Bands I Liked, But Don’t Now….By Martyn Taylor

The kind of music I listen to now is a lot different to the sort of music I listen to these days. During my teenage years in the 1990’s and early 00’s I listened to bands that were not a challenge to understand. There was nothing better at the time to than listening to the latest ‘Tubthumping’ anthemic release from whatever group was in fashion that particular week. It seemed that every week a new copycat Britpop band were debuting a new album. Back then I couldn’t get enough of these clones. There were a few acts in particular that I liked at the time, but now that I look back, it seems my judgement was clouded. I’ve picked 5 bands that I liked to listen to back in the day, but don’t rate very highly any more. They all helped to define an era for me, but their flimsy, lightweight material hasn’t stood the test of time..

1. Space. These cheeky chappys from Liverpool formed in 1993 but hit the big time in 1996 with the success of their debut album ‘Spiders’ Their hit singles ‘You and Me Against the World’ and ‘Neighbourhood’ featured predominantly on britflick ‘Shooting Fish’ Lead singer Tommy Scotts singing style was comical, and their use of hip-hop style mixing was imaginative. Unfortunately their dark-humoured singles which had grabbed my attention didn’t carry on through their albums. Listening to ‘Tin Planet’ (their second release) it seemed my uneducated ears would listen to any old garbage.

Space. One of the men in this photo tried to sell you a PPI rebate over the phone last week.

Space. At least one of the men in this photo tried to sell you a PPI rebate over the phone last week.

2. Sleeper. A hot chick with a guitar! What wasn’t there to like about Sleeper? My teenage hormones were in over drive. However, it seemed that aside from a couple of catchy guitar rifts and singable choruses, Sleeper were ‘just another girl fronted band’ riding on the coat-tails of success of Elastica. Sleeper had great success with their 3 albums, and while supporting Blur on their ‘parklife’ tour were touted as the next big thing. It seems to me that the allure of Sleeper was not their music, but their guitar clad goddess lead singer Louise Werner.

3. Shed Seven. It was good to see a band from York in the charts, their ballads like ‘Chasing Rainbows’ and ‘Going for Gold’ had lighters in the air at festivals in the mid 90’s. Indie discos were not complete without a stomp around the dance floor to ‘Disco Down’ or ‘She Left Me On Friday’ Looking back now, Rick Witter’s vocals were dull and the band do not grab my attention anymore. I do reckon that if they had been around 5 years earlier, their style would of fitted better.

Rick Witter of Shed Seven. Cool it, girls.

Rick Witter of Shed Seven. Cool it, girls.

 

4. Dodgy. Not many bands define a year as well as Dodgy, well, not quite a year, more like a season. The sound of summer 1996 will always be ‘Good Enough’ by the band. barbeques across the land sang out to it, Their bleach blond locks set the trend , with everyone from Robbie Williams to Gazza sporting a peroxide dye. However I feel it was one of the members relationship with Denise Van Outen that kept up the publics interest in the band rather than the bands music.

5. Coldplay. I always liked Coldplay’s debut album ‘Parachutes’, I’ve even stuck up for it in arguments with my good friend Allen Miles. Mr Miles played his trump card on me though last summer. While out enjoying a summer drink in town, Al handed me a HMV carrier bag containing ‘Grace’ by Jeff Buckley. Al had listed it at number 14 in his ‘Top 30 albums of all time’ here on Sitting on the Swings, but I had never heard it. After a few drinks I went home and gave ‘Grace’ a good listening to, Al had won! It seems to me, and anybody that has ever heard ‘Grace’ would know that ‘Parachutes’ is not only a poor imitation, but a blatant copy of Jeff Buckleys masterpiece. Coldplay didn’t just take inspiration, they straight up ripped it off! On their subsequent albums Coldplay have ripped off Radiohead, Kraftwerk, Joe Satriani and U2. I now hate them!

If this man wasn't a musician, he would work at a Holland and Barratt's. What a wanker.

If this man wasn’t a musician, he would work at a Holland and Barratt’s. What a wanker.

mart questionsMartyn Taylor is a 32 year-old father of three and lives in Hull. His pastimes include watching 80s action films over and over again and and debating the all-time Premiership XI with Mr Miles. His knowledge of American sitcoms of the 90s stands second to none. He once walked into a men’s public lavatory absent-mindedly singing the theme tune from Two And A Half Men. You can find him on http://www.twitter.com/shirleysblower but he never tweets, so just follow him on here.

