Not really a ‘fan’ any more…

When I was a teenager I was a fanatic follower of various bands and would have easily been able to tell you what my twelve favourite albums were. I would have been happy if someone asked me. Of course, no-one ever did.

Then I got into playing music and stopped listening so much. When you are spending every day jamming or performing, or listening to your friends’ bands, you don’t listen to recorded music for entertainment. Well, I didn’t, anyway. I needed a break from it. Silent time was good time.

For the last ten years or so I have been getting increasingly into music but something has changed… I’m not a fan any more.  For example, I used to love The Buzzcocks to the point where I would have argued heatedly if you pointed out that A Different Kind of Tension is a bad record in a lot of places. Now…I’d probably be the one telling you that.

I don’t want to hear Pete Shelley’s bad songs! Can’t I just listen to the good songs? Isn’t that what compilation albums are for?

I’ve been this way for a while. I remember laughing, years ago, when someone tried to defend London Calling as a “brilliant punk album.” My point was that lots of the second half is bullshit. (I can’t even remember how a lot of those songs go, they are so ordinary. I just want to hear Hateful and Coca Cola). But this guy was prepared to stand there and say that “every song is totally fantastic and that The Clash were the best band ever.”

I kind of miss that. I don’t seem to be able to defend bands any more. And there’s virtually no single album from back then I’d listen to the whole way through.

Consequently when I come to review my list of top twelve albums I have a lot of caveats and a lot of my favourite bands don’t even make it. Here’s an alphabetised list of what I’m talking about…

The B52s: The self-titled debut is easily on the list of favourite albums but Wild Planet suffered incredibly from difficult second album syndrome. I loved the direction they were going on Mesopotamia but let’s face it, they didn’t really have the talent to sustain it. The rest of their stuff is wack. ‘Love Shack’ included.

The Buzzcocks: The first two albums are great punk but  eh, I’m not happy with Singles Going Steady as a choice here. I prefer a compilation called I Don’t Mind The Buzzcocks and even that has some shit choices and key songs missing.

The Clash: This band really do not have a single LP that makes the list, let alone a double or a triple. Sandanista is just crap. I love the songs ‘Stay Free’, ‘All the Young Punks’  and ‘Safe European Home’ so much that I can say Give Em Enough Rope is my favourite record by this band but that is about all I can say.

The Cramps: This band had flashes of total genius on every early album but I can’t imagine sitting through a whole record and Off the Bone has all the wrong songs on it. How can you say it is a “best of” without ‘Teenage Werewolf?’

Devo. OK, this is an exception. Duty Now For the Future is amazing, and I could say it is one of my favourite records by a favourite band. Are We Not Men is close behind.

The Gun Club: Fire of Love is one of my favourite records but I actually don’t like much else by this band…so I couldn’t say they are one of my favourite bands.

Hunters and Collectors: The Jaws of Life. This is the best record ever made in Australia, although I don’t listen to much other HanC and find their early stuff a bit too arty (although the Towtruck EP is sublime) and their later stuff too wussy. I think this is almost brilliant by accident: a confluence of a very good band in perfect form with a great producer.

The Jam: I love this band, and Sound Affects is probably in my top twelve, but Dig the New Breed is another option. So, probably an exception, altough once again I’d really rather just make my own compilation…

Joy Division: Lots of Unknown Pleasures is actually kind of boring and maudlin and most of their really good songs are not there. Whoever chose the tracks on Substance has parts of their brain missing. I can say that Closer is may favourite record by this band, and that they are one of my favourite bands. But strangely, this does not translate into saying it is one of my favourite albums.

New Order: ‘Procession’ is my favourite song and I have gotten exquisite pleasure listening to this band on early recordings but would not put either Movement or Power, Corruption and Lies on my list, and actively hate a lot of their new stuff.

The Ramones: End of the Century. I hate a lot of the Ramones later work but the songwriting is good enough on this record to carry it. Only a few tracks stink. I would miss ‘California Sun’ and ‘Sheena but there really is a lot of filler on those early records and I couldn’t listen to a whole one.

Velvet Underground: I’m almost tempted to say Loaded just because the two singles were so good, but really The Banana Album is their best work and if it isn’t in my top twelve, I don’t know what is. I’m not even sure if I like this band the rest of the time.

So, y’see what I’m saying, right? I’m just not a fan any more. A lot of music is just too…bad.

