Friday, 25 October 2013

Top 5 Eponymous Albums

A little late as work and home duties have got the better of me but a few weeks back the @LPGrp topic was eponymous albums. That gave us quite a broad spectrum of choice and the eventual winner was "The Band" by, err, The Band. I'd had that album in my collection for some time but had never really got to grips with it. Turned out, after some extensive pre-LPGrp listening, I really liked it. It still doesn't quite make my top five though which are as follows.

1. "Ramones" Ramones (1976) - This is one of my all-time favourite albums and comes pretty close to being perfect as far as I'm concerned. Fourteen tracks of blistering punk rock in a little under half an hour and the template for the band's career. Gutted I never saw them live.

2. "The Undertones" The Undertones (1979) - Bringing a bit more pop to the punk equation, I still don't entirely know what genre to put The Undertones in. This is packed full of tunes that either were or could have been singles. The album was re-released in October of '79 to included the first two singles, Teenage Kicks and Get Over You, so I guess that's the version I'd pick but even the original is a corker.

3. "The Specials" The Specials (1979) - Watching Top Of The Pops in the seventies Madness & The Specials were two of the few bands that grabbed my attention. This was almost my very first album purchase. I was excited to find a copy at my best pal's Blue Peter Bring & Buy Sale but my pocket money wasn't quite enough to stretch to the £3.00 price tag. Someone else got it before I could negotiate a reduced price and I didn't actually own a copy until several years later.

4. "Peter Gabriel" Peter Gabriel (1977) - Peter Gabriel released four eponymous albums before finally making an effort and giving one a proper name. I love all four but the first two are the best and the debut remains my favourite. It's one of my favourite album covers too featuring Storm Thorgerson's Lancia Flavia.

5. "The Stooges" The Stooges (1969) - Edges out The Clash's debut LP my a gnats chuff. I'm a fairly recent convert to The Stooges. I saw them live during the 2005 reunion tour and have loved their first two albums ever since.


Friday, 4 October 2013

Guest Top 5 by Joel of Giant Burger - The Top 5 Worst Sounds in my Record Collection

I've said before that the guest top fives are better than the ones I write myself and this just proves the point beyond doubt. Joel plays guitar and sings in the band Giant Burger who are so far the only band I have discovered entirely through Twitter. I went to see them at the Sebright Arms last week and they were ace.

Joel agreed to do this a while back and has put together something unique. I intend to follow Rosie & Nick by listening to the sounds and recording my reactions in the comments section. Assuming I've successfully worked out the html to embed mp3s in the blog, it would be cool if everyone had a go.

You should also go & see Giant Burger play live (check the video out at the bottom of the blog). Over to Joel.


There are the horrors that come suddenly, and there is the horror of endlessness. Music has both of these aplenty, and I try to find it. I collect terrible music and sounds, not exclusively, but actively. I do this to fight a narrowing mind. It is by confronting ugliness that we come closer to knowing and noticing beauty. Also, if you only listen to the voices you agree with, how do you know what you believe?

It is also important to share the horror you find. I find it amusing to expose my friends to bad music and sounds, I always have. For this Top Five, I chose some fairly terrible stuff to play to two people, Rosie and Nick, who both have a good idea about what they like and don’t like when it comes to music. I asked them some questions about how they felt about these pieces.

Here are the selections, either ripped onto mp3 (badly), or with a link. My apologies in advance for the mp3 quality, these are very obscure (or unique) sounds, and I have limited technology.

5. The Black Box Revelation "Love, Love Is On My Mind" (T for Tunes, 2011)

I got this when I ordered a really tasteful techno record, tucked into the package. I have absolutely no idea why the person I bought a Monoceros album off sent me this single. Maybe they had it sent to them. Maybe it was a joke. It’s fucking terrible. The name of the record label makes it even funnier.

ME – What does this make you feel?

NICK – Irritation and boredom, and almost sad at the waste of the time and the energy and the illusion and the delusion of the people making it. Music of that ilk, that they’re shooting for, the excitement isn’t there. It’s totally following the rules.

ROSIE - Embarrassment is the major emotion. I guess to me they sound about my age, and really British, and I just feel embarrassed that people would pick up their instruments and think that it’s okay to do that. It’s so Camden barfly.

NICK – Exactly.

ME – You both knew that band had a ‘The’ in the title.

