By Erika Meyer
1. That one Captain Beefheart album.
It’s too much of one thing and not enough of another. I’d rather listen to Howlin’ Wolf or John Lee Hooker vamp endlessly in E.
But I do like this.
2. The Shaggs – Philosophy Of The World
The drummer is playing, and the guitar players are playing. They are playing next to each other, the way very young children play side to side before they learn to negotiate sharing, collaborative, mutual play. I think it’s called “parallel play”. For that reason, and others (look, lyrics), The Shaggs seem innocent and genuine. Their clangy off-beat is unmistakable. Striking. I want to love it. But I don’t.
3. The Clash – Combat Rock
I’m not embarrassed about not liking this album today, but I was embarrassed about not liking it (or The Clash in general) in the early 80s. These guys were supposed to be tough and cool? kinda like Black Flag? but singing songs about life in U.K. instead of L.A.? I had Ramones, Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, Bad Religion … why should I need The Clash? OK, they were energetic and they took musical risks. I like that. But they were kind of self-important and kind of cheesy. Kind of classic rock.
4. Van Halen – 1984
Spandex. Did everyone love this record? I couldn’t get away from it. ‘Panama’ is probably playing on the radio somewhere at this very moment, and someone is probably really enjoying it. I don’t get it. I don’t know that I was ever embarrassed about my dislike of this record, more that my inability to appreciate it made me feel kind of like there was something wrong with me.
Let’s start with guitar: overdriven electric cheese whiz. It is distinctive, I give it that. And Eddie can play. I give him that. There is talent and technique and tricks and finesse and even joy. But I need something else.
When this album came out, I didn’t have cable TV, therefore I didn’t have MTV, but there was a palpable buzz among the all the feather-headed kids of Logger High, and the radio WOULD NOT STOP playing cuts, the worst of which was, and is, ‘Panama’. No, ‘Jump’. I don’t know. I just know that my opinion of this album has stayed consisted for for almost 30 years now. This is why we had punk.