12 Essential New York Records.

8 02 2018

CBGB bowery OMFUG rock punk

 

I’m not someone who gets overly annoyed easily (but if you chew loudly or sniff constantly on public transport, I’ll probably want to smack you in the kisser.) However, after reading the apparent “essential” NYC records chosen by BBC 6Music, I got annoyed. In fact, it went beyond being annoyed. I am pissed off. A pissed off Punk who is absolutely infuriated by this list and I know that I am not alone in this.

If you want to share my rage, here is the list:

1. The Strokes – Is This It
2. Wu Tang Clan – Enter The 36 Chambers
3. Blondie – Parallel Lines
4. Talking Heads – 77
5. Nas – Illmatic
6. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever To Tell
7. Simon & Garfunkel – Bookends
8. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
9. Princess Nokia – 1992 Deluxe
10. The Rapture – Echoes
11. Interpol – Turn On The Bright Lights
12. LCD Soundsystem – Sound Of Silver

 

I am a massive fan of Nas, Wu Tang, Interpol, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Strokes. The Strokes first record was my crutch for a long time, and I do agree with it being there- but not at the top. There is so much missing from this list- how can you even condense it down to 12 anyway? Maybe 20 wouldn’t even be enough.

So with my burning rage, I have to come up with my own list. I don’t want to claim that my list is correct or anything like that- it’s just an opinion. I could be wrong, or someone may feel like they agree with me. The severe lack of Punk in the list just makes me sad. I do agree, as I said with some of the records being there, but some are wrongfully missed.

Also, it isn’t in any order- I don’t like order, it makes me nervous.

Ramones-Ramones.

It was either this or Leave Home. I think Leave Home is my favourite Ramones record, but their debut deserves to be there because of the huge impact it had. I remember hearing it for the first time when I was about 14/156. The age where everything and anything can influence you. I remember hearing it and feeling like I had been born in the wrong era. Every song gave me this incredible feeling, and every song just made me idolise them. I think it is obvious that I worship Joey Ramone. Oh man, Beat On The Brat is one of my favourite Ramones songs. I love the lyrics and I love the humour in their songs but there is a real sensitivity in Joey’s voice that is so unique and beautiful. It’’ just such an iconic record. It was made to influence and to be played loud.

Lou Reed-Transformer.

The most important NYC record of all time. ALL.TIME. Why the hell wasn’t it included?! It’s pretty insulting to Lou’s legacy that this record isn’t on there. It’s not only a great NYC record; it’s probably my favourite record of all time. As a gay person, this record gave me this sense of freedom that I hadn’t found in any other record when I first heard it. I didn’t come out until years after hearing this record, but it gave me this feeling of being alright with who I was. Besides, me being gay doesn’t define me. Never has, never will Transformer is just the coolest record ever made. I hate the word cool, we know that but fucking hell Lou Reed was THE coolest person to have ever lived and he just smacks it in our faces with this record. Sally Can’t Dance and Coney Island Baby are obviously worth mentioning. Pretty sure my list could just be Lou and Ramones records. Vicious and Andy’s Chest…man alive! “You hit me with a flower.” That’s GOT to move you in some way. I love the lyrics to Vicious, and I think this whole record shows Lou in a different way, you know? He just expressed himself in a way nobody else had dared to. I still don’t think anything can touch this record.

New York Dolls-New York Dolls.

The clue is in the bloody name really. Absolutely criminal and horrendous that this record isn’t on the list. My mum got me into the Dolls at a very young age. I don’t even think I was a teenager. I remember finding her copy of the record, and being in awe of the Dolls in drag. How beautiful they were! I was drawn of course, to Johnny Thunders (the greatest guitarist of all time.) Subway Train is such a beautiful song. Jet Boy has this incredible snarl to it. The whole record oozes attitude that is so unique to the Dolls. The lyrics to Trash and Personality Crisis are just great. This record is New York through and through. It’s got the charm and grit. It’s got the attitude and bite. It’s a record that I always find myself going to time and time again, and discovering more things to love about it. It’s just timeless.

Richard Hell + The Voidoids-Blank Generation.

Alright so Richard isn’t from New York- but this record was recorded at Electric Lady Studios so, it’s a NYC record. And he moved there pretty early on, so it’s fine. It’s acceptable.

I am a Richard Hell obsessive. I paid £30 once for a Richard Hell t-shirt from a shop on Brick Lane. Yeah it was too much money, but it’s Richard Hell.

Blank Generation would easily be in my list of best Punk records. It’s got this raw attitude to it, and I just love Richard’s voice. As a singer and as a writer, I just love him. His autobiography is one of the best of its kind I’ve read. He has most certainly lived a colourful life. Sure he’s done questionable things, the little bugger. But, he’s made some incredible music along the way.

Suicide-Suicide

Suicide are probably the best duo of all time. Frankie Teardrop is the best 10 minute song of all time. Dream Baby Dream is a masterpiece. The whole record is a work of art. If any record can capture the roughness of New York in the 70s, it’s this record. It is such a grand record and well ahead of its time. It still is. Nothing and no one has ever come close to this. For me, I think Suicide are massively underrated but they have influenced so many bands that I adore. It still hurts and it still sucks that Alan Vega is no longer here. I remember when he passed; I had the same reaction most had for Bowie. Suicide were never afraid to push their sound and to make music that was entirely different. It is a beautiful noise that brings such pleasure and joy to the ears. It is a gritty record from start to finish, and they keep that grittiness throughout every record they have ever made.

