Alphabetical CD Marathon: B

I didn’t think that blogging about my A-Z CD Marathon was going to be quite as problematic so early on. Still it’s a ‘middle class problem’ if ever there was one. I thought the letter ‘S’ would provide the biggest challenge (I’m sure I’ll find out later in the year), but already the letter ‘B’ has caused me some confusion.

Let me explain.

The ‘B’ section of my original CDs (the main collection – see previous post for an explanation!) contains the Beastie Boys, Beck, Beautiful South, Bjork, Bentley Rhythm Ace, Basement Jaxx, Bis, The Breeders, Ian Brown, Kate Bush, David Bowie, The Black Eyed Peas, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Blondie, The Bluetones, Blur, Bon Jovi, The Boo Radleys and of course… drum roll… fanfare… The Beatles. Bizarrely I have no Black Keys on original CD, but thought they were worthy of note.

The Black Keys live

The Black Keys live in Nottingham

So what’s the problem? Lots of stuff, quite an eclectic mix. Yes. That’s the problem.

I originally intended each time I posted during the A-Z to limit my blog to picking out the five best albums from the bunch. I simply can’t do it this time around.

Here’s a little note to illustrate my indecision; having easily selected the Beasties, Beatles, Blur, Kate Bush and Bowie as the top artists I then hit major indecision over which albums were the best.

B List

The ‘B’ List

So instead I have decided to do a Top 10 of my favourite songs by each artist of the five picked. This seemed simple enough but wasn’t and I’m sure I will be kicking myself for forgetting to mention certain tracks. Anyway I was told that any decision is better than no decision to so here goes…

The Beatles

Bizarrely I don’t consider myself a big Beatles fan but perhaps I should as this was the main chunk of my B’s and I enjoyed every album. Okay some of the early stuff with the covers of other people’s songs is a bit lame, but as soon as they hit the psychedelic mother-load they’re amazing. I also agree with one of Stephen King’s characters who says that the prize for the creepiest line in any pop song has to go to ‘I’d rather see you dead, little girl, than to be with another man’ from Run For Your Life. Anyway here’s my attempt at a top ten:

A Day In the Life – this is my favourite Beatles song. I love the way it is two songs in one (like Bohemian Rhapsody is), I love the crazy lyrics, the fact Blackburn gets a mention and the whole vibe. Brilliant.

Hey Jude – it’s a sad song but they make it better. Brilliant sing-a-long and miles ahead of Let It Be as an anthem.

I Am The Walrus – it’s all about the lyrics. Couldn’t care less about the Oasis cover.

Revolution – great guitars, great lyrics – am I repeating myself yet?

Paperback Writer – for obvious reasons.

In My Life – I love the sentiment of the song.

Day Tripper – great poppy sing-a-long. Yes I am repeating myself!

Ticket To Ride – I’ve been through enough break-ups in my youth to fully appreciate the lyrics of this one.

Norwegian Wood – I love the story of the song.

Tomorrow Never Knows – this was a slow burner for me and just pipped Fixing a Hole onto the list. I actually prefer a cover on the Sucker Punch album, but have to give the original a nod – no original, no cover.

Blur

Blur came onto the scene while I was at university and I was at university for longer than maybe I should have been for one reason or another and so their music will always remind me of that time. I also stuck around my university town and went out with a uni student for a while before meeting Siggy, so Blur provided a soundtrack while I transformed from schoolboy, to fresher, to grad, to post-grad, to having a proper job. Their songs talk to me in a way that songs by other bands (with a few exceptions such as the aforementioned Beatles, Depeche Mode and Del Amitri) simply don’t. So here’s a top ten I threw together, notice there’s nothing off Think Tank which I really didn’t enjoy:

Beetlebum – has to be my favourite if I was forced to pick one. I love the vibe, and yes I can see that The Beatles have had an influence somewhere along the way.

Wear Me Down – one off the first album, struck a personal chord with me at the time

Star Shaped – I love the energy and the hope in this song

End of a Century – love the lyrics

The Universal – sometimes I like a song to make me feel a little sad, this one does the trick. Also I loved the video.

Death of a Party – this is a much ‘darker’ Blur and I liked the whole ‘Blur’ album – it was a great direction to take after the likes of Park Life and The Great Escape.

Strange News From Another Sun – Bowie anyone? As above really. I just really enjoyed Albarn’s lamentations.

Park Life – amazingly good to sing along to and I still love the Phil Daniels monologue – makes it a brilliant track.

Sunday Sunday – love the lyrics.

Advert – ditto and the sheer energy of the track.

From the sublime to the ridiculous? Well I know that some people think The Beastie Boys are crap, but I don’t so, just skip this bit if you want. It’s no skin off my teeth.

I guess like most men my age I got into The Beastie Boys after ()Fight for Your Right() and No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn and the wonderful gatefold sleeve album with a crashed passenger jet on the cover. Initially looked down upon as a novelty act they eventually proved they had the material and skills to achieve a longevity not usually associated with white rappers. Vanilla Ice immediately springs to mind.

Intergalactic – brilliant sci-fi vibe, fantastic video

The New Style – love the rap and have lived with it long enough to know it (and the whole Licensed To Ill) off by heart. Christ! But it has taken me decades to get the pun in the title. Having read a load of James Bond books recently it has just dawned on me. I shit you not, I never noticed the pun before. Oh dear. I will quickly use the fact that I knew what ‘ill’ meant and so it never dawned on me before now. Eh hem, moving on…

Egg Man – I love the rhythm in the rap

OK – as above, it’s so funky. Love it.

