I usually do these things when I’ve nothing else to do and want to keep my brain in some sort of gear. This time, I’m doing it because I’ve got a pile of stuff on the go and I want to slow the grey matter down a bit, giving myself time to sit down and properly listen to the things I’ve already posted on rather than moving onto the next thing.
And I need to soak in much of the goodness of the last 6 weeks or so and clear the decks for the next month, as – after much nudging from others who have already started – the framework for the old End Of Year Doings has begun to take shape, and I don’t want to leave it all to the last minute like I did for the last two years. I’m also determined to bow down to tradition and have just the one No.1 this year…. I do realise I’ve been going on about this bloody thing for a few posts now, but it’s one of those chores that alternates between huge fun and absolute misery and it’s always the fun that wins out.
Much to enjoy in the next two weeks where I dip into the backlog again whilst waiting for more goodies during the next couple of weeks for certain, including a soundtrack to a film I’ve not watched since I was a kid which terrified me at the time and I’ve not watched it since. So, some good memories to be trawled from that then.
NOFX – Straight Edge
In the Pantheon Of Great Cover Versions, this is surely up there with the greats. I remember when I first bought this album and played it before reading what was on it, and it was a good half a minute before I realised they were doing one of Minor Threat’s many strokes of genius. Love it love it love it.
Fugazi – Give Me The Cure
This EP remains my favourite Fugazi record, if only for the fact that I remember being absolutely mindblown when I first heard it – in Alan’s Records in Wigan during one of many long trips to that fabled record shop. Having Waiting Room played with alarming regularity in every club I ever visited for the next 5 years may have briefly lessened the impact, but this short record was the blueprint for something amazing and probably the last true progression Punk ever saw. Included here specifically for reasons that should hopefully become evident later this week.
True Bypass – Elskan
I bloody well love True Bypass, as even when they’re being a bit sad, it’s impossible not to empathise but with a smile on the face, such is the warmth that emanates from Chantal and Craig. And to be honest, I am peculiarly fond of typing dEUS (Craig Ward’s former employers). Gentle loveliness, and the aural equivalent of a hug after coming in from the rain.
The Wonderstuff – Sing The Absurd
Painfully sad, made all the more moving for the emotion that Miles Hunt pours into this song to his fallen friend. What makes this even more touching is the understanding and camaraderie that rises above the anger and shock. Construction… is a strange and slightly alienating album anyway due to Hunt’s own dissatisfaction with the band’s success, it’s made that little bit stranger for having its heart at the end.
Boards Of Canada – Oscar See Through Red Eye
I put a lot of BoC tracks on here. That’s because I love them and there’s very little that come close to sounding like them, no matter how hard Radiohead try. They have made an artform of creating something that both rewards careful listening as well as providing a calming background to those who just want to slow their pulse down a bit.
Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan – the False Husband
Revisiting this one recently on a late-night drive around nowhere in particular, this is probably my favourite song that these two have done together. Probably because it’s closest to that “Hazelwood / Sinatra” blueprint than anything else they did, it’s sexy and cynical in equal measure with a perfectly weighted tumbleweed arrangement that puts it in the darker regions of 60s Westerns. Or maybe the Spahn Ranch.
Tame Impala – Elephant (Todd Rundgren Remix)
Lonerism’s out tomorrow, and I’m excited. I loved Innerspeaker, and I’m interested to see where Perth’s finest psychedelic rockers fly off to next. Elephant hints at something rather fun and playful, and this de/reconstruction by Todd Rundgren indicates that even the most superficially simple ballroom stomper has plenty going on under the hood to play around with and generally make A Lot More Prog. This is how all 12″ singles used to be made.
My Jerusalem – Sweet Chariot
I reviewed this lot’s new album the other day, and I have to admit that I utterly hate what I wrote. I love the album and hope that at least that bit comes across in the collection of words, but it all came out a bit disjointed and crap. My excuse is that I was enjoying listening to the ruddy thing rather than concentrating on what I was typing. Sorry to anyone who ended up reading it. On the plus side, I get to do enormous playlists for friends who have only dipped the merest toe into this band and its head honcho’s not inconsiderable back catalogue. This first track on their first EP seems like ages ago and its rallying call still makes the hairs stand up.
Roxy Music – Virginia Plain
The 1970s must have been brilliant if you were a drummer, as it seems to be the golden age for them – being able to sit right at the front during Top Of The Pops recordings must have been a heady thrill for all of them. Of course, Punk then came along and ruined it all, and they were sent to the back again where they remain to this day. I was reminded of this song this week not from those glittery halcyon days, but from a Big Train sketch where Chairman Mao rises from his deathbed to perform this as Bryan Ferry. As you do.
White Town – Theme For Olympic Weightlifting
I must apologise for forgetting about this gem over the summer – It’s The Taking Part That Counts saw a host of independent acts pick a sport and do a song about it for this LOCOG-baiting exercise in Olympic celebration. This somewhat ambient piece has an aged patina about it that would be more at home in Montreal than London, but it conveys the occasion perfectly and has all the gravitas required for an Olympic Weightlifting Event and none of the worrying about those little accidents that can occur when pushing those muscles to the limit.