By Frank Donovan
The Beatles’ Abbey Road, Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life, Nirvana’s Nevermind–Even the most iconic and highly-regarded albums have a track that we always skip. We’re all for artists evolving their sound, but it’s often painfully clear when the sonic experimentation in the studio should have remained in the scrap pile instead of sandwiched between way better songs.
Read on for 15 subpar tracks that detract from music’s greatest albums.
“Octopus’s Garden” by The Beatles (Abbey Road)
Sorry Ringo, this was the weakest link on the otherwise superb Abbey Road.
“Sloop John B” by The Beach Boys (Pet Sounds)
We’re gonna walk this one back— “Sloop John B” is by no means a terrible song. But lovely as it is, Brian Wilson’s arrangement of the Bahamian folk song “The John B. Sails” just didn’t belong on Pet Sounds. In fact, according to Peter Ames Carlin’s Catch A Wave, Wilson didn’t want it on the album, but included the hit single at Capitol’s insistence. It sticks out as the only song on the record that Wilson didn’t write, and the only one that doesn’t fit the overall tone and themes of the songcycle.
“Butcher’s Tale (Western Front 1914)” by The Zombies (Odessey and Oracle)
The Zombies were known and loved for imbuing some unexpected darkness into their baroque pop records. But both the music and lyrics on this anti-war song from the cult classic LP are outright macabre and easy to skip.
“Voices Of Old People” by Simon and Garfunkel (Bookends)
Exactly what the title suggests, this might be nice to hear while trying to fall asleep, but probably on no other occasion.
“Contusion” by Stevie Wonder (Songs in the Key of Life)
This Weather Channel music moment belies the quality of Wonder’s Grammy-winning album.
“Let It Bleed” by The Rolling Stones (Let It Bleed)
It’s an adequate foot-stomper, but compared to the rest of the album, it sounds like a jam session that could’ve been polished.
“Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” by Bob Dylan (Blonde on Blonde)
You’ve gotta be under the influence of something to sit through this repetitive rant.
“EXP” by The Jimi Hendrix Experience (Axis: Bold as Love)
It consists of an quickly aborted interview with Hendrix about the existence of aliens, followed by feedback and panning effects. We wish it had remained a classified experiment.
“Mother” by The Police (Synchronicity)
Guitarist Andy Summers’ paranoid screaming about a mother (or smothering girlfriend) is simply unbearable.
“Moby Dick” by Led Zeppelin (Led Zeppelin II)
We wish the band continued what they laid out in the first minute of this instrumental track. John Bonham’s subsequent three-minute drum solo is kinda TL;DR.
“Endless, Nameless” by Nirvana (Nevermind)
When we get frustrated, we go for a walk and get some fresh air. Kurt Cobain on the other hand makes this hidden track. According to Rolling Stone, it came about after recording sessions for “Lithium” weren’t going as planned.
“A Man Needs A Maid” by Neil Young (Harvest)
The accompaniment by the London Symphony Orchestra on the chorus sneaks up out of nowhere and feels overblown.
“Helpless Dancer” by The Who (Quadrophenia)
Thumping oompa piano piano, speak-singing, skip.
“You See Me Crying” by Aerosmith (Toys in the Attic)
It’s certainly not for lack of effort that this ballad is on the list. It’s only been played live once, likely due to the complex orchestration. But Joe Perry’s guitar is sorely missed here.
“FX” by Black Sabbath (Volume 4)
It’s essentially white noise and effects, and we want our minute and 44 seconds back.