So Old It’s New ‘good songs from bad/critically panned albums’ set list for Monday, March 6/23 – on air 8-10 pm ET

My track-by-track tales follow this bare-bones list.

  1. The Rolling Stones, One Hit (To The Body)
  2. Deep Purple, King Of Dreams
  3. Aerosmith, Eat The Rich
  4. Black Sabbath, Get A Grip
  5. The Who, Eminence Front
  6. Foreigner, Lowdown and Dirty
  7. Rod Stewart, Passion
  8. Motley Crue, Hooligan’s Holiday
  9. Stevie Wonder, Race Babbling
  10. Genesis, The Serpent
  11. Pink Floyd, Learning To Fly
  12. Elton John, Johnny B. Goode
  13. AC/DC, Sink The Pink
  14. Bad Company, Holy Water
  15. Bob Dylan, Mr. Bojangles
  16. Bachman-Turner Overdrive, My Wheels Won’t Turn
  17. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Nighttime For The Generals
  18. Van Halen, Fire In The Hole
  19. Queen, Put Out The Fire
  20. The Clash, This Is England
  21. The Doors, Ships W/Sails
  22. Fleetwood Mac, These Strange Times 

    My track-by-track tales:

    1. The Rolling Stones, One Hit (To The Body) . . . Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin fame provides a solo on this killer cut that opened the critically-panned and loathed by some fans album Dirty Work, although honestly I’ve never gotten what all the fuss is about over the Page solo. I think it’s more of a ‘wow, Page is playing on a Stones’ song’ than anything else. I saw/heard the Stones play it on the Steel Wheels tour stop in Toronto in 1989 and didn’t hear anything that Page did that Keith Richards and/or Ronnie Wood couldn’t or didn’t. But then, while I respect his abilities, I’m not a big Jimmy Page fan. My judgment, rightly or wrongly, is admittedly affected by his/Zep’s plagiarism issues, or at least widespread accusations, lawsuits and settlements to do with plagiarism, and his scuzzy character, at least during Zep’s heyday, as revealed in books like Hammer of The Gods. In any event, I’ve always liked the Dirty Work album. The Stones were falling apart, fighting each other, yet they still produced in my view – and of course I’m a big fan – a kick butt album that reflected that anger with songs like One Hit, Dirty Work the title cut, Had It With You, and others. I remember noted rock critic Peter Goddard of The Toronto Star celebrating it for those reasons, upon release. And “Bad’ is arguably a relative term, in terms of this set list, such judgments dependent on people’s expectations of a band/artist and so on – although many of the source albums are, indeed, certainly not the various artists’ prime slabs.
    1. Deep Purple, King Of Dreams . . . The Slaves and Masters album is often disparagingly called a “Deep Rainbow’ album due to the presence of guitarist Ritchie Blackmore’s friend and post-Ronnie James Dio lead Rainbow singer Joe Lynn Turner on vocals. I didn’t like Rainbow after Dio left and singers like Graham Bonnet and then Turner came in and the direction went way too pop for my tastes, and I don’t like Deep Rainbow. Aside from this song. King of Dreams is, by light years, the best song on the only Deep Purple album I almost never play beyond this opening cut. And Purple is one of my favorite bands. The record might be good but there’s nothing else compelling enough that has ever prompted me to repeat listens. I tried again in putting together this show and, no. Same result. Even Blackmore realized it, had to admit reality and soon enough, Ian Gillan was back at the Purple mic for The Battle Rages On album in 1993, the perpetual battle between Gillan and Blackmore indeed raging on to the point that Blackmore finally up and quit in the middle of that tour, to be temporarily replaced by Joe Satriani and, eventually, permanently by Steve Morse. Morse has since, alas, left Purple after eight creatively productive studio albums to care for his ailing wife, with Northern Ireland guitarist Simon McBride replacing him as a full-fledged member.
