years ago) link

Aqualung is a good album. Even if you didn't like it, you would have to understand why others do, and certainly one wouldn't say it's one of the 50 worst albums ever made. If you did, it's because you only listened to 60 albums or so.

Unforgettable Fire contains Bad, which in and of itself makes it NOT one of the worst albums ever.

The list is simply butt-plug music criticism of the worst kind.

humansuit, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 02:20 (fifteen years ago) link

Metal Machine Music is fucking awesome, chumps.

Whiney G. Weingarten, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 02:50 (fifteen years ago) link

I like Donovan, so I'm voting for Donovan.

Curt1s Stephens, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 02:57 (fifteen years ago) link

I voted for Donovan too. That's the only record I'm genuinely surprised to see up there.

Kevin John Bozelka, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 03:05 (fifteen years ago) link

I'll admit to not having heard 80% of these albums, but Europe '72 is indisputably smokin', and about 10 years before the Dead "descended into self-parody."

Reed, Presley, Donovan, Jovi, Tull, and Yes all get thumbs-up.

Hating on "Greatest Hits" albums is a sucker move. Who are these crapheads?

kingkongvsgodzilla, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 03:06 (fifteen years ago) link

Guterman wrote for Rolling Stone and authored books on Jerry Lee Lewis, The Sex Pistols, Springsteen, and Sinead.

Kevin John Bozelka, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 03:16 (fifteen years ago) link

I voted for Days of Future Passed. "Nights in White Satin" and "Tuesday Afternoon" are still great tunes by themselves, not to mention "Dawn is a Feeling" and "Evening Time to Get Away".

Joe, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 03:26 (fifteen years ago) link

I like Song Cycle!

Moodles, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 04:08 (fifteen years ago) link

FISTS ... SHAKING ... WITH ... RAGE ... AT ... THIS ... LIST!!!!

Sure there's some badduns on this list but the inclusion of Lou baby's sweet metal paen and the Queen 2 rekkid makes me want these guys' address.

BlackIronPrison, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 04:11 (fifteen years ago) link

Jimmy Guterman
1313 Mockingbird Ln.
Red Seal, NY 12121

Kevin John Bozelka, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 04:20 (fifteen years ago) link

Donovan - Greatest Hits

??????????????????????????????????????

Cunga, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 04:46 (fifteen years ago) link

yeah, why donovan??

sam500, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 05:06 (fifteen years ago) link

fuck that asshole I'm voting for Donovan

marmotwolof, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 05:21 (fifteen years ago) link

The inclusion of "Slippery When Wet" is preposterous!! For shame, Messers Guterman and O'Donnell!!

musically, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 05:37 (fifteen years ago) link

"Remember when we lost the keys/And you lost more than that in my back seat" is hilarious.

marmotwolof, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 05:44 (fifteen years ago) link

it's a really stupid line, but if you're getting all heated about a bon jovi lyric the problem is clearly with you, not them.

Jordan Sargent, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 05:49 (fifteen years ago) link

Another vote for Donovan

Hurting 2, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 05:55 (fifteen years ago) link

That one just isn't even justifiable as a pick for this

Hurting 2, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 05:55 (fifteen years ago) link

Queen II is one of the best records released by anyone

Dominique, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 06:07 (fifteen years ago) link

ELP made many, many worse records than Tarkus.

Sparkle Motion, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 06:11 (fifteen years ago) link

um...aqualung? queen II?? unforgettable fire??? the mind boggles

Charlie Howard, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 06:19 (fifteen years ago) link

I like that Moody Blues album. A lot.

gigabytepicnic, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 06:50 (fifteen years ago) link

I'm not a Bon Jovi fan but surely all their other albums are worse than Slippery When Wet.

Colonel Poo, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 08:33 (fifteen years ago) link

Reed, Lou - Metal Machine Music

Stopped reading the list after this. Choice made.

nathalie, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 08:37 (fifteen years ago) link

Randomly idiotic and antagonizing for the sake of antagonization, why many contribute to ILM less and less.

Gorge, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 08:38 (fifteen years ago) link

There's a couple things wrong with Self Portrait, mainly the inclusion of two live tracks, but that's all. I move.

xpost nath yeah, nearly voted that one but that often gets big votes round here.

Mark G, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 08:43 (fifteen years ago) link

fuck that asshole I'm voting for Donovan

very eloquent. well done.

sam500, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 08:43 (fifteen years ago) link

I do my best.

marmotwolof, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 08:46 (fifteen years ago) link

Randomly idiotic and antagonizing for the sake of antagonization, why many contribute to ILM less and less.

