Monthly Archives: April 2012

Rocks In The Attic #6: Gomez – ‘Bring It On’ (1998)

We used to do a cover of Whippin’ Picadilly in a band I played in back in 1999 and 2000. It was a pretty bad cover as I think we only half-learnt it, and I remember it used to really hurt my fretting hand because of the constant barre chords used throughout the song.

I’d definitely heard of Gomez by this time because I remember the hype surrounding them when they won The Mercury Music Prize for this album, but I hadn’t bought anything by them. I seem to remember that, buoyed on by our lead singer, I went out and bought this album on vinyl.

Not long after, I saw Gomez play at the first Glastonbury I went to, back in 1999. They played on the Second Stage, just as the sun was setting and it was a real festival moment. I stuck with them enough to buy their second studio album, Liquid Skin (1999), and their third release, a collection of outtakes and b-sides called Abandoned Shopping Trolley Hotline (2000), but by this time I had lost interest.

Hit: Whippin’ Picadilly

Hidden Gem: Tijuana Lady

Advertisements

Rocks In The Attic #5: Bent – ‘Programmed To Love’ (2000)

I love this album. I was turned onto it by Danny, a mutual friend I enlisted to help me DJ on Saturday nights at 38 Bar (now The Castle) in Oldham. Danny would forever be known as Danny Beetle in my circle of friends due to his very nice original (and restored) VW.

I started off DJing purely with old 60s and 70s rock, complimented with some contemporary stuff like Supergrass, Radiohead and the Super Furry Animals. When Danny started DJing with me, his taste in electronica and downbeat rubbed off on me.

I remember seeing Bent play in Leeds as they were touring this album. They were joined on stage by Zoe Johnston, who sings Private Road and Swollen on the album. She stuck around to the end and sang the lead on Always – perfectly recreating the Nana Mouskouri sample that appears on the album.

Looking back, it was probably one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to. Just a nice atmosphere (the two members of Bent, and Zoe Johnston, were hanging around and talking to the audience before and after their set), and although there weren’t that many people there, it just felt like a shared experience. When I got home, I put the album on in my bedroom and, still living with my parents, listened to Always through my headphones.

This album stayed with me so much, I eventually turned my future wife onto it, and when compiling a CD of songs that meant something to each of us, to hand out at our wedding, I put Always on at the end.

I regret not seeing Bent play live again, or even checking out their albums after this one. All I have is this, a couple of 12” singles from this album, and the EP they released next. Given the number of times I went to Glastonbury following the release of this album, I’m sure they would have played there.  I missed them if they did.

Note to self: check out more Bent !

Hit: Swollen

Hidden Gem: Always

Rocks In The Attic #4: Ray Charles – ‘Live In Concert’ (1965)

I found this record very recently, and it looks like an original. I paid next to nothing for it too. It fits nicely in my collection next to my Dad’s original copy of Modern Sounds In Country And Western Music (1962).

You can sort of understand why liner notes on the back of LPs died out, but they instantly date a record to a simpler time when a journo’s write-up on the back of a record might be enough to entice a record store browser to make a purchase.

There’s not much else to say about this record except that it’s 37 minutes of Ray Charles singing and playing the piano, which means it’s 37 minutes of awesomeness. There’s something about Ray Charles that makes him effortless to listen to, and this live performance is a nice snapshot of a more sophisticated time when audiences would listen respectfully, and in awe.

Hit: What’d I Say

Hidden Gem: You Don’t Know Me

 

Rocks In The Attic #3: Elton John – ‘Madman Across The Water’ (1971)

Elton John can really bore me at the best of times. I don’t mind his early stuff – although it doesn’t thrill me either. I bought this album, his fourth studio offering, purely for Tiny Dancer. It’s a fantastic song, and although I hear it all the time now, I’m sure I’d never heard it before I saw Cameron Crowe’s great 2000 film Almost Famous.

