Placebo were formed when schoolfriends Brian Molko and Stefan Olsdal met in South Kensington tube station. Molko was singing that night; Olsdal watched and decided to form a band. Robert Schultzberg joined them at the request of Olsdal. The band was then formed:

  • Brian Molko: Vocals and Guitar
  • Stefan Olsdal: Bass Guitar
  • Robert Schultzberg: Drums

A year passed during which Placebo attracted the attention of many A&R men, culminating with a deal with hut records. 1995 and 1996 saw them tour with Ash, Whale, Bush and David Bowie.

I've only included the 2 albums I have below; node what you know and all that guff:

So why do I like Placebo? Well, they are much maligned over Molko's androgynous appearance and their sexual lyrics; homophobia being alive and well still, unfortunately. So I like them because some others don't? maybe. It's fun to play them to my Mother, watch her huff at the lyrics, then remind her that her favourite band are The Cure :) Brian Molko's voice is so whining and distinct; he is unique to the best of my knowledge. I think the similarity between placebo and smashing pumpkins is a little overstated; I've never really considered it before reading the nodes above, but Molko does seem to use his voice to express things in the same way as Billy Corgan.

Placebo are angsty, touching and desolate, yet uplifting, amusing and somehow hopeful at the same time. They can be played loud during a rocking afternoon, or softly at midnight. (coming down after Bruise Pristine to Lady of the flowers and Swallow is a sublime experience, heightened by the beautiful instrumental hidden after many minutes of silence) Placebo are suitable for angst-ridden nights and lonely mornings, manic days and excited afternoons...

Well, I like them :-)

Richard Bandler, psychologist and founder of NLP, and his associates decided to utilize the placebo effect and market a product called Placebo. They looked over all the research studies that used a placebo, and found that placebo had a noticeable effect on the condition it was used for about 10% of the time. Given the established effectiveness of placebos, they went ahead to seek FDA approval for their drug, Placebotm. The product would come with a booklet telling how many of Placebo to take for any given problem: for example, if studies had shown a placebo to be 25% as effective as Paxil for treating Major Depression, then you would take 5 placebo to make sure it would be effective (5x25% = 125%). The FDA refused to consider allowing Bandler and his associates to market the drug, and placebo remains a product used mostly in research studies.

Placebo is one of the most interesting European bands of the 90s. Formed by a Swedish bassist, an English drummer and a half-American/half-English singer/guitarrist, Placebo incorporates many different influences to make their angry, sexy and sad music. Stefen Osdal, Steven Hewitt and Brian Molko have caught up with much media attention since their debut single, Bruise Pristine, was release in the UK in 1995.

It was the song Nancy Boy, however, that would push them to the limelights and attract David Bowie's attention. Brian's androgyny and his ambiguous lyrics made Bowie declared that Brian was "the daughter he never had" and invite the band to play at his 50th birthday concert, in New York. Nancy Boy reached n° 4 at the British hit parade and made their first album, Placebo, be noticed by big audiences.

  1. Come Home
  2. Teenage Angst
  3. Bionic
  4. 36 degrees
  5. Hang on to your IQ
  6. Nancy Boy
  7. I Know
  8. Bruise Pristine
  9. Lady of the Flowers
  10. Swallow and hidden instrumental track called 'H. K. Farewell'
At this time, the band was with a different drummer, as Hewitt was busy with another music project. Robert Schultzberg recorded the Placebo album, but it was soon clear to Brian and Stefan that they could not work with him. Apparently, Robert and Brian had big fights and it all ended with the pair ceasing to speak to one another. Placebo was now big enough, however, to seduce Steven Hewitt into joining them at last.

In 1998, the band released their second (and, IMHO, the best) album, called Without You I'm Nothing. After the party-and-sexy-driven lyrics of the first album, WYIN was a cold morning shower of depression and sadness. The band lost none of it's strength but managed to add a bit mor of feeling and depth to their work, conquering new fans and critics.

