Monday, March 29, 2010
I have been trying to write this fucking review for days, and every time, Microsoft works has had to shut down, and I’ve lost it all. I typed the same intro making fun of Rock And Roll High School 5 times! So, fuck it, I’m done trying. Sorry Rocket To Russia, but you’re getting stiffed in the review department. It’s a good album, look it up. “Teenage Lobotomy” and “Sheena Is A Punk rocker” are great. The rest of the reviews due will be up soon. Fucking computer keeps giving me shit.
Next up, #464: The Blueprint- Jay-Z.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
It is my sincerest opinion that PJ Harvey might be one of the most underrated artists of all time, and To Bring You My Love is probably her best next to Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, an album heinously ignored by this list. The opening track, the darkly haunting “To Bring You My Love” show her for the pretty, gritty poet she is. The water motif throughout the album, and displayed in the cover, begins here, as does the multiple references to religion. It’s grim, growling sound is matched by the next track, but also blown away by it’s heavier, hard tone. “Meet ze Monsta” manages to be even more evil sounding than the last, with distorted instruments that would make the White Stripes jealous, and a work-song beat that makes any listener bang their head. In the lyrics, note the references to monsoons, for the water motif, and the line “Hell ain’t half full, take me with you” just because I love it. “Working For The Man” is an almost whispered track, with PJ accompanied primarily and almost solely by the bass. She does some amazing little vocal affectations and inflections during this track that make it so haunting and sensual. No water references in these lyrics, but she is speaking to God, in an ethereal indictment of ignorance and obsession with machinery, in my opinion.
From the last three tracks, we change over to a totally raw, loud, emotional, acoustic song, one of my favorites on the album, entitled “C’Mon Billy”, which is told from the perspective of a woman trying to plead with the man who got her pregnant to return to her. You can almost hear her sobbing in the lyrics, half-seducing, half-begging. Then the orchestra comes in, you truly discover the compositional range of Ms. Harvey, who by this point, if just for this track alone, earns the comparisons she gets to Bob Dylan, and for me to say that means a lot. “Teclo” changes the tone yet again, with Harvey switching from girlish agony to gutteral groans of suffering. On this track, every note she sings, every crack and wail is spine-chillingly present, thanks to the minimalist accompaniment for the first half of the song. By the end, this grim song gets more inturments, including the haunting bells that seem to complete that aura of misty fear. “Long Snake Moan” marks the return of the water motif, with darkly sexual…is it undertones? I mean, I want to say undertones, but they’re pretty much out in the open. Whatever, it’s sexy as shit. “Die of/Pleasure/Hear my/Dreaming/You’ll be/Drowning” are just some of the gorgeous lyrics to this hard rock track, that proves Harvey can get as heavy as hell itself. Seriously, this is a really hot track. Maybe just for me, but that’s irrelevant. It’s terrific whether you find it sexy or not. If I need to point out the water motif to you in “Down by the Water”, you need to get sterilized. This bleak track, reminiscent of old folk songs, but given a modern vibe, Harvey spins a song as a woman who has drowned her daughter.
“Oh, help me, Jesus, come through the storm/I had to lose her, to do her harm/I heard her holler, I heard her moan/My lovely daughter, I took her home/Little fish, big fish, swimming in the water/Come back here, man, gimme my daughter”
Those words could have been written 60, 70 years ago by an old folk mistress, but instead it’s young Harvey who shows her songwriting chops at their peak with this one. And to have this song follow up the wild, heavy, frenetic “Long Snake Moan” is just ingenious. Of course, to add to the eeriness of this album, she follows a song about drowning a daughter with a song entitled “I Think I’m A Mother”. Now, I’ll tell you the truth, I love the lyrics to this song, just like I love some of Dylan’s lyrics, not because of what they mean, but because I don’t have a fucking clue what they mean. Musically, the song is as dark as any other, but the pounding drum that courses through adds an aura of terror to the already disturbing musical world of PJ Harvey. The covered, muted vocals are also genius, and reminiscent of another singer-songwriter who I’ve yet to reference in this review as I’ve done it too much in the past, but let’s just say we’ve already reviewed all three albums he has on this list.
The plea to “Send His Love To Me” was expressed in earlier tracks, such as the title track, but this rebels against the water motif, by continually discussing dryness, and returns to the mention of Jesus. “Send His Love To Me” thematically seems a parallel to “To Bring You My Love”. Even the titles suggest two different but comparable things, giving and receiving. The musical style of both tracks are also polar opposites. While the first, “To Bring You My Love” is bleak and soft, this track is alive and bright. Even Harvey’s Patti Smith-esque wails can’t hide the energy in that tambourine and acoustic guitar. This track is truly one of the highlights of the album, especially with how well it fits into the themes and plays off of the other tracks. The album closes on “The Dancer”, which finally lets you in on the secret, if you choose to accept it: The album is a story, the entire album being a woman’s journey, first trying to bring her love to someone, and through the torturous pains of life, is reduced to begging for Jesus to “Send His Love To Me”. The opening lines of “The Dancer” wrap up this story:
“He came riding fast like a phoenix out of fire flames/He came dressed in black with a cross bearing my name/He came bathed in light and the splendor and glory/I can't believe what the lord has finally sent me”
The water motif returns in “My love will stay till the river bed run dry”, and do you get it now? The references to water change to drought as her hope dies out. Yeah, he true sign of a masterpiece, all the pieces, individually great, come together perfectly.
To Bring You My Love is the type of album one should aspire to make. It’s craftsmanship is flawless, it’s compositions and performances incredible, and it all works as a cohesive piece of music. Harvey on this album created not just a phenomenal collection of songs, but a remarkable simplistic symphony. I cannot reach out of the computer screen and force you to listen to this, but know that I would if I could.
See you guys tomorrow for #105: Rocket To Russia by The Ramones.
Now, I’m not too familiar with the work of Rod Stewart beyond his Greatest Hits album, so I looked forward to giving Every Picture Tells A Story a listen. The album opens on the title track, co-written by Stewart and Ronnie Wood, a former member of Rod’s The Faces, now in The Rolling Stones. The track is a fun, spirited rock track, and Stewart’s crackling, raspy voice fits it perfectly. When the back-up vocals jump in about a little more than halfway through, the song fins that one thing I felt it was missing before, and by the end, I’m wishing more than anything I could hear this on the original vinyl. The second track, “Seems Like A Long Time” is a great slow track, with Stewart’s rasp adding to the sentimentality, reminiscent of the best kind of Otis Redding ballad. After performing these two kind-of safe tracks, Stewart gets real fucking ballsy really fast by taking on the King. That’s right, track three is a cover of “That’s All Right” by Arthur Crudup, made famous by Elvis Presley. Rod’s interpretation is…well, I’ll stick to Elvis, thanks, and I’m pretty sure most people will agree. This track includes “Amazing Grace”, though for some of you this may come up as a different track. The “Amazing Grace” cover is a lot more enjoyable, giving it an old, weary, bluesy feel. The next track shows Rod again trying to take on a master, this time Bob Dylan with “Tomorrow Is A Long Time”, and even Elvis again, since this song was covered by him. Stewart’s rendition of the Dylan song is a lot better than his idea of an Elvis song, and Stewart seems truly sincere, like he’s actually bothered to look at the lyrics (you’d be surprised how many Dylan covers don’t).
After this comes the under a minute unmarked track O. Henry, and then the song everyone’s been waiting for, Rod’s signature song, “Maggie May”. Written about a true affair with an older woman, Stewart sings his raspy heart out on this rock and roll classic, by far the best track on the album, not to mention one of the most fun songs in the world to sing live for anyone. Even if you decide not to listen to this whole album, if you’ve never heard it before, give “Maggie May” a listen. “Mandolin Winds” is another Stewart original composition, and is nice, mellow, and thoroughly enjoyable when you just kick back and let it wash over you. After this comes a take on the Temptations song “(I Know) I’m Losing You”, which is a nice high energy funk-rock re-imagining and one of the better track son the album. The album concludes with “Reason To Believe”, originally the album’s lead single, until radio stations discovered they all liked the B-Side, “Maggie May” better. “Reason To Believe” is a nice finale, a kind hearted, sweetly energetic ballad-type track, which closes the album the way the whole album felt, kind of dead and dull, a little bit.
Personally, I don’t get it. It’s a good album, but I don’t think it’s great or mind-blowing. However, it’s clearly culturally significant, and when compiling a “Greatest” list, it’s got to be different than a “Favorites” list, and if this album is as significant as all it’s supporters seem to think, and it’s not unbearable (it’s actually quite enjoyable on the third or fourth listen) then it deserves to stay. However, I’m not buying it being #175.
See you guys tomorrow for an album that should be ranked a hella higher than this, #435: To Bring You My Love by PJ Harvey.
Listened to: MP3
Madonna was THE woman of the 80’s. Everything she did drew cheerers, haters, and imitators. After scandalous pop tracks (“Material Girl”, “Like A Virgin”, “Like A Prayer”), an even more scandalous personal life (Sean Penn, a little book called Sex, deep-throating a bottle), and a Letterman appearance that may never be forgotten, Madonna was on a fast track to collapse, doomed to become a warning sign to future singers, about how the cutesy, foul mouthed pop star will never become anything more. Little did anyone know this woman was the queen of re-invention. Ray Of Light is considered one of Madonna’s greatest artistic achievements, and one of the best albums of the 90’s. With a more mature and focused sound than 80’s Madonna, she proved herself not just to be a peddler of shock and pop, but of art sand creativity as well.
