Ten Songs by Darren Sant

If you asked me to name my top ten songs again in twelve months I’d probably picked a totally different ten, such is the nature of my ever shifting love of music. It would have been easier to name a hundred tracks. Here goes, in no particular order:

Superstition by Stevie Wonder
Quite simply, this song exudes funk. So much so that it makes a bald, fat old git like me want to dance. It makes me feel alive – that is why it has made my top ten.

Across 110th Street by Bobby Womack
I first heard this track on the soundtrack to the Tarantino film Jackie Brown. I like songs that talk to me about reality and there’s a very hefty dose of that in this track. Funky as hell too.

Sometimes by James
You can hear the rain. You can feel the desperation. A track that is exceptionally well produced and album that would make my top ten every time.

The Needle and the Damage Done by Neil Young
A song that oozes melancholy by a master song writer. Young’s plaintive vocal is a warning so heartfelt it’s impossible not to take notice.

Waterfall by The Stone Roses
With my friend, Shaun Kelly, I saw the band at the height of their powers at a small venue in Paris. Full of cheap red wine we felt like kings of the world and as this track washed over me I felt that anything was possible.

Kelly’s Blues by The Triffids
In the early days of CDs I happened upon their album Calenture. Every track is a gem and the concept of Calenture stays strong with several of the tracks. The album was so different to anything I’d heard at the time. I still play it, often.

Brain Damage by Pink Floyd
Stoned off my gourd having ingested a large chunk of cannabis I lay in bed and although it may be a cliché I played Dark Side of the Moon. As I grew increasingly light headed this album took on a life of its own. Classic album and I’m not ashamed to be clichéd now and again! A good friend of mine lost his Father to a brain tumour and it was his Dad’s wish to play the track at the funeral. The dark humour (and bravery) wasn’t lost on anyone.

Northern Sky by Nick Drake
Because no top ten of mine would be complete without a Drake track. Rest in peace you melancholic genius. You left us too young.

Karma Police by Radiohead
An influence from my late brother. With the release of OK Computer I finally “got” Radiohead. Check out the video to this track and if you’re feeling flush splash out their DVD 7 Television Commercials. You won’t regret it

Just Dropped In (To See What Condition my Condition was In) by Kenny Rogers
Another track I love because of a film. This song could have been written for the dude. Treat yourself and watch the Big Lebowski

daz

Darren Sant is originally from Stoke but now lives in Hull, he is the editor of hard-hitting fiction site http://www.close2thebone.co.uk/, and he is the author of several books and collections, most notably Tales From The Longcroft Estate. You can check him out at his website http://darrensant-writer.yolasite.com/, and follow his tweets @groovydaz39 & @longcroft_tales

Al’s Top 30 Albums – No. 6

 

No. 6 OK Computer – Radiohead

Radiohead.okcomputer.albumart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Ten Songs by Michael Bell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ten Songs by Gill Hoffs

Seven Seas of Rye, Queen – between the ages of about nine to fifteen, my home-life was fairly grim. One of the very few upsides to the horror was that the man I was forced to live with was a Queen fan. For the few minutes that the piano rang out and Freddie’s voice soared, my mind could follow the notes and flee. This was one of my favourites and I still love it but that love is tempered with memories of a shit who talked a bit like Billy Connelly. Worth it? Probably, yes.

The Only Living Boy in New York, Simon & Garfunkel – the first time I met my dad properly (post-babyhood) I was about 11, and he gave me a cassette of Bridge Over Troubled Water. This track made me cry. I have uncomfortably strong memories of hiding my face against the car window so nobody would notice the tears and snot dribbling down my face and ask what was up – if they asked, I couldn’t possibly explain. I still have the cassette (though nothing to play it on) and feel a bit funny when caught off guard by it on the radio.

Birdhouse in Your Soul, They Might Be Giants – this eccentric, chirpy little song was on a LOT one summer when I was a kid. The school holidays took forever and when I hear it I think of pink skies, still sea, and my eyes smarting from the sand and salt-air that came with living on the coast. I’d stay out all day with books in my pockets and wander the shore, picking out agates and pretty shells, and avoiding people if I could, though one day I went to the tough kid’s house and she had this song as a cassette single in a big plastic jar in her room. She stripped all her singles of their cases and dumped them in. It horrified me.

