I have been, recently, thinking back to the first concert I ever went to as a 19-year-old. Held in the Wellington Town Hall it blew my mind. Originally the plan involved us heading to the capital to attend an All Black’s test at Athletic Park. A friend suggested we also head to the concert because it happened to be occurring later that evening. And so a life-long love with Matt Johnson and The The was created.
As an aside, I find the majority of people I speak to about The The have either never heard of them or absolutely adore them. There appears to be no in-between.
Last month The The released their first new music in a long, long time. First it was released only in the UK in a run of 2000 (old skool vinals) singles. The likes of me currently living in South Canterbury had no chance. Thanks to Spotify (and, I imagine, the massive demand from fans), the song is now online. Yesterday it reached its algorithmic tendrils out towards me suggesting I might want to listen. Indeed I did. It’s a beautiful song – I said so much in a tweet.
As another aside, Twitter really does fill you with awe and wonder when you get a like from your favourite band.
This new music from The The has led to the UK Guardian to feature the band in their 10 of the Best series. Have a squizz.
With that in mind, I thought I would do my own “10 of the best.” This isn’t countdown from lowest to highest – they are all first equal. I have ordered them by year of release.
Time has removed much of the concert from my memory banks. This song remains. A 10 minute epic near the end of Soul Mining turned into a half hour encore (probably 15 minutes max).
1. This is the Day
“You didn’t wake up this morning because you didn’t go to bed. You were watching the whites of your eyes turn red.” Imagine just standing at the bathroom mirror for the entire night wondering about your life. Matt Johnson lyrics never disappoint – and that’s just the opening of this song about a hard life being touched with just a hint of optimism.
The melody belies the message in this song about the most perfect English day.
This is the 51st state of the USA – indeed. As we move into a world of Trump and May (?), who can forget the 1980s when Regan and Thatcher were having a similar love in?
1. Sweet Bird of Truth
Another song with the live performance etched into my memory. A song of a solder heading to certain doom in yet another futile ware. This also makes the list because it rocks.
1. The Beat(en) Generation
I was listening to this yesterday and again I can’t help thinking how Matt so cunningly hides dark messages within a perfectly constructed 3 minute pop song. “The beaten generation. Reared on a diet of prejudice and misinformation.” Sound like current UK times much?
1. Armageddon Days (are here again)
A song about religious conflict written years before 9/11, Bush, Blair, Iraq or Afghanistan. So very prophetic.
1. Slow Emotion Replay
This one makes the list because it’s all groove. Harmonica, Johnny Marr guitar and lyrics about life. What more could you want?
1. I saw the Light
When The The released an album of Hank Williams covers I had to find out who Hank Williams was. This was before Google. It took ages.
1. We Can’t Stop What’s Coming
This new song makes its way into this list because it is so lovely. A tribute to his late brother Andy, responsible for much of the artwork on early albums and singles (some of which was banned). A gorgeous and glorious re-entry.
Enjoy and share. In these days of Spotify and Apple Music and whatever the one Jay-Z set up is called and nobody ever uses, word of mouth is just as important as algorithmic tendrils.
Michael Jackson was a bit of a weirdo but MAN was he a genius.
It was incredibly sad last weekend to hear of the death of the man responsible for the biggest selling album of all time – the man who not only invented the moonwalk but also a pair of gravity eluding shoes that allowed him to be the smoothest of all criminals.
In these days of uncertainty and particularly massive ponzi frauds (Sandford/Maidhof) the Jackson story seems to be the one used by the media to break us out of the gloom. Well that and swine flu (I mean that has to be the most ridiculous name for a disease ever? or was that chicken flu?).
