1968 – Ballads of the Godless album review

My review of the new 1968 album, “Ballads of the Godless”, has just appeared on EVER METAL.  Here’s the review again, just because:

 

1968 – Ballads of the Godless 

Release date: 06/07/2018

Running Time: 38:24

8/10

Sometimes, without warning, it all comes flooding back and I’m thrust into the nightmare of that jungle.  Thirty days on patrol with no chopper cover.  The heat, unbearable; sweat running in rivers down my spine.  Cradling my M16 like a good luck charm, praying under my breath that there ain’t no VC gonna unload a torrent of lead at me and my buddies.  Trudging on, hour after hour, waiting to get back to the LZ for evac.  Chukka-chukka-chukka, the Hueys overhead and the rush of wind from the blades.

Maybe these guys from 1968 were in Nam too.  Maybe this debut album, “Ballads of the Godless” is actually a lost relic from those days that’s just been unearthed.  Maybe 1968 invented heavy, psychedelic rock after hearing Hendrix and Cream and some of those old blues guys.  Certainly seems crazy enough to be true.

Opening with “Devilswine”, 1968 lay out their ground plan confidently.  It’s a mighty power groove that makes your head nod, setting the tone for the whole album.  “Screaming Sun” follows and adds a more psychedelic shine, Jimi Coppack’s vocals soaring while the riffs hammer.  “Temple of the Acid Wolf” adds further intricate detail, with shades of vintage Soundgarden.  1968 set about laying waste to all in it’s sights like Ozzy manning the Air Cav machine gun on a strafing run.

It’s not all Ride of the Valkyries mayhem however.  Last track on Side 1 (vinyl lovers!), “S.J.D.” is an instrumental that provides a more reflective tone.  Acoustic guitar and piano feature, in a stylistically fine salute to the classics of the genre.

This bleeds nicely into Side 2, track 1 – “Chemtrail Blues”, where guitarist Sam Orr gets chance to unleash Hendrixian guitar flourishes over a bluesy beat.  It’s like that time me and my buddy chewed acid in a fox hole while under fire.  The rocket traces in the sky lit up like God’s neon veins.

“McQueen” opens with some infectious bass, before melting out of a mellow vibe and into a crushing chorus.  The bottom end is nice and heavy throughout, The Bear delivering pummelling yet warm playing.

Rhythms are also tight and show a groove more contagious than jungle malaria.  Dan Amati on drums shines on “The Hunted” in particular.  Final track “Mother of God” brings on a deceptively laid back, acid dripping feel as we finally get some R’n’R in Saigon.

“Ballads of the Godless” reveals more and more depth, thought and intricacy with each listen.  On this first album, the band make good on a lifetime studying from the past masters.  My only question is how will 1968 continue to evolve and add to their sound?  I can’t wait to find out.

For now, it’s back to reality.  No more choppers overhead, cries in the jungle and that oppressive, relentless heat.  Until I spin “Ballads of the Godless” again…

 

You can read more about all things metal at the Ever Metal site.

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night #12

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night

The Queen’s Head, Mold

Friday 30th June 2017

A warm welcome back to Bring Your Own Vinyl Night, at the Queens Head pub in Mold, North Wales.  It’s been a while since the last event, so I had plenty of ideas for what to play.  Events would alter those plans somewhat, however…

To recap, Bring Your Own Vinyl Night is exactly what it says on the tin: you bring along some records, and get a fifteen minutes slot to play whatever you like.

I’d originally planned an entirely different set list, but following the tragic news of Chris Cornell’s passing, I developed a tribute set instead.  As one of my favourite ever musicians, it wouldn’t have been right not to.

My set went as follows:

Temple of the Dog – Hunger Strike

Mother Love Bone were primed to be next big thing in rock; sadly the death of their singer Andrew Wood from a heroin overdose put an end to that.  The Temple of the Dog album came about as a tribute to Wood, from his band mates Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament, and his friend Chris Cornell.  Joining them were Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron and guitarist Mike McCready.  The music showcased a different aspect of Cornell’s writing, and provided a heartfelt tribute.  On this song, vocalist Eddie Vedder makes his debut, sharing the vocal spot with Cornell on a superb performance.  Of course, many of those names would go on to form Pearl Jam.  This album has tons of memories for me and features some amazing music, Hunger Strike being a highlight.

