After a bit of a longer break than usual post-Christmas, I resume my /Tuesday Ten series as /amodelofcontrol.com nears the twenty-year mark.
/Playlists /Spotify / /YouTube
/Related /217/Positivity /493/I’m So Excited /Tuesday Ten/Index
/Assistance /Suggestions/149 /Used Prior/18 /Unique Songs/120 /People Suggesting/68
/Details /Tracks this week/10 /Tracks on Spotify Playlist/10 /Duration/37:43
More about that in early February, mind – in the meantime, I’m looking at all things new. As we enter a New Year – and at least in these parts, with a tiny bit of positivity for once – I wanted to look at songs that revolve around the idea of the new, the exciting, and what might be around the corner.
Thanks, as ever, to everyone who offered song suggestions.
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).
/Six By Seven
/The Closer You Get
Like all of the best Six By Seven songs, nothing is quite what it seems at face value. The Closer You Get was a searing second album that was furious and powerful, but had one moment where the clouds cleared and there was a brighter sound on display. New Year surges along on a base of shoegaze guitars and probably Chris Olley’s most powerful vocal performance. But it wouldn’t be Six By Seven without an element of gloom, and in the lyrics, it’s here in spades.
“Give me something I can live for / Give me something to believe in”
“How can I lose / If I refuse to fail”
In other words: a new year might bring hope, but it also might bring more heartbreak, and you have to work for that success, whatever it might be.
It’s amazing to think that the base of New Sensation was written five years before it was finally committed to tape as part of the world-conquering Kick. Like pretty much all of the singles from that album, it bristles with an energy and confidence that they just knew it was going to be massive. It pretty much encapsulates the public image of Michael Hutchence, too, as he implores someone (presumably a lover) to keep striving for the new and exciting, and not to get stuck with the same old. In terms of living life, it’s a good mantra to live by (in some respects, anyway!).
/Speak & Spell
Just the second DM single in 1981, and it’s obvious watching them back then that things are going to be different. The various bands that arrived around this time, making use of the newly available cheaper synths, really did usher in a new era of music (one that was vociferously opposed by the Musicians Union, as I recall) and new ideas. New Life feels like the song that sums up the change: a(nother) thrilling, catchy song about embracing change and the new for the better.
At about the same time as New Life, Kraftwerk were old hands at the electronic music thing, but even they were looking to the future. Past releases by them coupled futuristic music with elegant nostalgia in subject matter for the most part, but Computerwelt saw them unequivocably embracing the future. Songs about the new world of technology that was still in a comparative infacy at the time, and at points fortelling the future with uncanny accuracy.
Heimcomputer, mind, is a bit smaller in scope – at least at the time.
“Am Heimcomputer sitz ich hier / Und programmier die Zukunft mir”
[“I program my home computer / Beam myself into the future“]
How quickly the new becomes the norm…
Another of the bands looking to the future – and openly inspired by Kraftwerk, of course – were the Wirral band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. Inspired deeply by modernism, art and science, their often cerebral songs were fascinating from the off (and continue to this day, as recent album Bauhaus Staircase has some glorious moments). Back on their album Dazzle Ships – an album literally decades ahead of it’s time – they even dug into the early debate around genetic engineering, with a striking song that paid at least lip service to both sides of the argument. But interestingly, they conclude the song with “We really must be bold“, something science has done since as such work has begun to assist in dealing with some of the most complex of illnesses and disorders.
/Brand New You’re Retro
Amid the woozy, shadowy and wild experiments of Maxinquaye, the Bad-sampling Brand New You’re Retro is the one point where Tricky allows himself some swagger. He sneers and snarls, staring down his haters with a formidable rap, and then Martina Topley-Bird takes over and delivers just as fearsome a vocal delivery. It rather felt like the point where Tricky realised exactly what he had done with Maxinquaye, a still-towering achievement that basically made everything else released at the time feel old-fashioned.
/Huey Lewis and the News
/I Want A New Drug
Otherwise known as the song that Ray Parker Jr., er, borrowed the central hook from for Ghostbusters. Like that song, this is catchy as fuck, classically-eighties pop-rock that’s all hooks, all style and is great. The song itself is kinda about the new: chasing that high that you get with a new lover – the thrill of the new – and comparing it to all the (legal!) drugs that could be invented for everyday things that could match that high.
/The Height of Callousness
That was new drugs, this is the new disease… Industrial-nu-metallers Spineshank had their moment in the sun with the exceptional The Height of Callousness, a ferocious album that was chock-full of mosh-friendly tracks like this one. Like a lot of Nu-Metal, too, it’s preoccupied with self-loathing and failure, this one seeing Jonny Santos snarling at continued failure, that common frustration of one step forward, two steps back: the new disease of the title being the latest shower of shit coming their way. New isn’t always good…
/I Like Your Old Stuff Better Than Your New Stuff
Speaking of which: the argument of old vs new in music will go on as long as there are fans and recorded music. Even in 2024, I still see grumbles that “Depeche Mode were better when Vince Clarke was in the band” (Vince Clarke, it should be remembered, left at the end of 1981, and they’ve released fourteen albums since), or that this band or the other should have stuck with their original idea.
It’s an exceptionally short-sighted view, as if a band is unable to evolve, change or learn new things without the permission of their fans. Sure, there are occasions where such a change has backfired spectacularly (ahem, Paradise Lost – although even that has had some revisionism since as time has allowed many to accept that Host was brilliant after all), but many so-called fans should shut the fuck up and listen, and give the new a chance.
Anyway, Australian band Regurgitator summed up the whole problem brilliantly. In 1997.
/The Combine Harvester (Brand New Key)
/The Combine Harvester
Anyone for some Scrumpy and Western?
Ah yes, the seemingly immortal Somerset band – who’ve been going since 1966, with a revolving cast of members – who’ve long used humour to punctuate their songs about country life in their home region. Their best-known hit was – something I only learned while bringing this list together – a reworking of Melanie’s 1971 hit Brand New Key, itself a two-minute come-on that uses the excuse of new things to get talking to someone they really fancy.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, The Wurzels’ take on the song is rather more ribald and direct, but with the same idea, and as something of a comeback after the death of their original bandleader, it was quite the hit. Sometimes the new must reference the old…