Retrospective Musical Naval Gazing – #2 (1992)

1992’s end of year list was scrawled on a piece of paper that was tucked inside an old folder that I was using for my ‘Business Studies’ course.  The fact that there was more writing about music in that folder than there was about Business Studies probably tells you everything you need to know about what I thought about studying Business Studies. 

My 1992 Top Ten was very indie heavy something that wouldn’t change until around 1995, but it’s still even today a very good list.  Some of the entries are in different coloured pens as well, which probably means I was doing something like revealing a different song every day or some such nonsense, but sat at the top ten, in blue and underlined was this: –

Medication – Spiritualized (1992, Dedicated Records, Taken from ‘Pure Phase’)

‘Medication’ is an astonishing record, it starts all whispered and vulnerable sounding but descending into a complete avalanche of guitars, feedback, and crashing drums.  It is classic Spiritualized, and whilst it may not be their finest moment and ‘Pure Phase’ may not be their greatest album (it kind of bridges a gap between their two monoliths and gets overlooked because of it, well by me at least) back in 1992, it sounded incredible.

1992 was of course, the year that I somehow managed to get myself a proper girlfriend, one that would shape my world for at least the next 16 months on and off and much of the top ten (and tomorrows) is heavily influenced by her and my friendship grounds as well.  For instance at Number Two was this: –

Summer Babe – Pavement (1992, Big Cat Records, Taken from ‘Slanted and Enchanted’) – which is a record that I still utterly love and was a record that she introduced me to. It is a track, for a reason that I have long since forgotten, that I always play every time I sleep somewhere new, this is mostly done via headphones now, but when I moved into my halls at university, it was played very loudly.

Elsewhere in that Top Ten at numbers four, seven and eight respectively are tracks by other bands that I still love today more than thirty years after first hearing them

Sheela Na Gig – PJ Harvey (1992, Too Pure Records, Taken from ‘Dry’) – the first time I head PJ Harvey I was eating a bowl of Rice Krispies.  She was the featured artist on a Channel Four breakfast programme and her debut album ‘Dry’ was everywhere at the time.  By the end of that day I had ‘Sheela Na Gig’ on 12” and it remains in the vinyl cupboard today.

Creep – Radiohead (1992, Parlophone Records, Taken from ‘Pablo Honey’) – Near the start of 1992 I went to London to see Kingmaker, the train was late and by the time I got to the venue (which I think was the Town & Country Club) the support band was near the end of their set.  That support band was Radiohead and even though I saw three songs, they were still someway better than an entire Kingmaker set.

Reverence – Jesus and Mary Chain (1992, Blanco Y Negro Records, Taken from ‘Honey’s Dead’) – In December 1992, I saw the Jesus and Mary Chain at Brixton Academy and it was and still is one of the greatest gigs that I have ever been to.

Counting Up from Two – 4 – #Five

I’ve got Five On it – Luniz (1995, Noo Trybe Records, Taken from ‘Operation Stackola’)

In 1996, my wife (or plain girlfriend as she was then) shared a house in Guildford with three guys.  Two of them were nice chaps, one was a posh lad who was an idiot.  The signs were there before they moved in to be honest.  I mean if there are three words to scare you away from sharing a house with someone they are probably “Mechanical Engineering Student”, but anyway let’s crack on.

We will call posho Eddie, and he seemed quite nice when he moved in, fairly sociable, but again the signs were there.  He liked Guns n Roses for a start, never a good sign.  You would come home from a punishing hour of lectures to find ‘Paradise City’ blaring down the stairs.   Secondly, he decided to grow cannabis in the airing cupboard.  Although, he did this badly, they were pathetic little plants that were barely watered and didn’t get anywhere near enough light.  Apparently, you need that when growing cannabis.  Thirdly he had at least three Red Dwarf Tshirts that he thought was cool.

But the real thing about Eddie that put people off him was that he got caught wanking in the kitchen on a Sunday morning by one of the other residents of the house and never ever lived it down.

