‘The smell of air-conditioning/The fish are belly-up/Empty all your pockets/’Cause it’s time to come home’
Yes! Back thanks to an almost universal lack of demand, I stretch back the scalp of time and feast upon the mushy innards of the past – in this instance I return to the UK music charts. If you’re interested, you can read my original post here – https://carlosnightman.wordpress.com/2015/10/22/the-uk-top-40/
Greetings, Glancers! Today we party like it’s the end of the century… the end of the millennium…. the end of your life… because it is! Yes, that’s right, I’m about to murder you! But before that inevitability, lets go back to 1999, a time when the world inexplicably lost its mind and started freaking out about clocks stopping, microwaves eating us, and computers stealing all the babies or something. We all looked forward to the greatest party the world has even known, which ended up more like any New Year’s Eve with me drunk in various alleys and streets. Music was probably blaring that night, I can’t remember, but I do remember lots of great stuff, and even more terrible stuff from that year – I suspect you’re going to be subjected to ten such terrible tracks below.
It wasn’t all bad news though – Iron Maiden announced that Brucey and Adrian were coming back to the band, Eminem released The Slim Shady LP, Californication made us all wish we were Californicators, and Metallica arsed about with strings and trumpets. Elsewhere there were many ugly events which propelled the species further down the road to where we find ourselves today – The Columbine Massacre (from which zero lessons appear to have been learnt), Shakespeare In Love won the Best Picture Oscar despite being mostly terrible, Jill Dando was murdered by a demented loon, wars and coups continued to kill and destroy throughout the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and Asia, and George Lucas introduced us all to Jar Jar Binks.
If all that adds up to a crazy time to be alive, a glance through the charts only confirms that thought. Grunge was dead and buried, Britpop had already been vomited up its own ass, and the illegitimate spawn of both had yet to enter the studio for one last shot at rock and roll salvation. Lets do this.
What Britney can do, a comatose, crusty bowl of rabid feces can do just as well, right? Enter another Disney tween, just innocent enough to be exploited by anyone, just dirty enough to be… well, exploited by anyone. At least Aguilera can sing they said and yes, that’s sort of true. Genie In A Bottle doesn’t exactly show off Aguilera’s dubious talents, but it’s actually a good song. It’s catchy and has a nifty chorus – much better than that love letter to abuse that Britney forced upon us. It’s possibly the only worthwhile thing Aguilera has released.
I struggle to think of a better (worse?) example of twee. A song can’t really get any more simplistic or less emotional, and that wee do-di-do chorus was always shambolic. It’s still catchy yeah, but in this case it doesn’t help. This is what commercial dance music was in the 90s – shit. Guess what? All commercial dance music is shit – who’d’a’known? Just remember… human beings made this, and human beings bought this. Seriously.
I have no clue what this is, so I’ll have to listen to refresh my memory…. and instantly wish I hadn’t. It’s more 90s dance drivel – it has the exact same beat as 2 Times, the exact same drum machine was apparently used. I’m not sure I’ve heard this, but that noise which makes the main… noise, it’s very similar to a song I do remember which was marginally better than this so assuming it’s by the same twat(s). But that’s like saying Mengele was marginally better than Hitler. Utter wank.
Music in the 90s guys… once again someone made this, and people bought it.
It was bound to happen sooner or later. It’s the 90s. It’s Britain. It’s Steps. You don’t need to listen, you already know it’s shit. The only difference between this and The Teletubies is you weren’t embarrassed when you were caught masturbating over The Teletubies. Has there ever been a less attractive group of attractive people in pop history?
I have no clue what this is. Ah right. Gallagher. So this was some sort of supergroup doing cover songs? I have absolutely no memory of this, so I refuse to believe it happened.
Sweet fucking NO.
9: Macy Gray: I Try
Everyone loved this. I had no idea why then, and I have no idea now. Clearly everyone making and buying music in 1999 was insane. Out of all the shite on this list… this is the worst. It is absolutely not getting linked.
Yeah? Yet you sound like a twat? So which is it? As much as I dislike everything about this, it’s not as bad as everything else here, and I actually liked some of Shania’s earlier stuff.
