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Milton Nascimento, Lô Borges – Clube Da Esquina – Classic Music Review

Disclaimers Galore

Clube da Esquina is a Brazilian double album with 21 songs. One of those songs is in Spanish; the other twenty are in Portuguese. I do not speak or read Portuguese, which severely limits my ability to provide readers with lyrical interpretations. Even if I were fluent in Brazilian Portuguese, my interpretations could still be way off. Clube da Esquina was recorded in 1972, eight years after an American-backed coup turned Brazil into a fascist dictatorship. Curiously enough, the musical arts flourished during this repressive environment, but all written material (including song lyrics) had to be cleared with the authorities prior to publication and distribution. Milton Nascimento described his experience to the New York Times: “All it took was for them to see my name, and boom, it was, ‘No you can’t,'” he recalled. “You’d write a lyric and it would be censured. Then you’d write another lyric, trying to say the same thing in a different way. Sometimes you would write five different sets of lyrics before you’d get the stamp of approval from them. It was sheer craziness, but we were powerless.” Writers and lyricists learned to circumvent the authorities by “writing in code,” using metaphors that Brazilian audiences would understand (and hopefully squeak by the censors).

In addition to the linguistic and cryptographic challenges, Brazil, like the United States, is a big, diverse country where cultures and colloquialisms vary from region to region and from class to class, adding additional layers of connotation to the mix. The bottom line is this: I’ll share some impressions of “meaning” I glean from a particular song’s imagery, but those impressions are personal and not authoritative. I encourage any Brazilian residents or expats to use the Comments section to share their interpretations and insights. Meanwhile, I’ll focus on the more universal language: music.

The Music

My initial attraction to Clube da Esquina came from the chords and their multiple voicings.

Though Clube da Esquina is not a jazz album—a label that Nascimento emphatically rejected—you will hear a lot of chords that you would usually lump into the category of “jazz chords.” There are lots of minor and major ninths, major and minor sixths and sevenths, augmentation, diminished triads  . . . that sort of thing. What’s remarkable about Clube da Esquina is that the underlying complexity never interferes with the accessibility of the music. The varied voicings add a kaleidoscope of color that is particularly delightful when combined with bossa nova or samba rhythms, but that chordal variation works equally well in the songs set to more familiar pop beats. The melodies that rise over those chords are exceptionally catchy, so though the words may not make sense to those not versed in Brazilian Portuguese, it’s likely you will be inspired to scat or hum along to the music.

So, no, Clube da Esquina is not a jazz album . . . nor really a pop album. I would describe it as a genre-defying album that successfully integrates influences from pop, rock, jazz, doo-wop, soul, progressive rock, classical, fado, samba, bossa nova, Northeastern Brazilian, Amazonian and even bolero. Grasping for comparatives in a lame attempt to induce their ethnocentric audience to embrace the record, some American critics have compared Clube da Esquina to the White Album, but the only feature the two albums have in common are four sides of music. A slightly better but still inadequate comparison with Beatle music would focus on the period from Rubber Soul to Sgt. Pepper when the Fab Four’s career-long fascination with non-standard chords hit its peak. Both Nascimento and Borges acknowledged the influence of The Beatles, but echoes of that influence bear closer resemblance to the music of Revolver than A Hard Day’s Night or The White Album. Since Nascimento is a Miles Davis fan capable of modal, polyrhythmic composition while John Lennon famously described jazz as “shit music,” the Beatle comparison is superficial at best. Other critics have pointed out that the influence of British progressive rock bands (Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd) had just as much impact on the musicians who appear on Clube da Esquina as the boys from Liverpool.

The term Clube da Esquina is used to describe both a movement and the collective of musicians, lyricists, poets and composers who formed or joined the movement, many of whom contributed to this album. I’ll introduce the various contributors as I work through the tracks but point out (if it isn’t obvious already) that Milton Nascimento was the linchpin that held it all together, a musical sponge who absorbed an eclectic range of musical styles and shaped that breathtaking diversity into a coherent, unified and deeply satisfying work of art. That said, I can’t imagine Clube da Esquina without Lô Borges with his warm voice and gift for singable melody.

Collaboration is a wonderful thing indeed.

Side A

“Tudo Que Você Podia Ser” (“All That You Could Be”): During your initial exposure to the opening number, you may not even notice the truly wonderful collaboration taking place between the backing musicians because Milton Nascimento just happens to possess one of the most versatile and purely beautiful voices in music history. “If God sang, he would do it with Milton’s voice,” said the late Brazilian singer Elis Regina, a contention that even this atheist can’t argue with. Herbie Hancock called that voice “one of the most amazing voices I’ve ever heard,” a voice that came to life in the unique acoustics of his childhood surroundings:

Though Milton was born in Rio, he grew up in Três Pontas (Minas Gerais) and is more of a Mineiro than a Carioca – more attached to the land, full of rustic folklore and workers songs, than seaside trivialities. My first companion was the echo of the Minas Mountains,” he says. When I was a kid, I used to have a lot of fun with it. That was when I discovered my musicality. And that echo is an element that is still present today in my singing.”

Eric Delhaye, “Milton Nascimento: The Life of a Brazilian Legend.”

The man has it all—the perfect articulation of a Sinatra, the ability to deliver held notes flawlessly, spot-on dynamic instincts, the gift of imbuing a line with heartfelt emotion without excess, and a falsetto that even Brian Wilson would envy. Written by Lô Borges and his brother Márcio, this song is in the form of a message spoken to an old friend, a dreamer who wanted to be “the great hero of the streets” but now finds himself living in fear and falling short of becoming “all that he could be.” The reference to Emilio Zapata, the great Mexican hero of the lower classes probably squeaked by the censors because it appears our dreamer had given up on the idea of emulating that historic reformer (Márcio Borges claimed he was actually referring to the film Viva Zapata). Nascimento understands his friend’s frustration, but reminds him that the loss of the preferred option is not a valid reason to waste his potential: “tudo que você consegue ser, ou nada” (you can be all you can be . . . or nothing). In the context of a repressive government, the message that the destiny of one individual is a matter of vital importance is a powerful message of resistance.

The song is set to a key of D minor, but the frequent appearance of major ninth chords along with the rhythmic shifts to upbeat Bossa Nova give the song a more uplifting feel than one would expect from a song in a minor key. The three-part guitar arrangement of Borges (acoustic) Tavito (12-string) and Toninho Horta (electric) is marvelously designed and executed, each part giving exactly what the song requires and no more. The first thing I listen for in any band is whether or not the rhythm section has their act together and Beto Guedes on bass and Robertinho Silva pass that test with flying colors, with assistance from Luiz Alves on caxixi (kind of a basket-like version of maracas) and Rubhino on the congas.

