EBBHEAD HEAD AND SHOULDERS ABOVE THE REST
James R. Thompson | Albany, OR | 02/09/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If Mute ever decide to release a Best Of Nitzer Ebb, they could save themselves a considerable amount of time and re-release EBBHEAD in its entirety (possibly with the exception of "Time," which, for my money, is an overlong, annoying waste of, yeah, you guessed it, time) and tack on a few tracks from each of their other albums.
EBBEHEAD was given to me by a fellow student in my high school science class in the early 90's. A little earlier I had been dumped by my longtime girlfriend and cut from the basketball team. I took up running in the morning as a way to fill two voids in my life. Whenever I wasn't listening to Nine Inch Nails' PRETTY HATE MACHINE during these morning marathons, it was EBBHEAD. Some 15 years later EBBHEAD still sounds fresh, while PRETTY HATE MACHINE sounds, well, 15 years old (this doesn't stop me from enjoying it; it just hasn't aged as well as EBBHEAD).
EBBHEAD'S timelessness is due to a couple of factors. The most important is probably the stellar production of Alan Wilder, whose wildly inventive soundscapes are sadly missed on the last couple Depeche Mode records (for further listening, check out his spine-tingling work on "Come Alive" from the somewhat hard-to-find Nitzer Ebb E.P. AS IS). Also, EBBHEAD is Nitzer Ebb's most musical outing. Douglas McCarthy makes a real effort to mix things up vocally as opposed to just barking out lyrics like a one-note drill sergeant on steroids. As a result, EBBHEAD is the only Nitzer Ebb record I can listen to from start to finish (with the exception of "Time," as I mentioned) without cringing intermittently.
Sadly, EBBHEAD was the last great Nitzer Ebb record. BIG HIT followed four years later but forgot to bring the variety and quality. "Kick It" and "I Thought" are the only keepers from that monotonous, muddled mess. People blame Flood for ruining Erasure's LOVEBOAT (he didn't; it's a good record, though a notable step down from the dizzy heights of COWBOY, but I digress), but he did a greater musical disservice to BIG HIT by burying the vocals. Here's hoping Nitzer Ebb reunite someday and have the good sense to bring Alan Wilder back into the studio with them."
Mike | North Bergen, NJ | 04/24/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Nitzer Ebb had already been one of the main acts of the Industrial/EBM scene in the late eighties and with Ebbhead came their finest single "Family Man".Ebbhead was released before the so-called "Industrial Music" revolution in the mid-nineties. If I'm not mistaken, Ebbhead is Ebb's fifth album and they didn't even have an honorable mention once the industrial trend hit the mainstream. Even if that trend only lasted for a few years. Anyhow, Ebbhead picks up where Showtime left off.
There is more intriguing, hooky, groovy, slam-bash tuneage throughout the cd. "Reasons" kicks off the cd, a medium-paced piece with a beat. Other tracks like "Lakeside Drive" and "Djvd" put the beat in upbeat. Yet it is the singles that really fuel the fire in this release. "I Give To You" has a low-key intro and then leaps into a built-up melody with violin and "Godhead" was another cool single with pounding lyrics and expanding parameters.
Now, the best Nitzer Ebb tune has to be "Family Man". Nothing else in their list beats this one. It has an awesome beat, awesome lyrics, and their use of instrument loops is, well, awesome. It pretty much culminates everything they have done in their music up to 1991. The "industrial" trend hit the mainstream once Ebb were out of the picture. In a sense, I feel they were never tailor-made for the mainstream and remain an honorable footnote in EBM history.
Ebbhead, nevertheless, is a fine cd to have and, arguably, their real swan song. After a few listens, I got hooked and I tried not to listen to it too much so I don't get tired of it. However, it's hard, like an addiction. That's how great Ebbhead really is.
Ebbhead ~ Nitzer Ebb
Bjorn Viberg | European Union | 05/09/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When Nitzer Ebb released Ebbhead in 1991 there was plenty of talk among the so called ebm purists that Nitzer Ebb had strayed from their trademark sound. I was one of them at the time. However, now with a wider palate and a much more mature and open mindset I realize that it a modern ebm master piece. Songs like Family man, lakeside drive and many others show that Bon Harris and Douglas McCarthy were much more inventive then ever given credit for. McCarthy has amazing vocals and Harris is a wiz at using vocal treatments, and other electronic gadgets. This is one amazing ebm album."