There’s been a movement within people who are roughly my age to dismiss Van Halen’s music entirely. I drove four hours to see them with David Lee Roth in Greensboro North Carolina last spring, and my reaction to their reformation and tour was nothing short of “This is going to be awesome!” Much to my surprise, this emphatic reaction prompted most of my friends to basically say (or at least think) “you’re an idiot.” From what I’ve gathered their sentiment basically declares Van Halen was a “party band”(bad) who was the template for 80’s hair metal(worse). Their lyrics were simple, juvenile, and misogynistic(totally true). Both front men of note(Roth, Hagar) are basically clowns(perhaps). Their actual music was nothing but a vehicle to display the members (especially Eddie’s) virtuosity and nothing more(mostly true).
My response to these assertions is basically “so what?” I think Van Halen is the most entertaining rock band ever. Their entertainment value also happens to come exactly from the aforementioned attributes that lead people to dismiss them. Now, I’ll admit I’m not a Van Halen historian. Unlike almost any other band I love I have never felt compelled to read a Van Halen biography. I have never read contemporary reviews of Roth-Era Halen albums. I have no idea if Lester Bang’s had an opinion about Fair Warning. However, I did once read David Fricke say that Van Halen blew their chance at becoming the 80’s version of Led Zeppelin by releasing OU812(I happen to like 5150 and OU812 but won’t focus on Hagar). My reaction to Fricke’s statement is “good.”
Led Zeppelin was a great rock band who often tripped over lyrical concepts that I had no interest in them telling me about(mysticism, the occult, hedgerows, etc). Its not that I have some inherent aversion to rock bands teaching me about Greek Mythology(Pink Floyd Sysyphus, anyone?). It’s that, in Led Zeppelin’s case, I never believed the messenger. It can be admirable when a rock band tries to “enlighten” you, however it’s easier to take them seriously if: a) the singer is wearing a shirt, b) you can’t see his dong through his jeans, and c) you know their real interest isn’t really just having sex with 16 year old girls. This is exactly the reason that when listening to Zeppelin I do my best to block out whatever nonsense Robert Plant is screeching about so John Bonham’s foot pedal can more effectively turn my brain to mush.
Van Halen is a great rock band who didn’t pretend to care about being more than a great rock band (and that is why they are a great rock band). Chuck Klosterman once wrote that Van Halen “mattered without duplicity in 1981.” Their goals were always clear. These goals were only to rock, party, and have sex. These pursuits led them to do things like: design an intricate communication system that allowed roadies to find and take the right women backstage all while they were playing, have midgets in tuxedos bring them drinks during shows, play guitars that were exact replicas of Jack Daniels bottles, roundhouse kick balloons(filled with other balloons)in music videos for no apparent reason, and wear bandannas occasionally.
I also have absolutely no idea if Van Halen ever cared about what critics thought of them, but I suspect they absolutely didn’t give a shit, still don’t, and never should. Van Halen passes the ear test. Even after all the shots I’ve heard them take over the years, if aliens landed on Earth and asked me explain what Rock n Roll was between the years of 1978 and 1984, I would simply play them the first two tracks of Van Halen 1 and throw “Drop Dead Legs” in there for good measure. This is because Van Halen’s music at once defies historical context yet needs no explanation. It is what it is. This is why I’ve never felt the urge to really research it. It would be an utterly ridiculous waste of time. Even though it lyrically deals with teenage themes it sounds unlike anything that came before it and those who tried to copy it failed miserably. If someone asked me to describe Van Halen’s sound using a minimum of 500 words there’s no way I could do it. I would come up with two and a half: rock n roll.
