Entry #14 – This is Hardcore (a.k.a Fame’s A Bitch part 1)

tbt Pulp / This Is Hardcore (1998) « THE MINIMAL BEAT

Say what you like about the Britpop phenomenon during the 1990s, but there is one simple fact about it that you cannot escape. It made and broke its stars, and it more than made sure it took them with it during its rough death. Think about where everyone started; young, eager to break through into the public eye, to combat the wave of grunge, make music British again and of course, gain a bit of fame and fortune on the side. Fast forward to the end of the 90s and they’re all more or less in bad shape. Damon went through a breakup, Brett descended into crack addiction, Oasis fell apart to the point where the only original members left were Noel and Liam, Justine was nowhere to be found, Richard had split away from his mates yet again, and Thom had almost singlehandedly killed the genre at the cost of his own sanity.

But what about the one remaining icon not mentioned in the above list? Jarvis Cocker. Different Class was exactly what the title suggests. It was on another level, one of the quintessential records of the 1990s. People lapped it up, they lapped Pulp up and gave them the fame and recognition that they had spent nearly two decades searching for. And it was good. For a little while.

Then there’s the comedown. Legend has it that it all started when Jarvis mooned Michael Jackson at the ’96 BRITS (And with good reason). Good and bad publicity + cocaine addiction + breakup of a longtime relationship + the grand old age of 33 = Breakdown.

And that’s how we got their next album in 1998. That’s how we got an album that dissected Pulp’s image with the sole intent of shitting on it, taking the knowledge you’re in the middle of a mid-life crisis and wearing it tight. This is the album that, in my opinion, definitively put Britpop six feet under. This is the anti-record.

This is Hardcore.

Track #1: The Fear

Something’s wrong. Those are the first words you think when you hear the opening seconds of this first track, as we jump from the final chords of Bar Italia and sink into a nightmarish mesh of strained wailings from the guitar. Right then and there you know that this is very much going to be something Different Class wasn’t. Then Jarvis’ opening verses confirm it, with lyrics such as ‘This is the sound of someone losing the plot/Making out that they’re okay when they’re not’. This is one spooky, unsettling opener and in an artistic sense it’s the best out of Pulp’s opening tracks. Not my favourite, but definitely an impressive way to kick things off.

Track #2: Dishes

‘I am not Jesus, though I have the same initials/I am the man who stays home and does the dishes’. Based off a theory Jarvis heard from another guy that 33 is the age where a person has a mid-life crisis, because that was how old Jesus Christ was when he was crucified, and if men reach that age then they realise they’re not going to be the new messiah (Probably makes the 27 Club feel a lot better). Jarvis wrote this song in retaliation, in an effort to combat his fast approaching birthday present of a mid life crisis. And I don’t think he won the battle. Gave us a heart wrenchingly intimate song though so there’s that.

Track #3: Party Hard

Britpop, exit stage left. I got some Nick Cave vibes from Jarvis’ performance on this one; contemplative and utterly exhausted. The tune in turn gives some Bad Seeds vibes, erratic and hard hitting cluttering of instruments to create the sound of a party spinning wildly out of control. Uncle Psychosis certainly left his mark.

Track #4: Help the Aged

I’m pretty sure that this is my favourite Pulp song of all time, and no it’s not because of Ali G before you ask. While dealing with the subject of the midlife crisis yet again, it’s got that standard wit and sarcasm from Pulp whilst still incorporating the dark and more resigned sound of This is Hardcore. Another reason I like it is because of how high Jarvis goes as he sings ‘Funny how it all falls away’, he hits it just right. Also, stick around for the b-side Tomorrow Never Lies if you want to hear what could have been for Pierce Brosnan’s second film as James Bond (Whose musical history is a whole other can of worms that needs opening one day).

Track #5: This is Hardcore

So I think it goes without saying that the title track is the best on the album and possibly the best song that Pulp have ever done. This is the embodiment of all the grievances the band had at the time melded into 6 minutes of orchestra and thinly veiled innuendo, which doubles for the fame that they had craved for so long. You wait so long, you’re ready now, you know the parts to play and by the end you’ve done it to death, to the point where you’ve ‘seen the storyline/played out so many times before’. The only reason I don’t listen to this as often as Help the Aged is because this is more than a song. It’s an event.

