#3albums03 Twitter poll

After last weekends poll, I was quite pleased that my three choices polled pretty well on the #3albums93 with my favourite album, Copper Blue by Sugar taking second place.

This weeks Twitter poll hosted by Richard Shaw takes us back to 2003 and after reviewing last weeks results it was down to doing some research. How many albums did I have from that year and who was going to be favourite?

At time of research I picked out about 39 albums from 2003 and forgot about four of them. Seemed to have missed Kings of Leon which I have. Other absentees included The Blood Brothers, The Movielife and Kinesis – all released albums that year that I have and totally forgot about.

One album that I didn’t have was Joe Strummer’s Streetcore which I just purchased this weekend. So that brought the 39 albums up to 44.

Usual favourites of mine released albums in 2003 – Radiohead, Muse, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Metallica , Therapy?, Placebo and Jane’s Addiction to name put a few. Snow Patrol would final hit the big time with Final Straw which was my first listen to that in years. I had kind of gone after they released the follow up, Eyes Open.

Between NME and Kerrang both magazines were championing new bands and I usually like to dip in and try something new. From NME it was Hot Hot Heat, Jet, Stellstarr*, The Shins, Kings of Leon and The Strokes. While Kerrang were going for new bands like Hell is For Heroes, Thrice, Thursday, AFI and The Distillers.

There was quite a good variety there. Some albums I really liked and some I didn’t which you will see from the top 44 later on the page.

I think from offset I had an idea who was going to be in the top 3. Radiohead definitely with Hail To The Thief which is a great album. Absolution by Muse was another of my favourite albums that year. So who was going to claim third spot?

It was going to be between The White Stripes and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Both released really great albums so I ended up going for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club who polled at 34th place and resulted in only having two of my choices in the top 10 – Radiohead came second and Muse were ninth . The White Stripes Elephant was the winner for that year.

After listening to all the contenders last week the most disappointing albums ended up being the ones by Elbow and The Dandy Warhols, closely followed by Hot Hot Heat. Overall I really enjoyed revisiting 2003 and the albums that I listened to. Below is my top 44, not quite a top 50 but close enough. My top 44 includes in italics the positions all the albums finished in Richard’s poll.

My top 44 for 2003

1RadioheadHail to the Thief (2)
2MuseAbsolution (9)
3Black Rebel Motorcycle ClubTake Them On, On Your Own (34)
4Jetplane LandingOnce Like A Spark
5Rage Against The MachineLive at the Grand Olympic Auditorium
6Jane’s AddictionStrays
7PlaceboSleeping With Ghosts (50)
8The AtarisSo Long, Astoria
9Therapy?High Anxiety
10Snow PatrolFinal Straw (50)
11The White StripesElephant (1)
12MetallicaSt. Anger
13Pretty Girls Make GravesThe New Romance
14Brand NewDeja Entendu
15Cave InAntenna
16A Perfect CircleThirteeth Step
17Biffy ClyroThe Vertigo of Bliss
18Hell Is For HeroesThe Neon Handshake
19Clutch Live at the Googolplex
20The DistillersCoral Fang
21American Hi-FiThe Art of Losing
22The ShinsChutes Too Narrow (8)
23ZwanMary Star of the Sea
24Stellastarr*Stellastarr*
25Super Furry AnimalsPhantom Power (14)
26ThriceThe Artist In The Ambulance
27ThursdayWar All The Time
28Funeral For a FriendCasually Dressed and Deep in Conversation
29TurnForward
30Joe StrummerStreetcore (20)
31Kings of LeonYouth and Young Manhood (4)
32The Blood BrothersBurn Piano Island, Burn
33KinesisHandshakes for Bullets
34The MovielifeFourty Hour Train Back to Penn
35JetGet Born
36The Cooper Temple ClauseKick Up The Fire and Let The Flames Break Loose
37The Postal ServiceGive Up (23)
38The RaveonettesChain Gang of Love
39AFISing for Sorrow
40The StokesRoom On Fire (10)
41The ThrillsSo Much For The City (38)
42Hot Hot HeatMake Up The Breakdown
43ElbowCast of Thousands (16)
44The Dandy Warhols Welcome To The Monkey House

Well, that was fun! Next poll is going to be the best albums from the 2010’s so have two weeks to get the research done and start going through the collection again.