I don't know about that, George--the book was at the very least amusing at the time, and a poll thread based on same is certainly worthy of discussion.

My vote goes to Donovan. And yeah, even though I can imagine wimpophobics and people allergic to good, silly fun hatin' on that particular record (and Donovan in general), that doesn't mean we should let them off the hook so easily.

JN$OT, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 09:06 (fifteen years ago) link

He's not even that wimpy, and on some tracks his backing band is LED ZEPPELIN.

marmotwolof, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 09:09 (fifteen years ago) link

Right. "Season of the Witch" and "Hurdy Gurdy Man" rule!

JN$OT, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 09:13 (fifteen years ago) link

Actually they say Donovan was lying about the other Zep dudes being on HGM, and that it was really just John Paul Jones, but print the legend, etc.

marmotwolof, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 09:17 (fifteen years ago) link

i can't think of anyone who'd allow themselves to feel antagonised over such a harmless thread as this

Charlie Howard, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 11:14 (fifteen years ago) link

Donovan

zeus, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 11:28 (fifteen years ago) link

The only thing I own some tracks from is Nick Lowe, and good tracks they are.

Metal Machine Music has become a straw man for lazy critics. It'll come in first or second in this poll.

Mr. Odd, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 11:36 (fifteen years ago) link

It is indisputably Bonzo on "Atlantis" and "Hurdy Gurdy Man."

Guterman is very much part of the Dave marsh school of crits: to him, prog bands and Queen, among other things, was the stuff that Springsteen was supposed to destroy forever. Springsteen was supposed to restore the correct emphasis onto proper American music etc etc.

Veronica Moser, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 11:38 (fifteen years ago) link

I don't like the term, but this list practically self-identifies as 'rockist'. Can we please come up with another one for post-1980 music? Preferably starring K-Fed?

Just got offed, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 11:57 (fifteen years ago) link

Or one that includes both pre- and post-1980 music, and doesn't mince about in such a crass, favouritist manner?

Just got offed, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 12:00 (fifteen years ago) link

that doors record seems particularly rancid

Charlie Howard, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 12:02 (fifteen years ago) link

Can we please come up with another one for post-1980 music?

But there's quite a bit of post-1980 music up there already: Milli Vanilli, CSNY, ABWH, Roger Waters, Stones, Beach Boys, Starship, Bruce Willis, REO Speedwagon, Ringo Starr, Elvis Costello, Bowie, Nick Lowe, Tony Sheridan, U2.

Or did I totally misunderstand your question?

Kevin John Bozelka, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 12:06 (fifteen years ago) link

And the Doors record wasn't released until 1983.

Kevin John Bozelka, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 12:07 (fifteen years ago) link

Hmm. A lot of those are pre-1980's bands that went on too long, which doesn't count as true post-1980 music IMO. Besides, I'll have you at post-1990. The list is inherently rockist.

Just got offed, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 12:11 (fifteen years ago) link

Oh no argument on that last point.

Kevin John Bozelka, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 12:14 (fifteen years ago) link

It is indisputably Bonzo on "Atlantis" and "Hurdy Gurdy Man."

I read this as "indisputably Bono."

Guterman is very much part of the Dave marsh school of crits: to him, prog bands and Queen, among other things, was the stuff that Springsteen was supposed to destroy forever. Springsteen was supposed to restore the correct emphasis onto proper American music etc etc.

Dead OTM. And yet some of the pomposities of prog and Queen were very much present in Springsteen.

Kevin John Bozelka, Wednesday, 8 August 2007 12:15 (fifteen years ago) link

I get it now. Sorry - just wakin' up here.

Kevin John Bozelka, Saturday, 11 August 2007 21:57 (fourteen years ago) link

I do want to say, though, that a lot of these albums are still fuckin' awful, i.e. I'd LOVE to hear that Beach Boys defense.

Kevin John Bozelka, Saturday, 11 August 2007 21:59 (fourteen years ago) link

Shakey meant "first there is a poll winner then there is no poll winner then there is"

marmotwolof, Saturday, 11 August 2007 22:08 (fourteen years ago) link

twelve years pass...

You can now listen to the book's 50 worst singles all in order...though I wish there was a way to skip to the next track. (A 30 second sample is enough for a good laugh, but nobody needs to sit through the entirety of most of this shit.)
https://www.mixcloud.com/leerosevere/fifty-worst-rock-and-roll-singles-of-all-time/

birdistheword, Tuesday, 28 April 2020 03:46 (two years ago) link

one year passes...

