Miles vs Chatterton

gabrael

Some of you may remember a bit back that I did a couple of articles about my time in the semi-legendary Hull punk band Sal Paradise. If you read the second one, you’ll remember that I spoke very highly of a chap called Mark Chatterton, who to this day I rate as the nicest man I met in my brief sojourn in the music industry. Mark is the singer in a Peter Gabriel tribute act called Gabrael and, being somewhat of a fan of the former Genesis man myself, I was keen to shoot Mark a few questions.

How’s it going Mark?

Hello Allen, I am very well thank you. It’s very nice that you think of me so nicely.

Tell us about GABRAEL.

GABRAEL is something I have been wanting to do since my earliest days being in bands. More years than i care to remember. The problem was, up until now finding the musicians that were interested in doing Peter’s music, as well as capable and confident enough to perform it. He isn’t the easiest of artists to tribute, as we are finding out all the time.

I have borne witness to your musical taste and it’s very varied. Why Peter Gabriel?

Its true, my musical tastes are very varied. i have my parents to thank for that. when i was growing up, we always had music playing in the house. As a result, i love listening to big band jazz, as well as motown thanks to my sister Lynn, reggae, rock, (as long as i can understand the vocalsI). Most important for me is the voice. I’m a big fan of a unique voice. Singers like Thom Yorke, Xavier Rudd, Paul Simon, Ben Okafor, Stevie Nicks, Marvin Gaye, Billy Holliday really evoke a reaction in me, just through the way they deliver a line, even just a phrase. The masters of vocal delivery for me though are Frank Sinatra and Peter Gabriel. Two totally different styles, but both can move me to tears, or make me dance, which is no mean feat.

I first heard Peter’s voice on a Genesis concept album called The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway when I was eleven years old. Thirty seven years ago. A family member at the time recorded me onto tape the first half of a double concept album, telling me that the last half was “heavy going”, and I probably wouldn’t like it. Instantly, Peter’s voice struck a chord with me, and although the concept was supposed to be confusing, I instantly put images to his words to the point where i had the story of the album as a film playing in my head.
Also, the sound of the album was unlike anything i had heard before. its that album in particular that sparked my interest in sound,. I was captivated by the way the sound filled the left, right, downside, upside, front and rear and how sound, when cleverly manipulated, can play tricks on you. I actually heard sounds as colours and shades for the first tim. That’s what took me down my path to becoming a sound engineer.

I had other bands that I listened to at the time that I first heard this album, but Genesis, in particular the Gabriel era Genesis has always been with me. The rest, over the years have gone from my record collection, never to be replaced.


Gabriel is a phenomenal singer. From a personal stand point I rate the vocal to Biko as one of the top 5 performances in all of rock. Were you at all intimidated trying to re-create the work of such a gifted vocalist?

Maybe not intimidated by the task. but because i was sure that at some point in my life, i was going to get this together. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, not just for me, but also for whoever was going to make up he band. Because I have had decades of listening to his body of work, and digesting it subliminally, i was confident i could do my part. We, as a band would never be able to recreate 100% what he puts onto his studio albums. That would be impossible, but hearing the live albums has given us an insight as to how he performs the songs. Almost all of the tracks as we perform them, we have been referencing his live versions.

Regarding the track Biko, it is such a powerful song, very poignant, and although of a specific era, relating to a specific point in time, it’s a song that still resonates today.

You rehearsed for what seemed like an ice age before your first show. Was this a deliberate thing?

Absolutely a conscious decision. This is music that has to be right. Fans of Peter’s music i am assuming are very protective over his work. If we had rushed the songs just to perform them, they would not have been right, and that was not what any of us in the band wanted to do. It wouldn’t have been a good start. Every member of GABRAEL has been in bands for decades, and without using cliches, we have all really been there, done that and worn the t shirt out. So, although there was an eagerness in us to get out there, we knew we had to wait till we had things right.
Our first ever show was virtually unannounced, as a guest of Shine Over Babylon at a venue in our hometown. It was kind of a “lets see how NOT ready we are. Lets do a show, see where we are polished, and see what needs polishing”. As it turned out, although we made a few slight mistakes, on the whole it was better than any of us were expecting. And although it was an unannounced show, many people heard that we were performing, found out where and when, and turned up. We got a really good response to the show, which really did us all a power of good. It sort of confirmed that we were onto something here.