The album opens on “Drowned World/Substitute For Love”, which from the first tones you can tell is not a traditional Madonna song. It’s ethereal, it’s gentle, it’s sensual, it wisps across the air of whatever room it plays in. The wind chimes, the electronic faint beats, everything comes together to say “This ain’t the lady you know”. “Swim” keeps that reserved, echoing sound to Madonna’s voice, in a song that, in a prior Mage incarnation would have been bouncy pop. After two damp, ethereal tracks, the album kicks into full, hardcore as it gets dance music with the title track, “Ray Of Light”. Now, who can forget that music video? How perfectly it worked with such an intense, upbeat, amazing track. Yeah, I said amazing. The instrumentation on this is great, and Madonna experiments vocally in such a proficient and fun way that it’s hard to argue that this album isn’t enjoyable. Just try not to dance when this track comes on. It’s as impossible as trying not to think of Madonna dancing in front of those varispeed clips in what might be one of the greatest short films of the past 20 years. “Ray Of Light” single-handedly ropes in even the most vehement opposition to at least consider this an “ok” album.
“Candy Perfume Girl” from it’s first notes brings a very different feel to this album, with beats that more resemble hip-hop than the meditative tones of “Drowned World/Substitute For Love”. I love the part in the middle where it drops out into carnival-like organ for just a few seconds, and then the music charges back in, and the electric guitars lend that hint of rock that I think Madonna always strived for a little bit. “Skin” keeps that electronic feel the whole album has, but enhances it even more here, so that Madonna’s vocals are nearly unheard, and once the dance-beat kicks in, Madonna’s voice just becomes another instrument. Once it gets to the chorus of “Do I know you from somewhere?”, her voice comes a little clearer, and you remember that Madonna isn’t just a provocateur and composer, but a very talented and emotive singer. Her voice can be like a siren song, drawing you in without any frail or frills. She doesn’t do those irritating R&B vocal runs every female singer seems to fall prey to, but instead sticks to simple melodies and makes them terrific. “Skin” is the longest track on the album, and by the midpoint, your almost convinced Madonna and Radiohead made a baby. “Nothing Really Matters” starts of with a soft, mystical vibe, and when the beat scomes in, it seems to almost slide in, as at least for me, your hypnotized by the vocals movements.
“Sky Fits Heaven” is another dance track, which is upbeat, fun, but not terribly unique when compared to the other tracks. “Shanti/Ashtangi” takes on a dark, Eastern tone, while still integrating the electronic sounds from earlier in the album, and creates a song you could meditate to if you weren‘t so busy dancing. This leads into “Frozen”, which goes back to being in English, but keeps that dark, Eastern vibe. “Frozen” is a track so good, it’s banned in Belgium (click the link), and marks a turning point for Madonna. The string orchestration on “Frozen” also finally breaks free of the solely-electronic nature of the album, which was starting to get a little tedious and grating. Madonna’s most confessional song on the album follows, entitled “The Power Of Goodbye”. Now this is one of my personal favorite tracks of hers, and the video is the first of hers I ever saw, at age 8, I believe. Even the electronic beats are softened, to let Madonna sing clearly and gently about being broken down and begging for release. “To Have And Not To Hold” keeps that soft, sensual, lamenting tone of the prior track, with a catchy, if poppy chorus, showing how Madonna, originally the poster child of bubble-gum pop, could skirt past pop without delving into it. “Little Star” seems like the lilting, tragic cousin of “Lucky Star”, a single Madonna released back when she was still a silly little pop star. The album closes on “Mer Girl”, a sensual ballad-like finale that hides away most of the electronic beats of it’s prior tracks, and cuts out all the instruments altogether at the end, showing us once again what Madonna turely is, a great and emotive singer.
So, yeah, I’m unashamed to admit that Ray Of Light is a great album, integrating electronic dance music without getting repetitive or annoying. Madonna proves on this album she’s more than just a pop singer, that she is a truly gifted and talented artist. I recommend giving this album a listen, you might be surprised how current it still feels, despite being 10 years old. Now, I’m not gonna make any comparisons between Ray Of Light-period Madonna and any artist out today, but I’m sure if you give Ray Of Light a listen, you can make those comparisons yourself.
See you guys tomorrow for #172: Every Picture Tells A Story by Rod Stewart.
Monday, March 22, 2010
From the howling vocals, to the virtuoso poetics, to the Mapplethorpe androgynous cover, to even the most minute details, I have always loved every inch of Patti Smith’s debut album Horses. Opening with the chills-down-your-spine lyric “Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine” in the murky instrumentals of the Patti Smith Group’s rendition of Them’s “Gloria”, the album kick into high gear, introducing us to Patti’s wails and flails from the start. Patti challenged the role of women in music, and rather than play to the custie gender roles like her contemporary Debbie Harry, Smith became rough, grizzled, and every bit as hard rock and roll as a man. The song beats intensely, and on the wail of “And her name is, and her name is, and her name is” (which I always misheard as “and the nightmares”) if you’re not hypnotized, you must be dead. “Redondo Beach”, based on a poem by Patti Smith, takes on a bit more of a fun, bouncy feel, but Patti once again brings the grit, and reminds us that as bouncy as it gets, it’s still raw punk rock. I can repeat from memory every vocal movement on this track, and I’m unashamed to admit I’ve avidly studied this album to improve myself as a performer. “Birdland” is a chance for Patti to display her jazz roots, as the title is an obvious reference to Charlie Parker. The way Patti speaks the lyrics in the beginning never ceases to entrance me, and the slow crescendo is a rush. “Free Money” is one of smith’s most lamenting and beautiful tracks on the album, and I always feel like she’s opening up specifically to me (not in the psycho way, just that she’s so candid and radiant on this track, that it connects). “Kimberly” jumps in with that bouncy bass that you’re already familiar with on “Redondo Beach”, but Patti’s now talking about the collapse of the sky and the end of the world. One thing I hope you’ll discover is that while the album is musically exceptional, it is Patti’s poetry that make it such a masterwork. “Break It Up” has one of my favorite choruses of any song in rock history, and I can’t help but howl it out every time it comes on. The guitars play with such gritty finesse, and Patti seems to vocally lead the chorus as conductress extraordinaire. “Land” is a nine minute epic mini-opera, divided into three parts. “Horses”, “Land Of The Thousand Dances”, and “La Mer (De)”, which, of the three, the first is my favorite. It’s part epic poem, part punk rock anthem, part jam session magic, and every second of this track is genius. This masterpiece is followed up by the album’s closer, “Elegie”, the mystical track that always reminds me of Godspell, where Patti shows her most range, and softly sings us out into the abyss of the dark world she inhabits. The final track is so haunting, It lilts and floats in the air, leaving you feeling in awe of what an incredible thing just took place on your stereo.
Of course, the CD has a bonus of the band performing “My Generation” by The Who, live, and I presume it was the same live performance I saw on SNL oin the DVD, since it sounds nearly identical. I’m not going to tell you to listen to this album. Rather, I’m demanding any serious reader of this blog go out and buy it. You’ll be a far better person for it. Horses is one of the greatest albums of all time, and no human being should go without hearing it. That’s my doctor’s orders for the day.
See you tomorrow for a very different woman of rock, Madonna, specifically #363: Ray Of Light.
Well, the album doesn’t waste time with intros, and goes straight into “Do The Strand”. For Your Pleasure by Roxy Music is considered a fantastic album, and on of Morrissey’s favorites, so I’m more than happy to give it a chance. It features famed producer Brian Eno, which explains how this is basically the British equivalent of the Talking Heads. Now, this ain’t really my dig, but I can definitely see a young Stefani Germanotta listening to this. Littered in the first track are references to things like The Mona Lisa and Lolita, proving Roxy Music to be full of frustrated intellectuals making weird music for the hell of it. The second track, “Beauty Queen”, not only feature Bryan Ferry sounding like Mandy Patankin, but happens to be a little more of a mainstream track. It’s like Andrew Lloyd Webber on only a bit of Quaaludes. I’ll tell you the truth, I wasn’t looking forward to this album (every reviewer is biased, I’m just gonna wear mine on my sleeve), but two tracks in, and I’m really enjoying this album. Bryan Ferry has a phenomenal sense of composition, and Brian Eno’s hand is more than a little obvious in som of the effects and mixing, but they compliment each other so well it stops them from getting too…weird, as would happen with Eno’s work with David Byrne. “Strictly Confidential” keeps that ALW vibe, and has a dark, mystical feel mixed with a pop-ballad tone that’s something really special, and makes for a truly musically dynamic track that doesn’t go all over the place.
“Editions Of You” has a synth that surely sounded kick-ass at the time, even though it now sounds like an old Sega game soundtrack. After a few seconds of solely the synth, the guitars kick in and play a real hard rock song which caught me totally by surprise considering this album’s “indie-before-there-was-indie” feel, but this track is less hipster and more Springsteen, especially with that saxophone. Again, I always respect an album in which a band shows it’s range.
So…yeah. No way around it, this song’s about a blow-up doll. “In Every Dream Home A Heartache” is one of the most original tracks I have ever heard, with it’s half-spoken melody-monologue, it’s creepy organ sounds, and the way it fades out and re-enters. This truly is an incredible song, and one I intend to listen to over and over again. I’m anxious to finish my review, now, just to go back to this track. “Bogus Man” uses flangers and other audio effects to the extreme, and the double vocals have an eery feel to them that only add to the chilling vibe of this track. “Grey Lagoons” sounds like it fell right off the Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack, and is a short, sweet 4:15 after the epically long “Bogus Man”. The rock guitar only adds to the overall classic 70’s vibe to this brilliantly display of musical range. The album ends on the title track, which begins with what sounds like birds chirping and a soft vocal melody that sounds like it belongs on an old Jefferson Airplane record, or some other relic from the summer of love. Midway through, the piano comes in, and the song takes on a totally new life. It concludes just as it began, in that lilting classic voice, and in this tone, one of the most mind-blowing and revitalizing musical experiences I’ve had in a while comes to a close.
