heard on the wire

Fast rough factory trade

hitsvilleuk

I used to hate this; now I love it.

Featuring Ellen Foley on vocals, this was the second single from Sandinista, the Clash’s fourth LP.

Actor and singer Foley was at the time in a relationship with the Clash’s Mick Jones. The breakdown of that relationship was the subject of the band’s biggest hit, Should I Stay or Should I Go.

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And then there were 12

Twelve

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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Slam dance the cosmopolis

Airline

Some bands go on and on, churning out record after record, selling millions, flying the world in private jets, filling stadiums. Others go quietly about their business, putting smiles on the faces of the few lucky enough to hear their music. These aren’t the bands you’ll hear on daytime radio—you’re lucky to hear them on nighttime radio these days—and who’ll never to get to join Jools for the jam sketch.

They may leave a substantial legacy, like the recently retired Ace Bushy Striptease, or they may just leave a handful of songs that can only leave us thinking what might have been.

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The grapes that went ripe in the sun

Braun4

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.

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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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They’d send a limousine anyway

Burton Suits

They were my first love, from the moment I put the self-titled debut LP by The Clash on my primitive teenage turntable nothing would ever sound the same again.

I think I probably love the Clash more than their uneven output deserves; for every moment of genius, of brilliance, there is an equally indifferent track, or, in the case of triple-album Sandinista, around two LPs’ worth.

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This really ragged notion that you’ll return

M1 sunset

It sounds so cinematic: from Saturday I’m going on my first road trip, taking in seven destinations in seven days. Of course, were it a road trip on arrow-straight roads stretching to the horizon, amid tumbleweed and motels, tuned to WKPR, that’s exactly what it would be. But it’s not, it’s motorway service stations and the occasional glimpse of corrugated steel, roads dug into cuttings, dormitory towns; it’s a road trip around England. It’s a beautiful country, but its beauty can rarely be seen from the motorway network.

However one thing is certain, whether it’s WKPR, the dismal miasma of daytime BBC, or a magnificentally stocked iPod, road trips require music. And what better music than that which punctuates each destination, starting with London.

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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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Where they teach you how to be thick

And I hand my blog over, briefly and incredibly, to Boris Johnson.

If James Blunt seems drippy next to the rock stars of the good old days, he is positively macho by comparison with the Kaiser Chiefs. These are the weeds from Leeds whose hit single was I Predict a Riot, a tale about the bourgeois apprehension of a chap who tries to get a taxi on a Saturday night in the centre of town.

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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.