26 Nov 2011

Great Songs from Less than Great Albums

I was trawling through my LPs this afternoon and I realised how many I owned that had one killer track and a whole lot of filler.
We've all got albums like these that we grabbed with one particular track in mind and the rest of the album has failed to sink in.
It's hard to admit to yourself that you've spent your hard earned dollars on a stinker though so you hold onto them - after all they just need a bit more work to get into surely? The next listen will be the one that sinks in.
With this in mind I grabbed a bunch of these out and started listening to see how I really felt about these albums that I'd been carting around for years.
Sadly I didn't unearth any undiscovered gems, but I did manage to convince myself that sometimes one great track is reason enough to hold onto these albums.
So here's five absolutely essential tracks from five of those albums that I had hoped would be great but turned out to be ... otherwise.

1. The Fraternity of Man - Last Call For Alcohol from the album The Fraternity of Man.
The Fraternity of Man knew they were onto a good thing with Don't Bogart Me, their big marijuana themed country rock hit from the Easy Rider soundtrack so they rewrote and improved it as a drinking song. The rest of the album? Wacky ( i.e annoying ) Zappa-esque zaniness.

2. David Hemmings -Anathea from the album Happens.
Actors releasing albums is always a dicey prospect, but with this great cinematic psych piece written for him by Gene Clark and appparently backed by the Byrds, Hemmings seemed to buck the trend. The rot sets in soon after however.

3. Pink Floyd - Cymbaline from the album More.
OK this one's a bit of a cheat - Cyrus Minor & the Nile Song are pretty great from this album too, but they're also on the Relics album which is my preferred home for them. Asked to record a soundtrack for the film More, the Floyd turned up without any songs and hoped no-one would notice. Cymbaline was the exception to this and stayed in their live set for a considerable length of time.

4. The Beacon Street Union - Angus of Aberdeen from the album The Clown Died In Marvin Gardens.
This is a fantastically pompous and over the top piece of work. Unfortunately more time was spent on the great period front cover than on the other song choices which include turgid remakes of Blue Suede Shoes and a never ending 16 minute version of Baby Please Don't Go that wouldn't go, no matter how much you begged it to.

5. Juicy Lucy - Big Lil from the album Get a Whiff a This.
Crate-diggers will love this fantastic piece of white funk, with it's eminently sampleable breakbeat. That's assuming they can work their way through the pedestrian country rock which largely surrounds it on the rest of this disappointing LP from a band that had two very good hard rock releases behind them.

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