You hear a song like this and all you can say is, “Damn, these guys are really good—out-of-this-world good.”

“Cais” (“Pier”): Nascimento co-wrote this piece with composer Ronaldo Bastos, who made several contributions to the album. Bastos would eventually develop a successful career as a producer and songwriter whose works were covered by a variety of artists and earned Latin Grammy nominations. This piece in C minor with several interesting chord variations is a meditation on the growth of an artist—in this case, Nascimento. Filled with the desire to let go of the mundane and launch his artistic journey, he “invents” a different world in a series of metaphors (a pier, a new moon, love, the sea), the most important of which is the re-invention of himself as “the dreamer” (“Invento em mim o sonhador”). He is aware that even positive change involves a certain amount of pain: “E sei a dor de me lançar” (“I know the pain of ‘launching myself,’ i. e., ‘becoming’) but in the final verse celebrates the beginning of his journey with well-deserved self-validation: “Tenho o caminho do que sempre quis” (“I have the path I’ve always wanted”). Nascimento ends his personal pilgrimage on a held note while the music shifts from meditative acoustic guitar to more assertive descending minor chord variations on piano, reflecting his determination to follow his dreams. “Cais” is a beautiful, compelling piece that Nascimento sings with the authentic emotion of a man who has lived the experience.

“O Trem Azul” (“The Blue Train”): Our first Borges vocal (co-written with Bastos) marks a shift from minor chords to the more indefinite major sevenths and a pop beat that has the feeling of a soft, warm breeze. The lyrics here are impressionistic and slightly melancholy, reflecting memories of things left unsaid and images of sunlight that reflect off the train and inside the mind. Toninho Horta’s acoustic guitar solos and fills are an absolute delight as he rides the easy rhythm supplied by Guedes and Silva, choosing a variety of entry points to enhance the freshness of his contribution. Horta also joins with Lô Borges and Guedes on the three-part harmonies on the reprise of the verse, demonstrating the wealth of diverse talent in the group. Wagner Tiso (whose contributions up to this point have been both supportive and unobtrusive) finally gets his moment in the sun with a clever and assertive closing organ riff tinged with a touch of the blues.

“Saídas E Bandeiras No. 1” (“Exits and Flags” or “Sallies and Banners”): This is one of three songs on Clube da Esquina that Nascimento would revive on the 1976 album Milton. On this album, the piece is split into two segments; on Milton, the song runs for four-and-a-half minutes and has a much stronger jazz flavor thanks to Wayne Shorter’s saxophones.

Nascimento’s co-writer on this piece was Clube da Esquina co-founder, writer, poet and lyricist Fernando Brant, whose lyrics appear frequently on the album. This segment consists of two verses and establishes the apparent message: life in the city isn’t working anymore, so it’s time to return to the natural world of rivers and mountains (though Brant uses much more interesting language than mine).

To demonstrate how far off my interpretation might be, I’ll share a completely different take on the song when we get to No. 2.

The music to this piece has been labeled “psychedelic” by a few critics. The arrangement does have a distinctly Eastern flavor common to psychedelia, but while the percussion sounds recall the tabla, I hear more Japan than India in Nelson Angelo’s choice of electric guitar notes. Nascimento and Borges sing in unison, both in perfect sync as they rise to the falsetto range. Bass whore that I am, I’ve completely fallen in love with Beto Guedes at this point, marveling at his clarity and talent for complementing both rhythm and melody.

“Nuvem Cigana” (“Gypsy Cloud”): This second Borges-Bastos composition continues the emphasis on natural imagery, with the sun playing a supporting role to the clouds of dust kicked up by a couple dancing on a dirt road (hence “Gypsy Cloud”). The gentleman agrees to dance if the lady so desires, but imposes a soft condition that’s more of an encouragement than a demand: “Se você deixar o coraçao bater sem medo” (“If you let your heart beat without fear”). The rhythm is a playful sway; the chords are a mix of compatible variations and departures from the G major base; the melody is quite lovely with a hint of blue notes; Nascimento is in fine voice throughout.

“Gypsy Cloud” also features our first official mini-orchestral arrangement courtesy of Wagner Tiso, who brilliantly blends strings, French horn and flute over the more rustic acoustic guitar baseline to create a sometimes dreamy, sometimes determined milieu that fits the song like a soft leather glove. I do want to note that at this point we’ve had five different songs with five different rhythms, all handled with professional excellence by the musical cast.

“Cravo E Canela” (“Clove and Cinnamon”): This song brings the total to six different rhythms, and the rhythm on this one is so unusual that I had a helluva time trying to figure out what the boys were up to. Fortunately, Jonathon Grasse solved the mystery in his book Milton Nascimento and Lô Borges’s The Corner Club (33 1/3 Brazil):

Opening with four measures of samba in an unusual triple meter, this song features a Toninho Horta masterclass in nylon string guitar playing, wedded to an uplifting, driving 3/4 ostinati of a surdo’s dotted rhythm. The charismatic melodic theme is first whistled, its four-measure antecedent phrase repeated. These eight measures are followed by a consequent eight-bar answer, coolly accompanied by Horta’s syncopated, anticipatory samba patterns assisted by a motoric bundle-stick type rasp marking each down beat. This is pure Brazilian elegance wrapped in an unusual triple feel.

Grasse, Jonathon. Milton Nascimento and Lô Borges’s The Corner Club (33 1/3 Brazil) . Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

I may not be able to accurately translate Portuguese, but I can explain the musical terms. Ostinati = repeated riffs. Triple meter = any rhythm where 3 is the number on top of the time signature; a waltz is in triple meter. Samba rhythm: typically 2/4, hence my confusion. Bar = though technically a “bar” is the vertical line that opens and closes a measure, the term is used interchangeably with measure. Syncopated = messing with the emphasis in a beat pattern. Surdo = a Brazilian tom played with mallets.

