Thursday, July 28, 2005

On Music

I've watched High Fidelity again recently, which got me thinking about my top five opening tracks of all time. So, in no particular order:

1. Battery - Metallica, Master of Puppets.

2. A Thousand Trees - Stereophonics, Word Gets Around.

3. Jailbreak - Thin Lizzy, Live and Dangerous.

4. What's Going On - Marvin Gaye, What's Going On.

5. Elvis Impersonator, Blackpool Pier - Manic Street Preachers,

Everything Must Go.


1. Over the past fifteen years, seems like I've been getting into different eras of guitar music in chronological order, starting from Elvis when I was about 10. I think I've just about caught up with the present. In University, one of my best buds had a pretty eclectic music taste, owning just about every Madonna and Metallica album: I don't know, maybe it was an "M" thing. Anyway, I got S&M off of him (the album, not the lifestyle).

I love me my live albums, and I particularly like this one. I mean, what's not to like? Just when you think Metallica can't possibly get any more overblown and theatrical, they go and stick a full orchestra on every track of a double album. I prefer the orchestral version of Battery, but it's not the opener. That's actually Ennio Morricone's Ecstasy of Gold, which is awesome in itself. So the first slot goes to the original version on Puppets.

You might notice a kind of trend in this list, and my listening habits generally; I'm a big fan of storylines inside songs, tracks that have some kind of narrative. I like Metallica's habit of including Cthulhu mythos references in their stuff, and it fits in with the theme of the Fractal Hall. You could say I came for the Metal, but stayed for the Lovecraft.

2. I don't listen to the 'Phonics any more. Since their third album, their stuff just hadn't hooked me, firstly because it got too slow and acoustic, and since they got rockier again it feels like they've just lost heart. Then again, they've been getting more and more popular so it shows what I know.

But back in the last year of Sixth Form, this band almost (almost) overtook the Manics as my all time favourite band. Me and my best mate were following them before the first album came out. They were a fantastic live band, and Kelly Jones had a genius for fitting small town tales into catchy rock songs. I queued up at midnight in Cardiff to get this album on the first day of release.

The first track was also the first Phonics track I ever heard, played either before or just after they were signed on local radio. Great chorus, great story, and Jones has gone on record as saying they won't ever be writing this kind of song again. Oh, well.

3. I'm a massive Thin Lizzy fan. I've got a whole other post on lead singer and bassist Phil Lynott brewing (just some advance warning for all of you our there allergic to twin guitar harmonies and scary-ass drunken debauchery). Live and Dangerous is the best live album ever recorded; don't argue with me, as I will smite thee down with the dark power of ROCK. Maybe the fact that it isn't an original album disqualifies it from this list, in which case I submit it instead as the opening track from the album Jailbreak.

When it came to telling tales in songs, Lynott was the best. Not only that, but for all you skiffy fans out there the sleeve notes for Jailbreak included the tripped out extra-dimentional concept behind the album and fantastic futuristic comic book art.

4. Frankly, 'nuff said. A masterpiece from the man with the Second Greatest Voice Ever (the First being Sam Cooke).

5. Everything Must Go was the first album that got me in the way that albums get teenagers. And it's ten years old next year, which is just depressing. I think one of the few things I feel I've lost in growing up is knowing that new music is never going to effect me the way it did when I was sixteen. Sure, it's still going to have its effect, but I don't think I'll ever get the same rush I used to get, like I did from this album.

I wonder what the Holy Bible era fans thought when they heard this originally? I mean, I love that album too but this is very different stuff. A melancholy, evocative track about an old man trying to recapture his youth with (and this is key) a great rock on .


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