Behemoth – The Satanist

Behemoth-The-Satanist-Gatefold-LP

(Nuclear Blast)

I usually, like the conscientious reviewer I try to be, listen to a record a few times before I start pontificating on it. I’m just some bloke though, despite what this gleaming halo of critical infallibility would lead you to think, and like most blokes I reserve the right to do things differently every now and then, You know, just to mess with people and that. It doesn’t even have to be a big change, by the way—something you might not even notice I’ve done, but gives me a cheeky little thrill. Different pants, that sort of thing.

SO THEN. What I’ve done is started writing this review before The Satanist is even finished. ANARCHY! This might even backfire, really badly. FUCK, WHAT HAVE I DONE?!

I’ve never been an especial fan of Adam ‘Nergal’ Darski and his Jesus-hating mates, which probably means I’ll never be allowed in the Kool Kidz Klub or something equally life-ending. Whilst I’ve always found them perfectly okay, even pretty good, the sheer amount of glowing praise chucked their way has always left me a bit puzzled—the fury and racket is always there, but it never grabbed my attention quite as fully as others, apparently. As I write this paragraph, the last song on The Satanist is just about to go FULLY BONKERS by the sounds of it, and I’ll tell you this, Pigeon-friends—it’s a bit good, this album. I’m instantly smitten, I just hope it can maintain my interest.

(This bit was written with the benefit of a couple of days with the record. Full disclosure, and that. Not Disclosure the rubbish film, I mean…oh, forget it.) Compared to their earlier stuff, the production is vastly more grandiose and it brings something extra out of Behemoth. There’s an honest-to-goodness set of massive hairy balls to this record; the confidence to slow down and stretch out seems beyond a lot of bands, and whilst breakneck pace is impressive in and of itself, you can’t really sustain a whole record with it unless you’re doing other mad shit to make up for blurring past in a flurry of snare drums and tremelo picking.

The weird thing is, they’re not really doing much differently to before, yet The Satanist has utterly captivated me. There’s a vitality that seems lacking from anything else they’ve done, which imbues the whole thing with a real sense of urgent, genuine fury. It’d be easy enough—and probably accurate—to reason that this is at least partly due to Nergal’s recent fight with leukaemia—staring death in the eye has a way of really giving you a boot up the arse—and no doubt interviews will back this up. I’m going with ‘they just really actually hate Jesus now’ though, as I am fundamentally a bearded child.

Anyway. This is easily the best thing I’ve ever heard by Behemoth. By actual miles. Essential.

666 Ks.

Rolling Stone Top 500 Challenge VIII

"Cool Santa" by peter_h_hammond_1953

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End of the line, folks. This’ll be the last one of these, at least for here and now. I didn’t make it to the peak, where Sgt Peppers resides in all his predictable pomp. I failed. I am a failure.

Enjoy!

The Rules: Try and listen to all the albums on the Rolling Stone top 500 albums of all time. No vetoes. I’m not even allowed to veto things on the grounds that they contain Ian Brown.

My Progress: 325-301

325 Eric ClaptonSlowhand: It still baffles me that someone can go from being in The Yardbirds and Cream, both incredibly vital, urgent, excellent bands… to this. Meandering, plodding and pedestrian, this is utterly dull. How anyone can make a song about doing too much cocaine sound like an overdose of cocoa is beyond me.

324 David BowieStation to Station: This is full on 80s Bowie, and veers from unlistenable flirtations with disco, to fairly dull Bowie-by-numbers, to a couple of excellent guitar-led numbers. It whistled past me quickly enough.

323 The PoliceGhost in the Machine: Seriously though, fuck off Sting.

"Stewart Copeland of The Police was so fed up with Sting that he wrote the words "FUCK FACE" and "FUCK OFF YOU CUNT" on his drum heads, so he could take out his frustrations with Sting in an inspired manner."

Stewart Copeland of The Police was so fed up with Sting that he wrote “FUCK OFF YOU CUNT” on his drum heads, so he could take out his frustrations.”

322 Randy NewmanSail Away: I’m beginning to wonder if the rest of this challenge is going to revolve around me having to listen to Sting, then Randy Newman, then Sting again, then maybe some Jackson Browne. Lather, rinse, repeat. This is my third Randy Newman album, and I’ve become increasingly less tolerant of his bullshit with each one. Awful.

321 Nick DrakePink Moon: Ahhh, that’s better. Lustrous folk that’s dripping with sadness; after the previous four albums this is like a warm shower after a strenuous workout. I’d imagine, anyway, I don’t do exercise as a rule, because why on earth would you choose to do that?

320 RadioheadAmnesiac: More loveliness, courtesy of Oxford’s finest. You could argue that an album of offcuts from the Kid A recording sessions shouldn’t warrant inclusion here, but then we would have to stop talking to each other, and we wouldn’t want that, would we?

319 Bob Marley & The WailersBurnin’: I’m trying to recall if this is the first reggae album we’ve had on the list so far, but my brain is still a bit burnt out from that Randy Newman album. It all starts to haunts you, eventually. Anyway, this is pretty decent really. Not hugely my cup of tea but it’s got some great songs, good earfeel etc.

318 The O’JaysBack Stabbers: This is 70s soul at its dullest. It starts brightly enough, with a political protest song, but then gives way to endless generic love songs. When the best song on the album is ‘Love Train’ then you know you have problems.

