unsafe at any volume
i still recall my excitement upon encountering david bowie's instructions on his ziggy stardust album:
nice. some music just sounds better loud. really loud -- like pushing-air-across-the-room loud.
Q's feature on the 20 LOUDEST albums illustrates, once again, the fine line between clever and stupid. i vote for clever. yes, once a piece of music has been suitably commodified, listeners can play it at whatever volume they desire. nevertheless, some music has been recorded, mixed, and mastered with one bleeding ear cocked toward creating an all-encompassing, mind-blowing, face-melting transcendant listening experience.
what makes an album loud? it can be a sludgy bass drone, an absurdly punchy midrange, or even a piercing high-end screech. distortion and feedback certainly have something to do with it, as does pain tolerance and willingness to sacrifice a lifetime of aural health for a moment spent drowning in decibels. i played loud music as an adolescent, occasionally placing my head inside george's bass drum and cozying up alongside danny's ampeg stack. this has already cost me, of course, as my usual response to student questions is "what? did you say something?" moreover, i can no longer watch television or movies with other normal-eared humans.
still, it is a nice list, complete with appropriate video links. i particularly like the inclusion of Sunn0))), but that's just me.
20. Velvet Underground - White Light/White Heat (Verve, 1967)
19. AC/DC - Back In Black (Columbia, 1980)
18. Sunn0))) - White (Southern Lord, 2006)
17. Jimi Hendrix - Are You Experienced? (Track, 1967)
16. Aphex Twin - I Care Because You Do (Warp, 1995)
15. Black Flag - Damaged (SST, 1981)
14. The Birthday Party - Prayers On Fire (4AD, 1981)
13. Motorhead - No Sleep Til Hammersmith (Bronze, 1981)
12. Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin (Atlantic, 1969)
11. Neil Young – Arc Weld (Reprise, 1991)
10. Sex Pistols - Never Mind The Bollocks (Virgin, 1977)
09. Atari Teenage Riot – The Future Of War (DHR, 1997)
08. My Bloody Valentine - Isn’t Anything (Creation, 1988)
07. Napalm Death - Scum (Earache, 1987)
06. The Who - Live At Leeds (Track, 1970)
05. Big Black - Songs About Fucking (Touch And Go, 1987)
04. The Jesus And Mary Chain - Psychocandy (Blanco Y Negro, 1986)
03. Public Enemy - It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back (Def Jam, 1988)
02. Slayer - Reign In Blood (Def Jam, 1986)
01. The Stooges - Funhouse (Elektra, 1970)