"Sometimes there's a song in my brain/
And I feel that my heart knows the refrain/
I guess it's just the music that brings on nostalgia
For an age yet to come" - Pete Shelley (Nostalgia - Buzzcocks)
It's been 10 years since Stuart Adamson passed away and whilst gone he and the music he created has not been forgotten.
Earlier this year a memorial bench was put in place at Pittencrief Park in Dunfermline after a long process by fans of the Stuart and the band.
My own personal memories of Stuart started way back when he was guitarist for The Skids. John Peel played their first single 'Charles'
Even back then Stuart was developing that signature guitar sound that he would later become a star with fronting Big Country. I remember seeing them at The Marquee in London when 'Into the Valley' had been released and they were destined for chart success. They were brilliant back then and their debut album 'Scared to Dance' is amazing to listen to all these years later.
Into the Valley
When Stuart left The Skids prior to the recording of their last album ('Joy') he resurfaced with a brand new band - Big Country. They unleashed their debut single in September 1982 and 'Harvest Home' barely scrapped the lower reaches of the chart.
Harvest Home (The Tube 1984)
Between 1983-1988 they had 11 Top 30 hit singles and four Top Ten albums (including 'Steeltown' which reached number one).
Fields of Fire (The Tube 1983)
In A Big Country (from the Wonderland DVD filmed in Essen, Germany 1986)
Wonderland (OGWT at Reading Hexagon)
There's actually so many good tracks that I could put up on here but I'll finish this with one of the most beautiful songs that Stuart ever performed.
Fragile Thing (with Eddie Reader)
Whilst today is a sad day as we reflect upon the untimely passing of Stuart at the age of 43, it is also a day to remember the brilliant music that he left behind. That will be his legacy.
One of my good friends reminded me this morning that December is a pretty sad month because of the deaths of Kirsty MacColl (18th December) and Joe Strummer (22nd December).
I'm not really a huge fan of Blink 182 but I love this song a lot. The video for it is superb as well.
Stay Together For The Kids - Blink 182
Green Day are another of those bands that I would not say I was a fan of but every now and again they manage to release a quality single. It just happens that on 'American Idiot' there were two classy singles (this one and 'Boulevard of Broken Dreams')
Wake Me Up When September Ends - Green Day
Good Charlotte lost their way a bit with the release of 'The Chronicles of Life and Death' album but it's predecessor 'The Young and The Hopeless' brought them to a place of prominence and garnered a hat full of superb singles including this one (which personally I think is one of the best they have ever written).
Hold On - Good Charlotte
The Boys third single release should have been a smash hit but their record label was terrible in it's promotion (well lack of!). To my ears it still sounds brilliant even after all these years. It's hard to believe that it was released way back in 1978!
Brickfield Nights - The Boys
Another 1978 classic. A great band live and just a little disappointing when it came to studio output. Their two albums ('I, Individual' and 'The Word Is Out') are not bad and contained a few good songs but their finest moment was this one. Like a number of bands around the same time I think their Record Labels didn't really now what to do with them and so did as little as possible to promote them.
I don't really buy singles so it's a rare moment to choose the Singles of the Year. There are two that make my list and I can't choose between what I like better so I will declare them both to be Single of the Year.
It's been a real mixed bag of listening for me this year, from Punk to Soul, Country to Ska, Rock & Roll to Reggae, and Blues to Pop. Trying to figure out what is my Album of the Year has been no easy matter as there have been at least half a dozen that have been in the running. So, with that in mind here are my Top Five Albums of the Year.
5. England Keep My Bones – Frank Turner
Frank Turner continues to inspire with this brilliant mix of folk-punk-blues. It reminds me of times of Billy Bragg's revelries into the English psyche and then it reminds me of nothing becasue of it's uniqueness. Some great tracks on here and a few not so great (I am not for a moment enamoured by the album's closer 'Glory Hallelujah' where he declares rather brashly, "There is no God, so ring that victory bell.") but 'I Still Believe' and 'I Am Disappeared' are just two of the standout tracks. Whilst Frank sometimes seems a little sedate when it comes to his studio output it is his live performances that have everyone talking about him. This year has seen him play a large number of festivals and gain support that must have been the envy of many a larger and louder band.
4. Red Barked Tree – Wire
Garry Mullholland of the BBC said it better than I could about Wire's 11th studio album released way back at the start of the year, "The only sad thing about Red Barked Tree is that few will hear it because many a station won’t play anything by old punks, unless they’re Paul Weller. But if you love alternative guitar music, you will love this, because Wire play alternative guitar music better than any young British band you can name. The oddest thing about that is that everyone name-checks Wire, but no-one listens to them."
For me it was a toss up between this and Gang of Four's 'Content' album and Wire won the day. A quality album that is far better than anything Radiohead have ever released!
3. Hell On Heels – Pistol Annies
"Oh no!" I hear you cry out loud, "A Country album in your Top 5 Albums of the Year! What on earth are you doing?" I hear you, but so many people are too quick to write off Country Music. In the past couple of years I've been listening to a whole range of Country Artists and one lady in particular has impressed me a lot - Miranda Lambert, and she has teamed up with fellow songwriter-friends Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley to create the perfect country album released under the banner of The Pistol Annies.
It was a close call between this and Head Cat for my Album of the Year. Brian Fallon (Gaslight Anthem) continues to surprise me. He's an excellent songwriter and teaming up with his long time Guitar Tech Ian Perkins they have produced a magnificent little album that will bring listening pleasure to those who love the music of Gaslight Anthem and hopefully those who just love music fullstop!
12 well crafted songs that run the route of many different emotions and show off the talent that both Fallon and Perkins have. I have to admit that it's hard to find a bad track on the album. My favourite track though has to be the album closer, 'I Believe That Jesus Brought Us Together'. You might think that sounds like a cheesy Gospel song title, but that is so far from the truth. It's a beautiful tune, nice lyrics that seem reminiscent of Springsteen at times.
It's Rock and Roll at it's finest. Two original songs and 10 tasty cover versions (I'm hoping that the next album they release will be slanted toward more original material) show that Lemmy Kilmister, Danny B Harvey and Slim Jim Phantom have a deep love for the music of the past. The cover of Cochran's 'Something Else' is far more genuine than the awful rendition that Sid Vicious released as part of the soundtrack to 'The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle'. Lemmy has what Vicious never had, true swagger!
I've probably played this album more than any other this year (though The Horrible Crowes album got just a few less plays) and am happy to declare it The Soundtrack4Life Album of the Year for 2011.
The final date on Mike Peter's 30th Anniversary Acoustic Tour was in Cardiff. Simon Bevan was the trusty cameraman getting these videos and the pictures are from M.P.O.
Todays's blog is dedicated to the memory of Andy Gray, long time Guitar Tech for Mike Peters and The Alarm. On December 1st 2011 he passed away following a battle against Motor Neurone Disease. He will be sorely missed by his family and the whole Alarm family.