Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Billy Joel - genius or gerbil?

Attila - Attila

Speaking of the whole worst-album-of-whole-time debate, here's one that ends up being spoken in hushed tones around that particular round table. I believe that anyone who'd maintain this album is among the worst ever has 1) never heard this record and 2) never heard Billy's more recent work.

This is a power duo record. I love duo's from this era - Population 2, Silver Apples, Suicide, the Carpenters. Something about the duo format allows the ego to shine through in truly inspired form. This one is a perfect example.

Billy is clearly under the spell of Hendrix in the same manner that Keith Emerson was. He's all over that Hammond organ, using delays and wahs and distortion and volume to coax balls to the wall obnoxiousness out of it from start to end. The drummer, the unfortunate Jon Small, pounds his hands to nubs trying to keep up. If this sounds ham fisted, it is, but not necessarily in a bad way.

This is Billy Joel, though. Some of the songs are pretty dire. But not in the way you might expect - there are remarkably few glimpses of the self-pitying and shrill Joel of the pop charts on display here. The only example I catch is the third song, where he goes off on some "KICK THEIR FACES IN" rant. More weird than anything in this context.

I think the cover of this album is a good metaphor for what's found in the grooves. Who ever thought that dressing the lads as Vikings in a meat cooler would symbolize an organ-led duo named after a Mongol conqueror. Similarly, who'd have thought to take a Long Island kid from a blue-eyed soul band (the Hassles) and make him into the American Keith Emerson? Of course, it fell on its face. If BJ hadn't have become what he became, it would be exactly the sort of forgotten mediocre slab of vinyl that passes around these blogs with attendant hyperbole.

They say in American life, there are no second acts. They were wrong on this one. After Billy broke up the band by stealing the drummer's wife (didn't she look at the pictures on the album? The drummer is the GOOD looking one. She must have been an uptown girl), he tried to off himself by drinking a bottle of some cleaning solution. Then, he got busy.

If there were a Nuremberg tribunal for crimes against art, Billy would be next to Patrick Nagel and Sandra Bullock on death row. I can't believe anyone ever listened to, and liked, such utter shit as Piano Man and that goddam "heart attack-ack-ack-ack" song. And We Didn't Start the Fire is almost certainly the bottom of the top 40 barrel.

Don't hold that against Attila, though. This is the high point of Billy's career.

since i was living in the suburbs of new york, i couldn't help but be exposed to bj as a kid...i started taking piano lessons because of him,for chrissakes...mind you i was a little kid...anyhow,
my dad's friend was something of a record collector and gave me the attila album...i had never heard anything like it, but i loved it...supposedly there were no overdubs on the recording, but i'm pretty sure that's not true...i remember trying to get my band in college to cover one of the songs, but they failed to see the humor in it (actually, now that i think about it, i may have been thinking it would be a great serious cover to do)...
while i still think he can write a great tune in the tin pan alley tradition, some of the hits,especially from the 80's on, are pretty bad....
maybe i need to start an organ/drums duo and then my singer/songwriter career will blossom and i'll marry and divorce a supermodel,crash a bunch of cars and marry a girl a third of my age....yeahhh

thanks for the post
Never heard a drunken man play fuzz/wah organ with his forehead before.

Thanks, man.
I have always loved this album, no matter what anyone says! This is great go-for-the-throat jamming, and the concept is no worse than much of the pretentious crap from the same time. BJ should've have released ten more records like this instead of "re-inventing himself" (read: going-for-the-money) as...whatever he became. His music was much worse and much more pretentious after this.

I hope a million people download it.
i have enjoyed your posts thus far, but this one is hugely appreciated. i have only had the pleasure of hearing this album in the home/studio of a benton harbor/chicago engineer who seems to own every piece of obscurity comitted to vinyl. This one I have wonderful memories of. thank you.
This album is not great, but it is great fun. Found this on vinyl for a buck! Dude didn't know what he was selling.
(If you want a really groovy organ-n-drums duo band, check out Sixty-Nine's album "Circle of the Crayfish")
Okay, okay, the picture plus your post made me download it. I don't think I'll be sorry in any case, but man, does it have a lot to live up (down?) to.


hey! any chance you could reupload this one for a resident of the land of the toll??
cheers from columbus,
Any way to re-up this for it has expired thanks a lot in advance
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