Tag Archive | weird albums

Attila Review or How I Learned to Love Billy Joel

Classy! With an emphasis on “ass!”

Hey remember the last really awesome heavy metal organ and drum duo you heard? Wasn’t that the tits?

What do you mean you’ve never heard a heavy metal drgan and orums odu before? Me neither!

Except Attila. My second entry in the “Inexplicable Albums” series.

Short, short version: Early Billy Joel juvenile musical drooling from before he became rock and roll’s most beloved hated entertainer.

Long version: I never got the hatred for Billy Joel. Sure, he always kinda looked like a douche (and actually WAS a douche) but his music was nowhere near as flatulent (and flat) as many people claimed. Remember, these are the same people that timidly praise the Carpenters, a much more annoying band with less songwriting talent.

But they got Karen. So I get that.

This 1970 album was Billy’s attempt to follow up his go-nowhere 60’s pop band the Hassles with something a bit “heavy.” To fit in with the times, you see.

And since he’s a keyboard player, not a guitarist he turned to a rather Deep Purple approach with heavy, loud organs and aggressive drumming.

But without a Speed King guitarist or a fat folk loving bass player.

So it sounds a bit thin sometimes.

Still, it is neat to hear Joel, a restrained keyboardist on roughly…100% of his solo recordings just let loose with a barrage of Emerson-ian (Keith, not Ralph Waldo) style organ. Really, the guy has a lot of chops and sometimes I feel like Emerson would have nodded his head in approval.

But imagine this guy going nuts on an organ, throwing knives into the body while lecturing on “Transcendentalism.”

Perhaps not, though, because Joel, unlike Emerson, knows how to “not to play fast” (to paraphrase Metalocalypse) and lets the melodies do the talking during the slower passages.

I’m sorry, did I say melodies? There are no melodies on this album you daft cookie! Instead, it’s endless organ riffing, soloing, drum bashing and Joel screaming, screaming, SCREAMING at the top of his lungs about a wide variety of topics such as women he wants to fuck/women he HAS fucked/women who WON’T fuck him/amplifiers on fire.

Oh also Brain Invasions. Can’t forget that. Watch out! Joel is coming…to invade your brain. And probably steal your wife. And punch you in the face a lot (he was a boxer, see).

This is an AWFUL review. A tad too “Mark Prindle” for me. Must trudge on, though.

I remember reading a review of this that called it “hamfisted” and that’s actually a pretty good word if a rather strange visual image. Joel sounds like he’s forcing it throughout this hilarious album but at the same time he seems to really revel in the feedback pedals, organ stops and all sorts of thick, throbbing organ sounds that push through the mix to create a climaxing monster demon sound.

Bizarrely sexual there for a moment. Let’s pause for a breath.

Got your breath back? Good! You shan’t have a chance to do that while listening to this album. From opening “Wonder Woman” to closer “Brain Invasion” you will be barraged by Billy Joel trying to be heavy metal all in a weird, misguided attempt to get your money, your love and, probably, your wife.

I like it.

I wish they had a CD of it so I could show it to people and giggle like the stupid little hipster I am and make hilarious jokes about how bad it is to those who “get” the joke while later sitting at home and head banging to it and screaming “WONDER WOMAAAAAN!” along with Billy with a feeling of semi-shame and semi-joy at sharing such an absurd little ritual with myself.

It didn’t sell well. Can you imagine? The reviews were horrendous and probably a bit deserved when you consider its one of the worst albums ever produced. The cover is amazing: Joel and drummer Somebody Smalls (Derek?) standing in a meat locker dressed like Huns with pissy looks on their faces as if they want to beat you up (and steal your wife out of boredom).

I want it framed on my new apartment wall but I don’t own it.

Joel apparently drank furniture polish and then stole his drummer’s wife after reading the reviews (see, those wife stealing jokes had a point!).

To each his own, I suppose, but the whole furniture polish thing seems extreme. But that’s nothing compared to how he honored his new found wife: with the song “She’s Always a Woman to Me” where he complains about her thieving habits.

