No, to make this list, the music on a given album has to chemical influence while also leaching a very specific brand of desperation and/or madness. Roll it, pour it, cook it, crush it, or just get stone-cold crazy; the needle will drop into the groove either way. Everyone had a piece of Spence but Spence, who spent the rest of his life in one institution or another. Spacemen 3 – You’d have to figure when it’s spelled out so blatantly they’re probably pure-veined Mormons pulling off an elaborate inside joke. This fuzzed-out squeamish throb of an album begs for either Jesus or rehab in every other line, each of which is held uncomfortably long, the vocal equivalent of a mescaline freak staring at the wrinkles on their palm: is notoriously hunkered in a blizzard of cocaine of the quality usually reserved for Bolivian generals and Du Pont heiresses.
There’s a reason Neil Young called Cale and Jimi Hendrix the “best electric guitar players I ever heard.” And that reason is because Cale managed to make every single song he ever recorded sound like 2am in downtown Tulsa, standing outside a bar that serves free hot dogs. Nick Drake – The final studio album recorded by Drake, it is the only one of the three without a backing band, and the stripped-down quality of the songs palpably reflects his mental state at the time, one of harrowing depression.
Drake overdosed on pills at age twenty-six, but left this album as a legacy, one mostly ignored at the time but now rightly regarded as brilliant– a collection of delicate and starkly personal statements that makes no concession to anything but simple expression and sheer despair. Miles Davis – Here Davis purposely and irrevocably destroys his legacy as Cool Birther and icon of be-bop by recording an incendiary slice of rock-tinged funk jazz, replete with upper register wah-trumpet, John Mc Laughlin’s fusion licks, and enough pimp stroll overtones to soundtrack the entire output of Iceberg Slim.
“City of Needles”, “Leper Colony”, and “Ghosts of Unborn Children” are utterly demented and terrifying highlights. Meat Puppets – Listening to the Meat Puppets is like hanging onto the end of a length of cyclone fencing being swung in circles by your unstable older brother.
No other band has ever captured the musical axis of evil (dueling country-fried guitar licks, heroin/punk sensibility and ghostly soprano vocals) quite as capably as the Kirkwood brothers.
The Dead Boys owned CBGB for a while, trading on their combination of anthemic stupidity, surly brilliance, and rivers of cheap booze.
Listening to this album is like soaking in bourbon-flavored Palmolive: an absolute joy. Bobby Fuller – Most famous for the early-sixties hit “I Fought The Law”, which has been covered by every punk band in history, and which he originally recorded (but was actually written by Sonny Curtis–who wrote the theme to the ), The Bobby Fuller Four’s “Let Her Dance” is a genius example of throwback fifties rock run through an echo chamber of surf-reverb.
This is Proust in eight sides, four albums, one vision. This is the album Cleveland’s own answer to The Stooges and The New York Dolls, the Dead Boys were a dumber, drunker slice of the distorted NY thrash-cake.
Featuring the rude spasm of Stiv Bators and Cheetah Chrome, this album was produced by Ten Wheel Drive’s Genya Ravan (formally of one of the first all-girl bands ever, Goldie and The Gingerbreads–real name: Goldie Zelkowitz).
The fact that Davis was aware that Jimi Hendrix was repeatedly dalliancing with his wife (the Funk/Diva legend Betty Davis) must have had an affect on the direction of his groove. In any case, this is an absolute monster of an album, an unrepentant middle finger to jazz snobs, and a down-on-the-corner statement that throbs and wobbles and ultimately refuses to resolve itself in any context.