Nov 212011

I’m pretty sure we’ve discussed “Worst Beatles Song” before. Who hasn’t? I’m curious to know your selections for Worst of the Best of 3 of your favorite artists (beside The Beatles), that is, THE SINGLE WORST SONG from the “classic” era of 3 of your favorite artists. A few important limitations/guidelines follow.

  • To keep the mission ahead productive and informative, focus on the worst possible songs from the prime years of your artists.
  • To ensure that the outcomes of this survey are even more significant and telling, you must rule out songs from an artists’ prime-era universally acknowledged turd. That means no songs from Elvis Costello & The AttractionsGoodbye Cruel World, released toward (but not at) the tail end of their great run of albums. (If Townsman 2000 Man is wondering, songs from The Rolling StonesTheir Satanic Majesties Request are similarly ineligible, although tracks from Black and Blue are eligible.)
  • Mostly to ensure that the Stones’ 10-minute live filler track “Goin’ Home” is ruled ineligible for consideration as Worst Stones Song, all LIVE tracks are ineligible.
  • Songs written and/or sung by drummers or other third-line contributors are NOT eligible. For instance, the Worst of the Best by my beloved Clash cannot include “Ivan Meets GI Joe” (written, I believe, by Topper) or any of Paul Simonon’s croaked contributions.
  • For purposes of discussion, we will agree that The Kinks‘ prime era ends with Muswell Hillbillies.
  • For purposes of reality checking, Townspeople will reserve the right to call bullshit on another Townsperson’s belief that, say, The Beach Boys‘ Sunflower or Neil Young‘s Landing On Water qualifies as a “prime-era” release. Townsman Hrrundivbakshi, for instance, is expected to draw a reasonable line at the end of ZZ Top‘s prime era.
  • Backwards tracks, reprises, and other clear “F-U!” cuts (eg, The Clash’s “Mensforth Hill,” The Beatles’ “Revolution #9,” The Stooges’ “LA Blues”) are not eligible.
  • Hidden tracks on early CDs are not eligible.

I may be forgetting other limitations I had in mind, but I will reserve the right to make them up as we go along.


  168 Responses to “The Worst of the Best”

  1. The Kinks – “Mr. Pleasant” combines all the things that probably repell many Kinks detractors — cutesy music-hall arrangement and melody, and smug, condescending lyrics about the middle-class.

    David Bowie – “Let’s Spend the Night Together.” This is probably the only time Bowie sunk to the level of Rocky Horror-style theatricality, the kind that gives ’70s glam a bad name.

    Quasi – “Sunshine Sounds.” I thought I should include one band to befuddle the Bad Attitude Club. This song goes on far too long, making even the Janet Weiss drum breakdown seem annoyingly superfluous.

  2. hrrundivbakshi

    The problem with this contest is that the rules aren’t complicated enough.

  3. tonyola

    Pince-nez: the Rolling Stones’ “Goin’ Home” was not live – it was a studio effort, at least on Aftermath.

  4. Thanks for including the Quasi track – I meant to encourage people to offer Worst Songs by bands they care about, big or small, just so their displeasure is on the record.

  5. Thanks, I was afraid of that – I’ve skipped it for the last 25 years. It’s still disqualified.

  6. Please don’t confuse this with a contest. There is no prize associated, not even the patented RTH No-Prize.

  7. pudman13

    I think this would be more interesting if you just picked three artists and had us all have a go at it, rather than us picking the artists ourselves. I’m purposely NOT picking my very favorite bands. By the way, you forgot to make Dylan’s SELF-PORTRAIT album ineligible.

    Rolling Stones: “Dear Doctor.” My gooodness, what a turd. And people think the Beatles had dud songs on their classic albums…

    Replacements: “Lay It Down Clown.” I have plenty of criticism for this band, but I’ll leave it for some other forum. I just want to point out that their ridiculously overrated album TIM somehow manages to always get a pass on this waste of a “song,” which is even lamer than the previous album’s “Seen Your Video.”

    Beach Boys: “Dierdre.” What do you mean, SUNFLOWER isn’t their prime era? If you were to take a poll of rock critics and hardcore fans, I’d be willing to bet it would edge out SURF’S UP or something as their second best album. And it’s great, totally great, except for this one awful, cloying, stupid song. And they can’t even pronounce the name right. I might also nominate the Kinks’ “Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues” for pronouncing its key word wrong, but the Kinks redeem themselves by being just about the only people in rock history to understand that schizophrenia is not another name for multiple personality syndrome. (And anyway, the worst Kinks song is “Paranoia.”)

    I purposely left out cover versions…that’s just way too easy. But maybe the worst one in rock and roll history is Cheap Trick’s “Dancing The Night Away,” though I doubt too many people other than me would consider NEXT POSITION PLEASE part of their prime era.

  8. pudman13

    AFTERMATH is complicated in other ways. What do you do with something like “Under My Thumb” or “Stupid Girl” (or the Beatles’ “Run For Your Life”) that repels me lyrically even though it’s got significant musical value?

    Speaking of the Stones, BLACK AND BLUE has more terrible songs that TSMR, so why one and not the other?

  9. tonyola

    Rolling Stones – “As Tears Go By”. The Beatles could get away with “Yesterday”. The Stones fell flat on their faces trying to adapt the style.

    Yes – “Cans & Brahms” from Fragile – Rick Wakeman tried for Walter Carlos musical territory and failed. A preview of his pretentious solo work.

    Paul McCartney – “Mary Had a Little Lamb”. Does this need an explanation?

  10. tonyola

    Additional rules:

    * Songs that were recorded on Thursdays are ineligible.
    * You can’t include a band whose name includes a Q, X, or Z.
    * Tracks that use a mellotron, bass clarinet, or didgeridoo are disqualified.
    * Songs that contain names of nations in the lyrics cannot be used.
    * You can’t post your answers in the last quarter of the hour (i.e. 1:45 to 1:59 PM).

  11. hrrundivbakshi

    Stones — “Something Happened To Me Yesterday” from Buttons. Stupid.

    ZZ Top — “Hi Fi Mama” from Deguello. Stupid.

    Prince — “Free” from 1999. Stupid.

