ALL OUR YESTERDAYS (3/22)

Album : OK Computer by Radiohead
Review : Q, July 1997
Author : David Cavanagh

With their 1.5 million-selling 1995 album The Bends, Radiohead executed something of a perfect Yin Yang: a great white hope and a big black cloud. Thematically, a cold look at a worn-down, scrofulous interior – Thom Yorke‘s lyric sheet did not so much scan as a fester – it was one of the great “tension” records of recent years. It was streets ahead of the fundamental volleys of angst to be found elsewhere in guitar rock that year and, indeed, on Radiohead’s own perfunctory 1993 debut album, Pablo Honey.

A new song, a gripping plea for rescue entitled Lucky – released in September, 1995 on the War Child compilation album Help – gave a tantalising indication of what their third album might contain. But now it transpires that Radiohead are even better than anybody imagined. The Bends was merely stage two in a long process of preparation for the overwhelming music of OK Computer.

Radiohead are known as a dynamic and neurotic three-guitar band, but the majority of OK Computer’s 12 songs (one of which is Lucky) takes place in a queer old landscape: unfamiliar and ominous, but also beautiful and unspoiled. They produced this album themselves (in their Oxfordshire studio), constructing an eerie sound-world that is both purpose-built – a five-piece rock band has rarely been better recorded – and oddly evocative of a 1984 lyric by the American group Let’s Active that talked of “moonstruck eyes and grey scales”. It’s not always easy to determine which instrument makes which noise. The melodies are unorthodox and tangential: there are no Justs, Creeps or Nice Dreams. It’s a huge, mysterious album for the head and soul.

To hear one of these songs alone is to catch one’s breath: it’s an unknown Radiohead. To hear the whole album is to have one’s milieu well and truly up-ended and one’s imagination repeatedly caught off guard by Radiohead’s expanded ammo-haul of treated guitars, Mellotrons (played by the increasingly dazzling Jonny Greenwood), electric pianos (ditto) and unforseen space effects. A lot of prog rock fans will get off on the album’s more planetarium-compatible noises (to say nothing of Greenwood’s King Crimson-style guitar chords on the opening track, Airbag). That said, OK Computer is not a goblin zone. In his often extraordinary lyrics, Yorke glares as cynically and as disgustedly at life as he did on The Bends. But look at how he’s writing now: “Regular exercise at the gym three days a week…Getting on better with your associate employee contemporaries…Fitter, healthier and more productive/A pig in a cage on antibiotics” (Fitter, Happier). Yorke is on top form.

“Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way, “Pink Floyd told us in 1973. Twenty-four years later, Yorke out-writes Roger Waters with heavy sarcasm (and to a better tune, incidentally): “I’ll take a quite life, a handshake of carbon monoxide and no alarms and no surprises, please” (No Surprises). Whereas Dark Side Of The Moon was about madness, meadows and muddling along, OK Computer – along with The Smashing PumpkinsMellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness the present-day rock-fans closest equivalent to a ’70s behemoth LP – evokes the sensation of the frequent flyer who has suddenly noticed he’s travelling faster than his aircraft. “Sometimes I get overcharged,” reflects OK Computer’s The Tourist. “that’s when you see sparks/Theu ask me where I’m going at a thousand feet per second/Hey man, slow down, slow down…”

As for the actual Earth, lyric after anguished lyric declares it an unfit place to live on, and condemns Yorke himself as not fit to walk it – so where does that leave him? The answer ultimately arrives on Subterranean Homesick Alien. Yorke, driving along a country lane at night, longs to be carried off by a spaceship. Nice planet. You can have it. Small wonder much of OK Computer sounds not-quite-of-this-world.

Indeed, the first three tracks (of a five-song, continuous, 25-minute suite that’s as brilliant as any music of the last decade) all mention aliens or interstellar activity in some capacity. “I’m back to save the universe,” Yorke sings on Airbag, over a deeply sinister soundtrack of Mellotron, cross-purpose guitars (J.Greenwood, Yorke and Ed O’Brien), reggae-style bass (Colin Greenwood) and hissing, spitting drums (Phil Selway).

