Newest Review: ... bass. Bellamy's vocal harmony is different here and I think that's what throws me off it a little, because the lyrics don't seem to flow wi... more
Showbiz For Muse
Showbiz - Muse
Member Name: Jarisleif
Showbiz - Muse
Advantages: Excellent song writing
Disadvantages: Can be a little of the same in places
"Showbiz" is the debut album by British rock band, Muse. It was released in 1999 on Mushroom Records and produced by the band with John Leckie & Paul Reeve. The line-up for the album was Matthew Bellamy (vocals/guitar/piano), Christopher Wolstenholme (bass) and Dominic Howard (drums).
Probably the finest rock band to come out of Devon, England, Muse was formed in 1994 and it wasn't long before they started getting a following and 1998 saw the release of the band's first EP which was self-titled. A year later Muse put out their second EP, "Muscle Museum", and immediately began work on this, their debut album. It reached No.29 in the UK album charts, and the band has not looked back since. Is it any good? Let's find out!
This song starts out with a quick piano melody which is joined by soft drums and finally Bellamy's vocal harmony which immediately reminds me of Radiohead's Thom Yorke, though it must be said that the two have a different range. It comes to life during the chorus where the power chords are punched on the guitar as the decent piano riff which started the tune is almost, but not quite, drowned out. For me, the piano is the best part of the song as it holds that certain air about it which tells you who's boss. Dominic Howard said: "Sunburn is a song that happened in the studio about two years ago. I remember Matt playing around with a line on the piano and then on the guitar. Then the rest of us joined in. It's a song we still love playing live and always will. It's about moving into a new world, mentally or physically, realising it's not what you thought it was going to be. It was written at a time of change for us - we'd gone from painting and decorating and signing on, to flying first class to LA!"
This is an excellent song, and the best one on the album as far as I'm concerned. I love the heavy, yet, soft, bass line and the Oriental-sounding guitar post-intro gives off a sense of accomplishment. I like the way the track builds up as it progresses through the first few verses until the chorus kicks in with some excellent guitar work. Bellamy shows how good of a front man he is on this song, and though I've never seen Muse live, I'll guarantee this is something special in an outdoor arena festival set-up. Matthew Bellamy says about the song: "I wanted to do this big epic guitar solo at the end of the chorus and as soon as I started doing the solo, I missed a chord. So I suddenly found myself singing the guitar solo instead. I ended up singing it into a Marshall amp and it sounded exactly like guitar."
This is one of those songs that begins with a strange feedback loop before the guitar comes in with a solid riff that's soon joined by the drums and bass. Bellamy's vocal harmony is different here and I think that's what throws me off it a little, because the lyrics don't seem to flow with the melody of the song. It does have a pretty decent chorus, though, which just about saves it from being a complete dud. This is a song about snapping fingers as you do between the thumb and middle finger, though I'm unsure why someone would write a song about such a thing but then again I've heard songs about peaches in cans, so I guess anything goes.
When the opening of the song starts, I'm immediately drawn to thinking of those spaghetti westerns of the 1960s. I can imagine a scene with someone sitting on their front porch in a rocking chair with a pitcher of iced tea, playing an acoustic guitar and softly singing as they pluck at the strings. This is one of the softest songs on the album and has some of Bellamy's highest vocals in pitch throughout the mainstay. It isn't one of my favourites to be honest, but I think that's largely because I much prefer hard rocking songs with a kick. Matthew Bellamy said: "15,000 people is the population of the town where we're from, Teignmouth in Devon. Seaside towns are not great places to grow up in. They're very nice places where you can leave your doors open and all that, but it's just got a small town vibe about it. I think some of the song was actually about wanting to blow it up!"
This song starts out with a basic riff with a simple hook that carries along some marching drums. Just when I think it's not going to get any better, the intro is done and we're into the meat and potatoes of the track with some good guitar playing, backed up by a drum beat which sounds perfectly clear, thanks to the great production. Bellamy's vocals are spot on, and we have another winner as far as good songs on the album go. However, I'm not too convinced by the piano solo in the bridge which is reminiscent of Guns N' Roses with "November Rain". I do like the guitar-driven outro, though. Matthew Bellamy commented: "The idea for "Cave" came from that rubbish American book, "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus". There's this bit about how men go into a cave when they get stressed and I think that's probably true, although, personally, I tend to let it out. I did have a bit of a tantrum in my hotel bathroom last night - but I managed to repair the toilet, so that's OK."
