A Month Curated by A Ten Year Old #11

Wildfire – SBTRKT (featuring Little Dragon) (2011, Young Turks Records, Taken from ‘SBTRKT’)

why is he wearing a mask?” asks my daughter as the next song in the shuffle erm, shuffles into view, “Does he had Covid?”

The man in the mask is the DJ and producer behind the mysterious dance act SBTRKT.  A chap who is known to his parents as Aaron Jerome but prefers to remain (slightly at least) anonymous when performing and DJing – hence the use of masks – many of which are modern interpretations of ceremonial masks wore by members of the native societies around the world (if Native societies is the right word).

I relay this back to my daughter, and she looks a bit blank and we spend the next half an hour or so looking on the Internet at the different types of masks worn in various African and South American communities.  We learn about African rituals such as the Goli masquerade which is performed by the Bauole people of the Ivory Coast at funerals and other important occasions.  A single performance of this dance can last an entire day.

Wait…A dance that lasts an entire day” she repeats, I nod and she shakes her head “Crazy people” she tuts sagely. I think about debating with her about what the Bauole people might think about some of our dances but I think better of it and tell her instead about the time her mother and I stayed up all night dancing at a club in Brighton as various bands and DJs threw big beats and tweaking acid house in our general direction.  We danced to things like this

Cowgirl – Underworld (1994, Junior Boy’s Own Records, Single)

Well I say danced, I mainly stood around tapping a foot in time to the music, whilst smoking a cigarette and trying to look unfathomably cool.  I probably failed.  I also may have shrugged a few shapes to this though

Secrets – Sunscreem (1996, Whirling Records, Taken from ‘Change Or Die’)

As the sun came up for the next morning we strolled along the beach and grabbed breakfast in a café and then fell asleep on the train home. 

The track that follows SBTRKT is by an act that I know very little about apart from the fact that Steve Lamacq always plays her music. 

Oh, M’s (name changed) big sister listens to this, she’s really cool.  She’s an emo and she also likes someone called Nirvana”. 

M is my daughters best friend and her big sister is just about 13.  I offer to play my daughter some Nirvana but she is too busy singing along to this.

Club Cougar – Nadine Shah (2020, Infectious Records, Taken from ‘Kitchen Sink’)

I suddenly feel every one of my 47 years so I listen I go and listen to Nirvana in the lounge on CD.

Come As You Are – Nirvana (1993, Geffen Records, Taken from ‘In Utero’)

Tomorrow – Eat Lights, Become Lights

Retrospective Musical Naval Gazing – #6 (1996)

1996 was another great year for music.  It was the year where Britpop was still just about king but a whole host of new and exciting acts who prefers keyboards to guitars were having massive hits.  It was the year when even bands like Oasis invited acts like the Chemical Brothers and the Prodigy to support them.  Events like Brighton’s much missed Essential Festival saw line ups deliberately designed to appeal to an increasingly less fussy crowd.  It was a summer where indie, dance, hip hop and on occasion rock all sat comfortably together and right then music was interesting, varied and regularly exciting.

Yet despite all that it was the return of a band who many people thought would simply fade away given that one of their members disappeared without a trace, never to be seen again.  However, this was the Manic Street Preachers and they, as usual, did things their way and when they returned, at what was absolutely the right time, clean shaven, reflective and with a songbook full of incredible songs it was like we had a new band to celebrate, which in some ways we did.  They rather predictably topped my end of year top ten with song about libraries giving us power.

A Design for Life – Manic Street Preachers (1996, Sony Records, Taken from ‘Everything Must Go’)

At number two in my Top Ten was a remix of a song about being an alcoholic that originally started life as a B-Side (to the original unremixed, instrumental version) and then had its chorus of “Lager, Lager, Lager” catapulted into everyday speech thanks to its appearance in ‘Trainspotting’.  A chorus apparently dreamed up by Karl Hyde when he got frustrated at continuously losing his place in the queue at a bar.

