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Joe Meek - 20 Stinkers

A tongue in cheek list of some of Joe's worst discs... he sure cut loads of singles but unfortunately that led to quality control slipping many times. This list features some of the worst records and songs he unleashed upon the public. To restrain myself, I have restricted it to one choice per artiste... otherwise you'd have the complete works of The Dowlands to wade through here and I ain't torturing myself to remind me how each of their discs went...
List of 19 records by biffbampow  :   Discuss (19 Comments)

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1Michael Cox

A: Angela Jones
B: Don't Want To Know


This may have been Cox's biggest hit in the UK and the success of the record sank the Triumph label but...

To me, it's a forgettable piece of saccharine drivel. Dip a dee dee.
Triumph UKRGM 1011Jun 19607"
2Ian Gregory

A: Time Will Tell
B: The Night You Told A Lie


You cannot have a list like this without the hapless and hopeless Iain Gregory. Trying to determine his worst disc was initially difficult but this wins hands down because it's the only one that Joe put out where he allowed Iain to be heard as "au-naturelle" as possible - ie : the lead vocal is nobody but Iain and he's not being shadowed like he would be on future discs.

It's a classic double sided stinker that I'll admit is a guilty pleasure because of it's incompetence. The best way to describe Iain's singing on the A side is "timid" - it's a slow dreary plodding ballad that goes absolutely nowhere. The best thing about it is that it ends... unless you find the thought of listening to him mumbling away amusing.

The B side though is even more absurd boasting a strange sour sounding arrangement on top of which Iain "emotes" his way through the dark. There are moments in this where I'm convinced he didn't have a clue what he was doing and some bum notes come to the surface, causing mirth and laughter to come to the surface of my face.
Pye UK7N 15295Oct 19607"
3Joy And Dave

A: My Very Good Friend The Milkman
B: Doopey Darling


It's the B side here - one of Joe's many compositions under the pseudonym Robert Duke - that truly STINKS on high. This duo cut various novelty singles but Doopey Darling is easily the worst... so cornball and saccharine it isn't even funny nor tolerable. After 30 seconds one feels like taking a sledgehammer to the Dansette. Not a good idea these days since once can't buy them new off a shelf anymore!
Decca UKF 11291Oct 19607"
4Andy Cavell

A: Hey There, Cruel Heart
B: Lonely Soldier Boy


Oh dear... the title of the B side alone is worrying enough but when you play it to be greeted by the predictable marching drum beat, a ridiculous organ part you know you're in trouble... and then Andy opens his mouth to sing... despite double tracking his voice there wasn't much Joe could do to disguise that Mr Cavell was devoid of vocal talent. The whole combination of terrible lyrics, absurd arrangement and Cavell's dire voice... need I say more? Well, a clothes peg for my nose might be helpful...
His Master's Voice UKPOP 1024May 19627"
5Kenny Hollywood

A: Magic Star
B: The Wonderful Story Of Love


Oof! Meek freaks stand united on this one being one of, if not Joe's worst disc. Flushed with the success of "Telstar", Joe took it upon himself to begift the World with an... ulp... vocal version of the tune. "Magic Star" ended up being the only disc Mr Hollywood (I know, a terrible name - one of Joe's least inspired creations) ever released and judging by his vocal performance, we should feel thankful. A disastrous idea. A disastrous disc.
Decca UKF 11546Nov 19627"
6Toby Ventura

A: If My Heart Were A Story Book
B: Vagabond


Oh God... the only disc Meek cut with Toby and no wonder. Toby was clearly operatically trained and this ballad is given a truly absurd wretched treatment. Lyrically it's one of Geoff Goddard's least inspired moments but when you have Toby wailing way as if he's auditioning for the Covent Garden Opera House with an OTT arrangement behind him, the result is mind numbingly awful. One can see what Meek was playing at, hoping to tap into the market for older buyers but even they steered clear of this rubbish.
Decca UKF 11581Feb 19637"
7The Checkmates

A: You've Got To Have A Gimmick Today
B: West Point


Joe goes "comedy" with this one. Maybe he was trying to show off this bands' versatility... goodness knows, but this hapless jokey medley - predating the many by The Barron Knights - is too hammy and contrived to be funny as they lay into Frankie Vaughan, The Shadows and Pat Boone linked by some truly moronic moments. They were being too goofy and silly for comfort and heard today, it's a strange curiosity, but a stinker nonetheless.
Decca UKF 11603Mar 19637"
8Geoff Goddard

A: Saturday Dance
B: Come Back To Me


The A side is in my favourites list, but the B side deserves a place here. It's a wretched overwrought dirge that is one of Goddard's least interesting melodies (complete with typically 60's key change) with Goddard wailing away - maybe pleading for his next royalty cheque. It plods and rambles along to forgettable effect and the percussion is wooden... literally - it's Joe Meek simply banging the beat on one of his doors. A calamitous clunker. No wonder it's never been re-issued. It's terrible.
His Master's Voice UKPOP 1160May 19637"
9John Leyton

A: I'll Cut Your Tail Off
B: The Great Escape


It's debatable whether Joe Meek produced this one or not, but it did come out with the RGM Sound credit, so...

It's the B'side here that has to be heard to be believed as John blatantly cashes in on his role in the movie of the same name. Yep... it's THAT music, but with the same effect that "Magic Star" had for "Telstar" as Leyton shirps the most inane lyric - "Mabel, I love you Mabel, Love you as long as I am able..." This Al Stillman lyric looks bad enough onscreen but with a marching beat and John's heavily reverbed voice, the effect is utterly absurd and embarrassing.

