Favourite tracks: Just Another Victim – Helmet/House of Pain Fallin’ – Teenage Fanclub/De La Soul Come and Die – Therapy?/Fatal Another Body Murdered – Faith No More/Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E pic.twitter.com/i7DSPcLP1s
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.
What’s the greatest album of all time by a northern Irish act?
This question was posed by David O’Reilly also known as Rigsy from BBC NI’s Across the Line. He’s doing a poll for the Daily Mirror and Belfast Live and it will be interesting to see who makes the list.
Using the hashtag #NIALBUMS you can nominate up to three albums for inclusion and they don’t need to be in order.
My three were Therapy? – Troublegum, Ash – 1977 and Stiff Little Fingers – Inflammable Material.
Both Therapy? and Ash had a big impact on me in the early 1990s and I was too young to appreciate Stiff Little Fingers at the time as I got older I started to listen to them a bit more.
But why stop at three? You could be all day trying to do a top 10, so I thought I’d give it a go with my very own top 10 NI albums. Obviously the three above are going to be there so who will make it for the other seven?
My all-time NI top 10
Therapy? – Troublegum (1994)
Ash – 1977 (1996)
Stiff Little Fingers – Inflammable Material (1979)
The Undertones – The Undertones (1979)
Jetplane Landing – Zero for Conduct (2002)
And So I Watch You From Afar – And So I Watch You From Afar (2009)
Fighting with Wire – Man vs. Monster (2008)
La Faro – La Faro (2010)
The Wood Burning Savages – Stability (2018)
Scheer – Infliction (1996)
That concludes my top 10. A few bands missed out like Joyrider whose excellent Be Special album from 1996 was great.
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 forwardPearl 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 fromPretenders. 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 andPearl 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 bythe 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 firstPearl 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”.
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 favouritePearl 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.
Today it is exactly one year since lockdown happened. I left our office on Thursday 19 March with all my computer equipment to get ready to working from home. On Friday 20 March it was all systems go at home as I adjusted to my new working environment.
One of the biggest changes for me working from home apart from no more daily commute to the office was the silence. The back of the house was so quiet that the silence was killing me. Being a person that has a hearing loss, I was feeling a bit frustrated as I was used to the noise from the office be it phones going off or background chatter of my colleagues.
First thing I did was try to load up Spotify on my laptop. Must admit I didn’t like it, so I went into the next room and brought my CD player in. CD players sound old, but my trusty midi system was going to serve me well throughout the pandemic.
Four albums kicked it all off as I listened to a variety from The Clash, Bob Mould, Depeche Mode and Metallica. No rhythm or reason why I picked these. I think they were already off the shelf and brought in from the CD player in the car, so this was going to be the start of it.
Every day I would do I Twitter log of what I was listening to. This built up over time and by 17 April 2020 I decided to start writing about the daily listening habits and so Music Life in Lockdown was born.
When I started the blog I was just going to upload ticket stubs and write about the gigs that I had been to over the years. Before lockdown started I hit a brick wall and lost a bit of interest in doing this but something during lockdown inspired me to keep a diary and then write about what I was listening to.
Music Life in Lockdown would last for 40 weeks. By the end of the year I felt I had taken the online diary as far as I could go and it was going to be time to invest my energies in writing about other music related stuff.
If ever a band had a song that summed up the pandemic it was Northern Ireland’s very own Therapy? With songs like Nowhere (very appropriate for the stay-at-home message), it was their reworked 2020 version of Joy Division’s Isolation which really hit the spot for me.
I found Twitter a great place to connect with other fans and it became an oasis of calm while everybody else was complaining about Brexit, Boris, lockdown or Trump. Twitter was becoming too toxic and music was going to bring a bit of positivity to the forum.
One of the first platforms I came across was Tim’s Listening Party. Tim being Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess who hosted a daily slot on Twitter with a listening party each night.
Very simple premise, Tim hosts the bands on Twitter, they tweet about the albums and whatever format we are listening in – vinyl, CD or streaming we can follow all the online Tweets. It was a cool idea and a great way to interact with band and other bands.
I enjoyed the ones I took part in with the likes of Ash, Pixies, Idlewild to name but a few. To date there have been nearly 700 listening parties and you can replay the previous ones here.
Another platform I enjoyed during lockdown was doing lists and 7RockLists was the next one I started to follow. Hosted by Connor in Australia it is very rock oriented. If it doesn’t fit the criteria it doesn’t get mentioned. That’s just the way it is. But it is a great challenge ranging from 30 day song challenges, to favourite albums or songs by bands that you like.
Connor also invited me to participate in my first ever mixtape for 7Rock. The challenge was to put together a mixtape on 2004 via Spotify. You can check out my attempt below.
The 1990s was a big thing for us music fans and I started following Brits & Pieces which is a nostalgic look back at the 90s music scene, the biggest bands of the decade and the future of music. Home of the Brits & Pieces album which I have yet to get.
A really good site to follow as it takes you back to old gig posters that you start to remember all the gigs you had been too. If you like Britpop and and music associated with that decade this is a good follow.
