Category: Grade: D

The Kinks – Percy

ARTIST: The Kinks                 220px-KinksPercySoundtrack

TITLE:  Percy

YEAR RELEASED: 1971

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: God’s Children

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: An instrumental of Lola

LINEUP: Ray Davies, Dave Davies, John Dalton, John Gosling, Mick Avory

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A soundtrack to a UK comedy film that was not released in the US. It shouldn’t have been.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: This record was the soundtrack to an odd UK film called Percy that featured Elke Sommer, Britt Ekland, Denholm Elliott and Hywel Bennett. Like many true soundtracks, there are a lot of instrumental and mood pieces, and a few songs which relate to the movie.

“God’s Children”, the single, was one of Ray Davies’ best ‘hidden’ tracks, but many of the other songs are laden with strings, are meandering mood pieces for the film, or sound like leftovers from other projects.

Pick and choose, but since “God’s Children” is on The Kink Kronikles, you may want to pass altogether.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Willesden Green” is sung by bassist John Dalton, the only track not sung by a Davies brother.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No. It was appended onto the Lola CD, but it just clogs that record up. 

GRADE: D+: I’m saving a few, but there’s really only one track here, and the rest is just not worth it for anyone but the Kinks zealots

King Crimson – Earthbound

ARTIST: King Crimson                                  220px-King_Crimson_-_Earthbound

TITLE: Earthbound

YEAR RELEASED: 1972

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: 21st Century Schizoid Man (live)

LINEUP: Robert Fripp, Boz Burrell, Mel Collins, Ian Wallace

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A crappily recorded live record by a band on the verge of breaking up (well, at least, leaving Fripp behind). You can imagine…

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: I’m sure that the shows presented here, if you attended them, were pretty good. King Crimson live has always been built on improvisation with unexpected twists and turns and interesting angles on their extant songs.

This record, from their 1972 US tour, was the sound of a band breaking away from its leader. Robert Fripp had once again alienated a band, and by the end of the tour his three bandmates were off doing their own thing. The band was deep into improve, with two of the tracks truly off-the-cuff, and two others variations on already recorded instrumentals. Only “21st Centry Schizoid Man” is somewhat recognizable from the record and it’s powerful and scary.

That would be great, and many fantastic live Crimson gigs are out there that contain a lot of improv. What makes this record egregious is the recording medium – a low quality cassette tape recorded on a two-track plugged into the mixer which totally distorts the sound, makes it muddy, and nearly impossible to improve even with the best technologies available today.

The sad thing is that this would be decent, if not for the sound. But it was foisted on the public because by all accounts King Crimson was dead and Island wanted some final cash from them, and Fripp agreed to it (if he had a choice, even).

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Wallace, Burrell, and Collins joined Alexis Korner for a while after splitting with Fripp.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No, but there will be a new box set from this era which may have better sounding live dates

GRADE: D: This should never have been released. Many bootlegs sound better than this. It doesn’t get an “F” because the version of “Schizoid Man” is terrifying (in a good way, as it should be).

 

The Who – Magic Bus: The Who on Tour

ARTIST: The Who                         220px-Who_bus

TITLE: Magic Bus: The Who on Tour

YEAR RELEASED: 1968

CHART ACTION: #39

SINGLES: Magic Bus (#25 US, #26 UK), Call Me Lightning (#40 US), Pictures of Lily (#51 US, #4 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Yeah, because some of these tracks were on other albums, too.

LINEUP: Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle, Keith Moon.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A cash grab by the US record company, and basically disavowed by the band. BUT, there’s one track that’s totally missing online. And despite the title, it’s NOT live, at all. Yeesh.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Even after the Beatles’ album successes, bands didn’t have control over what their record companies did with their tracks. Decca Records thought that with the success of the single “Magic Bus”, the Who needed a new album.

So they took B-sides, non album A-sides, EP tracks, and three songs from previous albums, and, there’s an 11 track album for the shelves. Never mind the continuity, and that the songs were up to three years old. PRODUCT MAN, PRODUCT!

The songs are pretty great for the most part, and John Entwistle got three tracks here (he was the B-side master of the Who), but there’s no flow, continuity, or purpose except dough for Decca.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: One song, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, isn’t streaming and not on any US or UK anthologies. It was the B-side to “Magic Bus” in the UK. Did they forget it?

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

 

GRADE: D+: The songs would be a B+ or so, but, even 50 years later, I can’t abide by the profiteering here. These tracks (save one) are found in much better collections and albums.

Wizzard – Wizzard’s Brew

ARTIST: Wizzard          220px-Wizzard_Brew

TITLE:  Wizzard’s Brew

YEAR RELEASED: 1973

CHART ACTION: #29 UK

SINGLES: None on the album itself, singles on the deluxe issue.

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No

LINEUP: Roy Wood, Rick Price, Bill Hunt, Hugh McDowell, Nick Pentelow, Mike Burney, Keith Smart, Charlie Grima

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Debut album for wild, out-of-control glam band fronted by former ELO and Move leader Roy Wood. It doesn’t translate well.  220px-Wizzard's_Brew

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Wizzard had six Top 10 singles in the UK from 1972 through 1974. None made an impression here in the US, and there’s a good reason for that: they’re noisy and cluttery and just not good.