#3albums92 Twitter poll

One of the joys of listening to music during lockdown is taking part in the weekly Twitter poll hosted by Richard Shaw. All last week I have been listening to about 28 albums from my collection from 1992. At least four of them were not going to count – Alice In Chains Sap was an EP, Nirvana’s Incesticide is a collection of b sides and unreleased songs following the breakthrough success of Nevermind from the previous year, the Singles CD was a movie soundtrack and my naughty inclusion was adding Mother Love Bone which was a compilation album of their earlier 1990 release. Still a great album to listen to but if I’m honest none of those albums going to be anywhere near my top 3 which was at the start of the week more or less decided before listening .

But would there be a surprise? At the end of the week there would be and it surprised me as for a long time the top 3 that I was going for – Sugar, Rage Against The Machine and Faith No More have always been mainstays in any top 10 poll but during the week Alice In Chains took the third spot. Dirt is a great album and I love Angel Dust as well but it managed to sneak in.

The favourite to win was always going to be REM’s Automatic For The People. It was never going to be my choice. My favourite REM album is the follow up to that, Monster. So, Copper Blue by Sugar came second in the poll, with Rage Against The Machine 5th and my late entry of Alice In Chains got 15th. Faith No More shared joint 10th place with The Cure so on hindsight I could have had three albums in the top 10 but no, I made the right choice. Those three albums that I picked have always been favourites and albums that I have time after time going back to listen to during lockdown.

Biggest surprise for me from Richard’s list was that both albums released by Bruce Springsteen didn’t poll at all. To be fair they weren’t the Boss’s best in my opinion.

Which leaves what to do with the rest of my list. I think I will do my own list of what was the best for me in 1992. In brackets I will list the albums that placed on Richard’s poll in italics. It has been an absolute blast listening to these albums again and really appreciating the diverse range of musical tastes from that year.

My 1992

  1. Sugar – Copper Blue (2)
  2. Rage Against The Machine – S/T (5)
  3. Alice In Chains – Dirt (15)
  4. Faith No More – Angel Dust (10)
  5. Sonic Youth – Dirty (18)
  6. The Lemonheads – It’s a Shame About Ray (4)
  7. Helmet – Meantime
  8. Therapy? – Nurse (*)
  9. Buffalo Tom – Let Me Come Over (26)
  10. Various – Singles OST
  11. Megadeth – Countdown to Extinction (*)
  12. Nirvana – Incesticide
  13. Mother Love Bone – S/T
  14. Screaming Trees – Sweet Oblivion (*)
  15. Alice in Chains – Sap
  16. Mudhoney – Piece of Cake
  17. REM – Automatic For The People (1)
  18. Warrior Soul – Salutations From The Ghetto Nation
  19. L7 – Bricks Are Heavy
  20. Soul Asylum – Grave Dancers Union
  21. Manic Street Preachers – Generation Terrorists (8)
  22. King’s X – S/T
  23. Bruce Springsteen – Human Touch
  24. Bruce Springsteen – Lucky Town
  25. AC/DC – Live
  26. The Offspring – Iginition
  27. Gun – Gallus
  28. Extreme – 3 Sides To Every Story

Bubbling under on the poll (*) included Screaming Trees, Megadeth and Therapy?

Next week it is the turn of 2003. I better start my research now. It is great fun to join in, search for the hashtag #3albums03 for next weeks poll.

National Album Day – The 80s

Today is National Album Day and it is all devoted to the 1980s.