Besides Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen is the only other guitar player whose sound shattered the context of time. Lets say its 1978, you live in Iowa and you’re 15 years old. You have a basic knowledge of Rock n Roll. You’ve heard the Beatles, The Stones, The Who, and you like Cream(Van Halen’s idols). You also happen to love Isaac Asimov and are obsessed with the concept of time travel. You have never heard of Van Halen before. You can play three chords on a guitar. One day, a curious looking man arrives at your house. There is something off about him but you can’t put your finger on what it is. The stranger simply drags you into your room and plays “Eruption.” I cannot fathom(due to your predilection for believing in time travel and the strangers appearance) that you would believe that what you’re hearing came from the present. It bears almost no resemblance to the music that came before it, which is theoretically, where it had to come from. If I were this teen and the stranger asked me to describe what I was hearing, I would say the first minute of the song is probably a guitar and the second minute of it most definitely is not. If the stranger then told me that the whole recording is in fact a guitar, I would ask how many strings guitars have in 2034. I would also inquire about whether humans also have more than 5 fingers on each hand in the future. If the stranger then told me what I was hearing was recorded that very year I would demand to see it played live. Upon seeing it played live I would conclude that a) Eddie Van Halen may be from the future, b) he was put on earth to do only what I’m witnessing, and c) he has all the physical skills necessary to hit .300 against American League pitching(dexterity, freakish hand eye coordination, amazing quickness, uncanny timing).
There is a duality to Van Halen’s music. The subject matter their songs deal with, sex and partying, are things every teenage boy thinks about every minute of every day. However, Eddie’s virtuosity is something kids of the 70′s and 80′s could never possibly attain or even begin to explain. There is futility in even trying. So, what did most of these kids do? They simply enjoyed Van Halen unconditionally. Classic Van Halen will always be the perfect mixture of reality and fantasy wrapped in one. They’re like a good summer blockbuster; you become engrossed in the plot because it is easy to follow and you enjoy the characters because they are relatable, but you don’t actively worry about how the special effects are accomplished or about scenes that seem implausible as you are watching. You suspend disbelief for a brief time. Van Halen is entertainment. Van Halen is rock n roll without pretense. Don’t ever over-think something your gut tells you is great.
It doesn’t appear that Van Halen ever questioned the validity of what they were doing for the first twenty years of their career. Circumspection and self doubt are antithetical to their message and methods. Why would they have ever thought that what they were doing would one day be viewed as “uncool”? There was once a time when Van Halen was widely viewed by the public as the greatest rock band in the world, although it’s hard to fathom that now. As far as I can tell their loss of credibility came from three factors; a) the whole generation of bands that were influenced by them, b) the change in the public’s taste for how a lead singer should act(i.e. “The Diamond Dave Effect”) and c) the place they fell in time.
Brian Eno once said the Velvet Underground’s first album only sold 30,000 copies but everyone who bought a copy started a band. Van Halen’s first album probably started 30,000 bands in Southern California. By definition these bands were unoriginal the day they formed. Some of these bands did become commercially successful but only because they adopted the persona Van Halen made cool. But, even in 1988 they still couldn’t replicate a formula that Van Halen perfected a decade earlier. 80′s hair metal lost its popularity because it had no discernible variety. White Lion could easily be mistaken for Warrant. Why? Because they were both trying to be Van Halen! There can’t be 20 Van Halens. Perversely, the end result is that, within my age group,Van Halen somehow gets lumped in with bands who failed miserably at copying them. That’s not really fair. Blaming Van Halen for Cinderella is like blaming the Beatles for the Monkeys. It makes absolutely no sense to define a band by what came after it. I can still somehow accept Van Halen much like people who first heard them when I wasn’t even born. However, most people my age tend to see them within another context that I can’t help but feel is invalid.
One of the reasons is that at some point in the early 90′s the way a lead singer was supposed to act changed. (Insert grunge singers name here) ‘s life was hell. We were supposed to believe that he was filled with angst because the world he grew up in supposedly sucked(partly because of Dokken). The irony that these guys were living their dream(and my dream) and telling me how horrible modern life is was never lost on me. It was not lost on Jim James either. The My Morning Jacket frontman recently said that Nirvana basically fucked his whole generation up because they acted like doing what they supposedly loved was a curse and not a blessing. Grunge was seen as revolutionary at the time but it was barely evolutionary. It was not even close to being a new form of music(it is barely a style from what I can discern). If it was anything, it was reactionary rock n’ roll with cynicism built in to it. The underlying theme to me was alienation from mainstream society because of a sense of manipulation by the powerful(i.e. Van Halen, Warner Brothers Records, Pepsi, Reebok). Grunge couldn’t last. It was propelled and then eventually killed by the cyclical nature of the music industry and of consumer’s tastes. Ironically, Grunge ended in the same fashion as the music it was trying to discredit; a bunch of clones copied the originators until you couldn’t tell Candlebox from Collective Soul. Eventually, Levi’s started sponsoring Spin Doctors tours and you can take it from there. The difference is that, among my peers, unlike Van Halen, I’ve detected no discernable hit to the credibility of Pearl Jam because of Everclear.
