Monday, February 8, 2010

Unhappy Returns

We've all been crushed in our lifetime. (not literally, of course) Everything from being passed over for a job you knew you deserved, or getting grounded by your parents the night of a big concert, to that girlfriend who just can't say anyone. I even have a friend who had his cell phone crushed in the parking lot of Spumoni Gardens. Luckily, none of this has..ahem...ever happened to me, especially the Spumoni Gardens incident.

But is there anything more soul-crushing than anticipating the new album by one of your favorite artists, ripping off the cellophane, only to hear the worst shite ever-committed to wax? (I mean, aside from the three examples I just mentioned above.)

I have a friend who said, "When I heard Led Zeppelin III for the first time, I didn't talk to my sister for 3 days. THAT'S how pissed off I was." I guess when you're 13 years old, an acoustic-based recording, following one of the heaviest records of all-time is somewhat devastating. (I happen to love "Led Zeppelin III" and 40 years later, it is now one of my friend's favorites.)

Many of our favorite bands have put out bad records. That's not uncommon. What I'm looking for is not necessarily the worst album by any given artist, but the shit record that immediately followed a fairly solid release. The "Heaven's Gate" right after "The Deer Hunter." The record you couldn't wait to hear, then couldn't wait to unhear.

I'm casting my vote for "Wings At The Speed Of Sound." Now, this doesn't mean that I think that the prior MCartney & Wings release "Venus & Mars" is anything close to a masterpiece, but it does have its moments of brilliance, with the opener "Rock Show" and the gritty "Call Me Back Again" and "Letting Go" as some of its highlights. Even the late Jimmy McCulloch turned in a damn fine, if prophetic performance in "Medicine Jar." The record closes with one of Sir Paul's most beautiful ballads, "Treat Her Gently (Lonely Old People.)"

Then came "Speed Of Sound." I bought "Wings At The Speed Of Sound" the week it came out, at Crazy Eddie's on Coney Island Ave and Avenue W, if my memory serves me, right across the street from Big Daddy's. (Any Brooklyn people out there remember those hot dogs and burgers?)

How bad is this record?

The two big hits off the record sit comfortably atop my most hated Paul McCartney songs: "Let' Em In" and "Silly Love Songs." Then there's "Wino Junko," another sad, autobiographical entry from the late Jimmy McCulloch. And speaking of sad and late, Linda McCartney's "Cook Of The House" is just simply cringe-making. Even if poor Linda sang like Lily Pons, Paul's lyrics are just unforgiveable.

Ground rice, sugar, vinegar, seco salt, macaroni too,
Cook of the house,
I'm the cook of the house.
No matter where I serve my guests,
They seem to like the kitchen best 'cause I'm the cook of the house,
Cook of the house

Kinda makes "Octopus' Garden" sound like "Just Like A Woman."

"Spped Of Sound" is one clam after another. "San Ferry Anne?" "Must Do Something About It?" "She's My Baby?" (Or, as Paul sings, "Shiz muh beh-buh.") And still, I don't think it's McCartney's worst. (That honor goes to "Press To Play.)

The overall sound of the record is muddy and years later, I still get hives when I think about my cousin laughing at me for hours after, as he spent his allowance on Genesis' "A Trick Of The Tail," one of my favorite records of all time.


Fielding said...

At the time Rush's Grace Under Pressure was a huge let down after the Moving Pictures and (yes even) Signals double header. In hindsight it's actually a really good record. But it was the album when they first really introduced keys, which lasted for many years after and caused me to stop listening. Those are all great albums now...

Fielding said...

it's appropriate that the catchpa after my post was "hozed". if it was "hoser" i woulda fallen off my rocker!

itsok2beright said...

It has to be 'In Though The Out Door'! I don't care how many different album covers they made, this was a tremendous letdown. i remember listening to WNEW the first day it came out. They played the whole album straight through. The dj, (might have been Alison Steele, but it definitely was a female), was almost speechless when the album ended. It was as if she felt if she can't say anything good, she won't say anything.

While listening, I remember thinking, 'ok, the next song will rock..., ok not this, the next one' and so on. When 'Tea For One' played, I felt this was Jimmy's obligatory blues song just to say he had a hand in this album.

