TTT – Top Ten Paul Verhoeven Movies!

Paul Verhoeven filming Benedetta - Cineuropa

Paul Verhoeven was one of my favourite directors before I knew what a director was. Thanks to a spell of hits which I watched a lot in my youth, he was one of the first Directors whose name I knew and whose films I would hunt down. I admit I was always disappointed that the films I found weren’t outlandish, bloody action movies like the ones I loved, but when I got more into my teen years and became a more dedicated film lover I found a new appreciation for all of his work.

I think the best terms to use to describe Verhoeven’s work are ‘sleazy’, ‘controversial’, and ‘over the top’. Even in his early work pre-Hollywood, there was a dedication to depicting violence and sex in certain ways, blown out of all proportion once he landed in the US, but there has always been a tongue in cheek approach to it all which many critics have outright missed if not denied or dismissed. He has of course had more streamlined, subtle films but even those use action or violence or satire in a certain fashion.

10. Hollow Man.

One of the many revisions of The Invisible Man which has appeared over the years, this one took the 90s Blockbuster approach, merging horror, action, nifty effects and make-up, and dollops of sleaze. It’s an inevitably voyeuristic film which was a hefty success and basically allows Kevin Bacon to go Terminator on everyone, while occasionally stopping to have a spy at ladies getting undressed. If that sounds like your sort of thing, and it absolutely should, give it a go.

9. Basic Instinct.

Verhoeven took soft-core porn, sleazy thrillers, bedroom aerobics, and crazy white lady films to new artistic heights with Basic Instinct. Underneath all the iconic uncrossing of legs and gyrating searches for ice picks, it’s a sweaty, up close, ice cool thriller which shook suburbia and allowed all of our dirty secrets to bubble up to the surface. It’s silly, it’s Sweat Noir, and it made a star out of Sharon Stone. Basically every 90s softcore movie took its inspiration from this.

8. Flesh And Blood

Flesh And Blood is a film which never found its audience, yet it’s clearly ripe for re-evaluation now as a cult film. This should be streaming everywhere – it’s 80s, a mix of action, history, and romance. It’s stars Rutger Hauer. Jennifer Jason Leigh is the love interest. It was shot be Jan De Bont. The score is by Basil Poledouris. It has the Orion seal of quality. The plot is all over the place and you half expect it to be a swords and sorcery movie – it’s not, but it is a lot of fun for those viewers always on the lookout for a forgotten 80s movie.

7. Spetters

This was the first non-US Verhoeven movie I saw, having read reviews of it in some Must See European Cinema book I had in my teens. It mentioned motorcycles, graphic violence – that was really all I needed at the time. Even in the liberal Netherlands, the film was controversial enough to cement Verhoeven’s desire to head to the US where he could explore different types of movies, and the film’s notoriety led in some part to helping Rutger Hauer and Jeroen Krabbe become more established worldwide. It’s somewhat similar to something like Y To Mama Tambien, a coming of age of sorts as three young men encounter a sexually aggressive woman who wants escape as much as they do. It’s an uncomfortable watch, not necessarily due to the sex and violence, but due to the depictions of masculinity which may be too close for comfort even now.

6. Elle

He doesn’t make very many movies any more, hardly a surprise given his advanced years, but when he does they always make an impact. One of Verhoeven’s gifts has always been in finding a strong female lead and getting a powerful performance out of them. That, and never shying away from tackling or courting controversy head on. In Elle it’s rape which takes centre stage, and one woman’s reaction to her ordeal. That woman is Isabelle Huppert, giving a performance which saw her receive a deserved Academy nomination. The film tows the line between disturbing and funny, and while it may be advertised as a rape revenge thriller, it’s not as seedy or horrible as those movies tend to be, instead finding Verhoeven using the subject and character to examine triumph. Nothing is ever as it seems in a Verhoeven film and Elle is no different.

5. Soldier Of Orange

The first of several War films Verhoeven made, this saw him become a huge name in his home and made the rest of the world aware of his abilities. It’s one of his most grounded films and one of those great coming of age type war movies which follows a group of friends pre, during, and post-war. It’s a great gateway movie into European cinema because it will be familiar to fans of films such as The Deer Hunter and it has a few familiar faces to not make the transition from US to non-US so alien.