Now, on to Diamond Dave. “Angst” is obviously not in David Lee Roth’s vocabulary. However, for 40 years it was never a prerequisite for being a rock star. I’ll be there first to admit that David Lee Roth can be annoying but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t bring anything to the table, but 90% of what annoys me about him has nothing to do with what he does onstage or on records. Its that he never stops being “Diamond Dave.” You get the feeling that Dave acts the same way in Kroger as he would onstage at a sold out Madison Square Garden. But, I actually see very little difference in his skills as a performer and songwriter than Mick Jagger or Robert Plant. Have either one of those other guys written lyrics that made you see the world in a different way? That’s not what the Stones are about and in my opinion it’s not what Zeppelin should have tried to be about. Mick’s obsessions are the same as Dave’s and his dancing may be worse. If you are annoyed by Dave’s constant “Ewwwwws” and “Uhhhhhs” listen to the middle section of “Whole Lotta Love” and you’ll know exactly where he got it from. There are two differences between the older fellas and DLR – Mick and Robert seem like a thoughtful guys when they’re being interviewed and Dave seems like an ass, and the Stones and Zeppelin tapped into a genre of music that was already viewed as sacred and Van Halen didn’t try to do the whole “white blues” thing(probably because Eddie couldn’t be contained).
As a consumer, you are able to know when Mick and Robert are “on” and when they’re “off.” But what does that say about them? It could say they’re full of shit exactly half of the time, but I don’t believe that. It says that they know they’re entertainers but aren’t paid to be them in their own living rooms. Dave also isn’t paid to be “Diamond Dave” when he’s taking a piss at Burger King; I just don’t think he can help it. The point is that Mick and Robert aren’t given shit for doing an “act” but Dave is given shit for being who he probably is in real life. Mick and Robert’s “act” also includes pretending to be American black men who experienced The Great Depression. Who is being more disingenuous? I think being an ass actually makes Dave a more entertaining performer. More importantly he is not integral to Van Halen being at least “good”(hence the instrumental “Eruption”, 5150 ,and OU812).
It’s also hard to rag on The Stones or Zeppelin if you like the blues. There are still a few blues “purists” who hate the Stones and Zeppelin because they liberally borrowed from the black masters who were unfortunately born 30 years too early. However, 99% of people who like the blues will like The Stones and Zeppelin because they are building onto an already established foundation. In that sense, the Stones and Zeppelin already had a built-in fan base. That makes not adoring them like swimming against the current in the river of rock. I would never argue that Van Halen is a better band than the Stones or Led Zeppelin, but to respected music journalists like David Fricke, they were once seen as worthy heirs. Why are they never even mentioned in the same breath anymore?
It could be because they are associated with a different era. The fact that Van Halen existed before Zeppelin recorded “Kashmir” or their first album came out the same year as the Stone’s Some Girls doesn’t seem to matter. They will always be seen as an 80’s band. That is unfortunate because because most rock fans my age tend to dismiss the whole decade. Everything about the 80’s seems so decadent and superficial now, but did it really feel that way at the time? No. I had no concept of fakeness emanating from MTV. I just knew I loved Van Halen. And I guess I still do.The fucked up part is that I have to be reminded that I loved them. I actually think it would be more accurate to say I have to remind myself that I love them. Because there is nothing to do it for me. Which is even more fucked up because it is a testament to how much they’ve faded from my generation’s collective memory.
The funny thing is that even though rock is cyclical, we’ve never quite recovered from hair metal syndrome. The drummer from The Black Keys, Patrick Carney(who was born within six months of me) recently said:
“Rock and Roll is dying because people became OK with Nickelback being the biggest band in the world. So they became OK with the idea that the biggest rock band in the world is always going to be shit — therefore you should never try to be the biggest rock band in the world.”
Although this statement sounds a lot like something Michael Stipe could have said about Van Halen in 1984, Carney accurately summed up our current situation. We have been tricked into thinking that anything successful cannot be truly good(a phenomenon my colleague recently wrote about regarding Mumford and Sons). It is a ridiculous viewpoint(see: Guns N Roses). I have a suspicion that maybe there is another Van Halen out there but they’re afraid to embrace it because of how people have been conditioned to think. My other suspicion is that rock may truly be dead. If there is another Van Halen out there, they should know that being a great, popular, and frivolous band all at the same time is not impossible. You may be judged harshly 30 years after the fact, but so what? I’m sure Eddie and the boys aren’t losing any sleep. I’m also so pretty sure they have no regrets about what they can actually remember.