Signal To Noise is my favourite Peter Gabriel song. Will you be doing the weird shit like that or are you doing the crowd pleasers such as Solsbury Hill and Sledgehammer?

Were gonna go right across the board with the set list for our first few shows, which is still being arranged at the moment. When approaching the set list, it’s fair to say that the rest of the band have followed my lead to some extent, with me knowing more of his stuff than the rest of the band for the first few rehearsals. Obviously, we have to play the “hits” such as Sledgehammer, Biko, Solisbury Hill, Games Without Frontiers and Don’t Give Up to mention a few. After that, we have all had a say in the remainder of the set. We did actually ask our Facebook followers to name songs which they wold like to see us perform, which has been interesting. A lot of obscure album tracks have popped up a few times. It’s been nice to gauge opinions of fellow fans.

We are picking the songs which are interesting, challenging, and fun to perform. I don’t want to give away too much about our set, but hopefully there will be something for everyone.


His music is often very complex, usually using a huge amount of studio wizardry. Did you find that your background as a sound engineer gave you a few ideas of how to recreate it in a live setting?

Listening to his studio albums with my live and recording engineers hat on, I do understand a lot about how he has put the songs together, or at least I think I do. We are currently working on the various sound loops Peter uses, creating our own versions. To recreate his studio sounds live would take an army of musicians.

GABRAEL would be something that, as a sound engineer I wold love to be controlling from a mixing desk in a live setting. I had the opportunity of working with Genes-ish a few years ago, and because I knew every part of every song they performed, I like to think I was able to give them the sound that they would have wanted the audience to hear.

Luckily, we have a wonderful sound guy called David Elf, who asides from being a really nice guy to work with, is a good sound engineer who cares about the sound he gives us. He is just as eager to get it right as we are. It will be down to him to add the trickery.

What are you hoping to achieve with this act Mark?

Not actually sure what we are hoping to achieve from this. It’s just something we are all very passionate about doing, and doing well. It would be nice to, at some point in the future, get onto some of the bigger stages and festivals. That’s something for further down the line though, but definitely our aim. We just want to put on spectacular shows that people come away from singing the songs.


Rattle us off a few dates, venues and stuff like that.

We have a couple more unannounced “dipping toes in the water” shows during August and September, just to get used to playing together as a band out of the comfort zone of our rehearsal rooms.
The next few main shows are at Hornsea Floral Hall on November 1st, Hennigans in Bolton at the end of November.
Our first full length Hull show is at Fruit on January 29th through our friends at GJM Music promotions. We have a few tricks up our sleeve for that one, but I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag about what they are. Hopefully, it will be unlike any other show.

And do you have a website?

We have, yes. gabrael.co.uk. There isn’t a great deal on it yet. Until we have some music or video, it’s just a site. We are planning to go into the studio and do a live recording session with no overdubs. We just have to draft in the female vocalist, the final piece of the jigsaw that makes up GABRAEL, and then we will book a date with Dave and record maybe half a dozen tracks. Once we have them, we will probably launch the site with those songs, as well as some really cool photographs from our own photographer Ian.

Our motto with the website, as well as our approach to the shows is “build it, and they will come”.


There you go folks. These boys are worth checking out. Cheers for talking to us Mark. And… just out of interest, what is your favourite Peter Gabriel song?

I don’t have a particular favourite. I absolutely adore Father Son. I defy anyone to not like it. Lyrically, it says just enough, without saying too much. A very emotional song. You mentioned Signal To Noise, another favourite of mine. I love singing Family Snapshot, with its imagery that seems obvious but has a wonderful twist to the story at the end. There really are too many to mention. I really could be hear till the end of the year telling you what I like about any of his songs. Oh, Washing Of The Water, I absolutely adore his voice on that. See what I meet, I could be here for ages.

Thanks for the questions Allen, it’s been a pleasure answering them for you.

