The Wisdom of Rock


I used to really enjoy deep and meaningful lyrics. I’m not sure what changed. Did I mature? It’s more likely that I did the opposite. What do you call that? Immatured? Yeah, I think that’s it.

I’ve immatured to the point where I tend to prefer songs about sniffing glue and smoking banana peels to anything the Eagles have ever done. But every now and again I still come across a lyric, and even in without any marijuana in my system I think to myself, “Wow man, that’s deep.”

So let’s celebrate some of the wisdom that somehow manages to seep through the crack and drip down on us, even though we don’t listen to jazz.

 

“If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice”

Rush “Freewill”

 

“You’ve got to lose to know how to win”

Aerosmith “Dream On”

 

“It’s better to regret something you did than something you didn’t do”

The Butthole Surfers “Sweet Loaf”

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The Butthole Surfers “Electriclarryland”


71leqXunDtL._SL1050_2 April 1996, Capitol

Very few artists have remained on my MP3 player since I purchased it in January last year. Gravity Kills, Garbage, the Ramones, The Pretty Reckless, The Descendents, The Dead Milkmen, Violent Femmes and, of course, the Butthole Surfers.

It’s strange to sit back and think of the other artists that have come and gone over the 15 months and why these few have been mainstays. I’m sure some of it is just dumb luck. I tend to listen to my MP3’s on shuffle at work and my player overloads me with much Gravity Kills or Pretty Reckless. Otherwise I would have tired of them and removed them. Due to my new-found love of punk The Descendents and Dead Milkmen will probably be on there for another year and how could I ever tire of Garbage, The Ramones or Violent Femmes?

But the Butthole Surfers are a somewhat different animal. I suppose the greatest thing about the album Electriclarryland is the diversity. It’s not an album of one song, or even one genre, but an interesting collection of strangeness. I’m not a fan of noise rock. Bands like Sonic Youth and Black Flag have never been able to hold my interest. And the Surfers’ previous album Independent Worm Saloon suffers for being a bit too noisy. But they started mixing that noise with great pop hooks and continued down that path until they created something that does an even better job of mixing noise punk and pop rock than Nirvana’s In Utero.

Some of the noisier rocker’s are indispensable. Opener “Birds” and “Ulcer Breakout” are fun, full throttle songs that test my ability to stand still with the latter being a love song to engines that reminds me of singer Gibby Haynes’ appearance on Ministry’s “Jesus Built My Hot Rod.”

I’ve never understood why “Pepper” was the single from this album. I enjoy that weird, spoken word, one note song; but I always thought the track before it, “Cough Syrup,” was far superior. Even “Ah Ha,” which appeared much later on the album was a much better toe tapper.

 

Paul Leary was never considered a guitar god, but maybe that’s just because not a lot of people have heard his licks on “Thermador.” With the great lyric “Everybody knows freedom, you’ll find it inside your head yeah/Everybody knows Jesus, he’ll be there when you are dead yeah” it befuddles me that this track never broke the top 40.

“TV Star” is one of the most hilarious songs on the album. A lovely ballad featuring steel guitar about being in love with a popular sitcom actress then ending it by saying his in love with another one… who came out as gay about a year after this album was released. I just wish I’d been able to publicly declare my love for Ellen Page in such a way.

And yet, there’s still room for some psychedelic noise. “My Brother’s Wife” is a strange track that doesn’t really do anything or go anywhere, but it is better (or at least shorter than) “Revolution 9.” “Let’s Talk About Cars” always kind of confuses me. I don’t speak French so I’m unsure if they really are talking about cars.

“The Lord Is A Monkey” is a semi-experimental tune with Haynes rapping. Honestly, it’s one of my favorite tracks. I don’t like rap much, but something about Gibby Haynes’ rap voice really does it for me.

