#30: Los Lobos, ‘How Will the Wolf Survive?’ (1984) vs. Green Day, ‘Dookie’ (1994)

Both of these bands would go on to make albums that are more eclectic, ambitious and, to my mind, better (Los Lobos’ Kiko and Green Day’s American Idiot); so this feels a bit like a battle of the B-sides.

That said, they are pretty solid albums. I’ll say this – they’re probably more fun than the other two records I mentioned. They’re both party albums, albeit very different parties.

Dookie is the high school party where everyone crammed into somebody’s parents’ kitchen, funneled dangerous amounts of Budweiser and then trashed the place until the cops showed up. Wolf is the neighbourhood party where the children play in the grass while the dads BBQ and then later, after the kids go to bed, the grown-ups sit around the campfire and smoke a joint.

Dookie is better and more interesting than I remembered. Raw, ass-kicking punk by a killer trio. Sonically, it’s the part of the party when people are trashing the place; lyrically, it’s after the party when you’re stumbling home feeling sorry for yourself and fretting about the future. Teen angst at its finest. Billie Joe Armstrong’s voice is my favourite part – something about it instantly conjures a weird but welcome nostalgia.

Where Green Day have energy and anger to burn, American-Mexican band Los Lobos have ridiculous amounts of talent and depth. Onto their traditional Mexican sound they layer rockabilly, R&B, country and whatever other genre they feel like playing with. They can play any instrument, including accordion, mandolin, bajo quinto (whatever that might be) and saxophone. “Corrido #1” is the most fun you will ever have dancing to accordion (here’s a close second), “Evangeline” uses a light-hearted rockabilly sound to tell a contrastingly sad tale. And the title track is a worthy anthem for an uber-talented band that spent more time than they deserved toiling in obscurity, and the rest of their career known primarily as those guys who put “La Bamba” into Lou Diamond Philips’ mouth.

So what wins? Kiko. But failing that…

JG

WINNER: Los Lobos, How Will the Wolf Survive (3 points)

BATTLE TALLY

80s: 9

90s: 12

EARNED POINTS
80s: 14
90s: 19

Next week’s battle – #29: John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Double Fantasy (1980) vs. Madonna, Ray of Light (1998)

#31: Roxy Music, ‘Avalon’ (1982) vs. Bob Dylan, ‘Time Out of Mind’ (1997)

The best albums are creepers – you don’t like them at first, but they keep calling you back and, bit by bit, become favourites.

Avalon, the final album from Roxy Music, is a creeper. The first time I heard it, it was like an easy listening radio station – the kind of stuff that meekly fades into the background while you wait for the dentist to be ready for you. But it kept calling me back and now I know it’s not music for a dentist’s office, it’s music for headphones while walking the city streets at night. “It’s raining in New York on 5th Avenue,” sings honey-voiced leader Bryan Ferry, “and off Broadway after dark – love the lights, don’t you?”

Yes, Bryan, yes I do.

Avalon is a wonderful pop album for grown-ups: jazzy, layered and dreamy. “More Than This” and the title track, featuring sublime background vocals from Yanick Etienne, are obvious stand-outs. Melancholic masterpieces.

But the ultimate creeper-maker is Bob Dylan. There is no album in his massive catalogue that doesn’t get better with multiple listens. The man is light years ahead of all of us and all we can do is try to keep up.

In 1997, he was 35 years into his recording career and at a point when most people figured he was done making music that was pertinent and great. And then he came out with the moody and bluesy Time Out of Mind, and began an amazing late-career resurgence that continued with Love and Theft in 2001 and Modern Times in 2006.

The weary, old-man voice that has characterized his later work is in full bloom on Time Out of Mind, which is perfect for delivering such rueful lyrics. He seems weighted down by regret and thoughts of death on every track. On “Not Dark Yet” he declares:

I was born here and I’ll die here against my will
I know it looks like I’m moving, but I’m standing still
Every nerve in my body is so vacant and numb
I can’t even remember what it was I came here to get away from
Don’t even hear a murmur of a prayer
It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there

Time Out of Mind was produced by Daniel Lanois, whose distinctive production style is called swampy by some and atmospheric by others. I’m in the second camp. It works when the artist is in a certain mood, and Bob was in that mood when he wrote these songs.

Two great, sombre albums by two mature artists. But only one can emerge.

JG

WINNER: Bob Dylan, Time Out of Mind (2 points)

BATTLE TALLY

80s: 8

90s: 12

EARNED POINTS
80s: 11
90s: 19

Next week’s battle – #30: Los Lobos, How Will the Wolf Survive? (1984) vs. Green Day, Dookie (1994)

#32: John Cougar Mellencamp, ‘Uh-Huh’ (1984) vs. Nine Inch Nails, ‘The Downward Spiral’ (1994)

 

I really like John Mellencamp, but I have always seen him as an underdog: Not as smart as Springsteen, not as pretty as Bon Jovi, not as cool as Tom Petty – he always seems to come in second in any comparison.

So how does his 1983 collection of heartland rock hold up against the mind-melting industrial assault unleashed by Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails in what has to be the weirdest match-up so far in the VanJam Music War?

Uh-huh was Mellencamp’s seventh album (that is not a typo), but only his second as a household name following the breakthrough smash of American Fool; and he now had enough clout to make an album on his own terms (and to bring back his real last name after living as Mr. Cougar in an effort to appease record labels and be more marketable). It’s a solid album. “Pink Houses” belongs on the same shelf as “Born in the USA”, and everything else is damn fine as well. Particularly surprising is “Jackie O”, which was written with John Prine and sounds like a children’s song.

But Downward Spiral – a ferocious mash-up of heavy metal and synth pop – is a landmark 90s album that blew minds and inspired imitators. As described in this excellent Stereogum review, restless adolescents everywhere went bananas for it as they discovered a dark world view entirely apart from their parents and teachers. What fun to go to a party and scream “I want to fuck you like an animal” and “God is dead and no one cares/if there is a hell I’ll see you there”. It’s a concept album about a guy losing his mind and eventually killing himself (I think that’s what happens, anyway). It’s terrifying. It could be the soundtrack to a school shooting. Fortunately, Reznor was smart enough to sprinkle in just enough sweetness and beauty to keep you from jumping in front of a train, like when he follows the horrifying “Big Man with a Gun” with the tenderness of “A Warm Place”. It probably goes without saying, but the signature song “Closer” is fucking amazing.

Uh-huh is cute by comparison. In the rousing “Authority Song”, Mellencamp admits “when I fight authority, authority always wins”. I think the last time authority fought Reznor, he ate its liver with some fava beans and nice Chianti.

Uh-huh? Nuh uh. Sadly, the underdog must come in second yet again.

JG

WINNER: Nine Inch Nails, The Downward Spiral (2 points)

BATTLE TALLY

80s: 8

90s: 11

EARNED POINTS
80s: 11
90s: 17

Next week’s battle – #31: Roxy Music, Avalon (1982) vs. Bob Dylan, Time Out of Mind (1997)

#33: Husker Du, ‘Zen Arcade’ (1984) vs. Eminem, ‘The Slim Shady LP’ (1999)

These albums are angsty masterpieces. Both are stories of angry troubled boys molded by past traumas. One is, as if staring into an open wound, a pure honest representation of abuse and a boy’s journey to escape it and the other is a cartoonish journey of a pissed off poor urban kid whose depraved inside voice has taken over his outside voice.

You never know what is real and what isn’t on The Slim Shady LP. His genius is not only his rapping and his keen ability to turn a phrase, it’s that he will go places that people never realized they didn’t want to go.  In other words, it gave a new legitimacy to depraved thinking.  The “’97 Bonnie and Clyde” murder fantasy is both compelling and unlistenable.  The whole album is a maniacal offensive thought experiment built in rap music format.

A similar thought experiment is presented in Zen Arcade but in distorted punk beauty. It’s a punk opera. A perfectly developed concept album of trauma, loneliness, and insanity.  Where EMINEM shows overbearing bravado, the hurt little boy in Zen Arcade goes into a loud maniacal rampage.

Zen Arcade made me remember that punk music can be well written.  It can be sprawling. It can be lyrical. It can be complicated. Husker Du has got some real chops here. Those fellas can play. Even just listening to it, it’s hard to keep up with the tempo and the changes.  They are lock step, in a spaztic, frenetic anger dance. It’s a well crafted underdog freak out session.  But don’t worry, Zen Arcade‘s vulnerable stumbling protagonist is being held up by a rock solid foundation of perfected punk music.  Boy did Husker Du nail this one!

Musically speaking, The Slim Shady LP is lacking on many of the tracks. Although there are exceptions like “Just Don’t Give a F*ck” and “My Fault”, most of the backing tracks sound, to me, like they were pulled from stock open source material rather than crafted in the studio. Fully relying on the amazingly brilliant rapping skills of EMINEM. In my first listen, my mind got angry. Who the f*ck is this guy! Who does he think he is.  He can just say anything he likes?!  What a liar.  There is no truth to this. It’s completely exploitive. And then I listened to “I’m Shady”. Near the end of the album. He spits some truth that put the whole album into perspective for me. It made me realize his calculated genius. I could have totally missed the boat on this, but I think the point of this album lies in this verse

And if I told you I had AIDS y’all would play it
cause you stupid motherfuckers think I’m playin when I say it
— Well, I do take pills, don’t do speed
Don’t do crack (uh-uhh) don’t do coke, I do smoke weed (uh-huh)
Don’t do smack, I do do shrooms, do drink beer (yup)
I just wanna make a few things clear
My baby mama’s not dead (uh-uhh) she’s still alive and bitchin (yup)
And I don’t have herpes, my dick’s just itchin
It’s not syphilis, and as for being AIDS infested
I don’t know yet, I’m too scared to get tested

To me this verse cops to the crux of the album. It’s all lies. Here is where EMINEM says, “okay, this is what I do. I am just a frightened f*cked up little sh*t just trying to cope.  I am pushing boundaries with what I say. I can do it in a way that you can’t”.

So to sum up.  If I were to declare The Slim Shady LP the winner, it would be based solely only on his rap ability weighing higher than the complete punk rock package of Zen Arcade. Guess what? It ain’t. That little sh*t didn’t win this one. Here’s one for the underdog!

JS

WINNER: Husker Du, Zen Arcade (2 points)

BATTLE TALLY

80s: 8

90s: 10

EARNED POINTS
80s: 11
90s: 15

Next week’s battle – #32: John Cougar Mellencamp, Uh-Huh (1984) vs. Nine Inch Nails, The Downward Spiral (1994)

#34: Rolling Stones, ‘Tattoo You’ (1981) vs. Oasis, ‘(What’s the Story) Morning Glory’ (1995)

What a juicy match-up – so many points of comparison: Two British bands…Two British bands with co-leaders who like to rip out each other’s throats…Two British bands with co-leaders like to rip out each other’s throats and were caught up in mega rivalries with other bands during their heydays (The Stones were The Beatles’ Blur, and Oasis were Blur’s The Beatles).

Confused? OK, let’s talk about lyrics instead.

Is it just me or does Mick Jagger sometimes like to garble his words? I think he does it to disguise when he’s saying something too subversive for radio, or when he’s just singing about his boner. Case in point – “Start Me Up” off of Tattoo You. I’d heard that song a million times and, before the internet ended every lyrical mystery, I had no idea what he was saying between “start me up”, “never stop” and “you make a grown man cry”.

Oasis’ cocky Gallagher brothers, on the other hand, believe we should hang onto their every word. The lyrics come through crystal clear, no matter how ridiculous they may be. Even they have admitted they don’t know what a wonderwall is. And how do you walk slowly down a hall, faster than a cannonball? And really – how can you be caught beneath the landslide and in a champagne supernova in the sky at the same time?

But they sing these goofy words with conviction and they are a shitload of fun to bellow along with, especially when drunk. I think perhaps this review from Consequence of Sound about the album’s 20th anniversary says it best, noting brother Noel – “…has his moments where he says something completely stupid and awesome at the same time”. I know Oasis have their haters – which makes sense because they’re dicks – but (What’s the Story) Morning Glory is one fantastic sing-along after another, and it was the biggest thing in the world when it came out. The Gallagher brothers thought they out-Beatled The Beatles and they totally did NOT, but they imitate them beautifully and still make it entirely their own.

Nothing against Tattoo You – often called the Stone’s last great album – it’s a ragtag collection of abandoned leftovers from previous recording sessions recycled because the band needed an album for an upcoming tour; and it’s far better than that description would make you think. I like their choice to put all the rockers on side one and all the ballads on side two. It sounds like they had a blast making it and it produced two classics: opener “Start Me Up” – which is a song about Mick’s boner pretending (just barely) to be a song about a car – and the beautiful closer “Waiting on a Friend”, which has a fabulous sax solo from Sonny Rollins.

So here’s what it comes down to: When I listen to Tattoo You it makes me want to listen to other Stones’ albums, but when I listen to (What’s the Story) Morning Glory it makes me want to listen to (What’s the Story) Morning Glory again.

JG

WINNER: Oasis, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory (2 points)

BATTLE TALLY

80s: 7

90s: 10

EARNED POINTS
80s: 9
90s: 15

Next week’s battle – #33: Husker Du, Zen Arcade (1984) vs. Eminem, The Slim Shady LP (1999)

#37: Marvin Gaye, ‘Midnight Love’ (1982) vs. Johnny Cash, ‘American Recordings’ (1994)

I thought about making sweet love to my wife the entire time I was listening to Midnight Love. I did not do that when I was listening to American Recordings. That alone might give it the win, but, lets break down why that is.  Why do I not want to make sweet love to my wife when I listen to American Recordings?

Well….I thought Nebraska (see battle #43) was bleak, but we hit our bleak peak with American Recordings. And not a bleak delivery that is in any way relatable to me.  It feels heartless. It’s an ugly dank piece of folk art. Although I can appreciate its time capsule nostalgia towards backwoods desperation and the artistic importance of music that tries to humanize horrible people doing horrible things.  I just can’t get past its shocking unpleasantness. It just doesn’t connect with me. I know this is veering (and cheating) a bit to bring in another album into the battle, but while I was trying to digest the dark and wretched mass that is American Recordings I coincidentally bought the vinyl double album masterwork The Basements Tapes by Bob Dylan and the Band. As I was reading the liner notes, it clicked that what they achieved in the basement of Big Pink is exactly what Johnny and Rick Rubin were trying to capture on American Recordings. Greil Marcus wrote it better than I ever could, so here it is….

I think you can hear what Bob Dylan is talking about in the music of Basement Tapes……one can hardly avoid hearing it.  It is a plain-talk mystery; it has nothing to do with mumbo-jumbo, charms or spells. The “acceptance of death” that Dylan found in “traditional music” – the ancient ballads of mountain music – is simply a singer’s insistence on mystery as inseparable from any honest understanding of what life is all about; it is the quiet terror of a man seeking salvation who stares into a void that stares back.  It is awesome, impenetrable fatalism that drives the timeless ballads…..

John is a master at delivering honest plain spoken diatribes from the perspective of lost people reflecting on mistakes they have made, hoping to be forgiven. This is why this album is so well regarded.  This is what American Recordings should be for me, but it isn’t.

What is for me are the charms and spells woven by the sweet, devilishly angelic voice of Marvin Gaye.  What is for me is the guttural slap happy bass lines that makes me wanna bite my lower lip and say “Good God!”.  What is for me are the complex chord changes and layered instrumentation specifically engineered to make that thing between my knees and my stomach start to rock back and forth. It makes me want to celebrate humanity by making sweet love to the best version of them (my wife). Marvin Gaye gave me the means to do that by filling the air in the room with Midnight Love.

JS

WINNER: Marvin Gaye, Midnight Love (2 points)

BATTLE TALLY

80s: 7

90s: 7

EARNED POINTS
80s: 9
90s: 9

Next week’s battle – #36: Anita Baker, Rapture (1986) vs. A Tribe Called Quest, The Low End Theory (1991)

#38: Elvis Costello and the Attractions, ‘Imperial Bedroom’ (1982) vs. Soundgarden, ‘Superunknown’ (1994)

Oh Elvis, you poor little fellow – you drew a short straw with this one. You’re like the head of the chess club being sent out to grapple with the captain of the wrestling team. Don’t get me wrong, you’re a clever musical craftsman, but there is a rock n’ roll juggernaut thundering across the mat towards you. You might just want to run.

Full disclosure – your judge and juror is a slobbering fan of your opponent. As far as I’m concerned, Superunknown is the pinnacle of grunge achievement. There is no album from that legendary early 90s scene that captivated me more than this one. Because what’s better than grunge than grunge with Beatlesque ambition pumped through a psychedelic filter? Soundgarden had me at Badmotorfinger but they scooped me up and carried me away with this 1994 masterpiece.  Chris Cornell’s voice is a force of nature; the music is dark, heavy, melodic, creative, experimental. And BIG. They even make a pair of spoons sound epic.

The darkness is all the more potent since Chris Cornell’s suicide in May 2017. Suddenly songs like “Fell on Black Days”, “Black Hole Sun” and “The Day I Tried to Live” are all the more intense. I hadn’t listened to Superunknown in years. Listening to it now, I am struck by how great it still sounds.

But let’s give Imperial Bedroom its due, Elvis. On this, your seventh album, you expanded your sound and played with different genres. It’s been a genuine pleasure to discover it, and it’s prettier and more interesting than I expected. No doubt about it, you are a meticulous craftsman with a gifted band. I absolutely love the soaring “Man out of Time”, as well as “…And in Every Home”, which makes me think of Randy Newman, and “Pidgin English”, which starts out sounding like the Kinks and then…

…oh, why I am bothering with this analysis? This one is no contest and never was. Your shoulders have been on the mat from word one. Sorry, Elvis.

JG

WINNER: Soundgarden, Superunknown (2 points)

BATTLE TALLY

80s: 6

90s: 7

EARNED POINTS
80s: 7
90s: 9

Next week’s battle – #37: Marvin Gaye, Midnight Love (1982) vs. Johnny Cash, American Recordings (1994)

#40: U2, ‘War’ (1983) vs. Neil Young, ‘Harvest Moon’ (1992)

War is the third album by a band that was, at the time, young and raw and hungry, and it opens with the words “I can’t believe the news today/I can’t close my eyes and make it go away”. Harvest Moon is the 20th studio album from an established legend with nothing to prove and opens with the words “She used to work in a diner/never saw a woman look finer”. That pretty much tells you everything you need to know about this battle: youthful outrage trying to change the word versus aging comfort contentedly observing it.  

In a post-U2 360 world, it’s hard to believe there was a time when U2 were young and raw and hungry – and Bono had a last name (Vox, in case you’re wondering) – but that’s how it was when the band got down to business in the fall of 1982 to record what was a “do or die” album after the sophomore slump of October.

They went with “do” in a big way. While even better things were still to come, War let the world know this was a serious band with something to say and a desire to say it with stadium-sized anthems. A concept album of sorts, most of the songs are about the horrors of, you guessed it, war, and it’s great. It rocks and it preaches with the spirit of kids who believe that music can change the course of history. Of course we’ve all heard “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, “New Year’s Day”, “Two Hearts Beat as One”, and “40” enough times for them to be seared onto our brains, but every other song is pretty much just as good. I especially like “Seconds” – an oddball track that juxtaposes a playful beat and melody with a dark warning about nuclear war.

The whole band sounds energized but let’s give a special shout-out to the rhythm section, and particularly drummer Larry Mullen Jr. who, from the military march of “Sunday Bloody Sunday” to the rave-up ending of “Like a Song”, sounds like he’s banging his kit to save his life.

Neil Young had no such anxiety or eagerness to please when he called forth his crew of perfect country-rock session players (also known as the Stray Gators) and choir of big-name back-up singers (Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, Nicolette Larson), and ushered them back into the studio to make a sequel to his biggest-selling album – 1972’s Harvest.

The result, I would argue, is quite possibly better than Harvest. At its best, Harvest Moon is unbeatable. “Harvest Moon”, “From Hank to Hendrix” and “Unknown Legend” are absolutely marvelous (side note: you have to love how director Jonathan Demme used “Unknown Legend” in Rachel Getting Married). Like Tom Petty’s Wildflowers, it’s the kind of album you can put on in any situation and everyone in earshot will be glad you did – though you’d be well advised to skip the nauseating treacle of “Such a Woman”, as well as “Old King”, a goofy tribute to a dog he admits to kicking once. No one needs the line: “But that hound dog is his..tor..eeeeee.”

Overall, this battle is close but since we’re talking about rock n’ roll let’s go with youthful outrage over aging comfort.

JG

WINNER: U2, War (2 points)

BATTLE TALLY

80s: 6

90s: 5

EARNED POINTS
80s: 7
90s: 5

Next week’s battle – #39: ZZ Top, ‘Eliminator’ (1983) vs. My Bloody Valentine, ‘Loveless’

#41: R.E.M., ‘Document’ (1987) vs. Guns n’ Roses, ‘Use Your Illusion I & II’ (1991)

Music snobs beware: you may be entering hostile territory. Because how could this even be a contest? A politically astute top-shelf album from one of the greatest indie rock bands of all time versus a big bloody mess of bombastic and petulant heavy metal.

R.E.M., hands down – right? And yet it’s not so obvious.

Document, R.E.M.’s fifth album, was the moment they decided to take a crack at stardom, and it worked. The tunes are a little more rockin’ than what came before. Peter Buck, famous for his jangly guitar, tries some new sounds to beautiful effect. And Michael Stipe’s lyrics, so often inscrutable on other albums, are clear and at the forefront, probably to make sure their scathing political commentary against Reagan’s America  came through loud and clear (oh, to imagine what they would say about a Trumpian world!). Almost every song is a gem (except maybe “Lightin’ Hopkins”) and even though I hate to single out the obvious ones…the vocal acrobatics on “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)” are still breathtaking and you gotta love a band that can trick people into thinking something as cold and mean as “The One I Love” is actually a love song.

But does Document contain anything that moves me as much as Slash’s guitar on “November Rain”? Or makes me laugh as much as the vulgar rant on “Get in the Ring”? Or gets me yelling and fist-pumping like “Breakdown”? Or transfixes me like the multi-movement epic that is “Estranged”?

It does not.

Use Your Illusion I and II add up to more than 2.5 hours of music and that is probably too much, but damn, when I listen to them now there is far less filler than I thought. No ideas were off limits when the Gunners hit the studio with this one. They rocked just as hard as ever, but expanded their sound to include other genres, like country, blues and electronica; and they added piano, strings, banjo and even a little sitar. Axl ranted against everythig under the sun. They shot for the moon, then blew it up on the way by. The Illusions were released one week before Nirvana’s Nevermind, so they have come to symbolize 80s metal’s last gasp. But what a gasp. Mammoth and ambitious, these albums sold about a bazillion copies, generated plenty of debate amongst hard rock fans, and still hold up today.

Document is excellent and, let’s face it, smarter; and R.E.M. is the more important band. But these battles are not about the artists, they are about the albums. And Use Your Illusions were a cultural event in a way that Document was not – people lined up outside record stores. That may be the last time that happened, and it will never happen again. Sorry, music snobs, but history decrees it must be so…

JG

WINNER: Guns n’ Roses Use Your Illusion I and II (1 point)

BATTLE TALLY

80s: 5

90s: 5

EARNED POINTS
80s: 5
90s: 5

Next week’s battle  –  #40: U2, War (1983) vs. Neil Young, Harvest Moon (1992)

#42: The Robert Cray Band, ‘Strong Persuader’ (1986) vs. PJ Harvey, ‘Rid of Me’ (1993)

One thing Robert Cray and PJ Harvey can definitely agree on is that relationships are a bitch. Both albums are full of songs about love gone wrong, and they get sad and they get ugly. Cray sits silently in his room listening to his neighbours break up “because she was just another notch on my guitar” on “Right Next Door (Because of Me)”. And Harvey howls “You salty dog, you filthy liar/My heart it aches, I’m in the fire” on “Snake”, which appears to be a raging tribute to hate fucking.

The similarities pretty much end there. Cray’s album is pretty and too smooth for words, famous at the time for bringing blues to the masses. His voice is sweet and expressive and his guitar is amazing. While I was too busy listening to Springsteen, Paul Simon and Van Halen at the time to even notice it, I now imagine Strong Persuader was the soundtrack to a lot of dinner parties and spousal dates back in 1986.

Harvey’s Rid of Me, on the other hand, refuses to be the soundtrack to anything but her own meltdown. She was going through hell and you are bloody well going to sit there and listen to it. Christ Almighty! I thought Weezer’s Pinkerton was aggressive, but it’s applesauce compared to the hell that P.J. Harvey has wrought. She ties you up and rips your head off on the title track and threatens to kill you at the end of “Legs”. And as for “Rub it till it Bleeds”, well, it’s exactly what it sounds like.

A note on the production of Rid of Me – it’s awesome. Steve Albini was behind it. He’d previously worked with the Pixies and would go on to produce Nirvana’s In Utero after Cobain heard Rid of Me.  According to Harvey, she’s never seen anyone set up a studio the way he did, with mics all over the place, so you could feel the walls shake and the drum kit rattle. The impact is potent – you feel like you’re in the room with the band, probably lying on the floor with a cheap bottle of scotch.

Rid of Me also has a gonzo cover version of Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited”; and that awesome cover photo of Harvey, taken in a pitch black bathroom apparently, with the camera flash lighting her up at precisely the right hair-flinging instant. What more do you want really?

JG

WINNER: PJ Harvey, Rid of Me (1 point)

BATTLE TALLY

80s: 5

90s: 4

EARNED POINTS
80s: 5
90s: 4

Next week’s battle  –   #41: R.E.M., Document (1987) vs. Guns n’ Roses, Use Your Illusion I & II (1991)