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The Living Strings
Music to Help You Stop Smoking (born 1964)

Hot on the heels of surgeon general Luther Terry's 1964 finding on the dangers of smoking came this, the most absurd of the Living Strings' "music to do something by" series. Of course, what instrumental songs like "Clair de lune" and "Yellow Bird" have to do with staving off lung cancer is inconsequential -- it's the liner notes that make the persuasive pitch: "Only will power will make you stop smoking. But this music may help your will power." The fact that this music is supposed to "relax you, make you feel good and keep your hand from groping a pack of cigarettes" may lead some more mischievous or bored listeners to grope for something else. Oops! Sorry. Wrong surgeon general.

Connie Francis
Connie and Clyde (born 1968)

Donny & Marie: They've got a lovely bunch of coconuts. Wanna make something of it?
Donny & Marie: They've got a lovely bunch of coconuts. Wanna make something of it?

Connie Francis comeback attempt number three. While the kids are tripping out to Ten Years After, Connie decides to make like Thirty Years Before -- dressing up like a mobster's moll and singing songs from the Depression era. However did we resist?

Various artists
Happiness Is . . . Up Up and Away With the Happy Hits of Today! (Reader's Digest) (born 1970)

Before the advent of CD boxed sets, you didn't get music collections any more exhaustive than this, nine albums of "pleasure programmed" music from the people who brought you "I Am Joe's Spleen." The concept -- making modern acid rock palpable for the soft-food-chewing set -- is no better demonstrated than on "A Day in the Life," where the massive orchestral buildup has been neatly excised to protect geriatrics and their pacemakers. But there's still the horrific experience of Benny Goodman playing "Up Up and Away" and "Spinning Wheel" there to offend. Plus, this set's got the sickest Muzak version of any Cream tune you're likely to hear this side of Clapton Unplugged. Optimistically, six post-paid order forms were enclosed in the box to "let your friends and relatives enjoy Happiness Is," and all were left unused. Which just goes to prove you can't force someone to be happy.

The Longine Symphonette Society
The Longine Symphonette Society Presents Great Melody Years 1968-72 (born 1972)

I don't know what kind of society The Longine Symphonette was planning, but clearly it revolved around the worship of cheese. Many people would take exception to the set's title just by scanning the song selection. Some of the worst songs ever committed to wax can be found within this five-year time warp, and you can betcha this seven-disc set didn't miss a one. "Candy Man," "Me and You and a Dog Named Boo," "Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast," "A Horse With No Name" -- they're all here ready to spread their ever-lovin' stink on ya. Should Rhino Records acquire the rights to rerelease this stuff, you'll already own volumes one through seven of Have a Nice Day -- at the Dentist!

Ike and Tina Turner
"Please Don't Hurt Me" b/w "Worried and Hurtin' Inside" (born 1962)

Here's a single you can't even give away. R&B doesn't get any more autobiographical than this! You've got to hand it to Ike. Not only did he think up new and intriguing ways of hitting Tina upside the head, but he also found a way to collect songwriting credits from Tina's strangled pleas for mercy! Pleas that he pretended to ignore! With the exception of O.J., no wife-beater has ever set himself up to be the victim as shamefully as Ike. "I ruined every good pair of shoes I ever had over that girl," you can imagine him crying in his new biography, Ike Turner: Takin' Back My Name. Unable to find a sympathetic publisher here, he had to go to jolly ol' London, also home base for the equally delusional "I Like Ike Turner Fan Club."

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