Thursday, 25 December 2014

Top 5 Christmas number ones

It's been far too long since I last wrote a proper top 5 on here. I've traditionally published a Christmas special but was running out of topics until this popped into my head late one night. The Christmas number one single has been a sought after accolade for some time although, as I've discovered in researching* this, hasn't often been the bearer of great music. There are just about enough decent songs - in-between the recent dross of X-Factor winners, "novelty" releases by the likes of Mr Blobby and the umpteenth re-release of "Do They Know It's F-cking Christmas" - to cobble together a reasonable top five. Though, as you'll see, my definition of "reasonable" might be open to debate.

*Reading Wikipedia

1. Slade "Merry Xmas Everybody" (1973) - It turns out there aren't many Christmas number ones that actually reference Christmas, certainly not many I'd consider putting in one of my top fives. This Slade track may seem a bit old hat now but, as Christmas number ones go, it's as good as it gets and scores extra points for being a decent tune AND being about the actual event.

2. The Human League "Don't You Want Me" (1981) - As I'm sure I've mentioned before, although I grew up in the eighties I wasn't a fan of the chart music of the day. This song was unavoidable at the time and, if I'm honest, I probably hated it but recently I seem to have developed something of a nostalgic feeling for the best songs of the era and it turns out this is an absolute corker.

3. Pink Floyd "Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)" (1979) - Was this really a Christmas number one? According to Wikipedia it was so who am I to argue? This was, oddly, partially responsible for me getting into Punk. It seems strange that so soon after the punk revolution a band so synonymous with the old guard were still claiming chart success, though, if truth be told, lyrically the Floyd were as reactionary as any of the punk vanguard.

4. Rolf Harris Two Little Boys (1969) - Can I get away with this still? I realise that as a man he clearly got away with some heinous acts and is now rightly being punished for them. Can I separate the man's art from his personal life? To be honest I don't know but this single was a landmark moment in my youth. I had this and Jake The Peg on 7" and they were possibly the very first pieces of vinyl I owned. I remember thinking this song was a bit lame when I was six but it ingrained itself into my consciousness over the years hence and, prior to the court case, had become something of a nostalgic gem.

Whatever the rights & wrongs of art vs person I feel a little uncomfortable posting a video of the song so here's my standby replacement "Killing In The Name" by the popular beat combo Rage Against The Machine who claimed the number one slot in 2008.

5. Girls Aloud "Sound of the Underground" (2002) - And having slated X-Factor and the like at the start of this piece let's go full circle and give a tip of the hat to the modern day hit factory that does occasionally find a gem amongst the conveyor belt of pig swill.

Happy Christmas to you all, thanks for sticking with me and very best wishes for the New Year.

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.


Monday, 6 October 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.7 "Five Leaves Left" Nick Drake (1969)

A wonderful, beautiful and sublime album.

Nick Drake was such a remarkable talent. A brilliant songwriter with a gorgeous voice, he recorded three albums that are all immaculate. Five Leaves Left is an LP I can put on anytime & enjoy. One of my go to records if I'm feeling stressed, it has the power to chill me out & cheer me up.


Sunday, 5 October 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.8 "Specials" The Specials (1979)

The best album to come out of the Two Tone movement.

This also made my 70s list so I suspect I already told you this story but, here we go again ...

I first saw this album at my best pal's Blue Peter bring & buy sale. I guess this would have been late 1979 or early 1980. I was into Madness, and recognised the 2 Tone logo, but didn't know much about The Specials. The cover really grabbed me though, the band looked cool and I desperately wanted to buy it. The record was only £3 but I hadn't really planned to buy anything and didn't have enough money. I failed to convince the seller to accept the £1.64, blunt pencil & bit of string I had in my pocket and so made the mad dash home to get Mum or Dad to fund me. By the time I got back they'd sold it to someone else.

I was quite a bit older by the time I did buy The Specials but it's been a huge favourite of mine ever since.


Saturday, 4 October 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.9 "The Stooges" The Stooges (1969)

As Iggy says in his current 6music trailer, The Stooges were punk before Punk was a thing.

There's a lineage that runs from The Sonics to The Stooges and leads to the US & UK Punk scenes of the late seventies. They were hugely influential and their first two albums are both brilliant.

The debut album is pretty perfect, full of energy, distortion and fun. It features three of their best know tunes in I Wanna Be Your Dog, No Fun and opener 1969 but the quality is high throughout and the pace is unrelenting.

It's an album that makes me want to sing along ... with my top off (though frankly that's an image no-one wants in their head).


Friday, 3 October 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.10 "Bleach" Nirvana (1989)

The album that launched one of the biggest bands of the nineties and kick-started the Grunge revolution.

