heard on the wire

And then there were 12


I’ve now been asked twice to do this. I know it’s one of those Facebook memes, but this blog got up and running with one of those, so who am I to resist?

Anyone, the challenge, if that’s what it is, is:

List 12 albums that made a lasting impression on you, but only 1 per band/artist. Don’t take too long and don’t think too hard. Tag 12 friends to do the same, including me, so I can see what you listed. No compilations.

So without taking too long and thinking too hard, this is my list, a little predictable perhaps, but I feel that’s perhaps the point. I’m listing them as I heard them — as far as I recall — but feel free to wrest them into any order you wish.

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Down beside the lake


It has been said that if something’s worth doing, then it’s worth doing properly.

So if you’re going to attempt to reinvigorate a once-again dormant blog, what better way could there be than with a song by the greatest band that ever existed.

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There’s still this appeal


Yet there’s still this appeal
That we’ve kept through our lives.

If you could have grown up in any musical era, which would you choose? A fatuous question, perhaps, but now which begs another: what was the greatest era of popular music?

I’ve mentioned the recent, excellent BBC4 three-part documentary on rock ’n’ roll, tracing its story from its origins in 1950s black America to its huge commercial success across white America in the sixties. It’s hard to argue with anyone who says that those early years are non pareil, the years of Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and Buddy Holly. Likewise, who can contradict those who point to the years covered in the third part of the documentary, when the Beatles defined pop music, the Rolling Stones were still good and the Beach Boys breathed fresh life into rock ’n’ roll?

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We’ll live in holes and disused shafts


There aren’t many bands capable of discarding a song as good as this.

That Joy Division could discard this song and for it only to surface on a post mortem release might have been seen as an oversight, had they not also overlooked at least half a dozen other songs that other bands would give up an entire back catalogue for.

Ice Age was recorded in late 1979 but with a sound more reminiscent of the band’s early days, it missed the cut when they released their second LP, the monumental Closer, the following year.

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Love of life makes you feel higher

Red Light

The first thing I do after adding a song to iTunes is delete the genre. If ever a label were completely devoid of meaning, it is ”alternative & punk”; likewise “rock” or “pop”.

I like to think of most of the music on this blog, itself a reasonable reflection of my complete collection, as “rock ’n’ pop”, a description that blends what have been two predominant, mutually nourishing streams in popular music since Elvis first gyrated his hips.

Sadly it’s a label that’s never caught on and, in the absence of a better suggestion, the genre field stays blank.

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How’s it taste, that bitter end?


One of the advantages of having been an eMusic subscriber for longer than I care to remember is that every time they increase the price of their downloads, they throw me a wedge of free credit that allows me to occasionally download an LP on a whim without being entirely sure whether I’ll like it.

Thankfully this more than makes up for eMusic’s many drawbacks, from confusing one artist with another, to sub-standard file quality, antediluvian social sharing and music discovery and inadequate 30-second previews.

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As routine bites hard

petrol station

Every so often I hear a new track that begs to be played over and over. The first time I remember this happening was some 30 years ago, when I brought home the seven-inch of Love Will Tear Us Apart. As I recall, albeit very vaguely, I played it 18 times in a row, enchanted.

As Joy Division songs go—and this is all relative of course, given that almost every Joy Division song towers over more than 99% of other bands’ output—it leaves me rather cold these days. There’s a lesson there somewhere.

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Hurrying to the spoil, he has made haste to the plunder

It’s been a while since this blog featured anything by the greatest band of all time and a rainy afternoon in Brussels is as good a time as any to put that right.

Unknown Pleasures was Joy Division’s first LP, a magnificent work that has arguable only ever been bettered by the band’s magnum opus, Closer. It contains the greatest song of all time, New Dawn Fades, as well as the astounding Day of the Lords and Shadowplay.

By name and by nature, the latter tends to overshadow the subsequent track, but Wilderness is one of the band’s great understated moments, complete with one of Ian Curtis’s most brutal, laid-bare lyrics.

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Day 19 — a song from your favourite LP

As I mentioned on day 11, Joy Division’s Closer is my favourite LP — or album, if you must — and has been ever since I first heard it 30 years ago.

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Day 11 — a song from my favourite band

I could just repeat day one here, my favourite song from my favourite band.

Instead I’ve picked an almost-as-awesome Joy Division song, taken from 1980’s Closer, my favourite LP ever.

Joy Division :: Twenty Four Hours

Audio MP3

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heard on the wire is a blog about music old and new, but mostly new. It occasionally uses 21st century file formats that may not be supported by 20th century web browsers. For best results use Safari or Chrome. And If you like the music posted here, please think of the effort and expense that has gone into making it and consider buying a copy of your own.


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All the music on this site is posted to encourage listeners to enjoy it and then rush out and buy as many songs by the artist as they possibly can. Any artist, record label boss, publisher or other rightsholder who doesn't want their works featured here only needs to get in touch and the offending file(s) will be removed at the earliest opportunity.