Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Worst to Best: Red Hot Chili Peppers

Worst to Best: Red Hot Chili Peppers

“I’m forever near a stereo saying, ‘What the fuck is this garbage?’ And the answer is always the Red Hot Chili Peppers.” ― Nick Cave

Writing this article seemed like a good idea at first, but when I finally stepped back and hesitated to question what exactly I was doing, it was already too late. I think I may have made a mistake.

Red Hot Chili Peppers have become the punchline to a joke about the embarrassing state of dadrock meeting the unfashionable stupidity of mainstream audiences, hahaha, so funny! It’s way cooler to dislike RHCP now than it is to like them, the trendy kids won't read this article, which was about the realisation that drowned my brain in its own insecurities. I was gambling all of my credit chips on a band I wasn't actually allowed to enjoy! What was I doing here? I mean, there is no denying that these musical figureheads had followed me my whole life for better or worse (their debut album was released during my birth year, in fact), but perhaps this longstanding relationship blurred my usually sound judgment? This art had raised me like they were my parents, which could mean that my adoration and respect may have stemmed from a place of conditioning, right? Did this band even have enough depth to withstand the hours of digging from my article's analysis-spade? Could I conjure up an adequate amount of eloquent words to describe such a commercial outfit that every publication in existence has already described at unreasonable lengths? The answer was probably not.

Unfortunately, my boots were in the thick of the mud as I had already created the above lead image, and it looked fucking sick, so what choice did have? I closed my eyes, and I trawled onward, burdened by a backpack of self-doubt and wet sandwiches, my hands reaching out to hopefully rediscover some former appreciation within the cracks of their entire discography. And that's when I turned one corner and walked directly into my old buddies again, hey! Wow, it was so good to see them! They seemed really well, and they welcomed me with open arms of love and warmth, taking off that backpack and carrying it for me, as they spoke about their history and their influences and their integrity while I just listened. My soul recharged and my associations realigned themselves. Oh yes, I belong here.

Let me explain something to you. Red Hot Chili Peppers have been through more hardships than almost any other band I can think of, with an unstable line-up of at least 14 musicians coming and going, usually because they were completely preoccupied with needles, stabbing holes into their veins then stuffing their systems full of cement flavoured opiates, to the point that a man died once. And yet, within these tragedies, the Chilis never lost sight of their organic spiritual appreciation for life itself. This is important because we are so often bombarded with art which collects stones in its pockets and then jumps into freezing cold water, despite the fact that the father artists have never experienced true misfortunes. Those palettes did not earn that colour of inspiration! The Peppers, however, are drenched by this agonising form of source material and yet they chose to spin these traumas into sunshine socks of positivity, placing them over their cocks and then fucking barely legal girls with them. And that is where their unparalleled magic thrives. From teenage pussy. Oh my God, I remember all of this now.

No self-respecting individual would ever label this band as one of profound intellect or articulated wisdom, but what RHCP can teach you extends far beyond clever wording. There is a true understanding of life to be found within these fruits, more so than any other band, where a connection to Mother Nature's core energy can develop into a telepathic chemistry between you and other human beings. In order to unlock these achievements, all you need to do is what the Red Hot Chili Peppers do, which is dance. Dance against any odds which the universe may roll to oppose you, and share your space with those you love. There should be no leaders in your friendships, rather an aura of security where ideas can be freely jammed out, liberated from judgment or preciousness, allowing the improvisational hands of allies to meddle with your artistic expressions, harnessing the abundant fertility of unrestrained collaboration and collective imagination. It may also help that their members have often included some of the best rock musicians the world has ever seen.

The numbers don’t lie. 80 million records sold. Six Grammys won. 13 number-one singles. 25 top-tens. 85 weeks at number one in total. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Officially the most successful alternative rock band in history who accomplished all of this by fusing themselves with funk and rap and metal and pop, which is not a mixture that happens by accident. Rather, this only happens when you die and come back to life so many times that you are probably immortal, point proven that this outfit are still going. I address you now, the reader, and assure you that little kids will be asking you about this band when you get older, which is why I implore you to turn your back on those hip friends who refuse to acknowledge RHCP's greatness. These guys are legends. Rockstar royalty. There is no shame in admitting this, let it all go. Be proud of your feelings. You love the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and you know you do. You've intentionally watched their music videos to the end. You've danced by yourself like Anthony Kiedis before. You’ve had some of the best times of your life with their music playing in the background. Never forget what they have done for you. Here are all their albums, ranked from worst to best.

Worst to Best: Red Hot Chili Peppers: 11. The Red Hot Chili Peppers

11. The Red Hot Chili Peppers (1984)


Like any undiscovered outfit who’s trying to offensively elbow their way to the top of some pyramid of recognition, the Chili’s debut wasn’t exactly the most effortless of projects. Founding pepper Hillel Slovak was absent due to other commitments (desensitising the revolving musician idea far too early in their career), and the lifeless production from Andy Gill fell short, unable to capture the live, youthful spirit which got the Chilis signed in the first place. This left us with one jammy demo-sounding offering from a silly little band who seemed lucky to have made it out of their garage—delightfully cute, for sure, yet with zero indication of what was to come, arguably the furthermost one could get from the biggest group on the planet at this point. Naturally, no one took it seriously, and this was fine, because no one ever asked you to, but the historians of hindsight have all agreed that this is an overlooked piece of importance, an unsung pioneer of the funk metal and rap rock phenomenon, while Flea’s repetitive funk bass lines slapped the shit out of the competition even way back when. Basically, at their worst, RHCP were still an underrated bit of fun.

Worst to Best: Red Hot Chili Peppers: 10. Freaky Styley

10. Freaky Styley (1985)


According to Flea, sophomore album Freaky Styley was "too funky for white radio, too punk rockin' for black," but it was a definite step forward for these Los Angeles boys, as they gradually sniffed out what it was they were looking for and then began to eagerly pursue it (and I'm not talking drugs here, although that was close behind). The legendary George Clinton was snatched up as the producer this round, and he was the ideal conductor to nurture the true funk within these youngsters, playing a father figure who approved their license to be as confidently idiotic as they so desired. Even better was that founding member Hillel Slovak had returned to the guitar seat and his liquid string-work effortlessly spilled their fluid all over the Chili blueprint. Meanwhile, Anthony’s unpretentious poetry was even more immature and erect than before, while the carefree trumpets which slipped between Flea’s signature pops proved that there was genuine talent hidden beneath this comical misbehaviour. They call it playing music for a reason, yeah? And yet (as with all early RHCP) the true joy comes in with how obviously oblivious this band were, the future of their inevitable fame impossibly far from their intentions, because no one would write songs this obscure for any financial purposes. Oh well, fuck ‘em just to see the look on their face, fuck ‘em just to see the look on their face.

Worst to Best: Red Hot Chili Peppers: 09. I'm With You

09. I'm With You (2011)


If nothing else, I’m With You is definitive proof of how collaborative the Peppers have always been, as every personality invited into the circle will somehow alter a fundamental component of the audio chemistry. After the creative authority of Frusciante had abandoned the cause for the second time, Josh Klinghoffer was recruited, and he was undoubtedly the best choice, the only choice, and the perfect choice. However, with these fresh ears came a lack of instrument confidence. There was a certain caution where his faint strings timidly tested their role, exploring their boundaries in a civilized fashion, unlike any RHCP guitarist who had come before. This proved to be the ideal window for Flea, who bullied the gentle Klinghoffer back into the shy of the mix, then shouldered his bass directly into the center stage, a luxurious domination that Mr Balzary was never granted before. Nevertheless, everyone was still dealing with the gaping John divorce, and despite putting all of the necessary hard work into the product, the overall forgettable wishy-washy quality and lack of any explosive hits on I’m With You fell over as the band’s lowest selling album in 20 years. However, I think this failure was primarily the public's fault. Truthfully, everyone had grown tired of Chili’s refusal to die at this point, and many were sick of their persistent radio presence, prompting an automated resistance towards any of their work, even the most respectable of songs immediately discarded as a mediocre snooze (which was only half true). Fantastic artwork though.

Worst to Best: Red Hot Chili Peppers: 08. The Uplift Mofo Party Plan

08. The Uplift Mofo Party Plan (1987)


As a segment from the earliest of Chili Pepper stockpiles, their third album is often overlooked as yet another failed attempt at capturing the ever-elusive electrifying stage spirit that this band were quickly building a reputation upon. They were getting closer though, as this record's hyper-excitement smashed through the window with a much harder (almost metal) edge, louder than before, mindlessly slopping their colourful paint on everything, one helluva party! And yet, chip away the messy conglomerate of over-masculine cockiness splashing water out from the kiddie pool, and their mission of running amok still felt a little aimless and for-the-sake-of-it. Be that as it may, however, The Uplift Mofo Party Plan is still an extremely important landmark album in the Chili story, continuing along the trend of sharpening their craft and rapidly evolving per each release, taking more risks whilst slightly tweaking their energy levels by occasionally lifting their foot off of the pedal if the song called for it. Even more importantly, is that this is the only studio album in existence where every single track features all four of the RHCP founding members, partially because this was Slovak’s final artistic statement ever. Sadly, their guitarist passed away from a heroin overdose shortly after this release, and drummer Jack Irons understandably quit as a result, stating that he did not want to be part of a group where his friends were dying.

