Greatest Hits: Entertainment Through Pain - (1981)
Genesis P. Orridge was the Frank Zappa of experimental electronic music, exploring virtually every notion and idea of performance that he could possibly muster. And his period with Throbbing Gristle resulted in some of the most dense and difficult music to ever see the light of day, a staggering thought even decades after the band's demise. Turning the idea of rock music on its head and injecting it with a lethal dose of electronica, Gristle was light years ahead of its time and suffered endless persecution from the British government because of their wild ideas. On this ironically titled collection, the band offers 11 tracks that plant the seeds for a number of genres. Synth pop is here in the primal, awkward guise of "Adrenalin," while "Hot on the Heels of Love" may be one of the very first techno songs ever. "Subhuman" would set the standard for the type of ranting industrial rock that Skinny Puppy and Ministry would actually have to water down, and "Six Six Sixties" is the sort of guitar-driven noise narrative which would later find brief popularity with the New York City art rock scene. Elsewhere, punk rises from the dead as a shambling zombie ("Blood on the Floor"); Kraftwerk is reshaped into disco death jazz ("20 Jazz Funk Greats"); "United" paves the way for Orridge's own descent into pop; and the spine-chilling "What a Day" is the closest they could ever come to having a rave-up. Beyond these tracks, everything else sounds like it was recorded on a distant planet hundreds of years ago, blending the primal sludge of early Residents with the demented sonic experiments of Faust and Can. The results range from the eerie and ugly ("Tiab Guls") to the sublimely beautiful ("AB/7A"). This beauty is the primary reason why this band was as good as they were; it was so hard to dismiss the band because these weird hooks and chunks of pop found their way into the harshest noise experiments. Standing heads and tails above the rest of their contemporaries, this is the best place to first discover Throbbing Gristle's difficult but rewarding body of work. Anyone with even a passing interest in unusual and experimental music would do themselves a big favor by checking this out.