This is a review of the albums that I have been listening to whilst working from home. Albums listened to for week 10 cover from 25 May to 29 May.
Second May bank holiday and I am back behind the desk at “the office” aka the back of the house.
So Monday morning blues while some people are off enjoying the bank holiday whilst in lockdown if that is such a thing. Time to raid the CD collection and start the week off with a bang.
Monday 25 May – Radiohead v Muse
Wondering what this titan tussle is all about? I love both bands and both shared the same producer, John Leckie. That is were people tend to think Muse were Radiohead copyists. The face that The Bends and Showbiz were bought produced by the same producer is probably no coincidence but what I have picked here is the first three albums by each band. All three very different in compared to style and delivery. They have both gone on to make albums that are so different to how they set out.
Radiohead released Pablo Honey in February 1993. I hadn’t discovered the band then as I was swept away with the whole grunge revolution at the time. Creep was considered “too depressing” for Radio 1’s playlist but the song would go on and attract attention elsewhere especially in America. Early critics of the band dubbed them as “Nirvana-lite”.
The album itself is not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination but I would say it is a pretty standard guitar based album especially for a debut. It was the release of The Bends in 1995 which finally got my attention around the time of my birthday and I bought the album. I never got to see them live for the first two albums. After I bought The Bends, I would then buy Pablo Honey and any of the singles associated with the albums.
By 1997, the sound had changed again with the release of Ok Computer. Critics were comparing the band with Pink Floyd but they were by no means a prog rock band. The album would be their first UK no.1 and would become part of best of lists for many publications. I caught the band on tour for this album when they came to Dublin in June of that summer. The album would feature heavily in any of my best of lists. I still regard it as their best album.
Muse released their debut album, Showbiz in 1999. I got into them shortly after the album was released the following year as I was looking for new bands to get into to. They shared the same producer of The Bends but Muse were definitely not trying to be Radiohead which was more aggressive yet melancholic in musical style.
By the time they released Origin of Symmetry in 2001 their fan base was growing and they sounded like a total different band from the first album. It included a cover of Feeling Good which was first recorded by Nina Simone. I remember going to see them on tour for this one. Caught them a couple of times in Dublin that year. The first one they played at Dublin Castle and the set was heavy into the new material which wasn’t going down well with the punters who wanted more songs from the first album.
Their third album, Absolution (2003) produced their first top 10 hit, Time is Running Out and would go on to produce three top 20 hits, Hysteria, Sing for Absolution and Butterflies and Hurricanes.
Tuesday 26 May – Jimmy Eat World and Nada Surf
The theme for today’s soundtrack was influenced Tim’s Twitter Listening Party, which hosted Nada Surf on the Monday night. So for Tuesday’s selection I decided to go for Jimmy Eat World and Nada Surf, two American bands.
Jimmy Eat World’s breakthrough came with the release of several singles from their fourth album, Bleed American (2001). It was released that summer but following the 9/11 attacks which took place several weeks after the albums release, it was then renamed “Jimmy Eat World“. My copy is the renamed album but I also have a copy of the re-released version the title restored.
The band were due to tour with Blink 182 but they cancelled their European tour and Jimmy Eat World done their own headline shows so I bought a ticket and went down to Dublin to see them. They didn’t disappoint. So a new band to get into and more albums to discover.
Also played were their second album, Static Prevails (1996) and third album, Clarity (1999). Singles (2000) was a compilation album of unreleased songs and b-sides.
The two albums I picked for Nada Surf were Let’s Go (2002) and The Weight is a Gift (2005). My first introduction to the band was Blizzard of ’77 which appeared on a compilation CD from a music magazine. Not sure which one it was maybe NME, Uncut or Mojo so not 100% sure but I liked what I heard.
