#AtoZBest00sSong

For the month of August I was taking part in the latest Twitter challenge hosted by @sotachetan which takes us into the new millennium with a A to Z of the best songs from that decade.

I think the noughties was a decent enough decade music wise as I came across new bands to like as well as enjoying music from the bands that I had been following in the the 1990s.

Overall, Queens of the Stone Age being one of the new bands I discovered at Reading 2000 have dominated the list here with four absolute bangers. It would have been hard to leave them out. I made good use the of the wildcard rotation for songs that I couldn’t pick due to the letter so so me of my favourites managed to slip through.

A

Accelerator – Primal Scream

Kicking off with his really cracking song from Primal Scream’s XTRMNTR (2000) album. A more aggressive Bobby Gillespie is in fine form attacking government, police and multi-nationals in a more political stance compared to their earlier records. Kevin Shields from My Bloody Valentine joins the band for this album along with Mani from The Stones Roses. Released as a single, this would be the final single put out by the Creation label.

B

Bleed American – Jimmy Eat World

I didn’t discover Jimmy Eat World until 2002 when they were the support for Blink 182’s European tour. Can’t remember the circumstances of why Blink 182 cancelled their tour at the time but Jimmy Eat World came over to Europe anyway and done their own shows, one of the them being at Temple Bar Music Centre (now The Button Factory) in Dublin. I took a chance and got a ticket to see them and it was just amazing. This track being one of my favourites as it sent the mosh pit wild. My glasses got broke during that song!

At the time the song got renamed Salt Sweet Sugar and the album was just Jimmy Eat World as a self-title album. The reason for this was due to the 9/11 attacks in America. But over time the album and indeed song eventually regained it’s original title.

C

Chop Suey! – System of a Down

Not one for embracing the nu-metal scene that seemed to dominate in the early 00s, System of a Down stood out among all the other bands as the replacement to the disbanded Rage Against The Machine.

The first single from their Toxicity album (2002), this was another song that wasn’t quite fitting in the post 9/11 landscape of inappropriate titles with a line from the song  ‘I don’t think you trust in my self-righteous suicide, I cry when angels deserve to die’ . However it didn’t get renamed like Bleed American did for Jimmy Eat World.

D

Driving Death Valley Blues – Mark Lanegan Band

Having briefly followed some of Mark Lanegan’s solo career after Screaming Trees disbanded, Bubblegum (2004) had a big impact on me and I have been following Lanegan’s solo career since. I never got to see Screaming Trees live but first glimpse of seeing him live was when he was touring with Queens of the Stone Age. I first got to see Mark Lanegan play Belfast in 2003 which was just before Bubblegum came out.

I picked this song as it just feels like a song to soundtrack a road movie.

E

Eat Junk Become Junk – Six by Seven

By 2000 I was really looking for more new bands to to get into and Six By Seven released their sophomore album, The Closer You Get album that year. Eat Junk Become Junk bursts out from the album and grabs you by the throat with the chainsaw guitars and thumping bass.

F

Fruit Fly – Nada Surf

Another new discovery thanks to the cover mounted CDs you got free on the music magazines at the time. Nada Surf’s Blizzard of ’77 was my introduction to the band. As Jimmy Eat World took the B slot the song misses out and is replaced here by Fruit Fly. Let Go from 2002 is a fantastic album.

G

Go With The Flow – Queens of the Stone Age

Starting the sequence of Queens of the Stone Age’s dominance of my selections for the A to Z series, this banger from 2002’s Song for the Deaf which featured Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters on drum duties.

H

Hit The City – Mark Lanegan Band

Second entry from Mark Lanegan is also from Bubblegum and one of my favourite tracks. It also featured PJ Harvey.

I

I Am Mine – Pearl Jam

Taken from Pearl Jam’s seventh studio album Riot Act (2002) was one of the most successful songs released from that album. Original written by Eddie Vedder prior to the Roskilde tragedy, the song tackles existential matters with Vedder stating before a show “This song’s about personal safety, and the feeling of being secure, and even free.”

