Key To Music Grades

A - You will never be whole without it
B - Highly recommended
C - Flawed, but still pretty good
D - It's your money, not mine
F - Why couldn't this have been burned in Fahrenheit 451?

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Rolling Stones - Goat's Head Soup (1973)














I've trashed the Beatles -- unapologetically -- for the furiously awful offal that is Rubber Soul and have decided I am musically obligated to administer like if not equal treatment to the Stones as well -- because, well, Goat's Head Soup very well deserves it. See, a good portion of what we perceive in life consists of the dialectic interplay between a thesis and antithesis. For me, most examples of this proffered nonsense are confused readily with dichotomies, pure opposites, polarities, etc. -- Good and Evil, Being and Nothingness (any Sartre fans?); and, most importantly for this review, Beatles and Stones. Except, in terms of fulfilling their end of the deal, the Beatles and Stones, for all intents and purposes, are poor purveyors of such musical foodstuffs and therefore I tend to treat them in terms of Hegelian aufhebung, or sublation -- which is to say, if you follow such philosophy, I offer The Who as a better alternative instead. Follow me? If not, it's all good; you aren't coming here for the coffee. Or are you?

Ok, the album. It's almost purely fucking awful. Aside from the splendid "Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker) and its tasty riff, I can't wrap myself around this one. For all the acclaim "Angie" receives, I don't get it -- it's decent; nothing very spectacular, though. I certainly don't crave listening to it. "Dancing With Mr. D" is awful. "100 Years Ago" is awful. "Coming Down Again" is awful. And these begin the album. "Can You Hear The Music?" No. I can't. This album feels similar in feeling for me with Houses Of The Holy, which I also trashed -- and it's where we hear faint glimmers of former glory but its mostly torpor and excess that are present all that is left is a blurrily traced outline of what existed formerly. This album sucks. D

31 comments:

Master Cianan said...

Yep, this one sucks. You know what else sucks? Beggar's banquet.

Jeff said...

I think the Stones are alright, but in the end I see them as being very overrated.

The Mad Hatter said...

Master Cianan,

I almost feel compelled to review that one as well. It's pretty awful as well. These guys have a ton of stinkers. And that's not taking into account their current period -- which is to say, where they keep playing despite the fact that they suck.

Jeff,

You said it, my man: overrated. This word, for me, is quintessential Stones and Beatles. See, for all my ire, I like a ton of Beatles and Stones songs, but they're just not great. Just because someone poured a foundation for your house doesn't make them better than the guy who put in your palatial marble floors. That's why Pink Floyd, etc. totally beat the snot out of the Beatles and Stones, despite the fact that they owe them their influence.

The Mad Hatter said...

As a quick afterthought, because this isn't just about music for me: I also hate the fact that you can do extremely well in the beginning of your career or at some posh job and float lazily to retirement while suffering yearly attrition in terms of productivity yet be paid more and more every year despite the fact that you contribute very little and don't deserve it. I'm not saying 'Down with the old', either. It's just the mechanisms in place don't serve the interests of anyone. So back to Stones and Beatles: they were at the beginning; they forged their paths; people followed them -- they had to -- but they were eclipsed. And so not having been born anywhere near such artificial hype, I never bought into it. Keef is still a damn good guitar player; John Lennon, even as a personality, was uniquely jagged within the band (that and he was also the strongest, most important element in the band).

Master Cianan said...

Shoulda been called "goat shit soup". Which is what was served at the beggars' banquet, incidentally.

But I have to come to the defense of both the stones and the beatles when you put floyd above them. No. Not fucking even. Sure, I usually skip the beatles when they come up on the shuffle on my zune, but I don't even have a single note of floyd on there, despite liking them OK. Why is this? Because, like you just wrote, the guy who pours the foundation isn't automatically better than the guy who lays down the marble floor. The only thing spawned by floyd is 15 year olds who just got their first delay pedals to play their mexican strats through. That is Floyd's legacy to musicians. To be appreciated, but not copied, for the love of... of whatever. Now putting Lennon at the top of the beatle heap?

