We've talked about the Ten Best Driving Albums, but what about the albums you want to listen to while you're systematically removing all the skin from your knuckles on your Hell Project? The music that just sounds best when played on the oil-spattered beater boombox that lives in the garage? This question came to me last weekend, while working on the race car...
...you see, I'd put together a special Black Metal V8olvo Team Playlist, containing songs to inspire us as we wrenched our way to V8 Volvo Glory and leaning heavily towards Scandinavian black metal... but then a song from The Stooges' Raw Power came on and it was just perfect. Naturally, we had to listen to the whole album, over and over, for the rest of the day. Look at our intensity in the video above, our singularity of purpose. God help those other teams at Altamont, now that we've found the ideal Wrenching Album!
But that got me to thinking: sure, you've got your album that's ideal for a specific project (and when you're on a team full of guys who came of wrenchin' age over a 35-year-span, from the 60s through the 90s, the Stooges are one of the few bands that can really bridge all the generational boundaries), but what about overall favorites? For that matter, is the album even a relevant form these days? Let us blow off our work on this fine Friday morning, as we look busy for The Man while discussing this extremely important matter! I'll prime the pump with my personal Top Ten, and (though I readily admit that my musical taste isn't quite as cool as, say, Herr Johnson or Señor Lovermman) hope it provides sufficient inspiration to get all of you Project Car Hell vets to share your lists with us:
Quincy Jones & Ray Charles: In The Heat Of The Night Soundtrack
This album, the soundtrack to the 1967 Sidney Poitier film, has just about everything you need for the full garage experience. Scary chase-through-haunted-woods themes, rough-edged blues, weird gospel, 60s bubblegum pop, even a supremely twisted country song (see above). You'll maintain your focus on all those little tiny carburetor bits as long this album blasts your garage.
Rolling Stones: Let It Bleed
Words cannot describe how incredibly sick I am of the Stones (well, words can describe it, but it would take too many of them to do the job right) and just about all "classic rock," for that matter. Have you noticed how classic rock stations always play "Under My Thumb" every 10 minutes, to remind the Baby Boomers of a time when it was considered the height of cool to crush a proud woman's spirit- yeah, the good ol' days! Yet... Let It Bleed is a work of fucking genius when you put it on your duct-taped garage boombox, open your toolbox, contemplate the project in front of you, and follow the "THIS RECORD SHOULD BE PLAYED LOUD" advice printed on the album cover. Maybe the key to this album is that the band members were all hopeless junkies when it was recorded... which means it's not too late for their ancient, unspeakably rich asses to redeem themselves- come on lads, you owe it to the fans to pick up the needle again!
The Residents: Stars & Hank Forever
Here's a good example of an album I only listen to when I'm working on a car project. I'm a big Residents fan, of course, but this album's profoundly twisted versions of John Philip Sousa marches mixed together with Hank Williams covers don't really sound right until I have a wrench in my hand.
Dr. Dre: The Chronic
Yeah, every annoying 14-year-old wannabe rebel kid in every suburban cul-de-sac in America was playing this album over and fucking over for the entirety of the early 1990s, and we all got extremely tired of Snoop Doggy Dogg as the decade wore on... but that doesn't mean it isn't a great album for engine rebuilds. I once put together a Chevy 400 small-block with nothing but a cassette of The Chronic to keep me company, and I came to appreciate Dre's storytelling expertise more than ever after hearing it so many times (it's also good for inspiring some musing on the Nature Of The Album and what will happen once that form is completely outdated). Just don't get too heavy into the real chronic while this album plays, or you'll forget whether you torqued those head bolts or not.
Various Artists: Repo Man Soundtrack
From the Iggy Pop intro to the Plugz' "Reel Ten," the 11 songs on this 1984 soundtrack album will have you in the mood to make a quick junkyard run to see if, truly, you find one in every car.
Butthole Surfers: Hairway To Steven
Now, the Buttholes are my favorite band, period (something I have in common with Amy Carter), and I'm perfectly happy to listen to nothing but their stuff for any occasion. However, for the groove you need to get into for a transmission swap, this acoustic-guitar-dominated 1988 masterpiece keeps you focused much better than, say, Psychic... Powerless... Another Man's Sac.
Butthole Surfers: Psychic... Powerless... Another Man's Sac
Focus? Who the hell cares? Yeah, you'll be forgetting where you set that goddamn 9/16" deep socket by the time "Concubine" is finished, and you'll be on your way to the liquor store for another 12-pack after "Cowboy Bob" finishes its work inside your dome, but that's fine. Great wrenching album.
Hank Williams: The Original Singles Collection
OK, this isn't really an album, in the sense that the artist put the songs together in the order in which you'll hear them, but Hank Senior died before the album-as-we-know-it existed. There's nothing like some real country music (not that other kind- you know what I'm talking about) for working on your car; you'll feel like you're hauling the engine out of Junior Johnson's moonshine-running '54 Ford using a rope over a tree limb as a hoist, even when performing just a simple oil change. Now I'm regretting not having made this a Top 20 list- where's the Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, and all the others? Damn!
The Atomic Bitchwax: Spit Blood
Here's the one band that carries over to the Ten Best Driving Albums list, though I prefer Spit Blood to their first album. You know the lead mechanic from the oil-refinery compound in The Road Warrior? You will become that man, complete with the ability to fix a bullet-riddled diesel truck with the Lord Humungus' army circling outside the walls, if you listen to this album while working on your car. This one's another big favorite for the Black Metal V8olvo crew.
Psychic TV: Temporary Temple
No, really. I got past my Young Urban Nihilist phase while Reagan was still in office, so Psychic TV gets scant play in my everyday life these days... but I make an exception when I'm heading out for some serious Hell Project action. Temporary Temple is an EP-only release of a 1984 live performance, and its clangs, shrieks, groans, and general Nihilismo Garage air are ideally suited for whatever project I happen to have before me. This one is pretty tough to find (no way was it going to be on YouTube), but worth the search.
Well, there's my list. Where's yours? It's Friday- you gonna let The Man tell you how to spend your morning?