If Airbag is merely fascinating, Paranoid Android is simply the song of the year. The first single, it’s six-and-a-half minutes long and it comes in three sections. One of these even has it’s own sub-section. There’s terrific, jazzy 7/8 part with electric piano and deep-grooving bass; there’s a hefty dose of blistering rock (with two guitar solos); and there’s a truly awesome vocal harmony sequence reminiscent of a load of monks chanting a particularly intense extract from David Bowie‘s The Man Who Sold The World.

Although only one song on OK Computer is what you’ll call fast – Electroneering, coincidentally the worst track – it’s got to be said that Subterranean Homesick Alien, Exit Music (For A Film) and Let Down are unusually slow and thoughtful. Subterranean Homesick Alien has wonderful, tingling, golden guitars and Riders On The Storm-style electric piano. Let Down begins like a delicately chiming appendix to The Joshua Tree, but the crazy synthesizers start to fly in from all directions, like a laser show. And as Let Down’s guitar arpeggios drip-drip-drip into the brain, Yorke – one of the very few singers whose voice can appear to convey genuine grief (as opposed to pain) and despair (as opposed to frustration) – delivers a remarkable vocal: falsetto, glorious harmonies, total and utter harmonies. His voice has the terrible shiver of a toddler who can’t for the life of him stop crying.

Just before Let Down comes a gem of a song called Exit Music (For A Film). It concerns two young lovers leaving home and going on the run. Being a Yorke composition, it’s not exactly Moonlighting by Leo Sayer. Jonny Greenwood’s Mellotron produces an unearthly choir of basses and sopranos as one of the runaways implores the other, “Breathe, keep breathing, I can’t do this alone.” Then, during a murderous surge of drums and fuzz bass, the picture goes fuzzy. The fog clears just in time to hear Yorke moan the last, startling line: “We hope that you choke.”

The superb Karma Police, written about a party full of scary people, is what might resulted musically had The Bogus Man-period Roxy Music ever tried to play Sexy Sadie by The Beatles. Even weirder is Fitter, Happier. An aural nightmare with no precedent in Radiohead’s work, it’s a poem of doom, centered in the workplace recited by a pre-programmed Apple Mac that sounds like Stephen Hawking‘s electronic voice. The breakneck (and somehow unsatisfying) Electroneering kicks up a royal fuss, before collapsing into the uneasy trip-hop of Climbing Up The Walls. It now seems as though OK Computer’s second half will comprise nothing but menace and cacophony.

Suddenly, however, there’s a respite from this two-song burst of chaos. In fact, the final three-song sequence has more control, more room to breathe (and arguably more beauty) than any other part of the record. Each of these three songs is the match of Street Spirit (Fade Out) on The Bends. No Surprises is Radiohead’s prettiest moment to date, using dulcimer and Christmassy synth textures to decorate Ed O’Brien’s exquisite guitar refrain. A lesser band would have grafted Yorke’s withering lyric onto a ready-made anthem of barely adequate string-bending pique.

The Tourist, which follows the still-spooky-and-marvellous Lucky to conclude the album, is an unexpectedly bluesy waltz. It’s not easy to play a waltz with anxiety, let alone the panic felt by Yorke’s hyperventilating traveller, but they do. As it reaches its final bars, the three guitars fall out, leaving just Phil Selway’s brushed cymbals, a couple of plucks of Colin Greenwood’s bass and – finally – the “ding” of a tiny bell.

And that is that. A landmark on every latitude. Not the least achievement of OK Computer is that a major weirdo-psychological English guitar band can induce gasps of admiration, stunned silence and more than a few lumps in the throat. It’s and emotionally draining, epic experience. Now Radiohead can definitely be ranked high among the world’s greatest bands.

mp3 : Radiohead – Airbag
mp3 : Radiohead – Subterranean Homesick Alien
mp3 : Radiohead – Karma Police
mp3 : Radiohead – The Tourist

JC adds :  The review recognises and anticipates the many plaudits that would come the way of OK Computer; but I can’t but help getting annoyed at the way so many other bands have been shoehorned into the review, almost as if there’s a hope that, should these opinions be out of sync (which clearly they weren’t), at least offering a comparison with some other acts will ensure the message gets across that this is a serious and not frivolous piece of art.

PS : Tomorrow, being Christmas Day, I’ll have a review of something a bit less serious and way more frivolous.

