Monthly Archives: November 2011
Sunday I awoke fairly hangover free but with very little energy left in my body which was unfortunate as before we could do anything else we had to put down the tent and trek all of our stuff the mile back through the campsite to the car. The wheels of my suitcase were so clogged with crap that they barely turned meaning that on all but the flattest of surfaces I had to carry it on my back. To make matters worse I had offered to take my six months pregnant friend’s case back for her in my car as she was unsure she’d be able to take it herself through all of the mud so for the last stretch across the car park field I was carrying a large suitcase in each hand like something out of a World’s Strongest Man competition, one that I was clearly losing.
You may call us lame if you like but due in part to our tiredness and in part to the fact that most of the bands leading up to Muse on the main stage were the audio equivalent of a wake we decided that Muse alone weren’t enough to keep us from a hot shower and a warm bed. However there were two bands left on our must see list so after a brief sit down in the car we trekked back to the site. The first band on the agenda was Kentucky’s Cage The Elephant but they weren’t on just yet so we headed over to their tent in time to see Best Coast, a curious little female fronted three piece with a fuzzy sound reminiscent of mid-90’s Sub Pop, sadly however they didn’t really have the songs to back them up, each tune falling into droning repetition after the first minute or so. Soon enough Cage The Elephant were on stage and the crowd was clearly excited and after a few seconds I could see why, singer Matthew Schultz throws himself around like a deranged mixture of Beck and Mark Arm from Mudhoney, spending as much time among the audience as on stage. The band make a glorious noise, equal parts, classic rock, grunge and funk and apart from when one guy stood on my already bruised big toe when the mosh pit started up I bloody loved them.
Next on our animal themed band tour were Irish mentalists Fight Like Apes but sadly before we could enjoy them we had to sit through a weedy looking fellow, with a weedy looking name play some weedy sounding music to a lot of girls. We tried in vain to see a little of Tim Minchin but the tent spilling out before we even arrived.
When Fight Like Apes hit the stage I was a little disappointed to see they had half the crowd that acoustic boy had, no accounting for taste, at least it meant we could get closer. Will and Sarah had joined us by that point with their friend Tracey. Will had a packet of balloons and was demanding we all blow some up to throw amongst the crowd which we duly did though the wind had picked up by this point so they mostly blew to the left hand side of the tent and remained there for the duration.
Fight Like Apes are a four piece band, drums, bass plus a male and female singer who play synths. If you’d have described that to me I’d have run a mile expecting some sort of Klaxons travesty however instead these guys create a beautiful racket, an indefinable sound somewhere between Blondie, Sonic Youth and Pixies. Fronted by raven haired temptress May-Kay and a hairy little tramp called Pockets who looks permanently like an over stimulated child they really deserve more fame than they currently have. They close the set in a wall of noise, Pockets playing his keyboard with the top of his head before throwing it to the floor, and we leave knowing that no amount of Elbow is going to top that.
My friend Will writes a highly political blog that I don’t fully claim to understand called The Glamorous Left.
Some people like to start their day with a cup off coffee, a bacon sandwich, or a jog round the block (the weird ones), I like to start it by vomiting into a festival portaloo. Actually I don’t, I really don’t, which is a shame because that’s how I had started this day. My only succour came from a distant bass tech playing the theme music from Terminator for a sound check. My day had actually started two hours earlier trying increasingly desperately to ignore my need to wee, it was already going on 11am, normally in a tent I’m awake by 7 due to the light, heat and noise. God, how much did we drink yesterday? I returned to the tent and lay down waiting for all of the badness to go away but it didn’t so I got up again and tried to make myself into a human being again. Steve was surfacing, looking about as good as I felt so we had a cursory wash and heading in to the arena for some food. Steve couldn’t decide on anything and I picked a falafel wrap which I then sat and picked at for about half an hour.
