Aversion Vinyl

Some of the weirdest and worst albums still to make their digital debuts

Believe it or not, some audiophiles weren't immendiately captivated by the sleek look and pristine sound of the compact disc. Some of them actually held off on buying a CD player well into the Ninties!

Close your eyes, if you will,, and imagine such a creature - waving his arms in front a wall unit brimming with thousands of LP's. howling, "They're never going to put out all of this stuff on those damn space-age mini-Frisbees!"

That may have been true back in '86, when the only titles available on CD were new releases and classic-rock touchstones like Dark Side of the Moon and Led Zeppelin II, both of which had to be digitally remastered twice because somebody botched the first batch. Boooooo, tape hiss!

But now it's a different world--one in which every classic Frank Zappa and Partridge Family album is readily available on compact disc. And since the lion's share of significant or even mildly noteworthy rock albums has seen at least one digital transfer, there's little left for record companies to reissue but utter crap.

For example, only the most masochistic Beatles fans are running out to buy Ringo Starr's Sentimental Journey on CD. When the album first came out on vinyl in 1970, Ringo told an aghast rock press, "I did it for me mum." One can only imagine Mrs. Starkey's inner struggle to keep from braining her son with a rolling pin as he played her his wholesale butcherings of "Night and Day" and "Stardust."

Truly, the record companies are starting to scoop the dregs of their vaults. But they haven't hit bottom yet! From the Osmond family's one and only glam-metal record to Sonny and Cher picking at the carcass of their marriage in a Las Vegas lounge act, here are some of the oddest, most awful albums ever made. None of them has found its way to compact disc yet, but, after perusing this litany of horror, you may want to trade in your CD changer for a minidisc player just to be on the safe side.

S/Sgt. Barry Sadler
Ballads of the Green Berets
(1966)

Truly a case where "This ain't rock 'n' roll--this is genocide" directly applies.

The jacket copy for Ballads of the Green Berets says that "fighting men have sung their songs since the dawn of civilization." That may be so, but never has a fighting man sung about an unpopular "police action" in such loving detail--with fuzz bass in the background, no less! Sadler does everything but spray napalm on his rock audience to glorify the Vietnam war experience (the record's title song actually hit the top of the pop charts in February 1966).

Despite Sadler's tightlipped Aryan visage on the cover, this LP has its lighter moments--"Garret Trooper" pokes fun at nancy boys with spit-shined boots ("Whenever he leaves that nice soft garrison, he always looks pretty"), while "Saigon" has a "girl with almond-shaped eyes" rolling a besotted special-forces officer for some Yankee greenbacks. Sadler penned his war-torn ballads while recovering from a leg wound he received after falling into a Viet Cong "man trap" and getting skewered by a poisoned bamboo spear like a human hors d'oeuvre. Two inches to the right and he would've become S/Sgt. Barry Gibb!

No wonder Sadler titled one of his songs "I'm a Lucky One," an "Oh Lonesome Me" sound-alike that anticipates postcombat traumatic stress syndrome: Sadler keeps waking in terror to the sound of crashing mortars and the grim realization that "all my friends are dead." Why did they die, Barry? "Answering freedom's call."

Back in the real world, this fearless balladeer shot a civilian to death in a 1978 bar fight. Say your prayers, peacenik.

Bobbie Gentry
Ode to Billie Joe
(1967)

Hands down the scariest, bad-trippiest album released in the Summer of Love. Not even Syd Barrett could top this record's flipped-out title cut, where Ms. Gentry plays a cheap-sounding guitar and recounts backwoods memories while Twilight Zone strings keep darting out from behind bushes to spook you. Even worse, every song on this album is indistinguishable from the odorous "Ode." Who knows how many Chickasaw country flower children hurled themselves off the Tallahatchie Bridge after dropping acid to this recurring nightmare of an LP?

Sonny and Cher
Sonny and Cher Live!
(1971)

Most people will tell you that Shoot Out the Lights is the definitive disintegration-of-a-marriage album, but even Richard and Linda Thompson had enough decorum to keep "your mother is so fat" jokes to themselves. "We throw a sheet over your mother and show movies," Cher snickers to a tanked-up Las Vegas crowd. Touch!

Sonny works in his dirty digs during "The Beat Goes On." "Nothing goes on after the show," he says. "She doesn't move that way offstage." And later: "She not only has headaches, she tells me what time they're coming."

Speaking of headaches, also missing among the digital archives is the excruciating Two the Hard Way, Cher and Gregg Allman's sole collaboration (aside from their son Elijah Blue). Two's only redeeming feature is its laughable cover art--a photo of a totally zonked-out Allman plonked on top of a perfectly coifed Cher. The shot looks like the photographer stashed Gregg's dope in Cher's bustier. Not surprisingly, that particular celebrity union barely outlasted Two the Hard Way's playing time.

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