Author Archives: Michael H. Little

Graded on a Curve:
The Stone Roses,
The Stone Roses

As a famous man (I think it was Geoffrey Chaucer) once said, time waits for no man. And in the case of Manchester’s The Stone Roses, the five long years that passed between this, their massively popular 1989 debut, and 1994’s Second Coming were fatal. Come Second Coming baggy pants and bucket hats were passe, and Britpop ruled England’s green and pleasant land.

Those five years may have been piddling compared to the 14 years that elapsed between Guns N’ Roses’ The Spaghetti Incident and Chinese Democracy, but those five years they were an eternity–during the same time span The Beatles went from Meet the Beatles to Abbey Road.

The Stone Roses’ half-decade of silence stemmed form a variety of issues, the most important of which was a protracted effort to sever ties with their record label, but it doesn’t much matter. In his poem “The Second Coming” (sound familiar?) William Butler Yeats foresaw a rough beast slouching towards Bethlehem, waiting to be born. The Stone Roses’ follow-up didn’t so much slouch towards the record stores as crawl, and by the time it arrived Engand’s notoriously fickle trend watchers had long since written them off.

None of which detracts from the fact that The Stone Roses is one killer LP. The album’s rave-friendly dance rhythms and hypnotic grooves would seem to put The Stone Roses in the same category as fellow Mancunians the Happy Mondays, but they took it the extra yard by fusing said dance rhythms with the Happy Daze psychedelic guitar sounds of the mid to late ‘60s. Like the Happy Mondays, The Stone Roses produced dance music, but they could rock the arenas as well.

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Chuck Eddy,
The TVD Interview

Chuck Eddy is America’s foremost music critic. Hell, he’s probably the world’s foremost music critic, unless you count the woman in North Korea who’s said to write one hell of a Laibach review. Over the past several decades Eddy’s smart-ass wit, super-charged prose, lightning flash (and often controversial) pronouncements) and mind-boggling knowledge of musical esoterica have made him a must read for anyone who gives a hoot about popular music.

Eddy’s abiding interest in (and love for) what he calls “inessential music,” championing of genre-blending (think country disco), and defense of such derided-by-the critics genres as New Country offer readers an ear-opening new perspective on popular music—read Chuck Eddy, and I guarantee you’ll never listen to music the same way again.

Eddy’s resume is too extensive to go into here. Suffice it to say he’s written thousands of articles for The Village Voice—where he served as musical editor for seven years–Creem, Rolling Stone, Spin, Entertainment Weekly and other forums.

Eddy’s books include Stairway to Hell: The 500 Best Heavy Metal Albums in the Universe (Harmony Books, 1991); The Accidental Evolution of Rock ‘N Roll: A Misguided Tour Through Popular Music (De Capo Press, 1997); Rock and Roll Always Forgets: A Quarter Century of Music Criticism (Duke University Press, 2011).and Terminated for Reasons of Taste (Duke University Press, 2016). Eddy currently dedicates his energies to programing music for Napster.

In the following interview Eddy talks about Stairway to Hell, which has been enraging metalheads for decades, declares his love for B-sides and dollar bins, says he doesn’t think of musicians as people and doesn’t give a flying fuck about their personal lives, and makes the astonishing admission that given the choice between having Guns ‘n’’ Roses or Suzanne Vega over for dinner, he’d go with Vega because “she eats less.”

And finally, he talks candidly about the “Infamous Beastie Boys Incident.”

Without further ado, a conversation with Chuck Eddy.

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Graded on a Curve:
John Cale,
Paris 1919

I like to play hard to get. You know, listen to an album for a while before I ask it out on a date. Sure, there are exceedingly rare exceptions—thunderbolts of instantaneous amour that make me lose my composure and babble on about how wonderful an album is, and how I want to take it home to meet my family, and go out and surreptitiously shop around for a ring. This was what happened the first time I heard John Cale’s 1973 LP Paris 1919.