We took a wander over to the main stage in the hope that the cool blues stylings of Seasick Steve would help heal the pain, and it did a little, I had seen him once before and had been surprised how great he was, he’s a real character, and his set was made all the better by the presence of Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones on the bass. It did however spawn my first ‘hipster rant’ of the weekend. As much as I think Seasick Steve deserves all the attention he is getting I can’t help but get the nagging feeling that some record company exec somewhere hit on the notion of selling this old, bearded blues man to hipsters who’ll be able to think they’re into something so quirky and different that they can show off to all of their friends. Just a theory.
Steve over I was still feeling like shit, we had a one band break before one of my favourite bands, Madness, were due to hit the stage so I needed to take action. Sleep hadn’t worked, water hadn’t worked, food hadn’t worked, there was only one thing left, more beer! So off to the bar we went.
It has been five years since I last came to Reading and from what I can see, aside from a few more recycling bins, it hasn’t changed one iota, this can be good in some ways but it also means that they have done nothing to iron out any flaws in the system. For example, when festivals started introducing a drink token system, whereby you buy tokens for your drinks at one stand then exchange them for booze at the main bar, I failed to see the worth in it. I later realised that allowing people to essentially bulk buy their drinks while freeing up the bar staff from having to deal with change really sped up the process. Seriously, at Download this year my friend Ben managed to approach the bar, order a beer and receive it without breaking stride.Readinghas not caught on to this system yet and as a result every bar is always at least four people deep at all times, even when the bands are on.
Anyway beer seemed to do the trick and coupled with the ever reliable Madness hitting the stage and playing a set of their classic material I was almost beginning to feel normal again. Madness have been doing this for so long that it all seems so effortless to them, saxophonist Lee even finds time to roll up cigarettes in-between blasts. So it was particularly amusing when Suggs completely forgot the words to My Girl halfway through, still the rest of the band carried on with the utmost professionalism and played a couple of extra bars so he could come in again.
One loo and bar trip later (never get those mixed up) we were back to the main stage for Jimmy Eat World. I’ve been a massive fan of theirs for years and was certainly not disappointed by their set which included songs from most of their albums including the beautiful Hear You Me the only song ever to make me cry the first time I heard it (though I admit Swagger Jagger gets me a bit teary). Steve, who knows far less of their material than I, summed them up well by saying that with a band that good it doesn’t matter if you know the songs, they are instantly enjoyable.
There then came a break in our scheduling as no one we liked was on so we went to the guest area, hung out with rock stars, danced with loose women and snorted cocaine from their heaving cleavages. Or, more accurately, we went back to the tent and had a nap, I wish I was making that up. Somewhat refreshed we headed back for one of our most anticipated bands of the weekend, Pulp. Now Steve and I are in the main rock fans but we’ve been known to dip our toes in the indie pool from time to time (we saw Blur at Mile End you know!) but neither of us had ever seen Jarvis and his crew so we were rather looking forward to it. Well they certainly didn’t disappoint, Jarvis must be one of the most charismatic front men of all time, when he’s not strutting his gangly body round the stage he’s telling little stories that always seem to nicely introduce the next song without sounding stagy. They are also a band who are clearly aware of what their best material is (hello Chili Peppers!) as the bulk of the set is from their seminal Different Class album, and the crowd certainly don’t seem to mind. At one point Jarvis even introduces Common People by saying “If we are only ever remembered for this song then that’s fine, it’s a great song”. Very refreshing.
We now had a choice, stay at the main stage and watch a bunch of uncharismatic hipsters play some repetitive jangly indie rock or head to the big tent to see one of the most engaging and colourful bands of all time. After several seconds thought we headed off in the direction of the tent where Jane’s Addiction were soon to hit the stage, we were clearly in the minority though as everyone else seemed to be heading in the direction of The Strokes. This was further compounded when on arrival at the tent we managed to get within about 20 feet of the stage without having to push anyone out of the way. I was pleased and annoyed. Annoyed as it would appear that kids today wouldn’t know a seminal band if it set fire to their skinny jeans, but pleased as this was going to be one of the greatest shows I had ever seen. We were getting really rather excited, then this happened –
Yes just as we were reaching a frenzy out comes guitarist Dave Navarro looking like the rock God he always does and humbly announced that Perry Farrell had lost his voice and they would not be performing. Everyone laughed at first and waiting for the big joke to be revealed but no, there would be no Jane’s Addiction tonight. He politely offered that there are other great bands like The Strokes who we could go to see but hearing Dave Navarro tell you to go and watch The Strokes is like God telling you to try Scientology.
