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

Al’s Top 30 Albums Of All Time – No. 10

Number 10: Suede – Dog Man Star (1994)

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Britpop is looked back on with a great deal of distain these days, and in on some levels that stance is fully justified. Atrocities like Shed Seven, Northern Uproar and Menswear are genuine contenders for the title of Worst Band Of All Time, appalling acts that blatantly rode in the slipstream of Oasis’s success and had absolutely no interest in making original music. So in many ways it is ironic that the two bands who are credited with starting the movement would be the ones who moved furthest away from it.

Blur, after gaining front page headlines for their singles duel with the Gallagher brothers, and the nauseating video for Country House, would stop pretending they went to greyhound races and ate jellied eels, as it was clearly a lie. Instead they bought a load of Pavement records and made the self-titled Blur album to no sales but huge critical acclaim. Meanwhile, in the midst of the afore-mentioned Britpop wars, in a gothic town house in the Highgate area of London, Suede front man Brett Anderson listened to some Syd Barrett and Kate Bush, consumed a mountain of acid and fell out with his guitarist. The result was the weirdest album ever made by a mainstream British band.

Suede’s first run of singles was practically flawless, and the B-Sides (remember those?) were, for the most part, as good as if not better than the A-Sides. It was on the flip of the So Young 45 that the first hints of Anderson and Butler’s wild ambition would be heard, on a song called High Rising. Starting off as a sparse ballad featuring the standard Suede themes of being strung out in a tower block yearning for a disreputable woman, about two thirds of the way through it explodes into an enormous swirling cavalcade of swooping guitars and enormous, multi-layered operatic backing vocals. It is one of the most ludicrous songs ever written, but Suede, like their primary influences David Bowie, Kate Bush and The Smiths, were always at their best when at their most over the top.

The first lyric on this album is as follows: “Dog Man Star took a suck on a pill, and stabbed a cerebellum with a curious quill.” So from the first line we’ve already gathered that appalling amounts of narcotics are involved here. Introducing The Band is actually a perfect pace-setter for this album; dark, warped and subversive, with a great segue into the lead-off single We Are The Pigs. This track is glam-Suede at their absolute peak. Stomping, arse-swinging and fierce; snarling guitar parts and squalling brass sections. Heroine continues the thread with its deliberate “Is he singing about girls or drugs” sleaziness, and The Wild Ones, nearly twenty years later arguably still Suede’s greatest song, has the kind of hopeless romanticism that you’d associate with Renaissance-era poetry rather than a pop song. It also features some of the best singing by anyone, ever.

Daddy’s Speeding collapses under its own weight and The Power features some wonderful spiralling lines from Butler whilst New Generation would provide the most accessible moment on the record. It is, however, the closing four-song suite that makes this album so far beyond any over music recorded in its era. The 2 Of Us is one of the stillest songs ever recorded, a snowy, echo-laden torch song that is completely without any sort of swing or groove, a massive departure for an indie band. Brett’s singing on this song is phenomenal, soaring and yearning, reminiscent of Scott Walker’s early Phillips albums, which he claimed he had never heard (that is surely a lie.) Black Or Blue is the druggiest song on the album, and one which has no place on a pop record, instead sounding like it should be part of a particularly creepy West End musical, Anderson’s disgusted shriek of “She understood the law” hilariously camp.

The penultimate track was reportedly what prompted Butler to leave the band. A nine-minute epic, The Asphalt World had apparently been edited down from anything from seventeen to twenty-five minutes, depending on which account you hear, an act which prompted Butler to record the remainder of his parts in isolation from the rest of the band. Allegedly the tapes which he sent in also contained whispered threats and insults, but as we already know, there were narcotics involved. The song itself is probably Butler’s finest recorded moment, his needling and pulsing guitar providing a claustrophobic canvas for Brett’s howled vocal about giving drugs to women and “time-honoured fur.” No, I don’t know either.

Still Life closes the set, basically because nothing else could possibly follow it. It starts off with an acoustic guitar and a discreet string section which gradually builds and builds until, at the two and a half minute mark, the song explodes and all at once we’re hit by an amazing operatic vocal and an orchestra the size of Wales. It is at this point that you realise they have left Britpop light years behind, and we are now in the realms of classical music.

Dog Man Star is the great unheralded musical leap of faith of its era. It is certainly a bigger artistic transition than Blur was after The Great Escape, and arguably even more so than Kid A was after OK Computer, and its tantalizing to imagine what Brett and Bernard could have go onto if they had stayed together. At the same time though, maybe its best that they finished it here. Dog Man Star walks a tightrope between genius and pretentiousness, and talk of twenty-five minutes demos with forty guitar parts would suggest that they very nearly fell off. It is no co-incidence that Suede’s next album, released after a two year break, would be a collection of brisk, bright, three minute pop songs, as if realising that this era was most definitely over, but it produced an intoxicating document of what can happen when two little drama queens take a mountain of hallucinogenics and have Brian Gascoigne on speed dial. It’s a hell of a record.

Best Tracks: The Wild Ones, The 2 Of Us, Still Life

Best Moment: The majestic coda which closes Still Life, and the album.

Like this? Try: Hounds Of Love by Kate Bush, 1985

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

Al’s Top 30 Albums Of All Time – No. 11

11. Nirvana – In Utero (1993)

Nirvana-In_Utero-Frontal

So, I’ve just done Closer, and here is the second album in the Holy Trinity of albums to flagellate yourself to.

I get really pissed off when brainless Nirvana-acolytes say “Oooh, Kurt was too fragile to be famous, too sensitive. He didn’t want to sell out. He had to remain true to his art.” What utter bollocks. Your man here was a phenomenally gifted songwriter who knew exactly how to write something that would sell. The system did not manipulate him, he manipulated the system. In Utero is the sound of a grown man who had the world at his mercy deliberately throwing a colossal tantrum.