You certainly don’t need all that technical information to appreciate “Cravo E Canela”—it’s an absolute gas! They sold me on the song as soon as I heard the whistling over a light background of guitar and beat. The group’s command of rhythm and dynamics on this piece is outstanding, alternating between soft and loud presentation enhanced by superb vocals. I love the passage when the two voices (Nascimento and Borges) move to deep background in the sound field and join together in a gorgeous display of falsetto harmony; I also love the way the instruments and voices combine in a joyous celebration of “A chuva cigana/A dança dos rios/O mel do cacau/E o sol da manhã” (“the gypsy rain/the dance of the rivers/the honeyed cocoa/and the morning sun).” Though the natural imagery might lead you to guess the Borges brothers had a hand in its creation, “Cravo E Canela” is a Nascimento-Bastos composition. Nascimento repurposed the song with jazz instrumentation on Milton, but I prefer the warmth and instrumentation of the original.

One more thing about the six different rhythms before we move to Side B: the musicians appearing in rhythmic roles vary from song to song, a pattern that will continue throughout the album. Since the tightness of the rhythm section is essential in every form of modern music, you might think that switching out the players would entail significant risk. The fact that it doesn’t is a tribute to the collaborative ethic of Clube da Esquina, its talented group of multi-instrumentalists and the strength of a common vision.

Side B

“Dos Cruces” (“Two Crosses”): Nascimento reached all the way back to 1952 for this lost-love song written by Carmelo Larrea, a renowned Spanish songwriter. Larrea wrote this song about a failed relationship he had while living in Sevilla, where he played saxophone for a band working in the main tourist area (Santa Cruz). The experience continued to haunt him after he moved to Madrid, where he composed the song that would become one of his biggest hits.

The bulk of the arrangement is simply Nascimento and Spanish guitar, both appropriately toned down as the narrator mourns his loss of a “un amor sin pecado” (a love without sin). Love without sin sounds pretty boring to me, but you have to remember that Larrea was living in Franco’s Spain, where all the women were virgins until the sacrament of matrimony transformed them into baby-making machines. The heightened drama associated with Spanish music comes late in the song when the percussion shifts to pseudo flamenco and the arrangement grows in complexity with the addition of organ, piano and bowed string bass. Having sung most of the song in a voice that aches with regret and unrelieved pain, Nascimento rises to the occasion and delivers a stirring finish filled with genuine anguish over the vagaries of fate that led to the breakup.

“Um Girassol Da Cor De Seu Cabelo” (“A Sunflower the Color of Your Hair”): I have mixed feelings about this piece, though I think the song itself is quite lovely, both melodically and lyrically. Here’s what lyricist Mârcio Borges had to say about the song’s origins:

(the song is) the fanciful narrative of a bus trip I made with my girlfriend, whom I would one day marry. It was the first time we traveled together. I rested my head on her lap, looking closely at the details of her blue jeans dress. Through the window the radiant sun filled the bright blue sky. And I lay there declaring eternal love. Sunflower was my favorite flower, and it all made sense.

Grasse, Jonathon. Milton Nascimento and Lô Borges’s The Corner Club (33 1/3 Brazil) . Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

What he is describing is a sweet and gentle moment between two lovers in the nascent stages of a relationship. The music captures that loveliness through the first verse and chorus with Lô Borges singing the simple melody in a soft voice as he plays piano with a light touch. When his supporting cast enters (Rubhino on drums, Beto on bass, Tavito and Nelson Angelo on guitar), they do so subtly and quietly, so as not to disturb the tender moment.

The first sign of trouble comes at the start of the next verse when arranger Eumir Deodato introduces “silvery strings” that create a sound that is either a high-pitched violin filled with air or an extremely poor example of flute technique. The sound is terribly grating, so much so that I lose all connection to the flow. My suspicions concerning Deodato’s questionable choices are confirmed by the jarring appearance of what Grasse calls “an orchestral interlude of expressionistic, cinematic proportions, smearing those silvery background strings into an angst-ridden cloud dissonantly answering the lover’s question, ‘ou será que é tarde demais?’ (‘or will it be too late?’).” Talk about an overreaction to a simple question! Grasse goes gaga over the arrangement (he has a tendency to go gaga with annoying frequency); I would describe it as a classic example of the arranger absconding with the song. The up-tempo coda that follows might have worked had it not been for the orchestral intrusion; as it is, it feels like a failed rescue attempt. Deodato arranged some of the other pieces on the album but none are as obviously out of sync with a song’s content as this one.

“San Vicente”: Don’t waste your time trying to link this San Vicente with a spot on the world map because il n’existe pas. In an article on Medium from Dr. Eduardo Campos, Doctor of Philosophy at the Instituto de Psicologia Fenomenolólico-Existencial (Institute of Existential Phenomenology Psychology) argued that the San Vicente in the song doesn’t exist in the real world (“A cidade San Vicente, que dá nome à música composta por Milton Nascimento e Fernando Brant, não existe em nenhum lugar.”) This is confirmed by Grasse (whose judgment may be questionable but his research is excellent) who tells us that Nascimento wrote the music for a stage play by José Vicente de Paula entitled Os convalescentes (“The Convalescent Ones”) in which ‘”San Vicente’ was originally conceived for that play’s portrayal of an unidentified Latin American country under dictatorship, as a stand-in for Brazil during years of heavy censorship.” Fernando Brant somehow managed to write lyrics that made it through the censors:  ” . . . when I wrote the lyrics I wanted to synthesize the feelings passing through all of Latin America, that began here (Brazil), and continued through Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile.”

Nascimento assumes the role of the narrator, delivering an emotion-laden vocal that Dr. Campos beautifully described as “the perfect marriage between blood and spirit.” Milton’s voice brought me to tears the first time I heard it and I still well up the second I hear his bittersweet tone of mourning in the opening line “Coração americano” (“American heart”). Those two little words—repeated at various points in the song—reflect not only Brant’s desire to link the darkness that fell over Brazil with the darkness that eventually smothered life in other Latin American countries but also expresses confidence that the Pan-American spirit is real and will survive the cataclysm. As Grasse points out, that Pan-Americanism is reflected in the song’s arrangement, a mix of various Latin American influences such as Chilean tonada (a form re-energized by Phil Ochs’ companion Victor Jara) and the Paraguayan guarania (polka) reflected in Beto Guedes’ bass pattern.

Backed by a superb and diverse arrangement, Nascimento soars at the upper end of his range, smoothly connecting with his falsetto to hit the highest notes. In his role as narrator, he describes the experience of waking up in a country transformed into a dictatorship overnight as “a strange dream,” sensing “A taste of cut glass/A taste of chocolate/In the body and in the city/A taste of life and death,” watching as “what was black got dark.” Due to the relative opacity of the lyrics, it’s up to Milton to communicate the heartbreak and angst triggered by this new reality, and he accomplishes this challenging assignment with stunning effect.