Soulfunk 80's

Soulfunk 80’s

317 PixiesSurfer Rosa: It’s amazing how fresh The Pixies sound, even now, when every rock man and his alt dog has spent the subsequent decades copying their blueprint so shamelessly. Anyway, this is brilliant, and has Where Is My Mind on it, which is my favourite Pixies song (wow, controversial choice, not).

316 The Velvet UndergroundThe Velvet Underground: This is Velvet Underground at their most relaxed, with a distinct lack of the avant-garde oddness that made them so famous—apart from a head meltingly atonal nine-minute song at the end. Other than that it’s rather pleasant.

315 Tom Petty and The HeartbreakersDamn The Torpedoes: This is unashamedly American blue collar rawwwk, straight from the heartlands of wherever. You can imagine all of the songs being played by a blond haired boy on a tractor in Iowa, but for all that it’s very likeable, the epic hooks and anthemic choruses tempered by downtrodden working class lyrics with their feet in Steinbeck’s America.

314 Lauryn HillThe Miseducation of Lauryn Hill: This is pretty near perfect. Blending together the best of soul, hip hop, reggae and funk with intelligent, brash and militant lyrics and a strong, powerful woman at the centre of it all. Brilliant.

You want to give that up mate, it'll kill you.

You want to give that up mate, it’ll kill you.

313 NirvanaMTV Unplugged in New York: You have to wonder if this album would be quite so revered if it didn’t serve as a kind of epitaph for Kurt, but that’s how it’s ended up so you can’t really separate the two anymore. I remember very clearly seeing this for the first time on the day he died, when MTV UK went into Kurt overload, as I was doing myself. Listening back now you wonder if the scarcity of his own songs reflected his lack of faith in his own repertoire or his boredom with it. Either way, it’s a flawed and compelling album, and the finale of Leadbelly’s Where Did You Sleep Last Night still sends shivers down my spine.

312 Jane’s AddictionNothing’s Shocking: I’ve never quite understood the reverence towards Jane’s, they’re a passably good 90s alternative band whose influence was more to do with their involvement in Lollapalooza than their musical output. This is okay, but nothing more, and Perry Farrell’s voice is one of the more irritating things in this life.

311 Various ArtistsThe Sun Records Collection: This is the sort of thing that reminds me what I’m doing this challenge for. Three discs of blues, r’n’b, country and rockabilly from the archives of one of the most important studios in history. At three hours it never drags, the more obvious acts like Elvis, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis sitting alongside people I’ve never heard of on a fascinating look at the very birth of popular music. Absolutely brilliant.

310 Red Hot Chili PeppersBlood Sugar Sex Magik: I loved this album when I was thirteen because it’s exactly the sort of album that appeals to a thirteen-year-old boys, with lyrics straight out of the letters page of a wank mag. But listening back now it’s interesting how much better this sounds than the Chili’s subsequent works, with Flea’s bass much more prominently mixed than Frusciante’s weedy guitar probably being the main reason. It’s infantile whiteboy faux-funk certainly, but it’s a lot more fun than anything else they’ve done.

Fuck off, would you lads?

Fuck off, would you lads?

309 Creedence Clearwater RevivalWilly And The Poor Boys: Late 60s politically charged swamp rock from Creedence, another band on the list of bands I’ve always meant to listen to. I don’t know why I like things that are tinged with down-home country music when I hate country so much, but this is excellent, especially Fortunate Son. In fact, I love this so much I’ve already made a playlist of their other albums to listen to after I’m done with this. Yes I am a fucking idiot, what of it?

308 Frank Sinatra Songs for Swingin’ Lovers: This is actually my dad’s favourite album of all time, so you could say I’m fairly well acquainted with it. There’s been a serious deficit of swing on this list, but this more than makes up for it. It’s really all you’d ever need when it comes to Ol’ Blue Eyes; it has endlessly opulent big band arrangements and Sinatra’s voice is sublime here. An effortless cool envelops the whole thing. Forget the ruinations visited upon this genre by Bublé and his ilk, this is marvellous.

307 The BeatlesA Hard Day’s Night: If there’s one thing I’m really starting to appreciate in an album the further I get into this endeavour, it’s brevity. This mop-top era album by the Fab Four is pretty dull really, lacking any really great songs, but it’s only 30 minutes long, so that’s just fine by me.

306 BeckOdelay: This album is more like a time capsule now, a reminder of a time when you could do some pretty out there stuff and still score a major worldwide smash, so long as you had a handful of good tunes in there and you were ’cool’ enough. It’s not quite as good as I remember it being, but it’s still a good listen.

305 Lucinda WilliamsCar Wheels On A Gravel Road: This is very odd. Williams has a very distinctive voice; think Sheryl Crow with an added dash of huskiness. But this album has a very glossy sheen to it which does not suit the oddness of her voice. The few songs where the production does get stripped back work a lot better, but then they aren’t great songs in and of themselves. A very frustrating listen.

~forever young forever in are hearts~

~forever young forever in are hearts~

304 Jeff BuckleyGrace: I adore this album. Buckley’s voice is simply extraordinary, exceeding the gymnastic dexterity of your general X factor warbling automata and combining it with soul, passion and—ironically—a certain ‘X’ factor, then backing it up with an album of brilliant songs. Not many people could get away with a cover of Corpus Christi Carol on a rock album, but Jeff could. In the pantheon of sad rock stories, the fact that we’ll never hear Grace’s follow up is probably the saddest.

