12 Essential New York Records.

8 02 2018

CBGB bowery OMFUG rock punk

 

I’m not someone who gets overly annoyed easily (but if you chew loudly or sniff constantly on public transport, I’ll probably want to smack you in the kisser.) However, after reading the apparent “essential” NYC records chosen by BBC 6Music, I got annoyed. In fact, it went beyond being annoyed. I am pissed off. A pissed off Punk who is absolutely infuriated by this list and I know that I am not alone in this.

If you want to share my rage, here is the list:

1. The Strokes – Is This It
2. Wu Tang Clan – Enter The 36 Chambers
3. Blondie – Parallel Lines
4. Talking Heads – 77
5. Nas – Illmatic
6. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever To Tell
7. Simon & Garfunkel – Bookends
8. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
9. Princess Nokia – 1992 Deluxe
10. The Rapture – Echoes
11. Interpol – Turn On The Bright Lights
12. LCD Soundsystem – Sound Of Silver

 

I am a massive fan of Nas, Wu Tang, Interpol, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Strokes. The Strokes first record was my crutch for a long time, and I do agree with it being there- but not at the top. There is so much missing from this list- how can you even condense it down to 12 anyway? Maybe 20 wouldn’t even be enough.

So with my burning rage, I have to come up with my own list. I don’t want to claim that my list is correct or anything like that- it’s just an opinion. I could be wrong, or someone may feel like they agree with me. The severe lack of Punk in the list just makes me sad. I do agree, as I said with some of the records being there, but some are wrongfully missed.

Also, it isn’t in any order- I don’t like order, it makes me nervous.

Ramones-Ramones.

It was either this or Leave Home. I think Leave Home is my favourite Ramones record, but their debut deserves to be there because of the huge impact it had. I remember hearing it for the first time when I was about 14/156. The age where everything and anything can influence you. I remember hearing it and feeling like I had been born in the wrong era. Every song gave me this incredible feeling, and every song just made me idolise them. I think it is obvious that I worship Joey Ramone. Oh man, Beat On The Brat is one of my favourite Ramones songs. I love the lyrics and I love the humour in their songs but there is a real sensitivity in Joey’s voice that is so unique and beautiful. It’’ just such an iconic record. It was made to influence and to be played loud.

Lou Reed-Transformer.

The most important NYC record of all time. ALL.TIME. Why the hell wasn’t it included?! It’s pretty insulting to Lou’s legacy that this record isn’t on there. It’s not only a great NYC record; it’s probably my favourite record of all time. As a gay person, this record gave me this sense of freedom that I hadn’t found in any other record when I first heard it. I didn’t come out until years after hearing this record, but it gave me this feeling of being alright with who I was. Besides, me being gay doesn’t define me. Never has, never will Transformer is just the coolest record ever made. I hate the word cool, we know that but fucking hell Lou Reed was THE coolest person to have ever lived and he just smacks it in our faces with this record. Sally Can’t Dance and Coney Island Baby are obviously worth mentioning. Pretty sure my list could just be Lou and Ramones records. Vicious and Andy’s Chest…man alive! “You hit me with a flower.” That’s GOT to move you in some way. I love the lyrics to Vicious, and I think this whole record shows Lou in a different way, you know? He just expressed himself in a way nobody else had dared to. I still don’t think anything can touch this record.

New York Dolls-New York Dolls.

The clue is in the bloody name really. Absolutely criminal and horrendous that this record isn’t on the list. My mum got me into the Dolls at a very young age. I don’t even think I was a teenager. I remember finding her copy of the record, and being in awe of the Dolls in drag. How beautiful they were! I was drawn of course, to Johnny Thunders (the greatest guitarist of all time.) Subway Train is such a beautiful song. Jet Boy has this incredible snarl to it. The whole record oozes attitude that is so unique to the Dolls. The lyrics to Trash and Personality Crisis are just great. This record is New York through and through. It’s got the charm and grit. It’s got the attitude and bite. It’s a record that I always find myself going to time and time again, and discovering more things to love about it. It’s just timeless.

Richard Hell + The Voidoids-Blank Generation.