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Songs In The Key Of Anger by Allen Miles

I wrote a blog some months ago when I was drunk about the sense of apathy in this country, particularly amongst our young people. It saddens me deeply that I am now too old to be part of any revolution, because as my fellow writers Mr Featherstone and Mr Ware will identify, my 32 year-old brain simply refuses to accept the world as it is. The idea of doing a Back To Mine-type article in which one would choose to write about ten songs on a certain topic is one I’ve had for a while, yet I could never think of an appropriate theme. I wrote a brief facebook blog about miserable songs a few years ago, but I realise that I am in danger of becoming a bit of a self-pitying caricature in some-people’s eyes, and given a recent spate of less than flattering reviews for my ultra-miserable book I’ve decided I’ll leave the navel-gazing for a bit. So as I read about the latest slaughters our repulsive Prime Minister intends to inflict on the country along with being in a generally bad mood with my ailing physical condition and the fact that Lily Allen is making a comeback, I give you a new series of articles entitled Songs In The Key Of…

Anyone is welcome to have a go, but I’m going first. Here are the ten ANGRIEST songs ever written.

10. Killing In The Name Of – Rage Against The Machine

The lyric to this song, despite sounding like a repetitive screamed dirge, is actually an eloquent diatribe regarding the republican party’s amazingly convenient policy of choosing members of the ethnic minorities to fight on the frontline in all the good ol’ US of A’s silly wars. The reason it sounds so incendiary is due to the hard funk soundtrack and the avalanche of “f” words, tailor made for twenty year-olds wearing baggy jeans to shove each other around on a dancefloor. Rage frontman Zach de la Rocha is an actual political activist, and allegedly one of only three musicians the FBI have ever kept a file on.

Angriest bit: Probably the bit where he shouts “Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me” sixteen times.

9. Where Did It All Go Wrong –  Oasis

Oasis weren’t an angry band. There were about love and happiness and good times. Until one day in 1998 when Noel Gallagher woke up from a four-year cocaine bender and realised he utterly loathed everyone who had managed to blag their way onto the way onto the Oasis funbus and he had come to the very brink of pissing away his status of best British rock and roll songwriter of all time. The anger here is not in the song itself but the performance. Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants is his comedown album and this Wall-era Pink Floyd-sounding howl is the sound of a man looking in the mirror and saying to himself “What the fucking hell have you become?”

Angriest bit: All the choruses. A man whose trademark is lighters-aloft optimism, screaming utter self-loathing.

8. She Watch Channel Zero – Public Enemy

Remarkably prescient for a song written in 1988, one of Chuck D’s finest raps about finding nothing but shite on TV. This is what hip-hop could have been. It’s so fast, so precise, so violent. The main riff is a Slayer sample, and Chuck booms away with the utmost authority while Flav cackles around him like the weirdo who hangs on to the school bully. The percussion is relentless. They were essentially a black punk band. If they hated television this much in ’88, what the hell would they make of it today?

Angriest bit: The utter genius of this passage from the third verse. If I may quote:

“Her brains retrained
By a 24 inch remote
Revolution a solution
For all our children
But all her children
Don’t mean as much as the show”

7. Gimme Some Truth – John Lennon

Classic, Vietnam-era anti-government tirade from a man who was an absolute expert, in the same way that Bob Dylan and Lou Reed were, at using words and music to hurt people. I don’t just mean shock or offend, anyone can do that with a few swear words, but Lennon had that unique gift that so very few writers have of being able to personally insult people that he’d never met. His voice on this track is amazing, only Noddy Holder and Liam Gallagher have swallowed as much sandpaper as Lennon did. He really hated everything.

Angriest bit: 2:07, where he actually loses his breath.

6. Of Walking Abortion – Manic Street Preachers

The evacuating of the bile duct of an alcoholic intellectual at the end of his tether. This is the only song on this list that isn’t sung by the person who wrote it, which makes the performance of James Dean Bradfield here a mission of the most extreme voyeurism. The ugliest song on one of the ugliest albums of all time, a four minute vomiting-session during which Richey Edwards props himself up on his elbows and declares that he’s disgusted with every single thing he can see. The outro is so intense that it could make your grandmother’s neck veins bulge.

Angriest bit: “WHO’S RESPONSIBLE? YOU FUCKIN ARE!!!”

5. Free Satpal Ram – Asian Dub Foundation

Asian Dub Foundation should have been massive. They were the first proper ethnic punk band in the UK, their songs were as good as anything The Specials ever did, and when I saw them in 2003 supporting Radiohead, the biggest band in the world, they blew them offstage. Satpal Ram was an Englishman of Asian descent who was attacked by six skinheads in a Birmingham restaurant in 1986 over an argument about music. He stabbed one of his assailants with a table knife in self defence after being  stabbed himself and glassed in his face. He served 16 years in prison for murder. The defense lawyer he was assigned didn’t meet him until half an hour before his case was up in court.

