Monthly Archives: May 2012

Rocks In The Attic #24: Doves – ‘Lost Souls’ (2000)

Rocks In The Attic #24: Doves - ‘Lost Souls’ (2000)Another band I liked really early on – I have all their early singles on vinyl – before abandoning them to the Oasis fans. I’d been following their rise in Manchester, mainly on the coat-tails of Badly Drawn Boy, who they used to be a backing band for; and they got played relatively early by Jo Whiley on Radio 1. I can remember working at my desk in my room at University, when she played Sea Song for the first time on radio. I nearly hit the roof – I had bought the song on vinyl (this was way before the album came out) and I had loved it from the first time I heard it.

I then had the misfortune of missing them play a small bar in my hometown, Oldham, because I was playing with my own band a few streets away on the same night. I did get to catch them that summer at Glastonbury on the Second Stage – I think they were the first band I ever saw at the festival – on the ridiculously early Friday morning slot. This set was also the first of many missed meetings at Glastonbury, as my University housemate Kaj, who I was looking out to meet up with (in the days just before mobile phones) saw me watching them, but wasn’t sure enough that it was me to come over and tap me on the shoulder. We caught up the following day if I remember correctly.

The next time I saw Doves was a few years later. They were headlining the same stage on the Sunday night, touring their second album, and I walked through the field and caught them for 5 minutes, enough to see them dedicate a song to Marc-Vivien Foé – the Manchester City and Cameroon international who had recently died on the pitch (the band are big Man City fans); but by that point they had got a bit more famous and a lot of Oasis fans (ie. non-musos who only dabble in music) had started liking them as a faux-Oasis substitute band.

I did see Jimi from Doves once in Manchester, as pissed off as I was that we both couldn’t get into a bar that was holding a night celebrating Bill Hicks on the 10th anniversary of his death. I’ve never seen a rock star so mad.

But I have fond memories of this, a great album.

Hit: Here It Comes

Hidden Gem: Sea Song

Rocks In The Attic #23: R.E.M. – ‘Out Of Time’ (1991)

I’ve never been a huge fan of R.E.M. I’ve always been slightly suspicious that it took them so long to finally start recording hit albums. I was also put off by them because it was fashionable to like them when I was at college. And it was usually knobheads who liked them – R.E.M. and Oasis.

But I’ve always been a big fan of Automatic For The People, and this album’s really growing on me every time I listen to it.  I remember Automatic For The People was one of the first albums I bought on CD – it was one of the five or so CDs I got when I joined one of those music clubs (where they’ll send you the latest chart album if you do absolutely nothing).

Automatic sounded otherworldy back then (and still does now), and this seems much more accessible. I don’t think I’ve ever owned this on CD – I’d probably have listened to it much more than I have if I had it on my iPod, but as it stands I’ve only listened to it on vinyl.

I probably bought it for Shiny Happy People – probably the first R.E.M. song I ever heard and one of my favourite singles, which I think I bought on CD – and I think I was always slightly disappointed that Kate Pierson didn’t sing on all the rest of their songs.

Hit: Losing My Religion

Hidden Gem: Low

Rocks In The Attic #22: Eric Clapton – ‘Journeyman’ (1989)

I bought this because it had Bad Love on it. I’m glad I bought it because the rest of the album is sweet – I could never understand how Unplugged was considered his comeback when he was making albums of this quality 3 years earlier.

The opening guitar riff to Bad Love has to be one of most underrated rock riffs of the 1980s. I’d put it up there with Dire Straits’ Money For Nothing as the best of that decade. In fact, does anybody even write riffs of that calibre anymore? Jack White has a few under his belt, but there’s been a shift away from putting a riff like that front and centre in the production.

I love everything about this album – the photo of Eric looking vaguely psychotic in the dark on the front cover, to the photo of him on the reverse – wearing a grey linen suit over a bright yellow turtleneck, standing on metal shavings.

