A few months ago, I wrote about Endings as left my employer of nearly nine years (indeed, had I stayed, this week would have been my nine-year anniversary). I took a few months out to recharge and take a break and started a new role last week with a company I’ve worked with before, and it’s been a friendly, positive start.
/Tuesday Ten/362/New Beginning
Needless to say, this new job (and that previous post) got me thinking about beginnings, and perhaps unsurprisingly, there are a lot of songs on this subject. The usual suggestions thread pulled together 102 suggestions, with 93 individual songs suggested by 45 people. Only five songs had been used before. Thanks, as ever, to everyone who gets 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. 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).
Gorilla Biscuits was a massively influential band. One of the second wave of Hardcore bands, they have links to a whole number of other bands (not least Quicksand, who guitarist Walter Schreifels went on to form), although listening to this song again, they didn’t half nod back to Rollins-fronted Black Flag! Their most iconic song – and something of a hardcore standard, too – remains this two-minute laser-focused song, as “Civ” rips into himself and his past failings, determining that it’s time to do something new, something better, to make something of himself and try harder. As well as the uplifting lyrics, mind, it also has an absolutely kick-ass breakdown: although the best version to hear is this stellar live version that has crowd involvement literally and figuratively!
As it happens, I could easily have used the rolling punches of Can’t Wait One Minute More, by Anthony “Civ” Civarelli’s later band CIV, too – the itching feeling of wanting to push forward and do better clearly ran deep.
/Back In Black
/Back In Black
Perhaps no band found a new beginning – and even greater success – more spectacularly than AC/DC. After Bon Scott died in early 1980, AC/DC recruited Brian Johnson, wrote and recorded Back in Black – the best album of their career, and have sold the best part of fifty million copies since. Sure, the groundwork had already been done, as they were hardly an unknown band by this point, but the death of Scott seemed to galvanise the band in every way, and the title track details just how raring to go the new line-up were, fighting fit and snarling.
/Brave New Apocalypse
/Brave New Apocalypse
Bradley Bills has mentioned a few times that this album – the latest from his CHANT project thus far – revolves around the idea of renewal and how things change (or don’t change). The opening and title track, though, is something of a personal statement and manifesto. For me, this song details the idea of a scorched earth policy when it comes to the past. It happened, it was shit, the need to renew and start again is imperative and if that means cutting ties, so be it. This is, needless to say, something that I’ve done in the past after particularly difficult and traumatic times, and broadly, I don’t regret it for a second.
/A New Decade
/A Northern Soul
A band that had quite a few new beginnings over their time was The Verve. They broke up three times, reconvening again after the first two, and their first reunion – the band had split after A Northern Soul and then reformed for Urban Hymns – saw the band gain a level of success unmatched by few other “indie” bands. Urban Hymns remarkably sold over ten million copies and remains one of the biggest selling albums in the UK ever.
But dial back a bit, to 1995, and the opening track of their second album A Northern Soul. Their earlier material was spacey, often mellow and rather under-produced at times, but still had flashes of fire. A New Decade, though, swept all of that away, as it faded in and Ashcroft sounds a man possessed as he dreams of escape and a new future, one with hope and success. I suspect even he couldn’t have possibly anticipated what did actually happen.
A not-as-well-remembered song, perhaps, from a landmark industrial-metal hybrid album. Fear Factory here was a searing, punishing band that somehow managed to make music this heavy and relentless to have melody and heart. The heart, though, was being superseded by the machine in this track, as the mechanised riffage and thundering, fast-paced drums bring the distinct impression of a human-machine hybrid that really is a new beginning: the New Breed of the title.
/Rip It Up
/Rip It Up
This song always struck me as something of a curio – reggae-influenced rhythms, disco-esque guitars and synthpop squelches from the hands of a Scottish indie band – but Edwyn Collins’ rich voice holds the whole song together, not least that fabulous, confident chorus. That chorus where Collins implores himself to “rip it up and start again“, as he meets someone new and is immediately sure that his old life means little, and he’s impulsively willing to go with the new (but still has the concern in the back of his mind that he might just be making a mistake!).
Impulsiveness is something, sometimes, that is a great thing, but it often needs a little luck. Hey, as I publish this on mine and my wife’s anniversary (three years married, fourteen years together to the day), our relationship comes from one impulsive meeting (and kiss!) at a party.
/The Shape of Punk to Come: A Chimerical Bombination in 12 Bursts
Refused were always a band about pushing forward, starting afresh – and indeed were so far ahead of their time in the first place that it took everyone a few years to catch up with the brilliance of The Shape of Punk to Come – so much so that they’d split before everyone was taking notice. The one song that did breakthrough, though, was this. This was less punk than stadium-level hardcore, with a wall-blowing production to match, not to mention an astonishing lesson in dynamics and delayed gratification (that minute-long intro, that breakdown, the joyous, thrashing finish. Hell, the whole five minutes and ten seconds). But more crucially, this was a song demanding new thought. New art, new ways of living, new ways of thinking. A scorching blast of some of the best hardcore music ever made that did influence countless others since, even if it didn’t quite provide the new start many hoped for.
Oh, and I was at this show when the band returned to London in 2012, where this song opened the encore, and nearly took the roof off the Forum…
The Cardigans were a curious band at times – at first glance a somewhat twee indie-pop band, but look deeper and there was a darker, harder edge. The bitter, cynical lyrics were part of it, of course, but also their love of heavy metal (they covered both Motörhead and Black Sabbath!), and both of these are in evidence on this great song. Here, Nina Persson’s sweet vocals disguise a wish to remove a shitty partner from her life, the desire to “Erase and Rewind” a clear signal that if she starts again, there will be no place for that other person.
/End is a New Start
Hit the bottom, bounce back. This is what Marsheaux are demanding here in their character study of someone whose life has messily fallen apart, with no money, no job, no hope.
Been there. The important bit is then when you take the steps to make amends, to move forward, to improve, to make new – or, as this song says, “…get your life back / Let’s get out of this trap / The future is now“. Musically, this song is clever, too, the downbeat sections having a muted electronic backing before the song ecstatically explodes into life as the positivity and hope breaks through the clouds.
/The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
I saw this in the suggestions thread, and yes, I had to use it. The post justifying it was bang on: this is a song absolutely about new beginnings, as Will Smith, The Fresh Prince himself, details the upheaval of his life as he moves from the relative poverty of West Philadelphia to live with his aunt and uncle’s family in the palatial surroundings of Bel-Air. You all know the song, of course, and the good-natured, genuinely funny TV series did a great job with the “fish out of water” scenario that the plot hinges on.
Anyway – weirdly, I’ve been cushioned a bit by fortune this time around between jobs – certainly nothing as stressful and difficult as it was nine years ago – but now? I’m raring to go and do something new. Let’s get on with it.
Yes? Let’s do it.