Track #6: TV Movie

Less hard-hitting than the previous song, but the opening seconds of atmospheric static made me think this was going to be even darker than before. Thankfully not, in fact this is the lightest track so far. Not quite as minimalist as Dishes seeing as this one incorporates strings, but not far off.

Track #7: A Little Soul

One last single to cover and a bit of a change of pace as we deal with the strained relationship between a divorced father and his estranged son, the former narrating the song and basically deeming himself an irredeemable failure as he begs the latter ‘Please don’t turn into me’. He wishes he could ‘show a little soul’ but that’s gone. Wasted, in fact. Christ, that’s depressing.

Track #8: I’m A Man

Back to reflecting on life now, as Jarv covers the things he’s done to appear to be a man; drinking, smoking, dirty jokes, driving fast, fancy restaurants, fine wine. And then he asks the question; what’s the f*cking point? Very biting satire here that harks back to Different Class as it deals with those cliches of what makes you cool in society according to those adverts you’d see while out and about. Pulp tried them, became cool. ‘So please can I ask just why we’re alive?/’Cos all that you do seems such a waste of time’. Definitely a song that has aged well over time, especially with the rise of social media and its influencers teaching the young and impressionable how to look cool.

Track #9: Seductive Barry

Guest starring Neneh Cherry, this is officially only the second longest track on the album at eight and a half minutes. This feels like the little sister to the title track, with talk of love scenes as the titular Barry carries out his long awaited seduction of someone he has long fantasised over, and the music guides us as to which part of the action we are at. Nothing much happening for about six minutes, and then the swirling strings inform us that the action has begun. It’s a little uncomfortable to listen to, with a hint of sleaze under the romance (‘if this is a dream then I’m going to sleep for the rest of my life’) and I think that’s sort of the point. I wouldn’t have minded if this was a single honestly.

Track #10: Sylvia

Is it me or does the opening guitarwork from Mark Webber sound eerily similar to the tune found in the first half of Like a Friend? Anyway, Jarvis’ own words; “Some people get off on people who they think are a bit screwed up…I think that’s a bit pervy to be honest”. Hear, hear. Once again, Jarv really goes for the high notes and it sounds really effective, giving the aura of desperation of the man who wants Sylvia all to himself.

Track #11: Glory Days

You can’t talk about Glory Days without talking about the song that could have and should have been in its place: Cocaine Socialism. Originally, that was going to be one of, if not the most biting statement that This is Hardcore had to say in repulsed response to one of the factors behind Britpop’s death; New Labour’s hijacking of the Cool Britannia movement to make themselves look cool and electable. Ok, it worked, but everyone saw through the façade. I wish that had been on the album instead of Glory Days.

While this is a decent enough song, it is much the same of what we’ve heard so far, only less inspired and with less sugarcoating. Aging into irrelevance is the topic of discussion once again with glimpses into the things that had made Jarvis so cynical (‘Oh, my face is unappealing/and my thoughts are unoriginal/I did experiments with substances/but all it did was make me ill’). But as the man himself says, it is “about nothing really”.

Track #12: The Day After The Revolution

A radio station closed down to this track. True story. If This is Hardcore and Help the Aged are my picks for the top tracks on this album then this song definitely takes the bronze medal. It concludes affairs just how they should be concluded; simply saying ‘it’s over’. Pulp are now over the hill and they make it known with the most hard hitting track on the album since number five. Bleak as it sounds to defiantly state it’s all over, it signifies that Jarvis and the band are now free from their shackles, free in the knowledge that they have just said ‘bye bye’ to what made them famous. If they had stopped here, then this would have been one hell of an exit.


This is Hardcore is a beautifully sinister suicide pact from a band looking to wash themselves clean of a dirty movement that muddied their lives. There’s barely a glimmer of light to be found and at times it makes for a difficult listen, defiantly daring the audience to stay with them as they go deeper and deeper through the rabbithole of despair. It’s depression put to tape and artistically it is the best album the band ever put together. I would argue that at times it does feel more like a Jarvis Cocker album than a Pulp album (Which is partially why Russell Senior left the band), but that doesn’t really matter in the end given the subject matter of midlife crises and consequent cynicism to sex.

