Presenting "Albeit Flawed" - a musical compilation.
Some years ago I was asked to produce a compilation CD (a-la the old mix tapes) for a couple of guys at work. The idea came about following discussions about musical influences, as we'd ended up all liking similar stuff, but reached these from different directions. It was decided that some sort of chronological progression through our record collections would throw up some interesting crossovers. This was a few years before mp3 players became popular, and turned out to be much harder than I expected - particularly when you consider there is only room for about 20 songs on a CD when not using mp3 files!
In the end I cheated by making it a double album, and by fading out some of the tracks early I managed to squeeze a few more on...
And when it came to giving it a name, "Albeit Flawed" just seemed to fit the bill.
I had created a playlist of some of my favourite tunes, and added a player here to share them with you, but the website hosting the player has recently been closed to UK users for licensing reasons!! However, what follows is a copy of the inlay notes that accompanied the CD - a short note that seemed to turn into a full blown essay by the time it was finished. Re-reading it now highlights that I had to condense it somewhat - it originally fitted onto one side of A4, obviously with a small font. At some point I will revisit and update it all... just not today!
At the end is the tracklisting of the original compilation
This was hard.
First, I've "deleted" some of the old favourites, so songs that ought to be included can't be. That means no Kiss, Hanoi Rocks, or AC/DC. No Pink Floyd, no Prince… To make things easier, I decided to exclude stuff on vinyl, even tho’ that meant no Lords of the New Church, Birdland, or Cult, nor the best New Model Army stuff... Next, some artists deserve more than one track – but I limited myself to only one track each to keep the list to a manageable level - and that was the difficult bit. Which Clash track to include? What about Cheap Trick? And only one track from fourteen Nick Cave albums - impossible! Sneaking in an old Birthday Party track helped….
and then I cheated…
With too many missing tracks, it’s not the whole story:
In the beginning my musical taste was fashioned by the Christian music scene – on the whole stuck firmly in the late 60’s/early 70's with mainly American acts such as Larry Norman and Randy Newman – altho’ there were one or two interesting British bands hitting the scene, with After the Fire and later U2 managing to break out into the wider contemporary music scene in the early 80’s.
But it really all started in late ‘79 with just two songs: Going Underground and London Calling. Trouble was, there was nowhere to hear this type of music on the radio, so I ended up listening to the next best thing. The very first time I tuned into the Friday Rock Show with Tommy Vance, I heard “Running with the Devil”, and went out and bought Van Halen I and II the next day - this leading to a near fanatical following, with every album bought as soon as possible after day of issue - until Dave Lee Roth left the band, when I followed him and dropped Eddie. Dave was my first music hero!
With a Walkman for the bike and later a cassette player in the car, a huge tape collection built up – my Mum moaned that with over 100 albums there was no way I could listen to them all, so it was a huge waste of money!! She ‘s been proved right, as all have since disappeared. Mostly the original collection was an eclectic mix of rock music, Van Halen obviously, then every Kiss album up to “Creatures of the Night”, everything by Cheap Trick, a complete Bon Scott AC/DC collection, plus a very fussy mix of early Iron Maiden – the first 2 albums before Bruce Dickinson joined, then just “Number of the Beast” – Crocus (or was it Krocus?), Queensryche, Man’o’war, and early Def Leppard (up to “Pyromania”). I refused to be classed a head banger, steering clear of the most obviously Heavy Metal groups such as Motorhead, Whitesnake, Aerosmith, Status Quo, Saxon, and Rainbow, although I did have the a complete collection of the solo offerings by both Ozzy and Dio. I became a regular reader of Kerrang! but became increasingly disillusioned by the series of look-a-like / sound-a-likes that sprang up, particularly in America (Guns ‘n’ Roses, Bon Jovi, Poison, etc.) where the birth of MTV encouraged good looking videos not good tunes.
