It is a truth universally acknowledged, that
a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife Dave Mustaine is a bit of an A-hole.
Ever been in a position where you’re just not sure if what you are listening to is a parody, or not? an elaborate bob-on-the-money satire, or just hilariously funny in its’ own right? That’s the problem I have with Megadeth Killing Is My Business … And Business Is Good!* Truly.
I’ll admit I came to thrash very late in life, having signed up for active service in the glam batallion of the whole glam vs. thrash debate that swept metal in the 80s. Basically, Faster Pussycat scared me a lot less than Death Angel and all the hotter chicks I knew preferred glam rock – so I took a principled stand, bought a pink silk scarf and a concho belt from HM Gear and never looked back**. Obsessive Kerrang! devouring geek that I was, I could still have reeled off a list of all the thrash bands, LPs, song titles and, quite worryingly, catalogue numbers, but I was very very sure about one thing – this Dave Mustaine bloke was a bit of a loudmouthed asshole. Maybe I was just a 15 year-old prude but Mustaine swore too much, never had anything very bright to say and just seemed to chat shit about black magic, drugs and sex, but not in a cool way; he just seemed to be the worst person I could imagine being trapped in a confined space with.
This mental block is why it has taken me about 17 years to dig out and listen to the picture disc of Killing Is My Business that I inherited from my brother*^ and the results really aren’t what I expected at all. It amuses me. Enormously.
Take ‘Mechanix’ the track Mustaine wrote during his tenure in Metallica, which they slowed down and turned into the masterful ‘Four Horsemen’. In Megadeth’s hands it becomes a hilariously and unintentionally funny tale of having sex in a garage. The playing is really good if you concentrate hard enough to, umm, penetrate the poor production, but Mustaine’s singing … man. If you look at the lyrics while listening, it is flabbergasting – he seems to be singing every third word and just make a vague slurring approximation of the others; the overall effect is as someone who doesn’t speak any English at all who has just learned the sounds phonetically. And the lyrics?
Imagine you were at my station
And you brought your motor to me
You’re a burner yeah a real motor car
Said you wanna get your order filled
Made me shiver when I put it in
Pumping just won’t do ya know luckily for you
Who ever though you’d be better
At turning a screw than me
What were Metallica thinking writing new words for it?! ‘Mechanix’ is still a very cool title though.
The production of Killing Is My Business is legendarily bad, almost up here with Raw Power and L.A.M.F on the T.A.U.S^^ and on the likes of ‘The Skull Beneath The Skin’ you can really hear some interesting instrumental flourishes and precision riffing, especially from the jazz fusion duo of drummer Gar Samuelson and guitarist Chris Poland; but you really have to listen hard for them. The LP sounds like it was taped off a TV show using the microphone from a ghetto blaster, underwater.
I like the story that the band blew most of the $12k production budget on ‘drugs, alcohol and food’ (according to Wikipedia), but that doesn’t give you the whole story – what were the proportions?! I mean was it like $50 cocaine, $237.94 Michelob and $11,712.06 on hummus and pitta bread? Killing Is My Business does have that hummus sound to it, just like The Gun Club and Exile On Main Street.
But back to the fun, fun, fun. Lee Hazlewood was apparently so incensed by what Megadeth did to the lyrics of ‘These Boots Are Made For Walking’, retitled ‘These Boots’, that after collecting royalties on their cover for 10 years he leaped into action and banned copies of Killing Is My Business for carrying the track from 1995 onwards. I do really like the speed of the cover and my picture disc copy obviously predates the ban, but the best version of all – possibly even the best song in the whole of METAL is the version on the 2002 remaster of Killing Is My Business^*. For this one, Mustaine and chums get around Hazlewood’s ban by bleeping out every lyrical change made and the end result is side-splitting! It just makes it sound like the whole song is an unending cavalcade of sweary obscenity, which it isn’t at all. Play this:
Comedy value aside my fave track is ‘Chosen Ones’ which sounds like an obscure NWOBHM single cranked out by some long-forgotten combo from Middlesborough, it has an attractively amateurish quality, it bounces with some very good bass work by Dave Ellefson.
There are the seeds of some really good stuff here, but the overall effect of Killing Is My Businesss is a set of demos that have found their way onto vinyl due to the kind of hideous record plant mix-up that would cost some dude his job. Based on this I really wouldn’t have backed Megadeth to have made more than one more album – which is exactly why I’m not a multi-millionaire A&R man/record producer/mogul type. Damn.
PS: I may, or may not have stolen one line about ‘Mechanix’ from HMO.
PPS: I also had no idea that the correct spelling of ‘hummus’ was such a controversial topic. Basically, there is no real consensus out there, it’s a free-for all. I may write a concept album about it, tomorrow.
*henceforth shortened to Killing Is My Business in case I use up all my weekly pixel allowance in one go.
**mostly because my skin-tight jeans didn’t allow any twisting or bending at all.
*^although I’ve loved chunks of Peace Sells for a similar number of years. #Hypocrite.
^^Totally Arsed Up Scale. Duh!
^*they did a really good job of cleaning up the sound, its gone from lamentable to just pretty bad – you can hear how good it would have been now though.