Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Oh Lord, Why?

Paul McCartney, Beatle, is responsible for some of the most outrageously beautiful songs of all time – Yesterday, For No One (quite possibly my favourite Beatles song ever – certainly in the top five), Hey Jude and Eleanor Rigby for example; he also wrote some of the Beatles’ best rock tracks, including Helter Skelter, Get Back, Paperback Writer and the greatest opening track to a debut album ever, I Saw her Standing There.

However, James Paul McCartney is the author behind the worst of the Beatles’ canon: the insufferable Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da, the truly execrable Maxwell’s Silver Hammer and that one man ego trip that was Let It Be…Naked. The Love album aside (which I think is a remarkable, beautiful achievement) I don’t think you should mess with a body of work; once a recording is out there it no longer belongs to the artist, it belongs to the paying audience. Let It Be…Naked was wrong in exactly the same way that the 40th anniversary Doors remasters were wrong. We all know Jim was censured, that his words were adulterated, but we’ve lived with the ‘official’ version of Break On Through for 45 years now – why change it? Let It Be…Naked may have unearthed a new version of Don’t Let Me Down, but it should never have existed.

Anyway, no matter how bad the worst of McCartney’s Beatles compositions were, they are nothing compared to the worst excesses of his solo and Wings years. You could easily fill a double CD with some of the bollocks he’s produced since the greatest band that ever walked the planet split. The world can get by quite happily without one version of Oobu Joobu: it certainly does not need six! And as for certified turds like Morse Moose and the Grey Goose, Wonderful Christmastime, Bip Bop, Spies Like Us, the stupid The Other Me (with its ridiculous opening couplet ‘I know I was a crazy fool for treating you like I did, but something got a hold of me and I acted like a dustbin lid’), Move Over Busker, that awful bloody Frog Chorus garbage and almost all of his moronic vanity projects, such as the Thrillington album (instrumental versions of the hugely underrated Ram), the Country Hams, Rockestra and so on, the world would be a better place without them.

He’s been producing garbage for more than 40 years, but nothing quite as awful as this. Today, ladies and gentlemen, for your enjoyment the World’s Worst Records presents Paul McCartney dragging down the career of another one-time great with the nadir of his solo work, Ebony and Ivory.

Everything about this half-assed project is wrong, from the fact that the two of them didn't even record their parts at the same time or in the same studio to the wretched cover (above) with a whimsical Paul leaning against an oversized keyboard and a crappy photo of Stevie tacked on as a last-minute sop to the co-creator of this pap. It's horrible, horrible, horrible. Lord knows how it managed to get to number one in the UK, US, Canada, Japan, Norway and Germany. Still, not everyone was fooled: the song was named as the tenth worst song of all time by Blender magazine and was cited as the worst duet in history by listeners of BBC 6 Music.

I love the Beatles...but I hate this.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Cannon and Bawl

My thanks once again to Ross Hamilton for bringing this early 80s clunker to my attention. This is for anyone in the UK who has fond memories of spending Saturday nights sat in front of the television. Or better still, everyone - like me - who looks on that period of their lives with heartfelt thanks that its over. Britain has a long history of comedians making records - the Goodies became major chart stars a decade or so before this dross was released - but its unlikely Cannon and Ball Together will ever be considered as one of the greats.

Comedy double act Tommy Cannon and Bobby Ball originally met in the early 1960s in Oldham, Lancashire. Apparently they began working the northern club circuit as singers (not that you'd know that from listening to this drivel), switching to comedy after being told that comics earned more money.

Their first TV appearance was in 1972 in the variety show The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club, but it wasn't until 1979 that they became known to anyone outside of the North, when the now-defunct LWT offered them their own series, The Cannon and Ball Show - which continued right through until 1988, despite their shtick (imagine a violent, unfunny Morcambe and Wise) being usurped by the up and coming alternative comedy scene - I always thought the violence of Ade Edmundon and Rik Mayall's Dangerous Brothers was influenced by the bullying of poor little Bobby by the thuggish, heartless Tommy - and their appearance in the dreadful feature film, The Boys in Blue, a piss-poor update of the Will Hay classic Ask a Policeman.

Despite a complete lack of interest in their dated routines, and a major falling out between the duo which saw them hardly speak to each other offstage for a number of years, they are still touring today - splitting their time between end of the pier shows and gospel revues. Tommy and Bobby (that's the shorter one, who can currently be seen in Sky's new comedy drama Mount Pleasant) are devout Christians: Ball became a born-again Christian in 1986 and Cannon in 1992, their conversion having a lot to do with the re-kindling of their broken friendship (according to Wikipedia).

