Thursday, December 07, 2006

What would life be like if it never changed? Installment 3

More thoughts on my Top Ten Life-Changing Albums. Thanks to Eek for beginning the thread that led me to this list.

(Note: Italics indicate my initial response to Eek's challenge; the rest constitutes my further thoughts on the subject).

3. Destiny Street, Richard Hell & The Voidoids. Woefully underrated (especially compared to Blank Generation), but to my mind it features some of Robert Quine’s finest guitar work (as well as a song entitled “The Kid With the Replaceable Head”).

It took five years for the Voidoids, possibly the most literate of all punk bands, to record their second album. While many dismiss it as inferior, to my mind it holds its own not only with its predecessor, but with the finest landmark albums of the punk era.

Fusing the mania of the Ramones with the intelligence of Talking Heads, adding a sprinkle of Stones swagger and the sonic mayhem of The Velvet Underground, Richard Hell & The Voidoids was a wholly unique concoction. This album features a reconstituted band, with Fred Maher and Naux replacing Mark Bell and Ivan Julian, respectively.

Continually threatening to upstage Hell (but refraining from doing so out of sheer decency, it seems) original Voidoid Robert Quine is given free rein with his guitar. Shrieking feedback, distortion, chiming chords, backwards loops, Roy Buchanan-style harmonics: you name, it's here, and all of it with the unfailing good taste that Quine brought to every project he was a part of.

It didn't hurt that Hell was occasionally MIA from the recording studio on some jag or other; Quine used the hours judiciously to create a truly original guitar album. Dispensing with the 20-minute solos of a Clapton or Page, Quine uses the guitar as one would an electric can opener: with direct and focused purpose to cut through to the good stuff. It doesn't hurt that some of his guitar tones actually mimic those of an electric can opener as amplified by a Fender Twin on 11.

Along with the afore-mentioned "The Kid With the Replaceable Head," standout tunes include the raucous "Downtown at Dawn" and the wondrously beautiful meditation on life, death and everything in between, "Time."


Blogger EEK! said...

Richard Hell - a Kentucky boy!

12:17 AM  

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