A change of direction came about following a chance purchase. I hadn’t heard anything by Motley Crue – in fact virtually no one in England had even heard of them - but their debut “Too Fast for Love” was incredibly raw and dirty, and altho’ Crue subsequently turned into a mega-rock band (again, blame MTV), this initial offering reminded me of the earlier punk stuff, and I began seeking it out – Stiff Little Fingers, The Clash, The Undertones, The Buzzcocks, and The Cure in particular.
However, I didn’t move fully back to the late 70’s, as Madness and Depeche Mode amungst others made appearances in the cassette box – the latter making occasional appearances right up until they disintegrated in the mid 90’ (Ed: they've since bounced back with a great album)
Sometime around ‘84, I stumbled upon a smattering of English indie bands – mainly following a “Save the GLC” free gig in Brixton Park. The draw was the headline act, The Damned. It turned out to be one of their last gigs with both Dave Vanian and Captain Sensible. But the big surprise turned out to be one of the support acts - New Model Army. They had just released “Vengeance”, a furious, angry sound, with strong lyrics, which became a firm favourite. Amongst other gigs, I saw NMA 11 times over the next two years or so – now that’s fanaticism!
The indie link led me further away from Kerrang! and into NME, and I started seeking out new sounds – Lords of the New Church being a good mix between punk and rock, and The Jesus and Mary Chain being a good mix of great pop tunes and feedback!
Around this time two films had a major impact – Pink Floyds The Wall led to a full collection of Floyd albums (now we’re going back to the late 60’s) and Prince’s Purple Rain resulted in every album up ‘til “Sign of the Times”. Neither collection has stood the test of time, and both have since disappeared, although Prince’s second, less popular (panned!) film, “Under a Cherry Moon”, remains one of my favourites.
During 1986, learning of my continuing interest in the Indie scene, a colleague - thanks Tim - recommended a new album by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. “Kicking Against the Pricks” is a strange mix of cover versions, giving a sense of the wide influences on Cave’s music. It immediately had an impact, and I bought the previous three albums within a few weeks. Nick Cave is now the only artist for whom I have a complete album collection – including a recently purchased “Best of The Birthday Party” to complete the whole recording history.
The late 80’s saw the end of my serious record buying days – altho’ a fair number of 12” singles in particular were added to a growing vinyl collection – Spear of Destiny, Echo and the Bunnymen, Killing Joke, The Cult, The Telescopes, Sisters of Mercy, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin – the old cassettes were relegated to a box at the back of a cupboard, until a car boot sale saw the lot sold off.
I also dabbled with the fringes of the rave scene, “Pro>gen” by The Shamen (you may know it from the popular stripped down re-issue, renamed “Move any Mountain”) and “Go Wild” by 25th of May – an interest sparked years before by Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax” and “Two Tribes”. The early rap scene – “the Message” and “White Lines” by Grandmaster Flash, as well as the harder stuff by Public Enemy - also intrigued me, as did the white version demonstrated by the Beastie Boys. This interest persists with a nod toward the current Hip-Hop scene, although nothing has made it into the CD collection – yet.
I eventually succumbed to this new technology in the early 90’s. I’d been sold the concept of CDs back in ’86 when someone played the opening track to “Dark Side of the Moon” on their turntable, then on CD. I’d never heard the heartbeat at the beginning of the album before – it’d always been fizz and crackle. Even so, I refused to buy the new equipment, as most of the stuff I was listening to didn’t warrant the expense of a CD machine. In fact Fergal Sharkey insisted that The Undertones stuff was recorded with a view to sounding best on cheap kit, on the basis that that was what most fans had available…
Inevitably the purchase of a CD player resulted in a collection of Best of’s and compilations, most of which get played infrequently, and every so often a new band comes along and makes an appearance in the CD rack. I had a short flirt with The Smashing Pumpkins and Rage Against the Machine, but both went too far toward the Metal stuff that I had always fought against, so a few albums sufficed. The Pixies should feature more than they do – a few appearances on compilations, and a poor cassette copy of “Bosanova” survives. Carter USM nodded back toward the early NMA – loud, brash, and with angry lyrics, albeit with a dance/pop backbeat. The Wedding Present box set was a fantastic purchase – four great albums for less than £15 – a rare bargain.