The fade features the sound of church bells (actually tubular bells), echoing Donne’s famous lines, “Therefore, send not to know/For whom the bell tolls/It tolls for thee.” For some reason, my brain scrambles the signals (perhaps because I can’t stand Hemingway) and calls up Sir Edward Grey’s remark to a friend at the start of World War I: “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.” To those Americans who cling to the belief that coups are events that happen to other people in less civilized countries, I would remind you that you came within a whisker of living in San Vicente.

“Estrelas” (“Stars”) and “Clube da Esquina No. 2 (Corner Club No. 2)”: I want to make this official: Clube da Esquina wins my award for Best Track Placement on Any Album in History. “San Vicente” is a song of such unique and lasting power that almost any song in the universe would have been perceived as a letdown. The boys cleverly avoided that trap by inserting a twenty-nine-second intermission in the form of a dreamscape called “Estrellas” followed by a full-length instrumental with solfego called “Clube da Esquina No. 2.” In “Estrelas,” Lô Borges sings a melancholy melody over a guitar and the held notes of a chorus, all bathed in a sheen of echo. It’s pretty, it’s soothing and it gives me a moment to decompress and dry my eyes.

“Clube da Esquina No. 2” involves a fairly simple, circular chord pattern of Gmaj 7, F#minor, Em7, F# minor that gives Nascimento an open canvas to improvise guitar riffs and accompanying melodies in multiple octaves without singing a single word. The one change in the pattern is cued by a shift to A major that opens a melancholy variation to the main pattern beginning with an Em7 chord. Eumir Deodato completely redeems himself with the tasteful introduction of strings that add color and depth without disrupting the easy sway of the bossa nova rhythm. The piece is absolutely delightful, a song guaranteed to soothe troubled minds and turn the grumps who wake up on the wrong side of the bed into happy campers.

Side C

“Paisagem Da Janela” (“Window Landscape”): The music is definitely Borges and the lyrics are definitely Brant, a combination that creates stunning contrast pregnant with meaning. The song’s light melody and happy-go-lucky rhythm create an aural appearance that all is well in the world, but the lyrics, depicting the view seen by a man through the side window in his bedroom, paint a completely different picture. The initial images he absorbs evoke normality and tradition: a church, a white wall, a bird in flight, an old sign. Suddenly, the imagery takes on a darker cast of “morbid colors, ” “sordid men” and a “storm,” but when he shares those images with a companion, he finds his companion in complete denial:

você não escutou (you did not listen)
você não quer acreditar (you don’t want to believe it)
Mas isso é tão normal (but this is so normal)
você não quer acreditar (you don’t want to believe it)
E eu apenas era (loose interpretation: and I could barely believe it myself)

I’m reminded of the hobo in Slaughterhouse-Five who keeps telling Billy Pilgrim, “This ain’t so bad” as they ride the rails on their way to a Nazi prison camp; nine days into the trip, the hobo freezes to death. This song was written several years after the coup, and the interchange between the narrator and his companion tells us that the Brazilians were in a frame of mind similar to the hobo, telling themselves “this ain’t so bad” and denying the signals that tell them otherwise. Even when the narrator tells his companion of “the towers and cemeteries” and “the men and their watchtowers” he gets the same dull response. What I love about this song is how the light pop music serves to highlight the insidiousness of mass denial and the danger presented when a repressed populace no longer believes they have the power to change things.

“Me Deixa Em Paz” (“Leave Me in Peace,” or “Leave Me Alone”): This cover of a Brazilian standard composed by Monsueto and Ayrton Amorim and recorded by the immensely popular Linda Batista in 1951 (and many others since) features the mellifluous voice of Alaíde Costa in a duet with Nascimento. Due to hearing problems and fading interest in her cabaret stylings, Costa had been out of circulation for several years; this recording brought her back into the limelight. I could listen to Alaída sing the phone book (do they still make phone books?) and enjoy every second—and her performance on this song is enhanced by Nascimento’s generosity. Although he could have tried to compete with the sheer beauty of her voice with his own beautiful timbre, for most of the song he limits himself to high-pitched scat and acoustic guitar backing—and when presented with the opportunity to “out-beautify” her during his turn to sing a verse, he chooses to provide textural contrast with a rougher, more earthy vocal.

Collaboration is a wonderful thing indeed.

“Os Povos” (“The Peoples”): This composition (also reproduced on Milton) involves a collaboration between Márcio Borges (lyrics) and Nascimento (music) that continues the exploration of the Brazilian state of mind during the years of repression introduced in “Paisagem Da Janela.” Márcio explained the song’s origins to Grasse: “Márcio points to his biting, contemporary critique of others’ irrational dislike for the new and different, adding that ‘the images scattered randomly are shards of memories and history, hardened pieces of a conservative and retrograde soul [with] prejudices clinging like barnacles to the hull of a ship.’” As has become obvious in the field of politics in every corner of the world, conservatism has less to do with economic theory and a belief in small government and more to do with the fear-based rejection of anything new and different: immigrants, transsexuals, homosexuals and most artistic creations.

The song is best categorized as a dirge. Márcio Borges uses the metaphor of a “dead village” to express the distrust pervading the community; the supporting music consists of Nascimento playing slow arpeggios on the guitar with occasional hints of dissonance, backed by Wagner Tiso’s unobtrusive piano and very light percussion. Nascimento plays the role of an inhabitant of this dead village, relating his story in a tired, slightly tense voice, mirroring the lifeless dissonance that surrounds him. The character admits that he is not immune to the general cynicism (“Não quis saber do que é novo, nunca mais” “I didn’t want to know what’s new, never again”), and the depth of his pain is captured in Milton’s rising voice at the end of the verse, crying out, “Na beira da vida/A gente torna a se encontrar só” (“On the edge of life/We meet to find ourselves alone).” Each verse ends with a similar cry, and Nascimento’s vocal transformation, moving from numbness to a searing expression of pain is both breathtaking and extremely moving. Though the song’s bridge departs from the dominant pattern where Tiso adds a touch of organ and Silva some light cymbals, that slow guitar arpeggio and Milton’s cry to the heavens are the musical imprints that linger in the mind and heart.

