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Time to kick it old school and play that funky music wide boy!
Or something along those lines….
Music has always been a huge part of my life. Certain songs can rekindle memories of yesteryear. I talked about music in one of my previous blogs, The Unromantic Adventures of RIF (check it out), and made reference to some of my favourite bands. Here, I just want to shed light on certain bands and musicians that I listen to and how they moulded me into a fan. Remember, this is just a small list so expect a follow up in the near future…..
At the height of ‘Cool Britannia’ in the mid 90’s, there was always this debate over who was better Blur or Oasis. I like both bands but if I were forced to choose one then Blur just get the nod for me. The reason for that is because of one song, Tender. The greatest love song of all time! It’s so heart-warming and jam packed with emotion. It creates such a relaxing atmosphere with a catchy chorus to boot. It came from the album Thirteen, a very underrated album in my estimation. She’s So High is another must hear tune. It strikes a chord with me, I relate to the lyrics so damn much man! Just read this:
I think of her everyday I think of her, it doesn’t help me I think of her everyday I think of her, it doesn’t help me
That’s so fucking deep man! There’s this other song called Girls & Boys, which sparked a heated conversation with a friend. We were drinking at the time and decided to play this game where we had to name as many songs where the song title wasn’t actually in the song and I brought this up which my friend shot down. I stood my ground which only agitated my friend just that little bit extra. After a back and forth argument I just said, “Right, let’s go to an internet café and I’ll prove it to you”. The gauntlet was set and it resulted in going all the way to Newcastle to check out the lyrics for this song (we never had the internet in the flat at the time hence why we had to go to Newcastle, on reflection, we should have just gone to the local library but we’d been drinking and it was a nice day out). For those that are wondering the course goes like this:
GIRLS WHO ARE BOYS
WHO LIKE BOYS TO BE GIRLS
WHO DO BOYS LIKE THEY’RE GIRLS
WHO DO GIRLS LIKE THEY’RE BOYS
ALWAYS SHOULD BE SOMEONE YOU REALLY LOVE
Nowhere does it say “Girls and Boys” right? I won the argument and as a result, my friend had to buy me drinks for an entire month. Needless to say I took full advantage of that!
The second I heard My Name Is I was hooked. Eminem wasn’t like anything I ever heard before or since even. I heard the song on Saturday, come Monday morning, everyone at School was talking about this guy. His popularity spread like wildfire, everywhere you went it was Eminem this and Eminem that. That’s how huge the guy was in terms of popularity, if you weren’t around in 1999 or too young to remember then words just don’t do it justice. I actually used Eminem as a tool to convert people into rap fans, I don’t know how he does it but he just does. Simple as that! Once Guilty Conscience was released, I was Slim Shady fan boy number one. My obsession with the guy went into overdrive. I plastered my entire bedroom wall with pictures of him, began wearing baggy shirts and jeans, I even bleached my hair also, however, this happened during the red hot summer of 1999 which caused my hair to turn ginger! To this day I’m convinced that Stan was based on me! Mosh has got to be in the top ten songs I’ve ever heard. Everything he says in that song is the fucking truth with a powerful, gritty video to accompany it.
Back to school, considering how popular Eminem was, me and a group of friends decided to take advantage of it by copies of My Name Is and Guilty Conscience. At the time, HMV were selling the singles for £2.99 so we decided to sell recorded copies for £1. I still remember one of my early sales where I overheard someone talking about how he was going to buy the single over the weekend and I just threw in a casual “Well, I can get you that by tomorrow for just a quid if you want”. SOLD!! That’s all he needed to hear! Recording wasn’t necessary a pain since my friend’s CD player had the ability to record four tapes at once so he was able to make twenty knocked off copies at one time. Just imagine if he never had that CD player? Once the album was released we began to rake the money in (sold copies for £5 whiles HMV were selling it for £9.99). My early days as an entrepreneur were a complete success although short lived. One day when we were selling our tapes, we got collared by Mr Holder! He confiscated our tapes and gave us a week’s detention whiles reading the riot act should we ever do anything like this again, and we never did! Could have made a fortune from the Marshall Mathers LP as that’s one of the greatest albums I have ever heard!
