[Audio] The Difficult Listening Moment: Doing Dylan worse than Dylan III

This mini-series is more challenging than I thought. I have visited blogs which commented that Avril Lavigne did a blah version of Knocking on Heaven’s Door. I can’t see the problem, except that she was born decades after the whole folk subculture that caused the song to happen came and went, but that’s life, isn’t it? I was born after the Beatnik generation, so does that mean I can’t understand Allen Ginsburg or William Burroughs enough to recite them? Knocking suited Avril’s vocal style, and she seems to do a good job. Of course, you should expect a different musical interpretation from someone so young. What’s the problem? Hear for yourself. Knocking was also performed by Guns ‘n’ Roses, The Grateful Dead, Warren Zevon, Eric Clapton, U2, and countless others.

Another artist I have heard being knocked about is Madeleine Peyroux, who did a cover version of Dylan’s You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go. Peyroux is a jazz singer, and it is a complement to Dylan’s writing and composing that his songs can adapt so well in any genre. Again, I don’t see a problem here. Shawn Colvin and Elvis Costello also did this song, albeit is wildly different musical stylings. It has also become something of a “Lounge Lizard” standard. Here is Peyroux doing Dylan.

But few people would say that Ministry’s version of “Lay Lady Lay” was better than the original. Here is a live recording from 1996:

[Audio] The Difficult Listening Moment: Doing Dylan worse than Dylan I

Welcome to the first episode of The Difficult Listening Moment. On today’s episode, we explore some music by Bob Dylan. Those who know the music of Bob Dylan knows that his songs had been made a whole  lot more popular by other acts such as The Byrds, The Band, Joan Baez.  In fact, nearly anyone who sung Dylan can do it better than Dylan does.

Nearly anyone. Yes, there are those in the minority, who make it into the dustbin of popular culture, who, when they attempt to sing a Dylan tune, actually sing it worse than Dylan himself, if such a thing is possible. When you think about the way Dylan sings — sort of like a cat being run over by a car that needs to be put out of its misery — you can appreciate that this is something of an achievement.

Here, then, for your perusal is the late Sebastian Cabot (1918-1977) reciting “It Ain’t Me, Babe”.

Worst Lyrics: A review of a review

There was an article that appeared on Friday on MSN.COM, which tried to poke fun at some of “the worst lyrics of all time” by artists who presumably should have known better. I had a problem with the article, just like the lyrics, the smart-aleck comments from the author of the MSN article were not well-thought-out and thus almost as poorly written as the song lyrics the author criticizes.

Whether I do a better job with my smart-aleck comments is anyone’s opinion, but then I’m not working for MSN.

“Swingin’ in there
Cause she wanted me to feed her,
So I mixed up the batter
And she licked the beater”
–Warrant, “Cherry Pie”
I agree that this is a food metaphor gone wrong. It works better if you see the video. But I think the lyrics were never meant for adult minds who naturally would be bothered by the overdone food metaphors, but for adolescents with raging hormones who probably don’t care if this is from an overrated 90s metal band as long as the video has lots of jiggle.
“It’s a black fly in your Chardonnay,
It’s a death row pardon two minutes late;

