NEVER MIND THE DOWNLOADS, HERE’S THE SEX PISTOLS!15 Nov 2007

Rottencrop With the music business dead and buried, who better to dance on its grave than those arch-celebrants of decay, the Sex Pistols? MOJO’s Stuart Williams gasped in awe at last night’s London show and muses that some comebacks are more timely than others.

Click MORE for his frontline report…

“Never ever trust the middle classes.”  So says John Lydon, Santa Monica resident and ITV primetime favourite, before launching into another spat invective in front of a sweaty, packed Brixton Academy.  Last night was the fifth and final London show of their mini-reunion celebration of the 30th Anniversary of Never Mind The Bollocks. “We’re here together for one reason”, he smirks, “Your money”.

If that’s true, it’s a shame. Nearly three decades on from the Winter of Discontent, The Eagles have a global Number 1 album, a Led Zeppelin is creaking back into the air and there’s as great a need as ever for four snotty Londoners to stick a safety pin or two into a few plump midriffs.

The four men on stage last night looked about as scary as Take That on an M&S photo shoot but close your eyes and the music is as spiky and visceral as ever. Their previous comebacks in 1996 and 2002 were mixed affairs: the first great, the second sloppy. With thirty years of improvements in audio production since their 100 Club days behind them, however, the sound is now a chunky, crashing, glorious noise. Glen Matlock (the “musical” one”) powers a driving bassline that could knock a pacemaker out of action while Steve Jones’s Les Paul throws out a steely sound worthy of Johnny Thunders at his greatest.

The star of the show, though is, of course, Johnny Rotten, a pot-bellied, potty-mouthed panto dame for the 21st century.  Dressed like a fluorescent Bagpuss, the gig is as much fun for his inter-song chats as for the music.  “Hello, fatty” he calls to Steve Jones before Holidays In The Sun. “This is dedicated to a pop genius called Malcolm,” before Liar and a bizarre attack on Madonna and Guy Ritchie (“a plastic gangster”) precedes Bodies. All along he maintains his mock disdain for his own songs, especially for EMI – hard to have a kick at a record company which is already down in the doldrums and could do with a comeback of its own.

The set finishes with an ear-blistering Anarchy In The UK and the crowd starts leaving before the band takes to the stage for one more (“Now the wankers have gone we can pull out the good stuff,” croaks Lydon). A scrappy cover of Jonathan Richman’s Road Runner brings the show to a close in a tight 70 minutes.

In contrast to the global hype surrounding most major reunions, the four original Sex Pistols have crept in under the radar and delivered one of the most impressive comebacks of 2007. If demand for these shows is anything to go by (all shows sold out in minutes), 2008 could be an opportunity for the band to take their circus on the road and play to tens of thousands. Interestingly, 72-year-old Michael Eavis CBE was in the front row of the circle for the last show. The Sex Pistols headliing Glastonbury 2008?  Take that, society.

Sex Pistols play Manchester MEN Arena 17th and Glasgow SECC 18th.

Posted by Danny Eccleston at 06:15PM | Leave a Comment (3)
MONTREAL: THE NEXT WAVE IS COMING!9 Nov 2007

Elsianecrop Whither the new Arcade Fire? That’s what the record industry wanted to know, so they set up a SXSW in Canada’s second city and invited some bands (including the promising Elsiane, pictured) to scrap it out for $5000 in tour support. MOJO’s Andy Fyfe attended the second M For Montreal to find that there may still be something in the water.

Click MORE for the winners and losers, in MOJO’s mind…

IF YOU LOVE CONCRETE, you really have to see Montreal. They love the stuff. Well, their architects do anyway. Perched in the middle of the river island city is its most iconic structure, the 1976 Olympic Stadium, a building that resembles an earthly version of the xenomorph spacecraft in Alien.

Though magnificent, it’s always been a problem child. The Olympic Games nearly bankrupted the city, exacerbated by labour strikes during construction of the stadium which delayed installation of its retractable Kevlar roof and the finishing of the tower until 1987. Even then, the roof couldn’t be retracted in winds over 25mph and actually ripped in higher winds. Elsewhere in the city is the swish and sleek Opus Hotel, the first building in North America to be constructed, in 1914, with poured concrete.

Such quirks are not surprising in Montreal, a city caught between two worlds but a member of neither. Its French roots, and those of its mother province Quebec, are so strong it still causes the rest of Canada to grudgingly pretend to be bilingual, while its native inhabitants are fiercely loyal to the city, province and country, strictly in that order.

