Jun 11, 2014
Four is the only number that has the same number of characters, in English, as its value, a fact so useless that it deserves to be in the opening paragraph of four’s Wikipedia entry—and with dodgy syntax to boot.
There are four gospels, four horsemen of the apocalypse, four elements and four books in James Ellroy’s LA Quartet. In cricket, contrast the elegance of a beautifully-timed four with the crudity of a six, while football gives us the balanced symmetry of the back four.
Rock ’n’ pop music couldn’t exist without four. It’s timing, it’s the audio controls on a hi-fi and it’s the classic line up: voice, guitar, bass and drums. There were four Beatles, four in the Clash, four in Joy Division and New Order, four Smiths (most of the time) and Four Tops.
Which is all well and good and probably describes someone’s CD collection—“best of” compilations only, of course—but this blog wouldn’t be this blog if it didn’t eschew all that in favour of an obscure German four-piece whose only discernible web presence is on MySpace. I think we can safely assume we won’t be hearing this countdown again.
Rocket Uppercut :: (Whoo!) 2! 3! 4! ⬇ [iTunes]
More rock ’n’ rollin’ later, but, first, Simon Cowell.
Cassette Boy :: 4 Tomatoes, £20
And, here’s Alan Partridge on his favourite record by the fabbest four of all.
That’s how I imagine Simon Cowell responding if asked what his favourite Clash LP was. And if you asked Simon Cowell what his favourite Clash track was, I’d be surprised if he didn’t say London Calling, the unsuitably ubiquitous track that TV programmers tiresomely insist on playing over almost any footage of this nation’s capital.
It’s a shame that the track has become so devalued and denuded, because on the LP of the same name it’s a coruscating prelude to one of the most ambitious and brilliant records ever made. That it’s a double album and thus comprises four sides is one criterion that qualifies it for consideration; that it contains this track is another, not least because its a song about four-figured rock ’n’ pop bands.
They were given all the foods of vanity
And all the instant promises of immortality
But they bit the dust screamin’ insanity!
The Clash :: Four Horsemen ⬇ [iTunes]
If there were ever a four-piece that perfectly exemplified what rock ’n’ pop music is all about, then it was the Clash. But you could say the same thing about the Four Aces. In 1951 the Philadelphia-based quartet started their own record label to release their early recordings. Does that make them the first indie band?
They’d signed for Decca by the time they came to record this song. Taken from the 1955 movie of the same name, it had won an Oscar for best original song before the Aces took it to number one in the US and number two in the UK. I like to think it’s spelling prevented it from reaching the top spot on this side of the Atlantic.
The Four Aces :: Love is a Many Splendored Thing ⬇ [iTunes]
Indeed it is—and so too is music, allowing us to jump from 50s Philadelphia to 21st century Russia in a heartbeat.
Galway released Mria in 2012 and that’s the last we’ve heard of the Moscow band with the unlikely name. At least they left us with this free download.
Galway :: 4
Still recording, albeit sporadically, Altair Nouveau is the work of Brandon Mitchell from California and this is a lovely slice of electronic music that just happens to have the word “four” in the title.
Altair Nouveau :: Death on Four Wheels ⬇ [emusic]
And to complete the international flavour, here are New Zealand’s D4 with a track that’s featured in several Bacardi commercials in the US, which is a pity, since there are few companies as odious as that rum maker and there are few records as rollicking good as this.
The D4 :: Get Loose
Photo: Sotheby’s; some rights reserved.