“Saídas E Bandeiras No. 2” (“Exits and Flags” or “Sallies and Banners No. 2”) As promised, I’ll use the space allotted to the reprise to give you a completely different take on the song:

Charles A. Perrone subtitled a book chapter on Milton Nascimento “Sallies and Banners,” a translation of this song title. That author incisively notes that while Brant’s lyrics to “Saídas e Bandeiras N.º 1” provide images of Portugal’s seventeenth-century flag-bearing colonial explorers first traversing the mineiro interior—its dust, rivers, and diamonds—those for his “Saídas e Bandeiras N.º 2” indict the unbearable oppression of the contemporary regime’s authoritarianism: “andar por avenidas enfrentando o que não da mais pé/ juntar todas as forças para vencer essa maré” (to walk down the avenues facing up to what’s over our heads/ to join all forces, to overcome that tide). Here, N.º 1’s exaltation of early colonial adventures and fruitful discoveries in the Brazilian interior are a foil to N.º 2’s denunciation of the calamity of authoritarianism.

Grasse, Jonathon. Milton Nascimento and Lô Borges’s The Corner Club (33 1/3 Brazil) . Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Hence my disclaimers at the start of this review. I have no problem admitting my cultural ignorance because denying it would only reinforce that ignorance.

“Um Gosto de Sol” (“A Taste of Sun”): In keeping with the generally mournful feel of Side C, “Um Gosto de Sol” is largely a solo effort featuring Milton on piano as he recalls a bittersweet memory (or dream) of a trip to Caracas made shortly after he finished composing “Cais.” Though I wouldn’t go as far as Grasse in describing the lyrics as “Dali-esque,” they are rather elusive. The pleasure derived from the song comes from Milton’s beautiful voice and the Deodato-arranged strings that replicate the closing theme from “Cais.”

Side D

“Pelo Amor De Deus” (“For God’s Sake”): I think Grasse cops out in his description of this song as “an ode to psychedelia.” The term “psychedelic” suffers from serious overuse, imprecisely applied to any music from the era that contains weird sounds. The piece certainly has the surrealistic touch that provided much of the gloss in psychedelic music, but the tonal qualities are closer to avant-garde jazz than Country Joe & The Fish and the combined impact of the gaggle of sounds and contra-rhythms are more suited to an experimental film soundtrack than FM radio. Brant’s lyrical imagery ranges from a mouse gnawing on a photo to a naked woman on a beach, both of which elicit a shout of “Pelo amor de deus,” a phrase that can mean either disgust or wonder—but since Milton’s tone is more anger than delight, I’m going with existential-level repulsion. It’s one of those odd pieces you find on a double album that you really don’t care to listen to but understand why it’s there.

“Lilia” (“Lilia”): The only solo Nascimento composition on the album is a lively instrumental in 5/4 time, where Milton leads the way on an open-tuned acoustic guitar while adding flurries of falsetto notes that recall the sound of a bird in the wild. Wagner Tiso’s striking organ riff propels the song forward, placing Tavito’s 12-string and Beto’s bass into the foreground and giving the piece some extra oomph. The baseline of the song revolves around a root note in A with several side trips to minor and blues scales—“Lilia” leaves the musicians a lot of room for improvisation. Following the relative heaviness of Side C and the circus-like atmosphere of “Pelo Amor De Deus,” “Lilia” has a lightening effect that is exceptionally refreshing.

“Trem de Doido” (“Crazy Train”): Beto drops his bass for lead electric guitar on this Borges-Borges creation that Grasse inexplicably describes as possessing the “seemingly drug-fueled qualities of a Beatles ‘White Album’ track.” ENOUGH WITH THE WHITE ALBUM COMPARISONS ALREADY! Putting aside Grasse’s tendency to play fast-and-loose with words, I will grant that “Trem de Doido” is probably the song that is most accessible to rock fans, though it doesn’t come close to the Led Zeppelin sound Márcio Borges had in mind—the beat is too laid-back for that kind of thing. And though the song has a comfortable feel to it with breathtakingly beautiful harmonies in the bridge, the lyrics are explicitly uncomfortable, as Márcio confessed to Grasse: “a fable that speaks of rats and men mingling and being treated under the same whip,” and these rats “denounce comrades, spy, invade, disrespect, attack, steal and act in packs.” As a demonstration of the versatility of the Clube da Esquina musicians, it’s a smashing success.

“Nada Será Como Antes” (“Nothing Will Be Like Before”): Sorry, but this song really doesn’t grab me, musically or lyrically: it’s way too poppy. Others feel differently–Grasse loved the song (he loves everything, but I sure don’t hear anything close to “riveting guitar” here) and bolsters his argument with a quote from Charles Perone, who argued that the song “exemplifies Milton’s multi-textured music architecture and asserts readiness for change.” That’s fine by me; I’ve never claimed to be the almighty arbiter of musical taste. I just don’t care for the song.

“Ao Que Vai Nascer” (“To What Who Will Be Born”): Fernando Brant ran afoul of the censors when he submitted his original version, so I’m going to proceed with extreme caution and not even attempt a complete interpretation. What I do glean from the lyrics is a man facing the reality of aging in dialogue with either his child or his younger self, troubled by the “the clear serene voice” that tells him “answers will come from time.” What I hear in Milton’s voice are a plethora of conflicting feelings—sadness, frustration, longing, aching. The combination of Nascimento and acoustic guitar is always riveting; the man can capture the listener’s full attention like few other singers in history. His stirring performance ends on what feels like a note of hope for the future as his voice sings the words “corro a te encontrar” (“I run to find you”), queuing the band to join in with guitar, percussion, organ and bass while Milton repeats the line throughout the fade. The lyrics certainly suggest a rebirth of sorts, but I hesitate to follow that possibility further. All I know is that “Ao Que Vai Nascer” is a fantastic closing song on a fantastic album.

I don’t have much in the way of awards to give, but I have added Clube da Esquina to my Desert Island Disks list, replacing David Bowie’s Hunky Dory. My usual M. O. after finishing a review is to pack my bags and move on to the next album on the list. Not this time—I’ve played Clube da Esquina every day since finishing this review two weeks ago and I hear more brilliant subtleties every time I hear it. Clube da Esquina provides irrefutable evidence that timeless art is indeed possible in the realm of popular music; it is a gift to humanity that deserves to be celebrated in every corner of the world.

Elastica (album) – Classic Music Review

After less than an hour of research on this album, my trusty bullshit detector began flashing red.

As I dug in further, I couldn’t decide whether the bullshit was coming from the band or the buzz. Let’s look at the buzz first.

The Buzz

On the strength of two hit singles, fantastic radio exposure and tabloid headlines trumpeting Justine Frischmann’s intimate relationship with Damon Albarn, Elastica became the fastest-selling album in UK history, shooting to the top of the charts upon release. The reviews were universally favorable, and Albarn and Frischmann earned the monikers of “King and Queen of Britpop.”

