Picks and Pans Review: The Worst Rock-and-Roll Records of All Time

UPDATED 07/01/1991 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 07/01/1991 at 01:00 AM EDT

by Jimmy Guterman and Owen O'Donnell

Jim Morrison is the most overrated performer in the history of rock and roll." So begins one of the assassinatory assessments in this wildly subjective ranking of the 50 worst singles and albums in the rock canon.

These are clearly two guys itching to start a fight. Make that a war. Their sweeping condemnations are all the more controversial because they pick on well-known, successful musicians. After all, they reason: "Any schlub can put out a wretched record."

So Guterman, a Brookline, Mass.—based rock writer, and O'Donnell, a New York City publishing house editor, have placed radio staples like Glenn Frey's "The Heat Is On," Harry Chapin's "Taxi" and the Rolling Stones' "Emotional Rescue" on their execrable singles list. No problem there.

But wait. Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight"? And fellas, the first minute of Grand Funk Railroad's remake of "The Loco-Motion," before it spun out of control, was one of the most sublime moments in '70s rock.

On the album side, you may agree with including, say, REO Speedwagon's Life as We Know It or Starship's Knee Deep in the Hoopla. But U2's The Unforgettable Fire and the Moody Blues' Days of Future Past? And how could a list of 50 atrocious records cite the Grateful Dead only once?

While the prose is zippy, it strains. Nick Lowe's album, Pinker and Prouder Than Previous, is described as "disappointing as pulling a used Kleenex out of a pants pocket that you thought had money in it."

Still, there's fun and argument fodder in these pages. (Citadel, paper, $I4.95)

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