‘The doors close and the walls come in on me/Her toes curl at the very thought of it/She craves the love that the people talk about/Watch her writhe’
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! We go back approximately 20 years before I was born to check out what the kids were listening to in October 1964. 1964, if you know your music history, was a seminal year. The Beatles landed in the US for the first time, TOTP was shown for the first time in The UK, Keith Moon joined The Who, The Rolling Stones released their first album, Sam Cooke, died, and a bunch of hit songs were released, some of which we’ll cover below.
Elsewhere in the world, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory was published, Cuba and the US arsed about, Cassius Clay beat Sonny Liston, the first Ford Mustang was created, Nelson Mandela went to prison, and many riots and protests abounded all around the globe. It was a British invasion in most areas of culture – from music to movies to fashion and sport. I’m actually shocked that the Top 10 below doesn’t contain a single Beatles song but it does contain a mixture of new rock groups, Motown, and holdovers from the era which was on its way out. I know a few of these and as always I’ll probably recognise others once I hit play. So let’s hit play!
Oh right. I thought it might be this, but I never realised it was actually called ‘Oh Pretty Woman’. Isn’t it just ‘Pretty Woman’? Either way, it’s a timeless pop song. Obviously it’s routed in the 50s, but it’s basically perfect. What more could you need from a pop song – you can sing along easily, you recognize it by hearing any single second, it’s instantly catchy, and there isn’t a note out of place.
I bet this is the ham song, right? Denny’s ham? That’s an Irish reference which only Irish readers are going to get. It’s happy clappy anyway. Everyone knows this though, another timeless one, more flawless pop. It’s a little bit Beach Boys, what with those harmonies, but there’s something a bit more quirky to it. Apparently the scum sing this at their games. Yeah, like they have anything to sing about these days. Anyway, another good song.
It’s pretty woman again, with that steady clappy intro. Seriously, compare these three songs with any three songs int he charts today. No comparison right? Sure they’re a little twee and innocent, but musically, melodically, vocally these songs wipe the floor with any of today’s chart wank. Plus, you already know this song. Even if you’ve never heard it, you know it. Today’s songs won’t last. For proof of that, the chart songs of 10 years ago haven’t lasted. This shit is over 50 years old and it’s still awesome. Too short though and doesn’t have a lot of (any) variety.
I have no idea what this is, so I’ll assume it’s Country. Nope, doesn’t sound Country. Well, the vocals could be, musically not really. Musically this is incredibly old fashioned. There’s a slight touch of Shirley Bassey here. Ave Maria. Strings. Explosion. Yeah, I’ve never heard this. Love how the drummer is going batshit. Vocals blasting away. I’m not sure what this is, but I can’t help but enjoy it just because of the sheer power of the performances. It’s not as catchy as the ones above but the gal and her gang knock it out of the park.
Bum bum-bum. Bum bum-bum. More Beach Boys. What movie is this in….it’s all lovely. It sounds familiar but I don’t think I’ve heard it. Those highs are just on the right side of grating. Those oohs are damn catchy. The guitars are weird, can’t really hear them in this mix. The highs are making me think of Jim Carrey in The Cable Guy – the Star Trek bit? yeah, you know.
Jeepers, more ooh-oohs. Ha ha, even trying to sound like The Beatles vocals. For about two seconds. It’s a little bit Country. Throw in some strings and I don’t care. The lyrics are cheesy as a tramp’s toe. Instrumental. Vocal disaster for last note. Yeah, fine, it’s another decent song but a little (bit) bit too simpering and soft.
Should this be ‘walk into the room’. Or is this just about someone walking around in a room. Like ‘when you walk in the room you keep blocking the TV, sit the fuck down cos I’m trying to watch Jessica Jones’? Bass. There’s the guitar. I know that riff. More harmonies, more melodies. It’s another toe tapper alright. The Youtube comments on these songs are hilarious – ‘this is REAL music, not like today’s crap’. I’ve already made that point too of course. The difference is I don’t care, or don’t want to care about the age or the genre – I just want it to be good – doesn’t matter if it’s a day old or five decades – good is good. This is good. There is less good in today’s charts. But it’s okay, as there is plenty of good outside the charts.
