We present the most wired, warped and whacked-out long-players of all time.
50 The Libertines (2004)
Ah, the sublime frailty of ‘Music When The Lights Go Out’, one of rock’s most fragile and beautiful concoctions! How it sort-of-almost makes up for the fact that smack and crack had collaborated to blow P-Do’s larynx out of his arse, making him sound like a pissed Old Man Steptoe next to Carl Barât’s suave lothario tones.
Or that he had to have all his guitars played for him because he could barely drag his crack-encrusted unlovely bones to the studio most days. “Have we enough to keep it together?” queried the boys on hit single ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’. Er…
49 Be Here Now (1997)
Contrary to Noel’s claims, Oasis didn’t lose it down the drug dealer’s living room. They lost it once they’d got the tanker of gak back to the studio and spunked it up the wall on 10-minute ‘I Am The Walrus’ pastiches, Bowie-raping plodathons and getting Johnny Depp in to play the carrots (or whatever).
Perhaps, to give listeners the full ‘Be Here Now’ experience, they thought that if they made every song excruciatingly long the CD would spin slow enough to snort lines off as it played.
48 Oracular Spectacular (2008)
How much acid were MGMT taking around their debut album? Naked gig amounts of acid? Album sleeves dressed as Kevin Rowland and Jim Morrison gone ‘native’ on a Goan mushroom farm in 2056 amounts of acid?
Let’s just say they probably thought ‘Of Moons, Birds & Monsters’ was a hard-hitting piece of social reportage.
47 Nevermind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols (1977)
The sound of one narky man taking one narky drug, while Steve Jones’ overclocked guitar lines chewed their faces off in the background.
46 The Chronic (1992)
On NWA’s ‘Express Yourself’, Dr Dre cautioned that weed was “known to give a brother brain damage”.
Hard to think of a bigger volte-face than making your debut solo album all about getting really stoned and naming it after the strongest weed on the block.
45 Surfing The Void (2010)
After the scrapped studio sessions Klaxons must have wondered what it would take for them to finish album two.
It turned out to be ayahuasca, aka ‘the grid’, which split their minds open to new psychoactive visions of eggs and other trippy nonsense.
44 The Doors (1967)
Jim Morrison’s Coleridgean visions of crystal ships and Oedipal love triangles were the best part of the trip – the acid burning brilliant pathways through his lobes, long before the booze put puffy rings around his eyes.
When he sung the word ‘higher’ on The Ed Sullivan Show, a million teenagers had found their Lizard King.
43 Methodrone (1995)
He’s reportedly on the wagon these days. And meditating on it, too. But in 1995, Anton Newcombe droned on like a stoned party bore as he cooked up his own takes on the drone-heavy oeuvre of those other great substance-enjoyers: Jason Pierce and Spacemen 3.
42 Miss E… So Addictive (2001)
The title was hardly beating around the bush – Missy left that to the pilled-up dirty sex-euphoria grind, which contained more chemical sex sweat than Klaxons’ sofa cushions.
41 Appetite For Destruction (1987)
If Pete Doherty is on a life-long mission to demonstrate that the more smack you take the shitter you get, Guns N’Roses’ debut proved that precisely the opposite can apply.
Axl and co delivered a milestone in modern rock, despite top-hatted guitar hero Slash being so nuts-deep in the LA heroin scene he was literally in the room when Nikki Sixx from Mötley Crüe ‘died’ in ’87. And GN’R have been pretty much a pile of spandex pants since.
40 Twin Infinitives (1990)
If you want RT at their boogie-rawkin’ best… don’t go anywhere near this. Two junkie lovebirds set the controls for the heart of bummed-out, discombobulated riffs and howls barely audible amid the strung-out cacophony.
39 Maxinquaye (1995)
Weed in music gets a bad rep, and to be fair, it’s mostly deserved.
Rather than making feel-good, lazy, munchies music though, Tricky turned the delicious laziness of pot into a sleazy, dark, narcissistic sound that self-obsessed endlessly over dark, tortured grooves.
An album to lose yourself to for days. Skin up, will you?
38 Ritual De Lo Habitual (1990)
Jane’s Addiction are a band of contradictions:
Californian art jocks into Tai Chi, surfing, vegetarian food and massive amounts of heroin.
37 Junk Yard (1982)
Nick Cave’s habit was finding full throat as The Birthday Party released, or more accurately, expelled, these dead-eyed, no wave guttural yells.
