It’s strange sometimes, how life’s little coincidences spring upon us and catch us off our guard: sometimes in a good way, sometimes not. I’m looking at this as one of the good ones.
I’d always planned on doing this today as a brief thing to kill half time in the Spain – Portugal Euro 2012 sponsorship (and occasional football) extravaganza, but I have to admit that when I planned that I’d put aside the fact that today has a greater significance for me. The emotional overlap is slight, but important to me. Anyway, enough of that until later and more of this. It’s not a new thing as such, but it’s new to me and it’s another door opening as the memories of other doors closing weigh a bit heavily this evening. With apologies of course for the somewhat morose intro…
As with other stuff going on and about the mid-1990s, Eleven sort of passed me by during a time where I had totally lost interest in music (or, rather, lost the ability to be interested in anything much) although it was fairly easy to chart the extracurricular progress of various members through the years as participants in the studio and on tour with such various luminaries as Queens of the Stone Age, Chris Cornell, Them Crooked Vultures etc right through to Alain Johannes and Jack Irons’ stellar turn as part of Mark Lanegan’s Blues Funeral recording setup. Prior to this however, the only actual song of theirs that I had consciously heard was via The Gutter Twins and their incredibly heartfelt renditions (both live and recorded) of Flow Like A River.
And so my incredibly belated introduction to this band comes in the form of this EP of rarities released last year and now available as a limited edition (of 500) CD pressing through their Facebook store. This Little Finger‘s Atariesque (Star Raiders, since you ask) bleepings give way quickly to some truly bombastic drumming that in turn gives way to a groove-laden verse. It’s a busy song for sure, and Alain’s laid-back vocal phrasing – forceful yet calm – keeps it largely under control. As an introduction to the band (as it is for me), it’s a stunner. Listening to Took Me For A Ride with Natasha Shneider taking over lead vocal duties, it’s easy to see why they were in such demand to assist on various other projects, and how much these 3rd parties benefitted from their influence. It’s manic but with enough control exerted to show off each member’s talents before ending very suddenly. And this brief sojourn is brought to a close with a deliciously funky cover of the already deliciously funky 1974 Stevie Wonder track You Haven’t Done Nothin’, Alain once more presiding over a tight ship, joined by Natasha for the exultant chorus for a song designed to lift rooves (roofs? Take your pick) the world over, replacing Stevie’s brass-and-clavinet stroll with a rock partystarter. All in all, I took a lot more from these three songs than I honestly expected to.
Of course, my latecomer’s approach to Eleven is one tinged with sadness due to Natasha Shneider’s passing at such a criminally young age due to cancer. Thirteen years ago today, I lost my Dad to the same awful illness, and I’m sure that there is a fairly high percentage of whoever reads this who has been similarly and cruelly touched. Today has been painful, but I’m glad to say that listening to this (and Natasha’s participation especially) has lifted my spirits and will continue to do so, because this music is the sound of someone truly living. So yeah, this post’s been a bit odd – although I challenge anyone to go through the archives to find one that isn’t – but it’s been an odd day, and it’s coming to a close with a smile on my face.
You can buy the EP from the usual binary vendors. however, if you want to pass down something a little more substantial and “proper” than a dusty iPod or a barely-surviving hard drive with some stuff on it (and probably all your bank details too) to your favourite grandchildren, then pop off over to Eleven’s Facebook shop and buy it for a mere six bucks (including shipping!) of your hard-earned, or the hard -earned of whoever’s Paypal password you’ve nicked.