Listen Up Music is hosted by Rik who is an indie/alternative DJ. You can check out the podcasts here. He did some really great music challenges on a daily basis and it was fun to take part in them. There was also some listening parties too as well as track for the day.
Chop’s Fives by Chopstick is another platform I followed. A very simple way to do lists by picking five of your favourites on any category. The first one I took part in was music biographies and these five made my first list there –
Our Band Could Be Your Life – Michael Azerrad
Heavier Than Heaven – Charles R. Cross
Girl in a Band – Kim Gordon
See a Little Light – Bob Mould
Return of the Last Gang in Town – Marcus Gray
Still on the subject of lists, Paul Bennett’s Music Alphabetty Preservation Society #MAPS is a real random one. Punters get to pick letters relating to either a band and a song and off you to go come up with some ideas. Looking forward to this one restarting again.
One thing that wasn’t going to happen in 2020 was the gigs and I had a load booked to go to. Every single one was either cancelled completely or rescheduled. Some would be rescheduled for 2021 only to be rescheduled again for 2022. It will happen, one day.
For the month of June, I started a daily gig diary of previous gigs that I have been to over the years on the actual day. The idea for this came about when Therapy? posted that their 2021 shows were being put back to 2022. So, each day for the month of June I would upload a ticket or number of tickets by bands that I had seen on that calendar date. Might do this again for another month. Just a bit of pain going through the ticket stubs box!
During the summer I came across Richard Shaw’s Twitter music polls. This is a brilliant platform and Richard puts a lot of hard work and graft into this putting together all our lists to make up the top 50.
First one I took part in was for 7 albums from the 2000s. That had me going online to see what all I bought during that decade and how I was going to come up with 7 albums. Surely there would be more but 7 it was going to be. Since then, I have been taking part in most of the polls where I had the music in my collection. A lot of gaps for the likes of the 1960s and 1970s. Most album I own are from the 80s and 90s. This also influenced the lockdown playlist as well.
One of the biggest changes music wise during the pandemic was the fate of music magazines. Kerrang went online and the likes of Q no longer publish leaving very few music magazines out there. I came across Speakeasy music fanzine.
This is a retro paper-only ’90s indie zine, looking deeper into the Baggy, Shoegaze & Britpop scenes. You can order a copy at http://speakeasyfanzine.bigcartel.com/products and it is great value for money. I wrote a piece on the Irish music scene in the 1990s and submitted for publication. Hope to be able to read my work in the magazine sometime soon.
The #AtoZ series hosted by Pia and @sotachetan got everybody involved in submitting songs for a playlist builder. I came in about half way through their run on the 80s #AtoZBest80sSongs. I took part in the full month for #AtoZBest90sSongs playlist builder which was right up my street. The next one was #AtoZBest80s album and the #AtoZAlbumIspy which was hard work but good fun. I am looking forward to next month’s #AtoZBest90sAlbums. I will be in my element for that.
I am currently taking part in the #FaveArtistTop25 which is hosted by @yesokwaitmaybe and @jasonsammis. I picked Pearl Jam for my top 25 songs. I am really enjoying doing this one and once I get to the last song it will be the subject of the next blog.
There are a few other music related sites that I follow on Twitter and I would like to give them a shout out here.
Rebirth of Cool Blogger hosted by Michael Tanner is a great blog. He writes about music old and new. He’s also a regular contributor to Speakeasy zine as well.
Every Record Tells A Story hosted by Steve Carr is a great blog too. Some great stories about how records were made by the bands and the artists. He done a online book launch on Zoom and done a reading from his book Every Record Tells A Story, A Vinyl Handbook. This is one book I hope to get soon. Last time I checked it was sold out but hopefully it will get another print run.
What will the next few months bring? I can’t see any gigs happening any time soon. Looks more likely 2022 will be a best bet. The likes of Reading/Leeds Festival are hoping to go ahead in August. That’s one that I won’t be rushing to go to.
Over the next few months I hope to be adding regular entries to the blog here and somebody I might just revisit the ticket stub box and pick up where I left off last year.
BBC 6Music have just selected their 15 albums that they felt defined 1997. I have five of them so looking at my collection I decided to do my own take on this with the 15 albums that were my favourites that year.
This was my top 15 from 1997.
Radiohead – Ok Computer
The album recently topped the poll in the #7albums90s on Twitter last week and deservedly so. After The Bends, this my favourite Radiohead album. I still get goosebumps listening to it. When I bought this album back in 1997, I got to see the band live for the first time when they played Dublin.
The first taster of the album came on the Warchild album Help, which Radiohead donated their song Lucky to. I loved the song and was so looking forward to the album. Paranoid Android which was the lead single and it set the standard for the rest of the album. This album is all killer and no filler. There is not one dud on it. Still to this day it is considered a masterpiece and who would disagree?
The second Foo Fighters album was the first as a full band. Dave Grohl played all the instruments on the debut album. This time he was joined by Pat Smear and Nate Mendel (who are still part of the band today). William Goldsmith was on drums but left after the recordings and was replaced by Taylor Hawkins.
The album produced some great singles – Monkey Wrench, My Hero and Everlong which are all still part and parcel of a Foo Fighters gig today.
