Friday, 19 December 2014

Chop's Gig Reports - November/December

The year has ended rapidly and I've failed miserably to get any more top fives completed but I couldn't let the year go without linking to the last two gigs of the year. If all goes to plan I'll try and put up a Christmas themed top five on Christmas Day and then do my end of year lists fashionably late in January to kick off 2015 in style.

Barrence Whitfield & The Savages at The Jazz Cafe on Saturday 22nd November 2014 - My first live experience with Barrence Whitfield and The Savages was a thrilling night of Soul infused, hard Rocking, pre-decimal Rhythm & Blues. A band I guarantee you'd have a good time watching and one that will be high on my list of bands to catch live whenever I can.

dEUS at The Scala on Wednesday 10th December 2014 - dEUS have been around since 1994 and were the first Belgian Indie band to sign to a major international label. I first discovered them through their third album, and major label debut, The Ideal Crash. It was an impulse buy, partly motivated by a very short review I read but mainly due to the cover. Despite the proverb I’m generally of the opinion that judging books by their covers is a fairly successful way of finding good stuff to read. I’m less likely to follow that approach with music but every now and again I’m drawn to an album entirely thanks to the artwork. The Ideal Crash is the ultimate example of this, I’m not sure why (maybe I just really like Orange) but it didn’t really matter what that review said, I knew I wanted this album. In the days before Spotify that meant stumping up hard earned cash too, no opportunity to try before you buy.

[** Warning: This is more a schematic of the venue than a gig review.]


Friday, 14 November 2014

Chop's Gig Reports - End of October/Early November

Yikes! Things have been a bit hectic and I've not had any time to even think about top fives, let alone write one. One of the reasons for that was an increase in the number of gigs I went to, so here are the next batch of gig reports just to tide you over for a few more weeks.

British Sea Power "Sea of Brass" at the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-sea on Friday 24th October 2014 - My first British Sea Power since I began writing this blog. This was the first night of the “Sea of Brass” tour, combining the BSP live experience with a 28-piece championship Brass Band. The brainchild of conductor Peter Wraight who arranged bespoke brass parts to accompany a selection of Sea Power songs from throughout their back catalogue.

Hookworms at The Dome, Tufnell Park on Tuesday 28th October 2014 - After starting the month seeing Goat at the Roundhouse I continued the Psych theme with a stunning show from Leeds based Hookworms. Like Goat, this was a gig my pal Chris had wanted to see, and like Goat I found the band suddenly clicked for me in the weeks just before the gig. The single On Leaving particularly caught my attention and I found a new love of the debut album too, which combined to raise my excitement levels prior to the show.

The Godfathers at The Lexington on Friday 31st October 2014 - The first London gig for the new Godfather's line up following something of a bust up that briefly derailed the band earlier in the year. Chris & Peter Coyne have been at this for too long to let the loss of another lead guitarist (and a drummer) hold them back and the new five piece line-up sees them return to a two guitar approach.

Steve Hackett "Genesis Revisted" at G-Live, Guilford on Monday 3rd November 2014
- Part of an extended run of dates for Steve Hackett's Genesis Revisited shows with a few set changes to keep it interesting for those that saw him last year. You know you're at a Prog Rock gig when there are more balding heads than people with hair and the venue runs out of Hog's Back Brewery T.E.A. before the main act arrives on stage.


Friday, 24 October 2014

Chop's Gig Reports - July to October 2014

My cunning plan of using the Top 50 Debut Albums list as a way to keep the blog ticking over and build up a stash of top fives inevitably failed miserably so I'm back to using my usual space filler of catching up with the gig posts from my other blog.

The Dead Rat Orchestra at The London Canal Museum, Monday 28th July 2014 - During July & August 2014 the Dead Rat Orchestra undertook a tour by boat along the canals and waterways from London to Bristol. This was the opening night in the heart of town at the London Canal Museum.

