Retrospective Musical Naval Gazing – #8 (1998)

By the time 1998 had ended I had left University and with a shrug of indignation turned my back on the music industry by applying for, being interviewed for and then accepting a proper ground up job in Devon.  A decision which was surprisingly easy to make.  The choice, be the with the woman I love and live within spitting distance of green spaces, fresh air and beautiful beaches or spend the next two years at best, hanging around toilet bars in Camden speaking to massive bellends with raging cocaine habits about the new Warm Jets EP. The only downside was that I had to start actually buying music and gig tickets again instead of blagging it.

For the second year in a row, a record connected to at least one of Daft Punk topped my end of year poll and because of that, it was also the second year in a row where a track where guitars were virtually non existent topped the end of year chart.  Although of course it does sample a guitar riff from a Chaka Khan hit from the eighties. 

Music Sounds Better With You – Stardust (1998, Virgin Records, Single)

Aside from sexy one off single from French dance geniuses, 1998 was pretty much the year when Fatboy Slim took over the planet.  I remember DJing at University in late April and dropping ‘The Rockerfeller Skank’, ‘Brimful of Asha’ and ‘Renegade Master’ one after another and each one nearly took the roof of the place. ‘The Rockerfeller Skank’ in particular filled dancefloors months before it was officially released.  Each one of those would feature in my 1998 end of year chart, ’The Rockerfeller Skank’ came second, Cornershop were fifth and Wildchild were tenth.

The Rockerfeller Skank – Fatboy Slim (1998, Skint Records, Taken from ‘You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby’)

Brimful of Asha (Fatboy Slim Remix) – Cornershop (1998, Wiija Records, Taken from (originally at least) ‘When I Was Born for the 7th Time’).

1998 was also the year that the Britpop bubble burst and many of the bands that had been lumped in with it moved swiftly away from it.  Pulp, for instance, released ‘This is Hardcore’ and managed yet again to thrill the critics, but at the same time, angered and lost most of the new fans that they had gained during the ‘Different Class’ years.  Personally, I thought and still think that ‘This Is Hardcore’ is Pulp’s second best album and that it was several yards better than ‘Different Class’.  ‘This is Hardcore’ was placed sixth in my end of year chart.

This Is Hardcore – Pulp (1998, Island Records, Taken from ‘This is Hardcore’)

I’ll jump forward a few years if I may, it is relevant.  In 2004, might have been later, I can’t quite remember, I saw Asian Dub Foundation down at the Eden Project and it was an amazing audible experience.  I stood quite close to the front – just right of centre – and around halfway through the band stopped and the small video screen to the right of stage showed shots in the crowd.  The camera zoomed in, for a second, it paused on my ugly mug and then suddenly switched just right and there stood grinning was an Asian man, who waved at the camera. 

This man’s struggle inspired the next song.  Satpal Ram.  Just another innocent man

For it was he.

Free Satpal Ram – Asian Dub Foundation (1998, FFRR Records, Taken from ‘Rafi’s Revenge’) which was at number eight just in case you were wondering.

Introducing……The Great One Word Title Countdown #1

I said right back at the start that I wasn’t going to do a countdowns on this blog and I really wasn’t going to.  However, one Sunday whilst idly wandering around the lanes of a small suburb of Torquay, three songs came on in a row.  All those songs had one word titles and, and as I stood and watched a seagull devour a bag of chips that some fool had dropped, an idea slowly crept into place.  An idea that I was going to need some help with.

These were the three songs that came on.  So, as usual we can blame mid nineties indie pop for all my stupid ideas.

Cubik – 808 State (1990, ZTT Records)

Yes – McAlmont & Butler (1996, Hut Records)

Far – Longpigs (1995, London Records)

Later that night I created a playlist.  There was one simple rule – only one song per band was allowed and that song had to have a one word title, no brackets or hyphen or anything else was allowed.  So, this would have been allowed

Magic – Cud (1990, Imaginary Records)

But this wouldn’t have been

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction – The Rolling Stones (1965, RCA Records) – besides, songs with brackets is clearly the next subject for the musical jury to their teeth into.

Remixes of one word titles have also been included, for instance

Buzzin’ (Dylan Rhymes Mix) – Asian Dub Foundation (1997, FFRR Records)

A few days later I formed (with the help of JC) a musical jury, which was, like all good juries, populated by quite a few angry men (I must try and be more inclusive for the next one) and sent them their orders.   By angry, most of them were angry because of what I’d left off the longlist, rather than them being generally angry people.  Saying that I’ve only met two of the jury, the others could have been psychopaths for all I knew.

There were sent a list of 129 songs, all of which have one word titles and they were asked to rank them in from 1 to 30.   I then awarded points for their choices, 30 points for the number one ranked song, 29 for 2nd place and so on and waited for the results to come in.

Nearly Perfect Albums #1

Community Music – Asian Dub Foundation

I’ve said before in various other places that there are eight records that I consider to be ‘absolutely perfect’.  Albums where everything from the artwork to last note of the last track and everything in between is absolutely perfect.  They are albums that if I was reviewing them would garner a Ten out of Ten review.  They are a pretty rare beast.  

Strangely this new series is not about those eight records but it’s about the albums that sit just underneath them.  The Nine out of Ten albums or in some case the nine and a halves.  Albums that are ‘Nearly Perfect’. 

Records that are still brilliant, outstanding, life affirming pieces of music.  Records that will improve your life and general happiness.  Albums that will enhance your prowess as a lover if you choose to have them on in the background whilst ‘doing some loving’.  Selecting to play these records at a party will instantly make you friends, and if you listen to them whilst cooking in the kitchen, they will make your food taste better.  Guaranteed.

They are in no real order and of course you can disagree with me.  That’s what the comments section is for.   I’m going to start with the wonderful, the timeless, the incredible ‘Community Music’ by Asian Dub Foundation.

Rebel Warrior – Asian Dub Foundation (2000, East West Records, Taken from ‘Community Music’)

One of the most amazing things about ‘Community Music’ is the diversity.  One minute we will be hearing some cool breakbeats firing away over a scratchy bassline, then it might go a bit dubby and then from literally nowhere a guitar comes in with a riff so huge that you could park a bus in it.  Then that guitar will turn into a sitar and then just as you’ve got use to that it turns back into a guitar and at the same time you are getting a history lesson or a political message or a lecture about police corruption as well.  It sounds messy but folks, it works, somehow, don’t ask me how.  It just does and that by the way is just the first three songs.

Real Great Britain – Asian Dub Foundation (2000, east west Records, Taken from ‘Community Music’)

After that you get a bunch of songs that sound like they are happy to tickle your ear seductively but are just as happy to boot you in the face at the drop of a hat and then around forty minutes in you get ‘Taa Deem’.

Taa Deem – Asian Dub Foundation (2000, East West Records, Taken from ‘Community Music’)

‘Taa Deem’ is astonishing.  A five minute blast of the sampled voice of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan looped across some chunky guitars and some quite frankly booming drums and frantic breakbeats that just bounces around in your head relentlessly.  Its one of those songs that just wears out the repeat button.

Scaling New Heights – Asian Dub Foundation (2000, East West Records, Taken from ‘Community Music’)

The last track on the album is called ‘Scaling New Heights’ and that is kind of apt, and whilst this is quite lazy of me to say it – that’s exactly what this album does.  It goes places that no other album that I can think of has gone before or after for that matter.  Its ambitious, its political, but best of all  its nearly perfect.