I'm glad they're talking to each other again. I just hope they don't start singing.

Here, to spoil your weekend, is the entire Music for Pleasure (seriously?) album Cannon and Ball Together, featuring the stand out tracks Crying, Bandido and Everybody's Making It Big But Me, which references Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger and includes the statement 'You're a poofter!' Ahh, memories.



For those of you who don't want to download the whole album but would still like to sample this claptrap, here's Everybody's Making It Big But Me

Saturday, 13 August 2011

And Honey, I Hate You

I've always hated Bobby Goldsboro.

Now I'm sure he's a fine, upstanding man - kind to children, gives to charity, goes to church - but he is responsible for some of the most mawkish, maudlin pap to ever trouble the pop charts. Take the multi-million selling Honey, with it's insipid lyrics about some bint who dies after doing a spot of gardening, the risible Summer (the First Time) with its dodgy intergenerational plotline or the winsome Watching Scotty Grow (ignoring it's post-ironic use in The Simpsons) a song about a dyslexic four year old, with its pay-off 'Me and God, watching Scotty grow'. Bleugh!

But these horrors pale into insignificance when compared to the truly awful A Butterfly For Bucky a song I must admit had completely passed me by until I was introduced to its awfulness thanks to BBC4 screening vintage episodes of Top of the Pops.

It's vile: the story of a child born sightless who, wouldn't you know it, gets his vision back in the last verse through the power of prayer. Actually, vile isn't a strong enough word to describe this stinker: it's an audio abomination. If you think I'm being overly dramatic just have a look at the words to the opening verse:

Buck was born on a beautiful morning, and I felt very proud
Lets just say its not every day that you see me cry out loud
Hair like Sunshine, a smile as warm, and the prettiest eyes you'll find
One day last spring my lady and I found out those eyes were blind

Someone pass me a bucket; I'm going to be sick.

Bobby Goldsboro's musical career began in 1962, when he became the guitarist for Roy Orbison, releasing a couple of 45s under his own name including the minor hit Molly. In 1964 he enjoyed his first proper success as a solo artist, with the top ten US hit See the Funny Little Clown; other successes included a version of the Burt Bacharach-Hal David oddity Me Japanese Boy, I Love You. His biggest hit was 1968's Honey, which topped the US charts for four weeks, reached Number 2 in the UK Singles Chart in both 1968 and again in 1975 and made number one in Australia. After a couple of dozen US hit singles Goldsboro retired from performing full-time in the 1980s, although he continued to dabble in music, writing the the soundtrack to the Burt Reynolds sitcom Evening Shade and an American kid's TV show amongst others. Nowadays, outside of the occasional concert appearance, he spends most of his time painting, selling the results (an unusually high number of which feature butterflies) on his website.

What really makes me hate him though is the lack of emotion in his delivery; every song sounds the same, as if it were sung by a slightly wobbly automaton. The constant references to God and the sickening sentimentality are major turn offs too. Still, make up your own mind for here, for your enjoyment, is Bobby Goldsboro and A Butterfly For Bucky.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Oh Jesus

Another horror from the Father Pat Berkery school of 60s spoken-word gospel nonsense; A Soldier's Plea, which appeared on King records in the US in 1969, is yet another of those godawful anti- and/or pro-Vietnam waxings that America was so keen on. Clearly it was easier for the country to listen to this rubbish than face the reality of that particular senseless waste of human life.

This execrable garbage is credited to Bishop J M Smith and the "Evangelist Choir" (their speech marks, not mine), who released at least one further 45 on King, God Is Already Here c/w Step Out On Faith and an album, also called A Soldier's Plea (some copies appear to be credited simply to the Smith Evangelist Choir), both in 1970. Born in 1933 and based in Greenville, South Carolina, Bishop Johnnie Smith has had a long, distinguished career: according to his biography he was the first black man ever to be elected to a state office in the Republican Party, becoming second vice chair of the state in 1989, and in 1997 was awarded the Order of the Palmetto, the highest award available to a civilian in South Carolina. The Bishop, ever the philanthropist, also set up the Johnnie Smith Ministries, an Evangelistic Temple foundation.

All sounds great, doesn't it? Unfortunately the good Bishop has been a bit of a naughty boy of late and, under his full name of Johnnie Morris Smith (please, no jokes about zookeepers and talking Bristolian elephants) he's listed as a registered sex offender, having been found guilty of statutory rape - making the beast with two backs with a girl of 13 - in 2005. How very Jonathan King.

Still, I hope the Bishop's sexual pecadillos do not spoil your enjoyment of the terrifically turgid A Soldier's Plea

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