Sal: By the way, Crazy Eddie was off Ave. U. Big Daddy's was up by W. And, yes, those were some good burgers and dogs!

Sal Nunziato said...

I remember that day. Anthony repeated the phrase, "No leads" over and over again like a mental patient, referring to the keyboard heavy sound of "In Thru The Outdoor." In retrospect, it's a pretty good record though. But "Tea For One," which I think is excellent, is from "Presence."

Also, I know I bought "Wings" across from Big Daddy's. Which record store was that? I feel like it was right next to an instrument shop.

DH said...

Goodbye Cruel World?

Leslie said...

For me, it was Cowboy Mouth's Uh-oh. I remember being so excited to have found it at my Barnes and Noble I gave it a listen right there in the store. My heart just dropped as song after song passed. I couldn't even buy it. That was a terrible day.

Anonymous said...

Any Queen album.

Anthony DeGuilio

Sal Nunziato said...

Nice, cheap Queen dis there, Anthony. But that would mean, based on my question, you liked at least one of their albums.

cmealha said...

One of my favorite artists, Roy Wood, relased Superactive Wizzo after 2 of my favorite albums of all time, Boulders and Mustard. I'm still not over it.

Anonymous said...

Hey Sal, i'm a customer from your old store, i heard that you haven't worked since you closed up shop a few years ago. Did you ever think of joining the Navy see the world.

Stan Simek

Anonymous said...

Only good thing by them were the Smyle/Larry Lurex tracks.

Anthony DeGuilio

Sal Nunziato said...

Thanks for the suggestion, Stan. I have something lined up as a speed bump in a strip mall. Let me see how that goes for awhile. Thanks for reading.

itsok2beright said...

Ok Sal, 'I'm Gonna Crawl'. Which when looking back, that song was on this album for the same reasons the 'Tea For One' was on Presence.

Anonymous said...

I think you should reopen your old shop and i'm sure most if not all your old customers would come back, i know i would.
No need to be so sarcastic, that may be why you can't get a job these past few years.

Stan Simek

Sal Nunziato said...


You're kidding, right? I mean, you suggested the Navy? That was real? What is this? You read Burning Wood, and you are surprised by my sarcasm?

And who the hell are you to suggest its my sarcasm that has kept me unemployed?

Move on.

charlie c. said...

Yeah Stan -- there's much more to it than that!

Anonymous said...

No Problem, i'll move on Sal and you keep doing what you're doing because you're having a successful life unemployed.

Stan Simek

Sal Nunziato said...

Thanks for getting my back, Charlie. Jeez.

Troy said...

Good post, Sal, although I have to say I liked Press to Play more than Wings ATSOS. I can think of a couple more disappointing follow ups:

Subdudes 'Flower Petals' after 'Street Symphony' and 'Behind the Levee'

Warren Zevon's 'Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School' after 'Excitable Boy' (not bad in retrospect, but I hated it at the time)

Pretenders 'Get Close' after 'Learning to Crawl'

But my all time least favorite follow up has to be the Bluerunners second album, 'The Chateau Chuck'. Loved their debut album, but the second was awful on so many levels.

Sal Nunziato said...


Do you know me? I'm giving you respectful air time here, and you choose to judge me. Who the hell are you?

charlie c. said...

Sal --
Even though the Navy has some cool retro type uniforms (think: Last Detail)and you could possibly book and host a rather off-beat USO show I am thinking that the Navy ain't for you. Can't see you on the deck of the Nimitz (that's a ship, right?). Don't let this guy put a knot in your drawers . . . for real, let's get back on topic. I am trying to think of which recent CD it was that I bought that rang in at 39 minutes. That alone was a disgrace. It will come to me . . .

steves said...

I know I'm probably in the minority here, but I have to nominate Dylan's "Modern Times" (Bootleg Series releases don't count, so the preceding album was "Love & Theft").