The Welsh Cale will forever be chiefly remembered for his work with The Velvet Underground, but he was playing experimental music—you know, the usual, like an 18-hour piano marathon of a piece by Erik Satie—with the likes of John Cage and La Monte Young before he joined the Velvets, and has recorded in a mad variety of styles since then. I’m loath to call any one a genius, because I prefer to reserve the title for myself, but for John Cale I’ll make an exception. He’s put out many an amazing and influential record—and produced just as many for other artists—and you never know what he’ll do next.

Take Paris 1919. The LPs that bookend it—namely 1974’s harder rocking Fear and 1971’s more experimental and classically-oriented The Academy in Peril—don’t bear the slightest resemblance to Paris 1919, or to one another for that matter. I love both albums for their unpredictability, but most people, myself included, consider Paris 1919 Cale’s masterpiece. The reason why is simple—it’s chockablock with sublime and lovely songs that you’re guaranteed to fall in love with, just as I did.

Cale may have quit The Velvet Underground because he didn’t share Lou Reed’s ambition to become a pop star at any price, but that doesn’t mean Cale was uninterested in exploring pop’s outer suburbs. Paris 1919 is proof positive that Cale had a pop side as well—he simply dressed it up and presto, instant baroque pop. Or art rock, although I’m hesitant to describe Paris 1919 as such because the LP includes only one tune that even vaguely resembles rock, namely “Macbeth.”

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Graded on a Curve:
Molly Hatchet,
Flirtin’ with Disaster

Remembering guitarist Dave Hlubek of Molly Hatchet.Ed.

I consider myself a southern rock fan of sorts—Lynyrd Skynyrd is one of my favorite bands, and I still plan to get that tattoo of their plane going down, Ronnie Van Zant looking out a window and saying, “Turn it up!”—but I always drew the line at Molly Hatchet. I think it had to do with those fantasy covers—you know, the ones with steroidal Huns in Viking helmets like the sopranos in operas wear wielding wicked-looking double axes. I’ve never liked fantasy art, or people who like fantasy art, and while I’m ashamed to admit I refused to listen to a band because of its album covers, it’s the god’s honest truth.

Anyway, I finally took the plunge, and I was shocked—Molly Hatchet wasn’t half bad. A kind of poor man’s Lynyrd Skynyrd—both bands hailed from swampy Jacksonville, Florida—Molly Hatchet boasted a singer who sounded a lot like Ronnie Van Zant and three guitarists just like Skynyrd, which gave them the ability to “Free Bird” out to their heart’s content. True, their songwriting skills were never up to Skynyrd standards—all meat and potatoes, only without the meat—but they were good enough, good enough. And when I call Molly Hatchet a poor man’s Lynyrd Skynyrd it’s not a total diss, because I still—having finally heard them—rate them above the Outlaws, the Charlie Daniels Band, .38 Special, The Marhall Tucker Band, Wet Willie, and all the rest of their Southern Rock brethren, with the exception of Black Oak Arkansas, because BOA is just so fucking weird.

Molly Hatchet mixed in enough hard rock to differentiate themselves from the more countrified Southern Rock pack, but were also capable of pure South of Dixie goodness—just check out their loving cover of Gregg Allman’s “Dreams I’ll Never See” if you don’t believe me. Or “Gator Country,” an excellent tune in which they name-check their competition and their home states and conclude they’d just as soon be back in the gator country of Jacksonville. True, they lost the thread later on—as is demonstrated by songs that sound like bad hair metal and an album called Southern Rock Masters that included songs by Thin Lizzy, the Eagles, and Mountain—proof either that they had a very flexible concept of Southern Rock, or should really have paid more attention to their geography teacher in high school.

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Graded on a Curve: Einstürzende Neubauten, Kollaps

At long last, a rock album capable of shattering my nerves. I’ve sat through all manner of horrible noise for decades, but the sheet-metalheads and industrial music pioneers Einstürzende Neubauten are the first to make me wish I was deaf.

