Unfettered, uncluttered and utterly unique, Rated R still sounds as vital as ever.
Greg Moffitt 2010-08-10
Rated R broke Queens of the Stone Age into rock’s mainstream and it remains their best collection of songs. Although just a decade old, it has already assumed classic status and if the band never betters it, it’ll be no failure on their part.
Like many great albums, Rated R captured the spirit of a fleeting moment in time. It felt fresh and fun, gleefully visceral without sacrificing the musical intelligence which informs everything mainman Josh Homme turns his hand to. These songs will be populating playlists long after all involved are dead and gone, and if you really need a reason to revisit their oddball delights, this double-disc deluxe edition is undoubtedly it.
Universally praised upon its initial release, Rated R blew away cobwebs spun by a decade of boy bands, girl power and pre-millennial cannibalism. In the run up to 2000, bet-hedging was rife. It was as if the entire music industry was waiting for the dawn of another century before attempting anything new. Old ideas were simply recycled ad nauseum. It was tedious.
Queens, of course, were of the 90s too and their self-titled 1998 debut borrowed from both stoner rock (which Homme had done much to shape with his former band Kyuss) and grunge, the dominant force during the first half of the decade. Although more expansive and eclectic, Rated R is cut from fundamentally the same cloth. Its magic, then, lies in the way it re-engineered its roots to form an exhilarating, high-energy fusion of styles which felt anything but tired and done to death.
Opening number Feel Good Hit of the Summer still grabs a lot of the attention although first single The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret is actually the better tune and the only one of three singles lifted from the album to chart. Other highlights include the atmospheric Better Living Through Chemistry, a haunting, heavy dirge; In the Fade, starring former Screaming Trees vocalist Mark Lanegan; and closing number I Think I Lost My Headache, a curious eight-minute mini epic.
The material featured on the bonus disc – particularly the live recordings from 2000 – simply emphasises how in-the-zone the band was at this point. Unfettered, uncluttered and utterly unique, Rated R still sounds as vital as ever.
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