I adored L&T. If it was made of vinyl I would have worn out the grooves. But MT was one giant letdown for me: Everything from the lackluster band to the lifted Timrod verses, to the bizarre, outright stealing of Someday Baby and Rollin' and Tumblin. Don't even get me started on the unbearably droopy Nettie Moore and the positively somnambnulant Ain't Talkin. Toss in the over-the-top hype and puffed-up praise, and you're left with one very unsatisfied customer.

Anonymous said...

Not that i want to agitate you Sal but why don't you open up another record/cd shop? You must still have a lot of connections in the music business?

Engin Borluca

Anonymous said...

Sal, nothing about the Saints Super Bowl victory on the blog today?

Seve Esuritas

Anonymous said...

What's up with the blog today? Acrimonius to say the least. Plus my Mom served on the Nimitz so let's not go there!

Hugh Dhat

Sal Nunziato said...

Someone is pushing my buttons.

Anonymous said...

Calm down Sal, have a nice cup of tea. Don't let things bother you all the time, life's too short.

Hugh Deller

charlie c. said...

Living in the Material World // All Things Must Pass. Leapfrogging Bangladesh . . . (nice movie title for a Bollywood opus!)
I didn't read about the 'following a great album' or 'fairly solid release' so nix my 39 minute strange mental blank spot.Here we have a throwaway or at least a disappointment right on the heels of a desert island classic.
Now, for those, and it is admittedly only one guy, who think being unemployed is amusing or funny -- think again! And to take potshots at our host is rude. I don't like rude. Have a care or a concern for someone's feelings maybe before you post some crap about your peculiar take on the universe.

Anonymous said...

Thats funny, I heard about the cellphone crusher at spumoni gardens.

If you arent aware of it, it can catch you by surprise, and well, you know what happens, goodbye cellphone.

ps. i love silly love songs.

Anonymous said...

I second DH's nomination of Goodbye Cruel World. Not that I liked Punch the Clock that much, but I practically cried the first time I listened to Goodbye Cruel World. Sold it the next day. Now I kind of like the album, some good songs and even the production isn't that bad, except on "The Only Flame in Town." Some worthwhile demos, alternates on the two-disc Rhino version.

Let's Dance
Little Creatures
Memory Almost Full

Bruce Handy

FD13NYC said...

Hey Sal, what's with this guy Stan? I guess you caught a certifiable fish in the Burning Wood net. Throw him back and forget about it, not worth the aggravation.

He doesn't realize what it takes to open a store "these days" when more and more close everyday. Plus you couldn't join the navy anyway because of your age and height (kidding)

I always kind of liked Silly Love Songs, good walking bass line. And Let Em In had a sort of relaxing sedative feeling to it. Beware My Love wasn't bad either. It's just Paulie squeezing hard at the end of the toothpaste tube with this LP.

soundsource said...

I'd have to say the follow ups that were most disappointing are all of stan simek's follow up posts a

Anonymous said...

I've got three: "...But The Little Girls Understand," "National Breakout," and "The Big Rock." These are the sophomore-slump albums by, respectively, The Knack, The Romantics, and The Kingbees. I loved the first albums by each, and thought together they, along with The Ramones and others, signified the cusp of a new era in power-pop joy.

Then, one after another, the above albums came out, each one revealing further that what I'd hoped was a movement had been but a moment, and it had passed.


Noam Sane said...

There's so many..."Oranges & Lemons" after "Skylarking" - and again, some good stuff there but certainly not up to the level of its predecessor. Nor even close.

Whatever Rod Stewart followed up "A Night On The Town" with. "Blondes Have More Fun"? The decline was obviously already underway, but who realized how precipitous it would be?

Even as an 8-year-old, I realized that "Magical Mystery Tour" wasn't up to "Sgt. Pepper" standards. And don't get me started on the White Album.

steve simels said...

Dude -- this is a masterpiece compared to London Town.

Just saying...

Sal Nunziato said...

I like London Town. Title track, "Im Carrying," "Girls School," "Mull Of Kintyre," "Girlfriend,"...all better than anything on SOS. Though it's kinda like choosing the spam over the steak-umms.

Anonymous said...

sal...i'm a little disappointed in myself for not being able to come up with that classic example of a "letdown lp"...(i do recall being very disappointed by Ry Cooder's "Jazz", released after a string of exceptionally tasty albums) but i did want to say that this is one of the most entertaining comment sections i've ever read on burning wood, though something tells me that you've been less than amused...steven

Sal Nunziato said...