My introduction to Metallica began when I was on detention. I was busy doing lines when I noticed a guy next to me called Shaun was drawing the Metallica “M” in his school planner. I quizzed him about it and he mentioned that it was Metallica’s logo. Metallica? What the hell was that? I was only twelve at the time and had no idea who they were. After detention, Shaun handed over his Walkman (yes I’m that old guys) and I listened to For Whom the Bell Tolls. Wow! Blew my mind wide fucking open. If I was going into battle I could imagine that song being blared out for everyone to hear. There’s something about it that makes you feel ten foot tall with the ability to destroy an entire planet with a single fart like Galactus! Shaun offered to make a mixtape (I really am that fucking old) of some of their signature tunes so I can educate myself on the group. Think of it as like a custom greatest hits album.
I received the tape a few days later, listened to it and I loved it. And Just like Shaun, it wasn’t long before I was drawing the M all over my school books. I need to share this story involving the time when my then 73 year old grandmother got her first taste of Metallica. It was the weekend and I needed to use my granny for my homework, can’t remember what the homework was about but I do know that she was alive at the time so her knowledge was useful. I walked into her bungalow whiles listening to my Walkman and she asked what was I listening to in which I replied Metallica. “Metallica? That’s a new one on me”, stated my out of touch granny, “go on put it on the wireless and we’ll have a little sing song”! Something tells me that she and the regulars at her local coffee morning club had never had a “little sing song” to Master of Puppets or Seek & Destroy, she’s going to in for a rude awakening.
I popped in the tape and guess what the first song was? Enter Sandman. As you know, Enter Sandman has that long kickass intro which starts off quite tame but gradually gets heavier as it progresses. My poor old gran was listening away at the soft part, she looked at me quizzing and before she could ask “when do they start singing?” the heavy guitar riff kicked in! I had never seen anyone turn as white as what my gran did on that very day. I can’t imagine that Daniel O’Donnell had covered that track just yet. By the time James Hetfield started to belt out “Exit Light, Enter Night” I had no choice but to turn it off fearing that my gran would die with fright. I bet she was expecting James Hetfield to start singing Knees up Mother Brown or Charlie Had a Pigeon. Christ, imagine if I played her the video as well?
Nowadays, I don’t go out of my way to listen to Metallica but whenever I hear Enter Sandman, I always remember that moment I spent with my late dear granny.
“Fatboy Slim is fucking in heaven; Fatboy Slim is fucking in heaven, Fatboy Slim is fucking in heaven, fucking fucking fucking in heaven”
When you’re 13 years old that’s the greatest song ever! Fucking in Heaven wasn’t even my introduction to FBS, Rockafella Shank was. I remember it was part of the FIFA 99 soundtrack and I just thought that song was sweet. A friend made me a copy of their album; You’ve Come a Long Way Baby, and that made me develop a short lived interest in dance music but cemented myself as a fan of FBS. I remember one school field trip where we convinced the bus driver to play the tape but totally forgot about Fucking in Heaven.
My friend asked which album was this and I replied “Come a Long Way” (Their previous album was “Better Living Through Chemistry”)
“Is that the one with Fucking in Heaven right?”
Shit! I completely forgot about that and to make matters worse it was on next!
So what I done was race down to the bus driver to play a different tape we had, but it was too late. And as soon as I head “Fatboy” I knew I was in deep shit. I just happened to look over to Mr McArthur who had locked eyes on me at this point and gave me one major bollocking…….and a first class trip to detention! Thanks Norman Cook!
When people talk about the greatest indie bands of all time, the same names always pop up; Oasis, Blur, Arctic Monkeys, Stone Roses, The Verb etc but Happy Mondays don’t seem to get a mention and that’s a shame because they are one hell of a band. I was at a house party one time and Step On was playing. I remarked about how far out the lyrics were and that the beat was so gripping to the ear. My friend then offered to lend me the album (Pills n’ Thrills and Bellyaches) and on that very day, I became obsessed with the Mondays as I was with Eminem all those years ago! If you didn’t know, Step On is actually a cover with a few extra lyrics being thrown in to give it an original twist. It came about as a complete accident. In Shaun Ryder’s book, Twisting My Melon (as mention in my blog Just Readin’ Them Books), their American record label, Elektra, wanted all the bands under their label to do covers of another Elektra band for a 40th anniversary compilation. Ryder wasn’t interested in doing covers but went along with it anyway. The more they got into doing the cover, the more they thought it was too good to give to the compilation so they covered a different song and Step On went on to become the song most associated with the Mondays.
