These LPs endured their arrival on the worst day in American history to become classics with a tragic asterisk
In the immediacy of 9/11, with all the main thoroughfares closed down into Nassau County where I lived at the time, the only thing to do that day was go to work or stay home and watch TV.
Press play to hear a narrated version of this story, presented by AudioHopper.
I was still living on unemployment at the time from being unceremoniously fired by the Zombie that ate CMJ the year before, and with only a monthly music column at the now-defunct SHOUT NY Magazine to worry about, my days were pretty wide open back then. It wasn’t much of an existence, but we made it through somehow. On many days I’d go to one of the local record shops and trade in CDs, chat with the clerks or just dig around. So after spending all morning hunkered down in my illegal utility apartment in Wantagh watching the events of the terrorist attack on our nation unfold in all of its raw feed horror, I needed to get out of the house.
I chose to hit up one of my favorite local spots at the time, Empire Discs in Garden City behind the Roosevelt Field Mall, and just dig around and rummage through the racks in a veiled effort to distract myself. But it wasn’t until I gazed up at their New Release wall that I realized it was a Tuesday, the day when the new albums would hit the stores before they switched it to Friday, and these albums all now share this circumstance of seeing their anticipated new recording come out on a day such as that day.
In looking back at that 9/11 from the perspective of the album release schedule, here are five favorites of mine which I feel have survived the stigma of having the “released on 9/11/01” tag to become transcendent classics in each of these acts’ respective catalogs.
VIDEO: Bob Dylan’s “Love & Theft” performed in full live
“Love & Theft” (Columbia)
“Love and Theft becomes his Fables of the Reconstruction, to borrow an R.E.M. album title”, The Chicago Tribune’s Greg Kot wrote in his review of the album in the morning edition of the paper that day. “The myths, mysteries and folklore of the South as a backdrop for one of the finest roots rock albums ever made.” Also hailed as his “pre-rock masterpiece” by Rolling Stone, Dylan’s 31st full-length dutifully served as a salve of sunlight in the immediacy of the tragic events of September 11th, 2001. It’s a pity this album doesn’t get talked about more, as it deserves to be cited alongside Blonde On Blonde, Blood on the Tracks and Oh Mercy as one of Mr. Zimmerman’s quintessential studio recordings.
AUDIO: The Moldy Peaches (full album)
THE MOLDY PEACHES
The Moldy Peaches (Rough Trade)
“New York City’s like a graveyard/All the corpses like the way I play my guitar” is a couplet that wasn’t meant to harbor any connotation beyond a biting dig at the encroaching sprawl of gentrification that began muscling in on the territory of the antifolk scene where Adam Green and Kimya Dawson had gained a cult following within. But having been released on the same day people were jumping to their death as the Twin Towers burned, much of the wrong attention was focused on “NYC’s Like A Graveyard,” just one of the 19 songs that made this first–and only–proper Moldy Peaches record such scrappy good fun.
AUDIO: Jay-Z The Blueprint (full album playlist)
The Blueprint (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam)
The sixth Jigga studio album, and the one considered by many of his fans as his singular masterwork, wasn’t even supposed to come out on 9/11. It was pushed up a week early to combat piracy and bootleggers. Now in 2019, it was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Recording Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” It’s the first album in this new century to be given the honor, and rightfully so. No other record released on that fateful day exhibited the strength and resilience of the American spirit quite like The Blueprint.
AUDIO: Mercury Rev All Is Dream (full album)
All Is Dream (V2)
In France and the UK, Mercury Rev’s follow-up to the career-defining Deserter’s Songs was released at the end of August. In the United States, however, All Is Dream hit retail on 9/11. Cited by critics at the time as the sorta yin to its predecessor’s yang, the dark prog-rock orchestrations, psychedelic undertones and paranoid thoughts embracing the confusion and intensity our country was collectively sharing, especially those of us who lived within a 100 mile radius of Ground Zero. It might not be hailed as one of the best titles in the Rev catalog, but All Is Dream certainly defined the tone of the immediate emotions of that day more than anything else.
AUDIO: Slayer God Hates Us All (full album)
God Hates Us All (American Recordings)
The last Slayer album with replacement drummer Paul Bostaph was another one that wasn’t supposed to be released on September 11th of 2001. God Hates Us All was actually slated to come out on July 10th, but audio mixing issues plus controversy over the original cover art—a bloody Bible with nails hammered into it in the shape of a pentagram—pushed it a day that would forever live in infamy. It’s hailed as one of the most brutal Slayer albums in their catalog. Also, consider the particularly acerbic lyrics, informed by the band’s collective obsession with the behavioral science of serial killers, while songs like “God Send Death” and “Deviance” foreshadow the current pandemic of thrill killing and mass shootings that would soon become the norm after Columbine. Not exactly the choicest material to coincide with the tragedy of 9/11, but for metal fans the depth of songs like “Disciple” and ”Threshold” starkly speak to how they may have felt while frozen in front of the television that morning. “I definitely wanted to put more realism in it, more depth,” guitarist and chief lyricist Kerry King told Matt Diehl in the October 2001 edition of Guitar World. “God Hates Us All isn’t an anti-Christian line as much as it’s an idea I think a lot of people can relate to on a daily basis. One day you’re living your life, and then you’re hit by a car or your dog dies, so you feel like, ‘God really hates me today.’”