Angriest bit: The row of the guitar solo at 1:57

4. Common People – Pulp

Class war is a very English phenomenon. And other than Billy Bragg and a band you’ve never heard of called McCarthy, Pulp are England’s best musical exponents of it. This song will either hit you in the exact centre of your heart, or you will just think of it as a cool song to dance to. I remember my disastrous attempt at going to university; my schedule consisted of getting up at six to go to work, then getting on the bus from work at eleven to go for my lecture, then running for the bus back to work which pulled up six minutes after my lecture finished, then working till eight. Repeat to fade. Repeat to exhaustion.  Coupled with the fact that I had to pay £500 a term and received no sort of bursary or grant, I was living on the very edges of my nerves. One rainy Thursday morning I slumped down in my chair for my eleven o’clock lecture, having had about two hours sleep, full of red bull and my eyes rolling back in my head. Some kid from my group called Lee sat next to me and said, “I really don’t get on with these early lectures, brother.” It took me every calorie of strength I had to stop myself from biting his eyeballs out. And that is why I love this song. And it’s finest achievement is that it gets the very kids he’s slagging off dancing to it.

Angriest bit: “They will NEVER UNDERSTAND how it feels to live your life….” it’s not on the single version…

3. Streets Of Sorrow/Birmingham Six – The Pogues

Before Shane MacGowan became the shambling drunken mess we know him as today, he was one of the finest songwriters in the world, a master of the love song, and for this writer, one of the top five lyricists of all time. This song, about the sixteen year imprisonment of six innocent men on a charge of being IRA bombers, starts with Terry Woods’s fragile acoustic lament about the unbearable sadness of the Troubles, then MacGowan elbows his way in and starts snarling through his splintering, gritted teeth about the dangers of “Being Irish in the wrong place and at the wrong time.” Tory party lizard Douglas Hurd actually amended the Anti-Terrorism Act and had the song banned from the BBC in order that  “the British public should be prevented from hearing terrorist organisations and their supporters.” Hugh Callaghan, a member of the Birmingham Six, having been released in 1991 saw it differently: “The last thing the government wanted was people like MacGowan educating the public about the Birmingham Six.”

Angriest bit: “May the whores of the empire lie awake in their beds/And sweat as they count out the sins on their heads.” Political protest was never so poetic.

2. Mosh – Eminem

Eminem is at his best when he’s at his angriest, and I nearly picked The Way I Am, but while it’s a brilliant song, we can’t really relate to his anger about being rich and famous. This however, a call-to-arms in protest against a moronic war-mongerer who somehow came to be in charge of the most powerful country in the world, is an poundingly aggressive statement of disgust. It is a genuinely frightening piece of music. Every moving part functions; the military beat stamping all the way through, the thunderclaps and twisted synths, the parrot fashion Pledge of Allegiance from whiny school-kids at the start. The video is absolutely superb, and then of course there are the words and the voice; never has such unbridled rage been so articulate. And the best thing about this song, is that where the likes of NWA and Ice-T would be banging on about shooting cops and taking sawn-offs to the white house, Mr Mathers is simply trying to get people to vote. Eloquence in screaming, indeed.

“Maybe this is god just saying we’re responsible/For this monster/This coward/That we have empowered…. How could we allow something like this/Without pumping our fists.”  Whether you like him or not, he’s brilliant with words.

1. Tramp The Dirt Down – Elvis Costello

After the blazing torrents of bhangra, punk, hip-hop and rock on this list, it might seem somewhat odd to see a simple folk song featuring nothing more than a couple of acoustic guitars, a snare and a tin whistle sitting on the top of this unholiest of trees. But listen to it. Here is a song that was written at the arse-end of Margaret Thatcher’s despicable time in office by England’s greatest ever lyricist (yes Dunham, he’s better than Morrissey) at the age of thirty-four; old and wise enough to not have to try hard to rebel or shock. It is a song that states in the most languid and poetic manner that the writer wishes to see another human being dead. Now listen to it again, hear how he rasps and growls in such hushed tones, and how you can feel the spit hit the microphone as he lists the atrocities that she committed unto the people she was supposed to be representing. Listen to the bit at 3:24, where he gets choked up and sounds like he’s going to burst into tears of rage. Famously driven by “revenge and guilt” to write songs, Costello here bleeds over his guitar as he watches his own country get battered into submission by a group of back-slapping school-tie wearing bacteria who simply do not give a toss. He knows he’s defeated, and he can only take pleasure from the vision of standing by her grave laughing. This song was written in 1989. It could have been written yesterday.

