Friday, 24 April 2015

Chop's Gigs - March 2015

Oops! Normally get these round up links to my gig blog done a little earlier in the month but I guess I got distracted by songs about weather. For some reason all the bands I saw this month had purple light shows.

Hookworms at The Oval Space on Saturday 21st March 2015 - I wasn't expecting a lively crowd, I had my specs on instead of my contacts, but I couldn't resist getting involved with the lively element of the crowd. I love a bouncy gig and once I was down the front I was set for the rest of the night. Radio Tokyo kicked in with an even quicker drum beat and things got really lively. It was a nice crowd though, no aggressive moshing just a bunch of kids (and an old bloke wearing specs) having some fun.

Sleater-Kinney at The Roundhouse on Monday 23rd March 2015 - With my impeccable sense of timing I didn't get into Sleater-Kinney until shortly after The Woods was released and shortly before they announced they were going on an indefinite hiatus. I loved The Woods and used the last 10 years to get the rest of their back catalogue. They were firmly established at the top of my list of bands I wanted to see live when out of the blue they released the Bury Our Friends single.

Bo Ningen at the Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen on Tuesday 31st March 2015 - Bo Ningen were amazing the last time I saw them and tonight is no different. It's a brilliant set, frantic and intense from the start, the band are so tight live they must be one of the very best bands currently touring.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

50 years of tunes - 1978 - Wire "Chairs Missing"

I'm a fairly recent convert to Wire having decided I needed to explore deeper than a nineties compilation after hearing their excellent 2013 album Change Becomes Us. Their first three albums are superb but Chairs Missing, their second, is my favourite which built on the minimalist punk of their debut but wasn't quite as challenging as their later releases. Coincidentally, if all went to plan, I should have seen them live last week for the first time.

1978 - Wire "Chairs Missing"

Released: August 1978
Label: Harvest
Producer: Mike Thorne

Side one:
1. "Practice Makes Perfect" (Bruce Gilbert, Colin Newman)
2. "French Film Blurred" (Graham Lewis, Newman)
3. "Another the Letter" (Gilbert, Newman)
4. "Men 2nd" (Lewis)
5. "Marooned" (Gilbert, Lewis, Newman)
6. "Sand in My Joints" (Lewis)
7. "Being Sucked in Again" (Newman)
8. "Heartbeat" (Newman)

Side two:
9. "Mercy" (Lewis, Newman)
10. "Outdoor Miner" (Lewis, Newman)
11. "I Am the Fly" (Lewis, Newman)
12. "I Feel Mysterious Today" (Lewis, Newman)
13. "From the Nursery" (Lewis, Newman)
14. "Used To" (Gilbert, Lewis)
15. "Too Late" (Gilbert)


Friday, 17 April 2015

Collaborative Top 5 - Songs About Weather - The Vote

The nominations are in and, flippin' heck, there's quite a few.

True to form I didn't really think this through very clearly so with a list that's just shy of 140 songs I'm not convinced I'm going to get a clear top five but let's give it a go.

Leave a comment on this post, or send me tweet via @Chops_Top_Fives with the following information;

Your top five songs ordered from 1 to 5 OR your top five songs unordered (I don't mind which as long as you let me know.

If you put them in order your number 1 pick will receive more points and your number 5 less. If you choose unordered all songs will score equally.

If you already picked a top five and want to stick with those selections then that's fine too but take a look through the list. It's epic and there might be some great tunes you've forgotten.

Right, go - VOTE VOTE VOTE!!!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

50 years of tunes - 1977 - Television "Marquee Moon"

An album that took me repeated attempts over a number of years to finally get to grips with. Worth the effort as when I finally fell for it's charms I fell hard and it still sounds fresh and new to me now.

1977 - Television "Marquee Moon"

Released: February 1977
Label: Elektra
Producer: Andy Johns, Tom Verlaine

Side one:
1. "See No Evil"
2. "Venus"
3. "Friction"
4. "Marquee Moon"

Side two:
5. "Elevation"
6. "Guiding Light" (Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd)
7. "Prove It"
8. "Torn Curtain"

(All songs written by Tom Verlaine except where stated)


Friday, 10 April 2015

Collaborative Top Five - Songs About Weather

I've been writing this blog for almost eight years now but have slacked off a bit in the last year with actual Top Fives. I've got loads of topics I want to write but never quite enough time to do them justice. To reinvigorate things I thought I could try and get more people involved.