As is almost always the case, the charts are not a fair or accurate depiction of the good music released at the time. For my alternative playlist, check out these bad boys:
- Blondie – Maria
- Eminem – Guilty Conscience
- Lene Marlin – Unforgivable Sinner
- Red Hot Chili Peppers – Otherside
- South Park – Blame Canada
- Tori Amos – 1000 Oceans
- Muse – Unintended
- Opeth – Face Of Melinda
- Rage Against The Machine – Testify
- Tool – Stinkfist
There you have it, folks. 1999, another year in the can. Let us know your favourite tracks and memories from ’99!
“I don’t wanna say goodbye/When there’s heaven in ‘hello'”
Greetings, Glancers! Once more it’s time for me to broaden my horizons by listening to one of the greatest albums of all time. It’s fair to say that I haven’t been overwhelmed in my journey thus far – while there have been good moments, great moments, most of what I have listened to hasn’t been my cup of tea. Add to that fact the other fact that I hate tea. And coffee. Someone needs to ban that shit.
What Do I Know About The Style Council: Absolutely nothing. Although, something way back in the darkest recesses of my mind a little voice is squeaking ‘aren’t they one of those ‘orrible ska bands’. And oh crap, yeah, that does sound familiar. I have a vision of a pack of douches in hats playing ‘orrible ska. I really hope I’m wrong about this, because if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s ska. I’ve definitely heard the name, but I can’t connect the dots.
What Do I Know About Our Favourite Shop: They say never judge a book by its cover. When it comes to people, in many cases that metaphor is apt. When it comes to books, in most cases the metaphor is shit – if you don’t like the cover, you probably won’t like the book. When it comes to music, I find that if a band has a name, or if an album has a name that rubs me the wrong way, then nine times out of ten I won’t like said band or album. Having said all of that, this is a terrible name, or at least it’s one which does rub me the wrong way. Couple that with my ska concern, and not one part of any of this sounds promising. Oh God.
Homebreakers: Well, the second I visited youtube to listen to this, the game was up as I recognised Paul Weller. So that’s where I know the name from, suddenly it all fits. For the most part I like Paul Weller, in my limited listening of his work with The Jam, though sometimes he does veer awfully close to some of the ska punk bands…. Anyway… this opens with some Tube Station stuff. It’s a decent intro which suddenly becomes worrying when the brass comes in – brass equals Ska. I’ve probably mentioned it before, but I can count on a very few fingers the songs where brass is added that I’ve enjoyed. This is all quite funky, though it does feel very 80s. It’s certainly jazz infused, what with the horns and backing vocals – not a huge fan of the main vocal work or the melodies, but I could get used to the melding of styles.
All Gone Away: This for some reason reminds me of The Beautiful South – another of my most hated things. On the flip side it also reminds me stylistically and lyrically of Joni Mitchell, which is a much better thing. This is very… cute? I won’t go so far as calling it twee, but it’s nice, less depth than the first song musically, but I prefer the vocals and melodies. It could be the satirical intro to some twisted sitcom.
Come To Milton Keynes: I’d rather not. More organ, again which screams ska. There’s something lazy and sunny about the songs so far which keeps making me think of cheesy sitcoms or Caribbean beaches. The rhythm of the songs so far is very similar to each other which makes the vocals feel samey. There’s a nice middle section here to break things up, but I already know if this rhythm doesn’t change up in future songs I’ll get irritated before long. Now an unnecessary, but thankfully brief spoken part.
Internationalists: Great drum bombast gives way to funky guitar and stupid horns. A more hectic pace. Nifty guitar work in the middle. This is marginally more to my tastes. Still very 80s.
A Stones Throw Away: This starts wonderfully – give strings a chance to shine and I’ll be in love. This sounds familiar, actually – both reminding me of The Smiths, The Beatles, and making me question if I’ve heard it before. I am noticing the subtle and less subtle political lyrics. Great vocals this time, and the melodies blend with the strings. This was bloody fantastic.
The Stand Up Comic’s Instructions: They’re not going to, are they? Is that Lenny Henry? Yes. Talking, near rapping over some funky jazzy wank. Mostly this reminds me of The Wall. More political stuff. I’m surprised a bunch of idiots haven’t commented here calling this lefty PC Commie cuck agendist leftist crap. Yeah, idiots.
