Without You I'm Nothing (Placebo album)

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Without You I'm Nothing
The album cover features two women sitting on a table in front of each other, looking down on the table. The light coming in from the curtains makes a yellow colour on the cover of the album.
Studio album by Placebo
Released 12 October 1998 (1998-10-12)
Recorded Mid–late 1998 at Real World, Bath; Livingston, London, England
Genre Alternative rock
Length 65:48
Label Hut
Producer Steve Osborne, Phil Vinall
Placebo chronology
Placebo
(1996)
Without You I'm Nothing
(1998)
Black Market Music
(2000)
Singles from Without You I'm Nothing
  1. "Pure Morning"
    Released: 3 August 1998
  2. "You Don't Care About Us"
    Released: 28 September 1998
  3. "Every You Every Me"
    Released: 25 January 1999
  4. "Without You I'm Nothing"
    Released: 16 August 1999
  5. "Burger Queen"
    Released: 22 November 1999

Without You I'm Nothing is the second studio album by English alternative rock band Placebo. Recorded in mid-to-late 1998, it was released on 12 October 1998 by record labels Hut and Virgin Records.

The album was a critical and commercial success, peaking at number seven in the UK Albums Chart and at number 20 on the US Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart. Without You I'm Nothing went platinum in the UK and gold in France and has sold over one million copies to date. The album spawned five singles, including "Pure Morning" and "You Don't Care About Us".

Background[edit]

Placebo released their debut album Placebo in 1996 and was a massive success, going gold in the UK. The same year they began writing new material for the album. Still on Hut Records, the band signed to major label Virgin Records in 1997 and began recording the album.

Recording[edit]

The recording sessions were difficult for the band, not the least because Placebo chose Phil Vinall to replace Steve Osborne as producer at the last minute to produce "Pure Morning". Later on, Placebo's frontman Brian Molko stated that, despite appreciating Osborne's producing skills, the chemistry between band and producer "didn't spark the way we wanted it to spark", also adding that the album was "overproduced" and contained "too many slow songs for a second album". That said, he did not disown the album, adding that it is still a record the band is proud of.[1]

The album was recorded over three months in 1998 at Real World Studios in Wiltshire. Twelve songs were originally recorded in the sessions, excluding "Pure Morning" and including another track, "Kitsch Object", which was never included on the album as the band weren't satisfied with it.[2] The guitar was recorded in a "U shaped" control room. The band said that whoever wrote the part for the guitar played guitar, Molko noting that "It's not that we're territorial – anything but – it's just an idea that the best person to follow an idea through is the person who had it".[3][4] The vocals are considerably lower in tone; Molko said he was tired of having a high-pitched "squeaky" voice. These were recorded in a control room at Real World Studios and the drums recorded in a kitchen.[citation needed]

The album was produced by Steve Osborne because they wanted a producer who was involved with dance music as well as rock music, and they also didn't have many options at the time.[5] At the last minute the band switched producers and got Phil Vinall to produce "Pure Morning", which was recorded at the last minute, originally as a B-side in May after the album was completed, but they liked the song very much and decided to include it on the album.[4]

Composition[edit]

Musical structure[edit]


The album's music was written by the whole band. It focused on a more mellow sound on many songs, in comparison to Placebo.[citation needed] Album opener "Pure Morning" consists mainly of a guitar loop.[6] The guitar style and tuning is influenced by American band Sonic Youth.[citation needed]

Lyrics and themes[edit]

The people who inspired it are a couple of friends of mine, you know; it's kind of like a celebration of a friendship with women. It's also a song about coming down, ending the day, as everybody else's day is sort of starting, and feeling dislocated from the world, really, and kind of like yearning for a friend to put their arms around you to make the come down easier.

