Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The best album ever in the world.

I've been listening to My Bloody Valentine's "Loveless" a lot the past couple weeks. Seeing a band live has a way of doing that. But this album never really got old for me, since I first heard it on its release in 1991. It blew me away then and it blows me away today. I never stopped listening to it. And that has only happened to me with a few other albums in my history of listening to music. The Beatles' "Magical Mystery Tour". Pink Floyd's "Animals" and "Wish You Were Here". I'm not sure what else.

Critics didn't quite understand this album when it was first released. It somehow got lumped in with a lot of the other shoegaze bands at that time - the UK's influential NME, if I remember right, didn't even review it by itself, instead including it as part of what amounted to a rundown of that week's shoegaze releases. They gave it like an 8 out of 10. Idiots!

Its stature has grown over time as critics have realized just how influential it's been. Everyone from Robert Smith of The Cure to Billy Corgan to all the members of Radiohead have cited it as a major influence. I started seeing it pop up in "top 100" lists of the 1990's when those started appearing. Rolling Stone had it on theirs, I remember that, and pretty high up. It should have been #1.

There's stuff on this album that nobody had ever done before. Supposedly, and I don't know if this is actually true, but Kevin Shields did things like put the tape of the guitar tracks in an overnight bath of mild acid, then stretched it out and played it backwards on one track. That may be an urban legend but it's completely believable. Because of his perfectionism and all the techniques he had to invent to get the sound he wanted, the album took two full years to record in 19 different studios.

Despite all that, he insists that the majority of the album was recorded with just one or two guitars and no common "shoegaze" effects like reverb, echo or flanger (he did use reverse reverb). The ghostly, weird sound MBV is known for is achieved mostly through the new way he came up with to use the Jazzmaster tremolo.

What's so amazing is how the album plays like a full frontal assault, but still manages to be melodic, ethereal and beautiful. A big part of that is Bilinda Butcher's vocals, but it's true of the songs Kevin sings too. These are, underneath all the noise and distortion, just really great tunes.

I've posted some of these in other posts before, but I'm collecting all the official videos that exist for the album here plus a couple of decent unofficial ones:

Only Shallow


Sometimes (unofficial video)

To Here Knows When

Whenever I hear Bilinda sing "come back again... to here knows when", it almost makes me want to cry. It's the way I feel about them. I'm such a fanboy.

AHHHHHHH!!!!! A professionally produced live video of the same song from just a couple months ago! (I just found this, I'm excited.)


Normally I'd advise anyone who doesn't own this CD to run to their local "record store" (we used to have those!) and not leave the premises without a copy. But Kevin Shields is remastering the album and re-releasing it as a 2CD set (one the old version, one the new) on November 3. No pre-order page up at Amazon yet - I'll link it here when there is.

By the way, when they release a new album, I'm betting it debuts at #1. Their fan base seems like it's grown exponentially over the years, despite their nearly two decade(!) sabbatical. And we are all just indescribably fucking happy to have them back.

1 comment:

  1. I got Loveless as a gift when I was in high school. A dear friend went to numerous shops in the area trying to track down a copy as he knew that I would love it. And I did and I still do and I still treasure that gift. It's getting rather beat up, though, and I think I could probably use a new copy. Thanks for the tip about the deluxe edition, I'll definitely pick that up.


About This Blog

This is increasingly not a blog about Alphabet City, New York. I used to live in the East Village and work on Avenue B, but I no longer do. Why don't I change the name if I'm writing about Japan and video games and guitars? Because New Yorkers are well-rounded people with varied interests, and mine have gone increasingly off the rails over the years. And I don't feel like changing the name. I do still write about New York City sometimes.


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