4. Black Book

One of the finest all round movies of the 21st Century. I’ve written about it elsewhere on the blog, but it’s another WWII based drama which sees The Red Woman working as a Resistance Spy in the midst of Nazi horrors, a mature and twisting film largely free from the usual Satire and cynicism which put many people off Verhoeven’s films.

3. Starship Troopers

One of the most bonkers, all out fun movies of the 90s – it pits muscle-bound grunts against big-ass bugs in a giant space war. Great effects, hilarious violence, top notch action, all topped off by a memorable score and tonnes of one-liners. It feels like Robocop 2.0. 

2. Total Recall

Arnie. Verhoeven. Ironside. Cox Stone. Mars. Aliens with three breasts. If I’m not me, then who the hell am I? Get ready for a surprise!

  1. Robocop

Arguably the greatest movie ever made. Unquestionably the most quotable. It’s in my personal Top Five movies of all time. It’s flawless in my eyes. If Verhoeven had only ever made this movie, he would be a legend – thankfully he made all of the others above, and a few more besides.

Let us know your Top Ten Verhoeven movies in the comments below!

The Lowest Rated Movies I Like – IMDb Edition!

I warned you. I really did. It’s time for (probably) my final post on this topic, as I work through the lowest rated movies on IMDb in search of those movies I like, or even love. My last post on this was in 2019 and I wrote this one at the same time, but my backlog continues to grow and this got lot among everything else. I realise I haven’t been posting much about movies recently, so this was the easiest fix for that problem. I’ve already shown how Rotten Tomatoes has a tonne of movies I love categorized as some of the lowest rated movies ever, but that hasn’t taken away any of my love. Lets see what the good voters at IMDb consider to be the worst.

Battlefield Earth; Man I remember when this was released and the mauling it received. I ridicule Scientology as much as the next sane person and while there’s no doubting the movie is very silly and a huge waste of money… I still liked it. Maybe because I’d been so prepared to find it terrible, that I was surprised when it wasn’t as bad as people said it was. Or maybe I have a low threshold for crap. I’ve only seen it once, many years ago, but I thought it was okay. I don’t think it deserves the hate and ridicule it still gets, ignoring all of the background faff and simply taking it on its own ‘merits’. It’s not good, and while I’m not an advocate of films so bad they’re good, I will hold my hands up and say I enjoyed it more than a tonne of films I’m supposed to like more.

Everything I just said, aside from the Scientology stuff, could be applied to Barb Wire. I don’t know what it is, but I still enjoyed Barb Wire. Now, I know what you’re all thinking – it’s because Pamela Anderson frolics about half naked for most of it, and yes that’s part of its charm for whatever supporters the film may have. I’ve always though Pamela Anderson was an interesting actress and I’ve sort of enjoyed any number of her crappy softcore movies. She never got the more dramatic serious role she wanted. Maybe if she did, I could have seen how bad she is like everyone else says she is, but she never got the chance. Barb Wire is in no way a good film, but it remains kind of unique – a female led throw back to a lot of the male dominated action movies I loved in the 80s. It’s unfortunate they focused on the wrong assets of its star.

The original The Wicker Man is one of my favourite films. The remake is not. But it’s still wonderful because it’s an absolute state. You all know the quotes, you all know the memes, but watching the whole thing in a single sitting is a different experience. You’ll laugh at how silly it all is, and even if you’re the most devout fan of the original you’ll probably get some sort of odd and uncomfortable kick out of watching Cage beat the shit out of people in bear costumes. Interestingly, my wife saw this (with me) before she’d ever seen the original or knew anything about the story – she was horrified by it and the ending in something approximating the way most first time viewers feel upon watching the original.

Superman IV was the first Superman movie I ever saw, and is the first movie I remember seeing at the Cinema. Nuclear Man was pretty scary back then. This is an example of nostalgia completely completely overshadowing critical thought. I like it because I liked it, and I value nostalgia. It’s not good in any conventional sense or otherwise, and it’s a sour note to end the Reeves saga on, but I’d much rather watch this than some po-faced Zack Snyder bullshit.

Speed 2 is a film I’ve only seen once. I knew it was going to rubbish, or at least not as good as the original which I rate higher than most. It has a tonne of flaws, not least its setting and the fact that it’s entirely unnecessary. In truth I can’t remember much about it beyond the fact that I watched it going ‘yeah it’s a crappier Under Siege but it’s still silly fun’.

