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.

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

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