She Is Suffering, Manic Street Preachers – someone I admired at school (and had a bit of a crush on, to be honest) lent me their tape of The Holy Bible and that was it. I was hooked. Every song on it is perfection and works in solitude or with the other pieces as a coherent whole, but this is the track that most reminds me of hidden razorblades and an awful stash of suicide notes I built up. Most of the songs in this list are to do with bad times, but it’s like looking back at the shitty town at the foot of the mountain from the layby with a chip van near the top. Much improved with a different view.

Creep, Radiohead – this masterpiece summed up everything I felt (and still sometimes do, I think my mind stalled at 19 and refused to grow up any further). In Biology I would sit and write out the lyrics in black ink at the back of my folder. At home I would draw Thom Yorke with eye pencil. The words are simple and beautifully accurate, the vocals exquisitely painful, the guitar clear and elegant agony in music, the drums present but not intrusively so. I think this was the first song I heard that had the word ‘fucking’ in it, and I delighted in singing along LOUDLY.

Torn, Natalie Imbruglia – when I was 18 I met my best friend and future husband, and this track was on the radio ALL THE BLOODY TIME. It became a kind of joke between us, and when we hear it I get the giggles and remember the late 90s, staying up all night watching horror movies and being scared shitless by his cat (she’d jump on my leg during tense bits and I’d eeep with fright). It definitely helps that Natalie Imbruglia is a bit Audrey Hepburn in the video.

I Saw Her Again, Mamas & Papas – I was very ill with depression throughout my teens and early 20s, and ended up in hospital several times. Puking charcoal is NOT a pleasant memory, but I’m glad to be here to remember it. One stay was for a weekend, and my now-husband brought me a Walkman and Best Of… collection of Mamas & Papas songs. I listened to it until the batteries ran out. The melodies and cheeriness retuned my head to the point where I wasn’t gagging for paracetamol and a razor, and gave me enough breathing space to endure what was going on in my brain until the anti-depressants kicked in.

Alone Again, Naturally, Gilbert O’Sullivan – before having my son almost six years ago, I had four miscarriages. The first was undoubtedly the worst, both physically and emotionally. For a couple of weeks I lay on the sofa eating Viennese truffles from Thornton’s (I couldn’t stand anything else, and they were my favourites), watching Buffy and Star Trek TNG and Voyager repeats, and listening to this track over and over. The memories I have of this time are horribly vivid and colourful, but brief considering the weeks it took to get back to normal and lose the tissue designed to protect my baby from harm.

Dream a Little Dream, Mama Cass – when my son was born, these are the first lyrics I sang to him. It’s a song my husband and I both love, and I’ve always loved sycamore trees (especially climbing them) so it was the perfect fit. It’s still something we sing to him late at night or when he’s poorly and fretful or lying horribly still on the couch. I do wonder how it must feel to lose a parent but still be able to hear recordings of them singing (or talking or laughing), especially if your parent’s recordings are popular enough that you could be ambushed with your loved one’s voice at any moment.

The Boxer, Simon & Garfunkel – my son always has one of us at his side as he falls asleep, and when he was very little, I would sing to him to reassure him and keep him lying there. I have a shocking memory, and although I can sing along to quite a few tunes (especially from the 90s) on the radio I find it hard to recall full sets of lyrics especially when I’m trying not to fall asleep myself. The Boxer is one of the songs I particularly liked to sing along to on the cassette my dad gave me, and for some reason the lyrics stuck in my head enough for me to repeat them to my son over 15 years later. Instead of nursery rhymes, he tends to request “pocketful of mongrels”.

So there you go. A couple of wrist-slitters, some happy-smiley choons, and nostalgia. A fair mix, I reckon.

hoffsGill Hoffs lives with her family and Coraline Cat in a horribly messy house in Warrington. Find her on facebook or as @gillhoffs on twitter, email her a dirty joke at gillhoffs@hotmail.co.uk, or leave a clean comment at http://gillhoffs.wordpress.com/ ‘Wild: a collection’, her word-mixture of sea creatures, regret, and murder, is out now from Pure Slush. Get it here.
Gill’s often-sad sometimes-grisly nonfiction book about the Victorian Titanic will be published in January 2014 by Pen & Sword. Feel free to send her chocolate.