Einstürzende Neubauten may translate as Collapsing New Buildings to English speakers, but they don’t sound like an architectural disaster to me. They sound like the foundry where I worked during my summer years at college only worse, because Einstürzende Neubauten are both foundry and insane asylum, and the lunatics have taken over the machinery.

Is Einstürzende Neubauten’s Industrial Revolution clang and clamor a negative commentary on the robotic dehumanization celebrated by the futurists in Kraftwerk? A conservative retreat to the glory days of steam power, when manly men forged manly things with their manly calloused hands? The final revenge of metal shop kids over the pencil-neck geeks destined for lucrative jobs in the towering high-rises of the private sector? All are questions worth pondering, but having just listened to Einstürzende Neubauten’s 1981 debut Kollaps, I have too much of a headache to think clearly.

Theirs is, I must admit, a novel concept–establish rhythmic din by means of building tools, scrap metal and sundry other detritus of the machine age, then set Blixa Bargeld to the task of barking, growling, muttering, moaning, shrieking, bellowing and ululating all over them. It works wonders, that is if your idea of a good time is having ground augers shoved in your ears whilst being beaten over the skull with a 2-1/2 inch split head hammer.

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Graded on a Curve:
Roxy Music,

I wish I was as suave as Bryan Ferry, the tuxedo-clad Euro-sophisticate whose jaded crooning about love has made him the most elegant lounge lizard in rock history. Not a bad act of sartorial re-creation for the son of a miner from Northern England, not bad at all. I wish I could pull it off. God, do I wish. But what can I say? When I was at the age he formed Roxy Music I was still wearing bib overalls. And guys in bib overalls have zilch odds of being mistaken for dapper Euro-seducers, which never occurred to me at the time—I simply thought of myself as a ladies’ man in the midst of a long, lonely run of shitty luck.

Formed at the dawn of the seventies, Roxy Music featured a core band that included Ferry on vocals, Phil Manzanera on guitar, Andy Mackay on saxophone and oboe, Paul Thompson on drums, a seemingly endless succession of guys on bass, and Brian Eno, who initially joined as a technical adviser, on synthesizers. Eno played a profound role in the band’s sound but left after two LPs due to creative differences with Ferry, and was replaced by keyboardist and electric violinist Eddie Jobson, formerly of Curved Air. You’ll run across gads of avant gardists who think Eno’s departure marked the end of Roxy Music as a great band, but I’m not one of them.

Me, I love all of their albums, but know I’m in the minority for believing 1977’s live Viva! Roxy Music is the best of them. But I’ve reviewed that LP already, which leaves me with my second favorite LP, 1975’s Siren. I’m not going to lie to you; I wish it had “Do the Strand,” “Virginia Plain,” “Street Life,” and “Pyjamarama” on it, but it doesn’t. Which is why the smart bet is to buy one of their “best of” compilations and be done with it. But then you’d be without “Just Another High” and “End of the Line” and all the other cool songs on Siren that you won’t find on any greatest hits package, and won’t you be sorry then? Eh?

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Graded on a Curve:
Mr. Bongo,
Learn, Play Bongos
with “Mr. Bongo”

Becoming a beatnik isn’t as easy as it looks. You have to wear a beret, master the patois, put out for a goatee–and learn how to play the bongos. That’s where Mr. Bongo comes in.

Mr. Bongo’s real name is Jack Costanzo, and his 1961 Liberty Record release Learn, Play Bongos with “Mr. Bongo” will have you playing “Peanut Vendor” in no time. And you won’t be learning from some bongo nobody—the Master of the Membranophone’s résumé reads like The Collected Works of Jack Kerouac.

Costanzo toured with Stan Kenton, spent four years as the “phantom fourth” in the Nat King Cole Trio, and released a slew of solo albums with titles like Bongo Fever and Mr. Bongo Plays Hi-Fi Cha Cha. He made guest appearances on the Art Linkletter, Ed Sullivan, Edward R. Murrow, and Dinah Shore shows, and was no stranger to the motion pictures; that’s Jack playing the bongo-beating Middle Eastern slave Julna in the 1965 Elvis Presley musical comedy Harum Scarum.