Bleach might be my favourite Nirvana album. A pal of mine once suggested Nirvana had only recorded one decent album and I spent the rest of the week trying to work out which one he meant. Nevermind is the obvious choice, it was my starting point with Nirvana and a thrilling discovery when it came out. In Utero may be less loved but it's really powerful and benefits from the engineering skills of Steve Albini.

However, there's a freshness about Bleach that might be down to it being the album I took longest to get into but must also be a reflection of way the band felt when recording it. Some of the band's best songs are on here; Blew, About A Girl and Negative Creep are all big favourites and debut single Love Buzz is a blast. Whatever the reason it's the Nirvana album I'm most likely to play these days and a worthy top ten entry.


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.


Monday, 22 September 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No. 21 "High Voltage" AC/DC (1976)

It's a long way to the top, if you wanna Rock'n'Roll.

AC/DC had already released two albums in Australia before this compilation, combining the best of those two Oz LPs, came out, however, it was their official international debut so definitely counts for the purposes of this list. I love all the Bon Scott releases but this is my current favourite AC/DC album.


Sunday, 21 September 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.22 "Germ Free Adolescents" X-Ray Spex (1978)

Germ free adolescents!

X-Ray Spex are rapidly becoming one of my favourite punk bands, I suspect it's partly that weakness for brass again but they did as much as any other punk band to break down the walls of the established music industry. I also like the way Poly Styrene often sings the name of the song title before launching into the lyrics.

Both Sex Pistols & X-Ray Spex albums made my seventies list too and are effectively standalone albums that nailed everything the band's wanted to say first time out. Poly Styrene was a true individual who had trained as in opera and turned that into one of the most recognisable voices in contemporary music.


Saturday, 20 September 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.23 "Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols" Sex Pistols (1977)

Next the first entry in a UK Punk double header ...

Even growing up in sleepy suburb in Surrey the Pistols were big news, though I knew more about them from bits in the newspaper than anything on music radio or television.

I remember walking into class in my final year at middle school and finding a bunch of boys crammed round one of those portable record decks that everyone seemed to have, listening to Friggin' In The Riggin' from The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle soundtrack. This would have been early in 1979, by which time the Pistols were all but over, but even a ropey cover of a traditional bawdy drinking song was enough to light a spark in my head.

When I eventually picked up a copy of the Pistols debut album I was amazed at how musical it sounded. The raw energy is key, and Johnny Rotten's ferocious lyrics stand the test of time, but they were a pretty fine rock band too. Whilst their fire burned bright and briefly their impact on the British music scene was immense.


Friday, 19 September 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.24 "Down By The Jetty" Dr. Feelgood (1975)

Bit of pre-punk rhythm & blues?

I spent way too long dismissing the Feelgood's based on only really knowing their later hit single Milk & Alcohol (thanks Shuft!) but as I discovered Roxette and She Does It Right I began to realise the error of my ways.

I saw the brilliant Julien Temple film about the early days of the band, Oil City Confidential. The soundtrack to that film is an excellent compilation of the bands best early tunes too, and that led me to pick up a copy of the magnificent Down By The Jetty.

Wilko is a wonderfully unique and brilliant guitarist. I was very grateful to see him live this year and, following the news he is recovering from a possibly life-saving operation, I hope to see him again soon.


Thursday, 18 September 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.25 "Fire Of Love" The Gun Club (1981)

Garage Punk trailblazers in at 25.

I spent a long time confusing The Gun Club with The Tom Tom Club, and Jeffrey Lee Pierce with Jeffrey Lewis for some inexplicable reason (actually it was because I'm an idiot). Not that I have anything against either of those other artists, it's just the confusion meant I didn't realise what I was missing out on.

I was put right by the inimitable Mr Marc Riley on 6music and then really got hooked after seeing Japandroids play a superlative cover of the amazing For The Love Of Ivy.


Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.26 "3/5" Les Savy Fav (1997)

Next, as Jetplane Landing once sang, "Why do they never play Les Savy Fav on the radio? The only punk band left in America!"

It took me until 2007, ten years after this blistering debut, to properly discover Les Savy Fav but having made the break through with the Let's Stay Friends album it didn't take me long to realise they've been brilliant throughout their career. I think 3/5 is probably their best album but they've been so consistent picking one album is really an exercise in semantics.

They're amazing live too, Tim Harrington (incidently not the same Tim Harrington mentioned in the Master's of Reality post) is a fantastic presence on stage and absolutely one of the great front-men I've seen.


Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.27 "Script For A Jester's Tear" Marillion (1983)

I was never the trendiest of kids at school so it's somewhat typical that I got into a style of music that was as far from fashionable as it was possible to be in 1983.

Marillion were the first band that I really became obsessed with and also kick started my addiction to live music. I'd overheard some older boys talking about them on a school athletics outing and wrongly assumed Marillion were a really cool band. I picked up a live album (Real to Reel) on tape from Boots and quickly fell in love with it. I was getting into Genesis around the same time but only new their newer material so wasn't aware of the influence at all.