FOR SHAME!! He was talented guy, but also the most self-indulgent, and of the solo output of the 3 (ringo don't count) his was the weakest by far, full of dippy, ill-conceived counterculture bullshit and fueled by mountains of cocaine. And nothing turns you into a self-indulgent know it all shithead faster than coke. I like Paul's stuff OK, actually. Sorry, but I totally sing along to "Jet" and "let 'em in" and "silly love songs". And band on the run is a great fucking tune. But really, George was the real king of them all. One spin of "all things must pass" puts things in perspective. To Paul, it's humbling, but to John it must have been like having the sickest man in india pull his pants down 2 inches in front of his face only to blast angry hot torrid jets of Spicy diarrhea in his eyes, nose and mouth. Note that "spicy" was capitalized. I can't think of a single post beatles lennon song I really like. His beatles songs depended on Paul. But George played "wah wah", so he gets the fucking prize, man.

"strongest, most important"... there you go again with the important... He just had the good fortune to get killed, thus ensuring his eternal cult of personality, which has a way of covering up mediocrity. It's why JFK is remembered fondly, instead of the fucking asshole who got us into vietnam and a cunt hair away from a good nuking.

The Mad Hatter said...

So Floyd isn't your thing. Big deal. But Lennon? First off, I didn't say he was important per se; I said as an element within the band that he was, musically and personality-wise -- and I stand by that. Ringo is a non-entity; George could be considered an artful dodger insofar as you can only catch his musical imprint sometimes in their songs; McCartney -- shame on you, my friend. McCartney is a plush suckass balladeer with a stupid stunted lyricism and a one-sided knack for musical sameness. Jets? Fucking ick. Sure, no band he's in would be the same, but I'll play craps with one without him and gamble that they're better. Lennon? No, he's not great, which is why I want to ensure that you know that I am not hoisting him up above everyone -- just hoisting him above everyone in his own band. For God's sake, man, you think I would anoint anything -- even singularly -- concerning the Beatles? Bah to you.

Master Cianan said...

Oh, I wrote that rant perfectly aware of the context you were putting Lennon in. It also happens that I don't just disagree, but you are R-O-N-G wrong. Had McCartney not been in the beatles, and they still had become as big as they did, people would not still be singing the praises of Lennon's songwriting prowess. He could never stand on his own, and while he did well, he absolutely needed someone to riff off of. Paul's post beatles output has been all peaks and valleys, while John's was on a pretty even keel quality wise. I don't think he ever wrote a song as bad as some of paul's, but then at his best he never came close to being as good as any of paul's better songs, either. Everything catchy and good the beatles ever wrote was fueled by paul, except for the occasional george moment. John's always listed as the co-writer, but what contributions to those songs did he actually make? Since they all basically sound like Paul to me, I don't think John really brought all that much to the table other than a huge ego and some pseudo-sensitive babblings that young women gobbled up. Use your ears, not the songwriting credits in the liner notes, man! It was paul, paul, paul!

The Mad Hatter said...

Songwriting credits? I have no idea who wrote what songs; I listen with my ears, and what I hear -- ready for this? because this is context -- what I hear is crap. John, Paul, George and Bingo -- they suck. Period. They have some great songs, some good songs, but mostly, they suck. If music were baseball, they're a .213 hitter with .230 OBP; in other words, they probably play for the Orioles. I refuse to even concede any point worth anything of substance because this argument is fucking stupid. How you got me to even defend John Lennon is beyond me. Syd Barrett is better. Hell, Jimmy Page is better. Ok, he's got Mademoiselle Clapton beat, but that's not saying much. Grrrr.

Master Cianan said...

I didn't get you to defend him; you championed him as the "strongest, most important element in the band",
and I attacked your position. Now, if you pay no attention to the credits, how can you place his contributions above those of the others in the group? I think you got snowed by the venerations heaped upon him by hippies.

and Jimmy Page is not better. Just for the record.