Perhaps my British readers can help me out a little here—I’ve always found the ins and outs of British royalty confusing. Since Justine also slept with Brett Anderson of Suede, does that make Brett a prince or a duke? Or a pretender who should be locked up in the Tower of London? I’m also surprised that Justine earned her title on the basis of one album and intimate relations with two Britpop stars. Was her discovery of ants in the carpet the clincher? Well, shit—since I’ve written 484 reviews, fucked a whole lot more than two guys and have never had ants in my carpet, I hereby declare myself Queen of France! Now go eat your goddamned cake!

Retrospective reviews have been equally fawning and unusually assertive in their defense of the album. The BBC’s Anthony Leaver crossed the line into nastiness when he proclaimed: “Elastica is a neglected gem from a time when bands were dominated by effervescent lead singers – none more so than the first lady of Britpop, Justine Frischmann . . . Elastica is as memorable a record as the pretenders to Frischmann’s throne at the time – Sleeper with Louise Wener and Republica’s Saffron – were forgettable.”

Now I’m more confused. Now she’s the “First Lady?” I thought that was an American thing. Leaver’s review was written years after Justine moved to Colorado, so why does she get to keep her title if Harry and Meghan had to give up theirs? Does that mean Damon Albarn is the rightful prime minister?

That would be fucking awesome!

Then there’s poor Noel Gallagher, who certainly had a claim to some kind of title given his extensive contributions. Alas, Justine was quite vocal about her hatred of Oasis, so he didn’t have a chance at winnowing his way into the royal family. Speaking of Mr. Gallagher. . . the critics consistently blasted him for plagiarism (T. Rex, The Beatles) but to this day still give Justine a pass on the blatant ripoffs that had to be settled out of court. Quietus: “Originality Be Damned: Elastica’s Albums Reappraised.” AV Club: “Elastica’s debut stole from the best, embodying Britpop while staying punk.” Pitchfork: “Elastica’s obvious appropriation of two male bands’ riffs looks like citation more than theft.”  Erlewine on AllMusic: “Elastica’s debut album may cop a riff here and there from Wire or the Stranglers, yet no more than Led Zeppelin did with Willie Dixon or the Beach Boys with Chuck Berry.”

Erlewine’s “review” is part of another pattern I found: universal acclaim for Elastica without much to back it up. Here’s Erlewine in his limited view of entirety:

Elastica’s debut album may cop a riff here and there from Wire or the Stranglers, yet no more than Led Zeppelin did with Willie Dixon or the Beach Boys with Chuck Berry. The key is context. Elastica can make the rigid artiness of Wire into a rocking, sexy single with more hooks than anything on Pink Flag (“Connection”) or rework the Stranglers’ “No More Heroes” into a more universal anthem that loses none of its punkiness (“Waking Up”). But what makes Elastica such an intoxicating record is not only the way the 16 songs speed by in 40 minutes, but that they’re nearly all classics. The riffs are angular like early Adam & the Ants, the melodies tease like Blondie, and the entire band is as tough as the Clash, yet they never seem anything less than contemporary. Justine Frischmann’s detached sexuality adds an extra edge to her brief, spiky songs — “Stutter” roars about a boyfriend’s impotence, “Car Song” makes sex in a car actually sound sexy, “Line Up” slags off groupies, and “Vaseline” speaks for itself. Even if the occasional riff sounds like an old wave group, the simple fact is that hardly any new wave band made records this consistently rocking and melodic.

Sounds to me like Erlewine has a fetish for name-dropping and a hard-on for Ms. Frischmann but I am no more informed about the music than I was before I started reading. I see he’s still hung up on New Wave years after that fake genre bit the dust. And “nearly all classics?” “Oh, for fuck’s sake,” sayeth I.

Even the Wikipedia author of the entry on Elastica gets into the act. After noting that the album went straight to #1 in the U.K. (true) and was the fastest-selling debut album since Definitely Maybe (also true), the author comments, “The record also did well (italics mine) in the US, climbing to a peak of number 66 on the Billboard 200 after 11 weeks on the chart.”

Wow! I’m going to take full advantage of that re-definition of “did well” straightaway! I’m very proud that I graduated 66th in my class, that my high school softball team was rated #66 in San Francisco and that I came in sixty-sixth in the Miss California pageant (I would have placed higher but one of my nipple clamps fell off during my dance routine). True story: my dad did better than Elastica, placing 64th out of 65 in a local battle of the bands.

Conclusion: The buzz is so over the top that it cannot be trusted.

The Band

Since the buzz focused almost entirely on Ms. Frischmann (understandable since she was the frontwoman and better at marketing herself to the press), and since she either wrote or had a hand in writing all of the songs on Elastica, any evaluation of Elastica’s music has to begin with her.

Honestly, I have no idea why both the media and the UK public found her so fascinating. Based on what I’ve read, she comes across as insufferably arrogant, mean-spirited and highly pretentious. In her Elastica role, she presents herself as a more artsy version of Sandy in Grease after she took up cigarettes, donned some leather and decided she was a greaser after all. Girls with attitude—“bad girls,” if you will—always present an irresistible challenge to horny males, and since most journalists and music critics are men, we can safely attribute at least part of her success to her “tough girl” aura.

While most of the glowing reviews were predictably male, the one that really put my knickers in a twist was Judy Berman’s retrospective review on Pitchfork. In addition to soft-pedaling the plagiarism issue and praising Justine for her “searing lyrics” (wut?) Ms. Berman celebrated Ms. Frischmann’s dismissal of the Riot Grrls and feminism in general:

Frischmann’s self-assured, aggressive yet not explicitly feminist persona was something new, even in an early-’90s rock landscape where powerful women were everywhere. She had no patience for the riot grrrl movement. Like its male critics, she took issue with many of the associated bands’ rudimentary musicianship. “It seems stupid to me to be in a band if you’ve no actual talent or gift for it,” she told Select. But Frischmann’s objection to the movement was more personal: “A lot of the riot grrrl bands I’ve seen have made me feel ashamed to be a girl.”

Female identity, in general, held little appeal for Frischmann. Unlike her contemporaries Liz Phair, Courtney Love, Tori Amos, Polly Jean Harvey, and Salt-N-Pepa—all of whom brought rare, explicitly female perspectives to their male-dominated genres and scenes—she had little interest in enumerating the highs and lows of womanhood. “We’re not writing songs for women or things women might feel,” she explained to Manning. “We try not to marginalize ourselves.”