  12. Velvet Underground – This is tricky because I don’t think that the VU released a studio version of We’re Gonna Have a Real Good Time Together, although it appeared on 1969 live. Neither a fully fleshed out rock/pop classic (like Sweet Jane, Candy Says, etc) or a flawed but endearing swing-for-the-fences oddity like most of the second album, WGHARGTT just sounds like Side 2 filler that was written on autopilot, and they’re now trying to sell to it me. But rules are rules, and since the only VU version is live, I’ll go with Black Angel’s Death Song.

    Moby Grape – I consider their first album to be their prime year(s). The second track, Mr Blues, just seems to be trying way too hard and I usually give it the hook.

    Rolling Stones – NOTE: I’m considering Beggar’s Banquet through Exile as their prime years. And before the Mod and my main man 2k Man get themselves bunched up, I acknowledge the Brian years as fantastic and I am willing to stand up for songs, and in some cases whole albums at least as far forward as Tattoo You. But, for me, those four albums are nearly untouchable… Nearly, except for the annoying, overly long attempt at a Big Statement that is Jigsaw Puzzle.

  13. I tried to come up with examples from my Holy Trinity of Rock : the Stones, the Replacements and the Velvet Underground, but I ultimately dropped the Replacements because even the albums of theirs that I love still contain at least 2-3 songs that are complete filler. For me , the problem of selecting Lay it Down Clown, is that One Good Dose of Thunder is just a bad/stupid, so neither song distinguishes itself as hands-down the worst.

  14. I like Something Happened To Me, even though I acknowledge that it’s stupid and I usually hate the British Dance Hall style.

  15. underthefloat

    Two quick ones:

    Off Big Star’s first two discs…I never liked “Don’t Lie to Me”. Not a very good rocker (annoying even) and doesn’t fit with the rest of the tracks.

    Talking Heads (First three albums are the high mark): I’ll leave out both Psycho Killer and Life During War Time (Both I’ve heard to much but that shouldn’t be the reason they are considered the worst tracks). I’d give that honor to “Memories Can’t Wait”. For me the song just sort of drones on a bit to long and I get bored with it. This is not something I say about perhaps any other track off those first three albums.

  16. tonyola

    Heh – “Jigsaw Puzzle is one of my favorite tracks on Beggar’s Banquet. OK, I admit the lyrics about grandmas and the Queen are a bit silly. However, I love the dense and intense backing music with its off-kilter slide guitar and busy piano.

  17. First of all, I know there were many ways to go with this, but I felt you guys were tired of me setting so many boundaries. I wanted to allow folks to air out their personal Worst of the Bests.

    “Dear Doctor” is an awesome choice for Worst of the Best of the Stones. I’ve been trying to determine my own Worst Stones song from their prime era. Please don’t hate me if I end up jumping on your bandwagon.

    With all due respect, not even Surf’s Up is part of the Beach Boys’ “prime era.” I’m not saying it’s not a “great” album or anything like that, but when people (and by people I am including regular music-loving people who don’t regularly associate with deep-thinking, high-minded types like ourselves) think “prime Beach Boys” they are thinking the records through the “Good Vibrations” single.

  18. pudman13

    I love this kind of thread because it shows how people can like the very same bands and very same albums but still have completely differing opinions about the individual songs on those albums. This is a perfect example–I also love “Jigsaw Puzzle,” and the implication here is that cdm loves the Stones song (from the same album) that I chose earlier in the thread. And, of course, I also love “Something Happened to Me Yesterday,” in part because the Stones are the only band whose only pro-LSD song (TSMR is all about a bad trip, if you ask me) is so completely cheery and out of character…and unbelievable catchy, if you ask me.

  19. misterioso

    That just made me laugh really hard.

  20. “Under My Thumb” should win a Nobel Peace Prize of Rock, if you ask me, not only for its groove but its lyrics. I think the lyrics express something very TRUE (and artistically beautiful) about a part of humanity. I think there’s a lot of empathy for the character in that song, and I actually admire Jagger for pulling it off, even if no one wants to cop to being that character. When I finish my eventual university tour on the Relative Merits of “Kokomo” I may follow it up with a Defense of the Lyrics of “Under My Thumb.” No joke (on the topic, that is).

    I don’t feel that the lyrics to “Stupid Girl” and “Run for Your Life” are anywhere near as “true” about life, the latter being especially dumb.

  21. misterioso


  22. tonyola

    The Who – “Love Ain’t for Keeping”. The one dull clunker on Who’s Next, painfully oversung by Daltrey.

    John Lennon – “Crippled Inside”. Rinky-dink, slight, and irritating.

    Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – “Almost Cut My Hair”. David Crosby shows his commitment to The Movement by not trimming his locks and tells us he had the flu. “Heavy” then, laughable now.

  23. Why one but not the other? Mainly to gently bug a few of you, but also to remind people that the Stones’ prime era can extend into that album with “Start Me Up.”

  24. Nice ones! You are welcome (if not obligated), HVB, to also add the Worst of ELO.

  25. I admire – and more importantly the Hall respects your view on the Stones’ prime era. “Jigsaw Puzzle” is indeed a turd.

  26. pudman13

    OK…here’s the thing. “Under My Thumb” is more artful and true than mere cheap sexism (which basically fueled the entire garage-rock and power pop genres), but in my opinion, spite and nastiness is equally as loathesome as ignorance and blind hatred. It may be smarter, but I don’t believe for a second that Jagger is playing a character and not speaking from the heart. That’s not to dismiss what you say, Mr. Mod…just to explain why the song puts me off so much. Actually, to completely change subjects, it reminds me in an oblique way of something I wrote this morning, about AC/DC, which boils down to the fact that certain kinds of stupidity appeals to me but lazy, tried-and-true stupidity doesn’t: I could listen to cheap dirty jokes like “She’s Got Balls” and “She’s Got The Jack” all night, but I never need to hear another song like “It’s A Long Way To The Top If You Wanna Rock And Roll” again. Anyone have thoughts on this distinction?

  27. Bruce Springsteen’s Hungry Heart on The River — I probably would have liked this album a lot more if this song wasn’t on there. There are a couple of other marginal songs, but this one is the clearest example of the wrong fork in the road that Bruce would take.

