Our 50 druggiest albums ever as a Spotify playlist
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. That is, before he accidentally smashed all his jars of the stuff at Manchester airport. Tony Wilson chose Barbados as the recording location because it was free of heroin. But no-one had warned the Factory boss that it was the gateway to America’s crack trade. To cut a long, expensive story short: Ryder becomes a one-man rock epidemic.
Sells Eddy Grant’s furniture. Forgets to write any lyrics. Holds the master tapes ransom until Factory give him more drug-wonga. Ultimately turns in the sound of five Mancunians going beyond the druggy-woozy sound of E into the druggy-crazy blank, confusing boredom of listening to crackheads jabber about nothing.
Massive flop. Label goes bust. Ryder dines out on the anecdotes for the next 20 years.
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.
17Madman 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.
16Dog 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.
15Raw 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?”
14Ladies 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. In Erik Morse’s band biography, Creation Records supremo Alan McGee declares: “The only band that took more drugs than Spacemen 3 were Happy Mondays.”
With Spiritualized, Pierce reached new commercial heights – but old habits die hard. Packaged like medicine, ‘Ladies And Gentlemen...’ teems with narcotic allusions: to scary hallucinogen DMT, “my spike in my arm and my spoon” , “breakfast right off of a mirror”, and “a hole in my arm where all the money goes”. Sensing any patterns here?
“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?
12Black 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.
11Antichrist 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.