I’m sorry, I’ll sing that again

Mistakes, we all make ’em and in the recording studio if you get red light fever it seems they come thick and fast.  Of course, the great thing about working on a record is you can go back and correct them until they are all expunged and you are left with perfection.  We have a word for this in the trade: non-veridical.  But sometimes, the perceptual reality pokes through – in other words musicians and producers stuff up and the resulting criminal record is left behind.  Now, I never make mistakes so I’m going to laugh at some others have made, and got paid to make dammit!  Only errors on commercial contenders are of interest to me because they subvert the surface slickness of modern rock, so lo-fi is disqualified as are blemishes too subtle to stand out.  Some here are honest blunders, some may be deliberate but they are all funny.  I’ve awarded each one a score on the bloopometer from 10 (you’re fired) to 1 (just keeping it real man).

Bachmann Turner Overdrive – Taking Care Of Business [8]

The lead guitar is a bit grotty throughout, thin, stringy and off key but gets absolutely shagnasty during the second solo starting at 2.49.  The rest of the track is carefully crafted in the manner of big studio US FM rock but that guitar…

Rolling Stones – Singer Not The Song [10]

BTO must have learnt from the masters.  My theory is that the guitars were deliberately detuned as a misguided special effect, but then listen to how their gruesome atonality tempts Mick off the path of true melody and into the bushes by the side of the road for a good barebacking.

Simon & Garfunkel – The Boxer [5]

At 4.43 the syrupy strings fade away abruptly…then suddenly return all knarly and horrible for a brief reverberated encore.  Assuming this was the remnants of an original overdub, its a fascinating glimpse of a nightmare alternative universe where orchestras are evil ha ha ha ha!

Elvis Costello – My Funny Valentine [6]

Flip Olivers Army over and you got its negative image, a barely there almost unaccompanied take on the old tin pan alley classic.  It proves Elvis could really sing but something odd happens in the last verse.  His voice slows down smearing his delivery of “voice a little weak” and “open it to speak”, so much so you fear he may be having a stroke.  Shit what do they say again face, arse,  sing, toilet?

Michael Jackson – Beat it [3]

Just in the lead up to the solo there is the unmistakeable sound of someone hammering on the studio door.  Pizza? fresh llama? fresh no don’t go there.

The Police – Roxanne [4]

Just seconds in Sting clumsily sits on a piano in the live room playing a dischord with his butt.  He laughs out loud, then secretly uses it to write all his solo albums.

Adam & The Ants – Zerox Machine [5]

Great post-punk track, except the last guitar fanfare is badly pushed.  It sounds as if they tried to cover it up with dropping in a crash cymbal but this cuts off the decay of the original, making it even more obvious. Doh!

Hollies – I Can’t Let Go/Beatles – Eleanor Rigby [7]

A swinging sixties twofer (or bogof) laying bare the perils of ADT.  It’s “wonder what this button does” time as both singles feature a glaring double tracking error in their stereo mixes.  Tony Hicks guitar goes flying across the soundstage at about 1.34 and back again as if on a bungee cord and the opening syllables of Macca’s vocal are doubled/singled/doubled on the Revolver track.  As stereo was a minority concern back then no one took the trouble to correct them until much later remasters righted these ancient wrongs.  I saw yer!

The Jam – War [8]

On the B side of 5 O’Clock Hero was the first of two attempts at this soul standard by Weller and co which is not only murkily produced but ruined by an intrusive rolling grinding noise all the way through.  What the hell is it?

Bee Gees – Gotta Get A Message To You [7]

Fades can cover all manner of shenanigans and are a life saver if you have a good take that falls apart at the end.  I believe this one has been airbrushed on subsequent compilations so here’s the link to the original single.  At about 2.40 one of the Gibbs attempts a freestyle harmonisation of the chorus.  It goes horribly wrong and a voice responds “oh ****!”  Glorious.

So there you have it.  Anymore really egregious musical clusterfucks I should know about – just comment!

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One Response to “I’m sorry, I’ll sing that again”

  1. John Bonham’s squeaky drum pedal on ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’

    Millions of Beatles ones: http://wgo.signal11.org.uk/wgo.htm

    The knock on Beat It is Eddie Van Halen knocking on his guitar no? The combination of that and the reverse-divebomb is meant to sound like a knock before a door is opened, I think…

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