Bands I didn’t Like, But Do Now…. By Martyn Taylor

As I wrote in a previous blog, the kind of music I listen to now is a lot different to the sort of stuff I used to like. My teenage years were dominated by generic indie bands that were aboard the ‘Britpop’ gravy train. I have already told you about the 5 bands that I used to like but no longer do (which you can find a link for here  https://sittingontheswings.com/2014/01/16/bands-i-liked-but-dont-now-by-martyn-taylor/) so I feel it is time for me to produce the 5 acts that I never held a flame for in my youth, but have now, not only grown to love, but idolise.

1. Pulp. These reluctant ‘Britpop’ figures formed in 1978 and struggled for a decade or so trying to gain prominence in the U.K. By the mid-90’s they hit the big time with their Disco influenced pop infused social commentary (try saying that after a few drinks) Their 3 90’s album releases spawned many sing-along classics The reason why I didn’t like appreciate Pulp at the time was simple. I didn’t like Jarvis Cocker! His styling was totally against the grain of the time. He was never seen in a parker, and his ‘Weed in tweed’ fashion was not attractive to me. Luckily in my more recent years, I have grown to overlook his appearance, and now love Pulps 3 90’s masterpieces.

2. The Smiths. By the time The Smiths were known to me in the early 90’s, they had already split and Morrissey was already well into his more successful solo career. During the 80’s The Smiths poetic commentary from the council estates defined an era in Thatcher’s Britain. They were later known as the most influential British group of the decade. I know what you’re thinking: “how could he not like them?” My brother idolised Morrissey. He wore turned up jeans, NHS glasses and sported a quiff even Elvis himself would envy. My Bro would play all the of the Smiths’ brilliant albums over and over again on his tape deck in the bedroom we shared. He wouldn’t let me play my Jive Bunny cassettes so I took it out on The Smiths hating them Nowadays, the red mist has lifted and my admiration for Morrissey and The Smiths is still growing.

Nearly thirty years later, Johnny's hair is suspiciously still the same colour.

Nearly thirty years later, Johnny’s hair is suspiciously still the same colour.

3. Radiohead. Thom Yorke and his falsetto voice haunted the airwaves of Radio 1 in the 90’s. Radiohead had an expansive sound and themes of alienation which propelled them to international fame. Their dramatic change in style at the turn of the century could have been career suicide, but it turned them from celebrated rockers, into championed experimental digital stars. Mr Yorke and his wonky eyes, quirky lyrics and massive student following made me dislike the band. I hated everything to do with the student scene. However my dislike of all things student was only a phase, and I now see that I was missing out on a revolution, and some of the all time greatest albums had passed me by. Radiohead released great rock albums, but their early rock evolved into one of my favourites of all time in O.K Computer.

Normally, a man who looked like this would be asking you for a pound so he could "get into the hostel tonight."

Normally, a man who looked like this would be asking you for a pound so he could “get into the hostel tonight.”


4. Nirvana.
The death of Kurt Cobain in 1994 was massive news worldwide at the time. I couldn’t have given a toss! I didn’t know him, his band, his music or problems. I thought I should check it out. I didn’t like it! It was noise to me. I went to my 2 Unlimited C.D and Adidas trackies. When I left school in 1998, I caught a recording of Nirvana Unplugged on MTV . Kurt’s version of Bowies ‘The Man Who Sold the World’ was pure brilliance. It led me to revisit Nirvana’s albums and renew my interest in them. Cobain’s death left many questions unanswered. The question I’d like answered is, what might have come next?

Someone's just told Kurt the wife's on the phone.

Someone’s just told Kurt the wife’s on the phone.

And finally
5. Take That.
This choice might seem a little strange considering what I have picked already. During my Kelvin Hall days I hated all Boy Bands. I was into ‘Britpop’, and girls snubbed us because we didn’t possess Boy Band good looks. Take That had the cheeky one, the cute one, the song writer, the dancer and the other one. Their split in 1996 was celebrated among me and my friends. When I look back now, I don’t think there was a single song that they released that I didn’t like. When they reformed in 2006 as a Man Band, I was surprised by the quality of Gary Barlow’s writing and was converted as a fan. In 2010 Robbie Williams re-joined to complete the original line up, they were rejuvenated and were more entertaining than ever. Up yours Justin Bieber!!!

 

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.

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/

 
 

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.