After a couple of busy months where trying to post weekly was impossible, to complete the rest of this year I’m going to aim for weekly /Tuesday Ten posts. And we start with an appropriate subject.
/Subject /Good, Better, Best
/Playlists /Spotify / /YouTube
/Related /Tuesday Ten/Index
/Assistance /Suggestions/70 /Used Prior/9 /Unique Songs/64 /People Suggesting/31
/Details /Tracks this week/10 /Tracks on Spotify Playlist/10 /Duration/38:57
Being good. That is, striving for good (or better), being good, looking for the good in people. As always it was a fascinating set of suggestions, and some great songs were in it. Thanks to everyone that got involved. I’ll be back next week with the flipside…
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).
Where else to start but with the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll? As well as initial success as part of Ike & Tina Turner well into the seventies, she then had a remarkably successful solo career from the mid-80s onward, alongside an autobiography that revealed the scale of abuse by Ike Turner, which was then adapted into a hit film and later a jukebox musical too.
Remarkably, I didn’t know until writing this that it was actually a cover. Initially offered to Paul Young (!), Bonnie Tyler’s 1988 take rather bombed in the charts, before Tina Turner’s subtle reworking made it a top-five hit pretty much everywhere, becoming one of her signature songs and soundtracking weddings and sports events until pretty much the end of time.
This mighty, enduring hit for the Utah Saints is now thirty-one years old, has been a top-ten hit twice and is very much one of those songs that is part of the British cultural fabric. The key hook – and title of the track – comes from Kate Bush‘s still-sensational Cloudbusting, a song about Wilhelm Reich and the relationship with his son. Sadly, something good didn’t happen, in particular as Reich was the victim of appalling post-war US censorship (although admittedly he had some questionable practices and ethics), and died while still incarcerated in 1957.
A second mention for The Shamen in a month, but how could I not include this? A song that caused all kind of fuss when it was released as the penny dropped on the meaning of the song – this was when dance music was still seen as a threat to the establishment – even if the band went to clever and hilarious lengths to explain it away. “Es are good” goes the chorus hook, and this song isn’t about getting binned on drugs, honest. Of course, the fuss and attempts to ban it, as it always does, just made it all the more popular…
What’s more good than a Superhero? Well, many are flawed, of course, but that’s besides the point. Perry Farrell wants to be someone’s superhero, one that is their entire world, and is willing to go to lengths to get it.
This song came from the rebirth of Jane’s Addiction in 2003, as they finally capitalised on the groundwork that they did on their early albums, initially collapsing and splitting before grunge and alternative rock truly exploded. Strays certainly has it’s moments, but by the time I finally saw them live in 2009, the emphasis was very much back on those early albums…
One of Pearl Jam’s greatest songs apparently was written by Eddie Vedder in his bedroom as a teenager, long before he joined the band – and it took a few years more before the song was completed and used. Apparently about his abusive stepfather through the eyes of a powerless stepson, this song screams desperation. Hope for better, for good times ahead, that might replace the awful reality of now.
/Nine Inch Nails
/The Good Soldier
While politics were obliquely referenced on the odd song previously, Year Zero was the first time where Trent Reznor made his views unequivocally clear, and it was perhaps no coincidence that it was in the post-9/11 era, where George W. Bush’s administration had made a number of questionable decisions (and started at least two wars).
One of the highlights of the album was this song, a relatively subdued track from the perspective of a US soldier trying to justify their actions for the greater good, even as their conscience tells them otherwise.
/Feel Good Inc.
Gorillaz are perhaps an unlikely success story: an essentially fictional band created by Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett, that has somehow become immensely successful (and with some great songs). This some comes from a similar time to the NIN track above, and despite the superficially upbeat feel to the song, there’s an undercurrent of the darkness that seemed to envelop the world at the time too, both musically and even more so in the striking video. “Feel good” it is only just…
One of the things that intrigues me about modern folk acts is that they are continuing the tradition of writing songs about the issues of the day: sure, they can perpetuate the songs of old, but the new is needed too. Such a song came from the suggestions, a Teesside-based folk trio who wrote a song celebrating a local man called Ghafoor Hussain. This man kitted out a bus and travelled Europe, using his own money, to feed and support thousands of refugees at various points across the continent: very much a case of doing good.
/All You Good Good People
/The Good Will Out
The only band that I can recall that made it big from my home area (Embrace are from the Brighouse area, just north of Huddersfield), and their first single was this grandiose, six-minute epic. They created quite the buzz when they first appeared, and the debut album that this opened topped the charts and sold well over half-a-million copies.
They’ve perhaps had a bit of a bad press retrospectively, and for later material I agree, but this single in particular remains an affecting song: where Danny McNamara pleads to a partner – and everyone else that feels the same way that he does – for another chance, that he can do more good for them than bad.
/Who’s Gonna be the GOAT?
/Red Yellow Blue
The ever-useful Concert Archives reminded me this week that I first saw Dutch band De Staat fifteen years ago this week, supporting dEUS (who’ve long taken up-and-coming Belgian or Dutch bands on tour with them). De Staat have become a much better known, and wildly eclectic, band since – part of that built around the viral success of the extraordinary Witch Doctor.
They’ve not stopped, though, with recent project Red Yellow Blue seeing them exploring their different elements. One of the highlights of that is the magnificently tongue-in-cheek Who’s Gonna be the GOAT?, where Torre Florim looks at the idea of being great at various sports or discipines, and shrugs his shoulders, suggesting that is for other people. The video sees band members subtly and not-so-subtly inserted into various major events, as if they are part of modern history. They might be pushing back on being great, but they really are…