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Stylus Counsel | Area Resident’s Records

Track 15 | The Worst of the Best

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Last week I had a bash at finding one great song for each artist or group listed in the 21 most-hated of all time. I didn’t quite manage it — couldn’t find one for either Creed or Nickelback. I tried.

As promised, this week I found someone’s reasonably acceptable list of the 21 most-loved artists or bands of all time. My challenge this time is to find an awful song by each of them.

What’s funny is there are three acts that made BOTH lists.

We’ll start from the bottom and move up to number one and then I’ll give you a terrible, terrible playlist to enjoy.

Number 21 is one of those bands to make both lists — Canada’s own Rush. Do they have any awful songs? You bet your Syrinx they do. If I had to pick just one I’m going with In The Mood, which is from the first album — the same place I found a great song for the last list. In The Mood is dumb, not pretentious prog dumb, but weak and lame. “Hey, now baby. I like your style” over a cowbell.

The man in black, Mr. Johnny Cash comes in at #20. Not bad for a guy who really wasn’t a singer. More of a distinctive talker. Worked for him but not William Shatner. I’m prepared to select 1966’s A Cup of Coffee from the album Everyone Loves A Nut. The song not only boasts a horrid spoken-word bit, but yodelling as well.

Black Sabbath is #19. I love them dearly, especially the Ozzy stuff. I have all of it in my collection. So, I’ll be fair and pick one from the Ozzy era because that’s the stuff which landed them on the popular list. I’m going with the wretched ballad She’s Gone from Technical Ecstasy.

Another Canadian (two on this list and two on the worst list) here at 18. Neil Young. Actually, given my girlfriend’s feelings on ol’ Neil, I’m surprised he didn’t make both lists. He’s got a load of stinkers to go with his impressive catalog of classics, masterpieces and standards. I’m circling I Wanna Drive My Car from 2014’s Storytone. There’s nothing redeeming about it.

The King of Soul James Brown is the 17th most popular. Not terribly difficult to find some garbage, especially in the later years. That’s where we find Moments from 1993’s Universal James.

From the King of Soul to the King of Rock. Weird that Elvis Presley is #16. He died on the 16th of August, 1977. Let’s face it, he had more bad songs than good. But, none I loathe more than In The Ghetto.

Queen is No.15. My Baby Does Me from The Miracle is awful.

The incredible multi-instrumentalist Stevie Wonder comes in at #14. You can probably safely take almost anything off his 1979 album Journey Through The Secret Life Of Plants. I’ve seen many people try to say it’s an underrated masterpiece. It is not. I’m going with Outside My Window from that album because of the incredibly annoying squee percussive sound effect.

Prince is #13. Let’s not talk too much about it. It’s Batdance. You know it is.

Next we have the late, great Bob Marley. He’s one of those artists who I know and will readily admit is fantastic. But, I still don’t care for his music for some reason. I’ve tried. Reggae isn’t my jam. I’m taking Soul Almighty from 1970’s Soul Rebels.

At number 11, there’s another band who made both lists — Nirvana. I could never and still can’t listen to an entire Nirvana album. After three songs it’s like “Oh, for God’s sake!” One of those songs is Radio Friendly Unit Shifter from In Utero. I know what they were saying, but it’s still a bad song.

The Who is the 10th most popular. There’s also a trunk of garbage in their catalogue, and then a bunch of perfectly fine songs I hate, like Behind Blue Eyes. But, I’ll be good and not even pick low-hanging fruit from the post-Moon era. Just. I’m picking Love Is Coming Down from Who Are You.

Number 9 is sometimes mistaken for Cookie Monster. I have Tom Waits filed away with Leonard Cohen in my mind. You have to really be in the mood for them, and be prepared to go off them for years at a time. No matter where I am in that arc, You Can’t Unring A Bell from the album he did with Crystal GayleOne From The Heart — is annoying and awful.

Nick Drake somehow comes in at #8 on this list, which kind of calls its legitimacy into question. I mean, the guy only made three records. Anyway, there’s some schlock in his 31-song catalog for sure. I’m not a fan of Poor Boy from Bryter Layter. It’s too busy, has needless backing vocals and uh, saxophone.

We’re into the big names now. David Bowie is #7. We can do this one of two ways — go after his hippy stuff or his Never Let Me Down era. I’ll go even dirtier. Magic Dance from Labyrinth.

Jimi Hendrix takes the 6th spot. Having only just replaced my rough copy of Electric Ladyland with a nicer one, I can tell you that’s basically not a great album on the whole. There’s a LOT of filler. It’s not fair to pick those, but I am going to take the stupid title track Have You Ever Been (to Electric Ladyland).

Here’s another who made it on to both lists — the loved and the hated. On this one, Bob Dylan is #5. There’s oodles of brutally bad songs to pick from. I’m going with one I can’t even listen to — Let It Be Me from 1970’s Self Portrait.

The Rolling Stones material is actually incredibly consistent, all things considered. I like their ballads, personally. What I don’t like is the token rockers which make you ask yourself “how could this be the same band as Sympathy For The Devil?” With this in mind, for #4 I’m going with Hold Back from 1986’s Dirty Work. It’s sloppy, boring, not at all tuneful and would be filler on anyone’s record.

Pink Floyd at #3. Even as a huge fan, this always surprises me. I don’t know anyone who actually listens to them. I almost never play them except when showing off my quadraphonic copies of Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here, and the huge binge I seem to go on every few years. I have all their albums. Picking a worst song here requires rules — I’m only going from the classic years 1971-1980, leaving out the Syd Barrett stuff, the experimental and soundtrack stuff which followed and the post-Wall stuff. I’m selecting San Tropez from Meddle. It’s lame and I’ve never liked it.

Led Zeppelin is number 2 with good reason. They basically have no bad songs. More rules here — nothing from Coda and none of the “previously unreleased” stuff. I hate All of My Love but it’s about the death of Robert Plant’s son, so never mind. Instead I’ll take Candy Store Rock from 1976’s Presence. I don’t hate that song as much as I did when I was a teenager, but it’s still stupid.

OK, is anyone surprised The Beatles come in as the most popular act? What’s their worst song? Rules: No outtakes, Ringo songs or novelties allowed — it has to be something they set about doing, it came off the way they wanted, and it reeked. Is Maxwell’s Silver Hammer a novelty? I’ll say yes, barely. So, I’m picking Tell Me What You See from Help! It’s boring and half-assed.

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Area Resident is an Ottawa-based journalist, recording artist, music collector and re-seller. Hear (and buy) his music on Bandcamp, email him HERE, follow him on Instagram and check out him out on Discogs.