Friday, 30 May 2014

Chop's Gig Reports - April/May 2014

Bit of a stop gap post as it's half term and I've not got round to writing a new top five. My other blog was supposed to just give me a place to record gig set lists but has kind of taken on a life of it's own and is rapidly growing into a journal of my complete failure to cut back on live music. I guess there are worse things to be obsessed with.

Kiran Leonard at The Waiting Room - Friday 11th April 2014 - I'd never been to Stoke Newington before. It seems the music industry's current focus on East London is determined to take me to new and unexplored areas of Town. When I was a teenager & getting to gigs on my moped my Dad refused to let me go to Walthamstow as he felt it was too rough. Kiran Leonard is 18 and not only allowed to visit the edgier parts of London but also creating some of the most unique new music I've heard for some time.

School Of Language at The Lexington - Wednesday 23rd April 2014 - I assume you know that School of Language are the band David Brewis has put together as a solo project for the moments when Field Music are on hiatus. Since Field Music went on a break, following their Mercury Music Prize nominated album Plumb, David has put together a live band to back Eleanor Friedberger on her recent UK tour, produced a the excellent new SoL album Old Fears and reworked several songs from the SoL debut LP for release as a pre-order enticement.

The Sonics at Concorde 2, Brighton - Monday 5th May 2014 - I had unfinished business with The Sonics. The last time I saw them live (which was also the first time the reformed line-up played in the UK) was back in 2008. I was near the back and I didn't really connect with the show the way I'd hoped for. Tonight I made sure I was right down the front and the band did not disappoint.


Friday, 23 May 2014

Top 50 Albums of the Seventies

So, finally, I can draw this whole Seventies top five thing to a close with the full Top 50. I have to admit that having originally compiled this at the end of last year for Twitter, running through the individual top fives has had me pondering a few changes but, experience tells me, that way leads to madness. There is one small change from my original Twitter Top 50 but I won't bore you with the details. If this is you're bag you can also check out my Top 50 Albums of the Nineties. I'm already working on the same sort of list for the Eighties but don't panic, it will be a while before I kick that off here.

Here's the full fifty and if you missed any of the individual top fives you can find them here > 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1979.

1. Ramones - Ramones (1976) - 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.

2. Television - Marquee Moon (1977) - The twin guitar sounds of Verlaine & Lloyd are spectacular and captivating. A superb album from start to finish, one of the few I might consider perfect.

3. Nick Drake - Pink Moon (1972)- A beautiful album made poignant knowing Nick took his own life a year or so later and had been too depressed to do any more arrangements after the piano on the title track. I love his earlier albums now as well but Pink Moon is astonishing and a record I don't think I could ever tire of.

4. Status Quo - Live! (1976) - - "Is there anybody out there who wants to rock? ... Is there anybody out there who wants to roll? ... Is there anybody out there who wants to boogie?". That intro to Quo's Live! album by Jackie Lynton still sends tingles down my spine. Francis Rossi might not agree but to my mind this is Status Quo's greatest LP.

5. Stiff Little Fingers - Inflammable Material (1979) - The debut album from a brilliant yet under appreciated band. It's full of excellent song writing, taking punk to it's catchiest limits and featuring two of my absolute favourite songs.

