Chart Music Through The Years – 1983

Way Back Wednesday: The Top Music of January 22, 1983 : The Retro Network

Greetings, Glancers! It’s 1983, the year I officially dropped onto the planet, forever changing Humankind’s progression through the nether-galaxy. It was a time when the 80s (as we know them today) were really getting into full swing. Both the Internet and the first Mobile Phone officially appeared (weird, I know, and not at all a coincidence of me deciding to land), President Reagan was shaping US Politics and his Dictator-In-Chief Nancy was waving a magic morality wand across the nation to hilarious non-effect. MASH came to an end, informally ending the 70s, Michael Jackson introduced us to the moonwalk, Margaret Thatcher maintained her chokehold on Britain, Return Of The Jedi premiered, the NES went on sale in Japan, KISS washed their faces, a bunch of terrorists escaped from prison in Northern Ireland, and the Delorean ceased production.

In terms of Music, Michael Jackson premiered the video for Thriller and the album of the same name dominated the charts, Karen Carpenter and Dennis Wilson died, Kirk Hammett replaced Dave Mustaine in Metallica, the Eurythmics told us about Sweet Dreams, Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet pranced about, Madonna and Cyndi Lauper released their debuts, metal bands across the globe were either starting out or hitting their peaks, and Yentl and Flashdance were stinking up the big screen.

But what on Earth was in the UK Top Ten in October of 1983? Well I’m glad you didn’t ask, because we’re about to find out!

1. Culture Club: Karma Chameleon

We all know this one, right? It’s one of the most famous and pervading pop hits of the 1980s, successful enough to land Boy George a spot on The A Team for some reason. It’s pure 80s pop nonsense, and all the better for it.

2. Tracey Ullman: They Don’t Know

I think I remember Tracey Ullman being a singer, but I have no idea what this is. Hmm, it sounds Christmasy. Then it turns into some 80s version of a 50s style song, with sweet and innocent words and voices and melodies. The video is a bit of nonsense, with some expected comedy from Ullman, and I don’t see why this ever would have reached so high on any chart. Oh wait, I do, because people are idiots. It’s a very simple, straightforward pop song, nothing to it. Then Paul McCartney shows up. No idea.

3. Siouxsie And The Banshees: Dear Prudence

Uhh, speaking of McCartney, here’s Siouxsie and Co doing their thang on a Beatles song. It’s a straight enough cover of a song I’m not a huge fan of, with a little more punk, a little more 80s, and Siouxsie’s pronounced vocals instead. The original is a little bland and repetitive and this doesn’t do anything to change that.

4. David Bowie: Modern Love

Have I heard this already in my Bowie album listen through? Probably, but from the name I can’t remember. Hitting play…. ah yes, I do remember this one. I remember liking it. It still sounds like that other Noughties song I can’t name. This is good.

5. Howard Jones: New Song

I don’t know who this is or what this is, lets check it out. Already with the disaster 80s sounds. And your typical male 80s vocals. Everything that was wrong about the 80s right here. At least there’s an audible melody, so it has that in its favour over and above today’s efforts. It’s light and innocent and has a sense of fun – it’s not about sex in other words, so again it has that in its favour versus today’s stuff. Actually a nice keyboard solo in the middle.

6. PIL: This Is Not A Love Song

I must admit I was never the biggest fan of PIL. I should clarify; I never had that much interest in PIL. Yes yes, Johnny Rotten and all that, but any time a friend stuck on one of their albums I became bored quickly. I admit I was expecting The Sex Pistols V2.0, and instead I caught a bug-riddled, floppy disk version of Talking Heads. I imagine their sound was interesting back in the day, but judging in decades later it sounds horribly dated. Rotten was never the greatest vocalist in the world, but he sounds suitably demented, if somewhat robotic here. It’s not a love song, and beyond a catchy three note riff and some bouncy bass, it has zero melodic quality. Decent cynical punk lyrics of course, but it very quickly wears out its welcome with repetitive rhythms, no building, layering, tension, and a devout avoidance of melody. I get the point, but I’m past the point of caring.

7. George Benson: In Your Eyes

Isn’t this the same guy as number 5? I don’t think I recognise the name, but maybe I’ll recognise the song. Parts of the chorus sound vaguely familiar, as if I heard this in a movie I saw in the 80s. I’d love to make a joke about being a budget rate Lionel Ritchie, but his voice is too smooth. The song is another meh 80s love song – probably a nice one for a certain type of lady of a certain point in time, but even if you were to gloss this up or muddy it down or re-arrange however you liked, the core of the song would still be uneventful and shrugsome.

8. UB40: Red Red Wine

I’m going to go ahead and skip right over this one and not bother linking it. Because I am petty. But also because I can’t stand UB40 and I have a completely rational hatred for them. Also, this song is utter shite.

9. New Order: Blue Monday

The biggie. I get how seminal it is, how culturally significant, how influential, and how it was born out of Joy Division. But I’ve never liked it, and most of the music inspired by it either pissed me off or bored me. It’s not my thing, but I appreciate the fact that it exists and how nifty the beats are.

10. David Essex: Tahiti

Off the top of my head, I don’t know what this is, but given the amount of Essex that was floating around my domain in the 80s, I assume I’ll know it when I hit play. No, I don’t remember ever hearing this, but what a weird song. It has male vocals, then a woman joins in later, and the bulk of the song has this swaying, twee shuffle sound. It has a terrible spoken piece, but it has nice harmonies and ‘island chanting’, yet it begins like a quasi-hymnal mixed with Christmas Cliff Richard song. Why it’s over five minutes long is anyone’s guess – you could still have the weird intro, the crux of the song, and the spoken part and still be three minutes. Bizarre.

Nightman Listens To – David Bowie – Tin Machine II!


Greetings, Glancers! Last time out I quite enjoyed Bowie’s Tin Machine debut – a band which promoted a much heavier sound than most of what Bowie had released until that point. Lets hope this is more of the same, or an improvement. Now that I know a little more about the band after going in bare-back last time, I have been looking forward to getting to grips with this one. Lets do this.

Baby Universal‘ baby baby baby, ssshhhwung baby baby. Big drums. More babies. Bowie. It’s not quite as heavy as the previous album but definitely in the traditional rock vein, with a slight industrial slant, particularly in the guitar sustain. The drums are particularly frantic. The vocals are trad. Bowie. Good opening track, not great, not bad.

One Shot‘ sounds very much like the opening of a later My Vitriol track. Softer, yet mainstream melodies and structure like the first track. This one evokes 80s images in my head. The guitar solo breaches mainstream barriers. Like the opener, I feel that this would appeal to a wider audience than much of Bowie’s solo stuff thanks to the easy melodies, but they’re not exactly hits with huge hooks. An extended drum and guitar climax bonanza.

You Belong In Rock And Roll‘ has an ominous throbbing bass and beat before the drums kick in and make it sound like a power ballad. There’s still a sinister undercurrent in the tone. Bowie goes low with his verse vocals to heighten the atmosphere. The chorus raises the vocals moderately and offers some interesting dissonant instrumentation.

If There Was Something‘ is a Roxy Music cover. I don’t think I know the original, but then I was never a fan of them. It moves at a fair lick and has some more scorching guitar twiddling, but it isn’t the heaviest or most adventurous. It’s fun if a little inconsequential, but I don’t mind it.

Amlapura‘ continues the ‘not quite hard rock’ approach, with an acoustic intro backed by distant electric soloing. The verse guitars remind me of Zep’s Tangerine. The structure and vocals leave a dreamy trail. The song gets a little heavier, a little dreamier after the first chorus. It gets a little too repetitive towards the end but it’s short enough that we can overlook this.

