¡Es los ocho superiores, usted bitches!
I felt it was about time to restart the Top Eight. I assume that the 0% response rate from the last one means that my thousands of loyal readers agreed wholeheartedly. But please, I ask you to respond with your own suggestions. Don’t worry about me; I’ll wade through the montrous response pile and answer every single letter. Even if it takes me all minute.
So without further ado:
Top 8 Song Buildups
1. The Who – Won’t Get Fooled Again
Anyone who doesn’t recognize the extreme rockitude that bursts forth from this juggernaut’s final sweeping buildup and release should be forced to listen to that fucking Humps-Bumps-Lady Lumps song on infinite repeat whilst midgets kick them in their nether regions. I am of course speaking of the section beginning at around 6:35, when the band falls back, leaving only a single keyboard line to form a pulse with its delay signal, lulling you into a false sense of relaxation. Like “Oh, I guess the great revolution has failed, I guess I’ll go make a sandwich.” But then the line tightens, and Keith Moon’s wild behemoth drum fills jolt you with a bit of WhatTheFuck, barreling in and cutting out until everything collides with an All-That-Is-Rock power chord and Daltrey’s godless scream and your head all but implodes with bombastic, rebellious fury. Check out the taped performance on the Kids are Alright DVD where this segment culminates with Townsend doing a fan-fucking-tastic slow-mo knee slide. Nothing will make you want to be a rock star more.
2. Styx – Lady
3. REO Speedwagon – Keep On Loving You
Both of these chorus buildups basically say the same thing: “I’m a teenage boy in love, you are looking incredibly hot in that jean jacket, I just had a shitload of peppermint schnapps and so help me God I am going to reveal my soul to you before I throw up!” Best to sing to that special someone while riding upon a horse and pumping your fist. These two cherries are bad poetry, mixed up raging hormones and school dance/basement party adrenaline personified with drum crescendos, guttural power chords and a choir of schmaltzy vocals. And yes, I realize that REO is on both the lists I’ve done. I wrestle with my demons as I write.
4. Boston – Foreplay/Long Time
And then, on the eighth day, God created Tom Scholz. And all in pop rock was good. Here we get an entire two minutes and 20 seconds that fool us into thinking Boston has abruptly transformed into a wanna-be prog rock record. While the playing is good, something doesn’t click, and you’re like “Fuck, I shoulda known what with that spaceship cover! Where did all the good times go? Hath my Scholz forsaken me?” Well don’t worry, bubba. Just when you think the album’s gone and ELPed itself, Tom Scholz’s distorted guitar volume swell and Sib “The Caucasian Afro’s Finest Moment” Hashian’s ascending drum buildup catapult you right back into Arena Rocksville just in time for s’mores. Scholz crafted this Bostonian layered pop symphony in his basement, much like Ted Kaczynski crafted mail bombs in his shed. But, y’know, without all the maiming.
5. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – East Hastings
If you’ve listened to any of GY!BE’s sprawling post rock epics, you know that these boys are the undisputed kings of slow buildups. But this one takes the cake. Then it turns the cake into a symbol of our broken, bleeding world and its eventual apocalyptic undoing. Yup, that’s some bitter fucking cake. If you don’t remember this ditty, you may have heard it in 28 Days Later as Jim first wanders through an abandoned, ramshackle London. Danny Boyle nailed the feeling of it with that scene, but the song had to be condensed. In the full version, there’s about two and a half minutes of unintelligible “end is nigh” found-sound rants, bagpipe laments and an ominous wailing silence before the first signs of a melody emerge from a guitar. From there it builds, falls, and rises wildly again, only to shoot its doomed load at the 12-minute mark and stew semi-silently in its juices for another six. Mmmmm. Cake.
6. Slint – Good Morning Captain
Whoa Boy, this is no ordinary buildup. In fact, throughout most of the song, you can’t even tell it’s building towards anything. It’s a cool-sounding, angular tune with a couple different sections, and a barely audible Brian McMahan mumbles a tale about the captain of a shipwrecked ship and a young child. The story’s not entirely self-explanatory, but its mood and McMahan’s tone grow creepier throughout. Close now to the end, all drops out but a strange arpeggiated guitar line. You hear a chilling whisper: “I’m trying to find my way home. I’m sorry… and I miss you.” And with a crashing onslaught of distorted guitar noise, you suddenly realize that something has been building the entire time. That’s when you get the goods. A goosebumps-covered, holy shit, agonizingly painful, screeching howl. “I MISS YOOOOOUUUU! OOOOOHHHHH I MISS YOU!” It’s enough to peel the paint from your walls.
7. The Patti Smith Group – Birdland
This mindblowing emotional rollercoaster just keeps rising with Smith’s stream-of-consciousness verses wrought with unbridled abandon, supported by the Late Great Richard Sohl’s steadily rising piano rhythms and Lenny Kaye’s screeching, prickly guitar spurts. Patti takes us through buildup after buildup and leaves us balled up and exhausted in a corner by the closing “We like Birdland.” We’ve been through the deepest loss, blasted through the stratosphere, spoken with aliens, and seen the face of god. I need a nap.
8. Phil Collins – In The Air Tonight
This song shouldn’t warrant any explanation. Collin’s seethingly dark delivery in the song’s first half (Wow, remember when Phil Collins could deliver seething darkness? Neither do I.) gives way to one of the all-time greatest drum fills known to man and the doorway to some kind of desparate, awful fate is thrown open. You get the feeling that good ol’ Phil had been saving all of this up throughout Genesis’s Peter Gabriel period as a “Fuck You!” to the pompous windbag dressed like a pretty flower, only to blow his entire wad on a single, incredible song. And then he covered some Motown or something.
Your turn! Send me your Top 8 lists, or better yet, make them on the excellent 8tracks site yourself. It’s fun, and it keeps you distracted from all that masturbating you’ve been doing! Seriously, sort that shit out.
Respect the Townsend Powerslide.