If Gaza Is Left To Burn, Then So Will The Situation In The West by Paul Featherstone

I took to Twitter before writing this article and put into the search engine “Gaza children killed”. I was quickly confronted by a grim portfolio of infants. Many of them had their heads blown into pieces. Some photos had the eerie look of a slumber party, with rows of children interlinked- their eyes shut in a morbid scene that equated to something bizarrely peaceful in the frozen 2D it was viewed, in a stark contrast to the horror it presented. These are the dead of Gaza, and I chose to look upon them because to turn your eyes away from what is happening right now in that part of world, is to close your eyes to the very worst of mankind. People are more comfortable looking upon historical atrocities such as the Holocaust, Somalia and Yugoslavia because the photo captures something that is long gone and cannot be prevented any longer. What is happening in Gaza right now can be prevented, there is just minimal effort to do anything approaching that from the global community.

I haven’t so far seen any images of the dead from flight MH17, nor have I actively sook them out. The tales of body parts hanging from phone lines and of scorched spinal columns in fields communicates the horror strongly enough. I don’t have to search out this horror as it is openly played out on every major media outlet from the minute it occurred. Gaza, frankly, is not.
The apparent lack of condemnation of the Israeli operation in Gaza (aside from when the likes of John Kerry think a microphone is off), is as deafening as that coming from the western world towards Putin and his merry band of men in Donetsk. Herein lies the issue for the west. Putin has watched as the west and the UN stand idly by as women and children are massacred in the likes of Syria and now Palestine  and he sees little appetite to do anything about it. Why then, should someone such as him have much regard for the collateral damage of him arming his chess pieces in his longer game to take back as much (or indeed all of) the Ukraine?
Men like Putin are, to break it into small pieces, simply spoiling for a fight. Quite often, they like the idea of looking tough rather than getting a bloodied nose and so, when the likes of the US blink, as they so often have with regards to Russia, the chance to further flex muscles and bully the other children in the playground becomes irresistible.
Quite sanely, there is little appetite for war against Russia anywhere in the world except for the Ukraine, yet the promise of sanctions that so far seem to be having little effect and the obvious avoidance of World War Three leave Russia’s critics with very little cards to play. As with the likes of Saddam Hussein in the past, sanctions rarely unsettle the likes of Putin as he would quite happily let the majority of his country starve before he caves in. That means the West must have the credibility to condemn the murder of its civilians in the skies above a war zone whose flames have been openly stoked by Moscow.
Unfortunately, that is something that the Kremlin clearly believes is lacking right now. The defiance of the UN Security Council in regards to Iraq and Afghanistan, with zero consequence for the US and the UK, is quite obviously fresh in the mind of Putin even now, many years later. A starting point, especially for the US, must be to have the same firm stance regarding the humans being blown to pieces in other places in the world other than a field in far away Donetsk.
The situation in Israel and Palestine is complicated, to make the understatement of history but it cannot be beyond the intellect of all sides within and outside of the conflict, that killing children on the beach and blowing up hospitals will only breed more people willing to fire rockets into Israel and kill their soldiers. It cannot also be beyond the intellect of most world leaders that you cannot stand and condemn the deaths of innocent people in Eastern Europe whilst ignoring the rockets used to wipe out children playing in the sun.
The lack of access to the crash site in Donetsk draws parallels with the people being shot at by snipers as they try to help the injured and retrieve the dead in Gaza. The lack of dignity shown to the bodies in bags in the Ukraine is offset, much like a field of poppies many years ago, by sunflowers nearby. It’s a picture card framed reminder of man’s inability to learn from the horrors of war.
There are no flowers swaying in the breeze nearby in Palestine. Just rubble and the site of a small body being carried in the agonised arms of a parent, a hole where their small skull once was. One of the founding principles of western democracy is that all civilian lives are as indispensable as the next, especially in the case of children. Right now, the UN  should keep this at the forefront of their mind if they hope to stop the deaths of any further westerners and convince Putin there is no justifiable collateral damage in his conflict as he pulls his strings- you cannot stem the bloodshed of an explosion at a nick on the thumb, you must apply pressure everywhere until the flow is stopped at the wound.
Paul FeatherstonePaul Featherstone is 32 years old and lives in Hull. Most people call him “Fev.” He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of football and music and uses the word “c*nt” far too much in everyday conversation. He spends a lot of his time blagging his way into celebrity parties. He is to be commended for once meeting Jo Whiley and refraining from beating her to death with a big stick. You can read more of his vitirolic comments on http://twitter.com/FevTheRevoff

