Nightman Listens To – Bon Jovi – Lost Highway!

lost

Greetings, Glancers! Here we are, the first Bon Jovi album that I legit haven’t heard a single song from. Before I listen, I take a quick glance at the song’s Wiki page to get a little flavour for what’s in store. It was released in 2007 – by that point I was long gone from University and well into long term employment, so frivolous acts like Bon Jovi had fallen by the wayside for me. If they weren’t one of my favourite bands, or if they weren’t some new exciting act that I had just discovered, then I wasn’t going to listen to them much. It’s sad how it goes, but go it does. Wiki claims the album is heavily influenced by the Nashville sound, which is another way of saying ‘Yo Nightman, you’re going to absolutely despise this’. There may be collaborations with other artists, the album was a success on Country music charts…. arrgh… let’s just get it out of the way.

Lost Highway: Starts okay, typical Jovi sound. Slight banjo jangling. Oh Lord, here comes the slide guitar. I cannot abide slide guitar. Laughably trite and generic lyrics. Very middle of the road, soft stuff, appeasing the denim wearing, wandering patriot that the US inexplicably loves. The video, incidentally, is horrendous. The bridge doesn’t help, some terrible pronunciation. There’s a certain type of listener who swallows this stuff as if it’s scripture. I’m not that person. No edge, no emotion, just empty notes and not adventurous from a band capable of much better. Middling stuff then.

Summertime: I like songs about Summer. When they work, they’re very evocative. They make me happy, not something you’ll often hear me say. In fairness this one does come close to evoking those thoughts. It’s not quite strong enough and some silly decisions in the arrangement don’t help. The main chord chugging and the central riffs do fine – it’s nothing special, but for a band in their third decade it’s fine.

You Wanna Make A Memory: Different intro than what they usually go for. Vocals and a slight beat. Is that some female backing vocals. I was expecting this one to explode like they often do, but it keeps to a more restrained ballad form. Some slight violins, some piano. Gets marginally louder for the second chorus. I do like how it builds. The main vocal melodies are good and it quickly establishes itself as another traditional second tier Bon Jovi ballad – not up their with Always or Bed Of Roses, but still good.

Whole Lotta Leavin: Thankfully the album hasn’t been too country yet, at least not in the way I was dreading. There’s the quite intro followed by explosion I was talking about. Lyrics once again about that yearning for leaving, for adventure, for love. It’s a gentle foot-tapper to be sure, but by the numbers. More middling fare which should keep the band’s most ardent fans happy, but won’t recruit any listeners to the cause or excite someone like me.

We Got It Going On: Wait, wait, wait. Is this a cover band’s version of Enter Sandman. That’s hilarious. It’s a honky tonk rip off of Enter Sandman mixed with Have A Nice Day or It’s My Life. Like those songs, this has a stomp to it and a catchy chorus meaning you can both sing and dance to it. We get an unfortunate spoken part in the middle, followed by voice box solo. It’s pretty funny, but still middling stuff.

Any Other Day: This opens with a summery vibe too, and a nice guitar tone. Songs like this have a tendency to grab me immediately, so I get disappointed if the rest falls away. The lead riff, well it’s not really a riff, but it’s very nice and suits the verse melodies perfectly. It’s all smooth and likable. A late career goldie for me – the chorus doesn’t go overboard with the anthem but acts as a more joyous extension of the verse. A very nice surprise.

Seat Next To You: The opening riff here is almost the same as the one I mentioned in the previous song, though decidedly more slow and peaceful. More female backing vocals. The Country stuff is there, but thankfully it’s more in the background and doesn’t leave me with a bad taste. So far this is a much stronger ballad, reaching close to those upper tiers. Verses and choruses again – not obnoxious, not amazing, but emotive and mature. Two very good songs in a row – can we continue this trend?

Everybody’s Broken: Well, it begins promisingly enough. I don’t know why they went for that drum sound though. Gentle but good melodies. Decent lyrics. A better drum sound joins in. Decent chorus. The song has a carefree sway. The chugga-chugga-chug guitars in the second verse don’t quite work, but I see what they’re going for. Mutterings of keyboards towards the end. It’s not as good as the previous two songs, but better than the ones before those.

Till We Ain’t Strangers Anymore: This is veering close to the whining strings I can’t stand in Country music. For a few seconds at least. Feels like another decent ballad, not up there with the best, but not far behind. Going in on the full duet in the second verse. It’s LeAnn Rimes. She adds something different, she’s always had a (kind of) distinct voice, and while she’s Country the whole thing doesn’t go as far down that terrible road as I feared.