Alright so Richard isn’t from New York- but this record was recorded at Electric Lady Studios so, it’s a NYC record. And he moved there pretty early on, so it’s fine. It’s acceptable.

I am a Richard Hell obsessive. I paid £30 once for a Richard Hell t-shirt from a shop on Brick Lane. Yeah it was too much money, but it’s Richard Hell.

Blank Generation would easily be in my list of best Punk records. It’s got this raw attitude to it, and I just love Richard’s voice. As a singer and as a writer, I just love him. His autobiography is one of the best of its kind I’ve read. He has most certainly lived a colourful life. Sure he’s done questionable things, the little bugger. But, he’s made some incredible music along the way.

Suicide-Suicide

Suicide are probably the best duo of all time. Frankie Teardrop is the best 10 minute song of all time. Dream Baby Dream is a masterpiece. The whole record is a work of art. If any record can capture the roughness of New York in the 70s, it’s this record. It is such a grand record and well ahead of its time. It still is. Nothing and no one has ever come close to this. For me, I think Suicide are massively underrated but they have influenced so many bands that I adore. It still hurts and it still sucks that Alan Vega is no longer here. I remember when he passed; I had the same reaction most had for Bowie. Suicide were never afraid to push their sound and to make music that was entirely different. It is a beautiful noise that brings such pleasure and joy to the ears. It is a gritty record from start to finish, and they keep that grittiness throughout every record they have ever made.

The Heartbreakers-L.A.M.F

I think this was recorded in London, but Johnny Thunders was a New Yorker, The Heartbreakers were a supergroup. I did want to pick a solo Johnny record, but I remembered how much I am obsessed with L.A.M.F (it stands for Like A Mother Fucker.) and how One Track Mind is such a great song. I can’t help but imagine what it would be like if Johnny was still here. Like I said earlier on, for me he’s the greatest guitarist of all time. His style was just impeccable and one of a kind. No one else could play like him. His style was way ahead of its time. He was ahead of his time.  He had this way of just magnetising you with every note. The record has been reissued so many times, but regardless of what version you have- it’s a genius record. It is proper Rock N Roll and has Punk foundations. Of all the records I own, I think this might be my most played. It’s one of those records I just really enjoy listening to over and over again.

Nas-Illmatic

Nas is one of the greatest rappers of all time, that’s obvious. There are so many Hip Hop records I could have chosen. I know that The Big Picture by Big L is one of the best. I bought it when it came out, and to this day it is still one of my favourite records. Like Nas, Big L was and still is above the rest. Illmatic portrays New York in a way that most don’t want to hear. Nas is not, and has never been afraid to show the harsher side of life. From losing friends to growing up in the projects in Queens- he really takes you there. He’s a poet, a storyteller. Halftime is one of the songs on Illmatic that really show this. He makes you see the world and his world the way he does with Illmatic. Is it his best record? For sure. It’s one of the best Hip Hop records of all time. Nas has constantly brought out remarkable records that have, and still do influence so many. It’s one of those records that you can’t imagine not ever happening. It is such an important record- irrespective of what kind of music you’re into; it is such a phenomenal record. What he did with this debut record most want from their whole career.

A Tribe Called Quest-People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm

Tribe have always made consistently great records that are so experimental and diverse. They fused together all styles of music. There are so many records by them I could have chosen, but it felt right to go with their debut. It came out in a time where you had groups like NWA with their aggressive songs. Sure their songs may have been, but it is important to remember that NWA were telling us about the things that were happening in Compton- it is just as important and to an extent maybe more so. But this about New York right now. What I love about the first Tribe record is that it frees your mind, it gives you something that you won’t find anywhere else. Q-Tip and Phife are two great rappers, and I don’t think they have ever got enough credit it. Tribe’s records each have distinctive sounds. Push It Along is nearly 8 minutes long, Bonita Applebum is genius, I Left My Wallet In El Segundo is timeless and Luck of Lucien is just amazing. The samples on this record used range from Grace Jones to The Beatles to Lou Reed. It’s a record that quite simply, you need to own.