Worst to Best: Red Hot Chili Peppers: 07. Stadium Arcadium

07. Stadium Arcadium (2006)


When a band’s ego swells so large that it swallows its common sense like some fetal resorption, a double album is sure to follow, so please excuse me while I roll my eyes so dramatically that they make an audible sound. Although, to be fair, other bands didn't have Frusciante, and this is an imperative point as it is his minimalist guitar work which exclusively drives Stadium Arcadium, by densely layering itself upon itself with both eyes closed, all other components revolving his core, floating within a tender incarnation of everything everyone wanted RHCP to be. Predictably, a 2+ hour long meal will always be a calorific swallow (best consumed in two separate seatings, if you want my recommendation) but none of this hefty order felt forced. Instead, it was delivered to the table with creativity spilling over the brims of each radio-friendly song, with so much record space that they could casually spread every mood from their artistic history across the surface area, as if an accumulative statement summing up their entire career, and their final worthwhile fart on the matter. Sadly, this relentless weight of RHCP trademark upon RHCP trademark did eventually sound like a parody record, their latter-day safeness gone too far, and unsurprisingly, it loses steam by the end. This is not for lack of quality, mind you (the hits far outweigh the duds), but simply the sheer unreasonable quantity of it all, as everything loses its taste after a certain amount of chewing, and just how many Chilis were we expected to endure here anyway? Fuck, even Frusciante had enough at this point, quitting directly after this album, for realsies this time.

Worst to Best: Red Hot Chili Peppers: 06. The Getaway

06. The Getaway (2016)


After the stale I’m With You failed to impress anyone, the Chilis got such a fright that they immediately made some drastic changes to how things were going to be run around here. For starters, they fired two-decade strong producer Rick Rubin, employing the famed Danger Mouse to fiddle with their knobs instead, already forcing a shift directly at the entry point. After this, the humbled band regrouped themselves, approaching the problem cautiously as a team, laying back and focusing on their individual roles with a reduced ego, clearing a space where Josh could find a louder voice whilst Danger Mouse secretly added his mixed studio spice to vary the mellowing flavours. However, all of these calculated tactics and reserved attitudes could only nudge the old dogs slightly sideways, and the band’s eleventh studio record slid out as a relatively standard Pepper affair, the flame evidently long lost, yet a sturdy formula gained, one which knew how to manufacture a satisfying sound that could both hold a fanboy's happiness and keep the mouthy critics in a placid state. Negatively, (like most of their latter-day albums) The Getaway suffers from a bloated length, but (unlike most of their albums), it is a fillerless piece of work, impossible to decipher which songs should have been cut below others, with certain moments even skimming some former greatness. Undeniably, they’re still a highly skilled band, but it will never be what it was, and that’s why it really hurts.

Read This Next Maybe

Worst to Best: Aerosmith
Worst to Best: Aerosmith

Worst to Best: Red Hot Chili Peppers: 05. Mother's Milk

05. Mother's Milk (1989)


The year was 1988 when founding guitarist Hillel Slovak overdosed on heroin and died, a mishap so terrifying that founding drummer Jack Irons withdrew his services too. This meant that the following record, Mother's Milk, introduced a 50% line-up change, a disastrous idea on paper which surprisingly turned out to be the most popular Pepper variation that the majority of people associate with the group today. The above-competent Chad Smith took skin duties, but it was truly John Frusciante (an eighteen-year-old Chili’s superfan/one of the greatest guitarists in the world) who made the largest dent in the entire history of RHCP. Frusciante’s confident string work oiled the existing parts that were already in motion, tightening the screws then turning the machine to face a more melodic direction, a bold refocus which, unfortunately, producer Michael Beinhorn didn’t quite understand. Instead, Beinhorn distorted the guitars and pushed this recording towards a more aggressive, hard rock stance, much to the band’s dismay. Nevertheless, it wasn't all bad, as this album does boast some of the group’s more tolerable production (a definite pricier studio quality which predated Rubin's march into the Loudness War), and the consequent benefits were instant: a cleaner Chili Pepper sound with an ever-developing catchiness in songwriting, growing slinky legs of its own and then tiptoeing closer to the mainstream, selling out venues, pissing old fans off, inviting new fans in, fame now within arm’s reach. Certainly, Peppers were always uniquely themselves, but this was where they got proficient at it, Mother's Milk remaining their most overlooked good record to this day.

Worst to Best: Red Hot Chili Peppers: 04. Californication

04. Californication (1999)


For many, Californication is prime Chili, their unrivaled finest hour, and a bonafide staple of late-90s musical culture—all of which are fair statements. Unfortunately, it was also this excessive talent which ultimately suffocated itself. The unignorable prowess of this album was so sticky that the radio and MTV would not stop stabbing it until the public’s own correlating memories overrode any former compositional worship, and in turn, we became sick of it. Thanks a lot, corporate media! What’s more, the best songs were so enormous that they accidentally toppled the lesser-than songs off of the ride, which stitched together a very patchy collection at best. Still, if you can recall those initial listens, you will evoke something truly magical in that American summer air. Frusciante had been living in a pit of near-fatal heroin addiction for eight years, and it was here that his brothers pulled him out, asking him to rejoin the band and employ his innovative restraint to meet Flea exactly halfway, their collaborative chemistry closer in tune here than anywhere else, period. Even Kiedis levitated above his trademark animalistic vulgarities into more thoughtful realms, complete with the vocal expansions to match it, and as one, they shot a syringe full of rejuvenation into their relevance. It was almost like a completely different band had appeared out of nowhere, a drastic sound change favouring a standard alternative pop-rock feel, a style which they’ve been running with ever since, and yet never quite coming as close to something as commercially successful as this.

Worst to Best: Red Hot Chili Peppers: 03. One Hot Minute

03. One Hot Minute (1995)


RHCP are the masters of channeling positive energy, but as we've already established, their backstory of drug addiction with members dying wasn’t exactly a hopscotch in the sunlight. By 1995, conditions were particularly bad, as Kiedis has fallen backwards into heroin again and Frusciante had left the band to pursue his own habit full-time, all the while there was this immense pressure to follow up their monster-hit record Blood Sugar, as bonafide famous rockstars for the very first time. Dave Navarro (the guitarist from Jane’s Addiction) was signed on as Frusciante's replacement and he immediately ruined their trademark funky fun by muddying the upbeat spirit with psychedelic metal and a brokenhearted darkness, the destruction of their misfortunate history finally weighing an album down into a muck of sadness. The natural dynamic was broken and the flow was throttled until the juices struggled to escape, exposing a dry, vulnerable crust of a band left behind, essentially just a depletion of junkies who were hardly hanging on. Due to this painful display, critics and fans were lukewarm to this somber manifestation until even the Chilis ignored its existence, firing Dave shortly after and hardly ever revisiting these songs live to this day. Interestingly enough, however, these circumstances eventually worked in One Hot Minute's favour, as it’s never been overplayed and is always overlooked as a uniquely uncomfortable part of their career, a gloomy place that the more sadistic of us adore as one of their best.

Worst to Best: Red Hot Chili Peppers: 02. By the Way

02. By the Way (2002)


Take Californication and nourish that sophisticated awareness until its all grown up. Pour water into the funk and stir beyond recognition. Massage the hard-hitting raps into softer melodies, kneading the mixture into a rich poppy bubblegum, ready to feed into the fickle jaws of radio audiences. Hollow out the reckless energy until you can see its ghost, hesitantly covering its face but beaming with sentimental love. This is not the Chili Peppers you signed up for. This is a charm so delicate that any former successes seem accidental, a lucky stumble now washed away by this gentle wave of mild emotion, a calculated smothering, an intentional submerging of their previous trademarks, disappearing beneath Frusciante’s warm textures to the point that Flea nearly handed in his resignation. Understandably, some people felt betrayed by how far we’ve strayed from the rhythmic grooves, cursing an inability to perform the usual monkey dances over this 60+ minute runtime, but not everyone. People like me embraced this as the most cohesively perfect record the band has ever developed within their unique chemistry set, a gift from the stars, and the pinnacle of the Red Hot Rollercoaster before it turned down to face the ground and begin its most monumental descend yet.