Born Slippy Nuxx – Underworld (1996, Junior Boys Own Records, Taken from ‘Trainspotting OST’)

And for once I think I got the top two spot on. 

It wasn’t all Britpop and amyl house round my way though.  I still loved a slacker anthem or two and one of my most listened to albums of 1996 was Beck’s supreme (and spoiler, coming to a Nearly Perfect Album Series near you pretty soon) ‘Odelay’.  Something that was recognised by the fact that ‘Where’s It At?’ placed at Number 3 in my Top Ten.

Where’s It At? – Beck (1996, Geffen Records, Taken from ‘Odelay’)

The rest of the Top Ten would make a decent hour of music if you played them back to back, the Prodigy sat at four with ‘Firestarter’, the Super Furry Animals completed the Top Five with their brilliant swearing anthem ‘The Man Don’t Give a Fuck’.   Number six was ‘Trash’ by the newly exciting and pumped up Suede, and at seven was this splendid hip hop blunt from the Fugees who by the end of the year would be one of the biggest acts on the planet.

Ready Or Not – Fugees (1996, Sony Records, Taken from ‘The Score’)

At number eight were a band who should have been the biggest band on the planet by the end of 1996 but weren’t.  A band whose unique selling points were that they had two keyboardists, really bad haircuts and liked wearing jumpers that had been made by their nans.  Sadly the indie record buying public disagreed with the critics and instead of filling their collections with excellent songs about puppets, roses and hiding in woods, they all went and bought some guff by The Lemonheads and the Fun Lovin’ Criminals instead of the tremendous ‘Race’ by Tiger.

Race – Tiger (1996, Island Records, Taken from ‘We Are Puppets’)

The One Word Countdown – #19

Marmite encased in a techno beat…

Rez – Underworld (1993, Junior Boys Own, Taken from ‘1992 – 2012 Anthology’)

Points 137

There are two alternative charts for this rundown – both of which may see the light of day at the end of the series.  The first alternative chart is the ‘Average’ score chart, which looks at the number of points divided by the number of votes and then minuses 31.  If we use that chart ‘Rez’ sits 5th in the countdown (actually with a bit of mathematical mechanics it’s probably 3rd).

The second alternative chart is the ‘popular’ score chart.  This is simply the number of times the song was chosen by the voters.  If we use that chart, ‘Rez’ is 33rd (and again probably a bit lower if we use a proper equation).

The difference in this is what I am calling the Marmite factor. 

Put simply ‘Rez’ appeared in less of the voters countdowns than any other song in the Top 30.  For comparison, yesterday’s track ‘Rent’ appeared in twice as many rundowns as ‘Rez’ did, but ‘Rez’ scored more points.  The reason is simple.  Nearly every person who voted for ‘Rez’ placed it in their Top Five (although no one voted it at Number One) so it scored huge points whenever it appeared whereas ‘Rent’ scored regularly but quite low on several charts.  So it would seem that the people who love ‘Rez’ really love it and those that don’t, simply don’t.

‘Rez’ first surfaced as a non album single and the original pressings were on a very limited edition pink vinyl (and if you have a copy tucked away in the cupboard under the stairs, you might want to put it somewhere a bit safer).  A few months later it was released more generally and had the future single, the more edgy and trance like ‘Cowgirl’ (and a track that very nearly made it on to this rundown in place of ‘Rez’ simply because it was one of the tracks that when DJ’ing you could stick on and the dancefloor would just go crazy for it) on the B side.

Cowgirl – Underworld (1994, Junior Boys Own, Taken from ‘Dubnobasswithmyheadman’)

Of course, Karl Hyde’s lyrical chant throughout ‘Cowgirl’ “Everything, everything…” inspired another band to plug in their keyboards and make music.

Duet – Everything Everything (2013, RCA Records, Taken from ‘Arc’)

There was one other Underworld song that was considered for this rundown – and it was seriously considered as well.

