Thursday, 15 December 2011

A Past Gone Mad

One of my most (over)used words on this blog, has to be underrated. But, dear reader, i felt it was time to share with you, the 5 most overrated musical artists EVER.

The Clash

The Clash or (Middle Class Fakes) The Clash as they shall be prefaced henceforth, how i hate thee? Let me count the ways. 1) they gave eclecticism a bad name. 2) The 1st album is a HORRIBLE listen. 3) Look at that picture above, Strummer looks like he's having a shit doesn't he? Well in fact someone's just given him a sneak preview of what his Mescaleros albums will sound like 20 years later. Yes Joe, that bad. 4) Sandinista!

Bruce Springsteen


The Boss?? The f**king Boss??  Rather than 'The Boss', Bruce is actually much more like the janitor at school who has a reputation amongst the staff (despite the fact that nobody has EVER spoken to him) for doing 'weird things' with hammers and crowbars and ropes in his garage. Bruce was famous in the 80's for his 4 hour concerts, a bit like The Deer Hunter was famed for it's 3 hour length. Scientists are still attempting to determine which was the dullest.

Eric Clapton

I've already mentioned my limitless disdain for 'God' here, but i'll take this opportunity to just mention his beard. Nuff said.

The Jam/Paul Weller
 
When i was a kid, Weller was 'it' as far as all my schools chums (male and female i'll add) were concerned. I thought that they were all deaf and blind as i cued up the Thompson Twins latest on my hi-fi. His solo work has managed to fuse pretentious and pointless in a way that few succeed, whilst The Jam are the most overrated band EVER. FACT. The Style Council were bearable, JUST, mostly because he stopped shouting for a bit and also cos he pretended he might be gay (by nibbling Mick Talbot's ear in a video), therefore freaking out a lot of my sexually confused male contemporaries whose rooms were filled with posters of him looking down at them doing whatever they did in their teenage beds.

Van Morrison

i once got dragged along to see Van at Glastonbury and once i got near the front it was damn impossible to get out (and either way, some indie-gods like The Family Cat or Cud or whoever it was on the other stage were probably near the end of their set). So there i stood, watching the legend Morrison mumble and moan his way through a set that was possibly an hour but felt like a slow dying eternity. Trumpets honked (although Van may have been clearing his throat) fiddles dragged and bassoons bled my soul dry and around me people were smiling (!) some were even dancing (!!) others mouthed the words (or grunts, difficult to tell) and my companion turned to me and said, 'he's a true living legend'. He wasn't though, he was a miserable old git who had one half decent album. You try listening to THIS all the way through, i fucking DARE YOU



The more observant amongst you may have noticed that i didn't include THE WORST band of all time well that's because, surely nobody 'rates' them?

Please do add your own in the comments...

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

yeah. Weller. what a cunt.

Anonymous said...

..... In fact i agree with most of these, but Clapton is, whatever you say, a VERY good guitarist. a prick maybe, but he can play guitar.Also the man who plays the lead guitar solo on "While my guitar gently weeps" can't be all bad.
(It's me by the way Horse. shall we reform 'Thrush'?)

Rin said...

Do the Doors actually rate enough to edge into the overrated category? I don't think they do but I ask in order to have an excuse to post this beautiful bit of screeding, do not sleep on it:

Lights, Camera, Organ! or, Ecce Jimbo - Review of "Light My Fire: My Life with the Doors" by Ray Manzarek

And also this I suppose:

Into the Doors

And you know that as much as Van Morrison really ought to have his face gouged out I have already given him a pass for "Have a Danish."

Rin said...

Also waaaaaaait a second are you calling Astral Weeks a half-decent album?!?!?

My thing with VM is that if, say, you write an exquisite novel and then spend the rest of your life taking a nap, you still created one horrifically vivid work of art. I don't know anyone who'd think to call him a "living legend" though, "Want a Danish" notwithstanding (it's...actually "Want a Danish." D'oh.). But I also don't think I know anyone who'd call him "living."

MagicAlex DJ's said...

