Saturday, July 28, 2018

5 Awful Recordings By Artists In The Rock 'N Roll Hall Of Fame

Former Rolling Stone writer Tom Nawrocki, who is also a voting member of The Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame, once posted on his blog, Debris Slide, that it is possible to play your way out of the hall. He was referencing Chicago the band and he used their hit, "Look Away," as evidence.

Let it be said that the horn band is not the only artist to release music that is unworthy of their status. While Chicago are included in the list below some other great Hall of Fame members turned out "art" that is just as galling.

I was recently told that it is too easy for somebody with access to a keyboard to trash others without regard to their feelings and that is probably true. However, if you don't want to be harshly criticized don't make records as bad as these renowned musicians did.

It should be noted that all of the hall inductees mentioned here are artists I have greatly admired for a long time.

The Beach Boys - L. A. (Light Album) (1979)
After the late 70s it was rare when The Beach Boys succeeded in the studio and one of their truly terrible releases was L.A. (Light Album). After two nice opening tracks, Carl Wilson's "Good Timin" and Alan Jardine's melodic "Lady Lynda," written for his now ex-wife and based on J. S. Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring," the album falls apart. There are eight other songs and all of them need to be flushed. Two stand out for their wretchedness. There is 10 minutes and 51 seconds of "Here Comes The Night," a good song in its original form from their four star, 1967 album, Wild Honey. For this record they brought it back to life and then killed it by turning it into a full blown disco track. I know it was 1979, but still! The album ends with the three Wilson Brothers giving us a very unneeded version of the 19th century, kids song, "Shortenin' Bread." It wouldn't have been sad if the SoCal guys had put down their instruments and surfboards after this putrid set. It's possible The Beach Boys made worse albums later but I stopped listening after this debacle that reached only #100 on the charts.

Chicago - Twenty-1 (1991)
There was no excuse for this album. The original septet's lineup included music majors and young men who took pride in their work. After tragedy, several personnel moves, changing tastes, and numerous attempts to remain relevant (yes, Chicago also went disco for a moment in 1979) this is where one of my all time favorite bands ended up: on a power ballad assembly line with over-the-top, tenor vocalist Jason Scheff leading the way. While Twenty-1's horn charts were more prominent than they had been on some earlier albums it feels as if they were pasted on top of the basic tracks, contributing very little to the proceedings. The songs are indistinguishable from one another and they were covering Diane Warren tunes. Worst of all was "You Come To My Senses." The band now seems to have disowned this album that peaked at #66 on the charts. How Twenty-1 got that high I'll never know.

The Greg Allman Band - I'm No Angel (1987)
The Greg Allman Band is not in the Hall of Fame, but its leader is rightfully enshrined. Except for the very good, autobiographical, title track Greg Allman caught the same disease that infected a lot of older, legacy acts in their middle years. He discovered synthesizers and slick production. This from a man who once led a fabulous Southern rock band with two excellent drummers. However, on this CD he unbelievably covered Michael Bolton and reworked two Allman Brothers Band classics in the popular style of the day. The modernized versions of ABB's "It's Not My Cross To Bear" and "Don't Want You No More" possess too much gloss and metallic sheen. The keyboard player's talents always led him to earthy, sometimes raw, blues-rock and it's his vocals in that vein that are this album's only asset. I'm No Angel seems worse than it probably is because of who made it and it certainly is not as bad as the rest of the junk on this list. To his credit Allman later returned to his roots and even revived his wonderful, famous outfit.

Eric Clapton - Pilgrim (1998)
Eric Clapton said in the liner notes accompanying his tribute CD to Robert Johnson that the late blues man's music was the finest he ever heard. Despite that, Clapton proved he can be quite good at producing low volume, acoustic ballads. "Tears of Heaven," "Wonderful Tonight" and the entire unplugged album are proof that he was more than just a blues man. Some people who like Pilgrim have said the critics are just mad that "God" isn't acting like God on this set. The fact that I liked the aforementioned songs and album are proof that I'm not one of them. So, believe me when I tell you that Pilgrim is just plain boring. It's great when an artist wants to try something new but monotonous vocals and drum loops, synths, and strings sections are not the way to go. The first two groups mentioned above in this post had been sliding down the mountain for years so it wasn't surprising when they fell into a musical canyon they would never be able to escape from but Clapton was still playing hardcore blues and rock so there was no clue he was about to slime his career with this atrocious CD. My extreme dislike for this set of songs did not stop it from being a huge success worldwide, selling over four million copies. How could so many people be so wrong?

The Beatles - Revolution #9 (1968)
Talk about ruining the flow of an album. The Beatles' great White Album from which this eight minutes worth of noise and sound effects came from is almost too easy to include. As most people know it's not really music. It's John Lennon and Yoko Ono trying to prove how avant-garde they were and how outrageous they could be. It should have been saved for one of the couple's extra-curricular outings they recorded away from the band. Defenders of this "sound collage" say it showed how advanced The Beatles were compared to everybody else. To me it just proved that Lennon and Ono were doing too many drugs.

4 comments:

  1. Good one Charlie, it gave me some good laughs. I will share with you one further use I had for "Revolution #9". When the Paul Is Dead craze peaked, I used an old record player turned upside down to drive a turntable backwards at exactly 33 1/3 rpm to hear the eerie utterance "number nine, number nine, number nine" become the even more eerie "turn me on dead man, turn me on dead man, turn me on dead man". There were some interesting television shows about the phenomenom with some equally interesting theories, but I think the only thing that was proven was that some of the people in the Beatles organization had a sense of humor.

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  2. I like the tone, and you're right on with these picks! I could have chosen about 3-4 from the White Album (not one of my faves - sounds like a song audition of demos), but Revolution 9 is definitely the worst. Keep 'em coming!

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  3. Hey, musicians have their bad days (Albums?) too. Gives credit where credit is due though. People listening to the disco version of Beach Boys and Number 9 were probably tripping on Extasy(MDMA/ Molley), LSD or other stuff so hey it hit them where they wanted it? Number 9 should have been featured on A Clockwork Orange or something like that. Belongs more on The Who's The Wall more than a Beatle's album. The Wall was much better mind you. Or as a nightmare track on a Horror Film. I can kind of hear the reasoning behind the attempt. It does put to "music" the turmoil, uncertainty, and outright confusion of the late 60's.

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  4. My apologies. The Who's Tommy not The Wall (Floyd of course). You know me Charlie. My brain doesn't always run on the right record or speed?

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