Worst to Best: Red Hot Chili Peppers: 01. Blood Sugar Sex Magik

01. Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991)


Blood Sugar Sex Magik as a title may seem like some typical Kiedis buzzword drivel, but independently, each word sums up the four pillars of this record impeccably. There’s a newfound blood on this album, not only in terms of a deeper brotherhood connection, but also with Anthony’s pattering into softer territories, cracking open his primitive macho shell to offer us an introspective glimpse towards his demons and track marks. Conversely, around every corner is a mountain of sugar ready to raise your glucose levels so high that you’ll bounce off the walls, smashing through them at hyperspeed, you're still an animal on drugs after all. Of course, the sex was always an integral stain on the Pepper fabric, but with BSSM it’s an exaggerated blurt of vulgar innuendos like some poetic pervert malfunctioning in public. And finally, there’s the magik, where the telepathic chemistry of Frusciante’s inventive textures flow between Flea’s signature dominating slap grooves, everybody flexing their biggest muscles without getting in one another’s way, a metaphysical presence that is easier explained by some spiritual voodoo. Place Rubin in charge of the desk for the first time, and we have the Red Hot Chili Peppers, climaxing in the face of a sound they invented, well practiced, now perfected, immediately blasting them into superstardom where they still orbit us from today.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

10 Lesser-Known Side Effects of Quitting Smoking

10 Lesser-Known Side Effects of Quitting Smoking

In my six months of ghostwriting assorted health-related articles around the web (over 90 to date), there has only ever been one submission which was flat-out rejected. There was no "would you mind writing this in a different voice?" or "could you please include more references?". Rather, it was a simple "we can't use this, Jared".

Admittedly, I kinda knew this was going to happen on some deeper stomach level. Perhaps I was testing the bathwater, seeing how hot I could run it, and trying to find the boundaries of professionalism. I found some! And maybe that's a good thing. God knows what I would be writing now if they had decided to use this fucking piece, or maybe God doesn't even know, and never will. Rather, what happened was a fat slap with a big red STOP sign, complete with an added footnote which highlighted how my article may scare people into smoking more, and from any ethical health standpoint, that was not something to proudly make money out of.

I completely understood. This was a reasonable response. Yet I was still offended. You see, having recently quit smoking myself, I felt betrayed by the common modern-day text on the matter, forever clicking their fingers in the sky, pointing towards the endless array of physical benefits one might find by spitting out these cancerous sticks of joy. But their hands hid the truth behind their backs. The truth! Which was, simply put, that quitting smoking sucks, and in ways far beyond those nagging nicotine cravings. Hence why I wrote this article! It had become my primary mission to inform other people of what I had discovered! An admirable quest with only one fatal flaw: I was trying to get paid for it.

On that note, here it is, spreading awareness from the smallest platform I have at my disposal. Educate yourself, prepare yourself for battle, and good luck. Here are 10 lesser-known side effects of quitting smoking, written in American.

1. You May Get the Flu
Officially dubbed “smoker’s flu”, you might develop a tight chest, sore throat, and a nasty cough, even worse than when you were smoking. This is a good thing though, as the tar covering the cilia (those tiny hairs in your lungs) is breaking down and hacking up in the form of repulsively dark phlegm. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to deal with this, so just get plenty of rest and wait for it to leave in its own time.

2. You May Suffer From Terrible Headaches
While your inner serotonin chemistry attempts to adjust itself back to normality, you might experience a plethora of interesting reactions. One may feel dazed, fatigued, sleepy, unable to concentrate, or could even suffer from migraines. In these tough times, use painkillers as per their instructions, and ensure you don’t skip on any sleeping hours.

3. Your Emotions Will Scream
Make no mistake: your cravings will call out from their empty pit of despair, begging for a cigarette, which can result in a very volatile emotional state. You may lose your temper in one breath, and want to cry in the next, but do not fear. Simply ask your loved ones for some understanding, and keep in mind that the first few days are always the most intense.

4. You May Struggle to Sleep
For the first week or so, it might be difficult to fall asleep. You may also wake up more often during the night, and experience the common recurring nightmare where you accidentally smoke a cigarette. The good news is that (once you settle back into it), you will ultimately sleep much better than you did as a smoker, and a healthy sleep equals a healthier life. Until then, experiment with different sleeping products until you find something which works best for you.

5. You May Become Constipated
Nicotine triggers bowel movement, and because of this, cigarettes do help smokers stay regular. When you suddenly remove this factor from your system, your digestive organs need time to adapt, which could result in abdominal pains and constipation. Fight this with warm teas, fruit, and exercise, or talk to a professional about medicinal options.

6. You May Gain Weight
After years of habitually raising your hand to your mouth to get a smoke-flavor fix, your mind has been trained well, which is why so many individuals swap one addiction for another, turning to food in hopes that this will fill the bottomless pit in their chest (it won’t). Use this compulsion to your advantage, by trading chips for carrots and soda for water.

7. Nicotine Replacements Might Not Work
Unfortunately, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health reported that gum and patches don’t help ex-smokers in the long run. That said, the removal of your routine cigarette ritual may be useful for some, but just remember that you are still ultimately feeding into the nicotine addiction itself.

8. You Will Have More Time (for Better or Worse)
Without all those smoke breaks and moments wasted as your mind fantasizes about your next puff, you will be surprised at how much free space your schedule suddenly has. This may sound great on paper, but during your initial days of cravings, this additional time could become your most annoying enemy. The trick? Distract yourself!

9. Your Senses Will Return
You should find that your senses of taste and smell come back to you rather rapidly. Once this happens, many of your favorite foods may suddenly become too sweet or too salty. Furthermore, when in the presence of another smoker, you will realize how badly you used to stink, which should at least encourage you to stick to your path of liberation.

10. You Will Get Your Life Back
Most importantly of all, once you get over the initial hump, every aspect of your life will improve dramatically. Your health will return, your sex drive will return, you will look better, you will smell better, you will have more money, you will have more energy, and you will no longer be forced to endure cravings through painful meetings or stand in the rain just to get your fix. Simply put: once you kick this demon, you will feel like an idiot that it took you so long to do so.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Worst to Best: Radiohead

Worst to Best: Radiohead

Be quiet for a moment. Listen. Can you hear that? The frenzied chattering has stopped. That intolerable flat hiss, I think I finally got rid of it! Perhaps this outcome is a little obvious in hindsight, but I definitely didn’t see it coming. I’ve spent the last two decades in full defense mode, every morning habitually standing rigid with my nose pressed against the mirror, aggressively debating the ranking order of Radiohead’s works, not only based on their brilliance, but also their influence on my existence. Occasionally, there were words which nearly turned to blows, believe me. I guess looking back, it does make some sense to connect these routine practices to some of my more... inconvenient disturbances. It's just that I’ve heard that rusted train of my mind grinding against those contemplation tracks over and over and over again, so many times that the wheels had permanently scarred the iron. The levee of Radiohead opinions had built up so much pressure from all angles of discussion that the eventual relief of venting the floodgates became an uncontrollable scene of gushing reflection, so eager to finally escape the cocooned prison of my skull after so many years of confinement. Not a single original thought was required in the composition of this article. These passages wrote themselves. These are not my words, I was merely the medium, and yet I will happily take the credit, thank you.

Please ignore that whole bit I said earlier on about those voices in my head hahaha I was only joking about that hahahaha obviously lol. But even despite whatever, it’s surprising that I only wrote this piece now, for reasons I hardly need to explain. Radiohead have been my on-again, off-again favourite-band-in-the-world love affair since the early 2000s, which means that I was actually embarrassingly late to the gathering. Regardless, I made up for lost time by pissing on everything and claiming it as mine so loudly that everyone simply assumed I’d always been here. Radiohead themselves, however, are why we’re having this conversation even if I’ve only really been talking about myself thus far.

Ok, so Radiohead then, already an undeniably fat chapter in the textbook of musical greats. I could easily copy and paste a dramatic swarm of extraordinary achievements from Wikipedia, using those numbers and polls to present a bulletproof case proving their already monumental legacy, but instead, I’d rather present my ballsack with this little declaration: Radiohead are one of the most important bands in history, and the only reason they don’t get their due acknowledgement in this regard, is because they are still going. Believe me when I look at you in the eyes, and I tell you with all the stress my lungs can muster, that in 50 years, they will still be an academic topic, and your grandchildren will be asking you if you ever saw them live (for the record, I have, three times). They are like The Beatles, in that they have enough mainstream appeal to conquer the charts with every release, and yet they also have the artsy smarts to push even the most seasoned of pompous stoners far out of their cosmos. They are also like The Beatles, because they have never released a bad album, they got better as they went along, and they somehow maintained a firm grasp on each member, not a single unit of the tight Radiohead crew ever leaving or being replaced, which includes their producer (since 1997) and go-to artwork designer (since 1995). Basically, they are like The Beatles of our time, do you understand?? I’m not even the first to say this! I really wish I was though!