The Last Night: There hasn’t been that one bombastic, arena rock song on the album yet. This one doesn’t feel like it’s going to get there either, based on the opening. It has a middling pace, a soft rock approach. The verses are catchy enough without getting the claws in, with the chorus following in the same vein. It’s another which will please a certain section of the fans but will leave listeners like me asking for something stronger. It’s fine, a step down from the last few.

One Step Closer: Is this going to be the straight Country song I dreaded? No, the verse wises up. Another ballad then, and more soft rock. It’s getting a little samey now – that happens when you get beyond six albums and don’t really change your sound much from the core. Fans will be happy, there’s nothing much wrong with the song, just at this point it sounds too much like everything else. The chorus is nice enough, and I like some of the additional guitar parts which linger in the background.

I Love This Town: Is this the Country song? It starts badly enough, with hand clap type nonsense. And yet… and yet there’s something fun about it. The band sound like they’re having fun and that materializes through the waves into my veins and that feeling becomes infectious. This sounds like about a hundred different songs – everything from Bon Jovi’s own past masters to, most obviously, Dance The Night Away by The Mavericks. What was very close to being an awful closing track instead becomes a crowd-pleasing mini-anthem of its own. I imagine the band employs this one when playing live, singing about whatever town they’re playing in to the delight of the crowd. It’s strange but it somehow works by virtue of being a lot of fun.

A lackluster, if not poor first half gives way to a much improved second – there are definitely a number of songs I’ll be listening to again and would gladly put on my Bon Jovi playlist. I don’t think any of them will crack the band’s best ten or twenty songs, but they’re not far away. A better album than I was expecting by all accounts, one which thankfully didn’t live up to its Country promises and while it lacks that one great single there are enough good songs to keep loyal fans amused.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Lost Highway!

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Any Other Day. Seat Next To You.

Nightman’s Favourite Songs Of All Time – Hechizo – Heroes Del Silencio

hech.jpg

I’ve talked before about how I got into rock and metal music, and how cultural borders have never been a barrier for me. I can’t remember exactly when or how I heard about Heroes Del Silencio, but it must have been around the time they were playing on Monsters Of Rock with Iron Maiden in the mid-90s. Possibly they were mentioned in one of the metal magazines of the olden days due to working with Bob Ezrin or having a look and style similar to The Cult and G’n’R, yet something about the exotic sound of the lyrics drew me in.

I’ve always viewed the Iberian Peninsula as somewhat of a mystical land given that my visits there were my first experiences of a world outside the grey, hate-filled gloom of Ireland. Coupled with my young love for exploration and mythology based in foreign, sun-bleached countries, the music of Greece, Spain, and South America has always bewitched me with its brew of nostalgia, exoticism, and idealism. In any case, I latched on to the few songs I could find by the band – Avalancho, La Herida, and Maldido Duende were heavy, melodic, and made me seem all the more mysterious to the ladies as what sort of skinny white boy from the Northern Irish suburbs new Spanish songs in the 1990s? It didn’t matter that I had no clue what the songs were about or what the words meant – they sounded good and made me look cool, which was no mean feat.

The one which stood out most for me was called Hechizoroughly translated as ‘spell’. The song certainly takes on a mystical quality, all deceptive riffs and rumbling drums, and at one point with my Spanish dictionary in hand I tried my own translation of the lyrics. That’s the sort of thing I used to do as a kid. This all likely happened within the span of a few months but at some point I stopped listening – something else probably came along and the song and the band soon faded away like so many others in my mind. Flashforward to 2017 and a little movie called Veronica was released on Netflix – with many claiming it be on par with The Exorcist or scariest movie of all time or based on the terrifying true story. I’d heard it all before, but as it was Spanish maybe there would be a few interesting twists on the tried and tested formula. Plus, it was directed by Paco Plaza of Rec fame, so it instantly hopped up to near the top of my must-see list. As I began to watch, it all played out familiarly enough, but with a strong lead performance and an air of sadness throughout. That title character, she is always listening to music and watching music videos and… wait a second… I recognise that song. What is that? And it all comes flooding back, my younger days with Heroes and Hechizo.

