Aversion Vinyl

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

Elton John
Victim of Love
1979

Most people blame Elton's admission of bisexuality for his commercial fall from grace, but it was really records like this one that trashed the Crocodile Rocker's rep. Elton must've lost his prescription glasses the week Victim was recorded. Why else would he willfully enter a studio to lay down an album's worth of tunes written by Donna Summer's co-producer Peter Bellotte, and a nine-minute disco version of "Johnny B. Goode"? Elton B. Bad. Berry, Berry bad.

The Osmonds
Crazy Horses
(1972)

So reviled are the Osmonds that, to this day, no oldies station will touch them, and you can't even find a "Best of" disc on the racks. We're talking nothing on CD--no camp classics like Donny and Marie's Goin' Coconuts soundtrack or Love Me for a Reason, the cover of which has the Osmond brothers preening in pimp wear like five vanilla versions of Huggy Bear.

Surely, however, an exception to the ban on digital Osmonds could be made for Crazy Horses, the first long player where the morons, er, Mormons had complete artistic control. And what did they do with their newfound power? They invented glam metal! In Chuck Eddy's head-banger reference tome Stairway to Hell/The 500 Best Heavy Metal Albums in the Universe, Crazy Horses comes in at "Number 66.6," just ahead of Motrhead's Orgasmatron and Black Sabbath's Master of Reality.

Aside from offering the best love advice around ("Hold her tight but hold her like a baby"), "Hold Her Tight" appropriates (hey, Mormons don't steal) the riff from Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song," features a talk box four years before Peter Frampton took credit for inventing it, and sparkles with horns like a latter-day Aerosmith.

Another unrecognized cut of classic Osmond metal is "Hey Mr. Taxi," in which the brothers rev up the power chords and actually get belligerent toward their "wacky" cabbie ("Think you've got a heavy shoe yeah/Mercy, crazy driver, how did I get stuck with you?"). Play it backward and you can almost hear Donny chanting, "Sweet Satan, bring me the head of Tito Jackson."

John Lennon and Yoko Ono
Unfinished Music No. 2/Life With the Lions
(1969)

The entire trilogy of the Lennons' avant-garde albums is unavailable in digital. With good reason. The couple seemed intent on chronicling every waking moment of their early years together--including the tragic ones. The front cover of Unfinished Music No. 2 is a grim shot of John at Yoko's bedside just after she miscarried. The record inside is an even bigger bummer--five minutes of the actual "Baby's Heartbeat" are followed by "Two Minutes of Silence." McCartney this ain't. One wonders--if the downer duo had stayed on this morbid jag until John Lennon's death, would Yoko have had the temerity to record the sound of her husband's cremation and release it as a single?

Elvis Presley
Having Fun Onstage With Elvis
(1974)

Sure, you can get most of the God-awful Elvis soundtracks like Girl Happy and Harum Scarum on two-fer CDs, but not this travesty billed as a "talking only" album. Evidently, Having Fun Onstage With Elvis translates to suffering through 40-plus minutes of scintillating sound bites like "Where was I?" and "I got my scarf caught in my mouth."

The King wasn't even dead yet when this stinker was released, so it lacks the posthumous excuse of Elvis Sings for Kids and Grownups Too!. The centerpiece of that sing-along album is Elvis' version of "Old MacDonald," on which he genially obliges every "oink, oink," "moo, moo" and "cluck, cluck" the ditty demands. Not to be missed.

The Doors
Other Voices
(1972)

Full Circle
(1973)

Of course, everything Jimbo ever did is available on disc, including his crappy poem fest An American Prayer. But the two albums the Door Stops made without their Lizard King have been swept under the rug. Thank God. It's rather frightening to see the familiar Doors logo on the label of a record that has Robby Krieger singing "I'm Horny, I'm Stoned" and Ray Manzarek fashioning a boogie showpiece called "Get Up and Dance" that comes complete with girlie singers. If Mr. Mojo ever does rise again, he'll probably take one listen to this horror show and head for the nearest half-filled bathtub.

Richard Simmons
Reach
(1982)

Beach Boy Brian Wilson once toyed with the idea of cutting a physical fitness album, but it was left to the world's most annoying talk-show guest to come up with rock's first "exercise album for the ears."

Reach is nothing less than Stuart Smalley's disco inferno, an album pickled with sticky self-affirmations like "You're much too smart to break your heart" and "No one means more than you this time."

Simmons' voice lies somewhere in the uncomfortable spectrum between Frankie Valli and Carol Channing, and the manual that accompanies this album is not for the weak of stomach, as it contains 226 action poses of Simmons imitating a Leo Sayer inflatable sex doll.

Bob Dylan
Dylan
(1973)

In 1970, Dylan released Self Portrait, an inexplicable double set of reject songs that included miserable cover versions of Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell tunes. Bad as it was, however, Portrait was nothing compared to Dylan--Columbia Records' revenge for his jumping ship to the Asylum label in 1973. Among the lowlights on this album of abysmal outtakes is Dylan's painful reading of Elvis' "Can't Help Falling in Love," in which he seems to drift in and out of consciousness like he's anticipating the King's last concert. Surely one of the terms of Dylan's return to Columbia in 1975 was to see the master tapes for this embarrassment smoldering in a Dumpster.

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