 

A KIND-OF BONUS ALBUM

I had this post slated for later on in the month but have brought it forward to dovetail with yesterday’s high-quality contribution from Martin.

I’m just about to bring the series on the singles by The Undertones to a close and one of the other bands I had in mind for a similar series was Radiohead; the problem however, is that I haven’t bought any singles by the band since about 2003 and so would have been forced to spend a fair bit of money pulling together all the subsequent b-sides since that period in time; instead I’ve hit on the idea of cobbling together the various b-sides from a particular era to offer a suggested accompanying bonus album to that from which they were lifted.

It makes sense to start with OK Computer, from which three singles were lifted.  I say makes sense in as much that a number of these b-sides have already appeared on the blog thanks to a posting looking solely at Paranoid Android.

Much of the music and sounds making up these tracksare well worth a listen given that they show different sides to the band and are something of a pointer as to the road they would go down a few years later with Kid A and Amnesiac.

mp3 : Radiohead – The OK Computer bonus album

Tracklist

1. Climbing Up The Walls (Zero 7 mix) – from Karma Police single #2
2. Pearly – from Paranoid Android single #1
3. Airbag (live in Berlin) – from No Surprises single #2
4. Melatonin – from Paranoid Android single #2
5. Meeting In The Aisle – from Karma Police single #1
6. Polyethylene (Parts 1 & 2) – from Paranoid Android single #2
7. Climbing Up The Walls (Fila Brazillia Mix) – from Karma Police single #2
8. Lull – from Karma Police single #1
9. Lucky (live in Florence) – from No Surprises single #2
10. How I Made My Millions – from No Surprises single #1
11. Palo Alto – from No Surprises single #1
12. A Reminder – from Karma Police single #1

Enjoy.

I may or may nor repeat this for other Radiohead LPs. It’s up to you guys to offer advise on whether that’s a good idea or not. I won’t be offended if you tell me to make this a one-off.

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #108 : RADIOHEAD

A GUEST POSTING FROM MARTIN

AUTHOR OF THE NEW AMUSEMENTS BLOG

After more than 100 ICAs, I was wondering which artist or band I could meaningfully submit a compilation for. So many of my favourites have already been done. And then it occurred to me – as yet, there has been no ICA for Radiohead.

Of course, when I sat down to try to draw up a ten track compilation it quickly became obvious why it hasn’t been done before: trying to whittle down the collected works of the Grand Old Duke of Yorke and his men to just ten songs, just one side of a C90, is practically impossible. Unless…

…unless there’s a scheme, a set of rules above and beyond those that normally go into drafting a compilation. It was at this point I realised that Radiohead have released nine studio albums. What if, I wondered, I were to limit myself to one track per album, plus a bonus closing track of my choice? That might work and, if I stuck to the albums in chronological order, it would also provide an accurate representation of how the band has progressed over the years.

Sounds a great plan, doesn’t it? Except that, in reality, even choosing just one track per album proved to be fantastically difficult (especially for The Bends, Ok Computer, Hail To The Thief and In Rainbows). Anyway, enough of my excuses, let’s get on; to assuage my guilt for omitting certain tracks, I’ll namecheck the other songs that were in contention but, for now, these are the chosen nine plus one.

Side One

1. from Pablo Honey: Creep

Sorry, it has to be. I know it’s been over-played, and certainly over-covered (if YouTube is anything to go by). It isn’t massively representative of the rest of the album, and I have even heard it described as “Radiohead for people who don’t like Radiohead”. But, and it’s a very big but, without this track there is probably a very good chance we wouldn’t be talking about Radiohead now, and certainly not in such reverential tones. The fact is that this song, aside from striking a chord with every disaffected and alienated person that’s ever heard it, every loner, every outsider, aside from all that it established the band in a way that the parent album never could. It’s quite possible that without Creep the only blog posts you’d read about Radiohead now would be of the “whatever happened to…” variety. And on top of that, it has that excellent crunchy guitar that kicks in at the start of the chorus.

Also in contention: Anyone Can Play Guitar and Lurgee.

2. from The Bends: Fake Plastic Trees

Of all the albums, choosing just one track from The Bends was the toughest choice of all. Fake Plastic Trees gets the nod though, as it brought Radiohead’s social conscious and environmental awareness to the fore, whilst also demonstrating that they could be musically subtle, delicate in a way that they hadn’t been on Pablo Honey. The clincher for me is more personal though, in that when I saw the band live in 2008 their rendition of this song gave me goosebumps on the night, and nearly broke my heart in the weeks that followed.