Angriest bit: All of it. Every last snarled word.

profile b and wAllen Miles is 32 years old and lives in Hull. He is married and has a 2 year-old daughter who is into Queens Of The Stone Age. He is a staunch supporter of Sheffield Wednesday FC and drinks far too much wine. He spends most of his spare time watching old football videos on youtube and watching 1940s film noir. He is the author of This Is How You Disappear, which is widely recognized to be the best book ever written. It is available here. http://tinyurl.com/disappear2014

Al’s Top 30 Albums Of All Time – No. 8

No. 8: Tom Waits – Rain Dogs (1985)

TomWaitsRainDogs

“Experimental” is an interesting word when it comes to describing music. For most, it implies some sort of new technology or new technique for creating music. Either that or the influence of some weird, left-field electronica artist who’d sold about fifteen records. David Bowie’s Berlin trilogy was experimental, so the readers of the music press in the late seventies were told, as was Paul’s Boutique-era Beastie Boys, as well as the most experimental record of the lifetime of my early-thirties generation, Radiohead’s Kid A. All of these records were recorded with ground-breaking studio routines, pushing music into a new sphere. None of them experimented by finding two chunks of debris in a junkyard, banging them together and, if it sounded good, recording it and calling it percussion.

Rain Dogs is the musical equivalent of a jumble sale. It is a bizarre smorgasbord of words and music in which nothing fits together and yet everything works. It is a phantasmagorical circus of a record that features manic polkas, deranged rumbas, heartbreaking ballads and Keith Richards. Your host is a man whose voice sounds like he has swallowed a cheese grater, barking and grizzling away as his guitarist tunes his strings to the tightest they can be without snapping.

Let’s start with the start. Singapore. A rattling sea-shanty that features some of the greatest twisting of the English language ever, a pre-cursor for the rest of the album. When the boys are told to heave away, you don’t even realise what instruments are playing, it’s just relentless pounding, and the line “making feet for children’s shoes” seems either Disney-esque, or profoundly disturbing. Clap Hands evokes the feeling of being engulfed by dense fog, and Cemetery Polka, with it’s hilarious/ludicrous couplets, is, apparently a song about families. “Uncle Bill will never leave a will, and the tumour is as big as an egg. He has a mistress, she’s Puerto Rican, and I heard she has a wooden leg.” Nice.

There are others here, on this, the most varied album ever. Jockey Full Of Bourbon is the best song on the album for me, it’s Latino shuffle and twang conjuring up detective movies, nursery rhymes and a guy who is “full of bourbon and can’t stand up.” It all seems so mysterious and dangerous, purple knives, broken cups and flamingos drinking from cocktail glasses sounds like nothing written down, but Waits whispers it to you in a way that seems both terrifying and completely intoxicating, like all the femme fatales in all the film noirs.

There are the jackhammer blues thumpers, Union Square is basically just a heavy smoker shouting in time to a groove so massive you could put your foot in it, and Big Black Mariah features Keith Richards on wrist-action guitar. Apparently Waits, a relatively unknown artist in 1985, had been asked in an interview who he’d most like to work with, and gave the name of the indestructible Rolling Stones guitarist. He received a communique shortly afterwards that said simply “The time has come. Let’s dance.” Waits and Richards would become regular collaborators from that point on.

There are the ballads, Blind Love, Hang Down Your Head, and the song that Waits would become best-known for: Downtown Train. Not for his own version, obviously, because his voice isn’t an instrument that the common herd find palatable. It was in fact Rod Stewart that made it a hit in 1989, and frankly he murdered it.

The centrepiece of the album is Time, an unbearably sad piece for acoustic guitar and accordion that is simply the most knackered sounding song ever written. Tom Waits is, I’ve always thought, an actor who accidentally became a musician, adopting different characters to perform certain songs. On Time, we actually get the man himself, sighing his enchanting lines over this most delicate of backdrops, and when he groans “Ah, she said she’d stick around till the bandages came off.” You know that she didn’t. And it is a testament to the eclecticism of this record that this most sensitive of confessionals is followed directly by the deranged Bavarian stomp of the title track. He is leading a circus parade in top-hat and cane for the benefit of us, the listeners.

All human life is here. It really is.

Best Tracks: Jockey Full Of Bourbon, Time, Downtown Train

Best Moment: 1:48 into Time, when he lies through his teeth “Close your eyes son, this won’t hurt a bit.” He’s an actor, not a singer.

