Since the demise of Top of the Pops I've found it hard to keep up with what's new in the fabby world of mainstream Pop 'n' Rock. The only non-speech radio stations I listen to are BBC Radio 3 and XFM and anything else I stumble across when channel-surfing in the car. The last big thing in the music world for me was Nirvana, so don't look to me to score high on the ultra-up-to-the-minute hipness-meter. Up-to-the-decade, more like. Just.
However, I do have my own taste and being tagged by Ned Raggett gives me the opportunity to focus and lay out exactly what is floating my aural boat this summer.
Simon Reynolds roped me into this online meme:
“List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your spring. Post these instructions in your blog along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what they’re listening to.”
Looking to my trusty iPod Nano, what have I been listening to? What sends me into a transcendent state of bliss that helps me cope with the mutt-eat-mutt devil-take-the-hindmost Rosa Luxemburg nightmare of barbarism Out There?
1) The Beatles, "I Am The Walrus" — Specifically, the version on the recent Love album. This entire album is a cultural treasure. When it was released a couple of years ago it gave me such a frisson. Forget your time-travelling Tardis, this was like hearing The Beatles for the first time. Legendary producer George Martin, effectively the fifth Beatle, gave them their distinct sound in the studio. His son, Giles, under George's guidance and with the blessing of the remaining band members and widows, has gone one further, taking original recordings and applying the best new technology to add welly and bandwidth to the listening experience. Not only that, he's played around with the mixes, exchanging bass lines and melody, defamiliarising the songs so they sound brand new yet still timeless. Why "I Am The Walrus"? Great poetic liberties and a hypnotic music track that transport you to somewhere else in yourself.
2) Infected Mushroom, "Merlin (remix)" — From the Cyberdog4 Psi-fi System. In fact, anything from this album is psytrance-gold. I love having this fed into my ear via my iPod when I'm travelling in London. I'm not on the bus or the tube: I'm performing impossible balletic gymnastics on wires and ice-skates for a whole glorious hour. Uh, in my head, anyway (watch out for the twitching feet - a sure giveaway that imagination is happening). Great heart-racing stuff that centres you and keeps the demons at bay. BTW, check out their Cyberdog shop in Camden Market. I yam Tank Gurl!!!!
3) Eminem, "Fack" — Hilarity from MM. Wonder why the record company didn't even spring for a performance video. Hey, did he say "asshole"? All together, now, "Shove a gerbil in your ass through a tube". Kids, don't try this at home.
4) William Shatner, "Common People" — Only a genius could improve on Pulp's original and the sublime Jarvis Cocker. What a great song: "Watching roaches climb the wall, if you phoned your dad he could stop it all". Totally nails a lot of the Left in the UK as well as the usual phonies slumming in other people's misery. Drama, truth and class conflict all in one perky package. Surrealism courtesy of Captain Kirk.
5) Ministry, "Jesus Built My Hotrod" — Heavy metal technobilly satire on American consumerism. Funny, exciting, in yer face fun. And don't miss their New World Order featuring Bush senior. Excellent live version here.
6) Nine Inch Nails, "Heresy" or watch live in Stockholm — Ned turned me on to NIN for which I owe him thanks. "God is dead and no-one cares", the cry of the bright teenager tapping into my eternal inner misery-guts. But in such a pleasurable way. And check out "Closer": "I want to fuck you like an animal, I want to feel you from the inside ... " Yup, Trent telling it like it is. The gifted Mr Reznor also wrote "Hurt", memorably recorded by Johnny Cash shortly before he died of a broken heart within five months of the death of his wife, June Carter Cash.
7) Iannis Xenakis, "Tetras". I've been listening to lots of classical music this year, inspired by Babeuf, and it's difficult to choose a fave. From Beethoven's passionately intense sonatas to Bartok's string quartets, which is the best? Certain parties close to me refer to my current playlist as "classical torture music", but then blues-attuned ears would, wouldn't they? I've loved the Russian composers since I was little, Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade making a major impression on me when I saw it performed by the Kirov Ballet Company in Moscow as a schoolgirl. And Stravinsky's Rite of Spring was always in the home collection along with the easier Tchaikovsky. Recently I discovered Scriabin's Preparation for the Final Mystery and I'm beginning to explore the Austrian/American Schoenberg. What really set me off on this journey was an amazing series of talks by Simon Shaw-Miller at the Tate St Ives Gallery in September 2006, culminating in a concert of Ligeti and Sibelius by the Kreutzer Quartet. Something normally considered elitist was democratised and made accessible by these wonderful teachers. I'm indebted to them.
Tate St Ives rotunda
Neil Heyde (cello) and Peter Sheppard Skaerved (violin) of the Kreutzer Quartet giving a children's workshop at Tate St Ives
My tagees are:
A Very Public Sociologist
LJ Rich Geek Chic