More than a little bummed out we trudged out of the tent and got a beer while we regrouped. There was no way we were watching the main stage but no way we were calling it a night either, we’d only just cleared our hangovers for God’s sake. So instead we defiantly headed off to the Lock Up Stage to watch The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and you know what? They may not have been Jane’s Addiction but if any band can cheer you up after such news it’s these guys. Upbeat all the way and sporting matching suits they even have a smiley bald guy among their ranks who just dances about for the whole set and by the time they closed with The Impression That I Get we were dancing like good uns.
Somewhat sated we headed back to the guest area and had a few drinks with our friends Will and Sarah before heading off to bed. Even without Jane’s it was still a superb day of music.
As we lay trying to get to sleep a group of young media types were chatting with another group of you media types by the tent next door saying things like “I mainly do showbiz but with gaming on the side”, it was like hearing people read their CVs at each other. We fell asleep laughing scornfully at them.
It would be terribly gauche of me to write a review as I actually played bass on it but I’d like to give a big shout out (as the kids say right?) to my hugely talented friend Mr Paul Terry who has just released a new EP under his moniker Cellarscape.
It’s called ‘A Theta / Delta Union’ and I can say without a shred of bias that it’s the best thing he’s ever done (and I should know, I’ve been his bass player for 10 years).
1. This Is A Shelter
3. Three Years of Roses
4. Always Unspoken
5. Hiding In Plain Sight
It is available from all good music type places and there’s even a limited edition version which features a print of the artwork, I have one on my wall, it’s gorgeous.
You can hear it in full here – vibedeck.com/cellarscape.
For further info on Cellarscape go here – http://www.sbrecords.co.uk/
For pictures of cats that look like Hitler go here – www.catsthatlooklikehitler.com
It’s a little known fact that Land of Sunshine is actually run by two people. The fact is little known as the second person has yet to write a single piece for it so far, the great lazy ape. Our launch feature was to be a two man write up of our trip to the Reading Festival, I wrote my part in the few days following the festival, he has yet to write his.
So, bollocks to patience, instead here is a one man review of the festival a good three months after the fact. I’ll break it down by day so you don’t have too much to read in one go.
The first time I went to Reading was 1997, I was 19 years old. I had won the tickets in a competition on music TV channel The Box three days before so I phoned Steve, he bunked off his job at BHS and off we went in my Ford Sierra Estate (which also doubled as our tent).
The last time I went was 10 years later in 2006 and the child in the tent next to me had no idea who Pearl Jam were. I vowed never to go again, instead defecting to Download where the average age is about 25 years older.
However when I was offered two free tickets at the last minute it seemed the perfect opportunity to have a bit of a reunion, so I phoned Steve, he found someone to look after his kids and off we went in our two separate vehicles as we now live on the opposite sides of London.
The weather on the drive to Reading failed to fill me with much confidence, it was rain followed by slightly heavier rain, as any festival goer knows even if the sun is shining for the whole time you’re there the damage could already have been done on the days leading up to it.
I arrived at our rendezvous point, Reading Services. Steve had left 15 minutes late, had a 15 minute longer journey and had been struck doing 50mph on the M25, so I popped into the services to grab a sandwich and use possibly the last vaguely civilised toilets for three days, however by the time Steve arrived I needed to go again so it turned out to be the penultimate use instead.
I set the satnav in the direction of the festival, as we had not bought parking permits we were unsure exactly where we were going, Steve followed on behind and soon we were in the all too familiar traffic leading into the town centre, as we stop / started our way along the road I suddenly felt an almighty thump up my rear, this turned out to be Steve’s car driving into the back of me, I looked in my rear view and could see a look of utter horror on his face and all I could do was laugh. I lent out of the window and told him to keep going, we would deal with it once we had parked, I chuckled all the way into town.