303 Bob DylanJohn Wesley Harding: This was Dylan returning to his roots after three electric albums, incorporating a country vibe. It’s fantastic, Dylan’s voice is very strong, with some great songs and some of his better lyrics.

302 Public EnemyFear Of A Black Planet: Angry, confrontational, noisy as hell, funny as shit and smarter than you or I. Who in their right mind wouldn’t love this? There are times when their soundclash production gets a bit much, but they are few and far between.

And fanfare please…

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301 Dolly PartonCoat Of Many Colors: Here we are then, the 200th album on this list that I’ve listened to, and the last one I’ll be writing about here. After two solid weeks of listening to nothing else I’m looking forward to choosing my own music for a while, but I’ll get round to finishing the other 300 at some point. I may even write about it if any of you lot seem remotely interested in reading it, who knows! As for this album, well it’s quite good really. I really like Dolly Parton, I think she’s an awesome woman, and while she’s far too straight ahead country for me normally, there’s something very charming about her delivery and lyrics here that win me over.

So that’s that. Bye!

Rolling Stone Top 500 Challenge VII

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By now news of this webzine’s impending demise may have reached your fragile, birdlike ears, which does raise the question: What the fuck was this whole Rolling Stone thing for, anyway? We’re nowhere near finished with it, and now we never will be. What gives? Well, I can’t answer that, I’m too busy burying my head in the sand, carrying on listening to the bloody things in a futile attempt to reach some kind of closure in the next few days that will render the enterprise as anything other than a complete and utter waste of time.

Here’s how I’ve been getting on:

The Rules: Try and listen to all the albums on the Rolling Stone top 500 albums of all time. No vetoes. I’m not even allowed to veto things on the grounds that they contain Ian Brown.

My Progress: 350-326

350 The YardbirdsRoger the Engineer: More Yardbirds fun, it’s pretty basic rock and roll really, but done with panache, verve and humour. It’s good fun, even if it’s over quicker than George Osborne masturbating to pictures of a Victorian poor house.

349 Jay-ZThe Black Album: Jay Z is everything that is wrong with hip-hop, or at least that was what I thought for a while, but this is pretty good, once you get past that slightly annoying delivery method that he has. It’s all bombast and big pop hooks, and sometimes that’s okay.

348 Muddy WatersAt Newport 1960: This album is so damn cool, and benefits greatly from not being a four-disc career retrospective, therefore ending well before I got bored of it.

347 Pink FloydThe Piper At The Gates Of Dawn: Speaking of boredom, from an intellectual standpoint this represented a huge leap forward in what was possible within the confines of ‘pop’ music, but on the other hand, it’s about as enjoyable as being in the next room to George Osborne masturbating to pictures of a Victorian poor house. That’s right, I’m introducing a running gag. Don’t worry, I won’t use it again.

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George Osborne, pictured “piping” at the gates of Downing Street

346 De La Soul3 Feet High and Rising: This is a delightful ray of sunshine that has utterly rescued my day. I loved this album as a kid, the first hip-hop album I heard that wasn’t ‘gangsta’; it reminds me of carefree afternoons in the parks, sunny days and happiness, so I presume it must be someone else’s childhood I’m remembering.

345 Talking HeadsStop Making Sense: Live albums are, as a rule, a bit pish, but I’d like to hereby amend that rule to allow for live albums whose original songs were generally destroyed by hideous 80s production. This is beefier, more organic and just plain urgent than Talking Heads’ albums, and therefore utterly allowable.

344 Lou ReedBerlin: This often gets billed as the most depressing album ever, which certainly piqued my interest. While I think most of my record collection has it beat for gloominess, there’s certainly no denying the crushing misery in Reed’s lyrics here, and the overall album is a startling mix of bombast and ennui. Excellent.

343 Meat LoafBat Out Of Hell: This list throws up some interesting juxtapositions at times, and going from the ultra-gloom of Lou Reed to Meat Loaf’s vaudevillian mix of Jerry Lee Lewis, Queen and rock opera makes for quite the change. This is, of course, completely ridiculous, but I can’t help but love it just a little bit.

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342 Depeche ModeViolator: My brother went to school with Dave Gahan, which may go some way to explaining why Dave Gahan is so bloody miserable. This album, which is like a gloomy British Pretty Hate Machine, is phenomenal. Cheers bro!

341 MobyPlay: In which the white man finally killed the blues. This is just awful. Imagine you took DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing….., removed everything vital, interesting or good about it, and replaced it with the white noise from inside an advertising executive’s head. This is what you get. Oh, for reference, Endtroducing….. didn’t make this list. So there’s that.

340 Black FlagDamaged: This may sound like it was recorded inside a tiny wooden box at the top of a flight of stairs on the summit of a cliff, but the sheer force of personality contained within it still shines through. It’s also bloody nice to finally hear some proper distortion and angry teenagers after the bleepy-bloopy-cultural-appropriatey nonsense of Moby.