Ha ha, this guy’s Youtube channel is ‘Back When Music Was Good’. What’s the point in even being alive if you believe that? Yeah, go back to the 60s with your wars, rampant unemployment, lack of rights, and no internets. Actually that sounds exactly like 2017 apart from the internets. It’s a fast paced boyo, with organ and deep vocals, and yet it isn’t The Doors. It has an edge, as you’d expect from The Animals, it’s a little bit manic, but it lacks some melody outside of the ahh ahhs. Still, another good’un.
Everyone loves The Hollies, right? Listen to that guitar, great stuff. A fast paced rocker like early Beatles covers, this is frantic in every sense – the vocals wobble all over the place, the guitar and bass wrestle for attention, and the drums chatter away like the teeth of a frostbitten fool. It’s isn’t their most catchy or immediate song, but still good.
Well, I knew it couldn’t last. Still, this isn’t as horrible as I was forgetting. It’s pretty bleak even with the sentiment. Pure, clean vocals. It’s very plain and easy, a little bit Country, a little bit Calypso, very slow and simple, and there’s always going to be a market for it. Not my thing, but it’s harmless.
Well, that was very good – probably the best Top Ten I’ve covered yet in this series of posts. I’m not going to bother posting an alternate Top 10, partly because I don’t know enough about the other songs released, and partly because any alternate top 10 would include some of the artists above anyway. The obvious other recommendations would be The Beatles – take your pick from I Want To Hold Your Hand, A Hard Day’s Night, Can’t Buy Me Love – and also throw in some Beach Boys, Stones, Kinks etc. There’s something for everyone up above, except idiots, and even then some of the songs here are good enough to even interest the most staunch idiot.
Let us know in the comments which of the songs above you love, and if any other hits or otherwise from 1964 float your yacht!
‘How can it feel, this wrong/From this moment/How can it feel, this wrong’
Generic Ratings: 1: Crap. 2: Okay. 3: Good. 4: Great
Ostensibly where it all began, the song where the band truly announced itself to the world, looking every inch like a band nobody wanted and instead claiming to be the band everyone needed, the band to save the world or implode trying. Hated by other artists, feeding off the finger-pointing and setting themselves clearly apart from every other act in the world, they unleashed this torrent of seductive, caressing hatred, mocking fans, mocking themselves, and looking like they were having the most fun in the world, living the rock and roll dream while admonishing it for the nightmare it truly was. It’s a fast paced, chugging rock behemoth that didn’t sound like anything on the airwaves, Bradfield’s sneering vocals and lightning fast guitars, Edwards and Wire’s luscious stares and snarling wit, and Moore’s marching band percussive attack, it’s one of the classic statements in all of rock music. Looking at it as a song on its own merits, it is fairly simple stuff with a plain verse chorus attack, but there is such joy in the melody, in the unashamedly big chorus, and such brilliance in the final, Paradise City style instrumental blow out, that it can’t be avoided, or disliked.
The first link below is the album version – in my opinion the best version. There have been multiple versions of the song, each one with slight notable variances, so try all the links below and find your favourite. There was also a ‘new’ version a few years back but I can’t find a good link to it.
- Our voices are furry
- Realize and won’t be bought
- Honestly we can never be loved
- Throw some mess into your face
- Your lessons drill in heaven instead
- Parliament you flick like C4 (?)
- Your life a cycle holocaust/you love a psycho holocaust
- Our voices are 4Real
- We realised and won’t be mourned
- Understand we can never belong
- Throw some acid onto your face
- Your lessons drill inherited sin
- Parliament’s a fake life saver
- Your life is like a holocaust
‘It’s always cold in hell/I have felt it/I can tell’
‘Over this twilight/shouting at Jesus/Absolute closeness/could be beneath us
/if you/Lose yourself through touch’
Generic Ratings: 1: Crap. 2: Okay. 3: Good. 4: Great
The band may have been seen as cross-dressing, eye-liner and lipstick wearing freaks in their early days, spouting political sleaze and dirty little punk songs, but it wasn’t until Little Baby Nothing that many of the reasons behind the sleaze and the look became clear. This was a feminist band, almost in militant fashion, not a band who simply dressed that way because they were hot enough to pull it off, not simply espousing and waxing lyrical on the struggles of women due to some designed outsider chic. This was a band who thoroughly despised male dominated culture and called it out for the systematic destruction and whoring of species that it was. Musically and lyrically one of the finest, and most pure in terms of its targeting from any Manics album, it’s clearly a high mark.