Betty Wrong‘ feels 80s again, thanks to that bass and sax. It has a touch of that 80s atmosphere I’m always going on about. The riffs and melodies don’t seem to match, giving a nice disconnected twist. The chorus is pure pop, in a good way. It’s another brief track. It’s been a while since I listened to the first album but I remember it being much heavier than everything here. Nice closing solo to fade out.

You Can’t Talk‘ starts out with some scratchy shredding and rumbling drums before Bowie begins rapping or something. This is much more experimental and is quite amusing. It doesn’t work but it certainly isn’t crap. Much of it is enjoyable and interesting.

Stateside‘ sounds like a bad 80s shower scene, with someone (male or female) perving on someone (male or female). Or maybe an advert for chocolate. Is that Bowie singing? Doesn’t sound like it. No, he’s on backing duty here. It’s a bit slow and droopy. Of course the lyrics mirror this, seems satirical. And of course they then throw in a face-melter. Of course the weakest song so far would be the longest.

Shopping For Girls‘ merges acoustic with electric lead lines – a little bit of Iron Maiden plagiarism going on?  There’s the 80s atmosphere again. Melodies okay, a little dull but singable.

A Big Hurt‘ brings the metal. A crunching, high volume opening bombast followed by thrash style chugging and a Nirvana esque fuzz rhythms attack. Like many Bowie tracks it feels at first listen like it’s all over the place, but a quick clearing of the mind and focus finds consistency and form.

Sorry‘ opens with a promising ascending series of chords and unearthly sensual brass. Bowie does a great job with the vocals and the whole thing is highly charged with feeling.

Goodbye Mr Ed‘ is a name I feel I’ve heard before. It’s the closing track as I understand the next song is an instrumental hidden track. There’s a sense of positive energy in this one, but it’s quite tame rock musically.

Hammerhead‘ is a bit of fast paced jamming, drums and guitars and sex all shredding wildly together – feels like it could have been an intro to something.

I’d need to listen to both Tin Machine albums again to be sure, but my first thoughts are that this is a step down. It’s still good and there are a few songs I’d like to delve into deeper, but it also doesn’t feel as aggressive. Maybe there was a backlash to the first album and they decided to tone it down? I don’t see Bowie giving in to such pressures. Still, it’s an okay album which I understand may be divisive, though this time around I would say it’s not heavy enough to appeal to the metal or industrial crowd and too heavy or chaotic for traditional Bowie fans.

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: You Belong In Rock N Roll. Amlapura. Betty Wrong. Sorry.

Nightman Listens To – The Buddha Of Suburbia – David Bowie!

David bowie-the buddha of suburbia-uk.jpg

Greetings, Glancers! We’re deep into the 1990s portion of David Bowie’s discography, which means there’s only about 60 albums left to go. Last time out, I wasn’t enamoured with or by Black Tie White Noise, and I fear that I’ll be saying the same about this album. Why, you ask? Two things – first, that it’s a David Bowie album, and I think by now we’ve made peace with the fact that I’m never going to be the dude’s biggest fan even as I respect what he did; secondly, although I knew zero about this album going in, I did see that it’s an avant-garde soundtrack when I checked Wikipedia for the tracklist, which likely means a lot of warbling, instrumentals, and brass. I’m heading in low on this one, so maybe I’ll be surprised.

Buddha Of Suburbia‘ opens with a brief warble, then thankfully opens into a simple, streamlined ballad of sorts. Ethereal vocals, discernible melodies, recurring guitar hook. It’s hardly the most exciting song, though it does blast into a middle eight let down by a horn lead instead of any other instrument. The second middle eight blast wisely decides against horn, and there’s an amusing musical call back to a certain big Bowie hit. I don’t hate it – this one I could listen to again, though it does go overboard on some of the effects.

Sex And The Church‘ feels… dance? Robotic voice, warbling riff. Odd beats. Clashing and struggling for coherence. If this built to something, I’d likely enjoy it, but at the moment I’m wary it’s just going to repeat aimlessly. Chucking in horns is not what I meant when I hoped it was building to something. Basically half way now, and nothing doing. Usually I don’t mind stuff like this, but for whatever reason it sounds more authentic when it comes from a complete unknown. Of course Bowie had been pulling stunts like this his whole career so my argument is null, but that’s still how I feel. This could just as equally be 30 seconds long or 12 minutes long and not say anything less or more.

South Horizon‘ starts with jazz cymbals and beats – almost never a good thing. Then synth creeps around in the undergrowth, swiftly followed by the inevitable brass. Piano smatterings. This reminds me of Homeland. It also reminds me of one of the in built tunes an old Keyboard of mine once had – it has similarly dissonant, and you could play over the top of it to make something even more monstrous. Free jazz – anyone can do it, no matter if you can play an instrument or not. It does gain a computerized beat in the middle, like a Printer trying to tell me it’s run out of ink. It does mesh together more towards the end, but it still comes across as an empty jam session.

The Mysteries‘ is, gasp, an even longer instrumental. At over 7 minutes, things are looking bleak for Nightman’s sanity. Swells and swarms. It’s quite nice – just don’t fuck it up with horns and plastic beats. One minute down and it’s calming, reflective. I haven’t seen the show this soundtracked (nice) but I can imagine the sort of scene this music would go along with. It also reminds me of some of the music from Lost Highway. Of course, Bowie appears on it too. Which all begs the response – it’s fine when watching a movie or show with the music accompanying it, but for me an instrumental has to be A* tier or be something I have a deep emotional connection to for me to ever enjoy it on its own.

Bleed Like A Craze, Dad‘ opens with plinky plonky piano before threatening to shift into some weird 80s rock mess. Instead it decides upon some weird 80s rock jazz mess. It’s the same bass riff accompanied by Bowie singing ‘Shine shine shine’ over and over, with assorted other instruments dropping in and out. At the second minute, some new vocals and lyrics enter but the musical structure remains largely the same and despite the changes in instruments, it’s very repetitive.

Strangers When We Meet‘ goes this time for a dance rock mess, but quickly softens the rock for a more funk pop approach. This feels more like a straightforward traditional song. At this point I’ll take anything that isn’t misguided experimentation. It’s hardly the most exciting song in the world, and average in almost every way, but given the crap which surrounds it, it stands out so far.

Dead Against It‘ is immediately another which feels more like a song than a mess. It’s building neatly, lots of 90s digitised noise, quite jangly and repetitive but at less it sounds interesting. It somehow almost feels like ABBA. It’s a low B Tier song, raised to a more solid B given the D and E tier material elsewhere on the album. The lead musical hook and all the little jangled keys will stick in the memory, though the vocals are too over-produced and littered with reverb for my liking.

Untitled Number 1‘ is the sort of name every artist attributes to a piece of music at some point. This starts out in an experimental fashion, then sounds like some seedy late 70s Porno, then sounds like some sort of jungle-themed movie. Then it becomes more grounded with the same ethereal, reverb filled vocals and a laid back verse. This one feels more solid C and at the halfway point I’m not sure if it’s going anywhere in the second half that it hasn’t already been in the first. Some extra guitar parts, and of course a load of horns. It does go full Jungle in the final minute.

Ian Fish, UK Heir‘ is a name which doesn’t strike me with confidence. Of course, names can be unrelated to the sound of the piece. It looks like another instrumental. Though its opening couple of minutes are pleasingly spacey and ambient. Again, this is fine for a one off listen, or within the confines of the show, but it’s not something I’m ever going to play again.