Also in contention: High And Dry, (Nice Dream) and Street Spirit (Fade Out).

3. from OK Computer: No Surprises

A lullaby for the suicidal, perhaps. And yet one that somehow manages to be uplifting, even in the unsettling video in which Thom looks set to drown (spoiler – he doesn’t). You can draw a straight line through Asleep by The Smiths to this song, and then… where? The parent album was, for a time, often held up as not just the band’s best but the best ever, by anyone, frequently troubling the top of the “best N albums of all time” lists that were very popular around the millennium. It is great, but I think The Bends shades it.

Also in contention: Paranoid Android (“Bohemian Rhapsody for Generation X”, as the music press all cried at the time), Karma Police and Lucky.

4. from Kid A: National Anthem

Given that The Bends are OK Computer were both excellent and successful, Kid A was always going to be a tough act to pull off. It remains the point at which Radiohead started to be non-essential, for some people. Not me though. It’s a great album, another where it is hard to choose one track. I’ve gone for National Anthem – very simple lyrically, but the music is the hook, an ear-worming loop that has, arguably, set the tone for most of everything that has followed. Like lots of the best Radiohead, this comes into its own in a car with a good stereo, in the small hours of a crystal clear night, on an open road…

Also in contention: Idioteque, Everything In Its Right Place.

5. from Amnesiac: Knives Out

As the band continued to push boundaries, willing to sacrifice transient fans to satisfy their own musical curiosity, the songs that were chosen as singles from each album became increasingly unrepresentative, and so it is with Knives Out. Led by twin guitar melodies, it’s a song that might have graced The Bends. It has brilliantly bleak lyrics too, to whit “If you’d been a dog they would have drowned you at birth.” I don’t know what it says about Radiohead (or the type of fan I am) but this and Pablo Honey were the albums it was easiest to choose only one song from.

Also in contention: Pyramid Song.

Side Two

6. from Hail To The Thief: Scatterbrain

On the face of it, a tough album to choose from, casually littered with brilliance as it is. In reality, an easy choice for me; the instrumental introduction to Scatterbrain has been my mobile phone ringtone for as long as I can remember. It is one of my absolute favourites songs, not just by Radiohead but by anybody, ever. Terrific lyrical story telling too, in which storm force winds are a metaphor for the blown apart nature of a failed relationship.

Also in contention: Go To Sleep, 2+2=5, Myxomatosis.

7. from In Rainbows: Weird Fishes/Arpeggi

That straight line I mentioned earlier? Maybe its third point is here, I don’t know. For a band who have increasingly forsaken guitars (to the consternation of a good proportion of their fanbase), here’s proof that they can still overlay complementary guitar motifs better than just about anyone. And few bands give percussion a voice, rather than just rhythm and timekeeping duties, as well as Radiohead. Also, even fewer songs could hint at escape at the end and yet be so ambiguous as to whether that escape is a good thing or not.

Also in contention: Reckoner, Jigsaw Falling Into Place.

8. from The King Of Limbs: Morning Mr Magpie

The intro to this makes me think of The Police. No, wait, come back! Here’s a song that again sits at the accessible end of the recent Radiohead spectrum, and ends with the lament that “you’ve stolen all the magic, took my melody”. A proportion of the band’s fans may have thought the same thing… but this is a perfect example of a Radiohead track that rewards repeated listens, rather than chases immediacy.

Also in contention: Little by Little (for similar reasons), Feral.

9. from A Moon Shaped Pool: Burn The Witch

In which Radiohead go all Camber-wicker Green. A genuinely great song and one that is, even without the video, genuinely disturbing, with its lyrics of low-flying panic attacks, red crosses on wooden doors and, most ominously, “we know where you live”. Add the sawing, minor-key string backing and this isn’t going to pack the floor at your local indie disco in quite the same way as Creep. A song for these times, where Washington has become Summer Isle or, perhaps, Salem.

Also in contention: Daydreaming, Present Tense.

