My girlfriend set me a challenge for two Tuesday Tens the other week, and it seemed like an interesting idea. Last week included the shortest Spotify Playlist I will ever post, and this week goes to the other extreme.
/Tuesday Ten/147/Long Songs
So this week is long songs – agreed to be more than ten minutes in duration, and also to be actual songs (as opposed to including secret tracks or silence). Which did, admittedly cut down my choice from the 447 tracks of 10:00 or more in duration by a fair bit, and also reduced the number of genres involved. There were a few things I chose to ignore, too. Like the ridiculously over-indulgent Mother by Goldie – all sixty minutes of that orchestral-drum’n’bass car crash – or the stupidly overlong Breaking Into Heaven by The Stone Roses, which would have been a great track if only they had reined it in a bit – then again, something that was said a lot about that album…
Even so, you’ll need a fair amount of spare time for this lot. Two hours and fifty-five minutes of spare time, in fact, for the Spotify version – the Youtube playlist is a sprightly two hours and nine minutes.
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. 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).
/Starla (2011 Mix)/11:02
/Gish (Deluxe Edition)
Billy Corgan seemed to have one truly epic song per album as he went along, but incredibly the best of all of his long songs was relegated to B-side status, and it is likely that until recently, you will have only heard this on the (actually very good) B- sides compilation Pisces Iscariot that is now somewhat long in the tooth. So all credit to Corgan for remastering the B-sides too for the deluxe reissues of Gish and Siamese Dream, and Starla has finally gained pride of place at the head of the queue. And so it should, too, being one of the best songs the band ever released, a wondrously epic, spaced-out rock anthem that is also surprisingly tender.
/Millions Now Living Will Never Die
The track that most of all, from their breakthrough album, that really sign-posted that Tortoise were something special. And that something special was an amalgam of many parts, and on the US release (other regions had a few more tracks) took up nearly half the album! While nominally shoved into the box marked “post-rock”, it wasn’t really at all. There were elements of post-rock, yes, but also there were dub sections, jazzy motifs, and most of all, a big, big nod to their krautrock forebears. But for a song so long, it never gets dull, instead morphing into new movements and sounds as it goes along, sounding much sunnier in outlook than you might suspect for a song (and album) that has such a towering reputation.
/The Beta Band
/The Three EPs
That The Beta Band never were properly appreciated for their “anything goes” approach in the late 90s is a sad indictment of the musical times. While Britpop was choking its last few breaths, finally descending into mediocrity and parody, The Beta Band threw in anything but the same old influences. Along the way they made a few utterly astonishing singles, more than a few amazing B-sides (of which this was one, happily all collected on the still perfect The Three EPs), and took the piss royally once their debut proper came out. But let us ignore for the moment the latter material, and go back to this. A riot of found sounds, blissed-out rock and lashings of electronica, The Beta Band never really trod this route again. Mores the pity.
Ignore the short, single version of this, and go for the epic album version – what was and is effectively year zero for electronic music. The ultimate paean to carefree travel, enjoying the scenery and (presumably) sunshine through the car window, and remarkably it never feels like a chore to listen to the whole thing. It is warm, bright and accessible – things that many seem to think Kraftwerk is not. This is why these guys were so damned good (and it still holds up now) – there is humanity and emotion in what should be cold, robotic music.
Like a number of other bands in this weeks list, I was hardly short of options here. But really, it came down to this, or the snarling Christmas Steps (Mogwai Fear Satan has, of course been used before in this series). But seeing as this is one track that I still can’t quite pin down and know off by heart – like many others, it still surprises me when the riff jumps out of the speakers – and it does quiet LOUD like no other post-rock track, this won. And for the purposes of this list, it is actually quite short, too…
/The Young Gods
Another band who seem to place at least one truly epic song on each of their albums, I think I actually prefer this to Summer Eyes, their longest song of all and one I’ve seen live. Sadly, although I know they’ve performed it (I have it on at least one live album), I’ve never been privileged to see this one live. Why? Well, for the first five minutes it is the ‘Gods at their most epic rock-wise, complete with a guitar solo that should have been filmed being played at the top of a mountain, in front of a stormy sky. Then it vanishes into dark, moody, barely-there ambience before building into a tribal trance to close. In fact, through the three parts to this, it is a pretty good showing of all of the sides to The Young Gods, and why they continue to be so awesome.
/My Dying Bride
/The Barghest O’ Whitby/27:04
/The Barghest O’ Whitby
Such a monstrous epic that it actually needed its own trailer, this was, I guess, MDB finally taking their gothic doom as far as they could. And that was into a gothic legend, set to music, complete with stormy samples and deep, deep vocals (of course). That this doesn’t sound like a parody is testament to just how damned good at this doomy business MDB are.
Continuing with more metal, it is now easy to forget that just a few years ago, Opeth weren’t nostalgic, classic-rock bores. Back over the first half of the last decade, they released album after album of thrilling, prog-influenced metal that pretty much perfectly balanced the more reflective side with some seriously heavy metal. And of all of their many ten-minute-plus songs, this one has the best of both worlds – that awesome, chugging opening that opens out into a tender verse…before an entire arsenal of riffage is unleashed again. And so it goes, until we come full circle and a stuttering, staggering riff brings it to a close.
/A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld (Live Mix Mk 10)/18:49
/The Orb’s Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld
The ambient house boom is now pretty much twenty years old. Or, as I like to think of it, distant history. That doesn’t make all of the material from that time crap or cheesy, though, particularly when you think of just what this influenced later. Or perhaps, actually, we can lay the blame for a lot of “coffee table music” since at the door of acts like The Orb. Or maybe the drugs were just better then. Even so, this takes in all kinds of field recordings, outer space, those really good drugs, and Minnie Ripperton. Ignore those that tell you this is a waste of time, and immerse yourself in it. Yeah, maaaan.
/Cop Shoot Cop/17:01
/Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space
This track is actually about fifty seconds shorter than this, but a sign of the obsessive attention to detail Jason Pierce had with this album is reflected in the fact that the actual length is to ensure the album appears as exactly seventy minutes in length when the CD is inserted – as it said “1 tablet 70 min” on the cover. This is, of course, the blues/rock/freak out jam that closes Spiritualized’s greatest album, the sound of losing yourself in the chaos of life, love and loss for sixteen minutes and coming out the other side feeling strangely cleansed, fresh and reborn. A suitably epic way to close a playlist like this.