Nevermind was slick, arguably the slickest record ever made. Cobain was grounded in a lot of US hardcore racket such as Black Flag and the Meat Puppets, but he was also a fan of The Beatles and lots of tuneful 70s rock such as Cheap Trick and Boston. He knew how to write a melody. The edges of his natural spikiness were sandpapered off by Butch Vig and the result was an album of pop songs that incorporated the sound of buildings being demolished; the sound that made them the biggest cross-over band of all time. But no, he didn’t like that.

So what did he do? He started omitting Teen Spirit from live shows, and gave the follow-up album the working title I Hate Myself And I Want To Die. Then he hired Steve Albini to produce it, a man who’d been in bands called Rapeman and Big Black, the latter of which made a practically unlistenable album called Songs About Fucking.

Daft old Lou Reed aside, its difficult to recall another record that shows as much distain for its target audience as this one. Scentless Apprentice, for this writer the best song on the album, is such an incredible act of reaching into oneself, its very uncomfortable to listen to. If you read the lyric sheet, the words to the refrain are “Go away, get away, get away.” In actual fact they are recorded as “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAG’WAAAAAAAYYYYYYEEEEEEEE!! GAWAAAAAAAYYYEEEEE!!! GAWAAAAAAAAAAYYY!” It is a track that has one of the best bombastic drumming performances in history, one that makes you realise that Dave Grohl is completely wasted in the Foo Fighters; the same with Milk It, Very Ape and the sarcastically-titled Radio Friendly Unit Shifter. The guitars sound like they have rust on the strings and Cobain’s vocals are sounding like he’ll be spitting blood when the songs finish. And Tourette’s, well…. its silly really, isn’t it?

His gift for melody shines through on All Apologies, Dumb and Heart-Shaped Box, but its no co-incidence that only three of the songs on this album were played on the seminal MTV Unplugged album; very few of these songs would work acoustically, they are all about the screaming, the racket, the catharsis and the sheer bloody-mindedness of a man who was in such conflict about what he had achieved that he would eventually blow his own head off. They were great. Someone should’ve told him.

Best Tracks: Scentless Apprentice, Heart-Shaped Box, Pennyroyal Tea

Best Moment: The disturbing line from Heart-Shaped Box: I wish I could eat your cancer when you turn black. Best appreciated while watching the astonishing video.

Like this? Try:
The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails, 1994

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 Aidan Thorn

1. Paradise City – Guns N’ Roses
I’d like to pretend that my passion for loud music was awakened in some exciting way. To be honest nothing could be further from the truth… It was the late 1980s, I was on a family holiday at a caravan park in Dorset, there was a clubhouse on site and karaoke was at the height of its inexplicable popularity. Maybe it was the fact that I’d sat through endless attempts to make already terrible songs by the likes of ABBA and Cliff Richard sound worse than they already did, but when the post intro part to Paradise City roared from the speakers I suddenly stopped staring at the walls and paid attention. It helped that the fella doing the karaoke version was a better singer than what had gone before (not a glowing recommendation I agree) but what really struck me was the music. That Christmas I asked for Appetite for Destruction, and thankfully my parents ignored the parental advisory sticker, and the concern of my older cousin (‘Are you sure?’) and got it for me. I played that album until the tape reeled itself around my cassette deck in a tangled mess. It opened my eyes to so much music that I love today and it’s still an album that I go back to from time to time and enjoy as much as I did as a wide-eyed 10-year-old.

2. Lithium – Nirvana
Whilst the rest of the world was falling over themselves to tell us that ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ was the best song in the world ever I was a bit ‘meh’ about it. It was probably because people were suggesting that this was the end for the likes of GN’R, Metallica, Maiden and I wasn’t ready for that – In fact the idea of that made me want to collapse in a crumpled mess and cry until my eyes bled. Still, once Lithium hit my ears I could no longer resist, I wouldn’t say I was converted, I was never going to turn my back on the more ‘traditional’ rock sounds that I was so fond of, but I’d certainly found a new one to add to them, my ears were open to the ‘grunge’ sound.

3. Fade to Black – Metallica

I could not believe what I was hearing – there was that almost medieval haunting rhythm guitar part with the howling lonely lead part in the introduction. Then Hetfield sings. And then, crunching heavy metal… This song is a lesson in heavy metal song writing at its very best. I picked up a guitar purely with the aim of learning this song. I was rubbish at the guitar, this is a difficult song, and it’s the only song I persevered with enough that I could do a competent job of most of it. Even today when I hear this song the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end and I’m transported to a distant place – I’m not sure where it is but it’s magical.

4. Supersonic – Oasis
All change – up to this point I was all black t-shirts, black jeans and Doc Martins. I even went through a bandana phase – honestly it was a mess! And then along came two brothers from Manchester with more self-belief than the collective casts of The Apprentice and changed my life. It was still guitar music, but it had a swagger about it that I hadn’t heard before. It was simple and catchy – it almost said, anyone could do this stuff. I dispensed with the Halloween costumes, pulled on a pair of blue 501s and a pale blue tee with stripes down the sleeves and lightened up a bit.

5. She Don’t Use Jelly – The Flaming Lips
I went through a phase of liking those kooky songs by the likes of Presidents of the USA, Green Jelly, Primus – I think I discovered this song during that phase. Thankfully, The Flaming Lips were never a phase I got over. This song opened my eyes to one of the best bands on the planet with a huge and diverse catalogue of music. They’re still my go to band if nothing else is inspiring me. I’ve only managed to catch them live twice and both occasions have to go down in my top five gigs of all time, great music and great shows – those great experiences are thanks to this song.

6. Soul to Squeeze – Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Red Hot Chili Peppers are an important band for me. They’re not my favourite band, they’ve probably never even been in my top 10 bands but they’ve made some incredible pieces of music (they’ve also made some absolute dross) that cross genres and have led me to explore music more. Their blend of rock, funk, soul, hip-hop gave me cause to listen to the likes of Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Hayes, Parliament etc… For me there’s no better example of their fusion of styles than this song that never made it onto any of their studio albums. Also, as a bass player you have to take your hat off to Flea!

