Feelings of bewilderment immediately after the piece of theatre I saw last night. Why that, why not my stuff? If that’s the end product after months of toil, if that’s as funny as your comedy gets, maybe it’s time to put your hands up and say, wooah, let’s not do this, it’s not good enough to be aired in public. Ages ago, when I first met the editor of a magazine I do a lot of stuff for now, I told him that I was busy writing plays because I couldn’t believe the amount of absolute crap that I had to sit through. And it is. 95% of it is just shite. I can do better than that. I don’t just think I’m a good writer. I know it. I know it because I know that there are things that I’m not good at. I’m not good at sport. I’m not good at playing the drums. I’m not good in the company of lots of men. I’m not good at being patient. I’m not good at holding down a normal job. I was never a great bricklayer, a great milkman, a great debt collector. I’m not so sure I’m a great dad. I’m not a good news reporter (I’m not remotely interested in news, a bit of a drawback when you work at a newspaper!). But I am a good writer. I know it, because people pay me to do it. When will the people in the world that I want to earn a living in realise that? And will they ever? Because, from where I’m sitting, they appear to prefer sticking with what they know, even if that is neither original, funny, dramatic or interesting.
In a fit of Nick Hornbyesqueness I have decided to post my top ten albums (or the top ten as dealt by my current frame of mind – this will have changed by tomorrow). If I had to choose between those two forms of escapism that are books and music, it would have to be the latter for me. I have been thinking about this in the car on the 1 hour drive in this fine Spring morn. I was listening to the Rolling Stones Stripped, wondering if that would get in there. I fear there may be a bit of heavy metal in this…
1: Rolling Stones – Let it Bleed. How can you argue with this? You can’t. Unless it’s to suggest Beggars Banquet be there instead? Monkey Man’s on here, for Jagger’s sake, a track I was first introduced to by a guitar wielding Johnny Depp on 21 Jump Street. Don’t let that put you off. This is the Stones at their post-Brian Jones sitar strumming best
2: Damien Rice – O. I’m so glad we found him. What a voice. The album upon which a relationship was founded. Well, there’s more to it than that, obviously. But this, and especially The Blower’s Daughter, is a part of my life now.
3: Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited. This was the first Dylan album I ever bought. It was the third ‘real’ piece of vinyl I ever bought. And I used to absolutely fucking despise it. I had it about ten years before I realised what a work of genius it was. It just languished, having been played three times. His first full electric album. Like A Rolling Stone is just a wonderful ode to the homeless and how everything can be snatched away. As Keith said, “thankyou Bob”.
4. Prince – Sign O The Times. I can’t really explain why I like Prince so much. I just know that, when he’s up there, when he’s playing, he means it. He is, for me, the greatest singer-songwriter ever. But poor quality control and a ridiculous image will see to it that he never gets the acclaim he deserves. I choose Sign not because it contains my favourite tracks (they are scattered everywhere) but because it is his only complete album. They could have all been like this if he’d surrounded himself with the right people.
5. Oasis – What’s The Story Morning Glory. Or should it be Definitely Maybe? There’s some justice that that this band have come unstuck. All that misplaced arrogance. As if you could follow up the genius of Wonderwall. Noel Gallagher is a fool. What’s The, for me, is just about a time and a place. It takes me to Maine Road, the greatest sing-a-long gig I’ve ever been to. A time when music and laughter were high on the agenda and anything seemed possible. It still does. This is also the album that made people pick up guitars again. Well done, Noel. Now go away.
6. Jeff Buckley – Grace. I usually laugh at angsty musicians. But not Buckley. Buckley singing Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah is music. There’s some rubbish on here. But there’s also that hint of greater things to come, that untapped promise. A cautionary tale about the perils of jumping in the river for a quick dip, eh?
7. Nirvana – Nevermind. Once upon a time music was so far in the doldrums that we needed Kurt Cobain to come along and pull us right out of them. He gave himself for us. I remember the excitement of Nevermind. There was nothing around like this. It was real. Nothing they did after compares. It was inevitable that he blew his face off. How do you follow something this good?
8. The Housemartins – London 0 Hull 4. No bizarre Hull-tinted glasses on here. I emerged from a dalliance with heavy metal and bought this. Ridiculously short ‘n’ catchy songs. Sheep. Happy Hour. That anti-monarchy rant Flag Day. And the really moving finale Lean On Me. I knew all the words to all of these songs. I probably still do.
9. Sex Pistols – Never Mind The Bollocks. I can’t claim to have been a punk. I wasn’t. But we had a funny gang when I was at senior school. Denim clad rockers and punks united. As long as you didn’t like 2-Tone you were fine. I did like Crass. Was toying with the idea of putting Stations of the Crass in this list. But I’ve grown to love this album. It’s nothing short of perfect. Didn’t change a thing, did it, but, come on, the opening riff of Pretty Vacant!
10. Crunch time. No heavy metal as yet…..crikey……AC/DC – If You Want Blood…. Hilarious live album. You can just see Angus being carried around on Bon Scott’s shoulders. Another casualty. Another album that saw me through those troubled teenage years. All together now, Angus, Angus. There’s a guy at the HDM called Angus Young.