“Get Down Make Love” Nine Inch Nails Sin Maxi-Single 1989
It’s kind of shocking to me that Nine Inch Nails’ “Get Down Make Love” was nowhere to be found on either of the original playlists. It’s probably my favorite NIN song alongside “The Only Time”. The first time I heard “Get Down Make Love” was at the Phantasy Theater on the Pretty Hate Machine Promo Tour at the end of the decade. I attended the show with coworkers from the CD store I worked at, and when my boss (a classic and prog rock dinosaur) yelled over the din, “This is a Queen song!” my mind was completely blown.
It was a crazy thing to see Nine Inch Nails live in the late ’80s. Surrounded by anger and bathed in aggression, those early shows were physically demanding of both the band and the audience. The ferocity of the performance lent an unpredictable air of excitement to the proceedings. It was antagonistic. It stirred you, pulled you in. I’m not a big guy, but this is the music that could draw me into the fray. Jostled and bruised, you would emerge from the cornstarch haze of the venue and head out into the Northeast Ohio night carried on an adrenaline surge.
This was the first of an inspired list of Nine Inch Nails’ covers, leading directly to Pigface’s “Suck”, Adam & the Ants’ “Physical”, Joy Division’s “Dead Souls”, and beyond. Recorded or live, “Get Down Make Love” feels so much more raw than the rest of Pretty Hate Machine. This song is all about attitude. Opening with a sampling of the insistent sexual history interrogation from 1962’s The Cabinet of Caligari (co-starring Glynis Johns of Mary Poppins fame!), the slow menace of Queen’s original is transformed into a spiraling nightmare. There is a sense that this shit was just thrown together – the raging percussion, the screaming chorus. It’s all open wounds and bloodied knuckles. And, frankly, some of the best industrial pop you’ll ever hear.