And isn’t it ironic… don’t you think?”
–Alanis Morrisette, “Ironic”
It is obvious that Alanis Morrisette never bothered to look up ‘Ironic’ in a dictionary, and as much has been said since the song came out in 1996. It wasn’t just the quoted lyrics that were bad, the whole song suffered from the same problem. Most abuses of the word seemed to suggest that she really meant  ‘bad luck’ or something similar. Proof that famous musicians never lost a dollar by being inarticulate.
“I drew a line,
I drew a line for you.
Oh, what a thing to do.
And it was all yellow.”
–Coldplay, “Yellow”
This was picked out as being the worst lyric snippet from Coldplay’s first American hit, ‘Yellow’, released in 2000. It’s the kind of thing that means more to the writer than the listener. The song went gold for some other reason than the lyrics. The song seems to end up being about not much at all, but purportedly is about devotion.
“If the light is off
Then it isn’t on.”
–Hilary Duff, “So Yesterday”
I can’t argue with these lyrics. Reminds me of Me and Bobby McGee. Remember? “Nothin’ ain’t worth nothin’, but it’s free”. Nobody can say the obvious better than Kris Kristofferson. But Duff, even with all of her overly-marketed million-selling albums, can’t come close to this. She just comes off like an under-aged bimbo with nothing useful to say. (Yeah, I know she’s not underage anymore).
“These other guys, they wanna take me for a ride,
But when I walk their talk is suicide”
–Paris Hilton, “Stars Are Blind”
Lots of 60s musicians sang the obvious. But it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Kristofferson said it in a way that it became a rallying cry for those who rejected materialism, and embraced simplicity. You were convinced that Kristofferson had “been there”, and knew your pain. You would easily forget that he was a Rhodes Scholar at Merton in Oxford, with a Bachelor’s in English Lit. Being able to achieve that is not the mark of phoniness, it is the mark of a true artist, deserving of our respect and admiration.

Sorry, I can’t find any information on Paris Hilton except for a bunch of videos of what appears to be her performing fellatio on a record company exec in a fleabag hotel with the curtains drawn. Maybe next time.

“You know you love me, I know you care,
Just shout whenever, And I’ll be there.
You are my love, You are my heart,
And we will never ever-ever be apart.”
–Justin Bieber, “Baby”
News flash!!!!! 16 year-old Stratford, Ontario native Justin Bieber has the writing talent of a 16 year-old.

The only reason this kind of drek sells is that there is nothing better for the buying public, that they are aware of. The market is flooded with under-aged, under-talented kids, surrounded by marketers who want to bring back the days of The Jackson 5, and Donny Osmond. The video stations and other media organs are flooded with this stuff, while really good music is out there, waiting to be listened to.

“Lucky that my breasts
Are small and humble
So you don’t confuse
Them with mountains”
–Shakira, ‘Whenever, Wherever’
It’s like saying we’ll get along fine as long as you don’t stare at my boobs. It NEVER works, ladies. It just makes the problem worse.
“I ain’t never seen
An a**like that
The way you move it
You make my pee-pee go
‘Doing-doing-doing'”
–Eminem, “A** Like That”
News Flash!!!!! 38 year-old Marshall Bruce Mathers III, known by his stage name Eminem, has the writing talents of an 8 year-old. Sometimes his mother helps him.
“I’m as serious as cancer
When I say rhythm is a dancer”
–Snap, “Rhythm is a Dancer”
Besides a German-to-English dictionary, the German dance group Snap! should have also used a rhyming dictionary to see what else might rhyme with “dancer” that might work better than “cancer”.
“You’re beautiful
You’re beautiful
You’re beautiful
It’s true”
–James Blunt, “You’re Beautiful”
I have always seen this song as “just another love song”. One that is not very inspired with tired lyrics and a new musical sound behind it to make it palatable.
“We built this city on rock and roll.”

–Starship, “We Built This City”

I have to go beyond what the MSN author has said and further state that these are also the most phony lyrics in rock history. The particular lineup of Starship which sang that hit had none of the founding members of Jefferson Airplane in it. Grace Slick doesn’t count, since she was not a founding member. So, no, they don’t earn the bragging rights they seem to claim.
“Against the grain should be a way of life
What’s worth the price is always worth the fight
Every second counts ’cause there’s no second try
So live like you’re never living twice
Don’t take the free ride in your own life”
— Nickelback, “If Today Was Your Last Day”
Another winner for the most cliches per square inch. A close contender could be Harlan Howard’s 1958 song “Pick Me Up On Your Way Down” (played by every imaginible country musician — the one I heard was from Buck Owens). At least Harlan was just trying to be clever, but Nickleback just looks like they’ve been reading too many motivational posters.
“I would do anything for love
But I won’t do that.”
–Meat Loaf, “I’d Do Anything for Love”
Mr. Loaf has been with us for three decades or more, bringing us lyrics ranging from mundane to just plain sucking out loud. I would call this one mundane. At least it’s vague, and that means he left something up to my imagination for once.