Up to this point the band had not done any promotional videos since Do The Evolution (1998) releasing five videos from the album of live performances.

J

Just a Day – Feeder

The band had enjoyed a very successful 2001 by the time this was released as a stand alone single. It didn’t feature on any albums until it was included in the 2006 The Singles compilation. One of my favourite Feeder songs and often a set closer towards the end of the gig which is going to get you bouncing.

K

Kick Out the Jams – Rage Against The Machine

This fantastic cover of the MC5 classic features on Rage Against The Machine’s final album, Renegades (2000) which came out two years after the return to form The Battle of Los Angeles album from 1998.

Renegades as an albums covers a diverse range of artists such as Bob Dylan, Minor Threat, Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, The Stooges, Devo and Afrika Bambaataa. Of all the songs covered many with their own interpretation of the originals, Kick Out The Jams was does MC5 justice with both bands sharing the same goals.

L

Little Discourage – Idlewild

From Idlewild’s second album, 100 Broken Windows (2000), brought the band more radio play and increased fan base. I became a fan of the band after seeing them support Placebo at the Ulster Hall in 1999.

M

Mr November – The National

The National supported Barack Obama’s presidential candidacy in 2008 with a t-shirt saying “Mr November” referring the American elections for new president. The song was in fact written in part about John Kerry’s candidacy from four years earlier and features on their third album, Alligator (2005).

A regular feature of an gig played by The National which sees front man Matt Berninger jumping into the crowd with microphone.

O

One Armed Scissor – At The Drive In

Post-2000 saw an explosion of post-hardcore and emo bands and At The Drive In for me one of the bands that stood heads and shoulders of the rest. Taken from their third studio album, Relationship of Command (2000) it is a work of aggressive edge with a melodic drive, harmonious, emotive vocals, and surreal lyrics.

I saw the band when they played at the Empire in Belfast, a very small venue with an even smaller stage hosting a band that jumped around the stage quite a lot. However, they were not fans of the audience jumping up and down though, witnessing one eager fan pogoing a lot to be told to stop.

One of my favourite performances of this song was when they were on the BBC Later show hosted by Jools Holland. Poor Robbie Williams had to follow up after them. I think he was quite stunned as you can see from the video below.

P

Parabola – Tool

From one of my favourite albums of 2001, Tool’s third studio album Lateralus produced this mind-bending single. How they managed to release this as a single is beyond as the album literally feels like one big massive song split up into sections. It is one of the best albums you will ever hear.

Q/Wildcard

Be Yourself – Audioslave

Going through my CD collection I could find no songs beginning with Q for the noughties but as this day was also a wildcard entry it gave the opportunity to pick a song that got missed out earlier and that went to Audioslave’s Be Yourself.

What is there not to like about this with Chris Cornell teaming up with the remaining members for Rage Against The Machine for this one? At the time the joke was Rage Against The Garden to describe this supergroup.

R

Renegades of Funk – Rage Against The Machine

Second selection from Rage Against The Machine was the their cover of Afrika Bambaataa’s Renegades of Funk. A song that really suited the style of Rage Against The Machine as their video namechecked the “renegades” such as hip hop artists like Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, De La Soul, as well as civil rights activists Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr, and boxer Muhammad Ali to name but a few.

S

Songs for the Dead – Queens of the Stone Age

The first of two selections from Queens of the Stone Age’s Songs for the Deaf (2002) which featured Songs in their title. I actually originally to the two mixed up when researching on YouTube mixed it up with Song for the Deaf.

I found a great video of Dave Grohl drumming with the at Rock Werchter. He really beats the crap out of those drums.

T

Two Rights Make One Wrong – Mogwai

Taken from Mogwai’s third studio album, Rock Action (2001) sees the band making some changes to their sound by bringing in electronics . Less dark from their previous works it is still essentially Mogwai.

U/Wildcard

Breakerfall – Pearl Jam

With no songs to choose from the letter U, it was back to using the wildcard and another selection from Pearl Jam. The lead-off song on Binaural wasn’t a single, but the lightning-fast song has become a fan favourite and infuses shows with incredible energy each time they break it out.