A handy dot matrix sign informed us we should head to the white car park so we duly followed the signs into town, then back out of town, then into Oxfordshire! I was starting to get a little concerned as you would if you were about to park your car in a different county to the festival you were attending but after what seemed like about fifty right hand turns we ended up in a vast muddy field in sight of the festival. Phew!
Our relief however was to be short lived. Firstly I had concocted the awesome plan of bringing my giant wheely suitcase, the one I bought so it was big enough and tough enough to take snowboarding, as I realised that I could fit almost every single thing I needed inside it, clothes, blow up mattress, even tent. How I’d laugh as I strolled through the campsite as if through Heathrow terminal 4 while all around me struggled under the weight of their many bags. Laugh I did not as I found myself not on a nice tarmaced road or even on those roll out metal path ways they tend to lay down in festivals but instead in the middle of a wet, muddy field. I attempted to wheel my suitcase but it was like dragging a dead body through a swamp (er…apparently!) so instead I had to swing it onto my back and stagger along like Quasimodo until we reached the entrance. Oh well, at least the rain had stopped.
When we got there we were told to speak to a man called Richard who was dealing with all guest ticket folks, while we waited we cracked open a beer, to lighten the load, until eventually Richard returned. We explained where we needed to go and Richard explained that because he didn’t have access to the list we were on we’d need to get back in our cars, drive round to the other side of the festival, get our tickets and drive all the way back, either that or walk 35 minutes around the site (there’s a river in the middle of it you see, making cutting through quite tricky). He then went off to escort some people whose guest list he did have access to through the campsite while I weighed up our options. While I was doing this Steve’s mind was elsewhere, he has always had a knack for blagging, he gives off an innocence that people don’t seem to question, so while I was bracing myself for the worst walk of my life he merely went up to the remaining guards and asked them the same question we’d asked Richard, to which they replied “just cut through here, over the bridge and follow the signs”. So we scuttled off through the camp site before Ranger Richard returned to foil our plans.
Well thank Christ we hadn’t had to walk around as the walk through was traumatic enough, the ticket office was on the opposite side of the festival site so we had to trawl through field upon field of muddy campsites, already looking like a scene from Apocalypse Now. Every now and then I found a surface flat and mud free enough for me to wheel my suitcase but mostly I had to lift it over mud and water and God knows what else. By the time we reached the ticket office we were knackered but still had the joy of putting the tent up before it decided to rain again, which we did just in time for a torrential downpour so we ducked inside for a beer and waited it out. Maybe, just maybe, we might get to see some bands at some point.
Today was being quite widely described as ‘Emo Day’ due to the main stage line up, my cries of “What would Rites of Spring make of all this?” went largely unheard (or ignored) so I had to just swallow the fact that for most people Emo begins and ends with My Chemical Romance.
Our first band of the day were to be LA indie rockers Foster The People however arriving just before they were due to come on proved to be a mistake as we only made it this far into the tent.
They hit the stage with my favourite of their tracks Houdini and I was instantly annoyed how little I could hear them. Steve decided he could brave his way into the tent but I couldn’t face it so headed back to the main stage to catch a bit of Rise Against who were actually very good if a little unsuited to such a huge stage.
Reunited with Steve we headed back to the guest area before Deftones could come on, now I don’t have a problem with Deftones, a lot of people seem to adore them, they’ve just always left me cold, they sound a bit like a drone to me, give me Korn any day. Aside from the ‘emo’ on the main stage the rest of the day was decidedly Indie-Schmindy as my mate Dave would say. Headlining the second stage is Beady Eye who I am currently trying (and succeeding) to avoid like Cholera, in fact the only band of any interest left to play are The Offspring and so after Deftones we headed out into the crowd. The band were great and played all of the songs you would expect though the show lacked some of the showmanship I have seen in previous sets. At one point guitarist Noodles had a little rant about how successful they were and how that was ‘not bad for a janitor’ referring to his previous employ. Let it go man! You’ve not been a janitor for about 25 years now, who are you still trying to prove yourself to? Does your Mum still give you a hard time?
