The Onion's A.V. Club has a segment where they pick an artist and ask them to make a mixtape based on a topic they give them. So why not give good ol' Buzz Osborne the choice to talk about bands that blew it! It's an interesting topic to give Osborne given how influential Melvins have been to many artists throughout their 31-year career as a band. So who did he choose? First we'll look at his reasoning against Metallica:
"Metallica is a good example, because when their first record came out, I thought, 'Oh, wow! This is a nice breath of fresh air.' From the first time I saw the back cover, it was like, ‘Those guys are ugly!’ These guys aren’t winning any beauty contests. Clearasil could use that cover as an ad, and it was great. Here’s a band where people are going to remember what the heavy metal music scene was like. There were finally bands that were emerging that were against the glossy look. AC/DC was too glossy, even though most people don’t understand that. The best band along those lines was probably Judas Priest, even though they were glossier at that point than Metallica was. Still, there were bands coming out at that time called Venom and Raven that were starting to get a bit more aggressive. Then Metallica came out, and I thought they were a great marriage of what Judas Priest was doing and whatVenom was doing. It was teen angst mixed with heavy metal. What I’ve always loved about heavy metal is that it’s rebel music. Regardless of whether you like these guys, they’re pissed off. That was a total plus to me… They started off so promising and ended up so ridiculous. It’s an Elvis scenario: You give any penniless hick $1 million and they’re going to go crazy. I’m sure Metallica is surrounded by sycophant yes men who do nothing but agree with them. Nobody is there to go, 'Guys, this is fucking horrible and you guys are acting like idiots!' Although the new bass player has certainly been insulated from that, because he wasn’t around for some of that stuff. I met him and he was a super-nice guy. Those guys from Metallica are nice. I’m just pointing out their failures on a musical and functional level. That’s it—nothing personal."
Agreed, and on a similar thought Osborne takes on why the Rolling Stones are garbage now. His opinion on them mirrors his sentiments about Metallica but in more of a "your music ain't that great now" way, which is how some Metallica fans feel about the band:
"I said millionaires should work harder than ever, but they’re certainly not working harder on their craft. Mick Jagger decided he was going to put out those horrendous “She’s The Boss”—or whatever the fuck it was—records that were just God awful. Maybe Keith Richards should restart the New Barbarians, and call them The Even Newer Barbarians.
It’s horrendous, horrendous garbage. And the reason they’re on the list is that they went from being one of the best bands ever to whatever they are now. I still listen to that stuff. I think that stuff is unbelievable. I’m never tired of it and I never have been. Those records should be in every collection. If you don’t have Sticky Fingers, then you really don’t like rock music, because that’s where it all started."
I love the bit about how millionaires should work harder because obviously it's pretty easy to get lazy about your craft and forget about what got you there in the first place (of course I'm not making the generalization all of them do). If Keith Richards', Richards' kid and their kids never put out another song there would still probably be enough money to by a wayward planet with. So sure, the dude has money, but Osborne thinks millionaires with that kind of money should be constantly working for it. Fair enough. Then Osborne gets into the territory I don't really agree with- Isis:
"Then they decided it was time to completely break up, which is totally and completely ridiculous. After all that work, to take a band that has never been better—live or on record—and break up, that’s the reason they’re on this list. They blew it. They were better than ever, and they blew it."
I feel like if, as an artist, you wake up one morning and think to yourself "well shit, I have nothing meaningful left to contribute to my name," then maybe it's time to step away from that specific label or form of art and go in a different direction for however long. Why wouldn't you quit when you're ahead? Unless you want to be remembered as that one band with a string of classic albums and then a few bad ones before you finally decided to stop dragging the corpse of your career behind you, then yeah go for it. But quitting while you're ahead is definitely not something to rule out. Which is weird, because then he calls out Black Flag for not quitting while they were ahead basically:
"Black Flag was certainly one of the biggest influences on our band of any of these bands. We were super excited about Black Flag from the beginning and then they went through this period where I thought they were unbelievable. That song “Jealous Again” is the song I want to play. They went from that to the Damagedalbum—which I thought was really great—into the My War record into Slip It In,which was unbelievable. In a matter of years they’d changed their entire direction, which made sense to me. I thought Slip It In was great and the tour was unbelievable. They’re one of the best heavy bands I’ve ever seen. To this day, it remains one of my favorite concert experiences.
The albums they’ve put out after that went from unbelievable to believable, and the shows were absolutely limp. When they got rid of Bill Stevenson as a drummer, they went from being one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen to one of the most boring in just a couple of years. So that’s how they blew it. Then they broke up, but they were really bad at the end. I thought they were fucking horrendous. I cannot listen to those last albums. I’m not into it. I like everything through Slip It In."
So quit while you're ahead, unless you're Isis… then don't.
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