7. Move On Up – Curtis Mayfield
Does music come any cooler than this? Possibly, but I don’t think so. I’ve picked this one song to represent all of Curtis Mayfield’s music, perhaps the obvious choice but to me it epitomizes what the guy was all about. The sort of music that played over the titles or the credits of shady movies that I used to watch in bed when I couldn’t sleep, poorly acted but compulsive viewing due to the cool characters and the funky soundtracks. Whenever I have the iPod on and Curtis shuffles into the ear I feel like my life is being sound-tracked and I walk with a little more bounce – I probably look ridiculous!

8. Hey Man (Now You’re Really Living) – Eels
There are some songs that just lift you up and if this one doesn’t do that to you, I think you’re probably dead. I love Eels, people say they’re melancholy and depressing, yep at times that’s right, but at times they’re bouncy and uplifting – like here. I like melancholy and depressing, a lot of the best songs are written by miserable people. I read ‘Things the Grandchildren Should Know’ – the autobiography of Mark Oliver Everett (E of Eels), believe me he’s got more reason to be melancholy than most – and having read that book I have even more love for ‘Hey Man’, it seems to mean more having read through Everett’s life with him. I mean, the fact that the same man that wrote ‘It’s a Motherfucker’ and ‘Cancer for the Cure’ penned such a happy, bouncy song – there’s something quite special about that.

9. That’s Alright Mama (live version 1968) – Elvis Presley

There’s a video of Elvis from 1968 when he did an hour-long show for NBC in America. He’s just sat around with his band, leather jacket, guitar, microphone – cool… There’s not a white jumpsuit in sight. This is Elvis Presley clearly enjoying the simplicity of what he does, he’s laughing and joking with his band, he’s smiling and playing to the audience. There’s no escaping the fact that Elvis was a beautiful man, with a velvet voice, I could have picked any number of songs from this session but ‘That’s Alright Mama’ seems to be the one that captures what he was and his enjoyment of that session the most – I implore you, if you haven’t seen it head straight over to Youtube after this.

10. Toxicity – System Of A Down

As diverse as my musical tastes have become over the years the heavier side of music will always be my first love. There was a period when I probably didn’t listen to anything new and heavy for about five years… That changed on the day I heard ‘Toxicity’ by System Of A Down. After grunge I thought ‘heavy’ appeared to be going down a route that I wasn’t all that impressed with (Papa Roach, Limp Bizkit I’m looking at you!). System Of A Down made me realize that there were still great bands out there doing ‘metal’ well – God bless ‘em.

Aidan Thorn is a 33-year-old writer from Southampton, England, home of the Spitfire and Matthew Le Tissier but sadly more famous for Craig David and being the place the Titanic sailed from before sinking. Aidan would like to put Southampton on the map for something more than sinking ships and terrible R’N’B music. His first short story collection ‘Criminal Thoughts’ will be available on Kindle very soon and more about his writing can be found here http://aidanthornwriter.weebly.com/

 
 

Al’s Top 30 Albums Of All Time – No. 12

No. 12 – Joy Division – Closer (1980)

Joy_Division_Closer

Punk was all over by 1977. The Pistols had imploded and The Clash had developed their sound far beyond three chords and snarling, but in its slipstream a genre emerged that came to be called new-wave, and in 1979 three ground-breaking, visionary albums by British bands would leave a slow burning legacy that would infiltrate not just the UK, but America as well.

The first was Metal Box by Public Image Ltd, John Lydon’s big fuck-you to the punk scene, drawing heavily from dub reggae and krautrock and featuring some of the most bizarre vocals ever groaned and screeched; the second was 154 by Wire, an incredibly bleak experimental tour de force of dense guitars and conceptual lyrics; and the third was Unknown Pleasures by Joy Division, by turns ferocious and spectral, with striking minimalist artwork and a singer who did this on stage. Joy Division sounded like no other band before or since.

Closer, (their second album, pronounced cloz-er) was my introduction to Joy Division. It took me a long time to buy it, as it’s terrifying reputation went before it. It was like buying Schindler’s List on DVD; am I willing to sit down and deliberately make myself feel bad for the duration of this work? I bought it, and the artwork alone is enough to put you in a seriously sombre mood; the nine tracks on the disc however, form a granite monument of complete and utter misery.

The first track, Atrocity Exhibition, is a genuine contender for ugliest song of all time. The sound is so fractured and spiky and generally unpleasant that it is truly difficult to listen to, but some primeval force keeps you hooked. From what I can gather from the cryptic lyric moaned over the military drum beat and needling sheets of guitar, it is a song about bull fighting, although its entirely possible that Curtis is using that as a metaphor for God knows what, the repeated mantra “This is the way, step inside,” putting in place the voyeuristic element that permeates the whole album.

Curtis as a lyricist is unparalleled as one who looks into himself so deeply. No-one else has ever lived and died, quite literally, by his words as much as he did. Yet the flipside is very difficult to admire. Its obvious to all who’ve read up on him that he was a petulant, self-obsessed, narcissistic, ego-maniacal, morally-contemptuous little boy who lived his life like a play. In the Eternal, nine months after his wife gave birth to their child, he sings “Cry like a child, these tears make me older, With children my time is so wastefully spent, Burden to keep… Accept like a curse, An unlucky deal.” Imagine being his daughter, who will now be roughly my age and hearing those lyrics knowing that your dad has written them. How terrible.

Elsewhere, Isolation shows that the seeds of New Order were already in their embryonic phase, yet New Order never had a song that contained the lyric “Mother I’ve tried please believe me, I’m doing the best that I can, I’m ashamed of the things I’ve been put through, I’m ashamed of the person I am.” Heart and Soul and the skull-crushingly intense Twenty-Four Hours are absolutely petrifying pieces of music and also showcase the fact that Peter Hook was becoming a very, very good bass player. The Eternal and Decades are songs that sound like they’re being sung from a medieval crypt, under a foggy cemetery, and we can only stand at the top of the spiral staircase and listen to the pain that drifts up, not quite daring to descend. The lyrics are unbelievable. This man was twenty-two years old when this was recorded. These are biblical, statuesque images that can rival anything in The Divine Comedy or Paradise Lost, and only Leonard Cohen has written anything like them in the field of popular music. “Just for one moment I heard somebody call, look beyond the day in hand, there’s nothing there at all.” “Here are the young men, a weight on their shoulders…. We knocked on the door of Hell’s darker chambers, pushed to the limits we dragged ourselves in.”

