Tuesday, December 22, 2009
2000s LISTENING POST
I started off the year 2000 in some grotty little Camden pub. We'd been lured inside by the promise of having somewhere to drink until 3am - while the rest of the country seemingly headed down to the River Thames, in arse-destroying, sub-zero conditions, to watch a firework display where only 2% of the rockets went off.
At midnight, on the dot - Oh, threshold to a bold new era! - Gleaming emergency exit from a decade of LOADED-bloated corpses, white rastadom, wife-bashing footballer pin-ups and thee muthafucking Lighthouse Family!- the pub jukebox decided to skip its way through Come on Eileen. Simultaneously, a steel shutter descended over the bar. You see, THE PUB was open 'til 3am...but THE BAR shut at 00.00. And, at the precise moment that shutter came down, we had about a gulp of Guinness between us. That was my introduction to Y2K. Let's all meet up at the Disco 2000 - next free, all-night tube ((sponsored by Heineken - proud purveyors to the slack-bladdered, novice drunkard)) back to Burnt Oak departs in approximately 143 minutes.
A decade come and gone. In 2000, nobody immediately close to me had died. Right now, that number stands at 3. Thank Buddah for small mercies, eh? It could have been more. In 2000, I didn't know what 'blogging', 'dubstep', 'neo-folk', 'hardcore continuum' or 'pro-active' meant. Actually, I still don't know what 'hardcore continuum' or 'pro-active' mean. The internet was just something you surfed at work, for a tiny number of books on Amazon, or to go onto some football forum under a fake name and create merry chaos. In 2000, I didn't even have a computer outside of work. I didn't know what an MP3 was. I didn't even have a mobile phone! And I'd never been outside of England, Ireland or Scotland. But I were flippin' grateful - at least people tolerated my idiocy as youthful folly, I still had Spurs membership and it didn't look TOO weird or creepy when I tried to chat up 18-year olds. (EDIT: seeing as I looked like I was 90 at 23, it probably did)
But enough of all that! We're now into the season where the blogosphere's most learned SCRIBBLE HOUNDS retreat to their wigwams, to compose their millennial BEST OF lists. Oh, come on... you know you love it really! (EDIT: "millennial"? Try "end of decade"? Twat - Ed)
So, what DID come out in the '00s that was worth two shakes of a LAMB'S COCK? What aural trinkets emerged from this most desolate of epochs, an era in which the politicans couldn't even be bothered to disguise their lies anymore, and middle management became some glittering grail, instead of the shoddy, bureacratic compost heap that THE KIDS were born to torch? Well, apart from the billionth remix of You Got the Love... oh, why don't you ask Simon Reynolds? He's clued up on this whole shebang. He's been unpacking all the jiffy bags since Lester Bangs carked it, not me. I've just been wandering around Fabric with a flashlight, looking for an honest DJ.
So - my number one album of the 2000s is....the Harder They Come soundtrack. Yep, new scenes come and go, fads flicker and frazzle... but for the 19th consecutive year, this LP's kept me live and fighting, through sunshine, wind and hail - not to mention several "LET IT ALL COME DOWN!" shit and piss moments. You know, the usual garbage Fortuna flings in all of our chops. There's nothing wrong with listening to an album for 19 years, incidentally. Jimmy, Des and Fred built those tunes to last.
ANYWAY, here's the official BTi BLOG list of good stuff from 2000-2009. Quick DISCLAIMER: none of it's in order, except for the No. 1 slot. Kronos can go piss up a rope, for all I care. As Jacques Camatte once squawked: "Time's an invention of those who don't know how to love". I personally threw my wristwatch in the bin the night I caught Easy Rider on BBC2, and I haven't looked back since. So if I accidentally hit a '1999' tripwire, don't bother to correct me - I just don't care!
1) It wasn't a 'release'and 80% of the featured music wasn't from this decade. But, for me, it couldn't be anything other than...
CYBERNETIC BROADCASTING SYSTEM
"TOP 100" (XMAS 2004)
... because I'd been waiting all my life for this broadcast, and didn't even realise it until I stumbled across the URL.
'www.cbs.nu' was the only internet radio site I ever bothered to bookmark and return to regularly. Run as a labour of love by Dutch DJ 'I-F' and friends, from his flat in The Hague, the portal was a virtual 24/7 space station party; all killer, no filler. I thought I knew a fair bit about electronic music before the Xmas 2004 Top 100 hit cyberspace blared out, over 8 glorious hours of square-eyed internet addiction. I then realised that I truthfully didn't know jack.