I read his autobiography not too long ago, and it really got to me that so much of his life has been plagued by alcoholism, and frankly, wasted. If he had been able to knock albums like this out every couple of years, he would have a pretty impressive back catalogue rather than the sketchy affair that it is.

I remember, many years after first buying this record, I was working on a late night as a supervisor of a DIY store. I put the album on in the break room, thinking that nobody would know it, but one of my colleagues Carly got overexcited and started singing and dancing along to it whilst doing the vacuuming – a favourite album of hers too. It’s funny how things stick in your memory like that.

Hit: Bad Love

Hidden Gem: Breaking Point

Rocks In The Attic #21: Monty Norman – ‘Dr.No (O.S.T.)’ (1963)

Another gem in my record collection – an original copy of the soundtrack to the first James Bond film, Dr. No – released in 1963 to coincide with the American release of the film in June of that year (the film was originally released in the UK on the 5th of October 1962, the same day as The Beatles’ first 7” single Love Me Do).

It’s a shame that John Barry’s work on this album is uncredited, given how vital he was to the music of 007 over the next three decades. He arranged the James Bond Theme, and orchestrated the final song on the album, but the rest of the soundtrack is credited to composer Monty Norman, writer of the James Bond Theme.

This soundtrack is very calypso-sounding, because of the film’s setting in the West Indies. It sounds quite fresh, and is probably the only time a Bond soundtrack has ever leant so much towards a specific genre of music – at least until the soundtrack for The Spy Who Loved Me goes all disco. Ugh.

Hit: James Bond Theme

Hidden Gem: Under The Mango Tree

Rocks In The Attic #20: Fleetwood Mac – ‘The Pious Bird Of Good Omen’ (1969)

Gotta love the Mac. I bought this album at some fair on Beech Road park in Chorlton. I think it was during Beech Road festival – and probably on the same day (or during the festival another year), Willow bought Bruce Willis’ The Return Of Bruno. I think I got the better deal.

Just like John Mayall, I could listen to Fleetwood Mac all day and not really notice. It seems so natural to me – I must have been a bluesman in a former life or something. I don’t have much of a thing for country blues, but English blues from the beat explosion of the sixties really speaks to me.

This album is a compilation of the band’s first four singles (and their B-sides), plus two tracks from the Mr. Wonderful (1968) album, and another two tracks from another blues artist Eddie Boyd, backed by Fleetwood Mac.

One of my favourite things to happen at work is for one of the girls in the office to put my iPod on the stereo, choose Fleetwood Mac, and then play all their songs on shuffle. They’re expecting songs off Rumours (1977), but my iPod is heavily weighted towards the 1960s version of Fleetwood Mac. The better version, that is.

Hit: Albatross

Hidden Gem: Need Your Love So Bad

Rocks In The Attic #19: The Band – ‘The Band’ (1969)

 

Who can’t love this album? Surely it’s impossible. To me, this and its predecessor Music From Big Pink (1968) are like Rubber Soul and Revolver – two back-to-back classics with mostly interchangeable songs. Or Toys In The Attic and Rocks for Aerosmith fans.

I think I prefer Music From Big Pink as it sounds ever so slightly rougher around the edges. That album sounds like a bunch of guys who had a great idea of making an album, this one sounds much more like they’re hitting their stride.

Levon Helm, the band’s drummer, died not too long ago and it was nice to see a wealth of respect paid to him from the music world. There was a documentary about him playing at the Auckland film festival last year which I couldn’t get to see, but I’ll hopefully get to see it one day.

Hit: Rag Mama Rag

Hidden Gem: Jawbone

Rocks In The Attic #18: Stone Temple Pilots – ‘Purple’ (1994)

 

I was always very anti-Nirvana when I was getting into music, in the early nineties. I’m never one to follow hype, and everybody loved them. The band for me at that time – at least the American band for me – was Stone Temple Pilots.