A shame then that it wasn’t their last, and this is coming from a guy who genuinely likes We Love Life (And hopes that there is a 20th anniversary release with all those unreleased tracks in 2021). This is Hardcore was the finale to Pulp, but the following album ended up erasing that perfect ending, kind of like what season nine was for Scrubs. If it had led to another era for the band then fair enough but let’s not forget they were dealing with aging here in their early to mid 30’s. By the time WLL rolled around they were pushing 40. Time wasn’t really on their side unfortunately.

So that’s This is Hardcore. One of Britpop’s main killers, and a damned fine album. While I may prefer Different Class seeing as it is quintessential Pulp, I’ll always respect This is Hardcore. And as the title suggests, this is only part one of Fame’s A Bitch here on the blog. What’s that one album that overshadowed TIH as the album that sent Britpop to the grave?

OK Computer.

As it turned out, fame in bulk didn’t really agree with Radiohead either. The end result was the next album I’m going to cover in the new year.

Kid A is next.

Entry #13 – Sampling Soundtracks I: Ridge Racer Type 4 (a.k.a Hey! It’s a new record!)

R4: Ridge Racer Type 4 | Ridge Racer Wiki | Fandom

And so we reach unlucky number thirteen on A-Side Glance and commemorate it by starting a new on-off series to break up the regular reviews of albums and singles.

For most of my life, I have been a fan of video games. When my father Simon passed away in November 2000 I inherited his Nintendo 64 and the accompanying games. I still have it and play on it to this day. In fact at the time of writing this I’ve been trying to get a 100% completion rate on Star Fox 64. Easier said than done.

Anyway, back on topic. Video games can stick in the mind for many reasons; the gameplay, the characters, the storyline, the levels and so on. But there are a handful that have stuck out for me because of their soundtracks. And today’s entry is on one of them.

Ridge Racer Type 4 was a racing game I had for the Playstation 1, where you could drive for one of four teams, each with a set level of difficulty, a wide variety of cars, a story surrounding each team’s manager in the background, and with a lot of fascinating tracks to navigate around as part of the fictional Real Racing Roots ’99 series. Win consistently (Which is all you can do, anything less than a first place finish by the final races and you can kiss your career goodbye), and you get to play the final level, minutes before the end of the 20th century. It’s too good for words to sum it up.

But the soundtrack for this game is something else. It’s the integral cherry on the cake, especially for that final level. Meshes of electronica, acid jazz, funk and garage mean you’re hard pressed not to bop your head once you have the race under your control. While this game is chock full of stellar tracks, I’m going to pick out a few of my personal favourites.

Pearl Blue Soul

If you go with the game’s default selections for what track you listen to on a race course, then this is going to be the first piece you get to race to. And it’s the ideal introductory piece, with saxophones blaring away like starting horns to get your race off to a flyer. It’s designed to ease you in to the game, nothing too intense, but not completely relaxing; you are in a race after all. Good for long drives on the motorway.

Naked Glow

The perfect track for racing under the gorgeous sunset of the Wonderhill circuit. Like Pearl Blue Soul, it has a relaxing vibe to it but then the second part kicks in sounding halfway like the theme from Bullitt to remind you that you are indeed in a race.


A more psychedelic piece which is always something that will appeal to me personally. While I think it could be argued that this might be better suited for a rave or just tripping balls in general, this track is also well suited to racing at night time. Best heard on Edge of the Earth in my opinion.

Motor Species

The default track for the level Phantomile, and one that signifies that it just got real. For every race you have to start at the back of the grid, and this track is the shortest on the roster. You have little time to make your way through the grid, and even littler room for error; one small mistake and that is your race stuffed. Oh, and did I mention that from this point on you have to win every single race? This tune personifies that feeling of intense concentration you need for the circuit, building up to a crescendo as you get deeper into the thick of it. The splicing of engine revs during said crescendo only serves to build up the tension.

The Objective

Ever been out for a drive under the bright lights of midnight? Well next time you go out for one, put this track on. You’ll feel like a God of the road. Just try to resist the temptation to go full throttle. I’d always play this one on Brightest Nite in an effort to synchronise the climax of this track’s gradual buildup with the car taking flight down a steep hill.