But Mr. Bongo was a consummate educator as well. And I’m not talking Bongos 101 at Beatnik High. Costanzo mentored some of the biggest names in Tinseltown, including Marlon Brando, James Dean, Betty Grable, Gary Cooper, Rita Moreno, and Tony Curtis. It’s rumored he coached the famed Nazi bongo beater Josef Goebbels as well, but you won’t the Nazi Propaganda Minister’s name on Costanzo’s CV.

With the help of Mr. Bongo–and the invaluable assistance of narrator Ira “One of Los Angeles’ leading personality disk jockeys!” Cook, you’ll be savaging the skins in no time.”Hear that?” asks Cook at album’s start. “It’s one of the most exciting sounds in the world. Everyone’s doing it. Ouch! Well, everybody’s trying to do it.”

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Graded on a Curve:
Ohio Players, “Funky Worm” b/w “Paint Me”

Occasionally you run across a song so unutterably strange you’re left speechless. Such is the case with the 1973 single “Funky Worm” by the great Ohio Players, who bequeathed us such fabulously funky tunes as “Love Rollercoaster” (“Say what?”) and “Fire.” “Funky Worm” inexplicably rose to No. 1 on the Billboard R&B charts, despite it’s, er, rather odd vocals and subject matter. But if I’m surprised it was a big hit I have no doubt it’s a fantastic song, infused with high humor and featuring several high-pitched Moog synthesizer solos that have been sampled, at last count by one source, by some 183 artists including Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, and N.W.A.

The Ohio Players were formed way back in 1959 as the Ohio Untouchables, but broke up and reformed several times. But talk about your perseverance; they were still together (having changed their name to Ohio Players) in 1973, when the band finally scored a hit with “Funky Worm” off their Pleasure LP. The song was written by the band’s then keyboardist Walter “Junie” Morrison, who split in 1974 and went on to record several solo albums before joining Parliament-Funkadelic.

“Funky Worm” is odd for the simple reason that it’s basically a conversation between a member of the band and “Granny,” who I suspect is another member of the band, although I’ve had zero luck in finding out who delivered her lines. Granny is introduced to a Mr. Johnson by his secretary while a funky groove plays in the background, and she delivers her introductory lines (“Me and the Ohio Players gonna tell you about a worm/He’s the funkiest worm in the world/Okay, sing it, fellas”), at which point the guys in the band sing about the worm, who lives six feet down and “who only comes around/When he wants to get down.”

Those six feet are odd, being grave-deep and all, but I don’t think the song has anything whatsoever to do with death, although the following tune, “Our Live Has Died” reprises the “six feet down” trope in a more meaningful setting. Nor is the worm a metaphor for a cock. No, it’s a worm she’s talking about, who “when he comes out of his hole sounds something like this,” at which point Morrison plays a freaky solo.

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Graded on a Curve:
Best of

Has there ever been a band as balls-out funky, that actually got played on the radio, as War? The horns, the inimitable percussion, the great group vocals—War had it all, to say nothing of some of the chillest songs of the rock era. Every time I hear them I think of the opening of the great “Summer”: “Riding ‘round town with all the windows down/8-track playin’ all your favorite sounds/The rhythm of the bongos fill the park/The street musicians trying to get a start.” I don’t know about you, but in my imagination it’s War I’m listening to on that 8-track, and if the 8-track player eats it there’s going to be hell to pay.

The L.A. band had something for everybody: soul, funk, R&B, jazz, reggae, and last but far from least, the Latino sound of the Mexican-American barrios of East L.A. From their start with Eric “Spill the Wine” Burdon to their later mostly upbeat takes on the life in the barrio, War was the dopest commodity around. Their songs spoke not only to their community but to everybody, as is demonstrated by the fact that if you don’t like “Low Rider” or “The Cisco Kid,” you are an ignoramus.

