TS: "Pressure" vs. "Shock the Monkey"

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Two songs, 1982, sorta of a piece in terms of giddily overwrought ridiculousness. Videos too.

Billy Joel remaking The Parallax View via Ken Russell's Tommy vs. Unsmiling Peter Gabriel in goofy make-up! THE TIME IS NOW

The Good Dr. Bill (The Good Dr. Bill), Friday, 15 July 2005 12:21 (fifteen years ago) link

If I had to choose, I'd probably go with "Pressure" for the synth riff, but my god is it tough.

The Good Dr. Bill (The Good Dr. Bill), Friday, 15 July 2005 12:22 (fifteen years ago) link

"Pressure" always seemed forced, so Peter Gabriel, hands down. And the video still scares the shit out of me.

Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Friday, 15 July 2005 12:24 (fifteen years ago) link

"scares"?

I actually think "Pressure" is the most natural, undiluted distillation of the Essence of Joel to be captured in any of his major singles.

The Good Dr. Bill (The Good Dr. Bill), Friday, 15 July 2005 12:25 (fifteen years ago) link

Watching Peter Gabriel emerge from a mysterious pond with monkey makeup on his face is quite traumatic for a seven year-old.

Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Friday, 15 July 2005 12:31 (fifteen years ago) link

Monkey makeup? Is that what that's supposed to be? Huh.

ssssssssSSSHHHHHHOCK

The Good Dr. Bill (The Good Dr. Bill), Friday, 15 July 2005 12:33 (fifteen years ago) link

"Shock The Monkey" would be a better song even if the hooks didn't revolve around the words "shock" and "monkey."

miccio (miccio), Friday, 15 July 2005 12:37 (fifteen years ago) link

Ever since Pete wrote a song called "Kiss The Frog" in 1992, I kept wishing he sang SPANK THE MONKEY.

Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Friday, 15 July 2005 12:39 (fifteen years ago) link

"Shock The Monkey" would be a better song even if the hooks didn't revolve around the words "shock" and "monkey."

True, but I think it'd probably end up pretty middling otherwise.

Wasn't this his breakout hit, too?

The Good Dr. Bill (The Good Dr. Bill), Friday, 15 July 2005 12:41 (fifteen years ago) link

It was his first top 40 hit, yeah. It still works: the man can program a Fairlight.

Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Friday, 15 July 2005 12:43 (fifteen years ago) link

I wonder how different his career would be if instead he sang "funky! funkaee! funky! don't you know I really...got the funky!"

miccio (miccio), Friday, 15 July 2005 12:44 (fifteen years ago) link

this probably broke audiences in to Gabriel pretty well, though, after this, how well things like the "Sledgehammer" video and his Youssou N'Dour collab have seemed?

The Good Dr. Bill (The Good Dr. Bill), Friday, 15 July 2005 12:46 (fifteen years ago) link

(I don't know from videos...)

For me personally, "Shock The Monkey" was and is one of the most irritating hit songs ever. That incessant little semicolon of a synth hook (as in fish-hook, in my throat) just annoys the crap outta me. More tolerable than that fucking Usher hit but that's not saying much, is it?

"Pressure", OTOH, I think is actually one of BJ's more effective hits, appropriately nerve-racking, with a synth riff that weirdly reminds me of Bernard Herrmann's "Psycho". So "Pressure" wins it. (In other words, I hate one song because it gets on my nerves, and at the same time liking a different song because it gets on my nerves, so I really don't know what the fuck I'm talking about.)

Myonga Von Bontee (Myonga Von Bontee), Friday, 15 July 2005 13:50 (fifteen years ago) link

It was his first top 40 hit, yeah. It still works: the man can program a Fairlight.

Some credit to Larry Fast...

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Friday, 15 July 2005 13:57 (fifteen years ago) link

"Shock the Monkey" positively defecates in its own paw and lobs it derisively at not only this Billy Joel track, but at BILLY JOEL'S ENTIRE CATALOG!

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Friday, 15 July 2005 14:02 (fifteen years ago) link

Post-1986 their work was uneven when it wasn't awful, but right now I'd rather listen to "The Bridge" over "US"

Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Friday, 15 July 2005 14:04 (fifteen years ago) link

"All your life is channel thirteen...Sesame Street...what does it mean?"
Yes, Billy...what the freak does it mean?

p.j. (Henry), Friday, 15 July 2005 14:06 (fifteen years ago) link

Billy Joel is a funny guy.

miccio (miccio), Friday, 15 July 2005 14:07 (fifteen years ago) link

"I'll tell ya what it means ... PRESSURE !!!

Pleasant Plains /// (Pleasant Plains ///), Friday, 15 July 2005 15:39 (fifteen years ago) link

The "Pressure" melody really works for me, but to my ear that synth riff that wins over The Good Dr. Bill just screams "I'm an asshole! Slap me!"

Whereas "Shock The Monkey" is epic. Dark, dramatic minor-key contrapuntage riding a rock solid groove. And yet another killer PG vocal performance.

Peter Gabriel vs. Mutt Lange Fairlight FITE!!!

rogermexico (rogermexico), Friday, 15 July 2005 18:18 (fifteen years ago) link

Post-1986 their work was uneven when it wasn't awful, but right now I'd rather listen to "The Bridge" over "US"

I'll give you the melody on "The Downeaster Alexa". But what Alex in NYC said. I will have to sing the praises of Us (and Up) on a separate thread. Short version: delete "Kiss That Frog" and "Steam," and Us pwns.

rogermexico (rogermexico), Friday, 15 July 2005 18:22 (fifteen years ago) link

If you delete "Kiss That Frog" and "Steam," US would be a snooze! From the pompous liner notes ("these are my first songs about relationships," ugh; great, you're a man now, Peter; no more songs about moribund burgermeisters) to the draggy tempos (almost every song over 5 minutes), it's an masterpiece of overrefinement.

Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Friday, 15 July 2005 18:27 (fifteen years ago) link

While it is one of the best tunes Joel has ever made, Gabriel's is soooooo much better still to this day. I think that Pressure has been overlooked even by Joel fans. It seems at odds with his typical style and perhaps that's why its not brought up all that much.

Brett Hickman (Bhickman), Friday, 15 July 2005 18:29 (fifteen years ago) link

Pete's best songs are the ones where he just goes "yo, my dick!" Gotta keep those two.

miccio (miccio), Friday, 15 July 2005 18:29 (fifteen years ago) link

Us is a real good mood piece...I'd say you take out "Kiss that Frog" and "Steam" and you have a great album.

Brett Hickman (Bhickman), Friday, 15 July 2005 18:31 (fifteen years ago) link

cover me... when I breathe...

While I think "Pressure" is among Mr. Joel's more defensible tracks, gotta go with "Shock the Monkey."

The Mad Puffin (The Mad Puffin), Friday, 15 July 2005 18:57 (fifteen years ago) link

Pete's best songs are the ones where he just goes "yo, my dick!"

Yo, Steve Biko - my dick!

rogermexico (rogermexico), Friday, 15 July 2005 19:04 (fifteen years ago) link

"Shock The Monkey" was more than likely the first pop single I really fell in love with. That and "Europa And The Pirate Twins" by TD.

I loved the song at the time, but it hasn't aged well. Whereas I find myself spinning "The Nylon Curtain" on a semi-regular basis. "Pressure", "Allentown" and "Laura" (where Billy Joel does McCartney circa Abbey Road) are all fantabulous.

Brooker Buckingham (Brooker B), Friday, 15 July 2005 20:41 (fifteen years ago) link


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