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Music life in lockdown week 17

This is a review of the albums that I have been listening to whilst working from home.  Albums listened to for week 17 cover from 15 to 17 July.

A short working week after being off for two days on the NI Bank Holiday.

Wednesday 15 July – Early 90s indie

Kicking off the new and much shorter working week due to the bank holiday I decided to go for some early 90s indie.

I must admit I wasn’t a fan at the time and didn’t really appreciate the indie scene until much later as I was listening more to what was being released on the other side of the Atlantic but it wouldn’t take too long for me to catch up.

First up was Ride.  A band I was more familiar with by name rather than what they sounded like.  Formed in 1988 they were initially part of the shoegazing scene of the early 1990s until their break up in 1996.

This best of album from 2001 and actually signed by the band members I picked up from the much missed Head music store in Belfast.  OX4 The Best of Ride also got reissued for Record Store Day a few years ago and I managed to get a copy of it.  The album featured 15 of the best known songs and I was quite surprised that I really liked this.  Should have paid more attention to them at the time.    The band did reform with a new album in 2017 Weather Diaries.  I caught the band live in Belfast a few years ago and while it was the first time I got to see them live it was hard to compare when they were at their peak in the early 90s.

Next up was Dublin band, My Bloody Valentine who released Loveless in 1991 to widespread critical acclaim and would influence other shoegazing bands.  Yet another band that I failed to pick up first time round.  No being really clued up on the Irish scene in the early 1990s I didn’t really see any other bands beyond U2 during my teenage years.  I can imagine going to see them live would have been quite an experience.

Swervedriver were up next with four albums from their back catalogue.  My introduction to the band was after hearing Duel which NME name it as its “single of the week”.  I heard the song on the compilation album that NME put together entitled Singles of the Week album in 1993 which was mix mash of both the US and British scene at the time.

Swervedriver fitted into the alternative scene that was coming out of America with acts like Husker Du, Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr.  But it actually took me a long time to get their albums.  Three albums, Raise (1991), Mezcal Head (1993) and Ejector Seat Reservation (1995) all got reissued in 2008 following their reunion and appearance at the Coachella festival in America.  I enjoyed all three albums with Mezcal Head being my favourite.

The band got back together and released their first album in 17 years with I Wasn’t Born To Lose You (2015).  A really great album that picks up where the band left off.  I would love to have seen this band live.

Thursday 16 July – American indie

After a day of early 90s indie it was the turn of alternative rock from the USA.  Three bands featured here, The Replacements, Minor Threat and Fugazi.  A friend of mine introduced me to The Replacements lending me their 1987 album, Pleased To Meet Me.  I never got round to getting any of their albums until the much later complete albums series boxset which included their 1981 debut Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash, Hootenanny (1983), Let It Be (1984) and Tim (1985) along with Pleased To Meet Me.  I soon found that I was more familiar with leader singer Paul Westerberg’s solo material especially on the Singles soundtrack.

Minor Threat were an American hardcore band from the early 1980s.  Very much steeped in the DIY ethic and straight edge scene. I found out about them after listening to Fugazi which was Ian MaKaye’s band after Minor Threat split up.  Rage Against The Machine also covered In My Eyes on their Renegades album.  The only album I have Complete Discography (1989) features 26 songs in 47 minutes.  A very fast album with few songs going beyond 3 minutes.

Fugazi formed in 1986 and their style was considered more post-hardcore.  They are cited as an influence by so many bands over the years.  I got into them pretty late missing out on five albums released between 1990 and 1998.  The first album I got was The Argument (2001) which was their sixth and final album.  I would love to have seen this band live and they did play Belfast many years ago at the Art College think it was 1990.

The band have been on hiatus since 2002.  Think it is time to revisit their back catalogue.

Friday 17 July – Scotland

Ending the short working week with two of the biggest Scottish bands from the 1980s – Big Country and Simple Minds.

Two bands that were pretty much who most of my classmates in secondary school were listening to at the time from 1982 to 1987.  U2 were also my band at the time but I would have been familiar with quite a lot of Big Country and Simple Minds.

I picked two compilation albums by both bands.  Big Country released nine albums.  The band split up following the suicide of Stuart Adamson in 2001.  They reformed for their 25th anniversary with Mike Peters from the Alarm taking over vocal duties.  When I left school and went to work I was able to buy more records so I ending up getting into the band properly around 1989-90 resulting in getting to see them live for the first time in 1990 after wining a pair of tickets in the local newspaper.  Two compilation album feature here, Fields of Fire – The Ultimate Collection (2011) not pictured and the most recent Essential (2020) featured many of their hit singles like In a Big Country, Wonderland, Look Away, One Great Thing, to name but a few.

Look Away was the first Big Country song I owned.  I got that on tape in 1986 as part of a Weetabix promotion.    I remember getting a couple of these tapes between 1985 and 1986.

Also popular in school at the time were Simple Minds.  A band that started off as post-punk in 1979 I wasn’t aware of them until the release of The Breakfast Club in 1985 which was one of my favourite films of the 80s.  Don’t You (Forgot About Me) was a big hit from the film and it was their only US no.1 single.  I finally got into the when I saw the live video of Ghost Dancing from their live album, Live in the City of Light (1987).

Street Fighting Years (1989) was the first Simple Minds album I bought and then I started going backwards to get the rest of their albums.  Belfast Child was their fourth number 1 single and that was a big influence on me at the time as I was moving from childhood to adulthood.  I remember going into town to buy the 12″ single which I still have.

I choose Celebrate: The Greatest Hits (2013) to listen to that day.  The three disc albums covers their early works from 1979’s Life in a Day to 2009’s Graffiti Soul.  A nice collection which comes with sleeves for each disc which represented periods in the band’s history.

By 1991 with grunge and alternative rock nearly taking over the world, this almost ended my interest in the band.  Real Life (1991) was the last album I bought by them but it was thanks to this collection and then the new album, Big Music which came out in 2014) that I started to appreciate the band again.

Simple Minds would also be the first band that I saw live and the as documented in my first attempt at writing a blog.

 

Music life in lockdown week 16

This is a review of the albums that I have been listening to whilst working from home.  Albums listened to for week 16 cover from 6 to 7 July.

Monday 16 July – Mazzy Star and Madder Rose

Kicking off the new working week with some not so new music.  David Roback passed away in February this year and when I was trying to find out who he was I picked up on a few songs that were on YouTube.  One of them being Fade Into You.  The version I listened to was from the Jools Holland BBC2 later night music show called Later.

I really liked what I heard and tried to search for some of their back catalogue.  Soundtrack 6 July

She Hangs Brightly (1990), So Tonight That I Might See (1993) and Among My Swan (1996) were the three albums I managed to buy in HMV recently and I can’t believe I missed this band first time round.  I soon realised that I had come across the singer Hope Sandoval before as she done backing vocals with The Jesus and Mary Chain on their 1994 album, Stone & Dethroned.

Panic On (1994) by Madder Rose was my introduction to this band.  Although not played today, I may have played this earlier during WFH lockdown.  I picked out their first album, Bring It Down (1993) which was a really great record.  I only have two of their albums but have found out that they released three other albums between 1997 and 2019. On the to do list for future purchases.

Tuesday 7 July – 1970s rock day

Today I picked out four bands from the 1970s – Rush, Black Sabbath, Cheap Trick and Led Zeppelin.  Out of the four bands played that day I have seen three of them.  I will give you a clue, definitely not Led Zeppelin.  I was too young when these bands were round first time but that doesn’t stop you enjoying a bit of rock music from another era.Soundtrack 7 July

Rush were a three piece power trio from Canada.  A friend of mine introduced me to their music back in 1990.   I might have known some of their singles from the 1980s but can’t tell for sure.

The first albums I ever listened to were Moving Pictures (1981), Exit…Stage…Left (1981),Grace Under Pressure (1985), Hold Your Fire (1987) and I was blown away by what I heard.

