This week, /Tuesday Ten /541 goes bang.
/Subject /Bang, Boom, Explosions
/Playlists /Spotify / /YouTube
/Related /159/Fire /Tuesday Ten/Index
/Assistance /Suggestions/149 /Used Prior/21 /Unique Songs/118 /People Suggesting/63
/Details /Tracks this week/11 /Tracks on Spotify Playlist/11 /Duration/44:35
This week not only features Guy Fawkes Night, but also Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, this coming weekend, which is another major event that usually includes a lot of fireworks (especially, in the UK, in Leicester – reckoned now to be the biggest Diwali celebration outside of India). In addition, down here in South East Kent, we’re just to the east of the large region of Sussex and Wealden Kent that has a unique Bonfire tradition which commemorates the burning of 17 Protestant Martyrs in the 1550s – and is such a big undertaking that the celebrations spread over most of autumn.
Anyway: this week is songs that go bang, boom, or explode. Needless to say there was a lot of suggestions, and some really good ones – such that eleven songs feature. Thanks to everyone that got involved.
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).
/Last Night I Missed All The Fireworks
It was of course Guy Fawkes Night on Sunday, and like Idlewild, we missed the fireworks (and the aurora borealis from the beach, going on photos posted locally), opting instead for a night in. But unlike Idlewild, we were sanguine about it. On this early track by the band – from their recently re-issued debut EP – Roddy Woomble is a tornado of manic energy, tearing through the lyrics at a breathless pace in time with the band, as the song flashes past in just 84 seconds.
We did, at least, get to see the aurora last night, instead, as it put on a second night’s show from the beach.
/John Lee Hooker
The late, great bluesman’s iconic signature song, that was a hit upon release in 1962, became a blues standard that was covered by pretty much everyone, and then was lurched back into the public eye in 1980 (thanks to appearing in the The Blues Brothers), then again in 1992 thanks to use in a Lee Jeans advert.
While the “Boom Boom” here isn’t actually an explosion, it’s delivered like a detonation to the rhythm of the song, and it’s not hard to see why it has been such an enduring song.
/The Sisters of Mercy
Presumably a reference to The Sweet‘s Desolation Boulevard, there’s also a distinct feel of bluesy rock within the thunderingly powerful gothic rock of this track. An oft-forgotten single behind the other titanic tracks from the album (the title track, More, and of course Ribbons), this track snarls away with images of the US, the “bang bang” kiss-off from the chorus sounding like a veiled threat.
/Blow Up The Outside World
/Down On The Upside
The final album Soundgarden recorded before they split in 1997 was something of a disappointment at the time, as I recall – rather more restrained and reflective, it didn’t have the heft or wall-to-wall brilliant songs of Superunknown, either. But it did have some gems amid the uneven nature of the album.
One of those was this song, that was clearly aimed as this album’s big ballad that they had enormous success with previously (the majestic Black Hole Sun). Obviously the title rather limited the popular scope, but it is a great song. Leaning into gentle, oddball psychedelia for the verses, it explodes into epic power-ballad territory for the chorus, and clearly, it’s a song where Chris Cornell would like to blow up the rest of the world so that he could retreat into peace and tranquility, without the world getting a piece of him. Sadly, of course, his demons eventually took him, as he took his own life after a show in Detroit in 2017.
/Die Explosion im Festspielhaus
The mighty Ende Neu was very much the end of an era, as it was the last album to feature F.M. Einheit, who inspired so much of the chaos within the signature sound of the band. His subtle brush work features on this track, which of course, is ironically – and probably deliberately – a mostly subdued track, that sees Blixa describe a cataclysmic explosion somewhere, but musically the band hold back and the climax of the track is instead a multi-tracked choir of women singing.
/DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
/Boom! Shake The Room
Before Will Smith became the biggest box office star of all, he’d already broken through on two fronts – as the lead in the hilarious sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and as a chart-friendly, family-friendly hip-hop star. Sure, his and Jazzy Jeff’s songs weren’t exactly gritty hip-hop tales from the hard side – profanity-free and for the most part politics-free too – but what they did have a knack with was monster hooks that made hit after hit. Summertime remains one of the greatest songs about the joys of the youthful summer, while Boom! Shake The Room is the kind of anthemic banger that detonates dancefloors no matter what your age, and how serious you are. Come on, you know the words…
/North Korea Goes Bang
/North Korea Goes Bang
I was never entirely sure why this track wasn’t released under the Ultraviolence name, but either way, it’s one of Johnny Violent’s greatest tracks. Sampling military marching songs, US politicians and Violent providing the title refrain on his own, the track is a thundering airstrike of a track that somehow brings together bruising industrial beats and military violence and makes it work. Sadly, twenty-eight years since release, North Korea remains an apparently implacable threat to the west, as well as it’s neighbours – and to it’s own citizens.
/The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
/The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Far from the only band with a bang in their name, but Jon Spencer’s Blue Explosion were a band always teetering on the edge of such explosions – and sometimes delivering them too. This early track, while called Exploder, threatens it for most of the two-minute runtime, with jagged guitars, Russell Simins’s punchy drumming and Spencer’s yelps – but never delivers the bang that you think is coming. They saved that for later tracks like the fabulous Bellbottoms.
/Supernova Goes Pop
/Tonight the Stars Revolt!
Powerman 5000 were something of a footnote amid the nu-metal boom – with lead singer Spider being the younger brother of Rob Zombie. PM5K’s schtick was more sci-fi styled, and their debut album had a stack of fantastic songs. The first one I heard was this big, stompy anthemic slab of industrial metal, and in terms of things going bang, you don’t get much bigger than the supernova of a star. Just as easily, too, I could have included the other single from this album – When Worlds Collide.
/The Future Sound of London
/We Have Explosive
Amid the bleak, cyberpunk gloom of Dead Cities – an album so rooted in the mid-90s malaise of post-recession London – came a couple of tracks that unexpectedly took the band into the territory of ripping electro. Both used similar samples – elements of Run-DMC’s Tougher Than Leather are the bruising base of both this and Herd Killing – but We Have Explosive was the track that hit the top 20, and then gained massive exposure thanks to featuring in the massive hit console game that was Wipeout 2097.
This song sounded like a warning from some shadowy group as to untold violence coming the listeners way: which in London, in 1996, was pretty much a fact of life before the Good Friday Agreement was sealed a few years later.
/Trimdon Grange Explosion
/Diversions Vol.2: The Unthanks With Brighouse And Rastrick Brass Band
We finish this week with a song about an 1882 tragedy. Originally written and sung by County Durham folk singer Tommy Armstrong, it tells the tale of a shocking mining tragedy in the village of Trimdon Grange, where 69 men and boys died after a gas explosion in the mine (and indeed the afterdamp following the explosion made it into a neighbouring mine and killed six men there). The song tells the tale of the disaster, but also the aftermath, as a small mining community tried to deal with such a shocking loss.
Sadly, of course, mining was never a safe endeavour: Wiki records well beyond thirty notable coal mining disasters in the UK alone, and there were doubtless more that weren’t as well reported.