bloke in hospital bed. doctor says you have only three minutes to live. sick bloke says is there anything you can do for me. doctor says how about a lightly boiled egg.
” On the 10th of March 1995 the Hardrock Hotel was opened in Las Vegas, Nevada. To celebrate it, a concert was held there.
A lot of performers were invited. Among them were Duff McKagan, Matt Sorum, Steve Jones and John Taylor (he was there with Duran Duran). After the show the four of them talked about doing something together.
In September they got together for a benefit show at the Viper Room in Los Angeles, California. After that show Neurotic Boy Outsiders, as they called themselves, started playing regularly at the Viper Room.
The shows included covers as well as original material. Neurotic Boy Outsiders did a West Coast tour and played some shows on the East Coast.
In early 1996 they changed their name to Neurotic Outsiders. Their debut album was released in August - September 1996.”
It is Matt Sorum who opens the album with four quick, hard pounds on the drums. The sentiment is quite poetic, in a way, given that the song was written by Steve Jones about an encounter with a prostitute. Jones takes vocal duties on the song and relishes the prospect. In fact, he relishes it so much he winds up sounding like a dirty old man – which he probably is. The guitar riff is typical Jones, heavy and hard but achingly simple. McKagan performs well on rhythm guitar, allowing his more accomplished to take the lead. Also noteworthy is Jones’ Bono-style(think Elevation
) “coo-ing” during the breakdown late on. Wonderful opening track. Rating: 5/5
A John Taylor composition, and one of two from the album to appear on Taylor’s subsequent solo effort, Feelings R’ Good & Other Lies
. Driven by pounding drums and an infectious guitar riff, this track is another album highlight, thanks in no part to Taylor’s excellent impassioned vocal. If anything is going to shatter the image of synth popstar John Taylor, this is it. The lyrics are blunt and personal, pivoting on the unforgettable line, ”You’re the kind of pain I can do without. Rating: 3.5/5
Steve Jones takes the lead on this song, also composed solely by himself. Angelina is the most obviously radio-friendly song on the album and was issued as a single soon after the album’s release. Jones’ vocal is occasionally off-key but nonetheless musical and the lead guitar melody, also is doing, is superb. The single was backed by a Duran Duran cover, “Planet Earth” and a reworking of McKagan’s solo song, “Seattle Head”. Rating: 4/5
Good News, although written by Steve Jones, features the first of three vocal efforts from ex-Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan and will now forever remind me of Nick Hornby. McKagan delivers the vocal with much enthusiasm, and he’s given a wonderful melody to sing. The song is, like its predecessor, poppy in outlook but deceptively heavy. The sense of humour which pertains in Jones’ lyrics throughout the album is all too evident on the chorus, as Duff raps, ”The good news is… you’re dying/The bad news is… I’m alive.”
Jones may not be the most proficient lyricist, but he certainly produces some memorable lines. Rating: 4/5
Better Way is John Taylor’s second composition on the album and features the man himself as chief vocalist. Driven by a strong acoustic guitar melody, the song contains another painful lyric, hinging on the poetic line, ”How come it’s so hard to climb and so easy to slide"”
The songs also features a beautiful blues guitar solo from Steve Jones, who’s clearly come a long way since his cringeworthy hair-metal experiments in the 80’s. Rating: 3.5/5
Feelings Are Good
The next song is also authored and sung by the Duran Duran bassist, aswell as featuring on his debut solo album, as mentioned above. Aside from the curiously honest line, ”I’m sad, I’m sad, I’m sad and I want my dad”
there’s little to remark upon about this song. The chorus is strong, featuring heavy guitar and the repeated phrase, ”These feelings are good”
before Jones joins in for ”These feelings have got me not knowing what to do”.
There’s some interesting metal-like lead guitar after the chorus, but little else of note. Rating: 3/5
Another Jones-penned track on which Duff handles the vocals. This is my favourite song on the album, featuring a wonderful vocal from the makeshift rhythm guitarist. The verse is quantified by long syllables backed by heavy but palm-muted guitars a typically heavy rhythm section, before loosening up for the inspirational chorus: ”I’ve got a reason for a revolution/I don’t believe in a solution”
The song also features an excellent guitar-led breakdown section after the virtuosic solo and finishes on a delightful repeated refrain of ”Got a reason”
. Rating: 5/5
Steve Jones returns to vocals for this, a self-penned tune, and the album’s most successful single(though that doesn’t say much). The verse is again vocally-oriented, with sharp, punky palm-muted guitar and tight rhythm giving way to loose strumming on the chorus. The guitar solo harks back to the Sex Pistols’ days, with the Chuck Berry-style double stops recalling “God Save The Queen”. The lyrics are simple and humorous; the chorus, especially, is priceless. Rating: 5/5
You’re a bitch, I’m a jerk/I don’t think that we will work
You’re a prat, I’m a prick/I don’t think that we will stick
You’re a cunt, I’m a cock/Are you ready, ready to rock"
Union is again sung by, and written solely by, Jones. In the lyric he name-checks some of his old bandmates - Paul Cook, Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten. He seems to lament the fallings out they’ve had, confiding ”I wish I had a union”
in the chorus. The dynamic is superb, between the quiet, clean, picked intro and the pre-chorus which is sludgy and heavy, while the chorus fills the void between the two extremes. The chorus is infectious, heightened by the lead guitar line which plugs the gap between lyrics. Rating: 4.5/5
John Taylor handles lead vocals on the energetic Clash cover. Taylor’s verse vocals are heavily distorted throughout, which led me to assume he was Jones for a long time, while the chorus vocals are handled by the entire band. The guitar stabs offset the rhythm to create a wonderfully unsettling effect. The song is short and sweet and, although a cover, is one of the album’s highlights. Rating: 4.5/5
Story Of My Life
Jones returns to lead vocal for Story Of My Life, the slowest song on the album; one reflective, not surprisingly, on Jones’ entire life. Though not immediately gratifying, the song does have a strong melody and the most adventurous arrangement of all the songs on the album. The Hammond organ which ploughs away almost unnoticed throughout adds immensely to the mix, while the tight interplay between the guitar and bass creates a wonderful musical landscape. Well worth a listen, if you have the patience. Rating: 4/5
Six Feet Under
The song finishes on a high note, with the album’s only collaborative composition, the Duff McKagan-sung Six Feet Under. Employing once again the distorted vocal technique, the song recalls Guns N’ Roses’ punkier material, a feat which the band manages to avoid for most of the album. The hard-hitting drums threaten to dominate the mix, but a brilliant guitar riff ensures the focus is shared equally. Also noteworthy are the multiple guitar solos. Rating: 5/5
I must stress that my review is not intended as an empirical analysis of the songs contained. It is merely the opinion of a fan of sleazy rock n’ roll who likes his riffs hard and fast and his lyrics dirty and brainless. Neurotic Outsiders
is not an adventurous album, nor is it a particularly varied album, but it is a very solid rock n’ roll album which accentuates great songwriting and tight musicianship. A sense that the musicians are really enjoying themselves pervades throughout, between the sometimes indulgent guitar breaks to the numerous comments thrown in between verses by the singers. Neurotic Outsiders
is not a record which takes itself too seriously, nor does the band take itself seriously. It’s four rock n’ roll legends having a good time recording some great rock n’ roll tunes together. It’s 45 minutes of pure, sleazy, rock n’ roll fun – if that’s not a contradiction – and for that reason I think the record deserves four and a half stars from five.