I'm compelled to admit that, having learned here yesterday about the circumstances of author Jimmy Guterman's death in 2016, I've been obsessing whether to give greater or lesser credence to his opinion of the 50 worst records of all time. He died four months after Keith Emerson - I wonder if Emerson's death coloured his opinion of Tarkus? Did he perceive some common thread there that he didn't in 1991? The Costello blurb quoted above is also notable in this regard.
His wife has a blog where she discusses how much he loved music - how did it feel to him that his book of the worst records was more successful than his book about the best records?

Halfway there but for you, Saturday, 20 November 2021 16:13 (eight months ago) link

I'm sure there are many atrocious records on this list, but Donovan's Greatest Hits is silly (so I'm glad it won this poll).

clemenza, Saturday, 20 November 2021 16:38 (eight months ago) link

Paul McCartney can be heard as one of the background revellers on this track, but the "quite rightly" whispering lines in the chorus is not McCartney, but rather Donovan himself.[10] Donovan had a small part in coming up with the lyrics for "Yellow Submarine", and McCartney played bass guitar (uncredited) on portions of Donovan's Mellow Yellow album.[11]

does anyone know which portions on Mellow Yellow have mccartney's bass?

just staying (Karl Malone), Saturday, 20 November 2021 17:22 (eight months ago) link

There's a bunch of conflicting information about McCartney's involvement with Donovan records, some of it spread by Donovan himself.

I actually have to give credit to this book for being confident enough to say, "I don't like Donovan, Moody Blues, Tull, BST, ELP - I'm going to say their worst albums are their most beloved". It's bolder than making a list with e.g. Cosmic Wheels, Under Wraps, Love Beach, etc. etc., because if you hate the essence of an act, why wouldn't you hate their hits the most?

Halfway there but for you, Sunday, 21 November 2021 00:37 (eight months ago) link

Whatever your opinion of the Grateful Dead, Europe ‘72 is a bizarre choice for such a list (I read the rationale a few posts down from the OP, and still don’t get it).

apparent beef squash (morrisp), Sunday, 21 November 2021 00:50 (eight months ago) link

the louche quality of Mellow Yellow and Donovan's voice were what confirmed for me that I was gay when I was a kid. I had already suspected it when I was seven and had a crush on my high school sister's Swedish exchange student friend

Dan S, Sunday, 21 November 2021 01:10 (eight months ago) link

I think the Dead rationale was nothing more than, "3 albums, it's three times as boring".

Halfway there but for you, Sunday, 21 November 2021 01:15 (eight months ago) link

Queen II is the best Queen album

Cool Im An Situation (Neanderthal), Sunday, 21 November 2021 02:39 (eight months ago) link

It's at least the most Queen album.

Halfway there but for you, Sunday, 21 November 2021 02:57 (eight months ago) link

I kinda miss this style of music writing. Just some dude writing about the shit he hates. Classic

frogbs, Sunday, 21 November 2021 02:59 (eight months ago) link

Chris Ott thread is thataway

Cool Im An Situation (Neanderthal), Sunday, 21 November 2021 03:00 (eight months ago) link

eight months pass...

I looked up something by Guterman for the Springsteen thread and stumbled on this January 2022 blog entry from his widow in the process. Really a sad read. It actually goes into private details about his struggle with depression - I want to say it's too much, but it's coming from his widow and she's still grieving and struggling with his death, and this is clearly part of that process.

https://www.pangyrus.com/essay-memoir/this-will-be-the-last-time/

birdistheword, Sunday, 31 July 2022 17:19 (one week ago) link

I read that book over and over as a kid ca. 1990. I disagreed with theM about some things, but in the text there are enthusiasms for Elvis and early Rod Stewart that challenged my received wisdom when all I had known of them at the time was “lol fat”, and “housewives love him” respectively.

Are U down with the BVM (Boring, Maryland), Sunday, 31 July 2022 23:46 (one week ago) link

Not to excuse his sins as a writer (whom I don't think I've ever read, other than on this thread), but he earned Rock 'N' Roll Heaven for putting together The Sandinista! Project, that rarest kind of tribute album, which honors and sometimes improves on/fully realizes the original--- coverage archived here when villagevoice.com links started getting too changeable: https://myvil.blogspot.com/2016/06/clash-stash-actually-cuts-crap.html

dow, Monday, 1 August 2022 00:09 (one week ago) link

Lol why didn’t Sandinista make his list? I mean, really?

