Thursday, 2 October 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.11 "The Undertones" The Undertones (1979)

If they're good enough for John Peel, they're good enough for me.

Fourteen tracks of pure pop joy (sixteen if you've got the re-released version with Teenage Kicks) and not a duff track in sight. This is an album that will always put a smile on my face.


Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.12 "Grace" Jeff Buckley (1994)

Another stone cold classic ...

By now it goes without saying I didn't discover Grace in 1994, it took me a few years and bizarrely I have the editor of the Jethro Tull fanzine to thank. I lost my way musically in the mid-90s and bought a lot of really crap albums by well known bands who were past their best and solo albums by musicians who had been in those same bands. That meant I was reading publications like the Jethro Tull fanzine, A New Day, more thoroughly than the N.M.E. or Melody Maker. That said A New Day was very well written and, even though I now have more Martin Barre and John Evan albums than is strictly necessary, it did lead me to the magic of Grace.

Jeff Buckley has a sublime voice and the set of songs on Grace were remarkable. Grace is an album so good I could not imagine anyone not loving it. Foolishly this meant I thought Mrs T5 would love it too. I have gradually learned, over the last 20 odd years, that Mrs T5 and I have incompatible music tastes and Grace was a case in point. I played it in the car a lot and it took a while but eventually Mrs T5 was fairly blunt in her condemnation of it.

Rule of thumb: If I think an album is brilliant & mainstream enough for Mrs T5 it almost certainly isn't. Within the first 30 seconds of me attempting to play her said album she'll say something like "What's this weird music you're playing now?".

Key takeaway: NEVER play Mrs T5 music I like.


Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.13 "F♯ A♯ ∞" Godspeed You Black Emperor! (1997)

The car is on fire and there's no driver at the wheel ... and the sewers are all muddied with a thousand lonely suicides ... and a dark wind blows.

That spoken word intro to Dead Flag Blues always brings a smile to my lips despite being as desolate a piece of prose as you're likely to find in contemporary rock. Godspeed have a sound to match, the soundtrack to a post-apocalyptic world (a fact not lost on film director Danny Boyle).

1997 was a year that re-ignited my passion for music after a mid-90s slump when I lost interest in new bands. Godspeed where thrillingly elusive, it took me ages to even find out the names of the band, and unlike anything I'd heard at that point. They have gone on to become one of my absolute favourite bands.


Monday, 29 September 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.14 "Horses" Patti Smith (1975)

More late seventies pre-UK Punk excellence ...

An album I love more every time I play it. Patti Smith is a wonderfully unique artist and Horses is simply brilliant.

I think I've been using brilliant quite a lot in these posts but frankly I'm running out of superlatives and, to be honest, words of any sort.


Sunday, 28 September 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.15 "Searching for the Young Soul Rebels" Dexys Midnight Runners (1980)

Is that the sound of brass I hear .... ?

This one must have been on 90% of the lists so far (there's been a few of us doing these for those of you not on Twitter).

If suggested listening to Dexy's to early 80s me I'd have laughed in your face. Well metaphorically, I'm too nice to actually do that but I'd probably have coughed awkwardly and tried to change the conversation. I was, as you'll already know if you've been keeping up, into Heavy Metal back then. I liked "proper" music, with loud guitars and even louder drums. I still do to some extent but there's now room in the chaos of noise for a bit of variety too.

I was also put off Dexy's by the constant radio play that Come On Eileen (from their second album) got. The dungarees and pencil moustaches didn't help much either. However, as you are no doubt tired of hearing, there's always a chance I'll work my way back to something eventually ...

... and I do have a HUGE weakness for brass.

Searching for the Young Soul Rebels is a wonderful record; great lyrics, amazing production, brilliant song-writing & bucket loads of brass.


Saturday, 27 September 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.16 "Pink Flag" Wire (1977)

Next a late 70s band that I only got into recently ... Deja vu?

I first heard about Wire after Elastica massively ripped them off on their 1995 debut album. This eventually led to me buying a Wire best of, which I liked at the time but didn't result in any further exploration.

Marc Riley has played Wire a lot on his 6music show and that eventually convinced me to buy Change Becomes Us in 2013. That album made my Top 5 of 2013 and finally spurred me into getting the band's first three albums which are all utterly superb.

Second album, Chairs Missing, made my seventies list but hindsight has proved Pink Flag should have done as well. Pink Flag was released at the height of punk but is more arty than it's contemporaries, trailblazing a path for New Wave and Post Punk bands to follow.

By the way, I still love that Elastica album too, where would pop music be if you couldn't rip someone off every now and again?!


Friday, 26 September 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.17 "The Stone Roses" The Stone Roses (1989)

Next a album that defined a scene, even if the band didn't really consider themselves part of it.

1989 was the year I stopped reading Kerrang! and started reading the NME. Baggy was the first scene to hit and The Stone Roses were a huge part of that, whether they liked it or not. I wasn't completely convinced by the whole Madchester thing, but I liked a few of the bands and, once I'd got over the fact Ian Brown couldn't sing, was soon won over by the Roses too.

Their debut absolutely nailed the Baggy sound and I don't think the band ever got near those heights again. I never saw them live, which I regret a little now, but that record didn't leave my turntable for at least a year.


Thursday, 25 September 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.18 "Dry" P J Harvey (1992)

Next a lady I first saw live at Wembley not long after this album came out ...

She was supporting U2 in the early afternoon at Wembley Stadium which wasn't the ideal environment for anyone to do well. I was only vaguely aware of her and my music tastes weren't as broad back then (I was at a U2 gig for a start!). However, I do remember enjoying the fact so many U2 fans didn't like her and that began to make me think she'd be worth pursuing.

There's a bit of a recurring theme in these picks that it takes me around 10 years to appreciate the best artists and bands. In keeping with that it was her fifth album, Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, that finally won me over. I've been working my way though her back catalogue since then and love all the ones I've got.

After something of a false start, Polly Jean is also very near the top of my list of artists I REALLY need to see live.


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.19 "Damned, Damned, Damned" The Damned (1977)

I gotta a feelin' inside of me, it's kinda strange like a stormy sea ...

Having grown up with, and largely ignored, Eighties Goth Damned it was only fairly recently that I really heard their first two albums. Machine Gun Etiquette is great but their debut Damned, Damned, Damned is my favourite and did well in my Seventies list too.

Having already beaten everyone to the punch by releasing New Rose (which opens side two) as the first single by a British punk group, The Damned proved their organisational skills were second to none by making Damned Damned Damned the first full-length album released by a British punk group. The album begins with the frenetic Neat, Neat, Neat and the energy levels rarely let up from that point on. Guitarist Brian James wrote all the songs on the album with the exception of Rat Scabies' succinct and spikey Stab Your Back and a great cover of The Stooges' I Feel Alright.


Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.20 "Murmur" R.E.M. (1983)

At number 20 the first full length offering from Atlanta, Georgia's finest.

I didn't get into REM until their major label years. In particular Out Of Time caught my attention and became the soundtrack to the summer of '91. I played that album a lot but, as is my wont, I soon worked my way through their back catalogue. Murmur couldn't be more different to Out Of Time but has become my favourite REM LP.

Michael Stipe's cryptic lyrics and occasionally impenetrable vocals are often remarked upon but I've always thought the suggestion of mumbled words were over stated. Mike Mills melodic basslines and harmonious backing vocals lighten the feel of the album and Peter Buck's trademark jangly Rickenbacker guitar shines throughout. Murmur also includes two of my favourite songs; Talk About The Passion and the heartbreakingly beautiful Perfect Circle.