Tag Archive | "REM"

Dressy Bessy – Kingsized

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Dressy Bessy – Kingsized

Posted on 08 April 2016 by Dorian

In recent months I’ve been finding myself encountering more and more albums by well-regarded artists that are, for want of a more sophisticated analysis, a bit dull. They are well played and nicely produced; but fundamentally lacking in spark. My awareness of this dates back to the Green Man festival last year where I was struck by the level of earnestness amongst the newer bands. This is not a bad thing per se but after watching a dozen electronica tinged folk acts sounding a bit sad and serious I longed for some amateurish abandon (a role The Fall filled pretty effectively at least).

So it was, in my current mood, particularly exciting to discover that Dressy Bessy had returned with a band new album, Kingsized, after a 6-year hiatus. Upon listening to the album I was delighted to hear that their sloppy, stroppy approach to high energy guitar pop was in full force and sounding better than ever.

Dressy Bessy Kingsized

On their last two albums, Electrified and Holler and Stomp, the band had tried to adopt a heavier and darker tone with mixed success – losing some of their better pop elements in the process. Kingsized works particularly well by retaining some of that beefier sound whilst applying all the pop nous that made their early work so infectious.

The high-tempo opener ‘Lady Liberty’ is a case in point, and a song that illustrates the band’s best qualities and showcases Tammy Ealom’s vocal delivery perfectly. The overall quality throughout is very high and there are half a dozen single contenders on the album. ‘Cup ‘O Bang Bang’ may well be the best of these and features former Pylon vocalist Vanessa Briscoe Hay on backing duties.

Probably the most significant change on this release is the use of additional musicians on most songs on the album. Peter Buck adds 12 string guitar on a few tracks and Young Fresh Fellow Scott McCaughey contributes keyboards. In particular, it is the use of a handful of backing vocalists (including Wild Flag’s Rebecca Cole) that adds most depth to this album. Ealom has a wonderful voice that is the just out-of-key enough to sound interesting without sounding unprofessional. The additional of other vocals to bolster her delivery works really well throughout.

It is pretty rare for a band to come back from an extended period of inactivity sounding as good as they did before, and the resulting album is usually a bit of a let-down. So it is particularly gratifying for one of your favourite bands to return with an album that may be their most consistently enjoyable record to date.


By Dorian Rogers


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Top 10 Disappointing Follow-Ups

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Top 10 Disappointing Follow-Ups

Posted on 16 January 2012 by Dorian

The Godfather Part Two is one of the finest films ever made, even better than the excellent first film in the series. The Godfather Part Three is not a terrible film, but after seeing the first two films in the series it is a pretty miserable way to spend more than two and a half hours of your life. In music hearing a bad album is no big deal, you put it aside and forget about it, but hearing a favourite act follow up a classic album with a bad one is a dispiriting experience.

Here we present our Top 10 Disappointing follow-ups.

10. Pavement – Terror Twilight

Pavement Terror Twilight

Up until this point Pavement had a pretty much blemish free copybook, a set of challenging singles and four brilliant albums to their name. Brighten The Corners in 1997 was as good a set of off-kilter indie guitar pop as any released in the decade and looked close to breaking the band to a bigger audience.  The quirky charms of ‘Carrot Rope’ two years later raised my hopes for the follow-up, sadly these were dashed on hearing the full product, Terror Twilight. There are good songs on the album, notably the singles ‘Spit On A Stranger’ and ‘Major leagues’ but it is a strangely flat record. The production by Nigel Godrich is cold and lifeless, something that can be said about the majority of the songs here. Spiral Stairs never wrote songs as great as Malkmus, but the lack of any of his songs here is another missing piece of the Pavement puzzle. The band would break up after touring this album, but they had started to give up even before it was recorded.

9. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Some Loud Thunder

Some Loud Thunder

In 2005 Clap Your Hands Say Yeah looked like they could be a real band to watch. Their self-titled debut was over hyped but it contained some brilliant songs and was one of the most promising debuts of the year. Two years later they released Some Loud Thunder and proceeded to rain on the musical parade. The album was produced by Dave Fridmann and it is hard to tell if it is his fault or the bands for the first song on offer, which is pretty much impossible to listen to. I tolerate a lot of difficult production from a band, but the remaining songs on the album, whilst perfectly well produced, are just not very good at all. The band play around musically all over the place, but they seem to have forgotten that a good song needs to be the basis of their instrumental indulgences. The band wisely retreated after this and it would be another four years before they released another album.

8. The Strokes – Room On Fire

The Strokes - Room On Fire

How do you follow up an album that throws you on the cover of every music magazine and spawns half a dozen instant indie-disco classics? The answer The Strokes had for this question seems to be producing the same album again, but with worse songs and the vocals mixed absurdly low in the mix. There are a couple of half decent singles on Room On Fire, but beyond that I can’t think of one interesting thing to say about it.

7. The Pixies – Bossanova

The Pixies - Bossanova

Including the Pixies in this chart is going to seem like sacrilege to some readers, this is after all one of the most beloved of all the 1990s acts. The thing is, I love the Pixies and even love a number of the songs that are featured on this album. The surf-rock instrumental stuff is cool, ‘Dig For Fire’ is a great single and several of the other tracks are as interesting and exciting as anything else that was released that year. The thing is though that this album followed Surfer Rosa and Doolittle, two of the best records ever released. In that context it couldn’t fail to disappoint, it is just nowhere near as good a record as either of its predecessors. It also differs from these two classic albums in that it is quite dull in parts, it just feels a bit flat and lacking in the excitement I’d come to expect from this most singular of bands. Trompe Le Monde would step things up a bit a year later and (without any sign of a new album) Bossanova remains the worst record in their back catalogue.

6. Elastica – The Menace

Elastica The Menace

The five years Elastica took to release The Menace was longer than the post-punk period they thrived to emulate and marked them as millennium’s first has beens. Their album Elastica was the fastest selling debut ever, spearheading a savvy guitar pop which oozed suave lo-fi and visceral sophistication. It was urban and reinvigorating, an essential classic. The Menace, however, is drowned in the fug of brown sugar, banker talc, scrapped recordings and litigation.  When it’s not pandering to Casio bedsit clichés Justine Frischmann rejects angsty vocals for shouting “Your Arse My Place”, relying on Mark E Smith to add oral quality. It’s a disjointed album, much of which had already appeared on an EP, from a one trick band sacrificed to drugs, arguments and time.

5. Blur – The Great Escape

Blur The Great Escape

Parklife was a brilliant era defining guitar pop record, a huge leap forward for a band that had started life as an identikit baggy outfit. It was witty, melodic, and despite being heavily influenced by classic British pop (XTC, The Kinks, Madness and Julian Cope all spring to mind) it was a record that was very of its time. If you were to have described the album to a set of suited music executives and asked them to reproduce the record what they would have come up with would be The Great Escape. The same ground is covered, the same style of songs are featured and the same tricks are trotted out, but in all cases they are not as successful. On Parklife Phil Daniels provides guest vocals, on The Great Escape it is Ken Livingstone. On Parklife the videos are colourful and fun, on The Great Escape the colourful video for ‘Country House’ is embarrassing (Graham Coxon looks filled with self-loathing in that one). Albarn is too good a songwriter to produce a total stinker, and there are some good songs on here, but on the whole it is a pretty charmless record.

4. REM – Monster

REM - Monster

REM are one of the most important bands ever, it is as simple as that. They enabled many alternative acts to make the popular crossover and  produced music that influenced more bands than almost any other act. In 1994 they were at their commercial and critical peak, thir last album, Automatic For The People, was their most popular yet and the reviews were uniformly positive. Two years later their response to this was to produce their worst album to date, an album of murky rock that failed to play to any of their musical strengths. ‘What’s The Frequency Kenneth?’ was a brilliant lead-off single, but a misleading example of the overall quality to expect. The album as a whole is murky, underwhelming and seldom rises above being ordinary. People may listen to the album and wonder why I’m making a fuss, it is a decent set of melodic alt-rock right? But to me it was the sound of a band moving from essential to irrelevant in the space of twelve songs.