The Heartbreakers-L.A.M.F

I think this was recorded in London, but Johnny Thunders was a New Yorker, The Heartbreakers were a supergroup. I did want to pick a solo Johnny record, but I remembered how much I am obsessed with L.A.M.F (it stands for Like A Mother Fucker.) and how One Track Mind is such a great song. I can’t help but imagine what it would be like if Johnny was still here. Like I said earlier on, for me he’s the greatest guitarist of all time. His style was just impeccable and one of a kind. No one else could play like him. His style was way ahead of its time. He was ahead of his time.  He had this way of just magnetising you with every note. The record has been reissued so many times, but regardless of what version you have- it’s a genius record. It is proper Rock N Roll and has Punk foundations. Of all the records I own, I think this might be my most played. It’s one of those records I just really enjoy listening to over and over again.

Nas-Illmatic

Nas is one of the greatest rappers of all time, that’s obvious. There are so many Hip Hop records I could have chosen. I know that The Big Picture by Big L is one of the best. I bought it when it came out, and to this day it is still one of my favourite records. Like Nas, Big L was and still is above the rest. Illmatic portrays New York in a way that most don’t want to hear. Nas is not, and has never been afraid to show the harsher side of life. From losing friends to growing up in the projects in Queens- he really takes you there. He’s a poet, a storyteller. Halftime is one of the songs on Illmatic that really show this. He makes you see the world and his world the way he does with Illmatic. Is it his best record? For sure. It’s one of the best Hip Hop records of all time. Nas has constantly brought out remarkable records that have, and still do influence so many. It’s one of those records that you can’t imagine not ever happening. It is such an important record- irrespective of what kind of music you’re into; it is such a phenomenal record. What he did with this debut record most want from their whole career.

A Tribe Called Quest-People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm

Tribe have always made consistently great records that are so experimental and diverse. They fused together all styles of music. There are so many records by them I could have chosen, but it felt right to go with their debut. It came out in a time where you had groups like NWA with their aggressive songs. Sure their songs may have been, but it is important to remember that NWA were telling us about the things that were happening in Compton- it is just as important and to an extent maybe more so. But this about New York right now. What I love about the first Tribe record is that it frees your mind, it gives you something that you won’t find anywhere else. Q-Tip and Phife are two great rappers, and I don’t think they have ever got enough credit it. Tribe’s records each have distinctive sounds. Push It Along is nearly 8 minutes long, Bonita Applebum is genius, I Left My Wallet In El Segundo is timeless and Luck of Lucien is just amazing. The samples on this record used range from Grace Jones to The Beatles to Lou Reed. It’s a record that quite simply, you need to own.

 Sonic Youth-Confusion Is Sex

I could have happily listed every single record by Sonic Youth. I’d have no idea where to start- so I went to the start. It’s such a heavy record; it’s a record that has influenced so many. It is powerful, it is loud and it has Jim Sclavunos on drums. What more do you need? (She’s In A) Bad Mood is such a brilliant way to start the record. Jim’s drumming is so brutal; they all just move you in a way that you wouldn’t expect. There is nothing calming about the sound on this record- they just rile you up in a way that is mind-blowing.

I think it is possible the record that shows us all just how amazing Kim Gordon is. I mean, we know that anyway but Confusion Is Sex has some awesome moments that just leave you inspired by Kim. Shaking Hell is my favourite on this record; it’s so aggressive and really brutal. The louder you play this, the better. The way she yells “Shake off your flesh!” is so hypnotising.

The Velvet Underground-Loaded

Maybe I should have gone with their first record. Maybe. But, Loaded is my favourite and I remember buying my copy of this in Brussels and feeling like I had won the lottery. My copy doesn’t play as well as it should but that’s because I am always playing it. I love listening to it and allowing Velvet Underground to take me some place really magical. Rock & Roll is such a fantastic song, and you can’t help but think you’re the person Lou has written about. Lonesome Cowboy Bill is out of this world- it’s not like anything else.

Oh! Sweet Nuthin’ is up there as being one of the greatest songs of all time. It’s one of Lou’s best, easily. I’ve written about this record so many times, and I’m sure I have never done it justice.

Television-Marquee Moon

I cannot make this list without mentioning Television, and this record. Many have regarded it as one of the best records ever made, and they aren’t wrong. It is such a wonderfully created record. From the vocals to the production- it is so effortlessly great and really does have a slick sound that you know is from New York. Every song on Marquee Moon is so distinctive. You hear one note, and you immediately know that it is them. The intro to the title song is one of the most iconic ones of all time. It’s an intro that just stays with you. You immediately go back to the first time you heard it as soon as it comes on. It’s just a magnificent record that definitely does deserve its status as being one of the greatest records ever made.

The Strokes-Is This It

There are a number of records I could have picked. I could have gone with Foxy Brown, Mos Def, Interpol, Talking Heads, Big L- so many. Why did I stick with The Strokes when I could have picked someone else? Because this record holds a lot of importance to me. It’s got me through hell and back. It still does. I adore Julian. I love his words, his voice and just him. It’s a record I constantly go back to. I can play it and I immediately go back to my first time hearing it. I was 15 years old, being bullied at school. I’d play it every day. And every single day I would imagine I was hanging out with Julian in New York City eating pizza, going to record stores and going to shows. This record was my escape, and it still is. It captures New York and it captures what music means to me. So from a totally personal point of view, this record is New York. This record is important. Again, it is one that is still a massive influence to bands. They are all great musicians, and there will never be anything else quite like it- just like all the records I have mentioned.

 

Like I said, there are so many records that could have been named. This is just my personal take. Maybe it is wrong, maybe it is right. It’s just a point of view, like the 6Music one is. But I just find it hard to accept that so many great and influential records were missed off.





Top 10 Male Singers (of all time..sort of.)

13 10 2012

I frequently have internal battles with myself about my favourite songs and records of all time. I place them into categories to make it easier, such as Favourite Debut Record of All Time to BEST SONG EVER PART 1 OF 100. Stuff like that you know? But earlier, I managed to come up with a solid list of my favourite male singers of all time. I basically narrowed it down to singers that were around before I was born because if I did recent ones, I’d firmly place Brandon Welchez from Crocodiles as my number 1. Maybe I’ll do a list for that.