10. bonus track: Street Spirit (Fade Out)

What better way to end the album? If ever a song was made to close an LP, this is it, lyrically, musically and thematically. Yes, it hankers back to a period when the band were at the peak of their commercial powers (doesn’t Thom look young in the video?) and yes, it features plenty of guitars. But not the crunchy guitars of Creep and Anyone Can Play Guitar, but beautiful, overlaid arpeggios that repeat, rise and fall to hypnotic effect. And there’s a lyrical counterpoint to some of the less cheerful themes found elsewhere on this ICA, and even in this song – for every row of houses bearing down on Thom, there’s the more positive (albeit slightly defensive) “be a world child, form a circle” and the haunting outro refrain of “immerse your soul in love”. Best of all is the way the song ends – it doesn’t fade out, of course, but the guitar arpeggio loops round and ties itself in a neat bow. The perfect finish to this or any compilation.

And there you have it. There are probably as many Radiohead ICA combinations as there are fans, and my own selection would probably be different next week (maybe even tomorrow). But, for now, I think this compilation works. What do you reckon?

Cheers,
Martin
New Amusements

ROCK, POP, INDIE MAGNIFICENCE

skeleton300

Recollections of sitting alone in a cafe having a bite for lunch. One of the staff was mucking about on a laptop creating a mix of music for the patrons to enjoy or endure. All of a sudden, amidst the non-descript singer-songwriters with their whimsical ballads with a twist of indie-folk, this came blaring out:-

mp3 : Radiohead – Bones

It’s the fourth track on the 1995 LP The Bends. In some ways it is a sort of forgotten Radiohead classic. It is squeezed onto the album right after two hit singles – High And Dry and Fake Plastic Trees, and right before one of their best loved songs and then another hit – (Nice Dream) and Just. But there’s no way that Bones should ever be regarded as a filler track.

Great tune. Killer chorus. And an ambiguous enough lyric to spark a debate. Is it merely about growing old or is it about the physical pain that a mental breakdown brings? Who knows? And who really cares?? Just turn the volume up and enjoy the music. It’s rock, it’s pop, it’s indie all at once. It’s also magnificent.

Especially played live.

Enjoy

A LAZY STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE : 45 45s AT 45 (25)

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON MONDAY 21 APRIL 2008

R-5075913-1433213885-9718.jpeg

So here we finally have something from probably the most talked-about band across cyberspace*

*(well they were back in 2008!!!).

I was very very lucky to see Radiohead at the outset of their career on two occasions – the first when they were complete unknowns in September 1992 as the support act to The Frank and Walters at The Venue in Edinburgh. Just over a year later, having had success in the USA with Creep, they were given the support slot with James and this time it was Glasgow Barrowlands just before Xmas 1993.

I’d be a liar if I said that on the basis of those two gigs I could have predicted that world domination would soon be theirs. In fact, I’d go as far to say that having bought debut album Pablo Honey on the back of the 1992 gig and been a bit disappointed with it, I wasn’t all that looking forward to seeing them support James. But that night, they gave a pretty decent performance, and a bit of hope that they were going to be more than one-hit wonders.

Problem was, the band seemed to disappear from view thereafter as the UK went barmy for Britpop. As we now know, it was in fact to begin the long and drawn-out process to write and record songs for their second LP, on which work began in early 1994 but which wasn’t released until May 1995.

And its my considered opinion that The Bends might just be the best LP of all time…..its certainly the one I’ve listened to more than any other over the past 13 years (up to 2008!!!!). Yup, I much prefer it to the more-critically lauded OK Computer.

Part of this is down to the existence of the song that has made #25.

You can scour the internet and see that the song is pretty special to a lot of people, but there’s a bit of argument as to what exactly it is about. What can’t be denied is that Thom Yorke delivers an incredibly intense and moving vocal while the boys in the band deliver a haunting and memorable tune and melody.

It is clearly about something that is far from natural – the constant use of words like rubber, plastic and polystyrene only help emphasise that point. But is it about an artificial feeling of love that the protagonist has for someone, or does it have a deeper meaning? Is it indeed the template for Radiohead’s manifesto for the future in which their disgust about the way the planet is being treated would come to dominate how their songs sounded as well as the band’s philosophy and outlook on things?

I’m not entirely sure, and I’ve said previously, I tend not to delve too deep into the meaning of lyrics. They are important, but no more so than the music.