6. The Specials - The Specials (1979)
7. Jethro Tull - Aqualung (1971)
8. Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (1974)
9. The Undertones - The Undertones (1979)
10. Aretha Franklin - Spirit In The Dark (1970)
11. The Stooges - Funhouse (1970)
12. Genesis - Foxtrot (1972)
13. Genesis - Nursery Cryme (1971)
14. The Damned - Damned, Damned, Damned (1977)
15. Black Sabbath - Paranoid (1970)
16. Jethro Tull - Benefit (1970)
17. Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here (1975)
18. Motorhead - Overkill (1979)
19. Rush - A Farewell To Kings (1977)
20. The Clash - The Clash (1977)
21. Yes - The Yes Album (1971)
22. Status Quo - Hello! (1973)
23. Patti Smith - Horses (1975)
24. Deep Purple - Machine Head (1972)
25. AC/DC - High Voltage (1976)
26. Wire - Chair Missing (1978)
27. Tom Waits - Small Change (1976)
28. X-Ray Spex - Germ Free Adolescents (1978)
29. David Bowie - Hunky Dory (1971)
30. David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars (1972)
31. The Rolling Stones - Exile On Main St. (1972)
32. Blondie - Parallel Lines (1977)
33. Caravan - In The Land Of Grey & Pink (1971)
34. Richard & Linda Thompson - I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight (1974)
35. Magazine - Real Life (1978)
36. ZZ Top - Tres Hombres (1972)
37. Sly & The Family Stone - There's A Riot Goin On (1971)
38. Lou Reed - Transformer (1972)
39. Johnny Thunders - So Alone (1978)
40. Kate Bush - The Kick Inside (1978)
41. Hawkwind - Hall Of The Mountain Grill (1974)
42. Led Zeppelin - III (1970)
43. John Cale - Paris, 1919 (1973)
44. Ian Dury - New Boots & Panties (1977)
45. Sex Pistols - Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols (1977)
46. New York Dolls - New York Dolls (1973)
47. Dr. Feelgood - Down By The Jetty (1975)
48. The Fall - Live At The Witch Trials (1979)
49. Camel - Mirage (1974)
50. AC/DC - Highway To Hell (1979)


Friday, 16 May 2014

Top 5 Albums of 1979

The final year of the decade was a pretty great one on the album front if a rather miserable one in reality as the woman who had taken away our daily milk at school (not actually a bad thing in my experience as it was usually a bit off due to our school not having a fridge big enough to keep it cool) became British Prime Minister. This was probably the first General Election I remember and certainly created clear divisions in the play ground as we cheered on either Red or Blue with the same type of gusto we normally reserved for our football teams. In keeping with my lack of football success I was on the losing side with politics too.

In music news Iron Maiden, Samson, and Angel Witch shared a bill at the Music Machine in Camden, London, following which rock critic Geoff Barton coined the term "New Wave of British Heavy Metal" (this will be important knowledge should I continue this theme into the Eighties). Also the Sony Walkman went on sale for the first time in Japan.

1. Stiff Little Fingers "Inflammable Material" - The debut album from a brilliant yet under appreciated band. I discovered SLF thanks to a BBC drama called 'Iris In The Traffic' which was about a teenager growing up amidst the troubles in Ireland. It featured backing music and a live performance by the band as well as, lead singer & guitarist, Jake Burns in a cameo role. This would be both his first & last acting role. Inflammable Material is full of excellent song writing, taking punk to it's catchiest limits. It also includes two of my absolute favourite songs in Alternative Ulster & Suspect Device.

2. The Specials "The Specials" - An album I first discovered at my best pal's Blue Peter bring & buy sale but was unable to afford the £3.00 price tag! I tried haggling but seller wasn't interested in £1.48, an old pencil and a bit of string. It took me far too long to eventually buy it but having rectified that it has lodged itself as one of my all time favourite albums.

3. The Undertones "The Undertones" - Having described the SLF album as the catchiest limits of Punk was perhaps underestimating how ridiculously catchy The Undertones debut is. An instant shot of happiness. It's packed full of pop crackers and is an album for which almost every track could have been a single.

4. Motörhead "Overkill" - The second official album from the classic Motörhead line-up which nailed their sound and, I think, is the best of their career. Heavier than most Heavy Metal & punkier than most Punk.

5. The Fall "Live At The Witch Trials" - It took me ages to get into The Fall properly and I'm not sure I'll ever catch up with their complete catalogue but this debut LP is a great place to start. They have a fairly epic discography with as many difficult albums as brilliant ones but it's definitely worth the effort picking your way through them.

Near misses; AC/DC "Highway to Hell", Pink Floyd "The Wall", The Damned "Machine Gun Etiquette", Joy Division "Unknown Pleasures", The Clash "London Calling", Wire "154", Buzzcocks "A Different Kind of Tension", Magazine "Secondhand Daylight", Motörhead "Bomber", The Pretenders "The Pretenders", and Van Halen "Van Halen II".