For a short spell CD singles took over where the old 12” vinyl had left off, with a smattering of tracks often covering harder elements of the dance scene – The Chemical Brothers “Setting Sun”, Prodigy’s “Firestarter” and “Breathe”, Orbital’s “Satan”, as well as Bomb the Bass’ “Bug Powder Dust”. Pop Will Eat Itself also became a firm favourite – the start of the do it yourself DJ scene – lots of lifted samples and repeat beats, with a huge nod toward the Hip Hop scene – particularly the Beastie Boys..
The Manchester scene of the early 90’s also had a major impact – The Inspiral Carpets, Happy Mondays, and Stone Roses in particular. Oasis were a big no-no – I was always a Blur-ite! Over time, the Happy Monday’s morphed into Black Grape, and the Stone Roses gave way to The Verve. Following this lead but, as always, away from mainstream, I ended up with a collection of Primal Scream albums – most notably “Screamadelica”, undoubtedly an all time favourite – as well as the latest offerings from Spiritualised.
That brings us nicely up to date. With the exception of new Nick Cave releases, very little has been added since the turn of the Millennium, although recent new artists have made appearances – Razorlite, The Futureheads, and Art Brut. The latter have a great quirky sound that really made me sit up and listen – the first time in a long while. The buzz is still there.
So here it is… my musical history – albeit flawed!
The above was printed onto a single page of A4 paper, folded and placed inside the CD jewel case. You can imagine the font size I had to use to get it all on one page! Just be thankful I didn't replicate it accurately here!
Here's the image printed on the reverse of the notes...
And now the tracklisting:
- Eruption - Van Halen
- Running with the Devil - Van Halen
- Hot Love - Cheap Trick
- Never Understand - Jesus & Mary Chain
- Her Way of Praying - Jesus & Mary Chain
- Just Like Heaven - The Cure
- You've Got My Number (why don't you use it?) - The Undertones
- Monkey Gone to Heaven - Pixies
- Killing in the Name - Rage Against the Machine
- Lithium - Nirvana
- Skin Diving - Wedding Present
- 1979 - Smashing Pumpkins
- Bug Powder Dust - Bomb the Bass
- Breathe - Prodigy
- Come Together - Spiritualised
- Movin' On Up - Primal Scream
- Song 2 - Blur
- Mutiny in Heaven - Birthday Party
- The Mercy Seat - Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
- Ballad of Robert Moore & Betty Coltrane - Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
- Idiot Prayer - Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
- Auf Wiedersehen - Cheap Trick
- Orgasm Addict - Buzzcocks
- White Riot - The Clash
- Vengeance - New Model Army
- Smalltown England - New Model Army
- Open Your Eyes - Lords of the New Church
- Murder Style - Lords of the New Church
- Resurrection Joe - The Cult
- Spike Milligan's Tape Recorder - The Membranes with Phil Boa & the Voodoo Club
- White - Birdland
- Crash - Primitives
- Psycho Killer - Talking Heads
- Beggin You - Stone Roses
- Clap Your Hands - Happy Mondays
- Rev. Black Grape - Black Grape
- Go Wild - 25th of May
- Satan - Orbital
- Wise Up! Sucker - PWEI
- Surfin'USM - Carter USM
- Second to Last Will & Testament - Carter USM
- Novacaine for the Soul - Eels
- Creep - Radiohead
- London Calling - The Clash
- Going Underground - The Jam
If I was doing it all again now then it would include Emily Kane by Art Brut, a couple of White Stripes tracks, something by either The Libertines, Dirty Pretty Things, or Babyshambles (maybe something from each) & Time to Pretend by MGMT