I’m sure that you have a song that sums you up right? For me, that song would definitely be Stinkin’ Thinkin’. The song came about when Ryder was in rehab and his councillor talked about how people build up too much “stinkin’ thinkin” when coming off drugs. How do I relate to the song? Try this on for size:
Kiss me for old time’s sake
Kiss me for making you wait
Kiss me for screwing everything in sight
Kiss me for never getting it right
Kiss me goodnight
What I get from this is that I fuck up all the time, but I hope that you still love me for it and I guess that’s the picture Shaun was trying to paint here about his battles with addiction.
I’m weighed down with stinkin’ thinkin’
Stinkin’ thinkin’ gets you nowhere
I’m tied down with stinkin’ thinkin’
Stinkin’ thinkin’ comes from somewhere
If you’ve read my blog ‘Is He Mental’ then it’s clear as day why relate to this.
Steady job in a small town
Guaranteed to bring me right down
Guaranteed to take me nowhere
Guaranteed to make me lose my hair
I have a steady job in a small town; it brings me right down and is guaranteed to take me nowhere. Likely to make me lose my hair one of these days. You know, it wasn’t until recently where I learnt that the lyric was “guaranteed to make me lose my hair”, I always thought it was “guaranteed to make me lose my love”, and again, that would also relate back to me.
One of my favourite albums of all time has got to be ‘Bummed’ and when I heard that the Mondays were doing an anniversary tour in tribute to the album with one of the shows taking place in Newcastle I had to be there! The tickets were not cheap but that didn’t matter, I was going to be in the presence of one of my favourite bands ever playing one of my favourite albums ever, and to cap it all off, I got a high five off Bez! Magic! One of the greatest nights of my life!
If I had to choose my favourite band of all time it’s got to be the Beatles. No question about it. My earliest memories of the Fab Four began when I was in Reception class (Kindergarten) and our teacher used to sing Yellow Submarine, my all-time favourite Beatles song. The other song that I love is Hey Jude, my karaoke song. If we’re ever at a karaoke bar just ask me to sing Hey Jude, I’d be more than happy to do so!
As I got older, my interest in the Beatles grew through my older brother who was also a fan and before I knew it I had a ton of different Beatle merchandise in my possession including albums, DVDs, t-shirts, books and even a replica model of the Yellow Submarine! Whenever I think about the Beatles the first thing that comes to my head is that their music always dealt with love, peace and understanding. You’ve got ‘All you need is love’ or John’s solo hit, ‘Give peace a chance’. There was always a good spirit behind it all.
If I had a time machine I would love to have gone back to the height of BeatleMania and to experience the phenomenon first-hand. The closest I’ve experience that level of popularity towards a band has got to be Take That and the Spice Girls from the mid-90s.
Last November, me and my brother went to Liverpool for a few days and we went on the Beatles bus tour where we got to see where they grew up, penny lane, the collage Paul McCarthy attended and of course, the Cavern Club. The thing that sticks out most about the Cavern Club is just how small the place is. The stage is almost the same size as a cardboard box! We also had a walk round the Beatles Museum too. If you ever visit Liverpool I can’t recommend those two tours highly enough. I’ve also visited Abby Road in London too, and yes, I’ve walked across THAT zebra crossing too!
There’s this one quote by John Lennon from The Beatles Anthology book which I absolutely love:
“When I was a Beatle I thought we were the best group in the goddamn world and believing that was what made us what we were. I’ve grown up. I don’t need father figures any more like God, Kennedy or Hitler. I’m no longer searching for a guru. I’m no longer searching for anything. There is no search. There’s no way to go, there’s nothing. This is it. We’ll probably carry on writing music forever”
I couldn’t put it better myself.
Say what you want about the Beatles but they truly are one of the few bands to really bridge the generation gap.
The Beatles will live forever!