Melissa Auf De Mar, lucky enough to be the bass player in two of the most dysfunctional bands of the ‘90s – Hole and Smashing Pumpkins – is one such native. Possibly the nicest woman in rock, how she survived alongside the egos of Courtney Love and Billy Corgan is one of the modern world’s great mysteries. But it means she qualifies as the perfect ambassador for M For Montreal, a music industry conference dedicated to finding the local acts most likely to succeed on the world’s stages and bringing the world to see them. In its inaugural year in 2006 it introduced Patrick Watson and The Besnard Lakes as Canada’s next big things, to follow in the footsteps of other recent Montreal finds The Arcade Fire and Malajube.

This year, in front of intrepid European media, representatives of the world’s biggest festivals – including Glastonbury and South By Southwest – and assorted industry bigwigs from Scandinavia, Spain, Austria, France, Holland, Germany, Australia and New Zealand, M For Montreal showcased the cream of the local talent. With a policy that nobly pushes none of the organisers’ agendas – who all also act as managers, bookers, PRs and agents in the local industry - the range of acts is surprisingly diverse, from metal to indie to trip hop to pop to (actually rather appalling) hip hop.

Split over two nights it’s a marathon of eight bands a night, the acts showing alternately at two adjacent venues. At a pint (and a crafty outside fag) per band, it becomes a gruelling, though far from unpleasant, piece of trans-global networking. In fact, I can now drunkenly gush “You’re my besht mate” in eight languages. At stake for the bands is a showcase at next year’s Great Escape festival in Brighton plus money for a European tour, voted for by the overseas delegates. There can be only one…

Chocolat

Chocolat manfully grasp the shitty opening act stick and risk being forgotten by the time number 16 rolls by. Quite simply, they are one of the highlights. Imagine Bob Dylan fronting The Yardbirds in 1964 at The Crawdaddy Club. The drawback – as with many Montreal acts – is their insistence on singing almost exclusively in French, but the quality of Jimmy Hunt’s vocals and Dale MacDonald’s modish guitar, not to mention his snappy black polo neck/suit combo, could transcend the snob element at any Northern Soul club.

If you like songs about fairies living in walls you may like Plants And Animals. The acoustic-ish three-piece play brilliantly, full of jazzy drum slides and exquisitely plucked and picked guitar, but there are no tunes and no focus.

Wearewolves

We Are Wolves are probably the nearest thing Montreal has to a successor to The Arcade Fire, a self-proclaimed “gang of three – four if you include rock”. If The Klaxons were French Canadian (although WAW are pragmatic enough to also sing in English), and had The Beta Band’s sense of drama, something of this artrock trio would be approached. With giant cut-out cardboard skulls attached to their backs by poles, they tear through a half hour set of exhilarating, pounding post-punk rock.

As you’d expect from the name, Priestess represent Montreal’s metal community. Drummer Vince Mudo is Ian Paice-quick around his kit – and sports magnificent Matt Sorum-like hair – but the rest of the band are caught somewhere between Black Sabbath and Pantera, but quite useless at both. Their inappropriate Pink Floyd T-shirts merely highlights the confusion.

Torngat, named for a dramatic range of mountains on the Labrador Peninsula (it means “spirits” in Inuktitut), are a very tasteful post-rock trio who prefer to call their gigs “spectacles”. The band base everything around a French horn, immediately reducing their music to a series of interludes which have as much trouble reaching a useful conclusion as a 14-year-old trying to wank while his mum knocks on the bathroom door.

Bloodshotbill

If MOJO Award winner Seasick Steve has ever floated your boat, meet his Elvis-inspired cousin Bloodshot Bill. Every country in the world seems to have a brimstone-breathing one-man band, but Bill’s hectic rockabilly, complete with “thangyoumam” and a quick comb of the quiff after each song are wonderfully singular, like a WWII sweater girl cartoon drawn by Robert Crumb.

Les Breastfeeders, are no cartoon, in spite of the name. Their nearest contemporaries would be The Hives, all angular, grinding garage punk, but they have two problems: an adherence to French and their tambourine player/dancer, the half-clad and disquieting figure of Johnny Maldoror. If you’re going to have a Bez in the band, have Bez. Happy Mondays need their talismanic drug Tardis to make up for the rest of the band’s static performance, but Les Breastfeeders have no such deficiencies and therefore no need of a man who makes The Childcatcher seem as disturbing as Pooh Bear.

Last of the night’s by now blurry acts is Numero. Let’s be honest here: not even the French can do French rap with any conviction, and Canada is hardly a gangsta concept. It just wouldn’t work, even if the beats or music were any good. And they’re not.

