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Top 5: Great Bands, Dismal Songs

June 19, 2013

The Police. The Smiths. The Tragically Hip. Pearl Jam. Led Zeppelin.

What do these 5 groups have in common?  There are multiple correct answers!

– Each of these 5 bands is almost universally revered
– All 5 boast spectacular discographies
– Alas, even the greats stumble sometimes.  Each group also has the dubious distinction of recording at least one truly appalling track.

Although they typically (and deservedly) find themselves on ‘best of’ lists, for today at least, a lighthearted acknowledgement of the songs that perhaps should have been left on the cutting room floor:

5. The Police – Mother  index2

Synchronicity has one of the best side twos of all-time.  The (eventually sampled by Puff Daddy/P Diddy/Sean Combs/Puffy…) Every Breath You Take, their career best King of Pain, along with the solid Wrapped Around Your Finger, Tea in the Sahara, and bonus track Murder by Numbers.

Sting generously handed the microphone to Andy Summers on Mother.  Not that Sting vocals would have necessarily salvaged the track as it’s a dud through and through.  There’s avant garde and there’s awful.  This may have been an attempt at the former but ended up as the latter.

4. The Smiths – Golden Lights
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An ill-advised cover that has no place in an otherwise sterling recording career.  Thankfully it was never included on a proper album and has only surfaced on compilations.

3. The Tragically Hip – I’m a Werewolf Baby
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The typical stock appraisal of any band?  “Their older stuff is better.”  With The Hip, many make this argument, praising early albums Up to Here and Road Apples.  These fans should qualify their claim – many forget the (mostly forgettable) debut EP with this unfortunate track.

2. Pearl Jam – Bugs
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Vitalogy might be Pearl Jam’s finest record.  It likely would be without this endurance test of a song.  Pretty grim subject matter & performance.

and the worst of the best…

1. Led Zeppelin – The Crunge
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The cringe-worthy synthesizer.  The awkward funk/seemingly aimless vocals.  It is unlikely this is the song most have in mind when ‘getting the led out.’

The bulk of the Zeppelin catalogue holds up remarkably well.  Perhaps 40 years ago this was fresh; in 2013, to borrow Jerry Seinfeld’s fill in the blank question + Robert Plant’s adjective, what’s the deal with that confounded song?!

To reiterate, these artists are, of course, 5 of the all time greats.  Every so often, it’s comforting to remember the greats can have their human moments as well.

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5 Comments
  1. I admit a soft spot for both Bugs, and The Crunge! Maybe because I find them amusing.

    Where’s that confounded bridge?

    • haha – admittedly, despite using labels like abysmal, I do enjoy all 5 songs for the amusement factor. I remember hearing about the film ‘plan 9 from outer space’ being so bad that it was great – that description works here!

  2. I happen to like “I’m a Werewolf, Baby,” for its silliness. I have to agree with “Golden Lights”…”It’s a terrible shame…”

    • I just can’t picture a Hip Concert in 2013 going from Poets to Ahead By A Century to I’m a Werewolf! That being said, I always smile when I hear the song, you’re right, the silliness has its place.

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  1. The Tragically Hip – The Tragically Hip (1987) | 1001albumsin10years

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