Miles vs Bracha

Ryan Bracha is a genuine nutcase who writes hyper-modern fiction from his Bond-villain-esque lair in Barnsley. 90% of the country will tell you that his work is purile and revolting and will write strongly worded letters to their local church mouse asking for it to be banned. The other 10% will tell you that he is the best British writer to emerge for years and we should all be reading his magnificent books right now. After he wrote a couple of hilarious articles for this very website, Mr Bracha was kind enough to beta-read some of my deeply miserable stories that will make up my forthcoming book. Possibly sensing that I am almost as deranged as he is, he then invited me to write a few thousand words imagining what it would be like if I flipped my lid and ended up in a loony bin. Fortunately, as I think of that scenario pretty much every minute I spend doing my ludicrous job, I was only too happy to oblige. The resulting book, Twelve Mad Men, has stories by other SOTS alumni such as Darren Sant, Paul D Brazil, and Gareth Spark, along with a whole host of other macabre and malicious minds. The whole thing is held together by a running narrative from Bracha’s own chewed biro. I recently managed to contact him at what he refers to as his “institute” and conducted the following interview.

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So.. Twelve Mad Men. Are these people your friends, acquaintances you made through various acts of vagrancy or simply the twelve lunatics sat in your head working the controls?
They’re me, and eleven other lunatic writers that I managed to coerce through blackmail, bribery, sex, and begging into contributing to an idea I’d had. Some were closer than others, some I’d never interacted with at all, but I’d like to think we’d bonded a little in the process. One of them is pregnant with my child. You’ll have to guess who.

What gave you the idea to inflict something this unpleasant on the book-buying public?
Too much fluff out there. Too many Tesco bookshelf writers with not enough ideas between them. ‘Safe’ pisses me off. I wanted to give some kindred spirits a release for the most horrendous stuff that’s been building up in the writer parts of their brains, but perhaps never wanted to go that risky on their own. It’s strength in numbers. I’m Spartacus, and so are all my mates. So yeah, I wanted to offend as many people as possible with this book, and have some other people to blame. They’re all fucked in the nut. Especially Richard Godwin. He scares me.

I’ve read some of your earlier work and it’s obvious to me that you’re clearly a deeply disturbed individual. How were you able to find people of a similar mindset?

Thank you very much, very kind of you to say. We’re in a very network reliant sector of the industry, to be successful you can’t go it alone, you have to make some friends along the way. So it was easy to find great minds in the network I’ve managed to weasel my way in to, really cool chaps too. I refuse to associate with people who are dicks about it all.

Tell us a bit about yourself Bracha, and please try and limit it to just one of your personalities.

I’m a man. I married a woman. I’ve lived on the planet for close to 35 years and I’ve always played the joker and tried to entertain. My wife told her mate when we’d first met “I think he’s a keeper, but his mind doesn’t work like everybody else’s.” – That sums me up. If you can handle, and get used to the way my mind works then we can probably be friends.

This is quite a ground breaking concept, probably because no one has been warped enough to think of such a thing before. Will there be more chapters in this tawdry little story?
Definitely, I’m already working on two other projects like this one. Twelve Ways to Die, and Twelve Nights at Table Six. The former is set in Hell, the latter at table six. The clue’s in the title. I exposed the writers’ messed up sides with great character pieces, these others are intended to explore how they write good set pieces and how they deal with dialogue. I’m an experimental chap.

What do you think to the rumours that a group of militant Daily Mail readers are attempting re-animate the corpse of Mary Whitehouse in a bid to have this shocking book banned?
They can have a go, I harvested the thing for organs years ago. They could probably make a nice kayak out of her.

Do you feel guilty about providing a platform for such evidently damaged and dangerous people to vent their spleens, or you get some of perverse, voyeuristic thrill out of it?
The latter. I want them to have fun going nuts, and I want front row seats to it. You should see Mark Wilson’s story. The man is damaged.

And how would you respond to the allegations that you’re merely using these writers to establish a pedestal to foist your own horrifying literary manifesto on an unsuspecting public?
I’d kind of agree, but only in the same sense of a fat middle aged Spanish woman taking my virginity in Ibiza. It’s a grotesque scene these boys are a part of, but they love it. The manifesto is a superb way of challenging yourself. It holds you over the deep end and gives your forehead a little kiss before dropping you into the water to fend for yourself.

And presumably the profits of this book will go on building some sort of underground bunker for yourself?

Nope. Charity. Every penny will go to a healthy rotation of good causes, the first of which is Teenage Cancer Trust.