Ask any old school roadie or bouncer about “the good ole days” and they’re sure to tell you one of a million ridiculous tales about rock n roll debauchery from days long gone. We’ve all heard the scathing Zeppelin fish one but there are an endless sea of crazy woppers that are too bizarre, too absurd and too damn funny to fade away. This series is dedicated to rockers old and new who aren’t afraid to embrace the darker (or sillier) side of rock n roll. What better way to kick off the storytelling then with the most out of control band in rock n roll history, Led Zeppelin, with a little help from their friend George Harrison.
Last night, Robert Plant stopped by the Late Show with David Letterman for a chat about the good old days, and a performance with his latest band, the Band of Joy. Conversation topics included reminiscing over a meeting between Led Zeppelin, and one Elvis Presley. The band also performed “House of Cards” from their latest self titled effort, check out the video below.
I’m not the biggest Letterman fan, but his “You come to work for me, I’ll buy you a real guitar” comment was pretty funny.
Last night the “Golden God” and the latest version of his Band of Joy stopped by the Jimmy Fallon show to play their latest single, “Angel Dance”. I really liked this song when I first heard it, but after watching them rock it live I am an even bigger fan. Plant’s voice was strong and full of energy, and the band sounded great – especially Darrell Scott’s ridiculous mandolin playing. It’s no Led Zeppelin reunion, but we’ll take it for the time being. Check out the performance below.
Robert Plant is back in the studio, and has just finished recording a full length CD with his old band. Sorry Zeppelin fans, the “old band” I am speaking of is the Band of Joy, the experimental blues outfit he played in with John Bonham before his days in Led Zeppelin. The new Band of Joy isn’t a proper reunion however, but instead a pretty much completely different (but impressive) lineup featuring singer Patty Griffin, guitarist Buddy Miller, drummer Marco Giovino and bassist Byron House, and multi instrumentalist Darrell Scott.
The new album is set to release on September 14th, but the band has released the first single from the album “Angel Dance”, a cover of a pretty cool Los Lobos tune. The new album will have plenty of original material, but will also contain a few other covers including Townes Van Zandt’s “Harms Swift Way”.
Rolling Stone has just debuted the first single “Angel Dance” in a free stream on their website, which you can check out here. Enjoy.
In a new series, entitled 100 Albums You Might Have Missed, the Merchants of Rock peruse the last decade to showcase great albums that fell below the mainstream rock radar. Ten solid albums each year that may have been overlooked once but surely deserve a second chance.
In this first installment, we look at the year 2000. Be sure to check out the playlist at the bottom of the page with one song from each of these albums.
Released: April, 2000
An energetic and spirited rock album put out by three friends from Liberty University. The trio put out three full albums (this is the second) and one EP until the band dissolved around 2004. Vroom’s sound is textbook indie rock with power-chords a plenty and coming-of-age themes ranging from alienation, faith and of course, break-ups. The production value is surprisingly good for a “college band” and proof that good music does exist out there, you just have to know where to look.
Released: February, 2000
This hard-rockin’ high-powered double live album features guitar god Jimmy Page teaming up with the Black Crowes during a two-night performance at the Greek Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. Most of the material consists of driving Zeppelin classics with several vintage blues tunes such as “Shake Your Moneymaker” and “Mellow Down Easy” scattered about. A riot of a good time that truly belongs in any rock fan’s live collection.
Released: April, 2000
A much more polished album compared to Smith’s prevous releases help to balance the somber tones Smith is known for. This results in some real winners such as the rather upbeat tracks “Son of Sam” and “LA” as well as the highly melodic “Junk Bond Trader”. Smith has referenced the title in relation to the Schoolhouse Rock cartoon which depicted the “image of a skater going in this endless twisted circle that doesn’t have any real endpoint.” This was the last album Elliott Smith released before he died in 2003, and while it might not have been his personal best it certainly has its merits.
