‘Garbage?’…’Garbage!’ It would have been woefully easy (and barely amusing) to offer that opinion if asked about Garbage’s first album back in 1995. Lucky then that their name didn’t reflect an absolute gem of a debut that’s pretty much been accepted in the list of ‘greatest debut albums ever’. ‘Twas a fertile period, them there 90’s.
Back when the NME was a music bible and not being given out for free like a commuter lite-bite, the industry was awash with formats (making buying singles a cornucopia of riches for collectors) and dance remixes of rock, pop and indie were de-rigeur…e.g. Todd Terry remix of EBTG, Missing…so, when Garbage landed, their mix of electronic pop and rock, infused with electronica and hip-hop beats, it made damn sure that they appealed to a wiiiiide range of music fans on both sides of the Atlantic.
Like most debuts that are gold-plated after first listen and prized by listeners, Garbage-Garbage is spoilt for choice when naming fave tracks. Not least because they’re all so bloody different. Supervixen plays with the stop/start, quiet loud format that Suede and Pixies were rocking. Queer’s hip-hop beats worked perfectly with Manson’s voice, and A Stroke of Luck is a mirror to the smoky trip-hop sound that dominated headphones at the time. Stupid Girl had that bass-driven, slinky groove, and Milk, Manson’s first ever song that she wrote, is still a stunning, Cohen-esque torch song.
They all came fully formed, polished to perfection, and had a production pedigree second-to-none. Butch Vig. Nevermind. We said it. Ya dunn know. 20 years is a long time. Yes, they’re back in 2015, dusting off the first album and giving it an airing, but it’s no cash-in. They’ve been making music and touring hard for the last 20 years. They have probably been a direct influence on a lot of bands and singers, but on a production level, they definitely helped pave the way for breaking down the genre barn doors, and letting the light of technology creep in where only guitars reigned. Although, ironically, 20 years on, a lot of music is sounding very sanitised and risk-free. A load of Garbage. Feel free to agree or disagree, just give the album a listen first, or again.