Once again, I’ve proven to myself to reserve judgment. This was an incredible album to experience, and it is ranked criminally low. Everyone should give this album a listen, it’s highly worth it, and I look forward to more Roxy Music to come.
Tomorrow brings one of the personal favorites, #44: Horses by Patti Smith.
Remember when I ripped into #147, that really unnecessary Otis Redding anthology? Well, today I get to prove I’m no anti-Otis, by giving you my review of one of the greatest soul albums ever recorded, Otis Blue. The album opens with “Ole Man Trouble”, and in my opinion this is one of the best album opener tracks of all time. Redding employs the Southern torture of the blues to the soul styling in the composition, which is very much in the style of Sam Cooke. On an album full of covers, Otis starts out showing us how damn good he can write. Most people unfortunately forget this track, probably because it’s followed by Redding’s most famous composition, though not made famous by him. “Respect”, the song that launched Aretha Franklin and became a women’s lib anthem everywhere was written…by a dude. Otis Redding’s “Respect” is hard to listen t without thinking of the (in my opinion) far-superior Franklin rendition, but it’s just different. Otis is singing for one man, Aretha sang for women everywhere. Perhaps this song wouldn’t have overshadowed “Ole Man Trouble” were it not for Aretha, but a world without Aretha is too scary to think of. This album serves another purpose besides showcasing Redding’s talents, and that purpose is shown in track 3. “A Change Is Gonna Come” is a song by a man Otis greatly admired, who died shortly before this album’s inception, the late Sam Cooke, to whom Otis pays tribute. This song has been considered the soul-singer’s answer to “Blowin’ In The Wind”, and there’s more than enough suffering in this song before Redding adds in his own sadness at the loss of Cooke. The visual that comes to mind with this track is the funeral scene in I’m Not There, and the horns only reinforce it. While I may not be the biggest fan of Mr. Cooke, I do believe this song is an incredible composition, and Redding does it justice and rightfully laments it’s composer.
“Down In The Valley” is a fun rendition of the Solomon Burke song, where Otis seems to really enjoy himself after virtually weeping on the last track. Some of the vocal acrobatics Redding lets out on this track make you envious of his talents, and that gritty crackle in his voice only enhances the feel. “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” is a song I’m well familiar with as The Rolling Stones version, but I might have to admit that Redding not only does it far better, but might have composed the most beautiful song in his oeuvre and placed it smack dab in the middle of this genius album. This is a gorgeous track, where Otis lays the right level of pain and simplicity, and you just feel the need to hold someone you’ve loved too long close and slow dance. “Shake” is the second appearance of Sam Cooke’s songwriting on this album, and proves that both Cooke and Redding knew how to make a great song to dance to. Can’t you see all the hip suburban white kids dancing rebelliously to this track? Because I sure as hell can. The problem with “My Girl” is it’s a pretty standard performance. Now, I had an argument at band practice about this, but let’s be frank: If I want to hear my girl performed in the style of Smokey Robinson, I’ll listen to Smokey Robinson’s version. I’m looking for interpretation, not replication.
The last Sam Cooke song on the album is “Wonderful World”, which is not, in fact, the one you’re thinking of, unless you’re a die-hard Otis Redding or Sam Cooke fan. This track is another fun soul song, especially with some of that great harmony on the chorus that I wish would carry through for the rest of the song. “Rock Me Baby” is Otis putting emphasis on the vocals of a blues song, pulling out the melody of a B.B. King song. The melody in B.B. King songs are often forgotten, even by B.B. himself. Redding’s take on it is, in my opinion, fantastic, and it’s one of my favorite tracks on the album, since it’s unlike any of the others, and therefore displays the diverse range that Redding possessed.
Now we get to my least favorite track, Redding’s atrocious take on the Stones “Satisfaction”. Why in god’s name did this have to happen? It’s…it’s dreadful, and I can not understand how people enjoyed it. It’s one of the biggest sins since Paul Anka’s Rock Swings, in my humble opinion, and I’ll not speak of it any further. The album closes on the terrific “You Don’t Miss Your Water”, an emotional powerhouse of a finale where Redding throws his whole soul in the track and makes you heave with hurt at every note. It’s a suffering that feels so good, and it reminds you one last time why Otis Redding was an act like no other, a true one of a kind composer and performer.
Without a doubt, Otis blue is one of the greatest albums ever recorded, a landmark in soul and music in general, and should be ranked even higher than 74. Without a doubt the best album we’ve reviewed so far this month (but just wait two days). I really hope you guys at home enjoy this one.
Oh, yippee. Roxy Music tomorrow. Specifically #394: For Your Pleasure. See you guys there.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
If you think I’m going track by track on this, you’re out of your minds. I don’t know shit about Irish mythology, which is what some of these songs come from. Instead, I’ll just let you drunk bastards enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day with an album full of the finest Irish music ever recorded by an Irish group in the 80’s. Except U2. And whatever the hell Glen Hansard was doing then. Ok, anyway, Let me just clarify by saying I wasn’t familiar with Shane McGowan’s work other than “Fairytale of New York” with Kirsty MacColl, before today, but every track on this album is so fun and bouncy that you think you’re watching The Departed. I would love to go on a full-scale rant review about how well this album integrate both punk and folk sensibilities, and how the Pogues opened the floodgates for hard Irish music in America, but I know you guys would sooner get to your Guinness. So just promise me you’ll pop this disc on while you drink. You won’t regret it.
See you guys tomorrow for #74: Otis Blue- Otis Redding.
Listened to: CD
My dad got my into The Smashing Pumpkins when I was a kid, and I’ve always been equally annoyed and enamored by Billy Corgan’s scratching, wailing howl, but there’s no denying that it’s put to it’s best use on the tortured anthems and nostalgic heart-songs (or as close to those as the Pumpkins can play) of Siamese Dream.
The album kicks off on “Cherub Rock”, which after a drum roll and an intro riff worthy of the Red Hot Chili Peppers starts up one of the most anthemia tracks of the 90’s, at least for me. The direction I’d prayed the rock and roll would go in, the style of music pussyfied by Muse and Radiohead. I love how they dampen the crackling growl of Corgan’s voice behind that metallic filter, making it yet another instrument in the grunge-psychedelic symphony of “Cherub Rock”. “Quiet” keeps the spirit of the last track, hard rock and roll that strikes you to your core and makes you turn the stereo till the knob breaks off. Just listen to that bass, or the way at the mid-point it just picks up and breaks into a shredding guitar solo.
Of course, the track everyone remembers off this album is “Today”, the album that takes the Pixies formula of soft verse, loud chorus and brings it into an even more mainstream radio friendly format than Nirvana ever did. Siamese Dream was the Pumpkins major label debut, and “Today” is what brought them to the attention of the general public. One of the most upbeat suicidal songs of all time, the guitars twist and turn and want desperately to turn you on. Blender said it best, declaring “Today” “achieved a remarkable status as one of the defining songs of its generation, perfectly mirroring the fractured alienation of American youth in the 1990s.”
I love the Eastern opening to “Hummer”, which gives the song a sexy sway, and for some reason makes me think of that scene in Blue Velvet where the chick is dancing on top of the car. I’ll be quite frank, I like “Hummer” even better than today, it’s true rock and roll mysticism at it’s finest, If you ask me, serene in it’s grit and distortion. The guitar work on this song is so subtly brilliant that it’s hard to imagine how much work went into it’s composition.
“Rocket”, when I read the title, recalls the Herbie Hancock track of a similar name, or the Def Leppard track, but the songs could not be more different. Billy’s trying to free himself from being grouped in with the other rockers of his day, and the song shows it. It’s nothing like any Pearl Jam or Jane’s Addiction track you’ll ever hear, and Billy really claims and proves his creative individuality on it. “Disarm”, with it’s timpani intro, seems to allude to what masterwork was to come (Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness), and though I’ve read time and again it’s not an anti-abortion song, or even an abortion song, it’s still a more lamenting “Brick” to me. The sweeping orchestration in the background had ought to show any non-believer that the Pumpkins were truly unique, and were a cut above their grunge 90’s contemporaries in certain ways.
“Soma”, named after the drug in Brave New World, has a soft guitar intro and almost whispered vocals by Corgan that seem to be the direct converse of the prior track. It’s also the first of only two tracks on the album Corgan co-wrote with James Iha, the guitarist, and features R.E.M.’s Mike Mills. It’s so bleak, so sensual, so gentle, breaking into hard rock distortion in the middle, yet another example of the Pumpkins setting themselves apart from their contemporaries. Once again destroying the previous vibe of their track, “Geek U.S.A.” is probably the heaviest, most hard-core track on the album thus far. The song never stops tearing at you mind, ripping each chord and playing one of the sickest guitar solos of all time, and even when it goes soft toward the middle, it still pulls at your soul.
From there we move into “Mayonaise”, a track a lot of people love, but I’ve got to be honest, I’m indifferent on. “Spaceboy”, a track composed about Billy’s step-brother, is a nice departure from the album, because we have an acoustic, that’s right, and acoustic guitar. Corgan comes out sincere, and almost sadly beautiful. Of course, all compassion of beauty you feel gets, well, silverfucked by the next track, who’s intense strumming and dark-beating drums set up one of the more intense rock tracks on the album. Honestly, I fail to see why “Silverfuck” gets ignored by most people in place of a bland track like “Mayonaise”. “Silverfuck is much more dynamic, ad the band rips that fucker up like hell towards the end.