Shit, you’re still here? Was I doing the thing again? Sorry, I didn't realise you were waiting for me. Let’s walk in this straight line then. Presenting the Worst to Best of Radiohead, the definitive order, no one else’s list is correct unless it goes exactly like this, no exceptions:

Worst to Best: Radiohead: 09. Pablo Honey

09. Pablo Honey (1993)

Alternative Britpop Rock

Considering all of their inconceivable feats, one Radiohead achievement which was impressively unique stands as this one: their first album was their absolute worst. Usually, a band’s debut features years of hard work and live rehearsals before a record deal answers the phone, meaning that most bands' standard introduction is essentially a greatest hits compilation, artists traditionally only stumbling during the sophomore pressure. In Radiohead’s case, however, their launch came crushed beneath the “One Hit Wonder” sticker of doom, Creep almost embarrassingly regarded as their signature tune, somehow still to this very day. Yet as part of the whole package, this song and album were nothing more than self-loathing grunge copies, painfully 90s, so common, so conventional, absent of the artsyfarts they ultimately became known for. Be all of that as it may, however, hindsight has been warmer, and I value both sides of the tugging rope. Obviously, if we compare Pablo to what followed, it’s gum under their boots, unanimously agreed upon as their weakest endeavour, lacking everything that made them great in later years. But! If we praise it as the very first step of such a historic journey, it’s one fascinating listen, with occasional winks towards what was to come (Blow Out, hello??), and in the end, unfairly dismissed only because it was the easy thing to do.

Worst to Best: Radiohead: 08. The King of Limbs

08. The King of Limbs (2011)

Experimental Electronic Rock

There is no Radiohead album more problematic to dissect than that of The King of Limbs. You end up contradicting yourself, writing in circles, scribbling out of the lines, and then forgetting where you were going with that. The band had evidently made the conscious decision to drive their creative power out into the fields of weird again, by dancing around glitchy rhythmic centers and looped samples, one studio-heavy twitch, while traditional instrumentation was almost dissolved in the light rainfall. And yet even these electronic jitters were surprisingly relaxed, lost deep within the thought of a very strange nature, spooky and ominous and... dull? Which was where the dilemma started. Everyone agreed that this was a good record, but it was lacking... something. Lacking ingenuity? Lacking a pivotal artistic development point? Lacking basically what every Radiohead album had excelled at before this? Lacking of limbs? Who are we to say? And yet, somehow, impossibly, it was these very downfalls which also blossomed as TKOL’s most notable strengths, as the record was abandoned by the circle of approval, and in turn, became the ugly beautiful reject, sat outside the cafeteria, forsaken by its peers, not included, uninvited. Because it was too short. Because certain songs were obviously much healthier than others. Because the exclusion of The Daily Mail is one of Radiohead’s greatest professional mistakes. Because, perhaps, we still just don’t get it.

Worst to Best: Radiohead: 07. Amnesiac

07. Amnesiac (2001)

Experimental Electronic Art Rock

Ignoring what Thom told you, Amnesiac is less of an album, more of a b-side collection of Kid A residual. Kid B. The reject twin. Recorded during the same sessions, severed at birth, the ugly scraps carved off of the prime meat, thrown aside to keep the host mother pristine, packaged separately and sold at cost price. Due to this gruesome spectacle, Amnesiac will forever wither beneath an infinite shadow, unfairly compared to the superior product, labelled as an inconsistent, flawed bag of mixed treats, one diverse mess of graceless jazz-fidgets, a stiff machine of mentally unstable restlessness. Cast your mind back to the asphyxiation of Kid A who was released a mere eight months earlier, and the comparisons turn even stranger. Remember how resistant the public outcry was against the first-born? And then remember how the grain of glorification expanded until Kid A was honoured as the most innovative album of the decade? Strange then how the apathetic confusion for Amnesiac still stands relatively fixed, fans remaining uncertain, half-heartedly debating its importance without too much interested in a satisfactory resolution—it's just not worth the effort. But hear me now: this album is the rarest of all the Radioheads. Say what you will about Kid A (and we do!), but this specific congregation is a far more carefree, band-y, song-y, and unpredictably mysterious offering than anything the aforementioned classic would even dare to be. Hence why this is unchallenged as the greatest b-side compilation ever created, so says me, amen.

Worst to Best: Radiohead: 06. The Bends

06. The Bends (1995)

Alternative Rock

For close to 10 years, Radiohead’s career was a path of obvious stepping stones, calculated progressions, moving forward in dramatic strides, yet unable to fully shake the scent of their previous environment. Armed with that thought (and overlooking the immensely conflicted public reaction between the two), The Bends is Pablo Honey. They were both standard 90s guitar rock affairs with the instantaneous superglue stick of Britpoppy ideology, except this time... they came bearing songs which were actually good. Great, even. A far more textured meal. Not a sliver of filler on offer. The band’s puberty record, and goodness gracious me, they were growing up so fast, featuring some of their most impressive compositional statements to date, purely because they hadn't cowered beneath the safety net of artiness just yet, instead presenting a simple collection of moods which either sunk deep into the abyss of depression, or shouted loud from waves of distorted aggression (a scarcely found demeanor on future recordings). Contemplate all of this with Godrich and Donwood now permanently on board, and the constellation had lined up forever, sketching the episode where our legendary tale truly begins. So... one of the most influential alternative albums ever made? Oh God, undeniably so! But ahead of its time? Not whatsoever. And, therefore, the tiniest bit overrated? What, are you asking me? Yes.

Worst to Best: Radiohead: 05. Hail to the Thief

05. Hail to the Thief (2003)

Alternative Art Rock

If we were to individually personify this catalogue’s components, Hail to the Thief would be the lunatic most likely to win in a brawl. Here is the ugliest of monsters, hiding within a dark forest you remember from a childhood bedtime story; bitter, anxious, confused, and ready to eat you. What a densely dangerous tale that is. The band's intention was to cook this concoction very quickly with all artistic pretensions turned up to the maximum and a political kick in their step. The meeting point was conveniently organised in the dead center of their musical map; the long-rejected guitar riffs were back and they were angry, balanced out by the palpitations from their most recent electronic adventures, complete with panicked uptempos and draggy sedation, the best of both Radiohead worlds now copulating, somehow birthing a baby completely different from either parent. Contradictory to the years preceding, this was not some sucker-punch of transformation, but rather a familiar murder, growing over your body like a moss, suffocating you until you were all gone. Initial critics were frustrated and have often left this album behind, foolishly regarding it as a lengthy, exhausting, and flawed project. Yet, in hindsight, Hail to the Thief is absolutely timeless, towering over the Radiohead land as their most underrated of treasures, sounding more relevant now than it ever did. Hail it, you ungrateful fucks! Hail it!

Worst to Best: Radiohead: 04. OK Computer

04. OK Computer (1997)

Alternative Art Rock

Radiohead’s success was bleaking them out. The isolation was pushing their naked skin against a cold metal until they were hopelessly scared, and then they shattered outwards. This was a natural defense mechanism, an abstract progression which had begun to lose grip on the guitar work, the strings visibly evaporating into an atmospheric fog, controlled by machines plotting their conquest. During this crisis, OK Computer stabbed up through the ground, and the people fell to their knees, instantaneously worshipping it as a historical landmark, frozen in the most important league of all albums ever made. We were no longer dealing with an ordinary band anymore, that much was certain. Make no miscalculations: without this record, Radiohead would not be a conversation. This is still the album which all of their other albums lean upon, sprouting outwards in one way or another with their own dedicated followers, but everyone—art students, simpleton radio listeners, critical publications, award ceremonies, MTV execs, Library of Congress—everyone agreed that this was a significant contribution to the very fiber of music itself. And yet... for me... it felt like the aura of devotion had outgrown the nervous system, while the devotees themselves were so delirious by its fumes that you couldn't engage in a sober dialogue about their fucking holy artifact. Please, you must believe me, I get it. It's OK Computer. It's an insult to even call this an album. But when I listen to it, I hear the restless sound of a distracted band headed somewhere else. This is a mere stopover, where Radiohead filled up with gas, checked the map, and then continued on their quest towards the boundaries of themselves. Which, as we all know, was a territory they discovered shortly afterward...

