22 March 2006

Overlooked Albums from the 90's - #24

Placebo by Placebo

I keep doubting myself on a few of the albums I've considered for this feature. Not any of the ones that have been covered yet, but some that I've thought of for the future. Allow me to present the first of them: Placebo's self titled debut. Why do I doubt myself? Well, Placebo isn't the best band in the world, and they're certainly not overlooked. They're not this gem of an unknown band that should be uncovered and shown to the world. I get the feeling that their devoted fan base is precisely the appropriate size given their particular brand of nouveaux-glam / Smashing Pumpkins rehash music. That being the case, I do feel like this album is better than anyone gives it credit for AND there was a time when it didn't leave my car CD player for months.

The first time I heard Placebo was when I saw the video for "Pure Morning" on MTV. I instantly liked the song and wanted to get the CD. Was this because the song was made up of strutting guitars and lyrics that included words such as 'weed' and 'breasts' and all the rest? Potentially. I could also tell that this was going to be a nicely polarizing band. The kind of band that my American friends would never listen to because they are too damn androgynous and European. The kind of band that my European friends wouldn't like because they're not a hip band from America. Perfect. So imagine how distressed I was when I went to Schoolkids and couldn't get Without You I'm Nothing. All they had was the debut album Placebo. But then I knew that starting with a band's first album is never a bad way to be introduced to them, so off I went. Rocking ensued in my car the moment the first song ("Come Home") began.

So, the question then is - why this album? Critics have tended to not like Placebo at all. Listeners tend to either love or hate the band. They've said things to me before like "the lyrics are stupid" or "the music is boring". That's just it though. Simple lyrics, simple song structures, and yet I just can't get enough of Placebo's first two albums. I love their fast songs, I love their slow songs. I love the singles and the b-sides and I totally love their willingness to play some kick ass cover songs. Fuck it, check out these songs from this album because one thing's for sure: Placebo is a hell of a lot better than other rock albums from the 90's that sold millions more copies.

Listen:

Previous Overlooked Albums from the 90's:
#1 - Saturnalia by The Wedding Present
#2 - The Inevitable by Squirrel Nut Zippers
#3 - This is Our Music by Galaxie 500
#4 - Dusk by The The
#5 - Fantasma by Cornelius
#6 - New Wave by The Auteurs
#7 - I, Jonathan by Jonathan Richman
#8 - Futureworld by Trans Am
#9 - Harmacy by Sebadoh
#10 - Cure For Pain by Morphine
#11 - God Fodder by Ned's Atomic Dustbin
#12 - Seven by James
#13 - Why Do Birds Sing? by Violent Femmes
#14 - Blank-Wave Arcade by The Faint
#15 - Dog Man Star by Suede
#16 - Beatsongs by The Blue Aeroplanes
#17 - Don't Try This At Home by Billy Bragg
#18 - 1992: The Love Album by Carter USM
#19 - Time Was Gigantic...When We Were Kids by The Durutti Column
#20 - Psalm 69 by Ministry
#21 - The Dirtchamber Sessions, Vol. 1 by The Prodigy
#22 - Going Blank Again by Ride
#23 - Love At Absolute Zero by My Favorite

if you'd like...
Pitchfork's top albums of the 90's
1st version of their list

Another site does their own "Overlooked of the 90's":
Top 30 'Other' Albums of the '90s

8 comments:

The Trick said...

I was totally nuts about those first two Placebo albums as well. I still like the band, but their last few albums have been pretty wishy-washy hit-and-miss affairs. Nice song choices! I'm also a big fan of Bionic.

By the way, the "friend in need" song you're thinking of is "Pure Morning."

Matt said...

crap, you're right about "Pure Morning". I should've looked that up before posting this...fixing now.

yeah, I haven't really liked anything they've done since Without You I'm Nothing either.

Sean said...

the new one is pretty good!

and Nancy Boy is such an immense song.

Jupiter said...

I agree, Placebo is a really great band, I'm a big fan of them as well, I had never heard of them until they had that song every me every you on the cruel intentions soundtrack, I was blow away by that song and picked up there cd's, I like just about all there songs, the new album Meds is pretty good too , :-)

jeff s said...

placebo is one of those rare exceptions i make for a band. the last record was questionable, what i've heard of meds is good, perhaps better than last... but in the end i'll soak up everything they're doing out of a general infatuation with their charisma... which they have more of in one average song than most bands do in an album's worth.

all those slightly alt-tuned jazzmaster chords and the manic snare/tom hits on the first record remind me of a nice time back in high school... solid choice.

Matt said...

you put it well Jeff. don't get me wrong, i've been buying everything they put out and i can't wait to see them again live.

Edwin Hesselthwite said...

Having read through your list, Pitchfork's list and Cakemachines list I have to say, I respect your choices. There is some very very good music listed there.

I stand with you on Psalm 69, and that's why i'm asking, where are the seminal albums that aren't purest indie?

Tool's Aenimia and Kyuss's Welcome to Sky Valley are only the obvious examples of music that should stand up equally with the best of this stuff (personally I would stick in Sublime's 40 Oz to Freedom too), but it seems to have dropped off these lists. Is this place a smaller tent than I imagined?

Tool deserve more than bracketing off as metal, and i'm pretty sure you have the taste to know it. Jangly english guitar rock is not the only promised land.

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