More than one critic's cocked a snook at this decade's Italo Disco revival, slating it as a post-ironic in-joke for Shoreditch twats, or for pretentious record collectors who've run out of bygone scenes to salivate over. Fuck them. All I know is, if it hadn't been for this Top 100, compiled by the station's listeners, I'd never have heard some of the most powerful, exciting and danceable tunes ever recorded. Like Casco's Cybernetic Love, Gay Cat Park's I'm a Vocoder, Charlie's Spacer Woman, IMS' Dancing Therapy, Gecko's Firelight, BWH's Stop Me, JoJo's Mind Games and Mike Marin's Love Spy. People talk about 'magical' music, normally in the context of industrial or experimental releases; well, to me, Italo Disco is as magic as it gets.
It's not just Italo, though: Kraftwerk's Das Model bleeds into the Assault on Precinct 13 theme, before launching into Beverly Hills 808303's hard acid assault, The American Lie, straight through Sylvester's spine-chilling I Need Somebody To Love Tonight and the hilarious robo-sleaze of Z-Factor's I Like To Do It In Fast Cars, as well as jaw-dropping 2000s classics like The Conservatives' Lonelyness and Metalvox's 1980 electro-punk bone rattler Future World- all interspersed by 'robot' jingles, and I-F's pleas to keep clicking on those damn Ads... I know they're irritating, but it means we can keep this site running! Ten songs in, and I'd have wrestled a spambot for CBS.
It sounded like they were having the best Xmas party ever in that flat. They probably were. And then began the torturous process of attempting to collect the fragments on Soulseek... burning them onto CD-Rs, compiling my playlist for the rest of the '00s...
I don't know if the CBS 2004 Top 100 is still available on the web. Then again, at 8+ hours, you'd need the patience of a saint to download it in its entirety. Still, you'd be saving yourself about £8,000-£10,000 in costs - any 12" released on the Il Discotto label goes for obscene amounts of cash on eBay and Discogs these days. Give it a couple of years though, 'til Go-Go becomes the next big revival and the prices drop. I'll still be flying the Italo Disco flag. If the 2004 Top 100 ever came out as a box set, it'd probably be the last thing I bought, before dying happy.
CBS listeners, blessed with impeccable taste, have kept the Top 100 running every year since, and it's all been amazing stuff - though you never forget your first time, do you? This is why this rules as my top musical moment of the 2000s. CBS is no more, but I-F's still broadcasting away on Intergalactic FM, in between running his consistently synapse-blowing Viewlexx label. Speaking of which...
2) RUDE 66 - "OVERKILL" 12"
After Viewlexx dropped this bomb over the European Atlantic Seaboard, a kindly janitor swept up DJ Hell, Larry Tee's coke-lacerated gums and 'Electroclash', bagged them up and threw 'em out for the Wednesday morning collection. That janitor was called DESTINY and we should give him a bloody big bonus this Yuletide.
3) BOUNTY KILLER / MORGAN HERITAGE - "GUNZ IN THE GHETTO" 7"
Oh well, Ninjaman didn't turn out much in the 2000s worth writing home about, except maybe Mad Again and, last I heard, he's still behind bars after twatting around with a gun... again. I'll be honest - my interest in ragga (or dancehall, or whatever - it's still ragga to me) has massively waned since all that Autotune shit crept in. Every time I hear that wretched "WWWHHAAAAAAAA" sound, I'm transported back to a pub in West Hendon in 1998, with Cher gurgling "AAHHH CYYYYAANNNNN'T BWEKKK THW-OOOO BZZZGHHHH-ZHIIIPP!" on the juke. Can you all please DESIST, for fuck's sake? You're making cunts of yourselves. Oh, boo hoo - the fictional discerning listener might notice you're slightly off-key on the fourth verse! How did reggae cope this long without it?? Get a grip, will ya - the huckster who invented Autotune's laughing all the way to the bank, and your records now suck - OFFICIAL.
Thankfully, Gunz In The Ghetto didn't get mixed up in this rubbish. The soundtrack to my 2002. Wicked bassline. Sweet husky vocals. Constant urge to rewind. Job done. Heard a hell of a lot of bare-faced lies about 'WMD's that year.
4) NOLAY - UNORTHODOX DAUGHTER
My niece was sitting there with her borstal tats and her two-year old daughter on her lap, and her boyfriend was meekly poncing fags off yours truly, and they were moaning about wanting to get out of Luton, and I thought, 'I've been there before'. Then GRIME came up in the conversation, and I mentioned, "I'm not really into Wiley, but that Nolay track is great", and they were like WHATTT...UGGGH...HOW DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THAT? Bloody kids. I was only 29, not some fossil. Suddenly, I became 'cool uncle'.