Soundgarden – The Day I Tried To Live

I was a huge Soundgarden fan; trying to select just a couple of songs was immensely difficult.  I chose this song as it showcases Chris’ amazing voice to great effect, plus the composition is superb: the song builds brilliantly to the massive chorus.  The effect is a song that sounds exactly like carpe diem gone wrong, thwarted by a frustration that is captured brilliantly in the vocal.  Taken from the completely essential “Superunknown” album, which is crammed full of absolute gold.  A record I played non-stop in my younger days, and still return to regularly.

Soundgarden – Burden In My Hand

“Down on the Upside” was the follow up to “Superunknown”, though to me it never reached the heights of it’s predecessor.  This song was one of the best on that set, written by Cornell and again featuring that incredible voice.  A fairly jaunty number to, so I wasn’t ending on too much of a downer.  I’ve re-visited “Down on the Upside” recently and it’s far better than I remembered it.  However making this selection was very difficult, as it meant nothing from the wonderful “Badmotorfinger” record would get a look in. 

So there you have it, my tribute set to the late, great Chris Cornell.  A fantastic musician, singer and song writer – and someone who has written music that has been a massive part of my life, through the ups and the downs.

A great night with some awesome sets, including from my buddies Adam and Graham.  Not to mention Kev playing a lethal track by Electric Wizard, which I didn’t expect!  Here’s hoping there will be another Bring Your Own Vinyl Night soon.

The Halcyon Dreams blogspot is here.

The Halcyon Dreams mixcloud page is here.

The Halcyon Dreams Facebook page is here.

The VOD music website is here.

Pentre Fest 2017

Pentre Fest

Friday 23rd – Sunday 25th June 2017

McLean’s Pub, Deeside

Three days of the heaviest of metal, featuring underground, unsigned bands from across the UK, walking distance from my house.  How could I resist?

I’ve been to McLean’s pub in Pentre, Deeside several times over the years – usually for functions such as birthdays.  I had no idea, though, that they were regularly hosting gigs of the rock/metal variety.  Pentre Fest came out of the blue, but I managed to make it down for Saturday evening.

Pentre is a small area within Deeside, North Wales – and McLeans a fairly well known pub/function place.  Take it from me, the fact that Pentre Fest existed was a surprise at first.

As I was late arriving, I missed the first few bands, including the excellent Bad Earth.  I’ve seen them a while ago supporting Karma to Burn and they were excellent.  A bad start for me, I fully intend to see Bad Earth again sometime.

The first band I witnessed were Pelugion – they were a great introduction to the festival.  A metal band with a healthy element of stoner/doom, Pelugion rocked out in a Judas Priest or Megadeth vein.  They also excelled when they got into a slower, Sabbath like groove – bringing to mind Alice in Chains or Soundgarden.  Really impressive.

Outside the actual venue was a marque hosting acoustics acts.  This was proved handy between bands, especially on a sunny day like this when you could sip a beer outside with some live entertainment.

I saw Pelugion again performing a great acoustic set, which culminated in a heartbreakingly good version of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun”.  Serious hairs standing up on back of the neck time.  Wonderful stuff – the Pelugion singer has pipes indeed.

The names of other acts in the acoustic tent escaped me (sorry everyone), but I did see a fantastic one-man rendition of Tenacious D’s “Tribute”, and a band doing some classic rock covers.  And I do love me some classic rock.

Back inside, next up were Impavidus from Manchester way.  Their set consisted of some incredibly locked in, expertly performed and aggressive metal.  With a sound not too far away from Carcass, the pleasant surprise with this band is the amazing singer, who happens to be female.  There just aren’t enough girls in rock/metal, but Michelle impressed with a vocal ranging from slinky Siouxsie Sioux to a commanding metal growl.  Excellent show from all of the band, across the board – and a decent bunch of folks, too.

