Monday, August 22, 2016
The Best "Not Really Records" Of All Time
Having exhausted any possibility of new and interesting commentary on classic records like "Pet Sounds," "Blonde On Blonde" and "The White Album," I thought I'd offer this.
The Beach Boys' 1969 release, "20/20" would have been the perfect follow-up to the beloved "Pet Sounds." Even though it is a Frankenstein creation of singles and leftovers, it feels a hell of a lot more cohesive than "Smiley Smile" or "Wild Honey," has fewer weak spots than either of those records, and even has a few songs stronger than some of the weaker tracks on "Pet Sounds." For me, "20/20" is all about how it plays and at the risk of opening up that can of worms again, it plays with fewer speed bumps than "Pet Sounds," that is of course, if like me, you think tracks like "That's Not Me," "Pet Sounds" and "Sloop John B" are indeed, speed bumps.
Another record that comes to mind is The Who's "Meaty, Beaty, Big & Bouncy." This is a collection of singles, yet it is so absolutely perfect, it plays better than the majority of The Who's catalogue. You might be thinking, "Well, don't all Greatest Hits" records play perfectly? It's all hits!" The answer is NO. Two artists that immediately come to mind are Elton John and Cheap Trick, artists I love, with hits I do not. E.J.'s Greatest Hits might still be on the charts after 40 years, but you still have to suffer through "Daniel" "Honky Cat" and "Crocodile Rock." As for Cheap Trick, I think their hits set came in the CD age, so they may need to be disqualified, but still, "The Flame" anyone? "Can't Stop Falling Into Love?"
I am a stickler for sequencing. I think anyone who has ever made a mixtape feels the same way. While "20/20" has never been considered anything but the 20th Beach Boys record, it doesn't change the fact that the band did not go into the studio with the intention of creating it. Yet, it plays like they did. It plays really well. And with The Who's "Meaty, Beaty, Big & Bouncy," having tracks like "I Can't Explain," "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere," "Substitute," and "Pictures Of Lily" all in one place, (as opposed to filler like "Cobwebs & Strange,""Whiskey Man" and "The Ox," mucking up the playback of their first two records), makes that record as good as "Who's Next."
(As you may have read on these pages, I think "The Who Sell Out" is their best record and one of my top three records of all time. I am well aware of the filler of that record. I just don't care.)
So, dear friends, can we come up with other officially released albums that, while not proper releases, stand out as better records?