Unorthodox Daughter was a great battle tune from a way under-rated MC with a flair for lyrics simultaneously threatening and pee-yourself funny. Don't know what's happened to her. Unfortunately, my niece and that bloke were a bit too fond of domestic violence to last the course. I once picked up a series of texts saying they'd had a fight in the flat, and an ambulance had been involved. I rang my sister, getting into "I'll get the next train up, let's go round and burn the bastard!" mode. "Oh, he's OK now," she replied. "She gave him a real hiding though, he's not sure if he wants to move back in for a while."
Why can't children listen to nice records, like Legacy of Brutality by The Misfits, and talk about offing the monarchy, like we used to?
5) V/A - "LUTHER BLISSETT - THE OPEN POP STAR" CD
Released as one of the many documents of the Italian multiple identity-mongers' 1990s pranks, this is actually a pretty swell compilation in its own right, chock full of vivid ideas and different styles, from synth pop to slopped up jungle. Kind of reminded me of those Italian Records compilations like Nice Tracks, where you didn't know what to expect from one minute to the next.
Standouts for me are the Merzbow / Ladybird disco-down-an-ISDN-line throbber If You Lift Me Up; Skew's Daft Punk-ish banging house anthem Lasicate che I Bimba (scientifically proven to boost your serotonin levels, even when it's snowing! especially when it's snowing!); the brilliant Afro-pop influenced track by Manga; and the sheer silliness of Italian Oi! band Klasse Kriminale going hyper-happy hardcore. One of those oddities I picked up for about £2 in MVE, and I haven't seen a copy since. In 2024, all compilations will sound like this. Ah, remember those halcyon Stewart Home vs Larry O'Hara days? OK, they were mainly in the '90s, but they kinda rolled into the 2000s...
6)MAD PROFESSOR - "NEW GALAXY OF DUB" CD
Quick, call the shrink, I'm hearing things!
A 2000s dub album that actually hits the 'BUY ME, I'M PRETTY FECKIN' ESSENTIAL' button!
No, seriously. It really is amazing. Maybe even one of the best produced dub platters I've ever had the fortune to stumble across. I'm not a MASSIVE Mad Prof fan - but it warms my cockles to know he's still making music, especially when it's as incredible as this one here. He's a constant in an uncertain world, I guess. I wish he'd bring back the cartoon covers lampooning / savaging contemporary political bullshit though... (the cover to this CD is terrible, incidentally).
7) FELIX DA HOUSECAT - KITTENZ / DEVIN DAZZLE / VIRGO BLAKTRO CDs
Couldn't decide which one to go with, so shoved them all into the 7 slot. I want to take a short break from adjectives and superlatives, if that's OK with you. It's all electro pop / house, make of that what you will. The first one features Miss Kittin before she became really annoying with her I'm a toneless mannequin aus empty discoteque schtick. The first and second are probably the best, though the third one does have Movie Disco. Take me out of this messed up world! indeed!
I did get a bit tired of reading reviews of these which mentioned cocaine and sex all the time, though. To me they were more amyl and scuba diving.
8) AMERIE - "1 THING" CD-S
It's the "A-WOAH-A-WOAH-A-WOAH-A-WOAH-A-WOAH-WOH-AH-AH-AAAH etc" bit in the middle, with the drumroll, that gets me every time. It's one of the most perfect songs I've ever heard. FACT - I actually listened to this song 68 times in a row, on a long-haul Singapore Airways flight, while getting smashed out of my tree on vodka and orange. I'm not ashamed to say I had a tear in my eye. Singapore Airways is by far my favourite airline in the universe - they keep your gullet well doused for the duration of the flight, regardless of what state you're in. I hope all the other carriers go bust and SA monopolises all air travel.
I especially spit on BA - a fucking travesty. I'd rather travel by flying carpet. I also hate Cyprus Airways, cos they once prevented me from seeing a meteor shower. It's true! Just because it was 4.48am and some selfish, sunburnt old fart wanted his plastic window slider down, so he could sleep, I was denied this spectacle! There's a wonder of nature erupting outside, you fucking ingrate. You can sleep when you get back to England, penis-breath. Then the cabin crew told ME to pipe down! The bloody nerve. It was only when some bitch started trying to change her screaming brat's nappy in the seat opposite, and I started frothing at the mouth and howling, "JESUS, SMITE THE ENGINES!" that I was told to remain in my seat or I'd be arrested at the other end. Then the bastards cut off my alcohol supply.