4. Marvin Bernstein – "Burning the Candle" from Lebenszyklus (Life Cycle) (Music Deluxe, year unknown)

MP3 Player - "Burning the Candle"

Link to mp3 if audio player doesn't work

This is a peppy little number from a tip-to-tail exuberant CD of instrumental MIDI masterpieces. I also own a companion album called Schrecksekunden (Creepy Moments), whose tone is more Halloweeny. I bought them both from separate people selling junk on illegal pitches at Brick Lane Market. 20p each!

ROSIE – Has it been two minutes yet?

ME – We’re listening to the whole track.


NICK – Gee, I just don’t know where it’s going, next.

ME – What is, in your opinion, the purpose of this recording, and is it fulfilling that purpose?

NICK – It sounds like a soundtrack for a series of uplifting moments of a forgettable, fairly shit TV movie.

ROSIE – I think the purpose is for a guy, cause it’s probably a guy, to explore the different options of his digital music producing equipment.

ME – Would you listen to it willingly?

ROSIE – No, I would have to be subjected to it.

NICK – Me, too.

3. Lalo Schifrin – "AD Main Theme" (BBC Cassettes, 1985)

For when Vivaldi is too hard hitting, this music was soundtrack material for a TV series about Late Antiquity. I’m not sure how Schifrin made what was an absolutely fascinating period of history sound so waxy, dead and boring, but he did, and well done to him for it! If the television series is anything like its music, it would fit well into a series of MST3K parodies. One track is called Gladiator School, though. Bought under a bridge in Oslo off a junk seller, if memory serves.

NICK – It’s like John Williams, without the imagination.

ROSIE – It’s like a Mills and Boone novel.

ME – What does it make you feel?

NICK – It fails to make me feel anything, it’s so contrived. Is that the best you can do to try to make me feel that?

ROSIE – I actually felt like I was on a cruise, it felt quite nice.

ME – Would you listen to it willingly?

NICK – No.

ROSIE – I actually wouldn’t mind. I like stuff that is just there, sometimes. That music is completely unobtrusive.

2. John Savage "The Art of the Drummer" (John Savage, 1977)

MP3 Player - "The Art of the Drummer"

Link to mp3 if audio player doesn't work

John is a fantastic drummer. This tape, no doubt, was made to accompany a tutorial book for people wanting to learn drums. To make this tape would have been a Herculean task, and John’s musicianship and precision I envy. However, when listened to as just a tape, a similarly superhuman level of stamina is required to get past two minutes. Perfect for unsettling house guests. I believe this is from a St. Leonard’s charity shop.

ME – What does this make you feel?

NICK – Kind of interest at first, and then annoyance. I kind of liked listening to it at the beginning, and at the end I just wanted it to stop.

ME – Would you listen to it willingly?

ROSIE – No, no, no, no.

NICK – No. Unless the bingo caller was sick, then I’d put that on.

1. Keith "Kent Stories Read By Keith" (Home taped, year unknown)

MP3 Player - "Kent Stories Read By Keith"

Link to mp3 if audio player doesn't work

Keith, here, is reading from what I can only assume is a very saucy book about Kent, and its goings on. Especially present are the sexual predilections of queens and kings, or their frigidity. I don’t know who Keith is reading this for, but they are also getting a peek into his mind. It’s not safe to stay long with Keith, especially not when you’re alone in the house. Sorry, Keith, but it’s true. I think this is from a charity shop in Hastings.

ROSIE – Oh, he’s creepy. He sounds like he’s reading the Shipping Forecast.

ME – What is, in your opinion, the purpose of this recording, and is it performing it?

ROSIE – I think it really fails, because you don’t want to listen to that guy. All you can think is about that looking at a page, and blabbing off some words.

NICK – It think it’s to convey Keith’s passion for history, and it fails! It Fails! I think it was created by Keith for friends or family, for a car journey.

ME – What does it make you feel?

ROSIE – Boredom is the overarching feeling, but it also makes me want to get away, and it also makes me feel sad that a tremendous tale, and history itself can be reduced to just some words, and artless drone.

NICK – Mostly frustration, because I wanted to hear the story told well. I listen to it and I think ‘How hard is it? I could do better than that.

ROSIE – He says his sentences that same way every time.

NICK – There’s no modifying the tone at all, no abstract shit like that.

Thanks for listening, folks.

GIANT BURGER play "Big Meat" Live at The George Tavern