339 Tom WaitsThe Heart of Saturday Night: More bar-soaked blues from Mr Waits, this time dating from an era when he could ostensibly ‘carry a tune’, which almost ruins it somehow. At times it strays into lounge act cheese, but manages to pull it back most of the time.

"We're monkeys with money and guns." -- Tom Waits

“We’re monkeys with money and guns.” — Tom Waits

338 Big Brother & The Holding CompanyCheap Thrills: I’d never heard of this, but it’s the major label debut of Janis Joplin. The production is dreadful, it sounds like a bad live recording, and the band aren’t exactly The Experience. But for all that, the power of Janis’ voice mixed with the bluesy rock and some good songwriting make this a pretty decent album.

337 Jethro TullAqualung: Poppy proggy stuff from The Tull. I can imagine at least one Demon Pigeon writer who probably worships this album and has it in seventeen formats, including one composed entirely from crystallised baby tears but while I enjoyed it well enough, it faded from my memory almost instantly.

336 RadioheadIn Rainbows: When you look around at the bands that came out of England in the mid-90s and compare them with Radiohead’s nigh on 25-year career, you realise just how unique a band they were and continue to be. This album, even if you strip away the hype around its release method, is as excellent as you’d expect, which is to say they continue to hit a bar that only they can even see from the ground.

335 SoundgardenSuperunknown: I loved this when I was a fresh faced teen in a flannel shirt and cherry red DMs, but over time the shine has come off the Soundgarden train, perhaps as a result of their god awful reunion album. Anyway, this has some great tracks on it, but it misses the dirty feel of its predecessor and is probably five or six songs too long.

Soundgarden+Gun

334 Graham ParkerSqueezing Out Sparks: This represented my toughest ordeal yet in terms of tracking it down, with not even your more piratey of bays having a copy. I managed to cobble together a playlist on Spotify of all but one track, although with a fair few live versions. Anyway, this is basically 70s British pub rock of the Elvis Costello variety, pleasant enough, with a few jaunty catchy tunes. Not bad, if hardly earth-shattering.

333 XWild Gift: X were apparently LA’s answer to the punk rock ‘revolution’ and this is pretty much what you’d expect, fairly basic punk crossed with a dash of Ramones-style pop nous. Not bad but nothing to write home about. Or indeed, write an article on a music blog about, even though that’s exactly what I’m doing.

332 Richard and Linda ThompsonShoot Out the Lights: I dimly recall an album by these two earlier on in the challenge, but I couldn’t tell you a thing about it. Sure, I could look at what I wrote last time, but I’m not going to. This is perfectly pleasant for the most part, Linda’s songs in particular are nice little folk numbers, while Richard’s are less enticing. But it passes the time well enough.

331 The BeatlesHelp!: I was going to write the standard ‘blah blah blueprint for pop music, blah blah amazing songwriting, blah blah pop perfection’ thing, and it’d all be true, but then I got to You Like Me Too Much, a song I’ve heard many times before without really listening to, and if you think Blurred Lines was a bit on the creepy side, then get a load of this. Here’s a game: Pick an actor who creeps you out. Read the lyrics in your head, but in his voice. Terrified yet? Of course it’s delivered with all the cheeky pop charm you’d expect, but it struck me as a bit odd. Great album though.

Michael+Cera+Rocks+Creepy+Mustache+ZUw7iAKnDMFl

330 Neil YoungTonight’s the Night: Written in the aftermath of the deaths of some of Young’s close friends to drugs, this is absolutely gripping, An at times literal howl of grief, this has some of Young’s strongest songs delivered in a shambolic drunken stupor. It’s not an easy listen. Young’s already ‘interesting’ vocal delivery style doesn’t even find anything close to the melody at times, but it’s incredibly moving, engrossing and brilliant.

329 James BrownIn the Jungle Groove: Set the misogyny ray to full blast! The opening track of this album is somewhat ruined by lyrics that play like an earnest version of Harry Enfield’s ‘women, know your place’ routine. But after that the godfather of soul decides to shut the hell up and essentially do nothing more than play the hype man to his own band as they storm through endless funk workouts, chipping in occasionally with a ‘hit me’, ‘ooh,’ or ‘waaaaa’. This drastically improves the album, although by its end I’m bored to tears of funk.

328 Sonic YouthDaydream Nation: This is absolutely brilliant. I don’t really know what more to say about it than that. If you like alternative rock, or art rock, or anything even remotely offbeat, and you don’t like Sonic Youth, well then shit. I can’t help you I’m afraid.

327 Liz PhairExile in Guyville: There’s an awful lot of stuff on this list I’ve never heard before, obviously, but very few occasions where I have never even heard of the artist at all. But strike me down, I’d never heard of Liz Phair before, despite her being an alt rock feminist star from the 90s. The 90s are my thing! Or so I thought. I could only assume this was an undiscovered gem in waiting. The lyrics are funny, confrontational and full of feminist ire (the album is a riposte to the sexual braggadocio of the Stones’ Exile on Main Street, from a woman’s perspective) and the songs are easily good enough to back it up, all laid-back guitar and minimal production. A great find. Hooray for the 90s!

326 The CureDisintegration: This is definitely the high water mark for The Cure and their foppish goth, although it’s all a bit too wishy washy to truly win me over. It’s alright though.

So there you go. Over a third of the way through. That counts as a milestone, right? Tune in to see if I can manage to get another load done before THE END.