    1. Aerosmith, Eat The Rich . . . The Get A Grip album, from 1993, was suggested to me by show follower Ted Martin, who mentioned he never progressed further in the Aerosmith catalog. So, he was spared the agony and eye-rolling disillusion fostered by crap like the Music From Another Dimension album and other such overproduced Bon Jovi-type schlock of Aerosmith’s latter, albeit hugely commercially successful days of outside songwriters and power ballad hair metal type hits. I cannot stand that sound. Music From Another Dimension came out in 2012 and is the last studio work of original material by Aerosmith, after which guitarist Joe Perry I recall reading said ‘nobody wants new Aerosmith songs’ or something like that. The sentiment is often true of many so-called legacy classic rock bands but in Aerosmith’s case, thank Christ for no new stuff, if they were to continue with the schlock shit they were releasing from, say, after the Pump album in 1989 onward. Now, I will backtrack a bit. Get A Grip is actually not a bad album. I think Nine Lives (1997) and Just Push Play (2001) are way worse, but I’ve never played them enough, beyond knowing the singles like Falling In Love (Is Hard On The Knees) or Jaded to know them well enough to find a decent ‘good song on a bad album.’ This sad state of affairs from the band that gave us such classic hits as Walk This Way, Sweet Emotion and deep cuts like Nobody’s Fault from the Rocks album, until they decided outside writers was the way to go and it made them loads of money but at the expense, arguably, of their integrity. Maybe they should have continued doing drugs and boozing. Anyway, Get A Grip gave us hits like Livin’ On The Edge, Cryin’ and Amazing, which are ok, but Eat The Rich, the album opener and a less successful single, is easily the best song on the record, harkening back to early Aerosmith in at least some respects.
    1. Black Sabbath, Get A Grip . . . Speaking of Get A Grip, the Aerosmith album does have a title cut, it’s pretty lousy, so since this is a ‘good songs on bad albums’ show I thought it would be fun to use a different song with the same title, from Sabbath’s 1995 album Forbidden. The record was crucified by critics, many fans and even band members but again, I actually like it. But I like every Sabbath album. It’s from the I think underappreciated Tony Martin on vocals era, with guitarist Tony Iommi as always holding the fort and firing away from his arsenal of heavy riffs. I think the album failed for at least two reasons: the cartoon-type cover of the Grim Reaper, and more so the fact it was produced by a rapper, Ernie C of the rap metal band Body Count, with Body Count member Ice-T helping out on vocals on the album opener, The Illusion Of Power. Many people apparently couldn’t get beyond that, but I’ve never listened to Body Count so I really have no opinion on the matter.
    1. The Who, Eminence Front . . . From It’s Hard, the second studio album The Who did, after Face Dances, with former Face Kenney Jones on drums replacing the dear departed Keith Moon. To many, including at least at first, Roger Daltrey who didn’t think Jones was the right fit, The Who was no longer really The Who without Moon, although of course the band, without Jones, continues on with live work and has released two more studio albums since It’s Hard in 1982. It’s Hard is a wimpy album, inferior to Pete Townshend’s solo stuff at the time. I barely play it aside from two cuts – Cry If You Want which has nice military-type patter drumming from Jones and Eminence Front – by far the best song on the album and the only one that’s still played live and deemed worthy of a spot on Who hits compilations.
    1. Foreigner, Lowdown and Dirty . . . Not a massive Foreigner fan but I do like their early hits like Cold As Ice, the entire Double Vision album and the slightly later hit Urgent. Anyway, singer Lou Gramm left Foreigner in 1990, later to return, but in the meantime in came onetime, latter-day Montrose singer Johnny Edwards for 1993’s Unusual Heat album. The record bombed, Edwards returned to obscurity, I eventually traded the record in and replaced it with a hits compilation – which is all I really need from Foreigner – that included this worthy rocker, which stiffed as Unual Heat’s single, unfairly, I thought.