Brian Molko, 1998

The songs on Without You I'm Nothing were written around the time Placebo came out, in 1996. The album appears to be more personal than their debut and reflects on Molko's past.[citation needed] The album's opening song "Pure Morning" was written off the top of Molko's head.[7] It was written about celebration of friendship; hence the repetition of the line "A friend in need's a friend indeed".[8] The title of "Brick Shithouse" comes an old English phrase meaning that, if somebody is built like a "brick shithouse", they have a lot of muscle but aren't very clever.[6] In an interview Molko said that the song is "a ghost story, about somebody watching their lover make love to the person who killed them".[9]

Many of the lyrics on the album seem to deal with romance. "You Don't Care About Us" which was written about an ex-lover telling their partner they are terrible at relationships.[10] The title of the album Without You I'm Nothing did not necessarily have anything to do with the song; the original title of the album was Placebo 2 as the band could not think of anything else. The title was loosely inspired by a film with the same name by Sandra Bernhard.[11] The song "Allergic (To Thoughts of Mother Earth)" was written about Molko's view on the environment, and Christians who do not care about the environment because "to them their rewards will always be in Heaven and not on this earth".[10]

Brian Molko has said that "My Sweet Prince" was important to him and that it was about two romances, one with drugs and one with a person, with both ending tragically.[10] There are many references to heroin, such as "Me and the dragon/Can chase all the pain away" and "Close up the hole in my vein". "Scared of Girls" is about being vulnerable and being ashamed of who you are.[7]

The last two songs, "Burger Queen" – which was written about a homosexual, drug-addicted goth in Luxembourg[citation needed] – and "Evil Dildo" were written during a soundcheck at Leipzig on their first German tour in October of 1996,[4] and were two of the first songs to be written for the album. The title for "Burger Queen" is a play on Burger King and Luxembourg. The voices heard during the hidden track "Evil Dildo" are actual death threats left on Molko's answerphone.[12]

Packaging[edit]

The album cover features two women sitting on a table in front of each other, looking down on the table. The light coming in from the curtains makes a yellow colour on the cover of the album. The back cover shows a couch in front of some red curtains and shows the track listing and all of the information instead of putting it in the booklet. Two different coloured CDs were made; some black and some red.

Promotion[edit]

In 1998 the band released the single "Pure Morning" in August. It reached number 4 in the UK Singles Chart.[13] The second single, "You Don't Care About Us", was released in September and reached number 5.[13]

Release[edit]

Without You I'm Nothing was released on 12 October 1998. The album debuted at number 7 in the UK and French albums chart and at number 20 in the USA Heatseekers chart. It was later certified platinum on 15 August 2003[14] and has sold over one million copies to date.[citation needed] It also went platinum in Australia and Europe and gold in France.[15][16][17] The album was released on CD, cassette and vinyl.

Three further singles were released: Every You Every Me on 25 January 1999, Without You I'm Nothing on 16 August and "Burger Queen" on 22 November. Videos were made for all singles except "Burger Queen". The video for "Without You I'm Nothing" features a live performance with David Bowie which was included on the single release and the video for "Every You Every Me" features clips from the movie Cruel Intentions, as well as another version with the band playing the song live at London's Brixton Academy.

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[18]
Robert Christgau (neither)[19]
NME 8/10[20]
Pitchfork 5.1/10[21]
PopMatters 7/10[22]

Without You I'm Nothing has been generally well-received by critics.

NME called it "A thrilling record, then, made by freaks, for freaks. Just don't expect to leave with your soul intact".[20] Michael Sandlin of Pitchfork wrote "Moonboy Molko is a lousy songwriter, but his campy lyrical melodrama hits home with paste-eating geeks and plenty of hard-up, acne-ridden adolescents... [...] providing entertainment ideally suited for the young, cynical, insecure and sexually-ambiguous male virgin".[21]

Tour[edit]

A thirteen-month tour accompanied the album; during this tour Stefan Olsdal fell off the stage and broke his arm, whilst on the same evening Brian Molko slept in the same position for ten hours, waking up with a compressed vertebrae in his neck and with no feeling in his head.[23]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Brian Molko, all music composed by Placebo, except as noted.

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Pure Morning"     4:14
2. "Brick Shithouse"     3:18
3. "You Don't Care About Us"     3:58
4. "Ask for Answers"     5:19
5. "Without You I'm Nothing"     4:08
6. "Allergic (To Thoughts of Mother Earth)"     3:49
7. "The Crawl"     2:59
8. "Every You Every Me"   Molko, Paul Campion 3:33
9. "My Sweet Prince"     5:45
10. "Summer's Gone"     3:05
11. "Scared of Girls"     3:01
12. "Burger Queen" ("Burger Queen" ends at 6:14, hidden track "Evil Dildo" starts at 14:45)   22:39
Total length:
65:48

Personnel[edit]