3. Bon Iver – Bon Iver


For Emma, Forever Ago was a good album with an interesting back-story. Frustrated love-lorn musician Justin Vernon retreats to a cabin and records a sparse, haunting and subtle album with beautiful yet simple arrangements. The critics went wild for it and a new hero of American music was born. It seems that the critics were so enamoured that when it came to reviewing Vernon’s self titled second album they chose to ignore what a bad album it was, perhaps they had written the reviews in advance of receiving the album. These same critics were clearly too embarrassed to admit their mistake and forced to include Bon Iver high up in their end of year charts. Our review of the album damns it with faint praise and comparisons to Toto and Enya are accurate, this is an album that is overproduced and uninteresting.

2. Primal Scream – Give Out, But Don’t Give Up

Primal Scream

When Bobby Gillespie’s Primal Scream released Screamadelica it shocked the critics by not just being a great album but by perfectly marrying rock and dance music in a way that no other artists had managed to achieve up to that point. So, how best to follow up this feat? A by-the-numbers rock and roll album that is the aural equivalent of a pasty faced man in leather trousers dancing out of rhythm. The playing is fine, the music passable with some pretty terrible lyrics and vocals all adding up to a truly mediocre album. You are left wondering whether the success of Screamadelica was really down to Primal Scream at all or more to do with the various DJs and producers who peppered the album. A subsequent career veering between the average and the un-listenable has done little to quell this notion.

1. Stone Roses – The Second Coming

Listen up and listen good Stone Roses fans. Your adored band are crap. There I’ve said it. Yes of course their debut, self titled album (one of our top ten indie/alt albums of all time ) was remarkable. But that is less to do with The Stone Roses and more down to the direction of producer John Leckie (our top alternative music producer of all time) , who expertly mixed the band’s ballsy Mancunian live style with a 1960s experimental feel, some great tunes and wonderful guitar arrangements.  Under Leckie the band’s  major deficiencies were also masked, most notably singer Ian Brown being complete pants and  chief song writer and guitarist John Squire being some kind of megalomaniac, guitar riffing version of Mr G from Summer Heights High. On Second Coming, their atrocious second and final album, they parted company with Leckie and with it any sense of direction. All they were left with were their glaring deficiencies.  Ten Storey Love Song is probably the only track that emerges with any credit. Love Spreads, with its depressingly long guitar intro sounds like the kind of tired rock U2 were churning out on  Rattle and Hum. Begging You sounds a little like U2 Achtung Baby era but a whole lot more like Bobby Davro doing a bad impression of Primal Scream.

by Dorian Rogers, David Newbury and Joe Lepper


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REM Remembered


REM Remembered

Posted on 25 September 2011 by Dorian

When I heard that REM had split I was surprised at how sad I felt about it. After all, I hadn’t purchased one of their new albums for close to two decades and, like most people, I had little expectation of them releasing another great album. The truth is that there are few bands that had as big an impact on the development of my musical appreciation as them and, having reached a certain age, I’ve lost that wonder you get on discovering a great new band and I’ll never feel the same about one as I did when I first heard REM in 1987.

I first heard REM, as many people did, when Document and ‘The One I Love’ propelled them into the big time. The first album I owned was the IRS compilation, Eponymous, in 1988 and many an evening was spent dancing in my bedroom to ‘It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)’. I soon picked up their debut album Murmer and then their new release Green and loved them both, despite them demonstrating such different sides to the band.