A year later, they had disbanded – due in part to drug-related exhaustion.
36 Wowee Zowee! (1995)
They were on the verge of the alt.rock big time. Until, that is, Stephen Malkmus made this marijuana-inspired mess.
For the next album, he unsurprisingly let their label choose the tracklisting and the singles.
35 Easter Everywhere (1967)
Genuine nutter takes genuinely obscene doses of genuine brown acid, and in ‘Slip Inside This House’ – covered by Primal Scream on ‘Screamadelica’ – builds the musical equivalent of a house where the windows are where the doors should be.
A fantastic psychedelic MC Escher staircase to nowhere.
34 Master Of Reality (1971)
Ozzy Osbourne was hardly the first musician to sing about his love of getting stoned, but in more censorious times such references were couched in square-foolin’ slang.
‘Sweet Leaf’, the opening track on the third Sabs album, was something of a high-water mark for getting blatant pro-marijuana sentiment into the charts: it starts with Tony Iommi’s coughing fit before launching into one of metal’s all-time iconic riffs.
33 On The Beach (1974)
After recording the tequila-soaked ‘Tonight’s The Night’, Young’s next album in his dark ‘Ditch Trilogy’ was inspired by a sautéed concoction of honey and marijuana, called honey slides.
Judging by the catatonic nature of the record, and subject matter including Charles Manson and Nixon, we’d suggest not taking these if you’re looking for a good time.
32 Down In Albion (2005)
That sessions for Babyshambles’ debut album resulted in one of the biggest celebrity drug scandals of all time pretty much summed up the record.
Pete Doherty’s then-squeeze Kate Moss was pictured in the red-tops snorting a Belushi-sized line of charlie off the studio coffee table, but that was merely the tip of a particularly coke-sprinkled iceberg.
The band had already been kicked out of Twin Peaks Studio in north Wales before they jacked up in London, where even by Pete’s standards conditions were grotty.
31 Bufo Alvarius (1995)
Philly’s psychedelic sludgers Bardo Pond named their debut album in honour of a toad with hallucinogenic powers.
Licking toads doesn’t actually work, though, you need to smoke their dried venom. So the Pond combated this by ingesting a shitload of acid and mushrooms, too.
30 Exit Planet Dust (1995)
There’s a noise on opening track ‘Leave Home’ that goes “NNNNNNRRRWHUMP. NRRRRRWHUMP’. It is exactly the noise of coming up.
Ridiculously bug-eyed intensity on the first half of the album gradually winds down into the early-hours melancholy serenity of ‘Alive Alone’, perfectly the sound of finally staggering home, tired but happy in a morning that looks impossibly bright and beautiful because your pupils are the size of dinner plates.
29 Tusk (1979)
Riding out a mess of cocaine abuse and intra-band groping, the Mac were so high that they thought it would be a good idea to name an album after their drummer’s slang for his nob.
28 Doggystyle (1993)
So weed makes you lazy and depressed, does it? Try telling that to Snoop Doggy Dog (as he was called back then). He smokes shitloads, and couldn’t be happier.
Here he is, extolling the virtues of his “fat dick”, pumping “slugs dead in your chest” and quite horrible-sounding group sex: “It ain’t no fun, if the homies can’t have none”. His true love is, of course, the chronic.
As he seductively whispers to his enormous bag of weed, “I promise I’ll smoke chronic ’til the day I die”. Bless ’im, the old gun-toting, willy-waggling romantic.
27 Metal Machine Music (1975)
OK, so we detune a couple of guitars and lean them against these massive amps so that the feedback moves the strings and the guitars literally play themselves and that turns out over an hour of deafening electronic noise that’ll be lauded as classical music alongside Beethoven and Stockhausen and invent industrial rock and My Bloody Valentine and not just sound like two angry space stations fucking, I swear…
26 Locust Abortion Technician (1987)
The amount of LSD imbibed by Butthole figurehead Gibby Haynes reputedly made him an utter nightmare.
It also helped to fuel this album, also an utter nightmare.
25 Surrealistic Pillow (1967)
The album that spawned ‘White Rabbit’ – the 159th counter-cultural love-poem to Alice In Wonderland author Lewis Carroll, and the song that made generations yearn to throw the TV in the bathtub just as it peaked.
