heard on the wire

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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I feel this burning flame

IMG_4016

The boiler’s on the blink. My fingers are cold and all I can think about is heat.

There’s a stew in the oven — beef skirt with Guinness — and wine in my glass but all I can think about is heat.

New Order are not known for their covers. As far as I know their are just two official recordings of other people’s songs: a version of the Velvet Underground’s Sister Ray that appeared on a BBC release of their 1987 Glastonbury set and an earlier take on an obscure reggae song.

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Succumb to the beat surrender

Beat Surrender

There was a time, when the CD single was pre-eminent, that any Tom, Dick, Melanie or Christina only had to cough into a microphone and the resultant recording would go straight into the charts at number one.

The result of initially clever then formulaic manipulation of radio airplay and release dates stripped the number one position of all the allure it had held when I was a kid. When Top of the Pops ruled, records didn’t go straight in at the top of the charts; the number one position was hard earned after weeks of steady sales accumulation. Number one meant something, even if the records that reached that peak were usually of questionable merit.

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The dream has gone, but the baby is real

Barbican

They were going to build communities,
It was going to be pie in the sky,
But the piss-stench hallways and broken down lifts
Say the planners’ dream went wrong.

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You can’t justify it, not a word

Wah Nah Poo

Pete Wylie encapsulates everything that bemuses me about popular music. Despite being one of the greatest singers of the last 30 years, yet he remains a marginal figure, famous, or at least reasonably well-known, for a single top 10 hit, yet worthy of much wider acclaim.

In large part, of course, it’s his own fault. Despite an ego the size of his home town, Liverpool, he has restricted himself to just five studio LPs in a career that began in the late 1970s.

And that from a man who, it has been said, believes that if there were only seven minutes left to live, you should spend three of them recording a song.

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I believe in life and I believe in love

Belief

There are three things that people learning English find more difficult than anything else, for which they deserve the utmost sympathy.

The first is knowing when to use the simple past tense — I wrote those words moments ago — and the present perfect — I’ve just written these words, which is a skill even the Americans have yet to master. The second is phrasal verbs, those unique constructions that take two words to make a verb that often has little or no relation to its formative lexicography and often contain confusing, unrelated and sometimes contrary meanings that are impossible to precisely define: for example, stand by, which, roughly speaking, can mean to wait or to support; or take on, to employ someone or to challenge them.

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Trying to spread some hope into your heart

Riverbank

I recently set a personal record for the longest time between buying a record and getting round to listening to it. This particular record was purchased in a San Francisco record store in March 2008 and consigned to the bottom of a suitcase, before standing, forgotten, amid ranks of closely stacked vinyl.

Featuring an unlikely collaboration between Australian instrumentalists Dirty Three and US masters-of-slow Low, In the FishTank 7 was, as the name suggests, the seventh record in a series of Fishtank sessions recorded by Konkurrent, a Benelux record distributor. Add a Neil Young song to that mix and something lovely was bound to happen.

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Catalogues and numerous cups of coffee

And so this musical odyssey arrives in 1979, a year that will forever be remembered for the election of Margaret Thatcher, prelude to the wilful and vicious destruction of industrial Britain and its communities. The purpose was to effect a radical shift in the distribution of wealth in favour of the most affluent, in which it was hugely and permanently successful.

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Day 8 — a song I know all the words to

In an alternative universe where karoke machines have decent music, another version of me is singing this in a bar in downtown Tokyo.

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A distant echo…

One of the advantages¹ of having an early bird wife is that for half an hour each day I get to listen to Alex Lester on BBC Radio 2, who combines amusing repartee with a sound knowledge and clear enjoyment of the records he plays (and he doesn’t talk over the records, avoiding quite the most annoying, narcissistic practice in radio broadcasting).

The highlight of my half hour is Lester’s Library, when he plays a record from his own collection that I’ve almost certainly not heard before. But occasionally he swaps his Library for a Listener’s generally better known selection.

And so it transpired on Friday, when Paul Gill from Leicester picked one of the greatest songs of all time and my karaoke/air guitar tour de force, The Jam’s Down in the Tube Station at Midnight.

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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.