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Q250 – Patience*

I’ve said before in this blog that it’s not always a pleasure to force yourself to listen to the next album on a list, in a predetermined order and with no consideration given to how you’re feeling or what mood you happen to be in.  I’m absolutely certain that music can stimulate emotion (and memory) and the imposition of a particular piece of music – when you just might not be in the right place to hear it – can be a real bummer.  Of course, as music can affect your mood it’s equally possible that the next thing along could jolly well cheer you right up.

All this is a bit of a preamble to go a little way to explain the somewhat cursory attention that will be given to the following selection of albums from the Q250 list.  At times it has been a struggle to remind myself that these are supposed to be the best albums released over the last 25 years.  At one point I looked down my list of albums queued for listening ‘pleasure’ and would probably have rather had One Direction on repeat.

However there was some ‘juice’ at the end of this particular sequence that generated exactly what I had hoped for when I started the exercise.

So first then here are the cursory attention bits…

DJ SHADOW – ENDTRODUCING  (1996)  I actually quite enjoyed this although it felt like it would have worked best as background in a rather trendy club or bistro – you know that time of the day when the real music hasn’t started yet, the night is young and everyone just wants to chat but also feel like they’re someplace cool.

No. 201

No. 201

THE VERVE – A NORTHERN SOUL (1995)  I had heard of the Verve before the mammoth success that was initiated by the very lovely ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ and the “Urban Hymns” album but there’s nothing on this album which sounds familiar at all with the exception of ‘History’ and even that is a rather intangible recollection.  The Q summary of this album called it intense and harrowing, but I’m going for whiny! Like I said time, place and mood can have a huge bearing on how you experience music and I can wholly believe that on another day I might find more to love in this but it passed me by in a wash of “when will it end” perseverance.

BOARDS OF CANADA – MUSIC HAS THE RIGHT TO CHILDREN (1998)  There was one track on here that made me pay attention briefly.  Very briefly.  Great title though.

THE NATIONAL – BOXER (2007)  For some reason I ended up playing the first three tracks on this quite a few times without getting in to the album.  As a result, by the time I did hear the whole thing the beginning felt quite familiar and enjoyable but I’m afraid that feeling faded as the album continued.  I suspect I might like this more if I gave it a chance.  I find myself wondering if they’re still going and if something new might come out soon that I could investigate.

No. 198

No. 198

N.W.A – STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON (1988)  Filled me with dread, and I thought I’d hate it but as it turned out my prejudice was my downfall (how ironic) as it defied my expectations.  Some was better known to me than I’d realised (e.g Express Yourself), possibly due to the direct influence (and direct sampling) employed by subsequent artists.  But it’s also interesting to properly hear tracks that I only thought I’d heard before (like F*ck The Police for example) and realising I’d only heard other people talk about it, or Jason Mewes as Jay doing his interpretation in “Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back”.  Now I better understand the influence, and the talent, and the subsequent success for the individual members.

TOM WAITS – MULE VARIATIONS (1999)  Probably the one that made me most lose hope when I saw it was coming up.  I just got on with cooking and stuff while this was on and let it drift over me.  Nothing stood out, but it has a down and dirty feel that reminded me of Dr John at times .  I also wondered if Damien Rice had been listening to “Black Market Baby” when he was writing “Cheers Darlin”.

And now to the ‘juice’; pun not actually intended.

No. 196

No. 196

LEMONHEADS – IT’S A SHAME ABOUT RAY (1992)  My first idea writing this blog was to hone my reviewing skills and see if I could capture some insight about the individual albums that could be my critical statement about the construction and presentation of the music.  Then I realised that was way to hard and much more fun to write about whatever I felt like writing because of what I was listening to.  I got lucky with the very first album (Gomez) because it immediately reminded me of where and who I was when I heard it.  The Lemonheads album had a similar impact, although I have to admit I can’t remember if I actually owned this one – I definitely had the follow up “Come On Feel The Lemonheads”; more about that in a minute.  When this came on, immediately after Tom Waits so it was blessed relief anyway, it just filled me with fun and joy from the first chord.  Sunshine guitar pop in a great way, and most of it instantly recognisable to me although it probably has been 20 years since I heard these songs – even the big hit cover version of “Mrs Robinson”.   I’ve been listening to BBC 6 Music a quite a lot recently and in a strange coincidence that track got played earlier today, with me having listened to the album just last night.  This also recently happened with “Surfs Up” from the Brian Wilson album “Smile” which was played on the radio on Sunday, the morning after I’d watched the documentary “Beautiful Dreamer” about the making of the album.  Not that I’m claiming there’s any great peculiar magic about this – just that I now suspect 6Music are spying on me.  Listening to “It’s A Shame About Ray” reminded me straight away of my room in our shared house in Bounds Green – me and Rosie and Steven and Andy and Kathryn in some sort of real life precursor of “This Life”.  Fancy dress parties, melon bongs, and the fledgling career of Take That – those are the things that I remember most clearly from that time.

But listening to this also gives me the opportunity to recollect other things that I connected with this album.  There’s another cover on there – “Frank Mills” which is a song from the musical “Hair” which I’ll always also link with Andy and Kathryn because of their performances in the show at the Millfield Theatre near Enfield.  I also saw this song performed by the wonderful Nerina Pallot at a 2006 gig in the outdoor theatre in Regents Park.  It was a difficult occasion, I was just a couple of months in to the after effects of breaking up from my girlfriend of 13 years but we somehow found ourselves attending the gig together.  That’s not what I remember best though.  What I remember best is the most beautiful performance of the final song of the night “Sophia”.  About as good as this life gets.

Also because I knew of Evan Dando, one of the more obscure lyrics by another of my favourite bands ‘Barenaked Ladies’ made perfect sense.  “No Juliana next to my Evan” from the song “Jane” on “Maybe You Should Drive”, references the ongoing relationship between the Lemonheads lead singer and Juliana Hatfield.  Great band, great album, great song.

And finally there’s that other big Lemonheads hit “Into Your Arms” which is on “Come On Feel The Lemonheads” and to me appeared to be fairly harmless and easy enough to play as one of my first ventures in to guitar playing at an Open Mic.  I think I’d got my confidence up with a first song that went ok and thought I could follow it up with this one.  I was wrong, it was horrible and I think it was about 5 years before I had a go at playing in front of a crowd again.

I’m still taking guitar lessons…

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