It will not have escaped the notice of British and north-west European readers that there’s been a bit of Weather this week. Indeed, since the Met Office introduced names for major storms, it is the first time that three such storms have swept through the UK within seven days.
/Subject /Stormy weather
/Playlists /Spotify / /YouTube
/Related /154/Here’s Tom with the Weather /447/Talk About the Weather
/Details /Tracks this week/10 /Tracks on Spotify Playlist/10 /Duration/51:12
Thus the names Dudley, Eunice and Franklin have been names regularly used in the press and general discussion this week, the first two perhaps being names not usually used these days, and the latter back in use thanks to The Terror TV adaptation and the recent work and discoveries around that fateful voyage.
It’s not been a lot of fun, either, in the firing line of the latter two storms in particular on the Kent Coast, with near-hurricane force winds, stormy seas and difficult conditions to even leave the house. But the storms have now abated, and hopefully, the rest of this week might be a bit calmer.
A rare chance this week, then, to look at an appropriate subject in the news for this week’s /Tuesday Ten, as I look at storms. I’ve of course touched on this subject in two previous posts in the series on the weather, but here, I’m devoting ten songs entirely to it, from forecasting to the weather elements themselves, to the damage and human cost of such storms. Some songs were thought of by me and my wife this week, and a couple of others from previous suggestion threads on the weather. Thanks, as ever, to everyone who contributes.
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 me. 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).
/A Tribe of Toffs
/John Kettley Is a Weatherman
A genuine one-hit-wonder, this young Sunderland-based group had this one, freak hit in 1988, and had disbanded and left the music industry by 1990. John Kettley was a prominent BBC weatherman in the 1980s and for some time after, in an era where the weather forecasts on daytime TV were vitally important – nowadays, of course, we have the weather forecasts at a glance on our phones, and probably in vastly more local detail too. However, another weatherman mentioned in this song, Michael Fish, is better remembered in the UK, for the confusion over his dismissive forecast prior to The Great Storm of 1987, controversy of which continues to rage decades on – and is mentioned every single time another big storm hits the UK, as it has more than once this past week…
One of the more remarkable songs in the history of Covenant, where they dabbled in thundering drum’n’bass and equally stomping breakbeats to create a sound that they never explored again. More’s the pity, frankly, as Storm is a thrilling song. Lyrically Eskil Simonsson is exploring the thrill of risk, that of taking a leap forward and damn the consequences: much as there is not inconsiderable risk from going out into the heart of a raging storm. Which we did, out of curiosity, on Friday lunchtime at Hythe Beach. We didn’t stay out long.
Sequencer is currently the subject of some celebratory shows by Covenant, as it turned twenty-five years young last year. For the most part, this was the album where the Covenant style was nailed down – that ice-cool atmosphere and their soaring, melodic majesty.
/Sing You Through The Storm
The debut single from Rebekah’s sadly short-lived solo work is far from the only song here this week that uses the stormy weather as a metaphor, where she offers a helping hand (and metaphorical lifeboat) to someone whose life and mental health is suffering amid stormy seas of their own. Delgado’s voice here is a soothing presence, trying to make something, anything better. As the chorus of voices that closes this song notes, “We all break sometimes“.
The howling wind has been a feature of the past week, as we’ve pretty much been hit full on by the (very) high winds on the Kent Coast this past week, particularly on Friday where it was apparently gusting to 80mph – and even a short walk out to the seafront (we did it safely, behind the sea wall!) was something of a trial to stand upright. Even as I write this on Monday, as Storm Franklin begins to peter out here, the wind has continued to howl around our house about half-a-mile inland from the sea. Anyway, not quite how I expect The Alarm to sound, this – notes from Mike Peters suggest the use of synths on this was not originally wanted, but it works.
/Song of the Winds
This early Pitchfork track (from 1992, and already their third album!) bears the hallmarks of European electro-industrial of the time. Rhythm and atmosphere are at the fore, while vocals almost feel an afterthought, with Peter Spilles’ vocals in the verses in particular buried deep in the mix. But the key element, as Spilles encourages young people to grow up to be a political and social force for change with the equivalent raw power of the wind, is the sound of the song, where the synths swirl and whistle like the windy weather suggested in the song.
/Invaders Must Die
After the turgid, over-promised and long-awaited Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned rather flopped, it was another five years before Invaders Must Die saw The Prodigy roar back, full throttle and at maximum volume. This track borrows lyrics from an old reggae track Ethiopian Peace Song, but re-recorded them at a quicker tempo to suit the tumbling drums Liam Howlett chose to use. That said, it is pretty rare to have thunder without rain in the UK, at least in my experience – although in recent years we have had a couple of occasions where thunder directly overhead really did shake the house. Also, despite three storms this week, a thunderstorm has been about the only kind of weather we’ve not had…
…and where there is thunder, there is usually lightning too. Rob Halford and Judas Priest, on their recent (2018) album Firepower, deliver exactly the kind of power metal that they’ve always been great at – and yes, Halford can still do that scream like no one else. Anyway, this song sees Halford bringing us from the darkness, into the light, by the way of a lightning strike to jolt you into action, and to make positive change. Even without the pep talk, this is a hell of a track from the Metal Gods, over fifty years into their career.
/Here Comes The Flood
/Peter Gabriel I
Over forty years since the release, the environmental concerns of this song seem extraordinarily far-sighted. A rare voice calling a warning over what was to come, and this was in 1977. Since then, “once in a lifetime” floods are becoming “once every few years” thanks to Climate Change, and here in the UK, all too many storms result in yet more flooding. We lived in Sheffield (although, thankfully, at the top of a hill!) when the flooding happened in 2007, and this week, Sheffield – along with a good number of other towns and cities across the UK – has once again been affected by flooding as a result of storms and heavy rainfall. Aside from flood mitigation measures – which by their very nature, often simply push the risk of flooding elsewhere – it is perhaps too late for some places now, who will have to just deal with regular flooding in future. Not exactly a great prospect, that.
/When The Levee Breaks
/Led Zeppelin IV
The gigantic, howling closer to Led Zeppelin IV is chiefly – and rightly – remembered for the powerhouse drumming of John Bonham and the unusual recording techniques (that thanks to the relatively slow pace of the intro, ended up being sampled in hip-hop a lot). Having never really paid too much attention to the detail of the song before, I don’t think I’d ever realised that it was based on a 1929 song by Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe McCoy, and deals with the horrors the African-American population endured during the Great Mississippi Flood in 1927, which wiped out their livelihoods in local plantations at a stroke, and they were then forced to fix the levees and stay to clean-up in the aftermath, of course, exposed to disease and starvation thanks to the flood too, while the local white population was evacuated.
/The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
There have been a lot of folk songs across the ages about disasters that befell regular people – and many such have been twisted and changed as the stories were retold. But a comparatively modern take came from Canadian folk-rock legend Gordon Lightfoot, who told the tale of the sinking of the Great Lakes bulk carrier SS Edmund Fitzgerald on Lake Superior in 1975, just a year after the event. Fully laden with a heavy cargo of taconite ore pellets, it struggled across the lake in the teeth of a monstrous storm and suddenly sank with no distress warning, and while the ship was found in very deep water in two pieces, it has never been conclusively ascertained what caused the sinking – as there were a few potential reasons. The song itself remains a sad lament to a probably unnecessary sinking – although at least the event did improve safety and recovery standards on the Great Lakes.