Obsessions, Passions, Perversions 2000

Music critics reveal their deepest, darkest record-buying secrets in New Times' annual poll

1. Johnny Mathis, Johnny Mathis Sings the Hits of Burt Bacharach and Bert Kaempfert (Columbia) Sure, Frank Sinatra once called Johnny "the African Queen," but is that any reason for Mathis to mess with the lyrics to "I Say a Little Prayer"? "The moment I wake up/Before I shower and set up" -- aarrggh! Could it have killed Johnny to find another rhyme? I mean, even Rupert Everett in My Best Friend's Wedding sang "before I put on my makeup" and he's not a . . . oh, never mind.

2. Pretty Things, Silk Torpedo (SwanSong) Sure, the Scorpions practically invented the blueprint for Spinal Tap with their sexist album covers, but before those sour Krauts, there were the Pretty Things. The concept for this LP sleeve? A sailor bids his Singapore mama farewell from the deck of PT 102 by ejecting her out on a torpedo. Hey, what ever happened to a kiss and cab fare home?

3.Various Artists, NOW That's What I Call Music 1 (Virgin EMI) The original template for the currently popular contemporary hit compilations, as invented by the British in 1983. Compared to what passes for music NOW, Limahl, Kajagoogoo and Men Without Hats seem like the most brilliant musical minds since Schubert!

Bad rock flicks: Looking for the dark underbelly of some favorite music icons' careers.
Bad rock flicks: Looking for the dark underbelly of some favorite music icons' careers.

4. Debbie Drake, How to Keep Your Husband Happy: Look Slim, Keep Trim, Exercise Along With Debbie Drake (Epic) I suspect when most husbands hear the word "trim," a leaner, slimmer wife isn't what they have in mind.

5. Mister Rogers, You Are Special (Small World Records) Uriah Heep ripped off the cover idea for its Look at Yourself LP from this album, which has a Mylar mirror glued on to the front so that it makes you look like a distorted troll. If after this visual aid you still doubt that "You Are Special" indeed, the album includes other motivational themes like "Children Can," "You've Got to Do It" and the cautionary "You Can Never Go Down the Drain." And after all that, if you're still feeling low, ol' Fred Rogers suggests "Just for once I want you all to myself, just for once let's play alone." I know that Mister Rogers is the world's gentlest authority on child psychology, but when his voice comes creeping through the tweeters, I'm not thinking nurturing caretaker. I'm thinking mildewy crawlspace.

6. Rusty Warren, Knockers Up, Rusty Warren Bounces Back, and The Sin-Sational Rusty Warren (Jubilee) America's other favorite redhead. Any comedienne known as the "knockers up" gal demands a pickup, even if it's at the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store. I bought three Rusty Warren albums this year because she's like the loudmouth friend your mother had when she still invited booze hounds over on Saturday nights. Like an oversexed Rose Marie, Rusty keeps harping about the modest hooters the Lord endowed her with for fear they'll actually get smaller if ignored. Thrill to her sandpaper voice on such showstoppers as "Grab Yourself a Handful, It's Free" and "I Like Everybody," her opening number, where she sings this healthy credo: "I like to go through life with my knockers up/Let my boobies bounce to the Hut! Hut! Hut!" The funniest thing about this adult album from 1960 is that today, they'd probably bleep the word "boobies" out!

7. Various Artists, To Sir With Love Original Soundtrack (Fontana) After frugging around the house listening to the Mindbenders' "It's Getting Harder," I came to the frightening realization that I cursed myself to a life of free-form spaz dancing by subconsciously emulating Sidney Poitier (that's Sir, to you) dancin' with those snotty Brit kids. This is what is known in analysis as a "breakthrough."

8. David McCallum, It's Happening Now! (Capitol) You remember him as Illya Kuryakin on TV's The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Amazingly, there wasn't a gadget that the enemy agents from THRUSH could devise that could stop him from conducting Muzak versions of "Winchester Cathedral," "Louie Louie" and the Troggs' "I Can't Control Myself." Before he was through, McCallum had four similar albums out. Uncle! Uncle, already!

9. Telly Savalas, Telly (MCA) Savor this bit of liner-note logic, straight from the chrome dome himself: "People know that singing is not my bag but if I say 'Hey this is how Telly feels about this song or that song,' I can't make mistakes. I can only make mistakes by pretending to be a great singer." After hearing how Telly feels about "Help Me Make It Through the Night," I think the only mistake I can make is listening to it again.

10. (tie) Donny Osmond, Portrait of Donny (MGM) What makes this album so valuable? Certainly not the three suitable-for-framing "candid 8x10 glossy photos" of Donny "thinking of you." Or the hit versions of "Puppy Love" and "Hey Girl." Nah, it's the impassioned rendition of "Let My People Go." Yes, for centuries, the Man has been holding the Mormons back.

10. (tie) Procol Harum, The Best of Procol Harum (EMI/Stateside) A best of Procol Harum that doesn't have "Whiter Shade of Pale"? That's like a Cutting Crew best-of without "I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight."

Top 10 Bootleg Things They Don't Want You to Hear
Fred Mills

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