Recollective Countdown

As a companion to my memory ten a few weeks ago, Liam has put together his own recollective countdown. Countdown makes it sound a bit like they’re in order of importance, but I don’t believe this is the case; it’s just a device for building tension. Shit…rereading the article, Liam addresses this point already.

‘Initially when I was set the task of writing about music which had connotations and attachments to specific moments and places in time I had planned on writing about a Van Morrison Greatest Hits album which reminded me of a long car journey from Luton to Fishguard when I was barely five years old. Sadly not much can be retrieved from that period on account of my age and feeble mind, some might say little has changed. Instead I have chosen to follow suit and indulge in a top of the pops style top 10 countdown although the countdown will be chronological rather than based on popularity.

10.  The Simpsons – Do the Bartman
Like many who were exposed to cultural upheaval of the media sensation of The Simpsons without quite understanding it in any depth, I latched on to the Do The Bartman single on tape (which has still survived in my musical menagerie to this day) and wore it like a badge. This track reminds of prosperous times within my childhood, mostly visiting the Dunstable Road McDonalds (which is now a library) on a Friday night and my sister giving me and my dad her gherkins.

9.  Snoop Doggy Dogg – Doggystyle
Not quite old enough to understand the myth surrounding this album and ironic tone of Snoop’s lyrics it simply reminds me of a time when I earned some street cred in junior school. The swearing and gunshots on the tracks were enough for other kids at school (mostly young asian boys) to befriend me in the hope of me allowing them to copy the album onto tape and then subsequently abandoning me. The fashion dictated that baggy red jeans with some kind of graffiti etched onto the arse pocket and wearing a Naff Co bomber jacket meant you were from “the street”. The album was not mine of course but my brother’s so my street cred was essentially borrowed.

8.  Supergrass – I Should Coco
This album represents my first deviations in cultural independence. Supergrass were not my favourite band at the time, in fact Madness were but the album came free with the CD player I received for my 12th birthday. However, the occasion was a solemn affair. This album reminds of dealing with the confusion and frustration of being the child in the midst of my parent’s emotional tug of war/divorce, failing at integrating into a new neighbourhood/shithole, the social pressures of high school/educational purgatory and my new oversized bedroom. Many years later I would regret selling the album to my brother for just £5 which was probably spent on second hand Megadrive games or McChicken sandwiches.

7. The Pixies – Surfer Rosa
Q magazine has seldom played a part in recommending anything life affirming but at the tender and gullible age of 14 I went out and bought Surfer Rosa because I’d read Kurt Cobain had cited them as a key influence on Nirvana. So blown away by the gnarl of Black Francis’ hollering, the bombast of Dave Lovering’s drumming, Kim Deal’s steady but catchy harmonies and Joe Santiago’s random and raucous riffing remains something I still airguitar to despite being able to play some of the more basic hooks. Memories are conjured of countless Saturdays spent deciding what to do with the day in the extension room of Lee’s old house on Telscombe Way or spending weekdays after school at Pank’s talking longlingly (bawdily) about girls in our year.

6. Kid A – Radiohead
Sixteen is no age to begin attending gigs. A sunny day in September 2000, Matt and I attended my first major gig*, Radiohead inside a giant tent somewhere in Victoria Park. Somehow along the way we got lost thus walking nervously through east London terraces and mile high rises. This album not only reminds me of waiting in a queue alongside some gimpy looking twenty somethings making offensive claims that songs from “The Bends” were just filler since “OK Computer” and “Kid A” or a posh oik who seemed to know all the roadies moving Radiohead’s gear by name or of the possibly preteen girls bawling to the set despite only vaguely knowing the lyrics to “No Surprises” but it reminds of the excitement from the anticipation of the album’s release and excitement over the future after the purgatory of high school. It reminds me of the summer between high school and college where a small group of friends would go to each other’s houses, usually Matt’s, and we would hear live performances which Matt or Chris had acquired via Napster of what we were to expect when Radiohead released their fourth album. Even now if I hear “idioteque” with enough jars of alcohol in my belly I will dance like a spaz in the vain hope of mimicking Thom Yorke. It brings a chill to my bones to realise this was nearly 10 years ago.