So, I’m going to attempt to list my favourite male singers of all time (that existed before I was born..I was born in ’86. The golden era of Hip Hop.) Of course I may change my mind at some point, but hopefully I won’t fret and lose sleep over this. I’m a born worrier; but I keep it well hidden. Obviously I’ve just admitted to it, so it’s not a secret. Oh well.

10. David Johansen (New York Dolls.) I hate that I’ve had to put this in order because I want to jumble it all around. However, the love I have for David Johansen goes beyond him being my number 10. What I love about him is his flamboyant style and distinctive drawl. I remember my mum playing their first record round the house when I was younger. I didn’t know it was the Dolls but I was hooked on Jet Boy. I probably used to sing it, and get the words mixed up. Nothing has changed. Into my teenage years, I saw a copy of their debut record at my uncle’s. I was drawn to the cover, and I always stand by it being my favourite album cover ever. The sheer beauty of it just drew me in straight away. Utterly gorgeous. So, what is it about David Johansen that makes me adore him? I think he’s one of the best front-men of all time. His charisma and charm just leaves you in awe. The way he moves makes you want to emulate him in a dramatic fashion. He’s one of a kind, and undoubtedly inspired so many to express themselves in a way no one else dared to do so.

9. Townes Van Zandt. My love for Townes started only a few years ago, and it wasn’t his voice that got me hooked. Before I even heard his voice, I read his lyrics. His lyrics were that of a troubled soul. You couldn’t help but connect with him, yet at the same time feel uncomfortable that you connected with his words. Then when you heard his voice, you TRULY got all the pain. Some singers become actors and don’t believe in what they do. Some just want the money. With the likes of Townes, you could tell that music was everything to him. His life was dependant on making music. It didn’t really matter how the listener felt; he just needed to get it all out. We all need an outlet, music is one of the most powerful ones. Townes possessed a unique voice that no matter what, just sounded so vulnerable. He didn’t have to put on an act; everything about him was truthful. At times some of his songs became too painful to listen to, but at best- you just knew someone else understood some of the perils of every day life.

8. Nick Cave. Some singers you remember falling in love with, because it just stays with you for the rest of time. Nick Cave is a prime example of that. My gran used to look after me when I was younger, before I went to primary school. Before chewed up and spat out my soul. Or you know, before I ate paint and sobbed before swimming lessons. My uncle used to live with her in this house, and I always remembered going to his room when he was at work and staring at a poster of Nick Cave on one of the walls in his room. I’d stare at it in utter awe. I don’t know what my toddler mind was thinking, but it was fixated on this person. I felt like I was looking at something untouchable. I guess I knew of Nick Cave’s genius before I even heard his voice or read his lyrics. Fast forward to about 10 years old and I’m hearing Into My Arms and Henry Lee on MTV. Something was happening in my mind. I knew exactly what it was. I knew what I wanted to be. A writer. I wanted to write words like this; but the thing is, no one can write like Nick Cave. The man is a genius. Sure enough his vocals may not be to everyone’s taste, but his lyrics…I fail to find a song that anyone couldn’t relate to. Everything about him just makes you want to expand your mind and explore other worlds.

7. Leonard Cohen. One of the greatest writers of all time regardless of genre. Leonard Cohen and Morrissey were the two song-writers that truly made me care about words. Poets such as Poe and Rimbaud got me hooked on words too. But these two singers just made me see everything in the world in a different way. The darkness and love and romance of everything around us was made clearer by them. Leonard Cohen for me just creates a different world. A world that is free of everything but full of questions. I think that’s a good way to live. It’s hard to live that way, but it gets you through. I always place Leonard Cohen as a poet before anything else, but his voice is so powerful. Some may seek singers that hit high notes and have a stupid range. I don’t want that. I want you to sing in a way that makes me feel like you are telling a story to my soul. Leonard Cohen does this, and so much more. I’ve many reasons as to why I adore him, that’s just one of them. I don’t think I could put the rest into words to be honest.

6. Otis Redding. I’ve found a pattern in the singers I love; they all basically sing songs about loss and pain. I’m a cheerful soul. Of all the Soul singers in the world that have existed, it was Otis Redding that I truly found a life-long love for. Everything about his voice makes you wish you were around when he was starting out. Imagine being one of the first to have heard his voice all those decades ago. His sad songs could break the hardest of hearts, but his joyful songs could bring tears of happiness to your eyes. He had the power to make you feel every single word he sang. He died far too young, everyone knows that. And I also think most know that Otis, although he had a short career, he was truly one of the best. I’ve got a bit of an issue with the term “Soul” music because all music should come from there and you should feel music right in your soul, but regardless- Otis oozed more soul than most.

5. Joey Ramone. No idea how to get into writing about Joey because let’s face it- he possessed the greatest voice in Punk. The way he towered over the mic stand. Pulling it to and fro like a man under a spell made you want to start something of your own. Easily one of the most distinctive voices of all time. His voice was like no other. His stage presence has obviously been an inspiration to many over the years. From how he stood to how he dressed. He wasn’t just part of a band, he was part of a movement that fuelled the souls of so many lost people. Myself included, and also justifies why I was born in the wrong era. To be in New York in the 70s would have been perfect. What do we have now? Of course we do have wonderful things, but imagine being part of one of the most powerful movements in music (and possibly society.) One of my most prized possession are my Ramones records. I rarely play them as I don’t want to ruin them; but when I do, I can truly hear all they stood for. Joey was the voice for so many, and you know what, he still is.