In many ways Hechizo is the perfect accompanying song to Veronica. Both deal with the supernatural in some form, and both are fast paced and filled with emotional judders. Veronica’s tragic, heroic tale seems to be mirrored in the music written over twenty years earlier and the song, which had never failed to make my hair stand on end, took on a new, even more spine-tingling verve. At its most base, it’s a song which makes me want to run out into a storm and jump around at the flaming ruins of a camp-fire blitzed by lightening, jumping, whirling, and breaking shit. The pace is relentless, the solos are furious yet never let the melody or emotion break down, and Enrique’s vocals are scorching, broken, ferocious, and sexy as fuck. Not to mention the tone of the guitar, which the band uses throughout their discography, is among one of my favourites of any band. As if to put a granite slab to the end of the song and the story of Veronica, the vocals shout there way down form ten in Spanish to the sudden end. All that’s left is to hit play again.

Let us know what you think of Hechizo or Heroes Del Silencio in the comments!

Nightman Listens To – Madonna – American Life!

220px-AmericanLife2003.png

Greeting, Glancers! We head back to my middle year of University – 2003. It seemed like every album was an attack on funny wee George Bush and with such a torrid time we should really have had a new wave of powerful, excellent rock music. We never got that – just an endless success of rubbish ‘The’ bands, and the dying grunts of nu-metal and pop-punk. Bush always seemed to me to be a permanently bewildered moron with the face of teddy bear who just lost his bowl of porridge, but the people get who they vote for.

Wikipedia tells me this was a concept album, so without reading any further I assume that Madonna also got in on the act, especially with a name like that. I’m certain I’ve heard the title track, though I can’t for the life of me think of what it’s like now – and I’ve probably heard a few of the others. I know all too well the evil of Die Another Day – otherwise known as the worst thing ever – so I’m just going to skip on by it if that’s okay with you. Much of this will be new to me, so hold my hand as I dive in.

American Life: No, I don’t think ever heard this. Very electronic, not Ray Of Light style, but much more barren. It’s not bad, so far. Plaintive lyrics. Some obvious auto-tune on the vocals in places, but elsewhere they’re good. I quite like the melodies, and as a whole it’s a pleasing song, but – aw what the hell is this. She goes off on one near the end, has a rap section which sounds exactly as you’d expect from a white person who’s never rapped before. I can only guess that she’s being satirical here with her lyrics during the rap, but it becomes doubly ironic because you know she indulges in half of the stuff she’s being critical of and poking fun at. It’s like, oh I don’t know, like if a hair metal band tried to make fun of a cheesy pop song, I’d be shouting YOU ARE THE EXACT SAME.

Hollywood: So, she’s continuing that satirical tone here, this time poking fun at people wanting to be famous? I get she’s mainly targeting those without talent or those who think it is the single most important thing that anyone can achieve, but yeah… it still doesn’t work when you were one of the exact people. I’m not saying Madonna’s not talented, hell I’ve shown I love enough of her songs to prove otherwise, but there’s absolutely no ignoring the fact that she exploited herself for fame just as much as anyone else and was ruthless in her pursuit of it, possibly preventing people more deserving than her of getting there. Lets give her the benefit of the doubt though and say she’s mocking her younger self and rejecting all of the stuff she used to love, in the hope that today’s youngsters will do the same. The song is okay, a bit weak, a bit repetitive… it’s moderately catchy fluff and absolutely doesn’t need to pass the three minute mark.

I’m So Stupid: A more promising start, with broken up guitars and stuttering mystical vocals. This has a bit more love and imagination chucked at it – all those quirks with stretching notes and messing with time are different from what other mainstream artists were trying now or are attempting now. Is it more interesting, than good? I like it anyway, doesn’t go down the simple dance music route.

Love Profusion: It’s another video where Madonna walks towards the camera. This time it was directed by Luc Besson. This song is pretty cool, no messing around with the melody and the production doesn’t try to upset the rhythm or become master. Everything compliments everything else. It isn’t much more than verse and chorus melody slapped together, but it doesn’t need to be as both main parts are strong and everything else bolsters matters.

Nobody Knows Me: Phat funky beatz. I’d rather we had normal vocals, but there you go. I was hoping for an explosive verse after that intro, but it’s too tame. It’s very singular – one level. The melody and rhythm simply repeats over and over, lyrics are okay, but the repetition is annoying. The background beats and music is ever-changing, but if the main melody stays the same then the impact of everything else is lost. I usually don’t mind when a melody is repeated, as long as everything else builds upwards towards some sort of climax, but this doesn’t really go anywhere and feels like an excuse to experiment aimlessly. As an experiment, it’s not bad. As a song, it’s not great.