Anyone, one morning one of the guys went to make some tea, strode into the kitchen and found Eddie there with his trousers around his ankles, with literally ‘five on it’.   It was to quote the house mate “Awkward”.  There was a silence, and an embarrassed Eddie then shuffled off to his room and no one saw him for the rest of the day.  For the next month at least the only song that could be heard erm, coming from the shared house lounge stereo was ‘I’ve got Five on it’ by Luniz.

The reasons for the kitchen hand shandy were revealed about a week later, when it transpired from the kitchen window you could with a strain of the neck look directly into the window of one of the houses opposite, where a particularly attractive Chinese girl lived. She apparently, hadn’t quite mastered the art of closing the curtains.

Eddie is now a train driver apparently, where he gets to pull levers all day long.   Today’s post by the way was brought to you by Viz Comic and the spirit of Sidney James. 

Some other tracks with five in the title.  The first of which is ‘Saturn 5’ by The Inspiral Carpets, a song which my friend John loved and used to dance like an absolute monster in all the pubs and clubs that played it.  On his birthday I stood with him outside Richards Records in Maidstone and I gave him the choice of ‘Saturn 5’ on 12 inch for his birthday or the chance to get drunk in the pub across the road – where we knew the barmaid – and where because of that, we got six pints for the price of two on a regular basis.  The pub won. 

The second one is a jaunty little jazz piano affair courtesy of the reformed Pavement, whose live shows I shall not be attending because I don’t have a spare £200 for a ticket.

Saturn 5 – Inspiral Carpets (1994, Mute Records, Taken from ‘Devil Hopping’)

5 – 4 = Unity – Pavement (1994, Matador Records, Taken from ‘Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain’)

Next time – the number 6.

The Great One Word Title Countdown – The Didn’t Quite Make It List #1

Here – Pavement (1990, Matador Records, Taken from ‘Slanted & Enchanted)

Today and tomorrow will celebrate the 11 songs that didn’t quite make it into the Top 100, songs for sole reason that they simply didn’t get enough points. They are songs that are, unlike yesterday’s offerings, at least loved by someone.   Each of the songs listed today, only get one vote and then it was quite low down in the Top 30.  For what its worth I fully expected all five of these to feature much higher up the chart.

The first song is ‘Here’ by Pavement.  Which for the record is one of the best songs on one of the best albums ever made, and had I not opened up this nonsense to all and sundry would have probably been in the Top Ten.  Talking of probably being in the Top Ten, here’s Daft Punk.

Contact – Daft Punk (2013, Columbia Records, Taken from ‘Random Access Memories’)

 ‘Contact’ is incredible, a six minute long techno blast that samples Gene Cernan, who was the last man to walk on the moon.   For those of you who care about this sort of thing, the last sentence spoken by a human on the moon was this genuinely “Let’s get this mother out of here”.  

Talking of mothers and samples and Daft Punk for that matter, here’s Ye.

Stronger – Kanye West (2007, Def Jam Records, Taken from ‘Graduation’)

Ye may not have made the Top 100 but the fact that he scored more points than Pavement, LCD Soundsystem and Daft Punk combined irks me in a way that I can’t explain. 

Mannequin – Wire (1977, Harvest Records, Taken from ‘Pink Flag’)

What I also can’t explain is why it took me so long to fall for the erm, wiry charms of Wire.  Twenty seven years ago, a guy I knew gave me a copy of ‘Pink Flag’ as a present.  I think I may have listened to it two or three times before placing it in a box and forgetting about it.  Six months ago after listening to a Chumbawamba cover version of ‘Mannequin’ I revisited ‘Pink Flag’ and its extraordinarily good.