Prom Night is actually fine. I’m not a big fan of the original and I’m not a big fan of the remake, but I tend to care less when a crappy cult movie is remade rather than something genuinely good. Slasher moves were popular and overdone, then went away and came back to be subverted, then went away and came back to be remade with fresher faces but no purpose. Still, pretty people run around and get killed, you can enjoy it for what it is.

There are other movies here I’ve seen and… did not enjoy. Dungeons And Dragons I saw upon release, Jaws 3 and 4 I’ve put myself through numerous times. While those movies are bad, boring, laughable, I can’t say I hate any of them. They’re not offensive to me. They featured many cast and crew members just trying to do their jobs. They’re likely much better than any number of low budget, amateur indie movies, or even more soulless corporate cash-ins. Well, maybe not much better. Out of the bottom 100 movies there isn’t one I truly liked, let alone loved, and I can’t say how many people would feel differently. But maybe you do. Maybe one of of your favourites is in there? Let us know in the comments!

Ranking The Led Zep Songs – Led Zep IV!

While undoubtedly one of the greatest albums of all time, this has become maybe the Led Zep album which has dropped most in my own estimation. I was obsessed with it but I almost never listen to it now, and when I do I skip more songs than I listen to. I’m just too familiar with it, and possibly sick of it. Outside of the Top Two, I struggle to listen to the others, even as I still recognise their perfection.

  1. Stairway To Heaven
  2. Going To California
  3. Black Dog
  4. Rock And Roll
  5. Four Sticks
  6. Misty Mountain Hop
  7. The Battle Of Evermore
  8. When The Levee Breaks

Let us know your ranking in the comments!

Ranking The Alice Cooper Albums!

Alice Cooper | Rhino

Greetings, Glancers! For someone as influential on my life as a music fan, as a horror fan, and as an occasional writer as Alice Cooper has been, he’s not someone who comes up frequently on my blog. I don’t have many definitive influences on my lyrical approach (at least back when I wrote lyrics), but Alice Cooper is one of them. Cooper, Edwards and Wire, Cobain… nobody comes close to them. Alice Cooper is an incredibly underrated lyricist, songwriter, singer, performer, and both as a solo act and as a band his works have left an indelible mark on music for the last 60 years or so. It’s not just the Shock Rock stuff. You can make a case for Cooper inventing Metal, Punk, Grunge, for pushing Prog into new directions, he has changed his skin as many times as those who are more recognized for it – Bowie and Madonna spring to mind – but he has retained the core of who he is as an icon; a boundary pushing, genre transcending provocateur with a wit rarely so evocatively presented in music, and with a knack for writing anthems skirting the borders of the zeitgeist to forever appeal to the outsider. In short, he’s one of the all time greats. In honour of his recent four thousandth album, I humbly present my ranking of his albums. As always if you were to ask me to do this again next week (please don’t) some of these positions would inevitably shift around. But not by much – my favourites are my favourites and those at the bottom are still crap. You get the idea? Lets get on with it.

28: Special Forces

In the 1980s, Alice had been through his greatest Commercial and Critical peak, and like every good story of Rock ‘n’ Roll success he was now in a free fall decline in every respect. His music, his creativity, his personal life, his sanity and health, everything was out the window. It’s hardly a surprise that he doesn’t remember making a bunch of these albums, and hardly a surprise that these albums are not very good. If anything stands out with these albums it’s that they are a shit shower of ideas, mostly bad, mostly influenced by 80s New Wave, and if anything distinguishes Special Forces from the others it’s that the songs are less eventful, less ridiculous. Only the biggest Cooper fans are likely to get anything out of this.

27: Dada

Of all the 80s albums, there was a time when this was my favourite – now I’m not sure why. I think it’s because it’s so otherworldy and bizarre. It’s utterly deranged, but outside of the opening and closing tracks there’s nothing here you’ll ever want to hear.

26: Flush The Fashion

Cooper’s first foray into the 80s and New Wave, he was still clinging on to consciousness and creativity, but he produced a dated upon release, underwhelming and repetitive album of forgettable songs it’s difficult to differentiate between. Sadly, the album sold well enough on the strength of its lead single, likely making Coop think this was a brave new path he should continue ploughing blindly down. 