Like this? Try: If I Should From Grace With God by The Pogues, 1988

profile b and wAllen Miles is 33 years old and lives in Hull. He is married and has a 3 year-old daughter who thinks she’s Elsa from Disney’s Frozen. He is a staunch supporter of Sheffield Wednesday FC and drinks far too much wine. He spends most of his spare time watching old football videos on youtube and watching 1940s film noir. He is the author of This Is How You Disappear, which is widely recognized to be the best book ever written. It is available here. http://tinyurl.com/disappear2014

Ten Songs by Michael Bell

1: John Adams: Shaker Loops (Trembling and Shaking)
I realise that I’ve started a list of ten songs with something that technically isn’t a ‘song’ but as I grow older, the type of music I listen to and the effect it has on me has changed. This is a good example, because the best time I have to listen to music is during the 3-4 hours a night while I’m painting. This piece has a restless, rumbling pace and energy that makes me engage with what I’m doing and get down to business. Over the last 2 years I must have played this every day in my studio and I still haven’t grown tired of it.

2: Joy Division: Disorder
Considering Unknown Pleasures is probably my favourite album by anyone, ever! You’d think there would be a good story about how I came to hear it; the truth is it was pure chance. I bought it in an HMV ‘3 CDs for £10’ offer, after choosing 2 albums, I looked for something new and I saw a cover that really caught my eye, just a set of shimmering sound waves in a black void, I looked at the back and there were no track listings, just the band’s name and the album title. So I bought it, got on the bus, arrived home and put it on…….From the first few seconds of hearing this track I was hooked, like never before, by any other band.

3: Radiohead: Idioteque
This is a truly menacing piece of 21st century blues; savage, angry and desperate, all at the same time. I had this playing loudly on repeat when I had a moment of realisation whilst painting many years ago; I smeared, scratched and mauled a half-finished canvas into my first real painting ‘Caught’. Ever since then I’ve played this to remind me of that feeling of being excited by something I had created for the first time.

4: Andrew Bird: Hole In The Ocean Floor
Andrew Bird is an artist who I’ve only come across in the last couple of years, but he’s quickly become one of my favourite contemporary musicians. His work doesn’t really fall into any straight forward genre; it effortlessly draws from every time and style, with wit and faultless musical attention to detail. This track is my favourite from his last album ‘Break It Yourself’ which is a work of art from beginning to end.

5: Patrick Wolf – Wind in the Wires
There’s a strange irony around this particular song for me, as the lyrics talk about the encroaching grip and pace of the modern world and; A) This was that last CD single I ever bought and now that format has completely disappeared!. And B) I bought the single from an independent record shop, a once important part of our high street that now seems as antiquated as a blacksmith’s! Patrick Wolf’s more recent work has been a bit too cheery and bombastic for my taste, but this song typifies his brilliant early work, which mixed elements of classical and English folk with some electronic touches.

6: Washington Phillips: Take your burden to the Lord
6 or 7 years ago, I was sat in my car with mate Ian Allen, we were playing music, smoking and talking shite, like we normally did on an evening. I’d put on a mix CD from a music magazine (I can’t remember which one) and this was the last track, as it played we both sat there in a silent awe, taking in this strange, spooky relic from another age. I love it because it embodies a world view that doesn’t exist today, it seems that devotionally inspired art, of any kind, no longer has a place in our time, but hearing this is a brief reminder of the beauty that someone’s belief give to their music.

7: Tino Rossi: Catari, Catari
In an attempt to escape living in Hull/East Yorkshire, I briefly moved to York for a year, where I held down a truly demeaning office job and lived in a depressing bedsit. During this rather regrettable chapter in my life, I had two things that kept me sane, the visits from my girlfriend (now my wife) and losing myself in books from the library and music. Listening to Tino Rossi would always transport me, from my dreary surroundings, to world of smoke filled cafes on winding Parisian streets and black and white movies from the 1930’s.

8: Nat King Cole: Nature Boy
I’m going to stick my neck out here and say that (for me) Nat King Cole is the greatest male vocalist who has ever lived and Nature Boy is the best thing he ever recorded. For as far back as I can remember, I’ve known and loved everything about this song, the arrangement is like something by Rachmaninoff, perfectly setting the mood for the haunting lyrics about an ageless child who personifies nature and wisdom. This piece of lucid and timeless music is a real oddity, especially when you consider that it was recorded in 1948, by someone whose music is now often thought of as easy listening.

9: Nina Simone: I Loves You Porgy
I have to thank my wife Claire for opening up my taste in music to now include ‘musicals’ (although technically, Porgy and Bess which this is taken from is an opera, not a musical, but that’s splitting hairs). When we first started living together, we went to London to see Porgy and Bess at the Savoy Theatre, needless to say we felt very posh and sophisticated, but my strongest memory of the night was of us both welling up with tears when this song was performed.

10: Arvo Part – Speigel Im Speigel
I started this list with an instrumental work, so it only seems fitting to end on one. Words genuinely fail me when it comes to Speigel Im Speigel, how a composition can be so utterly simple and yet so moving is beyond me. It seems to me that Arvo Part was put on earth, to make being alive more bearable for those who listen to his works.

