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Attila Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Many critics, fans, and college students have spent hours debating the serious question of what the worst album in the history of rock actually is. One listen to Attila would provide them with a definitive answer. Attila undoubtedly is the worst album released in the history of rock & roll -- hell, the history of recorded music itself. There have been many bad ideas in rock, but none match the colossal stupidity of Attila. There's a reason why they're the only heavy rock organ-and-drums duo in the history of rock & roll -- it's an atrocious combination. Organ and drum combos work well in jazz, because the musicians know how to balance the dynamics of the two instruments, but in this group of Huns, it becomes an unbearable, unholy noise. Billy Joel decided that the only way a keyboardist could compete with the guitarists popping up in Hendrix's wake was to rig his organ with piles of effects pedals, Leslie organs, distortion, and wah-wah -- and use them all at once while he yells, not sings, and Jon Small flails away haplessly at his drums. It's impossible to make out the riffs, since the organ just sounds like a wall of white noise, and there are no melodies, only shouting. Everything is turned to 11 -- because it's one louder than ten, innit? -- and even when the group tries out a different, slower style, it still sounds the same, because the instrumentation, attack, and effects never change. By the end of the album, it feels as if a drill has punctured the center of your skull -- it's that piercing, painful, and monotonous. Joel has gone on record describing the results as "psychedelic bullsh*t." Remove the word "psychedelic" and you have an accurate description of the album. [By the way, Joel and Small are dressed as Huns on the cover. For some reason, they're standing in a meat locker. It's as if the duo unconsciously knew they were creating the most ridiculous album package in rock & roll history.]

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