Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Wooden Finger Five: August 2013

The big development in terms of music listening over the past month is that I’ve now subscribed to Spotify, This has had the following consequences:

- my data allowance per month now seems woefully inadequate;
- I haven’t listened to any album more than twice in the past 30 days;
- since I can now listen to all the albums I couldn’t afford as a kid, I’ll probably never talk about a song that was released after 1995 on this blog again.

Here are the tracks that I’ve listened to most since I got access to the whole history of Western rock:

Suede’s ‘Dog Man Star’ was the first album I put on when I signed in to Spotify; I’d heard for years that it was a landmark for Britpop and much better than its more famous ‘Animal Nitrate’-sporting predecessor. ‘… Pigs’ is as catchy and exciting as any of the best Suede singles, and unlike many of the other tracks on ‘Dog Man Star’ it doesn’t try to beat you over the head with its bored sex and drug references. If I ever buy another album again in my life, it could be this one.

Believe it or not, but Black Grape’s ‘It’s Great When You’re Straight … Yeah!’ got 10/10 from the New Musical Express upon its release. And actually it probably is better than anything the Happy Mondays (whose infamy was perhaps greater than their ability, as much as I enjoy the Mondays) ever produced. This track is pretty much made by two of Shaun Ryder’s more memorable lyrics – the first ‘Jesus was a black man/Nah, Jesus was Batman/No … that was Bruce Wayne’ is complete bonkers, but it’s hard for any pop culture nerd to resist. The second, ‘Don’t talk to me about heroes/ Most of these men sing like surfs’ should really be used on some sports show, as the ultimate antidote to/celebration of mindless football hooliganism.    

The Kinks in the late-‘60s were nearly as good as the Beatles, with their albums ‘The Village Green Preservation Society’ and ‘Arthur’ (from which ‘Shangri-La’ is taken) being right up there with ‘The White Album’ and ‘Revolver’. If ‘Shangri-La’ just had that slow, regal part about the Citizen Kane-like central figure it would still be a great track. But it’s when it kicks into that swinging London beat near the end that it becomes one of Ray Davies’ best-ever tunes.


Who on earth are the Longpigs? My only memory of them (and I’m not even certain it was them) is when the lead singer told the Herald-Sun’s Hit Magazine that his favourite band was REM because it took them over a decade to become the biggest band in the world, before adding that he hoped it didn’t take his band that long. Well obviously that never ended up happening, but don’t dismiss the Longpigs – they produced some good tracks, and for those who wished that Radiohead had actually produced a proper follow-up to ‘The Bends’ this might do the trick.

OK, this one I definitely haven’t discovered through Spotify; this has always been my favourite Elvis Costello track, even more so than the ultra-fashionable ‘Pump It Up’, and ‘Alison’. I liked it even as a kid, when my Dad played his Elvis cassette, and I sang along to the line ‘And I would rather be anywhere else than here today… ’ My best friend, with whom I was playing a not-so-enthralling board game in my room at the time, was understandably wondering whether he should be insulted, until I ensured him that I was just singing along to the music coming from the stereo. Thank God this song didn’t come on ten years later with my girlfriend in the bedroom.

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