 Sonic Youth-Confusion Is Sex

I could have happily listed every single record by Sonic Youth. I’d have no idea where to start- so I went to the start. It’s such a heavy record; it’s a record that has influenced so many. It is powerful, it is loud and it has Jim Sclavunos on drums. What more do you need? (She’s In A) Bad Mood is such a brilliant way to start the record. Jim’s drumming is so brutal; they all just move you in a way that you wouldn’t expect. There is nothing calming about the sound on this record- they just rile you up in a way that is mind-blowing.

I think it is possible the record that shows us all just how amazing Kim Gordon is. I mean, we know that anyway but Confusion Is Sex has some awesome moments that just leave you inspired by Kim. Shaking Hell is my favourite on this record; it’s so aggressive and really brutal. The louder you play this, the better. The way she yells “Shake off your flesh!” is so hypnotising.

The Velvet Underground-Loaded

Maybe I should have gone with their first record. Maybe. But, Loaded is my favourite and I remember buying my copy of this in Brussels and feeling like I had won the lottery. My copy doesn’t play as well as it should but that’s because I am always playing it. I love listening to it and allowing Velvet Underground to take me some place really magical. Rock & Roll is such a fantastic song, and you can’t help but think you’re the person Lou has written about. Lonesome Cowboy Bill is out of this world- it’s not like anything else.

Oh! Sweet Nuthin’ is up there as being one of the greatest songs of all time. It’s one of Lou’s best, easily. I’ve written about this record so many times, and I’m sure I have never done it justice.

Television-Marquee Moon

I cannot make this list without mentioning Television, and this record. Many have regarded it as one of the best records ever made, and they aren’t wrong. It is such a wonderfully created record. From the vocals to the production- it is so effortlessly great and really does have a slick sound that you know is from New York. Every song on Marquee Moon is so distinctive. You hear one note, and you immediately know that it is them. The intro to the title song is one of the most iconic ones of all time. It’s an intro that just stays with you. You immediately go back to the first time you heard it as soon as it comes on. It’s just a magnificent record that definitely does deserve its status as being one of the greatest records ever made.

The Strokes-Is This It

There are a number of records I could have picked. I could have gone with Foxy Brown, Mos Def, Interpol, Talking Heads, Big L- so many. Why did I stick with The Strokes when I could have picked someone else? Because this record holds a lot of importance to me. It’s got me through hell and back. It still does. I adore Julian. I love his words, his voice and just him. It’s a record I constantly go back to. I can play it and I immediately go back to my first time hearing it. I was 15 years old, being bullied at school. I’d play it every day. And every single day I would imagine I was hanging out with Julian in New York City eating pizza, going to record stores and going to shows. This record was my escape, and it still is. It captures New York and it captures what music means to me. So from a totally personal point of view, this record is New York. This record is important. Again, it is one that is still a massive influence to bands. They are all great musicians, and there will never be anything else quite like it- just like all the records I have mentioned.

 

Like I said, there are so many records that could have been named. This is just my personal take. Maybe it is wrong, maybe it is right. It’s just a point of view, like the 6Music one is. But I just find it hard to accept that so many great and influential records were missed off.

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…vs My Brain

9 05 2017

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With it being Mental Health Awareness Week, I guess now is a good a time as any to ramble on about my past year. In fact, it was probably longer than a year- I just put off dealing with whatever my brain was telling me, and not telling me.

Last October I think I pretty much had my very own breakdown. It was at 2/3am. I remember sitting on my bed in some weird position crying, having a panic attack after panic attack. I was at war with my head. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t switch off. Nothing maintained my attention. I was starting to worry about myself. Prior, I just didn’t care. I went to the doctor and after a few minutes I was told to do a self-referral for treatment. I put this off for a few weeks, then stopped being a stubborn dick and did it.

Now I care more than I did. I went to the doctor a second time earlier this year, as my referral for CBT was going to be some time- the second stage of it. I made no improvements with the first lot. Labelled as having severe anxiety and mild depression. Labels are for foodstuffs- I’m not for consumption. Things shouldn’t define a person, just like their actions always shouldn’t. In this case, I wasn’t going to let this be something that ruled who I was and my life- enough was enough. I went to my doctor. She looked at me and asked how she could help. I cried. I broke down like a child and cried. I said “I can’t cope.” Finally admitting to myself that I couldn’t hack whatever was going on in my head.