I was thinking about what my listening tastes were like during my early teens compared to now and looking back I didn’t buy a lot of records as it felt more like a treat at Christmas or birthdays to get albums.

My mum and dad bought me a record player for my 10th birthday. It was a second hand one but I was all bizzed at having my own record player as I was starting to take an interest in music, mainly what I was listening to either on Top of the Pops or Radio 1.

At a very young age my tastes were not quite sophisticated. Mainly drawing inspiration from what was on Top of the Pops but I remember liking Madness, The Police, The Specials, Adam and The Ants, Bad Manners, Ultravox, Depeche Mode and even Shakin’ Stevens! Well this was 1980-81. Sadly any of the 7″ singles that I have from this era I no longer have. Madness 7 came out in 1981 and I do remember that being one of the first albums I bought.

By 1982 I enjoyed hit singles from the likes of Haircut 100, Kraftwerk, Eddy Grant, Musical Youth, Captain Sensible, Fun Boy Three as well as Madness. The last Madness album I ever owned was The Rise and Fall which I got for Christmas that year.

I first heard U2’s New Years Day in 1983. Reason I remember this is because I was in the hospital for an operation at the time and I seem to remember that song very well. Again the year would introduce me to more new artists like New Order, Toto, Orange Juice and Men at Work to name but a few.

I can’t even remember what singles I owned from that year but it wasn’t many. The first U2 albums I owned both came from 1983 – War (which included the single New Years Day) and Under a Blood Red Sky which was a live album. This would begin my interest in the band.

1984 – George Orwell once wrote about that but when I hit my teens it definitely wasn’t his nightmarish prediction of the future. I was enjoying music by Nik Kershaw, Thompson Twins, Ultravox, ZZ Top, Nena and even liked Ray Parker Juniors Ghostbusters song! One of my favourite songs that year was Boys of Summer by Don Henly.

Most of my class mates at the time were listening to Big Country, Simple Minds, Duran Duran, The Cult and U2. For my 13th birthday my mum bought me a load of records. I made a list and gave it to her and she went down to Makin’ Tracks which was one of the many record shops in Belfast. So celebrating my 13th birthday I got the following albums:

ZZ TopEliminator, Daryl Hall and John OatesGreatest Hits Rock n’ Soul Part 1, U2October, Nik Kershaw The Riddle and UltravoxThe Collection.

1985 and I was listening to basically anything that I liked at the time. U2 were still my favourite band and they released The Unforgettable Fire. One of my favourite songs that year was Paul Hardcastle’s 19 which around that time sparked my interest in the Vietnam war which had ended 10 years previously.

Other favourites included A-ha, Tears for Fears, Marillion, Talking Heads, Bruce Springsteen and Bryan Adams. Yip, that one comes out now but back then I loved Reckless as an album but by 1990 my interest in Bryan Adams music went out window. I bought Born In The USA after seeing a documentary on Bruce Springsteen on BBC2. This was the year he played his legendary show at Slane Castle but I was too young to go to such an event.

Bruce Springsteen was becoming a new favourite of mine and I bought one of his earlier albums The River as well as the career spanning live album box set covering from 1975-85 which was one of my favourite live albums.

1986 strangely enough wasn’t a big year for me music wise. At the time I was taking an interest in computer games and when I was 15 one of my friends was listening to metal – Megadeth, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Metallica, WASP to name but a few but at 15 I didn’t dare even brining metal into the house.

I don’t think my mum would have approved. So the likes of Europe’s The Final Countdown and Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer were about as metal as it got for me. Maybe that was the start of the interest in the genre but it would be another couple of years yet for me to embrace it. So 1986 was just playing it safe with the likes of Berlin who had the hit Take My Breath Away from the Top Gun movie, A-ha, Level 42, The Bangles and Cutting Crew.

For my 16th birthday U2’s The Joshua Tree was released and quite possibly for the first time I was excited for a forthcoming release. I remember going into town to buy it and coming home and playing it to death on my record player. The old second hand record player was on it’s last legs and wouldn’t be replaced until 1989.

