12 Dreadful Tracks From Otherwise Great Albums

Well, I’ve been up most of the night with toothache, so I thought I’d use my grumpy state of mind to compile a short list of truly dreadful songs from otherwise great albums… and without further ado and in no particular order, here it is:

1. I Love You (But You’re Boring) – The Beautiful South
(from “Welcome To The Beautiful South”, 1989)

The Beautiful South, formed from the ashes of indie royalty, The Housemartins, made a superb début album which made for a cracking good listen, until you got to the last track. Then you got some strange acoustic guitar ditty with Heaton banging on about listening to his carousel, complete with street noises and all manner of weirdness. I’m not sure what they intended to achieve with this track, but it was simply tedious, rubbish and a frustratingly bad end to a great record.

2. Innocent Smile – Ash
(from “1977”, 1996)

1977 was a superb album from the young Northern Irish trio. A little rough around the edges, but you can expect that from musicians who were just around eighteen years old when it was recorded and released. However, this track should never have made the cut. It’s an over-long, over-loud, uncreative, dreary, tuneless piece of garbage which has you reaching for the ‘skip’ button not long into it’s near-six minutes of sonic mush. It also commits the terrible crime of letting you think that it’s over and coming back in during the fade-out. Utterly dreadful.

3. My World – Guns ‘n’ Roses
(from “Use Your Illusion II”, 1991)

Whatever your opinion on Guns ‘n’ Roses, most people who love the genre will agree that the “Use Your Illusion” albums were two pieces of metal genius… until you come to the end of “Use Your Illusion II” to hear a throbbing synth bass, electronic drums, Axl doing some kind of rap and the sound of him actually having sex with some woman, all captured horrifyingly within a couple of minutes of complete and utter nonsense. Not exactly the best way to end your magnum opus, but, then again, Axl Rose and good decisions aren’t well known for going hand in hand.

4. Meat Is Murder – The Smiths
(from “Meat Is Murder”, 1985)

I have nothing against the politics of the song. As a one-time vegetarian, I understand Morrissey’s point of view on this subject. My problem is that it’s a purposely bloody awful song and completely ruins an otherwise superb album. I get what they were trying to do, juxtaposing the harsh lyrics with discordant music to hammer home the point, but it literally makes it unlistenable and gets filed under the category, “I’m glad it’s the last song on the album because I can turn it off before this one comes on and I haven’t missed anything good”. Truly dreadful.

5. Motor Of Love – Paul McCartney
(from “Flowers In The Dirt”, 1989)

Paul McCartney had a torrid time in the eighties. After 1982’s critically acclaimed “Tug Of War”, everything went downhill. Sure, he had a few great singles which sold well, but the film “Give My Regards To Broad Street” was absolutely slated, he was (unfairly) mocked for “We All Stand Together” and his credibility and popularity slowly slid to an all-time low towards the end of the decade. Then he came back with “Flowers In The Dirt”, an absolutely superb piece of work, featuring some collaborations with Elvis Costello and it seemed as if he was back to his brilliant best… until you reached “Motor Of Love” at the end of the album. “Motor Of Love” is over six minutes of utter sonic slush, with both the words and the music making me want to reach for the sick bucket. With over-wrought vocals attempting to squeeze every last bit of faux-emotion and, frankly, a dreadful piece of imagery to start with, McCartney did his very best to sabotage his greatest piece of work for years. Thankfully, the rest of the album was good enough for it to remain well thought of, but this piece of dreary, nauseating mush could have derailed lesser albums completely.

6. I’m Scared – Brian May
(from “Back To The Light”, 1992)

Some may laugh at the notion of Brian May releasing a great album in the first place, but this first piece of post-Queen work from the influential guitarist was a piece of flawed genius and this is probably as good as some of Queen’s best work – apart from this track, of course. I haven’t actually counted how many times Brian sings the words “I’m Scared” on this four minute track, but I think it is in the region of 58,000. The music and the words are formulaic and the repetitive nature of the song make it one of the biggest hurdles to get over when considering the true greatness of “Back To The Light”. Of course, Brian committed worse crimes on other albums and projects, but none of which came as close to this one as being a truly excellent album. That’s what makes this turd in the punchbowl such a pity.