V/Wildcard

Vertigo – U2

My favourite band from my teenage years but this one from 2004’s How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb was slowly starting to become my least favourite U2 song. Vertigo gets the nod here as it fits in nicely with the letter V but since its release along with Beautiful Day and Elevation are the songs I wish the band would ditch from their live set. I guess I’m just bored with those songs now but at the time, yeah I did have a liking for this one but maybe not so much now.

W

Whatever Happened to My Rock N’Roll (Punk Song) – Black Rebel Motorcyle Club

One of my favourite songs from 2001 – Black Rebel Motorcyle Clubs fuzzed up Whatever Happened to My Rock N’Roll (Punk Song) is a blistering track from the band and you can really tell the influence of The Jesus and Mary Chain here.

X/Wildcard

Feel Good Hit of the Summer – Queens of the Stone Age

Final selection from Queens of the Stone Age is this drug fuelled banger from Rated R (2000) with it’s opening lines of Nicotine, valium, vicadin, marijuana, ecstasy, and alcohol cocaine referenced the band’s stoner rock history.

Many radio stations refused to play it and some stores had warnings on the album cover but despite all that the song stands alongside Smells Like Teen Spirit and Killing in the Name for its instant impact. I must admit I could hardly make out the lyrics but when played live its just a good excuse to go absolutely go nuts to.

Y

You Held The World in Your Arms – Idlewild

Idlewild’s third studio album The Remote Part (2002) departs from the punk rock traits of their previous releases. I always felt that from this album own their sounded a bit more like REM which is probably not a bad thing.

Z/Wildcard

A Song for the Deaf – Queens of the Stone Age

Correctly crediting this song from the earlier mistake, this is the last track of the album (some editions feature the hidden track Mosquito Song) written by Josh Homme and Mark Lanegan includes a snippet of Feel Good Hit of the Summer.

123/Wildcard

2+2=5 – Radiohead

On first glance you probably think that is a typo but it is indeed the correct name of the song from Radiohead’s sixth studio album Hail to the Thief (2003) which references George W, Bush’s election win and very much influenced by the war on terror at the time. The title itself comes from the George Orwell’s 1994 novel which is one of the slogans from the dystopian novel.

That concludes the A to Z of best songs from the noughties. It was quite a challenge but I do think the songs selected does reflect my tastes for that decade.

Speakeasy is 1

Happy birthday to Speakeasy fanzine who have turned one this month.

Yes, 12 months ago this fan driven platform on Twitter has produced a really great fanzine for music fans of a certain era, normally the 90s.

I got involved, bought some issues and then subscribed to it. Last year I I asked them if they would like me to write an article for a future issue. The response from Cris and Faye was very positive and they said yes for me to submit an article. Instead of taking any of the articles from the blog, I decided to write a new article from scratch and keeping in theme with the 1990s I wrote about the Irish scene here, entitled More to Life Than U2.

Thanks to the editing and proof reading and a few queries from Jeremy, I can now share below the printed article.

This was published in the April 2021 issue earlier this year. I am really pleased with this and I hope you like reading it too.

It was a great feeling to see something you have wrote being printed. I enjoyed the experience and am currently submitting a new article so watch this space.

You can follow Speakeasy on following social media platforms:

Twitter at @Speakeasy_Zine.

Facebook – Speakeasy Fanzine

Instrgram – Speakeasy_Zine.

If you would like to buy a copy or even subscribe at speakeasyfanzine.bigcartel.com you will get a great wee read for £1.

Again, I would like to acknowledge the support of all involved with the fanzine – Cris, Faye and Jeremy for the encouragement to write this and to so help shape it in the way that it came out. Thank you!

Ash #FaveArtistTop15

My third attempt to do a top 15 for the month of July organised by @yesokwaitmaybe and @jasonsammis on Twitter was to feature Ash.

Ash have been one of my favourite local bands for the last twenty five years. I first took interest in them around 1994 and by 1995, they were supporting Therapy? at the Ulster Hall. This was months before their debut album 1977 was released and also prior to that they had released a clutch of great singles leading up to the album.