Goya – 777

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(Opoponax Records)

Bold statement time: This is the album Sabbath fans were hoping for from the abomination that was 13. Have I piqued your interest? Good.

I’ve been meaning to review this for ages but put simply, I have been too busy listening to it. If you like riffs and groove-laden laid-back awesomeness then this is probably your cup of tea or (stagnant bong water).

With just six songs, clocking in at just over 50 mins, this very much has the feeling of an LP. You remember, those spinning black things with grooves? But even though this is tipping a very large brimmed and flouncy hat to the 70s, it sounds really fresh without being a sound-a-like for fans of whoever. This is no Homme and Friends or Truckfighters.

The album opens with The Rights Of Hashage and straight away you can’t help but nod along in the way only an intoxicating monster riff can induce. In fact it’s such a great opening track that you barely notice that nine minutes have passed while you nodded. As soon as the double layered guitar solos kicked in I was in an air guitar frenzy. I think I may be in love with three guys that play ‘the doom’.

Let’s slow things down a bit though, because I’m not the kind of girl that puts out on the first date. Goya have got me gushing at the gusset, but they’re going to have to work hard to finish me off. Necromance ups the tempo but still—the riffs. THE RIFFS! Ok boys, I’m ears-akimbo. Impregnate me with your doomy-stonery seed. Yes, right there. Right in my weeping ear holes.

Night Creeps follows and the guitars are just all of the awesome. If you aren’t pulling a silly face while bending that imaginary guitar string you have no soul. That voice has all of the desolate brilliance that Ozzy’s had circa Black Sabbath. Did I mention this is a bit Sabbathy? I like Sabbath. I think Goya do too. This delivers Iommi-loving riffs and guitar freakouts in spades.

Never over-complicated or sounding deliberately clichéd (*cough* Uncle Acid *cough* Ghost *cough*) this has a timeless feeling in the same way Sabbath, the Doors, or Crimson did in their prime; none of whom do now for various death, infirmity and being-shit related reasons.

Have I convinced you yet?

Death’s Approaching Lullaby is another 12-minute plus riffsplosion and is utterly relentless. Blackfire has such a bouncy riff that it envelops your body and forces your standard head nod into a full-body strut. Closer Bad Vibes starts out all doomy gloomy, and soon drags you under its hypnotic power. As it draws to a close I’m left dirty, alone and wanting more. I leaf through our old love letters and have a little cry to myself about all the good times we had.

Look, you should really stop reading this and get 777 plugged directly into your brain. This is not just a collection of songs pasted together. It seems to my uneducated ears that thought has been put into making an actual album. If this had been released in the mid-70s it would be described as genre defining. It’s that good. Do I really need to say more?

marijuana.bandcamp.com

Rolling Stone Top 500 Challenge VI

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I’m rattling through these albums lickety-bloody-split at the moment, to take advantage of the fact that nobody’s bothered to release any good records yet this year, and I’m bored of all the stuff from last year. We’re definitely not running out of steam, honest. Like all our manifold serialised ‘articles’, we will one day get this finished. 

Without further ado:

The Rules: Try and listen to all the albums on the Rolling Stone top 500 albums of all time. No vetoes. I’m not even allowed to veto things on the grounds that they contain Ian Brown.

My Progress: 375-351

375 Jackson BrowneLate For The Sky: I’m beginning to wonder whether Jackson Browne was on the panel that decided this list, and his sole contribution was to give them a list of all his own records copied off of Wikipedia. Yet more bland 70s AOR. You could make an argument for this being better than his two records further back in the list, but you’ll notice that I’m not.

374 Roxy MusicSiren: If the last Roxy Music album on the list failed to win me over, then this one does a much better job. 1970s post-punk art-pop, but with some excellent songs, and a dark, menacing vibe throughout.

373 Jefferson AirplaneVolunteers: Given the cultural significance of the so called hippie movement, there’s been precious little hippie music on this list so far, but Jefferson Airplane change all that. This is folk rock twisted through a pharmaceutical haze, and it’s bloody brilliant. Also, they later got on cocaine and changed their name to STARSHIP, and we heartily approve of that.

372 The PoliceReggatta De Blanc: Fuck off, Sting.

And not tantrically, either.

And not tantrically, either.

371 Arctic MonkeysWhatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not: This veers between brilliantly catchy working class British rock with inventive lyrics, and meandering dull indie fare. The fact that it can even claim the first part at all probably makes it the best British indie album in a decade.

370 Mott the HoopleMott: Looking at the next run of four albums set this whole ridiculous enterprise back by a few days, filling me as it did with a deep ladle-full of dread. I mean, forgotten glam rockers, the most boring band on the planet, a washed up pop star and The Fucking Smiths. You try looking at that list and pressing play. Urgh. But this took me by surprise; less the Bowie-aping glam stomp of their earlier work, more bluesy, biting and only a bit glam rock.

369 The SmithsLouder Than Bombs: I must be feeling charitable after being delighted by Mott, because despite my utter hatred for ‘meat eaters are paedophiles’ Morrissey and his whingy, awful band of tossers, this double-disc retrospective (*sigh*) is actually not as objectionable as it might be. It even has a bona fide ‘quite good’ song, London, which I hadn’t heard before. My world is upturned.

