The Cardigans are a brilliant band who grew over time and became the dark and moody buggers I always thought they had the capacity to be even when they were singing poppy drivel like Love Fool. I am a sucker for cover versions and so the two Black Sabbath covers they did on their early albums are among my favourites. Of the early stuff I think my favourite is Hey! Get Out of My Way and Sick and Tired. Favourite album has to be the classic Gran Turismo with stand-out tracks Erase/Rewind, Explode and My Favourite Game – great video and a beautiful cover too. Super Extra Gravity had a hard act to follow but is still pretty good.
I think I’m right in saying that I got into them after hearing Sick and Tired and then Lovefool before it ended up remixed and on the Romeo and Juliet soundtrack. Nina Perrson has one of the best singing voices I have ever had the pleasure of listening to and I was blown away by the duet she did with The Manic Street Preachers. Strangely I’m not so fond of her A Camp stuff. Like Gwen Stefani, she seems to be better in a band than as a solo artist [although I suppose you could argue A Camp isn’t a solo project]. Anyway, it’s a shame The Cardigans are no more, although I read that they played some gigs together last year.
Once upon a time I was a massive Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine fan. I had numerous posters on my walls at university (a guitar in a toilet, a test card, even a picture of Jim Bob and Fruitbat all from the dodgy poster guy at the Union) and went to a number of their gigs at De Montford Hall in Leicester. I loved dancing to Sheriff Fatman and G. I. Blues at an indie club (now sadly closed) in Rhyl called The Bistro [which features in The Magpie Diaries] and down at the aforementioned Student’s Union.
Musically a little basic, but lyrically sophisticated as fuck. I loved their word play and puns, felt re-educated by their serious messages wrapped up in the near psycho-billy punk and felt I could aspire to their fashion sense (or lack of it). 30 Something is probably the key album for me and I had a white long-sleeved t-shirt for years until deodorant spoiled the underarms. It deposed my James t-shirts and shared wardrobe space with a variety of PWEI and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin t-shirts. I also had a black long-sleeved test card tee-shirt which sadly stank and shrank and got thrown into the rubbish. Which was a great track by them by the way. 1992 The Love Album was a bit of a disappointment for me and I disliked The Impossible Dream a lot (even though I usually love cover versions). Post Historic Monsters pulled back my interest with tracks like Stuff The Jubilee!, Travis and Lean On Me I Won’t Fall Over. Worry Bomb really didn’t cut it for me, but I do enjoy listening to Starry Eyed and Bollock Naked (a collection of B-Sides).
They made fools of themselves on The Brits (followed by Chumbawamba a few years later) and I loved them for it. Talking of Chumbawamba…
Despite being friends with a massive Chumbawamba fan at university, I only have two of their albums; these are Anarchy and Tubthumper. Anarchy has quite possibly the most freaky cover I have ever seen (if you don’t count RATM’s burning monk) being the picture of a baby being helped out of its mother’s gaping baby hole. I bought this when ‘Enough is Enough’ was doing the rounds in studentsville and I had a passing interest in the Anti-Nazi league. Apart from ‘Enough is Enough’ other tracks I like are ‘Mouthful of Shit’ featuring the brilliant chorus-line ‘can’t here you cos your mouth’s full of shit’ brilliant sentiment for anyone who has had to endure listening to someone who thinks he is God’s gift but is actual a complete twat. I got a lot of them at university. ‘Give the Anarchist a Cigarette’ is also a singalong joy – nothing ever burns down by itself/every fire needs a little bit of help – reminds me of my school days in which a friend of mind was a part-time arsonist. He ended up in prison for other more dubious misdemeanours not so later in life and I haven’t heard hide nor hair of him since.
Tubthumper features the one that everyone knows – ‘Tubthumping’ – the anthem for all the nation’s downtrodden binge drinking underdogs, and the brilliant ‘Amnesia’ which rails against people being sucked in by the promises of politicians. Chumbawamba were quite unique in my opinion (at least in my ‘C’ category!) in that they weren’t scared of a good chorus, mixing different styles of music, mixing rap with ‘proper’ singing while remaining distinctively British (without being Brit Pop), using samples and throwing around bold messages. Anarchy features some rapping by Credit to the Nation who would have featured here – I do have one of their CD’s but it has ‘not so good’ (NSG) status, because, frankly, it’s really not very good.
When The Charlatans first appeared on my radar I dismissed them in favour of The Stone Roses and The Inspiral Carpets, thinking they wouldn’t last beyond the The Only One I Know. Turns out they had more staying power in the face of adversity than either of the other two bands. I was persuaded to take a tape of Some Friendly from a friend and was mesmerised. I found Sproston Green particularly magical. Between 10th and 11th was a little disappointing for me apart from Weirdo which is still a fave. I found Up To Our Hips more enjoyable and loved Jesus Hairdo and Can’t Get Out Of Bed. I got Tellin’ Stories as a present from an ex-girlfriend and so the album reminds me of her; which isn’t so bad – she was okay *shrugs*. How High, One To Another and North Country Boy (i.e. the singles) are my faves.
