The term classic is often banded around liberally. These tracks here are not cult classics, but are three tracks that should have perhaps achieved more success than they did. For one of them, the reason it didn’t get much success is fairly obvious, but since its release, Plan B has gone on to achieve massive success. He is now an actor (starring with Ray Winstone in (the awful) The Sweeney remake, a director and continues to have a very successful music career, ‘Ill Manors’ from a few years back, is a great piece of social commentary, brilliantly mocking the current government. Barry from Clor (see below), meanwhile is selling shoes in Aberystwyth (he’s not really) – I’ll leave you to decide whether that seems fair or not. Personally without being harsh on Barry from Clor, I don’t think he had an ‘Ill Manors’ in him, although I’d gladly listen to any attempts he subsequently makes.
The first time I heard ‘Sick 2 Def’ by Plan B, I was sitting on a train, from Barnstaple to Exeter, having just purchased a UK Grime CD ‘Run the Road’. At the time ‘grime’ was just bursting into the public minds. It is honestly the only track on that CD that I can remember (actually there was a decent Streets remix on it). I stopped the CD, and replayed it three, maybe four times, it completely blew my mind, to the point that I wanted to play it to everyone in the carriage, it’s that good. The problem is, it’s a bit sweary, well ok, a lot sweary, it was never going to get radio play. It also calls Michael Jackson a paedophile, which he obviously isn’t (right?). Lyrically it is amazing, a story runs through it about music being bad and how it can influence us negatively (he’s being ironic). It names checks Nas, Ken Bigley, Reservoir Dogs and LittleMo from Eastenders. In addition to all this, the one thing that makes this different from your standard UK hip hop nonsense is that Plan B (or Ben Drew to give him his full name) raps angrily over the strains of an acoustic guitar and it sounds utterly wonderful. Right there on that train, this song entered my all time favourite song list. I would personally shake the hand of any DJ who played this in full unedited on the radio. If you haven’t heard this before – download it. If you have children, send them off to school before you play it, it drops the C Bomb quite late on and it’s a very adult and somewhat disturbingly brilliant record.
mp3 : Plan B – Sick 2 Def
Moving on to Clor, the reason I think, why Clor never achieved success was because their lead singer was called Barry Dobbin. Now, I know at least two people called Barry and they are both lovely so I’m not Barryist. Sadly I think the media is. I mean Barry Dobbin. It’s hardly Serge Pizorno is it. Google his name and look at his picture aswell, he is not the face of rock music. Sorry Barry, I loved your album, but you should have changed your name to Max Power or something.
Clor released one self titled album to a mixture of rave reviews and confusion, personally I loved it. It mixed a variety of styles and had a strange kind of energy about it. It was rather like having a secret crush on a girl that you shouldn’t have a crush on, more idle curiosity than a love affair but one you couldn’t leave alone. The stand out tracks were ‘Love and Pain’ which was a minor indie hit and ‘Good Stuff’. To me ‘Love and Pain’ should have been a hit record. In today’s climate it almost certainly would be. It is a tune that is magnificently wrapped by its chorus. It has a pretty cool guitar riff that tries to dominate it but Barry’s vocal keeps in all together nicely. What does it sound like? Well I think if you are a fan of Maximo Park or perhaps Tom Vek, you will like Clor.
mp3 : Clor – Love and Pain
Sadly Clor split up citing musical differences for their split. The whole album is one massive mix of musical differences if you ask me, it is not necessarily always a bad thing. Please check it out. Barry Dobbin went on to form Barringtone according to the Internet, they sound like Hot Chip. Again this is not a bad thing at all.
Finally, we come to ‘Relentless Fours’ by Grammatics.
Grammatics hailed from Leeds and were influenced by the Britpop era of the Mid 90s particularly Suede I would say. They formed in 2006 and signed to the very cool ‘Dance to the Radio’ label which was releasing brilliant records a few years back. I think its fair to say that they divided opinion, they had so many ideas and so many instruments (too many?) that at times the styles clashed. However to me, it showed promise and intent. Relentess Fours is the album highlight a six minute epic showcase of these ideas, it twists from electronica to jagged guitar noise to a scary sounding cello and of course, a stunning vocal. ‘Everybody loves a breakdown’ goes the lyric, which is exactly what the song sounds like. A band having a musical breakdown right there and then. Quiet, then angry, then quiet, then relaxed, pretty much always great.
mp3 : Grammatics – Relentless Fours
The singer from Grammatics went on to form Department M whose recent single ‘The Second Prize’ is worthy of your attention.