Top 100

#90 Refused – The Shape of Punk to Come: A Chemerical Bombination in 12 Bursts (1998)


Track Listing:-

1. Worms of the Senses / Faculties of the Skull
2. Liberation Frequency
3. The Deadly Rhythm
4. Summerholidays vs. Punkroutine
5. Bruitist Pome #5
6. New Noise
7. The Refused Party Program
8. Protest Song ’68
9. Refused are ‘Fuckin Dead
10. The Shape of Punk to come
11. Tannhauser / Derive
12. The Apollo Programme was a Hoax

So this is the first review I have written in two months. It has to be said that I listened to this album and it made me reconsider doing this list.

Why is this album in the top 100 of all time CoS? The only top 100 I can imagine this album being in is the band members’ Mums’ lists and then it would only scrape in at #100.

I believe this is an album that is described as inspirational in the hardcore punk scene; it is an album which is frankly all over the place with ambient and jazz sections thrown in willy nilly.

To be kind to the band I would describe them as a third rate Dillinger Escape Plan. At worst a directionless band with ideas aplenty but no idea how to execute them.

One of the songs is called ‘Refused are Fuckin’ Dead’ – I think they are now and I don’t think many people are particularly bothered.

A positive – ‘New Noise’ is quite good. Er… I think that’s really all I have to say. This album has been haunting me for a while, so glad to move on.

Top 100

#91 The Clash – The Clash (1977)


Track Listing:-

  1. Janie Jones
  2. Remote Control
  3. I’m So Bored of the U.S.A.
  4. White Riot
  5. Hate & War
  6. What’s My Name
  7. Deny
  8. London’s Burning
  9. Career Opportunities
  10. Cheat
  11. Protex Blue
  12. Police & Thieves
  13. 48 Hours
  14. Garageland

It was 1998, I was walking around the flea market in Chesterfield listening to Manic Street Preachers finally getting into music after years of oblivion.

A wizened old lady beckoned me over and at the front her stall was a bruised and battered cassette copy of this album.

I picked it up and purchased it not knowing what treasures lay on the tape. I put it in my old 2nd hand walkman and listened.

‘Janie Jones’ hit me like a sledgehammer, the protagonist from ‘High Fidelity’ is right when he rates the opener one of his top 5 opening tracks of all time. I never looked back.

I adore this album, it is definitely everybody’s second favourite Clash album after ‘London Calling’ which of course comes along a lot later in this list.

Looking at this album objectively though I soon realise that there is quite a bit of filler on it such ‘Remote Control’ and ‘I’m So Bored of the USA’ of which I was pretty bored of myself especially as the song is at least a minute longer than it should be.

The record definitely would’ve been better if it included some great non-album tracks that were around that time from the band such as ‘Complete Control’, ‘(White Man) in Hammersmith Palais’, ‘Clash City Rockers’ and ‘1977’ which are all incredible.

But this album has a lot of highlights such as ‘What’s My Name’ of which the live version on the ‘Here to Eternity’ album.

There’s also ‘London’s Burning’, ‘Career Opportunities’ and ‘Garageland’ which really represent what The Clash are all about.

An interesting track is their cover of the reggae song ‘Police and Thieves’ which hints at their eclectic music tastes which they demonstrate on their most famous album to which I made reference to earlier. It is also by far the longest song on the album driven by an unforgettable reggae groove.

If anyone ever cane to me and wanted to listen to an album from the days that punk was first introduced to the world I wouldn’t suggest the Sex Pistols like a lot of people would. I would tell them to go and listen to this.

So if you are a fan of any kind of punk at all and are not aware of this record, I strongly recommend that you give this a go, I have a feeling you won’t be disappointed.

Top 100

#92 Slanted and Enchanted – Pavement (1992)


Track Listing:

1. Summer Babe (Winter Version)
2. Trigger Cut/Wounded-Kite At :17
3. No Life Singed Her
4. In The Mouth A Desert
5. Conduit For Sale!
6. Zurich Is Stained
7. Chelsey’s Little Wrists
8. Loretta’s Scars
9. Here
10. Two States
11. Perfume-V
12. Fame Throwa
13. Jackals, False Grails: The Lonesome Era
14. Our Singer

So the last few days I’ve been listening to Pavement’s debut album. This again is an album that I have never listened to before.

The production first of all is very lo-fi which isn’t a great surprise considering that Pavement are considered to be the pioneers of lo-fi alternative rock.  The result is an incredibly raw sound.  It sounds like it was recorded in a garage with cheap equipment, which for me adds to the charm of the band.  These songs really would lose something if they were given the shiny production treatment.

My favourite song on the album is ‘Here’, a lovely tender song in which the guitar caresses along and the bass gives a gentle push. The lyrics are mostly pretty cryptic but the following lyric stayed with me:-

“Are they the only ones who laugh?
At the jokes when they are so bad
And the jokes are always bad
But they’re not as bad as this.”

It’s just an album that was written informally by friends who probably weren’t expecting it to be successful.  I’m sure they would probably laugh at the thought of a guy from England in his 30s reviewing it 25 years later from it’s release in 1992.