This was the last ever Faith No More album before they went off on an eleven-year hiatus from 1998 to 2009. The album title showed the bands humour. They had been away for a while after King for a Day..Fool for a Lifetime from 1995 so they thought it would be a funny title for a record.
The album produced three singles – Ashes to Ashes, Last Cup of Sorrow and Stripsearch.
Up until then I was into Oasis more than Blur. While Blur won the battle of the singles – Roll with It vs Country House which they got to no.1 with, it was the album battle that Oasis came out on top with (What’s The Story) Morning Glory. Blur’s The Great Escape didn’t do much for me at the time but suddenly something changed.
The self-titled fifth Blur album saw the band go for a much rawer approach as they embraced the lo-fi of Pavement. The release of Song 2 won the band acclaim in the States with its quirky, poppy re-imaging of grunge and for me that was the song that opened the way to me appreciating the band a bit better. Still one of my favourite Blur albums to this day.
Number One Blind was the first single I bought by the band. Never got around to getting American Thighs but eventually got a copy of it on vinyl. The second album was produced by Bob Rock and it was a great album.
Volcano Girls was a big hit from this album, and it was also the opening theme song for the teen comedy Jawbreaker. This album would be the last of the original line up until they got back together for Ghost Notes in 2015.
Two years previously the band released Insomniac which did not perform well commercially as their breakthrough major label debut Dookie.
Nimrod is an album that has a little bit of everything – hardcore punk, pop punk, surf rock and ska. I would say this is my favourite Green Day album. Highlight from the album for me is Good Riddance (Time of Your Life). It is just a great song towards the end of the album.
I was never a fan of rap or indeed dance music. During the 1990s that changed with the cross-over appeal of metal and rap which I really liked. Now it was the turn of dance music. I never liked The Prodigy previously as I really couldn’t get into rave culture.
The singles from the album, Firestarter and Breathe both hit no.1 in 1996 saw the band successfully bring dance, rock, and hip hop into this hybrid and it works. When I first saw them live, I wasn’t sure what to expect and was suspicious when I saw lots of people in the crowd with dayglo sticks.
Thinking this will probably be a rave and I won’t like it; I left the King’s Hall in Belfast afterwards totally converted and have enjoyed going to see them live since then. This record doesn’t disappoint and the L7 cover at the end, Fuel My Fire is just amazing.
Feeder’s debut album came out around the time that Britpop was the main scene. Instead of being part of that scene, they were lumped into the not often mention Britrock. The band were influenced by grunge which lead to comparisons with other bands.
They ended up being compared with the likes of Smashing Pumpkins, Pixies and Talk Talk. Breakthrough single High came from this album. A really satisfying debut album and I have been a fan since.
Every Primal Scream album is so different and Vanishing Point draws influence from a lot of genres dub, ambient, dance music and krautrock. Mani from the Stone Roses features on bass on this record. Bobby Gillespie describes the album as a road-movie record. It does have this feel of being a cool soundtrack for an underground film.
Four great singles were released from this album – Kowalski, Star, Burning Wheel and If They Move, Kill ‘Em.
After Grand Prix, this album is one of my favourites from Teenage Fanclub. Musically it is very influenced by The Byrds with songs like I Don’t Want Control of You and Ain’t That Enough.
The band described the album title as “a joking reference to Britpop, and everybody who thought they 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.” They may not have been part of the Britpop scene but a great band.
I was late getting into Sleater-Kinney. Didn’t discover the band until 2000’s All Hands on the Bad One which I loved. Having managed to get their entire back catalogue, Dig Me Out which was their third album is good and rockier than the first couple of albums.
Super Furry Animals embarked on the NME Brats Tour and completed work on a speedy follow-up to Fuzzy Logic. Two singles Hermann ♥’s Pauline in May and The International Language of Screaming in July, hitting No. 26 and No. 24 respectively.
The band shared the same label with Oasis. Creation released it just four days after the long-awaited new effort from Oasis, Be Here Now. Probably a case of band timing but it still did well. Two further singles, Play It Cool (released September 1997) and Demons (November 1997) both hit No. 27 in the charts. The band established themselves as favourites in the music press, a cut above many of their Britpop peers. I got to see the band play both Fuzzy Logic and Radiator in the entirety which was a great show.
I got into James when they released Laid in 1993 which is a great album. Whiplash was an album that the band attempted to mix their older sound with newer elements. Two of my favourite James songs are on this album – Tomorrow and She’s a Star.
I got into Pavement in 1994 when they released the single Cut Your Hair. One of the most influential American underground bands from the 1990s they remained signed to an independent label rather than signing with a major like most of their peers did.
The album contained two of the band’s best-known singles Stereo and Shady Lane.
This fourth album by Helmet was to be the last with its original members John Stanier (drums) and Henry Bogdan (bass). After that Page Hamilton would carry the band forward.
Aftertaste goes back to Helmet’s earlier sound compared to the experimental jazz of Betty. It is a decent album but doesn’t quite have the same impact as Meantime and Betty did, both being my favourite Helmet albums.