“Sweet Sweet” is short but endearing, and a great segue between the epic “Silverfuck” and the album’s final track, “Luna”. Another moment of Corgan’s softer side, with Iha playing an ethereal guitar.
So, overall, Siamese Dream definitely deserves a place on the list. It’s one of the most daring hard-rock albums of the 90’s, and perhaps of all time, and Corgan’s sense of composition, especially incorporating orchestral instruments, cannot be rivaled. Please give this one a listen.
See you tomorrow for a special St. Patrick’s Day album, #445: Rum, Sodomy, And The Lash by The Pogues.
Oh, U2. The Coldplay of it’s day. When they hit their big album, everyone loved them (The Joshua Tree, A Rush Of Blood To the Head), then everyone bitched about how much they sucked (Rattle & Hum, X&Y). So, they gathered their efforts, and put out a terrific album (Achtung Baby, Viva La Vida). I say this all because today, it’s hard to imagine U2 getting anything but blown by critics and fans alike, but there was a time where U2 was thought to be dead in the water. Now, without further ado, let’s get to the album, Achtung Baby.
The album opens on “Zoo Station”, a track which opened and assuredly inspired the multimedia extravaganza Zoo TV Tour that took place to promote the album. The sounds of the tracks, the odd vocal and guitar distortion, the dance-style beat, the Talking Heads feel, al of it is added on here to say “Forget the pretension of Rattle & Hum, this is the new U2”, and god bless them it was a great new incarnation. I gotta say, gentlemen, I believe we’ve found the missing link between The Talking Heads and Radiohead on this track. Then we charge into the repetitive-play-radio-darling “Even Better Than The Real Thing”, produced by one of the masters, Brian Eno. If “Zoo Station” said “There’s a new U2”, then “Even Better Than The Real Thing” said what that new U2 was. Here on this track we start to hear Bono do his infamous exhalation into the microphone, an element we receive a lot more of as the album progresses.
Track 3 of the album might be (and in my opinion is) U2’s greatest song. “One” is a gorgeous, sincere, honest track, the type where the first time you hear it, you know something special just happened. I really do wonder what it feels like to compose a classic. “Did you come here for forgiveness/or did you come to raise the dead?/Did you come here to play Jesus/To the lepers in your head?” The story of it’s composition is almost as inspiring as the lyrics. Tension in the band caused a giant rift, and U2 almost saw it’s last days, but they came together to jam on this song, composed improvisationally, with Bono singing the lyrics about his own flaws and his struggle to keep his band together. “One” may not be the only classic on the album, but it truly is one of the highlights of U2’s career, and it, along with the rest of this album, proved they were more than just another band.
“Until The End Of The World” is traditional U2 fare, at least for the new U2. It’s a good song, don’t get me wrong, but you sit there going “Hey, look, Bono’s singing in a lower register, and then wait for it, by the end, he’ll repeat the melody an octave up!”, or in this case performing back-up vocals in a higher octave. Look, not trying to knock Bono here. He’s one of the best in the game, but every great front man has their trademark, and this is his. Seriously, listen to enough U2, he’ll follow this pattern. This song was written for Wim Wenders’ film “Until The End Of The World”, and lyrics all seem to fit Wenders’ themes, which I’m sure you’re all as familiar with as I am, so I’ll just move on.
“Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses?” is fun to listen to for no other reason but the fact that the band themselves hate this song now. Perhaps it’ an homage to the Rolling Stones (“Wild Horses”) perhaps it’s a ballad gone epic, or maybe just a thrown together track, but whatever the band though was so magical about this track is lost on me. “So Cruel” is another standard U2 track, and while it’s nice, there’s nothing more that can be said for it but that. Their explanation of the sound of “The Fly”, “the sound of four men chopping down the Joshua Tree”, is so badass that they’d get props even if the song sucked. Of course, it doesn’t, and this industrial anthem of a playful hell and rock-and-roll-excess-done-right, even with it’s dance beat (which readers will know isn’t my dig) is a severely underrated and ignored U2 classic.
What can be said about “Mysterious Ways” that hasn’t already been said? Thrying to find something original or creative to write about this track (or “One” for that matter) is near impossible, but I can just say that it’s an incredible feat of writing, and a has-to-feel-amazing-to-have-the-guitar-in-your-hands-and-compose-it kinda track. We move into “Tryin’ To Throw My Arms Around The World”, who’s instrumentation is surprisingly minimal for a U2 track, especially one on this album, but I gotta tell you, it works. I’m surprised at how much I like this track, one I’m sure most people considered a throwaway track. “Ultraviolet (Light My Way)” is the track where U2’s spiritual side comes clear, as the band musically prays for guidance, and digs back into their past to find the perfect sound to do it with. The song is magically both triumphant and desperate, and you can’t help while listening to the recording but to imagine what it sounds like live. “Acrobats” has the chorus “Don't let the bastards grind you down”. That’s more than enough o explain what this song is, and why it’s so great. U2 at it’s harshest and yet most encouraging. It’s a shame they’ll never play this live.
The album closes on “Love Is Blindness”, a nice soft ending track, which after reading that Bono had become friends with Frank Sinatra makes a lot more sense. This is what would happen if a softer Patti Smith had covered a Sinatra cabaret track.
Obviously, this album earns it’s place on the list, compositionally, recording-wise, performance-wise, it’s all nearly flawless. The only thing I think is could you imagine fi the album had closed on “One”? You know, switch the plases of “One and “Love Is Blindness”? What a fucking mind-blowing, heart warming, and thoroughly touching impact that would have. Anyway, just a thought. Regardless, this album is a true classic, and highly, HIGHLY worth a listen or three.
Well, catch you tomorrow for #360: Siamese Dream by The Smashing Pumpkins.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
February 1st, 2010: #233: Bookends- Simon & Garfunkel
Bottom line: A terrific album that shows off Paul Simon’s lyrical finesse.
February 2nd, 2010: #41: Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols- The Sex Pistols
Bottom line: The greatest punk album ever recorded. My short, sickly review was a travesty, and I apologize. This album is a true classic and a masterpiece, and should not go unheard.
February 3rd, 2010: #92: 20 Golden Greats- Buddy Holly & The Crickets
Bottom line: A fantastic collection of Buddy’s hits and a marvelous time-capsule of the 50’s.
February 4th, 2010: #392: Willy And The Poor Boys- Creedence Clearwater Revival
Bottom line: Honestly, the only truly great track on this album is “Fortunate Son”. It’s most certainly not a great album, so I replaced it with one that is, Crash by Dave Matthews Band.
February 5th, 2010: #496: Destroyer- Kiss
Bottom line: As I said in the review: “It’s Kiss’ best album (besides maybe Alive!). Unless you’ve married yourself solely to whiney British kids and obscure bands with long song titles, Destoyer will brighten your day, I assure you.”
February 6th, 2010: #327: Jagged Little Pill- Alanis Morissette
Bottom line: “To sum up, Jagged Little Pill is not only one of the best albums of the 90’s, but one of the greatest albums of all time. To anyone who’s ever hurt, this is the album to listen to. Get angry, get emotional, and let Alanis into your heart like she opens up hers and lets you in.”
February 7th, 2010: #276: The Anthology Of American Folk Music- Various Artists
Bottom line: Tedious, painful, agonizing, and yet so comprehensive, educational, and impressive purely in its scope that it remained on this list. Just set aside a lot of time for it if you’re truly curious.
February 8th, 2010: #138: Rejuvenation- The Meters
Bottom line: A great funk album from start to finish. Often forgotten today (I’d never heard of it before this list) but if I turn one person on to this great album, I’ll have done my job.
February 9th, 2010: #427: Presenting The Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica- The Ronettes (feat. Veronica)
Bottom line: Wonderful portrait of a pre-Beatles 60’s, and one of Phil Spector’s crowning achievements.
February 10th, 2010: #193: Dookie- Green Day
Bottom line: An absolute classic, with a raw power that can’t be recaptured. “While I hate those assholes these day who say they “…only like old Green Day” (you all knew the lyrics to American Idiot. Don’t flicking lie), you can’t fault them for loving Dookie. Hell, it’s certified diamond, and deserves every one of it’s 10,000,000 sales and then some.”
February 11th, 2010: #75: Led Zeppelin II- Led Zeppelin
Bottom line: All in all, Led Zeppelin II proves Zeppelin is one of the few bands to avoid the sophomore slump. If anything, II might actually surpass I musically. I won’t go so far as to determine that, but I will say that both these albums are essential listening for anyone who wants to truly live.
February 12th, 2010: #45: The Band- The Band
Bottom line: An absolute classic, the Band’s best album, and one of the best ways to spend an hour. Absolutely look this album up.
February 13th, 2010: #419: Dummy- Portishead
Bottom line: A really nice ambient album. Not asmind-blowing as it would be for hipsters, I’d imagine, but I enjoyed it.
February 14th, 2010: #115: Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs- Derek & The Dominoes
Bottom line: Even though my review is brief, I’m excused because “…I simply can’t think while this album is on. I get too absorbed in every crevice of perfection. Hell, even when Clapton’s voice cracks, it’s fantastic.”
February 15th, 2010: #262: Workingman’s Dead- The Grateful Dead
Bottom line: My original review got deleted from my computer, but it really ripped into this boring crap piece. It’s draggy and pointless, so take my advice and devote your time to Time Out by The Dave Brubeck Quartet instead.