Soz Rin, but i actually think the Doors are UNDERrated. Everyone has a pop at Jim and his silly shamanism but did The Seeds ever write anything as beautiful as Blue Sunday? Did The Who ever get as funky as Soul Kitchen? Did The Byrds ever flow as loosely like L.A Woman? The Doors, however like many cultural 'mid'-points were tarnished somewhat by the heavy hands of Oliver Stone.

I was however VERY tempted to include a certain band from Oxford who's singer moans like a malfunctioning vacuum cleaner.

MagicAlex DJ's said...

PS, yes Horse i am up for the reunion. Which songs shall we cover this time? Think that Throwing Muses & Teenage Fanclub might be a little passée now...

Rin said...

Oh dear. And I am not havin a pop at nothin, I genuinely think they are hilariously overcooked. They may be more absurdly huge in reputation here than there, though -- there is a point in the suburban American high school experience in which you are surrounded on all sides by people who profess Jimbo to be the greatest poet who ever lived, and, well, I also made the mistake of subscribing to Rolling Stone when I was a kid. I'm sure the Doors thing is universal but maybe you at least escaped the Jann Wenner curse.

I also think Paul McCartney is overrated, though, so if you want to start throwing chairs at me from across the ocean, give it a shot! I do. I am welcome to be disabused of this notion if you want to Maccavangelize at me. He's a perfectly fine musician but his songwriting just hurts my soul. And I am not one of those insufferable John Lennon People. I just think McCartney tends to write rock music for musical theater. And in the spirit of MEANNESS: he looks like a perpetually shocked old lesbian. Oh yes he does.

KNIFE FIGHT! Marshal your two commenters to educate me/and or carve off my ears. Clapton is still terrible! *ducks*

(Dean has just listed a few good McCartney-penned songs for me; those I do like. On the aggregate, still, OVERRATED! Have at me! I regret nothing.)

Rin said...

No McCartney II on Spotify in the US but I do have the option of listening to "Vanilla Sky" and "Silly Love Songs." This is making me doubt my commitment to opening my mind here.

Rin said...

Update! I do approve of Monkberry Moon Delight.

MagicAlex DJ's said...

well, yes, and so you should and if your heart isn't melted by this

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXT_JEYKJXg&feature=related

maybe you don't have one?

Rin said...

But what of "Simply Having a Wonderful Christmastime"? The man's crimes are vast. You must admit this. How am I supposed to forget the way "A Day in the Life" is going along beautifully and then in wanders Paul, lost on his way to an audition for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, to thoroughly destroy the whole thing? Forever? We will never get that song back, you know. Paul snatched it away for all eternity. I get the idea, and his motives are good and pure, but yeeegad Paul, it always comes out like something from a kiddie album. Every time. Seek help.

Nonetheless, I am giving McCartney II my full attention (you have no idea how hard it is for me to type those words...no idea) sometime later today.

Anonymous said...

"Paul McCartney is overrated".
Wow.
No.... that's.... just....
wrong.
I honestly don't think that particular argument will find much sympathy on these pages Rin.

Rin said...

Ahahaha then convince me otherwise! I am trying here. And I knew what I was getting into. I'm wearing armor right now.

Rin said...

Another update! I actually do like "Ram On." It's quite pretty. Though I'd still rather be listening to Brian Wilson.

MagicAlex DJ's said...

you do know that Brain Wilson wanted to BE Macca right? ok, homework time, go and listen to Paul's bass playing at the end of Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite and THEN tell me he's overrated...

MagicAlex DJ's said...

actually i started to think about his bass playing GENERALLY and really your whole argument CRUMBLED.

Rin said...

I didn't intend to cast aspersions on McCartney's bass playing. Just everything else. BOOM.

(And perhaps Wilson was just more naturally talented at being McCartney than McCartney was?)

I am still trying here. I like him a little bit more than I did previously.

Anonymous said...

