As I explained yesterday, I’m in Toronto and its surroundings this week and have come up with a way of covering the next few days with lazy posts, but hopefully in a way that will provide interest.
For the most part, the NOW albums, since their inception in 1983 have been, for want of a better word, a shit listen, bought in the main by folk who don’t explore much beyond the mainstream fodder. This five-part series, of which this is the second instalment, will hopefully bring some sort of balance.
The words used to describe each of the songs have been lifted from the particular individual ICA in question. There’s a multitude of contributors, but I’ve decided against highlighting who wrote what…..I like to see this, and indeed the entire output of T(n)VV as a collective.
NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL AN ICA….(ii)
Time To Pretend – MGMT (Track 1 from ICA #138)
There is of course only one place to start when we are considering an ICA on MGMT…….
“Lets make Some music, make some money, find some models for wives…” this track couldn’t be any easier on the ear if it tried. Shamelessly poking fun at rock star dreams and ‘living fast and dying young’. Brilliant drenched in synths and catchy riffs, MGMT announced their arrival to the world with not just a terrific single but with one of the best tracks in the last ten years.
Seven Seconds To Midnight – Wah! Heat (Track 2 from ICA#43)
Pete Wylie is my favorite Rock Star of ALL TIME…Probably because he’s the only one I’ve gotten drunk with until 7am in a New York Nightclub 4 nights on the trot, and definitely because he NEVER attained Rock Start status but was always prepared for it.
JC, you’ve picked the three songs which earned him the rank of a great artist. But I will add three that I just can’t live without, and one is among my 10 favorite songs of all time.
The first, and one which first blew my socks off and sucked me into WAH!’s aural vortex was Seven Minutes To Midnight. There might not be any more urgent Post Punk song ever written.
Reflection of The Television – The Twilight Sad (Track 3 from ICA#3)
More loud and wailing guitars, pounding drums and a killer hypnotic bass line. The opening track of the second LP. The song was later given a complete remix by Errors for inclusion on the Wrong Car EP – by complete I mean the drums, bass and guitar are almost completely replaced by electronica and a dance beat. And such is the greatness of the song and the music that the remix more than holds its own.
Ping Pong – Stereolab (Track 4 from ICA#174)
Mars Audiac Quintet was a huge leap forward for Stereolab, the first album on which they really integrated their love of lounge, exotica and bubblegum with the familiar krautrock grooves half-inched from NEU! and Can, and this was its most accessible song. Indeed, probably the group’s best-realised attempt on mainstream pop ever.
A Promise – Echo and The Bunnymen (Track 5 from ICA #41)
If Postcard could claim to be the Sound of Young Scotland then those who came to prominence through Zoo Records are entitled to claim the same crown for Young Liverpool. This particular single could easily have been written and recorded by Wylie, Cope or The Wild Swans and it would have been equally majestic. Will Sargeant teased a ridiculous amount of stunning sounds from his guitar over these damn near perfect four minutes.
Free Range – The Fall (Track 6 from ICA#147)
This single from 1992’s slight “Code: Selfish” album is an example of what Smith and his fans claim to be his psychic or “pre-cog” abilities. The lyrics may refer to the history of Balkanization, or they might presage the coming Bosnian War. Smith seemed to predict the 1996 Manchester City Center bombing in the song Powder Keg, and Terry Waite Sez preceded Waite’s kidnapping.
Stay Together – Suede (Track 7 from ICA #209)
Their joint biggest hit (along with Trash) and the only standalone single they ever released. This was the first notice that Bernard Butler wanted to start producing epics and this longer version definitely feels like a production where the kitchen sink has been thrown at it, particularly in the four and a half minute outro. A clear signpost to what they would go on to produce on the Dog Man Star album.
Cattle and Cane – The Go-Betweens (Track 8 from ICA#98)
The single version is some 20 seconds shorter than the version on the LP Before Hollywood. I’ve mentioned before that this is a very special song to me for a number of reasons; nowadays, it makes me sad as it reminds me of Grant’s sudden and very unexpected death but it is a song, along with a few others, that I associate with some of my happiest days, weeks and months on Planet Earth when I fell properly in love for the first time.
Some facts : It was written as a recollection of childhood in a London flat in an effort to combat homesickness with the band as far away as can be from their native Australia, cold and skint and fearing they’ll never succeed. It was written using the acoustic guitar belonging to the owner of the flat while he lay comatose from drug abuse. The guitar belonged to Nick Cave.
Join Our Club – Saint Etienne (Track 9 from ICA#47)
Another great pop single that dropped in between the first two albums. It’s all about finding your ‘tribe’ through music, particularly at a time when rave and grunge were dominant. It does, however, reference pop music through the ages and how it brings people together. It’s a subject they would revisit on more than one occasion.
Feel Every Beat – Electronic (Track 10 from ICA#205)
A five-minute version of this closes the debut album and tempting as it was to use that here, I have to bow to the remixing skills of Stephen Hague who chops about a minute off the original and helps deliver something which captures perfectly what Jonny and Bernard wanted Electronic to sound like and what they wanted a band to be….’we don’t need to argue, we just need each other’