Bob Mould – #FaveArtistTop15

For the month of May and with lockdown easing for a lot of people @yesokwaitmaybe and @jasonsammis have brought the #FavArtist series down from 25 to 15.

This would be quite a challenge as I have gone for Bob Mould. Which an massive discography of this works from Hüsker Dü to Sugar and his solo material, 15 songs really isn’t going to cut it. So I have broke it down to five each which will give a fair balance of Bob’s output.

There isn’t much videos out there so I will do the top 15 below and at the end there will be a link to Spotify for you to check out the selections I picked.

I was pleased with the response on Twitter from fellow music fans and feel that the choices I have made were good ones. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did putting this together.

15. I Don’t Know You Anymore – Beauty & Ruin (2014)

I loved the video for this . Colin Meloy (of The Decemberists) swoops in and gives Mould some funny advice on how to reach the modern day masses. The sketch in the beginning is full of comic send-ups of modern culture, with Meloy giving Mould advice on how to properly announce a record on social media, utilizing everything the internet has to offer, from Facebook to Blorph. Mould portrays the straight man willingly, takes all the advice in stride, and begins work on making I Don’t Know You Anymore the hottest single out there.

The music video segment features Mould and his bandmates dressing up in genius bar style outfits, making deals with record store owners, and going out on the street with fliers, all in order to draw hype for their “one of a kind, limited edition single.” It’s a silly jab at tech fascination as he doesn’t actually offer anything digital, just the single packaged in an Apple Store box, but the crowd’s reaction to them at the end is priceless.

14. See a Little Light – Workbook (1989)

Following the demise of Hüsker Dü , Mould’s Workbook was a surprising U-turn, showcasing his ability to craft the same passionate pleas through the medium of twelve-string salutes. The uplifting, life-affirming See a Little Light may be a little too positive for Mould purists, but it’s an anthem in itself and still resonates today.

13. Could You Be The One? – Hüsker Dü Warehouse: Songs and Stories (1987)

Hüsker Dü at their melodic best . The last real gasp from a band that was about to hit the wall on their final album.

The video that was filmed for the song was the band’s only video that had them performing on a sound stage as opposed to featuring live clips of them playing. The song was also performed on The Late Show With Joan Rivers

12. The Descent – Silver Age (2012)

This was the real return everyone wanted – Mould at his punk-infused, bile-spitting best. The Descent was that first glimpse of the rekindled flame, a Sugar-esque six-string blast that’s perfectly anchored by Mould’s unbeatable rhythm section of Jon Wurster and Jason Narducy.

11. Makes No Sense at All – Hüsker Dü Flip Your Wig (1985)

Flip Your Wig is Mould’s favorite record from Hüsker Dü. The album was named after a Beatles board game! By this stage the band had signed to Warner Brothers but out of respect for their previous label, SST they released it with them.

Makes No Sense at All is a super simple song. One of those handful of songs in Mould’s catalogue that has so far stood the test of time and he never gets tired of paying it.

10. Sweet Serene – The Last Dog and Pony Show (1998)

Mould was tired of his imposed identity as the angry young man of rock. The Last Dog and Pony Show was a consolidation of his strengths – heart-heavy lyrics, pounding melodies and a load of guitars. Sweet Serene is the pick of the bunch, a ramshackle ride that’s aided by Mould’s twisting, turbo-charged fretwork.

9. Tilted – Sugar Beaster (1993)

At first listen you think Beaster is going to be an acoustic album but Come Around lures the listener into a false sense of security until Tilted starts. A headlong plunge with Mould’s vocals tripping over themselves in a futile attempt to keep pace as the guitars take the listener further down into the abyss at break-neck speed.

8. I Hate Alternative Rock Hubcap (1996)

In the wake of Smells Like Teen Spirit all you have to do is take a look at modern rock in 1995 and you can guess what Mould is rallying about. One band got it so right that the whole world changed, and in four years, everyone flogged it to death. In 1995 Mould wrote this song, there were a lot of bands where he thought, “I f**king hate this band and wish they would go away.” The original title was, I Hate F**king Alternative Rock and Wish It Would Go Away. It was a little long, so he shortened it.