Albums to try; B-52s "B-52s", Blondie "Eat To The Beat", Crass "Stations of the Crass", Gang Of Four "Entertainment", Magazine "Secondhand Daylight", Neil Young "Rust Never Sleeps", Nick Lowe "Labour Of Lust", Richard & Linda Thompson "Sunnyvista", Stranglers "The Raven", Swell Maps "A Trip to Marineville", Talking Heads "Fear of Music", The Jam "Setting Sons", The Only Ones "Even Serpents Shine", The Ruts "The Crack", The Slits "Cut", Throbbing Gristle "20 Jazz Funk Greats", Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers "Damn The Torpedoes", XTC "Drums and Wires" and, just for my pal Ian's benefit, The Pleasure Principle & Replicas by Gary Numan.


Friday, 9 May 2014

Top 5 Albums of 1978

The year that I really got into football. Underdogs Ipswich won a thrilling F.A. Cup final 1-0 against Arsenal. The following month the World Cup kicked off in Argentina, introducing me to the greatest spectacle in International Football (typically without any involvement from England). The most memorable game for me was the final itself and I still have a vivid memory of the packed stadium being filled with ticker tape as the teams ran out. It was also the year Pope John Paul II was elected Pope, introducing me to the "white smoke Pope, black smoke nope" process of announcing the papal decision. 1978 was also the year Pope John Paul I was elected but his papacy lasted only 33 days before he unexpectedly passed away due to either a heart attack or some mysterious deviousness.

In music Punk was changing into New Wave and, as if to indicate the end of an era, the Sex Pistols broke up mid-tour in San Francisco.

1. Wire "Chairs Missing" - Wire were a fabulously inventive band who I only really discovered thanks to Elastica's blatant appropriation of one of their chord sequences. It's difficult to separate their first three albums but Chairs Missing just edges it for me. They've had a couple of periods of hiatus but their 2013 album Change Becomes Us was one of my favourites of the year and pleasingly shows they've lost none of their spark.

2. X-Ray Spex "Germ Free Adolecesants" - This album is brilliant, one of the most unique & fascinating albums to come out of the UK punk scene. Typically it was only after Poly Styrene's death that I properly listened to it, having only really known a few singles, and of course I now regret not doing so sooner. Poly's lyrical skills are the real draw for me, her powerful yet off-kilter vocals providing the perfect delivery and an alternative to all those shouty blokes who were popular at the time.

3. Magazine "Real Life" - The debut album from Howard Devoto's post Buzzcocks outlet. My love for this LP may be somewhat skewed by the fact Shot By Both Sides is one of my all-time favourite songs but the rest of the album doesn't fall far short. It's also worth tracking down the Buzzcock's song Lipstick which uses the same tune as Shot By Both Sides but with different lyrics.

4. Johnny Thunders "So Alone" - Another album that might have made the list due to my enormous love of one particular song. This was the first proper solo record from former New York Dolls guitarist Thunders. I discovered it fairly recently thanks to 6Music & Marc Riley. Featuring Walter Lure and Billy Rath of Thunders other band Heartbreakers and a cornucopia of well-known guest musicians, including Chrissie Hynde, Phil Lynott, Steve Marriott, Steve Jones and Paul Cook. It's a mixed bag of originals and covers (including a fabulous version of the Chantays' surf classic Pipeline) but it's the sublime You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory that makes it a favourite for me.

5. Kate Bush "The Kick Inside" - Kate Bush was one of the first artists I remember liking though I didn't actually own any of her early albums until splashing out on the This Woman's Work box set in the early 90s. This is her debut album and has many of my favourite KB tunes including Wuthering Heights, The Man With The Child In His Eyes, Kite & James and the Cold Gun.

Near Misses; Buzzcocks "Another Music in a Different Kitchen", Peter Gabriel "Peter Gabriel II", AC/DC "Powerage", Kate Bush "Lionheart", Van Halen "Van Halen", Buzzcocks "Love Bites", Ramones "Road to Ruin".