Finally for today we have Chemical Brothers, again an act I expect to do very well – maybe I chose the wrong song for them, although I’m struggling to think of a better one word song for them that this epic blend of big beats and hip hop

Galvanise – Chemical Brothers (2004, Virgin Records, Taken from ‘Push the Button’)

Major League Music – #9 Texas Rangers

Texas Never Whispers – Pavement (1993, Big Cat Records)

Every week the Major League publishes it’s ‘Power Rankings’, basically a run down of which teams are hot and which are not.  My team the Kansas City Royals are currently so far away from being hot that they are hiding inside a large freezer.  They currently sit rock bottom of the Power Rankings and so are once again seemingly the worst team in the Major League.  The team currently at the top of the rankings??  The bloody Yankees.

Today’s team are the Dallas based Texas Rangers, (who are currently 17th in the Power Rankings) who I know very little about.  What I do know is that they have previously been owned by what some people might describe as a right shower of shit.  In 1989, the club was sold for $89 million to a consortium headed up by George W Bush, or the King of Stoopid as he is known round these parts.  In 1998 the club was sold again to a man who is more hated in Merseyside than Piers Morgan and Boris Johnson put together, Tom Hicks.  In 2010, Hicks sold the club to its current owners.  Meaning for the first time in at least thirty years the Texas Rangers appear to be owned by individuals who do not appear to be morally bankrupt assholes. 

The change in ownership in 2010 also coincided with an upturn in the fortunes of the Rangers, who reached two successive World Series Finals but lost them both (to San Francisco and St Louis respectively).  They remain one of the few teams to have never won the World Series and judging by their form over the last two seasons that isn’t going to change anytime soon. 

Musically, Dallas is all about folk and country music having given the world people like LeAnne Rimes, Old 97s and Maren Morris, none of which I am in that much of hurry to listen to.  Away from fiddles and videos shot in big ol’ barns, Dallas has spawned at least two bonafide legends. 

Firstly, Meat Loaf was born and grew up in Dallas and he remains to this day the only singer to have released a Christmas album in March, that’s how leftfield and relevant Meat was.  The second legend to have been born in Dallas was hip hop pioneer Vanilla Ice, who could regularly be seen in Dallas nightclubs on open mic nights.  When he’d finished cleaning the tables, he sometimes was allowed to clean the toilets.

Aside from Ice and Loaf one of the biggest musical acts to have come of Dallas in recent years is Erykah Badu, who apart from Michael Stipe, remains the best person to have performed on Sesame Street.

Love of My Life (an ode to hip hop) – Erykah Badu (2002, MCA Records)

In 2002 the Dallas formed choral rock band The Polyphonic Spree had a (somewhat surprising?) Top 40 hit in the UK with ‘Light and Day’ and has since been used to advertise Sainsburys, which I suspect is exactly the audience that Tim DeLaughter was looking for when he wrote it.

Light and Day – The Polyphonic Spree (2002, 679 Recordings)

There were of course several members of The Polyphonic Spree when they first started out, one of them was a young lady called Annie Clark, who a few years later went on to be better known to us as St Vincent.

Digital Witness – St Vincent (2014, Republic Records)

And this weeks previously unheard of band dragged back from the cliff edge of obscurity to the relative warmth of the car park café is the wonderfully named and Internet unfriendly Hen and the Cocks, who apparently sound like “what Green Day would sound like if Patti Smith was their singer”.  Well, we will be judge of that (they sound like a bit like Babes in Toyland though).

Speed – Hen and the Cocks (2021, Unknown Label)

Next Week – Colorado

Oh and its my birthday today, feel free to shower me with gifts I don’t mind them being late.

It’s Monday, Lets Swear #8

Box Elder – Pavement (1989, Treble Kicker Records)

In 1989, in the middle of an English class, my friend Jason was asked to read a page or two from whatever Shakespeare book we were reading at the time. He ploughed in, giving it gusto and character. Suddenly, the teacher, a frightening old spinster held together by coffee, hairspray and tweed, stops him mid sentence and tells him he is reading the wrong page, “Pages 32, Chapter 3…” she snaps.

