The Jim Davidson Album
West Five Records WEF1
Studious music fans and professional critics alike, both seem to enjoy compiling lists in an attempt to identify the ‘best’ record of all time. They feel that they are somehow able to order all the music ever released into neat little top tens and top one hundreds, sorting and critiquing in an endless pursuit of some absolute and definitive ‘best’. Fashions and trends play their part in these ‘best of’ lists. Some bands will be flavour of the month and feature highly in one reckoning, only to disappear completely from the next tally. Other bands seem to be hardy perennials in these sorts of charts. The likes of The Beatles and The Beach Boys seem to be regular contenders for best album, while modern bands like Radiohead often hover around the upper reaches of the charts, battling away with the venerable musicians of yesteryear.
When in some future end of year poll all the arguing is done, all the votes cast and added up once again, the only certainty is that no one will be any nearer deciding what is the ‘best’ album of all time. It is a highly subjective matter. It is possible for anyone to say what their favourite album is and to back it up with some cogent and persuasive arguments. That may not satisfy some people who feel that there should be an absolutely definitive best record, backed up perhaps by complex mathematical algorithms that prove its worthiness to eight decimal places. Well, I am not sure if I will be able to help anyone seeking perfection, but I believe that I can contribute to the great rumbling debate by revealing to the world the worst record ever committed to vinyl. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, The Jim Davidson Album.
Again, I suppose it comes back to things such as taste and highly personal likes and dislikes. One person’s favourite record may leave someone else cold. That aside, The Jim Davidson Album is officially the worst record I have ever and will ever listen to. I am happy that I have listened to it though, and even happier that I own a copy. Everything I buy, listen to, download, overhear in a taxi, or hum along to in a department store, will, after listening to The Jim Davidson Album be enjoyable on some level. Actually possessing the album is a sort of relief, for I can buy any tatty piece of vinyl lurking in a dusty neglected bin tucked away in some grubby back street charity shop, safe in the knowledge that it will always, without fail, be an improvement on The Jim Davidson Album.
So what is it that makes The Jim Davidson Album quite so bad? What is it that makes this the definitive worst record ever, the anti-Pet Sounds for masochistic lovers of bad music. I am tempted to say everything. I wouldn’t be far wrong. Let’s start with Jimbo himself. Born in 1953 in Blackheath, South London, the wife-bothering, booze-loving, sweary, misogynistic, racist, opinionated, Thatcher-worshipping, egomaniacal stand-up comedian Jim Davidson is not to everyone’s taste. In between long periods of obscurity, usually spent making obscure foul-mouthed live videos in Dartford while drinking heavily, getting married and or divorcing, Jim occasionally enjoys short periods of mass appeal, fronting shows like The Generation Game or Big Break.
For the most part though he is a disagreeable little twonk. That aside, Jim Davidson could, I suppose, still have delivered a perfectly listenable album. Many of his equally disagreeable contemporaries managed to turn in a perfectly acceptable light entertainment album, the late great Bernard Manning for instance. But not Jim. Oh no.
Despite acting from an early age and appearing in Ralph Reader’s famous Gang Show, Jim Davidson is one of the most tuneless soporific singers I have ever heard. He drones his way through the first side of the record, singing through his adenoids in a way that only a former amateur drummer could. He sounds like an even more monotone Rex Harrison as he talks over a cheap and nasty sounding mass of tinkling keyboards and electronic drums beats. A duet with Dianne Lee of Peters and Lee fame is a rare highlight, while a maudlin acoustic performance with Richard Digance of his song Washer Woman, is inexplicably covered with a swampy mess of electronic pan pipes. Even that first side of the album isn’t enough to make it a bad record. It’s not very good, it’s awash with Jim’s horrible nasal singing but it’s almost bearable in a painful sort of way. However…
Side two of The Jim Davidson Album is where he really goes for it, this is where a record which is merely bad leaps free from the herd and scampers madly up the country lane to the village of Much Awful on the Wold, frothing and snarling and biting and kicking as it goes. We start bizarrely with an Aubrey Hopwood lullaby segueing into the ELO tracks Prologue and Twilight from their strange sci-fi concept album Time. I have no idea why. Then comes an excruciating version of Mike Sarne’s novelty hit Come Outside with Jim playing both the male and female parts. This track is a hideous exercise in self-love that will make your toes curl but more is to come. Tell Laura I Love Her is murdered in typical Davidson fashion and then murdered even further by a woefully unfunny monologue where the hero of the song (revealed to be from Smethwick for no readily apparent reason) attempts to gain entry into heaven. And then comes Jim’s finest, ie worst, moment. The song Dolly Parton.
Starting in ‘hilarious’ fashion with a gospel choir made up of Jim’s patented black voice that isn’t at all offensive, he then sings a song which struggles to even make it to single entendre. Yes it’s a hymn to the size of Dolly Parton’s breasts. If I was Dolly, I would have used the royalties from The Bodyguard soundtrack to have Jim Davidson hunted down and killed. She chose to open a theme park instead. Each to their own. After another pointless cover, this time California Man by The Move, the album comes grinding to an ear-shattering, mind-bending but more than welcome end, with a desperate to be loved Richard Digance inspired song glorifying The Sun newspaper. Tack on one last piece of nonsense with a cover of the Strawbs left-wing baiting Part of the Union and you have the perfect album for opinionated right-wing, low brow morons everywhere. It probably sold well in Woolwich but this album is a hideous waste of atoms.
So there you are, I have listened to this album so that you don’t have to. It is truly the worse album ever made, but as I said before, things can only get better after listening to it. It’s like sitting in a bat-infested cave for a month eating nothing but woodlice and dung. Afterwards, as you walk out blinking in the sun’s warm rays, everything will seem beautiful, fresh and melodious by comparison. It is only through suffering that we can appreciate the small wonderful pleasures that life can offer.
Here is Jim indulging his auto-erotic fantasies with Come Outside. If you don’t love him, the strange antagonistic old scrote can always go love himself. My betting is he frequently does:
Jim Davidson, probably playing near you in a venue you thought had closed down years ago: