Written by: Goran Child, Special to CC2K
Now: this is a list of sorts, but isn’t going to be a top-10, top-5, top-whatever list of “Albums To Have Sex To,” because, I’m sure we can agree, the issue of who or what is “on top” during sex is constantly open to revision—usually at a split-second’s notice. That’s part of the fun. Incidentally, there might be quite a bit of smut here, so if there are any censorious fundamentalist repressed religious types reading, then your quasi-obsessive acquaintance with hardcore pornography will help desensitize you.
Throughout this thesis, I will be following 50 Cent’s valuable distinction between having sex and making love (cf. “In Da Club”), and focusing solely on the former (because, let’s face it, anyone seeking out a lovemaking album need look no further than Tom Waits’s achingly tender “The Heart of Saturday Night”). Either that, or don’t play any music, because “oooh look at us we’re making love; none of that crude music-driven sex business that people get infections from.” Moreover, this is SEX WEEK—it isn’t sodding Love Week (although “Sodding Love Week” might be an altogether less tender experience).
No, this is going to be a careful and informed selection of which albums to play in which sexual situations. I’m going to try to cover every conceivable base—even conceiving itself—but in an article of manageable length (ooh, matron). Finally, I’ll hit you with what, in my opinion, is the ultimate sex album.
A caveat before we get stuck in: it’s far from original to reflect that we live in sexually ultra-liberated times. Lindsay Lohan is the new Marilyn Monroe, blah blah blah, and hooray for that. However, I’m buggered if I’m going to apologize in advance for what, inevitably, will be a frequently heteronormative article. There are a couple of entries here that specifically or potentially cater for gay and bi persuasions, and as for the rest: well, since the majority of the world’s religions and other ideological apparatuses would have it that what you do is AGAINST NATURE, you should be well used to using your imagination when it comes to, you know, having a good time. So, if ever I refer to ‘the woman’ or ‘the man’ in one of my entries, I don’t necessarily mean the gender, but the role during intercourse in accordance with SEX AS IT’S DONE IN THE BIBLE/QUR’AN; it’s just guidelines, right? This article is supposed to be descriptive, not prescriptive or proscriptive.
Let’s crack on:
1. For men suffering from premature ejaculation, who require an album which is simultaneously sexy and full of enough quirky innovation for them to be able to stop every 30 or so seconds and draw attention to this rare combination of qualities, thus catching their breath and keeping their beans in the tin.
J Dilla, “The Shining” (2006)
One of hip-hop’s most legendary producers goes mainstream (by his esoteric standards) with this posthumously-released banger. Featuring memorable vocal contributions from reliable MCs like Busta Rhymes, Common, Madlib, and Pharoahe Monch, this is a record that juggles experimentation, cohesion, and the good old fashioned hip-hop metanarratives of material and sexual possession. Seventies soul samples give a smooth, oiled-up kick to tracks like “Love” and “So Far To Go” (borrowing from the Five Stairsteps and the Isley Brothers, respectively), while “Jungle Love” is a stripped down, tribal hype track that exudes erotic menace. Admittedly, there are more than a few lyrics here that might damage the sexy mood—“You should be having my baby,” in “Baby,”; “Let me live inside you” in “So Far To Go”; and “I got hoes like firemen,/You could plug them up to hydrants” in “Jungle Love” spring most immediately to mind—but all of that takes a backseat to what is some of the most inventive and varied production the genre has ever seen. As long as you don’t take too seriously the album’s opening track, “Geek Down,” in which Busta Rhymes repeatedly and abrasively instructs the listener to “Evacuate the fucking premises, bitch,” you’ll have a great time.
Quickie track: “E=MC2 [feat. Common]”—catchy but unorthodox, this track is the whole album in a tricky little box.
2. For women who have forgotten what an orgasm is, and want their man to be just a little more attentive to their needs.
Walls of Jericho, “With Devils Amongst Us All” (2006)
“WWWUUUUAAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHHH!” This is the first lyric of the album, and it might as well be Eve’s first utterance upon being hurled from Eden, for all that Walls of Jericho vocalist/banshee Candace Kucsulain hurls herself into it. If this album doesn’t terrify your bloke into subservience, then very little will. Forget Virginia Woolf and all that “women can’t make meaningful contributions to culture because they’re too busy doing the housework” shite—this is a post-feminist clawhammer to the skull which would teach any man the error of his ways. “And Hope to Die,” in particular, features vocals which hold their own against even those swaggering colossi of the metalcore set, Killswitch Engage and Poison the Well. It’s scary, and brilliant, and rewrites conventional gender expectations in the most direct and gnarly way available. “I WON’T LIVE LIKE THIS,” she bellows on “Plastic,” and if you don’t want to be wearing your testicles as pince-nez, you’ll jolly well listen.
Quickie track: “I Know Hollywood and You Ain’t It”—”IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE, YOU’VE GOT IT,” huffs Kucsulain, sounding simultaneously seductive and murderous; how you react to that, hapless men, is up to you; but be extremely careful.
3. For people whose significant other has done something moderately (but not too seriously) bad, and you don’t want to admit you’re annoyed, but do want to subject them (and let’s be realistic, it’s more likely to be a him) to a fairly oblique form of castigation.
Deerhoof, “Reveille” (2002)
To be honest, any of this dreadful, disgustingly overrated band’s sub-Franz Ferdinand (and that is bad) output would be enough to put even the most libidinous soul off his/her game, but this release probably takes the cake. Spin this disc-shaped mound of "art-rock" horseshit, and your partner will know something’s up. “What’s the matter?” he/she might ask, as “This Magnificent Bird Will Rise” collapses, after a decent opening, into a load of tuneless, ill-thought-out bollocks. “Have I done something wrong?” comes the cry, as you both realize just how infuriating this band’s frontwoman Satomi Matsuzaki’s stupid annoying voice and apparent inability to write lyrics is. “Alright, why don’t you just turn off the music and tell me what’s up?” is when you know you’ve made your point, as “The Last Trumpeter Swan” (a.k.a. the longest 8 minutes of my life) clatters about, and you understand that the only people who will ever think this band are remotely good are art-school wankers who still think it’s cool to talk about ‘oulipo,” “zazou,” and “dada,” but have never done anything more controversial than reading about them. Fuck Deerhoof; fuck them to hell. But one thing is certain: you’ll be doing very little of the f-word as long as their idiot atonality is in the vicinity.
Quickie track: “Frenzied Handsome, Hello!“—On this track (which has an exclamation mark in the title so you know it thinks it’s really edgy and intelligent), Deerhoof sound like they’re trying to do something Blood Brothers or Pretty Girls Make Graves-esque, but actually don’t have the musical ability to anywhere near pull it off. Its inadequacy should set the un-enjoyable mood perfectly.
4. For those strange and alienating occasions in which an ex turns up out of the blue and it’s depressingly unavoidable that the two of you are going to have sex sooner or later.
Lit, “A Place in the Sun” (1999)
Remember Lit—the Popoff brothers’ chorus-happy grunge-punk vehicle, where every day it’s summer? Apparently they’re still going, but, with all due respect, I’m not too bothered about that: “A Place in the Sun” is where it’s at: 12 tracks which have the curious effect of rewriting one’s memory so that, no matter your provenance, you went to the sort of university featured in American Pie 2 and listened to this CD EVERY DAY. With each of the album’s many, many riffs, a new fond recollection of smoking dope with my “fraternity,” having toga parties, and taking road trips to places with strip clubs and large bodies of water you can swim in floats into my British head. And this is why it’s perfect ex-sex material: it conjures up a parallel world, a world that is closed up again as soon as you press stop, a world of halcyon snapshots which have no palpable consequences, as long as you use contraception. But more than that, it makes a portable discourse of permanent adolescence, one which is fun, and even quite touching, to sample once in a while, but not something you’d actually enjoy if it became your de facto condition of being. Tracks like “No Big Thing” and “Miserable” even take as their central theme the fickle vagaries of romantic attachment, giving you both the opportunity to chew on the ramifications of your behaviour when you wake up the next morning and think, “SHIT!” Additionally, the album’s opening lyric, “She wakes up lonely,/She hangs a picture by the phone,” provides just the sort of nasty ego boost that postlapsarian man needs in order to get his groove on.
Quickie track: “My Own Worst Enemy”—Oh, as if it was ever going to be anything else. Still Lit’s biggest track, and still their best. Even if the sex is crap, the riff will more than compensate.
5. For the disorganized/dissatisfied couple who want to risk having sex bareback, but do not, under any circumstances, wish to conceive.
(a) Starsailor, “Silence is Easy” (2003)
If there’s a shittier album in the entire span (real or imagined) of sentient life than this, I’ll be surprised. If your semen can operate under this level of torture, then a condom wasn’t going to hold them back anyhow. This record is too torturous even for Guantanamo Bay. If the Romans had played it to Christ on Golgotha, he’d have denounced Western religion in a heartbeat and agreed to come back in the twentieth century to give Bin Laden a hand—anything just to make it stop. Curiously, what is so odious about this album is that it sets out to immunize itself against being terrible, by refusing to take risks at any point: they even come from Chorley, North West England, which is fairly local to me and probably the second most soul-destroyingly mundane place (after Blackburn) that I have ever been idiotic enough to visit. Sadly, this strategy works about as well as the Battle of the Somme: the album is an unqualified shocker—there are even tracks here produced by Phil Spector, in what smacks at a desperate attempt at MOR status—that pollutes the entire history of culture by association. If extraterrestrials visiting this planet in some post-apocalyptic future discover this record in a time-capsule, they’ll think that nuclear Armageddon was too good for us.
Quickie track: “Silence is Easy”—They’re all awful, but the album’s eponymous track comes with the added bonus of having an utterly execrable music video to go with it. Play that during coitus and sperm will anchor themselves to the interior of gonads, ovulation will become a long-forgotten concept, and Philip Seymour Hoffman will be the sexiest image you can conjure.
(b) Scott Walker, “The Drift” (2006)
Option a, for all its doubtless efficacy, isn’t particularly enjoyable: it’s sterile, and characterless, and might actually threaten to do permanent damage to your loins. Option b is much more fun. If I had to name the most unsettling record I’ve heard, the top contenders would be “The Drift,” Fantômas’s “Delìrium Còrdia,” and Isis’s “Oceanic.” However, Walker’s opus—a litany of undiluted fear—has to ascend the podium because it’s an album by Scott Walker, the man responsible for the lovely smiley Walker Brothers and the beautiful mini-narratives of the “Scott” tetralogy. Still, if you think about it, his capacity for an album like “The Drift” was there right from the start: behind the scenes in the Walker Brothers, he was attempting suicide and doing all manner of daft things, like joining monasteries, largely because he was pissed off that his band weren’t being sufficiently ambitious. A dedicated master of his craft, his solo output contains an arc of experimentalism whose apotheosis—building from the disturbing industrialism of “Climate of Hunter” and “Tilt”—is this manifesto of demented precision. You aren’t going to be making babies with this bad boy as accompaniment.
Quickie track: “Jesse”—”Clara,” with its famed percussive use of a slab of meat, springs most immediately to mind, but “Jesse,” a contemplation of 9/11 via Elvis Presley’s stillborn twin Jesse Garon (“Six feet of foetus/Flung at sparrows in the sky”), which ends with the decidedly infertile cry of “I’m the only one left alive<” has to be one of the most elegantly twisted tracks of the century. Many of the other contenders are also to be found on this record.