Worst to Best: Radiohead: 03. A Moon Shaped Pool

03. A Moon Shaped Pool (2016)

Art Rock Chamber Pop

In the evolution of Radiohead, each phase reads like a forceful push towards an epiphany, scrounging for elitist influences whilst utilising unprecedented promotional methods until we all receive yet another grandiose announcement that, of course, the band have gone and done everything differently once again. A Moon Shaped Pool was not that. The desperate sense of experimental urgency had been distracted, the yearning to prove themselves had been smothered out by creamy layers of orchestral ambiance and luscious glooms, inspired by nothing but their own introspections, finally breathing in that fresh cold oxygen that they had invented themselves. In this place, the group seemed their most comfortable, standing dignified on a level terrain, no song singing louder than another, a melodic mid-tempo heart rate keeping them live as they held hands with a ghostly figure, looking into each other's eyes, both defenseless yet never boring, sculpted to an icy perfection, melting within your freezing palm. And now here we are, the definitive proof that three decades worth of industry aging does not equate to becoming stale. No loss of talent can ever be blamed on time, because... Radiohead. Radiohead! Still the world’s most crucially valuable musical act, after wearing that title for a lifespan longer than any other group in history. Three decades! Nobody has been this important for that long.

Worst to Best: Radiohead: 02. In Rainbows

02. In Rainbows (2007)

Alternative Art Rock

It’s impossible to avoid the sidetrack temptations, and we will always end up discussing In Rainbows as the benchmark album it was before anyone had even heard the damn thing. With this contribution, the band had become the first major act known to employ the pay-what-you-want model, an adventurous gamble which questioned the very value of music with deafening reactions fluctuating from all sides of fans and industry workers alike. But Radiohead were independent now! They did what they wanted! And surprisingly, what they wanted to do, was present a normal album for once, perhaps the least pretentious piece they’d accomplished since The Bends, except happier, more upbeat, and confidently assertive. In fact, the strangest aspect of this release was the aforementioned financial experiment, so what else do you even wanna know? Everything is in the name anyways. In Rainbows, eh. That colourful dream we had back in 2007, when Radiohead gently floated down from their artsy pedestal carrying a collection of rich, self-reliant songs, easy to digest with the rulebook still perfectly intact, alluring the listener with romantic gestures, inviting us to sit down in this naturally attractive landscape as they fed us their latest delicacies without wasting a single moment of our time. And it was in these thoughts, that the band’s seventh studio album became their most flawless gift yet, transcending the irrelevant business strategies, and standing as one of the very few perfect records I’ve ever heard in my life.

Worst to Best: Radiohead: 01. Kid A

01. Kid A (2000)

Experimental Electronic Art Rock

The OK Computer microscope had squeezed a mental breakdown out of Yorke’s brain, and that’s when Radiohead hit their peak disinterest. The straight-A students had grown bored of outsmarting their teachers, and with the blessing of a label who were still sopping wet from Radiohead money, our heroes climbed into their spaceship and set sail, determined to discover the confines of the Radiohead universe. And this is what they found: stretched minimal ambiences; skittish IDM drum patterns; freeform jazz ethics weaving gorgeously cold soundscapes together as a singular unit; disjointed one-liners and a pulsation of obscure electronics humming out into the atmosphere; structureless and abstract everything; the guitar is dead in space. Now lift up these cryptic complexities, and below you will note the rewarding reaction from critics, who (perplexed by the fruits that this otherworldly excursion had produced) hastily dismissed the result as “awful”, without exercising the necessary hesitation required to adequately bite through its texture, tasting that metallic winter which would dribble down their throats and choke their voices shut. These critics have since been banished, sealed in an embarrassing hole of ignorance forever, forced to repent, admitting now that Kid A was the prophecy we had all been promised. It crippled the imitators, it floated ahead of its time and ahead of time itself, and continues to expand to this very day. Look around you. It's nearly two decades on, and with a little bit of honesty, you'll confess this as still the most important album of the millennia according to criteria which extends beyond your own opinion. And while we're still talking, this is a high competitor for the greatest album ever made as well. And now we're not talking.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Big Fat Commercial Writing Dump (part i)

The times they are a-changin'. It was October 2017 when I jumped off of that web design job security building and plunged into the vast freelance ocean of self-employed writing, without even so much of a CV lifeboat to my name. Response to this daring stunt has been diverse. Many kind folk have praised the action as "brave", blatantly unaware that the said building I jumped from was on fire and my leap was one of desperate survival. Others labeled me as a careless fool, an idealist who was certain to drown or be eaten alive by sharks with utility bills in their mouths. And yet, what nobody seemed to be paying attention to was the questionable pachyderm in my bedroom, mumbling to itself, worried about the future of this very place right here. Juice Nothing. The blog you're currently reading, hello. These concerns were not unwarranted either. Now that people paid me for my words, and now that I had to fiercely dedicate every waking second of my time to elbow my way up in this already overcrowded industry, what crumbs of my dwindling resource could I possibly afford to feed to a personal project?

Thankfully, over the past few months of sitting in a stew, peeling carrots for minimum wage and storing up my potatoes to give to the tax man, my sweat in the soup bowl added a much-needed flavour of salt, and Jared has started to taste pretty pretty good right about now. I've hammered together a semi-stable structure over here. It's hardly wobbling at all, look! And I'm standing upon it, hands on my hips, staring at the sun without protective gear, a smug smile on my face, and a big Fuck You to everyone who doubted me. Fuck you!!!

Still, nothing changes the fact that my word-energy is finally being utilised like God intended it to be, as I trade my gifts for legit dolla until I go to bed each night, exhausted and without an original thought to spare. Meaning: despite my pockets' ever-increasing crisp scent, and despite the work/play seesaw of my time slowly seeing eye-to-eye, the threat towards Juice Nothing was still very real. If I was now confident enough to sell the depths of my mind to the corporate world, then why the hell would I give them to you for free?

I love happy endings, and so here one is: I figured everything out, don't you worry. Basically, shit is going to work much like before, as I routinely designate a portion of my daily hours giving birth to a sellable product, specifically tailored with a publication in mind, presenting it to their kingdom on one knee. If rejected, I will gracefully bow myself out, and then it will be discarded face-first into the Juice Nothing streets, forced to fend for itself, lost in this ghetto where neglected children come to die. Using this approach, there should be more than enough content to keep this blog churning at the same speed as it did before, and possibly even manufacturing items of a higher quality because each idea's original purpose was all about potential money money money.

But wait! There's more! Beyond any scraps who find themselves buried beneath this url, I will also continue to dig my teeth into album reviews until I get lockjaw, as there are some things money cannot take away from us and I refuse to let go of this specific passion. These posts will usually manifest in the form of Worst to Best articles, and there are plenty of good reasons for this, namely: I adore writing these bits; I want to show off my superior music taste to the world; these pieces attract a surprising amount of page views; I want to build lists which encourage people to buy me more vinyl; and no one would actually pay me for work like this because it's too personal and indulgent. Which basically means, I might as well rename this blog to "JUICE WORST TO BEST SOMETHING" because it's about to essentially become just that. Prepare your anus.

On a side note: has anyone been checking out my Instagram accout recently? I'm doing this sweet thing where I draw a new hilarious cartoon picture every work day, oh my lols. And also, don't forget to keep refreshing my colourful vectors page, and maybe even support me by buying one or two? I guess when looking at these guys, how strapped for time could I possibly be?

Cool, so that's the update, hope you enjoyed it, and while you're down here, I also just wanted to quickly be the millionth person to remind you to follow your dreams. People always said that to me, "follow your dreams, Jared", it sounded so basic and stupid, but now that I've actually done it, I understand what they were getting at. The struggle was really struggly, but even when my entire life was uprooted and uncertain, I was having a wonderful time, and look at me now! I have reached a level of professional bliss so elevated from my former self that I hardly even think about pussy anymore. To end off, here is a looooong list of every single external bit of writing I've put together so far, all of which have fed me in varying degrees, thanks!

