lucdarling asked: mods vs. rockers - what side are you on, and why?
Forgive me, but in addition to answering your question, I’m going to co-opt it into a quick breakdown of mod and rocker subcultures, because triforce-of-brixton asked me to explain even though I am incredibly unqualified, and so I thought I might kill two birds with one stone.
jackwidowss asked: Hey Mick, tell us what your top 5 tracks of 2013 were!
I’d love to do that! Thank you for asking. I should warn you, though, that it’s practically impossible for me to narrow things down to my five favourite tracks, so what you’re actually getting here is five of my top tracks of 2013, and perhaps even some boring backstory as well.
I’ve talked about this one before, but I guess it sums up the past year better than anything else could. Mick Jones and Tony James do wonderful things here (and the artists’ comments that originally went along with the release were essentially a love letter between best friends), the video is beautiful, and the lyrics – well, we survived, didn’t we? And the sun is still rising. And I reckon that’s about all I could have asked for out of 2013. Everything else was a bonus.
Over the past year, Giles and I have been lucky enough to see Johnny Marr play twice (once on the outbound and once on the return leg of his Messenger tour). The first time he played this, he said, “This song is for anyone who thinks they think too much. And that’s all right.” The second time, he said less, but played it with – if it’s even possible – more energy. I like the way Johnny approaches life, and I like what he’s trying to say here, and I think everyone ought to hear this song at least once, whether you choose to think about it too much or not.
I know I’m technically cheating with this one, but bear with me. The original track was released in 1980, but the album on which it appeared, The Return of the Durutti Column, was re-issued this year and I own a copy, so I’m slipping this one in and hoping you don’t notice. It’s more meaningful to me than most of the music released in 2013, because over the past year, Giles and I have been privileged to meet and form a friendship with the Reillys, so this is not only a beautiful composition of guitar and effects, it’s a song that used to mean a band I loved and now, a year later, means a friendship I also love.
These guys were the openers at this summer’s New Order show, and honestly, I think they were my second-favourite opening band all year*. They’re what’s happening next on the dance scene and they’re really cool, and this is one of the songs off the album they released this year. They also played it at the gig, and let me tell you, if you like it through your laptop speakers, imagine it live in a fourteen-thousand person venue.
As you already know, New Order are another band that Giles and I were lucky enough to see live this year. They’re also a band I’ve loved for a long time, as well as a group of people who are all really cool. They invited us to be on the guest list for their show, they were gloriously kind about our book, and they released a short, but properly quality album (with a really flash cover that Pete Hook went on to tweet about for months, and I’ve got to be honest; I hope he never stops). It may not be the band’s best album of all time, but there are a fair few memories from this year wrapped up in it.
I know. It wasn’t released in 2013. It wasn’t re-issued in 2013. It has nothing whatsoever to do with 2013, so why is it on my list of top tracks of 2013? The truth is, I would be remiss in summarizing the year in music if I didn’t include something by Crispy Ambulance. They’re another band that have, in the past year, gone from names on the covers of our favourite albums to names in our list of mobile phone contacts. They’re another band that have been incredibly supportive of our book, and of us, too. They’re another band that were once heroes and are now friends as well, and I couldn’t properly talk about music that was important this year without including them. And at any rate, I think this probably ranks as the song I listened to most over the course of 2013 (not to mention this was the year we finally found and bought the album from which it originates), so that’s got to count for something.
Other cool music that was released this year:
I’ve run out of room to recommend tracks, but these are some other things that happened in 2013 that I can’t bear not to mention.
Rubberbear have a new EP out, Elements; you can listen to it all here and wow, it’s definitely worth hearing. The Arctic Monkeys released AM; you can listen to most of that here. Miles Kane’s latest album came out; it’s a partial collaboration with Paul Weller, which sweetens the deal, and you can find parts of it here and here. And, finally, Hot Vestry released their new EP, Tell Me How It’s Done, which you can listen to here or here.
*Note: My favourite opening band this year were Slaves of Venus, who opened for Peter Hook and The Light. Look it up. You’ll enjoy the joke more when you do. (And while you’re at it, here’s what may be my favourite live track of 2013; check it out!)
Anonymous asked: For music, do you prefer vinyl to CD? MP3 to everything? Is vinyl hard to find? Are digital purchased-downloads (ie: from Bandcamp) good for the artists? Better than other formats? Are even there any cassettes left in the world, other than the Paul Simon and Van Halen ones in a shoebox under the seat of my mum's car?
Wow, that’s a fair number of questions all at once!
(And the answers got rather longer than expected, so here’s a read-more cut.)
triforce-of-brixton asked: YOOOO MY BRO! please tell me: are The Jam good? If so, what album would you recommed? thanks mate :D
Well, bear in mind, of course, that I’m just firing my personal opinions at you – but I think The Jam are pretty brilliant. They’re a mod revival band at their core, but (if such a thing is possible) I think I’d say that The Jam get about as close to punk rock as a mod group can do without hopping genres.
(And, for your personal interest, The Jam toured with The Clash on the May 1977 White Riot tour – though it wasn’t an unmitigated success, as The Jam weren’t thrilled at the financial arrangements and later dropped out of the tour after accusing The Clash of not having given them the chance to sound-check properly.)
(Also, I saw Paul Weller play last summer and before I did, I thought he’d mellowed out a lot because his recent releases have been much more easy-going than his early work – but I was wrong. When he plays live, he’s just as dynamic and energetic as he ever was. Highly recommended!)
Disagreements with The Clash aside, I’d honestly recommend any of The Jam’s albums. If you’re asking because you’re considering buying one, I’ll do something I wouldn’t normally do and suggest getting Snap! It’s a compilation, yeah, but it’s a really good and comprehensive overview of some of the band’s best work. (There’s also a version called Compact Snap! that’s available on CD only; I’d still recommend it, but it isn’t as good because they had to remove a few of the tracks in order to make it fit onto a single disc.)
More about their individual studio albums under the cut!