And now that I listen to the album in it’s entirety and in order I have to say that the sequencing is phenomenal. The worst two songs on the album are at the very end. “L.A.” is another hardcore punk rocker that’s descent, but suffers from too much vocal effects. “Space” is a good outro. Just a few minutes of a slow, quiet guitar arpeggios followed by some heavy riffing. It’s not awful, but it’s not really worth sitting around for. “Space” is like the credits of this album. You can leave while it’s playing, and you’ll still have gotten your money’s worth.

 

#top15onthe15th


I love a great list post. They’re easy to do and usually get a respectable number of views. So when I read about the Top 15 for September 2015 over at 1001albumsin10years I was ready to go. I immediately began compiling the list of my favorite albums of all time (at this particular moment). This was a massive undertaking that took me about the same amount of time as any other post.

And don’t try to argue with me about the order and/or inclusion/exclusion of any particular album. I used the highly scientific method of my own personal preferences so you can’t argue with me! The only condition I set was that I wouldn’t include two albums by the same band. Looking back, I wish I’d set a limit on years (It’s almost exclusively 1994 and 1996).

But enough preface – Let’s Go!

 

the offspring smash cover15 The Offspring Smash (1994) The crown jewel in the early 90’s punk revival.

14 Acid Bath Paegan Terrorism Tactics (1996) The crown jewel in southern-sludge-doom metal.

13 Pink Floyd The Wall  (1979) This was one of my favorite albums in high school. Does everyone go through a time in their lives when this album describes everything you feel about the world? It sure seems to touch on some pretty universal themes.

12 Queens of the Stone Age Songs For The Deaf (2002) Oddly enough, I’ve never been able to get into any QOTSA albums aside from this one. It’s just so great that all of their other work pales in comparison. It’s definitely one of those ‘lightning in a bottle’ albums.

11 Pantera The Great Southern Trendkill (1996) You know the big 4 of 80’s thrash metal? Fuck ’em. Pantera could chew them all up and spit them out. Trendkill makes this list because I find it to be the most cohesive of their albums and it contains Dimebag’s best solo, “Floods.”

 

10 Soundgarden Superunknown (1994)

9 Pearl Jam Ten (1991) – I can still remember the first time I heard this album. I’d already heard a lot of hullabaloo about Pearl Jam and after listening I just though ‘So that’s what all the fuss is about.’

8 Weezer S/T (The Blue Album) (1994)

Electric Larryland7 The Butthole Surfers Electric Larryland (1996) This album is the greatest mixture of noise rock and pop punk ever recorded. I did have Nirvana in this slot, but I think I like the Butthole Surfers better.

6 The Beatles S/T (The White Album) (1968) The Beatles should appear on every best of list. The trouble is that it’s extremely difficult to pick just one Beatles album to put on a best of list. I cheated by choosing the double album.

5 Elton John Tumbleweed Connection (1970) I find it extremely difficult to choose between this, Madman Across the Water and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. I could have easily put them all on this list, but I didn’t want it to just be a list of my favorite Elton John albums. This one wins because there are no songs on it that I don’t love. I don’t love “Indian Sunset” or “Gray Seal.”

4 Nine Inch Nails The Downward Spiral (1994) I was a really depressed teenager. This album helped me to make it through those dark years by letting me know I wasn’t alone in feeling the way I did.

Ramones_-_Ramones_cover3 The Ramones S/T (1976) The prototype for the greatest American rock and roll band… and for the thousands who would imitate them.

2 Alice in Chains Jar of Flies (1994) This album makes it onto this list for the same reason as The Downward Spiral, but appealed to a different part of depression.

 

1 Temple of the Dog S/T (1991) May not be the #1 album ever, but it’s definitely the best album from the 90’s. And probably the 80’s too.

 

So there’s my list. What do you think? I love this event and I’d be down to doing it every few years. Mainly just to see how these lists change. And the best part is that now I have a pretty cool list of albums to review in the near future.

Make sure you stop by Lebrain’s site as he did the heavy lifting and linked to all the sites of people participating in this event.