The Mad Hatter said...

What didn't you get about "they suck. Period." Defend, champion, skewer, gesticulate...that's like saying you prefer the snot of yesteryear over the current crop in your nose. It's snot, dude. Not worth the piffling thought it takes for me to pick it out or blow it. I know you're trying to goad me into an extremely venomous Beatles review, but it won't work. Well, maybe.

Master Cianan said...

OH, man. Dude, you of all people ought not to be ranting about yesteryear's snot, given your predilection for older music. I think a lot of people who visit this site fall in that category, including me.

The only thing I was trying to do was to pick apart your argument that Lennon was the greatest member of that band, not to goad you into any further frenzied beatle assassinations. I know where you stand when it comes to those guys.

The Mad Hatter said...

Hahahahaha. No impending assassinations, I assure you. I guess what I'm saying is I don't care if Paul really was the better Beatle. If I'm wrong, it's okay. Granted, I don't think so, but even if years from now I come around and dig Paul's stuff, it doesn't matter. I care more for what Kaki King or Radiohead's next album will be like than Revolver. Or Double Fantasy. Or Wings. Or the Plastic Ono Band.

Ok, I will concede that Lennon's solo work is crap. There. Happy? Blech to you. Can we change the subject please?

taotechuck said...

man, i've been out of sorts lately, and i still feel bad about my lackluster contribution to your completely idiotic GnR review. so i'm going to try to kill two birds with one half-assed stone.

if you substitute the word "appetite" for every instance of the word "goat's", the word "for" for each and every "head", and "destruction" for your each delicious "soup", you'd have a hella good review of Appetite for Destruction.

or, you could just paraphrase this review with the word "awful," and it would be fitting for both GnR and the stones.

(sorry, hatter. that's the best i can do right now.)

(oh, and you're insane if you think floyd trumps the beatles. i don't even like the beatles (and i do like floyd), but at least the beatles knew how to write a damned fine pop song... something floyd only barely pulled off once or twice in their entire bloated career. "i'm roger waters, my childhood sucked, i'm a nihilistic asshat, i'm gonna shave my eyebrows." makes morrissey look like a fucking pillar of mental health. besides, morrissey can write pop songs too, unlike roger wankers.)

Master Cianan said...

Well said, Chuck!

The Mad Hatter said...

Ohohoho, "nihilistic asshat" -- I'm using that word at my new job today; that's damn good.

As for your strange Beatles-Floyd logic, let me do a substitution for you as well:

I don't even like Britney Spears (and I do like King Crimson), but at least Britney Spears knew how to write a damned fine pop song... something King Crimson only barely pulled off once or twice in their entire bloated career

So if I understood the exercise right, it means Britney and Beatles, despite not liking them, are better than Floyd and KC because they wrote pop songs?

taotechuck said...

Oh Hatter, are you purposely laying out such easy bait in hopes that I'll stumble into your sinister snare?

The fatal flaw with your argument is that Britney Spears has probably never written so much as a thank you note to her shady pharmacist, let alone a brilliant pop song.

Your point is acknowledged, though. The thing with The Beatles is they didn't just write pop songs. Anyone can write a pop song, but The Beatles wrote pop songs that touched on pretty much everything great about rock music, before or since. And they did it in a way that resonated with zillions of people.

King Crimson was awesome, but the Beatles were the perfect storm. Everything aligned perfectly for them, and they changed everything that came afterwards.

The Mad Hatter said...

I understand what you're saying; I just don't understand where you're coming from. You don't like the Beatles, yet like Floyd, yet the Beatles are better? I guess what I'm saying is: I could give a fupenny tuck if the Beatles wrote brilliant pop songs that resonate with zillions of people; if they don't resonate with you or me, then why does such a thing matter? As I've said many times, they laid a foundation upon which many bands -- even great ones -- had to use to build their musical homes; and were I fashionably interested in pop as a genre I suppose I might enjoy them more. But King Crimson is awesome, despite resonating with possibly 1/84th of the Beatles total fan population. The Beatles are not awesome, despite -- very true! -- writing the manual on great pop songs. I just don't like 99% of pop, which is why I can only sometimes enjoy the Beatles.