I got my first copy of Script on cassette from the Britannia Music Club. It came in a rather pleasing cream coloured box, and took me a while to get to grips with but eventually became my gateway for a really serious Prog exploration.


Monday, 15 September 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.28 "Iron Maiden" Iron Maiden (1980)

The next two albums date back to the early eighties which were ground zero for my serious music obsession ...

This album was the punky explosive debut of a band that would go on to become giants of the Heavy Metal scene. I have a soft spot for this line up of the band, preferring Paul Di'anno's vocal tone to Bruce's powerful scream and Clive Burr's punkier drumming style.

Running Free was released as the band's first single and saw them become the first group to perform live on Top Of The Pops since The Who in 1972. The 7-minute epic Phantom of the Opera is still a big live favourite and probably marks Steve Harris' first move towards the more "proggy" feel of Iron Maiden's later work.

Iron Maiden, Prowler & Invasion are re-recordings of songs that appeared on their debut release, The Soundhouse Tapes E.P., while the cover sees the first appearance of the Derek Riggs designed band mascot Eddie the Head.


Sunday, 14 September 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.29 "Pod" The Breeders (1990)

The album at 29 is epic by comparison to the previous entry but still only just squeaks past the 30 minute mark.

Pod is a brilliant album that gave Kim Deal her first bit of freedom outside of the Pixies. Seen as something of a super group at the time with Tanya Donelly of Throwing Muses and Josephine Wiggs of The Perfect Disaster forming the core of the band. The songs are mainly Deal's though and show exactly why she must have been frustrated within the confines of the Pixies.

Also, Pod is produced, or more accurately engineered, by Steve Albini. I'm a big fan of Albini recordings, he's a fascinating character who is the antithesis of big money mainstream music business folk and whose involvement in an album is a good sign it will be worth a listen. There will be further Albini entries before this list is done.

Thrillingly, last year, I got to see The Breeders play Pod and second album, Last Splash, in full and in order at The Forum in Kentish Town. It was the first time I'd seen the band live and was a wonderful night that will live long in the memory. The video below is from that show, I was standing a little to the left of whoever took it.


Saturday, 13 September 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.30 "Life’s a Riot with Spy vs Spy" Billy Bragg (1983)

Yet another album that makes me regret making such a big fuss about the full length album thing.

Seven songs in less than 16 minutes but it officially qualified for the UK Album chart on release so fits my slightly erratic internal rule set. I first encountered Billy Bragg thanks to an Andy Kershaw report on the mid-eighties relaunch of Whistle. Kershaw had been roadie come tour manager for Billy Bragg early on and was an enthusiastic promoter of the Bard of Barking. That TV piece certainly captured my imagination and I soon picked up a copy of Life’s a Riot ... on tape from the library.

I loved the raw guitar sound and passionate tone of Billy's vocals. He's a great songwriter too and Kirsty MacColl's version of A New England became a proper hit the year after Life’s a Riot ... came out reaching number seven in the UK Singles chart.


Friday, 12 September 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.31 "Read Music / Speak Spanish" Desaparecidos (2002)

Now the debut and (so far) only album by a band that included a musician who has been very prolific in a number of guises.

Desaparecidos are, for want of a better word, an Emo band put together by Conor Oberst to kill time between the folk and Americana work of Bright Eyes and his solo albums. It was the first Oberst album of any style I got and I bought it entirely on the basis of a printed press review. Just like the good old days.

I thought it was pretty good on first listen but this was one of those albums that grew on me over time. By the end of the year I realised I'd played it more than anything else released that year and it's stayed a firm favourite ever since.

The band then vanished from the face of the Planet for a good 10 years.

Brilliantly they got back together to tour in 2012, largely thanks to a campaign by Songkick Detour, and in 2013 I got to see Desaparecidos play the album live at an amazing gig at the Electric Ballroom in Camden.


Thursday, 11 September 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.32. "The Smiths" The Smiths (1984)

Next one of the bands who loved the New York Dolls (the singer at least) even if their sound was totally different.

At The Smiths' peak I was a confirmed Metal Head, they were very much "the enemy" and I wouldn't have been seen dead with a Smiths album in my hand. A turning point in this attitude came after I saw the band on Top Of The Pops round at my Gran's. Morrissey was swanning about with foliage sticking out of his pocket and the audience were throwing daffodils at him. My Gran was completely bemused by the whole thing but I began to think there might be something to them.

Inevitably my tastes began to change as I got older, an event largely influenced by girls. In fact the breakthrough moment for me followed an encounter with an older girl at a party, who clearly felt that if I didn't like The Smiths I wasn't mature enough to be involved with. I went out and bought a Smiths album after that.


Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.33. "New York Dolls" New York Dolls (1973)

A band that were a big influence on at least two other artists on this list ...

