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.