There were more in the article, but I have had little more time to explore them. Just thought I would cover the worst cases.

Crappy Album Covers #248 — De Agony of de Feet

The thing about Michael Franti, is that I like his style of music. Edgy, folky, and socially conscious, and entirely listenable.But, Michael, why did you have to ruin your latest record cover with your damn, *&#$!! foot? It’s not that pretty!
Here is what they did to Franti’s CD cover at amright.com.
Next up, Dvorak’s Slavonic Rhapsody #2 by the Vienna State Opera Orchestra.

While another classical LP we’ve featured, called “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” left clues on the cover for the Italian-challenged, there is precious little here to explain th depiction of holding one’s feet in what appears to be a nearly impossible flexibility move for many, which would relate that to the music.

Crappy Album Covers #247 — Arguing over the death of God

J. C. Crabtree questions Nietsche’s assertion that God is dead. It is likely that Crabtree didn’t read Frederich Nietsche when he made this record, but who knows?

There is no information I could find on this person, although a search turned up this J. C. Crabtree, but makes no mention of a ministry or of making records.

Here is Gertrude Behanna for the second time, here to just show up J. C. Crabtree with her assertion that God is in fact not dead. Heck, with her it’s not even a question.

This album was already discussed here.

To finally settle Nietsche’s question, well, I was talking to God the other day, and He told me Nietsche was dead. That final assertion is much more provable.

Crappy Album Covers #246 — CAC Enigmas

David Gray’s 1998 CD “White Ladder” did not reach the top of the British album charts until 2001, giving it the record for the longest un-interrupted climb to the top of the British charts.

No one in the CAC blogosphere that I have read about can even speculate upon what the artwork is about, and this makes it a Crappy can you buy viagra over the counter in canada Album enigma.

1979 was the year Disco was still making too much noise, and prog rock was in a slow decline.

As part of that decline was Camel’s “I can see your house from here”. This album had shorter tracks and was less “proggy” than their previous LPs.

Their successive LPs marked a return to the prog rock format.

Crappy Album Covers #245 — Man’s Inhumanity to Man

… or this woman’s inhumanity to herself. The fuse is lit, and it’s almost going to be like the 1812 Overture, with the world’s first classically-trained suicide bomber providing us with fireworks.

Eugene Ormandy (1899-1985) owes much of his enduring reputation to his long-lived tenure with The Philadelphia Orchestra, lasting from 1936 to 1980.

This doesn’t look like an “inhumanity to man” cover until you notice that the croquet “balls” are the shrunken heads of humans.

This 1971 LP is the third from Genesis but the first to have the “classic” lineup led by Peter Gabriel, Mike Rutherford, and Phil Collins. It is interesting that this album, and the next two afterward never charted all that well in North America. Only the last two did with this lineup.

Crappy Album Covers #244 — Progressive Crock

Allmusic.com lists at least 100 albums under the name King Crimson. There are their main releases, countless live albums, and a raft of LPs under the label “King Crimson Collector’s Club” released as recently as 2004. And don’t forget the fact that Robert Fripp re-mastered the entire KC catalogue in the late 90s. And then there are all of those compilation LPs, released as recently as 2009.

This 1969 album, “In the Court of the Crimson King” is the LP that started it all. A prog rock heavyweight at a time that Led Zeppelin were just starting out, it expanded on the then-new idea of “The Concept Album”, started by The Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper in 1967. “Crimson”, like “Sgt Pepper”, had no singles, but the LP peaked in 1970 at #28.

A view of someone having fun with this cover is found here.

Musicstack.com lists this vinyl LP as a collector’s item, commanding prices as high as $172.00.

This is Yes’s 1978 offering, Tomato. This album has most of the original Yes members, sans Bill Bruford. There were musical disagreements as to the direction of the music, divided into classical and pop-oriented camps, which hampered the quality of the album. So, not a single song on this LP is over 8 minutes long. By Yes standards, the songs are so short, you might as well be listening to K-Tel.

