Batshit Insane Vol. 6: Fear of a Black Planet

At the beginning of the year I wanted to do a week where I posted seven batshit insane albums to start the year off right.  I only made it to five, as first I went to the Steamboat MusicFest and then I cedar fever hit me here in Austin like a ton a bricks.  I am making it up now.  At the bottom I’ll post the the idea behind the series.

Not choosing a Public Enemy record would be a disservice.  Their work, especially with the Bomb Squad, is some of the most intense music ever made.  In reality I could have picked several of their records, but I had to go with Fear of a Black Planet for the sheer knowledge that it had the song Welcome to the Terrordome on it.  James Brown beats, air raid sirens, scratches, white noise, and extremely political lyrics make this album sound like nothing else ever made, other than other Public Enemy records.  Chuck D’s voice is one of the greatest voices in popular music.  He has the deep baritone of a street preacher.  It’s a voice of righteous anger and endless knowledge.  I’m not even a huge hip-hop fan to be honest, though I’ve started appreciating it more in recent years.  But this stuff is more punk rock than most punk rock.  It sounds every bit as revolutionary as it did in 1990.  Samples stacked upon samples until it becomes a Phil Spector wall of sound.  However, where Spector’s wall of sound sounded heavenly, this one is full of discord.  There is so much chaos going on that it goes through the mirror and becomes beautiful.  It’s a classic album.  The song Welcome to the Terrordome especially, for sheer sonic chaos, would have to go in my favorite recordings of all time.

For the first week of 2015 I am writing pieces about records that I can only describe as “batshit insane”.  These are brilliant albums that are so dark they cross the threshold into a knowing comedy.  If you want to understand exactly what I mean in more detail read the first paragraph from the start of this series:

I love records that one can only describe as sounding “batshit insane”.  Where the artist seems as if they are out-crazying the din and the whirlwind of the Great Void.  Albums that trump death, even if the artists are alive and the albums don’t even have death as a central theme because, even if it is subconsciously, they know it is out there and they seem not to give a shit.  I am reminded of the character at the end of Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle who dies, “lying on my back, grinning horribly, and thumbing my nose at You Know Who.”  I also think of George Carlin, putting on a show making the batshit insanity of this world hilarious, and then ending his set by standing on one leg with his arms outstretched, daring to be smited.  These are albums where artistic fear is not only not present, it almost seems as if the artists are daring you not to like them.  Albums like this make me laugh out loud and warm my heart to its very foundation.  I could be having the worst day possible and when I put one of these records on I think, “Thank God they are out there.”  I wanted to write about several of these records to start 2015 out on the right foot.  My goal is to post at least one record a day for the next week.  I’m just having fun, like a child skipping through a field.