25: Zipper Catches Skin

The third album in three years during the 80s for Cooper, this suffers from the same rushed and creatively barren issues as the others. This one has more positives than negatives and sheds the New Wave nonsense for something approximating the current wave of Post Punk which would in turn lead Cooper towards his Hair Metal reinvention. Of course, Dada would come before then, but at least this set some ground work and reminded fans that Cooper could still pen a decent rock song when he wanted to.

24. Along Came A Spider

This halfway point album joins (untidily) the Nu Metal 2000s era Cooper with his stripped back return to Garage Rock. It’s a mostly bland affair which suffers from the fact that Coop had already done the Garage Revival thing better in his two previous albums. Still, it was a more successful album than those two and stands out because it was another Concept album charting the rise and demise of a serial killer known as Spider.

23. Lace & Whiskey

For his third solo album, Cooper abandoned his Grand Guignol stylings and instead adopted the persona of a hard drinking hard boiled crime PI, who was also bumbling and inept. In retrospect it seems like the whole thing was set up just so he could allow himself the freedom to sink further into Alcoholism. I never found the album concept and sound to be coherent, instead coming across as a Greatest Hits without the Hits. There are still highlights – My God and You & Me feature in my regular shuffles – and even with a mish mash of styles it’s grounded in old fashioned Rock n Roll.

22. Pretties For You

The Cooper band debut, this zany Zappa inspired whack job is sure to confuse and infuriate fans of structure and sense. This album has no sense, the songs have no structure, and that’s why I enjoy it so much. It’s wonderful to see how the band started out and what they would become, many of the lyrical and conceptual ideas are there in their infancy, but above all the songs are somewhere between chaotic slices of brilliance and shameless nonsense.

21. Constrictor

Perhaps the least of the Hair Metal albums, although most of them are interchangeable in quality for me, Constrictor was the first to see Alice embracing the big hair, big guitars, glam persona, and return to his Shock Rock roots. He had been out of the limelight trying to get clean and in the years since Dada Metal had taken the world by storm. Cooper gathered together an array of talented musicians, doubled down on his notoriety by positioning himself as a hybrid Metal Horror icon in songs like He’s Back and Teenage Frankenstein, but most importantly he put himself back on the map as a performer and songwriter. 

20. Detroit Stories

Cooper’s most recent album is all about looking back and giving thanks. Thanks to the bands and city and sounds who influenced him, to the bands they came up with in the 60s and 70s, and to his old pals. There are plenty of covers and plenty of Cooper’s trademark wit which has never dampened with time, and he’s still ready to pump out bangers when he needs to. It’s a little repetitive due to the sheer number of songs, but a solid album of Garage Rock.

File:Alice Cooper band Live in London 2012-10-28 (close-up).jpg - Wikimedia  Commons

19. Paranormal

Cooper has always been prolific, but this was his first album in 6 years – the longest gap he’s had between albums since 94 and 2000. Thankfully he still came back with his usual finesse and released an album which was received highly and did quite well in this new era of sales. He brings the old gang back together for a few songs and in total it’s a classic sounding Cooper albums with influences based in the dark fringe areas where normies fear to tread, a series of nightmarish lullabies and anthems.

18. The Last Temptation 

By the time The Last Temptation was released I was a hardcore Cooper fan. I never liked lead single Lost In America or its video and was expecting something more adventurous and biting like Hey Stoopid. Still, I was 11 and anything with guitars and facepaint was cool. It’s a lighter album than its predecessor  – by this point Metal was largely dead commercially – but was still successful enough that Cooper could go off and tour and play golf for the next six years before reinventing himself once more. 

17. Dragontown

This and Brutal Planet are a pair. This is just as heavy, if less reliant on the Industrial and Nu Metal stylings of Brutal Planet but in songwriting terms there isn’t much to pick between them – plus they were released a year apart. The two albums are Alice at his heaviest.

16: Easy Action

I don’t see many people having either of the band’s first two albums so high on their ranking, but there’s something wholesome and youthful and ambitious about each – a true sense of zero fucks given. This follow-up at least nods its head to structures and conventions and loosely attempts to convey traditional songs through a psychedelic lens. As such, some of the songs have made their way onto Greatest Hits sets and later live tour setlists. It’s a heavier album too, less chaotic and more planned, allowing for both unpredictable epics and short and snappy wannabe hits.

