Thursday, March 08, 2007

Bad Buys (Volume 3)

The Rolling Stones are a great rock n' roll band. Some would say the greatest... which others would then say "No, the Beatles are the greatest"

It is a debate which has raged over four decades, caused a million dru
nken arguments, and spawned a slew of unnecessary "Beatles/Stones Rock-Off's" on local radio stations. (Honestly, how many fucking times can a person listen to "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and "She Loves You"?)

The Awkward Toad has no official stance on the debate, except that we think it's sort-of pointless.

Whenever it comes up, however, we enjoy playing the devil's advocate, as we know an awful lot about these two bands, probably m
ore than any living being or even supernatural deity should.

First, we always like to point out that the Stones produced what is possibly rock n
' roll's best record, 1972's Exile on Main Street.

we then say, it is the Beatles, not the Stones, who have a better overall catalog, with only one glaring detraction, 1969's Yellow Submarine, which was really just a soundtrack to their cartoon of the same name with a long George Martin score on side two, but which is considered a full album because of the four new tracks included on side one, all of which are pretty worthless.

The Rolling Stones' overall catalog, on the other hand, is anything but stellar.

Which brings us to our third installment of our Bad Buys series, which we are calling...


Black and Blue - Released in 1976, after a two-year hiatus and the departure of guitarist Mick Taylor, Black and Blue has two quality songs, "Memory Motel", which was later made famous on the No Security live disc, with Dave Matthews playing guitar and singing half of the vocals, and "Fool to Cry", which we consider to be the absolute most disposable of all the band's mega-hits. The rest of the album is described by AllMusic as an audition piece for their new guitar player Ron Wood and this seems pretty right. You always know that a Stones' record will be sub par when the song titles resemble the ones here - "Hot Stuff", "Hey Negrita", "Crazy Mama."

Emotional Rescue - Sandwiched between 78's Some Girls and 81's Tattoo You, both classics, Emotional Rescue's disco-rock fusion is pretty much unlistenable. It's obvious that the Stones', not too mention the world's, affliction of Saturday Night Fever was coming to an end, and this disc documents the final stages of the virus. Has there ever been a more annoying "radio-friendly" track than "She's So Cold"? Maybe something by ABBA.

Again, the titles tell you all you need to know - "She Was Hot", "Tie You Up (The Pain of Love", "Too Tough", "It Must Be Hell" - these are bad songs. On the verge of a breakup and disgustingly addicted to drugs, 1983's Undercover was Mick and company's last ditch effort to keep it together before rehab claimed most of them and the allure of a solo career claimed their limber front man. There's only one good track, the first one, "Undercover of the Night", which sounds like it could have been on Sticky Fingers, if not for the overly-crisp 80's production.

Dirty Work
- If you thought Undercover was bad, then you weren't ready for this
1986 reunion album. You know things are taking a turn for the worse when the featured tracks are "One Hit (To the Body)" and "Winning Ugly". The weight of inner-band tensions, the death of their road-manager Ian Stewart, and heavy drug-addiction (to the point where Jagger refused to tour in support of the album, mostly because he didn't care about it, but also because he knew Richards and Wood wouldn't make it back) finally collapsed the band.

Steel Wheels
- Som
e might argue with this last pick. For many, Steel Wheels has nostalgia value, as it marked the rebirth of The Rolling Stones as we now know them, a hobbling band of overworked geezers who refuse to retire or die. After Jagger and Richards put their differences aside, injected each other, and decided to soldier on, they recorded this 12-song album and toured the world. Unfortunately, "Slipping Away" is the only really good track, and most of the hard rock songs feel rote and by the numbers. The Toad will take 1995's Voodoo Lounge ("Love is Strong", "You Got Me Rocking", "Out of Tears", "Suck on the Jugular") or even 1997's ambitious if ill-conceived Bridges to Babylon ("Anybody Seen My Baby", "Out of Control") over this lump of lame hard-rock riffing.

(Warning: 2005's "A Bigger Bang" is not included here because we don't know anything about it - It seems somewhere around the turn of the century we finally learned our lesson and stopped buying new Rolling Stones' albums. Whew.)


At 1:58 AM, Blogger SMangat said...

what's worse: one of your fave bands putting out 2/3 albums of year, of which most songs are crap and filler with a few sweet tracks thrown in; or putting out 1 album every 2/3 years and dealing with the disappointment that it's not a classic?

At 2:13 PM, Anonymous Neil said...

Actually The Who are the greatest Rock Band.

At 3:17 AM, Blogger SMangat said...

stones vs. who = future post
w/guest blogger neil o'neal

just be careful that this blog doesn't become just another music blog, don't turn your back on long, rambling political/conspiracy posts


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