So Far, So Good... So What!
|So Far, So Good... So What!|
|Studio album by Megadeth|
|Producer||Dave Mustaine, Paul Lani|
|Singles from So Far, So Good... So What!|
So Far, So Good... So What! is the third studio album by American heavy metal band Megadeth, released in January 1988 through Capitol Records; a remixed and remastered edition including several bonus tracks was reissued in August 2004. It is the band's only album recorded with drummer Chuck Behler and guitarist Jeff Young, both of whom were fired immediately after the subsequent tour. So Far, So Good... So What! features music performed at very fast tempos with technical proficiency; lyrically, Mustaine addressed variety of topics, including nuclear holocaust and freedom of speech.
The record was well received among contemporary music critics, although retrospective analysis has been less favorable. It managed to enter the top 30 on the Billboard 200 with no commercial radio play; it also charted in several other countries as well. The album was eventually certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and indicated Megadeth's forthcoming emergence from the underground scene.
Background and production
Guitarist Chris Poland and drummer Gar Samuelson had been kicked out of the band following the conclusion of the Peace Sells tour for disruptive behavior, including Poland's habit of pawning band equipment to pay for drugs. Samuelson was immediately replaced by his drum tech, Chuck Behler. A new guitarist, however, would take a while to emerge. At first, the band hired guitarist Jay Reynolds from the band Malice. It was discovered however, that Reynolds was not up to the task of recording, and was subsequently replaced by his guitar teacher, Jeff Young. Mustaine has since stated his regret for the way he handled Reynolds' firing.
Work on the album started while Reynolds was in the band, but continued after the induction of Young. To mix the album, the label had turned to Paul Lani, who previously had remixed the band's prior album, Peace Sells... but Who's Buying?. Mustaine was initially skeptical, but later became very irate with Lani's "eccentricities" and his way of handling things. To mix the album, Lani had relocated himself and Mustaine to Bearsville Studios, near Woodstock, New York, ostensibly for the purpose of inspiration. The final straw occurred one morning when Mustaine, who had just awoke and made coffee, noticed Lani outside in his underwear feeding an apple to a deer. Mustaine flew back to Los Angeles later that day and fired Lani. Lani was replaced by Michael Wagener. Mustaine has since criticized his "pedestrian" mixing efforts, citing the album's "muddy feel", in particular. Mustaine was able to get Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones to perform guitar parts on "Anarchy in the UK".
Music and lyrics
According to music critic J. D. Considine, So Far, So Good... So What! displays music performed at "volumes approaching the threshold of pain", featuring fast guitar solos, multiple tempo changes and technical proficiency. Mike Stagno of Sputnikmusic observed that the album offers the classic "take no prisoners" style which is commonly associated with Megadeth; however, he noted that the sound doesn't differ much from the other underground metal bands from that period. Jim Farber of Rolling Stone called Mustaine's vocals "bloodthirsty" and praised the musicianship for keeping rhythmic pace even at the "most anarchic moments". Los Angeles Times journalist Dennis Hunt noted that the music was filled with extensive and "torrid" instrumentals and described Mustaine's singing as a combination of extreme shrieking and screaming. Despite the positive overview, "Anarchy in the U.K." received some negative criticism, partially because it lacked the rebelliousness of the original version.
The lyrical themes on the album explore variety of subjects, from nuclear holocaust ("Set the World Afire") to revisionism and censorship ("Hook in Mouth"). Still, the majority of the songs are accompanied by the same sentiment of disillusion and nihilism. Unlike the traditional topics related to heavy metal music, the sixth track "In My Darkest Hour" contains emotional lyrics and deals with loneliness and isolation. Dave Mustaine revealed that he tried to write about subject matters that were in touch with reality, including social issues and taboo topics. "Anarchy in the U.K." features lyrics written by John Lydon. The lyrics on the Megadeth cover were slightly mistaken because Mustaine claimed he had heard them wrong.
The album's opener "Into the Lungs of Hell" is an instrumental composition which features synthesized horns, winds and percussion. "Set the World Afire" is the first song Dave Mustaine wrote for Megadeth after being fired from Metallica. He was a Metallica member from 1982–83, and was dismissed just before they recorded their debut album Kill 'Em All. He later admitted writing the lyrics during his journey home from the departure. Inspiration for the song came from a newspaper he read while on the bus back to California. Originally intended to be titled "Megadeath", Mustaine later decided to use the name, minus the "a" in "death," for the band instead. "Anarchy in the U.K." is a Sex Pistols cover, which quickly became a staple of the band's live set. Over the years, the song was dropped from the set list because of its anti-Christian viewpoint. "Mary Jane" tells a story about a young witch buried alive by her father nearby the Loon Lake. According to the legend, anyone who dared to disturb her grave was doomed to prompt death. The song features descending guitar lines and begins with Mustaine summoning her spirit during the introduction part.
