Friday, June 20, 2003

Not intended to be definitive, or necessarily obvious. Sometimes intentionally obtuse. No Beatles. All mine (note use of the word "personal").

oh, Brittania: a personal history of British rock, v.1
1. The Who, “Baba O’Riley.” Well, it’s obvious, innit? It’s all a teenage wasteland.
2. Rolling Stones, “Bitch.” The nastier Mick’n’Keef are, generally, the better. Case in point.
3. T.Rex, “Children of the Revolution.” Excepting man-of-a-thousand-faces Bowie, and birthed-in-but-not-of-it Bryan Ferry, Marc Bolan was the God of glam; this is his most boogie-ing moment atop the mountain.
4. Queen, “Hammer to Fall.” Freddie Mercury and Brian May were Mick’n’Keef gone fey, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry gone British. At their heights, they rocked you like a hurricane.
5. Sex Pistols, “God Save the Queen.” The start of the new revolution.
6. The Clash, “The Guns of Brixton.” If the Pistols were N.W.A., the Clash were Public Enemy - they had the musical talent and knowhow, and the political import, to back their shit up.
7. The Jam, “The Eton Rifles.” Pissed off but never pissy, Paul Weller’s gang made pop roughed about the edges, a Clash for the good kids.
8. Bauhaus, “Telegram Sam.” Every goth band starts here, but none did it better.
9. Ian Dury and the Blockheads, “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick.” Utterly inspired out-of-time pop.rock lunacy from Dury and company. When he starts convulsing over the “hit me!”s in the song’s coda, you gotta believe him.
10. Joy Division, “Transmission.” Not goth, but post-new wave gloom. It’s hard to believe that Ian Curtis could’ve gotten better, so maybe it’s a good thing he did what he did - at least we got the colossus that is New Order out of it.
11. The Jesus and Mary Chain, “Just Like Honey.” Like the Pixies and Sonic Youth after them, and the Velvet Underground preceding, nearly everyone who bought Psychocandy started a band. Thank God. The shoegazers were taking notes, as was ascendant God Kevin Shields. The brothers Reid were the finest merchants of feedback since their idol Bo Diddley.
12. The Smiths, “Shoplifters of the World Unite.” Whilst Marr plays like Nero on the fiddle post-absinthe, all dreamy, hazed chords, Morrissey just sings his life.
13. The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl, “Fairytale of New York.” The finest, and potentially nastiest, contemporary Christmas song ever: “you scumbag, you maggot, ya cheap lousy faggot,” MacColl spits at Shane MacGowan, as the boys from Eire play a reel for the damned.
14. PJ Harvey, “50 Ft Queenie.” Only the best new female singer of the last decade, Harvey harnesses a simultaneous ferocity and delicacy like no one this side of Robert Plant. And looks better doing so.
15. Lush, “Sweetness and Light.” Alongside Mancunians Ride, they were the twin towers of shoegaze/dreampop/insert your favorite term here, but endured longer, perhaps in part due to their, well, dreamy female (not femme) vocals? The guitars wash over you like warm oceans loaded with jellyfish.
16. Blur, “Parklife.” There’s Britpop, and then there’s “Parklife.” Damon before the fall.
17. Oasis, “Cigarettes and Alcohol.” Well, you can’t have one circa ’95 without the other, can you? Ah, to remember the days when the Gallagher brothers simply made some of the most exciting rock around, and hadn’t shown themselves as complete arseholes.
18. The Prodigy, “Smack My Bitch Up.” Funny to think that in ’97, the most exciting British bands - Prodigy, Chemicals, Underworld - were all programming-based. On The Fat of the Land, however, the Prodigy sounded like a rock band. And reaped the rewards accordingly.
19. Manic Street Preachers, “The Masses Against the Classes.” Trying so hard to take a brief vacation back to the days of Richey and heavy eyeliner, the Manics get all loud ‘n’ caffeinated. Cue sighs of remembrance.
20. Doves, “There Goes the Fear.” They that would be Coldplay, were they a bit more boring.

[There are five volumes; we'll see how many actually get blogged.]

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