Stuff that pops into my head. Innit.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Rated R Deluxe

It’s been a whopping 10 years since the release of the Queens of the Stone Age breakout album Rated R (yes, you are old).Hailed one of the greatest albums of the decade by the likes of Rolling Stone magazine, Rated R also sits quite comfortably amid my ‘Favourite Records of All Time’ list, so I was pretty happy when I heard Homme and co were going to release a deluxe edition of the album to celebrate the big tenth anniversary of Rated R. Along with the original record, the special edition is packed with a second disc containing a live performance from Reading Festival in 2000, and some B sides to boot. Party time for any Queens of the Stone Age fanboy.


The record kicks off with ‘Feel Good Hit of the Summer’, a song about life’s excesses. Not that you wouldn’t have worked this out yourself as Homme spits the lyrics of “Nicotine, Valium, Vicodin, Marijuana, Ecstasy and Alcohol. C-C-C-COCAINNNEE” into your speaker. Drugs are bad, kids, bad, but boy said list of illegal substances sounds incredible (and a bit like one of Lindsay Lohan's old shopping lists) when set to riffs which march towards the listener like an angry rhino. And then a transition as smooth as Sean Connery rolls in song two, Lost Art of Keeping a Secret, an endlessly sexy, smoky track led by growling distorted riffs, and a devious Homme, who practically bites your earlobes as he coos “Whatever you do…don’t tell anyone”. Ok then Josh, I won't.
We shimmy into Leg of Lamb and get treated to one of rocks greatest riffs.This is how it sounds when your ears get laid. Can this get any better?
Track four, Auto Pilot is a haze of psychedelic musical smoke rising. Bassist Nick Oliveri’s vocals take on an placid tone, adding to the dreamy atmosphere of this track’s waterfall licks and wispy military drums which make you as high as the trip it’s telling of – “I wanna fly, I wanna ride with you.”. The trip continues with Better Living Through Chemistry which ultimately lands in a crescendo of mesmerizing harmonies, sounding wholly ambient despite the ferocity of guitars and drums slapping away in the distance.

Before we take it too easy, Oliveri is quick to shimmy back into the driver’s seat, taking the wheel of the automobile that is Rated R and steering it into a further, notably more hectic direction. Cranking up the volume with Quick and to the Pointless, the track is a monstrous recipe of screeching vocals, cheerleader chants and chunky instrumentation, it’s fast, hard power reflecting the reality of the one quick and sweaty take it was recorded in. The hardcore punk continues with Tension Head. Nick’s screams of “I’m feeling so sick!” amid insane guitars make it a shot of passionate musical rage that gets your heart pumping and head banging, perfectly counterbalancing Homme’s more melodic waves amongst the album.
A suave instrumental, Lightning Song, takes the BPM down again as the album slowly draws to a close, concluding on I Think I Lost My Headache, an epic 8 minute song said to be Homme’s favourite track on the whole album. Flying irrationally between spiky, irregular time signatures, the distorted rhythm perfectly reflects the disturbing lyrics of paranoia sung by Josh in his humid falsetto, “It’s all in my head I know, so they tell me so, until my head explodes, into my head it goes”. The track finishes up with tumbling riffs that give way to a brass section repeating the same monotonous tune, concluding Rated R on an aptly unpredictable, genius note.

Cd2, containing the live set and B sides is incredible (and a really good incentive for those who already own Rated R to buy this), but the pinnacle of this package is disc oneThe record is a simply amazing piece of work which brought Grammy nominations and golden disc. A raw, wild journey through psychedelic, rock, hardcore and more. If you don't have this already, buy it. If you do have it, buy it again.

Josh Homme yesterday, just after spotting Jamie Redknapp.

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