The first album I bought was Chronicles (1990) which was a double LP of 28 tracks (I have this on both vinyl and CD) comprising of their best known songs from their debut album Rush (1973) right up to Presto (1989).  It is a fantastic collection of songs and you can see how the bands evolves with each album.  I got to see them in Dublin in 2012 when they done the Moving Pictures anniversary tour.  That was my favourite Rush album and it was good to get to see them life.  The band retried a few years ago and Neil Peart the drummer sadly passed away this year.

Black Sabbath were one of the early pioneers for heavy metal.  A band that I probably would never have been allowed to bring their music into the house!    Think my mum, God reset her soul who not approve of them.  I only got to appreciate the band later seeing them live in both Belfast and Dublin as the band you would want to cross off on your bucket list.

Both gigs they did not disappoint and I was glad to have been able to see them live.  I don’t have many of their albums, only two really.  The compilation Iron Man: The best of Black Sabbath (2012) was a repacking of the 2009 greatest hits album which covers some of their better known songs like War Pigs, Iron Man and Paranoid.   Many of the bands like I like cite Black Sabbath as an influence and Faith No More’s cover of War Pigs is great.

A must admit a band that I never thought I would have liked and it was thanks to a live covers of Surrender by Cheap Trick, done by Pearl Jam and they had Robin Zander join live them on stage that I took an interest them.  Quite a big back catalogue so the only album I have is the compilation The Essential Cheap Trick (2004) features their best known songs over the years.  A fantastic collection and I jumped at the chance to see them live when they supported Def Leppard.  A rare occasion where you are more interested in the support act than the headline act.  Cheap Trick were great live and definitely gave Def Leppard a run for their money!

Last but not least were Led Zeppelin.  A band I must admit that I never gave a proper listen to.  This compilation Mothership (2007) was released when their entire catalogue went digital.  For a casual fan like myself it provides a good introduction to the band.

Wednesday 8 July – Weezer

At last it was the turn of Weezer.  With a huge back catalogue it was going to be some task to pick out the best of the bunch and I hope that the albums I picked here do the band justice.Soundtrack 8 July

Weezer formed in 1992  and I got into them in 1994 when they released the Blue Album.  when came out around the time that grunge was reaching it’s peak.  It is a great album and one of my all time favourites from the 1990s.  The follow up Pinkerton (1996) was a more darker album than the first album.  It got mixed reviews when it came out but it is definitely regarded as one of their best.

There would be no new album until their comeback in 2001 with the Green Album was a return to form.  It was quickly followed up the next year with Maladroit (2002).  Their fourth album Make Believe (2005) brought them to Ireland for the first time.  Think it was their first ever gig in Dublin that year and it was great to see them on home soil.

I skipped the next three albums and went for 2014’s Everything Will Be Alright in the End.  This album was my favourite since Pinkerton.  The song Back to the Shack is very nostalgic wishing for a return to roots in 1994.  How I wish it could be the 1990s again.

Thursday 9 July – Suede

I was late getting into Suede.  Considered as one of the big four of Britpop – Oasis, Blur and Pulp, I seemed to miss them first time around 1992 as I was really mostly into grunge and alt-rock bands from America.  I was aware of their stuff but for some reason it didn’t do it for me at the time.

My introduction to the band was 1999’s Head Music which was Suede’s fourth album.  A friend of mine in Dublin got me into them, gave me a copy of Dog Man Star on tape and we went to see the band play at the Olympia theatre.  It was a great gig and I really wondered what took me so long to listen to them.

So for today as well as playing Head Music, I also played their debut Suede (1992), Dog Man Star (1994), Coming Up (1996) all really great albums.  Two compilation albums feature here – the really excellent double album Sci-Fi Lullabies (1997) consisted of all the b-sides from their first three albums.  Definitely one of the best collections of b-sides I have listened to.

The Best of Suede (2010) is a collection of from all four albums plus some b-sides.  Not to be mixed up with the other compilation Singles (2003) this album is more like a best of as endorsed by the band and even the fans.

Friday 10 July – Therapy?

The end of the working week and the start of the long bank holiday weekend what better way to end it by playing the mighty Therapy?

Second time round for Therapy? during lockdown.  Last played on April 24, I decided to give Nurse (1992) another blast along with a few compilations, live albums and an acoustic album.  You are probably reading this thinking Therapy? doing acoustic does it really work?  Read on to find out.

Nurse as always is a great album and my first one purchased.  They were pretty much underground prior to this and I must admit that I never really took much notice of local bands at the time but thanks to all things Nirvana my attitude to local bands changed opening up such acts like Ash, Joyrider, Cuckoo, Sheer, Schtum to name up a few. 

The first best of album So Much for the Ten Year Plan (2000) featured two new tracks Bad Karma Follows You Around and Fat Camp plus the best tracks from all their albums up to this point   My copy was the limited edition UK release which had a bonus CD of selected b-sides.

An interesting contrast is this years new best of Greatest Hits (The Abbey Road Sessions) .  Twelve tracks and all re-recordings of the UK Top 40 singles originally released between 1992-98.  This album is fantastic as it gives the older songs a revamp for 2020.  Highlight has to be James Dean Bradfield on Die Laughing which was fantastic.

The second disc entitled Official Bootleg 1990-2020 is also fantastic as it doesn’t repeat live versions of the songs featured on the first disc but picks out the best of complied from the band’s personal archives.

The album would eventually get renamed Greatest Hits (2020 versions) following an issue raised by the studio over naming rights.  I missed out on the pre-order but when lockdown started easing a bit I was pleasantly surprised that HMV had it stock with the original title.

Music Through a Cheap Transistor (2007) is a collection of five different performances by the band between 1991 and 1998 for BBC radio.  It was nice to have them on CD as I have various copies for radio performances throughout on tape and this is a nice way of getting them all in one box.

Wood and Wire was released through the band’s website and features a more stripped back acoustic versions of their songs.  I must admit I didn’t think it would work but it actually does especially their earlier stuff.  I got to see them perform acoustic at the Empire in Belfast and it was one of my favourite Therapy? gigsThe live album, Communion: Live at the Union Chapel (2017) was recorded in London during the Wood and Wire tour.  My copy included a third disc which included four songs not played at Union Chapel, two of them being from the Empire gig that I was at.

This year I was due to see them play Dublin and Belfast as part of their 30th anniversary tour.  Now put back until next year for the 31st anniversary.  Doesn’t have the same ring to it.  In the meantime, I am really looking forward to their official biography next month.

 

Record Store Day 2020

The annual Record Store Day was amongst many events cancelled due to the pandemic.  Originally scheduled for April this year, it couldn’t go ahead due to concerns for social distancing.  It would have been very challenging to try being two metres apart in a shop looking for these must have records that you were looking forward to buying.

They were going to try again for June but with restrictions not quite eased at the time a solution to this was to spread out Record Store Day over three months, with drop dates in August (29th), September (26th) and October (24th).

I stopped buying records around 1990 before making the switch to CD.  Have more CDs than records but I got back into buying records again thanks to Record Store Day.

The first one I went to was in 2011.  Head had just opened up in the new Victoria Square shopping complex in Belfast and it was one of my favourite shops for buying CDs.  When I heard about Record Store Day I was intrigued by the idea and looked at the list of records that were being released for this very special day.

The one record that I wanted to get was the reissue of Nirvana’s Australian EP Hormoaning.  I remember not wanting to fork out a lot of money for it on CD when it was first released.  Think it was about £30 for an import back in 1991.

Not knowing how many copies they were going to get as it was a very limited run I decided to get up early and join the queue assuming there was going to be demand.  Got up early about 6am and made my down to the store.

When I got there was two people in the queue.  Quite surprised by this I thought maybe this doesn’t have much interest.  So I got into a conversation with Sam and his daughter Laura talking about what music we liked and what records we were looking for.

Sam was a big Springsteen and Bowie fan and Laura liked Green Day, so I asked about the Nirvana EP as I could only see it from the shop window and it looked like there was only one copy of it.

My heart sank when he said Laura was hoping to get the EP but to my relief he said there was two copies of it!  I was overjoyed and felt it was worthwhile getting up early.  So when the doors opened both myself and Laura went immediately for the Nirvana EP and we both got copies.  Happy days!

