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Terrible Songs From Brilliant Albums, Part 4

Even masterpieces can have imperfections. Sometimes those flaws contrast the overall brilliance, paradoxically elevating the greatness of the piece. Or sure, sometimes, the missteps are just blemishes on an otherwise great work of art, nothing more. (In plain English: sometimes shit songs end up on great albums.) Either way, it can sometimes be fun to point out the pineapple chunk that somehow got on your pizza.* That’s been the theme for these “Terrible Songs From Great Albums” articles. In each of the first three installments, I cited examples of bad songs on some of my all-time favorite albums, then dealt with the backlash.** While this might seem like a cynical exercise in snark, it’s meant to be a labor of love.

Check out the earlier TSFBA articles here:

This time around, I’ve asked three of 21st Century Metal’s big thinkers to join me in showing tough love for our favorites. My deepest gratitude and respect to Nathan Carson, Michael Brandvold, and Giles Lavery, for their insightful, witty contributions. I knew I’d get good stuff from each of them, but their responses exceeded my expectations.

None of these guys need me to protect them, so I’ll only say this: Giles, Nathan, and Michael all participated at my invitation. Go ahead and disagree (I do in a few cases below), but be cool. Be offended by their selections, if you must, but don’t give them crap. Remember that we all love the bands and albums we call out; our disdain is just for these specific songs. And if any of these selections offend you, oh, I ‘m sorry, but maybe you need to be offended. . . Just remember that these are the opinions of the article contributors, not necessarily those of the Metal Hall.

Here we go. Terrible Songs From Great Albums – Part IV:

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Giles Lavery: Bon Jovi – Social Disease – Slippery When Wet. Relative terms, of course, I always thought that Slippery When Wet by Bon Jovi is a classic album, and the song, “Social Disease” was utter b-side material, with its Rock n’ Roll horn section and all that. Especially when the actual real b-side was “Edge of a Broken Heart,” which should have been on the album in place of “Social Disease.” It’s a great song. And it wasn’t on Slippery When Wet; instead they chose “Social Disease,” which I think was real filler, b-side material. It sounded like a throwaway jam song. So that for me is an otherwise unanimously classic album that sold a zillion copies, marred only by the presence of “Social Disease.”

Make no mistake, Giles Lavery is one of the prime movers in the Metal scene today, as the Label President with Bravewords Records, an artist manager, a frequent panelist for The Metal Voice, and the powerhouse lead vocalist for numerous bands. He’s currently on tour with Alcatrazz, and can be heard on the 2024 Warlord release, “Free Spirit Soar” from High Roller Records https://www.facebook.com/OfficialWarlord. (It’s a kickass album! – Jack)

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Michael Brandvold: Kiss – I Still Love You – Creatures of the Night. This song just never gets going. Makes me feel like I’m walking through thick sludge and not getting anywhere. Ugh, I always skip it.

Michael Brandvold: Kiss – A Million To One – Lick It Up. I realize this is a very personal song for Paul, but it really just hits me the wrong way. Feels so whiny. Another one I always skip.

Michael Brandvold: Kiss – Within – Psycho Circus. What is this doing on the Psycho Circus album? It belongs on Carnival of Souls which is an album that is entirely unlistenable. Skip!

Michael Brandvold: Kiss – Burn Bitch Burn – Animalize. Simply the most embarrassing lyrics, “Let me put my log in your fireplace.” Did Gene put all of 5 seconds into writing this song?

Michael Brandvold is a freelance music marketing consultant based in Northern California. He launched Michael Brandvold Marketing over a decade ago album release and tour marketing as well as online & social media management, e-commerce and fan acquisition and retention. Gene Simmons of KISS first tapped Michael’s skills as a pioneering online marketing strategist to launch and manage all aspects of Kissonline.com’s multi-million dollar enterprise, including their ground-breaking VIP ticket program.

Michael has also managed the online efforts for many artists including Foghat, Biohazard, W.A.S.P., Accept, Dream Theater, Greg Kihn, Little Caeser, Motley Crüe, Rod Stewart, Madonna, Ozzy Osbourne, Madonna and Britney Spears to name only a few.

Michael released his first ebook, KISS School of Marketing: 11 Lessons Learned While Working with KISS. He is also the founder and cohost of the following podcasts; The Music Biz Weekly and Three Sides of the Coin.

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Jack Mangan: Megadeth – Liar – So Far, So Good… So What! I love this album. You have four all-time greats, two good songs, one meh song, and . . . “Liar.”

. . .

That’s if “Liar” even counts as a song. A decent intro riff gives a brief glimmer of hope, but then the rest just devolves into an a-musical mess, featuring an inane chorus and a spew of silly third-grade insults at former Megadeth guitarist, Chris Poland. Mercifully, “Liar” only lasts 3:21. I wonder if Dave Mustaine went into the studio and said, “Don’t worry, it won’t last long. Just lie back and think of Poland.” Mustaine/Ellefson are both credited as songwriters, but they couldn’t even be bothered to compose an ending; “Liar” cuts abruptly short, leading directly into the amazing album closer: “Hook in Mouth.”