With The Offspring over and 30 Seconds To Mars about to arrive we ducked off back to the bar lest we get sucked up into the shining brilliance of Jared Leto. The guest area was filling up, mainly with people who neither wanted to watch Beady Eye or MCR, we ran into a few friends and discussed tactics, well what tactics we could discuss after about 10 pints of beer, and decided the best course of action was to drink lots of beer then go out for MCR where we could, like, dance ironically or something. Actually they’re not a bad band, I even own one of their albums somewhere, they’re just one of those bands that got so hyped you can’t help but hate them a little bit.
Well out we went and to give them credit they actually put on a pretty good show with loads of energy, but then something bad happened, something that made me sick to my stomach. It started with a drumbeat, boom-boom-pah, boom-boom-pah, then he began to sing, “Buddy you’re a boy make a big noise”. They were playing Queen! Don’t play Queen, or at least if you absolutely must then don’t play a song that’s so ubiquitous that even Five have covered it. But wait, who’s that old guy on the stage with them? The one with all the hair. Oh no, it’s not? It’s Brian May! Goddamit Brian! Have you no shame at all? How much further do you need to go before Queen’s name is driven into the mud?
Head in hands we headed back to the bar to further drown our sorrows, I remember May and Roger Taylor once coming out with Foo Fighters at Brixton and playing Now I’m Here, it was one of the coolest damn things I’d ever seen, but this was before the rise of that awful musical, the constant guest appearances and that horrific album with Paul Rogers, now it’s just like “Oh Brian, don’t do that, you’re embarrassing yourself and the good name of Freddie Mercury”.
Backstage we ran into our friends Will and Sarah, Will seemed annoyed at our presence almost as if he’d come to Reading to get away from us, that’s what you get for drinking coffee instead of beer.
And so we headed off to bed, a little worse for wear but pleased with the day. Tomorrow we would get to see a legend not dragging his old band’s name through the mud. Goodnight children.
About seven years ago I bought a DVD player from the Blockbuster in Finchley. It cost me £200. I could have got a much better one for that sort of money but you see this one came with 50 free movies! Bargain!
Well the DVD player is long gone but the movies remain for two reasons, firstly and ironically the cheap double sided discs would not play properly in the cheap DVD player they came free with and secondly, despite starring such luminaries as Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey and Russell Crowe they are uniformly awful. Seriously, the biggest film of the bunch is The Lawn Mower Man!
As the years have rolled by they have sat on my shelf in the ‘I’ll get round to them some day’ pile and what better reason to get stuck into them than to inflict my reviews on you gentle people.
As well as a review I shall be giving them a mark out of five which will not only be an indication of quality but a prediction of their very immediate future:
***** Might actually keep
**** Attempt to sell on Ebay
*** Straight to the nearest charity shop
** Straight to the nearest bin
* Will give away as a gift to anyone who makes me listen to Coldplay
So here goes…
The Dark Side of the Sun
Bozidar ‘Bota’ Nikolic
Having plumbed the murky depths of the Family Films box set last time, I decided to take the mature approach and hit up the Drama box. Ah Drama, the genre that I approach with greater trepidation than almost any other genre outside of Chick Flick. There aren’t generally any zombies in drama movies, Arnie doesn’t kill 1,000 men with an icepick, and no one gets hilariously hit in the face with a dodgeball. No drama, in my experience, tends to mean people talking about serious stuff, for about two hours.
So imagine my delight when this film began with a shot of our Brad shouting contradictions at the sea (“I want to live, sometimes I wish I’d never been born”) while wearing a gimp mask! You see Brad plays Rick, a young man inflicted with a rare skin disease which means that if he is exposed to the sun (or any kind of artificial light it would appear) he’ll turn to beef jerky and die.