I love the cover of the vinyl – it’s a gatefold sleeve, and when you open it up there’s a little booklet glued inside with the lyrics and recording information detailed in it – a nice little package.

I’ve listened to the full album a few times, and there’s nothing else on there that interests me. It all just sounds like everything else he’s done: lots of piano, with not a lot of melody.

I still love Tiny Dancer though. And I’ll always sing along and substitute the words of the title with ‘Tony Danza’. He he.

Hit: Tiny Dancer

Hidden Gem: n/a

Rocks In The Attic #2: Various Artists – ‘Jackie Brown O.S.T.’ (1997)

This was the first Tarantino film I saw at the cinema, while on holiday with friends in Omagh, Northern Ireland. I had been far too young to see Reservoir Dogs (and probably unaware of it at the time), and I had narrowly missed seeing Pulp Fiction upon release (although I would later see it at the cinema on a special screening).

It took me a while to really appreciate Jackie Brown as a film. Like most people, I was besotted with Pulp Fiction, and I saw the follow-up as more of a letdown than anything else. Only upon repeated viewings did I realise that it’s a much different beast, much more of a slowburner. I had nearly worn out my VHS copy of Pulp Fiction by the time this was released on video, so this took over as the go-to film I would put on whenever Tarantino was in mind.

In terms of the music, even though I love the soundtracks for his first two films I think this one gels the best of the three. Even though there are a few departures (a Johnny Cash live performance and a rap track from Foxy Brown), the album generally sticks to sickly sweet 70s soul.

Oddly enough, two of the songs on the soundtrack are relatively famous from earlier movies. The film and soundtrack’s opening track Across 110th Street is the title track from the 1972 blaxpoitation flick of the same name; whilst Randy Crawford’s Street Life had already been well used in Burt Reynold’s otherwise forgettable 1981 film Sharky’s Machine. Maybe Quentin thought he could use these songs better. He did.

Hit: Across 110th Street

Hidden Gem: Street Life

Rocks In The Attic #1: Aerosmith – ‘Aerosmith’ (1973)

“Good evening people, welcome to the show…”

It’s perhaps fitting that I should start this blog with a review of an album by Aerosmith, the band that first turned me onto music. I had toyed with music before I discovered Aerosmith, but once I heard this band it was like an addiction.

I can’t remember what I first heard this album, their debut. I can get very anal when collecting music, and I’ll tend to collect a band’s back catalogue in chronological order where possible. I remember buying 1989’s Pump first – on CD – followed by 1975’s Toys In The Attic – on cassette while on holiday. I had a well-thumbed article on them from a music magazine (published around 1993) which listed all of their albums, and this probably sent me back to Aerosmith (1973) next, to hear how it all began.

It’s an odd album in comparison to the rest of their 1970s output. The most startling thing is Steven Tyler’s voice – sounding very different to the raspy vocals he would later be known for, and sounding more like a black vocalist. Thankfully he had dropped this by the time of their sophomore effort, 1974’s Get Your Wings.

The songs are a solid bunch of R&B rockers, more in the style of English rock n’ roll than the post-Woodstock tired psychedelia coming out of the rest of America in the very early 70s. Like other debuts, the material sounds very grounded and you can imagine the band having toured the hell out of these songs before they even stepped near a recording studio.

I have a great bootleg of the band doing a radio performance of this album just after its release in 1973 (the same radio performance that lends I Ain’t Got You and Mother Popcorn to 1978’s Live! Bootleg). It’s fantastic, and really shows that they knew the songs inside out by the time they were promoting the album.

There must be loads of albums like this from the 1970s – solid rock n’ roll efforts showing a lot of promise but maybe haven’t endured long enough to survive into the digital age. Upon release this album only did local business – enough to keep the band on tour and afloat until they could get back in the studio – but Dream On was re-released in 1976, hit the US Top Ten and by then Aerosmith was one of the biggest rock bands in the country.

Hit: Dream On

Hidden Gem: One Way Street