Interactive top fives are my plan. I used to participate in a monthly top five vote run by some people I knew at the PRS. That kind of kick started my obsession with top fives and I miss the interaction and the chance to see what other people chose for each topic. I'm not completely certain how successful this will be but figured I'd give it a try while my own top fives are thin on the ground.

The inaugural interactive topic is Top 5 Songs about Weather.

Send me your nominations, by next Friday 17th April, via the comments link below or on Twitter @Chops_Top_Fives or in the pub and I'll construct a massive list for us all to vote on.

It's gonna be fun.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

50 years of tunes - 1976 - Ramones "Ramones"

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. There are fourteen brilliant songs in under thirty minutes. I don't think rock'n'roll gets any better than this.

1976 - Ramones "Ramones"

Released: February 1976
Label: Sire
Producer: Craig Leon

Side one:
1. "Blitzkrieg Bop" (Tommy Ramone, Dee Dee Ramone)
2. "Beat on the Brat" (Joey Ramone)
3. "Judy Is a Punk" (Joey Ramone)
4. "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" (Tommy Ramone)
5. "Chain Saw" (Joey Ramone)
6. "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue" (Dee Dee Ramone)
7. "I Don't Wanna Go Down to the Basement" (Dee Dee Ramone, Johnny Ramone)

Side two:
8. "Loudmouth" (Dee Dee Ramone, Johnny Ramone)
9. "Havana Affair" (Dee Dee Ramone, Johnny Ramone)
10. "Listen to My Heart" (Dee Dee Ramone)
11. "53rd & 3rd" (Dee Dee Ramone)
12. "Let's Dance" (Jim Lee)
13. "I Don't Wanna Walk Around with You" (Dee Dee Ramone)
14. "Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World" (Dee Dee Ramone)


Wednesday, 1 April 2015

50 years of tunes - 1975 - Patti Smith "Horses"

Horses is still the only proper Patti Smith album I own, though since I did my 1975 list it has nicked top spot for the year ahead of Wish You Were Here. Patti's voice is urgent and powerful when she sings whilst her poetic roots are evident in the spoken word introductions to Birdland & Horses. The reworking of Gloria makes the Them original seem quite tame and the fabulous Break It Up, co-written with Tom Verlaine, wouldn't sound out of place on a Television album (no doubt partly due to Tom's cameo on Guitar).

1975 - Patti Smith "Horses"

Released: December 1975
Label: Arista
Producer: John Cale

Side one:
1. "Gloria"
Part I: "In Excelsis Deo" (Patti Smith)
Part II: "Gloria" (Van Morrison)
2. "Redondo Beach" (Smith, Richard Sohl, Lenny Kaye)
3. "Birdland" (Smith, Sohl, Kaye, Ivan Kral)
4. "Free Money" (Smith, Kaye)

Side two:
1. "Kimberly" (Smith, Allen Lanier, Kral)
2. "Break It Up" (Smith, Tom Verlaine)
3. "Land"
Part I: "Horses" (Smith)
Part II: "Land of a Thousand Dances" (Chris Kenner, Fats Domino)
Part III: "La Mer(de)" (Smith)
4. "Elegie" (Smith, Lanier)


Wednesday, 25 March 2015

50 years of tunes - 1974 - Genesis "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway"

This didn't used to be my favourite Genesis album but has grown in my affection over the years. If you're not a fan of Prog or Genesis then The Lamb is definitely not for you. Individually most of the songs are quite short but as an album it is long & took me ages to get to grips with. I think it's worth the effort though, it has hidden charms I'm still discovering now.