Without You I'm Nothing
  1. Pure Morning
  2. Brick Shithouse
  3. You Don't Care About Us
  4. Ask for Answers
  5. Without You I'm Nothing
  6. Allergic (To Thoughts Of Mother Earth)
  7. The Crawl
  8. Every You, Every Me
  9. My Sweet Prince
  10. Summer's Gone
  11. Scared Of Girls
  12. Burger Queen and hidden instrumental track called 'Evil Dildo'
The hit song this time was Every You, Every Me, also featured on the Cruel Intentions soundtrack. Later that year Placebo appeared in Todd Haynes' glam rock movie Velvet Goldmine, not only playing T. Rex's 20th century boy, but also playing small parts as band members on the movie.

It would take the band 3 years to release the next record, Black Market Music, due to intensive touring around the world. Europe was conquered, so they set off to North America and Asia - unfortunatelly skipping South America altogether. But Black Market Music was to be another hit after it's early 2001 release, showing some changes on the band's musical direction. Androgyny was down to a minimum and some songs started to talk about political issues, like racism and unemployment. It was all done magistrally and the album reached n° 1 in several European countries, like Spain.

Black Market Music
  1. Taste in Men
  2. Days Before You Came
  3. Special K
  4. Spite & Malice
  5. - with Justin Warfield
  6. Passive Agressive
  7. Black Eyed
  8. Blue American
  9. Slave to the Wage
  10. Commercial For Levi
  11. Haemoglobin
  12. Narcoleptic
  13. Peeping Tom
  14. Without You I'm Nothing (with David Bowie) and I Feel You were included in some special editions of the record
I was lucky enough to catch their gig on the Reading/Leeds Festival of 2000 and managed to hear some songs beforehand, like Taste in Men and Special K. Both would turn out to be hit songs for the band and the album was one of the most commercially succesful Placebo had. The early news, however, scared the fans when it became known that Spite & Malice would feature rapper Justin Warfield, an unlikely combination. The band managed to pull it off, tough, and most fans cherish the song.

The next album was released in 2003 and was called Sleeping with Ghosts. Placebo's image was already changed at this point, without so much focus on Brian's alleged bissexuality and girlishness. Cropped hair and men's clothes helped drive away the attention, but Brian never denied his interest in both genders.

Sleeping with Ghosts
  1. Bulletproof Cupid
  2. English Summer Rain
  3. The Picture
  4. Sleeping with Ghosts
  5. The Bitter End
  6. Something Rotten
  7. Plasticine
  8. Special Needs
  9. I'll be Yours
  10. Second Sight
  11. Protect me from What I Want
  12. Centerfolds
The album was later re-released with a bonus CD of cover songs:
  1. Running Up The Hill
  2. Where is My Mind
  3. Bigmouth Strickes Again
  4. Johnny & Mary
  5. 20th Century Boy
  6. The Ballad of Melody Nelson
  7. Holocaust
  8. I Feel You
  9. Daddy Cool
  10. Jackie
The band recently release (March 2004) a live DVD, their first. Hopefully, Placebo will keep on rocking for a long time (and I'll have to update this node several times...).

Many thanks to the VH1 website and MTV website as well as the official Placebo website,

John signed up for Research studies,
Two or three times a year, when he qualified.
Not for the money, he had a SSI check after all.

For him it was about faith.
He had a strong belief in the Scientific method.
There was something Zen about the process, he thought.

He always prayed he was in the Control Group.
Getting better because of his belief, as opposed to
a cure from the pill itself.

Afterwards he always felt transcendent.

Pla*ce"bo (?), n. [L., I shall please, fut. of placere to please.]

1. R. C. Ch.

The first antiphon of the vespers for the dead.

2. Med.

A prescription intended to humor or satisfy.

To sing placebo, to agree with one in his opinion; to be complaisant to.


<-- placebo effect -->


© Webster 1913.

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