Mike BellMichael Bell is a 30 year old artist, who lives with his wife Claire in Beverley. He exhibits his artwork under the utterly pretentious pseudonym of BAEL. His artistic output mainly consists of paintings that depict angry, naked people. His only claim to fame is that when he worked at GAP in York, Vic Reeves came in and asked him if they sold ‘Boys Pyjamas’? Sadly they didn’t. – His artwork can be found on his website: http://www.bael.co.uk

Al’s Top 30 Albums Of All Time – No. 9

Marquee_moon_album_cover

Number 9: Television – Marquee Moon (1976)

American punk was, for the most part, vastly different to British punk. It’s widely acknowledged that the Ramones debut is the first recognised punk record, but ten years earlier, the likes of The Stooges and The MC5 were making music so aggressive that it would make Black Flag look like a bunch of fannies, but that’s merely my opinion (To further extend my opinion, I believe that the first punk record was Bob Dylan Live 1966. Discuss.) The U.S. punk scene was arty and spiky, a reaction against the horrific boredom of records made by slurs on the music industry such as Chicago, The Eagles and Supertramp. A venue in New York became famous, you can buy T-Shirts with its logo on in fucking Top Shop. It was called CBGB’s.

The biggest stars of American punk and new wave would play there, Blondie, Talking Heads, Patti Smith, Suicide, The Ramones themselves, and of course Television, the most iconic of them all and possibly the most surreptitiously influential band of the era. Everything about them was perfect, from the skinny angular image to the neat, well-chosen name. Marquee Moon could well be the most musically accomplished album ever made that isn’t a jazz or classical album. It is a punk record that doesn’t contain a single strummed chord. It is a record that plays to the head rather than the heart, the astoundingly visceral lyrics (“My eyes are like telescopes,” “I recall lightning struck itself”) matched so potently by the guitar work of two musicians who were at the absolute peak of their craft. Verlaine and Lloyd’s lines weave together like a scientific diagram of DNA, creating a intricate yet rugged tapestry which is often difficult to take in all at once.

The opening track, See No Evil, is a song that The Strokes have made an entire career out of ripping off, a terse, circular guitar riff which blooms magnificently into a solo after the second chorus. It is the only conventional song on the album. Venus de Milo and Friction both feature guitar work that is the sonic equivalent of watching thousands of fireworks cascading to the ground in perfect time, and Torn Curtain is the soundtrack to a film noir that was never written. To say that Marquee Moon plays to the head is true, but there is warmth and humour here as well, mainly found in Guiding Light, with it’s lighters-aloft guitar break and the line “Never the rose, without the prick.” Elevation, for my money the best track on the album, has the most gripping sense of physical movement of any song ever written, and a heart-stopping change of time signature over the refrain. And one of the best, if not the best, guitar solo of all time. And then there’s the title track. Oh, good lord, the title track.

Your average punk single lasted about two and a half minutes. Admittedly, Marque Moon the song was released across two sides of 7″ vinyl, but it was still breaking ground in the most obscene way. This is a song based on a jazz scale invented in 1958 by Miles Davis, it is ten minutes and forty-two seconds long, it is sung by a man, whose voice, by any conventional measure, is terrible. It has no business being released as a single. It is a masterpiece, and an essential listen to anyone who has an interest in post-war music.

The NME made their 10/10 review of Marquee Moon the front page headline, the only time that has ever happened. The band themselves succumbed to the pressure of being The Best Thing In The History Of The World, and their second album, Adventure, got absolutely slated in the music press, simply for not being as good as their first one. So after playing in front of rabid punk crowds for a couple of years, they ended up supporting Peter Gabriel in sit-down venues to endless booing. A band that featured a really bad singer whose vocals perfectly suited the music, a group of musicians with an almost telepathic understanding, and one of the greatest ever debuts followed by a record that couldn’t possibly live up to the hype. Hmmmm… Mart… have we got one of those?

Best Tracks: Venus de Milo, Marquee Moon, Elevation

Best Moment: 2:43 into Guiding Light. For the most-part, this is a pretty cold album, but this bit is lovely.