Moaner – Underworld (1997, Junior Boys Own Records, Taken from ‘Beaucoup Fish’)

Never Ending Playlist – #35

So Few Words – Archive (1996, Island Records)

‘So Few Words’ was the second single to be released by the London based trip hop and electronica act Archive.  I know very little about Archive, and this is only the song of theirs that I physically own.   It is all sorts of brilliant as well, six minutes of fat old beats, gorgeous vocals and a sneeringly excellent rap.

 Wikipedia tells me that they are still going after 25 years and have adapted their music more recently to adopt a more progressive rock and avant garde slant.   They have now released 12 albums.  I haven’t heard any of the last 11, largely because the Wikipedia told me that the music might contain progressive, avant garde rock.

Back when ‘So Few Words’ was released, Archive were essentially a four piece, containing Darius Keeler and Danny Griffiths who did most of the music.  They recruited the Iranian singer Roya Arab as vocalist, and its her vocals you can hear wonderfully drifting through ‘So Few Words’.  What makes ‘So Few Words’ so brilliant is the rap by a chap called Rosko John, who I can find very little about on the Internet or indeed anywhere else, which is a shame because his rapping is marvellous.

‘So Few Words’ featured on the bands debut album, ‘Londinium’, the band split up before it was recorded, then they reformed, made the album and then split up almost straight after it was released.  Keeler and Griffiths then reformed the band in 1997, with a more melodic approach – and a different female vocalist.

‘Londinium’ was excellent and it contained some pretty cools samples as well like here, which samples Underworld, which is kind of like the gamekeepers turning poacher.

Skyscraper – Archive (1996, Island Records)

Mmm Skyscraper…..I Love You – Underworld (1993, Junior Boys Own Records)

The Never Ending Playlist – Week #5

25. Shudder/King of Snake – Underworld (1999, Junior Boys Own, Taken from ‘Beaucoup Fish’)

How are we all with snakes?  I know a few people who can’t even look at a picture of a snake without shrieking and hiding their eyes.  I remember a young lad at work showing people his holiday snaps of his time in Thailand and a woman literally yelling in horror as a picture of him with a massive snake around his neck appeared.

At a village fayre a few years ago there was a reptile show and I whilst I was sitting down and minding my own business, the owner of the reptiles stuck about four or five baby snakes shoved around my neck, like some sort of reptilian necklace.  I mean obviously they were all harmless but it still made me freeze, scared to move in case one bit me or swallowed me whole and then the whole lot went on to take over the world.  They were cold and I can still remember  them lightly constricting around my neck and shoulders. I wasn’t really comfortable but then I looked across at my daughter, who thought it was the funniest thing ever, but she also had a look of pride in her eyes. 

Anyway…Enough reptile fun…Let’s talk about ‘King of Snake’ the second single from Underworlds third long player ‘Beaucoup Fish’- which is as it happens, much more fun that having baby snakes thrown around your neck by a crap Terry Nutkins wannabe (ask your grandparents, kids).

In ‘King of Snake’, Underworld basically take a stolen bass loop (from ‘I Feel Love’ as it happens), force feeds it some incredibly strong drugs and then record what happens – the result predictably is utter bedlam.  It is a shrieking snarling beast of a record.  The vocals are as you expect from Underworld, random words cobbled together, “Game Boy!”, “Tom and Jerry!” and various other things.  Its superb.

There are a plethora of mixes of King of Snake’ out there, none are quite as good as the original but to save you the hassle I’ve picked two out – the first is the Dave Clarke Mix which will appeal to those of you who ‘love a filter’.

Dave Clarke Mix

The second one is the techno tastic Slam Mix – who,  to bring this piece full circle, must be scared of snakes because their version knocks seven shades out of the original before running off an hiding as the original comes blaring back into view.  Astonishing.

Slam Mix