“I’m feeling kinda basic today, top five side ones, track ones. Janie Jones, The Clash from The Clash, Let’s Get It On, Marvin Gaye from Let’s Get It On, Nirvana Smells Like Teen Spirit off of Nevermind… White Light White Heat, Velvet Underground… Massive Attack, No Protection, the song is Radiation Ruling The Nation.”
HAVING rewatched it not that long ago, the film version of Nick’s Hornby’s High Fidelity threw up several thoughts.
Firstly, it’s nowhere near as good as the book – if you haven’t seen or read either, go for the book, especially if you are one of us convinced we are basically lead character Rob Fleming – but it’s certainly not the worst film adaptation.
And any movie that actually makes a plot point about playing the wonderful Dry The Rain by The Beta Band has to be worth watching (fairly sure nobody else was singing along in the cinema all those years ago).
Secondly, John Cusack is basically hugely watchable in just about anything while Catherine Zeta Jones is just awful in it. Just terrible. As is Jack Black, not that we knew it at the time when we hadn’t seen him play exactly the same over-the-top role countless times.
And it’s not just me that makes lists like that.*
Cusack’s list – or is it really Hornby’s? – is not that bad, although probably only one of those five is a serious contender for my top five (Janie Jones, as you are asking). Smells Like Teen Spirit would make a slightly longer list, but top five? Sorry, no deal Kurt.
The reason for musing over my top five is because the latest trawl through the A-Z of my iPod (hey, we’ve got there a lot quicker this time) threw up probably the finest opener of any album – one of the best tracks on one of the greatest albums, so it had to be up there.
Opening an album it is great, but Debaser – twice – is perhaps not the best thing to blast in your ears having stumbled on to an early morning train as it was this morning, especially after the rather calmer start of Sufjan Stevens (Death With Dignity).
But as an opening punch, washing away anything that stands in its way, slicing up eyeballs and all, it is pretty much beyond comparison.
So what joins it in my top five?
There’s a fair few contenders, songs that pull you in, kick things into the right gear and pave the way for a great album to follow.
It has to be a great album – Oasis’ Rock n Roll Star has the necessary swagger and sets the tone for the rest of Definitely Maybe, but they never moved on (across the album or their career) – and if it is, it has to be a great song (Planet Telex is the worst song on The Bends, To Be Young… is pretty much the same on Ryan Adams’ classic Heartbreaker, while I Wanna Be Adored has all the right credentials on The Stone Roses, except it’s nowhere near an album highlight).
The Act We Act was very close for Sugar, but it is more of the first part of a three-pronged opening attack from the mighty Copper Blue, while 100% (Sonic Youth, Dirty), Janie Jones, New York New York (Ryan Adams, Gold), The Concept (Teenage Fanclub, Bandwagonesque), Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft (The Wedding Present, George Best) and even Sick Bed of Cuchulainn from The Pogues’ Rum, Sodomy and the Lash.
Eventually it came down to a few old faithfuls and one relative newcomer, albeit one which had been played countless time over the past year or so and a late change of heart spelled rejection for He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s A Pilot from Grandaddy’s The Sophtware Slump.
So the final five is:
- Debaser – Pixies (Doolittle)
- Blister In The Sun – Violent Femmes (Violent Femmes)
- Radio Free Europe – REM (Murmur)
- Carissa – Sun Kil Moon (Benji)
- The Queen Is Dead – The Smiths (The Queen Is Dead)
Yep, that’ll do… right up to the point when Teenage Riot by Sonic Youth pops into my head seconds after typing all that… get back to you on that one.
Apart from Debaser, two more of those acts popped up in the latest bout of tracks (accelerated from The Decemberists to a bit of Half Man Half Biscuit by the first of what is about to become a regular daily train commute), REM with Departure and The Smiths, who popped up twice (Death At One’s Elbow and Death of a Disco Dance) in a run of songs starting with Death.
Morrissey as miserablist detractors would say that was inevitable, but probably not as obvious as Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy (three times) and Mark Lanegan popping up in that run, which also included the aforementioned Sufjan Stevens, Death or Glory by The Clash (twice) and the quite wonderful Death Valley ’69 from Sonic Youth (play it loud).
The opening run of Dear… songs contained three versions of Dear Chicago (Ryan Adams has to be in there somewhere) and Dear Catastrophe Waitress from Belle & Sebastien (not a classic album opener, certainly not their best).
Delaware by The Drop Nineteens was also nowhere near the opening track setlist, while there was December from Teenage Fanclub (told you it was a great album), Delicious Demon by Sugarcubes and Delta Sun Bottleneck Stomp by Mercury Rev, a classic closing track and inspiration for one of my more obscure travel blog post titles.
And, oh yeah, Teenage Riot in, Queen Is Dead out. Controversial, but correct. For now…
- Yes, the book sort of revealed that, but just roll with it for me, will you?