Few albums can be called perfect, but many other classic LPs fall just short of that status. Maybe it's an out-of-place experimental track or a throwaway song given to the drummer to sing - whatever the case, a single moment can nearly derail a near-flawless record.

In the below list of 25 Songs That Almost Ruined Classic Albums, the key word to keep in mind is "almost." Each album included is great from start to finish; they probably wouldn't be called classics if they weren't. But we're not ashamed to admit that once in a while we'll skip a song if the mood hits.

The list is also limited to only one song per artist, so feel free to substitute "Revolution 9" if "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" is a personal Beatles favorite. It goes with the territory of being a legendary artist with a history of classic albums. They can't all be great songs. Plus, the drummer wants to sing one, too.

The Beatles, "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" (From Abbey Road, 1969)

Even the greatest band in the world took some wrong steps occasionally. Every Beatles fan has that one song in their catalog they skip when it comes on. For us, it's "Maxwell's Silver Hammer," Paul McCartney's whimsical tale of a hammer-wielding serial killer. Even McCartney's erstwhile songwriting partner John Lennon hated it, calling the song "more of Paul's granny music."


David Bowie, "It Ain't Easy" (From The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, 1972)

It's not surprising that the weak link in David Bowie's conceptual masterpiece is the only song he didn't write. "It Ain't Easy" was penned by American Ron Davies, and stands out of place as Side One's closer, a leftover from the preceding Hunky Dory sessions. Initially, "It Ain't Easy" had a place on the LP along with covers of Chuck Berry's "Around and Around" and Jacques Brel's "Amsterdam." But it lost any connection by the end.


Cream, "Blue Condition" (From Disraeli Gears, 1967)

Ginger Baker was a great drummer, one of the all-time best. But he wasn't much of a singer or songwriter. His lone composition and lead vocal performance on Cream's second album ends the first side on a reserved note. Everyone involved, including Baker, sounds bored with "Blue Condition," a lazy shuffle that plods for three and a half minutes. Things pick up right after with the mind-expanding "Tales of Brave Ulysses."


Derek and the Dominos, "Thorn Tree in the Garden" (From Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, 1970)

Things rarely go well for Eric Clapton's bands when singing and songwriting are handed over to someone other than the leader. The only album by the one-off group Derek and the Dominos includes more than a dozen songs about his bruising love for his best friend's wife. After the dust settles from anchor track "Layla," the LP returns for one last song: keyboardist Bobby Whitlock's pastoral and snoozy "Thorn Tree in the Garden."


The Doors, "I Looked at You" (From The Doors, 1967)

The Doors' self-titled debut album combines period-friendly psychedelia and rootsy blues music. Tellingly, the first two songs recorded at the August 1966 sessions for the record - "I Looked at You" and "Take It as It Comes" - are the ones that don't exactly fit. Maybe it was first-day uncertainty or conceding to label pressure; either way, "I Looked at You" is two minutes of galloping pop in the middle of a dark, despairing revolution.

READ MORE: Every Beatles Song Ranked


Bob Dylan, "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" (From Blonde on Blonde, 1966)

Bob Dylan scored his second No. 2 hit in mid-1966 with the opening song from his upcoming album, Blonde on Blonde, a boozy sing-along called "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" featuring the inviting chorus, "Everybody must get stoned." It's a tossed-off moment from an otherwise articulate and pensive artist who made one of his most defining statements with the double LP, which promptly rebounds after this dud.


Eagles, "Out of Control" (From Desperado, 1973)

Eagles were still a country-rock band when they made their second album, Desperado, a concept record about Old West outlaws. But they lost interest in the theme partway through, leaving several tracks untied to the main story. "Out of Control" is an unconvincing early attempt at a full-force stomping rocker at odds with the album's other midtempo, partially acoustic songs that play to the group's rootsy strengths.


Fleetwood Mac, "Oh Daddy" (From Rumours, 1977)

Rumours is one of pop music's most perfect albums, with the five members of Fleetwood Mac finding catharsis through music as relationships broke down among them. The group's singing-songwriting trio contributed much of their best material to the hit LP. But Christine McVie's "Oh Daddy," the record's penultimate track, is not among them. Plodding, indirect and lacking in melody, it's everything Rumours is not.