Nothing Fails: More stuttering guitars. This is much more to my preferences. When the melody is strong and honest, it doesn’t really matter what else you craft around it. Well, it does, but the core is still good. Depending on what else you add it can become a masterpieces, or merely an okay song. This is pretty good and I’m happy to see that even when she makes an experimental album or something with such heavy production that she still falls back on something sweet and simple. This is another example of the surrounding studio trickery complimenting the main stuff rather than taking over. The refrain section is a nice surprise, with the backing vocals and strings coming in like a choir and reminding of Like A Prayer. 

Intervention: Another guitar intro, followed by another interesting melody, so another potential favourite. Yes, this is quite lovely. Melodies have that touch of tragedy, the surrounding instrumentation isn’t overwhelming, rarely moving from sparse and instead relying on backing vocals and harmonies to fill up the space. That’s two very good songs I wasn’t aware of in a row – cool.

X-Static Process: With a name like that, I can only assume the worst. But no, it opens in a similar vein to the last three – guitars, soft vocals. One minute in and it hasn’t changed at all. Finally a backing vocal comes in and the two pieces interact or argue like a confused mind. The backing track hasn’t really changed at all. There’s a little bit of new stuff just after halfway. It’s another good one, ladies and gents. I don’t like it as much as the last two, because this one really doesn’t want to add any frills, but still another positive surprise.

Mother And Father: Back to a more electronic intro. Strange vocals. Like the fifth song to mention Jesus. Melody is repetitive, but this time it’s annoying. Thankfully this one changes things up by not having just the one melody – the others are better than the main ‘there was a time’ one. A strange song with some highs and some lows – I’d drop the rap parts and the deeper vocal pieces, but credit again for trying something different even if it doesn’t work for me. Even with the dodgy parts, I can see me listening to this again due to the good parts.

Die Another Day: Nope

Easy Ride: Ooh, a lovely intro with all the heart-tugging strings I love. The verse has potential, it’s not something which grabs me immediately but I think it could grow on me. More strings – always helps. We’re finishing with another good one. It’s another brave move for such a famous artist – another sign that she does whatever the fuck she wants, and when she pulls it off the results can often be fantastic. Like I say, this is probably going to a grower for me – I can sense its potential rather than it hitting me with obvious and immediate quality.

An average to less than average start followed up by some gems. There are quite a lot of songs here that I hadn’t heard before which will now be on my playlist, and that’s why I’m here – to grow that personal memory bank of songs to love over and over and leave discussion of artistic merit until I’m more familiar with them. I’m not sure what I expected from the album, but I didn’t have high hopes. Those fears were mostly pushed firmly back under the bed and I’m left with an album which doesn’t have any huge missteps (aside from Die Another Day obviously) and a collection of songs which never drop below average. The weaker ones have merits and while the stronger ones don’t yet reach the heights of my personal favourites, perhaps they will after more listens. I know this should give me confidence going into her next album, but I’m always cautious about these things, always waiting for things to go badly wrong. Hang around for my next Madonna post, and find out with me. For now, leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Easy Ride. X-Static Process. Intervention. Love Profusion. Nothing Fails.

Ranking The Manics Songs – Postcards From A Young Man

Golden Postcards

Ten albums – not many bands make it that far these days, and certainly not with the same level of consistent success and quality. And this album is now ten years old and the band is still going. That’s one of the many reasons to love them. This album, described as their ‘last shot at mass communication’, has many moments of pop goodness and embraces some choice and unusual influences (Gospel and Motown) while not relinquishing their central roots. Sadly, this was one of the main instances of the band simply picking the wrong songs to be singles – but luckily there were still three and therefore a bunch of alternatives to ponder over. Here is my ranking:

  1. I Think I’ve Found It
  2. All We Make Is Entertainment
  3. Golden Platitudes
  4. Don’t Be Evil
  5. A Billion Balconies Facing The Sun
  6. Hazelton Avenue
  7. It’s Not War
  8. The Descent
  9. Auto-Intoxication
  10. The Future Has Been Here 4Ever
  11. Postcards From A Young Man
  12. Some Kind Of Nothingness

My main issue with a lot of the B-Sides around this time and till today, is the reliance on uninspired instrumentals and Nicky vocals. I managed to replace one song with a B-Side for my fantasy tracklist:

  1. It’s Not War
  2. Postcards From A Young Man
  3. Broken Up Again
  4. The Descent
  5. Hazelton Avenue
  6. Auto-Intoxication
  7. Golden Platitudes
  8. I Think I’ve Found It
  9. A Billion Balconies Facing The Sun
  10. All We Make Is Entertainment
  11. The Future Has Been Here 4Ever
  12. Don’t Be Evil

I toyed with adding I’m Leaving You For Solitude or Midnight Sun, but they don’t really fit the grandiose nature of the album. This seems like a respectable album. Let us know what your ranking would be!