4. Lou Reed. I’m going to try keep this as short as possible because I truly have no issues with writing a massive essay about my love for Lou Reed. However all I want to say and could say about him has been said before. Again, this is another genius my uncle got me into. He got me into Velvet Underground then after he saw my love for them he told me to listen to Transformer. Is Transformer one of the best records made? Damn right it is. Wagon Wheel is one of my favourites for sure. I just love Lou’s style of writing. He’s a genuine story-teller who takes you into the underworld of all around you. You think all you see is all that exists, then you listen to a Lou Reed song and it’s like you fall into a different world. Something quite dark, wonderful and weird. You never want out of it. I think, once you listen to Lou- that’s it for life. Once you give yourself over to his words, you feel part of something that no one or nothing could tear you from. You even forgive him for that Lulu record because Transformer exists.

3. Scott Walker. I guess like most I have already mentioned, Scott Walker is an acquired taste. His debut record is by far one of the greatest records ever made. My Death is probably my favourite Scott Walker song, you know, with me being a ray of sunshine and all that. But in all seriousness, my love for Scott Walker came from of course, The Walker Brothers. His solo work is just a work of art. Every record is a masterpiece. You really cannot deny that he’s a genius. The way his mind works, the way he writes, the way he sings- he’s just out of this world. He’s an enigma, for sure. I cannot wait for his new record to come out in December. Every record of his sounds entirely different from the last; but they always remain timeless and as important as each other. To have a career that reads like that is rare, and something that should be treasured.

2. Don Van Vliet (Captain Beefheart.) A strange soul who made even stranger music. Safe As Milk changed a LOT for me. I think it honestly changed how I listened to music, and the ways it affected me. It opened up my mind. What did Trout Mask Replica do? Well, it freaked me out in the most pleasurable way for sure. I think it is one of the weirdest records I’ve ever heard.  I loved the way his mind worked. From his songs to his paintings- everything about him just oozed freedom and creativity. The two go hand in hand, but not many can make them work as perfect as Don Van Vliet did. He was a rare spirit that made you feel so free. When you listen to Safe As Milk, whether the first time around or if you’re a new fan, everything about it just gives you something you are never going to get again. I guess you can only get it from a Beefheart record. Certain musicians give you certain feelings, I think what Beefheart gave you is something that goes beyond words you know. I’ve tried so many times to pick a favourite song by Captain Beefheart, but instead I’ve narrowed it down to a moment. It’s when he says, “A squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag is fast ‘n bulbous, got me?” at the start of Pachuco Cadaver. No idea what it means, but it’s wonderfully strange.

Okay so for Number 1 I just couldn’t decide. Bob Dylan or Morrissey. I can’t choose. There’s no way I can do that. So, joint first place are Bobby and Morrissey. So I’m going to keep it brief.

1. Bob Dylan. Where do you begin when attempting to write about your love for someone so inspiring? I have my mum to thank for my obsession with this man. I’m proud of my Dylan tattoo on the back of my neck. It’s of a song that guided me through hell and back. Through hell some more, and back again. His words provide guidance through life- the good and the bad. It is like he is reassuring you every step of the way. My mum used to sing Forever Young to me when I was a baby before I went to sleep. His music is perfect for long train journeys or just walking around on your own. He makes you feel okay with whatever is going on. You stare out to all you see with his words echoing delicately in your ear, and you’re to restart/carry on. I hold Blonde on Blonde very dear to my heart, and I think it is possibly my favourite Dylan record. But with so many, I think it is hard to choose a solid favourite yet it seems to always be the one I go to for various reasons.

1.Morrissey. I’ve always declared Morrissey as being the one true love of my life. Mainly because his words/songs have been there when I thought I had nothing else. Speedway has been the song that sums up my life for the most part, as does Alma Matters. Everyday Is Like Sunday fully describes where I unfortunately live. I could honestly write an essay about every Morrissey song and still feel I had more to say. His words are a safety net and a force of hope to guide you through. He manages to release every unwanted and wanted feeling you have ever had, and will have had. Dismiss him as a moody sod all you want; but maybe you are scared to see yourself in his words. Seeing him live..every single time feels like a healing process. For some reason, every time before I have seen him- something shit has gone on in my life, and I’ve seen him and it all feels okay. His music goes beyond just being music, and I know every Morrissey fan feels like that. He’s not someone you just stick on as background music. He’s the soundtrack to all you do. He’s someone I don’t think I could actually sit and listen to with. It’s a very personal experience, mainly because I relate to a vast majority of his lyrics. I just adore everything about him, he’s the reason as to why lyrics are so important to me. I wear my Morrissey tattoo on my arm with unconditional love and pride. He changed my life and saved my life; that’s why he’s my number 1.





“To lose my train of thought and fall into your arms’ tracks. And watch beneath the eyelids every passing dot.”

2 08 2012

Music that makes me feel like my insides are being ripped out and that makes me feel like my ears are bleeding is pretty much my favourite. I don’t mean I want to hear some fool scream like a person possessed so I can’t understand what on earth they are saying; I mean music that is so loud and passionate it makes you believe. It’s brutal force drives you to make something of your own. Whether it be making your own noise or writing the most emotional and moving poem possible.

Music can make you feel better about being the only person in your world. Music can drown out the rats and make you see what matters. Music can provide what a person can’t. If I can love music like this, I can love a person right? Anyone can. Fear and loathing in my body. My mind is aging fast and my body has no clue. I’ve too much patience, and too much time. A wealth of ideas that are useless. And a heart that’s unsure of its purpose. I find answers in songs that release frustration, longing, desire, confusion and love. I realised I wasn’t alone when I first heard Morrissey. I realised it was okay to enjoy “dark” things thanks to The Jesus And Mary Chain. I found out how to be vulnerable from Patti Smith. I learnt how to keep hold of fear but not let it rule me thanks to Garbage. I learnt how to be gentle from Beach House. I found freedom in Warpaint. Music makes me who I am. I know I should be the one who makes me who I am, but it isn’t always the case.