Radio 2 done a poll for the best album of the 1980s and it was The Joshua Tree that came out on top. There are quite a few albums on the list now that I liked but being a big U2 fan I probably would have voted for this too.

What I didn’t know when I got to school on Monday that tickets for their concert in Belfast later that summer also went on sale. I missed out on that and on my final year of school after finishing my O’ Levels I didn’t get to see the biggest band play Belfast! It would be a good few more years yet before I got to see them live.

By 1988, U2 still remained my favourite band. Rattle and Hum was the last U2 album I bought on vinyl. I was eventually moving from vinyl to CD. At this stage I was also starting to get interested in listening to metal and what a year it was for the genre.

One by Metallica was the first song of theirs that I liked and I bought …And Justice for All that year. At the same time I started to like Iron Maiden who released the epic Seventh Son of a Seventh Son and Queensryche’s masterpiece Operation Mindcrime. Living Colour’s Vivid was another favourite of mine that year.

The final year of the decade and metal is firmly coming up on top. Albums by AerosmithPump, Faith No MoreThe Real Thing, The CultSonic Temple were all favourites of mine that year. As well as listening to metal I also started to listen to Simple Minds when they released Belfast Child from their forthcoming album Street Fighting Years. They would be the first band I got to see live.

By the end of the year I would have no idea what to expect of the 1990s. On New Years Eve I stayed up late to record and listen to U2’s final night of the Lovetown tour from The Point Depot in Dublin. The 1990s would change my listening habits and I would end up revisiting the 1980s to listen to the bands that I didn’t hear first time like REM, Pixies, Husker Du, etc.

My favourite albums from 1995

Been reading today that BBC Radio 6 Music were doing an article on the best records from 1995.

Had a look at the list and quite a few of my favourites were there.  There were some albums that didn’t quite make the cut that would be in my top 10.  Looking back on 1995 it was a pretty good year in music.

New trends were emerging and it looks like this was the golden era of the beginning of Britpop while grunge’s popularity was on the wane.   In the aftermath of Kurt Cobain’s suicide, one could argue that grunge was on the way out.  Alice in Chains would release their third album and Layne Staley’s  last with the group before his untimely death in 2002.   Soundgarden were still on the road that summer headlining Reading and I got to see them in Dublin.

But like everything else you try to find other bands to get into rather than just sticking with what you like.  So whilst still enjoying early 90s rock music I was finding new bands to listen too and 1995 was no exception.

This is my best of 1995 list below:

  1. Radiohead – The Bends
  2. Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
  3. Mad Season – Above
  4. Oasis  – (What’s The Story) Morning Glory
  5. Garbage – Garbage
  6. Teenage Fanclub – Grand Prix
  7. Sleeper – Smart
  8. Foo Fighters – Foo Fighters
  9. Echobelly – On
  10. Elastica – Elastica

Think I am quite happy with that lot.  Notable mention must go to the War Child album, Help which is a fantastic album.Oasis v Blur

There has also been a lot of interest in the big music story from that summer this very day between Oasis and Blur.

I must admit I did side on the Oasis camp but that would change after album no.3 then I switched to Blur.  I don’t know what it was with those two bands.  I just didn’t appreciate Blur until much later and then went off Oasis.

Blur won the no.1 spot and I really hated Country House when it first came out.  I remember buying Roll With It on CD single thinking it was the better song.

 

 

 

Pearl Jam – Atlanta, Georgia 3/4/94

Everyday I have been going through my CD collection whilst working from home for the lockdown and have been reconnecting with a lot of music I haven’t listened to in a while.

Today Pearl Jam were the soundtrack.  Going through my collection I pulled out Vitalogy, No Code, Yield, Binaural and Avacado to listen to but I came across a real gem in my collection in the form of a tape.