Ian Curtis hung himself in 1980 at the age of twenty three. Twenty fucking three.

Best Tracks: Twenty Four Hours, The Eternal, Decades

Best Moment: 0:50 into The Eternal; the piano just adds to the weight of a song that is already too much to bare.

Like this? Try:
Spiderland by Slint, 1991

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 Ryan Bracha

Music. Mint innit? You’ll always remember the time that Children of the Night was banging out when you copped a feel of a pair of knockers in a darkened corner at the underage disco down in town. The tingles that went up your spine when the whole school started doing the Ice Ice Baby dance at the end of year party. Or when you made a mix tape ripped straight from the radio top 40 while you sat with one finger hovering over the stop button to attempt to cut the recording just before Bruno Brookes or somebody like him piped up with ‘and that was Ace of Base and All that she wants..’. Sweet, sweet bliss. Of course, if you’re under 23 you don’t remember this, you have your iPods, your iPads, your iPhones. Your iPatch. Your iBall. The list goes on. Anyway, I digress. Music, it be the food of love. These are ten songs that have inspired me at some point throughout my life, not necessarily a top ten, I personally think that would be nigh on impossible, but just ten that stick out for me as I write this piece. Enjoy.

Black Keys – Your Touch

I love this band. I loved them before you loved them, that’s for sure. I loved them before the entirety of the Brothers album got picked up for every advert and TV trailer on the planet. I loved them before Lonely Boy got played to death on Radio 1. Yeah, I did. I got introduced to the band by a guy with infinitely better taste than I had at the time, and I’ll forever be grateful. Before Dan and Pat got savvy to what you youngsters are into they were knocking out some bluesy, raw, awesomeness on the Magic Potion album, and the stand out track for me was Your Touch. Simple riffs, simple lyrics, and just out and out rocky goodness. By the way, I still love them. El Camino is fantastic, are you mental?!


Fun Lovin’ Criminals – The Fun Lovin’ Criminal

First actual band I ever saw live with my eyeballs and earballs. Okay, so I saw East 17 at the Sheffield Arena. But I said band, not team of tracksuit wearing man-boys performing pseudo-raps and harmonies to ten thousand girls and four drastically misplaced boys on the pull, before eventually going on to run themselves over in a hilarious accident. No, FLC were the band of choice for me. Huey Morgan was the coolest man alive as far as a twenty year old me was concerned. His blatant disregard for live TV etiquette later in life, chasing Damon Albarn down a red carpet for a fight, or bleating out that ‘Michael Jackson f**ks kids!’ simply concreted his status as a hero to me.

Modest Mouse – Lounge (Closing Time)

An album track from The Lonesome Crowded West. It typifies everything I like about Modest Mouse. Barely intelligible Black Francis-esque squawking by Isaac Brock telling me about cinematographers and pornographers in way that says I should know what he’s on about, because he’s telling me with such intent that it just has to mean something. But it doesn’t. Then when he’s done with me the band take me in all sorts of other directions. Up and down. A little bit to the side. It’s basically four songs in one 7 minute wonder. Awesome. Just awesome. I saw them live in Nottingham and met Johnny Marr, really genuinely good bloke, gave us the time of day like a superstar, even though I was off my trolley.

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Lookin’ out my Back Door

I was going to pick Bad Moon Rising as my example of CCR goodness, because it’s central to the plot of my second novel, one of the main characters is a massive fan. So much so that the pseudonym he uses when checking into hotels is John Fogerty. That’s the great thing about writing, especially novels and that. You get to project your tastes all over the reader like a drunk dad spraying vomit all over Auntie Sue at a wedding. I digress, Bad Moon Rising isn’t my favourite track by CCR, it’s Lookin’ Out My Back Door. If you’re a Big Lebowski fan you’ll get it. A band I really wish I’d been around to see live at their peak.

Gogol Bordello – Start Wearing Purple

Straight up party track. Seriously, I request this at every single get together and party that’s prestigious enough to have my attendance. So far I’ve requested it three times. One of those was my wedding. It’s just got a feelgood feeling about it. You have to jump around (without being told to, I’m looking your way House of Pain!) to it, arms wrapped around whoever’s jumping with you, without shame. You also need to know to shout ‘DADADADADAAA!’ at every opportunity.


Neil Young – Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)

The pinnacle of the Rust Never Sleeps album. The whole album is great, from the acoustic and mellow version of this, through Pocahontas and Sedan Delivery, right up to this one. The way it builds on each track from the last. This album is kind of like the mixtapes/mix CDs/Playlists I create myself. I like to start slow, then build up to a crescendo (Ohhhh, steady there, get yer mind out of the gutter, princess!) of dirty guitars, or beats, whichever kind of mix I’m making, and there’s no better crescendo than this little gem. I like to listen to it at least once a week.

Campag Velocet – Ain’t No Funki Tangerine

Massively underrated cult band these. I missed out on their time as NME poster boys in the late nineties with the mega Bon Chic Bon Genre, but I caught on quickly to the quality of the noises they were making at the time of the second album It’s Beyond our Control, from which Ain’t No Funki Tangerine comes. Smashing drums, dirty bass, and Pete Voss shouting seemingly random words over the top. I managed to get Pete’s permission to use the lyrics in one of my novellas (The hilariously titled The Banjo String Snapped but the Band Played on) and he’s since helped me out with other stuff too. Great fella. A total legend, and a gent with it.

Pixies – Where is my Mind?

I could listen to this all day long. Used to perfection at the end of Fight Club. Raped by some plinky piano fingered songstress on an advert for holidays. Good to see The Pixies are back and touring, albeit without Kim Deal. An even better comeback than Spurs against Manchester City last season. Only just.

Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip – The Beat that my Heart Skipped

Spoken word genius Scroobius Pip is a very clever man, with a very interesting brain. Combine him with electronica stallion Dan Le Sac and you get something unique. I’ve seen them close to ten times live, and every time I see them this intro track makes me want to smash the hell out of everything and everyone to pieces out of pure musical bliss. It’s something special as far as I’m concerned.

The Coral – Dreaming of You

Pure bouncy fun this track. Another band I’ve seen live more times than I’d care to remember. The Coral are a band I like for just dancing to their own beat. The debut album that this track came from was a poppy indie filled dream from start to finish. They followed it up with some downright bizarre choices, but I love them for it. It’s an approach I like to knock about with my writing. It gives the readers no idea of what to expect. Keeps them on their toes, if you will. Not everybody will love it, but that’s the point. It wouldn’t do if we were all the same would it?

Ryan Bracha

Ryan Bracha is 33 years worth of stories just screaming to be unleashed on an unsuspecting public. Almost 4 years in the making, his debut novel, “Strangers Are Just Friends You Haven’t Killed Yet” is a darkly comic satire based on the state of the media in the face of what appears to be a serial killer stalking the streets of Sheffield. His second novel “Tomorrow’s Chip Paper” is a fast moving look at the current media infatuation with celebrity deviants. Also available are the six volumes of his series of mad, bad, and downright bizarre stories, “The Short Shorts”, featuring some of the most dysfunctional characters you have never met. He is currently working on his third novel, and lives in Barnsley. You can buy his stuff here.

Second Coming – The Case For The Defense by Martyn Taylor

The_Stone_Roses-Second_Coming-Frontal

I have been told by many people over the years that The Second Coming by The Stone Roses was a major anti-climax. After much time, hype and anticipation The Stone Roses released their second album in 1994. Fans had been made to wait five and a half years since the release of their eponymous debut masterpiece.

A lot had changed in five and a half years. Gone had the days of The Hacienda and The Happy Mondays, gone had the days of the hazy pop sounds that dominated their earlier release. In had come Parkers, Union Jacks and brash guitar-ladened bands (many of whom were influenced by The Stone Roses original sound).

The Second Coming was a cursed album from the very start, come on, how do you top an album like their debut? Most bands who release something so undeniably brilliant as The Stone Roses album do so three or four LPs into their careers. trying to top the debut was impossible and pointless, so they tried something new. The Psychedelia sounds were dropped to favour a sound of dirty blues-inspired guitar riffs, heavily influenced by Led Zeppelin.

This guitar led blues formula dominates the album, only one song in my opinion harps back to their debut style and that’s Love Spreads. Love Spreads could of slotted into The Stone Roses album seamlessly with out a fuss. Ten Story Love song hints at a psychedelic love revival but falls short where it matters.

John Squires over long guitar solos could be described as self indulgent, but as they say “you cant have enough of a good thing” and his sheer technical prowess shines through. The opening track Breaking Into Heaven shakes with a groove that is trademark Squire (even if the jungle drum intro is a little unnecessary) and is the stand out track of his blues style of playing.

Ian Brown’s trademarked ‘man about town’ likeability and hushed vocals had become more polished on this album. The man could not hold a note to save his life, but he spoke to so many through his lyrics. The opening lyrics and harmonica on Good Times are pure filth from Brown and are my personal highlight from him on the album.

If this album had been their debut, I believed it would of been hailed, (just like The Stone Roses album) as one of the albums of the decade. It had the unfortunate fate of been a follow up, so it’s legacy was tainted from the off.

Luckily, I didn’t have the bias of the reviewers of the time to guide me. I discovered The Stone Roses after their split in 1996 and heard both of their albums for the first time on the same day. I did not have the long overdrawn wait for their follow up which the original fans had to endure. My opinions were made purely from the music, I had no prejudice.

I have always held The Stone Roses debut album in higher esteem than The Second Coming, but don’t let that sway you. The Second Coming is still an amazing album which I still listen to as much as the original release.

“I have a dream, I’ve seen the light, don’t put it out, say she’s alright, yeah she’s my sister.”

mart questionsMartyn Taylor is a 31 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.

Ten Songs by Paul D. Brazill

A while back I created a werewolf PI called Roman Dalton. Dalton is a boozehound as well as a werewolf and a regular imbiber at Duffy’s Bar, a smoky, pokey bar full of sinners which has a particularly tasty Wurlitzer jukebox. Here are a few of the top tunes you can hear at Duffy’s.

Drunk On The Moon by Tom Waits. The song that inspired the werewolf PI. Tom could make a more than passable werewolf himself, mind you. (Well, he was in the film Wolfen.)

I Ain’t Superstitious by Howlin’ Wolf.
The most played song on Duffy’s Jukebox for obvious reasons.

I Walked With A Zombie by Roky Erikson.
The biggest gangster in The City maybe the mysterious Haitian Ton Ton Philippe whose henchmen may or may not be zombies.

She’s My Witch by Kip Tyler.
Every noir yarn needs femme fatale and the torch singer Daria is more fatale than most. This is her theme song.

Before The Moon Falls by The Fall.
This is the title to a prequel story that I write which focus on Duffy.

The Beast In Me by Johnny Cash.
Roman Dalton is always struggling to contain the killer inside him.

I Put A Spell On You by Nina Simone.
There may well be a few tasty versions of this song but Dr Simone was as witchy as they come.

Walk On the Wild Side by Jimmy Smith. Elmer Bernstein’s cinematic soundtrack to life in The City.

Johnny Staccato Theme by Elmer Bernstein.
The theme tune to TV a series about a jazz pianist/ PI played by John Cassavetes. Nuff said.

Devil With Blue Suede Shoes by Chuck E Weiss.
Tom Waits’ old drinking partner knocks out some dirty blues. The devil has all the best tunes and is clearly the best dressed, too.

Paul D Brazill picPaul D. Brazill is the author of Gumshoe, Guns Of Brixton and Roman Dalton – Werewolf PI. He was born in England and lives in Poland. He is an International Thriller Writers Inc member whose writing has been translated into Italian, Polish and Slovene. He has had writing published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Books of Best British Crime 8 and 10, alongside the likes of Ian Rankin, Neil Gaiman and Lee Child. He has edited a few anthologies, including the best-selling True Brit Grit – with Luca Veste. HE BLOGS HERE.