I found a home in Punk and Garage Rock. I found two types of music that just summed everything up. Punk let out the fury, Garage Rock saved my soul. I’ve done a tribute to my love for Garage Rock before, but it’s the turn of Punk. I know EVERYONE has their own opinion on it. No one is right, no is wrong. I prefer the American Punk scene because it means more to me. It had more heart; it wasn’t about the appearance. It was the music that spoke volumes. The voices behind it just created something so powerful, and life-changing. From Iggy to Ramones and all in-between there was a voice for all. Ramones are EASILY in my top 5 favourite bands of all time, so it truly pisses me off when I see people wearing a Ramones shirt and they cannot name a song by them- let alone a band member. If you don’t dig the band then don’t wear the shirt. Simple as.

For me, Punk was a sheer escape. If you saw where I grew up you’d fully understand why I needed to mentally escape as often as possible. I still do. More than ever. Music is truly my life, it’s all I know. Punk kept the fury alive, I’m waiting to turn it into something I can be proud of. However, I have yet to do something I am proud of. Maybe one day it’ll happen. Or on my deathbed I’ll say, “I made this amazing cup of tea once…” As I reminisce about this cup of tea, I croak it. Typically. Anyway.

Punk has my heart. It owns every part of me. It is everything and so much more. It went beyond being a genre of music. A state of mind, a way of life and a way of being. They say it is dead. Well, the true essence of it is and we’ll never see a movement like it ever again. That’s why I treasure it so much.

These are the Punk songs that mean more to me than I can put into words. These are the songs that provided a safety net but unleashed all I felt because my words weren’t good enough. They never will be, but that’s fine.





Johnny Thunders : Part New York Doll, Part Genius.

15 07 2012

 

“Ask me no questions, and I’ll tell you no lies. Ask me no questions, I’ll be yours tonight.”

 

There’s always one band that you remember the first time you heard them, and it stays with you for life. Or maybe there is one musician who just made you feel so alive by the way he/she played their chosen instrument. Something about them made you feel so alive, and those that called you out as a “freak” are nothing to you. Let it mean nothing. Let the right one in, and when it becomes clear it is wrong- well then you will have learnt for next time. But will there be a next time. I think too much. I’m thinking too much. About an event and a person I can do nothing about, that’s when you know the person owns a part of you no one in this universe can ever claim. But you should’ve given it away to them about 3 or 4 years ago. It’s not a mistake, it’s repeatedly kicking yourself because you realised to late. What part of you is bruised? This means nothing to you, the person reading this. So skip this and read to where I make my point. What is my point?  JOHNNY.THUNDERS. The original. The one and ONLY. The man who won your heart over with the opening to Jet Boy, and since then- he owned it. Boy did he own you something good.

60 years ago today Johnny was born. I remember when he died. I remember my mum and uncle being in shock about it all. The passing of a musician has the power to break so many hearts. I’ve cried over the passing of a number of musicians. When your hero dies, it is like part of you dies with them. Yet part of them lives on in you. The bad and the good, what a clash of worlds it truly is. What a terrible thing is it. But, you pull through and cling onto the music. That’s all you can ever do. Let go of the person, hold onto their art. This isn’t just musicians that you do not know you can apply this to. I’m not going to give you a life lesson, you’re not stupid. You know how it is.

New York Dolls are a band that have been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. I used to be fascinated by the artwork of their debut record. Their made-up faces and killer heels, it was a world I wanted in on. I was so young, I didn’t know the power it would have over me. As I got older and listened to their music (15 onwards) I realised that this was the music that was meant for me. This was a genre of music I just needed to have surrounding me at all times. I didn’t want anything else. Their gang mentality and their true to life lyrics resonated with me. Every single part of me was in love with this band.

Music without the Dolls just wouldn’t have ever been the same. They made their mark in a way no other band ever has, or ever will. They caused their own scene. Made their own movement. They were everything and much more. Johnny Thunders was THE most charismatic guitar player of all time. I will always stand by him being the greatest guitarist of all time. This is just my personal view, and that means I am probably wrong. Being right is far too hyped up. Most things are. Follow your heart kid, and don’t bite your tongue. What good comes from holding back? I know, I truly know. I leave it too late. New York Dolls make you want to roam the streets and kick empty cans out of frustration towards your own life, and your surroundings. They tell you to make a change, but you try. You try real hard, but no one wants to give you the chance. The Dolls were and always will be my get-out card. The go to when I need to feel something no other band can give me. A sense of freedom, and the capability to do it my own way. I don’t know where I am going, or what I am doing- but the Dolls are providing the soundtrack.

Subway Train is my life. A constant reminder of missing out, being thrown about and trying to get out. There is so much romanticism (I’m too romantic and I’m starting to think it’s a bad thing.) But for me, this song oozes so much from nostalgia to accepting someone else has won. You try to win them, but there’s something greater than you that holds their attention. Force quit on your affections. I just love the song a lot. Then you have Trash, Personality Crisis, Looking For A Kiss..the whole debut record is probably one of the best things ever. If you can’t see this, then maybe you haven’t listened to it. As it would’ve been Johnny’s 60th birthday today, you should probably go listen to it. Paint up your face, put on your favourite outfit and play it loud. You’ll feel good from the inside out. You’ll feel alive.

We must never forget the impact and the role Johnny played within the music industry. His rebellious stance and gifted guitar skills made him stand-out from those before, during and after. In my heart, he will always be the greatest. The true meaning of a New York Doll.

Happy Birthday Johnny xx

 





New York Dolls-New York Dolls.