  28. I hear you, pudman13. I’m sure I’ve got songs that I react to the way you do “Under My Thumb.” I wasn’t trying to deny your feeling, just put my 2 cents on for the power I feel from the song.

  29. tonyola

    Uh, no. That puts Emotional Rescue in the prime era, unless we acknowledge that it’s the one big Stones turd. Black and Blue and Some Girls aren’t exactly brilliant, either. By the way, “Girl With the Far Away Eyes” ranks as a stinkeroo in this era.

  30. I don’t love Dear Doctor. It’s just kind of “meh”. But it’s closer to being funny than Jigsaw Puzzle is to being a Big Statement.

    Also, I don’t know much about music theory but JP doesn’t resolve (I think that’s what it’s called). I can’t stand when songs do that. I want closure.

  31. I love Tim — definately not overrated — some of their best songs — but you’ve I’d the two weakest cuts.

  32. Tonyola, when we take that road trip, we’re going to have to go with podcasts or a book on tape or something.

    I like Faraway Eyes.

  33. tonyola

    I’d say “Under My Thumb” is more callously smug than spiteful and nasty. Besides, no-one was interested in being PC in 1966. Isn’t Dylan’s much-beloved “Just Like a Woman” sexist too by your standards?

  34. Emotional Rescue is a fine second-rate (as opposed to third-, fourth-…twelfth-rate) Stones album. The title track alone justifies its existence if not the eventual 30th anniversary expanded edition.

  35. pudman13

    I agree with Mod. “Emotional Rescue” is a great song. I like it better than “Miss You.” I can’t stand “She’s So Cold,” though. Most of the rest of the album is pretty uninspired, but not as much so, in my opinion, as the unfocused jams on BLACK & BLUE.

    As to tony’s point, I don’t see “Just Like a Woman” as sexist at all—it’s a portrait of a complex person who has strengths and flaws. It’s not even patronizing, as is, say, “Wild World” by Cat Stevens. And how can you not be in awe of the image of a person who is defined by “her fog, her amphetamine and her pearls?”

  36. shawnkilroy

    Bowie-It Ain’t Easy
    Neil Young-Homegrown
    Led Zeppelin-Tangerine

  37. misterioso

    I am on team Emotional Rescue, too. Just pulled it out to listen to this weekend. The title song is top drawer; the record as a whole is as Mod says, a fine second-tier Stones record. I will take it over Goat’s Head, Black and Blue, and It’s Only Rock and Roll any ol’ day of the week. Much of it sounds like Some Girls leftovers, but leftovers can be very satisfying.

  38. misterioso

    I dunno, I like Hungry Heart–a reach for the Top 40 but a worthy one.

  39. misterioso

    Dylan – “Ballad in Plain D” from Another Side. I mean, famously bad and sort of obvious, but it’s reputation is pretty well earned.

    Stones – “As Tears Go By.” Whatever it was tonyola said about goes double for me.

    Kinks – “Plastic Man.”

  40. Happiness Stan

    1. The Byrds – Mind Gardens (from Younger than Yesterday) is so far out in front of all the other competition in this category that I’m struggling to think of others. I agree with Tony that Almost Cut My Hair is execrable, but for Crosby to dump this unpleasantness on what is otherwise the greatest jangly pop album ever made was, is, and ever shall be completely unforgivable.

    2. The Fall – And This Day (from Hex Enduction Hour). After 50 minutes of breathtaking rolling, clattering Fall groove the wheels get stuck and the second-best album they made during their first classic period wobbles and tips over.

    3. The Monkees – Cuddly Toy (from Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones Ltd). Davy Jones sings Nilsson and a hundred million teenage girls lose the will to live. Coincidentally it comes before the best song on the album, which happens to be sung by the drummer.

  41. BigSteve

    Many people in this thread are picking songs I really like, but I can’t imagine anyone defending the completely indefensible Mind Gardens. Almost Cut My Hair is a work of genius in comparison.

  42. cliff sovinsanity

    As soon as I saw Big Star I thought for sure Life Is White would be your pick. Uggh. The whining harmonica makes me question my adoration for Radio City. I understand your comments about “..Lie..”, but it lightens up the mood on a rather sombre album.

  43. cliff sovinsanity

    The same people who would defend Inner Light would defend Mind Gardens. Those people need to be punished.

  44. underthefloat

    I’ll second “It Ain’t Easy” for what it’s worth. He was in his prime and this song is not worthy of the company it keeps.

  45. underthefloat

    I have 5-6 discs by the Byrds and a best of collection. I don’t have this album and thus, I’d never heard this song until now. I couldn’t get through it…..really, really dreadful.

  46. Happiness Stan

    Hi Mr Pud, where would you say that classic Dylan starts and ends? I think I’d be hard pressed to take it beyond Nashville Skyline myself. Personally I dislike “Dylan” more than “Self Portrait”, although arguing the merits of mouldy apples compared to mouldy pears probably doesn’t have a lot of mileage in it.

  47. Hi, my name is Chicken.

    “Hi, Chicken!”

    I’ve been an Elvis Costello fan for 33 years, and I can finally admit in front of you all that Lipstick Vogue on This Year’s Model is really just a bore. TYM is clearly smack in the prime for EC, but that song goes nowhere fast. I admit I used to be dazzled by the active drums and bass, but now I hear how it’s only a jam in search of a song. No melody, and the middle break is just a breakdown. The Thomas brothers can’t save it.

  48. underthefloat

    Yeah, that’s a good observation in terms of what the track adds. I’ve just never got into the song…That said, I’ve sort of assumed that I’m in the minority of Big Star fans in having that opinion.

    That’s funny about Life is White. I like it but I get what your compliant too.

  49. cliff sovinsanity

    1. Ramones – Questioningly – From the otherwise sublime Road To Ruin. I guess it’s the Thin Lizzy guitar solo (thank you very much Ed Stasium)

    2. R.E.M. – We Walk – I could have chose a lot of songs post Document, but that would have been argued as post-peak.

    3. The Police – Masoko Tanga – At first I was going to put up Be My Girl Sally, but since that is mostly an Andy Summers affair I thought it didn’t qualify.

  50. tonyola

    The funny part of “Cuddly Toy” is that it’s a putdown of a girl who makes herself available to anyone.