Then there was the album cover. Hoooly moly…. Rumor has it that the artist had this black-and-white photo of some dude with drumsticks which he thought would go nicely if a bright red tomato were thrown at it. Ohhhh… the contrast in colours! The juxtapositions! Whatever…

A copy of this LP in “excellent” condition currently sells on musicstack.com for as much as $54.95 (US).

Crappy Album Covers #243 — Seventies’ Blockbusters

Gunning for the first weinie roast in zero gravity, Crosby, Stills and Nash’s 1990 LP “Livin’ It Up” took four years to record, and flopped in the record stores. Disappointing, since this was their first LP recorded as a group since 1977’s “CSN”.

Notable appearances on the album which peaked on Billboard at #57 were: Peter Frampton, Bruce Hornsby, Micheal Landau, Branford Marasalis, and JD Souther.

The seventies happened (note tense). This cover of this 1983 album is so seventies (prog style), it almost hurts.

This is Marillion’s first album, and many would also say their finest, which bore comparisons with early Genesis. Allmusic says this LP only peaked as high as 175 on Billboard. However, it yielded a top-40 hit, entitled “He knows, you know”, which peaked the same year at #21.

Does anybody know “He knows, you know”? I don’t know “He knows, you know”. And you probably know I don’t know “He knows, you know”. And I know you don’t know I don’t know “He knows, you know”. And I figure you know I know you don’t know I don’t know “He knows, you know”.

Y’know?

Crappy Album Covers #242 — Down and Funky

Why have album covers of the disembodied heads of women? According to  Swamp Dogg (Jerry Williams Jr), all that really matters is their lips. And tongues as well. After that, ol’ Swampie just gets happy with the cut-and-paste tool on Photoshop, and pretty soon, he has himself the album cover he had been salivating over.
Roger is a complex guy. Sometimes happy, sometimes sad. Sometimes troubled, sometimes glad. Roger Troutman, with freres Lester, Zapp and Larry and a couple of other musicians give their R&B best to many of the 70s classics in this 1981 LP. Roger is known for being a virtuoso with a vocorder, and it is said that this LP has a lot of other electronic instruments and effects that won mild accolades from reviewers.

This album has been re-released on CD (Rhino) as recently as 2002, with bonus tracks.

Crappy Album Covers #241 — Party People

Pink Martini is a class act, in every sense of the word. While they do jazz and “international” music, their musicians are classically trained, and there are enough band members using traditional orchestral instruments to call them an “orchestra”.

I had to include band Pink Martini’s 2007 album “Hey Eugene” into the CAC blog, since it looks tacky. But of course, it is consistent with the hit song which makes the title of the album. Lead singer China Forbes is depicted here  sitting on the edge of the tub of the bathroom where presumably Eugene’s skinhead friend passed out for several hours, according to the narrative of the song.

In the following year, China released a solo album called ’78, which has a more relaxed, folksy version of Eugene.

Moscow Nights is, according to Wikipedia, one of the best known Russian songs outside of Russia. This record is something like the old K-Tel/TeeVee International compilations, containing 20 hit songs.

This record possibly comes from the 1970s, and had at one time been released on the American Smithsonian-Folkways label.

There was a re-release in CD format in 1993, and mp3s are for sale on eMusic.

Here is Pink Martini’s 2007 atypical cult hit “Hey Eugene”, as aired on PBS, with lead vocalist China Forbes and bandleader and composer/arranger Thomas Lauderdale being interviewed at the start of the song:

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Crappy Album Covers #240 — Overdone

The Funk/R&B/Disco group Parliament has built thier image on over-the-top costumes and stage settings. Parliament’s 1976 LP “The Clones of Dr Funkenstein” is no exception.

George Clinton seems to be saying “Hey! Who put boobs on this clone?!?”