Yes Steven, that's exactly right. I am less than amused. Not by all the great people who found interest in the original topic, of course. But you knew that.

Christine said...

Sal, I would have been a customer at your store, had I known about it. I've known YOU for a long time though, so I can say with confidence that I'm sure nobody worked harder to keep his business open than you. For somebody to think you can wave a magic wand and open up a store like that today--I just don't get it. And I don't get why somebody would kick you when you're down, especially using something you put your heart and soul into--FOR OUR BENEFIT--as a forum for his crap. I say this "Stan" person should reveal his true identity, or maybe identities--all of them.

Oh, sorry, back to the real reason for this comment--Queen's Jazz. Do I really have to explain why?

Don't let anybody get you down, and PLEASE don't lose the sarcasm.

big bad wolf said...

squeezing out sparks to the up escalator

desire to street legal

number 10 upping street to tighten up vol. 88

pleased to meet me to don't tell a soul.

i always liked gallows pole so much that i could tell myself zep III was great until i got old enough to understand it was.

hey, stan, f--- off. sal runs a wonderful place. because of my computer issues, i can't even get most of the stuff to play, but i love reading abut it and seeking it out elsewhere, even when i don't end up liking it, which happens sometimes. thanks sal.

Lamerex said...

Sal, this is an interesting question to pose...particularly because it forces one to recall some massive, emotional musical letdowns in their (presumably) music-centric lives, that they'd prefer to have left, DEAD & BURIED, heh heh!
But we all remember those lps, & those dates if we choose to, don't we?

3 of Mine....
"Young Americans", after "Diamond Dogs".
Glam slam Rock & Roll gargoyle... SI.
Disco/Soul double-knit cig schmoozer....ughhh,
(as Lurch would have said).

"The Slider", after "Electric Warrior".
Wild, totally unique Rock & roll metaphoric reinvention
is followed by....
...a triple-shot of Flo & Eddy camp, wallowing vanity, 50's doo-wop melodies & lyrics that were, (instead of strangely cool),..just pretty ridiculous...even for Bolan.

"The Who By Numbers" ... following,,..."Quadrophenia".

OK, I mean,.. what does one DO for an encore after that emotionally cathartic, musical tour-de-force double-lp brilliance?
Well, Pete had to descend from the mount, somehow. (Ah...but I was so damn SPOILED by The Who's unyielding quality up to that point...each lp, a new mind-expansion.)

"By Numbers" of course isn't actually 'lousy', (although I never liked hearing 'Squeeze Box' on radio, it was a cheap little joke compared to the band's defined musical brilliance).
"Numbers" was mostly a mortal, sober melancholy set of 'adult-crises' tunes, showing Pete finally dropping his conceptual vision to nakedly confess his conflicted head. And the band was finally showing signs of cooling down.

It was a hard record for a young devoted fan to get into. It put me in a self-pitying mood- NOT jubilant! Instead of transporting me, it was kinda a bummer, "Blue Red & Grey" notwithstanding.
Finally, they made a record that wasn't clearly mesmerizing & spectacular...(after FIVE stunning classics in a row, starting with "Sell Out").

Ironically, as I grew up, and accepted those bittersweet subjects of life better ("How Many Friends", "They're All In Love", "However Much I Booze", "Dreaming From The Waist"...I gained new respect & love for it.
Had to grow up & into it.

But when it came out....VERY disappointing to me, a true fan.

ml, tucson

Anonymous said...

"It's just like a magic penny,
Hold it tight and you won't have any.
Lend it, spend it, and you'll have so many
They'll roll all over the floor."

Your buddy, Carlo Nuccio

Sal Nunziato said...

While "Living In The Material World" is no "ATMP," I have to say, it is one of my very favorite Beatles' solo albums. Give it another shot, if only for the pop perfection of "Don't Let Me Wait Too Long."

"Memory Almost Full" is pretty terrible, but it came right after "Chaos & Creation," right? And for the life of me, I just don't see what people see in that record. Makes me long for "Flaming Pie."