And if Joe had nothing to do with this, then Robert Stigwood - just 4 years away from giving the world The Bee Gees - stands Guilty.
His Master's Voice UKPOP 117521 Jun 19637"
10Cliff Bennett And The Rebel Rousers

A: Everybody Loves A Lover
B: My Old Stand-By


No wonder Cliff Bennett has long disowned his early discs with Joe Meek, grumbling that Joe forced him into cutting unsuitable songs. If you ever wanted to hear Cliff try his hand at an American accent and singing a lame country ditty, then the B side is for you. If not, then pat yourself on the back with relief at not listening to something that is awful and embarrassing.
Parlophone UKR 5046Jul 19637"
11The Puppets [UK]

A: Everybody's Talking
B: Poison Ivy


Both sides of this are rendered impotent by Joe speeding them up so much it sounds as if he gassed everybody with helium at the session... and it sounds too ridiculous to be true let alone tolerable.
Pye UK7N 15556Aug 19637"
12Heinz

A: Country Boy
B: Long Tall Jack


I loathe this one. I truly do.

One of Ritchie Blackmore's most embarrassing sessions as he's required to do these ridiculous low twangy bits atop an annoying chirpy backing with stupid hiccupy backing vocals. On top of this, Heinz struggles to sing a less than memorable lyric that showed in spades that he didn't have what it took to rival Cliff Richard (Joe claimed Heinz would be as big as Cliff but instead this disc pushed him down one)

The B side is almost as bad... one of Joe's most sped up productions with ironically enough, novel sped up backing vocals, the whole combination is dire. Heinz aimed at the novelty market... and thankfully barely anyone was interested and from then on, Heinz's discs got much better. But both sides of this one STINK.
Decca UKF 11768Nov 19637"
13The Outlaws

A: Law And Order
B: Do-Da-Day


Sorry, but the World didn't and still doesn't need a routine workmanlike banal twangy version of the dreaded Camptown Ladies/Races (whichever it is... you KNOW what tune I'm on about dip a dee do da day) which I'm sure still gives Ritchie Blackmore nightmares whilst he's busy giving other people nightmares...
His Master's Voice UKPOP 1241Dec 19637"
14Jimmy Lennon And The Atlantics

A: I Learned To Yodel
B: Louisiana Mama


Frank Ifield was enough. More than enough, but in his wake came several acts who gave the yodeling lark a whirl. Thankfully this was Joe Meek's only stab at that absurd style. Even if Meek wasn't producing, it would already be a BAD record but Meek producing it makes it even WORSE because as soon as Mr Lennon starts yodeling away, Joe whacks on some slapback echo to highlight and accentuate the godawful wailings to terrifying effect. I really don't want to listen to this ever again. And neither do a large percentage of Meek freaks.
Decca UKF 1182531 Jan 19647"
15Glenda Collins

A: Lollipop
B: Everybody's Gotta Fall In Love


A rare Glenda Collins misfire. There's nothing wrong with her performance and in many ways it's an OK record but come on... for 1964 this was ridiculously twee and to hear this following the awesome "Baby It Hurts" is rather sad and depressing. The song was a big hit 6 years earlier and Joe couldn't and didn't really add anything to it, hence a rather pointless disc that did Glenda zero favours.
His Master's Voice UKPOP 1323Jul 19647"
16Alan Dean And His Problems

A: Thunder And Rain
B: As Time Goes By


I put the A side of this in my 50 Essential Meek Discs list and here it is again in the stinkers for the B side. Alan Dean's voice is strained and strangulated to the degree one wonders how on Earth he was ever given a recording contract. This B side is a lively piece of pop... actually not a bad song, best heard in Joe's solo vocal demo but with Mr Dean screeching and wailing his way with it, it's pretty painful to listen to.
Pye UK7N 157495 Feb 19657"
17The Dowlands

A: Don't Make Me Over
B: Someone Must Be Feeling Sad


The fact that this was actually The Dowlands' best record yet features on this list speaks volumes. Imagine The Everly Brothers on helium, and you get a fair idea of how this cheesy duo sounded. I could nominate every disc for inclusion on this list but I've selected this one.

Why? It's a great song as Dionne Warwick and The Swinging Blue Jeans amply proved, but heard here by these guys, it's maddening and upsetting to hear a good song be given the treatment by them. Thankfully, it was their last single.
Columbia UKDB 754716 Apr 19657"
18Jess Conrad

A: Hurt Me
B: It Can Happen To You


Yes, Jess Conrad the man behind some legendary stinkers cut one disc with Joe Meek.

All I can ask about the A side is this - are you telling us something or are you inviting us? If it's an invite, I'm sure there'll be plenty of volunteers who will gladly comply...
Pye UK7N 15849May 19657"
19The Honeycombs

A: Who Is Sylvia?
B: How Will I Know?


There's no getting away from the fact The Honeycombs released a few stinkers - Eyes and the awfully chirpy That's The Way both grate enormously, but even they sound wonderful compared to this early 1966 piece of slop. Actually, to be fair, Who Is Sylvia DOES contain some good bits - the brief solo bass bridges - but sadly that comprises less than 5% of the song.

Dennis D'Ells' voice is an acquired taste and here it's irritating not helped by having to sing banal inane lyrics and the instrumental backing arrangement is sickly, but because it's The Honeycombs, cloyingly chirpy too.

Ironically it's one of the hardest Honeycombs discs to find. Sod's law I happen to have a copy... pity it isn't a mint copy because I certainly have no desire to play it again.
Pye UK7N 1705918 Feb 19667"

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