Pencilmation Scrips

Phoney Baloney
Chopsticky Situation

A Den of Geek Article

The History Behind 10 Cartoon Catchphrases

The Clever Articles

15 Mysteries Science CAN’T Explain
15 Celebrities Who Mysteriously Disappeared
15 Real And Sinister Alien Abduction Stories
15 Lesser-Known Facts About The Late Charles Manson
15 Types Of Tinder Profiles To Avoid
15 Roles That Nearly Destroyed The Actor
15 Confessions From Men In Open Relationships
15 Reasons Why People Keep Vanishing In The Alaska Triangle
15 Weird Corners Of Wikipedia People Don’t Know About
15 Craziest Conspiracy Theories Of All Time
15 Of The Strangest Phobias From Around The World
15 Rules McDonald’s Employees Need To Follow

The Richest Articles

Drake’s Pick 6ix Is Overrated (And So Are These 15 Other Celeb Restaurants
Beyonce’s Baby Bump And 15 Other Stylish Pregnant Mothers Who Broke Instagram
50 Cent’s Accidental $7 Million Bitcoin Investment And 15 Other Surprise Celeb Riches
Justin Timberlake’s New Rustic Look And 15 Other Celeb Styles We Don’t Get
Jay-Z And Bey’s $1.16 B Fortune And 15 Other Couples Who Belong To The 1%
15 Trust Fund Celebs Who Got Famous Because Of Their Rich Parents
20 Advantages Of Being Born Under The Billionaire Ruler Of Dubai
15 Random Things Michael Jackson Spent His Millions On
15 Celebs Who Made Multi-Millions (And Then Lost It All In A Second)
15 Priceless Items Celebs Auctioned Off (To Pay The Bills)

Flick Fans Articles

10 Horror Film Villains That Are Still Scary Today
Why ‘Get Out’ Deserves to Be in Contention for 2018’s Best Picture
Sundance: A Quick History Lesson

Millions of Miscellaneous Ghostwritten Health Articles

10 Simple Ways to Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Senior Health: 5 Steps for Dealing with Falls
5 Lesser Known Tips to Avoid ACL and Other Knee Related Injuries
10 Essential Suggestions for Dealing with Plantar Fasciitis
5 Common Myths About Arthritis
5 Simple Home Remedies For Knee Injuries
The 5 Worst Foam Rolling Mistakes People Make
10 Quick Tips to Help Athletes Avoid Knee Injuries
5 Common Desk Job Injuries (And How To Avoid Them)
Five Wheelchair Accessories That Will Make Your Life Easier
Core Strength: Why Is It so Important?
Five Ways to Stay Motivated During Retirement
Five Technology Gifts for Seniors This Christmas
10 Health & Safety Tips for Protecting Your Eyesight as You Get Older
Top Tips to Feel 10 Years Younger
Everything You Need to Know About Lifting Heavy Objects
Cold Showers vs. Hot Showers: Which is the Most Beneficial Option?
Senior Health: Important Tips For Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
5 Tips for a More Senior-friendly Household This Christmas
Five Essential Safety Items Most Homes Are Missing
Tips for Coping with a Broken Bone in a Plaster Cast
10 Quick Tips for Senior Foot Care
10 Reasons Why You Should Learn a Musical Instrument During Retirement
5 Fun Ways to Improve Your Hand-Eye Coordination
Simple Tricks To Make Living With Parkinson’s Easier
10 Lesser Known Bad Habits Which May Hurt Your Spine
8 Steps in Buying the Best Running Shoes
Why Are Women More Susceptible to Arthritis?
The 10 Best Exercises For Strengthening Your Flat Feet
Woke up with a Stiff Neck? Follow These 10 Steps to Fix the Problem.
10 Small Health Changes That Can Make A Big Difference
10 Easy Ways to Exercise Throughout the Day Without The Gym
10 Clever Ways to Trick Your Child into a Healthy Lifestyle
The Essential Room-by-Room Guide for Fall-Proofing Your Home
5 Common Running Injuries, and What to Do about Them
10 Common Misconceptions About Parkinson's Disease
10 Ways to Help Your Teenager Struggling With Depression
The 10 Worst Habits Which Are Damaging Your Skin
10 Ways to Make Exercising More Fun
10 Lesser-known Ways to Combat Anxiety at the Workplace
10 Lesser-known Facts about Breast Cancer
From Head to Toe: The Essential Guide to Senior Health
10 Reasons Why You May Have Bad Body Odor (and What to Do about It)
Step by Step Guide to Approaching Wrist-related Yoga Injuries
10 Ways to Help Bedridden Seniors Feel More Comfortable
10 Steps to Keeping Your Feet Soft and Healthy
The 5 Most Common Sleeping Disorders (and What to Do about Them)
10 Ways to Encourage Creativity with Arthritis Patients
Essential Guide for Nature Walks with the Whole Family
Yoga Poses You Should Avoid with Back Injuries
Improve Your Running: 10 Lesser-known Tips to Follow Immediately
10 Common Myths About Hand Injuries and Disorders
Top 10 Ways to Fight the Common Cold
10 Ways to Stay Fit with Injured Knees
10 Tips for a Healthier, More Productive Shower
10 Lesser-Known Tricks to Instantly Improve Your Mental Happiness
The Essential Five-Step Guide to a Quick Detox
10 Tips for Falling Asleep Faster
10 Steps in Helping Someone with Hearing Loss
The 10 Essential Steps in Recovering from an Injury
The 10 Most Common Mistakes People Make When Building a Six-Pack
Tennis Elbow: Is It Ok to Keep Lifting Weights?
10 Lesser-Known Tricks to Flatten Your Stomach Fast

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Worst to Best: Aerosmith

Worst to Best: Aerosmith

Hi, my name is Jared and I’m an Aerosmith fan (hi Jared!). You might be wondering how I ended up like this, and from what I can tell, it's probably a common story. You see, I’ve been dabbling in Aerosmith off and on since I was about 14 years old. It was a casual casual easy thing, you must understand. My friend introduced me to the crew, played me some of their more popular singles and I was curious, even buying a couple of their albums here and there. Oh, and boy, when Armageddon came out? Well, everyone was doing Aerosmith back then, weren’t they?

And then life went on. Yup, life went on without Aerosmith. The cool kids left them behind not long after that film, and I moved with them, because I didn’t want to look foolish. There were better bands out there, or so we were told. Aerosmith was for old people, or so we were told. Their bluesy hard rock licks became something better suited for nostalgic alone times, nothing more than a dinosaur joke when the name came up in public, some of us almost embarrassed of our long gone youthful dedication. Some of us, even refusing to admit the brief fling had ever happened.

The thing is, though, I’ve always had the taste for it. And once you get a sniff of the Aerosmith, no matter how long it’s been, it’s always somewhere on your mind—a dull nag, a certain excitable flair every time you hear a Perry riff or witness Tyler’s lips stretching out—there is a quick tingle even if you hide the sparkle well. It’s in these reflections that the blessing of age becomes apparent, as when Aerosmith announced their supposed final Aero-Vederci Baby! Tour, I nearly collapsed from a sudden panic attack, realising that this could be it. This could very well be my last chance to get a shot into my veins from the mothership, and it didn’t matter if no one understood, because this was my destiny. I immediately logged onto their website and frantically clicked a bunch of random links, filling out my credit card details until I had successfully purchased a ticket for their show in Lisbon even though I live in London.

So I flew over to Portugal, strolled into the venue, pushed reasonably close to the front, and stood there with a smirk, a beer in each hand, and a cigarette smoking from my mouth because no one seems to care over there. And then... they burst onto the stage... and I knew I was in trouble. All those past memories of Aerosmith, all those years of juvenile intoxication, it bubbled, resurfaced, amplified. I had never heard these songs so loud before. They were being created right in front of my very eyes, over there. This was not a prerecorded experience. This was the real thing. The A-grade quality, the good shit, manufactured by the chemists themselves, who were over double my age and at least twice as sexy. I never did find out what happened to that cigarette.

After the high-speed freight train of a setlist ran me over and then backed over me again, I stumbled out of the venue and eventually found my hostel with my mind wiped clean. My whole life had changed, and even if I was over 40 years too late, I swore allegiance to the Blue Army right then and there, be damned if my friends didn’t understand. I returned to London and started from the beginning, listening to each album in chronological order in a hunger, desperate to locate the slightest scent of that magic I had been previously seduced by, and what’s more, I often found it. I took note of the songs I liked. I put them together in this 6h20m 86 song playlist, the Best of Aerosmith. I priced a tattoo. I read their memoir. I quit my job. And I told everyone... everyone... that Aerosmith were the only band that mattered in the whole world.

The truth is, I’m ok now. I went all the way to the top, I touched the tip of the Aerosmith wing, and then I plummeted back to Earth, screamin’ like a demon. Everything fades, and I’m grateful for this fact, as there was no way I could have kept my engines revving at that number. I’m still dealing with the aftermath. But I regret nothing. Mark my words: your stance means very little to the history channel, Aerosmith are legends, hard rock royalty, blues-metal gods. Their place in the textbooks might not be as widely respected or as applauded as loudly as some of their forefathers, but any rock band that came from the late-70s/80s era will tell you the same thing. Aerosmith ruins lives.

Here are all of their albums, ordered from worst to best, according to me myself.

Worst to Best: Aerosmith: 15. Honkin’ on Bobo

15. Honkin’ on Bobo (2004)


For the record: Honkin’ on Bobo is far from Aerosmith’s worst album. The reasons why I have labeled it as such, however, are inarguable, watch as I raise so many red flags that eventually you will agree that this offering was essentially begging for stern scrutiny. My primary argument against its honour, is that it doesn’t legitimately qualify for this list, as Bobo is a collection of 11 cover songs from the 1950s/1960s blues era, with only one (surprisingly great!) original composition. Furthermore, in context of their overall catalogue, this contribution also came out when their career was already quickly losing credibility, not to mention that this was their final release for eight years, sold as a ‘back-to-their-roots’ record, which stank of a desperate regression to relocate some sort of a former relevance. Nevertheless, as tired as it read on paper, it was anything but, as the absence of authentic Aerosmith material appeared to take the pressure off, allowing each member to flex their performance without concern, stripping back the production and having a blast with their signature energetic dirt (reportedly only recording these tracks when they were in a good mood). I have minimal hostility and fans were pleased with the result, but it’s just not truly Aerosmith, is it?

