Queens of the Stone Age (w/ bonus Desert Sessions EP!)

our Correspondent from the Wilds of mid-Michigan

There are folks who call Josh Homme “Ginger Elvis”… I didn’t know that when, about two years ago, I caught a re-run of Queens of the Stone Age’s 2013 performance at Austin City Limits and thought: “he’s simply got to be the sexiest man in rock ‘n’ roll!” Is it the more subtle version of Elvis’ hips? the underlying pain, restlessness and experience behind those blue eyes? the wry humor in the lines around his eyes or and deep joy in his smile? I have to believe there are folks who’ve written: “I’m not gay but…”

A lot like my relationship with Tool, I arrived late to the Queens of the Stone Age (QOTSA) party. In my 20s during the nightmare hell of 80s poseur/party hair-metal bands, the only response I had for MTV metal was no, just no. Granted, I made up ways to define bands other people said were metal so that they weren’t metal… because I liked that one or this one, but we all make excuses, yes?

Again, like Tool, Homme’s first band, Kyuss, was categorized as “experimental metal” in something I read in the 90s and, as a result, I dismissed them out of hand. Similar things were said about QOTSA – and the name sounded stupid – so there was no way they were getting a serious listen. I even tried an EP they shared with another band, Beaver, and I liked Beaver’s songs better (especially “Morocco,” you should check it out.) Anyway, if I was looking for power chords and gloriously volume, the first Killing Joke album, Big Black’s single, “Il Duce,” or Screaming Trees’ cover of Buffalo’s throbbing 1972 non-hit “Freedom,” all sufficed. What’d I need experimental metal for?

And then, as so often happens when I’ve made reactive choices, the universe knocks you upside your head. A decade after dismissing QOTSA, I found out that Mark Lanegan – and who doesn’t love Mark Lanegan?! – had sung with them. I mean , c’mon, I’d dismissed these guys and Mark was just making me look bad… Of course, I’d heard that Dave Grohl played with them, too, but Foo Fighters at the time were on the ascendant and I found them monotonic and formulaic “alternative” power pop. But, Lanegan. Crap. So, before checking out the back catalog, I tried 2013’s … Like Clockwork. Listening to it as I drove the used Volvo wagon north on the highway to the university where I teach it was nothing special, why were the reviews so great? What had Lanegan seen?

I don’t know why, but a week later, I listened with earbuds in. It wasn’t the same record, there were layers upon layers and rhythms upon rhythms and that odd stuff Homme does with his voice made sense and, wow, what a record! I didn’t love every song but each and every one made sense as part of a totality. So, maybe it was time to track down the back catalog.

The last Kyuss release was called Queens of the Stone Age (1997) so I’ve included it. It’s an OK EP, I’ve included the best cut, “If Only Everything.” In looking back, what started to irritate me was that I wasn’t at all sure this was metal, why was this called metal? It seemed way more about guitars – it even reminded me a little of Swervedriver. Did that mean I didn’t know what metal was? Had it splintered and fractured in bizarre ways? Had the genre never made any sense to start with? Or do reviewers in the 21st C simply not know what to do with loud guitars that aren’t “alternative”? Sigh. In any event, the first, self-titled record – once again Queens of the Stone Age (1998) – had quite “interesting” cover art. That photo and the fact that it’s my favorite in the set meant that I had to select “Regular John” for the ICA.

Rated R (2000) is the record I am pretty sure I read the full review of when it came out and it’s a consistent group of songs but has no real standout – at least not for me. I considered “Monsters in the Parasol” but “The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret” fit better in the emerging flow of the ICA as I put it together. Lanegan sang some on Rated R but he’s much more evident, to me, on Songs for the Deaf (2002). I don’t know if it was his involvement, but this is, overall, a very strong, if wildly uneven, set of songs. (Apparently, the band was a little bit out of control at the time.) I had to fight myself to include only two songs on the ICA but settled on “No One Knows” and “God is in the Radio” as most representative. I love the angular/martial rhythm that explodes right off the mark on “No One Knows” and the throbbing menace of “God is in the Radio” feeds a side of me usually repressed since I no longer play right back.