The band’s first duet, bringing on board ex Porn Star Traci Lords (after they couldn’t get Kylie Minogue) to perform vocal duties, the lyrics are poignant and potent and merge perfectly with the glossy 80s sheen of the sound. Bradfield tugs at all the strings with his performance, the melodies are gold throughout, and I adore the shift from the verse and chorus to the final section. It certainly comes across as cheesy in its sound now, but it doesn’t take long to look past that to find the honesty of the intent and the power of the music. For my money, it’s also (easily) the best video the band has ever made.
Misheard Lyrics (it feels somehow wrong doing this to what is one of the most gorgeous lyrics of all time, but there you go):
- Not allowed to connect you
- To steal frequent love
- Need to do long (?)
- Orderly behind his money
- Asking for condolerijusive (??) flowers
- Loveless labour
- Dress your life in loving
- Breaking your mind with Bobby Dom fertility (?)
- Mouths broken up, quenched to the last
- No-one likes looking at you
- To steal vacant love
- Need to belong
- All they leave behind is money
- Eyes, skin, bone, contour, language as a flower
- Loveless slavery
- Dress your life in loathing
- Breaking your mind with Barbie Doll futility
- Moths broken up, quenched at last
Greetings, Glancers! As I said in a previous post, it’s time for me to delve into the other output which the the core members of Iron Maiden have released over the years. I don’t know much about any of these, I don’t have high hopes of any of them being any good, but if any of them are then it’s going to be Brucey’s solo stuff. While we’re here, we may as well listen to the bonus tracks from the various re-releases. Lets go.
‘Son Of A Gun‘ opens with a tinny, distant, atmospheric riff. Sounds like early Maiden. Dickinson singing in his more traditional voice than the gruff approach. Slow, heavy. Doesn’t have an 80s vibe, just sounds like classic metal/rock. The chorus isn’t great melodically, and on the whole it’s very simple – not too many risks or progressive elements – I was expecting it to get faster at some point but it stays on the same level throughout.
‘Tattooed Millionaire‘ is one I may have heard at some point, but I can’t remember. This one is very 80s and does feature a more Fear of The Dark era vocal by Dickinson. It’s a little faster, a little lighter musically – a little more Def Leppard in other words. It has a commercial chorus, though the lyrics are as biting as what Maiden were putting out at the time. Good solo in there, but this is basically a pop song with more prominent guitars. That lead/ending riff also sounds like a copy of Run To You by Bryan Adams.
‘Born In ’58’ starts quite nicely, not metal at all. Nostalgic lyrics. This could be anyone, sounds like stadium rock, but a bit more subtle. It’s quite nice, feels like a centerpiece and Dickinson saying he can do more than just metal. As The Mullet Man might say, this is one for the ladies.
‘Hell On Wheels‘ is slow – ACDC slow. Gruff vocals for the verse, old school for the chorus. Instead of locked he sings ‘lacked’, that style. Very simple and plain. Standard uninspired rock, okay melodies.
‘Gypsy Road‘ starts slow and soft, similar to ‘Born In 58’. Everything on the album is much lighter than the Maiden wall of sound. It’s Springsteen again, but via Dickinson’s mind and mouth. It’s all very formulaic, verse chorus verse chorus solo chorus end stuff. Melodies okay again.
‘Dive! Dive! Dive!‘ is presumably going to be higher, starting with an ‘Aces High’ vibe. Then it goes… weird. Oh wow oh vocals. No guitars. Drum, bass, vocals. Then guitar and oh wow oh. I won’t call this one formulaic, though there’s nothing outlandish here. It’s just weird, not weird in a good way, weird in a ‘who thought this was a good idea’ way. A good minute long than it needs to be, not that any of it needs to exist.
‘All The Young Dudes‘ is Bowie with Bruce’s voice. If you’ve read my Bowie posts you’ll know I’m not a massive fan of Bowie’s vocals. Bruce does a Bowie mimic here for the most part. Still a good song, but get the feeling that all of these should have just been B-Sides or demos or something.
‘Lickin’ The Gun’ follows what has gone before – gruff vocals, slow pace, basic structure. This one is riff heavy but still sounds weak – middle of the road and uninspired. This could be any 80s rock or soft metal band.