Trying to convince someone that Paul McCartney is a musical GENIUS is somewhat akin to trying to convince someone that the Earth is round.
Go listen to The Beatles again.... or don't. Up to you. But lets stop this pointless nonsense and get back to the real issue, which i believe was what a Cunt Weller is.
(also, have to agree that The Doors are Ace)
Anyhoo.... Weller..... what a cunt!

Rin said...

Ya coward! Chicccckkkken.

I went through the requisite Beatles nut phase! I know 'em well. My Beatles nut phase is what soured me on McCartney as a songwriter, actually, and turned me off to checking out most of his solo work. That's not fair of me, so I'm doin' my due diligence here while you cowardly cower away coweringly, unable to explain this GENIUS (coward!).

Anyway I'm a bit younger than the room here and also, as we have established, Not English (I seriously thought you were mad at me over this conversation last night, Dean, because I was like "oh no he's PISSED!" I'm usually not that dense but, you know, sickbrain) so I missed out on the great rate significance of Weller in the scheme of things. I will accept your estimation of the guy though. I do hate the Jam.

Rin said...

(err and what turned me off to his songwriting was that there'd be two good or great songs and then suddenly, in the middle of all that, Paul would lay a giant chirpy vaudevillesque stinker and I'd think, "Paul, why you gotta step all over your own talent with this Raffi thing?" Obviously he'd also been involved in writing the two good ones, but we're talking overrated, not "pure shit" here!

Also I have been trying to think of other overrateds but have come up blank. I seriously didn't realize Weller rated that much at all anymore.)

Anonymous said...

It really doesn't need Explaining does it....? Or maybe you're VERY young.... Either way, i genuinely Can't be arsed.

Horse.... i was thinking 'Thrush' could burst back onto the scene with a whole new set of covers....
Let's bring it up to date and perhaps have a crack at Rihanna. (After that, we should get on with learning some songs.)

Rin said...

Awwww I am teasing of course but am genuinely curious what it is I'm not getting, because...well I otherwise share a lot of the same taste as our blogmistress here. I suppose I oughta cease and desist before I scotch the Special Relationship forever and miss my chance to see live Rhianna covers. Do some Ke$ha too.

MagicAlex DJ's said...

whatever happens, we will definitely do Ke$ha.

MD Baxter said...

Ah Ke$ha. Good call. Massively underrated...

I also share a lot of our blogmistress' tastes, but she can be fierce when riled about Macca and i gotta agree.
Keep trying with him though, 'coz...y'know...he's...y'know... great! (Thumbs-up)

MD Baxter said...

i was 'anonymous' by the way.
We love you Rin! keep trying!

Rin said...

Why I love you too. And Ke$ha is a durable talent for sure. But please also cover these guys:

http://vimeo.com/9844050

Rin said...

You can start by studying this:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TLdpmjXgJ0

Rin said...

Not that there's actually any reason for anyone to be checking these comments now that we have agreed that Paul McCartney is lord protector of all pop music on Earth, but a popular website founded by a popular pal o'mine is having a worst-lyrics tournament and I thought I'd pass it on. Because she's my pal. I think they could have found worse lyrics though!

Worst Lyrics of All Time

You will note, Mssr. DJs, that Train are represented. As they should be.

Rin said...

(I should have mentioned the Weller, Lord Protector of massive cuntishness agreement too huh. He is barely even rated here (a sign that you should move?) but I'm down with this. Anyway, I'm not behind all of these lyrical choices but I'm in a procratinatey mood so there yar.)

MagicAlex DJ's said...

I am sat here with my 4 year old daughter watching Yellow Submarine. 'Eleanor Rigby' has just come on and the McCartney is overrated argument has crumbled FOREVER MORE.

Rin said...

Ah, Eleanor Rigby. I actually have a bit of a spiel at the ready about Eleanor Rigby. Here tis: it's a beautiful piece of music but is just so cloying conceptually and lyrically to the point that as a whole...well, I want to love it but I end up just liking it. I do love those strings (and yes, I know they were McCartney's idea! A very good idea). I think on Facebook you mentioned Fool on the Hill as a top-of-noggin example of Mr. Macca's genius, and that's another one that I find falling into the same beautiful-but-off-a-bit ditch (I love all the other ones you listed, btw). Perhaps I'm unable to come at his work as something other than a writer, which is why I'm genuinely curious what real life musicians recognize in his work at the melodic and formal level, stripped of the rest. I'd like to appreciate him more if there's something I'm missing. And I am the most foolishly emotional person on Earth so this is not some snob critic take. Fuck critics. And Paul Weller.

