Tom Robinson : Top 10 favourite albums : number 6 : 1988 PUBLIC ENEMY – It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back
OK, confession time: shamefully, until this record hiphop had passed me by as utterly as my parents had shut their ears to early rock’n’roll. The Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash, LL Cool J, Run-DMC, Eric B and Rakim… even the Beastie Boys had fallen on my deaf, uncomprehending ears. And then – the moment the astonishing sonic assault of Public Enemy’s Nation of Millions hit my headphones – I suddenly “got” it. This was obviously music, yet devoid of musical instruments. Bring The Noise was obviously a song, yet devoid of melody. It was as catchy as a pop tune, but devoid of the smallest compromise. It was a hurricane of sound and words that pummelled the ears, set the pulse rate racing and had me swaying in my seat right from the opening yell of “Bass!” Better yet, the backing track was every bit as arresting and dissonant as Chuck and Flav’s vocals. The Bomb Squad had mashed together noise, sound, samples and beats into an irresistible groove of heartstopping intensity. And then upped the ante by shifting gear from verse to verse – a kind of industrial music with attitude. Musique concrète tempered – with a vengeance – by apocalyptic rage.
For number 7 in Tom Robinson’s top 10 favourite albums please go here