Saturday, February 28, 2004

"White Punks on Dope"

Fast, furious, this one bleeds all over the speakers and then comes back for more. If you know the Tubes, you know you can't take this seriously, since they satirised just about everything they came across in their early days, but Lord, there wasn't much around in 1977 that came close to this for balls-to-the-wall intelligent rock. Two drummers, three guitars and a singer wearing a Bacofoil jockstrap and twelve-inch stack heels, these guys made Alice Cooper look like Moby.

Friday, February 27, 2004


Why weren't Cheap Trick absolutely huge? They had the nous to take hard rock and splice it to the Beatles (they even did a killer cover of "Magical Mystery Tour"), they had the pretty-boy singer, the wacky guitarist and the doleful drummer thing all perfectly arranged. There are so many terrific Cheap Trick songs, this is just one of the best. Nudge-nudge wink-wink drug/sex references and a fab chorus for "the kids".

Monday, February 23, 2004

"Little Does She Know"

Right up there at the top of the list of forgotten classics, a mini pop-opera that just gets better and better. This one came out around the same as a lot of pub-rock in the lat 70s, and got a little lost among the Nick Lowe/Dave Edmunds/Eddie and the Hot Rods/Dr Feelgood noise, but it's got one foot back in the 60s when songs told a story - sort of a Jilted John thing.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

"Downtown Train"

Tom Waits wrote this and no matter how many folks cover it, his sandpaper vocals are the definite take on the song. It's about as close to a straight love song you're going to hear this man perform, full of high-rise sentiment in a low-rent world. Avoid all imitations. I mean..."Outside another yellow moon/has punched a hole in the nighttime"....

Friday, February 20, 2004

"Beasley Street"

It's a poem, it shouldn't even need to be set to a backing track: it's a savage, pustulent, weeping sore of a poem that goes straight to the bottom of the pile of human experience, and it's brilliant. John Cooper Clarke was the Laureate of Thatcher's Britain.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

"Don't Come Around Here No More"

Tom Petty's last truly GREAT song. This one is a killer: it's bitter, twisted, the drum/cymbal patter drives gently but firmly, the sitar gives the song a slight left-field feel, and the pain in Tom's voice would squeeze tears from a rock. This one can be handily dedicated to girlfriends who've just dumped you for the nth time.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

"All or Nothing"

I don't think there've been many performers able to convey the passion and anguish that the late Steve Marriott had: there's always the feeling that this song is just about to spin out of control. The Small Faces were possibly the greatest British band of the sixties, they got the mix between rock and soul spot on, something only the Manic Street Preachers seem to have these days.

Friday, February 06, 2004

"Love Like Blood"

They liked their apocalypses, did Killing Joke. An unstoppable, insistent bassline, washes of ominous organ and huge glass shards of guitar. Funky, in a nuclear kind of way. It echoes, it cuts and it glooms big-time. The shocker is you can dance to doom!

Monday, February 02, 2004

"Me in Honey"

The clincher here is the insistent, repetitive guitar figure, and B52's Kate Pierson in the background doing this zombified droning, and it really really works. Michael Stipe plaintively, achingly, wailing "what about me??" at the end is one of those perfect hair-raising moments that I always wait for. Not sure why, but this song makes me think of sex. It's a break-up song, but there's a desperate sexual energy here too.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

"Come Back! (The Story of the Reds)"

A love song to a principle, if there could be such a thing. There's a massive, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink production and Pete Wylie's got his soul thing going to match the passion of the lyric. There's a fantastic instrumental version of this that you can loop into a never-ending mellow bass background track. Politics never sounded so passionate: "Down by the docks the talking turned/As some are striving to survive the others thrive/Reaching the realm of no return/I don't want charity, just half a chance/ And it's all up to you!".