    “You’re not the only cuddly toy
    that was ever enjoyed by any boy.

    You’re not the only choo choo train
    that was left out in the rain the day after Santa came.

    You’re not the only cherry delight
    that was left in the night who gave up without a fight.”

  51. tonyola

    I like “Inner Light” – it’s a nice, spacey little George trifle with a pretty melody. “Mind Gardens” is not good. Therefore you can’t punish me.

  52. tonyola

    Oh man, that might be my favorite song on This Year’s Model simply because it’s so fierce and driving. There’s an almost ghostly quality in the high organ and piano after the break, then SLAM!, the whole band comes back in racing to the finish. I think you might be getting old or something.

  53. tonyola

    If we takes REM into their period of biggest fame as part of their peak, then “Everybody Hurts” is the worst.

  54. cliff sovinsanity

    Wouldn’t you rather agree that Love Ain’t For Keeping is an “OK” track on a great album ?

  55. That’s “MUSIC Hall” – Dance Hall is something completely different….and Jamaican in origin, I believe.

  56. tonyola

    You people are weird, and trust me, I know about weird. You dismiss the menacing and slightly mad “Jigsaw Puzzle” from the Stones’ peak as a turd, yet you defend their pathetically bad National Lampoon parody of R&B that is “Emotional Rescue”. Oh, but it has to be great because Mick’s got the soul! Maybe so, but the falsettos are probably the worst ever sung by white guys. “I will be your knight in shining armor..”. Yeah, right, Mick – you had stopped trying for so long by this point that your armor rusted solid.

  57. tonyola

    If it was OK, I wouldn’t skip over it like I always do. Roger and Pete should never have attempted rural-sounding music, particularly on such a non-rural album.

  58. Does The Clash’s “classic period” extent through “Combat Rock”? If so, “Know Your Rights” sucks. It’s irritatingly strident and thematically by the numbers for that band (which is saying something), and Joe’s bellowing sinks the whole thing.

    Mod, you know The Clash’s biggest hit was written by Topper, right?

  59. I forgive you for having the wrong opinion.

    And yes, both old and on’ry.

  60. Combat Rock is seriously post-prime – and Berlyant is not here to argue otherwise. And of course i know Topper was behind the big hit!

  61. tonyola

    “Dear Doctor” is not a particularly good song, but it’s light-years better than “Girl With the Far Away Eyes”.

  62. misterioso

    Incomprehensible. Simply one of his greatest tracks.

  63. cliff sovinsanity

    Interesting, because I’ve always thought the leftover pieces of Lifehouse that form Who’s Next have a rural theme. “Out here in the fields”, “the world is my home when I’m mobile”. Perhaps I’m stringing pieces together.

  64. misterioso

    Spot on with “Mind Gardens,” Stan. Brutal, a horrible track on a great record. All the more horrible knowing the perfectly wonderful “It Happens Each Day” (now a bonus track) was left off, a great Crosby song.

  65. misterioso

    Better than ok, quite good.

  66. Right. Thank you, Mr Bittman.

  67. misterioso

    Am I the only one here who likes “Know Your Rights” and thinks Combat Rock is quite ok?

  68. cliff sovinsanity

    I got argued down a few threads back about the Warner albums as past REM’s due date . Not that they convinced me. But if I was to chose one song that would be the worst I’d go with Low.
    I think you’re being a little silly by picking Everybody Hurts.

  69. Probably not. To raise the level of play, however, I had to categorize the album as post-prime. I love the song “Straight to Hell” – and I love the concept of a few other songs – so that album’s not all bad for me.

  70. cliff sovinsanity

    The Clash’s output was so uneven it’s hard to argue a peak period. The first album is prime, Rope is uneven, London is prime, Sandi is uneven, Combat is slightly more consistent but suffers because Strummer was smoking too much weed.
    That being said I think Combat Rock qualifies based on the lack of prime output over 2-3 consecutive albums.

  71. tonyola

    Well, I can’t help hearing the hopelessly-morose song without associating it with the video – sad people everywhere and Micheal Stipe looking like a Mennonite about to be led off to his inevitable crucifixion. It’s just too much, even for the pouty early ’90s.

  72. Good arguments for inclusion, but as someone who grew up with the band as part of my Holy Trinity I can assure you Combat Rock is much worse than the previous albums. What’s really bad about it – and why I must rule its song ineligible – is that it was the first Clash album on which Strummer and Jones regularly turned out songs as bad as would be expected to be written by drummers and atonal bassists.

  73. As someone who didn’t like The River, I thought “Hungry Heart” was one of the better tracks. Better yet, it was a fine tune-up for Springsteen’s best happily commercial songs, “Dancing in the Dark” and “Glory Days.”

  74. “Inner Light” may be my second-favorite “Raga George” song, behind the Eastern-influenced “Blue Jay Way.”

  75. Rolling Stones: I had have to say “Jigsaw Puzzle” too. Just bores the hell out of me and just won’t end. Am I the only one who actually thinks “Dear Doctor” is a pretty good tune–and damn funny too? I love “Something Happened to Me Yesterday” too without apology.

    Byrds–“Mind Garden” definitely blows. It is a travestly that “It Happens Each Day” didn’t make the cut but “Mind Garden” did.

    Kinks–“It’s Too Late” off of Kink Kontroversy. Just a boring throwaway. Am I the only one who actually likes “Mr. Pleasant” and “Plastic Man”? The lyrics don’t do as much for me now as they did when I first heard them as a teenager, but I love the harmonies on both, and “PlasticMan” truly rocks.

  76. I didn’t even buy that album when it came out. They had pretty much run their course for me…and I started out as a fanatical devotee. ’79/’80 was their peak period as a band – glad I saw ’em twice before and just after “London Calling”.

  77. Gah! Makes me sorry I ever played EC for you in the first place….

  78. 2000 Man

    I wish I had more time today, but I’l toss in my two cents worth. First, most Stones fans would consider the “Big Four” to be Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main St. to be the definitive run. Sure, they were already The Rolling Stones, second only to the Beatles before that run started, but those albums probably had the biggest impact and are the ones most often cited by those following in their footsteps. My own Big Four is a little different, but I’ll sick to these for my choice. Which will be: I Got the Blues from Sticky Fingers. I love all the hokey stuff on Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed only falters with the choir, Exile is perfect in every way, and Sticky Fingers has some missteps, if you ask me. I got the Blues is pretty good live, and I think it really says a lot that that’s what I consider “the worst.”