This tape is a recording of Pearl Jam’s legendary show at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia on the 3/4/94.  I have incorrectly put it down as 4/4/94 on my tape copy.

Front cover tape

I was a big Pearl Jam fan at the time and during the 90s I never got a chance to see them as it was just impossible to get tickets.  I managed to miss quite a few shows until I got a ticket for Dublin in the summer of 2006.  Sadly the gig clashed with my impending stag weekend in Barcelona so I had to give it up.  It wouldn’t be until 2009 that I finally tick the band of the bucket list.

Anyway, back to 1994.  Pearl Jam were on the road and were currently touring their second album, Vs. New songs from the next album, Vitalogy were premiered including Last Exit, Spin the Black Circle, Not For You, Tremor Christ, Nothingman, Whipping, Corduroy, Satan’s Bed, Better Man and Immortality on this tour.

This was a close as I was going to get experiencing Pearl Jam live but in my own house!  Radio 1 done the live broadcast in the UK and because of time difference the gig would be in the middle of the night GMT.  If memory serves me correctly, I think I was still up at 3am taping this.  The gig was also broadcast on radio in America and several other countries.

In order to get the whole gig on  tape, I used a couple of tapes to record the show and when I had them all the gig would split over three sides of cassette tape.  I filled the blank side of the tape of their MTV Unplugged performance.  I cannot remember how I got that recording.

The excitement to the gig was building and I was looking forward to sitting up, listening to the gig and taping it.  I really wanted to be there!  I literally had goosebumps listening to this.

The band opened up with Release from their debut album, Ten.  This tour was promoting the second album, VS and with the third album, Vitalogy was in the works, we got new songs like Whipping, Better Man and Satan’s Bed aired that evening.

The band were in fine form that evening and each song was played with fury and passion.  Pearl Jam at the time were involved with bitter dispute with Ticketmaster and you could definitely tell this was a band that had a point to make.

Mixing songs from Ten and Vs throughout the set, when we came to Daughter, Eddie Vedder added some lines from Pink Floyd’s Another Brick In The Wall Part 2.  The tag at end of song would be a staple of all Pearl Jam live shows.

Side two of my tape continues the concert with Daughter from Vs.  We get two more tracks from Vs and come back to a section from Ten – Garden, Black and Alive.  Inbetween those songs, State of Love and Trust from the Singles movie was played.  That is my favourite Pearl Jam song.

Leading up to the encore the band unleash a frenzied Blood that included snippets of Not For You from the forthcoming Vitalogy album.

At the first encore you can hear the crowd baying for more and the band come back on stage with W.M.A. from Vs played alongside with King’s X members Doug Pinnick and Jerry Gaskill.  New song Better Man which is a live favourite was next.

The band closed with a blistering version of Once and it is at this point the Radio 1 broadcast ends when that song finished.  There was another two encores that sadly we didn’t get in the UK.  I have included the set list at the end.

As well as being broadcast on the radio,it was released as single, Dissident which featured six songs from the gig.Dissident CD single

Four days after the gig, Nirvana frontman, Kurt Cobain was found dead at his home on 8/4/94.

From the joy of hearing Pearl Jam live for the first time on the radio to the sadness of Kurt Cobain’s passing.  The music lives on.

 

 

Pearl Jam set list Fox Theatre, Atlanta, GA, USA April 3, 1994

Release, Rearviewmirror, Whipping, Even Flow, Dissent, Why Go, Deep, Jeremy, Glorified G, Daughter/Another Brick in the Wall part 2 tag, Go, Animal, Garden, State of Love and Trust, Black, Alive, Blood/Not For You tag.

Encore: W.M.A. with Doug Pinnick and Jerry Gaskill, Better Man, Elderly Woman Behind The Counter in a Small Town, Rats, Satan’s Bed, Once.

Encore 2 and 3 not broadcast on Radio 1. Sonic Reducer (Dead Boys cover), Porch/Androgynous Mind tag, Indifference.

