Sunday, March 2, 2008

Why don't they assemble "worst of" albums?

David Maister (the Passion, People, and Principles guy) noted that a reviewer of his book of essays characterized the collection as "uneven." For fun, Maister then assembled what he called "The Beatles' Worst Album," a collection of 20 tracks.

All right and fine, but he dissed my favorite album (The Beatles, a/k/a the White Album) by populating his list of 20 with 7 tracks from that album.

Here's my response:

It's interesting to note that several of your song nominations came from my favorite Beatles album, The Beatles (a/k/a the White Album), and that I bet that you nominated them as worst songs for the same reason that I nominated them as favorite songs - namely, their variety.

For those who aren't familiar with The Beatles, here are the songs on David's list that were taken from that album:

1. Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
2. Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey
3. Happiness is a Warm Gun
4. Helter Skelter
5. Revolution #9
6. Why Don’t We Do it in the Road
7. Wild Honey Pie
8. Yer Blues

Now I'll confess that "Bungalow" does include the vocal stylings of one Yoko Ono, and that "Helter Skelter" and "Happiness" are often viewed through the lens of subsequent events (the Manson murders, and Lennon's own death), but I frankly love seven of the eight songs above ("Monkey" is inferior to "Sexy Sadie," which deals with the same subject matter). Perhaps I like the other seven because they all, in some way, shatter the illusory myth of the moptop lads. By this point in their career they were singing about anything and everything. Bungalow Bill could have popped out of one of John's "Daily Howl" books, while "Happiness" and "Yer Blues" work as both musical and lyrical parody. Paul McCartney's ode to a roller coaster is one of the Beatles' best late 60s rock works, and "Why Don't We" and "Wild Honey Pie" are just good dirty fun. As for "Revolution #9," I frankly laugh through the thing, and depending upon who you believe, that was Lennon's intention.

As for the rest, some were truly mediocre, but "Act Naturally" was one of the best marryings of song and singer. Perhaps people respected John, but they LIKED good ol' Ringo, and in the long term it's good to be liked.

If the essays in your book are as "uneven" as the Beatles' worst songs, you must have written a very good book indeed.

Because of the way the music industry works, it's unlikely that record labels will set out to release a "Worst Of" album for a band. The best exception that I can find is Warner Brothers' "Greatest Misses" album by Devo, most of the songs having been released before "Whip It." I have to keep reminding myself that most of the country considers Devo to be a one-hit wonder, and thus would characterize songs like "Mongoloid" as "misses."

Pop Culture Madness has selected the worst songs of all time, but, other than Whitney Houston's overblown "I Will Always Love You," I really don't agree with their selections.

But here is a video tagged as the worst music video ever. I am sad to say it comes from Suomiland. And it's truly bad. "I Wanna Love You Tender" by Armi & Danny.

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