We woke up today with an old friend in mind, Without You I’m Nothing by Placebo, and we thought it was about time we gave it a new listen. Back in the days, when we still had braces and Doc Martens, we listened to the CD on repeat on our stereo and Placebo was the center of our attention.
This band was like no other English rock band we had heard before. Maybe because Brian Molko, their lead singer was one of a kind (as he himself sang years later), with his gender fluid being, his unique voice, his unforgettable personality and outrageous make up. In a decade when the high school caste system was going stronger than never, Placebo were the one band the outcasts, the loners, the hopeless, the lustful could relate. And they were about to start a revolution. That revolution was their second album, Without You I’m Nothing. And it started with a guy about to jump off a building on MTV2.
Who doesn’t remember this ? Pure Morning, the first single from Without You I’m Nothing, dropped like a bomb on the surface of planet Earth in August 1998, proving to the world Brian, and his bandmates Steve and Stefan, were capable of so much more than the rageous, noisy, raw, teenage rock they were accustomed to.
Then, a few months later, this came up on the radios :
And Placebo couldn’t be ignored anymore. But, as it happens much too often, these two singles were absolutely not representative of the album. Indeed, WYIN has so much more to offer : melancholic ballads, breathtaking lyrics, a painful almost agonizing atmosphere. To fully appreciate the power of this album, you have to be enduring some sort of crisis. Somehow, you’ll feel bruised but better.
We wanted to celebrate this album with a few fun facts that you may (or may not) have heard of.
- Pure Morning was originally… a B-Side. When the label had a crush on it and asked to put it on the album, Brian, Steve and Stefan were horrified, considering this song wasn’t good enough to be part of it, even less as an opening song. Never trust the label. Except when the label is right (0,001% of the time).
- Bowie fell in love with this album and particurlarly with the title track. He called Brian and told him he had to be part of it, or he would make a cover. The rest is history. Like you have a choice when God himself picks up the phone.
- The romantic punk feel, very Cure-like, was so intoxicating the band started to spot Molko clones in the front rows. Without You I’m Nothing started a sort of crazy cult around Brian Molko persona. Who didn’t have a Brian lookalike in his Myspace contacts?
- Without You I’m Nothing wasn’t planned to be composed that way. At first, it was going to sound a lot like the first LP. But the band ended up stuck in a dark studio with no windows, and began searching themselves for days. That’s why the album is very dual, alternating between rages songs and emotional ballads.
- Another B-side story : while they were in the studio, the band was exploring all music genres and had fun with a Bossa nova loop. Brian didn’t knew what to sing. He listened to his voice mails and ended up singing what he heard : “Embrasse-moi, mets ton doigt dans mon culture”. Mars Landing Party, the first ever Placebo French song, was born!
We leave you to one of our favorite songs of this magnificent album. Now, have a nice cup of tea, and use your time on Earth wisely : give Placebo one hour, and lie here charmed for the rest of your life.1