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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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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Some people say it’s just rock and roll

Push the Sky Away

There was scarcely a “serious” newspaper critic, rock blog or adult music magazine that failed to include Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ Push the Sky Away amongst their top LPs of 2013. But don’t let that put you off.

It’s a wonderful record, whose standout track is the previously honoured Higgs Boson Blues, but it is its title track that truly comes to life on the live LP released towards the end of the year.

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Spend a little time with me

Big Spender

The blog has emerged, blinking, yawning and stretching its arms after another of its all-too-frequent but in-this-case-unavoidable hiatuses. An aestivation enforced by relocation, by the clearing out the accumulated detritus of everyday life and, worst of all, by being without a Mac for three weeks demands a blog post of exceptional clarity and conviction.

If this were an everyday—as opposed to randomly intermittent—music blog, clarity and conviction would manifest themselves in lists of the best records of a year that hasn’t yet finished. Go elsewhere for such assumption.

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Hannah Montana does the african savannah


Now that’s a search engine-friendly way to mark a return from this blog’s semi-enforced hiatus — work, life and travel are such inconvenient priorities — and what better way than this track from a veteran of these pages?

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ latest LP, Push the Sky Away, is a reassuring return to form by Australia’s greatest export, following 2004’s uninspiring though critically acclaimed Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus and the largely forgettable 2008 offering, Dig, Lazarus, Dig.

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You wouldn’t want a holiday in my head


It was a spontaneous musing, brought about late one evening, by a discovered mutual appreciation of some noisy rabble or another.

“We should form a punk rock band; totally demented songs, everything under two minutes.”

It’s safe to say that these were not the circumstances that resulted in Snow Patrol.

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And the ass saw the angel

Nick Cave

Author, screenwriter, soundtrack composer, essayist, former heroin addict and one of the finest songwriters of his or any other generation—Nick Cave is the post modern renaissance man.

And while some of his more recent musical offerings may not have lived up to the incredibly high standards he has set over more than three decades, this, the first single from a new LP to be released next year, hints at a magnificent return to form.

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You just can’t believe the joy I did receive

A “covers album” comes in one of two forms, neither of which has made much of an impression on the listening public. The first is the generally dreadful and impeccably misnamed “tribute”, which generally comprises 20-or-so bands of which you’ve never heard performing terrible versions of much-loved songs. The Smiths, the Clash and Joy Division, among others, have all suffered this disrespectful fate.

The second form, however, can excite and delight. For some, the covers LP, is an entertaining diversion, for others it’s a raison d’être, but given a good artist armed with a decent record collection the result can be terrific, though I took some convincing.

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On an endless night a silver star spangled

For about five years and over the course of three LPs, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds were the greatest band in the world, or at least in my world.

Their dominance started with the release of Henry’s Dream in 1992 and culminated in what may be described as their commercial breakthrough, 1996’s Murder Ballads and an appearance with Kylie Minogue on Top of the Pops.

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Number one in Portugal…

…was the unlikely destination for this collaboration between Nick Cave and Shane MacGowan, two of the great-but-undervalued voices of rock/pop/blues/country/folk/whatever music.

Cave is, of course, a genius, one of the very best singer-songwriters of any generation; MacGowan is sadly a drunk who flirted with a genius that was consumed by his excess. Their collaboration could only be, well, genius — and 1992’s song-from-each-year-of-my-life.

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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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