To be honest I kind of forgot all about them and then they came to Belfast a couple of years ago and I went to see them in the Limelight. They were brilliant live and I picked up some more of their CDs that night, The Weight if a Gift being one of them. Even stayed behind and met the band afterwards. Matthew Caws the lead singer signed my CDs for me. Sadly their new tour this year has got cancelled due to the pandemic. I hope to catch them live again.
Wednesday 27 May – Bob Mould
Midweek soundtrack is all devoted to Bob Mould. I first experienced Bob’s music in his post-Husker Du band, Sugar during the 1990s.
Bob would be considered the godfather of alterative rock. After Husker Du split, Bob did a variety of solo albums before he formed Sugar. I have picked out six albums here and am saving Sugar for another day on its own.
Workbook (1989) was his debut album following the break up of Husker Du. The album was reissued for its 25th anniversary which include a live CD and that is the copy I have.
The third album simply title Bob Mould (1996) is often referred to as Hubcap was my first purchase. Along with The Last Dog and Pony Show (1998) both albums played here were repackaged as a double album. District Line (2008) was the last solo album I bought.
I hadn’t paid much attention to this solo work until the release of Foo Fighters who are the subject for the next day’s listening, Wasting Light (2011). Bob Mould was one of the guest musicians on that album recording Rosemary’s Baby with Dave Grohl.
This got my interest in Bob’s music again and the following year 2012, he was joined on bass with Jason Narducy and on drums, by Superchunk’s Jon Wurster. For the release of Silver Age, they went on a series of concerts playing material from the new album, a few Husker Du song and playing Sugar’s Copper Blue in its entirety. I went over to London to see them do that show.
Beauty & Ruin (2014) followed that and I caught the band live in Glasgow that autumn. It was loud! Patch the Sky (2016) was described by Mould a third album in the trilogy.
Thursday 28 May – Foo Fighters
Dave Grohl considers Husker Du and Bob Mould as a massive influence. Without them there be no Foo Fighters he said.
But for me the starting point was Nirvana. Following the death of Kurt Cobain in April 1994 that was the end of the band. Dave Grohl started Foo Fighters as a one-man project. Claiming he done the album for fun, it got interest from major albums and the album came out in the summer of 1995. I bought it with all the singles released and got to see them in Dublin later in the year. I now had a new band to follow after Nirvana.
The follow up The Colour and The Shape (1997) is my favourite Foo Fighters album. It was a more straightforward rock album. Everlong (the seconds single from the album) is a big favourite of mine.
After that it was turn of two very different unplugged albums. Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged (1994) was played alongside Foo Fighter’s own Skin and Bones (2206). The connection here is that Pat Smear was guest guitarist on the Nirvana unplugged set and by this stage he has now joined the Foo Fighters. Both are good album but MTV unplugged definitely edges it here.
I picked this album, Boxset (1994) by Wool who have a connection with Dave Grohl as brothers Peter and Franz Stahl were in a band called Scream. Dave Grohl was their drummer and then he joined Nirvana.
Wool split up in 1996 Franz joined Foo Fighters replacing Pat Smear and he was in the band for most of the 1997 Colour and The Shape Tour. Pat would rejoin the band in 2005.
Couple of other Dave Grohl projects here got a listen.
Them Crooked Vultures (2009)was an American-English rock supergroup featuring Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) and Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters). Dave plays drums on this album. The band has only released one album but there was rumours that there would be a second album sometime.
Finally, Sound City was a documentary film produced and directed by Dave Grohl about the history of the recording studio Sound City Studios in LA. The connection with Dave was that in 1991 Nirvana recorded Nevermind here and he was inspired to create the documentary after he purchased several items from the studio, including the Neve 8028 analog mixing console, when the studio closed in 2011.
The official soundtrack to the film Sound City: Reel to Reel (2013) featured a supergroup of Dave Grohl and a vast variety of artists.
One of the songs “Cut Me Some Slack” got a lot of attention as it featured Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear with Dave and it was almost like a mini-Nirvana reunion but with Paul McCartney! It was anything but Nirvana but it was just like a good jamming session.