I loved all their albums, from the near perfection of Lifes Rich Pageant to the mixed bag b-sides and covers collection Dead Letter Office. I watched the video collections, the live video and became fascinated by the whole scene and the excellent Athens G.A. Inside Out documentary.

The band got more and more popular, and the release of Out of Time and Automatic for the People cemented them as one of the biggest acts on the planet and completed their ten year transition from an alternative act to a certified stadium phenomenon.

It is the opinion of most that it was after 1992 that the band started their slide with each album less interesting than the last, and their is some truth in that. Looking back though I don’t think that Monster is anywhere near the disaster that people make out, and in ‘What’s the Frequency Kenneth?’ it contains one of their best singles. New Adventures in Hi-Fi is also a decent album and, if it had been released straight after Automatic for the People I believe it would have been received better and not seen as part if the band’s decline.

Beyond that I feel  less than qualified to comment as I didn’t buy or even properly listen to any of their subsequent releases. I enjoyed the single ‘Imitation of Life’ from 2001, but I am guilty of condemning their latter output without listening to it, I let the reviewers do the listening for me. Part of the reason for this is that REM stopped being an essential part of my musical life shortly after Out of Time was released. The ubiquity of the singles and the stadium concerts started to alienate me, I was an elitist indie kid and sharing the band so broadly took much of the magic away however brilliant the albums were.

Now they have split I can look back with a lot of affection at one of the most important bands, a band who gained huge success, remained essential for over a decade and brought together the alternative and mainstream music scene like few other bands have managed (in fact, only Nirvana and Radiohead spring to mind). I am also pretty certain that their forthcoming best-of collection will show their whole career in a kinder light than people might expect.

My colleague Joe has posted  a fine selection of his top ten REM tracks and below are my picks. Six of the songs are by the band and four show the bands broader influence, few bands having as big an impact on the broader music scene as they did.


This track from Murmer is a bit of a lost classic, and this early live footage is great viewing.

Feeling Gravity’s Pull

A great track from one of the band’s more maligned early albums, and one of my favourites.

It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

If you don’t like this song you don’t like music.

Swan Swan H

A beautiful version of this song taken from the Athens G.A. Inside Out film.

What’s The Frequency Kenneth?

One of their best singles taken from the disappointing Monster album.

Pop Song 89

The first song I heard from the first new REM album I ever bought.

Pylon – Crazy

Fellow Athens residents and one of the big influences on REM, who covered this song.

The Fatima Mansions – Shiny Happy People

Michael Stipe supposedly walked out of a Fatima Mansions gig in disgust, this was Cathal Coughlan’s response.

Pavement – Unseen Power of the Picket Fence

Another college rock success story play their tribute to Stipe and co.

Billy Bragg – You Woke Up My Neighbourhood

The Bard of Barking goes country with the help of Buck and Stipe.

By Dorian Rogers


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Top Ten REM Tracks From 1982 -1992 (when they were actually good)

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Top Ten REM Tracks From 1982 -1992 (when they were actually good)

Posted on 22 September 2011 by Joe

Around 20 years too late REM have finally called it a day.

The band announced the news that they are to part amicably after 31 years together on their website. Singer Michael Stipe said:”A wise man once said – ‘the skill in attending a party is knowing when it’s time to leave.”

Well, Michael the time to stop making records was arguably in 1992 after Automatic For The People, REM’s last good album, was released. That album, with its hits Everybody Hurts and Man On  The Moon, marked the end of a decade of remarkable albums.  Has any band had a more purpley purple patch than REM during the 1980s and early 1990s?

But sadly REM didn’t have the skill to call it a day then and an incredible seven more albums followed, each more lacklustre than the other.

Another reminder for the band to quit came in 1995 when drummer Bill Berry collapsed on stage with a brain anurysm. But no, they carried on. Even when Berry quit in 1997 they ploughed on for an eye-watering 14 more years.

Bassist Mike Mills explains that they made the decision while working on yet another greatest hits compilation. He said: “We started asking ourselves, ‘What next’?”