15. Raise Your Fist And Yell

Another 80s Hair Metal album, for me this one has a better array of tunes than Constrictor. It still retains the inherent cheesy production and reverb drums of the time and it still feels like a less shitty Def Leppard album, but with a rejuvenated Alice at the helm. Alice continued his dalliance with horror – Robert Englund appears (Alice appeared in multiple horror movies around this time, including Elm Street 6 a few years later) just as Vincent Price had a decade earlier, and the songs are the teen and rebel bait outcast anthems we have come to expect from the greatest writer of such songs of his generation. Or any generation.

14. Brutal Planet

Alice has always kind of been Metal, and certainly doubled down on what passed for commercial Metal in the 80s, but it wasn’t until Brutal Planet where he actually sounded crushingly heavy. Under all the tuned down guitars and distortion is a selection of songs which could appear in any era of Alice’s work – change the production to suit the time period and Gimme could be an 80s Metal or 70s Rock anthem, while Take It Like A Woman is as good a ballad as any of his more famous works while conveying the sort of social message critics usually miss when dismissing Cooper.

13. Trash

Trash is the first album I ever bought. In a Golden Discs in Ards Shopping Centre if anyone cares. I also picked up Off The Wall. Money well spent. Alice has had any number of hits and several of those are cultural icons themselves. But Trash contains Poison, probably his most famous song. It’s the peak of his 80s work – a genuinely good song which manages to stand up against scrutiny verses 90% of everything else he released in the decade. Elsewhere on the album he invites various pals to play along – Jon Bon Jovi, Steven Tyler – and many mainstream hitmakers helped contribute and polish things – Desmond Child, Diane Warren, Joan Jett to name a few. For every silly song, there’s a better one, and it’s the strength of those better songs which raises an average album to the multi million seller it is. 

12. Muscle Of Love

(Holy) Muscle Of Love, as the title suggests, sees Cooper and the boys going all dirty. Coop has never shied away from describing sexual antics in his lyrics but unlike overrated garbage spreaders AC/DC Cooper does it with more wit than a pre-pubescent. Muscle Of Love lacks the big hits of previous and subsequent albums, but it more than makes up for this in its lean, no frills approach. It’s to the point rock designed to upset the straight-laced moms and pops, but underneath it all are the singalong melodies, amusing lyrics and themes, and kickass riffs we’ve come to expect from a Cooper album. 

11. School’s Out

I mentioned earlier that Poison was probably the most famous Cooper song. If you don’t agree, then you probably think School’s Out is the one. I’m good with that too; it probably had the bigger impact. The song, and the album, were huge hits and brought the band into the mainstream after a few smaller prior hits. This was one of the first Cooper albums I bought once I had enough money of my own to go spend on such things – by that time I already knew the title track and the hype around the album. I wasn’t impressed by the whole album first time around, not being aware if was more of a Rock Opera or a less campy version of West Side Story. It was a nine track album with two throwaway instrumentals. It took me a good few years to come back to it and gain appreciation for it. It is a concept album, it does follow a loose theme and plot, and the songs are designed to follow both. The title track is the only hit, but every other song has its charm with the greaser rock being subverted by both American Musicals and bizarro psychedelia; I simply wasn’t ready for it and was expecting a straightforward collection of Rock anthems. The raw, in your face production where you can feel the vibration from every bass note, the strange nods to jazz and appreciation of US culture given the skewed Alice twist all raise this to something different. Go in expecting weirdness and you’ll get more out of it. 

Alice Cooper talks new album, quarantine hobbies and family time in Phoenix  - cleveland.com

10: The Eyes Of Alice Cooper 

In the new Millennium, Cooper had been courting the biggest Metal movements of the time – Nu Metal and Industrial Metal. The results were heavier than anything he’d done in the past but thankfully he decided to return to his more Garage based roots in 2003. The Eyes Of Alice Cooper is a retro themed album taking in the changes which emerged in the decades since they last played in this style. It’s what a lot of old school fans were looking for and it was refreshing after two darker albums to rediscover a sense of fun. While no single song has the power of School’s Out, the whole collection is consistent – mini anthems for the disaffected, riffs, humour, choruses, fun.