The New York Dolls made my 70s list too. Their debut is a fabulous blast of trashy punk that never fails to put me in a good mood.

During my teen metal years I wasn't a fan of the hair metal glam inspire bands and ignored the Dolls for looking much the same. Of course the Dolls were the inspiration for most of those bands look but their music was light years ahead. I read the Legs McNeil & Gillian McCain book Please Kill Me and discovered the Dolls influence on the burgeoning New York punk scene that begat the Ramones, Television and many other great bands.

New York Dolls is a blast from start to finish. Taking their lead from the Rolling Stones and adding a glam-punk sheen to match their in-your-face cross dressing image. Personality Crisis & Trash are two of my all time favourite tunes.


Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.34. "Field Music" Field Music (2005)

Next a band I got to love thanks to former Fall guitarist Marc Riley. I'd actually seen them live in 2006 and wasn't blown away but Riley's constant radio plays eventually wore me down and I'm very glad of that.

Field Music have since become one of my favourite bands, they're ridiculously talented and have ideas spilling out of them. They mine a seam that brings together elements of Indie Rock, Pop and Prog, which might not sound like it should work but absolutely does. They're well worth catching live where their instrument swapping antics are spellbinding.

The band are fundamentally the project of brothers David and Peter Brewis, though for the first two albums pianist Andrew Moore was also a core member of the band. They've always collaborated with other friends & musicians from the vibrant Sunderland music scene and many past Field Music collaborators have gone on to success with bands such as Maxïmo Park and The Futureheads.


Monday, 8 September 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.35. "Live At The Witch Trials" The Fall (1979)

An album from 1979 that would be the first in a very long list of releases ... and band line-ups.

It took me a long time to get to grips with The Fall and I'm still only a beginner but the albums I have Witch Trials and Hex Enduction Hour are both fantastic. I also have the mega-compilation 50,000 Fall Fans Can't Be Wrong which I highly recommend as the prefect introduction to the band.

Despite the title, this isn't a live album, but it was recorded in a day and has the sort of energy that comes from not having to mess about with repeatedly playing the same tunes.


Sunday, 7 September 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.36 "Funeral" Arcade Fire (2004)

Something more recent now from a band I've recently lost a bit of love for. They were a breath of fresh air when they first appeared and this album was a revelation.

I was looking for a new exciting band and was tipped off by a friend maybe a year before Funeral came out. I was a little slow on the uptake, and remember missing a gig at the University of London Union which is a massive regret now. The band already had a reputation for great live shows with loads of energy and instrument swapping and when I did eventually catch them, on the Neon Bible tour, they blew me away.

It only took me one listen to fall back in love with Funeral as I prepared this list and it did make me think I should give latest album Reflector a go. I didn't hugely enjoy The Suburbs though oddly that seems to be the album that sent them stratospheric. Mainstream music fans! Who knows what makes them tick?


Saturday, 6 September 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.37 "Black Sabbath" Black Sabbath (1970)

Now something from the dawn of Heavy Metal ...

The first six Sabbath albums are all brilliant and amazingly consistent. The self titled isn't my favourite (that's Paranoid) but it's very close and introduced the world to a whole new sound. Tony Iommi's finger chopping factory accident led to a unique style of playing that helped create the heavy throbbing riff that Sabbath became famous for and launched an entire genre of like minded bands.

Somehow I left Black Sabbath off my Top 50 Seventies albums, another mistake though partly motivated by not wanting to have too many albums by one band in the list.


Friday, 5 September 2014

Top 50 Debut Albums - No.38 "The Punch Line" Minutemen (1981)

Remember how I said only FULL LENGTH albums count, then included Superfuzz Bigmuff? This next pick might be a bit contentious too ...

The total playing time for all 18 songs is a mere 15 minutes but it is OFFICIALLY their full length debut. So it counts and it's in. Of those 18 songs only two break the 1 minute mark and longest track Tension is 1 minute 18 seconds.

Did I mention I have a weakness for short songs?

I first discovered Minutemen when the two surviving members supported Shellac at the Scala in 2004. Minutemen formed in San Pedro, California in 1980 and were an integral part of the American Hardcore scene that also spawned Black Flag. Composed of guitarist/vocalist D. Boon, bassist/vocalist Mike Watt, and drummer George Hurley, Minutemen recorded four albums and eight EPs before Boon's death in December 1985. At the Scala show Mike and George played a set of Minutemen songs with no Guitar and Mike handling all the vocals. I didn't know any of the tunes but it was intense and captivating. Watt is an incredible bass player, my absolute favourite, and has played with a load of bands including a thrilling spell on tour with Iggy & The Stooges.

Their masterpiece is 1984's double album Double Nickels on the Dime, but the debut is the perfect introduction for anyone unfamiliar with the band. Seeing as the whole thing is about the length of a decent tea break I've included the full album in the video clip below.