The Sounds of Science – I think this track contains some of the best rapping the Beasties have ever done.

Sabotage – this has grown on me over the years and being a bit of a rocker on the quiet I guess I must like it. I think playing it on Guitar Hero helped.

Ch-Check It Out – a great ‘come-back’ single.

Three MC’s and One DJ – the DJ, Mix Master Mike, is amazing on this track and I remember being blown away by a live performance which made it clear how he was producing the beats on his decks.

Too Many Rappers – great guesting by Nas and harder beats reminiscent of the Unkle track The Knock (Drums of Death Pt. 2) which featured Mike D.

She’s Crafty – great lyrics and a fun song, before the world got all serious and shit (he says listening the Venga Boys on iTunes!!)

Kate Bush

What can I say about Kate Bush? Well I only have two albums on CD, the rest is are MP3’s, so in the context of this post I guess I should strictly stick to a top ten of tracks that I have on CD. Luckily one of them if her greatest hits (at the time) ‘The Whole Story’. I love Kate Bush’s vocals, her kooky delivery and odd subject matter. I also like Tori Amos because she originally reminded me of Kate Bush. The other album is ‘Hounds of Love’ and here’s the top ten:

The Man With The Child In His Eyes – one of those songs that sends shivers down my spine, the vocals are beautifully delivered.

Waking the Witch – simply creepy, brilliantly put together song.

The Big Sky – love the energy and the pause for the jet.

Hounds Of Love – it’s in the trees its’ coming! Great sexy vocals.

Wuthering Heights – prefer the new vocal version and the passion in the singing.

The Dreaming – who would of thought that the Aussie accent could be sexy. Educational too.

Cloudbusting – intriguing story to the song and great atmosphere as part of the album overall.

Breathing – seems like a quieter more thoughtful / depressing? Version of Two Tribes by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, or Hammer to Fall by Queen.

Wow – indeed. Vocals vocals vocals. I wonder what they would make of her now if she appeared on The X Factor or BGT?

Army Dreamers – another accent and intriguing lyrics.

Last but not least we have David Bowie. Now I will be bold here and say that I really don’t like Bowie stuff from about 1974 onwards. However, that does leave a LOT of stuff to like and I do put him up there on a pedestal with the likes of The Beatles in terms of his importance globally.

The Man Who Sold The World – has to be my favourite. The lyrics are typically cryptic and I even forgive him for singing it with Lulu. Yes it was Nirvana that turned me on to the song, but Bowie’s original (solo performance off the similarly titled album) has the edge. No original, no cover. I repeat.

Starman – I know someone who will have this played at their funeral. Love the sci-fi fantasy of it.

Ziggy Stardust – brilliant guitars. I remember playing this on repeat on a jukebox in a B&B’s bar area while playing pool on holiday in Devon when I was nipper (and too obsessed with Staus Quo to notice just how good Bowie was).

Siggy plays Guitar (Hero)

Siggy plays Guitar (Hero)

Oh! You Pretty Things / The Jean Genie – great vibe, very glam rock. Did he invent it? Maybe.

Velvet Goldmine – (also a good film) glam again and great innuendo.

Changes – catchy!

Life on Mars? Love the delivery of the lyrics and the story in the song.

Rock’n’Roll Suicide – ditto as above.

Space Oddity – this song totally creeped me out originally (not quite as much as the Major Tom ‘reload’ Ashes to Ashes with the creepy clown video) and now it’s just brilliant for a sing along.

I must say I have to be in the mood for Bowie, but I love his voice as much as Kate Bush. I think given a choice of a random track from any of the above B’s I would ask for The Beatles. I know on my scribbly note I had him listed as No. 1 but I listened to The Beatles after Bowie (don’t ask) and so I am revising this now.

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5 thoughts on “Alphabetical CD Marathon: B

  1. May be you’ve always been, or perhaps never aspired to be, a hero, but surely the wonderful counter beat on “Heroes”, coupled with its lyrics, makes it one of Bowie’s best, if not the best. Just for one day…

    1. Thanks for your comment. I like it, but not as much as the ten tracks I have posted. Honestly, it did cross my mind; I think i had it listed and then crossed it out in favour of Changes – it was a close call. The Laughing Gnome was a contender at one point also.

  2. I’m with you on Beatles, Bowie, Bush and Tori Amos (saw her in concert btw) but I never really got into Beasties/Blur. As for the Beatles, I love all the songs you mention but one of my favourites when cranking up the volume is Savoy Truffle (off the White album). I used to take a copy to the hi-fi store when I was testing speakers. If they could handle Savoy Truffle at high volume then I was a happy bunny.

    1. Yes but you’d have to have all your teeth taken out afterwards… I was just educating people at work about that particular track today funnily enough. I made a joke, no-one got it, as usual. The ‘White Album’ has got a lot of good tracks on and I was torn as to whether to just plump for that as the best album – I love the bit where one of them says ‘aye up…!’ just before ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ and I love ‘Glass Onion’, ‘Back in the USSR’, ‘Helter Skelter’ and ‘Birthday’. All these tracks plus ‘Savoy Truffle’ (to which I have been known to do the Truffle Shuffle) would all appear in a top ten if the wind had been blowing in another direction yesterday. If I had stuck to the 5 Albums and dropped the 5 Artists, then I probably would end up with – ‘The White Album’, Rubber Soul, Abbey Road, Revolver and Sgt Peppers. But I thought it best to represent the other B’s. It was a tricky one.

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