Not so nice, Billy considering you got her by thieving. I think she got off easy, though: his next wife, Christie Brinkley got “Uptown Girl” written for her and got the pleasure of staring in the video for that cloying piece of Joel.

How nice for her. And then she had to make “kissy faces” at Real Life Douche Chevy Chase in “National Lampoon’s Vacation.” I think the universe hates Christie Brinkley or at least balanced her amazing good looks with shitty “acting” jobs.

Clearly a woman born to lose.

Anyways, download this album and play it at all birthday parties, thesis readings, funerals, rental stores and during every scene of every porno ever because it’s the best album for annoying people (that still sounds like music) that I’ve ever heard.

Okay that is a bit much but I’m in a mood: my ankle hurts, I’m listening to “Living Thing” and it’s a “given thing” that I’ll write gibberish in such a state! I don’t even know why I reviewed this album when I have so much vodka left to drink.

p.s. I really don’t hate Billy Joel.

Songs to Youtube:

Download this album!

Inexplicable Albums: Squarepusher “Solo Electric Bass 1”

Where the hell did THIS come from?

Ever got an album by one of your favorite artists, popped it in, expected more of the same and been met with a “what the hell?” moment as the music blasts out of your speakers defeats all your expectations. Sometimes bands make a career out of abrupt left field changes in approach. Others come out of nowhere and confuse and befuddle fans.

Or at least they SEEMINGLY come out of nowhere. Sometimes these changes were there all along. This is where this  new series of articles comes into play: here, I will analyze where these “what the hell?” albums came from and what, if anything they have to offer to an artist’s legacy.

The first entry in this new series (don’t worry ABBA fans, the next review is coming soon) is 2009’s “Solo Electric Bass 1” from drum and bass pioneer “Squarepusher.” “Squarepusher” is best known for fast paced, complex drum patterns, hard hitting bass lines and wild synthesizer lines that broke new ground in electronic music and helped influenced fellow IDM artist Aphex Twin to explore similar routes.

THIS album is a live recording of unaccompanied electric bass solos. Not electric bass SYNTHESIZER solos: but actual played bass guitar solos. Everything sounds highly improvised (and likely was) and is simultaneously intimate, warm, complex and low key. It didn’t get very good reviews.

 

Not exactly relevant, but it is hilarious.

So, where did such an album come from in the “Squarepusher” discography? Well, casual fans may not have been aware of it but “Squarepusher” aka Tom Jenkinson is actually an incredibly accomplished jazz player. In fact, the “bass” in the “drum and bass” is almost always Jenkinson’s non-sampled playing. Considering the complexity of the bass parts on his albums, this is quite a feat.

In fact, jazz makes up a huge part of “Squarepusher’s” sound. Did you listen to that sample clip from above? If you did, you may have noticed the slight jaziness of the keyboard parts. This wasn’t an accident: Jenkinson often veers between hardcore electronic textures and more jazz influenced sounds.

1998’s “Music is Rotted One Note” is actually a tour-de-force of jazz fusion in which Jenkinson plays all the instruments himself. He often combines these jazz fusion tendencies with hard programmed electronic instrumentation, creating a sound that is uniquely his and is hard to replicate. Trust me, I’ve tried.

That actually makes “Solo Electric Bass 1” (remember, that album I’m supposed to be talking about?) make a bit more sense in context. Perhaps Jenkinson was tired of not getting enough recognition for his bass playing skills. Perhaps he wanted to attract attention to his solo bass tours. Maybe he was once again simply changing directions as he did with his next album, a near pop album.

When all is said and done, is the album good? Not really: it’s just a guy playing a bass for 40 minutes. No matter how good you are on the instrument, it’s really hard to make it sound awesome for an entire album. In fact, although I do admire the bravery of standing on stage and improvising a whole set on a bass guitar, it sounds and feels more self indulgent and egotistical than brave. Sorry Tom!

Yeah, I’m sure he’s losing sleep over it.