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Courtney Love
While In My Gut the Creature Writhes and Snarls and Tells Me What I Need
by Tim Byrnes

Five Star: A look at albums that are so good that they impress even the most cynical of critics. Very few albums are superior enough to obtain a five star rating but occasionally a band slips through the river of mediocrity that is the modern music industry and they produce an album that restores our faith in the future of rock! This series is a look at such albums. 

Sometimes the best man for a job is a woman. Especially when the job is saving rock and roll and the woman is Courtney Love.  Part rock star, part spectator sport, Love continues her celebration of self (the pure essence of all great rock and roll, by the way) with the release of this, her first solo album. From the barrage of electric guitars tearing down the old MTV jingle that opens the first single "Mono", it's clear that Love comes to town to bury, not to praise.

"'Is this the part in the book that you wrote where I gotta come save the day/did you miss me?", she sings, knowing and not caring how many people that line will infuriate. The song is carried along on a wave of righteous rage, the guitars and drums all thrust and trajectory bringing the noise back to the garage by way of the VIP room at Planet Hollywood. What gets lost in all the hype around the drug busts, the assumed insanity, the ridiculous murder theories, the raging egoism, the Hollywood dalliances is the fact that all these things are normal currency in rock and roll, and besides, it's none of our business and has little, if not nothing, to do with the actual music.

Which rocks harder than Chinese arithmetic. 

On "But Julian, I'm a Little Older Than You" Love asserts her primacy in a male dominated music world, where row upon row of tattooed love boys with serious Mother issues have been topping the heap for some time now. I love the Strokes as much as anybody, really, but their Carnaby Street on Ecstasy recreation of the Sixties, while much fun, holds no candlepower next to the force of nature combination of righteous anger, raw nerve and chops represented on this CD. I especially love the way she snarls "...and I know where you live."  The animal speaks, indeed.

This is the work of a woman clearly unafraid and unconcerned as to what me, you or our arbitrary rules of "purism" think about her or her work. She loves herself enough, she doesn't need us and I think that's what pisses most people off about her. Maybe we really are just jealous of her. Her freedom and complete self-acceptance. Self obsessed? Of course she is, name me one performer who isn't. Crazed and unhinged, Love approaches her place in rock and roll as a matter of life and death, and really what else is there? 

But for all her considerable myth making (again, the pure essence of all great rock and roll), Love also has the capacity for breath taking honesty. "All the Drugs", "Hold On to Me" and "Uncool" all speak in a knowing voice of the physical, spiritual and emotional breakdowns that she's ( and by extension, we're) perhaps inches away from.  Such fearless and searching moral inventories tend to cast shadowy doubt on our own preconceptions of self and, as a result are dismissed out of hand due to discomfort. Or maybe we just hate women.

Screw the psychology (after you've thought about it a while, maybe) and turn up the volume. "America's Sweetheart" is a wild cry in the night from the black and beautiful heart of rock and roll. If this isn't the Album of the Year, then I can't wait to hear what is. And, Courtney, if you're reading this, I don't care if you don't care what I think, I'm telling you anyway. Uncompromising? Yes. Uncontrollable? Yes. Uncool? Never in my book, sweetheart.

CD Info 

Courtney Love - America's Sweetheart
But Julian, I'm A Little Bit Older Than You
Hold On To Me
Sunset Strip
All The Drugs
Almost Golden
I'll Do Anything
Life Despite God
Zeplin Song
Never Gonna Be The Same
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