The Ride

Of all the tracks I’ve selected for this list, this is my absolute favourite. This can play on the aptly named penultimate level Heaven and Hell, and shows that this is far from the calm before the storm. You’ve come too far to screw things up now, and frankly this track is just too good to lose to. Worth the price of admission just for those intense organ chords alone.

Movin’ in Circles

Welcome to the final level. Welcome to the new millennium (In its infinite wisdom). As I said at the top of this post you get to cross the finish line as the year 2000 begins and what better track to do it with than this remix of the game’s main theme song? Every track preceding this feels like it has been building up to something and this is it. This is the ideal climatic track for the campaign.


So yeah. Something a little different this time around, a change of pace from the standard indie rock albums I’ve been reviewing this year, and a start for a new recurring series on this blog. Not sure when I’ll pick this up again but it should be sometime in the new year. Until then, you can always check out the full soundtrack to Ridge Racer Type 4 below. As I say, these are just my favourite tracks. I could easily have overlooked one track that I should probably have paid more attention to. Much like the next album I’m going to review on this blog (Wink wink, nudge nudge…).

Entry #12 – B-Side Myself II: The Masterplan (a.k.a Lovelovelovelovelovelove)

Can I get some Masterplan love in here today? A great album of "B-Sides".  One of my all time favorite songs, 'Listen Up' is featured on this album.  What's your favorite song

I’m cashing it in. This is one of the albums I have wanted to talk about ever since I started up this blog and I am not putting it off a moment longer.

The Masterplan is my favourite Oasis album.

Not Definitely Maybe, not Morning Glory, not even Be Here Now, none of that jazz. The Masterplan. Their b-side album, their compilation of songs that didn’t make it onto those three albums, the rejects, these are my favourite collection of tracks from Oasis. I picked this album up when I was just getting into Oasis, I’d heard bits and bobs from albums one and two and was interested in hearing more. Then I saw a few people online talking about The Masterplan, how it’s a great compilation of b-sides and I decided to get it. No real expectations going into it, I mean surely if they couldn’t make it onto the final album then maybe they were just good but not good enough.

But no. Some are better.

Allow me to tell you all about it.

Track #1: Acquiesce

B-Side to: Some Might Say

Some Might Say is one of my favourite songs from Oasis. Quintessential noisy rock, and we actually had this as part of the playlist for a while in the shop where I work. Why they took it out I’ll never know. But the argument could be made that Acquiesce is quintessential Oasis aswell, not least because it has a killer guitar riff and some of the best lyrics they can offer, but also because it has that added bonus of Liam and Noel both sharing lead vocals. Story goes that Liam was struggling with the chorus so Noel stepped up. End result? Excellence. With the benefit of hindsight ever since that night in the summer of 2009, it’s become that little bit more poignant. But looking past that, this is an excellent song and an excellent opener for The Masterplan. But which would I take out of the two to put on Morning Glory? I’d put both on. Just get rid of the Swamp Song excerpts and put it after Hello. Job done.

Track #2: Underneath the Sky

B-Side to: Don’t Look Back in Anger

Underrated. I really wish that they had played this live at some point. While the distorted guitar seems a little out of place this is still a brilliant track and contains one of Liam’s finest vocal performances. I’m also really fond of the piano notes peppered in during the middle eight, adding to the dreamy mystique of the ‘storyteller sleeping alone’. Should it have gone on the album though? I hate to say it but probably not. There’s not really that much room for it and while I say it’s underrated that doesn’t mean it should go in place of Don’t Look Back in Anger. But like I say, wish there was a live version of this, and not the occasional acoustic version you can find from Noel.

Track #3: Talk Tonight

B-Side to: Some Might Say

Speaking of Noel, here’s his first appearance on this album with one of the fanbase’s favourite b-sides, Talk Tonight. I like it but, and I might get flak for this, out of this and the other two songs it’s part of on the single, it’s probably my least favourite. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fantastic song and it’s got some beautiful lyrics stemming from when Noel left Oasis for the first time during that shambolic tour in the US in 1994. But because it’s an acoustic number sung by Noel it doesn’t have that same oomph. Again, absolutely wonderful song, I don’t hate it at all and it’s the right choice to come after the fast paced sonic rock of Acquiesce and Underneath the Sky, but there are other songs that I prefer.

