One of the interesting things about writing this series is that occasionally one post (and not necessarily at the time of writing it!) will inspire another, and then will have me wondering how I didn’t think of it before.
So, here’s one of those. In fact, this is the companion piece to 104: Intros, as here I’m listening out for the amazing endings in songs, whether for the shock value or simply for their memorable nature in one way or another. This week is also a reminder that you have to get through an awful lot of music in some cases to appreciate the ending.
Thanks to the various people who suggested songs for this on a Facebook post a while back, some of which made it into the final ten. Also of note, by the way – without intending to ensure this, these are all artists that didn’t appear in the intros list.
A quick explanation for new readers (hi there!): my Tuesday Ten series has been running since March 2007, and each month features at least ten new songs you should hear – and in between those monthly posts, I feature songs on a variety of subjects, with some of the songs featured coming from suggestion threads on Facebook.
Feel free to get involved with these – the more the merrier, and the breadth of suggestions that I get continues to astound. Otherwise, as usual, if you’ve got something you want me to hear, something I should be writing about, or even a gig I should be attending, e-mail me, or drop me a line on Facebook (details below).
/Keith Top Of The Pops & His Minor UK Indie Celebrity All-Star Backing Band
/I Hate Your Band
/Fuck You! I’m Keith Top of the Pops
Let us begin with a song that could go into a number of previous Tuesday Tens. This is a rather scathing take on the steady stream of small bands on the toilet circuit, and how difficult it can be to find the diamonds in the rough. Taking on the bands who spent far more time on their image, being cool and building a “buzz”. Why is this song in here, though? How about the extended coda to close the song, where Keith lists many of those bands (big and small) that he hates – and at live shows, this is the usual closer with other bands added in. I couldn’t agree more over hating Bastille (as he often notes in live versions), by the way.
/A Screw/Holy Money
The outright brutality of earlier Swans material is either a source of exhilaration or utter terror to many listeners and to a point, these releases are where things started to become perhaps a little more accessible. That’s not to say that this isn’t hard work – Gira and Jarboe’s vocals intertwine as they incant the religious fervour of a sacrificial victim being led to their death – but it is the stunning close-out that seals the deal. The ceremony over, a thundering drum beat quickens and gets louder and louder, before stopping dead as the rite is completed. Live recordings of the time, even without Jarboe, sound pretty amazing too.
Taking a similar idea – high volume – then pushing it to ridiculous extremes, partly as you have to get through fifteen minutes before the shock of the outro arrives. But then, Sunn O))) never did things in an orthodox fashion, and this titanic track is terrifying drone/black metal, complete with vocals from (literally) within a coffin, as the story goes. By someone – Malefic – who was claustrophobic.
The howling, droning guitars arrive after seven minutes, Malefic’s panicked screams join shortly after, and then, as you think things are petering out…hell is unleashed as the riffs erupt in slow motion for what feels like an eternity, before it all just peters out, exactly the opposite to what you might expect. Contrary, but brilliant, bastards, these guys. (If you want proper nastiness on this album, by the way, Orthodox Caveman delivers on every level).
/Alice In Chains
Back in the early nineties, if you ever needed conclusive evidence of the troubled state of Layne Staley’s mind, this song summed up all you needed to know in not much more than three minutes. The ominous bassline leads into a rhythm that always seemed to lag behind Layne’s unrepentant vocals, with a soaring chorus that refuses to apologise for his failings. But the ending, as it changes up a key, and Layne suddenly questions himself, and he roars out the closing line, you can’t help but feel sad for a life that ended far too young.
/Through Silver In Blood
/Through Silver In Blood
The sonic behemoth that is Neurosis have been one of the metal scene’s most vital, important and fascinating bands for a long time now, a point rammed home by how old this song now is (it came out in 1996). So, this marks a point early on in the band’s transition from their hardcore roots to the epic sound of what we know the band for nowadays, but it is one of their greatest moments even now. Also, it is well over twelve minutes long, a roar from the depths of sludgy, industrial-tinged metal that culminates in an astonishing, furious tribal drumming assault that when I saw it live took all four of the band members to unleash – and it quite rightly closed the show, as nothing could possibly have followed it that night.
/Jesus Built My Hotrod
/Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs
“Jesus built my car. It’s a love affair. Mainly Jesus. And my Hotrod.”
So endeth the breakneck, turbocharged lunacy of one of Ministry’s most demented and fun tracks, with Jourgensen and Barker’s blistering industrial thrash metal ably assisted by the gonzoid rantings of Gibby Haines. What is perhaps more jarring is the way this ends, and is then followed by one of Ministry’s freakiest, darkest songs – the mighty drug nightmare that is Scarecrow.
/Around The Fur
As has frequently been the way over the years, some of Deftones’ finest and most striking songs have been the more restrained ones, where the rage and violence is implied, rather than unleashed in the music. This is probably the first example of just how extraordinary the band could be when they reeled things in, too – Chino Moreno nearly whispers much of the vocals, which are a devastating tale of abuse…or so it seems. The kiss-off line is the killer moment here, where the narrator reveals the twist, and the music spirals out to almost nothing, drawing out the agony. (On the album, that squall of feedback at the end then seamlessly rips into the savage title track with amazing results, another reason for the clever, low key close to Mascara).
/Manic Street Preachers
/The Holy Bible
Interestingly one of only two songs on this list that actually close out their respective albums, in some respects I’ve always thought it as one of the weaker songs on this album, but perhaps only by the standards of what came before (and perhaps a lighter, simpler song was needed to cleanse the palate after the extraordinary darkness of The Intense Humming of Evil that comes immediately before it). Anyway, the galloping pace and clever lyrical allusions to various potential meanings of the letters in the title eventually give way to – as many songs either start or close on the album – a sample of dialogue, in this case, Albert Finney: “227 ‘Lears’ and I can’t remember the first line”. His travails with words could perhaps be mirrored by the issues James Dean Bradfield had with twisting Richey Edwards’ dense lyrics to fit the music here…
/The Sisters of Mercy
Long one of my favourite Sisters songs, a curiously constructed track that suggests all kinds of filth among the attempts to seduce using “Marx and Engels, God and Angels“, mainly around the idea of a pretty female tied up in red ribbons. The beat jumps around like firecrackers, while the guitars squall behind…and then it peters out, with Eldritch roaring “INCOMING” like a portent of a terrible future to come. Maybe that future was him destined to be repeating his past forever, rather than actually releasing anything new…
/In A Bar, Under The Sea
Finally, an eternal fan favourite endlessly called for at gigs (more than any other song by the band), and a song that starts with very little and builds and builds until the climactic finale. In fact, that style of song composition is that dEUS have relied on a lot over the years, but no songs of theirs ever got it quite as right as this. It starts with just Tom Barman and his guitar, before drums, another guitar, bass, more vocals, and finally squalling violin all join in and create a gloriously melodic cacophony that then stops dead with a simple “thank you“.
A fitting end to a list of multiple endings.