Released: May, 2000
Probably Ween’s least “out-there” album, and not coincidently my personal favorite from the group. With that being said, the album still has that bizarre touch that is decidedly Ween. White Pepper runs the gamut of styles, showcasing the band’s unique ability to play pretty much any genre they feel like playing. In the end, the album is full of personality and top notch pop tunes.
Released: June, 2000
Released a year before the band’s widespread commercial success of White Blood Cells, De Stijl is a great example of what the White Stripes are all about. The record showcases the band’s minimalist sound firing on all cylinders. Jack White’s raw punk meets blues guitar is all over this record, setting a high standard for the level of work he keeps up ten years later.
Released: August, 2000
The second album from Pennsylvania-natives The Juliana Theory which helped them rise a little above the sea of emo-rock bands starting to emerge. Their pop-power riffs and catchy hooks result in some real anthems that lead singer Bret Detar delivers without flinching and there is enough heavy guitar presence to give them some credibility. The album is a mixed bag of piano-based love songs, screaming punk and epic rock ballads. There is a craftsmanship (and a showmanship) to this band that should not go unnoticed.
Released: August, 2000
Based out of Brooklyn, NY, Jets to Brazil shows a softer side of former Jawbreaker frontman Blake Schwarzenbach. Leaving behind the hardcore punk base of Jawbreaker, Jets to Brazil is a much sappier, yet accessible rock sound. Four Cornered Night is the band’s second release, their first being 1998’s Orange Rhyming Dictionary. The band broke up less than a year after the release of their third album, 2002’s Perfecting Loneliness. With a melodramatic rock style covering a wide range of topics, this album is the band’s most artistic and personal venture. But with greater risks come greater rewards.
Released: September, 2000
The debut album from French pop powerhouse Phoenix. While the band didn’t catch the ear of the mainstream until 2008′s undeniably catchy Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, they have been turning out catchy tunes for the better part of the decade.
Released: April, 2000
The last album recorded in English by Swedish rock band, Kent, due to a lack of breakout success in the UK and America. It’s a real shame because these guys have such a unique sound blending elements of indie rock, dance and face-melting guitar greatness. Lead singer, Joakim Berg’s melancholy falsetto style works perfectly during quiet ballads like “Kevlar Soul” but still brings down the house for driving anthems like “Revolt III”. It’s a great album packed full of solid rocking tunes. And if you’re feeling real brave be sure to check out the Swedish version as well.
Released: September, 2000
While a five song EP is technically not a full album, this little gem offers a highly concentrated dose of indie pop-rock perfection. There is no filler just an energetic and rockin’ collection of tunes courtesy of former Knapsack frontman Blair Shehan and the rest of his L.A. band-mates. As lead guitarist, writer and singer it’s clearly Shehan’s show and that’s fine. The songs offer enough diversity in pace and style to keep you interested and ensure its value as a repeat.
“This is a number off an album that comes out in about three weeks time.” – Robert Plant says at the beginning of this recording. The album he is referring to is Led Zeppelin, the definitive heavy metal blues band’s first ever album release.
This “new” recording dates back to December 30, 1968, when Led Zeppelin was opening for Vanilla Fudge at Gonzaga University, and is the earliest known live recording of the band. The band was such an afterthought, at the time that the advertisements for the show billed them “Len Zefflin”. Luckily for us not everyone in the crowd underestimated the band. A couple of Yardbirds fans knew what they were getting into, and came to the show armed with tape recorders.
The resulting sound quality is surprisingly clear for a bootleg made in the 1960′s, and is certainly worth a listen. While this recording has been available to hardcore Led Zep fans in various bootleg versions, this YouTube video marks the first time it has been made available to the masses. Check out the video below to listen to “Dazed and Confused”, or click on the rapidshare links below that to download the whole performance.
Download Links: (not quite as good of sound quality as video)
TOP 10 ALBUM COVERS
You aren’t a reputable music review website unless you have a top 10 list. It’s what all the kids are doing. So here is our first Top 10 list dedicated to the lost art of album covers. After a lengthy search through the archives and many, many hours of heavy debate, we agreed upon these 10 glorious pieces of rock art. Some of these you have seen before but they were too good to pass up. Others are long lost gems or recent additions. So take a seat and enjoy the tour through the visual side of rock n roll.
Led Zeppelin – I
Oh the humanity!
