Throbbing Gristle – Throbbing Gristle’s Greatest Hits (1980)


Oh the irony! A band that never had a hit calling their first compilation Greatest Hits. Throbbing Gristle have apparently reformed after 25 years and released a new record. The Wire review made their new venture sound promising so I bought it yesterday and one day, when I digest it, I’ll post my thoughts. In the meantime I thought I’d post on this compilation of Throbbing Gristle’s earlier output.

Greatest Hits compiles tracks from their DOA and 20 Jazz Funk Greats albums with a couple of singles thrown in for good measure. This is supposed to be a soft-landing introduction to the band credited as being the grandfathers of industrial music. Throbbing Gristle only existed (until recently of course) for about six years. In their time they produced unlistenable behemoths of noise which I assume is where the Wolf Eyes comparisons come from. So you can imagine my surprise when I gave this thing a go. Does anyone really need to listen to an avant garde version of Georgio Moroder (Hot on the Heels of Love)? I thought not. Greatest Hits lurches between electro-pop such as the cynical Kraftwerk parody, United and arty experimental tracks such as Tiab Guls which is their earlier track Slug Bait played backwards.To be fair it is important to remember that these tracks came out in the mid to late 70’s and for that time it must have been incredible stuff. Tiab Guls is a pretty unsettling experience even now. The vocal effects on Hamburger Lady must have been groundbreaking when it first came out. The real gem on this compilation is Six Six Sixties which has the feel of very early (no wave inspired) Sonic Youth.

Those looking for an “industrial” record will be sadly disappointed with Greatest Hits. There is stuff on this which has not aged well, but as a representation of early avant garde electronic music, its a fascinating document.

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