Before 1977 came out, Trailer was released as a mini album in October 1994. Two songs from my top 15 come from the album. Petrol (11) and Jack Names The Planets (9) are two great songs and regularly feature as part of the live setlist. Both songs were recorded while the band were still in school.

Ash were due to celebrate their twenty-fifth anniversary as a band with a tour last year. Unfortunately the pandemic put those plans on hold and I will have to wait until next year to see them.

As part of celebrating 25 years, both Petrol and Jack Names The Planets got the remaster treatment for the new promo videos below.

Debut album proper 1977 was released in May 1996. Drawing comparisons with The Buzzcocks, Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr., the album features six songs that make my top 15. Oh Yeah (2), Girl From Mars (3), Goldfinger (5), Kung Fu (6) and Angel Interceptor (8) are all great songs.

The album took it’s name from the year that punk rock broke into the mainstream and also when Star Wars came out. You can tell they are big Star Wars fans. You can hear the sound of a tie-fighter in the background at the start.

The difficult second album, Nu-Clear Sounds came out in 1998 and the band became four as Charlotte Hatherely joined as second guitarist. Considered a commercial and critical failure, the album for me is an underrated gem. A more harder approach than their debut which is not bad thing, it includes my favourite track from the album, Wildsurf (10) which has a Beach Boys vibe to it.

This live version from Later with Jools Holland on BBC is one of my favourites.

At this stage the band are on the brink and almost bankrupt but they regrouped and put together what was definitely the finest comeback album, Free All Angels (2001). Lead singles Shining Light (4) and Burn Baby Burn (7) are great singles. This is a good sign of a band that have a great knack for producing great singles.

Shining Light won an Ivor Novello Award for songwriting and Burn Baby Burn was named as NME single of the Year.

Meltdown released in June 2004 would see the last of Charlotte Hatherley’s involvement with the band and they would go back to being a three piece again. Choice cut from this album was Orpheus (12). A live favourite since it’s debut and it definitely has the road trip feel to it.

With only fifteen songs to choose from, two albums get a miss through no fault of their own. Twilight of the Innocents (2007) and Kablammo! (2015) have no entries to the top 15. Also missing the top 15 are the A-Z Singles series where they put out a single over a fortnightly basis, 26 in total.

The most recent studio album, Islands (2018) showed comparisons with The Beach Boys, The Ramones and even Derry legends The Undertones. Both Damian O’Neill and Michael Bradley from The Undertones provide background vocals for Buzzkill (14) which is a pure pop song which was the lead single.

As the countdown is slowly heading towards no.1, the next two songs are choice b-sides. Cantina Band (15) was the b-side to Girl From Mars. Being true Star Wars fans, the John Williams composed song gets the reworking by the band and it is fun song to do live.

Ash have been compared with loads of bands and they have often been compared to Weezer which is quiet a compliment. Only in Dreams (13) is a very faithful cover of the Weezer classic from their Blue Album (1994). The song was the b-side to Burn Baby Burn.

And in at no.1 is the non-album track A Life Less Ordinary which was Charlotte Hatherley’s debut with the band. The song was the title track of the Ewan McGregor/Cameron Diaz movie of the same name which came out in 1997 and my favourite track. Can’t say much about the film though!

Very much a fan favourite and it features heavily in their live sets, It is not too often you find yourself in the crowd when the band are playing live and it goes on on TV. Footage below is from Glastonbury 1999 which I had attended. I remember going down to the front with no care in the world going absolutely mad when this song came on. The video footage goes quite fast between stage and crowd so it was near impossible to spot myself!

The top 15 in order:

  1. A Life Less Ordinary
  2. Oh Yeah
  3. Girl From Mars
  4. Shining Light
  5. Goldfinger
  6. Kung Fu
  7. Burn Baby Burn
  8. Angel Interceptor
  9. Jack Names The Planets
  10. Wildsurf
  11. Petrol
  12. Orpheus
  13. Only in Dreams
  14. Buzzkill
  15. Cantina Band

Check out my Spotify playlist for the above. Sadly, the Ash cover of Only In Dreams is not available on Spotify.