5. Dntel – Life Is Full Of Possibilities
After hearing some people refer to Dntel on various livejournal alt music pages I investigated myself and taking the risk and purchasing an album by an artist I’d never heard before of a genre I wasn’t entirely aware of. The artwork intrigued me most. It summons the fading sentiment of being “different”, feeling part of a secluded online community of cultured loners and the time when exploring new music was on the power of word of mouth alone. It also reminds me of a time when I spent a day in central London trying to find the album in both the gargantuan HMV stores and the UK’s largest Virgin Megastore to no avail but having better luck at the now defunct Select-A-Disc on Berwick Street and being impressed by the staff’s eccentric and in depth knowledge of music. It also reminds me of the deterioration of a relationship.

4. The Pilot Ships – There Should Be An Entry Here
This is my break up album. After the collapse of a near 3 year relationship I immersed myself in rebuilding relationships with my closest friends. A summer of debauchery, hang overs and full time work as a painter/decorator in my previous college meant enjoying the diversity in Matt’s range of CD collection. I could have easily chosen Sofa’s “Grey” or Murcof’s “Martes” but The Pilot Ships was the only album I managed to purchase that summer and thus the memory of it favoured it some longevity. Sometimes when I listen to this album I can remember the chucklesome conversations that filled the boredom of literally watching paint dry. On one occasion Matt and myself challenged ourselves to create parodies of the classically racist Irishman joke, not exactly in keeping with the albums morose tone.

3. British Sea Power – The Decline of British Sea Power
Dual memories. One is living in squalor in north London during my second year of university with my only longstanding friend since that time, Nick. British Sea Power were playing at ULU, neither of us had tickets, we turned up hoping to get tickets, both got entry to the gig via the corrupt and illegal process of using touts, Jeffrey Lewis in support, giant bear on stage, amazing gig. The other is visiting Chris in Lincoln whereby he told Matt and I that he had saved the singer Yann’s life as he nearly fell from the stage at Chris’ local pub. This album also reminds me of the time we stalked Alan Titchmarsh at a book signing at Lincoln’s bookshop Ottakars.

2. Smog – A River Ain’t Too Much To Love
Fate has a way of playing the soundtrack to your life. The outstanding track from this album is “Mother Of The World” which resonated with the events taking place in my life. I had just finished university with a grade below what I had actually scored in the exams but was marked down after a random oral test, an attempt to move to Cambridge with my beloved friends had fallen through after hitting a snag and later that year my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The timing of this both poignant and morbid album could not have coincided better.

1. Fionn Regan – The End Of History
Another with dual memories. One is of sitting in a hostel in Warsaw, Poland, playing black jack while the rain beat down on the window pane preventing us from seeing the sights on our final evening in the Polish capital. After leaving Poland we both learned that evening the storm killed 60 people, we were totally oblivious and I snored through most of the night. The second memory is spending my first summer with my girlfriend Ellie before she went to university and my attempts at turning her onto my kind of music (which it pains me I’m still trying to do one day she will learn to love Radiohead like I do). The album reminds me of the more sensuous moments where simply spending time together in a field or in her dad’s old Mini Cooper driving somewhere to find somewhere to go for a walk usually somewhere between Stopsley village and Hitchin.’

*I would class Radiohead at Victoria as my first major gig as well, though my first real gig, on a much smaller scale, was Ian Dury and The Blockheads at (I think) Venue 27, which then became The Temple (?). Although it is probably a fabrication of memory, Ed O’Brien signalled to us via the medium of returning hand gestures we made during the course of the set. Thom Yorke didn’t engage the crowd except to say ‘I’m not saying much today as enough shit has been said already’. This was in response to the Melody Maker review of Kid A that came out that week. Time seems to have been kinder to the band. They had a large roaming light in the sky, projecting the evilish Teddy face that was their want at the time. Mile End tube station was closed afterwards, and we walked to Bow, which we had inadvertently found earlier in the day during our misc roaming of Tower Hamlets, as Liam mentions.

Additionally, Martes is a great album.


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