Ah, a redemptive statement right at the end. Where can we find this book, Mr Bracha?
Amazon for now, but in talks with local vendors about stocking the paperbacks.

Thank you. And incidentally, good luck making the bail payment.
Cheers. I’ve got an indiegogo campaign to raise the money. One of the perks is that for a fiver, I don’t murder your family.

bracha 12 int

Ryan Bracha is the bestselling author of Strangers Are Just Friends You Haven’t Killed Yet and Paul Carter is a Dead Man, he’s also got every intention of being the saviour of British literature, but will happily accept the ‘Most likely to fail at being the saviour of British literature’ award at school. He just wants to entertain you and his wife. His wife refuses to read his work on the basis that it freaks her out, so it’s your responsibility now.

Twelve Mad Men is a comedic psycho-horror and literary portmanteau written by twelve unbelievably talented writers, and devised and narrated by one ludicrously ambitious turd.

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Twelve-Mad-Men-Ryan-Bracha-ebook/dp/B00LV0VLQA/ref=pd_sim_b_3?ie=UTF8&refRID=0T81TSYPAAFSE8WTXD46

US: http://www.amazon.com/Twelve-Mad-Men-Ryan-Bracha-ebook/dp/B00LV0VLQA/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

Al’s Top 30 Albums Of All Time – No. 5

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No. 5 – The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967)

I’m a huge fan of the cinematic genre Film Noir. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, movies of this category usually involve seedy bars, private detectives, poisonous women and hundreds and hundreds of cigarettes. The classic phase of noir is thought to have started in 1941 with The Maltese Falcon and ended in 1958 with A Touch Of Evil. As befits the time, there was no explicit sex or violence in these films, everything was implied. The gravitas in these movies came from the shadowy, angular camera work and the colossal charisma of the likes of Humphrey Bogart and Peter Lorre. Except for one seldom seen picture from 1950 called Kiss Me Deadly. The first scene features a screaming woman, naked under a trenchcoat, desperately trying to thumb a lift on a unlit back road. The intro titles somewhat disconcertingly roll down rather than up the screen, and there are scenes of genuinely brutal violence. The underlying premise is of an underground government plot to conduct nuclear experiments and there is a particularly sinister scene in which the protagonist effectively pimps out his own girlfriend in order to gain information. Pretty heavy for 1950, I’m sure you’ll agree. Fast forward eighteen years, and while over here the likes of The Beatles, The Small Faces and The Rolling Stones were performing minor drug-induced miracles with the music they were making, they weren’t really ramming what they were doing down people’s throats. Over on the west coast of America, it was all about the peace and love and hippiness, morons in kaftans and leather headbands proclaiming that everyone should have a hug a day and idiotically trying to convince people that The Jimi Hendrix Experience were a great band. In New York, meanwhile, a smell as toxic as that of Kiss Me Deadly could be inhaled.

The Velvet Underground are the single most influential band of all time and the coolest band of all time. There is a very famous quote from Brian Eno that I could insert here but I won’t because he’s a very boring man who makes terrible records. Quite apart from The Beatles and Bob Dylan’s nods and winks towards their drug use, The Velvet Underground were the first band ever to say “Yep, there’s lots of people taking drugs, we know cos we take drugs. Yep, there’s lots of people indulging in extreme sexual practices, and we’re writing songs about it. Yep, this guitar can make sounds other than E, A and D.” They are by a distance America’s greatest ever band and begat two of the all time greats, John Cale and the late Lou Reed.

Obviously, no-one bought this record. They were utterly terrified of it. Andy Warhol, knowing controversy when he saw it, made them the centrepiece of his arts collective The Exploding Plastic Inevitable, which consisted of mime artists, beat poets and one young lady who waded into the audience wearing a leather bustier and screaming at couples “Are you happy with him? Does he fuck you good?” The band would play a set of four or five songs, each lasting between seven and twenty minutes and garner no applause at all. Warhol funded the album and put his own name on the cover, along with an certain iconic piece of fruit. So, where The Beatles were singing “All you need is love”, The Velvets were slurring “Taste the whip, now bleed for me.” The guitars were drenched in repulsive feedback and an uncommonly beautiful woman had been transplanted into the middle of this cacophony to drone away in the same manner as the band.