I remember seeing Weiland singing one of the big songs from Core (1992) – probably Plush – on an MTV Awards show, and not being terribly impressed. Yet another vocalist, singing in the style of Cobain and Vedder, I had probably thought. Then when Purple came out and I heard the single Vaseline, I was hooked. I went out and bought the single (the MTV video was in heavy rotation), and probably the album not long after.

Due to Weiland’s drug problems putting the band into hiatus upon the release of their (very underrated) third album, I was never able to see them play back in the 90s. I saw them play in New Zealand last year though (their first time in this country), and they rocked, playing my favourite song from PurpleStill Remains – along with their great cover of Zeppelin’s Dancing Days.

This is one of many coloured vinyls I have in my collection. Needless to say, it’s purple.

Hit: Interstate Love Song

Hidden Gem: Still Remains

Rocks In The Attic #17: Donna Summer – ‘Walk Away: The Best of 1977-1980’ (1980)

Donna Summer passed away the other day, largely unnoticed compared to some recent deaths in the music industry. It annoys me that somebody like Donna Summer is brushed over, while coke-head Whitney Houston is plastered all over the media when she dies .Well, I guess the media likes a tragedy, and Houston is definitely one of those.

I love I Feel Love. It would probably be one of my favourite songs to hear in a nightclub, and it wasn’t too often that I’d hear it either. It sounds futuristic – miles ahead of anything else that was coming out around that same time, and beat-mixed into something similar sounding from the late 1990s sounds awesome.

Hot Stuff I can take or leave – it’s a great song, but now seen as something of a novelty after appearing in the Job Centre scene in The Full Monty. As usual, there’s a cruel irony that the song is undoubtedly more famous because of its inclusion in that film, but also cursed forever as that song from that scene.

I’ve heard a lot of press coverage around her supposedly anti-gay comments made in the 1980s which distanced her from her gay fanbase. Elton John, King Of The Gays, was one of the first celebrities to come out and publicly mourn for her, and as there seems to be no hard proof of her alleged comments, I’m prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt.

Hit: I Feel Love

Hidden Gem: Bad Girls

Rocks In The Attic #16: Booker T. & The M.G.’s – ‘McLemore Avenue’ (1970)

I bought this only last Sunday, from Real Groovy in Auckland. Got it home, put in on the turntable and while it’s on its first listen I turn on the internet and find out that Duck Dunn has passed away.

The music world has lost a lot of good people in the last couple of weeks – Levon Helm, The Beastie Boys’ MCA, Duck Dunn, and as of the day before yesterday, Donna Summer. That’s be a nice little band right there – an odd band, but something worth listening to.

McElmore Avenue, as the front cover might suggest, is Booker T. & The M.G.’s doing Abbey Road. Released only a few months as The Beatles’ swansong, it’s missing a few songs (my favourite, Oh! Darling is noticeably absent), but this gives the M.G.’s a bit of room to improvise on the songs chosen.

It’s a great little album, with the band on top form, working their way through a largely instrumental and heavily re-ordered version of Abbey Road.

Hit: Come Together

Hidden Gem: I Want You (She’s So Heavy)

Rocks In The Attic #15: John Mayall With Eric Clapton – ‘Blues Breakers’ (1966)

The only reason I have this on vinyl is down to my good friend, Moo. I was searching frantically for this in every record shop in Manchester until Moo let me have his copy – a very good copy, too – in exchange for a newly remastered copy of the album on CD.

I can’t remember why I wanted it so much at the time, but it takes pride of place in my collection, alongside Clapton’s other key moonlighting appearances (outside of his solo stuff, Cream and The Yardbirds): the eponymous Blind Faith album, and Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs by Derek And The Dominoes.

The album is very easy to listen to – similar to early Fleetwood Mac in scope (and general reverence to the blues), and Clapton’s guitar sound is awesome. This marks the first time a Gibson Les Paul had been recorded through an overdriven Marshall amplifier. Smoking!

Hit: All Your Love

Hidden Gem: Ramblin’ On My Mind