 

 

 

Music life in lockdown

Since lockdown began last month I have been struggling to be a bit creative with my blog and I must admit I haven’t done much since my last post back in February.

I have been trying to get motivated to write again and so far the year 2020 is going to turn out to be the worst year for gigs ever.  To date all gigs attended this year were in January and February before the COVID-19 situation got worst.  Still have to write the blog for 2008.  I am determined to get this back on track but for now it’s all about music in the lockdown.

So far gigs that I was hoping to go to have been rescheduled – Nick Cave, Pearl Jam.  Gigs cancelled – Sunstroke Festival.  Holding by breath waiting to be either cancelled or rescheduled – Rammestein and Iron Maiden.

Health is more important than ever and music plays a big part in my mental health so whilst working from home I tried to adjust to the strange sound of hearing nothing.  I don’t use Spotify or any of the streaming sites but I have a big collection of CDs so I got away from the desk at my home office and starting hoking through my CDs to see what I wanted to listen to.

I started working from home on 20 March.  Two days before my birthday.  Haven’t experienced a lockdown birthday before.  So while I was getting ready to do some work, I wanted to listen to some music.  Thought I could use the laptop but the sound wasn’t great.  Without further ado, I brought in the CD unit into the dining room and thought what I am going to listen to?

All this was totally random.  Some CDs not in the respective slots and some CDs pulled out at random.Soundtrack 1

No rhyme or reason to this selection, they were about so that’s what I was going to listen to.  The Clash, Bob Mould, Metallica and Depeche Mode.  Quite a diverse mix there.

The Clash album was yet another “best off” but I quite liked this one with the track listing.

Bob Mould’s album Sunshine Rock was a favourite of mine.  Will definitely be playing more of his stuff.

The Metallica CD hadn’t been filed under M yet so that would do.  And Justice For All was my introduction to Metallica and have been a fan since.  So far it’s the only one that has been played twice.

Finally rounding it off was Depeche Mode’s Violator which was one of the best albums of the 90s.  Enjoy The Silence was the perfect track for my new found isolation.

Looking back on the first working day at home I found that listening to music helped me.  It gave the working day a new purpose.  I still had work to do but I could to with my own soundtrack which was great.

So each day was marked with a Twitter feed with photos of albums and because you can’t really say too much on Twitter I thought maybe the pictures will do the talking.  But I am trying to be a bit creative so this blog is going to have a new purpose and will do a week by week account of my listening tastes.

Maybe there is an album in there that you haven’t heard in a while and you might want to play it on LP, CD or even stream it if that’s what you like doing.

New life has breathed into this blog.

 

 

 

 

2019 – the year in review

As 2019 draws to a close, it is that time of the year where I look back at what were the best gigs I had been too and the best albums I enjoyed in the last 12 months.

Top 10 gigs of 2019

  1. Eddie Vedder – 3Arena, Dublin
  2. Alice In Chains – Telegraph Building, Belfast
  3. Metallica – Slane Castle, Co. Meath
  4. Foo Fighters – Tennent’s Vital Boucher Road Playing Fields, Belfast
  5. Pixies – Ulster Hall, Belfast
  6. The Specials, Open House Festival Bangor Seafront
  7. Therapy? – Nerve Centre, Derry
  8. Kerbdog – Limelight 2, Belfast
  9. Primal Scream – Ulster Hall, Belfast
  10. Fontaines DC – Ulster Hall, Belfast

Top 10 albums of 2019

  1. Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars
  2. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Ghosteen
  3. Bob Mould – Sunshine Rock
  4. Pixies – Beneath The Eyrie
  5. The Specials – Encore
  6. Sleater Kinney – The Center Won’t Hold
  7. Jimmy Eat World – Surviving
  8. Refused – War Music
  9. Feeder – Tallulah
  10. Julianna Hatfield – Weird

A decade in review 2010-19

Hard to believe it is the end of another decade in the 21st century.

