Best tunes of 1993: #23 The Cranberries “Dreams”

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As I mentioned in the preamble to this list, I started working at our small town’s 7-Eleven store in the spring of 1993 and due to this job and some of the people I met working there, I often consider the summer of that year one of my most memorable ever. Specifically, in terms of this post, there was a trio of young ladies that were hired at the same time and shortly after my own start date at the store. I worked many overnight shifts with either Tori, Michelle, or Heather and got to know them over late night and early morning conversations. They were all only in my life for a short while and though I don’t even remember any of their last names and couldn’t tell you what any of them are doing now, they all left their mark.

Heather, for instance, was hilarious, had a big smile, and was always jokingly threatening to poke my eyes out. But most importantly for this post, she and I shared similar tastes in music. She was the one that loaned me a cassette copy of the album that to this day is my favourite of 1991: Lowest of the Low’s “Shakespeare my butt”. That summer, though, she was obsessed with this new band out of Ireland called The Cranberries. She described them as jangly, like early R.E.M., but with tinges of celtic mysticism, and with a female front woman that smacked softly of Sinéad O’Connor.

Heather offered to lend me a copy of the band’s debut CD, “Everybody else is doing it, so why can’t we?”, but for various reasons, this never came to pass. However, after we both headed off to our separate universities in the fall, the name stuck with me, especially after I started hearing the song “Linger” and seeing its video all over the place. I ended up ordering a copy of that debut CD as one of my 10 for a penny BMG introductory offer orders and it was here that I first heard our song for today.

“Dreams” was actually issued as an advance single to the debut album in late 1992 but then, was reissued again in 1994 to lap up all the popularity garnered them by “Linger”. It did manage a bit more sales the second go-around but nowhere near that of the lofty second single, which I consider tragic, given that it is a far more superior track. It is a crashing, flailing, and driving number. It embodies the flutter rush of new and young love, all full of hope and happiness.

“I know I felt like this before
But now I’m feeling it even more
Because it came from you”

It is the one song on the album that I could listen to all day long. It begs loud volumes and full attention. And though I never knew this song at the time, it always manages to transport me back to that summer and brings a smile.

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


Vinyl love: Happy Mondays “Pills ‘n’ thrills and bellyaches”

(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: Happy Mondays
Album Title: Pills ‘n’ thrills and bellyaches
Year released: 1990
Year reissued: 2015
Details: 25th anniversary, reissue, 180 gram, yellow, RSD exclusive

The skinny: A few weeks ago, I shared photos of my translucent yellow, 20th anniversary copy of Coldplay’s debut album, “Parachutes”. For this edition of ‘Vinyl Love’, I decided to keep with the same colour scheme and another anniversary edition, of yet another classic alternative rock album. Picked up on Record Store Day 2015, this Rhino Vinyl reissue of Happy Mondays’ seminal third album wasn’t even on my radar when I ventured into one of my favourite independent shops that day. Indeed, I didn’t even know it was on the list of releases ahead of time but when I saw it on the shelf, the snap decision was made. And it’s one for which I’ve been thankful I’ve made ever since. Not only is the 180 gram slab of yellow vinyl quite pretty and the original album art as confusing and as arresting as ever, but the sound is amazing. “Pills ‘n’ thrills and bellyaches” is one of the greatest examples of what made Madchester so much fun: a swirling conundrum of punk DIY, druggy psychedelics, and dance floor ready beats. “You’re twistin’ my melon, man!”

Standout track: “Step on”


Best tunes of 2012: #8 The Shins “Simple song”

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It has now long since rebranded and changed formats but around the beginning of the 2010s, back when I still had a cable television package with Rogers*, I discovered a channel that played music videos for a good portion of its programming. Yes, I know I’ve told this story before, but it’s been a couple of minutes (okay, perhaps more than a year) since I’ve referenced this relatively short fling of mine with AUX TV.  And the story bears repetition given the amount of songs and artists it availed me. Much like Miike Snow’s “The wave”, which came in at number twenty three on this list, it was the music video that caught my eye first, but it didn’t take long for the love of the tune to follow.

The video starts with a dead parent addressing his three adult children in one of those message from beyond the grave type video recordings and knowing that each “hated his guts”, he tells them that he didn’t bequeath the familial home to any of them. Instead, he tells them, the deed is hidden within the home and whoever finds it, gets everything. A chaotic, rough and tumble, and often hilarious treasure hunt ensues, interspersed with VHS home video type clips showing a dysfunctional family history. When the “deed” is finally found and after a bit of hair pulling and choking, it is read and discovered to be a joke, that the house is instead scheduled for demolition that very afternoon. A charming video is made more so by the fact that the principal characters in the video are played by members of The Shins, including a titular performance by frontman James Mercer as the dead father.

I didn’t know anything of this last fact the first time I saw the video, of course, and save for recognizing Mercer and his inimitable vocals, I might not have placed this song as by the same band that played the song that “will change your life”, featured on the “Garden State” film soundtrack. And this is because for the most part, it wasn’t. The Shins hadn’t released any new material for five years up to this point and when Mercer
resurfaced with “Port of morrow”, it was with a completely new band.

“Simple song” was the first single released off this new album and it was anything but a simple song. Starting with haunting organs and ghostly guitars wavering in the attic cobwebs and banging around in the walls, it quickly becomes jubilant and upbeat and hopeful. Mercer wrote it in the comforts of his home, shortly after his marriage and birth of this first child and he was reflecting on everything to come.

“Well this will be a simple song
To say what you’ve done
I told you about all those years
And away they did run
You sure must be strong
And you feel like an ocean
Being warmed by the sun”

“Simple song” dances and frolics in pure happiness and I swear if you don’t have a smile on your own face by the end, one might surmise that you don’t have a soul.

*Remember cable television?

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2012 list, click here.