In four seconds, Jason went from being a slightly insignificant lad to being a shoo in for the next class captain because he just looked at the teacher and said “Oh, Fuck, sorry”, to gasps and generally gapes of amazement, I’m pretty sure one of the cool girls, moved her chair a foot closer to Jason. We all expected Jason to be thrown in the school dungeon for at least a week but the spinster barely batted an eyelash and asked him to carry on. Pandemonium ensued (silently), has she heard…? Was swearing now ok in the classroom?

With five minutes to go, the spinster told us to put down our books and she said “Many of you will be wondering, why I didn’t punish Jason for his cussing earlier” eager nods from the room, Nick, the class spanner, rubbed his hands expecting a very public dressing down for Jason. The spinster continued “It was because his swearing was unintentional and most importantly, like all forms of acceptable swearing, subtly unexpected, almost like Jason forgot where he was.” The spinster suddenly went up in everyone’s estimations, until three minutes later she gave us all an essay to do on the use of ‘Cussing and Cursing’ in ‘The Merchant of Venice’.

The swearing in ‘Box Elder’ by Pavement is brilliantly unexpected, coming at the end of a catchy chorus all about escaping a dead end town. It’s so well done that like Jason, Malkmus seems to have forgotten that the tapes are rolling. It’s brilliant because when he utters the curse, you know, just how awful life must be and that’s why he needs to go to Box Elder, MO. But its so fleeting so ambivalently done that it just makes you smile with pleasure.

‘Box Elder’ is taken from Pavement’s very first EP, the wonderful and if you can find a copy on vinyl, valuable, ‘Slay Tracks (1933 – 1969)’ and it marked the arrival of not only the band as one who are destined for greater things but also highlighted Malkmus’ talent as a songwriter.

Slay Tracks had four other songs on it, all of them are essential but ‘You’re Killing Me’ is probably the best of the bunch and of course, The Wedding Present made ‘Box Elder famous before Pavement really had a chance to but they left the swearing out.

You’re Killing Me – Pavement (1989, Treble Kicker Records)

Box Elder – The Wedding Present (1990, RCA Records)

Nearly Perfect Albums #13

Gold Soundz – Pavement (1994, Matador Records, Taken from ‘Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain)

Welcome to the 100th No Badger Required post. If you read more than one thank you. If this is your first visit, welcome.

In 1994 when I moved into the Halls of Residence at University, the first two records that I played on my stereo were the first two Pavement albums, in order obviously.  I turned the volume up, flopped myself on the bed and waited for all the indie slacker kids to come knocking on my door. 

The reason I did this was because of my mate Richard.  A year earlier he had gone to University in London and when I visited him in his Halls of Residence, every room that I walked past was playing Pavement and me being the naïve indie bedwetter that I am, foolishly thought that Guildford students would be the same as Mile End’s. 

Around track four of ‘Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain’ there was a knock on my door. 

Cut Your Hair -Pavement (1994, Matador Records, Taken from ‘Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain’)

I opened the door expecting to see a slacker in a plaid shirt, hailing me into a new and exciting world.  Instead I was met (genuinely) by an old man in a full vicars cloak and dog collar.  He was the father of the girl who had moved into the room next to mine – and he asked me incredibly politely if I would mind turning it ‘down a notch’.  But its Pavement…I whispered meekly, before nodding, and glumly shuffling back to the stereo.

I had to wait a full two weeks before someone knocked on my door and complimented me on the music that was blaring out (and that was Pop Will Eat Itself, the music that is, Pop Will Eat Itself didn’t knock my door, that would have been mad and totally unexpected).

‘Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain’ is obviously a nearly perfect album full of wonderful wry observational songs with catchy and unusual melodies that highlight influences that stretch well beyond the obvious Sonic Youth ones – ‘Silence Kid’ for instance clearly rips off an old Buddy Holly record but it works.

