On 7th March Queens of the Stone Age re-released their eponymous debut with three B-Sides. The generally unheard of debut has always been my personal favourite, it’s raw sounds perfectly encapsulated the grungey, alt-rock era with the driving distorted sound that would later become what QOTSA’s sound is now associated with. One of the elements I particularly like about the original 1998 release is the dirtier and (for want of a better word) ‘tinny’ sound of the recording; factors which add to the raw sound, giving the impression of four laid back guys making a rock record. The new, cleaner, remastered sound of the 2011 re-issue, although subtle, does slightly retract from the sound of the original that makes it what it is. People new to the album will nevertheless not be disappointed with the quality of the songs themselves. From this album you can see the developing sound of the band and how although taking a new direction with each following album, they have always stayed true to their roots. As a lesser known album in the band’s discography, it’s great that the re-release is exposing what could be seen as some of the Queen’s strongest work to those who have yet to listen. Fans of Nick Oliveri can see this re-issue as his return from the dead with his instantly recognisable heavy riff bass - particularly in album highlight ‘Mexicola’. Tracks like ‘You Can’t Quit Me Baby’ with an ever-rising tempo and psychedelic feel to a screaming guitar riff can lend credence to the view that QOTSA are a stoner-rock group, despite the tag being dismissed by the band themselves. Despite being highly distorted and a generally heavy album, it still manages to exert a laid back, chilled feel to it - with only a few future Queens songs managing to achieve such a relaxing effect, ‘In The Fade’ and ‘You’ve Got A Killer Scene There Man’ spring to mind.
The B-Sides are interspersed throughout the album instead of being added to the end, as if they were meant to be there all along. That doesn’t necessarily mean it blends unseemingly, in fact first B-Side ‘The Bronze’ despite being a great track sticks out like a sore thumb on this album. It’s energy breaks the aforementioned chill feel, with Homme’s vocals turning urgent and several screeching guitar solos. Whereas I feel the original is a concept album that can be listened to from start to finish as an experience, this bonus track feels a little misplaced. Perhaps this is simply because I’m so used to the album as it originally was, a new listener may not necessarily feel the same. It might not have been such a wise move to spread the new tracks around as it disrupts the original ordering which blends well from track to track. Second bonus track 'These Aren't The Droids You're looking For' however is more inconspicuous. A progressive, dischordant piece with a lazy tempo is reminiscent of existing track ‘Hispanic Impressions’, one of the strongest aspects of the album. Final bonus track and penultimate track of the album 'Spiders and Vinegaroons' again doesn’t quite feel like it belongs. A smooth, steady instrumental track that progressively becomes more erratic - like 'The Bronze' is a great track, but was definitely a B-Side for a reason.
My rating for this album is based more on the original, so if you can get your hands on a copy of that I’d recommend it over the re-release. To mark the re-release of this album, Queens of the Stone Age will be touring the material in the UK this May.