Worst to Best: Aerosmith: 14. Music From Another Dimension!

14. Music From Another Dimension! (2012)


Before you even listen to Music From Another Dimension! (Aerosmith’s “final” record), you know that you’re not in Kansas anymore. Observe their least witty album title, their most off-brand artwork, their first original collection in 11 years, and their longest runtime to date (20 minutes over an hour), which was preceded by an array of stage injuries, rehab stopovers, American Idol appearances, and break-up rumours. And then, when you actually listen to the damn thing, all of your greatest fears come true. Naturally, Joe Perry’s fingers may still be on fire with a respectable amount of decent tracks scattered throughout this assembly, but the majority of the album in question sounds confused and exhausted, dragged down by inexcusably limp production and a bloated sense of self-worth in dire need of generous trimming. The only redeeming factor here is that Aerosmith are being (or at least trying to be) Aerosmith, back to their core, not modernising themselves, acting their age, old, dated, almost dead. Otherwise, it’s a sloppy, depressing, and unmemorable album, with tormented fans begging the band to call it a day, rightfully labeling this release a “mistake” and “their worst ever”. But not me. I urge the band to give it one more go. Please, for the love of God, don’t leave us like this.

Worst to Best: Aerosmith: 13. Just Push Play

13. Just Push Play (2001)


The artwork of Just Push Play sums up this record exquisitely: it's still the same old trashy Aerosmith, except polished to glimmer, one highly (over)produced album where all the hard work and money behind its birth is glaringly evident, and this is exactly the problem. By livening up their colours with poppy icing and forced hip hop influences, this is Aerosmith daringly/desperately lunging towards relevance, panicking to better fit into the industry’s modern playing field, attempting to slink into a new generation of fan’s ears, and doing so completely wrong. Instead, they only managed to distance themselves from absolutely everyone, stuck in the middle of a very spacious crowd, the epitome of when selling out does not pay. The deepest pity of all, however, is that every song on offer here could have been fixed up nicely with a few minor tweaks whilst stripping off the gleam, but for some reason, that board meeting never happened. Rather, we find an iffy slip-up around just about every corner, the cringe almost toppling the redeeming factors right over, in more ways than any other Aerosmith release. Sadly, I do recognise this as a case of "damned if you do" (catch up to contemporary standards) and "damned if you don’t" (shamelessly repeating your trusted formula), but in all fairness, for a blunder, this is still almost good enough.

“It was a learning experience for me. It showed me how not to make an Aerosmith record.” - Joe Perry

Worst to Best: Aerosmith: 12. Done with Mirrors

12. Done with Mirrors (1985)


Mirrors! Everything was cut into a perfectly straight line, neat, promising, ready for inhalation. After a six-year absence, Perry was back. Everyone was completely drug-free (despite the cheeky title innuendo). And the record was billed as their big comeback, quivering exec’s pockets and fan’s zippers alike. You’ve got to hand it to Aerosmith then, as they really went full force for it, yet missed it completely. The main issue probably came with the rusty dynamic between members, still trying to find themselves and retreating into safer ground whilst they did so, sticking to the hard rock formula which had made them famous, recoiling to recapture the live magic with yet another back to basics record. This approach made for a moderate Aerosmith offering at best, no massively memorable hits, the most obvious songs chosen for singles, softened with a little bit of filler padding (which a 35-minute record has no space for). So, naturally, it flopped a bit, no one hated it, no one was mad for it, it was badly produced, it lacked the vigour, and it sounded unfinished. However, it did have enough value to keep its head above water, and if nothing else, it was an important stepping stone for what shortly followed. But that's a different story.

Worst to Best: Aerosmith: 11. Draw the Line

11. Draw the Line (1977)


When considering (the aptly titled) Draw the Line’s dismal reputation, it’s important to sympathise that this was Aerosmith’s fifth album in five years, which would be enough to burn anyone out, yet was not even a crumb to their troubles. By now, the members loathed one another, and the core Tyler/Perry dynamic were hardly even involved with the process, reportedly disinterested in the whole project from the very beginning. They had money and success, which meant the record’s budget was relatively open (they still went over) permitting the lethargic luxury of writing in the studio without any rehearsals. And, of course, the consecutive years of running full speed with their noses glued to the cocaine trail had started to catch up quickly, which is why this is often referred to as their #1 drug album (and if you know the context of Aerosmith, that's a pretty fucking big statement). Still, there’s nothing obviously wrong with this release (except perhaps the lack of inventiveness or any explosive hits), as it blasts forward perfectly, one non-stop hard rocker, the group refusing to slow their pace, never turning soft, and in the end, that's what truly matters. Due to their brand, it sold well and charted high (#11), but dropped out of sight soon after, known as the downturn towards their very first decline. They took a break after this one.

Worst to Best: Aerosmith: 10. Aerosmith

10. Aerosmith (1973)


Time has been kind to Aerosmith’s self-titled debut album, fans often presenting it as an optimal example of how spirited the band used to be, one proper tacky American rock outfit, long before they lost their blues filth to a more commercial-y ballad-y path. But for me personally, I have one major gripe with this record. And before you start guessing, let me stop you right there and inform you that, no, it’s not the often criticised lifeless production, as this rough atmospheric charm added to the bar-like quality within my ears. Oh, and also, no, it's not the influences that they wore so shamelessly on their scarves either (Stones, Yardbirds, Zeppelin, Dolls etc) even though that's a common disapproval too. Rather, my principle scorn comes with Tyler himself, as the singer deepened his vocals due to performance anxiety, and this removed so much of Aerosmith’s signature nature from the product, that it’s almost a completely different band. But if we ignore all of that, no one can deny that this was a fantastic career starter, their dirtiest offering to date with one sharp edge, crude bite, and, of course, Dream On. What I love even more than this, however, is that their introduction held no telltale signs of what was to come, as a generic and “of the time” work, running the risk of fading into nothing, just another one of those many cool lost bands of the era. It's pretty rad that this is not what happened. Not even close.

Worst to Best: Aerosmith: 09. Night in the Ruts

09. Night in the Ruts (1979)


After earning the first two-year gap in their recorded history, Aerosmith returned to the studio refreshed and inspired, ready to reclaim their legacy. Just kidding! They were fucked! There was a sudden severe financial turbulence due to their disproportionate exuberant lifestyles; the drug use had escalated into a much harder category; and their live shows were famously catastrophic—all of which came to an exhausted meltdown after Tyler couldn’t remember how to write lyrics anymore, and Perry quit the band in the middle of these very sessions. At a loss, the band quickly recorded three cover songs to fill in the Joe cracks, but nothing could distract from the obvious: the dream was crashing down. The wheels were falling off. And yet... the results were still remarkably satisfactory. The critics claimed that they were happier with this record in comparison to the former Draw the Line, welcoming the return of hard blues and dirty metal, whilst Aerosmith themselves have always spoken fondly about the spooneristic Night in the Ruts in hindsight. Certainly, it’ll never be dubbed a fan favourite, but I consider this to be one dishonourably underrated trademark Aerosmith offering, perhaps never fully realised, but definitely on to something or other, and deserving to be cherished much higher than it unfairly has been.

Worst to Best: Aerosmith: 08. Rock in a Hard Place

08. Rock in a Hard Place (1982)


Talk about rocks and hard places, this 1982 offering is, without a doubt, the least Aerosmith Aerosmith album ever made. It’s the only record without Perry, and guitarist Whitford left during the recording too, which left Tyler mostly up to his own spices, meaning: three years of production time and $1.5 million flushed beneath an increasingly dangerous drug habit. Consequences of said intoxication can be clearly heard within these songs, for while the signature guitar-driven hard rockers may still be the epicenter, experimental studio trickery and synthy/vocoder gimmicks made a desperate appearance too, one obvious exertion aimed towards more contemporary audiences. So take this shift in a shameless direction with the loss of two essential members, and naturally, you have snobby fans who shunned and undervalued this record for all the wrong reasons. But with an open mind, Rock in a Hard Place is way better than everyone thinks. Perhaps it’s dated worse than many others due to 'modernized' 80s techniques, true, but in my opinion, it’s the most interesting release the Aerosmith brand ever put together, still today, unchallenged as so. Saying that, there is a certain relief to its floppage, because if this new Aerosmith incarnation was a soaring success, then there would be no need for Perry anymore, and we do need Perry.