Teenage Fanclub #FaveArtistTop15

My second attempt to do a top 15 for the month of June organised by @yesokwaitmaybe and @jasonsammis on Twitter was to do Teenage Fanclub.

One of the mistakes I kept making was the hashtag on Twitter. Going forward I have amended it to the correct one so that everyone can read it.

So Teenage Fanclub was my choice for this month and for a band who formed in 1989 with twelve albums released, their most recent one being Endless Arcade which I purchased recently. The tough task was to pick fifteen songs which I think do the band justice.

In the end my selections were dominated by Bandwagonesque (4 songs), Grand Prix (2 songs) and Songs from Northern Britain (3 songs). Probably my three favourite albums but there a few other gems in here.

My introduction to the band was when I saw them support Nirvana at the King’s Hall in Belfast on 22 June 1992. Up to that point I hadn’t heard of them but after seeing them live they became a new band to start following.

Kurt Cobain held the band in very high esteem citing Bandswagonesque as his favourite album. It topped Spin magazine’s 1991 end-of-year poll for best album, beating Nirvana’s Nevermind, their Creation stablemates My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, and R.E.M.’s Out of Time

It is very hard to describe what the band sound like. Their early sound embraces a type of proto-grunge on the first two albums – A Catholic Education and Bandwagonesque but they also owe a huge debt to the likes of Big Star and The Byrds which you can hear more in their sound in later albums.

Before Grand Prix came out, they were pretty much tagged into the alternative scene that was big on both sides of the Atlantic. Fallin (just missed out on my top 15) was a collaboration with American alternative hip hop trio De La Soul for the Judgment Night soundtrack featuring collaborations between well-known rock, metal and hip hop groups. The chorus was sampled from the song Free Fallin’ from Tom Petty’s 1989 solo album Full Moon Fever.

However hard people tried to pigeon hole the band, they were neither in the grunge scene nor did their fit into the Britpop scene by the time Grand Prix.

Around that time Liam Gallagher of labelmates Oasis called the band “the second best band in the world” — second only to Oasis. Songs from Northern Britain built on that success but they were far from a Britpop band.

The album title was a joking reference to Britpop, and everybody who thought we were part of that scene”. Norman Blake expanded on the title in 2016, commenting, “We just thought it sounded funny. No one calls Scotland “Northern Britain,” although technically it is.”

This is my top 15 Teenage Fanclub songs via Spotify. You can scroll down and enjoy all 15 tracks.

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.

#AtoZBest90sAlbum Week 4

Final batch of albums from the 1990s is picked for week 4 which covers 22 to 27 April.

Was tempted to include two Pearl Jam’s albums beginning with V. Vitalogy sadly lost out to Vs. Wouldn’t have counted as you can only post one album a day!

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Even though I picked this my wildcard option, it was pointed out to me on Twitter that I should claim it as X because that is the Roman numeral for ten. Good point.

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It was a great challenge looking back at the 1990s which is my favourite decade. The albums featured over the four weeks are just a shapshot of my favourites.

Big thank you to both @sotachetan and @Pia_Lemonade for putting this challenge. It was great craic and I really enjoyed it. Onto the next challenge which is #AlbumCoverObjects. This should be fun.

#AtoZBest90sAlbum Week 3

Third batch of albums from the 1990s is picked for week 3 which covers 15 to 21 April.

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#AtoZBest90sAlbum Week 2

Second batch of albums from the 1990s is picked for week 2 which covers 8 to 14 April.

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Day L The Breeders

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#AtoZBest90sAlbum Week 1

Following up from the really successful #AtoZBest80sAlbums Twitter music challenge by @Pia_Lemonade and @sotachetan, we are back with what is my favourite decade music wise. Lots of albums have lost out but these have been my daily picks throughout the month of April.

Lots of albums have lost out but these have been my daily picks throughout the month of April.