IF DAY ONE SUGGESTED MONTREAL was hardly awash with new talent, day two is an embarrassment of riches. For Krief, rock is a serious business. Mostly a vehicle for Patrick Krief, here unrestrained by the collective approach of his other band, The Dears, Krief rock out like punk never happened, his bass player the individual highlight of the festival, his facial expressions running the gamut from Derek Smalls to, well, Derek Smalls. Celestial keyboards fill the gaps between screaming Hendrix guitar, all heads tilted to the heavens, eyes closed, a Lenny Kravitz it’s very OK to like.

Shapesandsizes

Which makes the job for Shapes And Sizes even more difficult than their awful music already has. A haphazard-looking collection of boy-girl geeks with a superiority complex – like social workers retrained as librarians – their ramshackle indie music is supposed to be nimble and arch, but is more like a bad fourth form music class project.

Mainstream pop-rock is the territory occupied by Hot Springs an act viewed with some suspicion by their peers as a record company fake. It’s easy to see why. Giggling singer and songwriter Giselle Webber has all the hallmarks of a plastic pop princess – slightly dirty good looks, a quirky dress sense that could have been advised by a stylist and the impression that she might be “highly strung” – and will no doubt receive the lion’s share of the attention, but Hot Springs is a band effort. Drummer Anne Gauthier and looming bassist Frederic Suave are a dynamic rhythm section, while Webber’s performance, all manic warbling and foal-like stamping, justifiably takes centre stage. If it seems a little too much like a corporate idea of rock’n’roll danger well, get off your high horse Mr Indieboy.

Karkwa

Being tagged the “Canadian Radiohead” is a likely albatross for Karkwa. The five-piece make a stately, prog-ish sound not unlike their Oxford forebears, but have little of Thom Yorke’s nervy angst. Or, at least, they seem to have little of it: once again there’s that language barrier to overcome if they want to break out of their home country. But they may just leap that fence through the sheer atmosphere of their moving, melancholy sound.

Atmosphere is a major component of the extraordinary Elsianne. A duo named – sort of – after singer Elsieanne Caplette, their vaguely trip-hoppy music cradling Caplette’s riveting voice, part Björk, part Beth Gibbons, part Liz Fraser, part Bobby McFerrin. The way she wails through crescendo after crescendo and beats her body like it’s a kettle drum is as striking as her appearance, her tiny form wrapped in a diva dress, seemingly foot-long lashes and nails sparkling like miniature glitterballs. There’s something devastating waiting to happen here, but it may need a strong-willed producer to winkle it out of them.

The Stills, perhaps the best-known band on the bill outside of Canada, are a group out of time, a classic alt-rock act that could have shown The House Of Love a clean pair of heals in 1989. Not for them the whims of jerky, punky fashion, their harmonies and chiming guitars are either 15 years behind the beat or five years ahead – only time will tell. Seamless guitar rock, and by God they throw everything into it with exuberance and joie de vivre.

In a move that will make anyone who’s watched the Will Ferrell-Christopher Walken “More Cowbell” sketch on YouTube explode with an excited “plock”, Creature feature possibly the only twin-cow bell attack in rock. Creature come as a fully formed funk B-52’s, with sharp clothes, boy-girl harmonies, a punky-pop funk swagger and sense of fun combining to make a Kid Creole show look a bit narcoleptic.

Which leaves just Thunderheist, who, despite the name, aren’t the solo project of some forgotten Zodiac Mindwarp henchman but a severely limited digital hip-hop act. Sampling Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams is hardly cutting edge, and moaning about how hard it is to get anywhere in the industry when you’re both female and black isn’t going to endear you to an industry audience. Even so, it’s unlikely they’ll be gatecrashing any dubstep night near you soon.

And that, finally, was it. Blurry of vision, wheezy of lung and confused of mind, the overseas delegation voted, by some margin, to grant We Are Wolves the coveted Great Escape slot and $5000 (that’s $5000 Canadian) in tour support.

Montreal had offered a rich tapestry over two days, but the most successful groups were the ones true to the fractured personality of their home city - We Are Wolves, Creature, Krief, Karkwa and maybe Elisiane – while those who grappled with imported concepts – Preistess, Numero, Thunderheist – struggled to impress the world at large.

M For Montreal is a bold concept – few cities in the world have such a heightened sense of individuality to dare be so hubristic, and even fewer have such a fertile breeding ground for music. A band like The Arcade Fire, who may not reinvent the rock wheel but have certainly modified its design, may come along only a few times in a generation, but the little brothers and sisters from their hometown are growing up fast.