2 01 2012

I can’t remember how old I was, but I was pretty young when I first heard of the New York Dolls. I know my mum used to play their music around the house. I used to try sing along to Jet Boy, pretty badly. I still do the same now. I’m writing this listening to their debut first album, and I cannot help but think that I was born at the wrong time. I feel no connection to life and music now. I feel it more for the 70s when NY, Ramones and Velvet Underground were all starting out.

The front cover of the Dolls debut album is one of my favourites. I love how striking they all look in their make-up. I love how bloody stunning Johnny Thunders looks; his lustful and seductive stare at the camera just makes you fall in love with him. They hear him play, and the love you feel for him makes you realise he was probably, the greatest guitarists of all time.

A debut record should always be sincere and unapologetically raw. It should be brutal with slight delicate tones. It should be dark and gnarly. It should smack you right in the face. It should leave you wanting more. Just anticipating the next release, and the next release and the next….and so on. New York Dolls did all of this and more with their debut album. It is EASILY one of the greatest records ever made, and also one of the best debut records ever made. As I listen to this, I find it hard to believe that this is the first proper record that they put out. It sounds so utterly perfect and professional- as if it had been created by a band with more than one album to their name.

David’s voice is one of the most precious and unique voices I have ever heard. His glorious New York drawl really comes through in this album, especially on the song Frankenstein (which is a favourite.)

I’m going to dedicate a bit now to my favourite track off the album, Subway Train. For me, Subway Train will always be one o the most wonderful songs I have ever heard. I love how you can sense so much frustration and despair in this song. The opening verse always hits me right in the gut:

“I can’t, ever understand. Why my life has been cursed, poison and condemned. When I’ve been trying, every night to hold you near me. But I’m tellin’ you- it isn’t easy.”

Everyone has felt that at some point in their life. You see the one you adore far too much, and all you want to do is hold them for a while. But everything you do seems to be cursed and fucked- so you never get the one you want. You’ll get it right one day, you must do. It’s hard to stomach at times, but with songs like Subway Train and the way David sings this opening verse- it makes you see the beauty in feeling such frustrations. The way Johnny makes the guitar sound so mournful is just so gorgeous. The song for me, it’s like- you like this person is unaware of how you feel- or maybe they do, and they just act so carelessly when you’re there. They do things to sort of stab you in the heart as you try to just get near them. You’ve got to let it go eventually, you’ll feel better when you do.

I cannot write about this record without mentioning that is was produced by a fantastic man. And probably one of the best producers of all time (him and Phil Spector are in my mind, genius and the two greats.) Todd Rundgren. He has produced some amazing albums; the work he has done with the Dolls is of course, his greatest.

What I love about the Dolls debut record is how wonderfully sleazey it can make you feel listening to it. I don’t mean it in a smutty kind of way. It just wakes up the sexual senses you have, it is an incredible album- and even though it was released in 1973; it still sounds so powerful, brutal and just so fucking raw. It has this edge on it that just caused the whole Punk scene to start.

 





The Importance Of The Debut Album.

27 08 2011

After 3 attempts write this, this is my last go. Trying to sum up the importance of a debut album isn’t easy, nor is it easy trying to think of the best debut albums ever. There have been so many phenomenal debut albums, some people just overlook and others are regarded as highly influential.

Over the past 3 years there have been some amazing debut albums released such as Lungs by Florence And The Machine to Cults self titled debut which was released this year.

The hardest thing about putting out such a great first album is following it up. How many bands have managed to set such a high calibre with their first album and pull it off with every release? Of course The Smiths managed to do it, and in my biased opinion, more recently The Horrors have evidently done it. More on Strange House later. I always have strong affection towards debut albums as you can truly feel and understand what an artist is trying to do. It’s always good to listen back to a debut album when a band has released 3 or 4 albums into their career. You can really hear how an artist has grown and changed their sound.

My personal favourite debut album of all time has to be Psychocandy by The Jesus And Mary Chain. I love the reverb sound, the intense subject matter and of course Jim Reid’s stunning vocals. I adore the production on the album, it has influenced so many bands that I love such as The Horrors. There has never been a debut album as gripping and as brutal as Psychocandy. Although the band have released some fantastic albums, this is the one that stands out for me- it is timeless and just everything an album should be. It’s dark, it is passionate and honest. If more music was to this standard, well, the music industry would be in a better place I suppose. The Jesus And Mary Chain is a band that inspires me in ways no other band ever has, and probably ever will. Of course The Smiths are the band that owns my heart, but I feel The Jesus And Mary Chain own a part of my mind. The heart is greater, that I know. I just love the feeling I get from listening to Psychocandy, it just feels like the first time I am listening to it every time I do. It’s just a perfect debut album from start to finish. I don’t think any album has single-handedly started its own genre in a way Psychocandy did. It’s just everything, and anything after it has just lurked in its shadows.

Last year two debut albums came out that just instantly blew me away. I felt like I was in a different time whilst listening to it- personally, that’s what makes a remarkable album. Regardless if it is a debut album or an artists fifth album.

The two albums are Best Coast’s debut self titled release and of course, The Fool by Warpaint.

Best Coast’s debut was the soundtrack to summer 2010, there’s no denying it. The album instantly became a piece of art that I treasured so much, I still play it every single day. There is not one song that bores me. I don’t really hold any personal situations to the album, give it time I guess. It’s just an album that makes me feel like I am sitting on a beach, staring out to sea and forgetting everything. It’s the perfect form of escapism. I love Bethany’s vocals especially on Our Deal. There’s something so heartbreaking about that song, but you just can’t stop listening to it. Oh her cat, Snacks is quite possibly the cutest animal ever.