Anyway, I'm sure you know the old "show, don't tell" maxim, and for me McCartney just tells, tells, tells, and then he dumps a full sugarbowl on top as though he doesn't trust that we're getting it. He creates often gorgeous music and then jabs at the air, pointing at things, away from the truly lovely parts of the things he's created. To my ear he mistakes sentimentality for emotion, often even at the level of form, again and again and again. Stop it, Paul! I want to like you, I really, really do. This is how I take much of his good work -- I genuinely don't like the more cutesy tunes even on a musical level. There's a wondrous sort of intuition in great art, across genres, and a song like, say, "Julia" is a blooming bruise of loneliness as loneliness is experienced, as loneliness feels; "Eleanor Rigby" is reportage and sentimentality instead of actual feeling. McCartney points and points and points and never allows himself, or me, a bit of beatitude. Give me my beatiude here, Paul, if I'm gonna try to understand your genius! I'm not just talking about lyrics here; it probably sounds like I am because I'm having a dumb-brained insomnia spell.

"Julia" and "Eleanor Rigby" are two different kinds of loneliness, of course, but for me one is human and one is telling me that humans have feelings. I want to feel it, the whole It. But as I said before I think Astral Weeks is an exquisite, silver-limned thing, so, y'know, different tastes. I do like y'all's tastes. One luv. I love this blog and all its bighearted vinegar, so here's some of mine.

Rin said...

(I did see McCartney in concert once, which was pretty cool. He brought a bunch of his vaudeville numbers along but I will admit I was pretty wonderstruck at "Hey Jude" live. My mom goes by "Jude" because of that song. Her name's Judith. Lord, does she ever love Paul. And while she was carrying me she played me George Harrison solo records every day, which is awfully awesome. And here's some of Paul's Beatles songs I dig a lot, off the top of my head: I Will; For No One; Here, There and Everywhere; I'll Follow the Sun; Helter Skelter (duh); Things We Said Today. Songs you will never, ever be able to make me listen to ever again: Michelle, Rocky Raccoon.

PS insomnia is horrible. I wonder should I get up and fix myself a drink?)

m4sk22 said...

Weller, yes, bobbins, The Clash, glad you have come round to that as you rated them a few months ago, Clapton, a dull bastard and a shit guitarist, anyone can do bluesy ripoffs but can he d Nile Rodgers, no chance...Van Morrison is good and bad, sometimes at the same time. Who was the other one? Oh Springsteen, someone should have drowned him in that sodding river, or strangled him with his shitty bandana.
McCartney is great, but McCartney II is not the best, you need to listen to the subversive artiness of the songs like "Simply Having a stoned dump all over your Xmas TOTP time" and "let em in (to the sound of my plodding Berlin doom cabaret)" to really understand how he was subtly corrupting his own legend.
The Doors are underrated because of the snobism of music journalists who were less pretty and talented than the band, and they hammered Jim Morrison for supposed pretentiousness when he was anything but, he was way too loaded to be artificial, he really was tripping off his nut on super strong acid for most of the late 60s.

Rin said...

I love that finally signing in on various blogs allows me to know when people have commented! Usually I just start revisiting blogs when I can't sleep. Hello, David. Fancy meeting you somewhere I directed to you because I can't...fucking...sleep. Anyhoo, I don't even read music journalism (the music mag I used to edit/am somehow the film editor for (even though I don't actually do anything) doesn't run criticism -- it just runs joyful pop devotionals and reps the rightful freaks, because if you're not losing your head over music and art you're doing something deeply wrong in this life). Honestly I don't even know what the tiresome critical class thinks of the Doors. Is everyone down on them now? I had no idea. I only know growing up in middle America with Doors bloviators everywhere...people barfin on about their brilliance. I posted the Hermenaut thing because beneath the Doors stuff it's a great examination of the legacy of the self-adoring middle-class trip-on-your-own-shit 60s, and Doors worship in America often takes that form. Either way, Morrison has always struck me as too tame for his legend. I keep comin up on the wrong side of public opinion here, eh? This is odd because I kinda agree with everything else on this here blog.