But let’s not dwell on their gradual decline. Here we present our top ten tracks from REM’s golden phase from 1982 to 1992. Let us not forget that in their prime they were  a remarkable band, presenting timeless music in a contemporary way and (cliche alert)  influenced a generation of musicians.

10. Orange Crush

9. Can’t Get There From Here

8. Talk About The Passion

7. So. Central Rain

6.  Fall On Me

5. The One I Love

4. Driver 8

3. Shiny Happy People

2. Losing My Religion

1. Radio Free Europe

Compiled by Joe Lepper
See Also:  Lifes Rich Pageant (25th anniversary reissue) Top 100 Albums (# 14 Murmur)


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REM: Lifes Rich Pageant (25th Anniversary Reissue)


REM: Lifes Rich Pageant (25th Anniversary Reissue)

Posted on 11 July 2011 by Joe

Has there ever been a better purple patch in music than REM’s during the 1980s and early 1990s? From Murmur through to 1992’s Automatic for the People the quartet from Athens, Georgia, evolved magnificently from a college radio niche act to stadium fillers.

Among this clutch of albums Lifes Rich Pageant marks a significant ramping up of their success and was their first to go gold in the US.

Its success, as with all their early albums, is its timeless approach to music. Using basic drums, guitar, bass with a little keyboards or accordian here and there and shying away from the studio excess of the time.

But Lifes Rich Pageant also  remains such a great album because of the sheer sense of fun and excitement that pours out of each track. What seems incredulous now is that it garnered just two singles ‘Fall on Me’ and a cover of The Clique’s ‘Superman’, sung by bassist Mike Mills. Arguably pretty much any of its 12 tracks were good enough for the singles chart.

Take ‘Just a Touch’, with its repeated line “Day in the Life”. It sounds more than just live, it sounds like a band leaping and holloring and steamrollering through a track with all the energy they have. Lead singer Michael Stipe swirling around, Peter Buck and Bill Berry focused on their guitar and drums and Mills beaming away at his friends. There is a genuine togetherness of a band  that comes across from this track.

There are quieter moments as well, such as ‘Swan Swan Hummingbird’, but the same warmth shines through track after track.

This is the latest in a serious of remastered issues of REM’s back catalogue and all are well packaged with extras to provide an insight into the band at the time.

While the extras on Neonfiller Top 100 Album and the band’s debut Murmur featured a live show, this latest reissue focuses on the demos and discarded songs.

While the demos of the songs on the album are interesting to hear, especially how ‘Swan Swan Hummingbird’ has barely altered from demo to album track, it is some of the b-sides and discarded songs that provide most of the interest.

‘All the Right Friends, a discarded song from Murmur and one of the first they wrote makes another failed attempt to get on an album. But its track record of rejection shouldn’t put you off, it stands the test of time and only missed out because of the high quality of Life’s Rich Pageant and Murmur’s track listings. Another is the original demo of ‘Bad Day’, another reject from the Lifes Rich Pageant sessions that later became a hit some 17 years later, when it was released as a single and appeared on their compilation In Time: the best of REM 1988 to 2003.

How should Lifes Rich Pageant be seen now? Quite simply one of REM’s best albums and one of the best albums of the last thirty years.


by Joe Lepper


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Top 100 Albums (20-11)

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Top 100 Albums (20-11)

Posted on 29 March 2011 by Joe

We have been releasing this list ten at a time every Friday. Hope you enjoy this latest instalment. The rest of the Top 100 can be found here.

20. The Flaming Lips – Soft Bulletin

Soft Bulletin from 1999 marked a change of direction for The Flaming Lips from their experimental  earlier albums to a more conventional  rock sound. Although  coming after Zaireeka, their four disc album to be played on four separate stereo systems simultaneously, arguably anything would have seemed conventional. ‘Race for the Prize’ and ‘Waiting for Superman’ are among many highlights on their ninth album Soft Bulletin, but perhaps our standout is ‘The Spark That Bled’, a perfect example of how the band managed to merge their sentimental charm with a psychedelic edge. This commercial direction for the band was to continue for the next two albums, with great effect on album number 10 Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. By their 11th album At War with the Mystics this focus on pop music seemed a little tired and they made a welcome return to  their experimental roots with the sprawling 2009 double album Embryonic.