Ten Songs by Shane Simmons

ABBA – S.O.S.
In the first ever piece I had published (a non-fiction story for Pure Slush) I detailed a moment in my teens where my older brother used my liking for ABBA as definitive proof that I was a ‘gay’. He may have been correct but he missed two crucial facts: 1) in his late teens he was a Madonna fan (pot, kettle, etc) and 2) no one crafted songs like ABBA did. The verses are amazingly maudlin (which will fit in nicely with so many of following selections it would seem…) but many of ABBA’s best songs have a bleak undertones to them. When the chorus kicks you get a much needed shot of pure power-pop to the veins. Gay? Nah, just genius.

Joan Armatrading – Love and Affection
I think one of my sisters introduced me to this song. As an awkward teen I often felt the one thing missing in my life was a bit of ‘love’. In my family and person life, *aww*. “If I can feel the sun in my eyes and the rain on my face, why I can’t I feel love?” That question hit me like a ton of bricks, and yet there’s nothing more brash in this than a slightly cheesy saxophone solo. Joan Armatrading’s meek voice still sends shivers down my spine when she repetitively demands “Give me love!” as chords descend one by one behind her. The whole thing is like chocolate for the ears.

Nirvana – About a Girl (Unplugged Version)
It’s 1993. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” clears the dance floor at my primary school leavers’ disco, save for our lovely, grungy teacher, Miss Nicola Phillips, and one boy from my class, holding hands and ‘dancing’ to it. I’m so jealous, I fancied Miss Phillips rotten (My mum got piss-farting drunk at this do, something she rarely did, and told her this… *cringe*) A few years later I see a clip of this straggly guy singing this song, surrounded by black candles, it looks like a musical wake, and I’m won over. Even my mum liked it. I got “Unplugged” out of the library (I didn’t have much pocket money to buy stuff, for years the local libraries were my musical godsend) and with that, I began to learn how to play guitar. It underestimates the statement when I say that discovering Nirvana changed my life, and it all started here.

Jeff Buckley – Nightmares by the Sea
Whilst tidying racks of CDs in Woolies, I noticed Jeff Buckley’s “Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk” at a bargain price, £3.97. I stuck my name on it so I could purchase it when my shift ended. As it was scanned through the till it came up at £15.97. Some arse had stickered it wrong, buggery! This girl (one of a manager’s daughter with many more years experience than me) said it would be fine to sell it at the price on the sticker. Hmm. She insisted. A few days later I was to be found in the office blubbing and being suspended so an investigation could take place. But in my time off I grew a pair and built up a defence that would’ve got a murderer off (maybe) before going in to fight my corner. It paid off, I wasn’t sacked. The next day I gleefully handed in my notice. I’d hated that place passionately anyway. Jeff Buckley helped me get out of my miserable job. It took me years to listen to that album again and this song is the highlight for me. Considering the circumstances surrounding Jeff’s death it’s eerily physic of his own demise, “Stay, with me, under these waves tonight.” There’s those shivers again…

Nick Drake – Things Behind The Sun
One summer, my choice of music on, driving from one campsite to another, I suddenly realised where we were and suggested a detour. I grabbed the giant road atlas (this is before smartphones with GPS and sat-navs) and guided us to Tamworth-in-Arden. It was a sunny Sunday, we arrived in a quiet, quaint village. In the centre of it all was the church with accompanying graveyard in the grounds. We wandered through, and eventually found a humble looking stone. Stood there for a while, I wasn’t entirely sure what to do or say. When faced with Nick Drake’s final resting place it once again hit me that we always seem to lose the best ones far too soon. I put this on as we quietly drove away.

Hope of the States – Don’t Go To Pieces

I don’t discover many new bands so it was thanks to my mate Stevie that Hope of the States came onto my radar. He dragged me to see them play the now defunct Glasgow Barfly. He’d won tickets courtesy of XFM, so if I hated them, it was a freebie. The six-piece crammed themselves onto the tiniest of states and began belting out, “Blood Meridian”. My jaw dropped, as per the Barfly the sound was awful, but I fell in love in instantly. I ran out, bought everything by them (I also bought a violin, which I never learned to play…) and realised that “The Lost Riots” is one of the few musical masterpieces of this millennia so far. Choosing one song, it had to be this because I always think of Stevie and his wonky circulatory system when I hear it. “There’s a million good hearts like you and like me.”

The Four Fifty’s – I’m All Wrong
I had to ask the Gill Hoffs (who’d suggested I give Sitting on the Swings a shot) if it would be a bit of a faux-pas to include a song by one of my own bands, albeit one that wasn’t written or sung by myself. Stevie McEwan, (previously mentioned mate as well as musical co-conspirator), was a much more prolific songwriter than myself, I was used to him bringing me new songs, but when he brought this to me it made complete sense first time around, and I knew it was going to be a special one, if even just for us. It ended up closing our last release as The Four Fifty’s (misplaced apostrophe intentional, so we said). Stevie had hellish problems with his heart and palpitations whenever we played live and overall we’d found ourselves weary of the rigmaroles of playing a ‘scene’ we didn’t sit well with.

“I’ve got nothing else
I’ve tried everything before
Is it worth the effort, I don’t think so

We can only pack our things and go.”

Soon afterwards Stevie and his then wife-to-be had a kid, we took a few years out, and nowadays we occasionally reconvene to strum out some tunes. But of everything we ever did, this one will be with me for an eternity.

Manic Street Preachers – Faster
Nirvana obsessed teen Shane did not understand “The Holy Bible” when he first took it out of Catford Library back in the day. Fast-forward a decade and for a reason I can’t remember, the album stormed back into my life. At one point I was listening to that it four, five times a day in its entirety. I was fucked up about, well, everything at that point. I was angrier than I’d ever been before, life seemed bleak and pointless. With that, it seems logical that “The Holy Bible” and Richey Edwards’ words finally made sense to me. So I went to the GP, took some pills, got a little better as well as fatter, stopped pills, but I never left this album behind. I’d put this song one on each and every time I had to walk out into the world, like a boxer climbing into the ring. It still hits the defiant side of me like a punch in the gut, and as long as I have functioning ears, I suspect it always will.