Boy Who Cried Wolf: This feels unusually sexy. A more straightforward pop song, and while I haven’t paid attention to the lyrics this time it sounds more like a love song of sorts. I can see the influence of this in a lot of later R’n’B. Mostly very nice.
A Man Of Great Promise: Church bells always depress me or put me on edge. A bunch of these songs make me think of another 80s band, but I can’t quite place it. Musically this is lovely again, not quite enough to make me seek it out again, but good enough for me to recommend it and not mind hearing it more. Lyrically it sounds like a dedication… I assume Paul’s not singing about himself.
Down In The Seine: Come on, I know I’ve heard this somewhere. I have no clue where, but this is definitely familiar. I’m still getting vibes of all the aforementioned bands. Now French vocals, now accordion. Good stuff again, the album getting stronger after a stumbling start.
The Lodgers: Ah, nice vocal intro. Breaks away into more 80s Floyd funk. Good lyrics, great rhythm, I like the vocals, the melodies. I could do without the organ.I’m even getting a Michael Jackson vibe here. I’d like to say this is superb, but purely personal preference holds me back from saying it. But it is very good. Thank God it’s not what I thought.
Luck: I don’t feel this one as much, though admittedly I was reading something about some Instagram bin-lid going on a racist rant about Martin Luther King while listening. This is quite poppy, what with all the vocal waverings going on. It’s fine, summery. This time it reminds me of both Phil Collins and Cartoone.
With Everything To Lose: Another merging the male and female vocals. Reminds me of Spanish holidays. That rhythm is back. This one’s just okay for me, not as strong as the ones I’ve called out as enjoying.
Our Favourite Shop: That sounds like one of the instruments I used to select on my dad’s old keyboard – like the keyboard version of a bass guitar. Still, it’s funky, there’s some funky organ, some sort of cowbell, piano, and… is this all an instrumental? You probably know my feelings on instrumentals – they have to be truly exceptional or exceedingly hooky to get me listening more than a few times. This is neither, but it ain’t ‘alf bad, guv. Pretty ballsy to name your album after an instrumental track, I guess.
Walls Come Tumbling Down!: I feel like this would have worked better if it had properly merged with the song before. Bowie vocals. Lady vocals too. Full disclosure. It’s a few weeks between listening to this song and listening to the previous tracks and this feels very similar to one I’ve already heard. Nevertheless, I like it well enough and wouldn’t switch channel or song if it came on. Can’t say I’d go searching for it though.
What Did I Learn: That The Style Council is not a Ska band and features Paul Weller. That I liked it more than I thought I would. That judging a book by its cover, or a band by their name is perfectly acceptable – as long as you have a few other facts to help.
Does It Deserve To Be In The Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: I liked it more often than not, but that’s not nearly enough for me to say it deserves a spot. I can tell at a high level it had an influence on later groups, but those groups would tend to be ones I don’t like or listen to much. I can’t give any good reason why it shouldn’t be included, so I fall on a maybe for this one.
Colin Larkin’s Ranking: 706/1000
Let us know in the comments what you thought of The Style Council’s ‘Our Favourite Shop’ and if it’s in your list of favourites!
‘Please believe me/If you don’t need me/I’m going, but I need a little time’
Greetings, Glancers! This song is marvelous. I’d forgotten about for a long time… forgotten isn’t the correct word – more like I hadn’t thought about it for years. In most of these posts I talk about my memories of the songs as they tend to have some special nostalgia or anchor in space and time. Unusually, I have no idea when I first heard Everlasting Love and I can’t think of any nostalgia surrounding it. I remember it from my childhood, but I remember millions of songs from then too. It’s just so good that when I listened to it again out of the blue, its quality knocked me over.
This is one of those songs which has been covered, successfully, a billion times. The version I’m talking about most is by Love Affair. When I first heard the song again recently, I couldn’t have told you who it was by, and when I watched the Love Affair video online I was confused as it seemed like a very recent video. Like maybe from the 80s or 90s, but with an HD makeover to make it look even more modern. But no, this version, and the video, are from 1968. I still don’t understand this. Seriously, watch this video and tell me it’s from 1968 and not from today. On closer inspection, some of the hair and clothes and dances tell you it’s from the 60s, but so much of it feels ultra-modern. The music and the look hasn’t aged a second. What adds to the weirdness is that the singer looks about 14 years old, yet has the voice of a seasoned blues rocker.
