Category Archives: Music

Specific is universal

As I was ambling along beside the road into Ross-on-Wye a while back, I found myself idly singing a verse from Joni Mitchell’s song Amelia (from the Hejira album):

“I pulled into the Cactus tree motel
To wash away the dust
And I slept on the strange pillows of my wanderlust.”


But I was wrong. That’s not how the song goes. The second line of that verse is “to shower off the dust”, not “to wash away the dust”.

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What I’ve been listening to in 2009

[This post is adapted from the original text-only version written in early 2010. I’ve edited only lightly. I’m posting it now because I like having all the “What I’ve been listening to …” posts in one place, in a single format.]

This year, I wanted to choose a Best Of collection of songs, in part as a response to my old colleague Alec Turner, who made a Best Of 2009 that was too horrible to contemplate, and left me needing to wash the bad sounds out of my ears.


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Pedro Lopes’s 1990s heavy metal timeline

In response to my rather downbeat post on Metallica, Pedro Lopes responded that heavy metal had actually exploded in the 1990s (rather than ambled into irrelevance as I had rather carelessly implied). In a sequence of four massive comments [part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4], he laid out a listening programme of thirty more modern metal bands. And in a fifth comment, he made individual track suggestions for most of the bands.

Now, with his kind permission, I have integrated his mammoth comment sequence into a single mammoth post, with embedded YouTube links. Enjoy! [And note that I do not endorse any of these bands, albums or songs.]


Over to Pedro!

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Dream Theater, Under a Glass Moon (July 1992) — Heavy Metal timeline, part 22

And so, we come to the final part of this series. I hope some of you have enjoyed reading it — it’s been an education to write. This song, to me, is the ultimate destination that all the heavy metal on the timeline has been leading to.

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Metallica, Enter Sandman (July 1991) — Heavy Metal timeline, part 21

And so we come to the 21st and penultimate part of this series. Having written about five songs from 1980, I’m now skipping over the next eleven years because … meh. I’m sure people will point out all the wonderful and important stuff that I’ve missed in that period, but to me it mostly feels like a decade of the same bands doing the same stuff, and other bands coming along and doing the same as they were doing.

Ah, but then there was thrash metal.

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Motörhead, Ace of Spades (October 1980) — Heavy Metal timeline, part 20

Wasn’t 1980 a great year for metal? We have Iron Maiden‘s NWOBHM, Judas Priest‘s radical simplification, Whitesnake‘s last great album before their slide into glam-metal, Ozzy Osbourne‘s solo debut, and now Motörhead’s signature song. Enjoy 1980, because we won’t return to this series until another full decade has passed. But for now, here’s Lemmy:

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Ozzy Ozbourne, Crazy Train (September 1980) — Heavy Metal timeline, part 19

By 1980, Ozzy Osbourne had been fired from Black Sabbath — ostensibly because of his unreliability. Sabbath would go on to recruit ex-Rainbow singer Ronnie James Dio as his replacement and went on to make couple of storming albums (Heaven and Hell and The Mob Rules). But what of Ozzy?

When the Beatles split, the solo material that the four ex-members produced was (with the exception of a very few tracks) nowhere near as good as what the band had made together. When Roger Waters left Pink Floyd, he made interesting but sterile albums, and the remainder of the group made beautiful but insubstantial ones: again, the sum of the parts was less than the whole. But as when Peter Gabriel left Genesis, the Ozzy/Sabbath split yielded two parts that both went on to do good things. Here’s Crazy Train from Ozzy’s debut solo outing, Blizzard of Ozz:

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