This is a review of the albums that I have been listening to whilst working from home. Albums listened to for week 11 cover from 8 June to 12 June.
Monday 8 June – The Clash
Kicking off the new working week with the last gang in town…The Clash! I pretty much selected the best of their studio output here. I never got the last Clash album, Cut The Crap (1985), but the albums that I listened to today were probably their best work.
Six albums feature here, including a live CD. Their debut album, The Clash (1977) was their self- titled debut was very much a snapshot in time of what life in Britain was like. The follow up Give ‘Em Enough Rope (1978) continued the same themes from their debut.
By the time the band released their third album, London Calling (1979) originally released as a double album, it brought in some new changes bringing the punk rock sound and new post punk aesthetic together. The album reflected their growing interest in other styles including reggae, rockabilly, ska, New Orleans R&B, pop, lounge jazz and hard rock.
The theme continues on their fourth album, Sandinista! (1980), this time a triple album (on CD it was a double). Again the band tap into other trends of the 1980s as the album featured different styles like funk, reggae, jazz, gospel, rockabilly, folk, dub, rhythm and blues, disco and even rap!
The last great Clash album, Combat Rock (1982) was one of their best selling including two of their most popular singles, Rock the Casbah and Should I Stay or Should I Go. The album was also the last featuring the classic line up. The live album, Live at Shea Stadium (2008) captured the band live in New York City opening up for The Who. 15 tracks highlighting the best tracks from all five albums. It was a fantastic listening experience and made me wish I had got to see them live but I was still in primary school and about to go to secondary school at this time.
Tuesday 9 June – Depeche Mode
Another great band from the 1980s and I only got to appreciate them over the years. They were never a band I would have thought I would get to see live and of the three times I have seen them in recent years they are nothing short of amazing and put on a great live show.
Now I am firm believer that there are two types of music – good and bad. Same applies to the 1980s and The Singles 81-85 was originally released in 1985. My copy is the 1998 edition features many of their early singles. Songs like See You, People are People and Just Can’t Get Enough were songs that I would have heard growing up but wouldn’t actually own an album until the 1990s!
An album that showcases their live ability was 101 (1989) which was their final show at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. The album was part of a documentary film of the bands tour. A fantastic live album.
Violator (1990) is my all time favourite Depeche Mode album. Featuring singles, Personal Jesus (also covered by Johnny Cash), Policy of Truth and my favourite, Enjoy The Silence.
I picked the other albums to listen to, Exciter (2001), Playing the Angel (2005) and Delta Machine (2013). It was on the Delta Machine tour that I got to see them live for the first time when they came to Belfast.
Wednesday 10 June – A little bit of everything
Midway through the working week and I pick out a variety of compilation albums to change things up a bit with some punk, Britpop, and alternative rock.
First up was CBGBs and the Birth of U.S. Punk (2002). This album features a great collection of songs from the Velvet Underground, New York Dolls, The Stooges, Television, Dead Kennedys, Ramones to name but a few.
Next was Britpop at the BBC (2014) and is a great collection of songs by bands from this era, oddly enough it does have one Swedish band, The Wannadies but I guess that You and Me Song doesn’t look out of place in the scene. The bonus CD is live versions from the likes of Blur, Pulp, Suede, Ash and Manic Street Preachers on the Evening Session.
Still on the theme of BBC, Evening Session Priority Tunes (1996) is a great collection of songs from the early 1990s from Britpop to grunge and alt rock. All fantastic. Again this CD also has a collection of session tracks that were recorded for the radio.
Brit Beat…Later Volume One (1996) is great collection of live tracks of Britpop era bands that have showcased their songs on Jools Holland’s late night programme which was an updated version of The Old Grey Whistle Test. As the name says Brit Beat, it’s all about the UK artist from the early 1990s.