Track #4: Going Nowhere

B-Side to: Stand By Me

Like this for example. Although this may be down to the fact that this is one of only two b-sides here from the Be Here Now era (Trying say that when you’re drunk). While it’s also an acoustic song of Noel’s, because it comes from the BHN sessions it has a little bit of extra peppering with delicate brass, strings and Liam’s tambourine. I guess while lyrically it’s weaker compared to Talk Tonight, it has two things going for it in that department; 1) I find it relatable as a recent uni grad trying to sort his life out. 2) It’s got the rhyme ‘I’m going to get me a motor car/Maybe a Jaguar’. This should have been on the main playlist for Be Here Now in place of Magic Pie. Oh, I’ll get to Magic Pie one day…

Track #5: Fade Away

B-Side to: Cigarettes & Alcohol

To the Definitely Maybe era now, and talk about being full of bittersweet adrenaline. Judging by that chorus (‘While we’re living/The dreams we have as children fade away’), I think this song made way for another good b-side from this era, D’Yer Wanna Be A Spaceman?, which shares similar themes of childhood dreams not being realised. But because of that, and maybe the fact that it wouldn’t be a good idea to have three of Noel’s acoustics in a row, we get Fade Away instead to get your blood pumping again. If I had one gripe with it though, and this is going to be a really tiny nit to pick, it’s that I think this song would have benefitted being re-recorded by the time of Be Here Now. When it was getting started I expected to hear the guttural vocals of a more experienced Liam before remembering this came from the DM sessions. His performance is brilliant here, no doubt about that, it’s just that it is kind of jarring to hear young, fresh Liam against such fast, borderline punk music.

Track #6: The Swamp Song

B-Side to: Wonderwall

Signalling the end of act one of this album is the full song teased by those excerpts on (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, and the song that the band would take the stage to pre-SOTSOG. And good God above that harmonica on top of the guitar riff is very much the icing on the cake. No lyrics necessary, just pure jamming for a few minutes.

Track #7: I Am The Walrus (Live at Glasgow Cathouse June ’94)

B-Side to: Cigarettes & Alcohol

A live track? Curious. But I don’t think I should be entirely surprised that the Gallaghers, being the fanatics that they are, would sneak in their take of one of the Beatles songs. It’s alright, nothing special and it being live means we get to hear a little bit of squabbling over the guitar (‘Doesn’t matter if it’s out of tune!’) before the song begins so there’s that. Probably the weakest track on The Masterplan.

Here’s a fun fact for you though: This was the last song Oasis ever performed before they split up, at the V Festival on August 22nd 2009. Finishing as they started. Loving the Beatles.

Track #8: Listen Up

B-Side to: Cigarettes & Alcohol

Cigarettes & Alcohol was a popular single apparently; this is the third b-side from it here on this album. Just an honest aside though, if I close my eyes and hear that opening drumbeat from Tony, I have to think and work out if I’m listening to Listen Up, Supersonic or Live Forever. Anyway, the song itself. Once again, phenomenal, superb and passionate performance from Liam, great guitar riffs from Noel and Bonehead (particularly that middle eight) and you can just about hear Guigsy on bass. What’s not to love?

Track #9: Rockin Chair

B-Side to: Morning Glory

Favourite Oasis b-side bar none. Definitely in my top three of their entire catalogue. This song ages like a fine wine and I am both pleased and surprised that Liam still occasionally sings Rockin Chair to this day. This is him singing at his most heartfelt and most powerful, with a song that I’ve seen very accurately described as one long chorus, to the point we fade into the music in media res. Like Acquiesce, this song has become more and more poignant as time has gone on, as the brothers grow older and further apart. Just listen to Liam sing the line ‘It’s all too much for me to take when you’re not there’ and try to tell me it doesn’t tug on your heartstrings.

Track #10: Half the World Away

B-Side to: Whatever

A.k.a the theme tune to the sitcom The Royle Family, Noel steps up to the mic again to make what is actually his favourite b-side. It’s one of my favourites of his too, it’s just so gentle and bittersweet with the narrator insisting he’s not down as he’s faced with the same old monotonous life in the same old town. Again, relatable. Bonehead’s keyboards are a nice touch too.

