Following on from last week, there’s been lots of warnings of late. Warnings to social distance, warnings to stay at home, warnings about what to do if you’re infected. We’re also – well, were, before the rain came today – hearing announcements in Finsbury Park telling people not to sunbathe or lounge around in the park.
Yep, there’s a lot of warnings around. There’s also quite a lot of warnings heralded in song, as I found out when I asked about this subject last week. So, to continue the /Lockdown mini-series, /Tuesday Ten/406 is about warnings and includes a couple of bands I rarely ever feature.
There were 135 suggestions this week – and a really good set, too – with interestingly, no less than 27 of those having been used before. There were 117 unique songs, and 56 people offered suggestions – as always, thanks to everyone who took the time to get 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).
Ever since I even considered this subject for a /Tuesday Ten a few weeks ago, I’ve had this song piling up backdated rent as an earworm in my brain. And with good reason, too, as it’s a fantastic, catchy track from a band who finally found their breakthrough over the past decade, firstly with a number of high-profile support slots, then on headline tours and festival bills with their excellent, hugely entertaining live shows. A song that’s pretty simple in its lyrical content – don’t piss off Benji, or he might blow up with fury – it is perhaps better known these days for the awesome fun of the crowd participation of the “Newport Helicopter”, shown to great effect here at Reading Festival a few years back, and probably needs a warning for too…
/The Joy of Gunz
This group feature this week, despite me having had no interest in what they’ve done in probably the past decade. This track, though, is the opening track to their debut album, the harsher, nastier offshoot from Andy LaPlegua’s work in the futurepop group Icon of Coil. Indeed, it could be said that LaPlegua astutely saw which way the wind was blowing in the scene, with by 2003, Futurepop was waning as a force, and much more aggressive (and at some points deeply questionable) music coming to the fore on industrial dancefloors. That said, this debut album was harsher, more abrasive and less dancefloor-friendly than what was to come – and this opening song, one four-minute alarm call, takes the key vocal sample from, of all places, Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
/20 Seconds to Comply
/Bring Down The Walls No Limit Squad Returns
Back in the early days of British rap/hip-hop, one prominent name for a short while was Silver Bullet, whose most notable tracks including the breathless, high-paced breakbeats of 20 Seconds to Comply. Like the previous entry, it also used film samples, this time from Robocop (the title comes from statements by the iconic ED-209 that are also liberally sampled here). The title, though, isn’t just a warning from a rogue robot, but also a Police warning that a suspect may face (and, apparently, helped to inspire this furious track). Still, an excellent track, and one that is important in the growth of underground British hip-hop and what followed it.
The final track on the greatest Prong album of all, it is also yet another example of the epic riffage that the band seemingly wrote at will, not to mention drums that have a kick of sternum-breaking force. At the heart of the song – which appears to be about resisting authority in times of emergency – is an incessant sample of the erstwhile Emergency Broadcast System in the US, that existed to be able to disseminate information to Americans quickly in the case of a National Emergency. The UK equivalent would have been the four-minute warning during the Cold War, although it is interesting to note that an emergency SMS messaging system was something that was never completed by the UK Government in recent years, something revealed when the Government had to ask the Mobile Networks to send messages for them – yet another example of poor planning from a Tory Government that has proved to be astonishingly poor-prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic.
/Don’t Tread On Me
A perhaps lesser-remembered song from the all-conquering Black Album – an album now reckoned to have sold more than 31 million copies – is one that is built around another almighty riff, and messages of power. Apparently inspired by elements of the American Revolutionary War of the late 1700s, it is also interesting to consider that this was a song written around the time of the first Gulf War in 1990, and thus could also be seen as commenting on the US projection of power into the Middle East, as they went all-in to protect oil supply in the region (and trying to topple Saddam Hussein along the way). Probably the only Metallica album I’ll generally tolerate, too (I was never a fan otherwise).
/Killing Joke (2003)
Fast forward just over a decade, and post-9/11, the Second Gulf War was in full swing, and Jaz Coleman had things to say. Furious at the war that the UK joined on false-pretences, furious as the loss of innocent life, furious at the lies. No wonder he was seeing red at the “warnings” we were being told, many of which turned out to be fabrications (and took some years to get to the truth, long enough for many people to get away scot-free from things they should have faced scrutiny for). This and other events around the time clearly lit a fire under Coleman and his songwriting, as this comeback album was the best Killing Joke had sounded in years.
/Fire in the Hole
The bruising, oppressive hardcore-metal of Orange 9mm should probably have come with a health warning in itself (certainly going on reports from friends who saw them live “back in the day”). Their second album saw them take on a more aggressive, groovy sound, and the opening track exploded into a vicious chorus. The term “fire in the hole” is a military warning that an explosion in a confined space is (very) imminent, and was certainly an appropriate title here…
/That Total Age
I see my alarm on my phone in the morning as something of a warning, and I just use a normal tone. I can’t help but feel that my wife would kill me if I used this as my alarm while we were on lockdown, such is the volume here. An early Nitzer Ebb track that is so much harsher than many of their other tracks, despite being a similarly sparse build – just the beat and a handful of synths – mainly because of the fact that Dave Gooday’s barked vocals sound so different. Much as it did when they unexpectedly aired this at Infest last summer, during the encore, where it sounded like an air-raid siren and the actual air-raid in one.
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/Leaning on Shadows
I can’t imagine that the original Teddy Bears’ Picnic was intended as a warning – more of something of joy for children to find teddy bears frolicking in the woods – but it’s amazing what happens when you change the sound and delivery of such an innocent song. As we found when V▲LH▲LL used the chorus of said children’s classic in a very different context, and all of a sudden, it’s a warning about the woods, and you very much don’t want to go there…
/Souls at Zero
To finish this week, we have Neurosis, with one of the best tracks from their third album Souls At Zero, the album that began their move into slower, more contemplative material – but never any less heavy, in fact likely even more so. This track begins with apocalyptic samples of a man warning of what is to come, and amid the titanic, choppy riffs that drive the song forward like a furious storm, the band howl of warning and retribution, as those that have made grievous errors will have to pay for their mistakes in terrible ways. The song was just as breathtaking at their thirtieth anniversary shows (I was there on the second night, and frankly was most surprised to hear this brilliant song there).