Is there anything worse than a bad song on a nearly perfect album? Probably, but for the sake of our series, Seeing Red, there isn’t. In Seeing Red we ask our staff writers to talk about the songs that they hate on albums that they love.
Today we have Dying Scene writer Matmoksik, who brings up his problems with the unnecessary movie samples in Rise Against’s “Last Chance Blueprint” from their 2003 record, Revolutions Per Minute. You can read his thoughts below.
Rise Against’s Revolutions Per Minute was/is my favorite album of 2003. Fast and angry and intense, it was so good it earned the band a call up to the big leagues – their next album, Siren Song of the Counter Culture, was released on Geffen and eventually went platinum. The album kicks off strong with “Black Masks and Gasoline” and is taken up a notch with “Dead Ringer” (nobody screams better than Tim McIlrath). The pseudo-pop punk “Like The Angel” shows a relatively mellower side and is shortly followed by one of my all-time favorite songs by anyone, “Broken English.” To top it off, Revolutions Per Minute was recorded at the legendary Blasting Room – how can you go wrong?!
Which, of course, brings me to the ninth track, and my complaint, “Last Chance Blueprint.” As the band is fading in, a sound clip from a movie is heard:
“But Janie, he’s a freak!”
“Then so am I! And we’ll always be freaks and we’ll never be like other people. And you’ll never be a freak because you’re just too perfect!”
This is from the Oscar-winning film American Beauty (1999). What it’s doing here, though, I’ll never know. Punks have long been considered freaks, especially in the dawn of the genre, but if you’ve seen this movie you know the two freaks in question here don’t appear to be punk at all. Really, taken just for its words, the sound clip seems like it would fit in on a punk album, but the actresses’ deliveries taken out of context don’t come anywhere close to delivering the desired dramatic effect, whether you’re familiar with the film or not, not to mention that as the band’s volume increases during the opening fade-in you can barely understand what’s being said.
Then, during the bridge of “Last Chance Blueprint,” there is another sound clip, again from American Beauty:
“If I had to leave tonight, would you come with me?”
“If I had to go to New York, and live, tonight, would you come with me?”
For the record, I am not opposed to using outside sound clips on a song or an album (Lagwagon’s Let’s Talk About Feelings is the best example of using movie clips effectively that I can think of), but I cringe when this track begins, and I roll my eyes when we get to the bridge and this redundant and irrelevant conversation segment.
What’s the song about anyway?
“But this blueprint’s faded grey, and here it seems like just yesterday when we mapped out the details of our great escape. But still these roads all beckon me to uncover their mystery, but I fall like dead autumn leaves and let the Jetstream carry me. One last chance to go; if I don’t leave tonight I never will.”
Perhaps the song is referring to the revolution referenced in the album’s title and cover. The sound clip, though, suggests pure spontaneity, not something long- and well-thought out, which is implied by the lyrics and evidenced by the description of the blueprint. Furthermore, during the collapse of civilization, aren’t big cities like New York among the last places you would want to go? Maybe this is a stretch, or maybe I’m completely off-base – please forgive me; I’ve never been much into analyzing lyrics, nor do I think I’m any good at it.
I had the good fortune to see Rise Against on the Warped Tour shortly after this album came out. “Last Chance Blueprint” was performed and I was pleasantly surprised to hear that, without the distraction of the movie dialogue, it’s actually a pretty good song.
The odd thing is that I really like American Beauty. If I made a list of my Top 25 All-Time Favorite Movies, it would probably be included. Juxtapose the movie alongside a Rise Against song, though, and we’re mixing oil and water; an otherwise near-masterpiece of an album is tainted.
Epilogue: While it doesn’t seem to have been included on the reissue or on most digital versions of the album, the original CD-version concluded with a cover of the Journey song, “Any Way You Want It,” which I’m not a fan of either. As a purist in far too many facets of my life, I feel funny skipping a song in the middle of an album, ruining the overall flow. I don’t, however, feel nearly as badly about ending an album before the bonus content, which is why I’m giving “Last Chance Blueprint” the attention.