As I edge ever-closer to the 500th /Tuesday Ten, this week, I’m celebrating volume.
/Subject /Noise, Volume, Loud
/Playlists /Spotify / /YouTube
/Related /300/Bring The Noise /497/It’s Oh So Quiet /Tuesday Ten/Index
/Assistance /Suggestions/67 /Used Prior/4 /Unique Songs/55 /People Suggesting/40
/Details /Tracks this week/11 /Tracks on Spotify Playlist/10 /Duration/50:12
That is, getting loud and noisy. It turns out that there are a lot of songs out there that celebrate turning up the volume and making loud music (and in some cases, whether the neighbours like it or not). Needless to say, this week goes to eleven.
Thanks to everyone who offered suggestions recently (stats are above).
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).
/Pump Up The Volume
Has there ever been a better, and more influential, one-off collaboration? The work of two 4AD artists, A.R. Kane and Colourbox, this track turned out to be a massive hit in the UK and elsewhere, and remains a landmark in sampling too. The titular vocal hook comes from Eric B. & Rakim‘s I Know You Got Soul – only released earlier the same year (1987) – and Rakim’s directive is a good one here, so that you can hear the excellence of the sampling and effects used here at a solid volume.
One of the most striking songs in Tool’s discography, never mind just being a highlight of Ænima, is Eulogy, an eight-minute meisterwerk of sonic dynamics and bitter, vitriolic lyrics. For a song that starts so unnervingly calm, it eventually explodes into a striking, powerful chorus, as Maynard James Keenan delivers a scathing eulogy about someone – Kurt Cobain, Bill Hicks and most notably Scientology creator L. Ron Hubbard have all been suggested as the subject who had a “voice that was strong and loud”. It kinda strikes me that the latter fits best, particularly with the scorching fury of the delivery.
Indie veterans James have remarkably been an active band for forty years this year, having been formed initially in 1982, and having had a number of hit singles, have sold millions of records, and probably even more t-shirts over the years. This single, the title track for their 1993 album, is one very much about sex and relationships. The key relevance for this week’s post is the opening verse, where the protagonists have noisy sex, to the chagrin of their neighbours, who complain (a lot) and clearly get ignored…
One of Perry’s biggest hits, and perhaps most enduring, is a song of self-empowerment, as she first reflects on how she used to not speak up, and keep her opinions to herself (for better or worse) – but later finds the power to stand up for herself, and make her voice heard – hence “you’re going to hear me ROAR“. My opinion of Perry was perhaps changed by her spectacular Superbowl XLIX halftime show, with her entering standing atop a gold tiger dressed in flames as the wild twelve minutes began with Roar. Left Shark followed a bit later…
/Tears for Fears
/Songs from the Big Chair
Back recently with their first album in a long time – retaining their grandeur and production complexity, by all accounts, and also talent with songcraft – this duo will remain in pop history forevermore thank to their exceptional eighties output. This single is one of the reasons for this: even if, listening back, it feels rather more restrained than I remember (unusually, it takes well over three minutes for the drums to fully kick in with maximum impact), aside from that huge chorus, that encourages the listener to shout, be heard and make some kind of change. Thirty-seven years on, and I’m beginning to get the feeling many of us should be shouting even louder.
At their best, Covenant are a band of the people. Despite their often chilly, aloof songs, they have for over twenty-five years now had this unerring knack of writing dancefloor-slaying stompers that live turn an entire crowd into a seething, emotional whole. The thumping, steady build and giant release of Ritual Noise – from the sometimes underrated Skyshaper – is a song for those crowds, as Eskil and Covenant celebrate the link between band and crowd in one of their greatest, most exhilarating seven minutes. Everything about this song just screams turn it up that bit more…
/Sonic Boom Boy
/Where the Action Is
Sonic Booms are created when an object (typically an aeroplane) passes the speed of sound and creates a shockwave in the air that is very loud indeed. One of the issues with Concorde was that it was restricted from going at the very fast speeds it was capable of over land due to the issues with creating sonic booms.
This song is the one big hit Westworld had in the late-eighties, a curious mix of rockabilly and electronic rock that resulted in a spectacular, noisy single that remains a popular hit even now.
/The Medication Generation
Despite having featured Cyanotic twenty-five times before now in this series, somehow, their greatest dancefloor stomper Alt.Machine has never been included. Making excellent use of Robocop samples, it is a song that thunders out of the gate and only gets louder and heavier as it aims a direct hit at the industrial dancefloor. Sean Payne celebrates the noisy dissonance of the industrial club as if it were a drug we need to survive on. Expect to hear this at my first in-person DJ slot since February 2020 next month, at Church of Madness in Reading, 13-Aug.
/All Men Play On Ten
/Sign of the Hammer
We complete this week with three more songs celebrating volume, and lots of it. Manowar are a band that write lots of songs celebrating Metal (and themselves), and perhaps this song is the best of them, as they tell tales of being told to play quieter, and show restraint, to be popular. “Fuck that”, they say, as they turn everything to ten and unleash hell. Funnily enough, they walk it like they talk it, having broken the record for the world’s loudest concert three times (although perhaps unsurprisingly, Guiness World Records have stopped recording it, because of obvious issues with hearing loss!) – reaching 139dB (!!) at a 2008 soundcheck.
/The Most Lamentable Tragedy
From a 95-minute rock opera (no, really), this is yet another celebration of noise, volume, and overcoming shyness, as this NYC noisy rock band overcome their demons, turn everything to ten (hence “dimed out”), and as a result, become rock gods, at least in their heads. This is a chaotic, noisy song, that appears to have had everything including the kitchen sink chucked into the mix, and as a celebration of sheer volume, it’s hard to top.
Well, it would be hard to top if Motörhead didn’t exist. Yes, I’ve included Overkill before, and yes, this takes us to eleven tracks this week, but I couldn’t possibly do a /Tuesday Ten on songs about being loud without including Lemmy. And what other song to pick than the final live song Lemmy played before he died – the perennial set-closer, and live favourite Overkill. Based on a ridiculously fast drumbeat, Lemmy barks lyrics reminding us that if you can’t feel it through your body, it ain’t loud enough. Having seen Motörhead live back in 1998, this song is absolutely right. They remain one of the loudest bands I’ve ever seen, entirely lacking in subtlety, of course, but who cares? It was delivered loud and fast.