Josefa, Monday, 1 August 2022 00:12 (one week ago) link

Well, he did initially claim that The Sandinista! Project was the first in a series of remakes of "the worst albums by the best artists" (and supposedly was working on The Self-Portrait Project, which I still hope one day surfaces), but maybe hearing his contributors' visions of the original album made him realize it wasn't so bad. (Also, maybe he listened to Cut The Crap, and thought, "Oh wait.")

dow, Monday, 1 August 2022 00:31 (one week ago) link

Although that one had its good moments too.

dow, Monday, 1 August 2022 00:34 (one week ago) link

Disappointed in you for the first time evah, Josefa!

dow, Monday, 1 August 2022 00:35 (one week ago) link

I actually liked Cut the Crap, it was different, and I always thought it was underrated compared to the first Big Audio Dynamite album that came out at the same time. “Yes I am… a dictator!” goes thru my head more often than anything from the BAD album.

Josefa, Monday, 1 August 2022 00:43 (one week ago) link

Yeah, I hardly remember BAD at all. Really liked Julien Temple's Strummer doc, btw.

dow, Monday, 1 August 2022 00:48 (one week ago) link

Almost exactly a year ago (8/3/21) I said this on Twitter:

CUT THE CRAP is as good as any other Clash album, and better than some. Their whole discography is a goddamn mess, and as a strip-it-to-the-bone, fuck-the-pop-charts record, it more than does the job. The guitar sound is ugly as shit, but in a really interesting way, and when you combine that with the Big Black-ish drum machine, the random stabs of ultra-80s synth, and the gang vocals, Strummer was actually really onto something. People who don't like CUT THE CRAP are too attached to the mythology of four dudes in a room makin' rock 'n' roll. Listen to it side by side with the first Big Audio Dynamite album, and wise the fuck up.

I love the first BAD album, btw, and like the second and third quite a bit too. I have no use for anything after that, though.

but also fuck you (unperson), Monday, 1 August 2022 01:18 (one week ago) link

Is Jones the only or dominant vocalist in BAD? Don't know if I could get into that.

dow, Monday, 1 August 2022 01:31 (one week ago) link

Well done unperson, I agree with all that

Josefa, Monday, 1 August 2022 01:33 (one week ago) link

That self-titled Byrds album is pretty good. The Gene Clark songs are particularly nice. I suspect "No Other" was not quite the cult record it is now and these authors would have called it crappy and overblown back in '91.

InternationalWaters, Monday, 1 August 2022 13:39 (one week ago) link

I love This Is Big Audio Dynamite and I love Cut the Crap. Together they really form a blueprint for the collision-y 'Clash meets Public Enemy halfway' bands to follow in ensuing years.

CTC is also a lot of fun if thought of as the 'pop' As the Veneer of Democracy Starts to Fade.

you can see me from westbury white horse, Monday, 1 August 2022 13:44 (one week ago) link

I've written about Cut the Crap before but only in eight paragraphs. I'm gonna develop it into a proper review sometime soon I reckon

you can see me from westbury white horse, Monday, 1 August 2022 13:46 (one week ago) link

Yes to Big Audio Dynamite -- also the second one, with many lyrics co-written with Joe. I had a bootleg of an early Joe Strummer + Latino Rockabilly War album where they covered a few of the songs and dedicated them "to the boys in Big Odio Dynmaite"

three of the doctor's valuable bats are now dead (broom air), Monday, 1 August 2022 13:49 (one week ago) link

I do think Megatop Phoenix is their best, though.

you can see me from westbury white horse, Monday, 1 August 2022 13:50 (one week ago) link

I gotta give that one another spin. I remember the first track being great.

three of the doctor's valuable bats are now dead (broom air), Monday, 1 August 2022 13:55 (one week ago) link

The album template feels strangely prescient of Foxbase Alpha to me bcuz mix of house-informed modern London songs interconnected with found-sound-ish collages.

you can see me from westbury white horse, Monday, 1 August 2022 13:59 (one week ago) link

Will check it out with that in mind. I always thought late Clash responded to hip hop in a super interesting way. Not only Magnificent 7/Radio Clash, but all the drum machiney stuff on the Combat Rock b-sides. Mick with the synth drums at Bonds Casino, etc. Love all of that.

three of the doctor's valuable bats are now dead (broom air), Monday, 1 August 2022 14:43 (one week ago) link

I've just been listening to Goodbye Cruel World, and I have a tough time imagining either a Costello hater or a disenchanted Costello lover calling it among the worst of all time. It's mostly weak songs mostly poorly produced, but just a couple of notches below Punch the Clock.
Cut the Crap is a collage of the worst bits of punk and Frankie Goes to Hollywood, which doesn't preclude a couple of good songs from being included.