Placebo
Technical
  • Adrian Bushby – engineering (tracks 2–12)
  • Paul Corkett – additional engineering
  • Jake Davies – mixing assistance
  • Phelan Kane – programming (track 1)
  • Teo Miller – engineering (track 1)
  • Steve Osborne – production (tracks 2–12)
  • Bunt Stafford-Clark – mastering (at Townhouse Studios, London)
  • Phil Vinall – production (track 1)
  • Corrine Day – sleeve photography
  • Placebo – sleeve design
  • Blue Source – sleeve design

Chart performance[edit]

Album
Country Peak
position
Certifications
UK 7 Platinum (300,000 units)
Australia 14 Platinum (70,000 units)
Austria 43
France 7 2× Gold (200,000)
Germany 55
Switzerland 95
USA (Heatseekers)[24] 20
Singles
Year Single Peak positions
AUS
[25]
FRA
[26]
GER
[27]
NLD
[28]
NZ
[29]
UK US Mod
[30]
1998 "Pure Morning" 49 84 21 4 19
"You Don't Care About Us" 5
1999 "Every You Every Me" 46 11
"Without You I'm Nothing" 79
"Burger Queen Français" 78
"—" denotes releases that did not chart.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Interview with Brian Molko of Placebo (NY Rock)". NY Rock. April 2001. Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  2. ^ "Antidote "Thц╘rapie de groupe", Sep'98 – LJ Placebo Russia Archive". Placeborussia.ru. 3 September 1998. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  3. ^ Leonard, Michael (October 1998). "Sonic Youths". Guitar. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c "Silver Rocket 1998–2000 – LJ Placebo Russia Archive". placeborussia.ru. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  5. ^ "Elocution So Divine, Without You I'm Nothing (Album) Producer Steve...". Tumblr. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  6. ^ a b "Placebo – Interview MTV 28.11.1998 – YouTube". YouTube. 12 February 2012. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  7. ^ a b "No More Charlie Angels". NME. August 1998. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  8. ^ "Placebo – Interview MTV Alarm 1998 – YouTube". YouTube. 1 February 2012. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  9. ^ "Brick Shithouse, Without You I'm Nothing (Placebo Lyrics, Explanations and Press Quotes) – Placebo Wordz, Paroles et Traductions des Chansons de Placebo". traductionsetparoles.over-blog.com. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  10. ^ a b c "Interview "Placebo in Conversation with Sally Stratton", Aug'98 – LJ Placebo Russia Archive". placeborussia.ru. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  11. ^ Smith, Richard (December 1998). "The Rise and Rise of Brian Molko...". Gay Times. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  12. ^ "Ready, Steady, Spook". Melody Maker. October 1998. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  13. ^ a b "Placebo | Artist | Official Charts". Official Charts. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  14. ^ "Certified Awards". BPI. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  15. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2000 Albums". aria.com.au. Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  16. ^ "IFPI Platinum Europe Awards – 2003". ifpi.org. 1 September 2005. Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  17. ^ "Snepmusique.com, le site du Snep". Snepmusique.com. Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  18. ^ Prato, Greg. "Without You I'm Nothing – Placebo | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  19. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Robert Christgau: CG: Placebo". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  20. ^ a b "[Without You I'm Nothing review]". NME. 9 November 1998. Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  21. ^ a b Sandlin, Michael. "Placebo: Without You I'm Nothing: Pitchfork Review". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on 17 June 2002. Retrieved 27 October 2011. 
  22. ^ Zupko, Sarah. "Placebo, Without You I'm Nothing | PopMatters". PopMatters. Retrieved 4 March 2012. 
  23. ^ "We're Falling Apart at the Seams". Melody Maker. November 1999. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  24. ^ "Without You I'm Nothing". AllMusic. Retrieved 4 March 2012. 
  25. ^ "Placebo singles chart positions in Australia". Retrieved 2013-04-26. 
  26. ^ "Placebo singles chart positions in France". Retrieved 2013-04-26. 
  27. ^ "Placebo singles chart positions in Germany". Retrieved 2009-05-31. 
  28. ^ "Placebo singles chart positions in the Netherlands". Retrieved 2013-04-26. 
  29. ^ "Placebo singles chart positions in New Zealand". Retrieved 2013-04-16. 
  30. ^ "Placebo single chart positions in the US". Retrieved 2013-04-26. 

External links[edit]