Week 1 covers 1 to 7 April.

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Pearl Jam – #FaveArtistTop25

During the course of the month I have been following @yesokwaitmaybe and @jasonsammis on Twitter. Music fans would submit which band they were covering and the idea would be to upload a favourite song each day.

I liked the idea of this challenge so put forward Pearl Jam for my contribution. Going to be quite a task as Pearl Jam have so many songs. To help me put together my selection I took inspiration from Pearl Jam’s one and only visit to Belfast in 2010 which would be the first time I got to see them in my home city. After so many false starts, 2009 being my first Pearl Jam gig in London, this was a band I was determined to see more than once.

Pearl Jam gigs are epic in nature, some clocking nearly 3 hours on stage. So the Belfast set list is the inspiration but there will be some changes along the way.

Starting at no.25 we will work our way down the list until we get to no.1 I hope you enjoy my selections. I had fun putting this together.

25. Sometimes (No Code 1996)

24. Elderly Woman Behind the Counter In a Small Town (Vs. 1993)

Took me two songs to get the grip on how to post. The first two I posted I didn’t upload any videos. Looking back, I couldn’t find any but I have just come across this clip of Eddie Vedder being interviewed by Howard Stern back in November 2020 where he goes both songs at his home

23. Better Man (Vitalogy 1993)

Originally written by Vedder prior to joining Pearl Jam. A story about a woman trapped in an abusive relationship. A personal song for Eddie. It was nearly given to Chrissie Hynde from Pretenders. Imagine this one getting away. It wouldn’t appear until third album Vitalogy was released in 1993.

I love this clip of Bruce Springsteen and Eddie Vedder performing it live.

22. Hunger Strike (Temple of the Dog 1992)

Temple of the Dog was a side project by members of both Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. It was a tribute to their friend Andrew Wood who died of a heroin overdose in 1990. Eddie Vedder had just arrived in Seattle and contributed the vocals on Hunger Strike with Chris Cornell. A powerful duet from two of the best vocalists in Seattle scene. I would love to have seen them both do this live.

21. Given to Fly (Yield 1997)

The first single from their fifth album which was another favourite of mine. The original clip I posted on Twitter is no longer available. Below is the audio of the single.

20. Sonic Reducer (Dead Boys cover)

Many Pearl Jam set lists include covers for their favourite artists. I picked this one by the Dead Boys which is a blistering track live. Gets even better when you have other Seattle legends Mudhoney (Mark Arm and Steve Turner) along with Kim Thayli from Soundgarden on stage belting this out.

19. Long Road (Merkin Ball EP 1995)

Not on any particular studio album, Long Road being a B-side on the EP. It features Neil Young and Merkin Ball is a companion to Young’s 1995 Mirror Ball album. Pearl Jam played with Neil Young at Slane Castle in 1996 which is one of the biggest regrets I have of got going to as I was out of the country at the time. Somebody get me a time machine!

18. Present Tense (No Code 1998)

This song penned by Mike McCready ranges from a somber introduction to a soaring jam towards the end. A fantastic track from the album.

“Have you ideas on how this life ends? / Checked your hands and studied the lines?” “Makes much more sense,” “to live in the present tense.”

17. Low Light (Yield 1998)

Written by bassist Jeff Ament and showed the collaborative nature of the band. This being one the stand out tracks from the album. It was Jeff’s idea of when the album got it’s title, Yield. I love this version of the song from the Let’s Play Two soundtrack.

16. Nothing Man (Vitalogy 1994)

We had Better Man earlier, this time Nothing Man also from the same album written by Ament as well. Jeff wrote the music which Eddie wrote the words to it. The songs all form a trilogy of sorts, the other song being Leather Man.

15. Release (Ten 1991)

This is a great set opening for any Pearl Jam gig. The slow build up just draws you in when you are probably expecting a more heavier or rockier number to start the gig. It really doesn’t get much better than this. Found this clip on YouTube from the first Pearl Jam show I was at. What an opener for your first gig.