    To keep it going, I’ll pick Bowie. I’m gonna make the tough decisions and choose at least two of my favorites. I think his classic period is The Man Who Sold the World through Heroes. Let’s Spend the Night Together is going to be my pick even though covers “don’t count.” Bowie did a great album full of covers that proves he usually totally gets it with other people’s songs, but he misses the point entirely here. It’s embarassingly bad. If he hadn’t done Pin Ups and done it so well, I wouldn’t count this misstep, but this is a monumental turd that can’t be overlooked.

    And that’s enough skewering my sacred cows. I’m skewering someone else’s now. I’ll admit to a fairly recent reevaluation of Lynyrd Skynyrd and I find that I ws wrong about their ability to bring The Rock. When they bring it, they bring it hard and heavy and they’re a damned fine band that I misunderstood. However, Gimme Three Steps is hoedown music. It might be good fun at a hoedown, but it’s a crappy song to play on Rock N Roll radio.

  79. pudman13

    That’s a darn good question. A very good argument could be made that NASHVILLE SKYLIE is the cutoff point, as you suggest, except that BLOOD ON THE TRACKS is one of his very best albums. But if you include it (and maybe DESIRE), there’s some dodgy stuff in between. An to make matters even more difficult, LOVE & THEFT is one of his best albums too, but that would add years and years of garbage to the pile. You’re not the only one to think DYLAN is even worse than SELF PORTRAIT, and the scary thing is that, if you do the reserach to see where they came from, unlike SELF PORTRAIT, some of DYLAN wasn’t even intended to be a joke.

  80. pudman13

    re: where it starts–it would have to start early, with his second album, FREEWHEELIN’, no? How could you omit an album as good as that?

  81. pudman13

    I’ve always disliked “Don’t Lie To Me” too, in part because it’s so repetitive…but I’m not a good judge of this because I don’t really like most of #1 RECORD that much. Heresy, I suppose, but I’m only really a fan of “In The Street,” “Feel,” RADIO CITY and most of THIRD. I always liked “Life Is White,” but I have a high tolerance for harmonica.

  82. pudman13

    My college roommate was a huge Led Zep fan…and his all time favorite song was “Tangerine.” He’s not the only one to love it (I like it a whole lot too.) I think you really nailed something with “Homegrown,” though. What a perfect choice…

  83. The conventional wisdom behind Dylan is that it was Columbia Records’ revenge on Bob for leaving them and signing with the Asylum label. Columbia took a bunch of 1969-1970 outtakes and made an album from them to milk a little more money from their former cash-cow wonderboy. The fact that Dylan made gold was simply a bonus.

  84. trigmogigmo

    I picked Talking Heads as well (below). But not “Memories Can’t Wait”, which I like in its own way. It has an odd, gritty, teeth-on-edge, paranoid feel that I think is in tune with the rest of the Fear of Music album. In parts it seems to have an almost happy little melody over some dark chords and spacey instrumentation.

  85. trigmogigmo

    The first 30 seconds of “Masoko Tango” are great enough to salvage the fact the rest of the song goes nowhere. My Police pick below is much worse.

  86. trigmogigmo

    The Police – “Too Much Information” from Ghost in the Machine – Now there is a song that goes nowhere. Background singers. Horn section. Andy screetching on the guitar in the background. Four bass notes. Talk about not even trying! Worst song from probably my favorite band.

    Talking Heads – “Stay Hungry” from More Songs About Buildings and Food. They’re not in my top 5 favorite acts but I do like them a lot. This song isn’t awful, but it really sticks out as the weak track. I think every other song has something to recommend it.

    Tom Petty – I was going to nominate “Century City” from Damn the Torpedoes, which just has no charm or appeal for me. But then I saw “You Can Still Change Your Mind” ending the Hard Promises track listing. Tom is quite capable of doing a good job with the occasional quieter, introspective song — “The Wild One, Forever”, “No Second Thoughts”, “Insider”, “It’ll All Work Out” — but this one is a big snoozer.

  87. Happiness Stan

    I would agree that Freewheelin’ is as good a starting point as any. I guess the reason that people stick with him is that occasionally he does produce a BOTT or Desire, I may be in a minority but for me Street Legal stands up there with those as well. There were an awful lot of “Brian is Back” moments inbetween though.

  88. 2000 Man

    Emotional Rescue is just fun, Tony. But I like Jigsaw Puzzle, too.

  89. 2000 Man

    Century City? Really? I like that song a lot. I’d say you can toss the whole first side of You’re Gonna Get It! into this mix before Century City.

    Unless you were saying Tom’s Classic period was Damn the Torpedoes and that’s it. i think that would be reasonable since every other album is very inconsistent.

  90. Ooh, picking a Talking Heads track would be tough for me, if I limit their prime to the first 4 albums. “Stay Hungry” is an interesting Worst of the Best choice.

  91. Ha, for all the killer hits he has I may have to agree that his prime time lasted only through that one album!

  92. I’m really going to have to put my mind to identifying the Worst of the Best of Talking Heads – and that’s with me limiting myself to the first 4 albums. Mmm…

    The second Big Star album is loaded with songs I don’t really like, although the opening track, which goes on and goes nowhere forever may get the nod because it’s always ruined the entire album for me. What’s that song called, “Oh My Soul”? Ugh! Every time I think it’s going to start getting good it blows again.

  93. I don’t think I ruled covers ineligible, did I? Did someone else? I’m not a big fan of Bowie’s “Let’s Spend the Night Together” either, especially because the Stones’ original is one of my Top 10 Stones songs.

  94. Apparently, I may be the only one on this list who likes Bowie’s version of LSTNT. I couldn’t stand it when I first heard it, largely due to the fact that, like the Mod, the Stones version ranks really high with me, but I’m on board with it now.

    Although I’ve heard it more than enough for one lifetime, I think Gimme 3 Steps is excellent.

  95. misterioso

    It is one of the songs most guaranteed to just make me angry to even think of it in passing. But the song is way past REM’s peak, which is anything after 1985.