Up next on the indoor main stage were thrash titans Incinery.  Their scorching hot set of purest thrash metal glistened with speed and precision.  Obvious comparisons would be Slayer at their fastest, with the riffs of Testament or even Sepultura.  Absolutely no fucking about delivery and really gripping viewing, Incinery bring back the best of old school thrash and drag it with them into the future.

Amusingly, in a very Phoenix Nights kind of way, whilst all this blistering metal was being unleashed on the main stage, there was 60th birthday party in the next room.  Absolutely bloody hilarious!  I wonder what Granny made of it…?

But back to the music, and next on the bill were Haerken (apologies for the spelling, I can’t find the right symbol on my keyboard).  A different tale altogether from what we’ve experienced so far, Haerken introduced some Medieval themed mayhem with a killer presentation.  Dressed like knights or druids etc, their Olde Worlde death fest was brilliantly presented and featured some intricate musicianship.  Sharp as a gleaming sword and just as lethal.

Finally, headlining Saturday night, were the exquisitely named Sodomized Cadaver, from good old South Wales.  With a band name and song titles in the classic controversy baiting death metal style, it was obvious what we would be getting.  The heaviest band of the day, with a brutal rip-your-face-off  musical attack, these boys mercilessly slaughtered the gathered metal hordes.  Vastly entertaining, their savage yet brilliantly played Metel Angau* was murderously superb.

And that was it.  At least for me, as I could only attend Saturday.  Next year, I’m attending all three days and YOU’RE COMING TOO.

Awesome live music from the metal underground, Pentre Fest also delivered a great atmosphere and camaraderie amongst some very cool people.  Let’s have another!

The Facebook page for Pentre Fest is here.  There are links to all the bands over the full weekend – do the research, it’s worth it.

The McLeans Pub Live FB page is here.

* I am reliably informed that this is Welsh for Death Metal.

1968 – Gig Review

1968

Friday 12th May 2017

Telfords Warehouse, Chester

The road to Telfords Warehouse was littered with walking corpses, stumbling clumsily with clothes falling from their limbs.  The zombified masses were yet again evacuating Chester Races, bumbling along in a drunken stupor.  I was on my way to Telfords to witness something far more intriguing – local band 1968 playing live, in a safe haven away from the riders of the apocalypse outside.

Telfords Warehouse is always a great place to visit, though it’s not famed for showcasing music like we were looking forward to tonight.  I’ve enjoyed music from other genres at the venue, but it was good to be expecting some noisy rock.  I met up with old buddy Dan and waited for the sonic attack to begin.

As you’d expect with a name like 1968, this band has Sabbath, Mountain, Blue Cheer and others of that ilk in their DNA.  It’s heavy, stoner rock with a reverence for the originals, proudly worn on their sleeves like old sewn on patches.  The bass chugs, the drums pound, the guitars wail and the vocals soar – all classic stuff.

It’s not just about the originators in this sonic stew though.  I could hear hints of epic Soundgarden, crunchy Kyuss riffs and even some COC style southern groove.

Enough of the band comparisons.  1968 are taking their influences and weaving new landscapes, using their own talents to create something energetic and new.  The band present a crushing presence on stage, performing their material with a killer confidence.

There’s even a progressive, experimental edge to some songs, with short instrumental sections lowering the volume and creating a mellower vibe.  If anything, I’d like to hear more of this develop in the songs – if only to provide a psychedlic contrast before the guitars thunder in again.

Any race goers who had wandered into Telfords soon left, slain by the merciless onslaught of 1968.  A superb band, I can’t wait to see them live again.  They have the riffs, the power and the vision to take them far.

It’s 1968.  The revolution is now.

Visit the 1968 Bandcamp page and download their awesome “Fortuna Havana” EP here.

1968 are on Facebook here.

The Telfords Warehouse website is here. 