Other purchases I made that day were Medium Rare by Foo Fighters, Whore’s Moaning 12″ single by Sonic Youth and a Bruce Springsteen 10″ single Gotta Get The Feeling.

By the time I left the store the queue eventually got bigger and I was quite pleased with my purchases.  The next stage would be to buy a new turntable to listen to them.

I was looking forward to the next one in 2012 but sadly Head’s lease at Victoria Square ended and they were looking for new premises which weren’t ready in time for RDS2012.  There was bound to been other places to go to but I didn’t research it enough to go and look for other stores.

However Head reopened in Ann Street for their new store in time for 2013.  Again I got up early and joined the queue.  This time it got a bit bigger when I got down and of course Sam and Laura were in the queue again too so it was good to see familiar faces.

Purchases made that day were Soundgarden King Animal demos 10″, REM Live in Greensboro CD EP, Anthrax Anthems EP, Placebo E3 EP, At The Drive In Relationship of Command LP and one of the special releases that year, Mad Season Above (Expanded vinyl edition) which was the one I was really after that day.

RSD2013

Again the day proved to be a great success for the shop and also it was good craic meeting other fellow music fans and comparing lists.

In 2014 a new record shop opened up in North Street called Sick Records.  It was a great shop and was probably more of a niche market catering for those who collect records beyond the mainstream.  So that left me in a dilemma which shop do I go to first!

I got to know Kenny the owner and he was a great guy very passionate about music and he went through my list of wants and there was going to be some on it that he wasn’t getting.  The main one I was looking for was the REM MTV Unplugged boxset and the Soundgarden 10″ singles boxset.  I can’t remember if they were going to  be getting it but I made the choice to go to Head, who had now relocated to Castle Court.IMG_6490

As previous years the queue was starting to get a bit bigger now.  Some had been in the queue since midnight on Friday and it was a bitterly cold night that year.  Sam again was in the queue.  The decision to get up early paid off as they only had one copy of the REM boxset and I got it.

That meant that I had to miss out on the Soundgarden boxset which was dearer in Head but Kenny got a copy of it in Sick Records and I was able to get it there at a reasonable price.Superknown singles

Purchases that day included singles by Lemonheads If Only You Were Dead, Nirvana‘s unreleased last single from In Utreo in 1994 got reissued for RSD, Pennyroyal Tea  7″, Bruce Springsteen American Beauty 12″, Mudhoney On Top! LP. The Pogues with Joe Strummer Live in London LP, Husker Du Candy Apple Grey LP, Pixies Indy Cindy LP and the big REM box set of their two MTV unplugged shows.

In 2015 it was again the choice of which shop to go to first and it was naturally going to be Head as they got more variety and stock.

The staff at Head records have always been great and very helpful on the day by pointing you in the right direction of where the records were.  I bought quite a few records that day.  I am sure the bank manager wasn’t too pleased!

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Couple of ones stood out as they were really limited like Jesus and Mary Chain Psychocandy Live Barrowlands LP.  I can’t remember if the shop got the coloured vinvly but my copy was black so I wasn’t complaining.  Also I bought my first U2 LP on vinyl since Rattle and HumSongs of Innocence made its way to my iPhone which was the first time I never bought anything by the band but for RSD they released it on vinyl limited to 5000 copies.  Mine was no.0663.

Other purchases that day were Manic Street Preachers The Holy Bible picture disc, Biffy Clyro Puzzle LP, Clutch From Beale Street to Obilivion LP, Foo Fighters Songs from the Laundry Room 10″, Lemonheads Bored on the 4th July 12″, The Replacements Alex Chilton 10″, Ride OX4 red vinyl LP and Simple Minds Celebrate Live from SSE Hydro Glasgow LP.

2016 at Head was another successful RSD and the wallet was hit hard that day.  I got down early as usual to get my spot in the queue and managed to get most of my wishlist that day.

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Amongst the haul that day were Buzzcocks More Product In A Different Compilation 2LP orange vinyl, Raw Power, A Tribute to Iggy Pop and the Stooges LP featuring Mike McCready (Pearl Jam), Duff McKagan (Guns N’Roses), Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees) and Mark Arm (Mudhoney), Cheap Trick At the Budokan, Simple Minds Big Music Tour 2015 red vinyl, Judgement Night OST LP, NME C86 double album, Nirvana Live on KAOS 1987 (which was a bit disappointing) and Superchunk Tossing Seeds (Singles 89-91)

I also got a Live Metallica CD from Paris that was recorded at Le Bataclan and 7″ singles by Husker Du In A Free Land and The Undertones My Perfect Cousin and a 12″ gold fold edition of Manic Street Preachers A Design for Life. Plus two EPs by That Petrol Emotion – In the Beginning EP and Manic Pop Thrill.  That was a serious day of record shopping!

The 2017 event at Head would be their last one.  By the end of the year the store had closed much to my disappointment.  Sick Records had also closed and I found out that there was a new one opening in Bangor, Bending Sound which I would go to in 2018.

I managed to get into the queue early enough to make sure that I was going to get what I was after.  It is always great to chat to the other punters waiting in the queue to compare lists.

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So 2017’s haul was quite good picking up some really great LPs from Sugar Copper Blue, Evan Dando Baby I’m, Bored, Iggy Pop Post Pop Depression at the Royal Albert Hall (3LPs), Bruce Springsteen Hammersmith Odeon London ’75 LP on vinyl for first time. Along with some 7″ singles by Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam, and 12″ Manic Street Preachers single You Love Alone Is Not Enough.

Each year just seemed to be getting more expensive so it was a bit of a relief that the 2018 released schedule didn’t have too much on my wants list.  Went down to Bangor for their first one and it was busy.  A much smaller shop which meant you had to queue and just wait your turn.

It was a beautiful sunny day too so waiting in the queue was ok but would I get what I was after.  The records I really wanted to get were releases by Soundgarden, Rage Against The Machine, and Living Colour.RDS2018 2ND IMAGE

Out of that four I was only successful in getting the Live Democratic National Convention 2000 LP by Rage Against The Machine.  The Soundgarden A Sides LP was sold out and the Living Colour live LP wasn’t on order.  I managed to get them online.  Other purchases in Bending Sound that day were The National Boxer Live in Brussels LP and Belly Feel 10″.

Last years RDS took me down to Armagh as I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to get what I wanted.  Armagh Music I had been shopping from since the departure of Head in Belfast and  John the owner was very good at getting CDs ordered for me.  At that stage I took the huff with HMV and vowed never to go back after they went into administration and I had £100 worth of vouchers from Christmas.

The plan was go to Armagh and get in the queue with my list.  I also gave my friend Frank a list too to pick up some stuff in Bangor if I was unsuccessful in Armagh.  To my surprise it was really well organised.  There wasn’t too many there and you gave your list to the staff.  They let you know if it was in stock and when you got into the shop it was bagged or boxed and ready to pay for.

I got everything on my list apart from Green Day Woodstock 1994 which Frank picked up for me in Bangor.  The rest of my wish list I got two albums by Frank Black, self titled and Teenager of the Year, Weezer Dusty Gems and Rare Nuggets LP, Green River Olympia, Tropicana 1984 LP, The Crow OST, Teenage Fanclub The King, Pearl Jam Live at East Street LP and U2 The Europa EP.

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With RSD2020 just around the corner now after the delay from April I will be looking forward to trying to get Bob Mould Circle of Friends LP and Refused Not Fit For Broadcasting (Live at the BBC) and Dinosaur Jr. Swedish Fist (Live in Stockholm) LP in September.  Hopefully not a wallet busting experience like the previous ones.

You can find the list of all releases for RSD2020 at their website.

Record Shops in Northern Ireland taking part this year will be at the following:

Armagh Music, Armagh, Fairhill Records, Ballymena, Bending Sound, Bangor, Sable Starr Records ( Strange Victory Records), Belfast and Cool Discs, Derry.

