I have very fond memories of this song. Primal Scream had been dormant in my thoughts for a few years leading up to the release of their Star EP in 1997. I heard it and I smiled. Have a great weekend.
This time last week, I was amazed at having not posted a particular song – and so here I go again. Last month, at a gig in Madison Square Garden, NYC, Radiohead played ‘Let Down’ for the first time in a decade. Is it the best track off the best album ever produced? Arguably, yes. What cannot be disputed is that for one glorious moment, they were everybody’s benchmark.
Tapping into the hurt of broken relationships, Nick Cave was able to create a sound so sad, I am almost happy to hear it. ‘Into My Arms’ was released as a single off The Bad Seeds’ 1997 album The Boatman’s Call. In the same year, Cave performed the song at the funeral of his friend Michael Hutchence.
OK Computer redefined rock music. Previous Radiohead album The Bends had been a quantum leap for their own sound, but two years later, nothing had prepared the listening hordes for what followed next. The opening track ‘Airbag’ jumped on stage like an “an interstellar burst” and Thom Yorke was “back to save the universe” with jingle bells, layers of trip hop and Phil Selway’s drum loops. Have a great week.
I have to admit, one of my shortcomings is that I am 95% more likely to be drawn to a well executed melody than I am a well crafted lyric. However, the 5% allows for a little humour. In 1997, Harvey Danger included this amusing slice of power pop on their debut album Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone? ‘Flagpole Sitta’ was released as a single a year later and picked up as the theme tune for the long running sitcom Peep Show in the decade that followed.“I’m Not Sick, But I’m Not Well.” Have a great week.
How do you follow up a career-defining album like I Should Coco? By releasing In It For Money of course. Different tricks, more introspection, it seems so obvious now. ‘Late in the Day’ was the fourth track and fourth & final single from the album. These guys were on it in 1997. Have a great weekend.
Taj Mahal has the cool and that’s why this is a third feature in this blog. But ‘Queen Bee’ is the first of the three he penned himself and the only one that he wrote for his 1997 album Señor Blues – a journey through some of his favourite blues styles. As with much his great work, he’s able to blend his influences seamlessly – in this case blues and reggae. Say it’s so, Taj, your queen bee rock you to your soul.
Produced by Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley, the album What Would The Community Think housed the psychotic overtures of ‘Nude As The News’. It was Chan Marshall’s dark, melancholic third album, and its best song drew on the influences of The Velvet Underground and Nirvana. The song draws on an abortion that Marshall (a.k.a. Cat Power) had when she was twenty. Visceral stuff.
‘Mo Money Mo Problems’ was a single off Biggie Smalls’ Life After Death. While his role on this posthumous single was understandably limited, the big man’s inimitable flow is there amongst the circus. But the real reason I feature the song is just to acknowledge one of THE classic guitar chops from Nile Rodgers, and to do so without having to actually post its source material – Diana Ross’s ‘I’m Coming Out’.
In 2003, the same year that The Postal Service proclaimed Give Up, Elliot Smith decided to cut short his career and his life. One of Smith’s quintessential songs is ‘Angeles’. Behind the calm vocal delivery, he was not a happy man; it showed in anything he did – gambling, alcoholism, drug addiction and song writing. “Someone’s always coming around here, trailing some new kill / Says I’ve seen your picture on a hundred dollar bill / … And be forever with my poison arms around you.” He died in Los Angeles, aged 34 years old, having stabbed himself in the chest with a kitchen knife.
Another statement of intent at the start of an album, ‘One Angry Dwarf & 200 Solemn Faces’ is piano and pedals where ‘Red Morning Light’ is guitar and percussion. After the good reception for Ben Folds Five’s uplifting self-titled debut, their sophomore album Whatever and Ever Amen kicks off with this sharper, quick-witted revenge fantasy. The piano tunesmith Ben Folds was morphing from Billy Joel into Elton John. Have a good weekend.
Yesterday, I caught a few notes of Eels’ ‘Beautiful Freak’ featuring in a TV promo. Mark Everett’s ex-girlfriend Susan is the freakish beauty in the title track of Eels’ 1996 debut. On the same album, the singer-songwriter also wrote about a journey south down Baxter Street to ‘Susan’s House’. But not before Everett had the foresight to introduce that sublime Gladys Knight & The Pips’ piano sample. ‘Love Finds Its Own Way’ – even on a lengthy walk between Echo Park and Pasadena.
I have already blogged excitement about how 1997 was a vintage year in UK rock music. The Good Will Out was the debut album by Embrace and its start is marked by the sound of an orchestra tuning. What follows is a symphony of a single – ‘All You Good Good People’ just oozes the confidence that Britpop had brought to these shores. Oasis certainly thought so – you can hear the song’s echo in Noel Gallagher’s ‘D’You Know What I Mean?’ off Be Here Now – an album that essentially posted the end of Britpop.
Moving away from the easy listening of Jimmy Webb entirely, Glasgow space-rockers Mogwai put their faith in sounds with ear-bleeding qualities. In one of their gentler moments, ‘Helicon 1’ begins with a heavy reverb guitar that transcends into riffs, melody, snare and progression. Included on their 1997 compilation album, Ten Rapid, the sound is easier to experience than to define. Have a great weekend.