When it comes to packaging, Best Of is a less-is-better proposition, and I like it that way. No losers, you know? “Spill the Wine,” “Cisco Kid,” “Low Rider,” “The World Is a Ghetto,” and even the smooth grooves of “All Day Music” and “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” are all irresistible, as is every other tune on this compilation, with the exception of “Gypsy Man,” which I can’t listen to without seeing flashing disco balls.

The band’s recorded history opened with two LPs fronted by the white English bluesman Eric Burdon, and they gave us the great “Spill the Wine,” with its supercool organ riff, thank-you-Jesus percussion, and far-out monologue by Burdon, who calls himself a gnome. Oh, and did I fail to mention the funky flute? Or the chorus, which breaks up the song’s repetitive riff quite nicely? There’s even some Hispanic chick chattering away in the background. “All Day Music” is as smooth as good champagne, a pacifying tune featuring some great vocals that will, in the vocalist’s words, “soothe your mind.” The organ is cool, as is the breakdown in the middle, and while I tell myself this one is a bit too laid-back for my likings, I can never turn it off, perhaps due to the fellow who shouts, “Hoy!” and, “Uhh!”

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Graded on a Curve: Fairport Convention, Unhalfbricking

If folk music scares me–and it does–English folk music really scares me; I’m still trying to recover from the traumatic consequences of inadvertently viewing a YouTube video of Pentangle performing the pro-virginity dirge “Let No Man Steal Your Thyme.”

That said, I’ve always made an exception for Fairport Convention in general, and their LP 1969’s Unhalfbricking in particular. Unhalfbricking was the work of a band moving away from American influences towards the Ye Olde English-style minstrelsy, and the music they performed during said transition is some of their best.

Fairport Convention’s take on folk rock is decidedly English–as English as eel pie. And how couldn’t it be–listening to Sandy Denny, who remains arguably the best English folk singer in the history of recorded music, is like walking the Cornish cliffs of Tintagel on a lovely May morn. But–and the caveat is critical–you never get the awful sense you’ve wandered into the bucolic pagan setting of the 1973 film The Wicker Man, where you’ll be shoved into a wicker totem and burned alive, a sacrifice to a bountiful harvest, as the happy villagers sing “Sumer Is Icumen In.” (A tune I’m sure Pentangle performed all the time.)

While “lovely” best describes the songs on Unhalfbricking, you get plenty of variety: a trio of exceptional Dylan covers; one instant classic; a pair of slower numbers that creep up on you, and one Cajun-flavored rock’n’roller that sticks out, if you’ll bear the obscure allusion, like Beau Brummell at a stevedores’ convention. Oh, and there’s one simply incredible song that somehow manages to bridge the gap between the English traditional folk form and the Velvet Underground.

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Graded on a Curve:
Berlin Brats,
Believe It or Rot:

Hollywood’s answer to the New York Dolls, The Berlin Brats didn’t leave much of a footprint on the gutter glam, proto-punk era; there’s this 2010 half studio, half live compilation Believe It or Rot, a few mentions in Marc Spitz’ We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of L.A. Punk, and a guest appearance on the 1978 Rhino compilation Saturday Night Pogo.

Indeed, tThe Berlin Brats’ main claim to immortality may be their role as competitors in the “Battle of the Bands” scene in Cheech & Chong’s marijuana masterpiece Up in Smoke, where they get pelted by food and lose by a two-foot joint to Alice Bowie’s heavy metal classic “Earache My Eye.”

But The Berlin Brats deserve more than a footnote. At their best , these L.A. drug abusers gave the Dolls a run for their money—like the latter band they had great songs, loads of glitter garage charisma, and a front man with a Mick Jagger fixation. And like the Dolls, the Brats definitely didn’t suffer from a personality crisis.

The Berlin Brats denied being influenced by the Dolls, and it may even have been true. It’s anything but implausible that bands at the opposite ends of the country were channeling the early R&B of The Rolling Stones and such garage murk forebearers as The Standells and The Sonics. And it’s hardly surprising that both the Brats and the Dolls were tapping into the transvestite Zeitgeist and playing dress up.