"502" is about driving fast cars. "In My Darkest Hour" was written by Mustaine shortly after the death of Metallica bassist Cliff Burton. Mustaine had found out through word spread, as his former band mates never contacted him about the tragic event that occurred in Europe. He later recalled that he was extremely unhappy that day and wrote the song in one sitting. "Liar" is a lyrical insult towards past member Chris Poland. "Hook in Mouth" is a declaim against censorship and the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC). Mustaine elaborated that the lyrics were aimed at those who were "fucking around with our constitutional rights and trying to take away our freedom of speech".
|Los Angeles Times|||
The album received positive feedback from music critics at the time of its release. In a contemporary review, Holger Stratmann from Rock Hard hailed the album as "the new masterpiece of Megadeth" and asserted that the band had created a great follow-up to their highly acclaimed Peace Sells... but Who's Buying?. Jim Farber of Rolling Stone also gave the album a favorable review, saying it propelled the group "right at the top of the thrash-rock heap". He concluded his review by saying "amid today's narcoleptic pop scene, albums like So Far, So Good ... So What! offer a disruptive noise that's welcome indeed". Writing in Spin, J. D. Considine felt that the record was step in "genuine maturity" for the band. Robert Christgau reacted enthusiastically towards the album and wrote that Megadeth garnered "its modest portions of profit and respect" with their latest studio release. He gave special praise to "Anarchy in the U.K.", commenting that Mustaine covers the Sex Pistols "like a champ".
Retrospective reviews, however, tend to be more critical of the album. AllMusic's Steve Huey criticized the album for lacking "the conceptual unity and musical bite" of its predecessor. According to him, the album "wants to sound threatening but mostly comes off as forced and somewhat juvenile", citing the cover track as an example of his claim. Similarly, Piero Scaruffi wrote that the album sounded disappointing compared to their previous effort. Scaruffi said that while the opening two songs "keep a high level of adrenaline", the pair of power-ballads turn the tempo into moderate pace. Mike Stagno of Sputnikmusic opined that the record is "a fairly decent album, but not a great one". He felt that apart from "Set the World Afire" and "Mary Jane", the rest of the album "feels somewhat uninspired". As opposite, Adrien Begrand from MSN Music opined that the record was "somehow ignored" in the band's discography.
The tour that followed after the album's release was the first to feature new band members Chuck Behler and Jeff Young. Bassist David Ellefson admitted that previous members Gar Samuelson and Chris Poland were tired of constantly being on the road and their departure was inevitable. He further revealed that drummer Behler was appointed little earlier because the band feared that Samuelson would not be able to continue touring. However, some problems did occur during the Australian leg of the tour. The band was forced to cancel these shows because of drug issues. Mustaine claimed that the group returned home because guitarist Young had "ran out of heroin". These allegations were later denied by Jeff Young, who stated that it was Mustaine who wanted to go back to Los Angeles and seek rehabilitation. Both Young and Behler were fired immediately after the end of the tour, in August 1988.
Megadeth started performing the album's songs live before the record was officially released. During 1987 they toured with other thrash metal bands at number of European venues. The following year they teamed up with more established heavy metal acts such as Ronnie James Dio for a few shows in North America. Later in 1988 the group made appearance at the Monsters of Rock festival, but was dropped from the line-up after one show. Dave Mustaine explained that the band toured quite often because they were not receiving much media exposure: "We do a lot of shows and sell records by word-of-mouth". Los Angeles Times published that So Far, So Good... So What! sold 400,000 copies one month after its release, becoming Megadeth's fastest selling album at that point. The record eventually went platinum and indicated Megadeth's forthcoming emergence from the underground scene.
|1.||"Into the Lungs of Hell" (instrumental)||3:29|
|2.||"Set the World Afire"||5:48|
|3.||"Anarchy in the U.K." (feat. Steve Jones; Sex Pistols cover)||Johnny Rotten||Rotten, Jones, Glen Matlock, Paul Cook||3:00|
|4.||"Mary Jane"||Mustaine, David Ellefson||4:25|
|6.||"In My Darkest Hour" (6:26 on 2004 reissue)||Mustaine, Ellefson||6:16|
|8.||"Hook in Mouth"||Mustaine, Ellefson||4:40|
|2004 remixed/remastered edition bonus tracks|
|9.||"Into the Lungs of Hell" (Paul Lani mix)||(instrumental)||3:32|
|10.||"Set the World Afire" (Paul Lani mix)||5:53|
|11.||"Mary Jane" (Paul Lani mix)||Mustaine, Ellefson||4:08|
|12.||"In My Darkest Hour" (Paul Lani mix)||Mustaine, Ellefson||6:11|
|Canadian Albums Chart||40|
|Dutch Albums Chart||51|
|Japanese Albums Chart||57|
|New Zealand Albums Chart||41|
|Swedish Albums Chart||37|
|Swiss Albums Chart||28|
|UK Albums Chart||18|
|US Billboard 200||28|
|Canada (Music Canada)||Platinum||100,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,000,000^|
*sales figures based on certification alone
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