More on M For Montreal at mformontreal.com

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AN EVENING WITH HENDRIX26 Oct 2007

Hendrixatmonterey To celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Jimi Hendrix Experience's epoch defining performance at the Monterey Pop Festival, Mitch Mitchell and Billy Cox - two of the great man's most trusted musical compadres - were in London last night to attend a huge simulcast screening of the newly restored gig footage. MOJO's Mark Paytress was at The Hippodrome to witness the wild man of rock, once again, tear the place apart.

Click MORE to read the full report.

A night out with Jimi Hendrix? Having spent hundreds of thrill-packed nights indoors with him over three decades, this was an experience not to miss.

And there he was, inevitably larger than life, the most beautiful, gifted and intoxicating man ever to grace a rock stage, blasting an unsurpassed set of psychedelicised blues-rock into the rock’n’roll history book. As the St Winifred’s’ School Choir so pleasingly put it, “There’s no one quite like Hendrix”. Or did I hear wrong?

There were no such mistaken hearings at The Hippodrome, London’s most celebrated popular niterie, as the 40th anniversary release (and simulcast) of Hendrix’s Monterey performance played out to an overwhelmingly male audience of 500 or so mainly 40- and 50-somethings. The age range was disappointing. For a new generation, weaned on rehashed Beatles, Clash, post-punk and Britpop styles, performed by a seemingly endless queue of mystifyingly charmless 20-somethings, seeing Hendrix on BBC’s Seven Ages Of Rock series earlier this year gave a rare and fascinating glimpse of something that cast career-option rock in a wholly new light. It’s a pity, then, that few of them could afford the costly privilege of seeing and hearing the remastered, re-edited Monterey footage in its full, big-screen glory. But then who, Microsoft executives aside, would think of forking out £175 for a VIP ticket for a film – even if the promised appearance of two Experience members was dangled as bait?

And, indeed, Gary Moore, the man given the unenviable task of following Hendrix’s inflammatory Monterey climax for the second half of the night’s proceedings. Oddly, judging by the reception he received as he ambled on stage, a sizeable section of the audience was actually here for grimacing Gary. And he didn’t let them down. In three decades of gig-going, never have I seen a man with such a repertoire of “pained guitarist” expressions. Just what is he on? Organic prunes? Close your eyes, though, and there’s no getting away from it: Moore makes a ferociously faithful fist of Hendrix’s catalogue – from the opening Purple Haze and Manic Depression to the Voodoo Chile finale.

As the night drew on, the likelihood of Mitch and Billy replacing Moore’s rhythm section grew increasingly distant. Then veteran journo Keith Altham popped up to introduce  “Jimi’s engine-room”, and the pair were instantly transported back to 1970 by Moore’s introduction to a long and winding Red House. While Cox looked comfortable in his superfly hat and outsized Jimi merchandise shirt, Mitch seemed bemused by the occasion. Now tinier than ever, he sat behind a small kit and took a while before finding his bearings. After 15 minutes, though, as Moore graciously steered the pair towards a tense climax, glorious flashes of Mitchell’s jazz-inflected syncopation began to shine through. The crowd, which you could feel virtually willing him on, responded with the night’s biggest cheer. Two more songs – a blistering Stone Free and a soulful Hey Joe thanks to a bubbling Billy bassline – and the engine room was gone. Not necessarily graceful . . . but, in its way, beautiful.

Mark Paytress

The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Monterey Pop Festival - Sunday, June 18, 1967


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WHAT’S BEST? GIGS OR RECORDS?19 Oct 2007

Elviscrop MOJO’s Danny Eccleston used to think it was records. Now he thinks it’s gigs. Elvis Costello agrees.

Click MORE for his flimsy argument...

Last week, Elvis Costello told MOJO magazine that he was thinking of giving up making records. For him, it had ceased being an economical way of disseminating music, and besides, he’s bored of it.

“I’m not of a mind to record any more,” he told our Phil Sutcliffe. “There’s no point. In terms of recorded music, the pact’s been broken – the personal connection between the artist and the listener. MP3 has dismantled the intended shape of an album. And then everything is leaked, everything is stolen. So I play live, it happens in the moment. If I do a new song I might never play it again, and if you’re not there you fuckin’ miss it…”

Then this week, Madonna announced she’s deserting the record industry’s sinking ship to join bigass concert promoters LiveNation in a deal that will score the latter a cut of the entire Madonna pie: that’s her records (getting poorer and poorer, selling fewer and fewer) and her shows (always a pop culture event, whatever her sales figures). The balance between gigs and records, once weighted toward records, now heavily favours gigs.