Halfway there but for you, Monday, 1 August 2022 15:14 (one week ago) link

Goodbye Cruel World is pretty good. He has worse albums to come, albeit the other side of this book.

Can we poll the worst 'worst album' lists? Q's mid-00s version is particularly witless.

you can see me from westbury white horse, Monday, 1 August 2022 15:52 (one week ago) link

I actually with Guterman's argument that Goodbye Cruel World is a pretty good batch of songs that's simply arranged and produced either poorly or haphazardly. I think "Love Field" manages to work pretty well, but even the live solo performances from 1984 are better. Wish I could link to it, but it's the one that's just Elvis on an electric piano.

birdistheword, Monday, 1 August 2022 16:24 (one week ago) link

*actually agree

I feel like Costello's made worse albums since, but GCW is the one most fans can agree one. Like you still have fans championing Mighty Like a Rose and The Juliet Letters.

birdistheword, Monday, 1 August 2022 16:26 (one week ago) link

argh, *agree on

birdistheword, Monday, 1 August 2022 16:26 (one week ago) link

Like you still have fans championing Mighty Like a Rose and The Juliet Letters

Hell yeah you do

you can see me from westbury white horse, Monday, 1 August 2022 16:28 (one week ago) link

I just listened to Cut the Crap for the first time ever, thanks thread! It's nowhere near as bad as I'd been led to believe. I'll even give it a few more spins soon. It's maybe missing some hookier songwriting - perhaps those will sink in later - and the production is kind of a kitchen sink mess, a la Sandinista, but as unperson said in a really interesting way.

Three Rings for the Elven Bishop (Dan Peterson), Monday, 1 August 2022 16:38 (one week ago) link

Rhodes had no idea what he was doing but that's why it works and why the hyperpop etc kids love it :)

Like "Dictator" is always pinned up for being the atonal headrush that it is but what about "We are the Clash" with its unrelated solos for guitar, synths and bongos all happening at the same time, or "Are You Red...Y" where the main synth bit arrives deliciously a whole bar too late?

you can see me from westbury white horse, Monday, 1 August 2022 16:41 (one week ago) link

FWIW, Xgau gave Cut the Crap a B+. He also gave Goodbye Cruel World a B+. Just to confirm, he does indeed consider a B+ to be a good grade.

birdistheword, Monday, 1 August 2022 17:19 (one week ago) link

wild to see those Yes, ELP, Jethro Tull, & Moody Blues albums on there - like sure I get why people don't like 'em but this was published in 1991 and all 4 groups had made way worse music since

frogbs, Monday, 1 August 2022 17:22 (one week ago) link

I think the intro stated that they made the effort to include more high profile releases - like albums that are the most disappointing in terms of expectations or possibly more deserving of worse reputations.

birdistheword, Monday, 1 August 2022 17:26 (one week ago) link

i found the concept and the execution of the 50 worst book annoying and silly and then i read the essay by his widow and was moved and actually quite upset -- a little bcz i was born two years before him so that's too young to go but also just anyway

mark s, Monday, 1 August 2022 18:22 (one week ago) link

Greil Marcus published a harsh critique of that book in his column, and I'm sure Guterman saw that. Somewhere on Guterman's old website, he sounds regretful when he mentions that his "best records" book sold much less than the "worst records" book - he already made it clear that he wrote the "best records" book in response to the other one after having second thoughts. It's still probably the book he's best known for, and it's almost certain he wasn't very happy about that.

Anyway, it is very sad what happened. It's very chilling too - it may have been a lot of things happening at once, but I feel the same situation could happen to almost any ordinary person, and it just makes life seem that much more vulnerable. It doesn't have to be a single catastrophic event, life can just progress in a bad way and it may be too much for most people to handle.

birdistheword, Monday, 1 August 2022 18:52 (one week ago) link

Yes---her memory piece is sad, but not depressing for me, though I def know where she's coming from, but every lucid, measured, observant, disclosed word seems essential, if there is such a thing: beautiful, anyway. Plainly poetic.

dow, Monday, 1 August 2022 21:01 (one week ago) link

I haven't looked at it in years, but his Sex Pistols book w/Noel Monk was formative for me.


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