I have never considered that Simply Horking a Wonderful Christmastime might be straight-up subversive!! Is this also subversive? Because I hope it is!

"Freedom" at the Super Bowl, 2001

That's the same Super Bowl at which this happened, not that it's McCartney's fault:

CLINK FOR THE UNDISPUTED WORST

(I don't actually watch the Super Bowl, btw. I kinda hate even typing the words "super bowl.")

Rin said...

Errr the McCartney performance is from 2002, as it says in the title of the damn video. Durr. Also, I never got the "Boss" thing but once I was old enough to understand that Springsteen had done a bit more than the unbearable sax rock of my childhood (and...bandanas, yes -- unbearable bandanas), I appreciated him a bit more. Definitely not boss but I wouldn't put him in my personal top five. He did some decent despond-rock, and "Born in the USA" is itself awfully subversive. I've written several essays about it and it features heavily in my novel, so I'm biased from listening to it too much (David, I've actually been working on my book again this week! F'real!); basically this whole lost country misinterpreted that song as a patriotic anthem, unable to even hear the lyrics, and then Ronald Reagan used it for his re-election theme song, cutting out all the verses and just looping the bitterest of choruses in order to make it into a patriotic singsong. The cultural weirdness of it elevates it a bit for me.

This is not to say that I don't think he's overrated, cuz he is. So, so much.

m4sk22 said...

I think McCartney is a pile of steaming logs really, Temporary Secretary is a dreadful thing, what was he thinking of, the knob! For me the really good McCartney songs are the obviously shit ones like "Simply Xmas shat" etc because of the bizarre arrangements and general stonedness.
It is Wings though, and there were more than one Wing. The Beatles are dreadfully overrated for some things and underrated for others, I always thought they sounded a bit twee and quaint in their pretensions, as they transformed from hard gigging scousers to London Luvvies. It is a fascinating transformation too, but lets give some respect to their surroundings, they were not in a bubble, they were part of a milieu and were very rich, and had a lot of money spent on their records which made them seem better than they were, because they could buy the headlines.
Anyway, Nile Rodgers! he shits on the lot of them.

m4sk22 said...

Sorry that last comment was meant to say, McCartney II is a pile of steaming logs, but on reflection it is not so bad, by the time I had finished writing it I was thinking about Paul Weller who, when juxtaposed with, can make anything shine. Forgive me Macca. What about the women! Linda was a big influence on Macca's genius too, she was a prt of that, for me genius is collective anyway.

Rin said...

David, since you tend to indulge my sad insomniac poking-around activities with great kindness you oughta explain the native cuntishness of Weller to me because he is just...this distant figure of total boredom in my world. I want to understand his crimes. And since we're both self-employed art-schmuck types we can afford to have an impromptu Cunt Symposium, yes?

m4sk22 said...

As for Jim Morrison. He seems to be much more appreciated over here as we are not American so his brand of Americana was not meaningful, so we could see the icon and get off on the tunes without getting sidetracked by the references or the legend. There are a great amount of artists over here who consider The Doors as hugely influential. I think the backlash against Jim Morrison is something that gets repeated like chinese whispers by journalists who are like musicians, jamming on a riff that maybe someone like Lester bangs started up, and the same happened to Bowie; and Scott Walker, and many other good looking singers whose lyrical content was more than wanting to be a dog.

Rin said...

I'm gonna quote some stuff I was just telling you, Mssr Moss:

Springsteen is kind of our Billy Bragg. I'm not proud of this but his continuing relevance is due to there being very few people acknowledged by the culture at large who write socially conscious music in that tradition.