I know that many of you will disagree that this in fact the finest single ever released by Radiohead. While I had a bit of a debate with myself about which song to select for certain bands, this one was, as the cliché goes, a no-brainer. This is a song that can provoke so many emotions in me, depending on my mood and state of mind, and there’s not many others that I can say that about.

mp3 : Radiohead – Fake Plastic Trees
mp3 : Radiohead – India Rubber
mp3 : Radiohead – How Can You Be Sure?

Surprisingly, the single only reached #20 in the UK charts, and it was later single Street Spirit (Fade Out) that was the big seller.

IS THIS THE REAL LIFE OR IS THIS JUST FANTASY?

Paranoid_Android_CD1
It’s been some week in blogworld.  I’m one of those who, due to pressures of time, put quite a few posts together well in advance so that I can do my best to offer up daily postings and then something totally unexpected and mind-blowing such as the death of David Bowie changes everything. Just want to say a big thank you to everyone for dropping by, for reading what was said in the two postings and also for reading the other things that were put up as I tried to keep some semblance of order.

I had a wee think about what sort of good thing musically might have, if I’d been a blogger back at the time, led me to drop everything and want to ask ‘did you see or hear that???’  There’s been plenty but most have been where I’ve found something new or a particular favourite have come up with something astounding.  Amd then I thought I’d go with this…..

I don’t reckon I’m alone with my first exposure to Paranoid Android being when Radiohead appeared on the late-night BBC music programme Later, presented by Jools Holland, in May 1997. The person who would years later post the clip on YouTube said it was one of the greatest performances ever to grace the stage of that show. And they’re not wrong:

It was something totally unexpected. Yes, the band had released a cracking LP in The Bends a couple of years previously that had brought them to the attention of the wider public and also got them positive reviews from the rock meeja. But this was something else entirely…..

The single had in fact been released a few days before the TV performance and had been aired a fair bit within the various early-evening shows on Radio 1 and was already being described by some journalists/broadcasters as the Bohemian Rhapsody of the 90s. But to me that’s just a lazy description based on the fact that the song has different and distinct sections and at more than six minutes in length is not anything like your average single.

Paranoid Android is a strange, complex and twisted bit of music that really shouldn’t work, but somehow it does.

Maybe its the fact that we’re all lulled into a false sense of security with its opening of acoustic guitars over Thom Yorke‘s high-pitched vocal. And for about three minutes we can sing along, tap our feet and move our head of work from side to side enjoying a song that is that is not all that indistinguishable from other admittedly top-quality indie pop/rock.

But then it gets all strange as Jonny Greenwood batters the shit out of his guitar before it suddenly comes not quite to a halt but to the pace of a real tear-jerking ballad except instead it sounds like a hymn at which point Thom Yorke comes back in with a pleading vocal that seems to challenge his God to take out his anger on him. Then, just when you thought that would be it…there’s about 45 seconds or so of a guitar solo and backing music that wouldn’t have been out of place on a heavy metal album from 15 years or so earlier….certainly something that air guitarists would get awfully excited about.

As I said, it shouldn’t work, but it does.

It reached #3 in the UK singles charts on its release and remains the biggest hit 45 Radiohead have ever enjoyed. There were two CD singles available to buy, and the b-sides are well worth a listen as they show different sides to the band, but they wont be everyone’s cup of tea. In fact some of you might find them downright irritating.  But in a week when we celebrated the diversity of Mr Bowie’s musical output it seems appropriate to head into the weekend with these :-

mp3: Radiohead – Paranoid Android
mp3: Radiohead – Polyethylene (Parts 1 & 2)
mp3: Radiohead – Pearly
mp3: Radiohead – A Reminder
mp3: Radiohead – Melatonin

Enjoy

 

FROM THE SOUTH-WEST CORRESPONDENT..WHAT’S IN YOUR BOX (22)

The Shoebox of Delights – The Robster Picked Number 18
‘Nowhere’ Original Soundtrack – Various Artists

220px-Nowhere

Soundtracks. I rarely buy them, in fact I own two. This one, which I didn’t buy, and Trainspotting which was a gift at Christmas. The problem with soundtracks is that you never get one that is 100% full of good tracks. You get the odd track, the odd unreleased gem, the odd hard to find song, but you wouldn’t buy the whole thing because it also contains Celine Dion, Phil Collins or Mumford and Sons.