R.I.P. Chris Cornell

Chris Cornell

20.07.1964 – 18.05.2017

Writing this memorial piece is a hard thing to do.  I was a massive fan of Chris Cornell and had been for many, many years.  I was left stunned, then in disbelief, and finally great sorrow when I stumbled on news of his death early that morning.

I had discovered Soundgarden with their “Louder Than Love” album back around 1990.  Music back then was shifting; I’d been listening to what would become “alternative rock” for some time and Soundgarden fitted right in with my tastes.  Along with other bands of the time like Jane’s Addiction and Mudhoney, I liked these bands that were able to meld classic heavy rock with a punk approach.  Bands like Soundgarden threw influences across the musical landscape into one pot.

When “Badmotorfinger” was released, I became a full on Soundgarden devotee.  The band soundtracked the ups and downs of my student life, the good times and bad.  The excellent “Superunknown” album cemented this noise in my affections even further.

Their sound evolved as Soundgarden explored and developed.  The riffs could still be inhumanly heavy, but there other sounds filtering through – from the whimsical to the psychedelic.  Listening to those albums was an experience that took the listener on a journey through different sounds and textures, feelings and emotions.

And of course, there was that amazing voice.  Chris Cornell could croon soothingly or wail like a tormented banshee – an awe inspiring ability that added yet more colour to the band’s sound.

Following Soundgarden’s split, I followed Chris’s musical journey through his solo endeavours and work with Audioslave.  I also loved his Bond theme – “You Know My Name” from Casino Royale.  I’ve played that many times to psyche myself up before a challenging situation, I can tell you.

I’ve tried to edit these recollections down, but revisiting some of the touch points in my life – where the music of Chris Cornell (and band mates) has been integral – goes some way to understanding the respect I have for the man and his legacy.

Sadly, now he’s gone.  I never saw Chris Cornell live (I went to Reading festival in 1994 but Soundgarden pulled out at the last minute) and I’d been looking forward to more music in the future.

It’s heart breaking to know that Chris is gone, and there’s no more music.  We’ve reached the end of that journey.  But what a legacy he’s left.  I’ll revisit those records again and again.  Though full of reminiscences of my past, those songs and performances are immortal.

I won’t speculate on the nature of Chris’s death, it’s not my place.  There are dark places that the human soul can go to.  It’s just incredibly sad.

Thanks for the music, Chris Cornell.  An exceptional musician who has left an indelible mark on millions of us.

“Heaven send
Hell away
No one sings
Like you anymore”

Scorpion Child – Gig Review

Scorpion Child + Jared James Nichols + The Bad Flowers

Tuesday 1st November 2016

The Live Rooms, Chester

Almost a year to the day since I last saw the mighty Scorpion Child rocking out, and in the same venue too.  This time the crowd numbers are down, but hell – it was a bleak Tuesday evening.  No excuse though – people should have been at the Live Rooms for this gig.

I just managed to catch the end of the first set, by UK band The Bad Flowers.  This three piece were all power and chunky riffs – think Motorhead menace with some ZZ Top rock in there.  Very appetising and well worth keeping an eye on.

Next up was Jared James Nichols, with his two bandmates, bringing us our second three piece of the night.  This American band play a fine blend of bluesy hard rock, delivered with a confident, killer attack.  Mountain were a fair comparison – they rocked out a crunching “Mississippi Queen” just to prove it.  Quality entertainment with a boogie groove!

The last time I saw Scorpion Child, they were here on tour with Crobot (another superb band).  Now with their second album – the extremely brilliant Acid Roulette – firmly under their belt, I was keen to witness these new rock’n’roll superstars-to-be again.

Scorpion Child deliver music that is well schooled in the classics of the past – Zeppelin, Sabbath, Purple.  And like those bands they’re able to deliver monster rockers like “Liqour” and “She Sings, I Kill” along with some superbly epic moments that build beautifully (“Survives” and “Acid Roulette”).

There’s also a thinly disguised darkness about the bands sound, not exactly doomy but much more in the vein of 80’s bands like the Mission and the Sisters of Mercy.  At their most bombastic, Scorpion Child are reminiscent of The Cult (from whence they claimed their name).  Apologies for endless musical comparisons – but this band really have some classic style that merits a bigger fan base.  Throw in some Danzig and Soundgarden and you’ve got a list of some of my favourite bands.