Nightman’s Favourite Songs Of All Time – Fake Plastic Trees – Radiohead

109669.jpg

It didn’t take me long to get around to Radiohead. I’m one of those Radiohead fans who appreciates their new stuff rather than loving it. I don’t hate it, I don’t dislike it, I just… don’t think about it much at all. Admittedly much of their music post OK Computer I prefer listening to live than on record. OK Computer to me is peak Radiohead, and everything after it just different shades of the Thom York Show. The Bends remains my favourite Radiohead album – I don’t think they’ve equaled that cacophony of angst, emotion, wisdom, disaffection, and commercial swagger since. Again, I’m not discounting anything from Kid A onward – check out this link of my favourite Radiohead songs and you’ll see that every album is covered – it’s just that back then, they were something truly special, without really alienating anyone.

Fake Plastic Trees is one of those songs which – I just don’t understand if you don’t like it. I assume you’re lying. You’re a jaded metal fan, too proud to get sensitive. Or you’re a hipster who can’t admit to anything. Or you’re a fool. What’s not to like here? It’s beautiful from North to South, the nonsensical lyrics form into some sort of sense by the end, melodically and emotionally it is glorious. It’s rock with heart but without cheese. It’s rock with intelligence, but without arrogance. It’s perfect.

I speak about the song in detail in my Favourite Radiohead songs list so hear I’ll mention some side information. B-Sides included the okay India Rubber and the fantastic How Can You Be Sure, and the single reached the Top 20 in both the US and UK. Plenty of artists have covered the song, most famously perhaps prog heroes Marillion, and the video is worth a watch (as most Radiohead videos are). Daryl from The Walking Dead shows up, presumably confused at the lack of real firearms available to purchase. I was playing the song myself on guitar in the house one time when a couple of cousins walked in and assumed it was the radio. They thought my version was good. It probably wasn’t.

What do you think of Fake Plastic Trees – let us know in the comments!

Nightman Reacts To The Greatest Artists Of All Time (According To Rolling Stone)! 70-41

Part Two of my reaction to Rolling Stone’s Greatest 100 Musical Acts Of All Time. Click here for part one. Otherwise….

70. The Police

This entry is quite amusing – written by Brandon Flowers of ‘that shitty band’ fame, hardly the most ringing endorsement, and written without a trace of irony, try to say The Police was a deceptively clever band because they wrote songs which sounded like they were about one thing, but were actually about something else. Yes, that’s a great trick when you can pull it off. Unfortunately, what sort of moron misinterprets Every Breath You Take or Roxanne? They’re as blatantly obvious as Flowers is oblivious. In any case, Roxanne is awful, Every Breath You Take is superb, and most of the rest of the songs I’ve heard fall on a sliding scale starting from ‘meh’ and ending up at ‘aborted baboon feces’.

69. Jackie Wilson

A sorry tale of talent gone to ruin and vultures picking over the scraps, Wilson was undoubtedly a great performer. His voice was ludicrous, reaching peaks his contemporaries couldn’t dream of while being smooth when required.

68. The Temptations

Everything you could want in a male vocal group, the voices, the poise, the presence, and the songs to go with them.

67. Cream

I don’t give them the credit they deserve, mostly because I feel their individual songs aren’t great often enough, but there’s no doubting their influence. They played with immense technical skill, and they played loud while retaining melody.

66. Al Green

Yeah, don’t know much about him, only know a couple of songs.

65. The Kinks

One of the finest English rock bands, it’s a shame they came out at the same time as The Beatles, The Stones, The Who. They were fantastic, challenging, they wanted to challenge themselves, and Davies remains one of the all time great songwriters.

64. Phil Spector

It seems a little cheeky including him on the list given that he’s a Producer. His influence over the music he was producing undoubtedly turned the songs into something better. Famed for his Wall Of Sound, he’s easily one of the greatest Producers of all time, but he doesn’t need to be on this list.