Buddha Of Suburbia‘ is a slightly different version to the opening track. What’s the point? It’s still nice. It’s still not amazing.

I’ll be honest – I’m writing this conclusion months after I listened to the album. That’s just the sort of dedicated awesome blogger I am. I can’t remember anything about the album, but going by comments it doesn’t look like I cared much about any of it. Great! Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Buddha Of Suburbia. Strangers When We Meet. Dead Against It.

Nightman Listens To – David Bowie – Black Tie White Noise!

Black Tie White Noise | CD Album | Free shipping over £20 | HMV Store

Greetings, Glancers! Welcome back once more to the journey that just won’t die. Black Tie White Noise was done at the same time or after his side-gig with Tin Machine. I liked those two albums as much as, if not more than most of Bowie’s solo stuff, but this is him back on track with his own bad self. I know nothing about the album other than Wiki telling me it was a return to form after his 80s exploits – I saw that snippet as I checked out the tracklist. Well, lets get on with it.

The Wedding‘ begins, quite expectedly, with Church bells – one of the most hellish sounds known to man. We then get a gorgeous orchestral swell and some sort of percussive beats. It builds and finally becomes coherent thanks to a near Happy Mondays stomp. It’s all very neat but then it’s nearly ruined by screeching brass – possibly the most hellish sound known to man. I’m guessing at this point this is an instrumental. I don’t mind when they open albums so much. I would like this if it wasn’t for the brass, but it’s a sound I’ll never enjoy. Without that, it’s fine, but a good two minutes too long.

‘You’ve Been Around‘ comes in hard with the fat synth. Then a terribly dated drum sound drops. It’s not quite New Jack, it’s not quite Madchester, but it’s somewhere in between – which must roughly be the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Good melodies and vocals in the verse, but man those drums are terrible. Repeating jangled guitars, backing choirs, more trumpets – all Bowie standards. It’s fine but overlong once more. Cut out the trumpet, change the drums = better.

I Feel Free‘ explodes briefly before dropping into vocal tics and then into a funky verse with too low in the mix vocals. It’s fairly plain as far as Bowie goes, but at least no sign of brass yet. The jangled guitars and choirs are present and accounted for. Yet again, needlessly long.

Black Tie White Noise‘ doesn’t start out well – it has a dreadful 80s tone and more brass. It smooths somewhat but the sound is still very dated and the vocals are disjointed – not in a pleasing way. There’s another voice here, a guest singer of some sort. It’s another McCartney/Jackson type of thing. I get the sentiment behind the song, but it’s buried under so much crap it’s a wonder it was ever released. I’m not sure what sort of sound he was going for here, some sort of merging of genres but none of it works and the boing boing boing of noi-oi-oise is like discovering a spider under your eyelid.

Jump They Say‘ jumps from awful 80s sound into almost as awful 90s sound. It’s dated, but not as pronounced. It gets better in the verses and you can see it working as a club hit regardless of the production. Of course there’s more sabotage in the chorus with silly sax and trumpets. We even get a torturous sax solo. Still, it’s probably the best song on the album till now.

Nite Flights‘ continues the not quite Ministry Of Sound, not quite New Jack vibe. The production largely avoids causing me to wish the song was over. Some interesting sounds, better melodies, but it’s still not the sort of thing to make my playlist long term. This one overtakes the previous track as the best on the album.

Pallas Athena‘ begins much more promisingly, ominous throbbing and a repeated spoken refrain, along with some creepy, cool strings. The beat then drops – it had all been building like a dance track so it was obvious this was coming. It’s a little unfortunate that it doesn’t build upon this opening and instead takes the instrumental approach and throws more piercing sax at us. There’s the makings of a great song in here, it just didn’t go the direction I wanted it to for me to feel it’s anything more than ‘okay’. At least Bowie is continuing to move with the times and try new sounds.

Miracle Goodnight‘ is some funky new age jazz dance which makes me think of chickens. For no reason – those noise are just making me think of chickens. The backing music is too repetitive without adding enough variance, that upwards quartet of notes over and over becoming particularly grating after a minute. I do like the vocals and general melodic quality of the song – but as with almost every other song ever written – there’s no need for the spoken part.

Don’t Let Me Down And Down‘ comes straight in with an 80s vibe – not quite a power ballad but I imagine it’s the closest Bowie ever got to such things. It’s slow, dreamy, the instrumental choices are unusual for Bowie, the drums feel a little too booming consider the soothing nature of everything else. If you guessed there would be a horn solo you’d be right, but this one is more compelling, less screechy than others on the album. Towards the end, Bowie belts out a section of vocals nicely which heightens the obvious pleading quality of the lyrics. Definitely one of my favourites on the album.

Looking For Lester‘ is more 90s poppy jazz stuff – it has that cheap, cheery 90s beat which was up and down the charts at the time, usually accompanied by backing dancers in baggy clothing kicking their legs around. Is this completely instrumental? This sort of track does nothing for me. Interestingly the horns are only marginally annoying, but all the parts add up to a whole lot of nothing.

I Know It’s Going To Happen Someday‘ is a Morrissey cover, which sounds a little odd on the surface, but makes sense the more I think about it. It has an old-timey Gospel feel but I don’t like the echo on the vocals. It wasn’t my favourite song to begin with and this doesn’t do much to change my opinion – there is nothing wrong, I like the backing vocals and the guitar solo, but it’s never going to have an impact on me.

The Wedding Song‘ closes the album, bookending alongside the opener. It starts with some dirty bass before the 90s dance sounds and beats come in. Those really date it but I get the feeling that an updated version would clean up some of the irritants and dating attributes. Get rid of the screechy horns too. I like the vocals and the effects on them this time, and the melody is quite sweet.

Another Bowie album with more misses than hits for me. It’s a very obvious new direction for him to take, especially after his 80s stuff and Tin Machine work, and he does sound quite invigorated by it. Most of the sounds and tones he goes for he does so successfully, but those same sounds and tones are not of the type I generally enjoy and they remind me of a lot of early 90s throwaway pop which I didn’t like at the time. The consistent brass, which I know he’s never going to get away from, also is like wasps to my ears so I’m already starting on the wrong foot when it comes to hearing this record. It’s not one I feel any desire to listen to again, and only a couple of the songs were interesting enough to me to want to revisit.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Black Tie White Noise!

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Nite Flights. Pallas Athena.

Nightman Listens To Tin Machine/David Bowie!

Tin Machine (album) - Wikipedia

Greetings, Glancers! Don’t worry, this isn’t a new series, it’s merely a continuation of the Bowie marathon. I didn’t realise or fully appreciate that Tin Machine was a separate entity from Bowie – I thought it was just another persona like Ziggy or The Thin White Duke or Mathilda Twinklegrunt or whatever. So Tin Machine was more like a side-project – they only made two albums, in between Bowie’s last solo 80s release and first 90s solo release. I may as well cover them. I’ve no idea what sound they have – did he give in and go 80s metal? The name sounds industrial so maybe it’s a mixture of guitars and electronica. It’s Bowie, so who the hell knows. Well, you probably know – I’m about to find out.

Heaven’s In Here: Okay, an actual phat riff. It’s a little bluesy, it actual has a tin sound, the vocals feel like a 50s vocal group, then it goes a little Caribbean. That’s all before the verse starts. That driving riff and bass strives to keep it grounded as Blues rock. Bowie’s vocals are mostly toned down, not going overboard with highs or operatics. The riff’s good, but maybe not good enough to sustain the song for six minutes. There’s other stuff going on so it doesn’t get overly repetitive. Some shouts come towards the end, some funky distorted guitar play and a fantastic closing solo, some great smacking drums as the whole thing collapses, not much in the way of melody.

