I have only one hesitation about giving Kyuss’ debut album five clowns, and that’s that, with respect to the rest of their catalog, where do they go from here? If I give five clowns to the album the fanbase generally regards as their third- or fourth-best effort, am I then locked into just riding out the catalog at five clowns, without being able to improve the relative rating?
I don’t know, but I find myself looking for reasons to knock it a half-clown. The sound/production comes up a lot, but, while it could definitely be better, it mostly fits the rough, dirty vibe of the album. Later the band would move on to a different production team and they would smooth things out and massively compress the sound, an effective approach for Kyuss’ generator rock (so named because this Palm Desert band would give their concerts at parties out in the middle of the desert), but here they’re still grimy and singing about wanting “pussy from a bad b***h on a big bike yeah” (“Big Bikes”), and so it fits.
Another reason for knocking it down is that no band has any business releasing an album that’s both this innovative (nobody was anywhere close to this in 1991) and this freaking good. And so they must have been on the rock band equivalent of performance enhancing drugs. But, really, you don’t want to start faulting rock bands for writing great songs on performance enhancing drugs, because you’re going to eliminate a lot of great rock music then.
And then maybe there’s that three-song stretch of Really Likes from “Black Widow” to “Deadly Kiss” you could knock them for, but there are a few problems with that suggestion. First is that for just about any album, three straight Really Likes is awesome. Second is that a part of what makes them fall short of Love or Mix is that they’re sharing a disc with songs that are almost inconceivably superior.. At least one of those would be at least Love on a normal CD. Finally, the fact that they’re put there is perfect and just shows how well-sequenced the album is, with a brilliant start and a perfect second half. [And then I listened again in headphones and decided “Black Widow” and “Katzenjammer” were Love anyway. And if “Deadly Kiss” is the worst song on your album, yeah, that’s basically five clowns right there.]
So, screw it, I’ve always said that my favorite Kyuss album is the one I’m listening to at the moment, and that trend continues. Load up the truck on Friday night, light a cigarette, crank this up, and tear out of town to a place you can go wild without breaking shit, cuz we’re gonna get wild.
Filed Between: Kronos Quartet (Howl, U.S.A.) and Kyuss‘ Blues For The Red Sun
Mix: “Love Has Passed Me By,” “Isolation,” “I’m Not”
Love: “(Beginning Of What’s About To Happen) Hwy. 74,” “Son Of A Bitch,” “Black Widow,” “Katzenjammer,” “The Law,” “Big Bikes,” “Stage III”
Really Like: “Deadly Kiss”
Song Notes: After the jump
- (Beginning Of What’s About To Happen) Hwy. 74 – what a perfect title for an album opener, even the parentheses add to it. It’s like, yeah, here we go…
- Love Has Passed Me By – probs the best song on the album
- Son Of A Bitch –
- Black Widow – percussive: “give me a f**king reason/a reason I should stay” bad sound, love the dueling guits
- Katzenjammer –
- Deadly Kiss – bad sound. would be love but takes a bit too long to get going.
- The Law – would probs be mix if it weren’t eight minutes long
- Isolation – another candidate for best on the album.
- I’m Not – great solo. “I’m not ready to leave this world yet/Pretty stinky people well nobody told me about them”
- Big Bikes –
- Stage III –