14. Yellow Ledbetter (b-side to Jeremy 1992)

This song didn’t make the cut for Ten and would feature more prominently in their career later. A live favourite usually at the end of the gig when the lights come on and you can see everybody singing along.

13. Wishlist (Yield 1998)

The second most popular Pearl Jam song from Yield. Matt Cameron from Soundgarden made his debut with the band when they performed this song on the Late Show with David Letterman. Matt has been regular drummer since then.

12. Alive (Ten 1991)

Following their appearance on The Late Show for BBC, Pearl Jam were no longer unknown quantity. Their debut album Ten still hadn’t been released in the UK.

With no audience in the studio for Vedder to play up to, Pearl Jam took their opportunity to perform in front of potentially millions of people at home. This had a big impact on me with it being the first Pearl Jam single I went on to buy that I still have and also the album too.

11. Jeremy (Ten 1991)

Another solid cut from Ten. Vedder was reading a newspaper article and wrote the entire lyrics about a Texas teenager who’d committed suicide in his high school classroom on 8 January 1991. This version below from MTV Unplugged is brilliant.

10. Even Flow (Ten 1991)

By this stage Ten is starting to dominate the list and it is easy to see why. It is such a quality debut. Always a live favourite, you are going to be guaranteed a Mike McCready solo. He is in such great form here.

This clip from Reading 2006 makes me wish I had the strength of my convictions to have my stag weekend be at music festival. Instead I spent the weekend in Barcelona organised by my friends. Prior to going to Barcelona, I finally got my first ticket to see Pearl Jam in Dublin. Sadly it was the day before my departure to Barcelona and there was no way I was going to make it time from Dublin for my flight.

I had to sell my ticket on and managed to get a recording of Reading 2006. Barcelona was a great stag weekend but I think this would have been my major highlight!

9. Once (Ten 1991)

Watching the live footage of Pearl Jam during the European tour of 1992 is amazing and the TV highlights of Pinkpop festival in Holland are one of my favourites to watch.

This just looks class. The crowd is up for it, there are no mobiles (imagine!) and it just makes you want to have been in that moshpit.

8. Animal (Vs. 1993)

Another great track from Vs. The first line of the song “five against one” was almost the title of the second album but they decided on Vs. instead.

7. Go (Vs. 1993)

Vs. is now taking over the selections. If Ten is a great album, Vs. is a masterpiece. As soon as you put it on, the opening track Go just it just blasts out the speakers and grabs you by the throat.

6. Daughter (Vs. 1993)

Written by Stone Gossard, it was played for the first time with rough lyrics on Pearl Jam’s first appearance at Neil Young’s Bridge School Benefit.

5. Indifference (Vs. 1993)

A great song that closes the album. “I’ll swallow poison, until I grow immune/I will scream my lungs out til it fills this room.”

Clip below is a duet of the song between Ben Harper and Eddie Vedder.

4. Black (Ten 1991)

When I originally posted this I was torn over which version to go for. For your visual pleasure, I have included the MTV unplugged version as this is as good acoustic. Such a great song that Vedder refused to allow it to be released as a single. Imagine the overplay of it on the radio.

3. Corduroy (Vitalogy 1994)

One of the band most beloved songs. The song was inspired by the artist seeing a replica of his favourite thrift store jacket selling for hundreds of dollars by a store eager to cash in on the grunge zeitgest. “They can buy but they can’t put on my clothes”.

2. Rearviewmirror (Vs. 1993)

This song is the first time that Eddie plays guitar on. A live favourite it really gets the crowd going.

“Saw things so much clearer/Once you were in my rearviewmirror”.

  1. State of Love and Trust (Singles OST 1992)

Of all the songs that made my list, this one stands out the most and is my all time favourite Pearl Jam song. Possibly left over from the Ten sessions, the song appeared on Cameron Crowe’s Seattle influenced movie, Singles. The band contributed two songs for the film, the other one being Breath.

The movie may not have been my favourite but the soundtrack album changed my direction music wise as it opened it up a bit more than just Pearl Jam and Nirvana.

You can also check out the originals in my Spotify playlist.