It would all amount to nothing without the songs. But they had the songs. They tried to smother them with the racket, but they had the songs. The album begins with the ultimate hangover ballad, Sunday Morning, with its soft echo vocal, xylophone and hopeless refrain of “It’s nothing at all”. It is the sound of being happy to be in pain. The relentless chug chug chug of Waiting For The Man follows, the narrative of a junkie desperate for the arrival of his dealer, truly seismic for 1968. They had full-on rockabilly belters (distorted beyond measure, obviously) in Run Run Run and European Son, and sweet sweet doo-wop in Femme Fatale and I’ll Be Your Mirror, both “sung” by the teutonic chanteuse Nico. The latter was played at the wedding of my colleague Dr Barnes, and when I heard about this she instantly flew into the top five of my cool list.

The true core of the album lies with the genuine experiments, though. Venus In Furs is one of the most explicitly lascivious songs ever written, a candle-wax slow grind about the joys of sado-masochism with screeching viola and the most reptilian groove of all time. Listen to it now and your pelvis will automatically start to move. Heroin is obviously the spindle of the album, a song designed to simulate the rush of shooting up, a slow build spiralling into an unrestrained row where all thought of musical structure is completely abandoned as Reed chuckles and gasps and sings “It’s my life, and it’s my wife.” This song didn’t get on the radio.

The other two tracks are why I love this album so much. I went to an exhibition of underground rock art at the Tate Modern in 2005 entirely by chance and a one of the exhibits was a video of The Velvet Underground performing All Tomorrows Parties and The Black Angel’s Death Song, sometime in 1967. I’d bought the album about six years before that and instantly adored it, but after I’d toddled into this tiny booth all by myself and seen, at the age of twenty three, these five weirdos all clad in black, looking so aloof yet so threatening, I realised you could scare people with art. You could hurt them with words, you could offend them with music. The two songs in question were complete opposites; one a crushing glacial dirge and the other a howling spiralling din of feedback and atonal strings while Lou scats all those amazing lines of the most visceral imagery, and seeing them on that screen had pinned me to the wall.

Of all the white rock acts that have emerged since this album was released, arguably only Van Morrison and Rod Stewart have escaped its influence, which is probably a good thing, as no-one wants to see them in leather jackets singing about bondage, but I think the single biggest pointer I could give to the huge legacy this record gave to the world was from an exchange I had on Facebook about two years ago. I had acquired a fantastic boxset comprised of records from the late fifties and early sixties entitled The Best Of The Girl Groups. As my status update I put something like “Just listened to The Best Of The Girl Groups. Wasn’t everything sweet and innocent before The Velvet Underground turned everyone into perverts?” and a friend of mine replied “Yes, but thank God they did.”

And I agree Kelly, thank God they did.

Best Tracks: Venus In Furs, All Tomorrow’s Parties, The Black Angel’s Death Song

Best Moment: The gorgeous backing vocals in There She Goes Again, the song that Johnny Marr would rip off for There Is A Light That Never Goes Out.

Like this? Try: Psychocandy by The Jesus And Mary Chain, 1985

Al’s Top 30 Albums – No. 6

 

No. 6 OK Computer – Radiohead

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Think back to good old 1997. The Spice Girls straddled the world like a day-glo coloured colossus, Tony Blair was being elevated to the level of an all-conquering romantic hero who could only be played in the cinema by Robert Redford and Tom Hanks’s lovechild, and Oasis, The Verve and The Prodigy between them were telling all right-minded indie kids that everything would be grand provided we all hoovered the requisite wheelie bin-full of jazz salt up our collective hooters. So why did this hunch-shouldered, lazy-eyed miserable ginger dwarf have to shuffle into view to tell us that in fact everything wasn’t grand, that this enormous socio-political orgy would soon result in a catastrophic information implosion, that soon we would need someone to pull all of us kicking screaming gucci little piggies out of the aircrash? Why did he have to spoil the party?

Confusion, overload, static, seclusion in Jane Seymour’s mansion and a diet of Bitches Brew and Maxinquaye were the inspiration for OK Computer, the most critically worshipped English album since Revolver. And where the year’s other major releases, Be Here Now and Urban Hymns, seemed like a desperately out-reaching celebration of everything that was going on in the world, Radiohead’s third album instead seemed vacuum-packed, hermetically sealed, a cryogenically preserved nugget of life on the eve of the millennium, waiting to be discovered by races of the distant future.