Like this? Try: Horses by Patti Smith, 1976

profile b and wAllen Miles is 33 years old and lives in Hull. He is married and has a 3 year-old daughter who thinks she’s Elsa from Disney’s Frozen. He is a staunch supporter of Sheffield Wednesday FC and drinks far too much wine. He spends most of his spare time watching old football videos on youtube and watching 1940s film noir. He is the author of This Is How You Disappear, which is widely recognized to be the best book ever written. It is available here. http://tinyurl.com/disappear2014

Ten Songs by Andrew Ware

Allow me to dispel a myth, when you hear people make statements like; ‘I heard Nirvana’s Nevermind when I was fourteen and it changed my life, man’ they are lying. Bold statements such as this are merely rhetoric, and I would wager that these moments of inspiration or epiphanies never genuinely take place. Something far more organic happens. We are born and at year dot we are exposed to music; be it on the radio, television or our parent’s record collections, and it bleeds into our psyche. At some stage very early in our lives we make the sub conscious decision that these strange and wonderful sounds are in some way important to us. So here are, in no particular order, ten songs that bled into my psyche and they are of extreme importance to me.

10. Steely Dan: Rikki Don’t Lose that Number
Pretzel Logic 1974
This was a favourite of my mother’s and was always on the record player on Sunday mornings. I didn’t realise how huge Pretzel Logic had been until I was much older and it’s easy to see why as this track is certainly accessible. Although Steely Dan probably fall into the genre AOR (Adult Orientated Rock) with the likes of Supertramp, The Blue Oyster Cult and Cheap Trick. Pretzel Logic, Countdown to Ecstasy and Aja have become favourites of mine. Driven by a sublimely smooth 4/4 bass line this track is perfect for when you’re tired of being confronted by your record collection.

9. Neil Young: A Man Needs a Maid
Harvest 1972
Neil Young is one of the few artists that have had a continued significance throughout my entire life. This track is the best song I’ve heard about male fragility. It begins with a rain drop piano intro and builds into a string driven masterpiece.

8. Van Morrison: Beside You

Astral Weeks 1968
People often compare song lyrics to poetry and of course this is nonsense. Lyrics are not poetry. They may at times be poetical but even the greats by such as Dylan and Morrissey are riddled with cheesy couplets and cannot be described as poetry. However, the lyrics on this truly sublime track are the perhaps the nearest song lyrics have ever been to poetry.

7. Field Music: You and I

Measure 2010
Field music are probably my favourite (relatively) contemporary act. This track is one of many I could have chosen from this record. For those aren’t familiar Field Music are like Maximo Park for adults.


6. Pulp: Your Sister’s Clothes

The Sisters EP 1993
My favourite Pulp song and a fine example of their fantastic brand of Sheffield disco pop. Pulp were a much weaker outfit after Russell Senior departed in 1996. The evidence for this is on this track as his beautifully sloppy violin accompanies a spine tingling chorus. The Sisters EP has long since been deleted but you can get this track if you buy the deluxe version of His ‘N Hers

5. Band of Horses: No One’s Gonna Love You (More than I do)

Cease To Begin 2008
This is a beautiful song. One of the more contemporary of my Ten Songs it has been catapulted into great personal importance as it was the track that my wife and I chose for our first dance when we were married in September. It was a perfect day and this is a perfect song.

4. The Dears: Ticket to Immortality
Gang of Losers 2007
Emerging around the same time as Arcade Fire, The Dears were perhaps my favourite band of this period. This is a plucky and melodic song and Murray Lightburn’s velvety vocal is, well velvety.

3. John Cale: Dying on the Vine
Artificial Intelligence 1985
This is a truly haunting song but hauntingly beautiful. John Cale speaks of being in Acapulco and trading clothing for wine and thinking about his mother. John Cale is an artist I know very little about other than that he was in The Velvet Underground and I happened upon this track by accident some years ago. When my bio pic is eventually made this track will certainly feature somewhere on the soundtrack.

2. Roy Harper: I Hate The White Man

Live at Les Cousins 1970
Harper’s Live at Les Cousins is the best live album of all time. Recorded at the intimate London venue Harper insisted that the gig was recorded in its entirety which is to the listener’s benefits as all Harper’s between song ramblings are included. Turn down the lights and it’s just like you’re there too drinking real ale in the thick clouds of blue smoke. I Hate the White Man is the stand out track from the performance and if you prefer studio recordings it’s also available on Harper’s 1970 album Flat Baroque and Berserk.

1. The Blue Nile: Let’s Go Out Tonight
Hats 1989
Hats is one of the many records I have to thank Allen Miles for recommending to me. This track is one of those songs that takes you back to a time and place in your life. For me this one is falling asleep against the window of a bus whilst travelling home from 12 hour shift on a Saturday evening in the winter of 2007. I would play this track on my ipod as I drove through the dark city streets debating with myself whether or not I should go out that night. This song oozes atmosphere and Paul Buchanan is quite possibly my all time favourite male vocalist.