The next CD I bought all the way from New Zealand while I was there on holiday in 1997. When I went browsing for CDs I more or less had most of the stuff I was looking at but I am across this CD entitled Triple J Hottest 100 4 (1997) . Triple J is an Australian radio station and probably the Aussie version of the Evening Session. This CD highlights the best of their hottest 100 with Australian bands like Spiderbait, 311 and Regurgitator, to American bands like Weezer, Tool, Everclear and some UK bands like Bush, The Prodigy and Underworld. It is a brilliant CD. Something for everyone here.
Finally, Greetings from Uncle Sam (1993) is a best of alt-rock scene from the US. One of the early CDs I bought which introduced me to bands like Sugar, Dinosaur Jr, L7, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, etc. It is a great CD and captures the scene at the time. Noticeably absence is Nirvana probably absent from this as they don’t appear on the Columbia record label.
Thursday 11 June – Husker Du
I got into Husker Du thanks to listening to Bob Mould’s new band, Sugar. Copper Blue is one of my all time favourite albums and while finding some of Bob’s solo stuff I started to listen to Husker Du for the first time. In a short space of six years this band belted out album after album.
So today I was listening to Zen Arcade (1984), the live album Land Speed Record (1982) which is so fast – 17 songs crammed into 26 minutes a real hardcore racket!. Other albums New Day Rising (1985), Candy Apple Grey (1986) and the double album Warehouse: Songs and Stories (1987) which was the last studio album before the band broke up.
A band I would never get to see live. There was never going to be a reunion. Grant Hart sadly passed away in 2017. I have seen Bob live both solo and also with Sugar. The live album, The Living End (1994) was probably going to be a good as you get to experiencing them live.
A band with incredible influence on bands that I love like Foo Fighters, Therapy?, Pixies and Smashing Pumpkins. Dave Grohl once commented if there was no Husker Du, there would be no Foo Fighters. Bob Mould does eventually guest on a Foo Fighters album later.
Friday 12 June – Metal madness
If it hadn’t of being for the COVID-19 situation I wouldn’t be typing this about what albums I am listening to this particular day. This was the weekend of Sunstroke Festival which was to make its return to the Irish music calendar for the first time since 1994. Me and friend Paul were so excited for this two day festival which was being headlined by Faith No More and Deftones.
Also that weekend was the Download festival at Donnington Park in England. Iron Maiden were headlining that and were due to play Belfast later on that week. As the pandemic was getting worst all gigs were being either cancelled or rescheduled. Sadly for us, Faith No More and Iron Maiden never got rescheduled much to our disappointment.
So rather than mope in the corner being disappointed I selected a few albums from Faith No More, Iron Maiden, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Offspring and System of a Down. Also added were the Jesus and Mary Chain. Not metal but they were meant to be playing at Sunstroke.
Midlife Crisis The very best of Faith No More (2010) is a great collection of their best songs including some really great covers.
I got to see System of a Down at Ozzfest back in 2001, so their debut album from 1998 and the follow up, Toxicity (2001) was played for the first time in ages.
I was looking forward to seeing the Jesus and Mary Chain again so this live collection from Barrowlands in Glasgow had the band playing Psychocandy in full. Released in 2015 for Record Store Day and then released on CD.
The Offspring were playing Download which we weren’t going to but I haven’t listened to Americana (1998) in a long while so I played that.
Metal legends, Iron Maiden need no introduction. After seeing them play one of the best indoor gigs I have been to in Belfast in recent years I was looking forward to seeing them live in the open air for the first time. I had never seen the band outdoors before. Every time I have seen them it has been indoors.
To make up for not getting to see them, the live albums Maiden England ’88 and En Vivo! were played.
Maiden England ’88 (2013) was their entire performance at the Birmingham NEC during the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son tour. A fantastic live performance I previously had most of the stuff on vinyl but foolishly sold most of it years ago! I would get to see them live in 1990.
Another live album, En Vivo! (2012) captured the band live in Chile during the South American leg of The Final Frontier tour.
Great music to listen to and it somewhat softened the blow of not getting to see any live shows this year!