Manowar, if you have read my last entry on them, were noted for their independent business practices, a more than overt homosexual slant in their depictions of themselves, and really loud concerts (139 dB, it is rumored … the pain threshhold is 120 dB). Their concerts are slightly quieter than planes taking off from an aircraft carrier, but louder than a jet engine. Just remember, that to put this in perspective, a jackhammer is a mere 120 dB. That’s 1/80th the sound energy of a Manowar concert.

Crappy Album Covers #239 — More Exotica (or how does the chick keep her bra on?)

More exotica, yet, due to the surfeit of strapless gowns, strapless brassieres, and strapless halters, we return to the same eternal questions. How do they stay on? Why aren’t the chicks modelling for WonderBra instead of propping up the Exotica industry? In this phot lies part of the answer. The chick couldn’t keep hers on. Crouched and arms folded. Bad sign.

What the heck is Modesto doing wearing cutoff jeans?

But Maya Angelou just keeps this mystery eternal. Angelou is a poet, and this 1957 record is reputedly a poetry reading, perhaps meant to be performed with a dance accompaniment.

Angelou (Born Marguerite Ann Johnson in St. Louis Missouri in 1928) is a person who may well be placed in the category of “lives can you buy viagra over the counter in usa well-lived”. She is many things to many people: a writer, a peformer, a dancer, a civil rights activist, a university professor, a playwright (also performing in Porgy and Bess). In the late 70s, she wrote many movie scores, and composed for R&B singer Roberta Flack. Her most notable book, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”, is the 5th most banned book in schools in the United States for the years 2000 to 2005, according to the American Library Association. This means that it’s a book children will be spending their saved allowances to put on order on Amazon. When will the censors ever learn?

Crappy Album Covers #238 — Extreme Exotica

Juanita Banana appears to be a major musical comedy act in the French-speaking world. She appears to have been doing this for quite a while.

Below is a YouTube video with Juanita Banana. It is completely in French, but I think the visual humor survives translation. It appears that it is someone else lip-synching her, but going by the comments on YouTube, it appears legit.

This is a rare depiction of violence. Is it a fair fight? Girl drops dagger, guy has a bull-whip? But never mind that. The real question on everyone’s mind is: how does her bra stay up?

Chaino, born Leon Johnston (1927-1999) was a fellow of questionable origin (I have heard stories that he had been the last born of a nearly extinct African tribe, for example), but what is not questionable was his contribution to the Exotica trend in the late 50s and early 60s. Allmusic tells us he was born in 1927 in Philadelphia.

Reviewers say that his recordings, with Chaino normally as the sole musician in multiple percussion tracks, was once described as being like the best sex you never had. Reissues of his recordings have appeared as late as 2008.

Juanita Banana:

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Crappy Album Covers #237 — Lamers!

There’s Lennon, McCartney;
Elton John, Bernie Taupin;
There’s Bacharach, David;
and Holland/Dozier/Holland;

But do you recall
the most earth-shat’ring duo of all
I’m talking about –
Nimoy and Billy Shatner;
Singin’ with their shiny prose
And like a moss infection
You would even say it grows
People who were non-Trekkies
Used to laugh and call them names
You’d wonder why they’d still make records
‘Cause most of what they sing is lame

I am feeling vibrations …. Ooooh lots of vibrations … ooooohh ahhh. no, wait a minute, I’ll switch off my cell phone, sorry.

My crystal ball tells me, uh, it tells me that, uh, you like to stare down women’s cleavages. There’s a ladies’ lingerie shop in your future. That, and something to do with dressing rooms and pinhole cameras.

Millie Jackson is at it again, with another tasteless record cover. But this one is an artistic masterpiece compared with her earlier entry into this CAC blog.

Crappy Album Covers #236 — More family Bands

The previous version of this posting was accidentally deleted. This was God’s way of telling me that my soul will burn in hell for eternity for making CAC entries, especially those mocking Christian-oriented family bands. Oh well… in for a penny, in for a dollar…
In this photo, the father is illiterate but can sing. So that’s why Little David signs all the contracts and does the legal work in clearing copyrights. He named the band “Little David and Family” himself, knowing that Dad couldn’t read anyway, so shilling a bit for himself won’t hurt.
There is something about family bands that seems to say that the family that dresses together stays together. Even down to the heavy-rimmed glasses. Why don’t they wear Groucho noses while they’re at it?