Every year I do a top 10 list of albums purchased or gigs attended.  I will be doing a separate blog on this towards the end of the year but for now this a look back over the last 10 years on what have been the highlights of the decade.

As you read this please feel free to send in your own thoughts on what your highlights of the decade were. The rules are quite simple. For each year, you nominate one album which was your favourite and one gig which was your favourite for the decade. That’s ten years worth of thinking to do.

To start it all off, here’s mine….

2010

Manic Street Preachers -Postcards From A Young Man

Pearl Jam – Odyssey Arena, Belfast

2011

Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

Rush – O2, Dublin

2012

Mark Lanegan Band – Blues Funeral

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band – RDS, Dublin

2013

Queens of the Stone Age – Like Clockwork

Black Sabbath – Odyssey Arena, Belfast

2014

J Mascis – Tied To A Star

Clutch – Limelight, Belfast

2015

Sleater Kinney – No Cities Left To Love

AC/DC – Aviva Stadium, Dublin

2016

Bob Mould – Patch The Sky

Chris Cornell, Ulster Hall, Belfast

2017

Jesus and Mary Chain – Damage and Joy

Eddie Vedder – 3Areana, Dublin

2018

The Wood Burning Savages- Stability

Iron Maiden – SSE Arena, Belfast

2019

Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars

Eddie Vedder, 3Arena, Dublin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REM – Monster at 25

I was late to the REM party.  Seemed to have skipped pass their big releases in the early 90s – both Out of Time and Automatic For The People fell below the radar as I was pretty much getting into the grunge scene at the time.  Nirvana may have opened new doors for me to find really great American bands like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., Pavement, Screaming Trees, etc but not REM.

REM did actually come up even a bit earlier than that.  I remember speaking to some of the guys in my training course after I left school in 1987.  I was on two year course and it may have been in 1989 that I first heard of REM.  We were discussing music and I said I was a big U2 fan but the other guys were like REM are better.  I had never heard of them.  They had just released Green but I never made an effort to check it out.

Some of my friends however were into them.  I remember hearing Shiny Happy People for the first time and it annoyed the hell out of me.  Radio and indeed MTV played the song to death.  Good way to put you off listening to a band.

But it was a trip to America in October 1994 that I finally got into them.  I was travelling via Dublin airport and there was a delay in my flight which meant an overnight stay in a hotel.  I was flicking channels for something to watch and think it was MTV I picked up on.  They played What’s The Frequency, Kenneth? and immediately I really liked the song.

It sounded so different to previous REM songs that I heard but there was something about this song that I liked that I wanted to try the album.  The album in question turned out to be Monster which had just been released in September.  Monster

Monster turned out to be the first CD I actually bought whilst in America.  Bought a load of other CDs while I was out there too.  Could have easily filled the suitcase!

When I got back home I played the album to death.  Easily my favourite REM album although I have to say one of their most underrated albums. I can see why people don’t like it after listening to Out of Time and Automatic For The People.  It feels more like a rock album.  Not quite grunge, not quite metal, just a band rocking out.

Where do you start with the songs?  There are some great songs on this album, the lead single What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?, Strange Currencies, Crush With Eyeliner, Let Me In, Star 69, Band and Blame, I Don’t Sleep are all great tracks.  Those songs were my favourites but the whole album is great from start to finish.

In 1995, REM came to Slane Castle, County Meath as the Monster tour rolled into Europe.  This was my first live experience of seeing the band.  I don’t think they toured Out of Time and Automatic For The People so was their first tour since 1989.  But not without its problems as some band members suffered ill health on the tour.  A few dates were cancelled but Slane went ahead.

Not only were they touring Monster but whilst on the road had recorded New Adventures in Hi-Fi, which after Monster is my second favourite album.REM 95

They brought with them such a diverse bill for support – Oasis, Belly, Spearhead, Luka Bloom and Sharon Shannon all provided the music.  Only Oasis had the potential to upstage them but thankfully they didn’t!  The crowd kind of took to Oasis if they were the actual headliners.  Somebody threw a plastic bottle at Liam Gallagher and he nearly walked off stage.