Where do I start when talking about The Fool by Warpaint? Anyone who knows me a tiny bit will know that album is one of the most important albums in my life, ever. Of all the albums I own, this one is one I hold very highly. I love how every song makes me feel like I am floating on water towards something better. There’s always something better. Warpaint’s music makes a hopeless person like myself quite hopeful.

Songs such as Lissie’s Heart Murmur and Shadows are so important to me. The way Emily sings on Lissie’s Heart Murmur just moves me in a way I didn’t think could happen. I adore Theresa’s vocals on Shadows, so much frustration in the line,” I feel like the shadows, I don’t even bother for any more than that.” It’s an album to lose yourself in, and probably find parts of yourself too.

I remember seeing a copy of an album with five men wearing high-heels and make-up on the cover and just being in awe of the cover. I found the album in the drawer in the living room at my mum’s house when I was around 15/16. I took the album to my room and just played it. I didn’t move. I was entirely transfixed with the sounds that were coming out of my temperamental CD player.

New York Dolls are quite possibly one of the most important bands ever. They’ve influenced so many artists that I adore with every fibre of my being. Yes, I mean Morrissey. Their debut album has one song on it that just means the universe to me, Subway Train. I adore everything about the song, especially the lyrics. Frustration with a twinge of angst- mixed with longing. They are the best kinds of songs and Subway Train is one of them.

The album is the blueprint of what would later emerge from New York City.

Although Live It Out is my favourite album by them, Metric’s debut release, Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? is such a fantastic piece of art. The album starts with IOU, and right from the start you fall in love with Metric’s sound. They have a specific sound that I have never ever heard in any band. Whether it be in a band I love or a band I dislike, their sound is something that has never been replicated- thankfully. I highly doubt anyone could. Songs such as Wet Blanket, Combat Baby, Dead Disco and The List are just stunning. I’ve been fortunate to see them live, and the energy they have on record is just the same live. Just with a bit more sweat. The production is just stunning. I’ve been a fan of Metric since they started out and their sound is so distinctive. What I love about their debut is the Punk and Riot Grrrl feel it has- two genres that mean a lot to me, and for a band such as Metric to combine those two genres to create Old World Underground was just brilliant.

I have two more debut albums to write about. Both have this brutal sound to it and contain such a force that just shakes your world and your whole being. I know that the albums I have mentioned and are about to mention are probably odd choices for some, but they are debut albums that just mean a lot to me, and to others I’m sure. I could mention the usual such as The Smiths debut album and Is This It by The Strokes, both albums of course are masterpieces and mean a lot to me. I have Is This It tattooed on me. Some may think it’s a morbid thing to have tattooed, it isn’t- it’s a declaration of love for such a phenomenal album.

Strange House by The Horrors is a frickin’ amazing take on Garage-Rock. I remember skipping a lecture at University to go out and buy the album. I did it a lot whilst at College and Uni. My priorities have always been based on music; it’s a good and bad thing. Good for me, and it probably pisses others off. They don’t get it, I don’t expect them to.

I feel Strange House has been overlooked by so many. Guaranteed it sounds nothing like Primary Colours and Skying- none of The Horrors albums sound like their last one at all. That’s why I love them. Their music means a lot to me, I cannot describe why. Strange House reminds me of my first year of Uni. Probably the happiest I have ever been. Everything was new to me and I was becoming the person I always wanted to be. The sound on Strange House just instantly took over me. From Faris’s screams to Rhys’ mental keyboard skills. I remember going back home during the holidays and my mum telling me she loved Count In Fives. I’ve played her all three albums by them, and she too is in awe of their sound. I’ve got a pretty cool family. My auntie and uncle both adore The Horrors.

The way The Horrors dressed during the Strange House era was just beautiful. If I was a guy, or hell, if I was skinny I’d probably dress like that. I know they will never create an album with the same sound as Strange House but each album still has that raw, brutal feel. A feel that is not evident in a lot of music right now. A lot of people are getting into The Horrors based on the single Still Life. However, I urge you new fans to please listen to Strange House. It’ll do you a world of good if you do.

The last album that I am going to bore you with, if you are still with me is, Keep On Your Mean Side by The Kills. The title alone is bloody great. The album defines the whole sound of The Kills. Unapologetic brutal, dark, intense, raw and powerful sounds. Everything about this album is sheer perfection. From start to finish the album has you in a chokehold. The Kills music feels like a pleasurable punch to the face. It hits you over and over- you don’t care if it hurts, it is the best feeling ever. The music has this hold over you. Alison’s beautiful and vengeful voice twinned with Jamie’s genius guitar playing steals your heart away. It takes you to a place that is dark, poetic and sublime. I love how they have captured the same feeling people must have got when they first heard The Velvet Underground when they started. They are my generation’s take on The Velvet Underground. The dark lyrics with harsh guitar sounds, it’s just everything that music should be.

I adore Alison’s vocals on Wait and Gypsy Death & You. It is so pure, just enthralling. I love the aggression in their music- songs such as Cat Claw, Fried My Little Brains and Kissy Kissy just pour out such aggression that overwhelms you and leaves you thinking and feeling “The hell have I just exposed my ears and soul to?!” It is hands down, one of the most brutal debut albums I have ever heard and probably will hear. It’s brutal in an Iggy Pop sense, true Punk ethic. The Kills are a band that I look up to; I love the connection Alison and Jamie have with each other. I love that just two people have created a sound that so many need so many others around them to create and just cannot get it right- The Kills just need each other to make that sound. I admire them so much; I’d say they are quite possibly the hardest working musicians around. I cannot praise them enough nor can I express my love for their music in good enough words. Each album they put out has the same level of intensity and frustration in it- with no apologise or explanation. It just is. And what it is, is truly beautiful.

I know there are so many albums I could have written about such as The Long Blondes debut album, Scott Matthews debut solo album, Richard Hawley, Ramones- the list is endless. I just wrote about the ones that mean something to me.

