heard on the wire

Leave the light on at the top of the stairs

Killing moon

Nothing makes me feel older than the all-too-real thought that many thousands of people will be going to a nineties night this weekend.

I wasn’t aware that such events even took place until an erstwhile student told me she was going to dance the night away to Oasis and Blur, The Prodigy and The Chemical Brothers, Take That and All Saints. I wasn’t sure who needed the most pity: me for the sudden dawning of mortality or her for having to put up with that lot all night. There’s certainly a great deal to be said for pop fashions being ephemeral—and for alcohol.

Such thoughts occurred to me as I realised that my listening of late, while primarily comprising the hot new sounds of the 2010s, has been punctuated by bands that, while eligible, are unlikely to be heard at I Love the 90s or My Big Fat 90s Night (and no, I didn’t make that one up).

They include the Heart Throbs, whose debut LP, Cleopatra Grip, saw the light of day at the beginning of the decade, and Heavenly, who are rather more familiar, having been the 1991 nominee for a song from each year of my life.

Unfortunately I was mistaken, as the song originally appeared in 1990, leaving a vacancy in the prestigious roll of honour. The place could have gone to the Fall, but as Edinburgh Man concluded the same post that showcased the Heart Throbs, it goes to an equally strong candidate, Billy Bragg’s tribute to his father, who died when the singer was just 18.

Billy Bragg :: Tank Park Salute

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My 1996 choice, however, still stands. Lauren Laverne has since gone on to bigger and brighter things, as has Heavenly singer Amelia Fletcher, but when the dusts of history settle on their tombstones, she, like Laverne, will be best remembered for some delicious three-minute slices of pop loveliness.

Heavenly :: Trophy Girlfriend

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It’s all starting to get a bit messy. Given that Wrap My Arms Around Him, my original ’91 choice, was in fact ineligible, it becomes a retrospective candidate for the 1990 award. To grant it, however, would be decidedly unfair on Reg, my former boss and Hooverman drummer, and on one of the most magnificent cover versions you will ever hear.

The year’s best long player was—without question—Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ The Good Son, but the best debut LP is a close call, a face-off between Cleopatra Grip and the lazy Manchester dance grooves of the New Fast Automatic Daffodils.

New Fast Automatic Daffodils :: Partial

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As my gardening readers will know, once the daffodils have died back it’s soon time to think about giving the lawn its first mow of the year. Now, if only there was a song about cutting the grass…

DM Bob and the Deficits :: Bush Hog’n Man

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There are two things to be said about the 405’s list of the 13 Greatest Cover Songs of All Time: they’re called cover versions and they’re not. However, for once the readers’ comments proved informative, pointing me in the direction of this take on an Echo and the Bunnymen number.

Buried among the tracks that accompanied 1998 single release of Major Leagues, it’s perhaps a little too close to the original to warrant all-time great cover version status, but it’s still as fantastic as you might expect when one great band covers a song by another: cu-cu-cumber indeed!

Pavement :: The Killing Moon

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The Bunnymen original featured in the original theatrical version of the opening sequence of the Donnie Darko. However, in the director’s cut version of the film, the song was replaced by INXS’s Never Tear Us Apart. If ever there was a case for seeing the original cut, it’s right there.

Echo and the Bunnymen :: The Killing Moon

Photo: Morning moon; some rights reserved

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