Me, Myself, and I
A couple of weeks ago,ATHINGOFBEAUTY commented that she was really impressed by the wide variety of songs posted on our site,and by the wider knowledge of those doing the posting. Wondering what our group’s favourite albums were,I suggested that she turn it into an article and we would post it for her.
As good as her word,she came up with this.
It went down a treat,as you can imagine. All brought back some great memories for us. Like when we had hair,or could still be bothered to run for a bus. Or even allowed outside to look at one! So I thought we could make it a three-parter,with today’s article on Five Favourite Debut Albums followed in a week or so with Five Favourite Albums By Scottish Artists.
Here’s mine,in no particular order.
UNKNOWN PLEASURES-JOY DIVISION
I was a 16yo when I bought this in early 1980. To be honest,I knew little about the band at the time and have no idea why I even considered it at the time. It seems obvious that I’d read about it somewhere,and presumably in glowing terms. Nothing prepared me for how I felt when I removed that shiny piece of black plastic from its matt black cover. A strange cover indeed. A depiction of a radio wave from a distant pulsar,I later found out.
That meant nothing to me-but the sound coming from my speakers soon did!
A glance at the inner sleeve told me that the sides were Outside and Inside,and the LP itself only had Outside and Inside on the sleeve. So I sat down to listen to Disorder,the first track on the album. The run-out from each side had A or B on it,so Side A it was.
Which is why I still think that She’s Lost Control is the best opening track to a debut album ever! Seems that Disorder wasn’t confined to the recording studio,it extended as far as the pressing plants. I didn’t care. I’d never heard anything like this,still haven’t. God,it was bleak,it was dark,it was as black as the sleeve or the vinyl. Was it good? Hmmm,naw.
It was f…..g brilliant! And the opener,a starter for ten,only set the scene for the rest of the album. Completely unrelentless,you could listen to it forever,even though to do so could take you to some dark places at times. Driving bass,thumping guitar-at times!-crazy synths and doleful vocals right at the front of the mix.
Instant classic for me.
What can I say? My Mum is responsible for this! Told me that a Stiff Little Fingers gig was on BBC2 as I wandered back from the pub,so I sat down to watch it. Some young fellas were the support,and they really blew the Queens University audience in Belfast out of the water. I bought the album a couple of days later. I wasn’t disappointed.
This was clearly a few young fellas making their own way in life. It was raw,by hell it was raw. They weren’t yet the masters of their own music,much less their own instruments! Some of their songs,well,they had potential but might have been improved by taking a month or two more to refine them. But how could you refine this-it was simple Garage Rock! Oh yeah,there was the occasional change of pace but this was high energy at a time when high energy in music meant something completely different. That high energy wasn’t for me. This,very much,was.
The standouts for me are the fast moving tracks,the quieter and more reflective ones give you a pause for breath and then The Edge cranks up the guitar again,pulls that rhythm section into place and Bono gets the Dextrosol energy tabs out. Out of Control? No,very much in control. They had it made after this.
By the time I got round to buying my first Doors album,Jim Morrison had been dead for half of my lifetime. Still,they were far from fashionable in the late 70s,but I’d heard enough about them from people whose knowledge and enthusiasm I trusted to go and find out for myself. One of them described them to me as the first punk band,pointing out that Velvet Underground just thought that they were. There’s an argument for another day!
Tell you what,though. This album must have come as a shock to the system in 1967. Aye,I know that the anti-establishment movement was on a roll with Civil Rights and Vietnam in particular to the fore. But was the world really ready for this? This was poetry,and anger. And raucous and quiet and Oedipus Complex.
Twelve bloody minutes of the latter,in what I still think is their finest moment. God,the looks I used to get when I put that on in The Golf,Prestwick in the late 80s. First time I’d ever seen a CD jukebox,five goes for a quid.
Of course,it also has some classic tracks that most of you will be aware of even if you haven’t heard the album. Such as Break On Through,and of course Light My Fire. On radio,you get three lousy minutes of fire. On the album,you get seven minutes of burning down the house!
But listen to The Crystal Ship,then tell me that you still don’t quite get The Doors. Go on,I defy you!
CRUMBLING THE ANTISEPTIC BEAUTY-FELT
Drawing attention to this one,as obscure as it is,isn’t an attempt to prove something. Or anything. It’s only to highlight an outstanding album which really should have propelled the band to greater things. In fact,it did. Their second album,Splendour of Fear,was probably better-but the band didn’t make the breakthrough. The main man of the group-there were only three of them-was determined not to become a darling of the music press.
Shame really. Because this is a kind of music that was different. Two guitarists playing to the front of the mix. A drummer with no cymbals. A vocal almost lost in production. It shouldn’t work. But it does,and it works beautifully.
I’m not even going to try to explain it. Google it yourself. It’s only about half an hour long,half a dozen songs. This is real chill time stuff-which makes you sit up and go-WOW!!!!
Just to prove that I didn’t buy all these albums in a very short period of my life,I bought this in 2010. £20,and the most expensive piece in my collection. Fortunately not the most valuable,not that I’m selling! Bit of a cheat though,as it was released in 1970.
So why did it take me so long to get round to it? Well,this might be the original definition of Lost Classic,and I’m hugely indebted to Tony,my Aussie brother-in-law,for introducing me to it. Along with my sisters,he bought me a laptop back then. Loaded up their CD collection to my new ITunes account. I bought an iPod,loaded up my own CDs and heard this.
Oh,wow. Why had I never heard this? From the opening track of Sugarman-which you really must listen to using headphones or a well set up system-to the,och here’s the track listing. See if you can guess the anger and bitterness he so beautifully plays out.
“Only Good for Conversation”
“Crucify Your Mind”
“This Is Not a Song, It’s an Outburst: Or, the Establishment Blues”
“Hate Street Dialogue”
“Inner City Blues”
“Gommorah (A Nursery Rhyme)”
“Rich Folks Hoax”
“Jane S. Piddy”
He does so superbly well,like a master of his trade. Yet he was far from that. The album sank like a stone,as did his Follow-up Coming From Reality. Regarded even at the time as a masterpiece in the Southern Hemisphere,he was apparently unaware of that-as he didn’t receive any royalties!
It’s a fascinating story,and in,erm,Cold Fact,that story won an Oscar for Best Documentary as his tale,and eventual recognition,was brought to a wider audience.
Google the man,google the album,google the film. They’re all available on YouTube. You’ll honestly I Wonder why this stunning album escaped your notice for so long.
I know I did. Thanks,Tony.
There you are,folks. Five of my best. I’ve left out one or two top contenders as they will make an appearance on the Scottish one! Let us know your best.
Above article by BMCUWP. As always,we are keen to put the thoughts of our readers out there for all to see as Article of the Day. If you have anything to say,say it here. Mail it to Mahe.