Silence Kid – Pavement (1994, Matador Records, Taken from ‘Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain’)

Elsewhere you get songs about suburbia (‘Elevate Me Later’), skateboarding (‘Range Life’) and extended jams (‘Filimore Jive’) and ultimately it would be a career highlight for any normal non superhuman band.  But here is the kicker, this folks, isn’t even the greatest Pavement record out there. 

Elevate Me Later – Pavement (1994, Matador Records, Taken from ‘Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain’)

The Ramshackle Brilliance of the Chart Show Indie Chart #1

The indie chart rundown on Saturday Lunchtime Music Programme ‘The Chart Show’ was brilliantly ramshackle and had a real cobbled together feel to it, bands names were often spelt wrong, the wrong videos were played for the wrong songs, the snippets that appeared on the screen would seem to be made up – for example

When he is not performing on stage, singer Robert Smith likes hot air ballooning over Cheshire, walking his poodle Trevor and challenging his wife to a jaffa cake eating contest”.

But it was for about five minutes every three Saturdays, indie music heaven and some genius has plopped a load of these on You Tube, if I had a hat, I would tip in your direction Sir.

What I thought would be fun is to select a random Chart Show Indie Top Ten, obviously I can’t show the videos – but I can talk about the music that features within the You Tube Clips if that makes sense ….I’ve started with the chart from March 11th 1995. 

So cue the weird fairground horse carousel montage that they used to introduce the chart……

The first three records are all going down the chart and we are treated to about ten seconds of each before a big FFWD button speeds them off.  They are all by acts who start with an E.  Eat Static are at ten, and looking by them, they have probably ingested a fair few E’s of the own, they are replaced by Edwyn Collins who is replaced by this

Waking Up – Elastica (1995, Deceptive Records)

After Elastica is another band who start with an E.  Eight Story Window.  Now in 1995, I was all over the music scene, I was at the time probably arranging gigs and I was definitely receiving around thirty different records a week to review for the student rag.  I have never heard of Eight Story Window, not then and not now.  Why the Chart Show played this I have no idea.  Songwhip appear to have nothing by Eight Story Window so I can’t post anything by them –  but I can guarantee you wouldn’t have liked it anyway.  

After about two minutes ‘I Will’ by Eight Story Window is booted (that by the way is the most press that Eight Story Window have had in 26 years) and they are replaced briefly by ‘No More Affairs’ by Tindersticks, which is going up the chart, it doesn’t stop it getting the boot after about eight seconds where it is replaced by

Rattled By The Rush – Pavement (1995, Matador Records)

Which is also going up the chart but we only get to hear ten seconds or so before that too is booted for another climber.  I mean they could have played that or indeed the track at four instead of Eight Story bloody Window.  The song at number four is

Kung Fu – Ash (1995, Infectious Records)

As you will see as this series progresses, Ash and Pavement would appear to be indie’s Poison because they seem to be on every single indie chart run down that I’ve watched.  Even when they have stopped releasing records.

After nine seconds, ‘Kung Fu’ gets the heave ho and is replaced with number 3 which is

Solitary Party Groover – Drugstore (1995, Roadrunner Records)

Which again is going up but is not played.  Drugstore were very much underrated and are much missed around these parts. 

When I watched this video for the first time, I was genuinely excited by what could be in the top two – this is March 1995, the height of the all conquering Britpop, surely we are getting Oasis or Pulp or Blur (or the ones signed to an indie at least)….Nope we are getting Salad.   And not good Salad either – and I’m fairly sure by the time this was released Salad were signed to a major.  

Drink the Elixir – Salad (1995, Island Records)

Which thankfully leaves the screen quickly and ushers in the Number 1 indie record and again its massively disappointing.  Britpop Boo Radleys were not a great thing.  I think even they would agree with me.

Wake Up Boo – Boo Radleys (1995, Creation)

They get the full video treatment the snippets tell us that Sice from the band likes being thrown over the edge of Niagara Falls in a barrel and that Martin Carr is a Morris Dancer at the weekend and then it too is fast forwarded and something by The Corrs come on.