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Graded on a Curve:
First Step

I am, I don’t mind telling you, the biggest fan of the Faces who has ever trod upon the earth. I love them. I love them so much I would gladly shovel their dung, much as the elephant dung shoveler at the circus who, upon being asked why he doesn’t find a less flagrant job, replied, “What, and give up show business?”

That said, I have a confession to make. I’ve never, and I mean never, listened to their 1970 debut LP, First Step. I don’t know why this is so. I suspect that, somewhere in the back of my lizard brain, I believed they weren’t ripe yet. I didn’t think they were fully Faces. So yesterday, in a paroxysm of guilt, I turned First Step on. And my feelings, while not completely positive, are positive enough. It’s a good LP. Not a great LP, but a solid one, and I must admit to being a fool for having snubbed it for all these years.

The first thing I have to say about it is that it features not just one, but three songs on which both Rod Stewart and Ronnie Lane sing. They sing in tandem on the slow and lovely “Nobody Knows,” and it’s a revelation. It’s a pity they never made it a practice. And on the similarly slow “Devotion,” which is rendered all but holy by Ian McLagan’s organ, McLagan sings and is echoed by Stewart, and it’s lovely indeed. Ronnie Wood’s guitar is wonderful as well. As for “Shake, Shudder, Shiver,” it’s the Faces at their best—heavy, but not too heavy, and just loose enough to dance to. All of the parts are working, and working well indeed. Rod even gives out a few of his trademark howls.

The second thing to be noted is that First Step includes two instrumentals, which in my opinion is a waste of both two songs and two ginger-crack vocalists. “Pineapple and the Monkey” is heavy on the organ and Wood’s fantastic guitar playing, but it’s a mite on the slow and ‘eavy side, and plods a bit, much like the anti-hero of Samuel Beckett’s Malone Dies. And McLagan’s organ is a bit too “lounge jazz” for my tastes.

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Graded on a Curve: Blodwyn Pig,
Getting to This

When friends recommended I check out Blodwyn Pig’s 1970 sophomore LP Getting to This, I was dubious. This was, after all, the band England’s New Musical Express praised for its promising blend of “Hooting grunting blues mingled with snorts of jazz.” The only adjective they omitted was squealing. Then there’s the issue of the awful band name, which only beats Pearls Before Swine by snout. You really shouldn’t name your band after livestock, unless you’re The Cows.

But now that I’ve listened to Getting to This, I can only say the above description is an understatement. Ex-Jethro Tull guitarist Mick Abrahams and gimcrack saxophonist/flautist Jack Lancaster (who’s been known to play two saxes at once just like Rahsaan Roland Kirk!) do more than hoot, grunt and snort—on Getting to This they whip up a pig’s ear stew, and toss in everything but the trotters.

The eclectic shtick doesn’t always work. Take “San Francisco Sketches.” It opens with some ocean atmospherics ala the Who’s “Sea and Sand,” then cuts to Lancaster sitting beneath a tree in Sherwood Forest playing a fey flute. Then a high school jazz band enters stage right, Abrahams plays a hot dog of a guitar solo, and a choir of heavenly voices enters stage left and pulls a Godspell on ya. Then things kick into overdrive, Abrahams’ guitar adds kraut to the dog, and Lancaster follows up with a tasty sax solo. Me, I want to take a surgical knife to the damn thing and remove the parts that irk me. I guess this is what your aficionados call progressive rock. I prefer to call it attention deficit disorder.

“Variations on Nanos” is even more out there. Lancaster opens on a freak flute note, launches into a flitting butterfly of a solo, then hands things over to Abrahams, who serves up a subdued but classy guitar solo. All’s as should be until Abrahams (who sounds a whole lot like nemesis Ian Anderson) decides to sing from the deep end of a swimming pool before climbing out, drying himself off, and launching into a dead-on impersonation of Captain Beefheart. Weird, but not as weird as “To Rass Man,” a Deutsche Schlager Oompah reggae tune designed to excite the lederhosen hacky-sack crowd.