The Dead Rat Orchestra at Staines-upon-Thames Memorial Gardens, Thursday 31st July 2014 - Day Four & Gig Two of the Dead Rat Orchestra's river & canals tour. I don't live very far from Staines so couldn't resist the short trip to see the DRO play a free lunch time set.

The Bad Shepherds at The Great British Beer Festival, Olympia Grand Hall, Thursday 14th August 2014 - A trip to The Great British Beer Festival coincided with an appearance by Ade Edmondson's Punk Folk covers band The Bad Shepherds. Inevitably after arriving around one o'clock, and despite my best intentions to "take it easy", by the time the Shepherds came on I was a little bit drunk. In fact, if I'm honest, I was SO drunk I can't remember a great deal about the show at all.

Goat at The Roundhouse, Friday 3rd October 2014 - A trip to The Roundhouse for an evening of Psych headlined by Sweden's magnificent Goat. A band who remain tantalisingly anonymous, wearing a variety of masks on stage and creating a feelgood vibe that put a smile on everyone's face.

The Necks at Café Oto, Tuesday 7th October 2014 - The second of a three night residency by Australian experimental jazz trio that gave me my first taste of live improvisational music. This was also my first trip to Café Oto, which is almost certainly the most hip venue I've ever been too with a fairly decent selection of Belgian beers. This review probably not massively aided by my intake of the 6% Brugse Zot.


Friday, 17 October 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - The Full List

Two months and 50 odd posts after I started this thing here's the coup de grâce. The final list, in full, on one page (which I could probably have done from the off and saved you all a lot of bother). My 50 favourite debut albums of all time - click the links for more information on each album.

There are some omissions; albums I don't own, albums I haven't lived with long enough to really appreciate, one or two albums I do love but didn't have anything interesting to impart. It's a good list though, I really like everything on it and would highly recommend anything that made the top 25. More than anything, I enjoyed re-listening to albums I hadn't played in some time, a few of these showed how important the moment you first heard a tune can influence how much you enjoy it later on.

50. Sparklehorse "Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot" (1995)
49. Pink Floyd "Piper at the Gates of Dawn" (1967)
48. Guns n' Roses "Appetite for Destruction" (1987)
47. Young Marble Giants "Colossal Youth" (1980)
46. Beiruit "Gulag Orkestar" (2006)
45. Big Country "The Crossing" (1983)
44. Brakes "Give Blood" (2005)
43. The Wonder Stuff "The Eight Legged Groove Machine" (1988)
42. Mogwai "Young Team" (1997)
41. Mudhoney "Superfuzz Bigmuff" (1988)
40. Masters of Reality "Masters of Reality" (1988)
39. Japandroids "Post Nothing" (2009)
38. Minutemen "The Punch Line" (1981)
37. Black Sabbath "Black Sabbath" (1970)
36. Arcade Fire "Funeral" (2004)
35. The Fall "Live At The Witch Trials" (1979)
34. Field Music "Field Music" (2005)
33. New York Dolls "New York Dolls" (1973)
32. The Smiths "The Smiths" (1984)
31. Desaparecidos "Read Music / Speak Spanish" (2002)
30. Billy Bragg "Life’s a Riot with Spy vs Spy" (1983)
29. The Breeders "Pod" (1990)
28. Iron Maiden "Iron Maiden" (1980)
27. Marillion "Script For A Jester's Tear" (1983)
26. Les Savy Fav "3/5" (1997)
25. The Gun Club "Fire Of Love" (1981)
24. Dr. Feelgood "Down By The Jetty" (1975)
23. Sex Pistols "Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols" (1977)
22. X-Ray Spex "Germ Free Adolescents" (1978)
21. AC/DC "High Voltage" (1976)
20. R.E.M. "Murmur" (1983)
19. The Damned "Damned, Damned, Damned" (1977)
18. P J Harvey "Dry" (1992)
17. The Stone Roses "The Stone Roses" (1989)
16. Wire "Pink Flag" (1977)
15. Dexys Midnight Runners "Searching for the Young Soul Rebels" (1980)
14. Patti Smith "Horses" (1975)
13. Godspeed You Black Emperor! "F♯ A♯ ∞" (1998)
12. Jeff Buckley "Grace" (1994)
11. The Undertones "The Undertones" (1979)
10. Nirvana "Bleach" (1989)
9. The Stooges "The Stooges" (1969)
8. The Specials "Specials" (1979)
7. Nick Drake "Five Leaves Left" (1969)
6. Stiff Little Fingers "Inflammable Material" (1979)
5. The Sonics "Here Are The Sonics" (1965)
4. Television "Marquee Moon" (1977)
3. Fugazi "Repeater" (1990)
2. Ramones "Ramones" (1976)
1. Pixies "Surfer Rosa" (1988)


Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.1 "Surfer Rosa" Pixies (1988)

My number one pick is from my favourite band of all time and is probably also my favourite album of all time (though both these things are subject to change at fairly frequent intervals).

It's another full length option winning out over an earlier mini-album. That's semantics though, either record would have claimed top spot.

Produced by hardcore legend Steve Albini with his typical sparse but energetic vibe. Kicking off with a trademark Albini drum sound on Bone Machine it clatters through three more tracks before the pace lets up a little with the wonderful Kim Deal sung Gigantic and best known song Where Is My Mind?. Thirteen tracks in a little over half an hour and not a dud song amongst them.


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.2 "Ramones" Ramones (1976)

1, 2, 3, 4!

This album won't be a surprise if you followed my 70s list. Fourteen perfect tracks of lightning fast punk that hits you straight between the eyes again & again.

I love the first four or five Ramones albums a lot but their debut remains my absolute favourite. It was the first I heard, has killer tunes from start to finish and set the template for a career blending Johnny's psycho guitar thrashing with Joey's love of great pop tunes.


Monday, 13 October 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.3 "Repeater" Fugazi (1990)

I'm applying my slightly inconsistent full length album rule again and ignoring the earlier (though just as brilliant) 6 track E.P.

I first heard Fugazi thanks to an ITV documentary that explored their history and independent ideology as well as Ian MacKaye's straightedge lifestyle. I wasn't initially drawn in by the music but was fascinated by their anti-music business D.I.Y. approach and ethical beliefs.

I'd intended to investigate their music much earlier but only got round to giving them a go in the last 5 years. Repeater was the first album I picked up (my natural tendency is to work through a band's catalogue in chronological order) but I loved it from the off and it was rapidly followed by everything else the band has released. They've been ridiculously consistent but Repeater just about edges out the rest.


Thursday, 9 October 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.4 "Marquee Moon" Television (1977)

Seminal New York Art Punk album.

It took me three goes, separated by several years, to finally get my head around this album. As is often the case this proved to be worth the effort and it's now one of my all time favourite albums.

Tom Verlaine & Richard Lloyd's twin guitar sounds are phenomenal, like something from another planet and a huge influence on so many bands that followed.


Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.5 "Here Are The Sonics" The Sonics (1965)

I mentioned The Stooges as predating Punk but this next band beat them to the punch by a good 4 years ...

A blistering album that doesn't let up from start to finish. Every track is a real corker and I absolutely love it.

Gerry Rosalie's voice is wild & raw, unfettered howling of the highest order. The drumming is incredible & the guitar sound low and dirty.

I saw them live last year for the second time. Despite most of the band being in their late 70s they rocked as hard as any band I've seen and really blew the roof off.


Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.6 "Inflammable Material" Stiff Little Fingers (1979)

Time for something a little more Punk ...

Stiff Little Fingers don't always get the recognition they deserve but they've become one of my favourite bands. They were as noisey and energetic as any of their Punk contemporaries but in Jake Burns and (non-band member) Gordon Ogilvie had a pair of truly great songwriters. They mined a seam of Punk that combined a catchy sound similar to The Undertones with the harder edged noise of bands like the Pistols & The Damned.

Inflammable Material is my favourite SLF album and is simply perfect from start to finish.