368 EaglesEagles: My sense of lost equilibrium is not helped at all by this, the first album by American snooze merchants the Eagles also being much better than I thought it was going to be. For fuck’s sake. Laid back without being dull, this is marginally rougher round the edges than their later stuff and really rather good.

the eagles

367 MadonnaRay of Light. Ah, there you go. Expectations well and truly met. I grew up quite liking Madonna, but I notice that the one really great album she made (Erotica) doesn’t make this list, so instead we have to put up with this thoroughly dull pop/dance hybrid which could have done with being twinned with some personality.

366 Johnny CashAmerican Recordings: I absolutely adore this album, the richness of Cash’s voice is like butter but really sad butter, the production is probably the best thing Rick Rubin has ever done and the songs are heart-wrenching, dark and bleakly comic. Brilliant.

365 Rage Against the MachineRage Against the Machine: It turns out I remember every single lyric on this album, which I think makes me a semi-qualified rapper. I might try and find a ‘battle’ somewhere and test this theory. This is, of course, brilliant, but then you knew that already.

364 The DoorsL.A. Woman: From the opening riff of The Changeling to the closing bars of Riders on the Storm this is The Doors at their flawless, bluesiest best. Brilliant. Wait! Once again, that’s three brilliant albums in a row, and that can mean only one thing…

363 New OrderSubstance: …nooooo, it’s another two-disc retrospective! Of a British electro-pop band from the 80s that I utterly despise! If anyone ever wanted to know what was so bad about the 1980s, point them at New Order. When the drum machine heralding the start of Blue Monday comes in I want to end all of the world and its contents. This sounds like the band you formed when you were seven and there were two of you with keyboards and you just hit the demo buttons and sang mumbled tuneless bullshit about the girl down the street who you fancied over the top of it. By you, I mean me, obviously. That this stuff gets played on BBC Radio Two to this very fucking day completely breaks my mind.

362 The Smashing PumpkinsSiamese Dream: If you’d have asked me my favourite album of all time throughout most of my teens and early 20s I’d have told you this was it; and it hasn’t slipped all that far down the list in the intervening decades. Not a note wasted, and the richest guitar tones known to mankind, this is deliriously good. Fuck sake, why’d you fucking ruin it Billy?

361 OutkastStankonia: You can see how this launched Outkast into the astrosphere sales-wise; brilliantly offbeat lyrics and massive pop melodies. It’s a fairly enjoyable ride throughout.

360 BuzzcocksSingles Going Steady: Again, I fail to see how a greatest hits compilation qualifies as an album. If those are the rules, we might as well start letting Jeremy Clarkson decide what’s cool. But it seems that at least half this list of greatest albums is comprised of not-actually-albums-except-in-contractual-terms. Hey ho. This is exactly what you’d expect from a Buzzcocks best-of, concise pop-punk with occasional moments of brilliance and a fair amount of ballast.

Elton John pictured in 1983.

Elton John pictured in 1983.

359 Elton JohnHonky Chateau: One of the last albums in Elton’s period of absolute brilliance, when he could swirl Americana, blues, soul and British pop into a big old pot and come out with something majestic. Then the 80s (ie, cocaine) came along and turned him into a cartoon pop buffoon wearing wacky Timmy Mallett glasses. This is excellent, though.

358 Miles DavisSketches Of Spain: As smooth as a highly-polished thing being buffed to a sheen in Smoothsville, USA, this mixture of Davis’ more laid-back jazz and flamenco rhythms is quite lovely, if perhaps not quite as memorable as works Davis would produce elsewhere.

357 The Rolling StonesBetween the Buttons:  This is the first of ten Rolling Stones albums on this list, and in our opinion, the tenth best album on anyone’s back catalogue—even that of Jesus Christ himself—doesn’t deserve a place anywhere near a list of the greatest albums of all time. And so it proves here, with this utterly bland collection of songs from the Stones.

356 Randy Newman12 Songs: Again, I can’t listen to this without hearing the Toy Story theme, mainly because all this is is Newman’s ‘say what you see’ whimsy over 12 nauseating tracks. It’s just so dull.

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355 The YardbirdsHaving A Rave Up With The Yardbirds: There’s an argument to be made that The Yardbirds are the most important British rock band of the 60s, seeing as they variously had Clapton, Beck and Page as their ‘axemen’, but that would clearly be a stupid argument so I don’t know why I mentioned it. This album features all three at various points and is brilliantly excitable blues and soul-inflected rock ‘n’ roll. I bet they were incredible live.

354 Billy Joel52nd Street: It’s clear on this how much Joel wants to be Elton John. It’s also clear that Joel is utterly deluded. This is inoffensive 70s radio-friendly AOR, and as such, actually contrives to be as offensive as possible.

353 Kanye WestMy Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy: This flits between brilliant and inventive, and bland and worryingly misogynistic; and the longer it goes on the more it drifts towards the latter, especially the song that apes Iron Man by Sabbath as Kanye indulges his woman-hating douchebaggery. An odd mix. Also the title sounds like one of those weird Facebook groups full of inspiring confidence-boosting quotes that the mentally subnormal subscribe to.

352 Dire StraitsBrothers In Arms: I probably don’t need to review this as I’d be surprised if anyone reading hadn’t heard it. Some great songs ruined by terrible production, and some boring songs made worse by terrible production. Bit of a snoozeathon, all told.

