Hello again, Sunday night unfortunately and I still feel pretty much rubbish. It’s not like me to feel unwell but I’m going to put it down to my sinuses, fascinating eh? I’m sure you were all very concerned. Nothing that will keep me from chewing my fingernails to the quick at the thought of Tuesdays huge battle. I’m not talking about the election but of Arsenal attempting to beat Schalke.
I was reflecting back on the Desert Island Discs posts and decided it would be almost impossible to select just eight songs if the BBC ever invited me on to do my list. Why on earth would they invite me anyway? Besides of course being the author of the best music blog that I’ve ever read, if you don’t believe me then tell me another written by one person. I jest. I could only really include songs that covered my time of listening to music so decided to break my life down to 8 segments and build the list that way. As a Clash fan some of my choices may I suppose shock you but as I’ve written before I thank The Clash most for inspiring me, opening my ears and making me go on to listen to other things. This is a first draft of course and I might change my mind entirely again in 24 hours, it’s very hard to do – especially as probably 50% of my favourite albums were made between 1977 and 1990. I’m opening myself up to criticism for all the hundreds of greats songs I missed of course, but these are the eight I’d like to have with me if stranded on a desert island:
Song 1 – 1967 -1975: David Bowie ‘Life on Mars’. I didn’t start buying 7″ singles until I was about eleven years old in 1978 so before that time I was reliant on my brother for most of what I heard that was good. This actually took me longer to think about than other periods, it was someone else’s taste after all. I heard a lot of T-Rex, Roxy Music and David Bowie during my earliest years and I’d pick Life on Mars because whenever I hear it I’m instantly taken back to being about six years old. Bowie’s accent, the way he looked and the arrangement of the music all seemed so exotic then and only slightly less so now. Funnily enough listening to this again tonight I’m reminded just how similar another choice I’d take (Suede) sounded to earlier Bowie.
Song 2 – 1976 -1980: The Clash ‘Armagideon Time’. Picking one Clash song is impossible for me, my favourite this week would change again 50 times in the next 12 months and that is no exaggeration. Perhaps because it always sends shivers through me and I never tire of it, in fact for someone not terribly familiar with The Clash it might be the first song I’d play just to measure the reaction. For whatever reason its also always a song I come back to for the lyrics and the mood/spirit of it. I can’t imagine never being able to hear it again.
Song 3 – 1981 -1985: Echo and The Bunnymen ‘The Killing Moon’. I was an early convert to the Bunnymen and while they combined some definite 60’s influences there was also a punk attitude to the band, especially in the live setting. Much like The Clash they looked as cool as they sounded (remember this was the early 80’s) and in the sadly departed Pete DeFrietas I had a post-Clash drumming hero. Picking one song is difficult but 1984’s Ocean Rain was majestic and The Killing Moon the crowning song.
Song 4 – 1986 -1990: The Smiths ‘The Queen is Dead‘. Very soon after The Clash essentially ended for me (when Mick Jones was unceremoniously removed) I started hearing more and more about The Smiths. There are no obvious similarities between the two bands although in Johnny Marr I think the band had someone just as versatile as Mick Jones. Much like The Clash their career ended too soon and their output in quality and quantity was amazing, from 1984-6 there wasn’t a better live band for me. I pick this song as it is so atypical for The Smiths, backwards guitar, some real noise and ferocious drumming.
Song 5 – 1991 -1995: Suede ‘Animal Nitrate‘. London in the early 80’s was simultaneously exciting to be living in (I had a bit of money and enjoyed all the city offered) but fairy dull musically. The excitement of post-punk had whittled away and while we thought The Stone Roses promised greater things by 1991 it was dullsville on the live scene. Before they even released their first single I went to see Suede on the recommendation of a friend, I was amazed. It was 1991 and Justine’s final gig with the band (she later formed Elastica) and I was hooked. It took almost two years before they got the exposure they deserved but it was genuinely a band to be really excited about for a while even though they never really matched that early fire quite fully.
Song 6 – 1996 -2000: James ‘Getting Away With It (all messed up). I liked James from the first single and they probably have set some sort of record for total number of great albums without releasing anything that was simply ordinary. They also would be the band that I’ve seen most often over the nearly thirty years they’ve been in existence although they did disband for six years.
Song 7 – 2001 -2005: The Libertines ‘I Get Along‘. I was really ready for a band like The Libertines when they exploded onto the music scene. I realise that their sound is for the most part redolent of what happened during the earliest years of UK punk but that was fine with me, enough time had passed. The energy of the band was brilliant and the chemistry was, briefly. Unfortunately they only lasted for two albums and of course I don’t need to explain how important Mick Jones was to their sound.
Song 8 – 2006 -2012: Maximo Park ‘Apply Some Pressure’. In the 80’s bands that were influenced by punk and post-punk were labelled ‘The new wave of new wave’ whereas in more recent years that label isn’t used but the denial of influences is slightly more believable. It makes me laugh when bands that sound like they’ve spent months reviewing every early song by The Clash, XTC, Buzzcocks etc deny any great knowledge of what came before but when you realise how young some bands from the last 5-10 years are in relative terms you understand that if they were subliminally channeling the music I grew up with it most likely came for their parents record collection. Maximo Park are one of a few dozen bands in the last 10 years that will have you being forced to compare them with the past, but are one of the best. Apply some pressure is one of those songs that the last 60 seconds just makes you want to pogo around the room so long as nobody is watching.
With each song above that doesn’t have a video the link will take you to the song itself, perhaps there are one or two songs you’ve not heard in that list and better still one you like, in which case my time was well spent. So now I’ve taken the time to expose my eight choices I’d still like to hear more of yours. Back soon with more Clash specific stuff, apologies for the indulgence today, Tim.