Now I used to have my “issues” with live music. I’m aware that, for a music journalist, this is an unusual position, but consider the “facts”. There’s the inconvenience; the gauntlet of late-night public transport (the eerie realm of the mentally ill); the elbow-jogging proximity of other people, especially – and I accept this is my particular experience – fans of indie rock with their array of irritating affectations and poor standards of personal hygiene. Throughout my twenties I was also obliged to accompany the gig-going experience with numbing/reality-warping quantities of alcohol or, if lucky, drugs. Hence what memories remain of the perhaps world-changing shows I attended, are sketchy and unreliable. For instance, I’m aware that I witnessed Nirvana’s legendary Reading Festival performance in 1992, and Oasis’s imperial turn at Knebworth in 1996 – I have the ticket stubs – but if you asked me what it was REALLY like to be there, your reply would be slack-jawed, vacant-eyed silence or a barrage of stitched-together lies and/or journo flannel.

Records, on the other hand, offered the communion I craved. Communion with my bedroom, myself, and the artist who’d made the record, unshared with the great unwashed.

However, I was recently rocked by a conversion as profound as that of Saul to Paul – except his was unlikely to have been effected at a London show by Vancouver heavy-psych mindbenders Black Mountain. It is a truism of the ongoing so-called crisis in the music business that gigs are becoming the events and records the pale mementos, but it so happens that my own experience appears suddenly to be following the curve.

The ritualistic elements of “the gig”, once so irksome, I now find exciting – not because I attend fewer (I probably attend as many and certainly remember rather more about those I do attend) but because it is, at least, a genuine ritual, with sights, sounds, (mostly horrible) smells and a properly physical encounter with the music. By contrast, the act of communion with records has become compromised by circumstance and technology. IE. No more the mysterious crackle and anticipation-filled pause between needle-impact and sonic assault. No more the thrill of the solitary freak-out and the transportation to a solipsistic nirvana. Now the recorded music I used to treasure blasts out of clothes shops and web sites and TV advertisements. It has become endemic, undervalued, crassly social, and available, whether you like it or not, 24-bleeding-7.

Now I’m aware that, conceivably, I could lock myself pointedly in the shed, dig out the vinyl and party like it’s 1989, and yes, I’m weak and lazy and tired and old to allow myself to be bullied into using music the way prevailing popular culture subscribes. But dammit, I’m a late-thirtysomething parent, with fewer and fewer opportunities to immerse myself in records at home – certainly not at the volume that the teenager-who-lives-in-my-head still demands, at a level loud enough to drown the clarion call of diapers, admin and broke stuff that needs fixing.

But when you’ve got your head in a bass bin at the Metro Club, London W1, and Black Mountain are belting out Druganaut so hard their Marshalls look set to melt, that clarion call is but a whisper to be gleefully ignored. You’re right here in the everlasting now. Just try to forget that the last tube leaves at 11, and the loonies await...

Danny Eccleston

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ULTIMATE PINK FLOYD!1 Mar 2006

MOJO Editor-in-chief Phil Alexander chooses his 30 favourite Floyd tracks to celebrate this month's cover stars. But do you agree with him? Have your say!

THE CHALLENGE? To compile a playlist of 30 tracks that sum up the very best of Pink Floyd. Easy. Until you start thinking about it…. Get the albums out, starting playing them and you realise owever, after a night of playing every Floyd album back to back, selecting favourite tunes and arranging them in chronological order, here's a celebration of close to 40 years of unique music. And, as, in the current issue of MOJO magazine, we celebrate the return of Floyd guitarist and vocalist David Gilmour, we have taken the liberty of adding the title track of his new album, On An Island, as a so-called 'bonus track' to this playlist. Strangely it fits quite well when you listen to it in that context.

Doubtless there will be those willing debate this selection - "Wot? No, Money!?" you rage. "Or See Emily Play?!" "Or One Of These Days?!" Well, no. None of those. Nor is there any live material - although a swift listen to Pulse during the compiling process did reveal it to be a far finer set that your compiler had recalled it to be.

Anyhow, this playlist is a personal selection - reasons for inclusion at times being listed below. Disagreements are best dealt with by simply compiling your own Pink Floyd Playlist, an invitation to do so being included below. In the meantime, here's one man's view…

1 Arnold Layne
(Available on: Relics, 1967)
The band's first single is famously based around a true-life tale of a local Cambridge cross-dressing clothes thief and encapsulates Barrett-era Floyd's very British, LSD-and-tea take on psychedelia.

