Best tunes of 1990: #3 Ride “Vapour trail”

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“Vapour trail”, the number three song on this Best of 1990 list, marks the second appearance here by Ride, the other being “Chelsea girl” at number seventeen. In that other post, I espoused my love for the band and blathered on about their importance and their influence on other bands that followed.

Many fans might disagree with my rating “Vapour trail” higher than “Chelsea girl”, perhaps preferring the the earlier and more raw sound of the latter, but I stand by my choice. It is easily their most recognizable and popular tune for a reason. And even Andy Bell, who wrote this particular track, has been quoted as saying that this is the song of which he is most proud from that era. It closes (the original track list of) their debut album, “Nowhere” with a bang and an exclamation point. The funky drums that won’t quit and that string coda leads the listener reluctantly away from such an explosive mess of noise and begs for a click on the repeat button.

There has been lots of conjecture over the use of effects to create that sweet guitar line that pulls the whole song together but Bell has been adamant that it came about naturally. They achieved it by twinning twelve string Rickenbackers and you can almost picture Bell looking at Mark Gardener with a nod and a smile, free and easy, embodying the whole mood of the song. It’s eyes closed on the dance floor, not quite dancing but shuffling, and not a care in the world, except for the fear that the song might end. Unfortunately, it does but the ecstasy stays, fading slowly, that beautiful, shimmering C-sharp minor–B–A–E chord progression reverbering in your eardrums.

What’s that you say? You want to hear it again?

You’re welcome.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1990 list, click here.

Best tunes of 2001: #24 Gorillaz “Clint Eastwood”

In or about a month ago, I posted some other words on Gorillaz and one of the few other songs of theirs that I liked, “On melancholy hill” (#13 on my Best of 2010 list). In that same post, I made mention of this track, which also happened to be my first taste of what the virtual hip hop fusion band led by Blur frontman Damon Albarn was going to be offering.

“Clint Eastwood” was the first single released off Gorillaz’s self-titled, debut album. The name of the song appears nowhere in its lyrics, nor does it seem at first glance, relevant to its themes. I recently learned, though, that it was so named due to the similarity of the song’s melody to that of the theme song for the film, “The good, the bad, and the ugly”. I never picked up on that myself but now that I know it’s there, it changes things a bit for me, and I can’t seem to un-hear it. I always used to feel that the drum machine rhythm and keyboard line, as well as the synthesized strings, evoked the image of a travelling midway circus, a dark and haunted one, at that. I loved Albarn’s sung, ear worm chorus and its interplay with Del the Funky Homosapien’s rapped verses. The whole thing had an eerie but laidback groove that you didn’t want to try too hard to escape, no matter how unsettling it was.

The song will always remind me of one of the few social evenings my wife and I enjoyed shortly after relocating from Toronto to Ottawa. I had met a couple of people at the new call centre job I had started at the end of August, found myself wandering down for coffee at the same time as them during breaks, and by October, Candace, Jeff, and I were making plans to go out for drinks with our respective boyfriends and girlfriends. The six of us met at the Blue Cactus down in the Byward Market on a Saturday night and we had a blast. Even to this day, my wife Victoria looks back fondly on that evening and marvels at how easily we hit it off. The group of us would go out a few more times together after that but save for a particularly fun New Year’s gathering at our place, we never really replicated the magic of that night.

And at some point during the evening, “Clint Eastwood” was played in the Blue Cactus and even as deeply engaged in hilarious conversation as we were, my subconscious recognized the track and my head started bopping. I think it was Candace who noticed and asked who it was that was playing. I explained and we all sat back and soaked in the song for a few moments before continuing with the laughter. It wasn’t the first time I had heard the song, but perhaps the first time from someone else’s speakers and in a whole other environment and I saw it in a whole other light.

But enough blathering. Enjoy the tune.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2001 list, click here.

Vinyl love: Of Monsters And Men “My head is an animal”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: Of Monsters And Men
Album Title: My head is an animal
Year released: 2011 (2012 in North America)
Details: Pink vinyl, 2 x LP, Gatefold

The skinny: The Icelandic indie pop/indie folk sextet scored a smash hit with this, their debut album, mostly on the back of the monstrous single, “Little talks” (see below). Their big sound, based on grand instrumentation and gang vocals, is infectious stuff and album is sold from side to side to side to side.

Standout track: “Little talks”