No info on The Simmons or “The Touch of God” could be found. Clearly most of them look a bit touched.

Crappy Album Covers #234 — Judgement Issues

The jumpsuit was never a big hit as a fashion item, being more of a centerpiece in prison haute couture instead. Here are the four escape convicts of the lavender and sky-blue wings of a co-ed maximum security prison who call themselves ABBA: Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn, and Anni-Frid, with a Spanish rendition of the 1977 hit “Thank-you For The Music”. A hit record from that album appears below, sung in Spanish.
Abba will likely be the most successful international act to come out of Sweden for a long time to come. Their trademark harmonies, a “wall of sound” style borrowed from Phil Spector, and simple tunes that anyone can sing and relate to, made them the giants in music that they were, with hits that stick in your mind decades after they were composed. The band lasted as long as the marriages: Agnetha to Bjorn and Benny to Anni-Frid. They broke up in 1983, although they have later appeared as a group as audience members for performances such as “Mama Mia!”

In 2000, they had reportedly turned down a 1 billion-dollar (US) offer for them to re-unite and do a 100 concert tour. It would have been nice to see them re-unite, but the reasons they gave for not doing it were compelling and reasonable: that they feared becoming similar to the Robert Plant reincarnation of Led Zeppelin: fogeys who are only a cover band for their own material. I hear you, Abba.

By the late 70s, they were a bigger money maker than Volvo or Saab, having to date sold over 375 million records worldwide. They are expected to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame some time today, probably earlier today.

Californian classicial musician Terry Riley is here with his 1967 LP “A Rainbow in Curved Air”, his second of 12 records so far. This LP has wound up on many CAC journals, likely because of the placement of the author and title, relative to Terry’s expansive forehead.

Riley performed in many innovative concerts in the 1960s (music for vacuum cleaner and harmonium, and was one of the first to use tape loops in concerts and recordings), and later composed for the Kronos Quartet.

Here is ABBA, with their Spanish hit “Reina Danzante”, which english speakers will also find familiar:

Crappy Album Covers #233 — Men with Chronic Shyness

Look at the guy in the foreground. Now let’s see if I got this right: there’s a lady both in front and behind him; there are nothing but ladies elsewhere in the photo; and all this guy can think about doing is fiddling with the knobs on his sound equipment. I think these girls must come to certain conclusions about guys who fall in love with their gadgets too much. But nevertheless, this is all the International Pop Orchestra could come up with for the cover to their record “An Exciting Evening At Home”.
Musician, producer, and husband of Melanie Ciccone Joe Henry is here with his 1996 recording, Trampoline.The painting gives the feeling like a bed is being used as a trampoline. A bed in a psych ward.

Being husband to Madonna’s sister hasn’t hurt his career. Among the recordings Joe and Madonna recorded together was the single “Guilty By Association”.

Crappy Album Covers #232 — Puppets and other non-humans

Weela Galez (1913-1995) will apparently be remembered for this album cover, where she is wearing brightly-colored clothes and yelling about the death of her turtle. However, The turtle only died because she hugged it too hard over the death of her dog. Not having learned her lesson, she will now proceed to crush the monkey depicted to death over the death of her turtle.

Discaimer to all PETA activists: No monkeys, dogs, or turtles were harmed in the making of this buy viagra in dallas downtown record or this journal entry. Happy?

Don & Seymour. No tangible info exists on this apparently musical duo.Not even the date of release of this LP, except that the puppetteer’s name is Don Travis.

DON: And for my next number I will attempt to play guitar with Seymour’s face.

SEYMOUR: Hold on a Sec! That’s cruelty to puppets! I’ll sue!

DON: But how do you expect me to play guitar? My hand is already up your —

SEYMOUR: DON! Now, that’s getting personal!