The recording process was fascinating. Lead guitarist Jonny Greenwood had asked on the bands website for fans to send him unusual chords, Airbag was conceived to sound like “a car crash”, No Surprises “like a child’s toy”. The glacial Exit Music (For A Film) was based on the Baz Lurmann interpretation of Shakespeare’s Romeo And Juliet, and where a minor chord ballad in the hands of any other band would be perhaps whimsical and romantic, here it is brutal; a desolate tumbleweed-swept strum of acoustic guitar with a moaned vocal so crisply recorded you can hear the spit in the corners of Thom’s mouth, then a grotesque bass line hoofs through the dirge while the drums flail away and the moan becomes a heart-wrenching wail. We hope that you choke, indeed.

1997 was the year for ridiculous choices of singles. D’Yer Know What I Mean, Risingson, Smack My Bitch Up. Paranoid Android was more ridiculous than all of them, and the track on which Radiohead show that it was they, rather than Oasis, who truly picked up the baton of the Beatles and David Bowie as the future of british music. A preposterous three-act rock opera, hyper-modern lyrics and the most innovative musicianship since the early years of the Factory label, it got to number two in the singles charts, helped no doubt by the bizarre promo video featuring Paramount Channel mainstay Robin, and uses the word “Gucci” as a term of abuse. It is astonishing.

OK Computer could have been the most influential album of all time; it was mind-bogglingly inventive, fearless, and a mainstream success. Yet, it almost seemed as if their contemporaries were afraid to try and follow it. Every band in its slipstream would release albums that revelled in retro-chic, such as The Strokes and The White Stripes, and after Radiohead drained themselves of all their creative juices with 2000’s remarkable Kid A, they would disappear up their own rectal cavities for seven years until the beautifully executed release of In Rainbows. It seems, in hindsight, like a glorious opportunity wasted. This was music that could melt candles; from the blissful voyuerism of The Tourist to the terrifying domestic prowler narrative of Climbing Up The Walls (listen to the scream at the end) these were songs that connected on a human level like no other band since The Smiths. They weren’t miserable, they weren’t depressing. They were just utterly brilliant.

Best Tracks: Exit Music (For A Film), Let Down, Climbing Up The Walls

Best Moment: The glorious crescendo to Let Down, where Thom and Ed’s vocals soar and swirl like grains of pollen on a summer breeze and this saddest of lyrics produces one of the most inspiring passages of music of all time. Radiohead’s finest ever moment.

Like this? Try: So obvious, Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd, 1973.

Introducing – Alex Harvey by Andi Ware

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Like so many people the first time that I encountered Alex Harvey was when I saw some old Top of The Pops footage of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band performing their 1975 cover of ‘Delilah’. Alex, looking like a blue print for the Jack Sparrow character waltzed around the stage in a ballet-esque manner whilst seducing a selection of broken mannequins. And then there were SAHB (Sensational Alex Harvey Band) themselves with the clown painted Zal Cleminson (a shamefully under rated guitarist) with stage moves that made Brett Anderson appear butch. I remember being completely enthralled by the performance as never before had I witnessed such theatrics from a ‘rock and roll’ band. I was nine, maybe ten years old and I don’t think I’ve witnessed anything quite so peculiar and yet utterly genius since.
But the theatrics were merely the tip of the ice berg. You see SAHB, led by the disgustingly gifted Alex Harvey, were a phenomenal band. Their songs oozed with scorn, humour, emotion and sometimes flippancy (see ‘Gang Bang’ from ‘Next’, 1973). What made SAHB so phenomenal was their leader and tiny mountain of charisma Alex Harvey. Born in a deprived area of Glasgow in 1935 Harvey’s initial flirtations with popular music were in the form of his love of Skiffle and Dixieland Jazz. He formed Alex Harvey’s Big Soul Band in 1958 and from then until their demise in 1965 he gained a reputation as a kind of Scottish Tommy Steele. Despite other projects, including a failed attempt at a solo career, SAHB didn’t materialise until 1972 when Harvey recruited ex members of prog rock band Tear Gas. From then until their split in 1982, the year of Harvey’s death, SAHB made a total of thirteen studio albums.
So what makes Alex Harvey so special? Well there’s the quality of his songs. From Boston Tea Party to Swampsnake Harvey’s work possesses all of the swagger of say, Mott the Hoople and the eccentricities of Jethro Tull. Harvey is often referred to as a glam rock artist. This does him and SAHB a great disservice. He was in fact a pioneer of the British blues movement (see ‘Framed’ from Framed 1973) in the same vein as Rory Gallagher. Like Gallagher Harvey didn’t subscribe to any of the traits that you might associate with rock stars of his era. Unlike so many of his contemporaries Harvey managed to retain his hard-nosed working class wit and a humility that you would find in any Glasgow pub. Listen to the ‘The Sensational Alex Harvey Band; British Tour 1976’ and you will hear, in tiny snippets between songs, a successful rock star with a sense of humour; something a rarity. Above all Harvey was, in every sense, an ordinary working class Glasgow lad that happened to front a successful rock band.
Harvey, as in life, was beautifully ordinary in death. He died in 1982 after suffering a heart attack whilst awaiting to board a ferry returning from a rare North European tour (Harvey had retired from performing in 1977 due to back problems) with his new band Electric Cowboys. He died in the Zeebrugge, a small Port town in Northern Belgium the day before his 47th birthday.
If I had to describe Alex Harvey to a new comer I would say that he had all of the throat of Bon Scott and the stage presence of David Byrne. Of SAHB I would simply say that they were a Uriah Heep for those that had actually lost their virginity.