The Mad Hatter said...

Oh, and Chuck, my purpose in life is to ensnare. Even if I do nothing than squint at you with my beady little subway rat eyes in ponderous silence, free men are of no interest to me -- only those under my mental control, har har har!

taotechuck said...

It boils down to objectivity vs. subjectivity. Anyone can write a review and say, "this sucks because I don't like it." Big fucking deal. I don't like The Beatles very much, but that doesn't mean they suck.

I will delete this comment and deny ever writing it if you try to throw this back in my face, but it's why my arguments against Appetite for Destruction are so weak. The album doesn't suck. To me it does, but when taken in the overall context of rock music -- and rock music circa 1987 -- the album doesn't suck. I use whatever objective points I can muster (Axl Rose really does sound like Ethel Merman) in hopes of bringing people around to my way of thinking, but I can't in good conscience say the album sucks.

The best part about playing Devil's Advocate is when you can make solid, objective arguments why a sacred cow is rotten. You've done that in the past, but I don't think you pulled it off here. You haven't given me any tangible proof that Goat's Head Soup (or The Beatles) suck.

Anyway, I need to go take a shower, because I feel dirty after saying nice things about Appetite.

The Mad Hatter said...

Touché. But understand that my intent isn't necessarily to provide such a solid viewpoint. True, I sometimes give sound reasoning, while other times, I'm vague and problematic. I write my reviews in probably less time than my follow-on comments. I am quite capable of doing so for every review, but life doesn't work a deal out like that for me, nor do I want to be pigeon-holed into a certain kind of review anyway. I want to be vague or wrong or qualitatively unsubstantive so people like you come out and skewer me. The statement I make -- which is to say, the actual review -- is less important to me than the discussion of the music itself afterwards.

Okay, the objectivity. I find objectivity to be a fairly useless ideal. If I happen to seem objective, it's accidental -- it's never something I strive for. After all, why create a blog in your own image if you don't believe your opinion to be worth something? At the same time, I understand what you're saying: just saying something sucks, isn't enough -- what if I gave you a pack of M&Ms? Here's the thing: I do have solid arguments for why the Beatles and Stones suck and I guess I'm going to pull another one out of the hatter for you and explain.

Goat's Head Soup, by the by, is muddled bluesy dreck, to steal a phrase from myself. This album is tired musical rambling, an overt and gloating repetition of their former musical successes, without the freshness. This is partially their fault and partially a fault of blues insofar as blues is the most simple musical style you can think of and it's so easy to sound like someone else. The one good thing about blues is the inherent emotion in it. This album has not a lick of it, nor among other venerable hacks such as Clapton and SRV who belie their virtuosity with speed and soullessness.

The Mad Hatter said...

Ok, another take on objectivity, in terms of blues and jazz. I love jazz, anything with a jazzy feel, use of jazz chords, etc. This is partially because of the seemingly infinite ways a chord can be altered. Blues, on the other hand, is repetitive and is much simpler, musically. It just sounds the same to me. That's why SRV never impressed me much or why John Mayer needs a good bottle of shut the fuck up.

But who am I? Well, I'm not one of the zillions who adore the Beatles, yet I do like the Creation. Who the fuck are they? Suum cuique, I say. I can go bar by bar of every Beatles song and trash it; but what basis is there for my saying this chord is good; that note is bad? It's all in how I hear it; how it pleases or incenses me. And just because many people may vigorously enjoy Grand Funk doesn't make Mark Farner a brilliant guitarist (in my eyes, anyway). So, sorry man, everything is subjective. Everything. It's like I wrote in the post -- you and other's aren't coming here for coffee. You may be coming for a solid, objective-as-possible review, you may be coming for my snarky stupid hatred, my unyielding love of employing strange linguistic sentence constructs and layered metaphors, or you may just be coming for the tea -- in which case, sit down, I just put some jack in it. ;)

Master Cianan said...