351 Neil Young & Crazy HorseRust Never Sleeps: This album is so good that it effectively sapped Young’s creative powers to the extent that he would be unable to release another good album for an entire decade. From the acoustic folk of the first side—all wistful and brooding—to the raucous and belligerent rock of the second, this is fantastic. Good old Uncle Neil.

His name is Young but he is old. That's the joke.

His name is Young but he is old. That’s the joke.

And there you have it, another 25 classic records evaluated, devoured and pummelled to the ground. My educational musical odyssey will return… in The Critic Who Loved To Hate.

Tune in next time if you can be bothered. BYE!

Indian – From All Purity

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(Relapse Records)

I’m a big fan of just kind of saying what you mean, out there in what we so laughably call ‘the real world’. Bands like Indian appeal pretty strongly to that part of my psyche, as handily evidenced by them wanging a track called Rape front and centre of their latest release (note: I had a wee chat about this with our esteemed editor and all-around ruddy bloody nice bloke Paul shortly before I submitted this review. Interesting, it was. No, it was a private chat. No, YOU shut up and get on with it.) 

Erm, anyway. Yeah. Indian and their new record. Sorry. It’s really, really horrible. Like, properly awful. In the best possible way, of course. Their last one, Guiltless? That was fucking terrifying too, but in a mildly more acceptable manner than this.

From All Purity essentially takes a look at all the things that usually make for a popular record and chucks all of them right in the bin. It then takes a dirty great dump in the bin, covers the plops in newspaper, sets fire to the paper and rolls the bin straight into the part of your mind that deals with melody and hooks. FUCK YOU MELODY! UP YOURS, EASY-TO-GRASP STRUCTURES! POKE IT UP YOUR HOOP, SINGALONG CHORUSES! RAAAGH! YEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRGH!

A bit like that, anyway. I’m not sure why everything has to be categorised as ‘blackened x’ these days, but that’s where other people are going with this, so I might as well roll with it in a desperate, futile attempt to sound contemporary and knowledgeable. I dunno, we used to just call this stuff ‘doom’ and get back to playing on our Amigas and Megadrives. Tch.

Anyway, the ‘describing’ bit: It lumbers along, staggering from hideous riff to clattering fill to grief-laden shriek like a stabbed mammoth, all loaded up on sadness, opiates of suspect origin and a furious, clamouring depression. Did I mention it’s really, really horrible? Like, properly awful?

Yep, I love it. For fans of Burning Witch, if such a creature really exists and I didn’t invent it.

www.indiandoom.com

Rolling Stone Top 500 Challenge V

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We’re now a quarter-way through this list of the supposed greatest albums of all time, as decided by whoever Rolling Stone magazine thought was important enough to ask at the time. Now that we’re clear of the bottom hundred, you’d expect the oddities and scratch-your-head moments to be less frequent; for the list to become a nailed-on cavalcade of brilliance. Right?

Haha. Let’s find out.

The Rules: Try and listen to all the albums on the Rolling Stone top 500 albums of all time. No vetoes. I’m not even allowed to veto things on the grounds that they contain Ian Brown.

My Progress: 399-376

399 Tom WaitsRain Dogs: Not a bad way to start the fifth leg of this ridiculous enterprise, bar-soaked off-kilter blues-jazz-rock hyphenated-stuff from the man with a voice like a stabbed bear. Brilliant.

398 ZZ Top Eliminator: Every time I was starting to enjoy this slice of prime ‘Dad Rock’, I was transfixed by a mental image of Jeremy ‘Jeremy’ Clarkson rocking out in his finest shiny leather blouson and tight blue jeans, the lights of an empty dance floor rebounding off his bald spot and his moccasins, and when he turned round to smile at me, it was my face he was wearing.

397 Massive AttackBlue Lines: For some reason this is preferred over the infinitely better Mezzanine. I understand this lay down the blueprint for all the trip-hop that would follow, but anyone who would argue that it has anything more than a handful of good tunes and one classic scattered across its running time would be lying. To your face.

396 Roxy MusicFor Your Pleasure: I fully expected to hate this due to my own shady memories identifying them as some kind of 80s yuppie nonsense, but it’s actually a lot more like sophisticated experimental glam punk than I was expecting. I still don’t particularly like it, though.

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395 LCD SoundsystemSound of Silver: As someone who lived most of his formative years above various nightclubs around London and Essex, I have a utter hatred for anything that has a traditional dance beat, soundtracking as it did countless endless nights of broken sleep and tears. As this starts I start finding myself banging my head against the wall in a sudden attack of muscle and sense memory, but across its running time I find myself being quite won over by this album’s charms. What is happening to me?

394 Randy NewmanGood Old Boys: As someone who only really knows Newman from the Toy Story films and that Family Guy skit, I wasn’t really expecting savagely cutting satire, but that’s what this album delivers in spades. Unfortunately it couples this lyrical excellence with a songwriting style that is basically ‘every song sounds like the song from Toy Story.’ Every. Single. Song. What a weird album.

393 M.I.A.Kala: I don’t really understand what this is, but I think I quite like it. Either that or I utterly detest it. I can’t tell any more. I think it might be the latter. Yes, it’s awful. Unless it’s not. It is though.