Sorry, remembering that missed meteor shower really pisses me off. Did you know, I had a meal in Agra, just off Warren Street a couple of years back (Mohammed Ali, Roy Orbison and Asha Bhosle have all eaten there), and I got into a verbal slanging match with some friends and a girl I quite fancied - all over sleeping on planes. Everyone was unanimous that, come the fall of dusk outside the aircraft window, it was time for beddy-byes. My argument was that long-haul flights would be much improved if all passengers were given copious amounts of booze and allowed to engage in hearty banter and song.
"Don't you think that's a bit of a selfish attitude?" said the object of my rapidly diminishing potential affections. "Some people want to sleep."
"Well, some people can't sleep on planes - don't you think it's selfish to expect them to sit there and suffer in silence for 10 hours?" I countered.
They all thought I was being contrary for the sake of it. Suddenly, one bloke, who I didn't know so well, said, "If I was on a flight, and you were running around drinking and shouting, and I couldn't sleep, I'd sue the airline."
Roy Orbison didn't have to put up with this shit when he was polishing off his Methi mutton. "How would that work?" I laughed. "You're paying for a flight from A to B, not a hotel room! You're not guaranteed sleep, or else everyone'd be suing. They'd just throw your claim in the bin."
Oh, that one didn't go down well, and a huge argument concerning my so-called 'attitude' erupted. But damn them - I'm right. For fuck's sake, I'm not talking about blasting Sugarshit Sharp at top volume in Economy (though I wouldn't mind that, to be honest) - but at least let the passengers laugh, and let them drink. One of the best flights I had was on Aeroflot with a bunch of pissed-up Poles. There were people wandering around the aisle, trying to pull bottles out of their bags, minutes after take-off. The cabin crew lost control - the passengers were virtually ignoring them - and eventually they just let everyone get on with it.
Emirates is pretty shit. We had a stopover between 7am and 9am at Dubai Airport, so I went to the Irish pub for a few pints. Maybe five. I can't remember. I did meet some flash Arab guy who was incessantly banging on about how expensive his watch was, and how he had 12 Ferraris, or some shit. When we got our connecting flight to London, he was actually sat behind me, and he carried on his loud-mouthed conversation, regaling me with tales of all his secret girlfriends around the world - a bit greedy for a cat for two wives, but there you go. Obviously, he didn't bother with Business Class out of CHOICE, and not because he was a complete liar - a bit like Pulp's Common People, only with nothing to do except repeatedly watch Bend It Like Beckham or the US remake of The Italian Job for 8 hours.
A couple of hours in and, sure enough, half the passengers pulled their window shutters down. Matey wouldn't shut up, but he could drink, I'll give him that. We were both in sleep-deprived, pisshound hysterics, when, suddenly, this head popped up, two seats down from me. A bald head - wearing an airlne-issue eyemask.
"DO YOU MIND?" the head boomed. "IT'S THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT!"
I remembered the meteor shower fiasco, and my blood pressure went through the cabin roof. "What are you on about?" I raged back. "It's fucking 2 in the afternoon!"
"It's 2 in the afternoon!" the Arab guy echoed. Man, I was glad of that braggart's company. The head disappeared back into its seat of shame. Unfortunately, the cabin crew took a dim view of our expert grasp of time zones, and we were denied any more Bloody Marys. Fuckers.
Flying is pretty fucking incredible actually, when you think about it, and I firmly believe it should be celebrated and savoured, every second of the way. So, God bless Singapore Airlines and God bless Amerie. I love her.
9) XYLITOL - FUNCTIONARY / ERROR BURSTS IN TRANSMISSION 3" CDs
Couldn't decide which one to go with, so shoved them both into the 9 slot. I still reckon these are better than anything released on Ghostbox so far. And Woebot actually agrees with me - and none of you dare question HIM. Criminally under-rated... for now, at least.
10) JOHNNY CASH - "HUNG MY HEAD"
Yes, I spent the majority of my adult life not liking Johnny Cash. Yes, I was probably wrong. Maybe you'd understand where I was coming from if your mother had played his records all the time when you were a sprog. She even video-taped "Farm Aid", and she used to watch that all the time as well. Waylon Jennings, eh? Country Willy Nelson? I saw all that lot YONKS before some bright spark decided they were 'cool'. I never thought shooting a man in Reno, just to watch him die, made him big shit. It made him a pathetic, irresponsible slob, in urgent need of a good kicking. He could have at least plugged the man as revenge for sucker-punching his wife or raping his horse, or something. And so I told myself that Cash was a jerk, and that summary stuck with me for years.