Peter Frampton, "Jumpin' Jack Flash" (From Frampton Comes Alive!, 1976)

Ten years after he made his debut with the Herd and had released four solo albums, Peter Frampton finally had the spotlight with a monster-selling live album in 1976. Along with definitive (and talkbox!) versions of his songs "Show Me the Way," "Baby, I Love Your Way" and "Do You Feel Like We Do," Frampton Comes Alive! includes an endless and pointless cover of the Rolling Stones' "Jumpin' Jack Flash." Far from definitive.


Peter Gabriel, "We Do What We're Told (Milgram's 37)" (From So, 1986)

Peter Gabriel was under pressure to commercially target his fourth LP (the previous three were all confusingly titled Peter Gabriel). And he delivered, recording his most accessible music, for which he was suddenly rewarded with a worldwide No. 1. The atmospheric instrumental "We Do What We're Told" was left over from his third record and rerecorded at the start of the So sessions before the album took a more linear path.


George Harrison, "It's Johnny's Birthday" (From All Things Must Pass, 1970)

You could make a case for any of the last stretch of songs on George Harrison's proper solo debut as being disposable. The "Apple Jam" sides of the sprawling three-LP set include forgettable in-studio off-the-cuff instrumentals such as "I Remember Jeep" and "Thanks for the Pepperoni." But it's the 49-second "It's Johnny's Birthday" - recorded for former Beatles bandmate John Lennon's 30th - that brings the album to a crashing halt.


Jimi Hendrix Experience, "EXP" (From Axis: Bold as Love, 1967)

Jimi Hendrix's debut album was an immediate hit upon its release, so he wasted little time rushing out a follow-up record less than seven months later. Anticipation was high, and then deflated, as the opening track revealed itself as a two-minute studio experiment about extraterrestrial life. "EXP" is more comparable to a test track for hi-fi equipment than the lead song on the second LP by one of rock's most exciting artists.


Michael Jackson, "The Lady in My Life" (From Thriller, 1982)

For a nine-song album that charted seven(!) Top 10 singles, it's hard to believe one track could bring it all crashing down just like that. But Thriller's closing "The Lady in My Life" is five minutes of overproduced sap that exits the album as if history wasn't made in the preceding 37 minutes. The Paul McCartney duet "The Girl Is Mine" comes close to diminishing the LP's momentum, too, but that historical summit has its place.

 

READ MORE: Ranking Every Classic-Era Fleetwood Mac Song


Jefferson Airplane, "How Do You Feel" (From Surrealistic Pillow, 1967)

Jefferson Airplane's classic lineup fell together on their second LP with the addition of Grace Slick. With LSD-enhanced songs and the Summer of Love dawning, Surrealistic Pillow was the ideal soundtrack to the cultural shifts. But amid the guitar workouts and kaleidoscopic freakouts saunters the light and folky "How Do You Feel" written by band friend Tom Mastin. Like the mysterious songwriter, his only song, too, is soon forgotten.


Elton John, "Jamaica Jerk-Off" (From Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, 1973)

Reggae music was starting to become a growing influence on British music in 1973, with Bob Marley and the Wailers' Catch a Fire tidied up for mass consumption. A year later Eric Clapton had a hit with Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff." Even Elton John, one of the biggest acts in the world at the time, wasn't immune. His two-LP masterpiece Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is weighed down by the pastiche "Jamaica Jerk-Off."


Nirvana, "Endless, Nameless" (From Nevermind, 1991)

The closing song on Nirvana's seismic second LP is a bonus cut, but that hardly softens the impact of the abrasive, out-of-nowhere noise assault. Arriving 10 minutes after the closing "Something in the Way" drifts into the ozone as a final benediction, "Endless, Nameless" crashes into the room with all the nuance of a broken, out-of-tune guitar' you can hear Kurt Cobain smash his instrument. A shield against impending success?