Worst to Best: Aerosmith: 07. Get a Grip

07. Get a Grip (1993)


As part of Aerosmith’s big comeback binge, Get a Grip may not have been the most thrilling from the team, but it is their best-selling album worldwide (not to mention that the associated music videos put Alicia Silverstone on the map), so it deserves all the respectful praise that I’m happy to gift it with. Of course, they were still hiring outside collaborators to help rejuvenate their creaky bones at this point. Of course, their cocks were aimed directly at the 90s MTV screen scene. And, of course, these disloyal principles would always churn out slightly iffy moments which have aged a touch sideways. But what it lacks in their former reckless rockstar destruction, it makes up for with a spiritedness beyond their years, following the Aero blueprint to the margin: fast, sharp, punchy hard rocking songs, with the odd power(ful!) ballad thrown in to moisten the heartbeat, all cleaned up to shout within an enormously spacious production value. Above even this, Grip is a hits album, housing some of the most adored Aerosmith concert staples to this very day, and when considering the seven singles released from a record which ran for over an hour, I guess we can say that they really... milked it. Geddit? The cover artwork? Ha!

Worst to Best: Aerosmith: 06. Get Your Wings

06. Get Your Wings (1974)


Yeah, sure, Aerosmith’s debut was great, but their second attempt, Get Your Wings, was a far more significant step up the stairway ascending towards noble stardom. The band had begun to explore their individual styling by weaning their influences out of their veins, whilst visibly seeping their own special brand of dirty confidence which dribbled from their pores—so much so, that Tyler even used his real voice this round! Hooray! The additional cash thrown towards the production output didn’t hurt either, as the youthful chemistry and hyper sex drive of these mid-20-year-olds had never sounded better, manifesting into a much harder rock record, rolling along with the blues groove which is necessary to make a true Aerosmith release. Actually, this is the very first true Aerosmith release, if we think about it. So just imagine everyone’s disappointment when the buying public weren’t quite ready for it, Get Your Wings failing to grow into the massive success it deserved to be, and yet, in hindsight, we can now value this as a very loud indication of what was to come. And what was to come... came very soon indeed, as this was the band’s final album of obscurity, moments before they exploded all the way to hell.

Worst to Best: Aerosmith: 05. Permanent Vacation

05. Permanent Vacation (1987)


When 1985’s Mirrors failed to be the reinvigorated comeback record everyone had been promised, the Aerosmith base camp panicked, and pressed the emergency button, their final line of defence. Outside writers were called in to guarantee smash hits. Bon Jovi’s producer was summoned to make the guitars sound fucking huge. A Beatles cover was thrown in to secure credibility. And they all had the one same goal in mind: to create songs which would fuel the radio into first place whilst feeding the stadium crowds such boisterous bangers that everyone would forget how much money they’d spent just to be there. This means that Permanent Vacation is arguably Aerosmith’s silliest, most nauseating, and most shameful record to date. What makes it even worse, however, is that the plan totally worked! The album was a gigantic triumph, embraced by the commercial market, now known as Aerosmith’s true second wind, and admittedly, it does sound like the band had a spark lit under their asses for the first time in years. Their hard pop-rock performances were polished to shine, each track had a joyous spirit in the middle as if they were finally having fun again, and when it was good... it was as good as anything they’ve ever done. And it’s all good, baby!

Worst to Best: Aerosmith: 04. Nine Lives

04. Nine Lives (1997)


And this is where me and every other fan/critic collide. I wear my bias in daylight, confessing this as the first Aerosmith record which made an impact on me, licking the insides of my 14-year-old ears, and every listen since bringing me right back to those impressionable days. 20 years have come and gone, and I revisit this album often, defending it all the way into my old age, and taking personal offense to the unwarranted accusations so many have been far too hasty to make. Fuck you, as every song on Nine Lives works perfectly for me, I hear none of this filler you are whining about, all the while the band sounded energised and full of attitude, flawlessly balancing their heavy rockers with comfy ballads, tied together with an Indian flavouring sprinkled throughout. Musically? Vocally? Lyrically? Compositionally? Top performances from all parties, as truly an inexcusably unsung Aerosmith classic. Still, thanks to an opening run of impeccably solid single choices, this offering did top the Billboard Top 200 and win a Grammy, with everyone (even the skeptics) since agreeing that this was the band's last good album. But in my head, Nine Lives is so much more. It's as great as anything they’ve ever done. My Aerosmith record, you can’t have it.

Worst to Best: Aerosmith: 03. Toys in the Attic

03. Toys in the Attic (1975)


Toys in the Attic marks that sweet spot all rockstars are salivating for: when the drugs are still correctly blending with the creative juices, and (thanks to years of non-stop touring) the individual member cogs had unified as one confident machine. Take this with a cleaner production value, and we must once again emphasise the magical dynamic between the Toxic Twins. It was here that Perry proved himself as a virtuoso capable of composing riffs as recognisable as any guitarist in all of the rock heavyweights, whilst Tyler’s Attic deliveries were some of his most unique, spilling his seedy lyrical themes out from the inside of his cock alone. Unfortunately, the band were unable to shake the clutches of critical Zeppelin/Stones comparisons just yet, but they were getting super close, finally managing to achieve what they’d always set out to do: creating one of the better albums ever made by anyone, and as a result, placing Aerosmith on the map under their own name, armed with a massive radio hit or two now firmly secured within their repertoire. Like, I dunno, Walk this Way for example? The song which broke them into the mainstream? And also revitalised their career in the 80s when they recorded that new version with Run DMC? The new version which single-handedly invented rap-rock? Was any of this a good thing actually?

Worst to Best: Aerosmith: 02. Pump

02. Pump (1989)


Reportedly “making up for the lost time”, newly-sober Tyler traded his long-suffocating drug addiction for a rampage of sexual pursuits with equal vigour. And these immoral quests screamed nice and loudly on Pump, one high-speed full-steam charge ahead into a dirtier, coarser manifestation of their standard polished commercial comeback offerings. But while the overexcitable heart of Tyler is complemented by some of Perry’s most inventive finger work (conspiring together to build doors just to kick them down), this hard energy is still nothing more than energetic petrol, propelling a fundamentally pop-oriented craft upwards, sticking to the roof of my mouth as potentially the hookiest Aerosmith product on the market. Point proven with its singles which were all gigantic hits, like when Janie’s Got a Gun won the band their first Grammy, or when Love in an Elevator became their first #1 Mainstream Rock Track, or when I personally said What it Takes was up there with the greatest breakup songs ever written. In fact, to date this is the only Aerorecord to have three Top 10 singles in its arsenal, standing tall as one important career highlight, adored by the world, and living up to its name completely. Pump is right, mate! I’m fucking pumped!

"Pump changed my life. I'd been listening to bands like The Cult and The Mission and then discovered this album that was about fucking from beginning to end... It just blew me away." - Justin Hawkins, The Darkness

Worst to Best: Aerosmith: 01. Rocks

01. Rocks (1976)


After the preceding Toys in the Attic album had shone the fame spotlight directly into Aerosmith’s bloodshot eyes, one would worry that their creativity candle may be snuffed out by this fresh pressure, but nope, the additional attention only served to water their dirt, as they blossomed under demand, finally where they were always supposed to be. Meet Rocks, the crudest, most heaviest record in the band’s entire armoury, the Bad Boys from Boston only getting louder and more merciless, artistically grinding up against the strict hard rock boundaries with an onslaught of spunk, shooting in her eyes with passionate intent, whilst the band’s chemistry was at an all-time high—and I’m not (only) talking about the drugs here. Surprisingly, what truly works in Rocks’ favour above all else, was the lack of hit songs, as they preferred a steady half-hour charge of reliable quality, no radio pity, blasting out the other side as one of the most classic hard rock albums to ever set fire to the genre (according to Mötley Crüe, Metallica, Guns N' Roses, and Nirvana). Basically, it changed the game forever, and I wouldn’t dare fuck with that, so here we are, the best Aerosmith album ever made, done.

“I first heard Rocks when I was 13 or 14. There was this girl, Laurie, and I'd been trying to get into her pants for what seemed like forever. She was the hottest chick in school and just exuded—no, excreted—sex appeal. One day I rode my BMX bike over to her place. We smoked a bunch of pot, and she started playing me records. [...] From the moment she put it on and "Back in the Saddle" started playing, I was glued to the album. She just vanished into the shadows, and I completely forgot about her. [...] After I digested the album six or seven times at this chick's apartment, I just got up, grabbed my smokes, jumped on my bike and went home. I never did get laid. But not too long after, I picked up my guitar, and I've been doing this ever since.” - Slash, Guns N' Roses