Monday, November 06, 2006

albums of the day

...washing up day again, so I had the boom-box on. Two contrasting ones for you today:

American Beauty by The Grateful Dead.

I've got a copy of Live/Dead, the legendary live album from 1969 which documents their famously psychedelic free-form concerts. I can't honestly say I listen to it very often, though.

American Beauty, on the other hand, sounds like a band sobering up, kicking back, putting their feet up on the porch with the acoustic guitars and knocking out some tunes while the sun goes down. Apparently they got Crosby, Stills and Nash in to coach them with the vocal harmonies - well, they're a bit more ragged than CSN, but in a good way, particularly on Box Of Rain, Candyman, Ripple and Attics Of My Life. And it is the law for any article about The Grateful Dead in general and American Beauty in particular to quote the closing song Truckin' at the end: what a long, strange trip it's been.

Lullabies To Paralyze by Queens Of The Stone Age.

There's lots of loud guitar music around, but lately it all seems a bit tortured and serious. It's all Kurt Cobain's fault, really. Not that I have anything against Kurt Cobain, far from it, but it's become the done thing to be the troubled soul staring at your feet while bashing out tunes about how the world doesn't understand you, etc. etc. Well, Queens Of The Stone Age don't do that sort of stuff. Other bands try to seduce you by giving you an insight into their tortured soul and inviting you into their black-wallpapered room to listen to their poetry - well, QOTSA try to seduce you by feeding you tequila and inviting you back to their room to play strip poker.

Musically it's all over the place - from the trademark pummelling rhythm driving Medication, the almost poppy middle section of In My Head, Little Sister and I Never Came, to the seriously heavy bits - Someone's In The Wolf and the truly monstrous see-sawing riff of The Blood Is Love - I defy any air-guitar enthusiast not to go mildly berserk over this one. Like any QOTSA album it's a bit patchy, but take the best bits of this and its predecessors Songs For The Deaf and Rated R and condense them into a single album and you'd have something pretty special.

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