Top Ten Albums (Part 2)
Four: There is absolutely no point trying to read into Thom Yorke’s usually impenetrable lyrics. The music talks. Jonny Greenwood’s often screeching, desperate guitar and Yorke’s sweet and vulnerable yet disdaining voice turn Radiohead’s third effort into a classic. With more textures than your average patchwork quilt, OK Computer retains its guitar rock feel and enjoys singalong moments like “her Hitler hairdo is making me feel ill” on the anthemic Karma Police. Paranoid Android is a varied, desperate lament, demanding “come on, rain down on me.”
*Meat Is Murder*
Five: The pseudo-polished production of the Smiths’ second album serves to illustrate the soul-filled beauty of Morrissey’s voice. Marr’s guitar is up to his brilliantly high standards leaving many listeners questioning whether it was even possible to compose and play the intro to ‘How Soon Is Now?,’ the sweeping near-seven minute epic jammed into the middle of the cd release of the album, with its classic lyric “there’s a club if you’d like to go, you could meet somebody who really loves you, so you go and you stand on your own and you leave on your own and you go home and you cry and you want to die.” .
The song fits in nicely after the melancholy ‘That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore’ which is Morrissey’s stinging riposte to the pesky journalists who suggested his self-pitying lyrics are simulated – “Time’s tide will smother you/And I will too/When you laugh about people who feel so very lonely/Their only desire is to die.” Touching. But, as always, while the misery isn’t fake, there’s much more to the Smiths. Rusholme Ruffians and Nowhere Fast are somewhat rockable with lyrical gems not far away like “And when I’m lying in my bed I think about life/And I think about death/And neither one particularly appeals to me.” Every song, from the rejection in ‘What She Said’ to the over-the-top ‘Barbarism Begins At Home,’ tells a story. The title track is also rather excessive and, in a rare failure, fails to get its point across. Nevertheless, Meat Is Murder sees the Smiths raw and unvarnished and exposes their talent magnificently.
Six: Joy Division started off as an average punk band named Warsaw, then were castigated for alleged Nazi sympathies. Those pesky journalists again. Unknown Pleasures showed they had developed into something special. The music from Hook, Morris and Sumner lurches from a terrifying feel of impending catastrophe to edgy rocky lines, often underscored by the forbidding keyboard. Melodies turn to silence. Rhythms turn to noise. Coupled with Ian Curtis’ despairing lyrics – “where will it end?” repeated over and over for instance – Unknown Pleasures can be truly scary at times. This was how music could be special. Dark. Twenty-four years later the Darkness came and gave music a bad name.
Maybe Ian Curtis had a vision of the future when he committed sucide at the tender age of 24. In fact, his death is attributed to a growing frustration with fans turning up to his gigs to watch his epileptic fits rather than his brilliant performances. “I’ve been waiting for a guide to come and take me by the hand,” as the opening track, Disorder, says. Curtis offers a sample of his agony in the insightful ‘She’s Lost Control.’