Tuesday, July 24, 2018

One Bad Apple

I have a vivid memory of hearing Queen's "A Night At The Opera" for the first time. Well, Side Two, at least.

I was hanging out at my uncle's "bachelor pad," a studio apartment on Sullivan Street in lower Manhattan. He had a great stereo system, but I had better records and I also had a key to his place, so I would bring a few of my records over when I knew he was at work, and have a solo listening session on his Bose speakers.

One particular day, I turned on his Pioneer receiver and it was set to WNEW-FM. I don't recall what was playing, but it was enough to not touch the dial for awhile. I sunk deep into his bean bag chair and didn't move for some time. That is when I heard Alison Steele, who I believe was subbing for Scott Muni that afternoon, play Side Two of the Queen record, in its entirety. (How great was radio in the 70's?)

I was already a fan, having seen the band at the Beacon Theatre. February, 1975, I believe. But the only record I owned was "Sheer Heart Attack." The rest, as they say, is history.  Queen remains a favorite band. I still maintain that their stretch of records from "Queen II" through "News Of The World" are some of the greatest achievements in rock music.

That said, I pulled out "A Night At The Opera" for the first time in a while yesterday and gave it a spin. Still a winner, but almost 45 years later, I still feel now what I have felt all along. "Sweet Lady," the second to last track on Side One, is a mood-killer. It's a basic rock riff, with a boring melody that goes nowhere, then shifts into a lame tempo change, that also goes nowhere. It's a speed bump on an otherwise perfect album.

Some of you Queen fans may love "Sweet Lady," but I don't. I don't mind "Rainy Day Women" opening up Dylan's "Blonde On Blonde." For me, "Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands" is the one that gets skipped over. I am sure many will disagree with that, as well.

Your turn-

Favorite or near-perfect albums that have one clinker.



Anonymous said...

No Quarter on Houses Of The Holy.

The live version is one of my all-time faves so it's not because I don't like the song. I just don't like the way it was recorded. It sounds too 'thin' - not enough grit on the guitar and the whole song doesn't have the power and dynamics, not to mention the great mid-song improvisation of the live version.

Love the other songs on the album that a lot of folks don't care for (D'Yer Mak'er and The Crunge).


buzzbabyjesus said...

I apologize for going off topic.
It might take me awhile to think of an album I otherwise love, save for a clinker, but I'll try.
I haven't listened to "Sweet Lady" critically in decades. I love the opening riff and Freddie's "I like it". I love the verses. Everything else is weak, lame, filler, and not really a song.

Back in the day I played "A Night At The Opera" over and over, and would be suckered into that one by the opening and disappointed by the rest of it. Then distracted by "Seaside Rendezvous", which is a thin lame genre exercise. Then turning the record over for eight minutes of "The Prophet's Song".

On retrospect, it's a pretty rough road between "Death On Two Legs" and "Bohemian Rhapsody".

Squints said...

"More Than Meets The Eye," the closing track on The Bangles' "All Over The Place."

Decent little song but its baroqueness conflicts with the garagey splendor of one of my favorite records ever. I like The Go-Gos plently. But these are bad bitches with guitars. Oh. My. Goodness.

buzzbabyjesus said...

Here's one I've mentioned before: "Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain" by Pavement. The one composition by Scott Kannberg, "Hit The Plane Down" is awful noise, and not really a song which disrupts the flow of an otherwise "classic" (for indie) album.

mauijim said...

Meet Me in the Morning on Bob's Blood on the Tracks is a clinker for me on otherwise perfect album. After a perfect side closer
You're Gonna... side 2 opens with this odd timing shuffle. When I use to listen to it on vinyl, i would start side 2 with Lily. Back in the day in the car, had sit thru the song when listening to it by cassette. Then it was easy to press the > to get to Lily on cd but now if in the car today , its being streamed so not so easy do that. What should replace it you ask? Call Letter Blues is the same melody
but no better really. Lets just start side 2 with Lily. I am a Big Jim but I don't know any Lilys.

Squints said...

I used to feel this way somewhat about "Within You Without You" of Sgt Pepper. But it's really grown on me over the 40+ years I've had the record. I like that melody and think it stands up over some different arrangements.

Tumblingdice70 said...

Good topic Sal! Here are three that jump to mind:

John Cougar, Uh Huh: Really good album, Jackie O is awful.

Springsteen, The River: He included a handful of throwaway songs, and he had such powerful songs sitting on the bench, but for me Crush On You is the most egregious inclusion.

Springsteen, The Rising: Let's Be Friends (Skin to Skin) is my least favorite Springsteen song and the most out of place, although really this could be a two pack with Waiting On A Sunny Day also not fitting in on an otherwise powerful album.


Sal Nunziato said...

I never minded "Waiting On A Sunny Day." Same with "Mary's Place." Yes, both fluff, but in light of circumstances surrounding the release, I was okay with some fluff. I only came to despise "Sunny Day" when it became a live staple and the opportunity for Bruce to bring up a 6 year old to sing the verse. Then, it made me want to run for the hills. As for "Let's Be Friends?" Truly horrible.

Squints said...

Heh. So which side of "Metal Machine Music" mars the album? I kid. I hope.

Tumblingdice70 said...

I am right with you Sal, Waiting On a Sunny Day live jumped the shark about the third time he played it with a kid and it quickly became the ultimate bathroom/beer break concert song!


Mr. Baez said...

"Make You Feel My Love" on Dylan's "Time Out Of Mind" just destroys the entire mood of that album. It's been covered by a boatload of people. I just can not fathom the appeal and admiration for this song; just a prattle of moon-june lyrics and sappy sentimentality.

Anonymous said...

Axis: Bold as Love - "She's So Fine"
In the Court of the Crimson King - "Moonchild"
Truth - "Beck's Bolero" is a great track, of course, but does anyone else think it sounds out of place?

vanwoert said...

Some Girls- "Far Away Eyes" is the first one that comes to my mind

Troy said...

I know there are more, but the ones that immediately comes to mind are:

1. The song "Ace" from The Jayhawks' 'Paging Mr. Proust' album. Ironically, it is the one song that IMO is not ace...

2. The french song on Warren Zevon's 'My Ride's Here'. Can't recall the name, but it sticks out like a sore thumb on an otherwise wonderful album.

heartsofstone said...

I am going with There's a World from Neil Young's Harvest. Loses me at "Take it in and blow hard". The orchestration is way over the top for me.

M_Sharp said...

"Run For Your Life" always seemed to be out of place on "Rubber Soul". They seemed to be fairly pleasant blokes, but man, that's one nasty song. It's also a nick from "Baby Let's Play House".

Bill said...

The Overload on Remain In Light--brings the whole thing down.

softshoebanana said...

My older brother in a,most unlike him, complete moment of niceness bought me ANATO as a xmas present. It had just been released, Bohemian Rhapsody was all over the (UK)radio and I loved it.
Anyway, as was the thing at xmas, he hid the LP but I (easily) found it and proceeded when everyone was out of the house to play the crap out of it, and yes I loved Sweet Lady. Later on thanks to my old man it went fantastically alongside some big band freak out complete with drum solo on a mix tape.
I'm digressing here, anyway whilst playing the crap out of it I manged to scratch it. On xmas morning I had to feign shock when playing it that it jumped, give my brother his due because I think he deliberately hid it to be found, he took it back and got it exchanged.
Must've taught me a lesson though because i don't think I ever scratched another record again.
And as I said earlier I love Sweet Lady, I always hated the last track even at 12 I was, thanks to my parents a committed republican. For all you Americans that's an anti monarchist.

Anonymous said...

Sal, don't get any ideas about making a mix out of these songs.

Joe said...

I had the opportunity to see Chicago in their heyday at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Chicago Transit Authority and Chicago II were staples in my collection and I have purchased a boat load of different formats for these two records over the years.

Chicago II is my favorite but CTA is also very good with the exception, for me, of Free Form Guitar where Terry Kath goes solo giving his best Sonny Sharrock impression. I would have loved to see another cover song instead of Free Form Guitar. My fantasy track would have been The Yardbirds "Mister You're A Better Man Than I" really souped up. I could hear Terry's guitar duke it out with the horns and Terry's gritty vocals singing the verses. Oh well, what could have been.... joe

Shriner said...

Squints had my answer -- "More Than Meets The Eye" off "All Over The Place". I never figured out why they did that as it's a mood-killer for the entire rest of what is otherwise a flawless debut album.

And this is coming from somebody that has grown to appreciate "The Day We Fall In Love" off More of the Monkees with the clinker on that album being "Laugh".

Ken D said...

While not a total "clinker," wouldn't it be nice to have another song like "Wouldn't It Be Nice" (or "Caroline No" or "I Know There's an Answer") instead of "Sloop John B."?

buzzbabyjesus said...

Excellent call on "Sloop John B." That song belongs elsewhere.

dogbreath said...

My two bob's worth. In the days when I used to listen to an album all the way through I recall it was "Anyone's Daughter" on Deep Purple's "Fireball" which caused me teenage angst, grief and consternation as it didn't fit the mood of that record or follow the muscular heaviness of its classic predecessor. I still zip past that tune today. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

For me the rotten apple in the Buffalo Springfield's "Again" barrel is "Good Time Boy".

I was stuck listening to it for decades until the advent of CD when the skip button became my best friend.

Captain Al

Chris Collins said...

"Streets Of Fire" on "Darkness on the Edge of Town" sounds like Eddie and the Cruisers. Before that movie ever existed. It's a skipper. I also agree with "Lets Be Friends"

"Polly" is a skipper on "Nevermind"

"Ignoreland" on "Automatic for the People" is ok. Just ok. The rest of the album is perfect.

"It's Only Love" on "Help" is...fine. Gary US Bonds has a very, very good version. The one on "Help" is a skipper. I defend "Act Naturally", though!

Sal Nunziato said...

I'll take "It's Only Love" AND "Act Naturally" over "Dizzy Miss Lizzy."

Chris Collins said...

Interesting. I LOVE "Dizzy Miss Lizzy"

Sal Nunziato said...

Of the three Larry Williams covers, Lizzy is my least fave. It’s the whining guitar riff that never goes away.

itsok2beright said...

I need to get here more often, this is a good one.

Spaced, on Get Your Wings
Stuck In A Rut, on Permission To Land
Old Time Feelin', on Smokin

I could go on.

Anonymous said...

how about the converse - the album that is by and large ho hum or an outright stinker, but you hold onto it for that one song, even with the availability of streaming and mp3 versions?