the greatness of rock screams (or at least rock screeches)

at work the other day, we had a conversation that involved Quiet Riot, and while i grant you that that’s basically NEVER a good thing, it did get me to thinking and not just about Quiet Riot sucking hardcore at the whole music thing: rock screams, when done well, are pretty cool. and so i further thought that we should commemorate them. and yes, ordinarily, this is the kind of thing i would celebrate 13 of, but hey, i’m a little short right now. so you’ll take what you get and you’ll like it! or just be disappointed with me, that’s generally what i do.

Zack De La Rocha, ladies and gentlemen
fuck the sound, this is what a rock scream is supposed to LOOK like

Led Zeppelin, “Immigrant Song”
i’ve always been prone to talking a little shit about Led Zeppelin, whether it’s that they’re overrated when compared to the Beatles or the Who or the Rolling Stones, or that they’re prone to containing possible pedophile band members, but either way, they DO rock pretty hard, and when they get it right, they get it right. and it doesn’t get much righter than Plant’s proto-metal yowling on this song.

Rage Against The Machine, “Killing In The Name Of”
granted, there are many better RATM songs out there; “Killing In The Name Of” isn’t one of my personal favorites at all, and frankly, i’m likely to skip this track completely if i was to play this album (or rather, skip this album in favor of later, better ones). and it’s not like Zack De La Rocha limited his rock/rap screaming to this one track, and other occasions may have been more quotable (say, “anger is a gift”). however, there’s definitely something to a rock scream when it makes legions of middle-class kids yell “fuck you, i won’t do what you tell me” in seeming support of De La Rocha’s intensely left-wing lyrics. i’m just sayin’.

the B-52s, ladies and gentlemen
oh, shut the fuck up already, you know damn well that “Rock Lobster,” well, rocks

the B-52s, “Rock Lobster”
granted, there isn’t really a “rock scream” going on here in the traditional sense, but let’s bear two things in mind: a) i’m not sure that Fred Schneider is capable of anything more in terms of “rock screams” than he reaches here while belting out “ROCK LOBSTER,” and b) “Rock Lobster” is one of the greatest songs of all time. and i take every possible moment here on the internet to remind people of that fact. and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Sepultura, “Ratamahatta”
i’m not really sure if you count what Carlinhos Brown was doing on this song as screaming (or rock screaming, for that matter), but whatever it counts as, it’s surely one of the most awesome – and ridiculous – things i’ve ever heard committed to a compact disc.

the Reverend Horton Heat, “400 Bucks”
at the end of the song, the good Reverend just goes absolutely nuts and raves about his 400 dollars and the woman that scammed him out of it and a need to possibly murder her to get it back. now, it’s not that i’m trying to endorse that particular sentiment – no matter how much the lady in question deserves it – it’s just that it’s one awesome rock scream-rant-yell-whatever it is. and it closes out the song perfectly.

3 Inches Of Blood, ladies and gentlemen
i will never, ever get tired of referring to this album cover

3 Inches Of Blood, “Destroy The Orcs”
not that i was just making fun of this band within the last 24 hours… but seriously, the entire song is one ridiculous rock scream devoted to the concept of killing the orcs, slaying the orcs, and destroying the orcs. oh, yeah, and spilling their blood. we absolutely cannot forget the need to spill the blood of the aformentioned orcs.

the Rolling Stones, “Gimme Shelter”
yeah, okay, this is a background vocal and so it’s kind of a weird selection, but Merry Clayton screaming out said background vocals is one of the things that really makes this song the classic that it is. Jagger’s not really built for those kinds of vocals anyway, and as far as making the song sound ominous and apocalyptic … well, mission accomplished, Merry Clayton. you may hang a banner on an aircraft carrier as you see fit.

Roger Daltrey, ladies and gentlemen
it might be hard to tell from this photo, but the greatest rock scream of all time lives inside this man

the Who, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”
there really is no debate about this: when Roger Daltry lets out his all-time classic “YEEEEAAAAH,” more than a mere rock moment in a rock song, it confirms why the Who were possibly THE hardest-rocking band of all time. there will never be another rock scream as perfectly archetypical as this one.

…unless of course Jesus Christ himself comes back to earth to record a cover version of “Destroy The Orcs.” fingers crossed!

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