‘Zulu Lulu‘ opens with howls and guitars. That steady pace is here again and we can already tell from the intro how this is going to go. Talky vocals, lots of pauses in the guitar parts, simplistic. Maybe Bruce had all this crap boiling up in him and needed to get it out of system before getting back to Maiden and making good music again?
‘No Lies‘ is, of course, the early Bruce version of Bring Your Daughter, with a very similar opening riff. This feels like a demo as the same few words are repeated over and over. Then in the second minute the lyrics start pouring out. It’s a little bit better than most of the other stuff, but it has the same problems – vocals aren’t great and there’s nothing new or of any decent quality. It just reminds us of better songs – No More Lies due to the title, Bring Your Daughter, and Can I Play With Madness thanks to the drums in places. We have this long section in the middle with drums and distortion and nothing else, a bit of bass that no-one cares about. After this brief dalliance with the pointless we return to the chorus and an okay solo.
‘Spirit Of Joy‘ is the first bonus track. It’s an Arthur Brown cover. A lot of these will be covers. It has a faster pace, sounds better already than most of the album stuff. Not a song I’m overly familiar with but it’s fine.
‘Darkness Be My Friend‘ is not a cover. It starts well, ominous and soft, much better vocal. Like a dark and lonesome folk song. This is easily the best song so far. Then the flute (?) comes in. Yet it works, even if I imagine pixies skipping about a glade or something.
‘Sin City‘ is AC/DC, so not my favourite band. Starts with starty stoppy chops of music. Ding don ding dung. Then the familiar ACDC beat comes in. Then the vocals and the cut-off guitars. Not my thing. Growly vocals sound silly. Shite all round.
‘Winds Of Change‘. Ha ha, this really does sound like G’n’Rs version of Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door. And that’s all we’ll remember from this. This is some sort of love song with big Brucey vocals. It’s cheese, but it’s fine.
‘Riding With The Angels‘ is a Russ Ballard cover – he wrote songs for KISS and others. Sounds live. Screeches and talking. At least this is fast and energetic which makes a change from the rest of the album. It sounds both like very early Maiden and early 90s Maiden. Just a bit of throwaway speed fun.
‘Bring Your Daughter‘. You know it. You love it. Or hate it. Maybe you haven’t heard this version. It’s almost the same though, slightly different vocals, different guitars but almost the exact same song.
‘Ballad Of Mutt’. It’s a funny name, and it seems it’s a funny song with some unfortunate vocal appropriation. Still funny though, funny lyrics, standard blues stuff. I wrote a song almost exactly the same as this. Except mine was called ‘Barnaby’.
‘Black Night‘ is Deep Purple. Live again. More energy and speed. You all know this one, right? Feels like Sabbath, but isn’t, so must be Deep Purple. It’s unfortunate when your covers, which aren’t that great, are better than most of the songs on your official album.
So I said at the top I didn’t have high hopes but that this was likely the best? Oh dear. If this is the best, then we’re in for a whole crapload of crap in the coming listens. Mercy, please. Let us know in the comments what you thought of this – did I get it wrong, does it deserve another listen?
Generic Ratings: 1: Crap. 2: Okay. 3: Good. 4: Great
I remember shortly before the release of Know Your Enemy that James did an interview for some music magazine – it could even have been a guitar magazine, where he proclaimed that the band were ‘ready for war’. It was typical Manics sloganeering and bravado but it symbolized some of the thoughts they were sharing at the time – that perhaps the success of their last two albums had taken them too far from their musical, political, and lyrical roots, that they had accumulated a host of new fans who knew nothing of their past, and that they had spent too long being shoe-horned into a movement to which they never belonged. The net result was supposed to be a return to a more fierce, polemic sound and everything about this first single and opening track Found That Soul was geared towards those thoughts. It has a fast, traditional, punk sound, the production is pulled waaay back, and the video is a bunch of books being dropped onto a table. James whips out a solo and has a bit of a snarl to his vocals again, yet the constant clatter of the piano gives it a grounded rock’n’roll vibe.
Misheard Lyrics: 1. Show me or wander you can’t piss you off
2. A band still stranded here
3. So clean so rusk (?)/Soaking so rust
4. Sick and fail but/Sickened feel but
Actual Lyrics: 1. Show me a wonder you can’t be sure of
2. But still stranded here
3. So clean so lost
4. Sick and pale but
‘Are you not in love with what you do? Are you not aware of what you’re capable of? Are we just a victim of ourselves? Shall we turn around an make it better?’