Wherever you end up going, make sure you plan your list and budget and most importantly enjoy the day and records that you buy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Music life in lockdown week 15

This is a review of the albums that I have been listening to whilst working from home.  Albums listened to for week 15 cover from 29 June to 3 July.

Monday 29 June  – Sonic Youth

I must admit I would never have heard of Sonic Youth if it hadn’t of been for the Nirvana influence.  I first encountered the band on the BBC2 late night Arena show which was entitled “No Nirvana”.  Basically giving other bands a major platform to the UK audience and Sonic Youth were one of them.Soundtrack 29 June

It was this performance of Drunken Butterfly on the show that lead me to purchase Dirty (1992).  By now the alternative rock revolution was under way and I was getting into more and more bands from the US alt-rock scene.  I would get to see the band the following year in 1993 when they came to Dublin to play the first ever Sunstroke festival.

Dirty is a great album and one I constantly played.  And of course I would start to follow the band after that.  Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star (1994) was the follow up and I started getting some of their back catalogue with Goo (1990) their major label debut and the seminal Daydream Nation (1988).  Wish I had discovered them earlier.

I picked another two albums, Washing Machine (1995) and Murray Street (2002) were two fantastic albums as well.  Biggest regret in 2002 was not seeing them at the Witnness Festival due to band clashes.  I hate that when it happens but looking back I definitely made the wrong call!

Tuesday 30 June  – The National

Ending the month of June was over to The National.  Their Belfast gig for the summer at Botantic Gardens was cancelled due to the pandemic.  I had hoped to get to see them again.  Formed in the late 90s, they are one of a few bands from the turn of the century that I have taken an interest in.Soundtrack 30 June

The Boxer (2007) was recommended to me by a friend and we went down to Dublin to see them at the Olympia Theatre.  It was a really great gig but they did play Belfast after that and I didn’t go second time around.  You just regret these things when you don’t do it!  This album was definitely a favourite and I also have the live CD Boxer Live in Brussels (2018).  Originally released for Record Store Day on vinyl.

The next two albums, High Violet (2010) and Trouble Will Find Me (2013) are also great albums.  I don’t think I enjoyed Sleep Well Beast (2017) maybe need to give that one a few more listens.  Prior to The Boxer, I also played Alligator (2005).

Tuesday 1 July – Faith No More and The Levellers

Mixing up the new month with some great music from the 1990s.  Both Faith No More and The Levellers were two groups that I have enjoyed listening to over the years.

I picked four Levellers albums and two Faith No More albums that I thought deserved a listen to for the first time in ages.

Following the success of Angel Dust, they released their fifth album King for a day…Fool for a Lifetime (1995).  This was their first effort without guitarist Jim Martin who quit the band.   While this record was not a big seller like the previous two albums it still holds up well.  Soundtrack 1 July

Their cheekily titled sixth album, aptly called Album of the Year (1997) was their last studio album before they disbanded in 1998.  The band reformed in 2009 as part of The Second Coming tour.  I got to see them in Dublin strangely enough sitting at a gig instead of standing as it was near impossible to get standing tickets for their show at the Olympia Theatre.  Was so looking forward to their return to Sunstoke this summer but we all know that went!

I’m trying to remember how I got into The Levellers.  They are an English folk band and were probably one of the most popular indie bands in Britain during the 1990s.  Their headline slot at Glastonbury in 1994 was at the peak of their popularity.

Levelling the Land (1991) was the first album I bought and I really liked it.  I continued to follow the band for the next three albums – Levellers (1993), Zeitgeist (1995) and Mouth to Mouth (1997).  It was in 1997 that I got to see them live at the Ulster Hall which surprisingly was poorly attended.  Fun fact – support came from the then unknown Snow Patrol.  The band had continued to release albums after this but by then my interest had waned a bit.   I found out recently that their new album Peace is out soon.  Perhaps this will be a chance to get listening to them again.   That will be about seven albums worth to catch up on!

Thursday 2 July – Thursday with some Thrice

I must admit that I have been meaning to do this since lockdown began!   I visited both bands earlier as part of the emo today but seeing that 2 July was Thursday, I might as well play some albums by Thursday and also some by Thrice as well because I think both of these bands compliment each other in different ways.  Soundtrack 2 July

Today was pretty much all about Thursday with Thrice almost like a support act.    Early 2000s I was taking an interest in some of the new music coming from the US.  I have five albums by the band and one compilation Kill the House Lights (2007) which included five new songs, two live recordings, outtakes and demos.  Their second album, Full Collapse (2001) was the first album I bought.  The follow up War All The Time (2003) and A City by the Light Divided (2006).  Their last studio album was No Devolucion (2011).

Thrice concluded the day as a support act with the live album, Anthology (2012) which was recorded as part of the bands farewell tour but like everything else bands never go away as they came back on the scene five years later.

Friday 3 July – Sugar

Rounding of the end of the working week was one of my favourite bands from the 1990s – Sugar.

Formed in 1992 they were the band at the right place and at the right time as I was discovering all this new American music as I embraced all things grunge.  Sugar aren’t a grunge band but I liked what I heard and Copper Blue (1992) was one of the best albums that year.  I would soon discover that Bob Mould’s previous band was Husker Du and he had done some solo work as well.

Bob Mould  could see that Nevermind had changed the way people listened to music and he wasn’t wrong as the doors were opening for me to embrace new music and bands.Soundtrack 3 July

Copper Blue remains an all time favourite for me.  The following year they released the brutal juggernaut of a record, Beaster (1993) which was more heavier and darker.  Mould would compare the album as the evil twin of Copper Blue.  Not an album for pleasant listening but it definitely is a tour-de-force.

The bands last album, File Under: Easy Listening (1994) is probably not regarded as their best album.  Often shortened to as F.U.E.L, I think it tries to combine some of the first two records.  It is not at all a bad album it just doesn’t hit you as hard as Copper Blue and Beaster.

The next album is a compilation called Besides (1995) and it contains various b-sides, live and some remixes of tracks.  When I first bought this my copy contained a bonus disc titled The Joke Is Always on Us, Sometimes which was recorded in 1994 in Minneapolis.

All three albums got the deluxe treatment and of course, I bought them again especially for the extras, Copper Blue included a live CD from 1992 at the Cabaret Metro whilst the extras on F.U.E.L was the Besides album.

I first got to see Sugar when they came to Dublin in 1993.  My recollection of them back then was not sure what to expect.  I think I was a bit disappointed to be honest as they were the one band I really wanted to see that day.  Their set seemed a bit short.  But Bob Mould would revisit Copper Blue in 2012 playing the album in its entirety.  I went over to London to catch that show and it was loud!

Sugar are no more but their legacy definitely lives on and Bob Mould continues to make great solo albums.  He has a new album coming out next month that I am looking forward to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music life in lockdown week 14

This is a review of the albums that I have been listening to whilst working from home.  Albums listened to for week 14 cover from 22 June to 25 June.

Monday 22 June – Emo day

Have I really gone all emo today?  Decided to explore a wee bit of American music so picked this bunch which depending on how you wished to label it emo, nu-rock, post hardcore, punk pop or math rock (yeah there is such a thing!).

Out of all the bands played here I have only seen three – The Ataris,  Cave In and Taking Back Sunday.  I did have a ticket for  My Chemical Romance but me and my wife couldn’t go so we ended up selling our ticket.  I never bothered to get a ticket for the reunion show this year but all gigs are cancelled thanks to Covid.

Ok, a quick run down on the albums played on Monday.   The first three albums played were recommendations from Kerrrang magazine.  There was money off coupons and thanks to the free CDS that were given away in magazines it lead to interest in buying some of these albums.Soundtrack 22 June

The Ataris So, Long Astoria (2003) was a really good album and I love their version of Don Henley’s The Boys of Summer where they name check Black Flag rather than Deadhead from the original.

Cave In’s third and only major label studio album Antenna (2003) and The Blood Brothers was another recommendation and I bought their third album …Burn, Piano Island, Burn (2003) and is quite hard working listening to it due to a lot of screaming!  Hope the neighbours didn’t notice but the volume wasn’t definitely up that early in the morning.

