Tuesday, 22 March 2011

What I was listening to... 15 years (or so) ago

Well, seeing as I missed the deadline for ‘What I listened to last week’, I think I’ll try and make up for it with a ‘What I was listening to 15 years (or so) ago’. Before even checking out some of my musical predilections as a floppy haired youth, I already know my ‘adult’ music tastebuds will shiver at the thought of having to endure some of the bands I used to listen to regularly. So, this blog will attempt to focus on the stuff that isn’t absolutely appalling but had a pretty big impact on my musical likings today. Let the cringing commence.

The Stone Roses
My god I was obsessed with this band when I was a kid. Ian Brown was the coolest man alive; Mani was the best bass player, like, ever; John Squire was the WITHOUT DOUBT the most amazing guitar player in the universe; and noone pummeled skins like Reni. Phew, how wrong was I? Listening back, I’m not sure what I was thinking. Firstly, Ian Brown, apart from transpiring to be a bit of a cock, is beyond awful – to think I used to defend THAT voice. As for the music, well it’s flat, lifeless and just very, very stale. No amount of Jackson Pollock painting can hide that. But, hey, at least I was right about one thing. That boy Reni – some drummer.

Pearl Jam
Right, admitting this makes me a little disgusted with myself. Eddie Vedder’s pious, godlier-than-thou attitude these days makes my stomach gargle. But, Vitalogy was one of the first CDs I ever owned and on hearing it again it’s actually pretty good. Sure, it’s wallowingly self-indulgent but it still feels pretty raw and immediate to me; I specifically like the build that runs throughout this track. Time has not exactly been good for my relationship with Eddie Vedder, but maybe , at my age, it’s best to put these grudges behind me.

Even now, I still love Suede. It’s impossible not to. I’m not sure Su entirely gets it, but Bret Anderson was a beautiful man. Oddly, although it’s only been 20ish years, Stay Together is decidedly vintage in sound. Actually, I never realized just how daydreamy it came across. It’s definitely not something I associated with Suede at the time. To me they were the polar opposite of the braggard Britpop schtick floating about; they were dark, moody, sensitive. But, now, it seems there was a definite hint of ambition in those moonlit laments. Not that that puts me off them, of course - Dog Man Star is still a codeine-cut classic.

The Bluetones
My best mate’s boyfriend rips me for this every single time I see him. To be honest, I’m not sure what the deal is with the lack of Bluetones love. They were alright for their time. Aye, Mark Morris was a bit of an effete, cardigan-adorner in those girl-shagging, Chris Evans wanking, Loaded days, but that was part of the charm, wasn’t it? Anyway, in retrospect, The Bluetones were really a bit blah. Nothing to hate, nothing to love. Merely fodder for a generation of kids who actually bought Theaudience records. Talking of which, fuck I hate Sophie Ellis Baxtor.

The Prodigy
To a 15-year-old living in the north of Scotland Music For a Jilted Generation sounded like the apocalypse. I remember hearing this track on an old Vox giveaway tape and immediately being hooked. At the time I had to order the record from my local record shop and ended up checking every week to see if it had arrived (the internet seemed an awfully long way away then). When it finally did, I think my mother just about combusted with what was coming out of my room. It felt a bit rebellious; still does. So, why, oh why, did they follow it up with the abomination that was Firestarter?

I actually reviewed Supergrass about three years ago for Drowned In Sound, with my best mate in tow. We both came away thinking it was ‘alright’ (pardon the pun) but it was about time Supergrass called it a day, especially as Gaz’s once bulbous thatch was thinning faster than a supermodel in a sweatshop. But, at the time, Supergrass were a buoyant alternative to the stoically faced Mancunian bands doing the rounds; they had more hooks than a deep sea trawler and produced videos that clicked with the MTV masses. Today, it’s not something I’d immediately clutch out for were my CD collection to fall into obvlivion, but there’s still a shot of youthful adrenaline coursing through their early work that’s impossible to shake off.

Super Furry Animals
The fact they’re still producing the goods, makes me feel pretty good inside. I actually got into Super Furries quite late. Intrigued by the infectious Herman Loves Pauline, Revolver was my first SFA purchase, which was quickly followed up by psychedelic wash that was Guerrilla. Even now I’m surprised by how thickly textured and progressive the tracks sound. It’s probably a little too over the top to compare them, generationally, to the Beach Boys, but much of SFA’s 90s work certainly had a ring of Brain Wilson to it.

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