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,
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.
Love - America's Sweetheart
But Julian, I'm A Little Bit Older Than
Hold On To Me
All The Drugs
I'll Do Anything
Life Despite God
Never Gonna Be The Same
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