Just avoid Stone Age Complication (2004), it’s a collection of B-sides and the like and simply doesn’t work. Apparently, it was released without the band’s input. Songs for the Deaf and the extensive touring they did in support of it had made the band an international name and Lullabies to Paralyze (2005) solidified that position. As I was moving through the catalog, however, it became pretty clear to me that Homme, and others in his band, were center pivots in a world of spin-offs and related bands in LA – connected to everyone from Jack Black to Billy Gibbons, Dave Ween to Trent Reznor. Was all THIS why they were considered metal? Lullabies is another record that gets two songs. “Medication” and “Little Sister” are really strong – were great on that Austin City Limits show – and serve to hold the ICA together across two major transitions.

I liked Era Vulgaris (2007) but don’t find myself listening to it much, which might mean I don’t really like it that much. I think I like bits and pieces as songs, but it doesn’t really work as an album. I really like “Misfit Love,” though. I almost chose “I Sat by the Ocean” or “If I Had a Tail” – from … Like Clockwork (2013) to get at the different kinds of emotions and playfulness the band can provide but “I Appear Missing” immediately struck me as the song to start the ICA off with and there wasn’t room for the others. If you were a hip-hop DJ, the break is from 0:37 to 1:04. This was the record they were touring for when they played Austin and, by accident, I had fallen into the best record to introduce me to the band. Not only was it a return after the death of a band member, turnover in other areas, serious illness and a variety of side-projects, it’s a much more diverse group of songs than on previous albums. It sounds like stock music writing but there’s a maturity to the songwriting, the emotions, and how listenable it is.

Villains (2017) is the latest release. To be honest, I bought it, gave it a listen and life with teenagers intervened, and continues to intervene. I need to get back to it but, in a cursory re-review “Un-Reborn Again” stood out and perfectly anchors “Side A” of the ICA.

Did I mention that Homme convinced Iggy Pop to record his last record, backed him on it and was his touring band in support of it… and, when I saw them in Detroit, they couldn’t have been tighter?

There’s a bonus EP in this ICA… the format evolves? Homme, from the get-go, appears to have been an intense collaborator. And, more than that, his collaborations often turned into workshops. When I was looking around to discover more about Homme – particularly after he recorded the third episode of Guitar Moves, Matt Sweeney’s interview series for Noisey (Vice) (on youtube) – I found two volume sets of recordings called the Desert Sessions. I treat Desert Sessions and the band in my files, Even though it’s not really a band, the sets are really compilations, either… The 12 volumes have people from Danzig, The Dwarves, The Eagles of Death Metal, Hole, Lords of Altamont Marilyn Manson, The Miracle Workers, Nine Inch Nails, PJ Harvey, Primus, Scissor Sisters, Screaming Trees, Soundgarden, The Vandals, Ween, ZZ Top and more participating, so there’s a lot going on. As workshopping, however, the songs are often more “interesting” than “good” – to my way of thinking. An EP’s-worth of sampling lies after the ICA.

As always,



Queens of the Stone Age – I Appear Missing – from … Like Clockwork (2013)
Queens of the Stone Age – The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret – from Rated R (2000)
Queens of the Stone Age – Medication – from Lullabies to Paralyze (2005)
Kyuss – If Only Everything – from Queens of the Stone Age (1997)
Queens of the Stone Age – Un-Reborn Again – from Villains (2017)


Queens of the Stone Age – Regular John – from Queens of the Stone Age (1998)
Queens of the Stone Age – Little Sister – from Lullabies to Paralyze (2005)
Queens of the Stone Age – No One Knows – from Songs for the Deaf (2002)
Queens of the Stone Age – Misfit Love – from Era Vulgaris (2007)
Queens of the Stone Age – God is in the Radio – from Songs for the Dead (2002)

Bonus EP

Desert Sessions – I Wanna Make It Wit Chu – Volumes 9 & 10 (2003)
Desert Sessions – Like a Drug – Volumes 5 & 6 (1999)
Desert Sessions – Cowards Way Out – Volumes 1 & 2 (1998)
Desert Sessions – The Gosso King of Crater Lake – Volumes 3 & 4 (1998)
Desert Sessions – Powdered Wig Machine – Volumes 9 & 10 (2003)

JC adds..…..

I’d actually forgotten how many great songs QoSTA had released over the year.  They are a particular favourite of Mrs Villain, so I know a fair bit of the material.  Also worth mentioning that the Ginger Elvis did some great work on production duties with Arctic Monkeys.


I’ve written before about deciding to write about a song and being shocked/stunned/horrified to discover that it was released much further back in time that I would have guessed.

It’s happened yet again with this:-

mp3 : Queens of The Stone Age – The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret

QoSTA are a rock band, occasionally bordering on heavy but managing to cross over enough to appeal to the indie, stoner and teen brigades. They came into being in the late 90s but I didn’t pick up on them until the summer of 2000 when Lost Art….became something of a minor hit in the UK, reaching #31 in the single chart and leading me to go out and purchase parent album Rated R. It was an album that had some very exceptional moments, including the infectiously catchy chant-a-long other single lifted from it:-

mp3 : Queens of the Stone Age – Feel Good Hit Of The Summer

One listen and you’ll realise why it struggled to get air time on mainstream/daytime radio.

I think what’s really hit me is that I’ve come to a realisation that having not really kept up with much new music outside of Scotland since the turn of the century, everything I have somehow feels newish and I’ve no real focal or reference points with which to gauge things. It’s a total contrast to the late 70s and 80s where music really was the be-all and end-all and hearing many a song from that era will take me immediately back to a place, time and/or incident which can spring to mind without delay. I certainly wouldn’t have had any issue, back in 2000, coming to terms with the fact that some great song or other dated back to 1982. But I just can’t get my head around that it’s been 18 years since I went out and purchased a QoSTA album for the one and only time.

The CD I got back for my cash featured a five-track bonus disc, with one of the songs being a surprising yet enjoyable cover:-

mp3 : Queens of the Stone Age – Who’ll Be The Next In Line

I’ve long been quite fond of the 1965 original:-

mp3 : The Kinks – Who’ll Be The Next In Line



The Shoebox of Delights – Jim Picked Number 15
Songs For The Deaf – Queens of the Stone Age


SWC writes.…………..

I was (and had before I went on holiday) going to write a little story about how wonderful charity shops are. This album folks, was until about 0930 Tuesday morning, the last CD I ever bought, found in a charity shop in Exeter for £1.50. An absolute chuffing bargain. On Tuesday whilst in Burlington, Vermont I found a copy of ‘After Murder Park’ by The Auteurs in a thrift shop – price – $2. Now that is the last CD I ever bought and also an absolute chuffing bargain.

But, as I cycled, walked, drove and on one occasion horse rode, through the countryside of Vermont and New Hampshire, this band kept coming on the iPod, the car stereo and I am pretty sure that the horse was singing ‘Feel Good hit of the Summer’ whilst I was on its back. So I thought, bugger it, let’s do an Imaginary Compilation on Queens of The Stone Age. Also I am stuck at an airport for at least three hours and I have time to kill (well it gets me out of shopping with the family – I’ll stay with the bags and this MASSIVE doughnut, you go and have fun, its fine….).

I came to Queens of the Stone Age late. The first album of theirs that I owned was the most recent – but since then I have actively sought out as much of their stuff as I can find, and ‘Songs For the Deaf’ is totally brilliant, it is their third album and they recruited Dave Grohl and Mark Lanegan to bolster their sound – which pretty much turned them into a super group by adding two guys who are always on top of their game. Queens of the Stone Age are a consistently brilliant band, one who have a biit of mystique about them. Their world is a sexual drug filled and somewhat paranoid place that is laced with darkness and humour.

So here is my Imaginary Compilation

Side One

‘Feel Good Hit of the Summer’ – There is perhaps no better place to start, that chugging riff at the start which to me is instantly recognisable. An open letter to the (apparent, I wouldn’t know, I’m pretty much a tea total monk)  joy of various types of narcotics, with just that simple lyric of seven types of drugs repeated over and over again. Simple, effective and downright incredible despite featuring the bloke out of Judas Priest on backing vocals. Ready everyone…..’Nicotine, Valium, Vicodin…’

‘If I Had A Tail’ – Filth. Utter Filth. This song makes me want to go and have a shower, I’ve never been sure why, perhaps it’s the way its bass line throbs away and the guitar kind of just toys with you. Or perhaps its those lyrics particularly the bit where Josh Homme goes ‘oooh La La’ and talks about sucking and licking. Yes it’s that bit. Definitely. Features a cast of thousands (well Dave Grohl on drums, Alex Turner, Mark Lanegan and Nick Oliveri) as well. On a separate point Nick Oliveri deserves your highest praise because he was once arrested for punching two of Terrorvision.

‘Monsters in the Parasol’ – More filth. This is a butt shaking romp about a transvestite (the monster in the parasol, I assume is a metaphor, is that the right grammar?). It’s really catch again and is a bit of an earworm. One that I know now will be playing over in my mind on the forthcoming flight.

‘First It Giveth’ – In which Josh adopts a painful sounding falsetto and warbles over punishing riffs and then it bursts into full on strop mode for a chorus which I think is best described as apocalyptic. That might be over doing it, but I love it all the same.

‘No One Knows’ – Here the album slightly changes pace a bit and we find ourselves sliding into a nice and sleazy dimly lit bar. This song is song sleazy it may as well be half drunk, reeking of cheap petrol station bought cologne and making a move on your girlfriend/wife/brother/well anything really. Its slime of the highest quality and it is genius.

Side Two

‘You Think I Ain’t Worth A Dollar But I Feel Like A Millionaire’ –  This the greatest strengths of rock at its hardest– stunning riffs, breakneck speed, and guitars that churn and spit like a threshing machine. Yes its full of really old metal clichés but this is the Queens of The Stone Age, this what you expect from them. It’s fantastic and rather like the musical equivalent of a bouncer putting you in a full nelson until you beg for mercy – and then – giving you a hug for your troubles.

‘I Sat by The Ocean’ – One of the more straight forward tracks that the Queens have recorded. The sound here and across the whole of the ‘Like Clockwork’ album is more tight and this track is actually quite poppy. On this track the vocals are shared by Homme and bassist Michael Shuman.

‘Better Living Through Chemistry’ – Possibly the greatest song in the world to start with a bongo drum and perhaps the closest that Queens get to matching the sound of Homme’s previous band Kyuss. Its kind of floaty and it shows that this track was written in the desert. It is one of their greatest songs, epic and somewhat surrealist, if that is even possible.

‘The Lost Art of Keeping A Secret’ – This was supposed to be a macho kind of record but the rumour goes that Homme got stoned whilst recorded it and decided to bring in a marimba and a saxophone and turned it into a wonderful pop record. The chorus is probably the catchiest thing that they’ve recorded. Strangely I nearly left this off for one of its B Sides but changed my mind.

‘……..Like Clockwork’ – I’ll end with what I think is the nicest track that Homme and co have ever recorded. It starts with voice and piano and builds majestically into a guitar sound that is swelled by some strings. Then in comes that falsetto again and he warns ‘Its all downhill from here’. I’m getting on a plane in about twenty minutes – I don’t believe him.

A lot has been written about Queens of the Stone Age, they say that ‘Rated R’ is one of the greatest records ever made, it even made that book ‘1001 records to hear before you die’. It is a wonderful record. If you are new to Queens of the Stone Age, start there and then indulge entirely.

That was supposed to be Number 15, it kind of was. Can I have some more numbers please?

Thanks everyone have a good day.


mp3 : Queens of the Stone Age – Feel Good Hit of The Summer
mp3 : Queens of the Stone Age – If I Had A Tail
mp3 : Queens of the Stone Age – Monsters in The Parasol
mp3 : Queens of the Stone Age – First It Giveth
mp3 : Queens of the Stone Age – No One Knows
mp3 : Queens of the Stone Age – You Think I Ain’t Worth A Dollar But I Feel Like A Millionaire
mp3 : Queens of the Stone Age – I Sat By The Ocean
mp3 : Queens of the Stone Age – Better Living Through Chemistry
mp3 : Queens of the Stone Age – The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret
mp3 : Queens of the Stone Age – ….Like Clockwork

JC adds……

I’m with the author on the quality of Rated R and the greatness of ‘Lost Art….’ I’m otherwise a bit ambivalent about Q0tSA but there’s no arguing they’re exceptionally good at what they do.



Dirk aka Sexyloser chose the letter Q

Before I start a note to my sponsor – Just for the record ‘Graham’, I’m not trying too hard (see Jay Talkin’ two weeks ago), what you read is a mixture of wit, talent and arrogance some of us have it, some of us don’t and jealousy is really bad attribute to display publicly. Whilst I’m on the subject of talent, what I type is nothing compared to the daily brilliance of the JC, and the likes of Drew over at ‘Across the Kitchen Table’and countless other bloggers who really should be doing this stuff professionally. The reason I don’t do a blog daily is because by Friday no one would be reading anymore (that and having an 18 month old takes up most of my spare time, I write this as she naps). Some people don’t like certain types of music, other people do like it. Don’t call me an idiot just because I was nasty to one of your heroes. Get over it, or start your own blog dedicated to what you like – I’ve even thought of a name for it for you ‘Killing the Bland’ (that’s a relatively obscure Prolapse song that I hope features in Saturdays Scottish Single sometime soon). You can thank me when you have one million readers.

Anyway…Welcome to the letter Q. I have three bands on my iPod who start with Q. Which is lucky. None of them are Queen, Queensryche or strangely, Quicksand, as I do own an album by them. It’s not the Quads either Dirk, sorry.

I’ll start with the obvious… Formed from the ashes of stoner rock band Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age revolve around the genius that is Josh Homme. Their best record is perhaps ‘Rated R’ which features the classics ‘Feel Good Hit of the Summer’ and ‘Lost Art of Keeping a Secret’. The former is a three minute blast which name checks various narcotics and substances and very little else, but we all know that. If you don’t download it…Now…and then come back and finish reading this.

I think I said previously that the most recent album (their sixth?, I forget) by QOTSA’…Like Clockwork’ was my favourite of last year. Considering that for most of his career Josh Homme has crafted a fine knack of not giving a shit, ‘…Like Clockwork’ is as close to perfection as you can get. I’ll start by mentioning ‘If I had a Tail’ a track so damn sexy is pretty much rubbing itself against as you listen to it. The song features Alex Turner from Arctic Monkeys but I’m buggered if I know where. Much of this record wouldn’t sound out of place in a sleazy bar, it’s a dirty, filthy kind of record, and that is great. But it has its tender moments, ‘The Vampyre of Time and Memory’ is a very low key, piano led ode to memories which I think wouldn’t sound out of place on the last Daft Punk album. It is a simply stunning record, from probably the greatest balls out rock band on the planet right now.

mp3 : Queens of The Stone Age – If I Had A Tail

Following the rock trend, next up we have Quasi with ‘Repulsion’which is taken from the 2010 album ‘American Gong’. I’m kind of hoping that most readers will be aware of Quasi, but if you may have missed them here’s the brief…they are a male and female duo who both grew up in South California, moved to Portland to make music, got married and then divorced, the two of them also feature on many Elliot Smith records and the odd Sleater Kinney album. They started recording in 1993 and I think American Gong is their ninth studio album.

It was a bit of change of direction for them as it was their first proper rock record, usually concentrating on drum centric keyboard pop records. It was also their first as a three piece, as they added someone to play bass, whose name I forget but was in Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks.

Repulsion was the first single to be released from ‘American Gong’ and it’s a lot of fun. It reminds me of early Dinosaur Jr records, which is no bad thing, the voices of the main two people Janet Weiss and Sam Coomes sound lovely together. This was my first experience of Quasi and from this I downloaded ‘American Gong’, but if you are curious then the tremendous music streaming site Epitonic has some more free stuff of theirs.

mp3 : Quasi – Repulsion

Finally we come to Quickspace, who were formed in 1994 and were originally Quickspace Supersport. Singer and founder Tom Cullinan was formally in Th’ Faith Healers but formed Quickspace to develop a more tuneful and experimental band. The first review of Quickspace that I remember called them ‘the Stereolab that rocks’ that is no bad thing at all. It’s not strictly true, as they favour a more drone rock style but y’know still good.

Quickspace are one of those band that I think a lot of people would find it hard to like, I think they are the nearest contemporaries that The Fall have, perhaps slightly more tuneful. In the late 90s they shunned big money offers from major labels and instead set up the Kitty Kitty Label and that is where they released most of their records. These include the terrific singles ‘Friends’ and ‘Rise’ both of which were minor indie hits thanks largely to radio play by uber fan Steve Lamacq. In 1998 they released their second album proper ‘Precious Falling’ to much critical acclaim and it featured perhaps their best known songs ‘Hadid’, and ‘Quickspace Happy Song #2’ . Personally I love them.

mp3 : Quickspace – Quickspace Happpy Song #2