63. Tina Turner

The singer every mother in law seems to love, Turner had her own brand of ferocity when she performed and that carried her beyond Ike to a vast number of personal hits. With one of the more unique voices in female pop, Turner makes music anyone can enjoy.

62. Joni Mitchell

You probably know my feelings about Joni – she’s one of the greats. One of the great true artists in music, constantly doing something different and doing it differently, a wonderfully talented musician, songwriter, lyricist, vocalist – she has it all, and does it all with grace and wisdom. I of course prefer her folk to her jazz, but it’s all worthwhile. In the pantheon of great female artists – she’s at the top.

61. Metallica

The band that brought Metal to the mainstream, the band that changed the metal game forever. Love or hate them, take a listen once more to any of their first four albums and try not to be blown away by the creativity, ambition, skill, and energy. Then slap on The Black album and see how they could channel all of that into something which the masses could swallow. They’re more of a touring band now – I wish they didn’t have such huge gaps between albums as that usually means artists are resting on their laurels or don’t have much to say. Each time they come back though (beyond a few hiccups in the late 90s) it’s something approaching heartwarming for every metal fan. They still have a knack for making the outsider feel like part of something, and make you want to smash the place up and release all of that pent up anger and excitement.

60. The Sex Pistols

Of course. The be all and end all when it comes to Punk, they ignited a movement. I’m not talking about their politics or punk as a whole, I’m talking about inspiring kids to get up and fucking do something. Start a band, start a riot, pick up an instrument and go conquer the world. Their few songs were pretty alright too.

59. Aerosmith

Taking the Blues rock back from the Brits, Aerosmith saw the fame of Zeppelin and The Stones and decided they could have a slice of that pie, while glamming it up and making it all American. With Tyler they had a voice to rival any wailing English man, and with Perry a guitarist who brought some of the first doses of sleaze to rock. They are one of the few bands to have successive, successful returns – sounding different each time, yet the same. They were sleazy blues in the Seventies, everybody’s mates in 80s, serious hit makers in the 90s, and have kept on plugging into the new millennium. They’re the biggest selling American rock band of all time – keep that in mind.

58. Parliament and Funkadelic

I need to give them a chance. Anything I’ve heard I usually dismiss as either silly or not to my taste.

57. The Grateful Dead

More of the same – never been a fan, haven’t heard enough, need to give them a chance

56. Dr Dre

Well, duh. Dre is a great producer and has discovered some of the best and many of the worst RnB artists out there. But his work as a rapper remains some of the best, most seminal in the game with both his solo stuff and work with NWA influencing essentially everything which came afterwards. Almost nothing has come close to topping it.

55. Eric Clapton

We all know he’s a great guitarist. Bit of an asshole, but he can play. Like most great guitarists, their ideas rarely translate into good solo songs and they tend to work best when they can influence or be influenced by a like-minded group. In essence he was a beast and did some great stuff, then he calmed down and didn’t.

54. Howlin’ Wolf

Every so often an artist will have a name which tells you all you need to know – Megadeth… umm… Ed Sheeran? Howlin’ Wolf is exactly that – bloodthirsty, exotic, eccentric, and ear-piercing. One of the true greats of the early rock era.

53. The Allman Brothers

Wouldn’t you know, it’s more Southern Rock. And wouldn’t you know, I don’t know a hell of a lot about it.

52. Queen

Probably the rock band with the most widespread popularity outside of The Beatles. Everyone loves Queen it seems, from middle aged women usually terrified of guitars to snobs, hipsters, chavs, metal-heads, critics, musicians. Maybe it’s that they just have so many hits or that so many of those hits have an anthemic quality. Maybe it’s that their songs have so far transcended time and still sound fresh now. I’ve never considered myself a huge Queen fan, beyond mostly liking all of the singles that I’ve heard. I’ve only listened to one full album, and enjoyed it, so I guess I am a Queen fan.

51. Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd cover so many genres, yet always retain that something special which makes them them. They have covered prog, punk, psychedelic, dance, mellow, and have made some of the best concept albums ever. That four album run which covers Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals, and The Wall, may be the best run in musical history. Each on is unique, each one flawless. Before that run the had the experimental insanity of Syd and the patchwork miscellany his shadow uncovered, and afterwards the politics of Roger and soothing six string of Gilmour to keep them going. That four album run though, with Mason and Wright keeping the music both tight and flexible, is rock perfection.

50. The Band

Can’t say I know much about them.

49. Elton John

I’ve never been a fan, but then piano led rock comes off as cheesy to me and almost never makes me feel anything but the need to turn it off. I love the piano as an instrument, but so few artists use it to my tastes. Obviously he’s a superstar and I’m in the minority. I don’t mind the writing, I like a couple of songs, and I haven’t heard any complete albums, but his vocals and presence and songs in general aren’t my bag.

48. Run DMC

The original pioneers of rap, pretty much any of the Run DMC songs I’ve heard I’ve liked. But that’s a very small number, so I’ll have to change that.

47. Patti Smith

Those friends I mentioned earlier whose musical tastes are similar to mine? Some swear by Patti Smith. I’ve only heard a handful of songs so she is another artist I need to explore.

46. Janis Joplin

Jeebus, that voice. Have you ever heard or felt anything like it when Janis lets rip? I’ve no idea what she could have gone on to become – it was always a shame to me that the actual songs she performed weren’t overly interesting to me. She had the voice and the expression and the performance – just needed the songs to pull it together.

45. The Byrds

Another band whose singles I know, and that’s about it. I know they’ll be coming up plenty in my other long-running series, so I’ll get to them.

44. Public Enemy

Yeeeah Boyee! For my money, Chuck D is the greatest rapper of them all. The combination of his smooth yet aggressive vocals, his sharp observations stabbed into some of the best lyrics of the last thirty years, and his inviting, eloquent delivery is everything which is missing from the rap I hear these days (not that I’m paying much attention). Throw in the madcap exhalations and ramblings by Flavor Flav and their ability to take metal riffs, disjointed samples and effects from reports, movies, past hits, and you have a group capable of establishing a meaningful uprising and cross musical borders.

43. Sly And The Family Stone

Again, a blank spot in my musical knowledge outside of a few obvious songs.

42. Van Morrison

A fellow Northern Irish man, that’s enough reason to dislike him. I’m not sure at the point of writing this whether or not I’ll have posted something else I’ve also written about Van. In summary – sometimes I like his voice, other times I hate it – he comes across as a complete knob, and I know little outside of his big hits.

41. The Doors

They’re the band all disenfranchised kids and teens get into at some point, or should do. I go back and forth on The Doors – Morrison as a frontman – there’s fewer more charismatic, he brought a lot of intelligence and poetry to lyrics although many of them are hit and miss. The keyboard also comes across in that hit or miss way – sometimes it’s perfect, other times it’s cheesy as fuck and sounds like a bad pub band. The playing is always great though and I love many of their songs. Krieger had some great licks.

Check back soon for Part Three!

Ranking The Manics Songs – Send Away The Tigers

Manic_Street_Preachers_-_Send_Away_the_Tigers

After the mainly piano-based and electronic antics of Lifeblood, the band headed once more back to their guitar roots with the straightforward angular rock of Send Away The Tigers. Generally well received at the time, it’s an album which is mostly forgotten now beyond its major single. The band itself has once again been critical of certain songs but also credited it as getting them back on track and helping them to fall in love with making music again. Here’s my ranking of the ten tracks and the one hidden song:

  1. Your Love Alone Is Not Enough
  2. Autumn Song
  3. Send Away The Tigers
  4. Winterlovers
  5. Imperial Bodybags
  6. Underdogs
  7. Rendition
  8. I’m Just A Patsy
  9. Indian Summer
  10. The Second Great Depression
  11. Working Class Hero

Essentially everything above is a few steps below Your Love Alone Is Not Enough in terms of quality, with at least 7 of the lower ranked songs being interchangeable for me. No bad songs at all, just high average or thereabouts. It’s a short album but still garnered four singles, so that means we have plenty of B-Sides and alternatives to add in for my ideal version of the album:

  1. Send Away The Tigers
  2. Underdogs
  3. Your Love Alone Is Not Enough
  4. Anorexic Rodin
  5. Fearless Punk Ballad
  6. Rendition
  7. Morning Comrades
  8. Autumn Song
  9. Leviathan
  10. Boxes And Lists
  11. Imperial Bodybags
  12. Little Girl Lost
  13. Winterlovers
  14. Umbrella
  15. Ghosts Of Christmas

Both of those last two would be hidden tracks, naturally. That’s actually a pretty great album right there. I’m sure the order could be switched around to flow better. Let us know your ranking and picks in the comments!