 

wurr b wAndrew Ware is 32 years-old and has a small dog called Oliver. He is a paid-up member of the Labour Party and used to play bass in semi-legendary Hull band Sal Paradise. In his spare time he makes his own wine and watches rugby league. He once claimed his favourite album was Electric Warrior by T.Rex, which was a complete lie. He holds a degree in Philosophy, but you’d already guessed that. You can find him at http://www.twitter.com/XavierDwyer1

J’Accuse: Oasis by Andrew Ware

In 1992 something profound happened to me. I held a conversation with a school friend and we shall call the boy in questions Matthew, because that was his name. Matthew was telling me all about his hopes and dreams for the future. It went something like this; Matthew would leave school and gain a qualification in painting and decorating after which he would gain a job as a painter and decorator. Once established Matthew was to seek to buy his own home, settle down with a nice girl and have a couple of children. In Matthew’s words he would then be ‘set for life’. Listening to Matthew depressed me in a way that I never really got over from. As a 12 year old I harboured ambitions of forming a band and endeavouring towards global domination and therefore the 9 to 5 existence was of no interest to me. But, I think what depressed me the most about this conversation was that it was the first time that I really understood what it was to be working class. Matthew was typical of so many of our peers in that his parameters of possibility were distinctly narrow. The significance of that conversation in my own understanding of my own demographic was huge.

Oasis++94

The realisation of ‘your place’ can be incredibly suffocating and overwhelming for adolescents. As the veil of social ignorance is lifted, usually at around 13, and you find that you are somewhere undesirable and for the first time you feel the bind of your own social standing. It is usually around this time that we reach out for our icons and for personify our own stifled identity or amplify our lost whimpering insignificant voices. And in 1994 I too had stumbled upon the age at which I was reaching out for social and cultural representation. Drowning in a sea of grey concrete in one of Hull’s most socially, culturally and materially deprived areas I was desperately seeking a spokesperson to voice my frustration and bewilderment. Like so many my age I was leafing through the pages of the then still credible NME and flicking through my parent’s tatty old vinyl records looking for someone to cling to.

It was a year or after my conversation with Mathew that I came across a little known Manchester band called Oasis performing the song ‘Shakermaker’ on a BBC 2 magazine show. They caught my attention with their raw sound and the song, which I had originally thought was a cover version, was certainly melodic. Although I had enjoyed the performance I knew that this band would not have a profound effect on me. It would later transpire that I was in a minority of 13 year olds who had caught that or subsequent Oasis televised performances because very soon Oasis were the talk of the playground. It seems my peers had their idols, their voice and those young, testosterone fuelled boys (yes, it was an all boys school) would cling to their cultural life raft for the next two decades.

Oasis were the archetypal working class ‘heroes’. Complete with a rugged arrogance and swagger they seemed to play out the factory line ‘What would I do if I won the Lottery?’ fantasies of working classes across the country. My peers adored them but by the time they had released their second album ‘What’s the Story Morning Glory’ in Autumn 1995 the act was beginning to wear thin for yours truly. You see, even then I had realised that behind the swagger there was very little substance. The band that so many had reached out for taken to their hearts had in fact misrepresented their people. My accusation then, is that Oasis let down a generation by promising so much but delivering so little. With their exploits and outbursts and general tomfoolery all they achieved was to sell the world a wildly in accurate caricature of the British, Northern Working classes. They created a label that was hugely derogatory for my demographic and to my absolute horror my peers seem to thrive on it.

The tragedy of the situation is that Oasis emerged from a time of change in the United Kingdom. The country was still dusting itself off from Thatcherism and a bright new dawn was on the horizon, a new dawn that would bring a decent minimum wage and relative peace in Northern Ireland. A working class band like Oasis had the opportunity to dovetail this and inspire that the down trodden youth. Oasis failed to do this. What they did in fact was reinforce middle England’s view of the working class youth as flippant, loutish inarticulate oiks.

I have many friends who are still avid fans of Oasis and my put my accusation to them they respond with something like; ‘Yeah man, but they’ve got tunes’. My view is often rejected but never refuted. And so it continues as despite their split it brings great pain to report that at present the biggest fan Oasis I know is my 17 year old brother.

If I was to sum the two decades that Oasis reigned I would say that it was like being at a party where someone that you utterly despise turns up and you have to endure all of your friends singing their praises. Eventually your jaw goes numb as you reluctantly grin through all of their boring anecdotes, for twenty years.

wurr b wAndrew Ware is 32 years-old and has a small dog called Oliver. He is a paid-up member of the Labour Party and used to play bass in semi-legendary Hull band Sal Paradise. In his spare time he makes his own wine and watches rugby league. He once claimed his favourite album was Electric Warrior by T.Rex, which was a complete lie. He holds a degree in Philosophy, but you’d already guessed that. You can find him at http://www.twitter.com/XavierDwyer1