Tom Petty, "Zombie Zoo" (From Full Moon Fever, 1989)

Tom Petty's first solo album outside of the Heartbreakers was already slowing down when its final song arrived; "Zombie Zoo" nearly derailed it. Featuring backing vocals by fellow Traveling Wilburys member Roy Orbison, the tossed-off song was inspired by a kid's derogative comments to Petty and his friends. Petty later questioned the song's inclusion on Full Moon Fever: "That was nearly a perfect album until the very end."


The Police, "Mother" (From Synchronicity, 1983)

Democracy in bands can lead to, at best, forgettable songs on otherwise memorable albums. At worst, they can leave a permanent scar on records. From the start, Sting was the Police's ringleader, their magnetic center and main songwriting. But that didn't dim guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland's desire to be heard. Summers' dreadful oedipal fantasy "Mother" stops the group's last LP cold.


The Pretenders, "Space Invader" (From Pretenders, 1980)

The Pretenders are Chrissie Hynde's band, but they were a more democratic group in the early days, with bassist Pete Farndon and guitarist James Honeyman-Scott occasionally assisting in songwriting. Needing material for their debut, the pair wrote the instrumental "Space Invader" named after the arcade game, which briefly appears at the song's end. Among the LP's punk and pop highlights, it's a lackluster time killer.


Prince, "Lady Cab Driver" (From 1999, 1982)

Prince was on the verge of a commercial breakthrough with his fifth album, 1982's 1999, and he was getting there by slightly toning down the obvious sexual nature of his earlier songs and emphasizing more radio-friendly themes (like a looming apocalypse). Nonetheless, Side Four of the two-LP set starts with the eight-minute "Lady Cab Driver," which concludes with Prince having spiteful sex with a cabbie in her work vehicle.


Queen, "Seaside Rendezvous" (From A Night at the Opera, 1975)

For all their innovation in the studio, Queen occasionally relied on earlier times to get their music across. The two-and-a-half-minute 19th-century throwback "Seaside Rendezvous" features an instrumental break consisting of Freddie Mercury, the song's writer, and drummer Roger Taylor performing various instruments - clarinet, tuba, trumpet - with their voices. It's a creaky moment on an album glistening with potential.

 

READ MORE: Bruce Springsteen Albums Ranked


Sly & the Family Stone, "Sex Machine" (From Stand!, 1969)

For all of its radio-ready songs - "I Want to Take You Higher," "Sing a Simple Song," "Everyday People," "You Can Make It if You Try," the title tune - Sly & the Family Stone's classic fourth album still makes room for a pair of commercially nullifying tracks, including the 13:45-clocking "Sex Machine" (which arrived a year before James Brown's song of the same name). Essentially a dull jam session that doesn't know when to end.


Bruce Springsteen, "Meeting Across the River" (From Born to Run, 1975)

Both penultimate side closers on Springsteen's breakthrough album are outcasts on an otherwise meticulously assembled and crafted work. But while "Night," at best, would have been better served as a B-side, "Meeting Across the River" falters on record. A street story related over a pseudo-jazzy backing, the song breaks the LP's flow and nearly destroys the arrival of Born to Run's epic ending number "Jungleland."


Stevie Wonder, "Contusion" (From Songs in the Key of Life, 1976)

Like many double albums, Stevie Wonder's magnum opus (paired with a bonus EP including four additional songs) occasionally steers off-course from its designated path. But the instrumental "Contusion" drops in between the socially aware "Village Ghetto Land" and Duke Ellington tribute "Sire Duke" like an unwanted intermission. Also, in contrast to the LP's other songs, it sounds like a sketch of a demo to be filled in later.


Neil Young, "There's a World" (From Harvest, 1972)

Neil Young's country-rock landmark Harvest includes appearances by David Crosby, Graham Nash, Linda Ronstadt, Stephen Stills and James Taylor, who seamlessly integrate into the acoustic folk. The album also features the London Symphony Orchestra on the execrable "There's a World," halting progression from "Old Man" and "Alabama." It's a bum note, as is the LP's other LSO union, "A Man Needs a Maid."

25 Under the Radar Albums From 1974

It's time to go deeper than the Genesis, Steely Dan and Neil Young records that get much of the attention.

Gallery Credit: Michael Gallucci

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