Bottoming Out

Trailer-park Scrooge finds 10 reasons to say humbug about the music of 2001

5). Web site of the Year:

www.Metal-Sludge.com

At times this site could easily be accused of sycophancy (they love Poison, Rikki Rocket particularly; his horrible, naval-gazy prose is posted with distressing regularity), and the gushy porn-star interviews are tired (anybody remember Popsmear magazine?), but don't hold it against 'em. The staff of scribes (Bastard Boy Floyd, Jani Bon Neil, Ozzy Stillbourne etc.) that man this site are at times downright brilliant: There's the monthly Soundscan charts (dubbed Sludgescan) that document current sales figures of yesterday metalheads (as of December 3, Winger's Very Best Of sold 4,013 copies; the Britny Fox best of, 1,816); Donna Domain's hilarious Ho-Bag chart archives with detailed clarity (all the way down to penis size) bedroom failures of rock stars as reported by infamous and not-so infamous fuckees; a worthy interview section called 20 Questions is another fave, with fading metalers, goofball musos and real rock stars (the Anthony Focx Q&A single-handedly ruined the career of the awful Beautiful Creatures).

Best herein is the new "Exposed" page, in which current (and past) rawk badasses are revealed as the true trend-trawling gimps they are: Dig the early '90s Kid Rock photos, which go lengths to prove our theories that this thinning-haired, Grand-Funk-referencing, Pamela Anderson-boning (of course!) pimper-of-artifice's biggest influence is Vanilla Ice. Elsewhere we see Sugar Ray's Mark McGrath in his comely, Sunset Strip hair band days. Godsmack guys caught pedestalizing Trixter in the guise of "Southern-rock white-trash" is fun. A decade ago, Buckcherry was dubbed Slamhound, a hilarious and ungainly eyeliner-and-flannel mess of Poison-meets-Pearl Jam. Best of all is Disturbed as Jersey Shore mouth-breathers (er, Bon Jovi) in the 1990 band Vandal!

6). MTV's Carson Daily

TRL's shamelessly nonessential presenter

Über-ordinary Carson Daily has taught us that if you demand "Hey, look at me" loud enough, a whole nation will chirp in unison, "Oh! Okay!" For that, he's a pop star.

7). The Cult
Beyond Good and Evil
(Lava/Atlantic)

After a one-two punch of flopping back-to-back albums, and an onstage brawl during a 1996 European tour, The Cult was, as we were so happily led to believe, dust forever. However, mortgages must be met, and flagging careers must certainly be saved, and you know damn well that no member of The Cult would ever be caught dead slinging chips and curry at some South London chippery. Hence Beyond Good and Evil, a record that sounds like you might imagine: a quartet of alpha-male, weight-room enthusiasts whose musical ebb tide is in direct proportion to the crappy conventions employed.

In other words, for an '80s band produced by one-time Crüe/Ratt knobsman Bob Rock, the songs sponge up the most translucent of '90s rawk-dude cliches, from Soundgarden-y riffs and Roses poses to Manson gaffs and industrial ya-ya. The grand linear thud that once defined the band's sound in its ever-brief heyday ("She Sells Sanctuary") is as dead as the hair follicles on guitarist Billy Duffy's head. Astbury's fabricated Lizard King aura and affinity for hammy stage antics and audacious lyrical dexterity ("I watched your spirit fly/Across the velvet sky") makes Beyond Good and Evil the year's best worst hard-rock record.

8). Bon Jovi
One Wild Night: Live 1985-2001
(Island)

This record demonstrates what's remarkable about Bon Jovi; how the band has managed to transcend the footballer-in-drag set to sustain somewhat of a fan base and accurately circumscribe the Golden Era of Rock Cheese. I mean, "You Give Love a Bad Name" is a ditty we've all heard countless times in the wretched dawns of Wild Night high school kegger parties. The song encapsulated, perhaps fueled even, that dreaded moment in time when the need for a heavy, life-changing shift suddenly became clear. That consequential second of infinite importance when you unexpectedly muttered to yourself, "I've fucking had it. This scene suuuuuucks! I'm leaving!" If you had the balls, you bailed, physically or mentally. Bon Jovi, it appears -- and those who bought into it them -- never did.

9). Eden's Crush
Popstars
(London/Sire)

The key to grasping teen dance-pop these days is to understand that it is a medium made up of sales pitches, not songs. Pitches that are crafted by certain youth-culture geneticists ("producers") for the express purpose of shifting shitloads of units. In all, Eden's Crush is a collective musical nullity -- five lovely, mostly Latina chicks -- who'd be better served using their youth to model pouts and butt cheek in Prada ads than on record sleeves. EC shows us that to land on the pedestal of dance-pop celebrity, the only requirement is genetic good fortune.

10). Suicide of unsung guitar hero Stuart Adamson

Before fronting the oft-blunderous but well-intentioned Big Country, guitarist Stuart Adamson in 1976 co-founded the scarcely acclaimed Skids, a brilliant and gutsy punk band from Dunfermline, Scotland. The Skids, by virtue of Adamson's authoritatively working-class yet startlingly graceful riffing, managed to transcend the majority of punk rock's silly musical cubbyholes. His was a sound that roused -- even during punk's halcyon days -- certain yearning; a husky Scottish sinew of rock 'n' roll clarity and droning bagpipe-like beauty.

What's remarkable about the Skids was the impact it had on 'n' roll as we know it. Guitar goobs like Public Image Limited's Keith Levene, ex-Magazine and Siouxsie/Banshee John Mcgeoh and, particularly, U2's The Edge all unblushingly bilked Adamson's singular style for huge personal gain. (Early Skids songs "Of One Skin," and "Sweet Suburbia" were note-for-note landmark precursors to PIL's "Public Image" and U2's "I Will Follow"; more recently, "It's a Beautiful Day" still resonates Adamson.)

After three albums and a string of UK chart hit singles, Adamson could no longer suffer the GQ/militant posturing of Skids singer Richard Jobson and quit in 1980 to form Big Country. Just days before Christmas, Stuart Adamson hanged himself in a Hawaii hotel room. The guy was 43.

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