The album itself was even worse. Wood left ELO during the sessions for ELO’s second album, taking Price (who was briefly in the band) and McDowell with him and created a band that was a glam version in the style of his ELO compositions, but adding some of the noise that the Move had. They also had a very unique look and concert style. But on album, they were indulgent, unfocused, and loud – and not in a good way.

This is just painful to listen to. Some UK glam people probably dig it. As for me, no, and you should just stay away.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The reason it’s so loud is that Wood used ring modulation on the instruments, and that made them sound, well, loud.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes with their first four hit singles.

GRADE: D:  I knew they had UK hits that didn’t translate. I wanted to know why. I know now.

George Benson – The Ultimate Collection

ARTIST: George Benson             bensonult

TITLE:  The Ultimate Collection

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: #53

SINGLES: Top 10: This Masquerade (#10 US, #3 R&B), The Greatest Love of All (#24 US, #2 R&B, #27 UK), On Broadway (#7 US, #2 R&B), Love Ballad (#18 US, #2 R&B, #29 UK), Give Me the Night (#4 US, #1 R&B, #7 UK), Love X Love (#61 US, #9 R&B, #10 UK), Turn Your Love Around (#5 US, #1 R&B, #29 UK), Inside Love (#43 US, #3 R&B, #57 UK), In Your Eyes (#7 UK), Let’s Do It Again (#8 R&B, #56 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Breezin’

LINEUP: George Benson + Session Players galore

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: “Ultimate” collection is only for his pop and R&B sides, not his vastly superior jazz selections. Just a bunch of chart pablum.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: I’ve given up on reviewing all of the pop George Benson albums separately – they’re basically the same. It’s all goop for the masses that only is differentiated by the scatting of the guitar solos that Benson does on several tracks.

This was popular as smooth jazz for a while. Benson is a talented guitarist and a very fluid jazz player, but his pop and R&B sensibilities ran to the very safe and timid, really. Yeah, some sound good on the radio but they’re just, well, flaccid when compared to his jazz work.

I don’t know, really. I’m disappointed that he turned to so many formulaic love songs in his pop career. At least he’s got jazz guitar, he can still play that. Go find those records.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: I had no idea…none…that “The Greatest Love of All” was originally performed by George Benson. I only knew it as a Whitney Houston song. But here it is. It’s the main theme of the movie The Greatest, which was a biopic of Muhammad Ali released in 1977.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: D+: There are only a couple of songs I really like that aren’t just nostalgia trips. It’s a worse grade than I gave his other two albums because the hits just became worse and worse. If you like Benson, be my guest, but there’s no jazz here, except if you coun’t “Breezin’”

MC Hammer – Let’s Get It Started

ARTIST: MC Hammer                    Let's_Get_It_Started

TITLE:  Let’s Get It Started

YEAR RELEASED: 1988

CHART ACTION: #30 US, #1 US R&B, #46 UK

SINGLES: Pump it Up (#46 R&B, #5 Rap, #40 Dance), Turn This Mutha Out (#12 R&B, #3 Rap, #34 Dance), They Put Me in the Mix (#40 R&B, #5 Rap, #40 Dance)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Let’s Get It Started

LINEUP: MC Hammer, Wayne Edwards, mixers, etc.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: In retrospect, one wonders how this was a hit. Awkward rhymes, a choppy flow, and the best bits are all stolen from real songs. Alas.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: On his first full-length major label record, MC Hammer yells at us about this, that and the other, mostly about partying and dancing or something.

He may have been a pretty decent live performer, but on record, without the dancing on the visuals, this is…embarrassing.

Hammer’s flow is disjointed, the rhymes puerile, and the production just hits you over the head with 80’s keyboards and samples. Wow.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: He released an independent record in 1986. A couple tracks were held over for this one.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: D+: Gawd, avoid this unless you really like keyboard flourishes and bad rhymes.

Samantha Fox – Greatest Hits

ARTIST: Samantha Fox 51EQY39SCDL

TITLE:  Greatest Hits

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Top 40: Touch Me (I Want Your Body) (#4 US, #3 UK), Do Ya Do Ya (Wanna Please Me) (#87 US, #10 UK), Hold on Tight (#26 UK), Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now (#80 US, #8 UK), I Surrender (To the Spirit of the Night) (#25 UK), Naughty Girls (Need Love Too) (#3 US, #31 UK), Love House (#32 UK), I Wanna Have Some Fun (#8 US, #63 UK), I Only Wanna Be with You (#31 US, #16 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Isn’t that enough?

LINEUP: Samantha Fox, and about a zillion producers and session players.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Page three girl, who gained ‘fame’ at 17 by displaying her assets in the Sun, becomes a pop star with the most vapid ‘naughty-ish’ songs around.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Somehow, I missed that “Touch Me” wasn’t Samantha Fox’s biggest hit in the US. But that’s the only one anyone remembers.

For good reason – the worst of late 80’s dance production meets the worst ‘cheeky’ lyrics sung by a singer who is barely adequate, and that’s being charitable.

She sold a butt load of records, which beats working for a living. She also desecrated “Satisfaction”, which is a crime against nature.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: There’s another collection that has even later hits than this one (which ends in 1992 or so). I mean, why?

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: There’s a “UK Megamix” which strings a lot of her songs together in one ‘smooth’ beat. Oh, GAWD!

GRADE: D: “Touch Me” saves it from failure, though that song is the only reason I reviewed this to begin with. It was in my legacy catalog, so…yeah.

Ted Leo – tej leo(?), Rx / pharmacists

ARTIST: Ted Leo 220px-Ted_Leo_and_the_Pharmacists_-_tej_leo,_Rx-pharmacists_cover

TITLE:  tej leo(?), Rx / pharmacists

YEAR RELEASED: 1999

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Nada

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW:  Zip

LINEUP: Ted Leo did almost everything, really pert near everything.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Former Chisel member releases confounding solo album which is more of an experiment in found sound and samples than actual music.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: If you were expecting earnest, lyrical and passionate guitar rock on this album, well, think again. This first effort from Leo is more noise than songs, more sound than music.

There are a few great snippets of tracks here and there, but they’re obscured by noise, feedback and weirdness in the tracks themselves, and some tracks are just that.

It’s kind of incomprehensible. I’m exiling this. Sorry Ted.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: One track had him singing in the shower. It sounds like any one of us singing in the shower

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: D+: Sorry, not happening. There are a few minutes of good stuff, but the rest is balderdash. Sorry, Ted.

Wings – Red Rose Speedway

ARTIST: Wings 220px-Red_Rose_Speedway
TITLE: Red Rose Speedway
YEAR RELEASED: 1973
CHART ACTION: #1 US, #5 UK
SINGLES: My Love (#1 US, #9 UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Only the bonus cut “Hi, Hi, Hi”
LINEUP: Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney, Denny Laine, Henry McCullough, Denny Seiwell
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Paul responds to criticism of Wild Life by making an even worse album. Fortunately, he snapped out of it soon after this was released.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Pardon my French, but what in the actual fuck, Paul McCartney?

There’s only one song on this record that anyone outside of a McCartney junkie, or some soul that bought it in 1973, knows. It’s “My Love” and it’s a ghastly bunch of treacle. It’s cloying sentimentality with awful lyrics. I mean “My love does it good / Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa”. What in the actual fuck, Paul McCartney?

The other cuts, you say? The first cut is a pleasant enough throwaway about a bed in a barn. A couple others have a decent enough melody to be passable. The rest are half-baked ideas, more gloppy gunk, leftovers, and worse. The lyrics seem like an eighth grader wrote them for this girl he liked in English.

He does the medley thing again, but instead of some inspired and short complete songs, the four songs he put together sound like they were barely more than sketches. This was also supposed to be a band, really, but it sounds like he did everything himself again, and that didn’t work very well earlier in his career.

What in the actual fuck, Paul McCartney?

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Live and Let Die” was recorded at these SAME sessions, but held back for the movie. See, he HAD it in him? (“Hi, Hi, Hi” was also at these same sessions, but released as a stand-alone single. I mean, those two tracks and the b-sides could have easily replaced the freakin’ medley and saved the damn album).

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, “Hi, Hi, Hi” and the B-sides.

GRADE: D+: I actually almost like two of the songs. I’m exiling half of it. It’s bad when the bonus cuts are the best thing about the record. I’m not exiling “My Love” – I’m leaving it in my library as a warning.

Husker Du – Land Speed Record

ARTIST: Husker Du 220px-Land_Speed_Record
TITLE: Land Speed Record
YEAR RELEASED: 1982
CHART ACTION: None
SINGLES: Well, MTC as a studio version was on a B-side
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Two songs were on the next release, and Data Control was always in their live set.
LINEUP: Bob Mould, Greg Norton, Grant Hart
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Minnesotapunkrockbandreleaseslivealbumwheretheybasicallyplayforthirtyminutesstraight

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Whoosh – whir – wham – into a song – out of that – into the next one – no acknowledgement – no breaks – just get to the next one – step to the mic and sing – go fast – always go fast until the end – calm down for “Data Control” – that’s the only song you can remember.

It’s roughly recorded, hard to swallow, and basically what it would be like to be at a Husker Du concert in the early years except 10 times louder, and I guess faster as time went on. There’s no breaks, just Side A and Side B or jamming all of the titles together. I don’t think the LP was banded, even.

I love, love, love Husker Du but I’ve never had any kind of positive relationship with this record, no matter how hard I’ve tried. It’s justtoofastandnonstopandrecordedpoorly.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They recorded this at the famous First Avenue in Minneapolis for $300.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: C-: I’d have LOVED to hear proper recordings of these songs, especially “Data Control”. I think there’s some good ones in there – somewhere. But man, I just can’t…