I'm with you on "Jazz," though some of it now, sounds pretty good. And yeah, why didn't you come to the store? (Thanks for the kind words.)

Big Bad Wolf,
How can I fix your computer issues? You should be able to hear everything. (And thank you, as well, for the support.)


Damn! I wish I would have picked "Young Americans." I've said many times on these pages, how much of a Bowie fan I am, but still, after hundreds of attempts, most of "Young Americans" leaves me cold.

As for The Who By Numbers, I'm glad you've come around. I don't remember being disappointed, even after Quadrophenia, and all these years later, I rank it high.

As for "The Slider," I've always liked it better than "Electric Warrior." I would love to hear a mix without Flo & Eddie. I bet that would change your mind.

And thanks to all who offered kind words and song. (Thanks, Carlo.)

baxter said...

Elton John capping his string of 1970's hit albums with Blue Moves, a double lp without a single good track, whose few good melodies were buried in overproduction and too many repeated choruses, whose sole charting single - "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word" - sounds like a retread or earlier, better EJ ballads.

Sal Nunziato said...

Interesting choice Baxter. Did you read my recent piece on Blue Moves?

big bad wolf said...

the problem is hardwar issues on my computer, sal, so i don't think there is anything you can do. i am limping along until i can get a new one

Anonymous said...

Sal, give Chaos & Creation another chance. Starts off with an obligatory cringe-inducing Macca rocker, but the rest of the album has some really beautiful melodies. The song "Too Much Rain" actually helped me through some bad, self-pitying times, I'm half-ashamed to admit. But then I like Young Americans.


Sal Nunziato said...

At the moment Bruce, I am 75 percent of the way through a 44 minute version of "Dazed & Confused" from a 1975 Zeppelin show in Seattle. I can't turn back now. "Chaos..." is next.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Sal.
I'm enjoying the topic, as always, and enjoying the forum you provide and then a hurtful dickwad like "stan" decides to use your own page to attack you, and , though I rarely comment on anything online, I wanted to say I hope whatever private pain or trauma causes him to want to make others feel bad for no good reason continues long and unabated.
PS Thankds for outdoing yourself with the Data DVD's

Anonymous said...

Anything by "Meat Loaf" after "Bat Out of Hell"

Hall and Oates' "War Babies" after "Abandoned Luncheonette"

The Jukes' "The Jukes" after "Hearts of Stone"

Boz Scaggs' "Down Two, Then Left" after "Silk Degrees"

Meanstreets said...

You know I always have your back.... I know who this " stan " is....

Do you want me to handle it ?...the less you know the better.

You have many " friends " out here...just remember that & " enjoy every sandwich "....

Michael in New York said...

Bruce Springsteen. The one-two gut punch of "Human Touch" and "Lucky Town." At the time I didn't love "Tunnel Of Love," but it has turned out to be his last good studio album of original material to date. (I do love the Pete Seeger sessions.) But Tunnel had plenty of high points and was a fine followup to Born In The USA and the live album opus Live 1975-1985. Then Bruce puts out not one but TWO crappy albums? I'd change the usual complaint about double CDs and say he could have taken the best from each album and put out one crappy album and saved us time. "57 Channels and nothing on?" is still moronic beyond belief both lyrically and melodically. And no, I'm not a big fan of The Rising which is good but not great and has a lot of dross. The two CD release of two albums so similar in style and so lame (it's not even like one was acoustic and the other rocking or any conceivable reason why they were separate releases) kind of let me know we'd hit the end of his creative peak. Still great live.

Meanstreets said...

Michael In New York is dead accurate, except for his " Live " comment.
Sal & I are both concerned BS is going to seriously injur himself on stage, well mostly Sal anyway.........

Sal Nunziato said...

Michael In New York,

I guess my post asked for disappointing follow-ups, so you choosing Bruce's 1-2 punch makes some sense, but....crappy?

If I Should Fall Behind
Leap Of Faith
The Big Muddy
Living Proof
My Beautiful Reward
Human Touch
Real World
All or Nothin' At All
Man's Job
I Wish I Were Blind

All FANTASTIC songs.