I’m not really one for the greatest this and the greatest that. I’ve never been able to list my favourite albums of all time because it changes, I might be able to whittle it down to Ten Records that I will never part with – My favourite record of all time as I write is ‘Screamdelica’ by Primal Scream but only two weeks ago when I tried to rank them ‘Maxinquaye’ by Tricky was sitting on top the pile. Then again that pile included at 36, ‘Sebastopol Road’ by Mega City Four so I wouldn’t read anything into that. Although I can easily say that the best record three records I have heard this year are in order ‘Like Clockwork’ by Queens of the Stone Age, ‘Light Up Gold’ by Parquet Courts and ‘Random Access Memories’ by Daft Punk.
Singles or tracks are even harder. Although I have a general rule of thumb that I go by as to whether or not a song is great or not. The rule is this – That I can remember where I was when I first heard it. For instance, I was walking through Waterloo train station the first time I ever heard ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ by The Verve, I can remember what I was wearing (pretty much what I am wearing now – although not the same if you get my drift), what I was eating (avocado and tomato sandwich) and where I was going (Devon as it happens). It’s a song I love because it made my stop in my tracks, survey my surroundings and remember where I was. It happens every now and again. The first time I heard ‘Summer Babe’ by Pavement I was in Our Price in Chatham and I bought ‘Slanted and Enchanted’ right there and then and I got the phone number of the cute girl on the checkout (I was 16 it wouldn’t happen now).
Which brings us to Sparklehorse. The first time I heard this I was in Guildford in a shared house, and it came through the post for reviewing (student rag, not much cop). I looked forward to the bundle of CDs and vinyl that came through the post because you never what you might get.
Now, shortly before I begun to review, my flat mate starting having noisy, energetic and what sounded like very sweaty sex. It was off putting to say the least – I mean he wasn’t in the same room as me, but walls have ears and all that.
So I grabbed the first CD out of the parcel – rather like I have done in this series – and pulled out ‘Someday I will Treat you Good’. I didn’t even look at the CD, I just popped it in (rather like my flatmate I guess) and hit play and turned it up. I played it four times in a row (unlike my flatmate I guess, Boom Tish!). It is an incredible record and one that always brings a smile to my face. In my opinion Sparklehorse never topped it, others differ in that opinion but I can’t remember where I was the first time I heard any of their other records. I genuinely thought I had lost this CD and I can’t tell you how happy I am to have it back.
Sparklehorse revolved around the late great Mark Linkous – one of music great lost causes- and I remember that whilst on tour with Radiohead promoting the album on ‘Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot’ (on which today’s track features) that Linkous nearly died after a cocktail of drink and drugs he survived but lost the use of his legs (temporarily).
I saw them at the Reading Festival a few months later and he performed in a wheelchair. I think Sparklehorse released four actual albums and then collaborated with Dangermouse a bit. Sadly Mark Linkous committed suicide in 2010 and I remember feeling really sad about the loss. He was a brilliant musician and songwriter and Sparklehorse are a band that if you are not aware of I urge you to check them out.
A quick epitaph if you like, a friend of mine wrote an article on Mark Linkous for The Guardian (I think) and he ended it with the line – “Mark Linkous, he sparkled”. Which I thought was perfect.
mp3 : Sparklehorse – Someday I Will Treat You Good