    1. Rod Stewart, Passion . . . Stewart had lost me by the time of 1980’s Foolish Behaviour album, which I did buy on vinyl at the time only for this song, the lead single, and a deserved hit it was. I no longer have the album, having traded in most of my vinyl when CDs came into existence. But that’s what hits compilations are for, songs like this when you couldn’t care less for the rest of the studio record.
    1. Motley Crue, Hooligan’s Holiday . . . This will likely be the only time I ever play a Motley Crue song although come to think of it I may have played this long ago. More on that later, as to why. I absolutely loathe this band. Utter, hair metal garbage in my opinion, the absolute worst most successful band in rock history. To each their own of course but I just don’t get their success. Dr. Feelgood is an OK song, but . . . actually, it’s garbage too, I just listened to it to check. Maybe I despise them for effing up The Beatles’ Helter Skelter, Brownsville Station’s Smokin’ In The Boys Room (I guess they needed a hit and figured nobody would remember the original) and, most egregiously, the Stones’ Street Fighting Man. But no, I just despise them in general and in particular, Vince Neil’s awful singing. Nails on the blackboard stuff, to my ears. Which is why I like Hooligan’s Holiday. Neil doesn’t sing it. It’s John Corabi, a far better singer on the one, self-titled album Motley Crue did with him, released in 1994 during a time when Neil had left the band. Naturally, the fan base didn’t accept the grungier-sounding Crue without Neil and he soon returned, alas. I actually, unfortunately, saw Vince Neil in concert. He was touring in support of his first solo album, while out of the Crue, and opened for Van Halen when I saw the Van Hagar version on Canada Day, 1993 in Barrie, Ontario. Van Halen was great but my funniest memory of the show is Neil’s set so in a way glad I saw it. He was awful, people were pissed, throwing water bottles and such at the stage, demanding he leave and for the first time in my concert experience I saw a performer give himself his own encore. “I’m not finished yet!” Neil screamed amid the deluge, and went into another, unwelcome, song. What a joke. 
    2. Stevie Wonder, Race Babbling . . . Wonder had an amazing run of albums through the 1970s, from 1972’s Talking Book with the big hit single Superstition, among other great songs, through Innervisions, Fulfillingness’ First Finale and Songs In The Key Of Life in 1976. Then came the concept album/soundtrack Journey Through The Secret Life Of Plants Volume I which, while yielding the hit single Send One Your Love, otherwise largely confused people and is probably why there never was a Volume II. Side point: Bad move to call an album Volume I. There rarely is a Volume II. See, for example, Van Halen’s Best Of Vol. I (although there was a later Best of Both Worlds, split between David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar-sung songs) and Blue Rodeo’s Greatest Hits Vol. I (there’s never been a Vol. II). As for Secret Life Of Plants, it’s a worthy listen, especially to my ears this hypnotic, near-nine minute sonic exploration.
    1. Genesis, The Serpent . . . From the first Genesis album, released in 1969 when the band members were still schoolboys. The album was a flop, but I hear elements of the future progressive Genesis sound in The Serpent.
    2. Pink Floyd, Learning To Fly . . . I suppose I could have picked The Final Cut, essentially a Roger Waters solo album, but A Momentary Lapse Of Reason was suggested to me and it’s similar in that it could be argued it’s essentially a David Gilmour solo album, after the acrimonious split with Waters. The cover is cool, all those beds on the beach, and they were actual beds, not trick photography or computer graphics. The album title is ridiculous, when you think about the fact that the band had just lost its main lyricist and conceptualist, so it could be argued it was a lapse of reason indeed in soldiering on as Pink Floyd. But maybe it was tongue in cheek just to piss Waters off even more because he’s so full of himself he almost dared Gilmour to try to pull an album off without him, Gilmour did, lawsuits ensued and here we are. Other titles that were considered: Signs Of Life (the first piece on the album, an instrumental with the nice sounds of someone rowing a boat, and the album was recorded on Gilmour’s houseboat studio), Of Promises Broken and Delusions Of Maturity. I don’t listen to it much other than this excellent track although in putting together the show I did listen again and aside from songs like Dogs of War where Gilmour steps out of character and seemingly tries to channel Waters in terms of cynical worldview, it’s an OK album. Learning To Fly was the hit single, deservedly so, and reflects Gilmour’s love of flying, as he was learning to be a pilot at the time of the record’s recording. The album sounds like Pink Floyd, or at least what one might expect of Floyd, given Gilmour’s guitar playing but it suffers lyrically due to the absence of Waters, who famously called the album “a pretty fair forgery.” I thought that line was hilarious.