February 16th, 2010: #480: Faith- George Michael
Bottom line: “Believe it or not, this album I as much about the conflict of the human spirit through life as it is about sex. He begins in lustful youth, decrying a lover for not having “Faith”, a faith he lacks in himself by the end, sure that his lover, whom he’d seduced throughout the album, is “Kissing A Fool”.”
February 17th, 2010: #98: This Year’s Model- Elvis Costello
Bottom line: “So, all in all, This Year’s Model is a fun album deserving a place on this list. All the tracks had to be even more mind-blowing in the days before indie rock and weezer, who clearly jacked the shit outta this album. It may be called This Year’s Model, but it’s actually a model of something 20 years to come (from 1978 that is).”
February 18th, 2010: #316: Rock Steady- No Doubt
Bottom line: “So, I gotta be honest, I really enjoyed this album, even though this ain’t my kind of music. It truly does deserve a place on this list, even if it doesn’t get the mainstream recognition in memory that it should.”
February 19th, 2010: #2: Pet Sounds- The Beach Boys
Bottom line: though Carrie’s review totally blew mine out of the water, I’ll just say that this is truly a classic, and will change at least a small part of your life.
February 20th, 2010: #256: The Velvet Rope- Janet Jackson
Bottom line: “Let’s be real here, I sometimes get overly praising. But this album isn’t my style of music, and I thought it was great. That oughta say something. Janet, I was never a fan, but I can see why so many people are. Great, solid album.”
February 21st, 2010: #157: Closer- Joy Division
Bottom line: “This album may be Joy Division’s most fluid and possibly it’s best. It is highly worth the listen, and hopefully it will move you even a fraction of the amount I has moved me over the years.”
February 22nd, 2010: #153: Moanin’ In The Moonlight- Howlin’ Wolf
Bottom line: “God, I can’t get over what a small-scale revelation this album is. I could go track by track, but it would just be ceaseless praise. Here is a man who WAS the blues. Everything about this album is genius. Every track is a sparkling example of blues mastery. I cannot recommend it enough.”
February 23rd, 2010: #433: Live At The Harlem Square Club- Sam Cooke
Bottom line: An ok live album, but solely for capturing the energy of a live soul performance, this album kept it’s place on the list.
February 24th, 2010: #59: Meet The Beatles- The Beatles
Bottom line: “Actually, to conclude, the whole album is genius. In fact, this is an album that absolutely defines what should be the criteria for a Greatest Albums list. Historical significance (either influential on the culture as a whole or future musicians, in this case both) mixed with quality music. This album is most definitely worth listening to, over and over again.”
February 25th, 2010: #494: She’s So Unusual- Cyndi Lauper
Bottom line: “Long story short, definitely listen to this album. There is no way to completely hate it, no matter how opposed you are to all things pink and frilly.”
February 26th, 2010: #214: Bo Diddley/Go Bo Diddley- Bo Diddley
Bottom line: “It’s that rush you feel while listening, that every guitarist and musician with even a hint of the blues in them felt, that inspires you to pick up the guitar and play. Sure, “I’m A Man” is one of the quintessential songs in the history of rock and roll, but every track on this album could be. Absolutely worth the listen. Know your roots, children.”
February 27th, 2010: #382: More Songs About Buildings And Food- The Talking Heads
Bottom line: This album was kinda forgettable, and got replaced when I realized the far superior Heads album Fear Of Music didn’t make the list.
February 28th, 2010: #170: Live At Leeds- The Who
Bottom line: “The Who don’t need my reviews. After a killer half-time show, a series of amazing albums, and some of the best songs in rock history, The Who speak for themselves.”
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Time Out Of Mind might just be Dylan’s The Departed. Scorsese has made better movies than The Departed, but that got him Best Picture. Much in the same vein, nobody will tell you Time Out Of Mind is Dylan’s best album, but it was the album he won Album Of The Year at the Grammy’s for. However, if you give this album a listen, you realize that Dylan found himself once again in 1997. After the rocky 80’s, and a 90’s full of cover songs, Dylan came back strong with this classic masterpiece, and while it’s certainly not Blood On The Tracks, it’s a hell of a lot better than I could ever hope to write.
The album opens on the haunting “Love Sick”, where we hear the “new” Dylan voice, no longer a whine, but now a refined gravely grumble. This track sounds almost Tom Waits-esque, but with a hint of the soundtrack to a Western movie. The guitars come in strong about two minutes in, and Dylan really says “I’m back” by the midpoint of this track. No longer the rebel, he now seems to be singing from a porch, simply watching the action and the chaos. Dylan really sets the tone by singing a song about being “Love Sick”. After 60’s and 70’s tracks like “Just Like A Woman” and “Lay Lady, Lay”, Dylan opens Time Out Of Mind by virtually throwing his arms up and saying “Fuck it!”, in his strongest surrender up until that point, and only beaten out by his Oscar-winning song “Things Have Changed”. Little are we to know that on an album that starts with being sick of love, Dylan would later sing his sweetest ballad to date.
We then charge into “Dirt Road Blues”, where Dylan creates a perfect old-school blues jam. You can tell that he was having a hell of a good time playing this song, even if the studio sessions reportedly became hell. The track fades out, and it’s thoroughly disappointing that it does, because that jam could go on for days and be marvelous. However, it has to make room for one of Dylan’s softer songs, and one of my personal favorites, “Standing In The Doorway”. This is truly one of his sweetest ballads, and even though he sings the lines “I don’t know if I’d kiss you or kill you”, you still can’t help but want to slow dance to this song with the woman you love. Dylan seems to lament so deeply on this track, but not in the scraping-the-bottom-of-his-heart way of Blood On The Tracks, but in the tired, weary, haggard manner of a broken down old man. I can only hope to feel emotion this deeply at this age.
“Million Miles” takes on a more jazzy, smoky, mysterious tone, and Dylan cuts in with his trademark grizzly anger. You feel as if you’re in some downtown dive bar late some Manhattan evening, taking in the sadness and the scum of the city. Dylan’s anger in any other man of his age would sound crotchety, but he channels it so well, filters it so good, that he creates brilliant tracks of disgruntled disgust. “Tryin’ To Get To Heaven” is another one of those “new” style Dylan songs that became so prominent on later releases like Love & Theft or Modern Times. A nice, relaxing, upbeat song that the younger Dylan would have probably spit venom at, but the older Dylan embraces and does with such finesse and perfection that you can’t help but lie back and let the music rush over you like waves on a sunlit beach. “’Til I Fell In Love With You” is a dirty, kinda sexy blues song which deserves at least one stripper dancing to it, because if Dylan didn’t have that in mind at least once, than this is a miraculous coincidence, since every person I’ve talked to about this song agrees it’s a stripper song.
“Not Dark Yet” is a song who’s tone can be summed up in one marvelous line “There’s not even room enough to be anywhere”. Dylan seems to lament not a lost love, not a wasted life, but simply feeling lost and lonely. This track is a tragic song who’s emotion seems to connect with everyone. Not only was it featured on the Wonder Boys soundtrack (not surprising) but on the album The Passion Of The Christ: Songs Inspired By (WTF?!?!?!?!?!?!?!). Clearly this song can connect to a lot of people, and by the end of this track, I was so absorbed, I didn’t even type anything passed that last sentence.
“Cold Irons Bound” is the Grammy winning single off the album, and one of the most musically dynamic on it. Everything really seems to come together on this track, and the Michael Gray quote seems to say it all:
“There's an interesting tension, too, in "Cold Irons Bound," perhaps more accurately an interesting inappropriateness between, on one side, the grinding electronic blizzard of the music and the cold, aircraft-hangar echo of the voice lamenting its sojourn across a lethal planet - fields turned brown, sky lowering with clouds of blood, winds that can tear you to shreds, mists like quicksand - and on the other side the recurrently stated pursuit of tenderness, in phrases that seem imported from another consciousness...It's decidedly odd to hear, pitched against the scraping Lanois winds half tearing us to shreds, sentiments as obdurately "romantic" as
I found my own, found my one in you
Lookin' at you and I'm on my bended knee
I tried to love and protect you
and to hear such a defensively bleak, exhausted old voice articulate the thought that
I'm gonna remember forever the joy we've shared.”
After “Cold Iron Bound” we get to my favorite song on the album, a track which I find to be one of the greatest, most heartfelt, and most beautiful love songs ever written, “Make You Feel My Love”. I first heard this song as performed by Billy Joel, and the Dylan version manages to pack in even more emotion and sincerity, in spit of, or perhaps in part due to, his raspy growling vocals.
“When the rain I blowing on your face/and the whole world is on your case/I will offer you a warm embrace/to make you feel me love”. How honest is that? How stirringly simple? Dylan doesn’t offer to make her problems go away. He can’t make the rain stop or get to world to leave her be. But he can offer her himself, and remind her that she is loved. It seems to echo the “I know it’s not much but it’s the best I can do” sentiment of Elton John’s “Your Song”, but in a new, worn-out attitude. It’s no longer the exuberance of young love, but the desire to settle down, the commitment, the need to find someone to surrender to, to cradle in your arms at night, to live out the rest of your life with. To me, this song is perfection. It’s a beautiful love song, and honestly on of the finest things Dylan has ever composed.
