Saturday, October 14, 2006

let's rock!

Albums I listened to today: managed three of these by virtue of a) not doing any washing up for quite some time, so there was a lot and b) skipping a few tracks.

Meddle by Pink Floyd: arguably, the first "proper" post-Syd Barrett Floyd album. Having said that it's a two-song album, really. Tracks 2 through 5 are pretty forgettable, so the ones you really want are: One Of These Days - terrific galloping space-rock driven by Roger Waters' exchoplexed (presumably, unless his fingers were a positive blur throughout) bassline and strangely reminiscent of the old Doctor Who theme; and Echoes - you really need to have taken a shedload of drugs to fully appreciate this, but even legally this is tremendous stuff, from the strange sonar-style "ping"-ing at the start (a piano through a Leslie speaker, I think), through the rumbly funky bit in the middle, and the bizarre whale-song squeaky noises that follow it. We had a bit of a competition when I was at university (Bristol, 1988-1992, as it happens) for really long songs and this one (23:01) trumped the competition for a while. Then my mate Dave produced a copy of Yes's Tales From Topographic Oceans. A double LP with four songs on it - damn you! You win this round.....

Audioslave by Audioslave: I was never much of a fan of rage Against The Machine, but I was a big fan of Soundgarden. However the ratio was 3:1 in RATM's favour here, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that this is pretty good. Standout tracks (I think): Show Me How To Live, What You Are, I Am The Highway. If there's a complaint (and there always is) it's that it's a bit one-dimensional, rumbling metal riffs, shouting, etc. - in comparison to Soundgarden in particular. There are reasons for this, and here they are: Tom Morello is a far less imaginative guitarist than Kim Thayil, and Chris Cornell's orthodox metallic tendencies were always made more interesting by Ben Shepherd's interventions: listen to the strange rattly Middle Eastern sound of Head Down from Superunknown, for instance, or Dusty and Switch Opens from Down On The Upside. Despite the slightly enervating hammering oppressiveness over 14 tracks (65 minutes) it's great if you're in the mood.

Superunknown by Soundgarden: speak of the devil. Just by way of a contrast with the Audioslave album, this runs the gamut from creaky sludgy grunge-rock (Fell On Black Days, Mailman, 4th Of July) to almost catchy stuff like My Wave, Black Hole Sun and Spoonman. And, also, if you listen to Superunknown and (in particular) The Day I Tried To Live you'll hear that Chris Cornell does the best rock screaming since the days of Robert Plant and Ian Gillan. One of the great rock albums (despite having one of the worst album covers) of the 1990's; everyone should own it. What the hell is a "gamut", anyway?

No comments: