All Cats Are Grey

Posted on 3rd April 2021

This week's poll year was 1981. Quite a influencial year for me, as it was the year I first started going to gigs. It was also the year I discovered we would be moving from Cheshire down to Leicestershire. I was going to miss the record shops in Crewe, and that amazing second-hand shop near school, where I spent a substantial amount of time and money on vinyl from around 1978 onwards, thanks to recommendations from various Radio One DJs, and friends.

My picks from this year, all had made an impression on me from previous years, so it wasn't too surprising they featured highly in my list. However, there was so much I was buying and listening to, I feel I need to put in a top 100 for 1981 (and I will likely have similar for the other years 1978-1984, when we finally get to them!).

My top choice, The Cure I was lucky enough to hear their first single played on late night Radio One (I think John Peel played it) in 1978, so I already knew and had records by the band. However, Faith was the first album that felt like a complete experience from beginning to end. From the opening of The Holy Hour, you knew this wasn't going to be a light-hearted listening session. Other Voices, back then and still now, is the stand out track on the album for me. I can't explain why, it can just stop me in my tracks when I listen to it. There really isn't a dud track on this album though, and I frequently still play it now.

My second choice, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, I first heard (as I recall, although I may have heard the previous singles on a Peel/Jensen show) via the single Messages. This their third album was a mix of their pop leanings and the experimental sounds that has frequented many of their albums. I was fortunate enough to see them on this tour at The Apollo in Manchester, and still remains one of the best shows I've seen them perform. She's Leaving and Georgia are still my favourites songs from the album.

New Order, although this being their debut, obviously were well known and anticipated in the months after Ian Curtis' death the previous year. Although they didn't exactly sound like Joy Division, you could still hear that musical progression from the previous few years. With the band members all trying out the vocals, before they finally settled on Bernard being the vocalist, each song has it's own subtle sound differences, even though musically it's all the same band. I remember playing it the first time with eager anticipation on my Dansette record player, and having the feeling that whatever came next, this band were not going to disapppoint. As we now know, they didn't ;) My favourite track changes, but for the moment Dreams Never End is the one I'm drawn to.

My next choice, Rainbow, had been a personal favourite for many years after becoming a Deep Purple fan, when I was recommended to buy a copy of Made In Japan from that second-hand record shop in Crewe. When Ritchie Blackmore left Deep Purple and formed Rainbow, for me it felt like a natural progression. Although Down To Earth was a striking change in direction, Difficult To Cure with new singer Joe-Lynn Turner gave the band a fresh lease of life. I got to see them on this tour (my second gig!) at Bingley Hall in Stafford, where upon arrival discovered the venue was not much more than a massive barn, where they auctioned farm live stock! As it turned out, it appears to have been one of Ritchie favourite venues, as the two shows I saw them play there (I saw them again in 1984 on the Bent Out Of Shape Tour) they were the longest sets on the tour, clocking over 2 hours for both shows, whereas tapes from other shows I have, usually just hit the 90 minute mark. Favourite song from the album was Can't Happen Here

My final top 5 choice is Stiff Little Fingers. My school friend Alan played me Alternative Ulster back in late 78, and I was hooked. A new form of punk was emerging, and SLF were the front runners. By 1981's third album, they had honed their craft, and were turning out cracking songs with ease. Gate 49 is easily my favourite from the album, and is the Gate at Heathrow when flying to Belfast, which explains the lyrics. Although, I didn't get to see them on the tour for the album, I did see them on the short tour in January 1982, when new boy Dolphin Taylor was introduced to the fans. It had been snowing heavily, so even though the show was sold out, several people never made it. As such, seating wasn't really being checked, so as a couple of my mates were slightly smaller than me, we opted to head up to the balcony. We had an hilarious time pogo-ing on the walkway between the front and back tiers of seats. Years later, I got to do a lighting gig for SLF at the Institute in Birmingham. I felt like that teenager again :)

And so to my top 100...

1 The Cure Faith
2 Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark Architecture & Morality
3 New Order Movement
4 Rainbow Difficult To Cure
5 Stiff Little Fingers Go For It
6 Duran Duran Duran Duran
7 Toyah Anthem
8 Ultravox Rage In Eden
9 The Go-Go's Beauty And The Beat
10 Rush Moving Pictures
11 Rush Exit...Stage Left
12 Black Sabbath Mob Rules
13 The Beat Wha'ppen?
14 Classix Nouveaux Night People
15 Budgie Nightflight
16 ABBA The Visitors
17 Debbie Harry KooKoo
18 UB40 Present Arms
19 Gary Numan Living Ornaments '80
20 Motörhead No Sleep Til Hammersmith
21 Pat Benatar Precious Time
22 Iron Maiden Killers
23 U2 October
24 Kraftwerk Computer World
25 AC/DC For Those About to Rock We Salute You
26 Gary Numan Living Ornaments '79
27 The Police Ghost in the Machine
28 Depeche Mode Speak & Spell
29 Spandau Ballet Journeys To Glory
30 Stevie Nicks Bella Donna
31 Blue Oyster Cult Fire Of Unknown Origin
32 Foreigner 4
33 Journey Escape
34 Ozzy Osbourne Diary of a Madman
35 Simple Minds Sons And Fascination / Sister Feelings Call
36 Bauhaus Mask
37 Gary Numan Dance
38 Madness 7
39 Killing Joke What's THIS For....?
40 Jean Michel Jarre Les Chants Magnétiques
41 INXS Underneath the Colours
42 John Foxx The Garden
43 Prince Controversy
44 The Moody Blues Long Distance Voyager
45 Twelfth Night Live at the Target
46 Echo & The Bunnymen Heaven Up Here
47 Nazereth It's Naz
48 Thin Lizzy Renegade
49 Whitesnake Come an' Get It

I should mention that most of the albums 1-50 I own. However, for those in the list 51-100, I mostly have listened to initially from friends albums, but have discovered others in more recent times. Having said that, there are more than a few that I hope to add to my collection at some point.

50 Saxon Denim and Leather
51 Styx Paradise Theatre
52 Genesis Abacab
53 Gillan Future Shock
54 Journey Captured
55 Eurythmics In the Garden
56 Tangerine Dream Thief
57 Sheena Easton Take My Time
58 New Musik Anywhere
59 Bow Wow Wow See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang Yeah, City All Over! Go Ape Crazy!
60 Nazereth The Fool Circle
61 ZZ Top El Loco
62 Blackfoot Marauder
63 Judas Priest Point of Entry
64 Van Halen Fair Warning
65 Secret Affair Business as Usual
66 Siouxsie & The Banshees Juju
67 The Pretenders Pretenders II
68 The Buggles Adventures in Modern Recording
69 Landscape From The Tea-rooms of Mars...
70 Au-Pairs Playing With A Different Sex
71 The Stranglers The Gospel According to the Meninblack
72 Brian Eno & David Byrne My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
73 Split Enz Waiata
74 Heaven 17 Penthouse and Pavement
75 Billy Joel Songs in the Attic
76 Midnight Oil Place Without A Postcard
77 Neil Young Re-ac-tor
78 Kiss Music From 'The Elder'
79 UFO The Wild, the Willing and the Innocent
80 Def Leppard High 'n' Dry
81 Tangerine Dream Exit
82 The Stranglers La folie
83 Men At Work Business as Usual
84 The Human League Dare
85 Vice Squad No Cause for Concern
86 Stray Cats Stray Cats
87 The Psychedelic Furs Talk Talk Talk
88 Girlschool Hit and Run
89 The Undertones Positive Touch
90 Altered Images Happy Birthday
91 Wall Of Voodoo Dark Continent
92 The Sound From The Lion's Mouth
93 Tom Tom Club Tom Tom Club
94 Phil Collins Face Value
95 Afraid Of Mice Afraid Of Mice
96 Bob Dylan Shot of Love
97 Wah! Nah=Poo – The Art of Bluff
98 Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft Gold und Liebe
99 Nick Mason Nick Mason's Fictitious Sports
100 King Crimson Discipline

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Gimme Chocolate!!

Posted on 27th March 2021

So this week's poll year 2014. A lot of rock/metal and progressive rock albums this year, and a few folk entries too. 

To date, BABYMETAL are now the last band I've seen live, back in February 2020, at my old haunt the Manchester Apollo. I discovered them around this time when I caught a feature of them on a music channel, possibly Kerrang!. I was both impressed with the songs, but also the ability for the Kawaii J-Pop sounds to mix seamlessly with the power metal of the Kami Band, forming the unique Kawaii Metal scene.

I've been a long time fan of KMFDM, and this album was instantly among my favourites on first listen. From the introduction by Miss Annabella, Lucia and Sasha's daughter, through to Make Your Stand, an electronic beat tour-de-force all the way. Respeckt!

I discovered 3TEETH a few years ago, and now wished I discovered them even earlier. This, their debut album, set the scene for what was to come, and from such an awesome beginning, it's been great to see them only grow. 

With NMA I have been very fortunate, as I've known them since their very first record. A friend of mine was the boyfriend of Rob Heaton's younger sister, and when I went to visit him back in Holmes Chapel once, he persuaded me to buy the single Bittersweet from him (he was doing a good sales job with all his friends), but he knew it was my kind of music. He wasn't wrong, and I've been a fan ever since. This album was a solid companion to 2013's Between Dog And Wolf, offering both studio and live tracks.

Mogwai, I saw in the late 90s, but mistook them for another band, who I wasn't impressed with, and ever since had not really paid attention to them. Until 2019, when I happen to listen to one of the albums and realised my mistake. I have since gone back and listened to all their albums, and hang my head in shame that I missed out on this band for so many years. Their more recent albums, include Rave Tapes, are a pure delight.

And on to 2014's top 50...

1 Babymetal Babymetal
2 KMFDM Our Time Will Come
3 3TEETH 3TEETH
4 New Model Army Between Blood And Wine
5 Mogwai Rave Tapes
6 Die So Fluid The Opposites of Light
7 Among The Echoes Fracture
8 Servers Leave With Us
9 The Birthday Massacre Superstition
10 Savlonic Red
11 IQ The Road Of Bones
12 Vice Squad Cardboard Country
13 Arch Enemy War Eternal
14 Within Temptation Hydra
17 Amy Lee Aftermath
16 Linkin Park The Hunting Party
15 Live The Turn
18 Seether Isolate and Medicate
19 Pallas itiswhatitis
20 Kate Rusby Ghost
21 Suzanne Vega Tales from the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles
22 Lacuna Coil Broken Crown Halo
23 Epica The Quantum Enigma
25 Prince & 3rdeyegirl Plectrumelectrum
24 Steve Hackett Genesis Revisited:Live at the Royal Albert Hall
26 Train Bulletproof Picasso
27 Judas Priest Redeemer of Souls
31 AC/DC Rock or Bust
32 The Foo Fighters Sonic Highways
28 Pallas wearewhoweare
29 Steve Rothery The Ghosts Of Pripyat
30 Melissa Etheridge This Is M.E.
33 Gandalf's Fist A Forest Of Fey
34 My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult Spooky Tricks
35 Semblant Lunar Manifesto
36 Bruce Springsteen High Hopes
38 Prince Art Offical Age
37 Yes Heaven & Earth
39 Simple Minds Big Music
40 Blondie Ghosts Of Download
41 Natalie Merchant Natalie Merchant
42 Pixies Indie Cindy
43 The Twilight Sad Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave
44 Transatlantic Kaleidoscope
45 Stevie Nicks 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault
46 Transatlantic KaLIVEoscope
48 Johnny Marr Playland
49 Mike Oldfield Man On The Rocks
47 Buzzcocks The Way
50 The Pretty Reckless Going To Hell

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Where the Bands Are

Posted on 20th March 2021

So my good intentions with writing up a diary entry once a month with some of the bands and artists I'd been listening didn't get very far. Sadly events of last year proved too overwhelming to write more. I still have several draft entries for some of those I had planned to feature, so I hope to finish them off over the coming months.

Although writing proved tough last year, I did get involved with a Twitter sensation of ranking albums released from 1965 to 2005, and the associated decades, thanks to the idea of Richard Shaw (@RichardS7370). Together with Mark (@marksmusic1977), Iain (@icrawford17), Si (@SimonFarrier1@jhoburgh, and several others, music polls have been the thing that has helped me to keep lockdown fatigue at bay.

Rediscovering albums, bands, and songs, as well as listening to several I'd never heard before, has been a delight. 

This year Richard has decided to turn things around slightly, and while we once again revisiting several of the years featured last year, he is extending it to feature the years 1963-2021. As such, I will also be revisiting my top 50s that I was posting, reviewing, and reposting an up to date version here. 

Let the listening begin....

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You Are the World

Posted on 20th March 2021

So the first poll year is 1991. In my original list Tribe's Abort came top, and while I still love the album, having listened to several other albums I bought at the time, my preferences all got scrambled again!

+Live+ were a band I discovered thanks to their song Pain Lies On The Riverside, from my new top choice, Mental Jewelry. I went to see them on their Throwing Copper tour in 1994 (well I actually crewed the gig they did at Edwards No.8 in Brum ... supported by Catatonia), and have been a fan ever since.

So my top 50 for 1991 ....

1 Live Mental Jewelry
2 REM Out Of Time
3 Crowded House Woodface
4 Pearl Jam Ten
5 New Model Army Raw Melody Men
6 Tribe Abort
7 Levellers Levelling The Land
8 Marillion Holidays In Eden
9 The Wonder Stuff Never Loved Elvis
10 U2 Achtung Baby
11 Therapy? Babyteeth
12 Jethro Tull Catfish Rising
13 The KLF The White Room
14 Prince & NPG Diamonds And Pearls
15 PIG Praise The Lard
16 Front 242 Tyranny (For You)
17 Cranes Wings Of Joy
18 INXS Live Baby Live
19 Genesis We Can't Dance
20 Nirvana Nevermind
21 Rush Roll The Bones
22 Metallica Metallica
23 Into Paradise Churchtown
24 Chapterhouse Whirlpool
25 Type O Negative Slow, Deep And Hard
26 Queen Innuendo
27 Mariah Carey Emotions
28 Guns N' Roses Use Your Illusion II
29 Pat Benatar True Love
30 Indigo Girls Back On The Bus, Y'all
31 Ozzy Osbourne No More Tears
32 Neil Young Weld
33 Temple Of The Dog Temple Of The Dog
34 Pixies Trompe le Monde
35 Guns N' Roses Use Your Illusion I
36 Belinda Carlisle Live Your Life Be Free
37 The Orb Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld
38 Massive Attack Blue Lines
39 Motörhead 1916
40 Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Into The Great Wide Open
41 Yes Union
42 Lynyrd Skynyrd Lynyrd Skynyrd 1991
43 Billy Bragg Don't Try This At Home
44 Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark Sugar Tax
45 Electronic Electronic
46 Slowdive Just For A Day
47 Siouxsie and the Banshees Superstition
48 Kirsty MacColl Electric Landlady
49 Simple Minds Real Life
50 Soundgarden Badmotorfinger

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