Another band whose album was part of the money off promotion was The Movielife.  Their album, Forty Hour Train Back to Penn (2003) was a great listen.  Sadly they broken up after that.  One thing I have noticed abut the three albums chosen so afar was that they were all album number 3 for each band.  Crazy to think I had never had heard of them before but sometimes the exposure in a magazine can help reach out.

Sunny Day Real Estate released Diary in 1994 at the height of the grunge.  However, the band didn’t sound like the popular Seattle bands at the time but was more melodic and would be the benchmark for future emo groups.  William Goldsmith and Nate Mendel would go on and join Foo Fighters.

Another couple of bands that I listened to post 2000 were Thursday and ThriceWar All The Time (2003) by Thursday and The Artist in the Ambulance (2003) by Thrice were played hereThese two bands would get another day allocated to themselves later.

Rounding off the emo themed day were the two heavyweights of the genre – Taking Back Sunday and My Chemical RomanceTell All Your Friends (2002) by Taking Back Sunday is a great record.  I got to see the band in Dublin around that time.

My Chemical Romance however were the band that went on to greater success than all the others listed here.  Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge (2004) was their second album.  Bigger things awaited with their biggest seller The Black Parade (2006).

Tuesday 23 June – Sounds from the American underground

After a day of emo rock it was time to go back to the older bands from the 1990s and mainstays of the alternative rock scene – Pavement, Dinosaur Jr. and Sebadoh.Soundtrack 23 June

Pavement’s biggest hit was the single Cut Your Hair (1994) and I have been a fan of the band since.  I only got to see them once that that was at the Glastonbury festival in 1999 which is the subject matter over the next couple of days.  A great collection of Pavement albums here – Slanted and Enchanted (1992), Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (1994) – my favourite album, Brighten the Corners (1997) and Terror Twilight (1999).  The compilation album Quarantine the Past: The Best of Pavement (2010) was issued to coincide with the reunion of the band and collected the best songs from all their albums.

I got into Dinosaur Jr. in 1993 when they released Where You Been.   That year proved to be a really great year of music.  The follow up Without a Sound (1996) would be their six album so I had a lot of catching up to do.  Feel the Pain was a big hit for them from this album.  They are loud live!

Sebaodh was formed by Lou Barlow who played bass for Dinosaur Jr.   I got into them quite late so wasn’t too familiar with a lot of their stuff.  Their seventh album, The Sebadoh (1999), was their first and only released on a major label.  I am going to check out their other albums.

Wednesday 24 June – Clutch

To say that the hump day was going to be pure rock fury was no understatement! You won’t get a harder working band than these guys and front man Neil Fallon is an awesome frontman that he gives 100% each time live.

Clutch were one of the gig casualties of Covid.  I was looking forward to their return to Belfast as their shows here have been amazing and you get a great buzz seeing them live.

So without further ado it’s onto the albums that I own and listened to today.  The volume is definitely going up! Soundtrack 24 June

First up is Pitchfork & Lost Needles (2005) which is collection of songs from EPs.  Jam Room (1999) was their fourth album.  I think around this time I may have seen them supporting Therapy?  A live album, Live at the Googoplex (2002) is a collection of various live recordings during the Pure Rock Fury tour.

But it is the next three albums that have got me back into Clutch in a big way. Earth Rocker (2013) does not disappoint.  It is an banger of an album.  Definitely one of my favourites.  The next two albums are great too – Psychic Warfare (2015) and the most recent album, The Book of Bad Decisions (2018) which is the album they were currently touring.

Was so looking forward to seeing them this year but the good news is they are coming back to Belfast next year.  They make great videos for their songs and How To Shake Hands is hilarious spoofing on Neil Fallon being a presidential candidate and wins!  He is going to put Jimi Hendrix on a 20 dollar bill and Bill Hicks on a five note!  What a time to be alive!

Thursday 25 June – Glastonbury part 1Soundtrack 25 June

Glastonbury was no doubt amongst many festivals that had been effected by the pandemic.  BBC were going to provide lots of footage of the festival over the years so for Thursday I had a look at what they were streaming and had a listen while working.  I caught up with sets by Nick Cave (2013) was due to see him this year, The Charlatans (2019), Idles (2019) and Primal Scream (2011).  Never got round to watching Radiohead’s set from 1997 (have that on bootleg CD) and had seen the band a few dates beforehand in Dublin before they played Glastonbury.  The live footage definitely worked as it was just as good as being there.

Friday 26 June – Glastonbury part 2 the one I was at.

I made my one and only trip to Glasonbury in 1999 and what a weekend it was.  I really enjoyed it but it was pure hell on earth trying to get home.  I never made it back after that.

I seen quite a lot of bands that day but have opted for this lot to listen to as they had albums out and were on tour at the time – Bush, Manic Street Preachers, Hole, REM, Ash and Skunk Anansie.Soundtrack 26 June Glastonbury

Ok, starting off with the band less popular in their home country but huge in America – Bush.   The Science of Things (1999) was their third album.  Next up was Hole.  I never thought I would have liked them but they surprised me.  Celebrity Skin (1998)  was their most commercially successful albums.  I hadn’t listened to this album in a while.

Manic Street Preachers first headline slot at Glastonbury was marred by the “toilet gate scandal”.  Turned out the band reserved the toilets for themselves which didn’t go down too well with Billy Bragg!  This Is Truth Tell Me Yours (1998) was the followed up from the success of 1996’s Everything Must Go.  It was on this tour that I got to see the band live for the first time.  They played Belfast a few days earlier before Glastonbury.  The crowd was huge and it was impossible to get near the front.  I

Surprise headliners that weekend were Skunk Anansie.  Stoosh (1996) was their second album and I gave that listen to for the first time in ages.

Headliners REM did not disappoint.  They also played Dublin that year too and it was great to see them twice in one year.   Up (1998) was their current LP and they were touring it.  I managed to get a box set of REM At the BBC which contained two discs of their entire live set from Glastonbury.  It was great to listen to it again and relive the experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music life in lockdown week 13

This is a review of the albums that I have been listening to whilst working from home.  Albums listened to for week 13 cover from 15 June to 19 June.

Monday 15 June – Iron Maiden

Continuing on where I left off on Friday, this would have been a day off work if Sunstroke festival wasn’t cancelled.  It wasn’t the only thing cancelled, all gigs I had been due to go have all been rescheduled to next year.  Sadly two that I was looking forward to Pearl Jam and Iron Maiden didn’t get put forward to next year.

To make up for the disappointment I picked a selection of Iron Maiden live albums to recreate the feeling of seeing them live.  It’s a poor substitute for the real thing but it’s the thought that counts.  Iron Maiden release quite a lot of live albums, usually bookending of current tours.

Soundtrack 15 June
Scream for me Belfast!

So I started off with their most recent studio album, The Book of Souls (2015) which is a fantastic record.  Really takes you back to the Powerslave era and an album well worth the wait as Bruce Dickson was recovering from this treatment for throat cancer.  This album was so long that it came as two discs.  It definitely is one of my favourite recent albums by the band.

I caught the band live on that tour at the 3Arena in Dublin and it was a fantastic show.  The companion album, The Book of Souls: Live Chapter (2017) was recorded throughout their world tour.  Quite a lot of live cuts from the new album plus fan favourites from over the years.

I continued the theme of live albums by playing En Vivo! (2012) and Maiden England ’88 (2013) again because it crammed in a lot of live stuff that I would have got to hear that evening in Belfast.  Oh well.  Another live album, Flight 666 (2005) is like a best of album but from all around the world as the title suggests.  It was part of a documentary live film of the first leg of Somewhere Back in Time tour.

Following on from all the live albums, with such a huge back catalogue I went for two best of albums which captures the band over the years.  Somewhere Back in Time – The Best of: 1980-1989 released in 2008.  This double album contains material from their first eight album plus Live After Death.

The second best of album, From Fear to Eternity: The Best of 1990-2010 was released in 2011.  Prior to buying The Book of Souls which was the first studio album I bought since No Prayer For The Dying in 1990, I had gone off the band for a wee bit during the 1990s.

