The Top 15 Most Cocaine-Influenced Albums of All Time, Nos. 15-11
"Cocaine," as Rick James famously said, "is a helluva drug." Yup: The white powder's effects have left an influence that's both sublime and downright hideous on decades of pop music. So what happens when you give already-famous musicians a quick burst of energy, ego, paranoia, and euphoria? Most of them will instantly become convinced that that whatever they're doing is just fucking great, man [sniff] -- and will then fall down a rabbit-hole of addiction that lasts years, if not decades. Sometimes that leads to interesting music; more often, as this list will demonstrate, it leads to self-indulgence, irrelevance, and rehab. But now that we've warned you, here are the 15 records that most sound like they were made in a blizzard, entries 15 through 11. We'll continue this list every day this week.
15. Mötley Crüe, Girls, Girls, Girls
If the opening riff of "Wild Side" doesn't make you feel instantly like a snowblind fiend, the lyrics to Girls, Girls, Girls' first track will. Apparently intended to portray the dark side of life in the fast lane and criticize the glamorization of coke, the song does a better job of making it sound exhilarating. Recorded at the height of Mötley Crüe's infamous decadence, Girls, Girls, Girls is a coke album through-and-through -- one made by powder experts, not newbies: "It wasn't like a glass of champagne and a little line of cocaine," the band's now-sober Nikki Sixx told VH1. "It was half a pound of cocaine and the whole champagne truck." We maybe ought to have ranked it higher on this list, except that even for a coke album, Girls, Girls, Girls is still spectacularly annoying. -- Ian S. Port
14. Waylon Jennings, I've Always Been Crazy
"Was it singin' through my nose that got me busted by the man?" ol' Waymore wonders on "Don't You Think This Outlaw Bit's Done Got Out of Hand," a hopped-up march about the time the feds had him trapped dead to rights with a bag of coke at a recording session -- and he still somehow got the evidence down a toilet. I've Always Been Crazy isn't Waylon's best, but it's the record that most reveals the man at his most fucked-up, the period when (as he claims in his memoirs) he just cold lost four cars. The controlled stomp of earlier hit "Are You Sure Hank Done it This Way?" is now a jittery, skittish throb not always connected to the music around it, especially on "As the 'Billy World Turns," where it's like the rubbery in-the-face pulse of a man coked to the gills. Then there's his sweat-in-the-eyes medley of Buddy Holly covers, played with the original Crickets but too hard and too fast, just the thing that a demon-haunted moralist and nostalgist like Jennings might attempt in a dark moment: He was supposed to be on that plane, after all. Why the fuck was he still going when Buddy wasn't? The thrilling way "Peggy Sue" lurches out of control is both justification and rebuke. -- Alan Scherstuhl
13. Miles Davis, On the Corner
During his lengthy career and beyond, jazz trumpeter/band-leader Miles Davis was one of the most respected figures in 20th century music. In 1972 -- during his still-controversial electric period -- Davis broke both ankles in a car accident. Years before Davis beat a heroin habit, but now turned to vodka and cocaine (lots) to soothe and stimulate. That year saw sessions for On the Corner, one of the most reviled albums in jazz history, but today recognized as a watershed for much post-punk, electric jazz, funk, hip-hop, and electronica made since. Corner de-emphasized soloing and composition for dense, almost claustrophobic grooves and textures -- it was as if Super Fly and The Outer Limits collided. And it wasn't pretty. -- Mark Keresman