Pavement have inspired many bands over the years, Stephen Malkmus’ vocal reminds me of Tim Wheeler of Ash; what he lacks in vocal ability he certainly makes up for with style.

Musically, Blur pretty much made an album around the sound from the outro of Trigger Cut /Wounded Kite at :17. Good album it was too their eponymous album released in 1998.

Sorry, it feels like this review hasn’t been particularly revealing, but I do recommend listening to it, let me know what you think.

Top 100

#94 Kill ‘Em All – Metallica (1983)


Track Listing:-

  1. Hit The Lights
  2. The Four Horsemen
  3. Motorbreath
  4. Jump in the Fire
  5. (Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth
  6. Whiplash
  7. Phantom Lord
  8. No Remorse
  9. Seek & Destroy
  10. Metal Militia

When looking at this list, this album definitely stood out. I am a Metallica fan purely for the music as the band members themselves don’t come across as particularly lovely people for reasons I won’t go into here.

This is Metallica’s debut record, setting out their stall as pioneers of Thrash Metal.  On listening to this album again I can hear the very strong Iron Maiden and Motorhead influence, albeit at a much faster pace.  It is really a taster of what is to come as they really find their sound on ‘Ride the Lightning’, and create the iconic ‘Master of Puppets’ followed by the epic ‘…And Justice For All’

The album thunders along at a terrific fast pace, with buzzy lightly produced guitars, bass (you can actually hear it!) and the drums reassuringly a lot lower in the mix than on later recordings (that bloomin’ Lars!).  Hetfield’s vocals are more of a bark which suits the record sound nicely.

It is amazing when you consider that this album came out in 1983.  The speed and aggression of the record was fairly unprecedented back in the day in heavy metal circles, and you still get thousands and thousands of people shouting ‘Seek and Destroy!’ from their hoarse throats at gigs today so it has clearly stood the test of time.

Highlights on this album include Cliff Burton’s brilliant bass solo on ‘(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth’, which brings to mind a spaceship taking off with about twenty green aliens poking their heads out of the windows nodding along.

The best track without a doubt though is ‘The Four Horsemen’ which was probably the first track they wrote for this album.  It is by far the best song and should be a staple in all of their shows.  I know that I was very disappointed when they didn’t play it in their Sonisphere show, which was part of their ‘By Request’ tour.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, the By Request format invited concert goers to vote for the songs they wanted to hear, which ended up with all the well known staples of their usual sets (‘Enter Sandman’ won by a landslide), but also threw up a few surprises to keep things interesting.  I think this is something that all bands should do.  It would be particularly interesting for a band like Manic Street Preachers, who often don’t play their best songs in their shows, instead seeming drawn towards their more mediocre hits, such as ‘You Stole the Sun from My Heart’, which seem to be enjoyed only by pogoing pillocks with beers in their hands who would really rather be at an Oasis gig.

Anyway, back to the album. If you want to listen to where Thrash Metal started it’s long journey, this is raw Metallica at it’s best. Get this album, wave those horns and bang your heads. Come on, you know you want to.

Top 100

#95 Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd (1975)

2b3fb01944afecc1f9914eb2fc09b3ad.1000x1000x1Track Listing

  1. Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts I – V)
  2. Welcome to the Machine
  3. Have a Cigar
  4. Wish You Were Here
  5. Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Parts VI – IX)

This album is by 70’s prog rock behemoths Pink Floyd.  I have to admit that I have never sat down and listened to an entire Pink Floyd album and I was definitely feeling a little apprehensive about it. I must admit, I had dismissed them as one of those dull prog bands that were indulgent and as dry as eating a cracker in a desert.

As you can see, it isn’t a very long track list so you’d be forgiven for thinking that I was reviewing an E.P.  This is actually a 44 minute long album in which the ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ tracks clock in at a phenomenal 26 minutes.

To my surprise, I actually really enjoyed this album.  The first track starts with an instrumental which builds up, gently introduces the warm sounding bass and jazz like drums and brings in Gilmour’s soaring vocals. The song is quite clearly about Syd Barrett, but also speaks to my inner child somewhat, conveying a message of encouragement to face the world, despite the cruelty that awaits.  Sometimes a song can say a lot more in its music than words ever can.

A sax solo ends the song and it then eases into ‘Welcome to the Machine’, with it’s electronic synthesisers and moogs.  This song is a clear attack on the music industry – I can’t believe Pink Floyd used to get so upset by whatever rags like the NME thought of them.

‘Have a Cigar’ is next.  The line “…by the way, which one is Pink?” stands out.  I wonder how many times they were really asked that in their career.

The title track ‘Wish You Were Here’ is definitely my favourite song.  When I heard it, I kept wondering where I’d heard this song before, and then I realised. My wife played me our friend Katie and her husbands Dan’s cover of this song a few years ago.  For me, they really capture the true feeling and essence of the song.  So rather than me witter on about it, I thought I’d share it with you instead!

So, to conclude I think that the album did in fact feel like an EP.  I felt they could have condensed these songs and added a few more to make a more compelling album, but it has to be said that the songs are really great and expansive. Really looking forward to listening to ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ which of course isn’t much of a spoiler alert when I tell you that this is much higher in the list.