This album contained material from No Prayer For The Dying to The Final Frontier.  Strangely enough it omits material sung by Blaze Bayley and focuses more on Bruce Dickinson’s involvement.   It is a great collection.

Tuesday 16 June – Down Under

Following the metal mayhem from the day before, today’s soundtrack was all things down under.  I actually forgot one band, The D4 when I was going through my collection but somehow managed to mix them up with The Datsuns.  Strange indeed!Soundtrack 16 June

Just so the neighbours wouldn’t complain at 9am, Crowded House kicked the proceedings off with a best of album The Very Best of Crowed House (2010) is an expansion on the 1996 compilation Recurring Dream.  I must admit I didn’t like them at all in the early 90s when they released Weather With You.  That was on the radio non-stop but my wife wanted to see them once and we went to a gig in Belfast back in 2007.

Upping the tempo a bit, it was time for NME favourites The Vines and The Datsuns.  NME hailed The Vines as “the second coming of Nirvana” because of their grungy sound and their frontman, Craig Nicholls erratic on-stage behaviour.  Highly Evolved (2002) was a pretty good debut and it did tend to be part of the trend towards garage rock bands.  I caught the band live at Reading once and they were in a tent which was pretty packed out.  A bit like the Foo Fighters in 1995.   The last time I saw them in Dublin I was less impressed as it really wasn’t a great gig and they were all over the place.

The Datsuns formed in 2000 and their self-tiled debut album was released in 2002 which had them slotted in the garage rock trend created by the British music press.  Again another good debut but I only got to their second album and kind of forgot about them.  The second album was not as good as their debut.  I caught the band live a couple of times.

Another New Zealand band, Shihad came to my attention from my friend Kirsten all the way from Christchurch.  She sent me the CD, The General Electric (1999) as a present.  Not sure if they are well known this part of the world.

Another Australian band Silverchair also drew comparisons with Nirvana (they were also a three piece).  I have their first two albums so for today, I picked the last album I bought Neon Ballroom (1999).  It’s a really good album and a bit more grown up than their first two which were released when they were 14 and 16.  Quite young.  Almost like an Aussie Ash.

Last but not least, the mighty AC/DC! This live album from 1992 was recorded during the 1991 tour.   I caught the band live in Belfast in 1991 which was a fantastic gig.  I recently saw them a couple of years ago at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin but when Axl Rose took over vocal dues following the departure of Brian Johnston due to problems with his hearing I wasn’t at all keen to see the band again if they came back this way.  Anyway, this live album is great and AC/DC don’t disappoint live.

Wednesday 17 and Thursday 18 June – The Best Album In The World Ever?

Lots of music to get through of the next two days and what a collection to listen to.  The Best Album in the World Ever series was similar to Shin which I didn’t buy at the time.Soundtrack 17 and 18 June

I have three volumes here, volume 2 (1996), volume 4 (1996) and volume 6 (1997).  All three albums are great to listen to picking up the era of post-grunge with the arrival of Britpop.  Looking back at that time there were some cracking bands making some great music.  Sadly you don’t get the same nowadays.  God, I feel old sounding like that.

Another CD I picked up was Alterative 90s which came out in 2002.  I actually won this in my local newspaper, The Irish News.  Still has the “Promo only – Not for Sale) sticker on it.  Not too dissimilar to the other two compilations out there, this two disc collection picks up quite a lot of the alt-rock from the US to the indie UK scene it was a very good mix.

NME back in the day would do a single of the week series.  I bought two albums at the time, Singles of the Week (1993) and Singles of the Week (1996).  I can’t remember if these were commercially available in record shops but I am pretty sure I had to buy them via NME.  Anybody reading this I am open for correction.

Of the two CDs here, 1993 edges it for me.  The 1996 collection is pretty good but I think the 1993 edition influenced a lot of what I was listening to back then.

The compilation album, Help (1995) was released with the proceeds going to help starving Bosnian refugees during the civil war in the Balkans.  The idea was to get the biggest bands in the UK to record exclusive songs and present them in a matter of days to get it the shops.  The CD had no track listing and that was only available as a cut out from NME.  I still have my copy of it.  It’s a brilliant album and there are some fantastic team-ups on it.  A solid 10/10 for this album.  All killer and no filler.

Friday 19 June – Black Rebel Motorcyle Club

Ending the working week with one of my favourite bands from the turn of the millennium, Black Rebel Motorcyle Club or BRMC for short.  I remember reading about this band in the local paper’s music section and it recommended their single Whatever Happened to My Rock n Roll (Punk Sung).  It was brilliant and I bought a copy of it on CD.  The band ended up on the NME tour in 2002 and I saw them in Dublin and would get to see them numerous times over the years.  Soundtrack 19 June

The debut BMRC (2001) is a brilliant debut and it captures a lot of influence from Sonic Youth to The Jesus and Mary Chain.  The follow up Take Them On, On Your Own (2003) is more darker and heavier sound to the first album.

I somehow managed to miss the third album Howl (2005) but got back on track in 2007 with Baby 81.  I really liked this album but I will have to get Howl and see how album 3 and 4 compare.  Could do that on Spotify but that’s no fun.  Off to HMV and see if there are any decent priced CDs to buy.

The curse of missing albums again happened with The Effects of 333 (2008) which was download only via their Myspace page.  Remember that?  The time before Facebook.  Explains why I never downloaded it!

Beat The Devil’s Tattoo (2010) and Specter at the Feast (2013) were the last two BRMC albums I had bought.  Both very different in style.  They are great live band.  Last time I saw them they supported Pearl Jam in Milton Keynes.

Check out this clip from YouTube as Mike McCready from Pearl Jam joins in performing Conscience Killer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music life in lockdown week 12

This is a review of the albums that I have been listening to whilst working from home.  Albums listened to for week 11 cover from 8 June to 12 June.

Monday 8 June – The Clash

Kicking off the new working week with the last gang in town…The Clash!  I pretty much selected the best of their studio output here.  I never got the last Clash album, Cut The Crap (1985), but the albums that I listened to today were probably their best work.

Six albums feature here, including a live CD.  Their debut album, The Clash (1977) was their self- titled debut was very much a snapshot in time of what life in Britain was like.  The follow up Give ‘Em Enough Rope (1978) continued the same themes from their debut.  Soundtrack 8 June

By the time the band released their third album, London Calling (1979) originally released as a double album, it brought in some new changes bringing the punk rock sound and new post punk aesthetic together.  The album reflected their growing interest in other styles including reggae, rockabilly, ska, New Orleans R&B, pop, lounge jazz and hard rock.

The theme continues on their fourth album, Sandinista! (1980), this time a triple album (on CD it was a double).  Again the band tap into other trends of the 1980s as the album featured different styles like funk, reggae, jazz, gospel, rockabilly, folk, dub, rhythm and blues, disco and even rap!

The last great Clash album, Combat Rock (1982) was one of their best selling including two of their most popular singles, Rock the Casbah and Should I Stay or Should I Go.   The album was also the last featuring the classic line up.  The live album, Live at Shea Stadium (2008) captured the band live in New York City opening up for The Who.  15 tracks highlighting the best tracks from all five albums.  It was a fantastic listening experience and made me wish I had got to see them live but I was still in primary school and about to go to secondary school at this time.

Tuesday 9 June – Depeche Mode

Another great band from the 1980s and I only got to appreciate them over the years.  They were never a band I would have thought I would get to see live and of the three times I have seen them in recent years they are nothing short of amazing and put on a great live show.

Now I am firm believer that there are two types of music – good and bad.  Same applies to the 1980s and The Singles 81-85 was originally released in 1985.  My copy is the 1998 edition features many of their early singles.  Songs like See You, People are People and Just Can’t Get Enough were songs that I would have heard growing up but wouldn’t actually own an album until the 1990s!Soundtrack 9 June

An album that showcases their live ability was 101 (1989) which was their final show at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.  The album was part of a documentary film of the bands tour.  A fantastic live album.