Albums to try; Alternative TV "The Image Has Cracked", Blondie "Plastic Letters", Bob Dylan "Street Legal", Bruce Springsteen "Darkness on the Edge of Town", The Clash "Give Em Enough Rope", Crass "Feeding The 5000", Elvis Costello "This Years Model", Jilted John "True Love Stories", John Cooper Clarke "Disguise In Love", Little Feat "Waiting For Columbus", Pere Ubu "The Modern Dance", Siouxsie And The Banshees "The Scream", The Jam "All Mod Cons", Tom Waits "Blue Valentine", UFO "Obsession", Warren Zevon "Excitable Boy".


Friday, 2 May 2014

Top 5 Albums of 1977

The first thing that springs to mind about 1977 is the Queen's Silver Jubilee, the highlight of which (for me living in a small suburban village) was the massive Fayre on Giggs Hill Green. I helped out on the tombola stand run by my Cub Group and was rewarded with a special Silver Jubilee pen knife. I also won a Goldfish, who I named Oscar after the Six Million Dollar Man's boss, but he only lasted two weeks which made the effort it took to get a ping pong ball in a jam jar slightly wasted. Coincidentally the pen knife went rusty before a year had passed, I'm not sure what lessons to take from that though.

1977 saw the NASA Space Shuttle Enterprise make its first free-flight which made space travel seem like a genuine possibility, even if it did need a piggy back from a massive Boeing 747 to get there. The original Star Wars film opened in cinemas, this was a pretty cataclysmic event in my life and if nothing else ensured I spent most of the remainder of my youth collecting plastic models of characters from the film and trading bubble gum cards. This was also the year that Prog 1 of 2000 AD was launched. I did eventually get a copy of that first issue but not with the free "space spinner".

Musically it was a year of endings. EMI sacked the Sex Pistols, Glam rock pioneer Marc Bolan died in a car crash in Barnes and Elvis died in his home at Graceland. I had no idea who Elvis was before he died but I sure as hell did afterwards.

1. Television "Marquee Moon" - It took me three attempts, several years apart, to get my head around Marquee Moon but once I fell for it I fell hard. Those twin guitar sounds of Verlaine & Lloyd are spectacular and captivating. The album is superb from start to finish, one of the few I might consider perfect.

2. The Damned "Damned, Damned, Damned" - The band's debut album recorded in 10 days and one of the best collections of UK punk you're likely to find. It's everything punk was about; great tunes, packed with energy and recorded quickly & cheaply. I grew up with the less feisty 80s Goth version of the band and only discovered their earlier albums in the last few years but both this and follow up Machine Gun Etiquette are firm favourites now.

3. Rush "A Farewell to Kings" - Rush have been ridiculously consistent over their career (assuming you like the rockier end of the Prog spectrum, I certainly do) and released a lot of brilliant albums. 2112 may be better known but for me Farewell To Kings is their best seventies LP and one of my favourite of the band's entire catalogue.

4. The Clash "The Clash" - The Clash transcended punk but I've still not entirely fallen for their charms. Without doubt their debut is my favourite of their albums and the one I return to the most.

5. Blondie "Parallel Lines" - If you'd asked me what my favourite bands were when I was 12 I'd probably have said Madness, The Police & Blondie. Of that trio only Blondie are still a regular fixture on my playlists. I did a list of Top 10 Blondie songs for @jhoburgh recently and six tracks from this album made the list. Watching Debby Harry front the band on Top Of The Pops was something special, even for a nine year old.

Near misses; Ian Dury New Boots & Panties, Sex Pistols Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, Pink Floyd Animals, Ramones Rocket to Russia, David Bowie Low, Wire Pink Flag, Peter Gabriel Peter Gabriel I, AC/DC Let There Be Rock and Motorhead Motörhead.

Albums to try; David Bowie “Heroes”, Dennis Wilson Pacific Ocean Blue, ELO Out of The Blue, Gary Numan The Pleasure Principle, Iggy Pop The Idiot, Iggy Pop Lust For Life, John Martyn One World, Richard Hell & The Voidoids Blank Generation, Stranglers Rattus Norvegicus, Suicide Suicide, Talking Heads 77, The Residents Fingerprince and Thin Lizzy Bad Reputation.