Tin Machine: Very metal, a crashing intro. This gives way to a fast paced song which reminds me of the original Thinking About You by Radiohead. The vocals are very Ian Curtis. I know I’ll get heat for this, but Bowie’s vocals just don’t lend themselves to heavy music – rock, metal. Too smooth and overwrought. This is quite fun, but I’d have preferred a bit of a growl in the vocals.

Prisoner Of Love: A more traditional chord intro with a nice vibe. Good guitar line, much more melodic. The vocals suit this sound more closely. The extended chorus is half good, half okay, but the verses are great. I like the underlying guitar work with repeats and wavers and loops under the surface.

Crack City: I am Iron Man? I was only joking, and then the chord sequence comes in and I’m not so sure. There’s surely some ripping off here, right? That and Wild Thing. Assholes with buttholes for their brains? Is he making fun of metal here? Or just the drugs involved. A more aggressive edge to the vocals, again it doesn’t quite work, but he’s really going for it here.

I Can’t Read: More tin drums and distortion and a simple yet potent riff. The riff breaks out and gets better. Cool dark atmosphere, and another much more suited to Bowie’s voice. I think the anti-melodic approach works well here – it’s purposefully robotic. Then the chorus is like an anti-anthem with pop sweetness. Very good. Nice screams and another collapse at the end, though we don’t need the sex noises.

Under The God: Feels like a straightforwards rock song. Then the riff comes in and it’s a little samey to ones which have come already, but it doesn’t last. Great lyrics from what I can pick up, good chorus, good backing vocals, good everything. It there’s any complaint, it probably could have been condensed to a punchier 3 minutes.

Amazing: A little bit of Led Zep now? It as a full sound, light staccato guitar bursts and surging solo lines. It’s very sweet, and another good one.

Working Class Hero: We know this one of course, but it’s a bombastic and different intro. Most covers of this I’ve heard stay close to the original. This is a little more funky. The original is far from a favourite of mine so most covers don’t do it for me.

Bus Stop: Another fast rocking intro. Feels quite punk, though softer. Not a fan of the accent. I would have guessed this was another cover of a punk song I haven’t heard – I don’t think it is.

Pretty Thing: A strange voice floats in, quickly joined by fast biting chords in the vein of more punk bands. It’s fast, not quite chaotic, the pauses keep it fresh. It changes pace and tone midway through, become more of a loose, freestyle instrumental.

Video Crime: It’s cool how modern this sounds for something made in 89. If anything, it’s Bowie’s vocals which date it purely because when I think of Bowie, I think 70s/80s. The guitars could be from any decade since the 80s. This song is a little too slow and start/stop, but the refrains are catchy. Great drums throughout.

Run: A moderately more pop sound for the intro, but yet again one with an atmospheric tone. I love that dual riff and Bowie’s vocals suit the verse melodies to a T. The chorus pays off too. The second half doesn’t have the same immediate impact but it does get more rocking towards the end.

Sacrifice Yourself: Stretching guitars, thumping drums, and an old-fashioned rock beat brought up to date with the surrounding chaos. This one is fun, more shouted vocals, but maybe a little too streamlined and simple. Short too.

Baby Can Dance: A long intro with plenty of guitar distortion and howls and assorted beats. A catchy refrain holds it together. The lyrics seem silly. A long middle section with lots of clashing noise. An okay song to close the album, not the best.

It turns out this one wasn’t well received upon release. I can only assume critics and fanboys were more used to the fawning intellect and electro and glam rather than the harsher, more punk-based songs, more in your face display here. That’s their loss. This has been one of my favourite Bowie listens thus far, the heavier songs and more metal approach suiting my traditional tastes. Plus there was hardly a piano or horn in sight, something which usually brings Bowie’s songs down for me. The album as a whole I can see myself listening to again given that I thoroughly enjoyed many of the songs – that usually means the ones I didn’t like as much will increase in my estimation.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Tin Machine!

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Prisoner Of Love. Crack City. I Can’t Read. Under The God. Amazing. Run.

Nightman Listens To – David Bowie – Never Let Me Down!

Greetings, Glancers! Now this is interesting – it’s a Bowie album I haven’t even heard of. Therefore I’m assuming the worst. Plus it was released in the 80s, so assuming ‘the worst’ may be too positive. Hardcore fans may notice that I skipped over Mr Bowie’s Labyrinth Soundtrack album. That’s correct. I’m familiar enough with it that I don’t need to listen to it for the blog. Never Let Me Down though, I don’t recognise a single song from looking down the tracklist. Life is all about new experiences, people, even if they’re shit. Lets hope this isn’t shit.

Day In Day Out: A heavy synth and guitar crunch gives way to a horrible 80s sound. Bad drums, bad beat, bad horns. Backing vocals aren’t so bad. Bowie’s giving it some welly on the mic. I can see plenty of people grooving to this, but equally I can see Bowie fans hating this. It’s just a bullseye shot of all the things I don’t like about 80s music.

Time Will Crawl: This gets off to an immediately better start – the drums are absolutely huge and don’t quite have that 80s sound I don’t like. Much better verse melodies this time, and they carry through to the chorus. I like the keyboard pieces – even though they’re repetitive they are quite atmospheric and aid the pumping, urgent rhythm. This is a song I’ve never heard before, but on first listen it flies up my personal Bowie song ranking.

Beat Of Your Drum: A beeping synth intro, then drums and sounds which make me think of a hundred 80s action movie soundtracks. That’s a good thing. Some extra synth omes in when Bowie begins singing and completely changes the tone of the song, which is not a good thing. The pre-chorus is better than the verse, offering yet another style, the chorus is okay but gets boring quickly, then we return briefly to the intro. A bit of a mixture of things I like and things I don’t then.

Never Let Me Down: Another good intro, starts almost like a power ballad then the harmonica wipes those thoughts away. Then the verse and vocals bring it back and feels as close to a mainstream love song as Bowie has ever done. It’s actually quite sweet, but I get the impression that he’s taking the piss. The chorus doesn’t quite do great things – it starts well but veers too much into funk instead of continuing the maudlin melancholy pop. Still, it’s one I’d like to hear again.

Zeroes: Starts with weird crowd noise. Is that even crowd noise? No, it’s some sort of effect to make it sound as if it’s a live performance. Once the main beat comes in the song picks up and gives me hope. Great, simple verse melody with nice backing vocals and sitar type stuff. A pretty fantastic chorus – not sure I’d remember it after one listen. There’s enough for me to enjoy here, but the melody isn’t something which will latch on easily. That’s a few songs here already I’ve liked, surprising after that terrible start. The final couple of minutes of this one are unnecessary.

Glass Spider: An atmospheric intro. A spoken intro. At least Bowie has a good voice for speaking theatrically. Feels like it could have been on the Labyrinth soundtrack. The music is nifty. Then it all goes wrong when the spoken part ends. Silly bouncy bass synth and strained vocals. The backing music tries to keep things from falling off the cliff into garbage. Miraculously it is saved and dragged back from the cliff edge and gets pretty good again. Bits and pieces of greatness, diluted by some nonsense.

Shining Star: Another strong, atmospheric intro. Then it descends into pure 80s silliness. Yet it works, for me at least. The verses are funny and energetic, the pre-chorus is bland, and the chorus is okay. That muted guitar sound and pace drives the song – the drum sounds are like someone stomping on a bag of crisps. The spoken piece makes me think of Miss Europa Disco Dancer – Nicky’s part.