A great deal of the set is from the new album, showing justified confidence on the bands part.  Songs like “My Woman in Black” and “I Might Be Your Man” are thundering hard rock compositions that are classics in the making.

A great gig, shame about the low attendance (and the lack of merch!) – but brilliantly infectious modern hard rock.  I’m off for fish’n’chips.

The Scorpion Child website is here.

You can find Scorpion Child, Jared James Nichols and the Bad Flowers on Facebook.

The Live Rooms website is here.

 scorpion-child

Chester Vinyl Night

Chester Vinyl Night

The Lock Keeper, Chester

Friday 7th October 2016

So the two Bens – Ben the Swede and Coben – decided to stage a vinyl night in Chester.  Not to detract from the great night in Mold – but living in Chester they were keen to see how it would go.  There had been plenty of feedback from Chester locals who would love to try out the concept and play a few of their own records whilst having a few beers.

After some research, the Lock Keeper pub near the canal, just down Frodsham Street, was selected as the ideal venue.  The upstairs function room was ideal, with loads of space and a DJ area at the back.  The pub itself offered some fine beers at reasonable prices, so it was all set.

The idea was the same, borrowed from Halcyon Dreams and VOD: bring along a few records, have a 15 minute set to play whatever you like – vinyl only.

I volunteered to do my set early on, whilst waiting for the punters to arrive.  Thus following on from The Swede’s opening repertoire, it was my turn.  Playing to an audience of six people.

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Bad Moon Rising

I’d planned on playing the superior, and slightly less well known, “Born on the Bayou” by CCR as my first song.  However I mixed up Side 1 track 2 with side 2 track 2, and we got this evergreen classic instead.  No major mishap, “Bad Moon Rising” is a fantastic song anyway.  Always reminds me of “An American Werewolf in London”.

The Stupids – Mega Zombie

This is from one of the first records I ever owned, the “Frankfurter – Eat EP” by UK hardcore punk band The Stupids.  They were at the forefront of late eighties skate rock, and sound tracked many a days skateboarding in my youth.  This sublime song is just over one minute in length, with the words “Mega Zombie” repeated 27 times.  Very fast and a true challenge to prepare the next track in time!

The Ohio Players – Fopp

Luckily I just made it, and dropped the needle on this magnificent chunk of seventies funk.  The song first came to my attention via the Soundgarden cover, eventually I picked up a CD “Best of” compilation (also featuring “Love Rollercoaster”, as covered by RHCP).  Not long ago I added the Ohio Players album “Honey” to my vinyl collection – which both songs are taken from.  This is a solid piece of funk rock with a cool groove. op

Tone Loc – Loc’ed After Dark

I wanted to play some tunes to show case some variety, and felt that a bit of old school hip hop would be nice.  “Loc’ed After Dark” is the B-side from the “Wild Thing” 12 inch single.  I chose it as again, there’s a nice funky beat.  Got me strutting my stuff in the DJ booth, anyway.

So alas, my set was over – with still only six people in the audience.  Never mind, the evening picked up and soon the function room was full.  I even got to play a couple of tracks again at the end of the night to a fuller crowd!

The Chester Vinyl Night was a great success, with a room full of people enjoying the music and drinks.  There was a picture quiz which proved popular, and a wide range of tunes spanning several genres – from dub to hip hop to classic rock.  There was even a Phil Collins tribute section…

There will be more Vinyl Nights at the Lock Keeper soon.  Well done to Ben and Ben for organising the evening – looking forward to more of the same soon!

The Chester Vinyl Night has a Facebook page, click here.

You can also find The Lock Keeper on Facebook here.

Thanks to Halcyon Dreams and VOD Music for help and advice.

vinyl-poster

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night #7

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night

Queen’s Head, Mold

Friday 26th February 2016

Welcome back to the Queen’s Head in Mold, North Wales!  Get yourself a pint and make yourself comfortable, ‘cos you know what time it is.  That’s right, it’s Bring Your Own Vinyl Night again!