Altogether now: “One pill makes you larger…”
24 Nigga Please (1999)
Student party staple ‘Got Your Money’ notwithstanding, the second ODB album is primarily constructed from the late Wu-Tanger’s unhinged freeform rants.
And his arrest for possession around this time rather tells its own story.
23 Taking Drugs To Make Music To Take Drugs To (1994)
Identifying a drug-free Spacemen 3 album would be the real challenge, but this collection of early demos finds Peter ‘Sonic Boom’ Kember and Jason Pierce employing psychedelia and repetition with the focus of one who lives outside that conformist straightjacket of, like, knowing what day it is and stuff.
22 Lamf (1977)
The Heartbreakers were so fond of smack that they sung about it, and got Sid Vicious hooked on it. When Thunders finally OD’d he was so contorted that he looked “like a pretzel”, apparently.
21 Station To Station (1976)
Considering that Bowie spent the run-up to writing this coked-to-the-point-of-psychosis in Los Angeles, not sleeping for six days at a time, eating only red and green peppers and milk and filming the alienated sci-fi masterpiece The Man Who Fell To Earth, it’s not surprising that it sounds whacked.
Cold, ambitious and disconnected, it’s a fascinating, psychotically deep album, with much to be read between the white lines.
20 Untitled (2010)
An album that owes its inspiration to plant food, simultaneously the best (briefly) legal high ever and a chemical gateway into hell, a substance that rips away your inhibitions like flimsy lace knickers and leaves you a raving mess of libido, monomania and naked id.
The dead-eyed intensity of ‘Lying’ and ‘A Wooden Box’, are the perfect soundtrack; lust that sounds like rage, or rage that sounds like lust.
19 …Yes Please! (1992)
In another, parallel, universe, ‘…Yes Please!’ was different. There, Tony Wilson sent the Mondays to a drug-free Singapore. There, they stayed relatively clean, got on, and made a workmanlike fourth that kept them churning out minor hits throughout Britpop.
In this alternate world, Factory Records still exists. Maybe even Tony is still healthy. It could so easily have been otherwise. After all, we all know how many tragic maybes there were within the recording process.
Shaun Ryder had enough methadone to make it through the month without smack.
18 Loveless (1991)
The nebulous, half-formed structures of ‘Loveless’, where things swirl around warm and woozy, swimming in and out of focus and suddenly assembling into fascinating patterns before dissipating again, is mushrooms on toast.
Meanwhile, its dissipated sexiness, full of love but much too-fried-out-to-actually-shag, is ecstasy all over.
17 Madman Across The Water(1971)
Perhaps the more accurate alternate title, ‘Madman Passed Out Across The Coke-Dusted Coffee Table’ got shelved by the suits.
Reg’s 1971 classic launched him into a Force 12 blizzard of ’70s cocaine – the kind of don’t-make-’em-like-that-anymore excess that would ultimately see him phoning a hotel reception to get the wind turned off and thinking it was, like, a really good idea to get married to a woman.
16 Dog Man Star (1994)
Here’s something to ponder.
If you holed yourself up in a crumbling Victorian mansion and ingested enough Class As to precipitate ego death, perhaps you too could produce an album that sounds as decadent, and as brilliant, as Brett Anderson’s bloated masterpiece.
But you’d probably just die.
15 Raw Power (1991)
Hanging around with David Bowie in 1973 was not for the faint of nostril.
The resulting Dave-helmed record accordingly sounds like it was mixed by people who were hanging round in a white-lined studio at 4am, going, “Fuck it. Why can’t we just turn EVERYTHING up?”
14 Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space (1997)
Just say no. That has always been Jason Pierce’s tactic when asked to talk drugs. Invited to take them, Spiritualized’s leader chooses a different line, this album suggests. What’s that he’s singing on ‘Come Together’? “Little J’s a fucking mess but when he’s offered just says YES”.
It’s no surprise. Pierce is a veteran of Spacemen 3: masters of the unsubtle drug reference who titled an early song ‘OD Catastrophe’. They weren’t posing, either.
13 Psychocandy (1985)
“Eating up the scum/Is the hardest thing for me to do…” Yes, the wracked ‘Psychocandy’ is a landmark album, a regular in Best Of lists and one of the greatest debuts of all time.
But hey, Reid brothers Jim and William, are these brilliantly lacerating odes about girls – “honey-dripping beehives” and all – or drugs? And does it really matter?