New York’s In Love: This one starts more like the first song, stepping into dodgy territory. It’s very reminiscent of other 80s dance/pop hits. Some of the twinkling synth and guitar stuff makes it bearable but it’s not for me. It does have an extended guitar section at the end but the song feels much longer than it is.

87 And Cry: Now what the hell is this. It definitely reminds me of another 80s song…. Danger Zone? Footloose? Some sort of Loggins? The main riff is also quite similar to G’n’R’s You’re Crazy. Verses don’t have much going on, the chorus a little better.

Too Dizzy: Oh no, there’s the horrible 80s drums. Then it has some hilarious horns to make it sound like an 80s sitcom or game show. The verse is fun, light-hearted nonsense, and the chorus continues the theme. I’m not sure what’s going on with this album, it’s all over the place. It’s fine, just feels like another pop song, with extra sax.

Bang Bang: Throngs, then big 80s drums. Some words. Then good guitar and atmosphere. Then horns. Lets hope we close on a high. One of my famous chord sequences in use here. He flips it around by including unusual pauses. I probably like this so much because of that chord sequence which makes me think of one of my one songs. Great guitar in there. Oh, turns out this is another Iggy cover.

I’m not sure what to make of this one – some really embarrassing stuff, some very 80s pop songs, but also some really good stuff too. I’d like to know what Bowie fans think of this – I’m probably not as negative towards this album as some will be, mainly because I’m not a big fan of the glam stuff which his fans love. He’s gone again for some new sounds and styles, while still keeping his brass and harmonica close by. Some songs I’ve already forgotten, but a few I’ll be adding to my playlist. Let me know what you think of Never Let Me Down in the comments!

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Time Will Crawl, Never Let Me Down, Zeroes, Glass Spider.

Nightman Listens To – David Bowie – Tonight!


Greetings, Glancers! We’re back in Bowieville today with an album I know absolutely nothing about. Most of the Bowie albums, even though I had not previously listened to them, I was at least aware of their name or their popularity or success. This one I don’t recall ever hearing of, so my first assumption is that it was not well received. Lets check the tracklist… oh. Is this a cover album? It seems like at least half of the songs are covers… that usually means a quick rush job to capitalize on success and keep things ticking over while you plan your actual next album. Right, all signs point towards this not being great, but I hope I’m wrong.

Loving The Alien: Well, this certainly starts out with an 80s vibe – that dreadful 80s drum sound is here in full force, but the overall 80s vibe isn’t too cheesy, instead hitting the right nostalgic chord with me. The vocals… I’m not sure yet whether they are okay are annoying…. bit of both really. Great bridge between verse and chorus. It’s just a tad odd, not enough to put most people off, but just odd enough for people to mutter ‘wtf is this’ to themselves while still liking it. I haven’t, or can’t pay attention to the lyrics here… seems to be something about religion? A good guitar solo/off kilter string section in the middle, leads to a longer instrumental section which is mostly a repetition of the main melody along with strings. Then a guitar solo. Just an extended jam to close. This was perfectly fine – not amazing, not bad, interesting.

Don’t Look Down: Neon drenched steamy US detective show. With added reggae. I’m not a fan of the whole white boy reggae thing. I don’t think I’ve heard the original. It’s slow. Pretty one-note, doesn’t change much from minute to minute. Nothing wrong, but I wouldn’t choose to listen to it again.

God Only Knows: Hmm, well it’s different enough from the original. Very deep vocals, made into more of a drone than what The Beach Boys did. I like the string parts and the stutters. Added horns.

Tonight: You know it’s the 80s when people duet with Tina Turner. More reggae, so not to my tastes. I would enjoy this song much more if they didn’t go for that style, as it’s quite sweet and soothing. I think I’ve heard the original, but can’t remember it at the moment.

Neighbourhood Threat: So, it’s A View To A Kill. Man, this reeks of a lost 80s power rock classic. Again, I’ve probably heard the original, but can’t recall it. Still, this is my favourite on the album since the opener.

Blue Jean: There is a consistent sound and tone throughout the album, I’ll give it that. And even with all the 80s stuff, it never becomes too 80s.

Tumble And Twirl: This one is a little bit reggae, a little disco, and a little 80s rock. Too many horns for my liking. Turns into a bit of a dancing bonanza. Goes on a bit.

I Keep Forgettin: This isn’t overly different from the original, retaining a streamlined old fashioned rock and roll feel. Definitely feels like a bit of random B material.

Dancing With The Big Boys: With all the Iggy covers it only seems fitting to close on a song which features him. Drums feel like the opening to another Bond song. Guitar kind of follows that line of thought. Too many trumps for my liking, as is the case many many times. This comes across as just another average, forgettable rock song.

So, a consistently 80s sounding record without falling into the usual trappings of 80’s guff. It still sounds like a Bowie album, even if a lot of the songs are covers, and unlike many of the other stars of the 70s who struggled to keep up with the new decade. I’d likely only listen to two of the songs again, and the rest is miscellaneous take it or leave it stuff. Not good, not bad, very indifferent. At least it wasn’t an embarrassment, but it’s not one I’ll remember. Let us know your thoughts on Tonight in the comments!

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Loving The Alien. Neighbourhood Threat.

Classic Rock Band Tier – Ranking Classic Rock Bands

Greetings, Glancers. It seems like this tier malarkey is all the rage these days, and every blogger, vlogger, and their embittered uncle is thrusting their own flaccid list into the unexpected orifices of subscribers. Not one to be out-thrust, this post will be my own grading of a list of bands. Before I get to that, I should point out that I only found out about this nonsense via my watching of Become The Night – a Youtube channel run by a musician and metal fan called Mike. If you’re into reaction videos, metal, prog, insightful and entertaining rants on the current state of popular music, then it’s one of the more eloquent and knowledgeable channels out there, while remaining fun to watch.

Mike seems to have used a site called tiermaker which allows you to create your own lists and categories, and drag and drop items into each, before sharing on Facebook or wherever. That link above takes you to the same list Mike uses in his video. In my post I’m going to go through the same artists, but give my ranking on each. It’s partly a response to Mike’s video, partly because I’m curious to see where I would rank each act, and partly because I couldn’t think of anything more interesting to write about today. I should talk a little at the outset about where Mike and I differ. Obviously, obviously, each person is different, with our own tastes, preferences, baggage and all of that will greatly determine how we rank anything, no matter how objective we try to be. If we’re being 100% objective, there would be no point in doing the list because one ranking would be the official ranking. Mike is big into production when it comes to music – listen to any of his song reaction videos, any of his videos really, and he’ll harp on about production quite a lot – the mix, the tone, the tools – he knows a hell of a lot more about it than I ever will and that’s mainly because I simply don’t weigh production as highly as he does in terms of making a song. I’m being slightly tongue in cheek, and admittedly naive because obviously Production is one of the most important aspects of recording music. It’s just that for me, it lies a hell of a long way behind talent, melody, emotion, and lyrics.

Lyrics and emotion are two points where I differ from Mike, and maybe from a lot of other fans. Where Production for me roughly falls into three large categories – crap, okay, and good, Mike has a highly trained ear for the slightest flaw (perceived or otherwise) in a recording and mix – I don’t. My ear is much more attuned to emotion – I can easily tell if something is false or disingenuous, much more so than your typical listener and (without getting too wanky) I have a finely tuned degree of empathy when hearing and feeling any song. In Mike’s own (near enough) words, he doesn’t give a shit about lyrics and considers music and the playing of instruments as the most important element in creating a song.

