Monday, February 8, 2010
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 no...to 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.