16th July 2008
A new concept in Spirit of SSL, this was the compilation where everyone was invited to choose music that they feel guilty about liking -- so it's hardly surprising that so much of it is poo.
The Copper Family - Good Ale
Despite the lack of any actual good qualities, I can't help sort of liking this. A few days ago, I found myself humming it to myself while driving. Despite lines like "If my wife should me despise / How soon I'd give her two black eyes", there is, somehow, something good-spirited about it. Weird. 6/10
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five - The Message
Do we even allow rap on these compilations? SSL old-timers will remember building the ROCKnROM product, and all its icons representing the various genres of music, each named for some reason by the name of the genre prefixed by the letter "c". How very appropriate. Like all rap, this grows gradually more intolerable as it progresses, so that what starts out as a novelty song no more objectionable than, say, that thing by Keith Harris and Orville; but by the time we're two minutes in, it's become all but unbearable. A punishment to listen to. 1/10
Rod Stewart - Sailing
A truly bizarre choice. It's strange to think that there was a time when Rod Stewart was a respected singer, when now one mostly thinks of Sunday Mirror exclusives and that Scottish World Cup song that somehow contrived to be even more embarrassing than Ally's Army. Whatever respect Stewart might have earned earlier in his career was systematically dismantled by, among other things, Sailing. 2/10
Billy Bragg - The World Turned Upside Down
See Waiting For The Great Leap Forwards. 1.5/10
Level 42 - Lessons in Love
You know all those reviews in Melody Maker that used to begin with sentiments like "Sometimes you feel -- or hope -- that the whole of the 70s was just a bad dream"? That's how I feel about the 80s. What a wasteland. Since the Spirit of SSL series has already used the only eighties band that's actually worth remembering, I suppose this is a not-too-bad scraping from the top of a decidely unwholesome barrel. 5/10
Elton John - I'm Still Standing
It's hard to remember that there was an Elton John back in the days before he became an Elton John parody act, and hard to forgive him for what he did to his own pre-parody-era Candle in the Wind, but I suppose this is still a pretty good song. 6/10
George Michael - I Want Your Sex (Parts 1 and 2)
Wholly contemptible. 0/10
(Later: and so darned long.)
The Monkees - I'm a Believer
My own selection, and if I remember rightly from the launch party a very popular one -- so much so that some people complained that it was ineligible because of not being "guilty" enough. I suppose I'd better justify this by pointing out what a truly horribly contrived thing the Monkees were -- the most transparent possible attempt to cash in on the popularity of the Beatles' films, assembled from auditions primarily on the basis of who would look good. All the more astonishing, then, that they actually ended up recording some storming songs, "pop" in the best sense of the word, of which I'm a Believer is just one. I'm a sucker for its straightforward joyfulness, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.
It's also less than a third as long as I Want Your Sex. 9/10
Survivor - Broken Promises
It's become a matter of some astonishment to me that Sacha manages to hit exactly the same target so consistently. There could never have been the slightest doubt that this was his selection. There's actually not much to object to here, but it's instantly forgettable. 5/10
The Cambridge Singers - I Know Where I'm Going
Quite the change of pace. I struggle to wrap my head around this, so I am going to wimp out and give it 5/10
Meatloaf - Paradise By The Dashboard Light
What on earth is there to be guilty about? This is a stone cold classic, one of the all-time great rock-'n'-roll songs, and a comedy masterpiece in its spare time. Even now, having heard it more times than I can count, I still find myself laughing out loud every time Meat goes into the "Let me sleep on it" section. 10/10
Bobby Vinton - Blue Velvet
Well, now, wasn't that special? 6/10
The Hollies - The Times They Are A-Changin'
This must be one of the most ill-advised covers ever. It would be a bit like the Carpenters covering Wild Thing. And yet, it sort of works. Sort of. And I suppose anything would be better than Dylan's original. 4/10
John Stainer - Litany of the Passion
See I Know Where I'm Going. 5/10
Berri - Sunshine After the Rain
Starts out as a rip-off, er, an homage to Donna Summer's I Feel Love, yet with all that was distinctive and interesting about that song's opening ripped out. That's the good part. It becomes almost unlistenable when the vocal1 comes in. Why would anyone perpetrate something like this? Really, why? Why? 2/10
The Fratellis - Chelsea Dagger
I'm so relieved that Sunshine After the Rain has finished that I am going to award this a completely undeserved seven. It does at least have the merit of being very, very distinctive. It's hard to believe it was only released in 2006 -- it absolutely reeks of the mid 1970s. 7/10.
Dick Van Dyke & Sally Ann Howes - Doll on a Music Box, Truly Scrumptious
One hardly knows what to say. 6/10
The average score comes to 4.74, which, surprisingly, is not the lowest ever: it's beaten into second place by volume 4, which scored only 4.56 points.
Note 1. If you want to call it that.