Track #11: (It’s Good) to Be Free

B-Side to: Whatever

Carrying a similar tone to its a-side, this song very much feels like the sister to Whatever, with a more rock and roll edge to contrast against the merry strings of what was almost the 1994 Christmas number one. A serviceable effort but I don’t whether or not to like the last 40 seconds, where we go from standard Oasis, to Morse code-esque beeping noises, and finally a French accordion. Bit random, innit?

Track #12: Stay Young

B-Side to: D’You Know What I Mean?

Back to the Be Here Now era and I’m always especially interested to hear b-sides from this time period seeing as how people love to make their own versions of the album. Would this one end up on mine? Well yes, of course it would. Of course to fit in with the rest of the playlist, it would need another couple of layers of guitar to give it more of a sonic noise, but even then I would substitute it for I Hope, I Think, I Know.

Track #13: Headshrinker

B-Side to: Some Might Say

I thought Fade Away was about two or three steps away from punk rock. Here, we’re right there. Borderline spat out lyrics, raw guitars and F1-level tempos guided by Tony and his drumming, in what would be one of his last acts before his unceremonious sacking. His more erratic style suits this song to a tee so it’s good that he got to do this before Alan White. The question occurs though: What is a Headshrinker? Well I’ve seen one guy online theorise it’s about blowjobs. Let’s leave it at that.

Track #14: The Masterplan

B-Side to: Wonderwall

And so we come to the title track. I said that Half the World Away was one of my favourite b-sides from Noel. This is my absolute favourite, not just of his b-sides but overall from the elder Gallagher, second only to The Importance of Being Idle. It’s the perfect way to end this album, name dropping Acquiesce from all the way back at the beginning, singing the chorus about how we don’t know what’s going to happen next, but we’ll just let it be; ‘We’re all part of a Masterplan’. And with hindsight, it was the best way to close the golden era for Oasis, before the departure of Bonehead and Guigsy, and the death of Creation Records. Obviously I’d want it on Morning Glory. But where would it go? Well, I’m going to be controversial. I know everyone loves Don’t Look Back in Anger, but if it were up to me, I’d substitute it for this and make it the b-side to Wonderwall. And no, I’m not drunk.

Oh and while we’re at it. Best Oasis music vid.


So yeah, like I said, out of everything the band produced this is my favourite Oasis album. To me it’s as consistent as any early Oasis album in terms of quality and track choice. It serves as a great last hurrah for the hardcore fans who strictly love their 90s sound before they transitioned into more psychedelic territory. Obviously there are other b-sides worthy of being part of the playlist like Cloudburst and D’Yer Wanna be a Spaceman?, but you can’t have them all sadly as you’d end up with an album longer than Be Here Now (Although saying that, why not do what Suede did with Sci-Fi Lullabies and make a double album?). Plus it’s difficult to choose which tracks from the band go where. Hell, if they didn’t have that problem we wouldn’t have had this compilation in the first place! Anyway, sooner or later I’ll cover another set of b-sides from Oasis, some from the 90s and others from the 2000s. Until then, who knows? It’s Christmas season. Anything can happen.

Entry #11 – Brand New Start & The Roller (a.k.a Two for the price of one)

Yup, in my continuing quest to keep things fresh and not stick with one standard formula, I’m reviewing two singles of choice today. Both have made an impression in my playlist lately and I just fancy talking about them. One is from an artist I’ve long been an admirer of, and the other I once thought wouldn’t be worth hearing. Let’s start with the Modfather shall we?

Paul Weller – Brand New Start (1998)

My first taste of Paul Weller came when I was about three-ish years old, through the 1998 singles compilation Modern Classics – The Greatest Hits. Several songs made an impression on me; Sunflower, The Changingman, Wild Wood, Peacock Suit, Broken Stones and so on. It’s Paul Weller, you can’t go wrong with him. As I say it’s a compilation of a chunk of the singles he had released up to that point across his first four solo albums. Except for one track.

Brand New Start.

A standalone single you can only hear on compilation albums, Brand New Start is a song that I don’t have a lot of memories of so I decided that it might be a good idea to revisit it and see if it’s a song that just doesn’t stand out against the diamonds of the first decade of Paul’s solo career, or if it’s a hidden gem that I really should give more attention.