2 Astronomy Domine
(Available on: The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, 1967)
With Neil Armstrong's "small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" still two years away, Floyd nevertheless transport the audience to the outer limits via a crackling space-speech effect, moon-morse guitar patterns and a lyrical view of intergalactic travel that suggests a steady diet of vacuum packed brown acid. Stars, as Syd points out, can indeed frighten.


3 Matilda Mother
(Available on: The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, 1967)
"There was a king who ruled the land/His majesty was in command," begins Syd on this enchanted tale that appears to deal with the Brit psych quest for a bygone, more genteel version of Albion. It's a quest underlined by the melodic flow and ebb that contrasts with early Floyd's more violent interludes, as typified by...


4 Interstellar Overdrive
(Available on: The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, 1967)
The descending bass-and-guitar riff drags you into the vortex of that primal Pink Floyd sound on this nine-minute-plus epic. An inspiration to everyone from fellow sonic travellers Hawkwind  and on to the likes of Loop, Piper's instrumental track remains a mind-shredder close to 40 years on.


5 Bike
(Available on: The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, 1967)
Including Bike on this playlist rather than The Hobbit-esque charm of The Gnome provided your compiler with a real dilemma. Having watched the extras on the Syd Barrett Story DVD recently that included Graham Coxon performing this, it became impossible not to include the original expression of Syd's naïf psych at its most bewildering.


6 Careful With That Axe, Eugene
(Available on: Relics, 1968)
The title alone implies the threat of the track itself, matching Rick Wright's mellifluous keyboard work with a disconcerting space whisper that reaches its climax as a harrowing scream. The B-side to the ill-fated Point Me At The Sky single, Eugene is a oscillates between the soothing and the downright psychotic. The live version (on Ummagumma) is even scarier.


7 Let There Be More Light
(Available on: A Saucerful Of Secrets, 1968)
In the post-rave '90s there were those willing to proclaim a bunch of synth merchants as being "the new Floyd". In truth, the supposed Pink pretenders were largely DJs who'd got stoned to Dark Side once too often. Then again, check out the intro to Saucerful (then fall into the hypnotic state induced by the track thereafter) and you find yourself wondering whether The Chemical Brothers heard this before laying down Block Rockin' Beats…


8 Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun
(Available on: A Saucerful Of Secrets, 1968)
Is this tense, bass-driven exercise in repetition the beginning of Ambient Floyd? Perhaps. Certainly those well-known refusenik millionaires The KLF have described this Saucerful track as "the centrepiece for the whole of Floyd's career". Certainly, it remains a key Roger Waters composition that points the way forward for much of Floyd's future adventures. >


9 Cirrus Minor
(Available on: More, 1969)
If Set The Controls hints Floyd's future, so too does More's often overlooked Cirrus Minor, a track whose birdsong intro is an indicator of the band's evolution away from psychedelia into even more pastoral territory. In places, the track itself however does also manage to echo Astronomy Domine, both in terms of subject matter and melodically speaking before Rick Wright's blissed out organ transports the listener onwards.


10 The Nile Song
(Available on: More, 1969)
The antidote to Cirrus Minor is this slice of Trogg-like behaviour by Roger Waters. Play this back to back with anything that Killing Joke have done in the last 30 years and it's clear that Jaz Coleman and co copped much from this slice of proto-metal.


11 The Narrow Way (Part I-III)
(Available on: Ummagumma, 1969)
Written by an under pressure David Gilmour - see the current issue of MOJO for Gilmour's full explanation - this three-part piece from the studio album that completely Ummagumma's double set is nevertheless a track that showcases Gilmour's mastery of the texture that would define the Floyd sound in the '70s. While Gilmour himself is quick to laugh if off today, your compiler would add this to any Ambient Floyd playlist - despite the heavier second part. And it squeezes in here because the other option from Ummagumma's studio meanderings is arguably the Goon-like vibe of Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Grooving With A Pict - Floyd's most preposterous track.


12 Fat Old Sun
(Available on: Atom Heart Mother, 1970)
If Roger Waters is viewed as Floyd's eternal melodramatic malcontent, David Gilmour is their stabilising influence. Hence, while it would have been easy to include one of Atom Heart Mother's more esoteric moments on this playlist, this Kinks-like cut however reflects Gilmour's natural penchant for the melodic and idyllic.


13 Fearless
(Available on: Meddle, 1971)
In the opening guitar cycle Floyd appear to doff their collective cap in the direction of Led Zeppelin on this mellow and often underrated Meddle cut. Of course, while Zep were already the most successful post-Beatles band on the planet, Floyd would soon join them, the pair charting the forward for rock music throughout the '70s.  On a different note, while ardent Arsenal supporter Roger Waters wrote Fearless, the ending of the track appears to boast The Kop in full effect. Could this be a Waters pop at Liverpool FC who, in 1971, were beaten by The Gunners in the FA Cup Final as they clinched a well earned Double?