Recently my mum posted me a Morrissey book and Scott Matthews debut album. She knows of my love for The Walker Brothers and I was familiar with Scott’s solo work. It’s a beautiful debut album. As are debuts from others such as Zola Jesus, The xx, Aaliyah, Jay-Z. Honestly, the list is endless and the more I mention the more I want to write about these albums. It just shows how vital the debut album really is, and a lot of the time- inspires others to pick up an instrument and start their own movement. I’ve written over 2000, I think I’ve bored you enough now haven’t I?!





Punk And Poetry.

21 07 2011

A couple of years ago, I was in my last year of university. Struggling to think about what to do my final project on. I was heartbroken and I was consolling myself by getting drunk and watching The Wire. I went to the occasional gig to attempt to pick myself up again. So, I had some kind of brainwave one night as I was listening to Morrissey. I decided to do my project on lyrics. One article in particular was on Punk and Poetry. The link between the two has always owned my heart. Punk music and poetry are two of my greatest loves and throwing myself into an article where I got to express my love, and just listen to music in such great detail meant a lot to me. We had to send the articles off to get published, and as ever- I was rejected. So, I might aswell put the article here :

When you think of Punk, what is your first thought? That all Punks were not educated and spat in the streets? That all Punks beat up folks and started riots just for the hell of it?

If it is, then I wish to enlighten you. Punk music was one of the most influential genres of music. The passion, the angst, the love, the despair- everything about it seemed so raw and beautiful.

One of the biggest influences of artists such as Iggy Pop, Patti Smith and Richard Hell was the French 19th Century poet, Arthur Rimbaud. After reading a lot of his work, it is plain to see as to why he was such an influence.

His words had love, hate, disgust and despair. As I am quite crap at reading French, I managed to stumble across some (accurate) translations of Rimbaud’s work. This is poetry that should be studied in schools. This is poetry that comes straight from the heart. Reading his work, it’s plain to see as to why he is such an influence on the mentioned artists.

Take, Night In Hell for instance, “I have just swallowed a terrific mouthful of poison. –Blessed, blessed, blessed the advice I was given!” It probably reads better in French, but how great is that? A Season In Hell is probably Rimbaud’s best work, it is so good

Richard Meyers became Richard Hell. However, the influence did not just end there, oh no! His band mate (and front man) from Television, Thomas Miller became Tom Verlaine, after Paul Verlaine whom Rimbaud had an affair with.

Labelled as the “Godmother Of Punk,” Patti Smith has mentioned Rimbaud numerous of times in both songs and poems. Land is one of her greatest songs. The way it is free flowing is just magnificent, it is a truly remarkable song- and poem. Throughout the song, you can hear “Go Rimbaud, go Rimbaud.” Reading through Patti Smith’s song lyrics, it is easy to see why and how she loves Rimbaud’s work.

Without Rimbaud, would there Patti Smith? Who knows, regardless of who has influenced her- she is still a motivation force to many female singer/songwriters today, and not just songwriters, poets too.

Godmother, or Goddess of Punk- whatever you wish to call Patti Smith, you cannot deny just how relevant she will always be. Her words, whether in song or poem, hypnotise you and send you to another world.

Although Because The Night was originally by Bruce Springstein, he couldn’t find a place for it on his album. Luckily Patti Smith took it and made it not only one of the best love songs ever, but it reads as a beautiful poem.

Imagine someone being so in love with you, that they recited this song to you. Astounding.

She has influenced a vast amount of people from Shirley Manson to Morrissey, who is known to occasionally cover Redondo Beach at some of his concerts.

If Patti is the Godmother of Punk, then who is the Godfather? Lou Reed or Iggy Pop? Everyone has their own opinion on it, maybe there’s no right or wrong answer. Both are equally as influential as each other.

Lou Reed’s Heroin is punk at its poetical best. Not moved by it as a song? Then read it, you will see just how heartbreaking it is but at the same time, it is a fine piece of poetry. Picking out a standout line from Heroin is hard, every line moves into another perfectly, so to just pick one is probably going to cause me another headache! I think, “I have made the big decision, I’m gonna try to nullify my life” may just sum up the whole song. It’s so sad, especially that line.

Some may say Lou Reed’s music is an acquired taste, if that’s the case then I urge anyone who dislikes his songs to just read the lyrics. Read the lyrics and you will see that this man is a poet, and not many can compete with his writing ability- especially nowadays.

Say what you want about Iggy Pop (would you buy car insurance from him?!) but the guy is timeless.

The Stooges were THE best punk band, and the opening riff to I Wanna Be Your Dog will always be the best intro to a song ever! God Bless you Ron Asheton.

Iggy Pop may not have created poetry in the same sense as Patti Smith or Lou Reed, but the guy has given us a lot of one-liners that just take you by surprise, like “Did HE just say that?!” His on stage (and off) antics may have caused some to immediately dislike him, but Iggy is charming. You can tell just by reading his lyrics. I will declare my love for I Wanna Be Your Dog for the rest of my life, so I won’t bore you right now with it. The Passenger as a song is Iggy at his best, read it lyrically and you’ll see just how good a song writer he is, a flawless piece of music and words.

I’m Sick Of You is the perfect “leave me alone, I can’t stand you” kind of song. For the angst side of punk, Iggy And The Stooges blessed us with a number of songs releasing their frustrations and disappointment with every day life. In a few weeks Iggy will be putting out a new album which is like nothing he has done before- it’s self described as “quieter album with some jazz overtones.”

There will never be another genre of music quite like punk, just like there will never another Patti, Lou or Iggy- and that’s just fine. They’re all in their 60s now and still going, something tells me they will still be an influence to so many regardless of what they do, and the type of music the ones they influence do.

Punk may be dead, but it’s still relevant.