He’s wrong of course, and is not accurately defining the difference between music and song, at least as both have existed since the start of the 20th Century. Sure a song doesn’t have to have lyrics to be considered a song, but most do, while a song usually needs (but not always) music before being called a song. Ignoring lyrics is essentially ignoring half of a song. It’s one of the prime examples of how music and listeners and artists have been dumbed down over time, to the point that most people ignore lyrics unless they’re deliberately provocative or ridiculously inane. Otherwise intelligent people have been taught to ignore words in songs, because words in songs have lost all meaning. If music is to become intelligent again and move away from its current mass-market, junk food approach, then lyrics need to be part of that equation. As always, I’m writing this off the cuff and chucking generalizations around – I’m aware that lyrics have been silly for most 20th and 21st Century popular music, but even The Beatles grew from childish declarations of love to often near God tier poetry. In Epic Poetry, lyrics told the stories with a cast of hundreds, sung to music which has been lost over time while the words remains. Popular music began showcasing more intelligent lyrics in the mid-sixties, but since it there have been more troughs than peaks in the art form, with the best lyrics tending to come from either cult acts or those with a small following. Various sub-genres of rap obviously focus heavily on words, perhaps moreso than the music. From a Business perspective, lyrics don’t sell, music does. It’s a little frustrating then when he berates modern acts (correctly) for being vain, reductive, and repetitive in terms of music and lyrics, but then completely dismisses the lyrics of some of the best songwriters in history. It’s partly because his favourite acts are shitty lyricists anyway (Dream Theater anyone?) It’s fine though, he mainly defines songs in terms of music while I define songs in terms of the whole package which comprises a song – a piece of music usually designed to be sung.

Enough bullshit for now, lets look at how his tier looked at the end – if you’re curious it’s probably best to watch his video first (plus you’ll probably find it more entertaining than this).


That’s not the easiest to see, so here’s a more clear list:

S: Led Zeppelin. Pink Floyd. Steely Dan. Queen. The Beatles

A: Cream. Creedence Clearwater Revival. David Bowie. Elton John. The Rolling Stones

B: ACDC. Aerosmith. Billy Joel. Deep Purple. Jimi Hendrix. Lynyrd Skynyrd. Rush

C: The Who. Fleetwood Mac. Black Sabbath

D: The Eagles. Grateful Dead. Bob Dylan

F: The Doors

Naturally, posting a list like this to a large audience on the internet is going to lead to all manner of angry frothing and gesturing. How dare someone else have an opinion, especially one that is so different from mine! Mike has a much larger audience than I do, so I imagine he’s got a lot of hate over some of these choices. Because people are precious of the things they love, and because people are dicks. I disagree with some of his choices, as I will show in my own ranking, but I understand that he is who he is and I’m not here to change his mind. Or anyone else’s. As always, leave a comment here and share your own ranking and reasoning. But there’s no sense in arguing because this is almost entirely subjective and based on our own shit. If we try to be objective, then we have to fall back on tangible metrics such as sales, chart history, longevity, influence, followed up by less tangible stuff like musicianship, lyrics, originality. I’m not sure who even came up with this list of artists, or how they define each tier – I think there are too many tiers and I would replace a few of these acts with ones I deem much more suitable, but I’ll cover these ones anyway.

So lets follow Mike’s ranking from the bottom. The Doors – it was pretty obvious from the outset that Mike would stick The Doors here. He’s not a lyrics guy, and perhaps more than any other act on this list The Doors relied more on lyrics and atmosphere than music. Being a lyrics and atmosphere guy, I rank The Doors much higher. The band were also massively influential (maybe more in terms of redefining what a front man can be) in terms of lyricism and songwriting, they’re undoubtedly one of the most iconic acts of all time, and of course they sold and charted a bunch and are still spoken of highly today. I love a lot of The Doors songs and for a while they were one of my favourite bands. I fully admit that a lot of their catalogue is a little iffy – I credit that to the use of keyboards more than anything else. I agree that Morrison doesn’t have the greatest voice from any technical standpoint, but it continues to moisten panties in every generation which is more than I can say for most vocalists. As much as I like The Doors, there’s really only a handful of songs which I can say I both love and which had an impact on a wider scale. For example, Love Streets is probably my favourite song by The Doors, but it’s not one you ever hear people talking about it. Ray Manzarek was a beast on the keys, it’s just that the sound now feels dated and cheesy. Densmore – a decent enough drummer, nothing special. Krieger had some great riffs and solos and as a band they all experimented and stretched the boundaries of popular music – something Mike claims to pine for.

Next up, The Eagles. In what is going to be a recurring theme for this post, I’ll have to take a step back and state that I’m not American. In my part of the world and in the time that I grew up in, no-one gave a shit about The Eagles. They made Hotel California and… that’s it? I know they were a massively successful band but I think most of that success was internal to the USA. For whatever reason they never crossed the shores to me. They’re a band whose back catalogue I have wanted to get into, and I’ll probably get to them in the future on this blog, but for now they are looking like an F. The same will go for The Grateful Dead, except they don’t even have Hotel California. Bob Dylan, I’ve never been a huge fan of and in most cases the songs he’s written that I have liked, have been performed by other artists whose versions I much prefer. Again, he’s someone I know I need to listen to and will. Known for his lyrics, I’m hoping those will have something I can enjoy and distract me from his voice. Either way, I probably wouldn’t include Dylan on this list at all.

The Who haven’t been given enough credit by Mike, presumably because he hasn’t heard enough by them (admitting again that many of the bands I will rank low will be because I haven’t heard a lot of their stuff). The Who are arguably the most energetic rock band of all time – Mike mentions that ACDC are ranked higher for him because he appreciates their energy even if he doesn’t like many of their songs. The Who knock ACDC out of the park in terms of energy. Keith Moon is unquestionably one of the great drummers, Roger Daltry’s voice can strip paint and lull a heart-attack victim to sleep, while Pete Townsend is at the forefront of progressive music. Of course Townsend would class his stuff as Rock Operas rather than concept or progressive albums, but they fall under the same wider umbrella of telling a larger story with linking themes and songs. The band is rarely mentioned as pioneers, but I think they influenced both metal and punk as well as rock overall. Admittedly they don’t have as many hits as some bands here, but their sales and longevity speak for themselves. Great lyrics too.

Fleetwood Mac is a band I should love but I haven’t bothered going from album to album yet. I do love quite a lot of their songs so I can only assume there will be others I’d like, and they crossed more successfully than other bands that bridge between rock and pop. Black Sabbath, as Mike points out, are probably the first metal band. At least in terms of what we think of as Metal today. We all know Ozzy isn’t the most appealing of vocalists nowadays, but back then he could belt it out and that’s what it was all about – being loud, being aggressive, and being in your face. Tony Iommi is probably second only to Jimmy Page in creating memorable guitar riffs. While the band quickly ran out of steam, their first few albums remain essential parts of metal. They’re far from my favourite band, but I appreciate what they did, the ground they broke, the fans they awakened. I take them more as a greatest hits band – a few songs from each album would make one single great album, leaving the majority of stuff I pass over.

The B and A tiers are where I will change most stuff around. Starting with ACDC. I’ve never been a fan – I think they’re the prime example of pop music under the guise of rock. I feel the same way towards ACDC as I do towards hair metal – sure ACDC is more authentic, but it’s marginal. ACDC is just a better Status Quo. They’re the Nickleback of the 70s and 80s. I just can’t take them seriously, with their lyrics like a bad Carry On movie or a thirteen year old boy’s idea of sex. Sure they have some memorable riffs and the odd decent song, and they’ve sold more albums than is humanly possible… doesn’t mean they’re any good. I’ve never liked any of their singers either – ever skinned a fox? While it’s still alive? Neither have I, but that’s what I think Brian and Bon sound like. Only their sales keep them from being lower.