The song was originally written and released in 1967, the first performer being Robert Knight, yet the most successful version in the US was by Carl Carlton seven years later. Both these versions are good, but they lack something special – probably the fact that I’m more familiar with the Love Affair one. There’s a terrible version by Sandra in the 80s – quite a lot of cheesy pop versions in the 80s in fact, Gloria Estefan did one, and a bunch of boy bands and pop stars have since done their own thing with it, with diminishing returns. What stands out is the melody and the earnest message. It’s one of a very select group of songs which came from the 60s and has been re-recorded with financial and critical success in every decade since. Still, the Love Affair one tops them all.
What’s so good about it? I love the ever so slight subversion of the verse chorus format – here the song extends the verse without reaching the chorus (I say extended, but we still hit the chorus inside the first minute) and then, with no fucks given, just sticks with the chorus for the entirety of the song. With a chorus like this, you can understand why they keep it. The chorus acts more like a refrain, with slight musical and clear lyrical differences with each cycle. I love the whole instrumental section with its Motown brass and thumping beats, I love how the intro gives the whole song away in just a few moments – with one of my favourite bass parts in history chucked in to act as a transition. Hell, I even love the dancer in the video. No, not that strange lip-licking, prancing harlequin who skips about, but the long-haired woman who is probably 90 years old now.
I know these posts are meant to represent my own personal favourite songs of all time, but I honestly feel like this is more, that this song, and this version of it, is one of the best songs of all time. It’s just perfect. Great orchestration and performance, powerful vocals – understanding that it isn’t the easiest song to sing, and just an overall vibe of goodness.
Let us know in the comments what you think of Everlasting Love!
Generic Ratings: 1: Crap. 2: Okay. 3: Good. 4: Great
A true cult favourite for most hardened fans, this one has been adopted by fans as their own anthem and dedication, hardly surprising with lines like ‘put some lipstick on, at least your lies will be pretty’ speaking a thousand truths for us outcasts and misfits who find affinity with the band. Musically it’s okay, standing out mainly for a fantastic solo and of course Bradfield’s high pitched final screech. I do like how the solo sounds so skyscraping, only for it to be restrained and drawn back as the song comes to a softer, stuttering finish.
This B-Side to Roses In The Hospital is one of the most highly regarded by fans and the band alike and would later appear on Lipstick Traces – I like it okay and go between giving it a 2 or 3 score, but the solo tends to keep it in the higher group.
Misheard Lyrics: 1. Donkeys don’t have lots of tears. Actual Lyrics: Donkeys don’t allow their tears.
Misheard Lyrics: 2. And emotion never fear. Actual Lyrics: No emotion never feel.
Misheard Lyrics: 3. Donkeys wake up in a sty. Actual Lyrics: Donkeys weight cracking a spine.
Misheard Lyrics: 4. Lost with solace inside/loves the silence inside. Actual Lyrics: Those with silence inside.
Misheard Lyrics: 5. Donkeys are only left with dice/lice. Actual Lyrics: Donkeys are only left with lies .
Raise those horns, shit is about to get loud. Oh yeah… that’s not a Slayer pic up there, but one I took of Opeth back in 2010 – thought I’d better add some pictures to these posts ‘cos the words sure as shit ain’t exciting. If you follow my blog, you’ll probably know a little of my musical preferences by now. I was a rock, metal, and grunge kid in the early 90s and most of my books and homework were covered in scrawls of guitars, band logos, skulls, and snakes. Metallica, Nirvana, Guns’n’Roses were the most common, but every so often I’d whip a Slayer out. The funny thing was, I didn’t actually know any Slayer songs. Give me a break, I was like 10 years old. As big as metal was at the time, you think that shit was getting played on the radio? Not only that, I didn’t have MTV. One of my friends and metal comrades did though, so it was during my sleepovers at his house that we would stay up to catch Headbanger’s Ball and Beavis And Butthead and late night music videos. I don’t remember ever catching a Slayer song though… and in truth I don’t recall when I really got into them. I wasn’t… then I was.