It’s hard not to make the comparison between the generations. I was about 7 when Elvis kicked the bucket. He was the size of three 1950s vintage Elvises by the time of his death in 1977. What did Elvis give the world apart from that snake-powered pelvis and the recipe for a fried peanut-butter, banana and bacon sandwich? Well, let us begin…
Elvis Aaron Presley was born in 1935 in a shack somewhere in the south of America. He grew up in Memphis and had his first number one with his first single Heartbreak Hotel in 1956. From then on he changed the face of the recording industry. How? Well, he was the first superstar of rock. By rock I’m not talking about GnR or any of those other hair bands, I’m talking good olde fashioned rock ‘n’ roll. He started it. It was him – and the people who wrote his songs. And the fat guy Colonel Tom Sanders his manager (before you write saying I got it wrong, I’m just being stupid and gag-like).
If Elvis hadn’t happened in 1956, I doubt very much that the rest of the rock ‘n’ roll scene would have happened quite as it did then in the late 50s/early 60s. If Elvis hadn’t happened, then the neither would the Beatles. Of course, this is all my own opinion based on nothing more than years of listening to popular music and reading music stats in books and on the interweb.
As Elvis changed the face of popular music in the late 50s, so too did Michael Jackson in the early 80s. Although he did release Off the Wall in 1979, that wasn’t to have quite the same impact on the universe as Thriller when it was released in 1982. Yes, yes, yes I know he was huge in the 60s and 70s with his brothers. The Jackson 5 were massive and spawned many singalong classics, but Mr. Jackson did not become a superstar until that exact point in time. Even with the release of Thriller that still wasn’t enough. It wasn’t until he baffled and amazed the world with the debut of the moonwalk during a performance of Billie Jean at the 25th anniversary Motown concert in 1983.
That was the point in time when Michael Jackson went from being the cute kid who fronted a band of brothers to being an international megastar.
To this date Thriller has sold over twice as many albums as the next one down on the list of all time sales. If you look at the list Thriller is at the top with nearly 11o million (plus the rest since it now sits at #3 on the Billboard Comprehensive Album Sales Chart. I did, however, get the figures from Wikipedia, so they must be taken in the context of anyone being able to log on and change anything they like with this, as my friend calls it, fictionary. I don’t believe there is any doubting the Thriller impact on the world of albums, R&B and red jackets with many zippers to nowhere…
After that Jackson changed. There’s a great video that shows his dramatic metamorphosis from cute boy into the freakish waif who dangled a baby named ‘blanket’ over a balcony. Blanket!! Who the hell calls their child Blanket??? It might be something to do over possible confusion with Jacko calling his first son Prince Michael Jackson and is third-born Prince Michael Jackson as well. How could he possibly tell them apart? Maybe the fact that the first Prince Michael Jackson (Jr) and the second Prince Michael Jackson (II) weren’t exactly the same age and probably looked quite different due to their different mothers may have lessened any possible confusion.
Anyhoo, it didn’t take long for Jackson to turn from an international pop megastar into a tabloid mutant. By the mid-eighties all sorts of rumours about his life were circulating – many of which ended up being thought of as fact – and these ultimately would lead to his downfall through sex abuse claims after he said there was nothing wrong with sharing a bed with kids. So maybe it’s possible just a little bit his fault.
Another problem of the megasuperstar is the fact they are surrounded by ‘yes’ people, or they deliberately surround themselves with ‘yes’ people. You don’t want to be told ‘no’ by anyone when you have the best selling album of all time. You ask for something and if someone says, ‘well you probably shouldn’t have any more painkillers Mr. Jackson because you haven’t eaten in 4 days’ then you sack them and hire the next frothing at the mouth fan willing to do your bidding. And thusly we have found the cause of death – extenuating circumstances brought about by sycophantic delivery of prescription drugs.
Elvis died on the toilet following years of similar drug abuse. Everyone said yes to him and if they didn’t they were sacked. With many of these statements I make I must qualify them by again saying my blog is my opinion and should under no circumstances be considered fact. Although I do go hunting the interweb for facts and figures to back up my blanket statements (geddit!!) so I suppose it’s not all a load of rubbish.
A bit of a weirdo, but Michael Joseph Jackson changed the face of popular music and I doubt very much that P Diddy or Puff Bobby or any of those current hiphop idiots will have the kind of influence Jacko did.
Until next time, shamon.