When the film begins he is in Yugoslavia with his father and mother who is catatonic for no readily explained reason. They are there to see a healer who might be able to help him, though this seems little more that a flimsy pretense for the Yugoslavian director to film in his native country.
The first part of the film mainly consists of Rick watching Yugoslavian street performers but things hot up (sorry Rick, that was insensitive) when he decides he no longer wants to live in darkness and would rather spend his last days a free man. This seems a decidedly dickish move considering he would be leaving his father, who has spent years of his life trying to find a cure, son less with only his vegetable wife for company. It is also mentioned that he will die in insufferably agony as his skin blisters and falls off, so pretty dumb too.
Anyhoo, Brad removes his gimp mask. Underneath is perfect skin and bouffant hair, now I don’t know about you but I get hat hair if I let mine grow over a centimetre in length, plus I can’t imagine what being inside a leather mask in the midday sun would do to my complexion. All I do know is I would look almost the opposite of this.
You may have noticed that this is nothing like the Brad on the cover of the DVD, this seems to be a trend with these films.
Oh I should have mentioned that whilst he was gimped up he met a beautiful actress who it would appear was until recently sleeping with one of her troupe, a fat, greasy and insufferably irritating man who manages to even make a rendition of ’99 Bottles of Beer’ more annoying than it already is. She falls for the masked rider (oh yeah he rides a motorbike too) so when, for some reason, unmasked Rick turns up and pretends he is not the same guy, she asks him to help find the mystery man.
And that is pretty much the rest of the movie, and it is utterly infuriating. Rick spends the whole time pained that he cannot reveal his true identity even though he has no good reason not to (he’s not Batman after all) and she shows no interest in unmasked Rick even though he acts exactly the same as the masked rider and looks like bloody Brad Pitt!
Eventually they make love in the dark so she cannot see him and he leaves her his locket in the morning so she knows who he is. Rick rides home looking a lot like Freddie Kruger, says goodbye to his mother and is last seen riding symbolically off into the sunset leaving a trail of heart break, devastation and bits of crispy skin in his wake. Well fuck you too Rick!
Despite the faintly interesting premise and the sight of a gimpy Pitt this film is pretty dull and mildly irritating. Rick is supposed to be a sympathetic character but comes across as cold and selfish the whole time. He shows very little empathy for his father’s pain and forces a girl to fall in love with him days before his death. I think the ending was meant to come across as poignant and sad, it just comes across as hugely depressing.
The director tries to liven things up partway through with the least exciting bike race ever filmed and even throws in a totally gratuitous boob shot but alas it is not enough to save this film from itself. Oh ladies, there is a shot of a topless Pitt holding a puppy, that’s gotta count for something right?
Commercial radio can be repetitive, so much so that Absolute Radio has made a point of never repeating a song between 10am and 5pm (they just repeat songs on a daily basis instead). But worse than the repetition is when they play the same damn song over and over by a band who have an extensive back catalogue (quite often of better songs). Here are five examples that really get on my last nerve and have me shouting at the radio like some ridiculous maniac.
5 – The Dandy Warhols – ‘Bohemian Like You‘
Studio Albums – 8
Singles – 22
Before 2001 The Dandy Warhols were just another moderately well liked indie rock band. They had enjoyed some success with their singles Every Day Should Be A Holiday and Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth and had just released their third album Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia, the second single from which was a catchy little number called Bohemian Like You. It was a good song, a great one in fact, but in the UK it had charted lower than any of their previous four singles.
Then this happened –
UK mobile phone company Vodafone picked up the song for use in their ad campaign which had heavy rotation on commercial TV channels. The song was quickly re released, went to number 5 in the UK chart and promptly became the only song The Dandy Warhols ever got played on English radio.
The band went on to release 5 more albums and became the subject of a 2004 documentary movie Dig but will forever be known on these shores as ‘That band from the Vodafone advert’.