Remember the rules: there’s a fifteen minute slot for each person; play whatever you like, so long as it’s vinyl.

Only Greeny and myself made it this time – Adam and Ben the Swede were both unavailable.  No theme for my set this time, just a few songs I really had a yearning to play…

Ennio Morricone – The Ecstasy of Gold

This song is of course from the soundtrack for the classic Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.  My version came from an album called “This is Ennio Morricone”.  You don’t need me to tell you how great that film is.  And Morricone’s soundtrack is stylish and ground breaking.  In particular, this track (which plays while Eli Wallach’s character runs frenziedly through a Civil War graveyard) is sheer class.  It builds magnificently and captivates the listener.  A bit over the top, I admit, as the first song in my set – but never let it be said that Platinum Al doesn’t do drama.

Ramones – Surfin’ Bird

If I was going to recommend a Ramones album for a novice to start their education of NYC’s finest, I’d go for “Rocket to Russia”.  I thought that this frenetic cover of the Trashmen’s surf rock gem would be a suitable place to go, after the majesty of the last track.  I love the Ramones and this song was a ton of fun to play.

Soundgarden – Fresh Tendrils

This song, from the simply fantastic “Superunknown” album, is probably my favourite Soundgarden song ever.  And I’m a bit of a Soundgarden nerd – I’ve collected tons of their stuff.  Rather than play a more obvious, well known song, I decided to go with my top tune.  “Fresh Tendrils” has an epic, classic rock sound that I love.  No idea what Chris is singing about, however.  The version I played was from the “Spoonman” 12″ single (on clear vinyl!).

Johnny Cash – Folsom Prison Blues

Originally I was going to play a Stooges song, but then I remembered that 26th February was Johnny Cash’s birthday.  So I decided to play a song by the Man in Black.  “Folsom Prison Blues” is a legendary track, one of Cash’s best.  And I’ve already stated how big a hero this guy was to me.  The album this came from – “Original Golden Hits Volume 1” – was my Gran’s.  After she passed away, it was given to me.  I’d heard a lot from bands I was into how Cash was an inspiration, so I checked the record out.  I loved it, and my Johnny Cash fandom was born.  The first Cash record I heard, but not the last!

That’s my list for the night.  There were may great songs played through out the evening, though.  Budgie!  Hawkwind!  Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy!  Anthrax!  Check the link below for the complete list.

Wax is back – get spinning those tracks!  Thanks for a great night!

I’d also like to thank my old mate Graham, who turned up with a couple of Suicidal Tendencies records for me.  You see, I’d sold these two exact albums to Graham some twenty years ago, when I was a broke student.  Although I could’ve tracked the records down on eBay, I decided to message Graham and see if he’d sell them back to me (if he still had them).  The reason being that one album, the awesome “Join the Army”, had been given to me when I was 15 by my friend Kelvin Bedford, who I used to skateboard with every day.  Sadly, Kel passed away a couple of years ago.  So it was cool to get that actual copy back in my record collection, as a nice memory.  It even had the same plastic protective sheet over the album – and the selotape strip I patched up the inner sleeve with many, many years ago!  Graham gave me both records for free – so I bought him a pint or two.  Thank you!

The Halcyon Dreams blogspot is here.

The Halcyon Dreams mixcloud page is here.

The Halcyon Dreams Facebook page is here.

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night #3

Bring Your Own Vinyl Night

Queen’s Head, Mold

Friday 21st August 2015

And we’re back spinning wax in the Queen’s Head pub in Mold.  The crew and I made the trip, armed with stacks of vinyl, for our fifteen minutes of fame playing records.  The premise is simple:

  • Two turntables and all the equipment to spin your discs, plus PA
  • A 15 minute slot to play whatever you like, so long as it’s vinyl

Plus there’s a bar for drinkies, which helps if you need a bit of dutch courage to get up and get your DJ on.