Thankfully it all calmed down by the time REM came onstage.  Opening up with What’s The Frequency, Kenneth? the tone of the gig was firmly set in playing the new material from Monster, we got two tracks from New Adventures in Hi-Fi – Undertow and Departure as all as the big hits from Automatic For The People and Out Of Time.

One good thing about this gig was that it finally gave me an appreciation for those two albums now after hearing the songs live.  Country Feedback being my favourite from Out Of Time.

Of course they played some of their older songs as well Finest Worksong, Pop Song 89, So. Central Rain and closing with It’s The End of The World As We Know It.  This was just the perfect gig and of all the gigs I have been too nothing has quite topped this show!

Now 25 years on, the most underrated REM album is getting the 25th anniversary reissue.  The six-disc reissue will be released on 1st of November and includes a new mix of the album by its original producer Scott Litt. The new mix showcases Michael Stipe’s vocals more prominently.Monster 25

A statement from the band read, “The original 1994 version was dense in guitars and feedback with the vocals mixed within the sonic wall but on this alternative version the guitars are pulled back and the vocals pushed forward to create a more open sound and showcase often-revealing lyrics.”

Also included in the massive reissue are 15 previously unreleased demos, a 25-song concert recording from the 1995 Monster tour, a Blu-Ray consisting of the mid-90s concert film Road Movie, Monster’s music videos, liner notes with new band interviews, and more. A two-LP vinyl edition will also be available featuring the original mix and Litt’s 2019 remix.

The reissue can be pre-ordered here.  This is one reissue that I am definitely looking forward to!

 

 

 

 

 

25 albums for 1994

1994 was a great year for music.  So many good albums were released that year.

With the reissue of Oasis’s debut album, Definitely Maybe just out and I wrote about their Belfast live debut in a most recent blog, I was reading online think it may have been 6Music who were going back in time to that year. This got me wondering what would be in your all time list for 1994.

Hard to believe it is 25 years and for a lot of these albums that I am going to list here there are quite a few favourites that I still listen to now.

So what makes a great list?  Well, to make it hard I could have went for a top ten but it felt unfair that quite a few albums not going to make the cut.  Who gets in?  Who gets left out?

I felt maybe the best way would be to cap it at 25.  25 albums released 25 years ago in 1994.  Perfect thus creating the title of this “25 albums for 1994”.

Looking back on this list it is quite a blend of the last years of grunge, the beginnings of Britpop and anything else that you might want it to be.

So without further ado here is my top 25 albums for 1994.

  1. Nirvana – MTV Unplugged in New York
  2. Manic Street Preachers – The Holy Bible
  3. Pearl Jam – Vitalogy
  4. Alice in Chains – Jar of Flies
  5. Soundgarden – Superunknown
  6. Jeff Buckley – Grace
  7. Oasis – Definitely Maybe
  8. REM – Monster
  9. Therapy? – Troublegum
  10. Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral
  11. Sugar – File Under: Easy Listening
  12. Weezer – Weezer (aka The Blue Album)
  13. Helmet – Betty
  14. Pavement – Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
  15. Beck – Mellow Gold
  16. Smashing Pumpkins – Pisces Iscariot
  17. Beastie Boys – III Communciation
  18. Suede – Dog Man Star
  19. Green Day – Dookie
  20. Primal Scream – Give Out But Don’t Give Up
  21. Echobelly – Everyone’s Got One
  22. Sunny Day Real Estate – Diary
  23. Senser – Stacked Up
  24. Live – Throwing Copper
  25. Bush – Sixteen Stone

Hope you enjoyed reading.  Maybe some of your favourites are amongst here.  Feel free to add to the above you might have liked around that time too.