4 – Goo Goo Dolls – ‘Iris‘
Studio Albums – 9
Singles – 26
Even if you don’t recognise the title you know the song. You do! It’s the one that goes like this –
See I told you that you knew it!
The song was an international hit, it has been covered by everyone from Ronan Keating to New Found Glory to Boyz II Men and was recently sung on jumped up karaoke travesty X-Factor. But did you know Goo Goo Dolls used to sound like this?
Yup, before they realised that there was a big market in sloppy ballads they made rough and ready pop punk in The Replacements mould, they also managed to make Ugly Kid Joe look like fucking Shaft.
No mean feat
Around album four 1993’s Superstar Car Wash guitarist and Scrabble high score John Rzeznik began taking control over the band from bassist Robby Takac and the band moved into more commercial territory. Iris appeared on album number six, 1998 release Dizzy Up The Girl propelling them to super stardom and probably buying them several gold plated houses in the process.
Whether you’re a fan of the early stuff or still think Iris is the greatest song ever written (if you’re a girl basically) the fact that out of their nine official studio albums that is the only song ever played on the radio is still pretty annoying (mainly because I’m fucking sick of it!).
3 – Soul Asylum – ‘Runaway Train’
Studio Albums – 9
Singles – 18
I like this song, I really do. I say that because there are two very distinct camps of Soul Asylum fans, those who think they never made a decent record after 1988’s Hang Time and those who, well…do. You see, like Goo Goo Dolls, Soul Asylum’s sound got lighter and more radio friendly over time and while their early stuff was hardly hardcore it certainly had a rawer edge than what was to come. However, even if you ignore everything before Grave Dancer’s Union, the 1992 album on which Runaway Train appeared, there are at least two better singles of that album alone. Listen to Somebody To Shove it’s awesome, or Black Gold –
How good was that? And hardly un-radio friendly. The following album Let your Dim Light Shine had some great songs on it too and their last album the 2006 release The Silver Lining even featured Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson (Replacements were one of Soul Asylum’s biggest influences). How much more do you need radio!
On a fairly superfluous side note, lead singer Dave Pirner once came in to the pub I once worked in. He was with a rather plain woman, they ordered tea. True story!
2. Talking Heads – ‘Road To Nowhere’
Studio Albums – 8
Singles – 29
Talking Heads were one of the most influential bands of the 80’s, even Radiohead got their name from one of their songs. Between 1977 and 1988 they released 8 studio albums, 2 live albums and a feature length concert movie. So why in God’s name do we only ever hear this one –
Sure it’s a great song but come on! Psycho Killer, Burning Down The House, And She Was, Wild Wild Life! At least on music TV you occasionally get treated to Once In A Lifetime due to David Byrne’s jerky antics in the video. It’s sad to think that English radio has probably played that awful X-Press 2 song that featured Byrne more times than it has played (Nothing But) Flowers. Just mull that over for a while.
In a moment of wonderful predictability, a few days before I wrote this (but after I had selected the songs), the radio station I had on in the car played this and Runaway Train back to back.
1 – Aerosmith – ‘I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing’
Studio Albums – 14
Singles – 67
So here it is, the song that annoys me more than any other, the only one on this list that has me diving for the re-tune dial (with the possible exception of Iris depending on my mood). And no, I’m not even linking to it.
Take a look at that number up there – 67! Aerosmith have, in their 40 odd years together, released sixty seven singles. They are one of the biggest, most successful, most influential and most loved bands on the planet. They are America’s equivalent to The Rolling Stones only with even more drug use and in-fighting and one of them is even partly responsible for this woman –
So why do they insist on only playing that banal, drively, bowel movement of a song that is I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing? It’s not even written by them, it’s by Diane Warren, the musical plague of locusts who also inflicted LeAnn Rimes’ How Do I Live and Starship’s Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now upon an unsuspecting world. Try to imagine if the only Beatles song you ever heard on the radio was the one written by the people behind My Heart Will Go On. It’s like that!
