Friday, 31 August 2012

Top 5 Songs with Moon in the title - In tribute to Neil Armstrong

Neil Alden Armstrong, the first man on the Moon, passed away last Saturday and I really could not let his death go without marking the occasion. I was 1 year and 2 weeks old when Apollo 11 landed and Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Micheal Collins made history. I don't remember a thing about it but I know it made a huge impression on me as I grew up.

A huge hat tip to JHO at Station to Station who produced a top ten which you can check out here. Apologies for shamelessly stealing your idea!

1. Nick Drake "Pink Moon" - It took me a while to really "get" Nick Drake but once I did I feel in love with his music. The Pink Moon album is probably my favourite and this is a wonderful tune.

2. Television "Marquee Moon" - Television perhaps didn't achieve as much as they could have done but this is the high point of their career. The best track from their brilliant debut LP.

3. Neko Case "I Wish I Was The Moon Tonight" - Neko Case has a truly stunning voice that could make any song sound great. This is a delicate and beautiful tune from the album "Blacklisted".

4. Creedence Clearwater Revival "Bad Moon Rising" - Regular readers will know I've been trying to progress my (very basic) guitar skills by learning how to play this very song. I've not got very far since I last reported but that hasn't diminished my appreciation of this southern rocker.

5. Genesis "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight" - Opening track from "Selling England By The Pound" when Genesis where still good and Peter Gabriel was still on vocals. It's 8 minutes long and still only the 4th longest song on the album.


Friday, 10 August 2012

Guest Top 5 Bands that SHOULD only have ever made one album by Alun Westoll

The second part of Alun's top five double header, if you want to know anything about him read last weeks post. Over to Al.

It took Depeche Mode 7 attempts before they finally aced it with ‘Violator’. Even the legendary Beatles took 5 tries before Revolver (although every album after that was AWESOME!) On the other hand, here’s my Top 5 list of bands that nailed it at on first go and then probably should have stopped while they were ahead!

1. Stereophonics "Word Gets Around"

The Welsh indie/rock band released their first album in 1997, containing the single ‘Traffic’, one of my all time fav records. The Stereophonics have since gone on to become one of the UK’s biggest acts and although all the following 6 albums were good, none have been as good as the first. The bands original drummer recently died, apparently after finally realising that his curly perm had ceased to be fashionable around 30 years ago!

2. Crowded House "Crowded House"

Although many believe ‘Woodface’ to be Crowded House’s defining moment, for me it will always be their self titled debut, released in 1986. The Aussie/NZ band split in 1996 after the death of their drummer (what is it about drummers – just like bass players in Spinal Tap!) but then my initial excitement at the news of them reforming in 2007 soon evaporated after hearing the next two albums. The original line up of Crowded House was quite possibly the best live band I have ever seen! Amazing tunes, great musicians and plenty of witty banter between songs. Fantastic.

3. Goldfrapp "Felt Mountain"

Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory are an electro pop duo from London who formed the band Goldfrapp in 1999 and released their brilliant Mercury Prize short-listed debut album, Felt Mountain, in 2000. Having loved the haunting ambient sounds I found it a bit of a shame when the band decided to reinvent themselves on subsequent albums, going on to release the dance album, the glam rock album, the folky album, etc, etc. I’m still hoping for another one like the first! Unlike many electronic acts, Goldfrapp are a fantastic live band, with Alison Goldfrapp a sight to be seen (& heard), singing away whist simultaneously simulating masturbation with a Theremin! You don’t see that every day!

4. Oasis "Definitely Maybe"

Yes, the next album was great too but it never got better than their debut, Definitely Maybe, released in 1994. Another album I played to death around the time. As we all know, seven albums later, in 2009 Oasis inevitably imploded with Liam then going on form the truly bloody awful Beady Eye whilst Noel proved he was the talent with the release of Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds.

5. Zero 7 "Simple Things"

Zero 7 released their first album, Simple Things, in 2001, which went on to win the coveted Mercury Music prize. The British duo of Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker were joined on the album by numerous guest vocalists, by far the best for me being the brilliant husky voiced Aussie Sia Furler. Her contributions to the record being the highlight of one of my all time favourite albums. The ambient, down tempo, trip hop band have since gone on to release 3 more albums but none reaching the heady heights of their debut, although Sia Furler’s 2004 solo album ‘Colour the Small One’ comes very close.

Two top fives & only 1 tiny mention of the Phantoms! Rock on!

Friday, 3 August 2012

Guest Top 5 Bands that only ever made one album by Alun Westoll

Hot on the heals of the Phantoms' singer Mark here's the first of two back to back top fives from drummer, vocalist and band driving force, Alun Westoll. Al is a huge Beatles fan and recently got the thrill of playing alongside the resident band at The Cavern Club. He's also a serial video taker and has caught me in drunk dance mode on more than one occasion.

Disclaimer: Apologies if the following is slightly more mainstream than usual. I’m aware that regular readers of Chops Top Fives will be used to a slightly more obscure musical view of the world!

Here’s my top 5 bands that only ever made one great album before either tragically splitting up or fading away into insignificance!

1. Longview "Mercury"

London based indie band formed in 2002 released the brilliant ‘Mercury’ in 2003 & have not been heard of since. I was lucky enough to see them supporting Elbow at the Cambridge Junction on 28th Sept 03 (with fellow Phantom Jon) which turned out to be one of my Top 5 gigs ever! Looking at the Longview website the band are still in existence so there’s still hope for a follow up yet. Not to be confused with the other Longview who are apparently an American Bluegrass Supergroup! Unfortunate.

2. The Seahorses "Do It Yourself"

The Seahorses were an English rock band formed in 1996 by guitarist John Squire after his exit from The Stone Roses. They released only the one great album, ‘Do It Yourself’ in 1997, and then split up due to ‘musical differences’ during recording sessions for the follow up in Jan 99. Shame!

3. Airhead "Boing!!"

In the words of Wikipedia, Airhead (formerly Jefferson Airhead) were a British indie pop band that achieved some success in the early 1990s, at the tail end of the Madchester music movement. Formed in 1991, released their first & last album in 92, split up in 93! This album was on constant play for me in the early nineties and still sounds great today.

4. Air Traffic "Fractured Life"

Air Traffic are (or should that be were?) a British alternative rock band from Bournemouth. Formed in 2003, they released their one & only album ‘Fractured Life’ in 2007, the same year being nominated for the Xfm New Music Award. In 2010 it was announced on the band's official website that they were ‘taking a break from being a band for a while to try other things’ & haven’t been heard of since. I saw Air Traffic play at ULU on 2nd July 07 with mates Stevie & Shrek & fondly recall Shrek refusing to go to the bar on behalf of an underage girl stating that ‘if my little sister were at a gig an’ sum big twat bought ‘er a drink I’d be reet pissed off!!’

5. Jellyfish "Bellybutton"

This is slightly cheating as Jellyfish released two albums before their demise but they were so good they had to get a mention in my Top 5! Plus I was struggling to think of another top band who have only ever made the one album. Jellyfish were a pop band from San Francisco, formed in 1989 & split up only 5 years later (due to ‘creative differences’), in-between releasing 2 albums, Bellybutton in 1990 & Spilt Milk in 1993. I was lucky enough to see them play at the Astoria in London sometime in 1993. Great tunes, amazing harmony & sound a bit like the Beatles. Loved it while it lasted!