Top 100

#96 Midnite Vultures – Beck (1999)


Track Listing:-

  1. Sexx Laws
  2. Nicotine and Gravy
  3. Mixed Bizness
  4. Get Real Paid
  5. Hollywood Freaks
  6. Peaches & Cream
  7. Broken Train
  8. Milk & Honey
  9. Beautiful Way
  10. Pressure Zone
  11. Debra

Well, this is some album.

Beck is a rather interesting fella isn’t he? This album is what you would refer to as an immediate record. The album slaps you in the face with its catchy melodies tunes. I really did enjoy listening to it, but I am having difficulty explaining exactly why.

The album encompasses all sorts of different genres including Disco, Funk, Pop, Rock, Hip-Hop, Country, Folk and Psychedelia. When a new track starts you just have no idea what is going to happen next.

The song titles intrigued me; ‘Nicotine and Gravy’ sounds like the title of a song about a chap who lives in Burnley, goes to the chip shop on a Friday, orders chips and gravy and has a cigarette while he’s eating it before heading down to his local pub to have a pint of mild.

‘Sexx Laws’ brings to mind a list of rules by which to ‘get it on’, as well as suggesting that Beck is a tad overzealous when it comes to typing on the keyboard.

My favourite song on the album is ‘Milk & Honey’ which sounds like a latter day Super Furry Animals song; one to appear on ‘Hey Venus!’ or ‘Dark Days/Light Years’. It sounds like a blueprint stolen by the Super Furries in order to make those records, which is no bad thing as Super Furries are one of my favourite bands.

I’m not entirely sure about the Hip-Hop direction taken on ‘Hollywood Freaks’, it does sound a little forced and uninspired and there are plenty of artists that do this a lot better if that’s the kind of thing that you’re into.

Lyrically this album has not pulled any trees from the ground; songs seem to mainly revolve around sex and how he is ‘packing heat’. He tells us in the opening track that “I want to defy the logic of all sex laws”.

Beck also sings about the highlife such as ‘riding on executive planes’, but it isn’t in an irritating way, and it does have a real tongue in cheek feel to it.

Overall, this is a musically ambitious and a confident sounding album. Beck’s vocal range is certainly impressive, especially when he chucks in his alluring falsetto on ‘Debra’, who seems to be someone’s sister that he wants to ‘get with’. He also wants to get with you too by the way and by the sound of it, anything that moves. Bless.

Top 100

#97 Either/Or – Elliott Smith (1997)


Track Listing:-

  1. Speed Trials
  2. Alameda
  3. Ballad of Big Nothing
  4. Between the Bars
  5. Pictures of Me
  6. No Name No. 5
  7. Rose Parade
  8. Punch and Judy
  9. Angeles
  10. Cupid’s Trick
  11. 2:45 AM
  12. Say Yes

I was listening to the radio the other day. I came across a song where the protaganist was singing about meeting a girl in Galway, singing in a bar and eating Doritos. I thought to myself that this person singing this song (some chap called Ed Sheehan – you may have heard of him…) is supposed to be a revered singer/songwriter.

When I think of a singer/songwriter, I think of a man who is tormented by his own breath and the haunting thoughts that crosses his mind and terrifies him. The songwriting process should be a painful yet cathartic way of expressing ones deepest and darkest emotions. So when I think of a singer/songwriter I think of someone like Elliott Smith.

Elliott Smith seemed to be a very tortured and troubled person, he sadly died in 2003 aged 34, he struggled with life and had a very difficult childhood. I think this definitely comes through in his work, and it is sad that he only managed to record five albums (he was working on a sixth which was released posthumously.

The album Either/Or makes for very interesting listening, firstly Smith has a very whispery quality to his voice, it is almost cheerful and puts me in mind of Richard James’ singing for Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci and sounds a little bit like Brendan Benson as well on his more quieter numbers.

The melodies are very much influenced by 60s pop music from the likes of such bands like The Beatles and Beach Boys, but the lyrics are a lot darker than these two highly successful bands.

The production itself sounds very DIY and simple, which is not meant as a dig at all, for the lo-fi production is what helps make the album very appealing and allows the intimacy to shine through, it is also worth noting that Elliott plays all of the instruments on the album, which shows that he was a gifted multi-instrumentalist.

The most well known song on this album is ‘Miss Misery’ which featured on the ‘Good Will Hunting’ soundtrack. It was also nominated for an Oscar, beaten by Celine Dion’s bland offering ‘My Heart Will Go On’ – hmmmm yes I’ve heard of that one, a million times in my nightmares.

The stand out tracks on the album for me are ‘Say Yes’ with the unforgettable lyric “I’m in love with the world through the eyes of a girl/Who’s still around the morning after.” – which we can all agree is an amazing thing and also ends the album on a somewhat positive note, unless I have missed some sinister meaning.

Another great track is ‘Between the Bars’ which is really understated with just Smith and his guitar, with this great verse:-

“People you’ve been before that you
Don’t want around anymore
That push and shove and won’t bend to your will
I’ll keep them still”

Needless to say, I think I’ll be listening to this album for some time to come, I think I may now definitely be a fan.