The Greatest Album Ever Made
I’m not going to be objective about this. Fuck you and your objectivity. Objectivity gets you alt-j. Objectivity gets you Tame Impala*.
“I like to listen to Jad Fair and Half Japanese with headphones on, walking around shopping malls – in the heart of the American culture. I just think that, if people could hear this music right now, they’d melt, they wouldn’t know what to do, they’d start bouncing off the walls and hyperventilating. So I turn up the music really loud and pretend it’s blasting through the speakers in the mall.” – Kurt Cobain
After work most evenings I catch the 383 bus from Roma St. I like the 383: on a decent day, it can make The Gap run in under 20 minutes flat. The people of the 383 at 4.43 of an evening look defeated, grey. Tired and unsmiling and featureless, all they require is escape, a shutting down of the senses. Bludgeoned long ago into submission by the unrelenting green and heat, the mundane and necessity of keeping that pool sparkling clean. Maybe they’re looking forward to the weekend when they can stare at cardboard boxes in Bunnings, seek haven in an air-conditioned Coles. Maybe they’re looking forward to a nice relaxed evening in front of the 7.30 report, outraged at the shenanigans of politicians. Most of them seem to be my age (51) although in all likelihood, they’re younger. Collectively, we seem to bring home that infamous Margaret Thatcher saying, “Anybody seen in a bus over the age of 30 has been a failure in life”.
Mostly, especially in recent days, I don’t care. You see, I’ve got a little secret that lifts me way beyond my surroundings. I run and dream among the stars, lapping at the firmament. In my head, The Flamin’ Groovies 1976 12-inch ‘Shake Some Action’ is always playing. In my head, I’m punching out steps and making extravagant hand gestures at the front of shows. Always. Going berserk to Ramones in a tiny bar, rolling round the floor with the Dirtbombs in Detroit, racing with Kat Bjelland through the streets of Liverpool. In my headphones is the debut album from the Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys, playing out in grisly distorted bass stereo: the three singers cajoling and spewing and pleading and laughing and berating and singing of sleeping through an entire weekend, diving off into the deep end, low and knowing, guitars a glorious cacophony of every glorious cacophony you heard before. I can’t help but always start shaking there on the bus, feet begin tapping wildly, head doing the chicken. I don’t give a fuck what the forgotten, the damned and the satisfied, think of me. I have a secret, y’see. And in my head I’m knocking back bottle after bottle of Maker’s Mark and bathing girls’ feet with champagne and lifting my three kids above my head crazily, laughing wildly, racing down hills recklessly on my bicycle. Have I ever been disappointed? Oh yes, gloriously – gloriously so.
The feeling usually really kicks in around 10 minutes into the album, ‘Have You Ever’, as those meat-head drums slam through just when you don’t think there will be there can be any more emphasis, and there’s that fucking voice calling out hope down through the years even to the end of the line, the 383 bus to The Gap to the middle of fucking nowhere… and then ‘Any Day Now’ and you want the world to fucking end right now, right here on this defeated bus, bomb Armageddon. “I’m going to make you feel brand new,” they sing and it’s not just an idle promise. Every time, revitalised. “Because when I’m here with you/I feel all right.” No more useless nights. And as those guitars, those beautiful fucking relentlessly beautiful, fucking primal guitars, power in again you want to rip off these fucking headphones, rip off this fucking useless mask and start waltzing down the aisles with the rest of the bus – and who’s to say they ain’t sharing in the exact same but different dreams right now? – and kick over the ornaments, laughing. And then the rollicking ‘Sally’ kicks in and EVERY FUCKING TIME you start to silently laugh your head off, the way it reminds you of Oasis and how proud you once felt to be part of the herd, part of the groundswell enjoying and living every moment with Oasis, there’s no shame there…
And the feeling stays with you all bus ride long, every song an old and vaguely sarcastic friend, each song a shield against depression and darkness and defeat – ‘Devotion’, ‘Only Loneliness’… the wonderfully outrageously straining for unobtainable notes on ‘Wait For See’ (which, I swear to Bangs and whichever useless gods you choose to believe in, is Dinosaur Jr’s ‘Just Like Heaven’, only 100 times more so). And the feeling stays with you: slipping your headphones onto your ears and pressing play and anticipating the split-second before the music kicks in, it’s like that moment in The Wizard Of Oz or It’s A Wonderful Life, when Kansas switches from monochrome to brilliant Technicolor and you understand you still have a thousand, a million chances left…
“Ready For Boredom’… and you’re thinking of the flash mob, 20-strong, that suddenly materialised at the front of the Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys show last Saturday in Spring Hill (what a wonderful bar room venue!) to drive everything into reckless, gaping abandon, and you want the entire world to sing along. This is the only album I’ve listened to EVER, and it’s the only album I EVER want to listen to. Greedy and capricious and when it stops I HAVE to put it back on, gasping for air.
And last night, my headphones packed up at the start of the journey, and I sat there the entire 20 minutes defeated and grey and, so sue me, useless.