“The first from the end”: which music albums of half a century ago were recognized by experts as the worst

Fifty years ago, bands such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and The Who entered the world music scene. They found their own style and sound, which are still loved by a devoted audience of listeners.

But there were also performers who were remembered for a different reason – their work was appreciated by an extremely narrow circle of music lovers, and critics called their albums “the worst in history.” Our material is about three such works – Philosophy of the World (1969), Lord sutch and heavy friends (1970) and Self Titled Album (1970) – and the teams behind them. Those wishing to get to know them – we invite you under cat.

Photo: Tim Mossholder.  Source: Unsplash.com
Photo: Tim Mossholder. Source: Unsplash.com

Girlish punk rock from the hinterland

The American town of Fremont in New Hampshire is where the teenage girl group The shaggs… It consisted of three sisters – Helen, Betty and Dorothy Wiggin. They performed from 1968 to 1973, and during this time they released only one album – Philosophy of the World

His recording was funded by the girls’ father, who spent a significant part of his savings on it. He ordered the printing of thousands of records, but only a hundred copies were available for sale. Rest disappeared along with the unscrupulous producer who oversaw the project. As dramatic as the situation around the album was, just as dramatic was its sound.

It is difficult to describe it in words. These are guitars interrupting each other, monotonous drum beats and voices of soloists that do not correspond to the accompaniment. At the time of release Philosophy of the World columnists from The New York Times responded (p.109) about him as “the worst album in history”.

In other publications, work counted acoustic mash.

Although not all reviews about the work of young performers were so critical. The Village Voice Magazine named songs of the group “a new frontier in the history of rock and roll.” Experimental musician Frank Zappa somehow notedthat the three sisters from New Hampshire sound “cooler than the Beatles.” He even played several tracks from their repertoire on the Dr. Demento in the early 70s. Among the fans of The Shaggs was Kurt Cobain himselfwho put their album to fifth place in the personal top 50.

Today Philosophy of the World in a sense, it is experiencing a rebirth. Despite negative reviews, collectors are still looking for surviving records. Philosophy of the World, maintaining a kind of cult rock band from New Hampshire. And even 50 years later, The Shaggs are invited to perform at major music festivals. In 2017 they performed several songs from his repertoire at the Solid Sound Festival, held in Massachusetts. The work of the collective is inspired by many cover bands, and according to its history, artists off-broadway theater even stage plays

Provocation from the British coast

Failed to gain fame among music critics and British ensemble Screaming Lord Sutch and the Savages (the name is often shortened to The Savages). The group performed in an experimental genre of horror rock, and its lineup at various times included such musicians as Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin, guitarist Jeff Beck and keyboardist Nicky Hopkins, also collaborated with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. However, the outrageous musician remained the unchanged frontman of the band. David Satch nicknamed Screaming Lord. He loved to arrange whole performances on stage, using the appropriate paraphernalia.

Photo: Keagan Henman.  Source: Unsplash.com
Photo: Keagan Henman. Source: Unsplash.com

This achievement can be called a success, if you forget for a second about the flurry of criticism that the band fell under after the release. Editors The rolling stone in the album review wrotethat “a collective of talented musicians sounds like a bad parody of themselves.” Later in his book All Time Top 1000 Albums, musicologist Colin Larkin took away Lord sutch and heavy friends role worst album of all time. The situation was aggravated by the fact that some of the musicians participating in the recording disowned authorship, hinting at the dubious quality of the product.

This moment seriously tarnished the reputation of David Sutch in the musical environment, but, on the other hand, he always considered himself a nonconformist, and any scandal became for him a new portion of black PR. After this whole story, the musician continued to perform and from time to time recorded new tracks – until tragically has not passed away in 1999. Today, die-hard fans say that The Savages’ “controversial album” was actually not so bad, and the wave of negativity was caused by the inflated expectations of the public.

A barbaric view of music

Another album of that period that earned the title of “worst” was Self Titled Album by the duo Attila. This work is performed in the genre of psychedelic rock and consists of a huge number of riffs, superimposed on each other, and furious keyboard solos that turn into a cacophony. Unusual instruments also added color, used by musicians. For example, the Hammond organ, which we talked about in one of our materials, brought in unique clicks of keys and “overtones” of neighboring notes.

In general, the acoustic content of the album turned out to be so controversial that Billy Joel, who at that time was a member of the group, characterized its like “psychedelic bullshit.” Special attention should be paid to the cover, which depicts the members of the team in barbarian armor among meat carcasses.

Shortly after the controversial start, Billy Joel decided to start a solo career without odious experiments. As it turned out, getting into the top of the worst music does not put an end to the performer, and even brings him a little peculiar fame. After criticism, musicians often work on mistakes and change the vector of development. So, once failed projects, decades later, become noticeable or find a new life thanks to the creative potential of their authors.

What else do we write about in our Hi-Fi World:

Our selections of audio gadgets on Habré:

  • What affordable turntables look like – five “turntables”

  • Five expert reviews of audio technology – from gags to floor-standing speakers

  • What’s in the “Hi-Fi World” – speakers, “turntables” and lossless tracks in the video

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