Rated R [Delux Edition]
Rachel Durant 07/09/2010
Everyone has their mantra, their special string of words they believe can lead to spiritual transformation, for some it's based on a psychology or a religion, for Josh Homme it's based on debauchery; 'Nicotine, Valium, Vicodin, Marijuana, Ecstasy and alcohol' and he doesn't stop there. The main ingredient in Homme's mantra appears to be sixteen bellyfuls of c c c cocaine. Perhaps this, and the fact that this band was birthed out of 1990s band Kyuss, led to the albums label as 'stoner rock' immediately after its first release back in 2000. Homme has always rejected this label but with a mantra as involved as this it's hard to set it aside.
Mr Homme hasn't ever been a magnificent lyricist; his songs are usually fragmented thoughts and intriguing puzzles, which is shown in Rated R. It's an album not about tangible things, but more a serge of energy with confusing head-trips and dissipating sadness. It's a little bit touchy-feely. Songs like 'The lost art of keeping a secret' and 'Leg of lamb' offer some funky tones and mellow notes, which bare a nice contrast to the head-fizzing riffs which start to come in to play. Lanegan made his debut with the band in the slightly intoxicating 'in the fade', a solemn song that's managed to go under the radar over the years this band has been together. Dedication to Homme's mantra shines through as it's repeated in the reprise, shaking the melodrama out and snorting the cocaine back in.
An eventful ten years on, Rated R now sounds a little odd. We seem to have grown out of the more than credible hard rock phase and it's tougher than ever to sell. It's been a trio of years since 'Era Vulgaris' was flying off the shelves of HMV, and six years since Homme cut ties with friend, performing nudist, substance abuser and band mate Oliveri. The decade gone by has seen the band collect acclaim as much as it has collected members, making the platinum signing of Dave Grohl, drummer extraordinaire, and infamous nice guy in 2002. As the group progressed through the decade, and with Grohls' influence, Homme started writing in more riffs and as a result has reached apparent fearlessness. In celebration of their decade of evolution into the band we know them as now, Queens of the Stone Age have included a bonus disc in this masterful re-mastering effort. Seven B-Sides, including a cover of Kinks song, 'Who'll be the next in line', a wacky parody namely 'Never Say Never' and a suspiciously sly version of 'Never say Never' which is a Romeo Void classic in what can only be described as a new wave genre. As if this wasn't enough, Queens have gone to the trouble of tacking on no less than nine LIVE Reading performances from their 2000 set. I'd recommend that you listen out for the moment Homme hilariously proves his heavyweight in stonerville by stating,'This song is for you', prior to playing no less than four consecutive songs. Blitzed, but was it the Nicotine, Valium, Vicodin, Marijuana, Ecstasy or alcohol?
There are some superb adjustments to this album and they tend to be the little things: bongos open 'Better Living Through Chemistry'; Lanegan lets out a shattering wail on 'In The Fade'; Rob Halfords adds iconic vocals to the background of 'Feel Good Hit of the Summer'. The sensual additions to 'Lightening Song' in the form of a beautifully done interlude feels like a massage in comparison to the high pitched, and slightly disturbing screeches by Oliveri in 'Tension Head' which would definitely be more like a wax from the same beautician! The album has a consistent quality to it now, which was lacking in the first attempt, there are no um's or ar's where this re-mastering is concerned. In a typically unsurprising but equally unexpected outro on 'I Think I Lost my Headache' the album is rounded off with a spectacular three minute brass epidemic. It my not be a work of art lyrically, but this album always was and has remained an exciting enough mantra to live by, if it were at all possible and we could throw our senses aside!
'Rated R' is a strong contender for the best reissue of this year, maybe this decade, and just possibly in history. Never before has an album been such an improvement second time round and in a time when credible rock is difficult to shift, I still can't see this having a hard time. Near perfection will always be a hit. Prepare for this to be flying off the shelves when it's released in September 2010 with Interscope Records.