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- My Bloody Valentine
My Bloody Valentine were the undisputed Kings of Noisy shoe-gazing rock. They fucked up the 1990s for me by releasing the best album of that decade, Loveless, in 1991 – thus making the rest of the decade a bit of a disappointment.
The vocals were always buried in the mix, and were an interplay between Kevin Shields’ weedy whine and Belinda Butcher’s breathy “oohs” and “aahs”. I saw them live twice, and they were great both times – although one had to be in the “right frame of mind” for it. Ahem.
- The Cocteau Twins
Fey musical collages with Elizabeth Fraser’s deliberately non-language vocals multi-tracked. There were times when you could almost make out what she was singing – and times when there were unfortunate errors of comprehension. For example, my mate Nick ruined my enjoyment of one of the tracks on “Heaven Or Las Vegas” by insisting she sings “Sit on my face”. Check it out for yourself (290K mp3).
Once upon a time, REM were good, despite -or because of?- the fact that singer Stipe sang lyrics like “She’s a sad tomato” and “Singer, sing me a gibbon”. (Pippa saw them last month, and said they still kick ass, however.) Often, he was intelligble but meaningless, and thus got the reputation for surrealism and sagacity rather than someone who spouts nonsense instead of writing proper words. Yes, that is a note of envy you detect.
I saw Loop live several times in the 80s. They were buttockclenchingly loud, and stood completely still, backlit, playing and layering riffs for sometimes up to 10 minutes, occasionally breathing something incomprehensible but menacing into a microphone, before all magically stopping at exactly the same time. Criminally under-rated to this day. (And if anyone has the album “the World In Your Eyes” they could send me, I’ll love you forever; some fucker stole mine, and even Kazaa can’t help me.)
- Extreme Noise Terror
Possibly, I’m cheating here, as E.N.T. didn’t really go for lyrics – more grunts and shrieks into a mic over furious grinding heavy rock. When I was a kid, there was a subterranean club in Birmingham (The Kaleidoscope?) which would host a 12 hour gig on bank holiday mondays, where I’d regularly see Extreme Noise Terror, Napalm Death, Bolt Thrower, S.O.B., Genital Deformities and other luminaries play live.
I recall waiting outside to go in, in a line of crusties, punks and hippies, when some yuppie in a big car drove past, shouting “Get a proper job!”. As I was a pissed-off systems analyst for AT&T at the time, I took his advice and resigned to go travelling for 7 years. So, if you were a fuckwit yuppie in 1989 with a penchant for haranguing strangers, I offer my sincere thanks to you.
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