392 The BeatlesLet It Be: And so we get to the first of ten Beatles albums on the list. One of their more relaxed efforts, there’s as you would expect some great songs in here, and some overrated self-indulgent dross. Nestled in amongst the other shit on this list it’s a bright little ray of sunshine, even if it’s really not good enough to warrant inclusion on any sane person’s list.

391 Jackson BrowneThe Pretender: I’d already done a Jackson Browne album on this list, but couldn’t remember it at all. Now I know why. This is the blandest, most generic dreadfulness. Urgh. There’s another one of his albums in the next leg, and I’ll have probably forgotten what he sounds like again before I get to it.

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390 The White StripesElephant: I’m actually rather fond or The White Stripes, who seem to be the only people to have become mainstream rock acts without particularly compromising their integrity in recent years. I love Jack White’s guitar tone, and Meg’s ability to keep the rhythm completely loose. It’s not my favourite album of theirs, but I’d take this over your Kings of Leons and your Killers from here until, well, the end of time.

389 Don HenleyThe End of the Innocence: Well now this is just awful. It doesn’t even have American Pie on it. I hate American Pie, but it’d still be preferable to all the other songs on offer on this excremental 80s AOR fare.

388 Various ArtistsThe Indestructible Beat of Soweto: Listen, if you feel that owning some world music somehow alleviates your white guilt and middle class privilege then go right ahead, but please don’t try and convince me that it’s good, because it’s just not. In fact I think this might be the worst album I’ve heard on this list so far, an unlistenable melange of bad 80s production, weak melodies repeated ad infinitum and absolutely nothing whatsoever to redeem it, save for the aforementioned middle class guilt avoidance hippie bullshit aesthetic. It’s like nails on a blackboard for an hour.

387 Wu-Tang ClanEnter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers): This is more like it. Sublimely ridiculous cartoon gangsta hip hop. I’ve heard this album christ knows how many times and it still makes me giggle every single time.

386 Steely DanPretzel Logic: I’m starting to think that this is Rolling Stone’s top 500 generic AOR albums from the 70s and 80s when its writers were actually young, with a few modern additions to make them seem vaguely hip. This is dull, and I can’t think of anything else to say about it than that.

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385 Bob DylanLove And Theft: On the one hand it’s great that an artist like Dylan can find the drive to keep going well into his dotage, on the other hand it’s not so good that we actually have to listen to it. This is fairly generic folk rock, delivered with all the grace and poise of a tramp pissing into your mouth.

384 The WhoA Quick One: The Who are one of the bands that I was hoping to get to know a bit better over this exercise, a band I always meant to get around to. On the strength of this, their second album, maybe I should not be so hasty. Mop top brit pop from the 60s, it’s all perfectly fine, but I can’t find anything in this to justify the hype I’ve heard about this band throughout my life. It’s the first of seven Who albums on the list, however, so I’ll have plenty of opportunities to change my mind. *loads shotgun*

383 Talking HeadsMore Songs About Buildings and Food:  There’s a strange disco vibe on this second album by oddball post-punks Talking Heads, which is possibly why I didn’t enjoy it as much as I was expecting to. The lyrics and vocals of David Byrne are as enjoyable as you’d expect, but the music just feels flat and tinny and overly repetitive, and the music just feels flat and tinny and overly repetitive.

382 Modern LoversModern Lovers: This is interesting, somewhere between the Velvet Underground and punk, I’d never heard of this before. Hey look, this list accomplished something!

381 The Beach BoysSmile: This list predates Brian Wilson finishing Smile properly I assume, which is why I have to listen to this mish mash instead, a completely half-baked clump of ideas, occasional moments of genius nestled amongst the detritus of the rest of it. Frustrating.

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380 Toots and The MaytalsFunky Kingston: Now this is delightful. Proper Jamaican reggae, this is like swallowing sunshine or taking a bath in happiness. Lovely.

379 TLCCrazysexycool: Jesus. This is the worst kind of generic 90s R’n’B pop, but it’s sold loads of millions of copies despite it only having a couple of catchy tunes on it and a production so tepid that it would make Michael Bolton weep, so that must make it worthy of inclusion on a list of the so-called greatest albums of all time, right? RIGHT?

378 Oasis(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?: This was less of a listening experience, more a traumatic dip into the murky backwater swamp of my own wretched past, an unwelcome reminder of bad times and things best forgotten. Cheers Rolling Stone.

377 John Lee HookerThe Ultimate Collection (1948-1990): I got the ‘I-really-like-John-Lee-Hooker-but-I-don’t-think-anyone-really-needs-to-ever-sit-through-three-straight-CDs-of-his-back-catalogue-what-with-his-songs-all-being-really-similar-and-that’ blues

376 BjörkPost: You can take your Lady Gagas and your M.I.As and shove them, quite frankly. If you want incredibly innovative, brilliantly written and completely nuts art-pop, then Bjork has been doing it a hell of a lot longer and better than anyone else. This album is dripping with menace, beauty, fragility, power, sexuality and brilliance. And she’s never ruined the Muppets.

bjork

Hooray! That’s another 25 albums gobbled up in short order, and to ensure complete digestion I must now sleep them off, otherwise I’ll be bringing them all back up again in a minute. With another leg done, that’s only… 15 to go! 

 oh god