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Tunes

Best tunes of 1993: #17 The Verve “Slide away”

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Verve was an alternative rock band that was formed in Wigan, England in 1990 by Peter Salisbury, Simon Jones, Nick McCabe, and Richard Ashcroft. They started to amass a following early on with their engaging live shows that were explosions of psychedelic and shoegaze guitar miasma and boasted an unpredictable but golden-voiced frontman. They were forced to add the ‘The’ to the front of their name shortly after the release of their debut album, “A storm in heaven”, when they received notice from a certain American jazz label who had already been using the name for years.

It didn’t hurt the band’s burgeoning success any, though, and after the release of a second album, “A northern soul”, they were regularly hitting the UK singles charts. They broke up for the first time in 1995, only to re-form the following year and resurface with the album that would give them notoriety the world over. It was the single, “Bittersweet symphony”, that did it for them. Unfortunately, it didn’t make the band a cent at the time, given the oft-reported story of an ex-manager for The Rolling Stones claiming all royalties for the sample used as its backbone, a story that only found closure in 2019 when the songwriting credits were finally signed over in full to Richard Ashcroft. Sadly, this event likely contributed to the first (1999) of two more breakups by the band, the second (2008) of which has held fast up to now.

Oh, you’ve heard of this band? I’m not surprised.

Like many, I became a fan of The Verve with “Urban hymns” and that ubiquitous lead single. But I remember at the time thinking the band name familiar and was pretty certain I had an idea where from. So I went back and reviewed my cache of VHS tapes loaded with music videos recorded off the various shows on MuchMusic in the early 90s. And sure enough, it was there: “Slide away”.

“So take your time
I wonder if you’re here just to use my mind
Don’t take it slow
You know I’ve got a place to go”

In the video, the band is featured, very young looking, long-haired hippie freaks, tripping and freaking out in the desert and as intense as ‘Mad’ Richard looks, some brave soul picks up the motley hitchhikers and then, brings them to a town where they inexplicably have a gig booked in a brothel. As crazy as all this sounds and looks, it seems to make perfect sense to the band members in such obvious ecstatic states. Not the video you would expect for a single and yet, though the song didn’t garner them a lot of attention in the UK, it made a massive splash on the US indie rock charts.

That muscular bassline, those swirling guitars, and of course, the hazy and lazy vocals had such a great groove and won me over every time I watched that video. And when I rediscovered the group a few years later, I fell in love with song all over again.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1993 list, click here.

Categories
Vinyl

Vinyl love: Julien Baker “Little oblivions”

(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: Julien Baker
Album Title: Little oblivions
Year released: 2021
Details: Limited edition, Indies only, embossed cover, yellow, lyrics book

The skinny: Much like Goat Girl’s “On all fours”, Julien Baker’s “Little oblivions” was purchased for my vinyl collection very early on in 2021. However, where that record was sourced from a shop outside of the country, this one was found at one of my local record shops: Ottawa’s The Record Center, to be exact. The Record Center was one of many ‘analog’ brick and mortar shops whose hand was forced to go ‘digital’ and create a larger online presence with the COVID-19 pandemic. Their online webshop is not all encompassing but I’ve landed a few great finds while doing a virtual dig on their site and my 7th favourite album of 2021 was one of them. Baker’s third studio album finds the singer/songwriter embracing a full band sound, adding more strength and structure to the talented lyricist and vocalist’s pallette. It’s beautiful stuff and along with the excellent package and lyrics booklet (complete with scribblings and doodles)*, my copy is of the ‘indies only’ yellow variant ilk.

Standout track: “Hardline”

*I wish more artists invested as much time and effort in their inserted booklets as Julien Baker has done here. Fun to explore and examine while spinning the record.

Categories
Tunes

Best tunes of 2003: #24 David & the Citizens “Until the sadness is gone”

<< #25    |    #23 >>

I can’t be completely sure how I ever came across this song but if I had to guess, it likely would have come to me care of American independent music magazine, Under the Radar.

I remember the first time I came across it, perusing the shelves at Chapters while my wife looked through vegetarian recipe books, and though I don’t recall who was on the cover, they must’ve drawn my interest because I flipped through the magazine and it was like its creators had the exact same tastes in music as me. It’s usually me having to locate my wife when finished my own wandering of the shelves in the store but on this day, my wife had to come find me. She wasn’t surprised to see me holding a music magazine but I think my excitement made her stop and take note. I blathered on and showed her pages and pictures and she patiently listened for a few minutes before suggesting I buy it and bring it home for more study.

And so I did.

And I started a regular occurrence of buying a copy of the magazine whenever I saw it on the Chapters magazine shelves. And then, one Christmas, my wife surprised me with a year’s subscription to the magazine, which I duly renewed the following year. Under the Radar has long since become a digital only magazine and website but I still refer to it regularly and it has been a source of many musical discoveries over the years, bands and artists of whom I would likely never otherwise have heard had it not been for its excellent articles and reviews. As I inferred before, David & The Citizens* and their dazzling sophomore album, “Until the sadness is gone”, is likely one of these finds.

The Swedish indie pop outfit was formed in 1999 by David Fridlund. He had named the group after a radio manual he had found but later removed the words “Band Tranceiver” from the end of the name to shorten it for public consumption. The group then went through many lineup changes and released a handful of EPs and full-length albums and even saw a modicum of success in their home country. But it wasn’t until three years after its initial domestic release and its Swedish Grammy nod that their second album managed to see the light in North America. “Until the sadness is gone” was given a new cover when Friendly Fires Records issued it in 2006 and this is the one with which I am most familiar. The group released a third album around this same time, which was also quite good, but then went on hiatus shortly afterward. Many years after moving to North America, Fridlund has returned to music and has resurrected the band but under a slightly different name: Citizens Band Orchestra.

The first two tracks on that 2003 album were both released as singles and the latter one, “Graycoated morning”, did quite well at home. But it’s track three, the title track, that I just love. “Until the sadness is gone” is frenetic acoustic guitar strumming set against an energetic klezmer rhythm, all dressed up with horn blasts and Conor Oberst-like snarling vocal angst. It goads you into getting up and losing yourself in dance, in music, and in letting both cure what ails. Yes, the power of music.

“And it won’t get bigger
It won’t get better
But put that record on and dance with me
Until the Sadness Is Gone“

*Were you concerned my digression would never return to the song at hand?

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2003 list, click here.