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9 thoughts on “Not really a ‘fan’ any more…

  1. See, now I am surprised that you would not put the first Clash album on your list. It has been almost thirty years since I first heard it, and it still blows my effing scalp off. . . but interestingly, that is one of the few albums I would be willing to defend in that way. I agree with you about how hard it is to defend most albums (of any era, then or now) passionately, down to the last song. I’d qualify this only slightly, by saying that some of the albums that I will still listen to with great pleasure include some with totally naff tracks (like That Petrol Emotion or Mission of Burma or most of the Clash albums), BUT that I recall listening to fondly (i.e., there is a great sentimentality of thinking “oh, remember back when I used to listen to this”), OR that I remember the ‘sucking tracks’ being the stuff that you needed to sit through to get to the good stuff. Vinyl had a way of promoting delayed gratification in that way! Perhaps this is my discontent with all things digital = I can no longer force myself to sit impatiently, with anticipation, to build up to those special tracks that I really want to hear.
    Ah well. Long comment. But how right you are about these things. . . (first Clash record excepted)

  2. Eh, The Clash self titled. Let me think about it….

    “Janie Jones”
    “Remote Control”
    “I’m So Bored with the USA”
    “White Riot”
    “Hate and War
    “What’s My Name?”
    “Deny”
    “London’s Burning”

    “Career Opportunities”
    “Cheat
    “Protex Blue”
    “Police & Thieves”
    “48 Hours”
    “Garageland”

    Really I could leave about half of this. I really like Jamie Jones, White Riot, I’m So Bored, Career Opportunities, Cheat, Protex Blue, Police and Thieves. As for the rest…let’s not and say we did?

    And thinking back, I used to lift the needle up and drop down on the songs I liked, anyway. Trashed all my records doing that.

  3. It’s almost disturbing how much my taste in music overlaps with yours.

    I was listening to Closer and Unknown Pleasures while watering the garden last week. I used to skip Atrocity Exhibition but listen to it these days. I’m less into Unknown Pleasures than I used to be. I love the production on Closer.

    I agree about Teenage Werewolf. I assume you are not very keen on anything A Date With Elvis and after (inclusive).

    The Clash’s first album I still like, but I always thought (and still do) that the Clash were Herman’s Hermits to the Pistols’ Beatles. I also think that Pearl Jam were Herman’s Hermits to Nirvana’s Beatles. But the thing is I think that Herman’s Hermits had some redeeming features. Not Henry the Eighth, however.

    Actually, these days I’ll try to draw something I like out of just about anything. The snare sound…whatever.

  4. I like the idea of your “Hermits to the Beatles” comparison but it doesn’t really fit the Clash / Pistols equation to my mind. Really the Pistols are more like the ‘Bill Haley and the Comets’ of punk. They had the basic idea and then everyone else came along and did it so much better.

  5. Hmm, I wasn’t going to comment on this because I saw the warning signs for the quicksand that it is. But I have to go with Janet in defending the Clash’s first album. I love the Clash, but recognize that there is a lot of crap that never made the cut. To my mind, however, the first album is consistent all the way through.
    And your equation of the Pistols to Bill Haley and the Comets is pretty good one, especially as they both also created a lot of goofy crap that is kind of embarrassing except they somehow pull it off by sheer gall (see Friggin’ in the Riggin’ for example).

  6. Heh. But I like the quicksand, here. . . After your post, Steve, I remembered that the Clash’s “first album” in the US was different to the actual first album released everywhere else (which was only available as an expensive import in the US for a number of years). As a fourteen year-old with limited resources, I was already immersed in the US version for nearly a year before I could get together the cash for the “import.” This helps explain my feelings about the first album. The US version does not have Deny, Cheat, Protex Blue or 48 Hours on it (three of the four of which I am not so fond of). The US version DOES have Complete Control, White Man in Hammersmith Palais, and I Fought the Law (two of the three of which are my favorite Clash songs). And somehow, it always fit together for me as a complete work – even if Garageland is not my favo(u)rite tune, it will always and forever be “the end of the album,” the point where I can lean back and catch my breath.

    I’d summarize my fourteen year-oldish response to the Pistols as “hey, a punk band! F***ing awesome!” My fourteen year-oldish response to the first Clash album was, “hey, a punk band! F***ing awesome! And I want to play guitar, sing about politics and change the entire world!” Made all the difference to me, somehow.

  7. Hi, it’s SSB

    I agree about the White album by the way, and like your Chicken shit song.

    But how can you say “Jaws of Life” is the best Australian album ever?

    Ben Lee has already said that his album was the best, and now you are just confusing the issue.
    Midnight Oil’s 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 is an album I would defend, with the exception of the last song “Somebody ‘s trying to tell me something”, which I don’t think is very good….

  8. Just so you know, you are one hundred percent correct about the Clash (Somebody got Murdered is the only song I can even listen to on Sandanista) and Joy Division. Your opinion about the VU’s is close. Loaded in fact IS better than the Andy Warhol album. But your head is completely up your ass about all the rest.

  9. Hmmph.

    You are just annoyed becuase I said you were “trying to be funny” in the dream thread.

    Not content with retailitaion on the board, you have brought your bile and venom here.

    Desist I say!

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