There are a few albums from about 20 years ago that I like for a really odd reason. It’s not the segues, samples and interludes so much as the unique way a few artists chose to fill up space on their albums with ridiculous recordings.
I remember a friend in junior high telling me that if I wanted to buy a Marilyn Manson CD I should get Portrait of an American Family or Antichrist Superstar. He made sure to tell me not to get Smells Like Children. “It’s shit,” he said. “It’s just covers and remixes from the first album.” He was half right. It is covers and remixes, but it is far from shit.
Despite having 16 tracks Smells Like Children is an EP. The Wikipedia page has an interesting history of how it came to be. Apparently is was supposed to be a single for “Dope Hate,” but turned into something much, much more.
The highlight is obviously the covers. Their version of “Sweat Dreams” is what propelled them from Danzig opening act to a household name. Their versions of “I Put A Spell On You” and “Rock and Roll Nigger” aren’t half bad either. The remixes aren’t quite as good. I like the “Diary of A Dope Fiend” and I prefer “Kiddie Grinder” to its original version, but I’m not a huge fan of remixes and feel the rest fall flat.
The real treat is the unusual tracks that pepper the album. It starts with “The Hands of Small Children,” a creepy synth intro to “Diary.” “Shitty Chicken Gang Bang” is a great organ interlude that doesn’t really go anywhere. I love “Fuck Frankie,” which is just a recording of a woman repeating ‘Fuck Frankie’ in an orgasmic voice. I find “White Trash,” a remix of “Cake & Sodomy” by Tony Wiggins on an acoustic guitar to be absolutely brilliant. “Scabs, Guns and Peanut Butter” is a recording onto a tape player that’s been sped up, something I’ve done a few times myself.
But now that I realize how completely ridiculous all of this sounds I’m amazed by how well the amalgamated mess of material blends seamlessly together and makes a great listening experience. I’m not sure if that’s a testament to Trent Reznor’s unearthly production skills or if everyone involved was just taking that certain amount of drugs to make a masterpiece.
At the other end of the spectrum (by that I mean the “Respectable”) is Tool’s 1996 album AEnima (sic). Of course, being polished professional musicians without a noteworthy history of cocaine abuse, the weird shit on this album is referred to as “short segues or interludes that connect to longer songs.” It’s all crazy shit to me.
AEnima is far and away my favorite Tool album. The songs aren’t the cookie cutter hard rock they released on Undertow and not way out in left field prog and they did after. They’re just the right combination of pop melodies and experiments to keep me entertained.
My favorite track on this album is “Die Eier Von Satan” a track that sounds like a recording of a Nazi rally but is really just a recipe. “Intermission” is a jaunty calliope sounding track not unlike “Shitty Chicken Gang Bang” and “(-) Ions” is nothing but static. “Message to Harry Manback” was always another favorite. Quiet piano plays while a man spews insults and threats at someone, occasionally in Italian.
I wish I knew why band no longer use segues, samples and interludes the way they used to. I really miss that. I suppose like anything else, it was something that was sort of in vogue for a minute and then it’s appeal faded away.
But not before Mushroomhead could place the greatest sample ever on their 1995 self titled album. I wish I knew what movie this was from, it sounds like it would be a great one.
What’s your favorite example of crazy shit on an album?