At the end of January 2017 I wrote “I haven’t forgotten about the CD Marathon btw, I think I hit a roadblock with Queen and never quite recovered…” in my Weekly Ramble No 4. Well I certainly did get blocked, but it wasn’t fatigue after writing about Queen, it was more a combination of Spotify giving me so much music at my fingertips, having very little to say about Queens of the Stone Age, and the pretty low view rates on those particular posts. However, that little OCD streak in my head, that tiny little magpie, keeps pecking at the inside of my cranium telling me to finish what I started.
So with that in mind I have decided to resuscitate the series and every now and again write something about the sixty or so artists and bands whose CDs are sitting on my Ikea shelves gathering dust.
I’m starting back where I stumbled with Queens of the Stone Age. I bought the UK-only version of their second album Rated R (packaged with a 5 track bonus disc with three new songs and a CD-ROM video) after hearing the controversial ‘Feel Good Hit of the Summer’ on one of those indie compilation albums that were big in the late 90s and turn of the millennium.
I didn’t know much about the band and still don’t really. But I liked the lead singer’s voice and the band’s hard rock riff-based ‘wall of sound’ musical style.
The second track on the album ‘The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret’ is probably my favourite as it has some cracking guitars. ‘Leg of Lamb’ has an almost Britpop vibe to its jauntiness. The only other track that stands out for me is the sprawling ‘Better Living Through Chemistry’ which reminds me of 70s prog-rock and might well be even better with some chemical assistance.
The worst track on the album is the awful ‘Quick and to the Pointless’, closely followed by ‘Tension Head’. I also didn’t see the point of the ‘Feel Good Hit of the Summer’ reprise or the last third of ‘I think I lost my Headache’. These bits spoil the vibe of an otherwise pretty cool rock album and feel more like filler than thriller, and it seems exceedingly indulgent / stupid to end the album with that mess of noise.
The opening track of the next album Songs for the Deaf entices you to turn up the volume and we’re back to the wall of sound vibe before going into the excellent single ‘No One Knows’. Dave Grohl played on drums on this album (see I do know something about them) and I fell in love with the choppy clunky guitar riffs of ‘No One Knows’ and the tumbling driving drum-laden chorus sections. Little consumer monkey that I am, I bought the ‘limited tour edition’ with a bonus disc of five live tracks (including a good version of ‘Another Love Song’) and it was weird seeing Grohl’s face on the back cover.
‘First it Giveth’ keeps the album going at a good rock lick. ‘Six Shooter’ epitomises the band’s habit of juxtaposing death metal sounding tracks that I dislike with more carefully composed and melodic rock tracks like ‘The Sky is Fallin’’ and ‘Go With The Flow’ – there’s still monster guitar hero riffs to be had but there’s a beauty in the vocals too. It’s not just something for teenagers to play to piss off their parents.
‘Gonna Leave You’ harks back to the ‘Leg of Lamb’ sound and is a track I could imagine the likes of Elastica covering back when they were a thing. ‘Do It Again’ and ‘God is in the Radio’ seem like vaguely glam rock influenced tracks. ‘Another Love Song’ has a bit of an early Rolling Stones vibe and sounds like a cover version, but it’s not right? Unlike their fairly faithful cover of The Kinks’ ‘Everybody’s Gonna be Happy’ which is the last very badly ‘hidden’ track on the CD.
The non-‘hidden’ section of the album ends with the sonically elaborate extravagant almost title track ‘Song For The Deaf’ with its rolling bass and drums, and vocals accompanied by screams and flamboyant guitar flourishes, interspersing their signature guitar sound.
I didn’t think the album really needed the faux ‘desert radio’ inserts – like the forgettable skits on hip hop albums – it felt to me like they were trying too hard, but the first hidden track ‘Mosquito Song’ is a nice edition and again harks back to 70s rock like Led Zeppelin.
I got the next two Queens of the Stone Age albums on iTunes before I became a Spotify convert, and so that’s it for this CD A to Z entry. Feel free to use the comment section below to tell me your favourite Queens of the Stone Age tracks.
Photo by Francisco Moreno on Unsplash