7. JC Auto – Sugar Beaster (1993)

Despite Copper Blue’s success, its immediate aftermath left Mould burned out by overwork and watching his relationship with his manager/boyfriend slowly crumble. He channelled this angst into Beaster, a six-track mini-album that arrived seven months after Copper Blue, and served as that album’s dark afterbirth, its lyric sheet using religious symbolism and Catholic angst as a route to wider catharsis.

Every bit Copper Blue’s equal – but an undeniably tougher listen – Beaster peaked on JC Auto, in particular its chorus, “I look like Jesus Christ/ I act like Jesus Christ/ I know I know I know I know”, barked over a breeze block-wielding riff and repeated again and again, until it feels like punishment or penance.

Beaster reached No 3 in the UK albums chart.

6. Hardly Getting Over It – Hüsker Dü Candy Apple Grey (1986)

The lyrics are very literal. It’s a very clear picture of a family and mortality in its different forms — family who pass away and how one handles it when it happens. A song I can relate to following the death of my parents six months between each other.

5. Changes – Sugar Copper Blue (1992)

Copper Blue was NME’s album of the year. Cathal Coughlan formely of Microdisney and The Fatima Mansions reviewed it on the 25 July 1992 edition of the weekly music magazine, “Sort of restores your faith in human beings, really. I’d be surprised if that wasn’t Single Of The Week.”

He wasn’t far wrong. NME included it in their end of year compilation album of the same year.

4. New Day Rising – Hüsker Dü New Day Rising (1985)

New Day Rising is the best pop record a hardcore band has ever made. This feels like a very odd statement considering the almost vitriolic power behind hardcore, but that’s what makes New Day Rising, and Hüsker Dü exciting—that a band could be have this almost punishing power, yet still have a strong melodic backbone to their songs, even if said melodic backbone is draped in fuzz and pushed by an intangible force.

3. The Act We Act – Sugar Copper Blue (1992)

Mould’s second power trio saw him return to electric guitar, and the opening track to Sugar’s 1992 debut LP Copper Blue was overloaded with enough hooks, riffs and flourishes to fill a lesser artist’s entire album. The Act We Act suggested My Bloody Valentine applying their ear-melting assault to the 12-string jangle and chime of the Byrds. Its perfect balance of might and melody set the tone for the album’s embarrassment of riches.

2. Celebrated Summer – Hüsker Dü New Day Rising (1985)

Released five months after Zen ArcadeNew Day Rising built upon its predecessor’s melodic flowering. The album’s standout found Grant Hart’s knitting-machine drums powering a whirlwind of fuzz-toned major chords, as Mould waxed nostalgic about summers past: “Getting drunk out on the beach, or playing in a band/ And getting out of school meant getting out of hand.”

  1. If I Can’t Change Your Mind – SugarCopper Blue (1992)

The stand out track from the album. Bob Mould knows how to write great rock songs but he also creates some well crafted pop songs.

The perfect end to my top 15. This track got to no.30 in UK charts.

#AtoZBest80sAlbum Week 4

Fourth batch of albums from the 1980s is picked for week 4 which covers 22 to 27 January.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
All set now for the new challenge for the month of February, #AtoZAlbumISpy. This should be fun.

#AtoZBest80sAlbum Week 3

Third batch of albums from the 1980s is picked for week 3 which covers 15 to 21 January.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
One more batch of albums to go after this.

#AtoZBest80sAlbum Week 2

Second batch of albums from the 1980s is picked for week 2 which covers 8 to 14 January.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

#AtoZBest80sAlbum Week 1

The new year starts off with a new music challenge on Twitter by @Pia_Lemonade and @sotachetan.  

A brilliant idea to show your love for albums from a certain era, in this case the 1980s.   This was great fun.  First batch covers 1 to 7 January.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Week 2 follows in the next blog.

Music life in lockdown week 40 – the final edition

Since I started working from home back in March, I had no idea that by Christmas I would still be writing this.

This is the final entry for the Music life in lockdown review series.  I have really enjoyed going through my collection and listening to lots of music from over the years especially listening to some CDs that I haven’t played in ages.

One thing lockdown has taught me was to take the time, slow down and digest everything.  I have no longer been in a rush to do things. I could work and listen to music at a leisurely pace which has been good for my morale and even my mental health too.