19. Ryan Adams – Heartbreaker

On his first solo outing after splitting Whiskeytown Ryan Adams recorded a surprisingly honest and sensitive album considering his alt-country bad boy reputation. The album is a homage to the good and bad side of relationships, moving between celebratory and despairing over 15 brilliant tracks. After an opening conversation about Morrissey albums it kicks into the rollicking country-blues of ‘To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)’ before settling into a quieter acoustic feel for the remainder of the album (excepting the Stonesy ‘Shakedown On 9th Street’). Backed by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch (two of the best players in rootsy Americana) the playing is never less than excellent and the singing (including duets with Emmylou Harris) is top notch throughout. Great singing and playing coupled with the best set of songs in Adam’s, never less than interesting, career add up to a great album.

18. Belle and Sebastian  – The Boy With The Arab Strap

For us aged, fey indie-kids at Neon Filler picking the best Belle and Sebastian is a tough call. Sometimes 1996’s If You’re Feeling Sinister is our favourite, other times Dear Catostrophe Waitress whets our appetitie. But after having a good trawl though their back catalogue in recent weeks the one we keep coming back to is their third album, 1998’s The Boy With the Arab Strap. The production is pitch  perfect allowing the subtle instrumentation to work around lead singer Stuart Murdoch’s stories. There’s some great tunes as well. Among our highlights are the title track, ‘It Could Have Been a Brilliant Career’ and ‘Dirty Dream Number Two’. Guitarist Steve Jackson’s turn on lead vocals on  ‘Seymour Stein’ is another highlight on this much loved album by this much loved band.

17. American Music Club – Mercury

American Music Club - Mercury

Most critics name the previous American Music Club, Everclear, as the bands finest hour but we think that Mercury just pips it as the band’s true masterpiece. Mark Eitzel paints a pretty bleak picture lyrically on many of the songs here but his soaring vocals, lush instrumentation and warm production soften the blow. It is the most varied album of the bands career mixing slow paced ballads (‘I’ve Been A Mess’), indie pop (‘Keep Me Around’) and loose noise (‘Challengers’). Guitarist Vudi sounds like he is fighting the urge to let rip at all times, but it is this forced restraint that adds tension to the quieter songs. The album contains the bands greatest and best known song ‘Johnny Mathis’ Feet’, a deserving entry into the great American songbook. Eitzel is a confusing and oblique character, but anyone who writes a song with the title ‘What Godzilla Said to God When His Name Wasn’t Found in the Book of Life’ deserves our attention.

16. The Mountain Goats – Sunset Tree

The Mountain Goats frontman John Darnielle is a master story teller. On latest album All Eternals Deck the focus was on other’s lives, including Judy Garland and even Charles Bronson. But on 2005’s The Sunset Tree Darnielle looks to his own life with dramatic effect as he recalls his teenage years in an abusive home. Across the album these deeply personal tales chart his escape into a world of video games, music, drink, drugs and storytelling away from the grim reality of his homelife and his drunken step father. It’s harrowing stuff, but never depressing. The tracks from ‘Dance Music’ to ‘This Year’ are about survival and are full of hope.  Final track ‘Pale Green Things’ provides a  fitting conclusion with Darnielle recalling his step father’s death and remembering a rare nice day out at the race track. For more about The Mountain Goats read our Top Ten Bands That Changed Our Lives article here.

