There's a scene in the film High Fidelity where Barry (played by Jack Black) asks Rob (played by John Cusack) if the latter day "sins" of a musician nullify their earlier career achievements/succeses. He was referring specifically to Stevie Wonder asking if a musical atrocity like I Just Called to Say I Love You suddenly made null and void the brilliance of material like Songs in the Key of Life. That's just an example of course... With that in mind what do you feel are some of the most egregious musical offenses of great bands?
Here are some of the more profoundly putrid musical atrocities perpetrated on the public by some of rock's most preferred performers:
Emerson Lake & Palmer - Love Beach
How could they do this to us?! How could the same group that gave us such brilliant albums as Tarkus and Brain Salad Surgery inflict this fetid festering pile of musical dung upon us? And please don't feed me a line about "contractual obligations" as there are other ways to get around that than to scar the eardrums of their fans and leave such a fecal stain on their otherwise brilliant legacy.
Chicago - 25 or 6 to 4 (1986)
I actually heard THIS version first. Having never heard the original version up to that point. I kind of liked it. Then I heard the original and it begged the question, "Huh?" Meaning, "How the hell could they do this to themselves?" David Foster resurrected Chicago from their abysmally bad late 70s material and gave them a renaissance of sorts with Chicago 16 and 17... And then Peter Cetera leaves, Foster sticks around for one more album and I've heard that this remake was actually HIS idea... If it ain't broke... don't fix it. The only good thing I'll say about this remake is that it's better suited to Peter's replacement, Jason Scheff's voice than the original. If I have to hear Jason Scheff sing 25 or 6 to 4 I'd much rather hear him sing this remake than try to sing the original.
Blood Sweat & Tears - Sympathy For the Devil
It takes stones to cover the Stones and cover them well. David Clayton-Thomas & Co. did not have said stones to pull it off. The greatest mistake BS&T ever made was firing Al Kooper and replacing him with David Clayton-Thomas. While they briefly recaptured the brilliance of Child Is Father to the Man with their self-titled follow-up subsequent albums showed what a mistake DCT was... And nothing put it on display more than BS&T's abysmal cover of Sympathy for the Devil.
The Who - Live @ the Super Bowl
Some musicians age well, some actually even get better with age. Pete can still play a mean guitar but as much as I love The Who's early catalog, Daltrey's voice is now shot. Please please please don't tarnish my memories of how great Roger once sounded by making me listen to how poor he sounds today by comparison. Not to mention, to me it's just not The Who any more without John and Keith.
Styx - Cyclorama
Styx put out a halfway decent album in 1999, Brave New World. I'd argue that it hearkens back to their pre-Kilroy Was Here days. Then Dennis DeYoung was forced out/fired/let go/whatever. In 2003 with Tommy Shaw steering the Styx ship and DeYoung replaced by Lawrence Gowan they released this flat, bland, uninspired piece of crap-- Cyclorama. I gave it a chance, I really did but it was unoffensive and boring. Without DeYoung's contributions the only thing this album excelled at was its own mediocrity.
I know Chicago already made the list once, but this album deserves at least a dishonourable mention. This was Chicago's foray into disco just as it was coming OUT of vogue. The only shining star on this album is guest trumpeter, Maynard Ferguson's killer trumpet work on Street Player. The band was a generally coked up mess still coping with the death of guitarist Terry Kath. And while he performed at least respectably on Hot Streets (aka XII), guitarist Donnie Dacus was at best a disappointment and at worst a downright embarassment on XIII. This was Chicago's rock bottom.
What albums/songs/moments/etc. would make your list? Do you think when once great bands release real lemons it tarnishes their legacy? Why or why not? And to Barry's (Jack Black) corollary question-- is it better to burn out or fade away?