The penultimate instalment of the world’s favourite fictitious movie soundtrack is coloured by an element of mental disintegration, casting some doubt on the Bob Marley quote in the title. However, while music never anaesthetises pain for long it does provide one of the sparks of consolation when the days get too gloomy, right?
Chapter 13 – Joy Division/New Order, In a Lonely Place
“How I wish you were here with me now.”
With Closer Joy Division produced an album that was by turns frightening (Atrocity Exhibition), haunting (The Eternal) and uplifting (Decades); it’s also one of pop’s most perfect statements. You can’t add or subtract a note or a word on that record without lessening its spell. New Order’s brilliance was more hit-and-miss: spellbinding songs mixed with filler. In a Lonely Place is essentially NO covering JD, its sense of claustrophobia matching the circumstances of its recording.
Chapter 14 – 13th Floor Elevators, Levitation
“High above the ant hills.”
If the 1965-67 Beatles had been one of the “Nuggets” bands unearthed by Lenny Kaye they’d have sounded exactly like 13th Floor Elevators: a perfect pop sensibility marshalled in the service of an outlandish sound and psychedelic poems based on bits of Gurdjieff, Leary etc. Singer Roky Erickson crash-landed in the cuckoo’s nest, sadly, but this still sounds like sheer (weird) joy.
Chapter 15 – Sisters of Mercy, Anaconda
“Let it take her breath away.”
Goth – a swear word in some circles, sneered with derision. Personally, I quite like derision. Most people are almost always wrong, as we know. So if they started to agree with me then I’d start to worry. The best bands that were labelled Goth in the early 80s, Cure/Siouxsie/Sisters, didn’t simply slap on tonnes of eyeliner and pretend to be bats; they mixed in classic tunes with the snakebite. The early Sisters EPs sound exactly how I’d hoped Suicide would sound: an electro-pulse beat combined with high-strung, scratchy guitars and the world’s doomiest melodies.
Chapter 16 – Dinosaur Jr, Freak Scene
“What a mess.”
The drawl – it’s an underused approach to rock vocals, probably because rock music isn’t intended to be laconic, deadpan and shrugging at the world. Rock music wants to be wired, energetic, and buzzing with fist-pumping pseudo rebellion. J Mascis, bless him, couldn’t be bothered with any of that nonsense. The reason Dinosaur Jr still work as a rock band is due to his approach to playing guitar, which he treats mostly as a percussion instrument.