15. Sparklehorse – Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot

The late Mark Linkous released four albums as Sparklehorse in his too-short life and Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot was a dazzling and mesmerising debut. Played largely by Linkous alone (with a handful of musicians including David Lowery in support) it is an eclectic, sad and beautiful collection. Despite moving between the soft elegance of songs like ‘Homecoming Queen’ to the catchy alt-rock like ‘Someday I Will Treat You Good’ and the dischord of ‘Tears On Fresh Fruit’ it always sounds cohesive and natural. Linkous came from a traditional folk background and moved into alternative rock music, the album suceeds in bringing these styles seemlessly together. This works perfectly on the banjo lead ‘Cow’ with the memorable refrain “Pretty girl, milkin’ a cow, oh yeah”.

14. REM  – Murmur

Back in 1982  executives at record label IRS were keen to send their recent signing REM on the road to rock stardom. Only problem was that the band were having none of their methods. Shunning the label’s choice of producer Stephen Hague and pressure to incorporate guitar solos and synthesisers into their music, they instead wanted to create a timeless feel. With producer Mitch Easter, who had worked with the band on their first EP Chronic Town, on board the band managed to get free rein to turn the tracks they’d been touring for a year or so into the album they wanted. From start to finish this is packed with great tracks with first single ‘Radio Free Europe’, ‘Talk About The Passion’ and ‘Catapult’ among many highlights. Musically it’s a mix of The Byrds, particularly through Peter Buck’s guitar style, and Pylon, the eccentric new wave band from their home town of Athens, Georgia. REM’s approach was proved right in the end. Wthin a few months of its release they were well on their way to superstardom, supporting The Police at Shea Stadium and producing a fine run of commercially and critically acclaimed albums throughout the 1980s and early 1990s.

13. Talking Heads – More Songs About Buildings And Food

Talking heads - More songs about buildings & food

Picking the best Talking Heads album is tough, most of their albums (including either of their live albums) could claim a place in this chart. One of the most important American acts of the 1970s and 80s they mixed soul and funk influences into their jittery new wave sound. More Songs About Music And Food takes a measured step forward from their 1977 debut and embraces David Byrne’s interest in the people and landscape of middle-America. Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth provide a tight simple backing to the wired frontman and neat guitar interplay with Jerry Harrison adds texture to the bands sound. The album contains few of the band’s best known songs, only their cover of Al Green’s ‘Take Me To The River’ was a hit, but it is their most rounded collection. ‘Found A Job’ stands out in particular, with a great instrumental outro, and is as good a song as you’ll find by any of New York new wave acts.

12.Blondie – Parallel Lines

Has there ever been a better female fronted band than Blondie? In our ears and minds the answer is a clear ‘no’. Take Blondie’s third album, 1978’s  Parellel Lines for example. It boasted a ker-ching making six singles among its 12 tracks. What’s more  the album tracks that didn’t make it on to 7” were pretty fine  too. Blending rock, new wave, and even disco on ‘Heart of Glass’, the tracks echo the sixties at times, such as on ‘Sunday Girl’. Under producer Mike Chapman  it was musically inventive too, with the guitar work of King Crimson’s  Robert Fripp  on ‘Fade Away and Radiate’ still capable of sending shivers down our spines to this day.

11. The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead

As the album opener ‘The Queen Is Dead’ kicks in with punchy bass and drums you are immediately aware you are listening to something pretty special, and equally aware that Morrisssey was wrong to dismiss the role of Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce in the band. The Smiths were one of the most important bands of the 1980s and it is difficult to overstate tyhe fanatcism of their fanbase at the time. Morrissey is a fascinating figure and, like him or not, their has never been another singer like him and his lyrics are witty and erradite here. Jonny Marr shines on the album and the arrangements are uniformly excellent throughout, it is also a little surprising how subtle and restrained his playing in. Only ‘The Boy With The Thorn In His Side’ showcases his signature jangle and it isn’t until the end of ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’ that he lets rip (and then only for a short burst). ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ is the highest peak on an album of peaks and deserves a place on every best of the 80s collection.

Compiled by Joe Lepper and Dorian Rogers


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