It begins with an argument. An ominous start for a solo career wrought with drugs, alcohol and a broken wrist. In the aftermath of his band Whiskeytown imploding, and breaking up with his music-industry publicist girlfriend Amy Lombardi, Ryan Adams left an apartment on avenue A and 10th in New York that he couldn’t afford and headed south.
In the mid 1970s, the career of one of the bands at the head of the progressive rock genre took a turn that would propel them from a typically directionless bunch of experimenters to the biggest band in the world. A release that contained a sense of purpose and direction never before seen by a band of their background made them suddenly accessable, listenable and at the same time visionary in a way that would cement their status in music history.
With only nine tracks, there’s no room for any slack, so each song on this album has the quality to be a single.
The one thing that makes this album so irresistible is that each of the eleven tracks on it feels like it has atmosphere... you can’t help but become deeply involved when you listen.
Recorded in only three days, its ten tracks contain some of the best music ever recorded by the then seven-piece. Getting hold of an original copy is like finding the Holy Grail of indie-pop memorabilia.
However, despite Muse's seemingly omnipresent nature (thanks largely to their platinum selling 2006 album, Black Holes and Revelations) there is something eternally appealing about the raw energy and emotion captured on the band’s debut offering.
The novelty of owning an album with such a perfect mix of pop, ballads and orchestral symphonies, - which always guarantees to lift the spirits - has never worn off.
If you can develop a sense of place from a record, then this would be it. It’s an evocative summary of post-Hacienda Manchester in just under an hour.
How can something this mind-achingly good have sold only 12,000 copies and led to Johnston being dropped by Atlantic Records? The ‘chicken or the egg’ dilemma suddenly seems trivial.
Stomping tracks like Itch and Clone Jesus smack of the sheer power and potential that Vex Red could, when they wanted to, yield. The drum intro of Itch still sends shivers of teenage angst up my spine.