9. Dirty Diamonds

Dirty Diamonds came hot on the heels of Eyes and was essentially more of the same, but better. Better tunes, better lyrics, better ideas – more fun, more humour. From the outright laughs of The Saga Of Jessie Jane, complete with Cooper’s vocal antics to the opening pop punk bombast of Woman Of Mass Distraction to the laidback groove of closer Zombie Dance, it’s another example of Alice doing it better than anyone else. The only thing missing are the big hits.

8. Love It To Death 

This album gave the band their first hit after two experimental freak out albums. If they hadn’t scored a hit single with this one, the band probably would have ceased to exist. The band moved to Detroit and absorbed the burgeoning Garage rock sounds, recruited Bob Ezrin as Producer, and whacked out I’m Eighteen as the first in a long line of rebellious anthems. Not that it’s a one hit album – opener Caught In A Dream is just as much fun while The Ballad Of Dwight Fry showed the band were not willing to drop their experimental roots but instead had honed those to create something more palatable while seeding the ideas for extravagant live shows, future characters, and outlandish concepts.

7. Welcome To My Nightmare

If School’s Out isn’t the band’s most famous album, then it has to be Welcome To My Nightmare. This was the peak of his theatrics, the peak of the Cooper character emerging as a separate demonic oddity, and the first album as a solo performer. Alice was not the solo creative driving force before this album, even though he was the draw, so this was in no way a guaranteed success. Perhaps over-compensating, Cooper tripled down on the blood, guts, and storytelling but more importantly he retained the ability to write a cracking tune – the title track, the peerless ballad Only Women Blood, and the anthems Cold Ethyl and Department Of Youth – these are all live mainstays. If you only recommend 3-5 Cooper albums to anyone, this has to be one of them due to its quality and importance. 

6. Welcome II My Nightmare

I may be the only person in the world to say this, but I prefer the sequel. Coming almost 40 years after the original, it’s another literal nightmare, kicking off with one of my all time favourite Coop songs I Am Made Of You where he employs auto-tuning and somehow makes it a plus. Elsewhere he courts pop, with the Kesha led What Baby Wants, the ridiculously silly Caffeine, and obvious live favourite I’ll Bite Your Face Off. Cooper has battled a lot of demons over the years – here he wraps up the real and fictional in an entertaining tale and a solid batch of great tunes.

5. Goes To Hell

This is the point that Cooper jumped the shark for many. For me, he’s more nuzzling up to the shark, making it sniff some coke from a Giant Squid’s eye socket, and taking it down to Studio 54 to dance with a bunch of flare-wearing pagans. There’s a lot of disco and funk, there are a few ballads, show tunes, all mangled together with Cooper’s unique voice and mind, but at the heart of it all are great singalong songs. You can laugh at the musical choices – I do, you can laugh at the silly artwork (front and back) – I have, but this is Cooper at his most obtuse, singular, annoying best.

4. Billion Dollar Babies 

This is the album I always thought School’s Out was going to be – a success, a lot of hype and critical praise, and a collection of classic hits and anthems rather than a single standout. Released less than a year after School’s Out, there’s a through line of quality and tone with the best songs appearing on this album rather than the predecessor. It was their first number 1 album in the US and UK and sold a bucket load. I Love The Dead, the title track, No More Mr Nice Guy, Elected, Generation Landslide – all classics, and every other track (while less known) are gold too. Another one of those must listens.

3. From The Inside

For my money, this is Cooper’s most consistent, best concept album. Having spent a little time in rehab/in an asylum due to his addiction, he was fairly well positioned to write an album about the characters one might meet on the inside. It’s more One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest than American Horror Story but equal weight is given to horror and heart. Each of the characters portrayed is more than life like and the lyrics leap off the page and through the headphones as he spits out memorable one-liners about murder, insanity, love, pain, sex, religion, addiction – ably helped by Bernie Taupin. Even above next two albums, this one doesn’t contain a single bum note or average track – everything is superb from the LOLZ of Nurse Rosetta, the musical theatre of Inmates, the sick ballad of Millie And Billie, and the rock thrills of Serious, not to mention album highlight How You Gonna See Me Now. My final two choices simply have higher highs.