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Graded on a Curve:
Ringo Starr,
Blast from Your Past

Happy 80th birthday to Sir Richard Starkey MBE.Ed.

Beatles fans, stop your incessant bickering about who’s the better artist, Paul McCartney or John Lennon! Because let’s face it, Ringo Starr beats the MBEs off both of ‘em! He’s a hit machine, a genius and a true Starr! And to those who would say otherwise I say, well, to HECK with you!

I don’t base my opinion on the fact that Ringo is the humblest and most lovable Beatle. No, all one has to do is compare his best of, 1975’s Blast from Your Past, with those of the other members of the Fab Four. It’s got a higher winner to loser ratio (90%, and that’s only if I call “Beaucoups of Blues” a loser, which it ain’t!) than John Lennon’s Shaved Fish (64%) Wings’ Wings Greatest (50%), and George Harrison’s The Best of George Harrison, which I refuse to even consider seeing as how its first side is composed solely of Beatles’ era songs.

And not only does Ringo have a better batting average–he’s also a lot more fun. Sure Lennon’s “Cold Turkey” (to pick just one song) is a harrowing depiction of heroin withdrawal blah blah blah, but do I ever listen to it? Of course not! It’s a stone bummer! And yes, Paul the Frivolous has written some lovably lightweight songs over the years, but he’s also the spitwit responsible for “Silly Love Songs,” “Let ‘em In,” and “Ebony and Ivory,” which makes him a horrible person in my book! And don’t even get me started on that nebbish George Harrison. No, Ringo’s the King, and I say that not as a fan but as a completely objective party who Ringo just paid me to say that!

Look, I would call Ringo the Greatest but I don’t have too since he comes right out and says he is in “I’m the Greatest,” just one of the delicious trifles that make Blasts from Your Past as indispensable an album as, well, pick an album, any album! And just in case you think Ringo’s only good for producing trifles, I give you “Photograph” (as touching a song as you’ll ever run across) and “It Don’t Come Easy,” which has George Harrison’s fingerprints all over it but who gives a shit!

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Graded on a Curve:
The Osmonds,
Crazy Horses

I used to know this rather dim garbage head who gobbled a handful of pills he thought were opiates but weren’t, and he swore—on a stack of ludes!—they didn’t do anything but make his waist-length hair stand straight up in the air and vibrate. I’m pretty sure his story was bullshit. That said, if you’re looking for an album that will do the same thing, you could do much worse than check out The Osmond’s Crazy Horses.

You heard me right: The Osmonds. Because despite what you may have heard about Ogden, Utah’s finest, they weren’t a do-goodie, whiter-shade-of-pale tweenie-pop imitation of the Jackson Five but substance-abusing (they sometimes took as many as three aspirin at once!) Mormon mofos who took their Tang straight yet still managed to stand up on their hind legs and bray. And the culmination of their badassness was Crazy Horses, one of the greatest hard rock albums your ears will ever hear. And that’s not just me talking: in Stairway to Hell: The 500 Best Heavy Metal Albums, rock crit Chuck Eddy puts Crazy Horses at No. 66—which is too low in my opinion, but then everybody underestimates the Mormon Motörhead.

The brothers began their career as a barbershop quartet, The Osmond 5 (math is not taught in the schools of the Church of Latter Day Saints) before becoming worldwide superstars thanks to little brother Donny and the bubblegum classic “One Bad Apple.” Meanwhile, though, Donny’s older siblings were chomping at the bit. They wanted to write their own songs and play their own instruments and smoke fake cigarettes and change their name to The Gentile Killers. So they staged a coup of sorts, relieving Donny of lead singer duties to toughen up their sound while honing their protopunk chops by playing along to Hollies’ records until they were the five maddest, baddest, LDS-taking apples in the whole bunch, girl.

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