1974 - Genesis "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway"

Released: November 1974
Label: Charisma
Producer: John Burns, Genesis

Side one:
1. "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway"
2. "Fly on a Windshield"
3. "Broadway Melody of 1974"
4. "Cuckoo Cocoon"
5. "In the Cage"
6. "The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging"

Side two:
1. "Back in N.Y.C."
2. "Hairless Heart"
3. "Counting Out Time"
4. "The Carpet Crawlers"
5. "The Chamber of 32 Doors"

Side three:
1. "Lilywhite Lilith"
2. "The Waiting Room"
3. "Anyway"
4. "Here Comes the Supernatural Anaesthetist"
5. "The Lamia"
6. "Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats"

Side four:
1. "The Colony of Slippermen"
a) "The Arrival"
b) "A Visit to the Doktor"
c) "Raven"
2. "Ravine"
3. "The Light Dies Down on Broadway"
4. "Riding the Scree"
5. "In the Rapids"
6. "It"


Friday, 20 March 2015

Top 5 Terry Pratchett Novels

I was really sad to hear about the passing of Sir Terry Pratchett last week. I read a lot of his books in the early nineties but nowhere near all of them. I was reading the Discworld series in chronological order, hence the cluster of dates, but gave up after realising he was writing them quicker than I could read them. Putting this together makes me feel I should pick up some of the books I've missed. If you're anywhere near reading all of them you're welcome to add you're own top five in the comments, it might even focus my future reading efforts.

1. Mort (1987) - Death has appeared in nearly every Discworld novel, sometimes only for a few lines, but Mort was the first novel where the story revolved around him. Death decides to take a holiday and employs Mort as his apprentice. Things don't go particularly well. Death is a wonderfully matter-of-fact character, which is a pretty good way of thinking about the concept really. All of Death's dialogue are printed in SMALL CAPITALS WHICH IS A SIMPLE BUT EFFECTIVE WAY OF ADDING TO THE HUMOUR. I got my Mum to read this one, she didn't really get it but it's the book I'd recommend for anyone new to Sir Terry.

2. Good Omens (1990) - The only non-Discworld novel on my list this was co-written with another of my favourite authors, Neil Gaimen. Good Omens is a comedy about the birth of the son of Satan. Having become accustomed to their lives on Earth the angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley try to avert the end of the world. A shame that Pratchett & Gaimen didn't collaborate on another story but I do like the fact this remains a standalone story. It even features a cameo from Death.

3. Wyrd Sisters (1988) - Wyrd Sisters sees the return of Granny Weatherwax, from Equal Rites, alongside the equally formidable Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick. Three Witches, bubbling cauldrons and the ghost of a dead king - a few deliberate echoes of Shakespeare - all make for a great story. Granny Weatherwax is probably my second favourite Discworld character. Equal Rites was the first Discworld novel that really clicked for me and this book takes the Witches idea a little further.

4. Small Gods (1992) - A satire on religious institutions and their role in politics. A book that marked something of a shift in Pratchett's writing style to tackle weightier themes, though still managing to cram in more jokes in one book than most authors manage in their career.

5. Guards! Guards! (1989) - The first of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch stories. The City Watch are a largely ineffectual Police group who generally choose to avoid trouble rather than prevent it. This changes with the arrival of Carrot Ironfoundersson who turns them into a slightly less ineffectual Police group.


Wednesday, 18 March 2015

50 years of tunes - 1973 - Status Quo "Hello"

There always has to be Status Quo in these lists and Hello! has long been my favourite Quo studio album.

1973 - Status Quo "Hello"

Released: September 1973
Label: Vertigo
Producer: Status Quo

Side one:
1. "Roll Over Lay Down" (Rossi/Parfitt/Lancaster/Coghlan/Young)
2. "Claudie" (Francis Rossi/Bob Young)
3. "A Reason for Living" (Francis Rossi/Rick Parfitt)
4. "Blue Eyed Lady" (Rick Parfitt/Alan Lancaster)

Side two:
1. "Caroline" (Francis Rossi/Bob Young)
2. "Softer Ride" (Rick Parfitt/Alan Lancaster)
3. "And It's Better Now" (Francis Rossi/Bob Young)
4. "Forty-Five Hundred Times" (Francis Rossi/Rick Parfitt)