Aerosmith I used to like when I was a kid. They had a couple of decent albums in the late 70s, then again in the early 90s. I can’t say too many of their songs have really stayed with me over time – while I like them, they’ve fallen away while songs from other bands have kept afloat. Mostly a fringe band for me, I don’t have anything bad to say, but I don’t have any massive positives either, beyond liking (not loving) a lot of their songs. Billy Joel is an artist who, until a few years ago, I had no idea had sold so many records. This must come down to not being American again. As an outsider I knew Uptown Girl, and that one about not starting fires, and that was about it. Yet he is somehow one of the biggest selling artists of all time? How did I not know this? Is it like Garth Brooks syndrome and it’s only idiots buying multiple copies of his stuff? Actually, let me check Wikipedia to see if I know any of his other stuff – there must be songs I know that I wasn’t aware were by him. Nope. There are songs there which I have probably heard, but don’t recognise from name only. He’s another I’ll have to delve into on the blog. For the purposes of this post though, he’ll be going low.

Deep Purple was always a dad rock band to me, even when I was a kid. There was another kid on my street when I was growing up, and his dad loved Deep Purple. They were always playing when I was in his house. Incidentally, it was in that house that I first watched (most of) John Carpenter’s The Thing. Another example of a movie being put on and then us sneaking in unattended. Anyway, it took me a while to actually listen to Deep Purple for my own purposes, and in truth I still haven’t heard most of their stuff. I know their biggest songs, but little beyond that. Jimi Hendrix on the other hand I know fairly well. There’s no doubting Hendrix’s skill as a guitarist and there are quite a few songs I like. The problem is there are very few songs of his I truly love. He broke ground as a front man – ground which remains to this day largely, and sadly untouched in rock and metal. As a vocalist though he was quite limited, but I think it’s his style of singing which gets on my nerve more than his actual voice – a languid funk which never changes from song to song. Hendrix’s songs also come almost entirely from within the psychedelic period and are therefore of their time much more than many other artists here. If he’d been alive longer I have no doubt he would have branched into other territory and made stuff I liked more.

Lynyrd Skynrd. Another quintessential US band and therefore another band I don’t really give a shit about. Mike’s a Southern guy so I can understand him liking this lot. For me, there’s Free Bird and nothing else. Rush is a band people have been telling me to listen to for so long that I’ve given up caring. Maybe I’ll listen one day. The few songs I’ve heard have had elements I’ve liked. But they’ve also had Geddy Lee. I have little doubt I would like Rush if I took them time to listen to their stuff properly – I just haven’t done that, or been given the impetus to do so. Into A and Cream – nope. They didn’t last nearly long enough or sell nearly enough or chart highly enough to be in this tier. Sure, they were influential, but mainly in setting up acts a few months later who were much more influential and much better. Creedence Clearwater Revival – I used to think they were a made up band, like Spinal Tap. Then I found out they were real. I still didn’t care. Another band for Southern US guys trapped in time – a poor man’s, no, a destitute man’s Led Zep. Honestly, I only know a handful of their songs – their covers I don’t care for, Proud Mary annoys the nips off me, but I quite like Bad Moon Rising. 

Man, I should have made a video for this instead of typing. But that would take more effort. Bowie next – if you follow my blog you’ll have seen me going through the Bowie albums – I’m up to number 86 or something by now. I think it’s clear by now that Bowie is someone I appreciate and respect more than I actually like. He does have some songs I love, I have found some songs I’ve liked. I’m not a fan of his vocals or delivery, and too much of his stuff is in the glam genre which I like as much as I like Country music (not at all). But credit to changing the game, to always trying something new stylistically, and for pushing boundaries. Elton John I probably wouldn’t include on the list at all – he hasn’t been rock since the early 70s, and even then it was touch and go. I can’t think of a single Elton John song I love, and there are very few I like. I haven’t listened to a single album by him so there could be a treasure trove of stuff out there, but I’m very aware of all of his singles.

The Rolling Stones are wildly hit and miss for me. I can’t remember if I’ve posted it yet or not, but I am starting to go through their albums again. I’ve listened to all of their albums up until the mid 70s before, but they didn’t make an impact on me. 10 years later I’m doing it again to see if my opinion has changed. Just that short bluesy stuff doesn’t do a lot for me personally, and they had so many covers and almost covers in their early days that it’s a slog to get through. Jagger is a great front man without being a great singer, and the rest of the band are just okay. But they’ve sold so much and they’re still headlining, and some people genuinely prefer them to The Beatles. Led Zep – you know my feelings – I think they’re the greatest classic rock band of all time. Pink Floyd – immense in all the tangible categories, great lyrics and emotion too. I like patches of their early and later stuff, but it’s that run from Dark Side to The Wall which cements them – four flawless albums. Steely Dan – I haven’t posted it yet, but I have already listened to and written about one of their albums (A Royal Scam I believe) and as far as I know that’s the only stuff by them I’ve heard. I need to know more to adequately comment, but based on that single album they’re not top tier. Queen are as big as they’ve ever been and their songs have already proven to stand the test of time. The Beatles I probably wouldn’t have included here, but they were the turning point so it’s fine. Either way you cut it, they’re top tier anything. Lets take a look at my ranking:


A little different then. And because it’s not very clear, and because I don’t like the categories, I’m going to rejig it a little below:

A: Led Zeppelin. Pink Floyd. The Beatles

B: Queen. The Who. The Rolling Stones. David Bowie. The Doors.

C: ACDC. Aerosmith. Deep Purple. Jimi Hendrix. Fleetwood Mac. Black Sabbath

D: Cream. Elton John. Lynyrd Skynyrd. Rush. Billy Joel.

E: The Eagles. Grateful Dead. Bob Dylan. Steely Dan. Creedence Clearwater Revival.

That looks better. Or worse. Who knows. If it was me, and because I am me it most likely is, I would have replaced Elton with Bruce Springsteen, The Beatles with Alice Cooper, Steely Dan with Thin Lizzy or Motorhead, Billy Joel with Santana, The Grateful Dead with The Kinks.

Right, I’m done with this. Think differently? Chuck in a comment. Want me to do more reaction type posts to Youtubers or lists or other nonsense? Tell me to. Want me to listen to any songs by any of the artists I’ve ranked low above? Let me know and I will. Adios for now!


Nightman Listens To – David Bowie – Let’s Dance!

Greetings, Glancers! Ugh, I’ve been dreading this one. Not for any understandable reason you know, but I’ve still been dreading it. Like when you went to a school disco when you were a kid and you got all concerned and sweaty even though you’d be seeing the same friends and classmates you’d seen a few hours earlier? I don’t know. Maybe it’s the title of the album that’s had me wary, along with the fact that we’re now well into the 80s – the decade when good musicians forget how to make good music. I’ve never liked the Let’s Dance song either, and I’ve been concerned the rest of the album will be similar. China Girl sounds familiar, but other than that I don’t recognise any of the songs listed. We’ve been hear many times before, but let’s dance once more.

Modern Love: Well, it starts with guitar at least, so that’s good. Uh oh, repetitive and crappy drums. Talking with accent. Garth Marenghi. Better singing, and I like the minor stuff. Neat melodies. There was this terrible pop song a few years ago which had a very similar beat and rhythm to this and now that I’m hearing this it’s clear the pop song ripped this off. It was this overplayed twee mess with… were there two singers? Thankfully I’ve put it mostly out of my memory, but did it have someone singing ‘infatuation’ over and over? Something like that. The guitar is mostly gone now, leaving jagged piano and prodding brass. It’s very poppy, but it’s good.

