Nine years ago, on 25th October 2004, one of music’s great spirits left us. The word ‘legend’ is bandied around a great deal, but John Peel really was a legend – indeed, if you are a serious music fan, I can guarantee that a large percentage of your collection wouldn’t actually exist without him. He is still held in such affection by so many music lovers simply because he was one of us. He just got lucky and ended up on the radio, sharing his passion for music with generations of fans who religiously tuned in to his late-night Radio 1 show to hear what wonderful strangeness he was playing this time (often at the wrong speed – gotta love that vinyl!)
And his influence continues to this day, which is why Peel fans everywhere celebrate #KeepingItPeel every 25th October by posting something Peel-related online to honour his memory and legacy. This year, I decided to keep it simple and post the video to his favourite song ever (in fact, the opening lines to this glorious slice of pop-punk are carved on his tombstone) – and a truly classic song it is too….
Much as I love Nevermind (and it's still a great record), it is this, Nirvana's final studio album, which - in my view - proudly stands head and shoulders above everything else they ever released - and that's despite my stated and probably irrational fondness for 1989's Bleach. However, and even with the benefit of twenty years of hindsight, it's still very difficult to properly approach…
If people get genuinely upset and frustrated that four men that last played together 25 years ago are doing other things, then those people need to go and find a hobby. If the band only split up two years ago it might be a different matter, but 25 years? Come on. It’s a long time. If you like the Smiths, the records, photographs and memories are all plenty to be getting along with.
It’s long been known that Mr Marr is the type of chap who does not mince his words and says exactly what he thinks (in fact, he’s featured in Quote of the Day before, doing just that) – and it was only a matter of time before he commented on the endless cycle of Smiths reunion rumours that seem to do the rounds – online and off – on a regular basis. With Marr’s career seemingly back on the up – and Morrissey’s seemingly headed in the opposite direction – it appears (not for the first time) that many people see now as the perfect moment for this legendary band to get back on the road, at the very least.
But any member of any influential ex-band with a strong cult following like that of The Smiths will be bombarded with such rumours every so often – just as long as they stay an ex-band. Far-fetched stories of a Clash reunion were circulating right up until Joe Strummer’s death in 2002 (according to Pat Gilbert’s fascinating 2005 book Passion Is A Fashion: The Real Story of The Clash, the closest that came to happening was in 1996, oddly enough round about the same time as the Sex Pistols reformed), and the repeated mutterings that the bit of a rant from me a couple of years ago (the fact that they eventually did is still a bit of a sore point…)would get back together provoked a
Because that’s the thing. It’s never going to be the same, is it? When a band of that sort of status reforms, people are looking for nostalgia, looking for an experience that is just like it was back in the day. Basically, they’re looking for the greatest hits. And it’s never going to be like that, not after so long. Half-close your eyes and squint, and yeah, the band up on the stage could be exactly the same as the one you fell in love with twenty five years ago – but, to be honest, it’s difficult to ignore the fact that they’re all actually middle aged and have moved on with their lives, their careers, their interests.
I’m with Johnny on this one. I’ll hold tight to my memories and continue to enjoy the music that bands like The Smiths left behind.
And yes, I’ll carry on hoping they don’t reform…
We’ve looked at the concept of musical memorial benches on Another Kind Of Mind before, after I came across the late Ian Dury’s lovely bench with a view in Richmond Park last summer. It was not long after this that I was told about another bench in the London area commemorating a real musical hero of mine, someone I have also written about before – the wonderful and much-missed Kirsty MacColl, who was killed in a shocking boating accident in 2000 (the same year her Stiff Records labelmate Ian Dury died too).
Those who know Kirsty’s work will not be surprised to hear that her memorial bench is situated in London’s Soho Square, or that its plaque quotes lines from her song of the same name. Funded by fans and admirers, who still visit the site each year around about her birthday to pay tribute to her, the bench was unveiled in a public ceremony in August 2001 – exactly twelve years ago today it seems, strangely enough.
Earlier this month, I posted about my latest music list – this time, I’ve been counting down my Top 50 albums of the 1990s. If you’d like to discover more about my choices (and check out some other great lists), you can visit the dedicated Top Fifty Nineties Album blog where you’ll find my reviews for each album and some great videos too. In the meantime, as promised, here’s a quick rundown of my now-completed list all the way from fifty to one…
50) Cornershop – When I Was Born For The 7th Time (1997)
49) Lo-Fidelity Allstars – How To Operate With A Blown Mind (1998)
48) Sabres Of Paradise – Haunted Dancehall (1994)
47) The Lemonheads – It’s A Shame About Ray (1992)
46) Primal Scream – Vanishing Point (1997)
45) The Chemical Brothers – Brothers Gonna Work It Out (1998)
44) Cypress Hill – Black Sunday (1993)
43) The Prodigy Presents: The Dirtchamber Sessions Vol. 1 (1999)
42) UNKLE – Psyence Fiction (1998)
41) Tricky – Maxinquaye (1995)
Before we start, I’d like to make it clear that I am very much a Bowie fan – indeed, when I compiled my Top 100 favourite songs last year, he was one of only a very few artists who appeared on my list more than once (‘Suffragette City’ and ‘Rebel Rebel’, if you’re interested!). I have long been fascinated by the musical and cultural history of the 1960s and 1970s anyway, so I was very excited when I heard about the David Bowie is… exhibition that’s currently running at the V&A in London. I obviously wasn’t the only one – this long-awaited and heavily publicised exhibition has been sold out for months, but we were lucky enough to get in to see it on Sunday.
For Bowie fans and cultural historians alike, there is much that is positive to see here. I was particularly interested in Bowie’s handwritten lyric sheets and set lists from various phases of his career, and the instantly recognisable hand-drawn storyboard for the infamous ‘Ashes To Ashes’ video – as well as the large selection of stage costumes on display that span the decades from the Ziggy Stardust days (and before) all the way up to more recent Alexander McQueen designs. Also on display here (and worth checking out) are two very striking portraits of Iggy Pop painted by Bowie during their notorious drug-fuelled 1970s Berlin period – and, much to my inner child’s complete and utter delight, Jareth the Goblin King’s crystal ball and sceptre from the cult classic Jim Henson film Labyrinth.
Finally made it to the top ten! Thanks to everyone who stuck with me through this epic musical journey – you can find the rest of the hundred here if you’ve missed anything. As promised, we’ll be returning to the usual Another Kind Of Mind mash-up of weird history, interesting quotes, political ranting and photographs of eccentric aquatic avians after this post…
10) SUGAR – Hoover Dam:
“And all that’s left of me is slight insanity. What’s on the right I don’t know”. From Copper Blue, one of my all-time favourite albums.
We’re now into the top twenty of my #Top100. I’ve loved some of the Twitter reactions to these choices, especially the responses to my not particularly obvious selections! Thank you again to everyone who has commented. If you’ve missed any of the previous parts of the countdown, you can still find them all in one place by clicking here.
20) BLACK SABBATH – War Pigs:
The men who invented metal. Couldn’t do my 100 without the mighty Sabbath!
And, finally for today, here’s last night’s #Top100 selections. Feel free to carry on letting me know what you think – I’m glad to see I’m not the only one out there with incredibly random taste in music! As ever, you can find all my previous #Top100 choices in one place by clicking here. We’re getting ever closer to the top twenty now…
30) BOB DYLAN – Hurricane:
A brilliant, classic example of the narrative song in the hands of a modern master of storytelling.