7. Les Boys – Dire Straits
(from “Making Movies”, 1980)

This was Dire Straits’ first real move into the big time of rock music. It contained solid gold hits such as “Romeo and Juliet”, the eight minute masterpiece, “Tunnel Of Love” and the meaty rocker, “Solid Rock”. You could argue that it already had a relatively weak link in “Skateaway”, but the rest of the album could have carried that one lesser composition. Unfortunately, it then ended with “Les Boys”, which is, frankly, the most unexpected, bizarre end to an album like “Making Movies” you could have ever imagined. I mean, it’s kind of fun; in the way that it’s so bad, you can’t help but laugh at it. Without it, this album could have been the coolest thing in music that year. With it – well, it makes everybody take the album a hell of a lot less seriously, which is a shame, because it’s arguably one of their best.

8. I Took A Trip On A Gemini Spaceship – David Bowie
(from “Heathen”, 2002)

“Heathen” is probably Bowie’s best album since 1980’s “Scary Monsters & Super Creeps”. It’s almost wholly brilliant, apart from this fly in the ointment – a pointless cover of a Norman Odam song. It has a ‘dance’ feeling to it which is slightly out of place on the album and the repetitiveness of it spoils what could have otherwise have been a perfect album.

9. Honey Are You Straight Or Are You Blind – Elvis Costello & The Attractions
(from “Blood and Chocolate”, 1986)

“Blood and Chocolate” is one of Elvis Costello’s many masterpieces. Unfortunately it contains this absolutely mind-numbingly dumb, insipid piece of meaningless nonsense. The very presence of such a throwaway song on such an otherwise magnificent album is a travesty. From a man who rarely writes bad lyrics, to write such a dreary piece of disposable pish and to put it in the middle of one of his finest albums just goes to show that even a genius like Costello can’t get it right all the time.

10. Caspian Sea – Graham Coxon
(From “The Spinning Top”, 2009)

“The Spinning Top” is a really wonderful piece of work, a creative triumph of an album by the former Blur guitarist. Apart from this shocking piece of headache-inducing inanity, of course. It crashes and swells like the sea it’s supposed to be describing, but instead of sounding inspired, it just drags on and on, overstaying its welcome by a good couple of minutes. A truly awful piece of foulness on an otherwise excellent album.

11. Working Class Hero – Manic Street Preachers
(From “Send Away The Tigers”, 2007)

The Manics’ 2007 album was, at that point, the most consistently excellent piece of work they’d released since “Everything Must Go” and there was a huge feeling of accomplishment and euphoria running right through each track. That is until you reach the bonus track, a dreadful and pointless cover of Lennon’s “Working Class Hero”. It brings the whole album down, completely, and – quite honestly – feels cheap. Whereas Lennon’s original was dark and understated, the Manics treat it with completely unnecessary bombast. Who ever had the idea to put this on the otherwise brilliant “Send Away The Tigers” – it was a bad one.

12. Revolution 9 – The Beatles
(from “The Beatles”, 1968)

It has to be said. The brilliance of The Beatles’ 1968 self-titled double album is beyond doubt, but if there was one track that makes all but the most hardened of Beatles fans reach for the “stop” button, it’s “Revolution 9”. The least heard of all Beatles songs is probably “Goodnight”, because not many people get that far (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it’s not that great either). Long, boring and baffling, if it remained unreleased until the “Anthology” series, people would probably have denounced it as the over-long, over-indulgent piece of avant-garde nonsense it is, but because it was on an actual Beatles album, fans were forced to take it seriously. Yes, it may have been innovative, but not every innovation is particularly good and “Revolution 9” is proof enough of that.

Of course, there were other obviously candidates for thoroughly dreadful songs, but like “Bugs” from Pearl Jam’s “Vitalogy”, of “Delilah” from Queen’s “Innuendo”, the parent album simply couldn’t otherwise be considered a great enough album if those tracks were removed. Naturally, whether the tracks from the albums that made it onto this list are considered great albums at all are completely subjective opinions and, seeing as this is my ‘blog, these are mine. Please feel free to comment or to add your own suggestions.

About A.D.S.

You are reading the musings of a music-obsessed forty-something who was brought up on The Beatles, lived through Britpop and now spends his time in pursuit of the best music around. This 'blog gives me an outlet to write about the huge number of albums I buy and the many gigs I go to. All of the opinions expressed are my own and if you don't agree with me, then I understand - music is a very personal thing. I like to receive comments, especially if they're nice ones.
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