“Can’t Wait” is a soft, bitter track where Dylan seems to reject every sentiment he just established in the last track, while alluding to the themes of his later masterpiece, “Things Have Changed”. The album ends on “Highlands”, which at 16 minutes is the longest Dylan track ever recorded in a studio, and since it has no chorus, and is just a series of verses, it reminds one of the closer to Blonde On Blonde, namely “Sad Eyed Lady Of the Lowlands”. It sounds like a modern recording of an old Hank Williams track, and really comes out as the most obvious and perfect closer for such a masterful album. Laid back but saying so much, like the best new Dylan tracks do.
It’s criminal that this album is ranked so low on this list, as to me, it really is one of the best of Dylan’s career. He started a new chapter in his life, and even if this is the only highlight, it’s a fantastic place to end. Seriously, get this album, it’s highly worth the purchase.
Tomorrow is #62: Achtung Baby by U2.
Tres Hombres was a nice album to start listening to right after the soundtrack to Shine A Light, which is what I had been playing before, because the sound is very similar. ZZ Top, despite the beard gimmick, were some extremely talented musicians. Billy Gibbons can rip on a guitar like it’s nobody’s business, a fact we learn from the opening track, “Waitin’ For The Bus”. That slides straight into the dripping-with-blues track “Jesus Just Left Chicago”, another vintage track that knows it’s roots. After two old-school tracks, it was due time the boys broke free and did their thing, which is exactly what they did on “Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers”, where Billy lets it rip yet again in a solo I wish I could play. “Masters Of Sparks” is another killer track, and to be honest, I could say that about every track on the album, but let’s be honest, they all pale in comparison to “La Grange”.
Yes, this album contains the epic genius that is “La Grange”. This truly is a guitar song, and one of the finest there is. I’m still not sure what the vocal part is, but who cares? This is the track where Billy Gibbons truly shines.
One note I will give is that while this album is great, make sure you listen to the 2006 release, not just for the three bonus live tracks, but because that release was the first CD release to use the original analog mixes from 1973. The MP3 I’m listening to now is a shitty digital remix, and the sound quality is terrible. So please, look this up. The right copy will be worth it, as it really is one of the best ZZ Top ever put out, and a fantastic album for any guitar enthusiast.
See you guys tomorrow for #408: Time Out Of Mind, the first album on this blog by the master, Mr. Robert Zimmerman.
While now seen as a rapper who’s albums are riddled with personal confessions, in 1999 Eminem peaked into the popular culture as the merry prankster going by the alter ego Slim Shady, a manic man-child with a sophomoric sense of humor and a moral compass which ranges between Charles Manson and Alexander DeLarge of A Clockwork Orange. After his “debut” with The Slim Shady EP, Dr. Dre’s pale prodigy took to the studio to lay down his first full album.
It begins with a “Public Service Anouncement” denouncing anyone who takes the music literally, while maintaining that tongue-in-cheek attitude that courses through the veins of this whole album. This launches into the first official single ever released by the man who, in my opinion, is the artist of our generation for good or for bad, “My Name Is”. Mr. Mathers found a clever way to submit to the popular rap trend of repetitive lyrical identification by creating a hook so catchy you don’t mind. Lyrically immature in the most playful way, like that guy who tells dirty jokes in the middle school hallway, this song does exactly what he wants to do with his singles, create time capsules of the era they come to exist. Eminem’s ability to craft ever-unpredictable rhymes proves that he truly does have a fine grasp on the English language, despite what his “uneducated” personae would have him convey. Bawdy humor, unpredictable statements, and shocking attitude ever-present, on one track slim Shady proves to be the Moliere of our day.
The second track, “Guilty Conscience”, features his mentor Dr. Dre playing the angel-on-the-shoulder to Eminem’s temptation. You can choose to view this “duet” as either a social statement, an attempt to perform a public service, or just a way to further pad Eminem’s reputation as an over-the-top bad boy. The second verse’s reference to Kids lends credence to the second option, but overall I lean toward the third. Eminem spends this album trying to build an image in the same manner Alice Cooper did decades prior. A shock-rock attitude in hip-hop. Eminem clearly isn’t a real gangsta, he lacks the “street” experience of N.W.A., and instead waxes lyrically about being insane and murderous, on a track like “Brain Damage”, in such an over-the-top manner that any parent who chooses rather to ban the music than explain to their children the difference between endorsement of violence and pure fantasy deserves the breakdown their child eventually suffers when he hits the real world.
The album is the premiere of some of our favorite characters, like “Paul Rosenberg” and “Ken Kaniff”, and after the first, “Paul”, we see Marshall create a rap that feels like an homage to his elders, 2-Pac and Biggie, on the track “If I Had”, but even then he shows his flair for fitting rhymes and words in ways no one else would think to. Afterward, we get to one of his most controversial tracks, the song clearly depicted on the cover, “’97 Bonnie And Clyde”. Told through the voice of a father taking his daughter with him to throw his freshly murdered wife’s body into the ocean, this is the start of the infamous Kim song-cycle that would form over Eminem’s career, a barrage of attacks on his ex-wife that would appear on almost all of his albums to date. However, with Eminem’s playful lyrical delivery, most of us who have any sense can recognize the song as a revenge fantasy, similar believe it or not to the song “How To Kill A Man” from Bye, Bye Birdie. Yeah, in fact, that’s more graphic, as it shows a man get killed in several ways) but the version of the song I like more is the haunting cover as performed by Tori Amos on her album “Strange Little Girl”.
Those who criticize this track as disgusting seem to forget that this type of song is as old as American folk music. The murder ballad has been a staple of folk music for decades, most famously revived by Nick Cave on his album “Murder Ballads”, and unforgettably by Johnny Cash in songs like “Cocaine Blues” and the famous line “I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die”. So, you know, if you’re gonna attack Mr. Mathers, you better ban Johnny Cash too. Yeah “Bitch”, you’re disgusted by the modern day answer to “Mack The Knife”.
Eminem seems to predict the shit-storm headed his way on the song “Role Model”, and gets existential on a line often ignored: “How the hell can I be white? I don’t even exist.”. Eminem seems to understand that Slim Shady, and indeed Eminem, is a public persona, filling a niche, and that were he not the one to do so, someone else would. You can’t destroy the desire for anti-social, anti-moral entertainment. It releases aggression and provides a catharsis for those who would never commit the crimes described, the same reason games like Grand Theft Auto have sold so well. Did I want to grow up to be just like Eminem? No. But it got me and my whole generation’s aggression out, so we could live vicariously through his words and not have to grow up just like him, you dig?
After “Lounge”, the clear sign these guys were having a good time, we charge into “My Fault”, with the second reference to Harmony Korine’s Kids, when he asks who’s in the bed (“It’s me, Telly” is a reference to the protagonist of the film, Telly), and tends to examine the same theme, by telling the story of your average idiot at a party, reacting to a girl having a bad reaction to mushrooms. Every thing Eminem says to this girl you know has been said by some party-going asshole at one time or another. Hell, Eminem could have written Kids himself. And on that note, and Harmony and Eminem please collaborate?
After “Ken Kaniff”, we charge into my least favorite track on the album, “Cum On Everybody”. Any time I want to argue that Eminem is a poet, a social critic, or anything more than a little boy with a foul mouth and a record contract, the argument always ends with “Cum On Everybody”, at which point I lose my ability to defend it. Maybe Josh can do better than me. “Rock Bottom” samples “Summertime” from Monday’s album, and Eminem really lets it rip on these rhymes, his speed foreshadowing his delivery on his triumphant return this past year on that song with Drake, Kanye, and Lil’ Wayne, remembered not by it’s name but as “That song where Eminem raps with a bunch of other guys who can’t hold their own next to him.” “Rock Bottom” also foreshadows the flood of touching personal confessions that would appear on albums like The Marshall Mathers LP, The Eminem Show, and Relapse.
This is followed by “Just Don’t Give A Fuck”, which was the unofficial first single, though I’m glad they went with the clearly superior “My Name Is”. It’s not a terrible song, but it’s only ok. I’d much prefer the “I Just Don’t Give A Fuck” performed by 2-Pac, and yes, I did just discuss these two tracks comparatively as if they were art rather than complaining rants. I’m sorry, but there’s very little artistry to this track, and usually I skip this one over when I listen to it. “Soap” is a bizarre interlude that proves that “As The World Turns” really did get it’s title from a soap opera. It’s impossible to tell whether Eminem is rapping with conviction or a sense of humor, but either way this track is fun on the album, but not one I’d choose to listen to if I had to pick one track. By the end, the lyrics sound like a scene from Heavy Traffic more than a soap opera, but either way, I stop caring before the track ends.
Thankfully, the self-proclamation habit of rap actually saves the day, when after two sucky track, “I’m Shady” has a soft beat that makes this feel like he’s just freestyling, and gives the track a fresh feel sorely lacking on the last two. That freestyle feel also excuses some of the more sophomoric lyrics. “Bad Meets Evil” and “Still Don’t Give A Fuck”, the final two tracks on the album, are fine tracks, but they are the weaker bookend when compared to the first two tracks (not counting the “Public Service Announcement”).
While Infinite may have been his first album, I’m totally ok with ignoring it and pretending The Slim Shady LP is the triumphant debut of the man I believe to be the artist of the 00’s (care to argue? Seriously, I’ll defend it to the bitter end). While not as good as his follow-up The Marshall Mathers LP, this is as impressive as debut albums can get for a shock-rocker. Eminem established a whole unforgettable personae on this album, while crafting instant classics like “My Name Is” and “Guilty Conscience”, proving that you can make it in rap by not taking yourself seriously at all. I recommend this album highly, if for nothing else than to get a time capsule of the decade in which I came of age, and if you dislike songs about violence, or songs with obscene language, well…grow some balls. This album is a classic, and I’m pretty sure will stand the test of time. Or at least I hope so. The 50’s had Elvis, the 80’s had Michael Jackson, and we have our new king, Eminem. Long live the king.