2. Killer

Let there be no mistake; Killer is Cooper’s best album. It’s everything you want, expect, and need from a Cooper album, or from a Rock album, as well as being massively influential yet confusingly underrated. The title track may be the album’s only weaker moment, but it’s a B grade song at worst. Halo Of Flies… lets just say, no Halo Of Flies no Bohemian Rhapsody. The band out Zeppelins Zepplin with a collection of dirty blues rock shreds, with that filthy punk edge the boys from England didn’t have. I’m hard pushed to think of a stronger opening four tracks to any album than Under My Wheels, Be My Lover, Halo, and Desperado, and that quality continues into the second half. It’s simply one of the greatest Rock n Roll albums of all time, yet it’s somehow still a bit of a secret.

1: Hey Stoopid

It’s not the best Alice Cooper album, but it’s my favourite. A list of some of my favourite Cooper songs, some of my favourite all time songs – Wind Up Toy, Burning Our Bed, Dangerous Tonight, Die For You, throw in Snakebite, Might As Well Be On Mars, the title track, and the album’s most famous song Feeding My Frankenstein, and you really can’t go wrong. While it’s still in the vein of Hair Metal, it dispenses with much of the inherent garbage of that genre for a harsher edge which would inspire his heavier exploits a decade later, a more biting social commentary, and a host of talented guest musicians from Steve Vai to Joe Satriani to Slash to Ozzy to Vinnie Moore – even Elvira gets a spot. Huge choruses demanded to be chanted in the biggest stadium you can find, ominous agitated riffs, musicians on top form, and at the centre of it all a rejuvenated iconic Alice snarling his way through some of his most darkly commercial tales yet.

What a journey. What are your favourite Cooper albums and song? Let us know in the comments!

Ranking The Led Zeppelin Songs – Led Zep III

As with the first two albums, this is as close to perfection as a Rock album can get. Generally this is the more critically overlooked album, but it’s the first true indicator of them doubling down on experimentation and expanding their intake of influences. There’s only one song I don’t really listen to here. My top three songs are a step above everything else and 4-9 are interchangeable in any listing I could give.

  1. Tangerine
  2. Since I’ve Been Loving You
  3. That’s The Way
  4. Gallow’s Pole
  5. Immigrant Song
  6. Bron Y Aur Stomp
  7. Friends
  8. Celebration Day
  9. Out On The Tiles
  10. Hats Off To Harper

Let us know your ranking in the comments!

Ranking The Led Zeppelin Songs – Led Zep II!

Coming mere months after the debut, this is more than simply mroe of the same. The band cut down on the grungy blues sound and became more like what we think of today as a Rock band, packed with riffs and originals. It’s a stronger set of songs than the debut, but it also showcases the band’s burgeoning ego/don’tgiveafuckery with the always skippable Moby Dick. It’s a classic from top to bottom and contains several of my all time favourite songs. 1-5 I can’t pick between, 6 is great, 7 and 8 are the ones everyone knows, and then there’s Moby Dick. 

  1. Thank You
  2. Heartbreaker
  3. Living Loving Maid
  4. The Lemon Song
  5. What Is And What Should Never Be
  6. Bring It On Home
  7. Whole Lotta Love
  8. Ramble On
  9. Moby Dick

Let us know your ranking in the comments!

Ranking The Led Zeppelin Songs – Led Zep 1!

The argument for what is the greatest Rock debut album is one which has always, and will continue to rage on. No matter what, Led Zep’s debut has to be in to mix. As much as the band borrowed from Blues standards, they did more to enhance those than the likes of The Rolling Stones ever did. To borrow one of modernity’s most annoying phrases ‘they made it their own’. There’s not a duff song in the bunch, though I do skip many of the songs if they appear in my shuffle just because of over familiarity. Several songs are cultural touchstones, and the whole package introduced us to probably the best Rock and Roll band ever.

  1. Communication Breakdown
  2. How Many More Times
  3. Babe I’m Gonna Leave You
  4. Good Times Bad Times
  5. Dazed And Confused
  6. Your Time Is Gonna Come
  7. I Can’t Quit You Baby
  8. Black Mountain Side
  9. You Shook Me

Let us know your ranking in the comments!

Ranking The Radiohead Songs – A Moon Shaped Pool!

