Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A Diamond In The Rough

Last week, we had some fun...I think...offering albums that would have been perfect if not for that one clinker that grinds the listening experience to a halt. One reader suggested doing the opposite.

By 1988, my Led Zeppelin withdrawal was at its peak. Two mediocre records from The Firm, Jimmy Page's collaboration with Paul Rodgers, a lousy soundtrack to "Death Wish II" and Robert Plant's listenable, but arguably anti-Zep solo records. And then, Page drops "Outrider," his first proper solo record, with songs and musicians. I could not wait to tear this baby open and hear what I had hoped would resemble a Led Zeppelin record.

Mortified isn't a strong enough word for what I was feeling. This was a collection of third rate Zeppelin riffs, with hookless melodies and some of the worst singing I have ever heard. I know Chris Farlowe is known as a somewhat legendary British blues belter, but he is atrocious on this record. His over-enunciating is painful. And the one "reunion" song with Plant on vocals is quite frankly garbage.

BUT...as bad as all this sounds, there are two reasons I keep this record in my collection.

The first is the cover of Leon Russell's "Hummingbird," which is almost ruined thanks to Chris Farlowe's delivery. But it is saved by one of Page's most beautiful guitar solos. Listen to the first verse, just to hear Chris Farlowe sing the line, "Ah geeve huh awl ah have to-uh gee-uhve," then you can fast forward to Page's solo which runs from 3:34-4:40.

The second, is the Page original instrumental "Emerald Eyes," which I love from top to bottom, and would have fit beautifully on "Physical Graffiti."

One of the worst records of the 80's, and I will never get rid of it because of that one song.

So, what's the one stinker you keep around because it has one gem?


Anonymous said...

Great idea for a post. Unfortunately, I can't come up with a candidate at the moment but will return shortly, more because I want to hear other people's choices than any good one I may have come up with in the meantime.

Bill said...

By the time REM recorded Around The Sun, they sounded like they were running out of ideas. Even the live album that followed it couldn't do anything to make the new songs sound like they had a pulse. However, Leaving New York, the opening track, is one of my favorite latter-day REM songs, so I can't throw the CD away. I just play the first song and then take it out of the player.

Shriner said...

My candidate for this has always been "Nest" by The Odds. It has the great lead-off track -- "Someone Who's Cool" -- but the rest of the album just kind of lays there. I've had (and still have) that CD in my collection from the mid-90s, but have never played anything else from it except that one song -- which I still think is a great song.

I'm sure I must have more records in my collection (because I almost never throw anything out or sell things) that are there for just one song. I'll give it some more thought... I seem to have a feeling that my Boomtown Rats albums never get played any more except for "...Mondays" and "Rat Trap" respectively.

mauijim said...

I have all the Stones records on cd and vinyl but I doubt I will ever play Undercover ever again. Outside the title track, which i do think is great, Too Much Blood is the only redeeming song left. I made a playlist of Stones songs after Tattoo You called Not So
Hot Rocks that have those two songs. Thats where i will be hearing them.

Troy said...

+ 1 on REM.

From "Up" through "Around the Sun", those are tough albums to listen to, very uninteresting. I would say that I only listen to the song 'Daysleeper' on the "Up" album and something (can't remember what) on "Reveal". I have trouble even taking "Around the Sun" off the shelf.

Anonymous said...

I can't think of one right now but wanted to comment on Outrider. You're spot on in regards to the vocals on the album, pretty atrocious though I really do enjoy the Plant song. The solo on Hummingbird is one of his better ones.

When I listen to Outrider, side one is always my go-to. Great Jimmy riffs everywhere. Especially the instrumentals. I rarely listen to side two.

As many people have complained over the years (and I agree) that Jimmy's solo years have proven extremely unsatisfying and not very productive. A sad waste of opportunity. And I have to say the same thing about John Paul Jones - two great albums in Zooma and Thunderthief, but wow, nothing else. More opportunity wasted.

Jimmy and JPJ make Robert Plant look like Neil Young.


Anonymous said...

Todd R. - Global (Soothe)
Stones - Dirty Work (One Hit To The Body)
Loggins & Messina - Mother Lode (Be Free)


Anonymous said...

I dread cheering on a group as they toil away in anonymity, then they reach the top and promptly lay an egg. For me, that was Brownsville Station (post-"Smokin'", they released "School Punks" with exactly one hot song, "Leader of the Gang") and Climax Blues Band ("Gold Plated" for me was their first throwaway album, and I try to hate it, but I can't quit "Couldn't Get It Right").

I really don't like the albums that Tim Buckley did with Larry Beckett, but "Happy Sad" contains my favorite Buckley songs, "Pleasant Street" and "I never asked to be your mountain."

So many things wrong with band, the album and the song, but I keep Happy Mondays' "Pills Thrills & Bellyaches" just for "Kinky Afro."

buzzbabyjesus said...

Television "Adventure" has two songs, "Foxhole", and "Ain't That Nothin'", otherwise I can't tell you a thing about it.

A guy called Tak said...

Most of 80's New Wave bands' albums have just one good (listenable) song on it. It's a shame I must say. Even 60's one-hit wonder bands have one or two interesting songs (covers usually) on their albums.
I wish I can name one or two but too many to mention...maybe I can come up with some later.

Dr Wu said...

Inspiral Carpet’s ‘Devil Hopping’ album may be absolutely brilliant or total crap. I wouldn’t know as the only song I’ve ever listened to from that record is ‘Saturn 5’. That tune was on a lot of mixtapes I made way back in the day. Still will make an appearance on the occasional playlist. Interesting topic. Thanks Sal!

kevin m said...

Outside of the title track for Marquee Moon by Television, I really don't have any use for the rest of the album.

And Lotus from the album Up by REM is pretty good. Otherwise, that record is dreadful (and I love REM...even post Bill Berry).

And while I raved about the album upon its release, A Bigger Bang has me scratching my head right now for one song I can claim to love. Stay tuned.

Sal Nunziato said...

kevin m said...
Outside of the title track for Marquee Moon by Television, I really don't have any use for the rest of the album.

I thought we were friends.

Chris Collins said...

Bill took my answer with R.E.M's "Around the Sun". And I like "Dirty Work" sometimes even though i fully realize that "One Hit To The Body" is the only actual good song. So I agree with that too.

Remember when Green Day were a good band for a minute during "American Idiot"? I mean, I liked "Dookie", as exactly what it is, which is a dumb pop/punk album. I hated everything after that, UNTIL "American Idiot", which i absolutely LOVED! I was really looking forward to their follow up, "21St Century Breakdown". And...well, the only song on that I even listened to more than 3 x was "Christian's Inferno".

Oh well

ppulidog said...

"Sweet Lady Genieveve" by the Kinks is incredible, but it's album Preservation Act 1 is completely forgettable.

cmealha said...

Rush - Moving Pictures. Kept it for YYZ. It being an instrumental probably has everything to do with it.

Chris Collins said...

I love a lot of Genesis. A lot. But the only think I like on "Invisible Touch" is "Domino Pt 1 and 2"

Anonymous said...

Anyone else surprised Page seems unable to product new music without Plant. Been saying he was going to do so for 20 years and ain't happening. Guessing he needs a counterpart to make it happen.