The crew and I – Adam, Greeny and Ben the Swede – made sure we got there early this time.  Good job we did, as the throng of vinyl faithful had grown and the list of would be DJs was growing.  Nice to see this event gaining popularity – the cult of vinyl grows ever stronger.

Here’s my set:

Killing Joke – Pandemonium

The title track from Killing Joke’s classic 1994 disc of the same name, this tune boasts a devastating bass and rhythmic rumble.  “Pandemonium” erupted from the speakers and announced the start of my set in crushing style!

The Stooges – I Wanna Be Your Dog

This slice of messed up Detroit proto punk is a Stooges classic.  Ron Ashetons wah-wah guitar and Iggy’s snarl show just how great this band were.  I first investigated the Stooges as other bands I was a fan off (Sex Pistols, The Damned) had covered their songs – so I picked up this compilation to learn more.  I was instantly smitten by this dirty racket and never looked back.

Descendents – Clean Sheets

I first heard the Descendents on an old Vision skateboarding video, soundtracking a fantastic Gonz section.  This was the late 80’s, and with no Soundhound I had to work out from the credits what I thought the song was.  I figured it was “Coolidge” by the Descendents.  A while later I found some Descendents albums in a Manchester record store, and took a punt on the “All” album as it contained the aforementioned track.  Luckily, I was right.  For this occassion though, I decided to play another piece of US pop punk genius from the same album, “Clean Sheets”.

Temple of the Dog – All Night Thing

To finish off the set, I brought the pace down with a mellow number from this Seatlle grunge super group.  Featuring members of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, this LP really takes me back to the early 90’s.  A must have for any fan of alt rock from the period, you can read up online how this recording came to be.  Chris Cornell’s vocals are sublime here, showing to great effect how he would become the best vocalist of his generation.

Greeny hadn’t organised any vinyl (again), so it was Adam up next with another varied and entertaining set.  His was unfortunately cut short, due to the number of people who’d turned up necessitating a reduction in playing time.

  • Natalie Prass – Violently
  • David Bowie – Absolute Beginners
  • Otis Redding – (Sittin’ On) The Dock of theBay

I have to say, I’d forgotten how good that Bowie tune was.

Finally Ben the Swede took to the decks and span his tunes, with a “guess the odd one out” theme.  He played:

  • Jimi Hendrix Experience – Wait Till Tomorrow
  • Fleetwood Mac – Isn’t It Midnight
  • AC/DC – Girls Got Rhythm

I believe the last song Ben intended to play was A rainbow song, with Ronnie James Dio on vocals.  Can you guess the odd one out?  Answer below…

So another superb night of music at the Queen’s Head.  We heard some great music, made some new friends and went away to scout for more quality tunes.  Here’s to next time!

The Halcyon Dreams blog is here, where you can find listed (very helpfully) all the songs played on the night.

The Halcyon Dreams Facebook page is here.

Essential Tracks – Nirvana

“Essential Tracks” is a new Music section at the Virtual Hot Tub.  In this ongoing series, I’ll be picking my favourite tracks from a particular artist.  Here’s the very first instalment.

Nirvana – the Top 20 Songs

Sadly, 5th April marks twenty years since the death of Kurt Cobain.  It seems somewhat unreal that so much time has passed.  I remember buying Nevermind as soon as it came out in 1991.  I remember hearing about Kurt’s death when it was announced.  Such a great artist and unique, complex music.  This is a list of my favourite Nirvana songs.

20. Come As You Are

A great song, over familiarity has probably knocked this track down the table.  Find it on Nevermind.  As a point of interest, my old band used to cover this.  We performed it live on the second anniversary of Kurt’s death; it received a warm response.  At that point (in the pre-internet) we hadn’t realised the significance of the date, it had been a coincidence.

19. You Know You’re Right

From the Nirvana compilation.  Awesome song – classic Nirvana soft/heavy dynamic.

18. Been A Son

My version of this song is from the Incesticide album.  Fast paced, a catchy melody – and lyrics worth the time to listen to.