As someone who can’t take paracetamol without assuming the worse, I had to resign myself to the fact that at this stage- I probably needed something other than talking. I agreed to take medication. Since starting the medication in late February, I am pretty sure that every side effect I had (I had them all) has been worth it. I’d rather have continuous dry mouth than have another fucking panic attack. The side effects have virtually gone. I do have days where I get this really bad pain in my stomach or the occasional headache, but I’d take that over how I was and what I was putting myself through. Or rather, what my brain was putting me through. I had my assessment for my second stage of CBT. I was being asked questions that weren’t relevant and being asked to focus on things that I really don’t need to. I felt as if I had to say what they wanted, and I didn’t want to be made to bring things up that don’t need to be. So I discharged myself. I decided rather than waste their time (and mine) I would give up my place for someone else who needs it more than me. I tried, and for me, that’s the main thing. But it just wasn’t for me.

Everyone bangs on about it, but support is key. I’ve got a handful of people that I know have my back and are there for me. Just like I am there for them. It also helps having a girlfriend who has a similar shit sleeping pattern so I have someone at 1am when I can’t sleep and everything seems too much. She’s my rock, and I try my hardest to be hers.

Music has been a massive help for me. We went to see Banks in March, and for me I think that was the point where I solidly felt okay. At one point going to gigs was just overwhelming. Going to work was overwhelming. Not because I hate my job or anything like that- far from it. But the effort of having to get out of bed and the overwhelming feeling of being on a packed train. My brain was slowly failing me. Or maybe I was failing myself for not taking better care. Music has been my other rock. Certain songs (which I’ll link below) have played a massive part in my brain healing and keeping me calm. I go the gym during the week after work to allow myself to take care of my body as well as my mind.

My bad days now don’t feel near as half as bad as they once were. I don’t have to fake being alright because I genuinely feel just fine at the moment. I’m not thinking long-term because that shit is scary. If I can get through one day without feeling terrible, I’m fine. My last panic attack was on the 2nd March. It’s been two months. I still feel a little shitty at times and certain things at the moment are fucking tough but, you can’t control everything.

I am not brave, I am not tough. All I did was reach breaking point. All I did was let myself get worse before I realised something needed to be done.

I’m alright. I’m happy with that. I’m alright.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





“To lose my train of thought and fall into your arms’ tracks. And watch beneath the eyelids every passing dot.”

2 08 2012

Music that makes me feel like my insides are being ripped out and that makes me feel like my ears are bleeding is pretty much my favourite. I don’t mean I want to hear some fool scream like a person possessed so I can’t understand what on earth they are saying; I mean music that is so loud and passionate it makes you believe. It’s brutal force drives you to make something of your own. Whether it be making your own noise or writing the most emotional and moving poem possible.

Music can make you feel better about being the only person in your world. Music can drown out the rats and make you see what matters. Music can provide what a person can’t. If I can love music like this, I can love a person right? Anyone can. Fear and loathing in my body. My mind is aging fast and my body has no clue. I’ve too much patience, and too much time. A wealth of ideas that are useless. And a heart that’s unsure of its purpose. I find answers in songs that release frustration, longing, desire, confusion and love. I realised I wasn’t alone when I first heard Morrissey. I realised it was okay to enjoy “dark” things thanks to The Jesus And Mary Chain. I found out how to be vulnerable from Patti Smith. I learnt how to keep hold of fear but not let it rule me thanks to Garbage. I learnt how to be gentle from Beach House. I found freedom in Warpaint. Music makes me who I am. I know I should be the one who makes me who I am, but it isn’t always the case.

I found a home in Punk and Garage Rock. I found two types of music that just summed everything up. Punk let out the fury, Garage Rock saved my soul. I’ve done a tribute to my love for Garage Rock before, but it’s the turn of Punk. I know EVERYONE has their own opinion on it. No one is right, no is wrong. I prefer the American Punk scene because it means more to me. It had more heart; it wasn’t about the appearance. It was the music that spoke volumes. The voices behind it just created something so powerful, and life-changing. From Iggy to Ramones and all in-between there was a voice for all. Ramones are EASILY in my top 5 favourite bands of all time, so it truly pisses me off when I see people wearing a Ramones shirt and they cannot name a song by them- let alone a band member. If you don’t dig the band then don’t wear the shirt. Simple as.

For me, Punk was a sheer escape. If you saw where I grew up you’d fully understand why I needed to mentally escape as often as possible. I still do. More than ever. Music is truly my life, it’s all I know. Punk kept the fury alive, I’m waiting to turn it into something I can be proud of. However, I have yet to do something I am proud of. Maybe one day it’ll happen. Or on my deathbed I’ll say, “I made this amazing cup of tea once…” As I reminisce about this cup of tea, I croak it. Typically. Anyway.

Punk has my heart. It owns every part of me. It is everything and so much more. It went beyond being a genre of music. A state of mind, a way of life and a way of being. They say it is dead. Well, the true essence of it is and we’ll never see a movement like it ever again. That’s why I treasure it so much.

These are the Punk songs that mean more to me than I can put into words. These are the songs that provided a safety net but unleashed all I felt because my words weren’t good enough. They never will be, but that’s fine.





Johnny Thunders : Part New York Doll, Part Genius.

15 07 2012

 

“Ask me no questions, and I’ll tell you no lies. Ask me no questions, I’ll be yours tonight.”

 

There’s always one band that you remember the first time you heard them, and it stays with you for life. Or maybe there is one musician who just made you feel so alive by the way he/she played their chosen instrument. Something about them made you feel so alive, and those that called you out as a “freak” are nothing to you. Let it mean nothing. Let the right one in, and when it becomes clear it is wrong- well then you will have learnt for next time. But will there be a next time. I think too much. I’m thinking too much. About an event and a person I can do nothing about, that’s when you know the person owns a part of you no one in this universe can ever claim. But you should’ve given it away to them about 3 or 4 years ago. It’s not a mistake, it’s repeatedly kicking yourself because you realised to late. What part of you is bruised? This means nothing to you, the person reading this. So skip this and read to where I make my point. What is my point?  JOHNNY.THUNDERS. The original. The one and ONLY. The man who won your heart over with the opening to Jet Boy, and since then- he owned it. Boy did he own you something good.

60 years ago today Johnny was born. I remember when he died. I remember my mum and uncle being in shock about it all. The passing of a musician has the power to break so many hearts. I’ve cried over the passing of a number of musicians. When your hero dies, it is like part of you dies with them. Yet part of them lives on in you. The bad and the good, what a clash of worlds it truly is. What a terrible thing is it. But, you pull through and cling onto the music. That’s all you can ever do. Let go of the person, hold onto their art. This isn’t just musicians that you do not know you can apply this to. I’m not going to give you a life lesson, you’re not stupid. You know how it is.

New York Dolls are a band that have been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. I used to be fascinated by the artwork of their debut record. Their made-up faces and killer heels, it was a world I wanted in on. I was so young, I didn’t know the power it would have over me. As I got older and listened to their music (15 onwards) I realised that this was the music that was meant for me. This was a genre of music I just needed to have surrounding me at all times. I didn’t want anything else. Their gang mentality and their true to life lyrics resonated with me. Every single part of me was in love with this band.

Music without the Dolls just wouldn’t have ever been the same. They made their mark in a way no other band ever has, or ever will. They caused their own scene. Made their own movement. They were everything and much more. Johnny Thunders was THE most charismatic guitar player of all time. I will always stand by him being the greatest guitarist of all time. This is just my personal view, and that means I am probably wrong. Being right is far too hyped up. Most things are. Follow your heart kid, and don’t bite your tongue. What good comes from holding back? I know, I truly know. I leave it too late. New York Dolls make you want to roam the streets and kick empty cans out of frustration towards your own life, and your surroundings. They tell you to make a change, but you try. You try real hard, but no one wants to give you the chance. The Dolls were and always will be my get-out card. The go to when I need to feel something no other band can give me. A sense of freedom, and the capability to do it my own way. I don’t know where I am going, or what I am doing- but the Dolls are providing the soundtrack.

