Like a rhythm guitar in the wrong song, like a broken record that’s been going on so long...
It's been a little while since the last one, so it's high time we had another Guest Editor around these parts, isn't it? I didn't have to go very far to find the leader for tonight's Earworm devotions. Indeed, he's something of a regular round here, and indeed he has done this slot before, and thus has the honour of being the first person to have been granted a repeat visit. His first attempt was memorable (and featured the Crazy Frog), so the bar has been set pretty high for his return.
Well come on then. Let's be having you.....
Without further ado, it is my great pleasure to present for your Earworming pleasure....
Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #35 - Mark from Fear and Loafing in England
A rare honour! After playing Swiss’ A FRIDGE TOO FAR, I find myself a recipient of the Earworm Challenge, on the business end of a special SwissMixCD, and still surrounded by the snow on the way back from Dudley.
Nonetheless, I have to present you with the Top Ten Earworms that have been mercilessly stuck on my IJ since the last time I did this.
01. GUNS N ROSES “There Was A Time”
Recently the Intermaweb has been awash with rumours about Guns N Roses. The elusive Axl has even booked a festival tour (his second tour in thirteen years), and four demo songs from ‘Chinese Democracy’ have recently surfaced. This is one of them. Imagine, if you will, that “Chinese Democracy” is a love struck metal version of “Smile”, and you’ve pretty much got it. Dense, rich arrangements, enormous choruses, that type of thing. This one is the most epic of the recent songs, being 7 minutes of a lovelorn, almost melancholy expanse, with orchestra, lyrics about Being Done Wrong To By A Woman, Axl using his voice as another instrument, duetting with a guitar solo. But what does it sound like? Like Guns’N’Roses, but with all the Bon-Jovi rock clichés sawn off and a backing of semi industrial, dirty, epic metal. Nobody else sounds even vaguely like this. Rumour has it that the current configuration of ‘Chinese Democracy’ is as a three-CD box set, or as three separate CD’s released a year apart throughout a two year tour.
On the strength of what I have heard, when GNR do finally release the album, it will be fucking massive. Absolutely enormous.
02. THE WONDER STUFF “We Hold Each Other Up”
Taken from deep within their current album, this is very possibly their best song of the past ten years. Over an undulating, rotating riff, a gentle crescendo of fiddle, Miles sings tenderly of a world where ‘nobody else could feel as much, nobody else could know as much, we didn’t need what others need, we walk alone in open crowds, we hold each other up’… Have you ever lain in bed in the arms of your lover and thought that nobody could ever feel like this, that somehow we live in a different world to everyone else, where we see things that they couldn’t see, that others look with the same eyes, but see a world much less, that they settle for so much less, and that we, you and me, truly are a rare breed, a world apart from the rest of the world? That it’s their world, and whilst we only live in it, we see it for what it truly is? That’s what this song sounds like.
03. FLAMING LIPS “Thank You Jack White For The Fibre Optic Jesus That You Gave Me”
Firstly, look at the title for that. How could you not love a song with a title like that? The rest of the lyric is just as individual : an ode to the redeeming qualities of a Fibre Optic Jesus that was presented to the Flaming Lips by the White Stripes (with their ‘modern backwards liberal family code, playing rock n roll and doing it on the road’ ) on their tour. The music is also memorably individual – a perverted version of an old fashioned country & western porch twang. It also has a brilliant verse about how much their tour bus smells. It’s also full of affectionate mockeries of the blues genre (“Nice One!” “Hiya!” “YEAH!”) during the banjo solo.
04. KARL BARTOS “Camera Obscura”
It’s the most played song on my iPod. That’s a TALL order to reach. If you’ve had a mix CD off me recently, its probably got this on. Compact, robust electronic pop music. A timeless rhythm, reminiscent of the type of perfect, sparse drum patterns that populate Kraftwerk records (Bartos was Kraftwerk’s rhythm section, programmer, keyboard player and occasional co-vocalist for six albums, from “Radioactivity” to “The Mix”), wrapped in the shape of someone who isn’t ashamed to make pop music. This is the type of production that would storm charts if sung by four sixteen year old girls, not if it was the brainchild of one 48-year-old German Music Professor. Is it any wonder then, that the geezer from OMD plunged all his money into Atomic Kitten and cleaned up? And it’s efficient. There’s not one wasted beat, not one extraneous note, everything that’s there has to be there. To me, it’s easily better than “The Model”.
05. FRANZ FERDINAND “I’m Your Villain”
I downloaded an MP3 of the demo for this about a year before the album came out, and have found it rather difficult to forget it. In fact, I could probably condense why I love this song down into the intro, which is just four bars of a drum solo. But there’s also the lyric about “Like a waiter, hating the rich, but taking their tips”. And the fact that they can’t seem to go about thirty seconds in any direction before changing tempos to a gallop, a leisurely stroll, or a drum break. I know FF are huge, but I wouldn’t be surprised if, in five years, they’re headlining stadiums. They’ll be the next U2.
06. FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM “In The Year 2525”.
This one’s a bit harder to write about. I know it’s a cover version, but I can’t for the life of me remember the original. All I know really is that it goes for ten minutes, rocks like a motherfucker - and whilst I hate to use such generalisations, it really is a Wall of Guitars that never relent, just keep pounding away in the inside of your head like God himself, or that guy in 2000AD who found that he could receive Mega City Four’s Radio Stations in his head, 24 hours a day, and thus, committed crimes solely so he could be sent to iso-cubes and be driven mad by DJ Snotting Hell*.
(*name may vary according to accuracy of my memory)
Oh, and the kind of apocalyptic lyrics that would make Leonard Cohen jealous. I often find it’s just tiny snippets of songs – a line, a verse, a guitar break – that comes back to me in the oddest places. For this, I’ve pretty much had to live with Carl McCoy threatening that “In The Year 8510, God Will Shake His Mighty Hand, Tear It Down and Start Again.” None of that wimpy love bollocks – we’re talking about the end of the world here. This may possibly the most suitable song to listen to as the Tripods evaporate our civilisation with green lasers and tower over our land. I for one welcome our Alien Overlords.
07. PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED – “Warrior”
Perhaps somewhat sadly (for me anyway), I got into PiL with their penultimate “9” album, and it was the video for this, which featured the band in a series of appalling 80’s outfits pulling shapes on a LA rooftop that was broadcast on the James Whale Show – a 1am televised version of a drunken phone-in, notable for Wayne Hussey’s shitfaced interview where he threw shoes at the camera and was forcibly removed, or Mr Methane performing the National Anthem by medium of flatulence – that really intruiged me.
Like stadium rock, but smarter. And with John Lydon singing. In fact, in some ways, this song was very influential in my thinking. “This Is My Land – I’ll Never Surrender – I Take No Prisoner – I’m A Warrior”, he sings. And though it’s actually written from the perspective of Mother Earth taking revenge upon the pollution of mankind, it encapsulated, for me, my world view. Whilst I am, in person, fluffy and a bit soft, my sense of justice is immense, and I don’t forget or forgive the trespasses against me. Which may explain why I am a Rubbish Christian. Or, for that matter, I protect my own interests with a passion verging on homicidal if I think I’m being fucked with. Oh, and this song sounds ace, with indian strings and a machine gun percussion that sounds like a military tattoo. This song is John Lydon’s “My War”.
08. BLACK FLAG – “My War”.
I haven’t got this on my iPod, because I’ve heard it enough times. But I really really really want to hear it now. It’s the sound of a bomb going off for three minutes captured on vinyl. “My War – You say you’re my friend, but you’re one of them, one of them, ONE OF THEM – My War.” And who hasn’t felt like that some time? It’s no surprise that one of their records is called ‘Revenge’.
09. EMINEM – “Lose Yourself”
This is what it should sound like. Whilst it’s not as good as anything from Cypress Hill’s “Skull & Bones” album, the crossbreeding of the beats and the insistent, rising, semi-Kashmir guitar riff lifts the song, elevates. And the lyrics – a single, simple distillation of everyone’s teenage dream. To grab the moment, seize the opportunity, take up to the mike, and let it out. And Eminem raps so fast, its almost as if there isn’t enough space in the beats, or time, for his mouth to keep up with his brain : “You Only Get One Shot. Do Not Miss Your Chance To Blow. Opportunity Only Comes Once In A Lifetime.” Which sounds very very much – far too much - like Gene Simmons 3,000-women-later mantra that ‘Life is not a rehearsal’. But it’s about time someone sat that fucktard Pete Doherty down, made him listen to this, and made him realise that whilst not everyone can be an artist, anyone can be a junkie.
10. THE TIMES – “Manchester (George Best Remix)”
In which Ed Ball, sometime keyboardist for The Boo Radleys, sole member of The Times, provides his very own tribute to the greatest city in North England, all about Hooky doing a DJ set in a club. Unlike the original, this remix seems custom built around including as many samples of Madchester songs in a 4-minute lump. This really should have been the theme tune for ’24 Hour Party People’. Samples include New Order (“Round & Round”s percussion, “Blue Monday”s bass, “Best & Marsh”s keyboards- in fact the entire backing track seems to made out of old New order 12"s with football commentary bolted on and Ed Ball's vocals), A Guy Called Gerald, 808 State, and lyrical steals from the Pet Shop Boys, Stone Roses, Morrissey, Happy Mondays, The Smiths, all built on a chorus of “Manchester. Manchester, England. Manchester, I’ll Always Love You.” I swear if I am ever in a band that plays Manchester, this’ll be the music I come onto stage at in that town.
Thanks Mark. Banjo solos? 2000AD? James Whale? (God, he was responsible for Ezio wasn't he?). Nice. A worthy repeat visit.
Next week: someone else. Possibly.
[Previous Guest Editors: Flash, The Urban Fox, Lord Bargain, Retro-Boy, Statue John, Ben, OLS, Ka, Jenni, Aravis, Yoko, Bee, Charlie, Tom, Di, Spin, The Ultimate Olympian, Damo, Mike, RedOne, The NumNum, Leah, Le Moine Perdu, clm, Michael, Hyde, Adem, Alecya, bytheseashore, adamant, Earworms of the Year 2005, Delrico Bandito, Graham, Lithaborn, Phil]