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A LAZY STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE : 45 45s AT 45 (19)

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ORIGINALLY POSTED ON TUESDAY 29 APRIL 2008

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I could look to re-write history and say that Sex Pistols were the band that opened up my eyes and ears and changed me forever.

But in all honesty, I was really too young at 13 to get a grip on what was happening in 1976 and 1977. And besides, I was still more interested in playing football in those years than I was in listening to music. You can also factor in that it wasn’t until 1978 when I got a paper-round that I was able to have enough money to properly indulge in buying records rather them home-taping them straight from the radio onto my portable cassette player. And I had no guilt that all the inner-sleeves of LPs at that time came with the warning ‘Home Taping Is Killing Music’, complete with its logo of a skull and crossbones superimposed over a cassette tape.

So, although I soon grew to love the Pistols, I wasn’t in the vanguard of punk, and I can’t legitimately put any of their singles into this chart on the rules I set out for myself in terms of buying the song as and when it first came out.

And PiL were an act that were close to being included but in the end could only come in somewhere in the 50s.

But you can’t keep a good man down for too long, and so John Lydon makes his appearance at #19 with what I think is among the greatest dance records ever made.

You will have gathered by now that I’m no expert on dance music – I leave that to friends like ctelblog who has the most incredible blog over at Acid Ted.

And I’m not going to kid on that the song made me go out and buy all sorts of similar stuff – dance music remains something that I will dip in and out of rather than spend lots of time on.

I didn’t know too much about Leftfield until this 1993 collaboration but my love for this single led me to buying their CD of the time and discovering to my great delight that it also contained a collaboration with the great and hugely underrated Toni Halliday of Curve.

The CD confirmed a number of my prejudices about the dance genre – while some of the stuff was among the personal highlights of 1993, there was just too much that I failed to get, and so it became a CD that was ideal for the skip function.

I don’t think Lydon has ever delivered a better vocal in his life. I know that when he was a young punk 17 years earlier he did insist his musical influences were hugely varied from prog-rock to reggae and all parts in-between, but I don’t think any of us could ever have imagined him doing something quite like this:-

mp3 : Leftfield/Lydon – Open Up (vocal edit)

Can anyone really listen to this and resist the urge to jump around like a mentalist?

Now this is the one time on the chart that I’m going to cheat a little. Instead of offering up the other tracks from the single (which are basically just remixes)*, I’m posting the track with Toni Halliday that I mentioned a few paras back. It’s a song that if it hadn’t been for Lydon would have been a contender for my chart:-

mp3 : Leftfield (featuring Toni Halliday) – Original

Oh well, back to the more predictable stuff for the remainder of the rundown.

*subsequently posted on the blog and available here.

NME SINGLES OF THE WEEK 1993

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Back in the days when we had a number of music weeklies in the UK, it was something of an accolade for a band if their latest recording was nominated as ‘Single Of The Week’ in either Melody Maker, NME or Sounds. Indeed, it wasn’t uncommon for some of the major labels to subsequently take out adverts in the general press boasting of such an achievement.

And such was the interest in records awarded the status, that for a short while, one major record label, RCA, thought it worthwhile to take out a license and produce an end of the year compilation entitled NME Singles of the Week. And plucked from the shelf for inspection under the T(n)VV microscope is the offering from 1993.

I reckon this particular effort is a pretty fair reflection of the year, containing 18 songs across different musical genres, and not just a collection of indie-guitar bands that were and continue to be the staple fayre of the paper for many years.

Arrested Development : Tennessee
Belly : Gepetto (remix)
Senser : The Key
Madder Rose : Madder Rose
One Dove : White Love
Tindersticks : Marbles
Credit To The Nation : Call It What You Want
Utah Saints : Believe In Me
Swervedriver : Duel
Bjork : Venus As A Boy (edit)
Elastica : Stutter
Spiritualized : Good Times
Smashing Pumpkins : Cherub Rock
Apache Indian : Movin’ On Special
PJ Harvey : 50ft Queenie
Sugar : Tilted
Grant Lee Buffalo : America Snoring
Leftfield/Lydon : Open Up (vocal edit)

This is actually a compilation CD that even after all these years, I’m more than happy to put on and listen to all the way through. I remember when I bought this in early 1994. I was 30 years of age, and thinking to myself that my days of trying to keep up with the changing scenes in music were drawing to an end, and before long I would be drifting off to Radio 2 and live concerts where I would be insisting on a seat throughout. No more sweaty nights at the Barrowlands, no more mosh-pits, no more seeking out bands before they were famous….and no more vinyl records. Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong again.

The changes in how we all consume music over the past twenty years has quite a lot to do with it. The fact that I can sit at a PC and get tickets for gigs in demand rather than queue up in the cold, the growth of the internet, mp3s and downloading, the amount of video music channels on satellite TV and, above all else, the i-pod, means I have easy access to music more than ever before. Oh, and it helps that for whatever reason, I’ve a gene in my system that will not let me sit back and say ‘new music is crap and not as good as in my day’ . In other words, I’m refusing to turn into my dad……

Returning back to NME Singles of The Week 1993, I think there’s something for everyone in the compilation. The one thing I will be eternally grateful for is that it was my introduction to Tindersticks, a band that I have been slavishly devoted to ever since, and one of the few that I have specifically gone down to London for a gig…..twice in fact.

And there’s a few other long-term favourites in there as well.

I’m almost tempted to make the whole CD available for downloads, but I need to try and be sensible about things. So on the basis that a normal LP plays at 33 1/3 rpm, I’ll go for 6 songs as one-third of the CD:-

mp3 : Senser – The Key
mp3 : One Dove – White Love
mp3 : Tindersticks – Marbles
mp3 : Credit To The Nation – Call It What You Want
mp3 : Grant Lee Buffalo – America Snoring
mp3 : Leftfield/Lydon – Open Up

Enjoy