17. Lithium

One of the classic Nevermind songs, this has a fantastic sing a long chorus that shows Kurt’s ear for a fine tune.

16. Serve the Servants

Opening track from the superb In Utero album, I’ve surprised myself that I haven’t placed this song higher in my own list.  Love it.  “Teenage angst has paid off well, now I’m bored and old”.

15. Negative Creep

Absolutely brutal riff.  One of the heaviest, punkiest songs in the Nirvana catalogue.  Perhaps something of an early Melvins influence here, probably some Black Flag too.  You can find it on Bleach.

14. Molly’s Lips

Out-standing cover version of a Vaselines song, on the Incesticide album.  Unbelievably  poppy despite buzzing guitars, it’s a blueprint that Cobain adopted and mastered.

13. Territorial Pissings

Another hardcore punk attack, though Territorial Pissings still retains a melody despite the speed and fury.  Awesome instrumental break and reliably quotable lyrics.  Nevermind again.

12. On A Plain

It’s really hard to select the best songs from an album as indispensible as Nevermind, but I remember this track always stood out for me.

11. All Apologies

This gem doesn’t get in the Top Ten?  I know, ridiculous, right?  It’s on In Utero and there’s a pretty cool version on the MTV Unplugged set, too.

10. Sliver

We start the Top Ten with a great pop tune that, incredibly, wasn’t on the major releases.  You can pick it up though, on Incesticide – and I suggest you do.

9. Something In The Way

This song and Polly offer some quieter, haunting moments on Nevermind.  When we get to the chorus and the cello comes in, it’s heart break time.

8. Pennyroyal Tea

Like quite a few of Kurt’s songs, Pennyroyal Tea sneaks in quietly before launching into different territory.  Brilliant song from In Utero that demonstrates perfectly the melding of melody and mayhem in the best Nirvana tunes.

7. About A Girl

An early hint of Kurt Cobain’s ability to create a beautiful pop song; it’s no surprise that he was a huge Beatles fan.  Find it on Bleach, there’s also a killer version on MTV Unplugged.

6. Francis Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle

“I miss the comfort in being sad”, quiet/loud/quiet/loud; great riff.  Wonderful track from In Utero, complete with scathing lyrics.

5. Scentless Apprentice

Dun-dun-der-der! D-der der d-der d-der!  Do I really need to say more?  So heavy.  It must have scared the Indie scenesters to death.  Run for the hills, Indie scenesters!

4. Where Did You Sleep Last Night

A cover of the Leadbelly song, found on the MTV Unplugged album.  Kurt sounds truly agonised on this exceptional song, though it retains it’s beauty.

3. Dive

Apparently written as a Soundgarden style song, in an effort to appeal to their label Sub Pop and get signed.  It should come as no surprise, however, that Kurt – a huge Black Sabbath fan – would be able to create a riff as heavy as this.  Heavy like a brontosaurus breaking rocks.  With a big fucking hammer.

2. Smells Like Teen Spirit

This is the big one.  Iconic, revolutionary – but Nirvana’s best song?  I don’t think so.  Not to deny it’s power, maybe I’ve just heard it a little too much.  Still great though.  It’s on Nevermind, but you knew that, right?

1. Heart Shaped Box

Allegedly, Courtney Love heard Kurt writing this song, loved the immortal riff, and asked if he would donate it to her.  Kurt declined, and apparently locked himself in a cupboard to finish it off.  The quintessential quiet/loud dynamic.  Utterly unforgettable.  This, for me, is Nirvana’s best song.

So there you go – my Top 20 Essential Nirvana songs.  And I didn’t mention the word “grunge” once.

Compiling this list was much more difficult than I anticipated.  I was forced to leave out some absolutely classic songs; like In Bloom, Rape Me, Aneurysm and Nirvana’s amazing cover of David Bowie’s The Man Who Sold The World.  There are others, too.

I reserve the right, in all Essential Tracks posts, to revise my thoughts at a later date.  Already, I’m thinking that Scentless Apprentice should’ve been number 1.

Dun-dun-der-der! D-der der d-der d-der!