Siouxsie and the Banshees – Spellbound

When compiling some contenders for this list, I had to have something sporting John McGeoch on guitar. He was one of the most astoundingly original musicians I’ve ever heard, and certainly the best thing to ever come out of the hellhole that is Greenock, Scotland. When I listen to him play I’m awestruck, Japanese fan-girl down the front staring up and crying awestruck, but alas he’s no longer with us and that is one humongous shame. Recently I was trying to explain just how special his playing was to my better half, and I struggled to put it into logical words. So I slapped this on. McGeoch quietly chirps throughout the song, weaving in with these beautiful, unusual picking patterns and bursting into the chorus with frantically strummed acoustic chords. McGeoch had a knack of composing perfectly for the feel of a song, and I’m ‘entranced’ by his skill each and every time.

Elliott Smith – Independence Day
And so my ten songs end here. It had to end here because I reckon “Independence Day” is possibly my favourite song of all time. I could’ve filled this list with ten Elliott Smith songs but that would’ve been boring as anything. It’s the perfect mix of happy/mournful and often it replaces “Faster” as a my ‘going out into the world again’ song. It somehow appeals to the best and worst sides of me. When I’m down, considering disappearing for all eternity, this song simultaneously fits and lifts me out of that frame of mind. “Go to sleep, and make the change, I’ll meet you here tomorrow, independence day.”

shane picShane Simmons writes in between being a till monkey, stuffing his face and having brain frazzles in the middle of the night. He lives in miserable Glasgow, came from miserable London and is generally of a quiet yet angry nature. He is willing to listen to strangers talk about their lives if they buy him cakes. He doesn’t like Twitter as there is a word limit but he can be found blogging at http://scribblingsimmons.wordpress.com/ He is currently working on twelve short stories for publication through Pure Slush next year.

Ten Songs by Paul Featherstone

Okay, so after far too much deliberation over this (I have over 400 CD’s to condense it down from) here are the ten songs that “blew my mind”. Now this list is not necessarily my favourite ten songs of all time, there are in fact many “standards” that have missed the list because they’ve always been around for me. Songs by The Beatles, The Jam, The Kinks, Michael Jackson, Elvis Costello etc that all get smashed up to 11 when they come on, but due to their all encompassing fame, I can’t remember first hearing them. No, these are 10 songs that are essentially heroin, hearing them again is simply “chasing the dragon” and often or not, the pursuit of new music is to attain the feeling that songs such as these bring about. As requested, I’ve put them in the order of when I first heard them. If it’s slightly out of sync, brain damage from heavy drinking is the explanation.

Hope you like them, and if not, who cares we are all probably dead in a horrific nuclear firestorm as the fallout from Syria begins soon.

1. Oasis, The Masterplan

The music of Noel Gallagher has been in my life for almost 20 years now, and as with many artists here, I could have slung a full list of ten in. I know Oasis have a poor reputation, but really when was the last time a band ruled the country so much that people knew the names of every member like they did in the nineties? This song stands out the most as it is the one where I really became obsessed and started just buying everything the band ever produced. The idea that a song of such a majestic scale could be tucked away as track fucking four of a single is amazing. It encapsulates everything both great and frustrating about Noel Gallagher as a songwriter. If he had held it back for album three, imagine how much it would have sold and yet if he had just shoved shit on the b-sides would anyone have cared as half as much about them as they do? This song just has it all- strings, an arms-round-your mate chorus, backwards guitar and it set my mind whirling to dig out music by the next band.

2. The Beatles, A Day In The Life

It’s naturally hard to escape the music of The Beatles, but it is only when you begin to get turned onto them as a band that you really start to appreciate what it must have been like to hear and experience their work for the first time. No-one had told me about this song. I had read about Sgt Pepper being such a huge milestone, but when this came on? Fuck me. It is pretty much the song that marks the end of Lennon-McCartney honeymoon- for The White Album after they essentially recorded apart but what a way to go out. Lennon’s LSD-ridden mind pontificating on “the news today, oh boy” as end-of-the-world strings swirl around the song. McCartney gives the song focus with his middle section followed by Lennon’s “aaaaahs”, giving way to the strings and brass that drop us back to Earth, probably my favourite moment in music. As a 16 year old, it brought me to my knees and I immediately bought everything they produced.

3. David Bowie, Life On Mars

Quite appropriately, I first got into Bowie off the back of Top Of The Pops. Okay, it was Top Of The Pops 2, but by then I was obsessed with the 60’s and 70’s and so Whigfield was a “no” for me on the parent show. My Dad had an extensive Bowie collection that I had been planning to raid on vinyl, as I had done with The Beatles. This song came on and I just stopped there and then and watched transfixed. It wasn’t so much the video (although Bowie does look a fucking geezer in it) but the songcraft coming out of my tiny TV’s speakers. The piano, my obsession with strings from The Beatles and Oasis and the crescendo to one of, if not the best. of Bowie choruses. If you watch the video, Bowie pretty much experiences the music like us- swinging his arms to the drums, playing air guitar and piano. It’s pop music at its finest and he leaves such a void by not recording an album every few years. I ran downstairs, pulled out Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust, and recorded them onto tape. It’s the reason I own CD’s and refuse to use Spotify etc, so that anyone can just dip in when they like. Cheers Dad. Oh, and Dave.



