Let me qualify this: The 4 worst songs by two artists that have clearly shown (or will soon show) that they are capable of much better work, and for whatever reason, have either phoned it in or have just released crap for the fun of it. In no particular order:
1. and 2.
One of the great prog bands of all time was Gentle Giant, which was formed from the ashes of the faux soul/psych pop of Simon Dupree and the Big Sound. It used to perplex me how the Schulman Brothers could have taken part in such a soulless, empty-headed version of 60’s pop (try to glean the message from “Thinking About My Life” – there really isn’t one, even though all the words seem to make sense on first listen). If you’re a fan of GG, take a listen to the first few tracks of their “Under Construction” comp from 1997. Recorded between SDatBS and the GG we all know as a sort of audition for Vertigo in 1970, tracks like “Freedom’s Child” and “Weekend Cowboy” are stately, almost earthy performances. Kind of like Bacharach meets The Band. It’s too bad, on one hand, that they didn’t keep going in that direction. As it was, their melodies and arrangements got more and more angular as the years went on, culminating in the hard-to-get-all-the-way-through “Interview”, sounding like Zappa in places, 10 CC in others. Seeing that this was a commercial dead-end, and possibly the end of the marketability of prog in general, they reverted to cold calculation for “The Missing Piece”. “Bet You Thought We Couldn’t Do It” reads like the barroom dare of a drunk old man more than a statement of intent or boldness. Just about every prog band would make the same mistake in the late 70’s, but GG’s sad descent makes me wonder which of these bands was the genuine article. Without Kerry Minnear, would GG have become prog at all? It’s impossible to say, but given the fact that GG were utterly unrecognizable by the end of their run (with the exact same players that they had during their heyday) I tend to think that they swayed a little less grudgingly than their peers, which is a bad thing. I can’t even listen to their greatest works now without thinking of their every move as an attempt to ride a wave.
3. The Hollies Medley (1981)
This is a horrible slap in the face of a once great legacy. It wasn’t the first time The Hollies had tried to cash in on past glories, but it was the worst. Their album “What Goes Around” featured a tepid reworking of the old warhorse “Stop! In The Name Of Love”, which they retitled without the exclaimation point. Which was ironic, as they had sucked the exclaimation point out of the song entirely. Many tried and failed, but The Hollies circa 1983 succeeded. Here’s (4.) that imcomprehensible, saddening video off their album “What Goes Around…”