See you guys tomorrow for #498: Tres Hombres by ZZ Top. And welcome back Josh Paige.
“I just drank a fifth of vodka… dare me to drive?”
In 1999, kids in America were listening to rap. Of course they were. No matter how hard parents tried to take it away, it was always there. Kids were always quietly playing Wu-Tang and Biggie in their walk-man, hiding in their bedrooms and silently being exposed to the hardcore gangster world. Parents had to be cautious of the music their kids were listening to, especially in the 90’s. It was that decade where rap would change forever. Parents were always aware of the infamous “Parental Advisory” label on the cover of the albums and knew exactly what came with it: explicit content… single-handedly the most crucial element in hip-hop, which the people loved and the parents loathed. Explicit content is what balances “good from bad,” “right from wrong,” basically proposing the question, “What are they really saying here with all this language?” Since the late 80’s, rap was exposed to foul language. We had N.W.A giving valuable morals such as “F*ck tha police.” Wu-Tang Clan showed us that they were nothin’ to f*ck wit and Public Enemy told us to fight the power. Rappers emerged and progressively became bigger and better and with that, became more offensive. Artists such as Biggie and 2Pac set the bar to a new level giving their audience a breakdown of the thug life and the realities of being shot at in the hood. Parents knew what to expect from rappers such as these. Parents were aware of what a bad influence these artists were. But what the parents never expected was that one single, bleached blonde white boy from Detroit would be more influential, more explicit and more offensive than any of them.
On February 23, 1999 “The Slim Shady LP” hit the shelves of every music related store in America and it was this moment that the world was officially introduced to Marshall Mathers, more widely known by his notorious alias “Eminem.” There are so many reasons why this first LP of his should be recognized, mostly because we’re introduced to a guy who looks like he came out of N’Sync but with a lot more anger issues, who goes on to talk about rape, mushrooms, murder and not giving a f*ck. The craziest part is he goes about addressing some of these issues in an almost comedic fashion, immediately pointing out what a sick bastard this guy really is. Through his realistic anger issues and his blunt yet relatable stories involving the real world, he does not hold back; not even one bit and through this unheard, brand new, much different approach to explicit content we get quite a taste of who “Slim Shady” truly is, right from the very first track.
From the opening “Public Service Announcement,” we get a true preview of what to expect from this album though no one, not even the hardcore Wu-Tang fans, was ready for kind of material lied ahead. We hear the comical tone in the voice of the announcer, giving a small introduction for what fits this album and Eminem perfectly,
“This a Public Service Announcement, brought to you in part by Slim Shady. The views and events expressed here are totally fucked and are not necessarily the views of anyone. However, the events and suggestions that appear on this album are not to be taken lightly. Children should not partake in the listening of this album with laces in their shoes. Slim Shady is not responsible for your actions. Upon purchasing this album, you have agreed not to try this at home. Anything else?” We hear a young Eminem’s voice for the first time, “Yeah… don't do drugs,” which leads right into the opening song which would immediately blow up and become his first hit.
“My Name Is” of course, represented the beginning of what would be Eminem’s future “joke tracks” which are basically the stupid songs, one from every album, which are extremely catchy, very funny and without a doubt, highly offensive in the best way possible. There is far too much to say about this song because it is so frightening how appropriate it fits as the very first song. Picture being a kid, popping this in your CD player for the very first time and hearing… “Hi kids! Do you like violence? Wanna see me stick Nine Inch Nails through each one of my eyelids?” while children are chanting “Yeah, Yeah!” while it continues, “Wanna copy me and do exactly like I did?Try 'cid and get f*cked up worse that my life is?” Wait… what did he just say? And if you think that’s bad, the next line picks it right up, “My brain's dead weight, I'm tryin’ to get my head straight But I can't figure out which Spice Girl I want to impregnate.” … I’m sorry… What? Did he really just say that? It is from this first verse of his very first opening song that proves this guy’s got balls. It would seriously be appropriate to copy and paste this entire song right now because from start to finish, it is filled with consistent non-stop rhymes where every line shocks you just a little bit more. Between openly talking about smoking a “fat pound of grass,” stapling his teacher’s nuts to a stack of paper, drinking a fifth of vodka and being dared to drive, there is no secret regarding this man’s insanity. But what makes this song so great is that it’s not just made for sh*ts and giggles. He’s balls out in your face, telling it like it is and he does not give a f*ck what anyone thinks about him; this, we would find out from him officially, thirteen tracks later. In fact, the line that puts this song and who he is in to full perspective is shortly stated with “I don't give a f*ck, God sent me to piss the world off!” The basic outcome of this whole song is… Damn!
The following song, “Guilty Conscience,” was another hit that shortly blew up. While still consisting of some witty lines, this is the first time we see Eminem take a more serious turn. Featuring his producer/rapper, straight outta Compton and N.W.A., Dr. Dre, Eminem takes on the idea of, obviously having a guilty conscience. The song is played out in such genius format, Dre being the angel on one shoulder while Eminem plays the devil on the other, as we see three victims being followed by their Jiminy Crickets. This is one of my personal favorite tracks from the album because it has such consistent flow while really sending out a message. The best part about the message is that people end up following what they want to do, as opposed to the “right” thing to do, point proven when Eminem and Dre succeed in convincing a man to murder his wife and the man she’s cheating on him with, included in the final verse my favorite line from Eminem, “F*ck slittin’ her throat, cut this b*tch’s head off!”… Damn Marshall, you scary. But thank you, for being honest. There’s a funny nod to Dr. Dre being the “angel” figure when Eminem calls him out for claiming he’s “Mr. AK, comin' straight outta Compton y'all better make way,” wondering how Dre can tell this man not to be violent. It’s mildly twisted how Eminem presents his morals.
The following few tracks continue the even flow of rhymes, jokes and twisted stories. The fourth track, “Brain Damage” is more of a sad story about a young Marshall being bullied in grade school and everyone believing he was just a crazy kid on drugs. It’s the first time we really feel bad for the guy. He never usually goes out of his way to make people feel his pain, but when he does you know he means it. This song isn’t the great example of that but either way you still feel it. The song is followed up by a short skit in which the first time we hear “Paul” (Rosenberg), for the first time. Rosenberg is Eminem’s manager and here we hear him on what sounds like an answering machine, very appropriately telling Slim to “tone it down a bit.” It’s odd hearing a complaint come from his manager because it’s not someone expected, which makes it funny. Little did we know that this small voicemail from Paul would be a tradition kept on every one of Eminem’s albums to lighten the mood. The sixth track, “If I Had,” is also a somewhat depressing song but unlike “Brain Damage,” it’s not so much pity we feel; it’s the pragmatism Em presents, putting the whole world into realistic perspective. He basically addresses the world as fake; friends are really enemies with disguises, money is the root of all evil; etc. But when it really comes down to it, if he had it his way, he would make the world an even more terrible place because he’s saying no matter what, he couldn’t make it better. With a million dollars, he’d buy a brewery and turn the planet into alcoholics; he wouldn’t have enough because he’d still be robbing armored trucks, and if he had one wish it would be to have a big enough ass for the whole world to kiss. As always, he’s realistic and straight to the point.
“97’ Bonnie & Clyde” was originally recorded in 1997 (obviously) and featured on an earlier EP produced by Dr. Dre, but restored just for this album. There are one too many things to say about this song, the first and most important being that of all of Eminem’s talk of rape, drugs and murder, this is one of the few songs that truly disturb me. This song is crucial to this album and what would be Eminem’s future career, because it consists of the two most important elements that would create a basis for his heart-filled, realistic lyrics for years to come. Those two elements are Kim and Hailie. We’re not gonna get into the back story since everyone should know it, but these two people would influence Eminem’s truest songs. Kim is, at the time, Marshall’s divorced wife he met in high school and Hailie is, at the time of the recording, their two-year-old daughter. “Bonnie & Clyde” is possibly one of the most twisted yet heart-felt songs Eminem has ever written, because not only is it about a car ride to “the beach” to dispose of his wife’s corpse, but it’s being told to his two-year-old daughter. Inspiring the album cover, with a woman’s pair of legs hanging out of the trunk of a car on a bridge, overlooking the ocean at night, this is without a doubt, one of the darkest songs I’ve ever heard. Without getting too much into it, it basically consists of Eminem explaining what happened to mommy, where they’re going, why they’re going, wrapped up with a repeated chorus, “Just the two of us.” There’s something about having a dead body in the trunk being told to your baby, momma’s “takin’ a little nap” and that smell must be from them “running over a skunk.” Every line is taking the event of the death of this little girl’s mother’s death and being put in a cute, childish format. Between the “boo-boo” on momma’s neck and the “ketchup” spilled on her shirt, there are too many reasons why this song is so twisted. To shed light on this little number, the song truly does express Marshall’s feelings and love for his, at the time, one and only baby daughter. To portray his ex-wife as dead and being told to their only daughter is quite the middle finger Eminem is giving to Kim. When attacked by the media for this song, the rapper defended himself by saying that his lyrics are for entertainment purposes only and are not to be taken seriously. This is the only the beginning of the love for Hailie, the hatred for Kim, and the anger of the public.