14 Echoes
(Available on: Meddle, 1971)
It starts with the now trademarked sonar 'ping' and charts the course for Floyd's further exploration of ambient excess. A glorious and bold piece, Echoes - originally titled Nothing and occupying an entire side of Meddle - is the sound of a band reinventing themselves and beginning to sow the seeds for Dark Side.


15 Free Four
(Available on: Obscured By Clouds, 1972)
If Meddle marked the development of a lusher Floyd sound, then Obscured By Clouds continued that progression. Had Floyd not been so darn British in terms of their outlook and sensibilities, Clouds would also have been viewed as an album that accentuated the band's appropriation of neo-Californian harmonies. Certainly Free Four - despite its subject matter which dealt with the death of Waters' father in World War II, a theme who would of course return to - found itself welcomed Stateside where it picked up a ton of West Coast airplay, setting up what was to follow…


16 Speak To Me/Breathe
(Available on: The Dark Side Of The Moon, 1973)
If Meddle marked the development of a lusher Floyd sound, then Obscured By Clouds continued that progression. Had Floyd not been so darn British in terms of their outlook and sensibilities, Clouds would also have been viewed as an album that accentuated the band's appropriation of neo-Californian harmonies. Certainly Free Four - despite its subject matter which dealt with the death of Waters' father in World War II, a theme who would of course return to - found itself welcomed Stateside where it picked up a ton of West Coast airplay, setting up what was to follow…


17 Time
(Available on: The Dark Side Of The Moon, 1973)
Of course The Dark Side Of The Moon needs to be listened to in its entirety and indeed you could argue that the entire album should be included on any list of this type. For our purposes however Time is included here as opposed to The Great Gig In The Sky, Eclipse, Us And Them or Money (the latter being forever tainted following its appearance on President Bush's I-Pod playlist) simply because it draws on previous musical threads while highlighting the band's new, stadium-sized focus.


18 Brain Damage
(Available on: The Dark Side Of The Moon, 1973)
"The lunatic is on the grass" begins the lyric as Floyd deliver another Dark Side track that nods to whether they've been that possesses a greater sense of melody and, of course, the phrase that gave their most famous album its title.


19 Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Part I-VII)
(Available on: Wish You Were Here, 1975)
The greatest of Floyd's musical statements, Shine On is both elegiac as well as epic in its tribute to the band's former leader Syd Barrett. The first eight minutes belong to David Gilmour whose guitar playing is beautifully vocal. Then comes Floyd's other voice as Roger Waters evokes his young and carefree comrade ("Remember when you were young…") before chronicling Syd's tragic decline.


20 Have A Cigar
(Available on: Wish You Were Here, 1975)
Unable to sing his own song Roger Waters allowed label mate Roy Harper to assume lead vocals on this anti-music industry slice of vitriol. Recorded in the days when conversations about cash among artists was strictly verboten, Harper asked for a lifetime's season ticket to Lords by way of payment. To date he has yet to receive this recompense, despite this track being released as a single and remaining as one of Floyd's best loved tunes. Gilmour has recently made reference to Have A Cigar's lyricism, mentioning "the gravy train" when discussing Floyd's possible reunion, suggesting that he may be referring Waters to his own cynical world view of the industry by way of a kiss off.


21 Wish You Were Here
(Available on: Wish You Were Here, 1975)
The apex of the Waters/Gilmour relationship, Wish You Were Here is the sound of the pair united in their celebration of Syd. Assimilating classical undertones and guilt-ridden lyricism, it is another perfect example of Floyd's scholarly approach to even the most turbulent of emotions.


22 Dogs (Available on: Animals, 1977)
Originally designed by David Gilmour for inclusion on Wish You Were Here, this co-write with Waters is a symbol of the pair's contrasting views, not only in terms of the track's re-allocation to the band's '77 set, but also in terms of their approach to music. While Gilmour's vocals are typically understated, Waters' reach a point of near hysteria. The upshot is essentially a fusion-filled, 17-minute exposition - sporting another fine Gilmour guitar wringing - packed with a sense of foreboding (both lyrical and real) signals the beginning of the end in terms of Floyd as a cohesive unit. Paranoia, power struggles and production credits in alphabetical order were just around the corner…


23 Sheep
(Available on: Animals, 1977)
In terms of sheer despair and misery, the 10-minute lyrical thuggery of Sheep out-punks-the-punks by serving up the climax to Animals' Orwellian escapade. "Harmlessly passing your time in the grassland away/Only dimly aware of a certain unease in the air/You better watch out…" begins Waters, before indulging in an outpouring of bellowed angst. In hindsight, it is easy to view his lyricism as possessing a double meaning.