Violator (1990) is my all time favourite Depeche Mode album.  Featuring singles, Personal Jesus (also covered by Johnny Cash), Policy of Truth and my favourite, Enjoy The Silence.

I picked the other albums to listen to, Exciter (2001), Playing the Angel (2005) and Delta Machine (2013).  It was on the Delta Machine tour that I got to see them live for the first time when they came to Belfast.

Wednesday 10 June – A little bit of everything

Midway through the working week and I pick out a variety of compilation albums to change things up a bit with some punk, Britpop, and alternative rock.Soundtrack 10 June

First up was CBGBs and the Birth of U.S. Punk (2002).  This album features a great collection of songs from the Velvet Underground, New York Dolls, The Stooges, Television, Dead Kennedys, Ramones to name but a few.

Next was Britpop at the BBC (2014) and is a great collection of songs by bands from this era, oddly enough it does have one Swedish band, The Wannadies but I guess that You and Me Song doesn’t look out of place in the scene.  The bonus CD is live versions from the likes of Blur, Pulp, Suede, Ash and Manic Street Preachers on the Evening Session.

Still on the theme of BBC, Evening Session Priority Tunes (1996) is a great collection of songs from the early 1990s from Britpop to grunge and alt rock.  All fantastic.  Again this CD also has a collection of session tracks that were recorded for the radio.

Brit Beat…Later Volume One (1996) is great collection of live tracks of Britpop era bands that have showcased their songs on Jools Holland’s late night programme which was an updated version of The Old Grey Whistle Test.  As the name says Brit Beat, it’s all about the UK artist from the early 1990s.

The next CD I bought all the way from New Zealand while I was there on holiday in 1997.  When I went browsing for CDs I more or less had most of the stuff I was looking at but I am across this CD entitled Triple J Hottest 100 4 (1997) .  Triple J is an Australian radio station and probably the Aussie version of the Evening Session.  This CD highlights the best of their hottest 100 with Australian bands like Spiderbait, 311 and Regurgitator, to American bands like Weezer, Tool, Everclear and some UK bands like Bush, The Prodigy and Underworld.  It is a brilliant CD.  Something for everyone here.

Finally, Greetings from Uncle Sam (1993) is a best of alt-rock scene from the US.  One of the early CDs I bought which introduced me to bands like Sugar, Dinosaur Jr, L7, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, etc.  It is a great CD and captures the scene at the time.  Noticeably absence is Nirvana probably absent from this as they don’t appear on the Columbia record label.

Thursday 11 June – Husker Du

I got into Husker Du thanks to listening to Bob Mould’s new band, Sugar.  Copper Blue is one of my all time favourite albums and while finding some of Bob’s solo stuff I started to listen to Husker Du for the first time.  In a short space of six years this band belted out album after album.

So today I was listening to Zen Arcade (1984), the live album Land Speed Record (1982) which is so fast – 17 songs crammed into 26 minutes a real hardcore racket!.  Other albums New Day Rising (1985), Candy Apple Grey (1986) and the double album Warehouse: Songs and Stories (1987) which was the last studio album before the band broke up.  Soundtrack 11 June

A band I would never get to see live.  There was never going to be a reunion.  Grant Hart sadly passed away in 2017.  I have seen Bob live both solo and also with Sugar.  The live album, The Living End (1994) was probably going to be a good as you get to experiencing them live.

A band with incredible influence on bands that I love like Foo Fighters, Therapy?, Pixies and Smashing Pumpkins.  Dave Grohl once commented if there was no Husker Du, there would be no Foo Fighters.  Bob Mould does eventually guest on a Foo Fighters album later.

Friday 12 June – Metal madness

If it hadn’t of being for the COVID-19 situation I wouldn’t be typing this about what albums I am listening to this particular day.  This was the weekend of Sunstroke Festival which was to make its return to the Irish music calendar for the first time since 1994.  Me and friend Paul were so excited for this two day festival which was being headlined by Faith No More and Deftones.

Also that weekend was the Download festival at Donnington Park in England.  Iron Maiden were headlining that and were due to play Belfast later on that week.  As the pandemic was getting worst all gigs were being either cancelled or rescheduled.  Sadly for us, Faith No More and Iron Maiden never got rescheduled much to our disappointment.

So rather than mope in the corner being disappointed I selected a few albums from Faith No More, Iron Maiden, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Offspring and System of a Down.  Also added were the Jesus and Mary Chain.  Not metal but they were meant to be playing at Sunstroke.Soundtrack 12 June

Midlife Crisis The very best of Faith No More (2010) is a great collection of their best songs including some really great covers.

I got to see System of a Down at Ozzfest back in 2001,  so their debut album from 1998 and the follow up, Toxicity (2001) was played for the first time in ages.

I was looking forward to seeing the Jesus and Mary Chain again so this live collection from Barrowlands in Glasgow had the band playing Psychocandy in full.  Released in 2015 for Record Store Day and then released on CD.

The Offspring were playing Download which we weren’t going to but I haven’t listened to Americana (1998) in a long while so I played that.

Metal legends, Iron Maiden need no introduction.  After seeing them play one of the best indoor gigs I have been to in Belfast in recent years I was looking forward to seeing them live in the open air for the first time.  I had never seen the band outdoors before.  Every time  I have seen them it has been indoors.

To make up for not getting to see them, the live albums Maiden England ’88  and En Vivo! were played.

Maiden England ’88 (2013) was their entire performance at the Birmingham NEC during the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son tour.  A fantastic live performance I previously had most of the stuff on vinyl but foolishly sold most of it years ago!  I would get to see them live in 1990.

Another live album, En Vivo! (2012) captured the band live in Chile during the South American leg of The Final Frontier tour.

Great music to listen to and it somewhat softened the blow of not getting to see any live shows this year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music life in lockdown week 11

This is a review of the albums that I have been listening to whilst working from home.  Albums listened to for week 11 cover from 1 June to 5 June.

Monday 1 June – Megadeth

Having done the ‘Big 4’ of Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax earlier in lockdown, I decided to start the new month with a day all dedicated to Dave Mustaine’s Megadeth.

Instead of trying to cram in all my favourite albums and there are quite a few favourites, I opted for the boxset album that was released in 2007.  Entitled Warchest it featured five discs (4CD +DVD).  Disc 1 featured a selection of tracks from their albums in the 1980s – Killing Is My Business…and Business is Good! (1985), Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying (1986) and So Far, So Good…So What? (1988).Soundtrack 1 June

A really good selection of tracks.  My personal favourite from the 1980s was definitely the second album, Peace Sells.

There is a couple covers in here.  No More Mr Nice Guy (Alice Cooper) which featured on the Shocker soundtrack in 1989 and a session take of Anarchy/Problems (Sex Pistols).

The first disc concludes with tracks from Rust In Peace (1990) which was the album that I finally started to take notice of them.  One of my favourite Megadeth albums.  I still have it on vinyl as well as CD.

The second disc takes in tracks from Countdown to Extinction (1992), Youthansia (1994) with some live tracks and a cover of Black Sabbath’s Paranoid.  Disc 3 takes us through the late 90s and early 2000s of their output from Cryptic Writings (1997), Risk (1999), The World Needs a Hero (2000) and The System Has Failed (2004).  There is another Black Sabbath cover in here too, Never Say Die (live) which featured on a tribute album to Black Sabbath.

The last disc is a live album from 1990’s Clash of the Titans tour from Wembley Arena in London.  I would love to have seen that tour.  It did come to Dublin but I never got to it.  It’s a really great gig and it even featured Sean Harris from Diamond Head on It’s Electric as well as their cover of the Sex Pistols Anarchy in the U.K.

Tuesday 2 June – Black out Tuesday

No music played that day which was a strange thing to do whist working but as the day went on I was finding it difficult to not listen to anything, so I ended up sticking a Clash CD which I felt resonated well with the protests that were going on.

Wednesday 3  June – Warrior Soul, Living Colour and Rage Against The Machine

Following the previous days attempted music blackout, these are the bands I would have played which kind of captured the mood of what was going on in the world at the time.