The next few tracks shed light on the album in their own, typical twisted ways. With the end of “Clyde,” we feel rather disturbed by Eminem and he obviously knew that by appropriately adding in the next skit, titled “B*tch,” basically consisting of some b*tch complaining to her friend over a phone call about how it’s the most disgusting thing she’s ever heard in her entire life… Well done, Eminem. You already know your audience very well. The following song “Role Model,” is somewhat comedic in its own way. The whole thing basically sums up a sarcastic message, “Don’t you wanna grow up to me just like me?” It is filled with a number of things; all the crazy sh*t Eminem does and would do just to prove how nuts and how much of a “role model” he really is. It is the exact opposite of politically correct; from breaking your legs till the bones poke through your skin to tying a rope around his penis and jumping from a tree, he basically gives a list of the things he does which happen to be exactly what one should not try at home. The music video consists of him mocking Houdini, being chained upside-down being lowered into a water-filled tank. Irony, much? The next skit “Lounge” is basically an introduction for the next song, as well as the second act of his album (yep, it’s only half way done). It consists of a group of guys who sound like they’re on something, or they’re at a drunk karaoke session, chanting out a familiar tune “I never meant to give you mushrooms girl, I never meant to bring you to my world, now you’re lying in that corner crying,” the perfect introduction and chorus for track eleven.
“My Fault” is more or less an apologetic story with a very comedic feel to it, and there’s really nothing more to it than the chorus. Like previewed in the skit beforehand, it presents a catchy tune, “I never meant to give you mushrooms girl, I never meant to bring you to my world, Now you sitting in the corner crying, And now it's my fault my fault.” Eminem is sorry for giving a girl mushrooms. Isn’t he sensitive? The next skit, “Ken Kaniff” is very much like “Paul” in the sense that it would be a recurring skit on other albums. The only difference is, Kaniff isn’t a manager, but more or less a perverted fan who prank calls Eminem, oddly enough sounding like the killer over the phone from “Scream,” saying obscene and disgusting things. It’s an obnoxious bit but just goes to show what kind of fans Eminem could have in the world. There is one funny reference here when Eminem picks up the phone and asks, “Who is this, Cage?,” regarding the accusations of copying the styles and subject matters of the underground rapper, Cage. Other “rappers” accused Eminem of copying their style when he blew up. Take Joseph Bruce, from “Insane Clown Posse,” for example. While promoting his EP, Marshall invited Bruce to his EP release party as a sign of reconciliation that he was not thieving anyone’s music, especially not from “rappers” such as Insane Clown Posse. But when Bruce refused to appear because Mathers had not agreed to ask him for permission to use the group's style, he took it as a personal offense and later did what he does best; attacked them through his music. Those fat bastard clowns are just jealous because their music sounds like something that came out of their ass.
“Cum on Everybody” is more or less Eminem’s fun version of “this is me; f*ck the world; I don’t give a f*ck,” more or less, what he’s trying to drill into our brains. It’s got the usual styles and lyrics that show he doesn’t care how offensive he is, even to those who are dead, especially found with the opening lines,” My favoite color is red, like the blood shed, from Kurt Cobain's head, when he shot himself dead”… damn Marshall.
“Rock Bottom” is a personal favorite of mine because the lyrics are so true. Not only are they true but they can relate to anybody. In life, everybody hits a “rock bottom” and Marshall understands that just like anyone else. This is his way of not saying “I have money; I’m bad; I’m crazy.” This is a redeeming number from his murder and drug-related songs. This is also this starting point of my favorite part of the album: The end of Act II. With Rock Bottom, he calls out the people who aren’t at that point and who can’t relate to him in the slightest, “This song is dedicated to all the happy people, All the happy people who have real nice lives, And who have no idea what it’s like to be broke as f*ck.” And with all these lyrics we know that’s exactly who he’s talking to. Every single line here expresses how broken he feels in the most heart-felt way possible. This song really captures who he strives to be and how painful life really is. In a way, this number is his “Get Rich or Die Tryin,’” which would appear six years later. It’s him telling it like it is, showing that he’s been poor; he’s been suicidal; he’s been depressed, just like any normal human being and he couldn’t be any more true with his chorus, “When this life makes you mad enough to kill, When you want something bad enough to steal, When you feel you have had it up to here, Cause you mad enough to scream but you sad enough to tear,” he knows what it’s like.
“Just Don’t Give A F*ck” is another personal favorite. What’s so great about this song is that he’s been sending this message all throughout the album, but if you’ve been offended by this attitude from the previous tracks, this one just sums it all up in about four minutes. Every line is just full of consistent flow that makes him sound untouchable. He literally puts himself into perfect perspective, “I'm doing acid, crack, smack, coke and smocking dope then, My name is Marshall Mathers I'm an alcoholic, I have a disease and they don't know what to call it.” It’s like he’s possessed with something that just erupts out of his system. He’s out to get anyone and everyone “Better hide your wallet cause I'm coming up quick to strip your cash, Bought a ticket to your concert just to come and whip your ass.” With this song, he just comes right out and says he doesn’t care who you are or where you’re from. This song is the perfect example of why people love him; why people hate him and why people love to hate him. Never have we seen such an attitude from rappers; from anyone and he puts his whole self into perspective that would make him infamous for his “just don’t give a f*ck” attitude.
His next skit, “Soap” is an introduction to his next big number. He mocks a TV soap opera with a conversation between two men talking about love and drama in the most stereotypical, cheesy way possible. In a way, it’s the perfect introduction to his next song because in the skit he’s presenting a form of life that is so unrealistic, as seen on soaps, but “As The World Turns” is about as close to the real life as Em gets. The song is very catchy and realistic as he starts off with the chorus, “I don't know why this world keep turning Round and Round, But I wish it would stop, and let me off right now.” He relates the world to a spinning ride he’s sick of and wants to get off of. In a way it’s filled with such pure genius that reminds me of the striking adoration adopted from the grotesque controversy regarding Andy Warhol’s “Campbell’s Soup Cans” bombard, which disaffected the urban living translation of preceding hip-hop artists which has swallowed my existence… Okay, I’ll stop now. The greatest part of this song is the end when he regards to him using his magic trick, and with the words “Go, go gadget d*ck” he “f*cked (a) “fat slut to death.” Pause… what??? It’s sick how comedic he comes off with that last bit too.
“I’m Shady” is a great way of wrapping up the shady part of “Slim Shady.” Basically, this song shows that if there’s one thing Eminem is, it is in fact, shady. Whether it’s terrorizing you with glocks or being the go-to guy for any drug needed, he proves that he’s the man. He presents being shady in a childish-like format referring to enjoying happy things, all going back to being the hero; your friend; when you need a minithin. Like he always does; like he’s been this whole album; he’s shady.
“Bad Meets Evil” is a story told in a western/cowboy style, featuring rapper, “Royce” regarding “Bad” and “Evil” as two people and what if they met and joined forces. Like, “Guilty Conscience,” Eminem and his fellow rapper represent two opposite ends of the spectrum. Where they don’t agree, all hell breaks loose and where they do, they’re a dangerous combination. It actually draws a nice line in Eminem’s career between him being “bad” and the people who call him “evil.” In the end, he’s not really evil… just a little bad. And that’s all he’s saying here. With talk of cowboys and saloons it sheds light on all the “evil” talk as if it were an old western tale. It’s definitely a good predecessor for the album’s finale.
“Still Don’t Give A F*ck” couldn’t be a better way to close the curtains. It takes everything funny and innocent in the worst way possible, presented in “My Name Is” and hits you hard with the follow-up to “Just Don’t Give A F*ck.” Where as in “Just Don’t” he gives his message in more of a funny way, “Still Don’t” is the serious side. This is another personal favorite, like I stated earlier, the end of the album is incredible and this song does the whole LP justice. Here we see Em going on and on, bigger and better, wrapping up everything hitting all his themes presented this whole time. He gives a final punch with his impounding message, like always best seen, in his chorus,
“For all the weed that I've smoked - yo this blunt's for you
That’s it; right there. This entire album can’t be put better than those lines. The whole song represents those feelings. He wraps up this album with a final nod to “Brain Damage” with, “My worst day on this earth was my first birthday, Retarded? What did that nurse say? Brain damage? F*ck, I was born during the earthquake.” Bingo. Done.
And with that, I am sad to say, after this long-ass review, “Still Don’t Give A F*ck” is the finale of the “Slim Shady LP.” It’s a bittersweet song because he goes out in style but we know he’ll be back and better (which is exactly what happens in the next chapter), pretty much the perfect way to wrap up this album. Working our way from the opening “Public Service Announcement” to now, I don’t know how we came so far. It’s been a good journey through Dr. Dre interrogating an innocent man disguised as a conscience, to telling a baby girl her murdered mother is just taking a nap in the trunk, to apologizing for giving a girl mushrooms and ruining her day, to hitting rock bottom, Eminem and friends send off with their pleasant goodbyes. This album was so crucial, not just to hip-hop, but to Eminem and his career. It influenced a powerful, binding friendship between one of Compton’s finest, and it cost Marshall $10 million when sued by his own mother. Tisk tisk, Mrs. Mathers. Keep it up and you just might get your own song or two. After going platinum four times and selling over 9 million copies worldwide, how are you not gonna appreciate this album. It is by far one of the most influential and offensive albums ever and Marshall Mathers broke the ice by saying “F*ck You” to everybody. What’s in store for Marshall in the future? Possibly a career so big that everybody’s a Slim Shady on the inside? Possibly a fan so psychotic that he copies Eminem’s styles all the way to suicide? Possibly another song against his ex-wife, even more violent than the last? Maybe Eminem will just come out and tell everybody this is “The Way I am.” Find out, next time, on “The Marshall Mathers LP!” Seriously everybody, if you took the time to read this whole thing… Thank you so much.
The Slim Shady LP: 10/10