Nowhere is no different. It contains some excellent music but it contains some utter utter shite as well. Believe me no compilation album with Marilyn Manson on it is worth buying.

Nowhere is a Gregg Araki film about the Doomed Generation or something – here is a snippet from the press stuff around the film

“A group of teenagers try to sort out their lives and emotions while bizarre experiences happen to each one, including alien abductions, bad acid trips, bisexual experiences, suicides, bizarre deaths, and a rape by a TV star. All of this happens before “the greatest party of the year”.

Now bearing in mind my favourite film of all time is Raiders of the Lost Ark followed by Back To the Future II – this isn’t my type of film but it does have a pretty good soundtrack (Marilyn Manson, 311, Coco and the Bean and Catherine Wheel withstanding)

Going off topic slightly I was once on a training course and we did this stupid ‘icebreaking’ thing where you had to name your favourite food, favourite album, favourite film and fantasy dinner party guest to a bunch of strangers. Anyway, I was sat on a table with four chaps, one I can only describe as a ‘hipster twat’ and when it was his turn to talk about his favourite film (this was after I said mine and the chap next to me, said ‘I don’t know, probably Jaws’) said this “I guess, I’m kinda leftfield, my film would be something by Russian avant garde agent provocateur Alexandr Soukurov”. That is what he said. Hope he’s reading this and if so – your beard looked crap and from the look of it your tattooist has put the Sanskrit word for ‘Knobjockey’ on your left arm.

Anyway, the soundtrack, let’s talk about the good stuff, the best track on it by far is by Chuck D ‘Generation Wrekked’ angry, shouty hip hop at its best by the guy who does it better than anyone else on the planet. There are some other gems ‘How Can You Be Sure?’ by Radiohead – which I think features on the B side on ‘Fake Plastic Trees’ but dates back to when they weren’t even called Radiohead (thanks Badgerman, for that snippet of information, he really is a walking Radiohead encyclopaedia). You get an Elastica track ‘In the City’ which I think is only available on a BBC Radio Sessions, and at just over 90 seconds, it is exactly what you expect from Elastica snotty, ferocious and bratty. There is also ‘Dicknail’ by Hole, which is them at their rawest, angriest and ultimately best. It’s a downright nasty song but its also great.

mp3 : Chuck D – Generation Wrekked
mp3 : Radiohead – How Can You Be Sure
mp3 : Elastica – In The City
mp3 : Hole – Dicknail

There are a couple of tracks which are not rare, ‘Life Is Sweet’ by the Chemical Brothers is here (given the Daft Punk remix treatment) in all its eight minute glory and ‘Trash’ by Suede – or The London Suede as the album calls them. Both are excellent – the Suede track ends the album and rather lifts the gloom from the Americanised College rock that precedes it.

You also get a few tracks by decent bands who recorded them specifically for this album – there are two of these that stand out ‘Nowhere’ by Curve, which is possibly one of the best tracks that they have ever produced. They sound sinister, angry and Toni Halliday vocal is more menacing than ever on it. The other one is ‘I Have the Moon’ by the much missed and loved Lush – and this may be the albums highpoint, a tremendously dreamy gorgeous song that is relaxing and a genuine chill down the spine moment.

mp3 : Lush – I Have The Moon

You also get a rare James track (saying that I gave up on James after ‘Whiplash’ so it might not be that rare) called ‘Thursday Treatments’ which is an instrumental track. Its bland. Really bland. They are trying to sound like Aphex Twin but end up sounding like the music I expect to be played in Japanese lifts. Seriously this is why I gave up on James. Twenty years ago I would have bought this solely for the fact it had a James track on it and would have justified its uselessness by calling it ‘Experimental’. I don’t know why but this song has angered me so much but I have just punched a cuddly toy owl.

mp3 : James – Thursday Treatments

So that is ‘Nowhere’ I am half tempted to give the film a spin now but I have just read that it has Ryan Philippe in it, so know it will be waste of time, a man that is to acting what I am to flying helicopters – bizarrely it also has Gibby Haynes from the Butthole Surfers in it, still no reason to watch it though.

That was Number 18, on the list, what’s next guys…?

S-WC