    3. Elton John, Johnny B. Goode . . . Elton John was somewhat lost in the late 1970s. His commercial fortunes were in decline, disco was the big thing at the time so, like many classic rockers of the period he tried his hand at that genre with 1979’s Victim Of Love album. The result was this interesting, extended (eight minutes) take on the Chuck Berry hit. It’s somewhat like Devo doing the Stones’ Satisfaction, hence it’s at least not bad – and I love Devo’s take on Satisfaction – because the source material is so good. The album was a relative failure but, like many in this list, probably more because it was Elton John doing it and expectations for him and the type of music he was known for put him in a box. Not saying it’s a great album, but had it been issued by someone else, it may have done better.
    4. AC/DC, Sink The Pink . . . Few people ever talk about 1985’s Fly On The Wall, which was arguably the nadir for AC/DC commercially, during the 1980s although many bands would sell their souls for sales of one million units, some of which is obviously automatic buying from fans, based on reputation. I rarely play it, although in compiling this show it hit me that it’s not as mediocre as I remember, raw and down and dirty. Sink The Pink along with Shake Your Foundations are the best songs and both received new leases on life after being re-released on 1986’s Who Made Who, the soundtrack to the Stephen King film Maximum Overdrive, based on his short story Trucks.
    5. Bad Company, Holy Water . . . I’m not a fan of the Brian Howe on lead vocals period of Bad Company. I’m usually more open-minded but the Howe-fronted Bad Co., while commercially successful, reaked of that overproduced 1980s sound I so loathe. It sounds like bad Foreigner. That said, I’ve always liked this title cut to the band’s 1990 album. Otherwise, I’m definitely of the “no Paul Rodgers singing, no Bad Company’ persuasion.
    1. Bob Dylan, Mr. Bojangles . . . From 1973’s Dylan album. Dylan didn’t want it released, maintaining the various cover songs, including Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi, were just warmups for studio sessions. But Columbia Records, miffed that Dylan had left the label for a brief fling with David Geffen’s Asylum Records, released it anyway, apparently out of spite. So, we got Dylan’s take on such tunes as Jerry Jeff Walker’s Mr. Bojangles. Dylan, according to a book I have, later said “I didn’t think it (the album) was that bad, really.” However, when he soon returned to Columbia, he demanded the album be deleted from the catalogue. I found my copy in a used bin years ago, and being the completist I am for artists I like, had to have it.
    2. Bachman-Turner Overdrive, My Wheels Won’t Turn . . . From Freeways, the 1977 album that represents the last studio work of the original BTO, although they reunited for another album in 1984 without the late drummer Rob Bachman. Freeways was a different sort of record. It moved away from the usual sledgehammer sound of BTO and, even moreso than its predecessor Head On that featured such songs at Lookin’ Out For #1, embraced jazz, light rock and pop. It didn’t do well. My Wheels Won’t Turn didn’t chart, although it’s a song akin to earlier BTO and I remember it, briefly, being played on radio.
    3. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Nighttime For The Generals . . . Another from the suggestion box. The title cut from the American Dream album, essentially a Neil Young solo song, was the hit but I’ve always liked this somewhat overproduced (it was 1988, after all) but biting commentary written and sung by the late David Crosby.
    4. Van Halen, Fire In The Hole . . . Ah, Van Halen 3. Named ‘3’ because by 1998 the band was on its third singer, Extreme’s Gary Cherone, after having parted ways with first David Lee Roth and then Sammy Hagar, both of whom later returned, and left, and returned, as was the way with Van Halen. The Cherone period was forgettable, it took me about 20 listens to finally ‘get’ the album as, at the time I was commuting two hours a day back and forth to work and wanted to like it and finally sort of did. Upon finally ‘getting it’ I realized it’s not all that bad. It just was completely out of sync with what most Van Halen fans wanted or expected. Lots of long songs, for instance, few immediate hooks, and, hate to say it but maybe over the heads of some headbangers. I’m not suggesting it’s the band’s best album, it’s their worst including a dreadful or let’s be kind and say interesting vocal performance by Eddie VH himself on one track, How Many Say I. He even (yikes) did it in concert, which took some, er, balls to do. But, for all of that, had it been issued under a different name, the album may have been more accepted. As for Fire In The Hole, it’s arguably one of the more typical Van Halen-ish tracks on the album, a rocker that features fine guitar playing. In that respect it is Van Halen, after all.
    5. Queen, Put Out The Fire . . . From 1982’s Hot Space album, on which Queen went further in the funk, rhythmic and disco direction that began on the previous album, The Game via the hit Another One Bites The Dust and such tracks as Dragon Attack. Hot Space divided fans and critics who derided the full-blown move to synthnesizers – interesting because on their 1970s albums Queen made a point of putting verbiage like ‘no synthesizers used’ in their liner notes, just in case people thought they might be ‘cheating’ with some of their operatic opuses. Put Out The Fire, written by guitarist Brian May, sounds like more ‘traditional’ earlier Queen. I’ve always liked the album. It represents the sometime conundrum of art vis-a-vis expectations. If a band continues as many fans and critics expect, sounding a certain way, they can then be criticized for not progressing. But if they try something different, they upset those who want the sound they’ve grown accustomed to. The artist can’t win.
    1. The Clash, This Is England . . . From Cut The Crap, the Clash album done after Mick Jones departed, leaving Joe Strummer fully in charge. By all accounts it is crap, but I wouldn’t really know, never owned it, barely heard it and only have This Is England on an ‘essential’ Clash compilation I have in addition to all the other studio albums. Not a bad song, though, one that could easily have fit on the reggae-tinged Sandinista! album.
    2. The Doors, Ships W/Sails . . . Extended jazzy, percussive piece from the first of two albums the band did, 1971’s Other Voices, after the passing of lead singer Jim Morrison. Lead vocals were shared by keyboard player Ray Manzarek and guitarist Robby Krieger. This song became an extended jam on the subsequent tour supporting the album. It’s not a bad effort by any means, but the remaining members ran out of steam by the second post-Morrison record, Full Circle, in 1972. I suppose I should have mined Full Circle, more appropriately, for a ‘good song on a bad album’ but I don’t know that record well enough. Both albums were reissued in a two-fer package, by Rhino Records, in 2015.
    3. Fleetwood Mac, These Strange Times . . . A spoken word track from 1995’s Time album, with drummer Mick Fleetwood (!) on vocals. It was only the second time he was lead vocalist on a Mac track, the other time being Lizard People, a B-side from 1990’s Behind The Mask album sessions. These Strange Times is much better and I like it. I’ve played it before on the show and it’s the only one on the album I really know or listen to, a slow-building track that among other things, name drops band founder Peter Green’s songs Man Of The World and The Green Manalishi (With The Two Prong Crown). Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham were not on board for the album although Buckingham did backing vocals on one song, Nothing Without You. Those Mac stalwarts were replaced by country singer Bekka Bramlett (daughter of Delaney and Bonnie) and guitarists Dave Mason, of Traffic fame, and Billy Burnette. The album bombed, of course.

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