I admit that many of you will not be as aware of some of the artists on this list as I am but let me throw some names at you – Sweet Emotion, Dude Looks Like A Lady, Love In An Elevator, Cryin’, Livin’ On The Edge, Dream On, Crazy. Now admit it, you recognised most of the songs on that list didn’t you? Those are all Aerosmith songs, they were all written by Aerosmith, they are all about a million times better than fucking I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing!!!!
Sorry, I didn’t mean to fly off the handle there. Instead let me end with an amusing anecdote about this bloody song. My oldest friend phoned me up one day on the eve of his wedding. After exchanging the usual pleasantries he asked me if I had a copy of the aforementioned song. I informed him that I did not and proceeded into a rant very similar to the one you just read. There was an awkward silence, and then it dawned on me, “You want it for your first dance don’t you?” I asked him. “Yup” he replied sternly.
Fortunately we’re still friends and so I’d like to take this opportunity to clear the air and say this just in case he’s reading – James, I’m not at all sorry, the song is audio cancer and if I was your wedding planner I’d have had the whole thing cancelled.
Ah I’m glad I got that off my chest.
Last night I went to the cinema. Nothing unusual about that. What was unusual was that it was not to see a movie, instead it was to see Time Machine 2011: Live In Cleveland the new live DVD from Canadian prog titans Rush.
Now I’m not a fan of live DVDs, I’m not even partial to live albums. In general, if I’m not actually watching the band live then I might as well listen to the original recorded songs, for me a band has to do something pretty interesting or else something gets lost in translation, it’s hard to feel the energy of a live performance when you’re sat on the Northern Line listening to your iPod. Put it this way, my favourite band of all time is Pearl Jam and not once has it even crossed my mind to buy their Live On Two Legs album which came out 13 years ago.
So it was with a little trepidation that I approached this evening, especially when I realised that the film was almost three hours long. But my friend Ben had talked me into it and his enthusiasm for Rush is pretty infectious, so I grabbed my large popcorn and a 7UP and headed into the screening. I was enjoying the fact that so many Rush fans had descended on Bluewater, a place more renowned for orange looking chavs and single mothers, it was nice to see a big bunch of awkward rockers all in a place they probably normally avoid like the plague.
The film started and after an opening comedy skit the boys hit the stage with their classic Spirit Of Radio and two things immediately dawned on me. The last time I had seen Rush was at Wembley Arena, we were about three quarters of the way back and half way up the side. The screens that were at the side of the stage still looked about half the size of the cinema screen currently in front of me, secondly no matter how well mixed, a band’s sound is always going to lose some momentum the further it has to travel. Instead tonight it was ear splittingly crystal clear, in hi-def surround, Dobly Cinemascope or whatever they call the sound systems in cinemas these days.
So, as I sat in my comfy chair, eating my popcorn I could see every drum in Neil Peart’s ridiculously sized kit, every irritatingly impressive Geddy Lee bass flourish and every wrinkle on Alex Lifeson’s forehead (sorry Alex), and I thought ‘Is this really any worse than when I actually saw them live?’. And the answer, I have concluded, is ‘no’. In fact it was, in most ways, a lot better. I had a front row seat, I was hearing it as if straight through the mixing desk and I even got to see hilarious shots of middle aged men furiously air drumming in unison along the way. At times they switched to cameras set up right at the back of the enormous (and tragically named) Quicken Loans Arena and it just hammered home what a postage stamp the stage appeared from that far back.
I left feeling almost like I’d actually been at a concert, my ears were ringing, my heart was racing, I immediately wanted to talk about my favourite parts with my friends (probably Marathon and Peart’s ludicrous drum solo if I was forced to say), and I really, really needed the toilet. Plus I wasn’t covered in beer and didn’t have to file out with several hundred other people and get to the tube station before I missed my train.
Am I suggesting that we should all go to the cinema to see our favourite bands? Of course not. Nothing still beats the unbridled joy of seeing a band you love with a sweating mass of like minded people, but given the choice of having a front row view of a pre-recorded gig or paying £50 to stand somewhere in the next county, I think I chose the former.