...

Since I've been an adult Springsteen has kinda been handed the 21 Century Woody Guthrie crown.

...

Here's a legitimately beautiful Springsteen song about the murder of Amaou Diallo, an African immigrant who was shot 41 times by the NYPD, unarmed, when they claimed they mistook his wallet for a weapon. You've probably heard it/heard of Diallo, and it doesn't absolve Springsteen of everything, but over the years he has been accepted as a kind of mainstream figure of social-justice ideas, and this song does make me weep when I hear it because I lived in New York during this time, so it's quite raw:

American Skin

I'm sort of curious now as to whether the incredible bitter ugliness of "Born in the USA" registered in the UK (probably more likely to than here) just because I've written so much about it as a phenomenon. I was a little kid when it came out but it's a memorable instance of a furious, anti-systemic song disguised as an anthem slipping into the public consciousness and becoming its own anthem.

...

I remember being in Times Square when the (Diallou) verdict came down and watching the news on one of the big screens that crawls across the buildings there -- I was just weeping, just weeping, as I just happened to be on my way elsewhere when the verdict came in, and then a news crew showed up and suddenly there were dozens of people who hadn't been there minutes earlier, pretending to care in order to be on television. It was just devastating, and no matter how annoying Springsteen is that song just destroys me. Just the worst, worst crime.

Born in the USA is also quite painful to me, which is why I wonder if its intent registered any more clearly abroad than it did here. When I was a kid I thought it was a mindless Reaganite patriot anthem, and its being a critical statement didn't hit me until years later -- and I think the majority of people here still haven't realized it.

Born in the USA, like anyone needs reminding...but "they're still there, he's all gone" was quite the subversive lyric in 1984

Neither of these songs erase the Springsteen bandanna but as a dumb American I find them very difficult to hear, and that's more than I can say for any Clapton sing no matter how much crap saxrock this dude has produced (a lot).

Rin said...

Oh and that's from the same time period as "Freedom." Rotten times to live in NYC.

Rin said...

(The song about Amadou Diallo, obvz. Insomnia.)

m4sk22 said...

Good Stuff Rin! I am reaching for "The Boss" records now.
What I have noticed, quite obviously, apart from my mention of Linda, it is all about the boys...
I am scatman here but someone has to be, ideas shouldn't be tethered and opinions can be formless, so I think McCartney is both over and underrated. I can't disagree with Dean's choices in the original article and if I had the time I would like to add my own list of overrated artists. We have discussed the underrated Roy Wood before, and even though he is badly rated I find him hard to listen to sometimes? Why is this? I realise it is just him, his voice and his wonky face make his records seem worse than they are. He wrote a song for his girlfriend of the time Ayshea and it is marvellous, yet unmistakeably Roy Wood.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m60-Lf05Bv0

Overrated? for me, Patti Smith. She did some cool things at times but the way she is held aloft as this punk icon of feminist poetry as if there was nothing like her before (or since) is balderdash! I think of the many, many great female poets connected with the Black Power movement like Camille Yarborough, Sarah Webster Fabio, Wanda Robinson, who were not just writing about themselves, but about a collective empowerment that was moving and intensely feminine and has been obscured by mainstream music history. http://youtu.be/oHaqcEdgs2A
Saying all that, Piss Factory is ace!

Rin said...

Patti Smith is a good one! I like her critic-approved Classic Albums a bunch but she does seem to get all the accolades as though there is only space for one artist of that sort. Mainstream music history can suck my left one.

Dear lord, revisiting my insomniac ramblings I hope no one thinks I'm some sort of Springsteen partisan. He's just...well it's sad that our self-crowned Baby Guthrie is a guy who forced so much sax jamming and bandana sweat into the world, because I kinda can't be bothered to investigate whether he deserves to be spanked or not.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with some of your brickbats but good for you - hating artists who have vast armies of fawning fans is a necessary part of being properly into music. But yeah Clapton, what a welly-top, a man utterly bereft of talent, wit, intelligence and a vile racist too.