Crashing and burning their way into rock and roll history is the self-titled debut of Rock’s Loudest Band Ever! The gritty black-and-white photograph of the Hidenberg igniting in flames gives us a true sense of “shock and awe’. Much like every kid’s reaction the first time they listened to a Zeppelin album.
John Lennon – Plastic Ono Band
Late 1970; The Beatles have just broken up, the public is wondering what to do without them, Paul is trying to perfect the art of cheese rock, George is chanting Hare Krishna, and John Lennon is chilling under a tree. Shot with a consumer grade polaroid camera, this lo-fi shot was the perfect lead in to this lo-fi album that became everything the Beatles weren’t.
The Who – The Who Sell Out
Legend has it that Roger Daltrey caught pneumonia from his baked bean bath during this cover shoot (Apparently the beans were ice cold?). Well Roger, it finally paid off as you made the MOR top ten list, just what you were hoping for I am sure. Pete Townsend took things beyond this flippant cover shot to create his first concept album, complete with fake jingles and commercials linking the tracks.
Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon
“Dark Side” is one of the more recognizable album covers on the list but also one of the most basic. The scientific nature of the triangle prism reminds us that every step of this whacked-out. psychedelic album has been meticulously thought out. While the music itself bends and weaves all over the place, the destination is always in sight. Nothing is random. Much like the infinite particles of space, there is a “method to the madness” bringing together an infinite palette of sights and sounds. Plus it looks cool under a black-light.
U2 – Rattle and Hum
The cover to U2′s “Ode to American Rock” album perfectly illustrates the contrast of the musical landscape. There aren’t many shades of gray in this musical journey through blues, soul and rock. U2 puts the spotlight on many of their American influences from Bob Dylan to Jimi Hendrix. From Elvis Presley to BB King. And by focusing on social issues such as the civil rights movement, apartheid and war, the album isn’t afraid to make bold statements in pure black and white. The “spotlight” is also on the band themselves as this is the first release after the landmark “Joshua Tree” album and documents their subsequent tour through the American heartland.
The Beatles – Abbey Road
The boys had grand ambitions for the cover shot of their final album including a shot of themselves on the Himalayas or on the bow of a cruise liner. Instead, they opted to step out back, have a smoke and be done with it. Who knew the shot would become one of the most famous and often imitated covers of all time; serving as the definition of an iconic image. But what about Sgt. Pepper, or Revolver you might ask? Well, there is something about this cover and the album itself that serves as an amicable and harmonious end to the great run that was The Beatles.
Wilco – Sky Blue Sky
You can either be one of the pack, or put your head down and fly right into it. This shot of a falcon going head first into a flock of starlings has a simplistic, organic feel to it; a lot like the album itself. The photo won the Wildlife Photograph of the Year in 2005 and appeared in National Geographic; so why not put in on a rock album. I have this record on vinyl and it catches my eye every time in a sea of other great album covers.
Jeff Beck – Guitar Shop
As a member of the Yardbirds Jeff Beck was hand picked by Jimmy Page to replace Eric Clapton. If Jimmy Page is the “wizard” of rock guitarists then Jeff Beck is most certainly “the mechanic”. It is no surprise that this Grammy-Award winning album features the master instrumentalist rolling up his sleeves to get his hands dirty. The cover depicts the often over-looked guitar great in his natural environment. As a true blue-collar musician. So while Jeff Beck never achieved the commercial success of Clapton or Page, the man still knows his way around a guitar.
Hellacopters – High Visibility
As the only Swedish rock outfit in our Top 10, the Hellacopters’ fourth album “High Visibility” manages to successfully combine two of my favorite things: Dueling guitars with angel wings. Two things you don’t normally see together, but should. Like a bizarro-painting from the Renaissance the long-lost masterpiece brings new meaning to the phrase “a choir of angels”. No harps in this outfit, just a slew of power chords, heavy distortion and few face-melting solos.
The Clash – London Calling
Truth be told, this album cover just barely beat out WISH YOU WERE HERE by fellow Brit rockers Pink Floyd. While I’m a sucker for anyone on fire, this cover really set the tone for a much larger movement. Yes this album cover is iconic. Yes it’s a middle-fingered response to Elvis Presley’s debut record. And YES it captures bassist Paul Simonon right before smashing a guitar to bits. But what really sets this cover apart from all the others is that it’s one of the first album covers in history where a British musician finally looked tough.