Difficult Albums

I was thinking about some of the listening hurdles that I remember from the late seventies and early eighties: albums that on first listen seemed just too difficult, too hard to understand…

No New York

No New York, 1978.  Found it pretty scary at first, when I borrowed it from someone and put it on the turntable.  Eventually found a way in with the Contortions’ cover of “I Can’t Stand Myself” (James Brown).

Remain in Light

Remain in Light, Talking Heads, 1980.  Couldn’t penetrate this at first.  Too dense, too forbidding.  The rather ugly cover with pixellated masks reflects that feeling.  Came to love it, but it took time.

Sandinista, The Clash, 1980.  This one just freaked me out, cause I bought the import the first day I saw it, knowing nothing about it.  The first song, “The Magnificent Seven” followed by “Hitsville U.K.” had me wondering whether I had actually purchased a Clash album…

Prayers on Fire

The Birthday Party, around 1982.  I remember first hearing them at a record store in Hoboken, NJ called Pier Platters.  Again, just too dense and insane!

And one more, that was already fully accepted by the time I first heard it, but think about how it must have sounded when it came out, and you put the needle down for the first track, “Baba O’Riley”:

Who's Next

Who’s Next, The Who, 1971.  To hear more than a minute of synthesizer intro back in 1971 must have been a disorienting experience, when you think about what people were probably expecting.  Sort of like my experience with Sandinista.

One other thought:  I remember when I first saw The Fall’s “Live at the Witch Trials” album back in about 1979 or so, I looked it over in fascination but was too scared of it to buy it.

Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
%d bloggers like this: