My wife described the 1999 album ‘Take My Head’ by Archive as “a big pile of bum” – she was right, this album really is a big pile of bum. I’m pretty sure I must have picked this one up at one of Manchester’s finest music shops, Vinyl Exchange, in one of their random bags of CDs for £5 that they used to do. I figured that £5 for a bag of about 30 CDs was a low-risk/high-reward gamble which did indeed pay off. There were some half-decent CDs in there: a Brendan Benson EP; a Tom McRae album; a 50 Cent mix-tape with a bunch of hilarious skits about Ja Rule on; and a nine-track promo of The Streets’ ‘Let’s Push Things Forward’. There was also a lot of shit in there: bad local bands who’d burnt CDs, probably in the hope that Vinyl Exchange would play it over their sound system and that some record executive who happened upon the store at the moment their CD was playing and be like “wow, who are these cool cats, I must sign them immediately to a multi-million pound record contract”; a Northern Uproar album (say no more); and a promo of ‘It Wasn’t Me’ by Shaggy (which I recall selling for a couple of quid on eBay, much to my shock and amusement).
‘Take My Head’ is very similar in a lot of ways to Dot Allison’s ‘Afterglow’ (see previous post) in terms of its dated production values. It suffers mainly because of its inconsistency: one track sounds like generic late-90s ‘chill-out’ stuff that only ever gets played in corporate coffee shops nowadays; another track sounds like they went into the studio after Garbage had recorded ‘Push It’ and used their equipment set up, including the horrible vocal effects, but didn’t actually have a decent song to record; another one sounds like a cheesy, sub-X-Factor soulful ballad that would have even Simon Cowell complaining that it was too generic; while another sounds like a song that Robyn would reject for being too poppy. Every track tries to do something different, but in the end fails because they are all so generic and cheesy.
If the music itself wasn’t enough to convince you how horrible this album is, on the inner sleeve facing the CD the title of the album ‘Take My Head’ is written. If you take the CD out of the case, the text behind where the CD sits reads ‘Head Removed’ – the implication being that the CD is somehow a metaphorical head. Perhaps I’m reading too much into this, but when I saw this I almost had to grab a crowbar to pull my eyes back straight after they had rolled so far back into their sockets. Eugh.
I can’t get over how bad ‘Take Me Head’ is, or how it has remained in my CD collection for so long. I like head as much as the next guy, but I really don’t want to take Archive’s head again. I think it’s off to the charity shop for this one.