This entry is for the Christmas edition as I was on the last of the working week before Christmas.  I don’t do Christmas music as such.  I am a bit of a humbug that way but there is the odd Christmas song I don’t mind.   When you hear it all the time on ads or in shops it does put you off it.

Anyway, for the last three days I decided to be a bit festive without playing Christmas songs.  That doesn’t make much sense does it?  I had a CD that I got with Uncut magazine a few years ago and it was called John Peel’s festive 15.  The CD compilation was a collection of cuts that made the legendary DJs festive 50 poll that he done every year.

The idea of the Festive Fifty is that it is an annual chart featuring the previous year’s best tracks, as voted for by listeners. Legendary BBC broadcaster John Peel presented the first ever Festive Fifty on Radio 1 back in 1976 and continued to do so until his death in 2004. Radio 1’s One Music show hosted the poll in 2005, before Peel’s former production team asked Dandelion Radio to become the new home of the official Festive Fifty from 2006 onwards.

Listeners vote for their three favourite tracks of the year at this website for a few weeks leading up to December 1st, with the results being broadcast as part of the schedule during Christmas and New Year.

So with three days to listen to music I had to turn to Spotify rather than going through lists to pick out individual songs voted over the years. For once I found that Spotify was quite good for this and I browed to find some great music to listen to. This does not mean from here on I will be embracing streaming services!

Over the three-day period of Monday 21 to Wednesday 23 December it was time to go through the festive 50s over the years after listening to the Uncut CD which was a fantastic listen to start off with.

On Spotify I found the following Festive 50s so went for mainly the 1980s and 1990s.

John Peel’s All Time Festive 50 only had 46 songs.  Possibly some issues that there would be some songs not available on Spotify.  This playlist includes Peel’s favourites, The Undertones Teenage Kicks, along with the likes of Joy Division, Sex Pistols, The Clash, New Order, The Smiths, Pulp, Nirvana, Dead Kennedys, My Bloody Valentine, The Fall (another Peel favourite) and Pixies.  Plenty there that I liked.

The Festive 50 for 1980 featured mostly punk, post punk and new wave with the likes of Sex Pistols, Joy Division, The Clash, The Jam, The Undertones, Dead Kennedys, The Damned, Stiff Little Fingers, Public Image Ltd, The Ruts, The Cure, The Fall, Adam and The Ants, The Specials, Killing Joke, SpizzEnergi (their song Where’s Captain Kirk? was on the Uncut CD) and Gang of Four.  That collection had ten more tracks than the usual top 50.

John Peel Festive 50 for 1985 did have all 50 songs on Spotify with the playlist featuring The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Fall, The Cult, Cocteau Twins, The Smiths, The Pogues, The Wedding Present, The Wooden Tops (they were also on the Uncut CD), Echo and the Bunnymen, New Order, That Petrol Emotion, The Cure, Billy Bragg and Husker Du, Sisters of Mercy which made this collection a very alternative 80s soundtrack and was excellent.

My favourite era is the 90s and I listened to a few festive 50s from 1992 and 1994.  The Festive 50 for 1992 playlist was heavily influenced by the new sounds coming from the USA with Ministry, Sonic Youth, Pavement, Babes in Toyland, Sugar, Buffalo Tom as well as UK and Irish bands like The Wedding Present, Suede, The Jesus and Mary Chain,  The Fall, Therapy?, The Frank and Walters, The Boo Radleys and Ride.  1992 was indeed a great year.

The Festive 50 for 1994 also was heavily balanced out with US and UK acts – Inspiral Carpets, Veruca Salt, Elastica, Portishead, Supergrass, Ash, Pulp, Pavement, The Wedding Present, Sebadoh, Hole, Shellac, Madder Rose, Sleeper, Mazzy Star, Nirvana and Beck to name but a few. I’m heavily biased towards the 90s and there are some great songs amongst that lot.

And that brings Music life in lockdown to a close.  It has been an insane 10 months of readjusting to life working from home and building a soundtrack that has carried me throughout the rest of the year.

I have enjoyed sharing my thoughts on what I have been listening to with others and I hope you have enjoyed reading about them as much I was enjoyed listening to my CD collection the way it should be!

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.