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Great Artists and Crappy Records

PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 1:17 pm
by Adam Blake
Lively debate over at The Other Place about singer/songwriters raised this question:
How many crappy records can a Great Artist make before their reputation is ruined? Or does it not matter? If they made one or two Great Records, are they forever undiminished?

(eg, I would forgive Elvis Presley anything for "The Sun Sessions" and there was A LOT to forgive...)

Re: Great Artists and Crappy Records

PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 1:31 pm
by Adam Blake
And on a different but not unrelated tack:

I would submit that "I Didn't Know I Loved You (Till I Saw You Rock'n'Roll" by Gary Glitter is a fabulous rock'n'roll record but we are not allowed to say so because he's a paedophile, while it's still somehow OK to like Jerry Lee Lewis who married his 13 year old cousin and probably killed at least one of his subsequent wives.

Re: Great Artists and Crappy Records

PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 1:31 pm
by Chris P
Lou Reed undiminished

Re: Great Artists and Crappy Records

PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 1:34 pm
by Adam Blake
One "White Light/White Heat" is worth at least fourteen "Sally Can't Dance's"? Hmmmm, yes, I tend to agree.

Re: Great Artists and Crappy Records

PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 1:35 pm
by AndyM
Well, Gary G is not just a paedo but a rapist. I still really love 'Doing Alright With The Boys', though.

One the great/crappy spectrum, if Stevie can survive both 'Ebony and Ivory' and 'I Just Called to Say I Love You' then all bets are off.

Re: Great Artists and Crappy Records

PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 1:41 pm
by Adam Blake
AndyM wrote:One the great/crappy spectrum, if Stevie can survive both 'Ebony and Ivory' and 'I Just Called to Say I Love You' then all bets are off.


Yes, but it HAS tarnished him a bit. People tend to remember the latter in particular and sneer, rather than genuflect at "Superstition".

Re: Great Artists and Crappy Records

PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 1:44 pm
by Chris P
Innervisions, down on our knees praying (or fixing the lead on the player), then back up again

Re: Great Artists and Crappy Records

PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 4:50 pm
by Rob Hall
Paul McCartney? Mull of Kintyre? The Frog Chorus? Ebony & Ivory (again)?

The case for the defence: Maybe I'm Amazed, Every Night, Back Seat Of My Car, numerous Fabs tunes (I'll leave it to Adam to reel them off)...

Re: Great Artists and Crappy Records

PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 4:53 pm
by Rob Hall
Van Morrison - album after album of tedious landfill for god know how many years.

The case for the defence: Gloria, Brown Eyed Girl, Astral Weeks, Moondance.

(Edit: Arguably, Van's reputation is for turning out crappy records anyway, with little or no reference to his former glories. In that sense, he hasn't really got a reputation to be ruined.)

Re: Great Artists and Crappy Records

PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 5:42 pm
by AndyM
This is a bit like that game where you speculate about when Artist X should have been killed in a car crash, thus sparing the world the displeasure of suffering their declining career (e.g. the Rolling Stones in 1980 or thereabouts).

Even more tasteless of course, if they actually did die in a car crash.

Also, it presupposes that the duff part of an artist's career (if there is a noticeably duffer-than-the-rest section) is always the latter part. But then it is, isn't it ? Any significant exceptions ?? And any late renaissances after a period of extended duff ??

Re: Great Artists and Crappy Records

PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 5:52 pm
by Jamie Renton
I don't buy into the "great artist" school of thought when it comes to music. If someone makes a great 3 minute pop song & everything else they do is crap, then that's still a great 3 minute pop song more than most manage.

Re: Great Artists and Crappy Records

PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 7:56 pm
by Rob Hall
Very true Jamie, but stuff like this is a bit of fun, nonetheless. Or not. Possibly.

Re: Great Artists and Crappy Records

PostPosted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 8:19 pm
by Adam Blake
AndyM wrote:Also, it presupposes that the duff part of an artist's career (if there is a noticeably duffer-than-the-rest section) is always the latter part. But then it is, isn't it ? Any significant exceptions ?? And any late renaissances after a period of extended duff ??


Definitely. Bob made a scorching comeback in 1975 after several years of duff. So did Len in 1988 (or whenever "I'm Your Man" came out.) Lou in 1988 with "New York" was a major return to form. People who like Neil more than I do tell me he makes a good album every few years.

I don't know Joni's later work but I fear the worst. Some of Carole's 80s records were unspeakably bad, and I fear it's a bit too late in the day for a significant comeback from either of them.



Jamie: I hope it's clear that this is mere idle speculation born of admiration. Anyone who makes even one good record is indeed one up on all the rest of us who haven't.

Re: Great Artists and Crappy Records

PostPosted: Sun Nov 09, 2014 12:05 am
by Chris P
Jamie Renton wrote:I don't buy into the "great artist" school of thought when it comes to music. If someone makes a great 3 minute pop song & everything else they do is crap, then that's still a great 3 minute pop song more than most manage.


Two sentences that don't, to me, relate to each other. The first is a clear subjective statement, the second is a truism. What about Stevie Wonder Jamie, that man has (had, & still does) artistry. He's made many great pop songs. Same for Smokey Robinson, Same for Lennon & McCartney, same for Paul Simon. How much light from the same creative source, before you say, gee (bejjayzus, holy smoke or crap, or jewish equivalent), they're great artists?

Re: Great Artists and Crappy Records

PostPosted: Sun Nov 09, 2014 12:29 am
by Pete Fowler
We all have some things in common; but we’re all so different. We all have presents, we all have pasts. We have Charlie somewhere as a lodestar, but even that was probably a strange accident of history.

I might have always loved music, and I still sit here, on many a night, with my midi keyboard, my mike, my Mac and my Garage Band, and have a blast or two. I can still feel the old thrills. And I can still, on the same machine with the infernal Internet an ever-present, interrupt my self indulgence by stumbling onto stuff that electrifies. Tonight it was Gillian Welch and The Elvis Presley Blues. I’d never heard it even though the version I came across was from a BBC4 programme. But the old familiar came strolling through the room in which I sat: the shiver, the ecstacy of recognition. The empathy, the tears that come from hearing something soulful. Something that strikes the deepest of chords.

And the problem I have is mixed up with all of this. If something moves me, it’s because it either echoes from a past that I find alluring; or resonates with my present. I have no idea, utterly, if Sunday Morning by the Velvet Underground is a brilliant realisation of a mood, because it is, and remains, a brilliant realisation of a memory of mine. How it will sound to my own children is a question to ponder.

And so, in this thread, I find myself, predictably, at sea and out of the mainstream. Some have asked if anyone has taken a career dip and somehow got back on track; some have said that performer x has never done anything of note since 1971.

Well they have, for me. But that’s because I am who I am, with my past and my present. Van Morrison meant more to me in Hymns to the Silence than he ever did in Astral Weeks. Take Me Back was the track I played endlessly when it came out; because it hit me, full on, at a particular moment in my life. It fitted my mood exactly.

And Not Dark Yet from Dylan’s Time Out Of Mind threw me a bloody lifeline. It was that important. It was the first song I’d ever heard that faced the death I thought I was facing at that moment.

And this is why I would never, personally, rule out some of these people with the simple line of ‘never did anything since 1970’. One or two of them kept writing, for me, the truth of getting older; others kept on pretending they were twenty five forever. Some kept on meaning things to me; others faded with their botoxed faces.