Subway Train is my life. A constant reminder of missing out, being thrown about and trying to get out. There is so much romanticism (I’m too romantic and I’m starting to think it’s a bad thing.) But for me, this song oozes so much from nostalgia to accepting someone else has won. You try to win them, but there’s something greater than you that holds their attention. Force quit on your affections. I just love the song a lot. Then you have Trash, Personality Crisis, Looking For A Kiss..the whole debut record is probably one of the best things ever. If you can’t see this, then maybe you haven’t listened to it. As it would’ve been Johnny’s 60th birthday today, you should probably go listen to it. Paint up your face, put on your favourite outfit and play it loud. You’ll feel good from the inside out. You’ll feel alive.

We must never forget the impact and the role Johnny played within the music industry. His rebellious stance and gifted guitar skills made him stand-out from those before, during and after. In my heart, he will always be the greatest. The true meaning of a New York Doll.

Happy Birthday Johnny xx

 





New York Dolls-New York Dolls.

2 01 2012

I can’t remember how old I was, but I was pretty young when I first heard of the New York Dolls. I know my mum used to play their music around the house. I used to try sing along to Jet Boy, pretty badly. I still do the same now. I’m writing this listening to their debut first album, and I cannot help but think that I was born at the wrong time. I feel no connection to life and music now. I feel it more for the 70s when NY, Ramones and Velvet Underground were all starting out.

The front cover of the Dolls debut album is one of my favourites. I love how striking they all look in their make-up. I love how bloody stunning Johnny Thunders looks; his lustful and seductive stare at the camera just makes you fall in love with him. They hear him play, and the love you feel for him makes you realise he was probably, the greatest guitarists of all time.

A debut record should always be sincere and unapologetically raw. It should be brutal with slight delicate tones. It should be dark and gnarly. It should smack you right in the face. It should leave you wanting more. Just anticipating the next release, and the next release and the next….and so on. New York Dolls did all of this and more with their debut album. It is EASILY one of the greatest records ever made, and also one of the best debut records ever made. As I listen to this, I find it hard to believe that this is the first proper record that they put out. It sounds so utterly perfect and professional- as if it had been created by a band with more than one album to their name.

David’s voice is one of the most precious and unique voices I have ever heard. His glorious New York drawl really comes through in this album, especially on the song Frankenstein (which is a favourite.)

I’m going to dedicate a bit now to my favourite track off the album, Subway Train. For me, Subway Train will always be one o the most wonderful songs I have ever heard. I love how you can sense so much frustration and despair in this song. The opening verse always hits me right in the gut:

“I can’t, ever understand. Why my life has been cursed, poison and condemned. When I’ve been trying, every night to hold you near me. But I’m tellin’ you- it isn’t easy.”

Everyone has felt that at some point in their life. You see the one you adore far too much, and all you want to do is hold them for a while. But everything you do seems to be cursed and fucked- so you never get the one you want. You’ll get it right one day, you must do. It’s hard to stomach at times, but with songs like Subway Train and the way David sings this opening verse- it makes you see the beauty in feeling such frustrations. The way Johnny makes the guitar sound so mournful is just so gorgeous. The song for me, it’s like- you like this person is unaware of how you feel- or maybe they do, and they just act so carelessly when you’re there. They do things to sort of stab you in the heart as you try to just get near them. You’ve got to let it go eventually, you’ll feel better when you do.

I cannot write about this record without mentioning that is was produced by a fantastic man. And probably one of the best producers of all time (him and Phil Spector are in my mind, genius and the two greats.) Todd Rundgren. He has produced some amazing albums; the work he has done with the Dolls is of course, his greatest.

What I love about the Dolls debut record is how wonderfully sleazey it can make you feel listening to it. I don’t mean it in a smutty kind of way. It just wakes up the sexual senses you have, it is an incredible album- and even though it was released in 1973; it still sounds so powerful, brutal and just so fucking raw. It has this edge on it that just caused the whole Punk scene to start.