6. For the first time you do it with someone of the same sex.
Oceansize, “Frames” (2007)
Ha! How fatuous of me is this claim? Whole swathes of human experience brought under a single heading at my whim: I feel like Unicron! Such is the critic’s prerogative, I suppose. Now, the thing about this album is that not only is it one of our nascent century’s very finest records, but it also takes as its theme—most overtly expressed in its final track, “The Frame”—the fundamentality of marginalia. From opening diptych “Commemorative 9/11 T-Shirt” (amusingly censored to ‘Commemorative ____ T-Shirt’ by iTunes) to “Unfamiliar,” to aforementioned synoptic closing salvo, via the neo-Hegelian “Savant,” and 10-minute single-riff torture-track “An Old Friend of the Christy’s,” which rewards patience and circumspection like a finally-opened fine claret. Also worth a mention are the scattercore “Sleeping Dogs and Dead Lions,” the elegiac “Trail of Fire,” and the eerie, confessional “Only Twin”—which by my count is the whole LP covered. This is Oceansize’s “Lateralus,” but it’s even better. With this, their third album, this lot make even experimental peers such as The Mars Volta and Fantômas look (whisper it) a little pedestrian, and, frankly, annihilate the post-rock-by-numbers stylings of recent Sigur Rós and Explosions in the Sky offerings. “Frames” is epic yet sensitive, bringing traditionally repressed or ignored elements to the fore, illustrating how dependency and contingency are vital to coherence: it’s the perfect soundtrack to your first innings batting for the other side.
Quickie track: “The Frame”—Oh, go on then. If it were to be any Oceansize track, it would be the avowedly hymnal “Ornament/The Last Wrongs” (which one can imagine is the kind of celestial cacophony which went on in the minds of Blake or Milton). However, confining ourselves to their magnum opus, we’ll go for the hugely emotive psychedelic balladry of “The Frame.” Jolly good show.
7. For the extremely delicate occasion on which you want your girl/boyfriend to try anal.
Tom Waits, “Swordfishtrombones” (1983)
Is this a form of musical blasphemy? Almost certainly, but I think I can make the case for my decision well enough. As any Tom Waits fan knows, this album (and the trilogy it creates when set alongside “Rain Dogs” and “Franks Wild Years”) represents not necessarily a total break in Waits’s sound, but certainly the concretization of what has become his signature experimental aesthetic. That it is his first self-produced effort is, of course, fundamental to this. He was, in other words, doing things his own way; and there is a parallel (albeit a tenuous one) between that difficult and potentially hazardous route and—well I think the destination of that analogy is painfully obvious. But, crucially, his startling upheaval of his sound and subject-matter has proved a resounding success, situating him up alongside the likes of Bob Dylan and Scott Walker (and definitely not Dave Matthews) in the pantheon of ridiculously good American singer-songwriters. “Swordfishtrombones” represents a perpetration of violence against the past and against convention, and as such it offers a useful soundtrack for any act of boundary-pushing, whether it’s petty theft or admitting you think Lost is actually a flabby pile of crap. However, that it is also a concept album detailing a journey into geographical and personal alienation renders it absolutely ideal for occasions of casual sodomy.
Quickie track: “16 Shells from a 30.6”—Since the notion of an anal "quickie" is anatomically unfeasible, I’ve mostly selected this track for my own amusement. The mental image thus created, of someone attempting to persuade their other half that this is a good idea, hastily prepare the various protrusions and repositories and attempt to do the deed with any erotic ability at all while being aurally overwhelmed by this song’s proliferation of claustrophobia-inducing percussion, is like a dystopian version of Benny Hill.
8. If you’re sick of all this filth and want to return to a prelapsarian era of dating, chivalry, and “making out” on front steps for weeks on end.
The Band, “The Band” (1969)
For someone writing about music to place their very favorite act into a list of sexual scenarios, as I am doing with this entry, comes not without a pertinent set of problems. Firstly, am I not simply including them as a gesture—and one that could be taken, counter to my intent, as profoundly insulting. Secondly, how on earth is this album remotely sexy? If anything, it shies away from discussing any such issues, preferring to document loveable criminals (“Jawbone”), agricultural desperation (“King Harvest”), and the Siege of Petersburg (“The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”). When it does refer to amorousness or affection—in “Up On Cripple Creek,” for example—it does so in very couched terms. The only song in which there are any overt sexual references, “Jemima Surrender,” ladles out innuendo with an almost virginal clumsiness, like a kid who’s had too much lemonade. “The Band” is, therefore, an album which puts sexual experience very much into perspective, providing a rich context of alternative, mythologized Americana (or whatever the Canadian equivalent is) to sort of calm everything down. It certainly makes dribbling, insecure, nymphomaniacs like the Kings of Leon look rather ridiculous by comparison.