  96. misterioso

    I think Mr. Pleasant is ok, mainly because I love the sound of it, even if the lyrics are a bit much. “Plastic Man” is just silly. I don’t hate it by any means–I don’t strongly dislike anything the Kinks did in their Classic Period. It may be the most consistent Classic Period of all Classic Periods.

  97. misterioso

    I am no fan of Bowie’s cover, though it doesn’t bother me. But I am not a huge fan of the original, as far as that goes. The fact that it is in your top 10 Stones songs, Mod, begins to help me understand your Stones-related peculiarities a little better.

  98. Yes, count me on Team Gimme Three Steps. I HATED that song when it was in its prime, but I’ve since come around to the good-time humor and boogie-spirit of the number.

  99. You know what’s the problem with a lot of folks around here (and this may not be a problem with you, misterioso, because you know we always end up agreeing over something significant when the chips are down)? So few of you like Motown records, the hits, the classics. Some day I may have to spend an entire week lashing out at Townspeeps for their failure to embrace Motown. You’ve all been warned:) Anyhow, I LOVE the Motown sound, and I LOVE when the Stones pull from that approach, as I hear them doing on “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” which a band like the Supremes or the Marvelettes could have knocked out of the park.

  100. bostonhistorian

    As Too Much Joy sang, “Every band should be shot/before they make their Combat Rock”

  101. bostonhistorian

    Gimme Three Steps makes me smile whenever I hear it. If I’m picking the worst of the best of Skynrd, I’m going with The Ballad of Curtis Lowe.

  102. I’m going with Simple Man.

  103. I really like good Motown. I remember hearing tons of great songs on the radio during Motown’s prime (1964-1970).

  104. I’m ambivalent towards Petty. He can write some good tunes sometimes and the Heartbreakers were a fine backing band. I’ve never really warmed up to his nasal, strangled-sounding singing, though.

  105. misterioso

    Brother, preach it. I love Motown. A few times a year I go to the Hip-O Select site and drool over their complete Motown singles collections. If I were made of money, jeez, would I buy those in a heartbeat. So don’t be tarring me with that brush. But the Stones’ forays into Motown territory are a mixed bag. It’s not like LSTNT makes me shudder or anything. It’s fine. But it is hard for me to imagine anyone rating it so highly, just as it is hard for me to imagine anyone who claims to like the Stones wanting to trim one precious second of Exile or someone failing to grasp the greatness of Sticky Fingers. The suggests to me someone who loves going to a great Italian restaurant because they have a nice salad. I mean, salad is a fine thing, but that isn’t really why you go there, is it?

  106. I consider Talking Heads prime to last through Speaking in Tongues and possible Little Creatures. The fall-off was rapid after that. My least favorite song from the prime time frame is “In a Big Country”.

  107. Ha! I acknowledge that I’m a bit weird.

    Man, I tried Sticky Fingers again a couple of days ago and I STILL can’t warm up to that album. It’s not terrible and I like some of the songs, but it’s so over the top in its Stonesiness. When Sticky Fingers exits an elevator its Stonesy cologne smell lasts for the next few rides.

  108. Mod, I am with you on Sticky Fingers (“I Got the Blues,” “Moonlight Mile,”… zzzzz…..) and “Let’s Spend the Night Together” (probably the best Stones song to play to get people excited and on the dance floor). As for Motown, I am generally a fan in moderation. But Stevie Wonder’s “Sugar” (from 1969?) has the hottest drums ever. It’s a fact.

  109. hrrundivbakshi

    Oats, I take back every nice thing I ever said about you. How can you not like “Moonlight Mile”?! Even I, a notorious hata of brooding, slow-jam/”vibe” songs, can hear its greatness!

  110. Sticky Fingers isn’t terrible? You really want to go out on a limb like that? What’s next? Stratocasters aren’t half bad? A cup of coffee in the morning is somewhat pleasant? Gravy fries don’t suck?

  111. BigSteve

    We reach, hvb and cdm.

  112. Funny you should mention that song. I pulled out that record because that song was under considering for my Worst of the Best selection. I fucking hate that song. It sounds to me like they wanted to get “deep” for once. Too little, too late. You can’t always get what you want.

    I’m going to air my 3 Worst of the Best choices and some other selections on this weekend’s Saturday Night Shut-In.

  113. Man, I’ve got no problem defending the mediocrity of Sticky Fingers. You DON’T want to go there with me. I will pull out all stops. If you thought the Nebraska Manhunt was ruthless (that is, if I’ve yet conducted it), then this debate will be a true test of the good will I’ve developed through the years.

  114. I agree with misterioso – I can’t understand anyone who says they’re a Stones fan slagging Sticky Fingers. No, it’s not perfect, but it’s one of the top five RS albums.

  115. mockcarr

    Rolling Stones – I’ll go with Country Honk off of Let It Bleed, it keeps that album from being dud-free and is an annoying version of a good song.

    Relay from the Who. Strangled sounding, more than enough awkward lyrics – “what I could really learn you”, and the bass and drum parts are uncharacteristically stolid. All the squeaky crap going on makes me like the usual noodling Pete does less. Cold. Sterile. It seems like another band ought to be playing it. And if it’d stayed in the vault until Who Are You instead of being a single in 1972, it’d be less out of place, at least.

    No One off the last full lp by the Minutemen. Way too long, sounds dumb even if it isn’t. And the rest of that album is pretty good, and Boon died while they were still in their prime.

  116. misterioso

    “I’ve got no problem defending the mediocrity of Sticky Fingers,” says Mod. That ain’t exactly headline news, chief.

  117. Happiness Stan

    Agreed, even as a big fan at the time I only ever bought the first album and London Calling (and even at the time it was considered by fans over here that was a patchy single album fighting to get out of all that bloated vinyl and packaging). Ironically they got even better live (and they were incendiary in 1977) as the albums rolled downhill towards bloaty town, at the end of 1979 I doubt anyone on the planet could touch them.

    I’m probably being a little unfair to write off everything after London Calling as post-prime, but I wasn’t alone in not being able to face listening to Sandinista at the time, (and have never wanted to hear it), I can’t imagine ever wanting to spend three quarters of an hour with Combat Rock.