There has always been a sharp philosophical divide between women artists whose work is explicitly feminist, or at least openly concerned with representing the female experience, and women artists who would prefer to be thought of simply as artists. “As far as I’m concerned, being any gender is a drag,” Patti Smith, one of the latter camp’s most notable members, once famously opined. The riot grrrls’ approach to female agency has won out in 21st-century pop culture. That may well be for the best, but it’s still worth stepping outside that relatively new progressive orthodoxy for long enough to remember that refusing to be defined by your gender can also be a revolutionary act.

Idiots like Ms. Berman and Ms. Frischmann sound very much like the morons who declared that the United States had entered a post-racial period once Obama was elected president. How’s that working out? I also wonder how the friends and families of all the trans people who have been murdered in the last decade would react to the Berman-Frischmann declaration of a post-gender society. What we have here are two broads in denial, heads firmly planted up their asses in an attempt to court the favor of the patriarchy. “I don’t want to be seen as a woman” ignores the simple reality that NEARLY EVERYONE ON THE PLANET WILL DEFINE YOU BY YOUR DICKLESSNESS AND THAT DEFINITION HAS MANY ADVERSE CONSEQUENCES.

Ms. Frischmann’s head-up-her-ass orientation is clearly evident in the lyrics on Elastica. “Searing” is certainly not the word I would use . . . “simpering” comes closer . . . “dick-teasing” is probably most accurate, but some are just out-and-out cruel and nearly all are suggestive to the point of meaninglessness. “In the same way I think a partly clothed body is sexier than a naked one, it’s more interesting to do a partially cloaked lyric than a blatant one,” Frischmann told Rolling Stone in 1995, giving herself a convenient out for her gibberish. As for the music, Justine Frischmann had a lot of nerve to attack the Riot Grrls for their musicianship, as Elastica was really nothing more than a very average post-punk band trying to peddle themselves as some kind of Britpop reincarnation of the Velvet Underground. The truth is Elastica is neither original (see plagiarism, above) nor musically adventurous.

And no, Ms. Berman, Justine Fleischmann’s persona was nothing new. Coquettes have been applying their talents for centuries. Just because this one wore black, played guitar and adopted an attitude of superiority doesn’t make her any less of a flirt.

Just to put this review in perspective, my favorite 1995 album was Rancid’s “. . . And Out Come the Wolves,” an album a hundred times as ferocious as Elastica. I have no qualms when it comes to rough, kick-ass music, as Elastica is purported to supply. I will now proceed to review each song on the album, putting aside my feelings about Ms. Frischmann and giving her a fair shot. Having given positive reviews to several Oasis albums, I have conclusively proven that I can put aside my feelings about asshole lead singers when evaluating their work.

Blow-by Blow Review

“Line Up”: This was one of the singles that preceded the album, spending a grand total of three weeks on the charts and topping out at #20. I’m surprised it hung on that long—the mix is terrible, with the low-fi guitar distortion drowning out the lead vocal. The rhythm section of Annie Holland (bass) and Justin Welch hold up their end of the bargain, but what the fuck was the point of those carefully-timed grunts? Yeah, I love music that reminds me of someone chucking it all up in the loo. The chorus is probably the best part of the song, with Donna Matthews’ harmony helping to make the listener aware of the existence of something resembling a melody.

In The Last Party, the allegedly “definitive” history of Britpop, John Harris commented, “‘Line Up’ was a brittle joke at the expense of some unnamed starstruck hanger-on, whose life revolved around the parade of groups who passed through the pages of the music papers. Its title came from Justine Frischmann’s wry observation that the press was in the habit of placing groups on its conveyor belt, well knowing that all but a few would quickly topple off.” With half the lyrics buried in the mix, you’d have a hard time discerning the subject matter without a lyric sheet. As it turns out, the attack on the “conveyor belt” is only covered in the chorus, whereas four verses are devoted to attacking the groupie Ms. Frischmann derogatorily labels “drivel head.” Though she attempts to mitigate her attack by referring to the drivel head as “another victim” of media manipulation, the amount of bile Ms. Fleischmann spews on an adolescent too young to know any better crosses the line into cruel excess, suggesting she was really pissed off at the girls who tried to get a piece of whichever pop star she was fucking. At the very least, Ms. Frischmann failed to display a whit of the emotional intelligence usually present in the female half of the species, but since she’s in denial about her own womanhood, her deficiency makes perfect sense.

“Annie”: Ah, that’s better. Though the lyrics are fathomable to insiders only, this exceedingly brief (1:14) tribute to Annie Holland is tight, powerful and pleasantly melodic—power pop, Britpop style. It’s also an only-in-Britpop experience—Jane Oliver (Graham Coxon’s love interest) helped with the writing and now we know where Damon Albarn came up with the idea to insert the term “Jackanory” into “Country House.”

“Connection”: I remember hearing this song on FM radio back in the mid-90s and loving it for the powerful bass and nasty guitars and hating it for those goddamn grunts. The opening riff was clearly stolen from The Wire’s “Three Girl Rhumba,” but rather than attack Elastica for their unethical act of ripping off a valuable contribution to music history, I will attack them for their incredible stupidity and lack of imagination. The riff is a simple two-note pattern that a hundred thousand guitarists have probably stumbled on while fucking around on the fretboard. It would have taken twenty minutes and not a whole lot of brainpower to come up with a suitable alternative that worked with the chords Elastica attached to the riff.

Legal issues aside, the music is irresistibly sexy in a suggestive sort of way, with the libido-tickling reaching its peak during the stop-time harmony-enhanced vocal on the phrase “a connection is made.” The lyrics contain some memorable and euphonious phrases but you’d be hard-pressed to find any cohesive meaning beyond the mistaken but ubiquitous belief that getting into a relationship compromises one’s rights as an individual. Ms. Fleischmann’s vocal is one of her best on the album, drenched in the attitude that made her so attractive to the British listening public.

“Car Song”: I’ll give this one an A+ for the retro background harmonies (though they’d fit better on a train song), a C for Justine Fleischmann’s kittenish vocal that caused Erlewine’s willie to go all a-tingle and an F for the nudge-nudge-wink-wink lyrics.

“Smile”: Oh! The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that accompany romance with rock idols! Jealousy so strong that judgment cannot cure! Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, and fill me from the crown to the toe top-full of direst cruelty! Hark! Who’s there? What, ho! My love! Dost thou love me? I know thou wilt say “ay,” and I will take thy word. Take thou my sloppy seconds!