12 Black Sunday (1993)
B-Real might have sounded like he’d been puffing on a zeppelin-sized helium balloon, but it was the industrial levels of Grade A sticky-icky the band were inhaling that turned the Hill’s second outing into an jittery soup of shotgun murders and murky bong water.
Eighteen years on, we still have no idea why Sen Dog sounds like he’s curling out a mammoth shit on half his verses, though.
11 Antichrist Superstar (1996)
Proof (if proof were indeed needed) that cokeheads really love the existentialist philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. The first part of Mazza’s mom-baiting trilogy expressed as its theme the hope that we could all learn to become more self-involved.
And stick dildos up our arses. And other shit.
10 The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (1967)
On the Floyd’s debut Syd Barrett constructed glorious fantasies, spurred on by LSD consumption that could be described as ‘gargantuan’.
What would later become stomach-churning drug clichés are here startlingly original: childlike whimsy (‘Matilda Mother’), space-rock (‘Interstellar Overdrive’) and eastern mysticism (‘Chapter 24’).
9 Are You Experienced (1967)
No matter how much LSD you take, turquoise satin bell-bottoms are never a good idea.
8 THA Carter III (2008)
Codeine found its way into hip-hop in Texas, where Houston natives have long been in the habit of dosing-up on a blend of prescription cough medicine and soda.
Three 6 Mafia’s ‘Sippin’ On Some Syrup’ brought the trend to national attention, while the late DJ Screw rose to fame thanks to his mixtapes, which slowed down popular hits of the day so they sound reeeallly gooood on syrup. But the best-known advocate of ‘purple drank’ is, of course, Lil Wayne.
Seldom seen without his tell-tale Styrofoam cup, Weezy’s slurred flow is shaped by his choice of refreshment.
7 Kind Of Blue (1959)
The apogee of cool, a dinner-party classic, and the biggest–selling jazz album of all time, made by a man who chipped smack throughout his career.
Which might also explain 1970’s ‘Bitches Brew’ – jazz-fusion’s insane, filthy, skronky Year Zero, inspired equally by Jimi Hendrix’s wah-wah and having half of Afghanistan in your system.
6 Revolver (1966)
The Fab Four’s seventh album was a revolutionary step forward, featuring string octets (‘Eleanor Rigby’), backwards guitars (‘I’m Only Sleeping’), high distortion (‘She Said She Said’) and pioneering tape loops (‘Tomorrow Never Knows’).
Mostly inspired by their burgeoning psychedelic experiences on acid, which reportedly developed after Lennon and Harrison had their coffee spiked during a dinner with a dentist.
5 In Utero (1993)
The album once destined to be known as ‘I Hate Myself And I Want To Die’ records Kurt’s much-wallowed misery in being impaled on the barbed spike of heroin addiction.
Eight months later Kurt decided he couldn’t live with the gut-rotting pain that heroin had brought to his door.
4 There’s A Riot Going On (1971)
The theme was the death of ‘60s idealism, and Sly was his own test subject, getting off his bonce on angel dust and making it sound like the best-ever time in the process.
3 White Light/White Heat (1968)
Forty minutes, 13 seconds of jolting, messy, jaw-gnawing darkness.
Famously, Sterling Morrison said the band were all “dragging ourselves off a cliff… but at least we were all heading in the same direction”.
2 Exile On Main St (1972)
Rock Rule #3975: for the sake of your sanity, avoid the château. It might sound like the isolated Dukedom where you can knuckle down to your new album free of distractions, dealers and A&R ne’er-do-wells, but it might well end up a prison of paranoia, self-destruction and parties you can never leave.
When Pink Floyd picked Studio Miraval in a remote French château to record ‘The Wall’, it led to a terrifying claustrophobia and an irreversible split in the band.
1 Screamadelica (1991)
Primal Scream have become rock’n’roll’s masters of reinvention. However, it’s fair to say that they never got higher than the summer of 1991, which they spent holed up in a studio with a mountain of quality drugs and heads full of music that would combine acid house and rave culture with good-ol’-fashioned gospel, blues and the sort of guitar licks that would put a simile across Keith Richard’s craggy face. They even hired the Stones’ production wizard Jimmy Miller to join the likes of Andy Weatherall behind the decks. Then they got loaded, and two decades on we’re still having a good time.