Everyone goes on about Cash's rendition of Hurt and how it tore their throats a new one back in 2002. But the song off Man Comes Around that hits me right in the chest is his version of Hung My Head. I've got this thing about execution songs. Long Black Veil, The Mercy Seat and all that. Duane Eddy's Girl On Death Row. But Hung My Head brings you face to face with one of life's sickest jokes. I DIDN'T MEAN TO. So, this kid's playing with a gun. He aims at a passing rider, and the shooter accidentally goes off. Yeah, like "I DIDN'T MEAN TO"'s going to stand up in court, the kid realises, as the vultures circle round the fresh corpse like a gang of Hell's Angels, and the horse trots off alone.
And it's that high-pitched whistling he'd have in his ears; that FUCKING HELL, HOW DID THAT HAPPEN? rush of air from the lungs; and him knowing that, even though he 'didn't mean to' do it, to kill someone, he has, and there's no way back. The kid gets carted off to the gallows. Sure, he didn't mean to. Blame life. Shit happens. Fuck your luck, son.
Johnny Cash actually won me with one song, from beyond the grave, and he didn't even write it.
11) WHITEHOUSE - "WRIGGLE LIKE A FUCKING EEL" 12"
When he's not patrolling eBay, forcing the removal of bootleg Whitehouse vinyl, William Bennett still knocks out the occasional killer squall. Sounded like an Atari having an epileptic fit during an air raid, with Blakey from On The Buses being dragged, screaming, through a mincer. Why couldn't everyone download THIS to the Xmas number 1 slot instead?
I saw Whitehouse live four times this decade. Well, maybe 3 and a bit times, if you include the night they got bottled offstage by Aphex Twin fans at London Bridge. In other words, when I'm 45, and some couple's supping in a bar in Dubai Airport, saying, We met each other at a My Bloody Valentine gig, it was the most emotional experience of our lives, and then the barman adds, Yes, and I saw that legendary Oasis gig at Maine Road, I can turn round and say, Sure, but I saw a cult band play for about 5 minutes before being pelted with cans and glass by a load of sock-hatted fans of another act on the bill who didn't even show up but submitted some CD-R mix instead, while the Primal Scream singer lumbered around the venue trying to score drugs.
Actually, the best gig I ever saw was Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros at Brixton Academy.
12) THE BUG / CUTTY RANKS - "GUN DISEASE" CD-S
13) DJ RUPTURE - "LOW INCOME TOMORROWLAND" CD
14) JOHN EDEN / PAUL MEME - "LYRIC MAKER" MIX
Mind you, the nights out at BASH came close, even if Kevin Martin never put me on the guest list. I work for WOOFAH, damn you! Gun Disease was a snarling raggacore monster that towered above most of the slop in that genre. Low Income Tomorrowland, on the other hand, was one of my favourite party mixes of the 2000s. Anyone who thinks that the Lyric Maker mix made the list as some 'nice' token gesture towards fellow bloggers clearly hasn't heard the thing, which soundtracked a significant number of bus and train rides over the past 5 years. Of course, it all went wrong for Eden one balmy evening in Kings X, and one barmy morning after, when clash victor Droid attempted to steal toothpaste from the Stoke Newington Soundboy. Still, while this controversy simply refuses to die (I, for one, am getting sick of the people who won't let it rest), I think we can all agree that this was a very good mix - plus I've got the bonus of casually telling people who like it, "Oh yeah, I know the cats who slung that together", as if I hang around with DJs 24/7 and do anything more creative than this blogging junk. Paul Meme still wants to kick my head in, though.
15) PARAGUAYANS IN KAISERSLAUTERN, JUNE 2006
Chim-chiminey-chim-chiminey / Chim chim cher-oo / We are the boys who will turn your eyes blue... Seeing South America's most punk rock football side trounce Trinidad & Tobago in Germany's most inaccessible stadium was brilliant - but man, you should have seen and heard them on the station concourse, 6 hours before the match. They totally drowned everyone out with their drum-pounding battle hymns.
I never imagined that a joke down the park in 1987, about playing a game of kicker "Paraguay-style", would culminate in actually going to Germany to see them play. I know none of you particularly get the Paraguay thing, or care, but this was the one of the noisiest afternoons ever. "But you're not even Paraguayan!" the cynics wail. So fucking what? It's not my fault if I took Crass literally when they said "Be exactly who you want to be, do what you want to do".
I think Alberto from the Paraguayan Embassy in London still wants to kick my head in, though.
So, that was the 2000s. Oh, who gives a toss about decades? I'm off to give The Harder They Come another spin - if I don't speak to you groovy fuckers before the 25th, merry Xmas thang, and drive carefully on that ice.
Your NYE sounds delightful, I was being beaten up in a doorway in New Cross.Post a Comment
I agree on the sleeping on planes thing. I think it's creepy that people can sleep on planes.
I agree on the sleeping on planes thing. I think it's creepy that people can sleep on planes.