Alphabetical CD Marathon: N

Ned’s Atomic Dustbin

I went to see Neds a number of times while I was at university – probably as many times as Carter. I also had numerous tee-shirts – like Iron Maiden I think the band made more money from their tee-shirt sales than they did from their music. My particular favourite is pictured below. This was taken in 1994 when I was in my first year of my PhD and my good friend pictured here had returned from a year abroad at another university to finish off her degree. This was taken in June after her last exam. Yes my hair is a mess, no I didn’t tap that.

 

Uni_June_1994

Should’ve gone to Specsavers, and rocking a digital watch!

 

In concert Neds were kings of the mosh pit and if you didn’t come out of a gig bruised and sweaty then you hadn’t had a good time. They ruled my musical taste while I was at university along with the likes of the aforementioned USM’s, James, Wonderstuff, PWEI and latterly Suede, RATM and Blur.

One particular concert was notable in that they were selling red tee-shirts with a square logo. It was a must-have purchase as there were only four or so ‘tour’ dates on the back – the reason being was that they were warm-up gigs prior to a proper UK tour. It was one of the most memorable nights at Loughborough Students Union, or at least it would be if I could remember any of it…

Anyway enough reminiscing, on with the CDs…

Bite is a short album but all killer no filler. “Plug Me In”, “Grey Cell Green” and “Terminally Groovie” are my particular faves if I ignore “Kill Your Television” which also features again with “Grey Cell Green” on God Fodder. This second album is as good as it gets for Neds fans imho – I don’t think there’s a bad track on it.

Are You Normal? On the other hand is a little hit and miss with “Not Sleeping Around” and “You Don’t Want To Do That” being the only memorable tracks for me. “Not Sleeping Around” was particularly pertinent to my life when it came out as I was in a reasonably serious relationship with a girl who was very suspicious about my relationship with an old school friend.

Another fond memory is going to see this school friend up in Manchester and walking into a gay bar on Canal Street wearing my ‘Are you normal?’ tee-shirt. She thought I was trying to be funny – I didn’t realise where I was or what I was wearing until she pointed it. My how we lolled. It was almost as funny as the sign which regularly had the ‘C’ and the ‘S’ blacked out.

I remember 0.522 coming out when we all thought the band had split as Furtive’s (their label’s) way of milking some extra money out of their fans, however it was not to be sold for more than £5.22. I bought it for around £4 from Castle Records. It contains some cool tracks and some very odd remixes. The oddest and best loved (by me anyway) of which is “nadv.ndx=nsa” a remix of “Not Sleeping Around”.

After a year I was pleased to find that Neds hadn’t split up and in fact had released Brainbloodvolume with a harder sound and a brilliant cover featuring their logo created with nails like one of those office toys you press your hand into and it forms the shape out of metal rods. “All I Ask Of Myself Is that I Hold Together” became my new favourite song and it remains an anthem to troubled times I have traversed. I enjoyed the album more than Are You Normal? But will always go back to God Fodder as a first choice if I need to get a fix of Neds.

By the way – Fun Fan Fact Number 1 – one of the main reasons I like Placebo is that musically they sound a bit like Neds.

 

Nirvana

I’m not sure how I got into Nirvana really – apart from I know it must have been off the back of “Come As You Are” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Nevermind was certainly the first album I bought by the kings of Grunge. I didn’t really go for the grunge look, I thought people who did it looked like tramps and in need of a haircut (no comment re the photo), but I certainly digged the music daddy-o. “Polly” and “Lithium” are my favourites and I love to sing along to them.

I’m pretty sure I didn’t really buy the other albums as they came out, but rather in spurts, apart from maybe In Utero and Unplugged in New York. I have very little time for Bleach and Insecticide, although I like “About a Girl”, “Love Buzz”, “(New Wave) Polly” and “Been A Son” immensely.

I seldom play In Utero but when I do I like it and love “Heart Shaped Box”, “Rape Me” and “Dumb” – the singles I guess. I have a boxed set of the CD singles as well somewhere, but won’t bore you with them.

After Nevermind, Unplugged in New York is my favourite – I love acoustic stuff and cover versions (oh, you didn’t know, well you really haven’t been paying attention then…). Way up there as my favourite is their cover of David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold The World” – this was my first exposure to the song which is now one of my all-time favourites – even the version with Lulu on it. I listen to Unplugged with some melancholy because I remember how pissed off Kurt Cobain was with his performance and it was the first sign for me that he was a little bit unhinged. I became a little obsessed with him after he committed suicide (or did he?) and have read several autobiographies and the collection of his drawings and scribbling that came out. Then I realised that I really shouldn’t waste my time on the memory of him and wondering ‘what if’ and just enjoy his music. By the way, don’t ask me why, but I am not a Foo Fighters fan at all – can’t stand them. Funny eh?

Fun Fan Fact Number 2 – I had a poster of Kurt Cobain crying back stage at one of Nirvana’s concerts that featured in Select magazine stuck up on my wall at university along with lots of Carter and Neds posters and postcards from that old school friend who just for the record I never slept with while I was going out with the other girl.

I bought Nirvana just so I had a greatest hits I could play in the car, but I’m not bothered about the new track that was on there and the digital mastering of Grunge seems pretty pointless to me.

 

No Doubt

I had already seen No Doubt perform “Don’t Speak” on Top of the Pops, but hadn’t really take much notice of any of their other stuff until I started going out with a No Doubt fan. This was the girl who always kind of knew she’d end up my ex-girlfriend, who I may have mentioned before, but probably won’t mention again. When I saw Gwen Stefani on TOTP I actually thought that she was Madonna and that for some reason she was performing with a group. When Mike Reid (or whoever it was introducing the bands) said ‘that was No Doubt, and now…’ I thought Madonna had formed a group. I was easily confused.

I don’t have any early albums on CD because my then girlfriend had them so my collection starts with Rock Steady. I saw them in concert at Brixton Academy and they were pretty good, but I do remember mocking Gwen Stefani for being all ‘girl-power’ and then having to be held in place on top of the amp she had climbed up onto to sing – one of the security guard’s gorilla-like hands held her rock steady by the ankle until she’d stopped being all rock’n roll. My biggest regret about the concert was not finding out who the support act were as they were great – mixing rock with reggae.

Rocky Steady is great with “Hey Baby”, “Hella Good” and the title track being very good. Personally I like “Underneath It All” the best. Unsurprisingly I have a bit of a thing for Gwen Stefani and so when The Singles 1992-2003 came out I also got the DVD. “It’s My Life” is one of the best cover versions ever by anyone imho. The Singles is also my favourite album because it collects together all my favourite songs and is great for the car. “Simple Kind Of Life” talks to me in a similar way to  “Underneath It All” and of course I can’t resist a sing along to “Don’t Speak” and the genius clairvoyant lyrics of “Ex-Girlfriend”. I also have a tongue-in-cheek soft spot for “Trapped in a Box”.

The title track of Push and Shove is awesome – listened to it today on the way to work with the volume turned up to 11. I remember Gwen Stefani performing “Looking Hot” on the X-Factor and I was so pleased that she hadn’t turned her back on the band in favour of her solo career which was a bit too RNB for my liking. I like the simplicity of “One More Summer”, but the rest of the songs on the album all seem to go on too long.

Over all I love the band’s mix of styles – reggae, ska, rock, pop, and latterly hip hop. Also nice to hear His Royal Purpleness Prince on “Waiting Room” (on Rock Steady) – their voices complement each other really well in the duet.

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