The title track comes in with a plodding yet subtle bass line that sets the tone for Bellamy's softly-softly approach to the singing. Some people will love this song, but it sounds like it's going in too many directions, as far as I'm concerned, and I'm not sure what it wants to do half of the time. The chorus, though, is excellent and Matt Bellamy knows how to make his guitar sing as well as his own vocals, as we get a decent main riff throughout, but a very good solo during the bridge. It's certainly not one of the highlights of the album but it becomes apparent on this song more than any other on the album that Bellamy's vocal range is astonishingly high and the last time I heard a set of pipes like that could go that high was Judas Priest's Rob Halford. Matthew Bellamy said of the song: "The song is about how we all have an inside personality that we sort of hide from the outside."
This is an acoustic song with yet more incredibly powerful vocals from Bellamy that can't fail to impress even a hardened heavy metal fan like myself. It has an accompanying drum beat in the background, but it's all about what Matt Bellamy can do in the singing department, and as noted with other tracks on the album, he can do a whole lot. This is sheer brilliance from the front man, but don't tell anyone I said that! Matthew Bellamy said: "There are a few unintended love songs. The song I wrote about the girl was written in the studio after a phone conversation with her. We called it "Unintended" because it came out of nowhere, and I didn't mean it to happen, all of these feelings for this girl.
Some strange guitar sounds start the song off which reminds me of what Jimi Hendrix would do when jamming, and there's certainly a little bit of "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" in there as well. I like the squeaky and distorted sound of the guitars when the song gets going, backed up by the clunky bass playing and crashing drum beat. But just when I start to nod my approval, all the good stuff stops and it goes all soft and repeaty while the verses are sung. There is a decent meaty chorus, though, which picks me up once more before it gets really strange with an almost Mexican-sounding guitar riff. This isn't a track which grabs me, unfortunately, as it's just a little too weird for my liking and doesn't have much via way of structure.
This is a song about whiskey, Irish and bourbon, though if I drank all those delicious spirits, I don't think I'd be that sober! Musically, it has a pretty good and solid rocking beat that can't fail to get your foot tapping, but the best thing about the track is Wolstenholme's intense bass playing that is very good but often pushed aside because of Bellamy's vocals. The bass riff is thunderous and a joy to listen to, now that I can actually appreciate what I'm listening to without having to think about the singing. Lyrically, it's pretty silly, if I'm honest, but not every song in the world can be the best ever written.
This is another song which starts with a piano riff followed by a soft drum beat, encompassing the vocals. There isn't a chorus on the song as such, but when a rowdy guitar riff joins the party it starts a different part of the song which could be interpreted as being a chorus. It's done with feeling and though I'm unsure what the track is about, I would go a long way to say it had something to do with Matthew Bellamy's past. There is a bit of guitar overdrive during the bridge which suggests the mood the song is in at the time, or the anger that Bellamy was feeling as he played the song. Again, this is a track which a lot will like, but it's not one for me.
This is the shortest song on the album which begins with a healthy dose of power chords from the guitar. I like the fluidity of this track and the chorus is very good as it is surrounded by backing vocals. The song has its slower parts but they're very few and far between that you tend not to even notice them half of the time. It's not a great song by any means, but it has the ability to turn your head and make you notice what it's doing, and that's the magical essence that all great bands have in their ability to record something that doesn't quite stand out but still makes the grade. Usually it's the singer of a band which keeps a song flowing, but this time it's the instruments themselves.
Hate This & I'll Love You
The album comes to a close with a song about having had enough of a relationship that you've tried to make work but simply cannot carry on with it any more. Your opposite number has put you down too many times, and now it's your turn to tell it exactly how it is. It's a pretty good closing track with Bellamy getting more and more into it, vocally, as the song progresses, pausing for effect in the middle for a bit of slide guitar during the bridge. I can't say I'm a huge fan of the song but it does its job as a closer, especially with the spatial guitar playing that begins the outro.
I bought this album along with a number of other CDs off of a friend of mine and though I was hugely sceptical at first I grew to like it and I'm glad it's part of my vast collection of mostly heavy metal and rock music. Matthew Bellamy is an incredible songwriter, vocalist, pianist and guitarist who is backed up brilliantly by the timely drums of Dominic Howard and the impressive bass playing of Christopher Wolstenholme. I like the album and I'm sure you will like it as well, especially if you're a fan of songs which are well-written and played with passion and feeling.
2. Muscle Museum
4. Falling Down
12. Hate This and I'll Love You
My rating: 8/10
Summary: A great album, but not a brilliant one.