Quickie track: “Up On Cripple Creek”—The story of an insolvent yet charming miner lodging with a hospitable local girl takes bashful affection as one theme, against a backdrop of drinking and gambling. Its funk-friendly bass-line (sampled by Gang Starr in their beefy, lethargic “Beyond Comprehension”) relaxes, and Levon Helm’s sublime vocal inhabitation of the narrative’s central character takes us back to a time when it didn’t all have to be about anal sex and premature ejaculation: specifically, a halcyon time preceding this article.
9. If you desperately need to convince yourself that what you’re doing (whether it’s missionary or felching) isn’t against God.
Raekwon, “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx” (1995)
Not only is this one of the finest hip-hop albums ever made, it is also a truly absorbing concept album that perhaps best exemplifies the Wu-Tang Clan’s chameleonic identity matrices. If Raekwon can blend the Five Percent Nation of Islam ideology (whose Supreme Mathematics and Alphabet laces and augments the Clan’s material), an obsession with kung fu and a mafia-based storyline (with all of the Al Pacino movie samples and various insalubrious actions thus entailed), then why can’t you (yes you) do something analogous? The Wu-Tang Clan have been railing against the notion of fixed identity and ostensible signification for almost 20 years now, and, frankly, they make it look easy. “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx,” the third solo album from the Clan stable, is almost unquestionably the king of the lot. Not only is Raekwon consistently excellent, he is almost upstaged by a fledgling Ghostface Killah, who simply kills it here. Surely one of the most convincing concept albums ever—the performers totally and seamlessly absorb their given personae—“Only Built for Cuban Linx,” is cinematic, playful, deeply spiritual, yet balances this with a gloriously crude materialism that shows that a zeugma of deeply-held beliefs and, you know, having fun, isn’t totally out of the question. Go on—lose yourself.
Quickie track: “Incarcerated Scarfaces”—In fairness, every track here is an absorbing miniature snapshot of the Wu-Tang Clan’s peerlessly complex syllepsis of overtly incompatible elements. ”Incarcerated Scarfaces” is one of the very best, with Raekwon’s effortless rap coming as close as this album does to total synthesis of its various key themes.
10. The greatest sex album of all time
Deftones, “White Pony” (2000)
OK, this selection is far from objective or popular—no doubt lots of people were expecting Tom Jones or Barry ‘The Walrus of Love’ White to rear their wrinkled visages at this point—but it does make sense. Indeed, I dimly recall reading an interview with frontman Chino Moreno in which he discussed the record’s popularity as a facilitator of fornication, and I really can’t argue. When most turn-of-the-century ‘nu-metal’ bands were using the formula for braggadocio (Limp Bizkit) or ridiculous po-faced posturing (KoRn), or generally looking like wimps next to either their former greatness (Machine Head) or next to Slipknot (Static-X, Spineshank, Mushroomhead—Christ, even Rage Against the Machine has a lot to answer for…), Deftones casually slipped this classic into the mix. In what has been a decade of technological and ideological upheaval in music, “White Pony” hasn’t aged a bit. Genreless (unless you happen to have the re-release, which includes the lamentable “Back to School” as its opening track), this album simply drips with carnal possibility; it is intimate (“Change [In the House of Flies]”), claustrophobic (“Passenger”), and really quite loud (“Elite”). Sonically tidal, and with ambivalent, disturbing lyrics, it’s not exactly honeymoon material, but it is utterly perfect for a bit of 21st century how’s-your-father. Starting with the ominous, grinding “Feiticeira,” and relaxing into an all-encompassing momentum from the sublime “Digital Bath” onwards, this is the kind of album you can’t not have sex to. If you put Slavoj iek in a room with the corpse of Heinrich Himmler, locked the doors, and played this CD, it wouldn’t be long before the windows started to steam up.
Quickie track: “Knife Party”—A difficult choice this, especially in the face of the more obvious option of “Digital Bath,” but this track’s orgasmic (literally) final minute and a half (a kind of porn variant on the climax to Pink Floyd’s “Great Gig in the Sky”) wins out.
That’s it; I can’t say that all of the above works empirically, but it would certainly be entertaining to undertake that particular investigation. Enjoy irresponsibly.