  118. trigmogigmo

    I am a big Tom Petty &HB fan, and definitely wouldn’t end the classic period until after Long After Dark (an underappreciated album!). Actually, mentioning “Century City” as candidate probably means I am having a hard time finding a real clunker. I see what you mean about inconsistency. However, as for You’re Gonna Get It!, I think side 1 is great, it leads off with three tremendous songs!

  119. Have you ever questioned whether it could be argued that considering any Stones album among their “top 5” isn’t saying much?

  120. BTW, I threw this comment out there half tongue-in-cheek but the way so many of you take their Brian Jones-period recordings for granted and are happy to say Some Girls “ain’t all that” AND considering that so many of you consider the 4-album run of Beggars Banquet through Exile to be the band’s highwater mark, what’s left for your consideration as the Top 5 Stones albums? And where do you turn for #6? One way or another you’re bound to step into what another Townsperson considers a heaping pile of shit. (I’m not saying I would agree with all Townspeople’s idea of a #5 turd, mind you.)

  121. trigmogigmo

    Yeah, it was a difficult choice. The early songs (first 2 albums) are so … quirky and charming and odd, there’s usually something interesting enough about each one. “Stay Hungry” just seems easily skippable. Then Fear of Music is full of edgier stuff but it keeps me engaged. Remain in Light is often challenging but even at the tail end it is really compelling and I can’t dismiss any track. The final 3 albums tend to be less consistently interesting to me, but with catchier high points. I’ll lean towards Tonyola’s consideration of keeping Little Creatures within the prime. I do like quite a bit of Naked, however.

  122. trigmogigmo

    Pince nez: “In a Big Country” is a great song from a different band. 🙂 But I’ll at least agree that “The Big Country” is on the duller end of TH early work, musically at least. The lyrics are interesting, though. I think Byrne is indicting the unhappy traveling narrator, who looks out the airplane window at everyone else’s lives across the land and concludes “I wouldn’t live there if you paid me.”

  123. Funny, Talking Heads’ “Big Country” is one of my favorite album-closing songs of any band.

  124. High five on Naked! That’s a highly overlooked album by a band I guess folks (and some band members?) had already left for dead.

    I think my Worst of the Best of Talking Heads, within my first 4 album prime time, would be one of those long funk workouts on Remain in Light. They all run together for me; they’re fine taken as a whole, but I often skip one of the three. Wish I could be more specific but without the album handy I can’t distinguish one from another. The one with the break about “facts” stays – I know that much.

  125. tonyola

    My Top Five Stones albums:

    Beggar’s Banquet
    Let It Bleed
    Sticky Fingers
    Jamming With Edward

    er, wait….
    Exile on Main Street.

    Dark horses –
    Out of Our Heads
    Between the Buttons

  126. Agreed on Long After Dark — really a good record — One Story Town, Change of Heart, Deliver Me — great songs. Short and sweet. Another really great Petty album is 2006’s Highway Companion, so I have a hard time with coming up with a Peak Period for Petty.

  127. Happiness Stan

    Sometimes I think that I could listen to nothing but 60s Motown and Stax records for a year and don’t think it would do me anything but good (as long as I could keep Trout Mask Replica on standby for extreme emergencies).

  128. Happiness Stan

    Cliff, there was a recent thread about whose musical tastes we think we share, and since then I’ve been paying enough attention to think that we’d agree about most things musical.

    I can understand why not everyone could fall in love with Questioningly, but I adore that song. It spoke to me when the girls I most liked the look of wouldn’t, and I still find it incredibly poignant.

  129. Everyone turn on your Skype: I’m giving you the double middle finger salute. You asked me to make a Stouffer’s Choice regarding the worst of my favorite artist’s prime. I could have gone with Shot With His Own Gun for E.C., or Goodnight by The Beatles, but those are coward’s selections that are obviously inferior for known reasons. I picked a number from one of my Holy Trinity’s best 3 album run. You offer Dear Doctor?!? A clear novelty song! Devo: Who counts them among their “favorite” artists?

    Combat Rock! C’mon.

    I sacrificed a child, and a lot of you gave up your parakeet.

    P.S. D.B: I like Dear Doctor a lot too.

  130. Happiness Stan

    That’s my favourite TH song. For me, of all their albums it’s the only one which doesn’t have a duff track.

  131. I kind of dig Combat Rock , especially the end with the jungle sound “Sean Flynn” and “Death is a Star”.

  132. The Talking Heads have to extend through Stop Making Sense , the best thing they’ve ever done. That leaves the non-funky funk “Pull Up the Roots” as the worst.

  133. The Who “They’re All in Love”
    Neil Young “Soldier” . He even put this on Decade but I always skip it. Listened to it today and now I can skip it for 10 more years.
    Radiohead always has one duff track. Either “Fitter Happier” or “We Suck Young Blood”. (There’s something crummy on each of their records though.)

  134. tonyola

    I offered prime Lennon, Who, McCartney, Stones, CSN&Y, and Yes. Want some cheese with your whine?

  135. A tune up for the decline.

  136. 2000 Man

    Sticky Fingers doesn’t make it into my top 5 because I like Some Girls so much. So much that I’m bumming it came out so close to xmas, because I have to leave things for other people to get me so I don’t have the new version yet.

    But Sticky Fingers is still the kind of album most bands would kill for to have just one of, and when I picked I Got the Blues, it’s not because I hate it. If that’s the worst of your best, then you’re the best goddam band ever.

  137. 2000 Man

    I just can’t get toothless hillbillies out of my head on that one. It sounds like the blueprint for Toby Keith’s career to me.

  138. All live tracks are ineligible. Come on, k., I only had about 32 rules to keep track of:)

  139. trigmogigmo

    It fits the album, but I sure wouldn’t put that song in the same league of powerful album closers like “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, “A Day in the Life”, “The Mercy Beat”, “Biko”, or “American Girl”!

  140. i found little creatures to be so far past-prime that i subsequently picked up a $2.99 copy of naked that sits unopened 20 years later. perhaps i’ll give it a spin someday based on your and mod’s endorsement.

  141. trigmogigmo

    “facts are simple and facts are straight, facts are lazy and facts are late…” — Crosseyed And Painless is obviously the title!