24 In The Flesh?
(Available on: The Wall, 1979))
If Animals marked the dissolution of Pink Floyd as a democratic working ensemble, then The Wall confirmed Roger Waters as having assumed the Orwellian role he'd so readily described on the aforementioned album. In The Flesh, the ominous, sloth-heavy introduction to Waters' conceptual charred tour de force, remains a chilling track for anyone below a certain age who grew up listening to The Wall and found themselves enthralled by the dark emotional war zone it traversed.


25 Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)
(Available on: The Wall, 1979)
The most unlikely Christmas Number One of all-time, the oppressive, cloying nature of The Wall is exemplified by the juxtaposition of dashed youthful idealism and the childlike quality audible on the track. Gilmour's repetitive guitar pattern adds to the mounting tension.


26 Mother
(Available on: The Wall, 1979)
Six tracks into The Wall and Waters shows not the slightest sign of optimism, seeking comfort from his mother but failing to find any. Instead, his protagonist's fears are magnified by maternal jealousy and resentment. The result is the aural equivalent of Psycho with the shower scene replaced by a mental skewering.


27 Comfortably Numb
(Available on: The Wall, 1979)
Even when selecting four tracks from The Wall, by the time you arrive at Number Four you feel yourself pummelled by what has gone before. Hence, when this musically lush/emotionally savage Gilmour and Waters' co-write ends with the words  "The child is grown, the dream is gone/I have become comfortably numb" it is impossible to disagree. The only salvation on offer emerges via Gilmour's redemptive guitar solo, which emerges as a necessary pressure valve four minutes and 32 seconds into the track.


28 When The Tigers Broke Free
(Available on: The Final Cut, 1983)
If The Wall is Roger Waters' dictatorial statement, then The Final Cut is an even bleaker affirmation of his autocratic view of the band. Indeed When The Tigers Broke free is taken from The Wall's soundtrack and was added to Waters' overwrought "Requiem For A Post War Dream" (as it was subtitled) on later CD editions. Michael Kamen's lush orchestration does little to alleviate the cloying sense of guilt, despair and fear that permeates the album.


29 Sorrow
(Available on: A Momentary Lapse Of Reason, 1987)
Accepting that we need to include a track from pretty much every 'proper' Floyd studio album - and, let's be honest, accepting A Momentary Lapse as a 'proper' PF is difficult bearing in mind the fact that it vaguely involves Nick Mason and Rick Wright, and finds Gilmour struggling to find a cohesive sound and vision - then Sorrow makes it on here. Of course, close to 20 years on it sounds trapped in a world of Linn drums, sequencers and brick-sized in-car mobile phones. However it remains a track that Gilmour genuinely feels affection for and which fans of his playing will enjoy due to some customarily sparkling guitar work.


30 High Hopes
(Available on: The Division Bell, 1994)
The return of birdsong, chiming bells and a pastoral piano introduction are enough to signal that, after an aptly named self-styled lapse of reason, the Waters-free Floyd were nevertheless back on course. Indeed, Gilmour's collaboration with his wife Polly Sampson on this track suggests a modicum of contentment missing from the band for quite some time. As well as Gilmour's strong melodic sense, at five minutes and 18 seconds in (of the 7:53 minutes that make up the track, discounting the play out which involves his son Charlie on an ansaphone) the guitarist cuts in with one of his most emotive slide solos, bringing the whole track home in a gloriously dextrous manner.


BONUS TRACK!
31 David Gilmour On An Island
(Available on: On An Island, 2006)
Of course it'll upset the diehards, but the title track of David Gilmour's new album is the closest that we're likely to come to new Pink Floyd material for the foreseeable future. And indeed this track wouldn't be out of place on any proposed new Floyd album with Gilmour's vocals sounding remarkably sprightly. Add to that the audacious lobbing in of three (count 'em!) trademarked guitar solo and you have a track that perfectly showcases the taciturn guitarist's contribution to Floyd over the years.

NOW COMPILE YOURS!
Disagree with Phil Alexander's subjective selection? Then compile your own Pink Floyd Playlist and leave your results here for other Floydian scholars to study. The rules are simple: there are no rules! So if you fancy an Ambient Floyd playlist or a Syd-era list or even Roger Waters' Most Miserable Moments, then go ahead. Remember, though, other Floyd freaks are waiting…

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