The Charlatans eponymous album was bought because of my loyalty to the band rather than my having heard a single, although I do like the two apostrophe ‘just’ songs – Just Lookin’ and Just When You’re Thinkin’ Things Over. I bought Melting Pot to listen to in the car and have the next album along on MP3. Although it ‘falls out of scope’ (a work phrase if ever I heard one) I wasn’t happy with Tim Burgess’s higher vocals and none of the songs really grab me. Talking of Mr Burgess…
I love his ‘turn’ with The Chemical Brothers on Life is Sweet. Like early Daft Punk, the Brothers can sometimes be a struggle to listen to – while less repetitive than early Daft Punk [more about them when I get to ‘D’] they sometimes share in the struggle to end their tracks before they reach boring heights of knob twiddling noise.
That said I am a HUGE fan of the Brothers and love the way they invited the cream of the indie scene to do guest vocals – I’m thinking here of Beth Orton on Alive Alone, Noel Gallagher on Setting Sun, Richard Ashcroft on The Test, Bernard Sumner on Out of Control to name but a few. Setting Sun is also a favourite with its obvious influence from The Beatles track Tomorrow Never Knows.
I first read about the Chemical Brothers in a magazine talking about their name change from the Dust Brothers – I had noticed that some of the remixes I liked were credited to the Dust Brothers as well as one of their tracks being on one of my favourite Playstation games – Wipeout [yes I had a Playstation before I got an Xbox – so sue me!]. Their debut album was out and so I bought it and was blown away by the big beat sound which complimented what Norman Cook was up to as Fat Boy Slim.
As I mentioned above, there are some tracks in which I have to press the next button when they go on too long and like Daft Punk, The Prodigy and Fat Boy Slim I really have to be in a certain mood to listen to a whole album. On the flip side when I am in the mood then God they are great. I remember battering my ears with Exit Planet Dust recorded onto a minidisc [yes I was a sucker for Sony products it seems] when I used to walk around town with my headphones in instead of listening to stuff in the car. I find that if I do listen to Chemical Brothers in the car I tend to find my foot pressing down the accelerator pedal a little too much, but at least I don’t get road rage like I do if I listen to System of a Down in the car! Talking of road rage…
I have three albums by Catatonia, but one (Paper Scissors Stone) is so lame that it has permanent residence in the NSG collection. Of the other two Way Beyond Blue is my favourite. It is a classic case of ‘the first album is the best’ for an indie band – a theme that will be repeated as I go through my CD collection. Cerys’s accent is to die for and the songs on WBW are poetically beautiful in most cases. Lost Cat, Sweet Catatonia and You’ve Got A lot To Answer For are way beyond brilliant. International Velvet sees Catatonia at the height of their popularity and is understandably more poppy. ‘Road Rage’ and ‘Mulder and Scully’ are obvious faves and ‘I Am The Mob’ and ‘International Velvet’ less obvious faves – nice to hear a bit of Welsh in there. When I listen to ‘International Velvet’ I can at least pretend I am properly Welsh for 4 minutes or so.
One hit wonders Cornershop drop in and out of the NSG collection, but feature here as I wanted to mention their very interesting cover of Norwegian Wood (one of my faves). The album ‘When I was Born For The 7th Time’ features Brimful of Asha, and two other quite ‘good’ tracks Good Shit and Good To Be On The Road Back Home Again – the latter being a kind of country duet with Paula Frazer, whoever the Dickens she is, but on the whole it features boring instrumental tracks and the whole album feels oddly disjointed somehow.
I only have one album by Sheryl Crow which is ‘The Very Best Of’ and annoyingly doesn’t feature her Bond theme ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’. My favourite song is ‘If It Makes You Happy’ as I like the sentiment behind the lyrics. A close second is ‘Everyday is a Winding Road’ which I suppose borrows from the Beatles, but is a great one to sing-a-long to. Singing along to songs is an important activity for me, especially on the way to work; it takes my mind of the trials and tribulations to come. I was known by a girl at school as ‘the boy who sings on his way to school’ before I got to know her better, and who incidentally introduced me to all the Beatles albums. Before my education at her hand, I sang Queen songs on the way to school. Other Crow songs I like are ‘The First Cut is the Deepest’ and ‘A Change Would Do You Good’. All the singles basically. I don’t think I would ever go so far as to buy any other albums by her, but I like what’s on this one CD and also ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’.
Curve seem to me to be proper indie music and I wish I had had more of an experience of them in my formative years than I did. My knowledge/exposure to them consisted of hearing Ten Little Girls, possibly Fait Accompli and Chinese Burn in other people’s rooms when I was a 90’s student or still living a student life while working on an IT Helpdesk.
My dim memories of a band called Curve (which I sometimes confused with Lush) made me buy the two disc collection The Way Of Curve in 2004. Again, I have to be in the mood to listen to the whole thing in one sitting and it could be said that their stuff sounds quite samey. However… *raises finger to make a point* However – it is mighty good shit and I wonder if Garbage weren’t at least partially influenced by their distinctive sound. Also while I’m banging on about cover versions perhaps one of the finest cover versions by any indie band in existence has to be I Feel Love on CD two of the collection – absolutely fantastic imho. In fact I’m going to listen to it again now…