    A “long funky workout” is an apt description. “The Great Curve”, the track after that, does become a bit weary at 6+ minutes, ending a 17-minute side 1 opening funk fest. That kind of stuff often suffers in studio overdub vs. live.

  142. One warning: I think it’s a “side 2 album,” one of those albums you need patience to allow it to pick up steam through the second half.

    Little Creatures was abysmal; I sold that about a month after I bought it.

  143. tonyola

    I think Little Creatures gets downrated because it comes off as being light and poppy for Talking Heads, especially compared to the previous “heavier” albums – no Eno, no complex polyrhythms, and no world-music pretensions. While it does has some weak songs, I think “And She Was”, “Stay Up Late”, “Road to Nowhere”, and “Walk It Down” are pretty fine. Those tracks are why I believe the album can still possibly be considered prime Heads.

  144. pudman13

    That is basically true, but conventional wisdom is that the songs were SELF-PORTRAIT outtakes. The fact is that 7 of 9 of them were actualy NEW NORNING outtakes. “Outtakes” is the wrong word, of course. As with SELF-PORTRAIT they were actually rehearsal warm-up recordings, never actually intended to be shared in the first palce.

  145. tonyola

    Your right – the album is frequently said to be Self-Portrait leftovers but that’s not really true. That’s why I specified a time frame for the recordings rather than specific albums. However, the non-“warmup” songs on Self-Portrait are pretty awful, like the live version of “Like a Rolling Stone”. The Band tries hard on the cut but Bob’s singing is really dire.

  146. underthefloat

    Hey Mod,
    I think Remain in Light is still in the great work of TH’s too. But, I really almost disqualify if per the reason you said…A few of the long tracks almost blend together and go on a bit to long (IMO). So, could you pick one off the first three? Just curious.
    Also, I am a big lover of the track “Big Country”. I’m surprised to see this was picked by someone..but diff strokes.

  147. mockcarr

    Yep. I think you can accept that some of those numbers are silly like Phenomenal Cat, but like them anyway especially in album context. I’m not one for picking apart the lesser songs on an album for not being as good as the great songs. That’s like eating your toast with the crusts cut off.

  148. mockcarr

    I like Petty a lot, but there are certainly weaker songs littering his albums pretty consistently. But that doesn’t mean I think they’re clunkers, per se. I think Louisiana Rain is the worse than Century City on that album. He might be one of the easier artists to be able to pick singles off the albums.

  149. tonyola

    I pretty much like the goofier classic Kinks songs like “Mr. Pleasant”, “Plastic Man”, and “Apeman”. While not high art, they have a fun charm that appeals to me. It’s hard to imagine the Who or Stones getting away with songs like these, but the Kinks somehow manage it. I think my favorite Kinks toss-off is “She’s Bought a Hat Like Princess Marina”.

  150. pudman13

    I love “Princess Marina” too, but I think it needs to be heard in the context of the album, a song-cycle about the lower-middle-class, to understand just how brilliant the song is.

  151. mockcarr

    The Who do have a number of silly songs as well, and not just on Sell Out. Most of them are Entwistle or Moon things, but even Pete wrote stuff like Dogs which while very silly, has a cool soaring middle part.

  152. For this coming Saturday’s podcast, in which I’ll air some of my Worst of the Best selections, I really wanted to include a Kinks track. It was hard to pick one because so many of their songs are sung “in character” and within a concept, which buys certain songs a lot of rope. I think I know what I’m going to play, but the choice did not come easy.

  153. meanstom

    The Who – ‘Love Ain’t for Keeping’
    Captain Beefheart – ‘Harry Irene’
    The Clash – ‘The Card Cheat’

  154. Hey Chicken Snit, I was just asking a question with Combat Rock…I KNOW when they ceased to be in their prime FOR ME…but my criteria often doesn’t seem to jibe with the majority, so I thought it fair to ask. I can quite happily live out my remaining years without ever hearing ANY songs by that band. Also, I would actually say DEVO was among my favorite artists, esp. those coming to light in that time period. Their shtick has certainly aged better than The Clash’s phony revolutionary bit (it was always smarter, too)….and, NO, I don’t think The Clash really do have more good songs than DEVO…It amazes me that, for a band perched on such a lofty pedestal, people never seem to take note of how little worthwhile output they are considered to have…and that’s by fans! It probably amounts to two LPs worth of material, TOPS! Sorry, but they just aren’t that great.

    As far as The Rolling Stones go; their “classic period” went from their first album through “Exile” – the entire output is beyond reproach and I wouldn’t change or go without any of it. Don’t agree? I salute you in the fashion of Mr. Chicken…

    Costello’s been a bore for so long now, I really couldn’t care less if you’d given up ALL of “This Year’s Model”….

  155. ……Of course, much like Satan, I sometimes mix truth with lies…& vermouth.

  156. jeangray

    “Memories Can’t Wait” is one of the best thangs Byrne ever wrote!

  157. jeangray

    I had the exact same reaction to “Oh My Soul.”

  158. jeangray

    Ooo that smell.

  159. THAT means a lot. Thank you.

  160. plasticsun

    The Big Star song that really annoys me is the India Song – I suppose it’s disqualified because the bass player wrote it. But I consider it to be one of the worst songs ever recorded, never mind the worst Big Star song.

  161. jeangray

    Didn’t Mr. Mod do a play-by-play of a live video of “Lipstick Vogue” once??? Great stuff.

  162. jeangray

    Gots to agree with trig’s assessment of “Masoko Tango.” Although I often wondered what language Mr. Sumner was singing on that cut.

  163. jeangray

    Topper wrote “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”

  164. Yes, and that’s not eligible either.

  165. jeangray

    I’d rather listen to “Homegrown” than “A Man Needs a Maid” off of Neil Young’s debut album. I truely detest that cut.

    I suppose that one could argue that he had not yet reached his prime with his first solo release.

  166. tonyola

    Topper came up with the piano licks and basic groove, but the rest of the band fleshed out the music and Strummer wrote the lyrics. It’s eligible.

  167. BigSteve

    I believe it’s Rock the Casbah you’re thinking of, not Should I Stay or Should I Go?”

  168. Right, we were getting confused by the overall badness.

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