|Studio album by Eels|
|Released||September 21, 1998|
|Producer||E, Jim Jacobsen, Mickey Petralia, Michael Simpson|
|Singles from Electro-Shock Blues|
Electro-Shock Blues is the second studio album by American indie pop band Eels. It was released in the United Kingdom on September 21, 1998, and October 20, 1998, in the United States, through record label DreamWorks.
Electro-Shock Blues was written largely in response to frontman Mark Oliver Everett's (more commonly known as E) sister's suicide and his mother's terminal lung cancer. The title refers to the electroconvulsive therapy received by Elizabeth Everett when she was institutionalized. Many of the songs deal with their decline, his response to loss and coming to terms with suddenly becoming the only living member of his family (his father having died of a heart attack in 1982; Everett, then 19 years old, was the first to discover his body).
Though much of the album is, on its surface, bleak, its underlying message is that of coping with some of life's most difficult occurrences. The record begins with "Elizabeth on the Bathroom Floor", a sparse piece composed of one of his deceased sister's final diary entries. Later, the album's emotional climax is reached in two tracks: "Climbing to the Moon", which draws upon E's experiences visiting his sister at a mental health facility shortly before her death; and "Dead of Winter", a song about his mother's painful radiation treatment and slow succumbing. The album's last song, entitled "P.S. You Rock My World", is a hopeful bookend to "Elizabeth", containing subtly humorous lyrics that describe, among other things, an elderly woman at a gas station honking her car at E, incorrectly assuming he is the attendant, and E's decision that "maybe it's time to live".
According to the Eels official website, the song "Baby Genius" is about E's father, Dr. Hugh Everett III, a quantum physicist who authored the Many Worlds Theory. "Baby Genius" has, as the basis for its melody, the carol "O Sanctissima".
At the time of the album's recording, the only official Eels members were E himself and drummer Butch Norton, as Tommy Walter had left the band. Therefore, the recording features guest appearances by T-Bone Burnett, Lisa Germano, Grant Lee Phillips and Jon Brion.
The Daniel Johnston song "Living Life" was played often on the Electro-Shock Blues tour, eventually seeing a studio release in 2004 on the tribute compilation Discovered Covered – The Late Great Daniel Johnston.
In addition to CD and cassette releases, Electro-Shock Blues was also released on vinyl. This version included two 10" 33 RPM discs on see-through blue vinyl, limited to a small pressing.
Critical and commercial response
|The A.V. Club||favorable|
|Los Angeles Times|||
Electro-Shock Blues was very well-received by critics. The Los Angeles Times called it "a brilliant work that combines often conflicting emotions so skillfully that you are reminded at times of the childhood innocence of Brian Wilson, the wicked satire of Randy Newman and the soul-baring intensity of John Lennon."
Commercially, the album sold considerably less than Beautiful Freak.
All songs written by E (Mark Oliver Everett) except where noted
- "Elizabeth on the Bathroom Floor" – 2:08
- "Going to Your Funeral Part I" (E, Jim Jacobsen, and Parthenon Huxley) – 2:37
- "Cancer for the Cure" (E and Mickey Petralia) – 4:46
- "My Descent Into Madness" (E, Paul Houston, Dan Nakamura, and Michael Simpson) – 3:54
- "3 Speed" – 2:45
- "Hospital Food" (Butch, E, and Jim Lang) – 3:23
- "Electro-Shock Blues" (E and Petralia) – 2:29
- "Efils' God" (E and Simpson) – 3:19
- "Going to Your Funeral Part II" (E, Jacobsen) – 1:30
- "Last Stop: This Town" (E and Simpson) – 3:27
- "Baby Genius" (E and Lang) – 2:04
- "Climbing to the Moon" – 3:38
- "Ant Farm" – 2:11
- "Dead of Winter" – 2:59
- "The Medication Is Wearing Off" (E and Petralia) – 3:51
- "P.S. You Rock My World" – 3:08
- Additional musicians
- Jon Brion – Chamberlin and organ on "Climbing to the Moon"
- T-Bone Burnett – bass guitar on "Climbing to the Moon"
- Lisa Germano – violin on "Ant Farm"
- Parthenon Huxley – guitar on "Going to Your Funeral Part I"
- Jim Jacobsen – bass guitar and keyboards on "She Loved", clarinet on "Going to Your Funeral Part II", production, mixing, conduction
- John Leftwich – upright bass on "Ant Farm" and "Dead of Winter", bowed bass on "Dead of Winter"
- Elton Jones – backing vocals on "Last Stop: This Town"
- Bill Liston – saxophone on "Hospital Food"
- Volker Masthoff – vocals on "My Descent into Madness"
- Cynthia Merrill – backwards cello on "Efil's God"
- Grant-Lee Phillips – electric guitar, banjo, backing vocals on "Climbing to the Moon"
- Stuart Wylen – ½ Rhodes, guitar, alto and bass flutes on "The Medication Is Wearing Off"
- Michael Simpson – production
- Mickey Petralia – production, mixing
- Greg Collins – mixing
- Jim Lang – mixing, conduction
- Stephen Marcussen – mastering
- Chester Brown – sleeve illustration
- Debbie Dreschler – sleeve illustration
- Hugh Everett III – sleeve illustration
- Joe Matt – sleeve illustration
- Francesca Restrepo – art direction, sleeve design
- H. Scott Rusch – illustration
- Seth – sleeve illustration
- Adrian Tomine – sleeve illustration
- Prato, Greg. "Electro-Shock Blues – Eels : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards : AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved June 4, 2013.
- Rabin, Nathan (March 29, 2002). "Eels: Electro-Shock Blues | Music | MusicWork Review | The A.V. Club". The A.V. Club. Retrieved June 4, 2013.
- Christgau, Robert. "Robert Christgau: CG: The Eels". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved June 4, 2013.
- Hilburn, Robert (October 18, 1998). "What a 'Shock' to the System". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 4, 2013.
- "NME Album Reviews – Electro Shock Blues – nme.com". nme.com. August 23, 1998. Retrieved June 4, 2013.
- DeCurtis, Anthony (October 5, 1998). "Eels: Electro-Shock Blues : Music Reviews : Rolling Stone". rollingstone.com. Retrieved June 4, 2013.
- Scaruffi, Piero. "The History of Rock Music. Eels: Biography, Discography, Reviews, Links". scaruffi.com. Retrieved June 4, 2013.
- Cooper, Colin (March 30, 2004). "Eels – Electro-Shock Blues – On Second Thought – Stylus Magazine". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved June 4, 2013.
- "Amazon.com: Electro-Shock Blues: Music". Amazon.com. Retrieved June 4, 2013.
- The Electro-Shock Blues Story from Eels' official website
- Electro-Shock Blues at Discogs (list of releases)