China Girl: Okay yes, obviously I know this one. I quite liked the main riff but the song doesn’t really lift off for me until Bowie belts out the vocals after the halfway point. It feels like a curious one-off pop single till that point – I like it, though not a favourite.

Let’s Dance: Ugh, I never liked this one. It just sounded too 80s cheese, mixed with a faux 50s rock swagger and disco sound. It’s not a bad song or anything and I like the parts of the song outside the main ‘Let’s Dance’ vocal and riff. I find it quite overplayed too.

Without You: So, this is a new one on me yet it feels familiar. I like these unassuming songs which don’t try to show off or be some big hit yet quietly do a better job. Like the previous two songs there is a prominent repeating riff, and as this is new for me it doesn’t feel annoying or overplayed. The vocals are gentle, the song is short, and it has an unexpected finish.

Ricochet: Clapping and jungle beats – two of my least favourite things. A stuttering beat and near spoken vocals. It’s certainly doing its best to not endear itself to me. Smokey jazz horns play over dissonant sounds and soundbites. It’s a bit of an experimental mess. I know what he’s going for here, but it’s nowhere near interesting enough for me to be anything more than a one time curio.

Criminal World: Another new one for me, but wait, isn’t this just China Girl again? That riff is very similar. It’s lucky the verse is slow otherwise it would have been nearly identical. There’s some deep bass funking along, the vocals are quiet. The chorus speeds up and brings the melody. Rinse and repeat, though I liked this one.

Cat People: Ah yes. I saw the remake when I was in my early teens and liked it okay if it has boobs and blood when you’re that age, it automatically gets a thumbs up. It starts with simple cymbal snaps, then a growing synth purrs its way into view. Bowie does his best deep voice – it’s all very slow and somber, like a proto-industrial piece. The build up is slow, then there’s an explosion of vocals and sound to take us into the second phase of the song – basically a heavier take on the first with added energy and drums. It’s great. We follow this with a funky instrumental section before the vocals return – this is one of Bowie’s better vocals for me. We end on a nice synthetic guitar solo and choir rendition of the chorus.

Shake It: Umm… Prince? This is very 80s and the lyrics seem like the sort of silly stuff you got back then. It’s not quite New Wave pop, but it has that vibe, tone, and sound and feels like it could have been recorded by any number of 80s groups. That’s not always a bad thing – it’s fun and it would probably be catchy after a couple of listens, but on this first hearing it doesn’t have enough to pull me in.

A mixed bag then – some good ones, some I knew, some new ones. There aren’t any songs I didn’t like, title track notwithstanding as I knew it already, but there are a couple which I didn’t care for. Mostly on the positive side then – maybe a couple I’d choose to listen to again and which would potentially be added to my playlist, but nothing immediately jumped out at me and landed on the playlist. What are your thoughts on Lets Dance? Is this the best of Bowie’s 80s offerings, or does he get better through the decade while his peers suffered? Let us know in the comments!

Nightman Listens To – David Bowie – Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)


Greetings, Glancers! We return to David Bowie and another album I know little about. Last time around I knew very little about Lodger which ended up being one of my favourite Bowie albums so far, so hopefully we’ll get more goodness today. As always, share your thoughts in the comments and make any suggestions for what else you think I should listen to.

It’s No Game (No.1)‘. Clicks. Hisses. Doors. Spray pain can being shaken? Music. Japanese. Shrieking Bowie. The music nicely fits the anguished vocals. Chorus (?) finds a little more stability. Some nifty guitar parts. That old glam beat comes in around half way but the general noise drowns out its power to annoy. I think I’d prefer it if the Japanese vocals were a bit more angry too. Nice guitar and shouting end.

Up The Hill Backwards‘. Chords, and twinkles. You gotta have faith. Sudden change and shift to a steady beat, organ backed, and plain talky singing with some gospel harmonies. Dirty guitar part. This is pleasant and poppy, mainly notable for the slight shifts in pace and the intrusive distorted guitar hisses. Final minute or so is instrumental.

Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)‘. Opens in a hasty manner with another jagged riff, some mouth trumpets, and thudding drums. The verses are at a gallop, there is a lot off industrial type noise in the background, beeps, crashes, dissonance. The guitars are formless at times, deliberately playing off key. I’m still not a massive fan of Bowie’s vocals, I suspect that will always be a thing, and you know that I don’t like the whole singing in English accents thing. More wacky guitar parts by Mister Fripp I believe – he seems to have been given free rein to do whatever he pleases, and the results are fantastic.

Ashes To Ashes‘. I know this one, and have always been intrigued by its oddness. Outside of the strange noises, there is a staccato type beat and funky bass. See, here I like Bowie’s singing in the verses, but not so much in other places. I like the call backs to previous songs. This was always one of my favourites before I’d ever heard a single Bowie album, and that hasn’t changed.

Fashion‘. My ow prejudice never allowed me to truly appreciate this – I think fashion is pointless, dangerous, and ultimately worthless – so of course a song with a name like that was going to piss me off, and it was made worse by apparently being a dance-oriented song. I always had an inkling that the whole thing was ironic, satirical, but I could never be arsed to find out either way. Listening now the song’s sentiments are obvious and the angular, gouging guitar lines are great. There’s a little bit of Pink Floyd in there too, which is always welcome, but the song as a whole doesn’t pull me in.

Teenage Wildlife‘. Bending in. Isn’t that the ‘Heroes’ riff? I’m hoping this is an anthem I’m not aware of but will love. Bowie vocals, affected with an operatic twang. I don’t like the piano – reverting too much to glam. The guitar is immense though. I know I get stick for saying things like this, but I feel like many Bowie songs would be better if he had handed over vocal duties to someone else. It is an anthem of a sort, just not the sort I was looking for. Hey, I still like it, particularly the middle part around 4 minutes. It has no business going beyond the six minute mark.

Scream Like A Baby‘. This starts out as something more akin to my tastes – a growling distortion, sudden mystery, a sense of threat, and here the vocals have more impact. It all falls apart in the chorus, but those verses are great, the riff working perfectly with the anger of the lyrics and vocals.

Kingdom Come‘. This seems to be following a similar rhythm to the previous song, though is immediately more upbeat – good vocals, good backing vocals, feels like a hit. Feels a little Motown. I see this was actually a cover – I had no idea. It loses a little impact towards the end, but otherwise I like it.

Because You’re Young’. Hold on. Hold on, what is this? This is more like it. That’s possibly my favourite Bowie intro yet, followed by a pretty good riff and ‘scary’ noises. This almost feels like Alice Cooper. Don’t mess it up. Uh oh, a sudden pause and wavering vocals. None of the rest of the song lives up to the start, which is a great shame, but as a whole it all balances out.

It’s No Game (No.2)‘. A steady bass and beat, regular guitar interruptions, nicer low range vocals, and a cool choir chorus. Great lyrics. He still seems angry. Camel shit. A sudden pause. Over? No, noises. Now it’s over.

Another one goes down. We’re into the 80s now, a decade where almost all of the successful artists of the previous decade(s) either fell apart or began releasing monumental amounts of crap. I know Bowie had some hits in the decade, but I don’t know much about his album input so I guess I’ll find out. This one.. I’d say it was middling for me, closer to the top than the bottom – some highlights but few standouts. There isn’t any filler and I can’t say I didn’t not enjoy a single song either – middling in other words. Let me know in the comments what you think of Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) and where it ranks in your list of Bowie records!