Slayer had been growing in power and influence throughout the 80s, and their fifth album Seasons In The Abyss came in 1990, right around the time the industry was about to drastically change. While still incredibly fast and brutal, the songwriting had matured significantly and the band were branching out into some slightly different directions, if not outright experimenting. While War Ensemble is the leading single from the album, it’s Dead Skin Mask which makes the most impact. A significantly slower song with a clearly defined riff, borrowed from South Of Heaven, it tells the story of Ed Gein complete with spoken male and female parts and screams. The song builds and builds in a way more akin to Metallica and Megadeth than the all out fury and shredding we are more used to from Slayer.
The verses are static and monotone as many Slayer songs are, but stripped back to just drums and sustained chords while the chorus hilariously is about as singalong and commercial as you’ll ever get from the band. It’s stupidly catchy and each repetition adds a pulsating mesmeric rhythm right up until the finish with the yelping woman screaming to be let out. Even the solo is more refined than the usual whammy stylings of Kerry, and the lyrics vary a little more than the Slayer trope of how many times can you say ‘Death’ in a minute.
Dead Skin Mask remains popular with fans and still pops up when the band (sadly not for much longer) play live. In terms of covers… you’re not going to get many non-metal renditions of a song like this, but the likes of Black Metal band Dark Funeral and experimental noise band Nadja have offered their own wildly different interpretations. The song was one of a small number of Slayer songs which got regular enough rotation at my local metal bar ‘The Venue’ in Belfast. It acted as both a breather between faster songs, and one for the blokes to shuffle about to and warm up their neck muscles while the ladies grabbed a beer and waited for some Nine Inch Nails. I’m sure once I started DJing, I played it too though it and the band were rarely requested. Still, it’s a safe enough introduction to Slayer for non-metal bands due to it’s slower pace and restrained brutality – be sure to check it out by clicking any of the links in this post.
What do you think of Dead Skin Mask? Let us know in the comments!
Greetings, Glancers! We’re back with another slice of MOR tunes courtesy of those mulleted 80s minstrels Bon Jovi. Last time around we checked out Bounce, and since that album the band released two curios – This Left Feels Right which was basically updated versions of classics, and that one about millions of fans which was a boxset of some sort. Have A Nice Day was their ninth studio album, and their first of original music in three years. I’ve heard the title track on this one but beyond that I don’t recognise any of the other songs listed below. Maybe listening with refresh my memories.
Have A Nice Day: This has always been a straight-forwards, no nonsense rocker with an inspirational set of lyrics with just enough rebellion to bridge the gap between chart sensibility and those looking for something just a touch harder. It’s a step down from It’s My Life but for most people probably not noticeably so. You should know the score with their hits now – big chorus that forces you to shout along.
I Want To Be Loved: This opens like a very specific Bryan Adams song but soon transforms into what feels like an under the radar Bon Jovi hit. It’s very middle of the road and commercial but it continues the inspirational theme – not giving up, always fighting and all that. The verses aren’t the most adventurous but they do build nicely and allow the two part chorus to be the focal point. It’s another good chorus but the song as a whole never reaches that top gear to tip it into their upper echelon songs.
Welcome To Wherever You Are: A soft intro, so assuming we’re in ballad territory. This one has a video, so assuming it was a single. Nice enough verses, again with a focus on the self – don’t be hard on yourself, you’ll be okay, you’re in control, chin up etc. It’s another B grade Bon Jovi song – good, probably feels better to me than it actually is because it hasn’t been over-exposed, but not any chance of it being promoted to the A grade status.
Who Says You Can’t Go Home: Bon Jovi have always been a band about lifting your spirits up – musically, lyrically, and making you feel good, but this is four songs on the trot which are specifically about those very ideas. This one has a very nineties video which adds a nice touch of nostalgia for me. It sounds very much like a song I can’t quite put my finger on, but it’s so damn happy that I don’t care. I believe I have heard this one before and while it’s most likely a B Grade for them, it’s fresh enough, charming enough for me to allow it to sneak in to their A Grade. A nice surprise and good to see that they can still make music at this point in their careers that I would gladly hear again.