I picked three albums each from Warrior Soul and Living Colour plus the last Rage Against The Machine album.

Warrior Soul’s first three albums, Last Decade, Dead Century (1990) was one of my favourite albums from that year.  The follow up was next  Drugs, God, and the New Republic (1991). Also listened to was Salutations From the Ghetto Nation (1992) quite an amazing output of music in three years.  By that time grunge was taking foothold of the music scene which meant many hair-metal bands were losing out to this new wave of alternative rock.  Warrior Soul’s music I think fitted in with the time.Soundtrack 3 June

Next up was Living Colour.  I got into them towards the end of the 80s when funk metal was all the rage.

Remember this is just before grunge explodes and there was some really good stuff coming out then from the likes of Faith No More, Red Hot Chili Peppers, to name a few.

Vivid (1988) was my introduction to Living Colour what a great debut album it was.  Cult of Personality was a big hit for them from this album.  The follow up Time’s Up (1990) was also a favourite at the time.   I must admit that by the time they released their third album, Stain (1993) my interest in the band kind of waned a bit.  Maybe it was due to the overcrowded new bands that I was getting into during the early 90s that I may have overlooked them.  What I didn’t know about this album was that it has been out of print from the mid-90s.  Sadly the band split in 1995 but reformed in 2000.  The last album I bought was Shade (2017).  Need to check out the other two albums from 2003 and 2009.

Rage Against The Machine featured here in week 8 but the album I didn’t play that day was Renegades (2000).  This was the bands fourth and final studio album.  This is a really great album and as it is a covers album, Rage stamp their own sound to the songs.  A very diverse track listing from Bruce Springsteen’s Ghost of Tom Joad (Tom Morello would later join Bruce on tour). the Rolling Stones Street Fighting Man, Afrika Bambaataa’s Renegade of Funk and Bob Dylan’s Maggie’s Farm.  We also get covers of Devo, MC5, The Stooges, Cypress Hill and Minor Threat.  Overall a fantastic album.

Thursday  4 June – Mark Lanegan

What can one say about Mark Lanegan and his baritone voice?  A great vocalist often compared to Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits.Soundtrack 4 June

My first introduction to him was his first band Screaming Trees.  They were part of the Seattle scene and I didn’t get into them until they released Sweet Oblivion (1992).  First song I heard was Nearly Lost You from the Singles soundtrack and that got me interested.  They also appeared on BBC TV for the Late Show on BBC2 which did a No Nirvana special.  That TV programme that opened up a whole new world of bands to into including Pearl Jam, Belly, Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth, Rage, Smashing Pumpkins, to name but a few.  Screaming Tree’s were on it with a fantastic version of  Dollar Bill.

Mark Lanegan also released a solo album after that tour, Whiskey for the Holy Ghost(1994) and this solo stuff was just as good.  Sadly the band ended with a final album, Dust (1996) which is a fantastic record.  My only regret was I never saw them live.  However, I have seen Mark live on numerous occasions, even along with Queens of the Stone Age.

Also played was Oceans of Confusion: Songs of Screaming Trees 1990-1996 which was released in 2005 and is a good collection of songs from their early years up to the last album Dust.

Bubblegum (2004) and Blues Funeral (2012) are two of my favourite albums of his after getting back in this music again following appearances with Queens of the Stone Age.  The best of album, Has God Seen My Shadow?  (2014) was a three disc album featuring songs from his releases between 1989-2011.

Another side project that Mark was involved in was The Gutter Twins which was his collaboration with Greg Dulli from Afghan Whigs.  Saturnalia (2008).  This was a great album and the band are on hiatus at the moment but would love to hear these two get back in the studio again.

Friday 5 June – Afghan Whigs

Quite natural to end the working week with Afghan Whigs after listening to The Gutter Twins the day before.Soundtrack 5 June

The band had been signed to Seattle based label, Sub Pop.  Whilst not a Seattle band as such, they were from Cincinnati, Ohio you would be forgiven to think they were indeed part of grunge movement.  Their major album debut and fourth album, Gentlemen (1993)  was my introduction to the band.    The album got a 21st anniversary reissue entitled Gentlemen at 21 in 2014.

The follow up to that was Black Love (1996).  Greg had been the only other musician who featured on Foo Fighters debut album the year before.  The album is like a crime noir soundtrack.  The band broke up in 2001.

But I was really excited to hear that they were getting back together again in 2011.   The result was a new album, Do to the Beast (2014) which was their first record in 16 years and they were back on Sub Pop.  This was followed up with In Spades (2017) both really good albums and I got to see them live on both tours when they came to Dublin.  Fantastic live band.

The Twilight Singers was formed by Greg during the hiatus from Afghan Whigs.  The band was revived in 2000.  Dynamite Steps (2011) was the album played here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foo Fighters at 25

Today 4 July, 25 years ago Foo Fighters self-titled album was released.

I still remember going to get it in HMV like it was yesterday.  I was really excited to hear what Dave Grohl was planning to unleash nearly 16 months since the death of Kurt Cobain and the end of Nirvana.  I knew they were not going to continue so it was a naturally progression for me to go from Nirvana to Foo Fighters.Foo Fighters

I was fortunate enough to have seen Dave play drums when he was in Nirvana and it was going to be interesting to see how he would do playing guitar.  In fact he had been writing music during the tours.  The debut album was played by Dave Grohl on all vocals and instruments apart from X-Static which featured Greg Dulli from Afghan Whigs on guitar.

The demo tape was circulated and hoping to keep some anonymity he choose the title “Foo Fighters” for the band name.  It created a lot of interest from record labels.  He then decided to form a band to support the album.  Naturally he would have looked at former Nirvana bandmate Krist Novoselic but both of them would decide against it. Krist would eventually turn up on a Foo Fighters record later, Wasting Light.

So the band initially featured Dave Grohl on guitar/vocals, Nate Mandel (Sunny Day Real Estate) on bass, drummer William Goldsmith with Pat Smear as second guitarist.

They made their first appearance at Reading Festival that summer playing in the smaller Radio 1 tent and it created a huge buzz as everybody there wanted to cram into a tiny tent to see the band make their UK debut.

The album produced four singles, This Is A Call, I’ll Stick Around, For All The Cows and Big Me, which I also bought.

With the success of the album and the European tour that autumn/winter I finally got a chance to see Foo Fighters making their Irish debut at the SFX Centre in Dublin that November which was also the closing night of the European tour.  It was a brilliant experience and I loved every minutes of it.  So good that at the end I bought a t-shirt from the show and 25 years later I still fits and I wear it at every Foo Fighters gig I go to.

In celebration of the release of this album and I am going to do my own Foo Fighters Gigography as well as my favourite albums below:

I have seen the band in total 11 times.  Below are some of my ticket stubs.

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November 1995 SFX Centre, Dublin

August 2000 Reading Festival

December 2000 Olympia Theatre, Dublin

July 2002 Witnness Festival, Co. Kildare

August 2002 Reading Festival

December 2002 Point Theatre, Dublin

July 2005 Oxegen Festival, Co. Kildare

December 2005 Point Theatre, Dublin

August 2012 Vital Festival, Boucher Road Playing Fields, Belfast

May 2015 Slane Castle, Co. Meath

August 2019 Vital Festival, Boucher Road Playing Fields, Belfast

The gigs I missed:

Trip to Tip, Thurles, Co. Tipperary August 1997

Ambassador Theatre, Dublin July 2002 (Witnness warm up show)

Slane May 2003

Marlay Park, Dublin August 2007

Foo Fighters Discography in order of favourite albums (not by release year)

The Colour and the Shape (1997)

Foo Fighters (1995)

There Is Nothing Left to Lose (1999)

Wasting Light (2011)

One by One (2002)

Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace (2007)

In Your Honor (2005)

Sonic Highways (2014)

Concrete and Gold (2017)

The band were due to do a van tour this year to celebrated 25 years on the road.  Sadly with the pandemic all gigs have been cancelled so here’s hoping it won’t be too long before they are back on the road again.