Man, this is the second-stupidest “Liar” song of all time.***

(I kid! I kid Henry Rollins. . .)


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Nathan Carson: Styx – The Plexiglass Toilet – The Serpent is Rising

Okay, first off, I know what you’re thinking. “Styx isn’t a goddamn metal band!”

Well, I’ll agree with you there. However, like the musical output of Ozzy, ZZ Top, and the Scorpions in the 1970s, that decade was a special time for the Chicago quintet, and their proclivities for writing really heavy songs about wizards and crystal balls proves it.

Aside from a few killer title tracks like “Man Of Miracles” (1974) and “Crystal Ball” (1976) on otherwise lightweight albums, the nearly flawless proto-metal classic in Styx’s catalog is third album The Serpent Is Rising (1973). You don’t believe this record slays? Just start with the opening track, “Witch Wolf” and get ready to be slapped upside the head by a riff that could easily be on a Nazareth or Uriah Heep record from around the same time.

Check out the original cover art, too. There’s a cobra staring straight at you from some kind of weird diorama that would have made an ace View-Master slide. Or maybe it depicts the raddest vintage Smithsonian exhibit that begs you to hop the velvet rope and hide until the lights go out and security locks the doors.

Still not convinced? Styx’s light-in-the-loafers former front man Dennis DeYoung called The Serpent Is Rising: “one of the worst recorded and produced in the history of music.” I guess he hasn’t listened to Kilroy Is Here lately.

If you like Sad Wings of Destiny by Judas Priest, Fly To the Rainbow by Scorpions, Rush’s Fly By Night, or any of the early Queen albums, you are going to find a lot to love on The Serpent Is Rising.

Despite its many layers of vocal harmonies “Young Man” rocks with the best of them. The album’s title track is an absolutely standout. And if you’ve got the right amount of THC in your system, the album closer “Krakatoa/Hallelujah Chorus” will take you from inner space to outer space. George Lucas even licensed the audio sound effect from this tune to make it the theme for his THX technology. Listen to “Krakatoa” from the one-minute mark on and you’ll levitate to the ceiling.

Sure, there’s light and shade on the album. Some acoustic moments, some boogie, but it’s all solid as a rock… aside from one execrable exception.

I don’t think any album I own is as strong as The Serpent Is Rising, while including one absolutely garbage tune, but here it is. The band even titled the overarching track, “As Bad As This”…

After three minutes and 45 seconds of acoustic balladry, they subject undeserving listeners to a goofy, tongue-in-cheek calypso joint entitled “The Plexiglas Toilet.” The lyrics are about exactly that. It’s clearly a drug-inspired joke that made it onto analog tape, but should never have been pressed to vinyl.

Sure, it was excerpted and played on the Dr. Demento radio show, and Weird Al is reportedly a huge fan. But that is where this track should begin and end, on a novelty program, not as part of proto-metal masterpiece. Pee-yew.

Nathan Carson was raised on a goat farm in the backwoods of Mid-Valley Oregon but has called Portland home since 1997. He is an accomplished author, music journalist, booking agent, FM radio DJ, internationally touring and recording heavy metal drummer, an active member of the Horror Writer’s Association, and a MOTH StorySlam Champion. A founding member of doom metal institution Witch Mountain, Carson is currently the live drummer of The Keening. And though his toilet seat is candy apple red, it is completely opaque. More information at www.nathancarson.rocks

 

Jack Mangan is best known in the Metal world as lead author/project runner for the “Am I Evil?” graphic novel, as a journalist with MetalAsylum.net and the official Metal Hall of Fame. and also as co-host of the popular (sporadic these days) Metal Hall of Fame and MetalAsylum.net livestreams with Rich Catino. He’s made a few guest appearances as a panelist on The Metal Voice. In an adjacent life, he was a podcast pioneer, with numerous appearances on Technorama, Dragon Page, Escape Pod/Pseudopod, and many others, including his own productions: Jack Mangan’s Deadpan, and the Podcast novel, “Spherical Tomi.” Friend him on Facebook if you can find him, but be warned: he’s not great about checking Facebook Messenger.

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*Some of you enjoy pineapple on your pizza. I know. I forgive you.

**The backlash was friendly and good-natured.

***Dave Mustaine and David Ellefson – – and Henry Rollins – – are all brilliant in their own ways.

Disclaimer: These articles are meant to document and comment on important aspects of Heavy Metal’s broad and diverse history. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the official Metal Hall of Fame. No mention of any artist should be misconstrued as an indication of intent to induct or deny admittance to the Metal Hall of Fame. We’re not dropping hints here, folks. There will be official press releases when new inductees are ready to be announced.

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