Yeah, but what about the bone-rattling bass of Mel Shaker?

The Mad Hatter said...

Hahahahahahaha! Notice his bass playing was "bone-rattling." Homer wasn't exactly paying the other two compliments with "wild, shirtless lyrics" or "competent drumwork." Competent drumwork? That just sounds insulting. And no mention of Farner's positively insane guitar riffage.

The Mad Hatter said...

Ok, after receiving several e-mails, I'm going to preliminarily post these grades for the Beatles. This way no one accuses me of complete Beatle hatred. If I'm missing any, I'm really not missing them, am I? Review will eventually appear in the course of the next few years, hehe.

A Hard Day's Night - D
Help! - C-
Rubber Soul - D
Revolver - C-
Magical Mystery Tour - B-
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - B
The White Album - B
Abbey Road - C
Let It Be - D

Master Cianan said...

Oh please. Revolver's my favorite, and it has the best record jacket to boot. Revolver was once rated by guitar one magazine as the greatest guitar record ever made, which isn't true, but it was a nice nod. And it was also nice to see george get props like that. I'd give it a B+, maybe an A-. C- is some seriously short shrift, buddy.

The Mad Hatter said...

Guitar One, eh? I suppose these same magazines that anoint Pet Sounds and the like as the greatest ever are worth more than the spittle from a whore's mouth following fellatio? Not likely. Since when do you cite magazines as musical authority? Bah to you. And you rip me for saying something's "important." What are you going to say next -- that Robert Christgau is a great writer?

Master Cianan said...

I'm gonna quote myself. "Revolver was once rated by guitar one magazine as the greatest guitar record ever made, which isn't true, but it was a nice nod." So how am I citing their authority? I clearly called bullshit. It's the sentiment I enjoyed, and agree with to some degree. If I remember right, THEY called revolver "important" in fact... a word I will always rip on, be it quoth by music journalists or Bryan. Here's something "important": The so-called smiley face gang. They are actively murdering some of the most obnoxious people on the planet, ie. Frat Boys. That is indeed an important service. Once somebody makes a record that actually causes shitty people to drop dead after hearing its strains, I will agree that it is an "important" album, and will play it in my car as loud as possible, leaving death in my wake.

The Mad Hatter said...

Ok, man. You know what we need to do. That "important" album needs to be made by us. That will be our legacy to the world. It's our moral obligation to all that is holy within ourselves. Super fucking brilliant shittiness. I'm actually trying to convince my brother to play bass. We need a Bonzo, a lapsteel and a bag of corn droppings and we'll be all good.

Master Cianan said...

Well, I have a lapsteel. We can call it "This album is important" and have a song on it called "Kanye West is a selfish person". Maybe I can con Chris Walla into producing it, he has a studio. Then I'll get the guys from the monkeywrench to be the backing band to our Fagen/Becker, but don't tell them, because Mark Arm and Tom Price hate the dan.

The Mad Hatter said...

Let's not forget to sample Denny's wah from "King Of The World" and to enlist Captain Beefheart to paint the cover (since that's what he does nowadays). We can steal a Mellotron, too, and try to perform the equivalent of sweep picking on it while hammered on quaaludes. Also, since this album is important, I've already written the songs.

This Album Is Important
by Isosceles

Kanye West Is A Selfish Person
Suck On My Bitch
We Sell Raffle Tickets
This Album Is Important
You Can That Dan Out Of Steely, But You Can't Take The Steely Out Of Dan
This Album Is Important (Reprise)
We Are Not U2
Walla My Marif
We Can Clapton, But We Won't
I'll Be Your Weener On The Spot
This Album Is Important (Coda)

Secret Song: This Album Is Fucking Shite

Master Cianan said...

You forgot about the obligatory poop track "Fecal George". Google it, it's a funny story.