4. Spiritualized, Broken Heart

I’m not gonna lie, if you ain’t into strings you won’t be interested in the first stages of my musical forays. Anyway, on one of my regular jaunts to record stores to pick up bootlegs or rarities, I came across The Spiritualized album Ladies And Gentleman, We Are Floating In Space- which I had wanted since seeing them perform “Come Together” at Glastonbury on TV. When this track came on, it did what it does with every play- it just stopped me dead in my tracks. It’s a musical gut-punch that you can play when you have lost someone you care for in your life. Whether it be a death, or a parting of ways. It doesn’t go down the Adele-esque, “I will survive without you” route, it offers genuine solace. Then you hear it again at a normal time, and you feel the lump form in your throat. Quite how Jason Pierce wrote anything so sprawling and well-conceived given the wheelbarrows of drugs he consumes is beyond me, but his exhausted “..and I’m wasted all the time” can be identified by anyone that has ever had to drown said broken heart, only to have it all wash back when you’re sober again. Why anyone would chose “Angels” at a funeral rather than it, is beyond me. It has nine dislikes on YouTube, probably from Talk To Frank call workers.



5. The Who, Love Reign O’er Me

After catching Quadrophenia on ITV late one night, I ventured once more to the record shop to buy this album. As though Phil Daniels shouting “fuck off all you Mr Postmen” wasn’t majestic enough, the music intersecting between the scenes had to fit into my now vastly expanding collection. This song was the one I really wanted though, from the moment I heard it, and the way it is dick-teased on the album with its piano intro, before you finally get to hear it, just makes it even better. It has everything that makes me love The Who as a band, but especially the album. There isn’t a band ,in my opinion, that had it all like The Who, when it came to pure musicianship and the drumming from Moon throughout this song is just untouchable. It greatly distresses me that some people only know them as the “CSI theme song” band, when this exists on record.

6. Arctic Monkeys, Do Me A Favour

So, finally to some songs that I can talk about when I truly heard them first, as intended on release day. Arctic Monkeys are really the only guitar band of modern times I truly hanker for new material from, apart from Doves (who seem to have retired). I know lots of people lost their minds over “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor”, but for me, this song heralds the arrival of Alex Turner as a truly great songwriter. The structure and tightness of the arrangement is years ahead of where he should have been at his age, and it’s arguably his greatest song. Like many bands, the song is elevated to greatness by the drumming and Matt Helders is just un-fucking-believable on here. Yet, there is so much more. The breakdown into an almost acapella middle is followed by the furious guitars and drums that somehow bring relief to the listener, as every argument you’ve ever had with a loved one is dredged back up and the anger is brought back to the surface- “hold onto your heart” indeed. The final line of “perhaps fuck off might be too kind?” is probably one of the best put downs in a song too. If anyone shouts to “play Mardy Bum” at their gigs rather than this, humanely suffocate them with a pillow.



7. Jarvis Cocker, Running The World

I’ve tried to have just one track from one artist, and despite long deliberations, I’ve knocked off “Common People” for this. Released on the same day as the Live Aid 2 concert, it was a bile filled song that, quite rightly, pointed out that standing in a field for one day as Johnny Borrell played a guitar topless was not going to change anything. It mixes that rare trick of being politically nailed on and having a great hook. Coming after a long period of absence from music, for one of my heroes to come back with something so gloriously sarcastic and that could resonate even to this day, just emphasised his qualities as one of our greatest ever songwriters. Every single line in the song rings with truth (unless you’re right wing) as he discusses obsolete working classes, unheard protests and the fact that despite it all, takings were up by a third. It pre-dated the stock market crash, and he had them all figured out whilst we smugly signed petitions to drop the debt as we racked up huge credit card bills. “Bluntly put, in the fewest of words- cunts are still running the world”. Indeed.

8. The Cribs, Be Safe

In many ways, this is the hardest one to pinpoint what I love the most. The Cribs certainly have superior songs, but this has that charm that it’s hard to explain to those who dislike the Jarman’s music. Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth sprouts prose over the band, until the song is stirred into life with the kind of crashing chorus that Alex from Franz Ferdinand had managed to coax out of them when he took over production duties. It sounds shit on paper, it shouldn’t work- but it does, and it’s fucking genius. To be honest, the majority of that is down to Ranaldo and the work he does over the music, but if the band behind him weren’t doing such a tight job it would be in vain. You just have to sit back and admire the words that accompany the sounds and it has probably one of my favourite ever lines in- “your smile so loud it still rings in my ears”. None of us are good enough to touch something like that, you just have to doff your cap at it. Think of it as you miss someone one time, try not to blub….and people actually LIKE music by Taylor Swift. “Mine were alright….but who cares?”…..”That’s the spirit!”

9. Kanye West, Lost In The World/Who Will Survive In America?

I’ve covered the genius of West in a previous article, so if you haven’t read it- tough shit! Anyway, this comes at the end of his My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy album. That album pushes just how good he is, I assure you it will grow in stature over the years. The fact that I’ve binned off “Runaway” for this, which I fucking adore, tells you how highly I rate it. I listened to it again the other day and I realised that Kanye actually steps back on this track and lets the music do the talking. Apart from a small rap, it is all about creating soundscapes and his ability as a producer. What that results in is stunning. Like many songs on the album, it starts pretty sparse and then builds into ideas smashing against each other- all tribal drums and electronic sounds. It then flows into an outro as Gil Scott Heron picks apart the American Dream over West’s beats. For anyone who says music should be just guitars and singing, strap them into a chair and play this Clockwork Orange style.



10. And I Will Kiss, Underworld

Released last year as part of the soundtrack for Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony soundtrack, it was again a struggle to put this in rather than “Born Slippy”, but the sheer boldness of what is going on here musically, secures it a place. The biggest compliment I can give it is that it is about 17 minutes long, but it doesn’t outstay it’s welcome. I first heard it at the opening ceremony rehearsal and was unaware it was by Underworld or specially commissioned, which I think added to it’s impact. The idea that these dance artists could build a piece of music as outstanding as any classical score, for such a major stage, literally blows my mind. Like every song on this list I can’t imagine how you would write it, and it says a lot that I would put it up there with the likes of The Beatles and Bowie for greatness. Everything works here, from the apocalyptic drums, to the tiny respite that pays respect to the dead of war, onto the growth and growth of the musical spectacle before we are brought full circle to that war dead moment, as choirs and strings top off the piece. That Britain could create something so astounding for the biggest stage on Earth is a testament to it’s musical heritage and it’s a fine place to end.

Paul FeatherstonePaul Featherstone is 31 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