Tuesday, February 11, 2014

...With Maniacal Articulation...


Thanks for the title, Reader's Digest! (And also for the increased word power!)

Roll call!

Dave Mustaine--vox, guitar
Chris Poland--guitar
Dave Ellefson--bass
Gar Samuelson--drums

"Wake Up Dead"--Lyin', cheatin', boozin', usin'...Megadeth remain the most overtly human of their peers, reveling in the sordid routine of society's detritus.  Only Mustaine seems willing to tackle how sex both makes and breaks us.  (Mind you, it's boozy woozy sex, both partners holding back the puke while jerking frantically, gritting their teeth and waiting for someone--preferably the other one--to finally just collapse already.)

Eh, the lyrics are secondary to the musical calisthenics, anyway.

"The Conjuring"--You know his name.  Look up the number.  (Spoiler:  it begins with a "6.")

The song that convinced Kerry King he wasn't getting the most out of his thesaurus.  Megadeth's early stuff lacks, for me, the replay value of Slayer's releases.  But when I do get around to revisiting their 80s material, I realize the reason:  rigorous dedication to composing tracks that a Mensa-ready serial killer would listen to while in the aura phase.

"Peace Sells"--You'd have to be a simpleton worthy of living forever to not recognize the worldwide need for change, much less desire that change.  But does trusting the powers-to-be to provide such change make you the most hopelessly dim of creatures?

Sneering cynicism is the appropriate response to the commodification of a basic human right.  Dave knows he's smarter than the other people in the room, and wittier to boot 'em up the ass, with a dearth of the humility that lets those other people off the hook (a compromise that really does happen all too often).  The last minute of "Peace Sells" is ideal to rouse a battalion.  As well as drunk Europeans who've been standing half-naked in a mud field for seven hours.

Most impressively,  "Peace Sells" is a single that sounds palatable enough to win over new ears but not drastic enough to turn away the hardcore fan.  Many people who never gave a thorough listen to any Megadeth full-length know this one as the "theme" for MTV News (incidentally, MTV weren't obligated to pay diddly-poo to the band, thanks to some shrewd editing). 

"Devil's Island"--A response to "Ride the Lightning" wherein the condemned receive a sort-of reprieve.

The first stretch of the drive is dodgy for all the black ice, but after the first exit, I get the feeling I've been down this road a few times already.  Is that a bad thing?  No, 'cause this ain't a bad road.  The signs on either side read "pernicious" and "noisome" and "KFC/Roy Rogers/IHOP."  Now how am I supposed to know where to stop?

"Good Mourning/Black Friday"--In 1983, a fella named Dijon Carruthers was Megadeth's drummer for a couple minutes.  He was uncomfortable with his ethnicity and dabbled in the occult with some buddies.  So clearly he wasn't 'Deth material.  He did, however, provide the inspiration for a song, and if the slaughter-death-kill theme isn't exactly scintillating for its novelty, the tune itself stomps with the indelible power of a a bloody boot print.  And credit where it's due,  Mustaine's savage volubility is delivered with all the smug self-satisfaction of the seldom-sated savage.

Let's injure shoppers.  Let's lay pipe to head, and cover it up with rubbing alcohol to the exposed brain.

"Bad Omen"--Megadeth stroll with Satan solely to shout shenanigans shortly thereafter.  Bad-ass 'Bub with all the minions and the rituals--whadda crock.  The indictments here are subtle--a word that King and co. understand just fine, but choose to ignore in favor of the basic one-liner, followed by one finger.

"I Ain't Superstitious"--From the hands of Willie Dixon, best known from the mouth of Howlin' Wolf.  Again, Dave mangles the source material with his own puerility, but unlike "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'" I can actually envision the original artist singing along to the alterations.  Fairly catchy, certainly confident (I would never accuse the lady of OD'ing on the protests).  And hey, can Metallica say any of their recordings were used to hawk Hondas on Japanese TV?

"My Last Words"--Another deceitfully delicate start to be found here.  Then it's back to the USSR with a gun in your mouth.

Megadeth are still developing the art of being highly technical while still crafting endlessly listenable songs, and also cultivating the side-along art of indulging their crass instincts without being easily eschewed as "tasteless."  Their second album shows great strides made all around, and it's clear they don't have far to go until attaining near-perfection.  (Perfection is not a desirable state.  There is no possible way to improve upon perfection, and if you are not constantly seeking to improve, why are you an artist?  Why are you alive?

Peace Sells... was Megadeth's second and final album with its original recording lineup.  Both Chris Poland and Gar Samuelson (who had worked together prior to joining Dave's militia) were fired for excessive drug use.  While Poland's firing gave Mustaine fuel for future material, he always seemed regretful that things didn't work out with Samuelson.  Not only was he one of the few less-be-more skinmen in the genre at the time, Dave clearly respected his creative acumen:  it was Gar who told Mustaine that "Peace Sells"  had real potential as a single release, and shouldn't be an eight-minute epic.  Now how many frontmen will listen to their drummer re: such a significant issue?  Especially a well-documented self-absorbed shithead like David Mustaine?

Gary "Gar" Samuleson passed away on 7/22/99 at the age of 41, of liver failure.  The remastered version released in 2004 is dedicated to his memory.

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