For those of you playing at home, name the four Shakespearean works cited above, a task that will ply you with far more satisfaction than listening to this dumb ass song.

“Hold Me Now”: One of the more musically interesting songs is compromised by sloppy, laid-back, oh-so-artsy performances by everyone in the band with the sole exception of Annie Holland. She’s a damned good bassist.

This is one of two songs where Justine plays the dominatrix, and frankly, she’s not very good at it. A big part of her schtick is demeaning the submissive (“I’d take somebody else if I could”). This is the unsophisticated kindergarten-level form of domination popular with wealthy executives whose psyches are riddled with privilege-generated guilt so they go see a dom for punishment so they can feel better about inflicting sadism on their subordinates.

“S. O. F. T.”: According to Donna Matthews, the initials stand for Same Old Fucking Thing. To drive that message home, Donna gives us the same old fucking dissonant-and-spacy guitar patterns that seem to be her go-to when she hits the limits of her severely limited riff repertoire. The song appears to be yet another in a long line of anothers where rock musicians bitch about the meaninglessness of their quest for fame and recognition then immediately write songs in the hope of gaining fame and recognition.

“Indian Song”: This one resembles many a song from the thankfully brief Maharishi era where acts like Donovan, The Beatles and the usual host of others attempted to enlighten the masses with a dose of spiritual awakening. And how about these searing lyrics!

If you want to,
Then you’ve got to
Let it show,
It is waiting,
It is waiting.
If you want to,
Then you’ve got to
Let it go . . .

I’m not feeling a eureka moment.

“Blue”: You asked for it—well, you’ve got it! Another opening with amp buzz! Pixies soft-Loud! Throw in a few punk licks! Harmonize because that’s what girls do! More searing lyrics!

Come down here and I’ll show you the wrong way
Try to rearrange this tired old line
Connect this smile and keep it standard
And reflective, blue
I can read your mind,
If you want to
I will let you blue.
I can read your mind,
I will let you
If you want to.

“All-Nighter”: I don’t think I’ve ever heard an album with two songs devoted to male impotence and consequent female frustration. As I don’t want to be seen as piling on, I’ll save most of my comments on this curious theme for the second song, but I can’t help but point out that there is only one common denominator in both songs, and that would be the person who wrote the lyrics and can’t figure out why guys aren’t getting it up for her.

“Waking Up”: The “Oh For Fuck’s Sake Award” goes to this plagiarized piece of shit lauded by the critics. Here’s the Wikipedia consensus:

“Waking Up” received positive reviews from music critics. Louise Gray called it “magnificent”. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic wrote that the song “rework[ed] the Stranglers’ “No More Heroes” into a more universal anthem that loses none of its punkiness”. In his review of the single, Jack Rabid wrote that “Waking Up” is a “great song” that “sounds like Wire covering the Stranglers, with a sharp female singer. = Music & Media wrote: “The A-track is not only loud but definitely a song too, stretchable to more than just the alternative format.”

Wow! It’s “definitely a song, too!” Gotta get my hands on this one!

The song’s story: “I’m a privileged white asshole who finds it so haahd to get up in the morning, dahling, and ‘if I can’t be a star I won’t get out of bed.'”

On behalf of all the sincere and serious musicians who work hard and their craft and whose talents are often ignored by the media-mesmerized public, I say fuck you, Justine Frischmann.

“2:1”: The opening passage featuring Justin Welch on drums and Annie Holland’s bass is the best musical passage on the entire album. Unfortunately, Donna “single-tone” Matthews steps in and buries the rhythm section with the same old fucking thing, leading to a robotic vocal with nonsensical lyrics. Eventually, everything is buried in the mix, resulting in one big pile of electrified goo.

“See That Animal”: A song so thoroughly awful that I refuse to waste any energy on an explanation.

“Stutter”: I find this song deeply offensive on two counts. First, applying the title “Stutter” to a song that in part makes fun of a guy who can’t get it up has the implication that people who stutter are equally valid targets for verbal abuse. Secondly, responding to a flaccid member with accusatory taunting, interrogation and psychological noise is the least effective way to inspire a hard one:

Is there something you lack
When I’m flat on my back
Is there something that I can do for you?
It’s always something you hate
Or it’s something you ate
Tell me is it the way that I touch you?
Have you found a new mate?
And is she really great?
Is it just that I’m much too much for you?

The arrogance of that last line is a backhanded way of saving her own self-esteem. As the blogger/author Stonekettle has said repeatedly about the Trump administration, “No more self-awareness than a dog licking its ass in public.”

And zero emotional intelligence.

“Never Here”: This is Justine trying to cash in on her intimate relations with Britpop stars by writing a song about her eventual dissatisfaction with Brett Anderson. Musically, it’s one of the more cohesive pieces on the album thanks to the strength of the rhythm section, but . . . since she doesn’t mention Mr. Anderson by name, who leaked the backstory to the press?


“Vaseline”: In yet another burst of critical laziness, Erlewine wrote, “‘Vaseline’ speaks for itself.” Oh, really? Here are the lyrics in their entirely:

When you’re stuck like glue, Vaseline
When you need some goo
When you’re stuck like glue, Vaseline
When you’re black and blue, Vaseline

When you’re stuck like glue
Give me some

When you’re stuck like glue
If you’d like to woo, Vaseline

If it’s hot like you
Give me some
Do you need a clue
I want some Vaseline, Vaseline, Vaseline, Vaseline, Vaseline, Vaseline

Obviously the man has never engaged in sodomy . . . but then I’m not sure Justine has. If a dick is stuck between the cheeks, how the hell are you going to squeeze the Vaseline into the anal cavity? And if you tried to slip it in without any lubricant, well, you’re an idiot who deserves to be thoroughly embarrassed when the EMT’s arrive to pull your dick out of the fire.

Superficial sexual titillation, nudge-nudge-wink-wink.


It took four years and a few band changes for Elastica to finally release a second album (Menace). As creativity wasn’t one of their strong suits, this is hardly surprising. A couple of decades later, Justine Frischmann shared her regrets about the second album and claimed that Elastica should have been a “one-album project.”

That’s one album too many in my book. Elastica wins my award for Most Overrated Britpop Album by a landslide.

P. S. if you find yourself pissed off at what you consider to be my complete idiocy, please read my essay, “The Truth About Beets” before you comment.

The management thanks you, and have a happy new year.

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