Ten Songs by Andy Richardson

1.Jackie Wilson -Higher & Higher
This was my taste of classic R&B, quarter of a century ago at the age of 7. I heard this song, like most people making a toaster dance in Ghostbusters 2. I think at a young age while you’re still cultivating your music tastes and you hear a song like this how can you not join the toaster dancing to such an upbeat, feel good song?

2.Marilyn Manson – Fight Song
To some Marilyn Manson is as mad as a box of frogs, to be fair they are a bit but their so much more. To me he was a General in the army of teenage rebellion and this song was my call to arms! Amazing rock porn really.

3.Foo Fighters – My Hero
They say everybody knows their own funeral song, this is my first of two? Selling points being the amazing guitar work, roaring bridge/interlude, and just the lyrics “there goes my hero, watch him as he goes, there goes my hero, he’s ordinary” instantly reminds me of my father.

4.Warren G – Regulate
If you was a teenager in the 90’s and thought you was a bit gangsta! Then I bet you know all the words to this song. To my eternal shame thought I was Tupac from the age of 14-18, I know, people change, jeez! Still, soon as you hear “MOUNT UP” you’re that annoying teenage version of you again for the next 3 minutes haha.

5. 3 Days Grace – Riot
Gym goers are getting knocked a bit in the media lately, being portrayed as superficial, metrosexual dandies with a keener eye for fashion than Cher from “Clueless” NA! Don’t get me wrong that stereotype does exist but only because they don’t have music like this on their playlist. The anger from this song helps me focus on a workout.

6.Bob Dylan – Knocking on Heavens Door
No explanation needed other than WOW!

7.Kansas – Carry on my Wayward Son
The 2nd of my funeral songs. This belter is a medley of classic rock guitar riffs, confirmed by its appearance on the Guitar Hero 2 play list. To me this song is a shining example of classic 80’s rock!

8.Traffic – Mr Fantasy
I first heard this on one of my favourite tv programmes. Our 2 tough as old boots protagonist brothers loose their only constant father figure, and in a moment of mourning play this song. Not only is it a touching moment but the lyrics are relatable “please don’t be mad, if it was a straight mind you had, we wouldn’t have known you all these years”. Even in 67 there was still a place for us “strange” people in society.

9.Odetta – Hit or Miss
I feel this song is confidence personified in the form of music. Soulful Motown that reaffirms the need to be yourself rather than follow a crowd and being a sheep. Especially in this day and age of hashtags, trending and following, the message in this song is as important as ever! Can have a good boogie to it too!

10.Puddle of Mud -She Hates Me
Ultimate break up song! I remember getting dumped once and sitting on my bed with this on repeat smoking 20 lamberts one after the other till I wasn’t depressed anymore. “Trust”

Andy Rich picAndy Richardson is a 32 year old male in the Hull area with an acute Peter Pan syndrome which he wears on his sleeve with pride. It could be said Andy is a little obsessed with superheroes, enjoys the gym, has just taken up archery and is known to like a drink.