It was a promising start; interesting singles which indicated a step away from the turgid, uneventful, unimaginative beats and loops and droning dirges of The King Of Limbs, an eleven song track list, and a studio album appearance of one of the band’s finest ever songs in True Love Waits. Sadly the end product is more of the same – an album where the production counts for more than the song writing and where the songs feel like the afterthoughts of Thom’s bewildered ego. The layers peel back to unveil more interesting qualities and sounds versus peeling back King Of Limb’s thin transparent veil to reveal nothing. Unlike King Of Limbs, there are standout songs; more accurately, A Moon Shaped Pool actually contains songs. Daydreaming is the best song they’ve written in years, but it’s a re-tread of songs they’ve done better already.

I appreciate the lovely, otherworldly use of strings throughout and would love to see Radiohead’s next iteration double down on the orchestral side. There are infrequent moments of beauty, harmony, melody, emotion, showing us that somewhere underneath the shell the band has become is a group of artists frustrated in their attempts to exude and recapture a fraction of what made them interesting, special, unique in the first place. I’m hoping one day the album might click with me, but I have neither the time nor the patience to find out. I do enjoy it significantly more now than I did upon release and I have an inkling that I’m simply not in a place to become familiar enough with the songs to fully appreciate them. As such, the ranking below is more arbitrary than most and if I were to do this exercise again tomorrow the whole thing would be ordered differently. Ultimately, unlike in their heyday, there are better and more interesting bands out there making better, more interesting music. One final positive – at least none of the songs are completely skippable, an improvement over The King Of Limbs, though the general crappiness of True Love Waits and how much it strives to stain the ‘true’ version means I can’t listen to this album version.

  1. Daydreaming
  2. Glass Eyes
  3. Decks Dark
  4. Full Stop
  5. Desert Island Disk
  6. Burn The Witch
  7. Present Tense
  8. The Numbers
  9. Identikit
  10. Tinker Tailor
  11. True Love Waits

Let us know in the comments what you think of A Moon Shaped Pool! 

Ranking The Radiohead Songs – The King Of Limbs!

While I love the premise of The King Of Limbs and most of its ideas, the songs themselves and the execution of those ideas feel hollow, mishandled; ultimately, the end product is shallow and lacks any real emotional or intellectual connection. As with their next album, the protracted wait between albums, the seeming lack of effort, and the general shoulder-shrugging-meh nature of the individual songs and the whole package leaves a sole, self-evident aura of laziness. There’s almost nothing here worth listening to more than a handful of times. As is consistently the case with Radiohead, these latter day songs take on a superior experience when played and heard live, but then you have to deal with sweaty Radiohead obsessives and morons shouting ‘CREEP’!

  1. Give Up The Ghost
  2. Codex
  3. Morning Mr Magpie
  4. Little By Little
  5. Lotus Flower
  6. Seperator
  7. Bloom
  8. Feral

Let us know in the comments what you think of The King Of Limbs!

Ranking The Radiohead Songs – In Rainbows!

By all accounts, In Rainbows was the return to form which critics and fans had been looking for after Hail To The Thief. I’m still unsure which album I prefer, but In Rainbows is (at time of writing) Radiohead’s last good album. This was also around the time the band began leaving huge gaps between releases – generally a sign of a band either becoming a tour-outfit, getting bored with being in a band, or draining creatively. We did get various solo and non-Radiohead material around this time so while creative juices were still flowing, the potency of those juices had become severely diluted. Add to all of this the fact that I had moved on to other things and Radiohead was no longer the force in my life that they had been, I wasn’t impressed by this at release and it took me many years to become invested in it.

I did eventually become invested in it, and I can understand how people rate this just as highly as Kid A. Or even OK Computer. It has a wider range of songs than Kid A and more songs in my regular rotation than either Kid A or Amnesiac have, but it doesn’t have a single song on par with How To Disappear or Motion Picture Soundtrack. It’s very consistent, with none of the songs hitting the lows of the previous three albums (or the next two), and most of the songs I’ve placed in the bottom half of my list below are just as good as those in my top half. Bonus points too for all of the Easter Eggs and connections to OK Computer – not as exciting as they could have been, but fun all the same.

  1. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
  2. Videotape
  3. Reckoner
  4. Nude
  5. All I Need
  6. House Of Cards
  7. Jigsaw Falling Into Place
  8. 15 Step
  9. Bodysnatchers
  10. Faust Arp