Last Man Standing: Faster, heavier, and with a different atmosphere that the previous tracks. I would have preferred the verses to have a little more of the oomph of the intro, but by and large the atmosphere and energy is continued. The chorus is a marginal let down for me – as a standalone chorus it is fine, but as a chorus to follow that intro and verse, it doesn’t feel as impactful. Still, this is five decent songs so far that I don’t have anything truly negative to bring up.
Bells Of Freedom: I realise that the album has had, not on the nose patriotism, but a definite sense of the spirit of the USA thanks to the inspirational sounds and themes. I haven’t clicked play on this yet, but I expect this one to be more up front with a name like that. It actually opens with a bell, then acoustics and vocals fade in. The verse is good but the chorus feels an awful lot like This Ain’t A Love Song. It isn’t exactly on the nose, but the lyrics do evoke all of the traditional apple pie USA stuff without explicitly calling them out. With a better chorus this could have squeezed into the upper tier Bon Jovi stuff, but it doesn’t quite get there and is more lower B tier for me and the fact that it is dragged out pushes it more towards average.
Wildflower: A brief intro suggests another softer ballad. Piano and drum led verses are a little different and the chorus doesn’t get much heavier. It adds some dynamics thanks to some strings and guitars and it all fits together coherently. I like the melodies throughout, Jon tries a little too hard to add unnecessary vocal tics, but on the whole it’s another decent song.
Last Cigarette: Five songs to go and I’m not sure they can maintain this momentum. Hopefully they can, but the album runs the risk of becoming too samey. This starts with single chords and vocals, followed up by an edgier drum and vocal piece, and then straight into an upbeat chorus – it all works. The rest of the song follows this format with some additional energy sprinkled on top. The guitars haven’t been at the forefront in this album, with only a couple of basic solos not really worth mentioning so far – there’s one here too. The band goes for a strange childlike choir section after the solo, unusual for them, but they pull it off before closing out with another chorus.
I Am: Instantly with the atmosphere. This is quite funny to me because it sounds very close to a British band you won’t have heard of but which I love, called Haven. Not the vocals, but that intro and some of the melodies are scarily close to a couple of their songs. This is more like the Bon Jovi stuff I enjoy – understated yet powerful at the same time. I’ve no idea how well known or popular this song is but it’s another one I wasn’t aware of which I think goes well with their best hits. The lyrics are once again concerned with the self, with positivity, encouragement.
Complicated: Gets straight down to business. The verse is quite similar to the opening track as well as It’s My Life and the verse feels too by the numbers. The band landed on the word ‘complicated’ and built a simple chorus around it, making sure it rhymed and scanned okay but with little imagination. As a radio rock song it does the job, but it lacks any of the adventure of their hits. When a band has been going for a while, you can tell the songs which didn’t take a lot of care in construction from those which did.
Novocaine: A breathless, wordy verse kicks things off, slowly builds to a decent drawling chorus. Standard drug/love metaphor lyrics. I like how there are very few breaks in the vocals between sections. I like this – not sure how many more times I’d want to hear it though. A strange whispering, talking section closes it out.
Story Of My Life: Closing with a ballad it seems. Piano intro. Are they going to go full piano or – no, there’s the explosion. It’s a booming end, with jubilant melodies and the same care-free energy which has symbolized their career. No complaints about this one, though I think the chorus could have been more emotive. A good end to a good album.
A very consistent album without a single weak link. There isn’t a standout track for me – a couple of quite good ones, a couple of weaker ones that it’s clear not a lot of effort or thought was put into, and the rest are better than average without quite hitting the heights. As I mentioned throughout, the whole thing is designed to be uplifting, comforting, and very easy to get along with – sing and dance easily. As much as I like to make fun of the band – I give them more credit than most – but to be this far into their career and still making worthwhile songs while retaining what made them popular in the first place, gives a warm sense of security. I have many favourite bands who burned out after a couple of albums, so for the big Bon Jovi fans out there it must be wonderful to hear the band still putting out stuff which they should love. I believe this will be the last album I’ve definitely heard tracks off, and while I’m not sure if it was their last big hit, every other album they’ve released since will be almost 100% unfamiliar to me.
Let us know what you think of Have A Nice Day in the comments!
‘My friend/she tipped over/from childhood into sadness’