The answer is, of course, the latter.

The first thing that struck me about this song is that it sounds similar to the title track from Paul’s most recent album On Sunset (Which I love), setting the tone for this song being both gentle and uplifting. I don’t need to tell you that Paul himself sounds great here aswell, turning in a heartfelt performance. If you’re in a rough spot this song is one that can give you the urge to never let go of hope and stay on the right path toward that Brand New Start. It really hits home when you look into the context of the song; apparently it was written as a song for a charity concert for the homeless. Who else would be wishing for a Brand New Start?

While I’ll always prefer the aforementioned songs, Brand New Start more than deserves to be a part of that list and I’m glad it was included on the Modern Classics album. It’s a sweet, inspiring and easy-to-listen-to song, perfect if you’re having a downer period in your life and you need a boost. Anthem for 2021, perhaps?

Beady Eye – The Roller (2011)

I had no intention of listening to Beady Eye at all. When I’d had my share of Oasis, I jumped straight into Liam’s solo career which I’d been introduced to by playing Shockwave on the radio, a fairly decent effort from the man of a thousand and four parkas. But I knew of the existence of Beady Eye, the Noel-lite sequel to Oasis and a band who I was under the impression had just ridden off the coattails of their legend before falling apart.

But I had to relent at some point. You won’t know unless you try, so try I did. That’s how I found The Roller, the third single released by the band. It’s a song that encompasses the sound of Beady Eye and their debut Different Gear, Still Speeding; minimalist, retro-sounding rock with acoustic guitars, drums and the piano blaring away while Liam does what he does best. But it’s that last part that had driven me away from Beady Eye. See, I’d been under the impression that Liam was vocally shot at this point in time and if you listen to his efforts on Dig Out Your Soul he doesn’t sound that motivated. Here? He seems reinvigorated, almost excited to be making music his way, closer to the Beatles/Rolling Stones vibes that had inspired him across his career.

That’s not to say that this is a great song though. It’s not. Compared to half of the Oasis catalogue (Which it was almost part of; this song was first demoed during the Heathen Chemistry era, which speaks for itself) it isn’t great, and there are definitely some of Liam’s solo songs like Wall of Glass that I prefer over this. Plus, there’s those ‘oh’s’ that Liam lets out during the chorus, which at first really annoyed me. It took time but The Roller had to grow on me, and now I listen to it because it’s pretty catchy and you can tell the band are having a good time with it. I enjoy it, don’t get me wrong, and it’s not a bad way to kill a few minutes, but there are better songs to listen to. Good but not great.

Entry #10 – The Lyre of Orpheus (a.k.a: The One with the song used in Harry Potter)

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds ‎– Abattoir Blues / The Lyre Of Orpheus LP -  Underground Sounds

If you’re just joining us you may want to read the previous entry where we delved into the first part of this double album from Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds.

Ok and now that you have done that here we are on disc two of Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus. So far so good, but I suppose I have higher expectations going into Lyre than I did Abattoir. Then again, what can I expect? I kept being confronted with twists and turns last time. All I knew was I was listening to the Bad Seeds do what they do best; make good music. Here? Well, I’m sure we’ll get more of that. Let’s just dive in shall we?

Track #1: The Lyre of Orpheus

I may very well be interpreting this wrong but this comes across as a dark comedy, with the titular lyre being the very lethal bane of everyone’s existence. When Orpheus reunites with Eurydice after the sound of it literally killed her, she simply warns him ‘If you play that f*cking thing down here/ I’ll stick it up your orifice!’. My other personal highlight was this mild understatement: ‘God was a major player in heaven’. This song makes me wish I had tapped into Greek mythology (instead of getting stuck with Shakespeare, Keats and Mrs bloody Dalloway) so that I could understand the story. From what I can tell, this is Nick’s own take on the tale, with Orpheus enamoured with his creation despite it driving both his wife and nature to death to the point where God literally goes, ‘Stop. Hammer time’. Like I say, dark but hilarious, and a good gentle tune to boot.

Track #2: Breathless

Lovely and chirpy, the perfect song to listen to on a calm spring day. My only main gripe is that flute. While it suits the organic, natural feel of the song, it does sound rather tuneless. How tuneless? Well apparently the BBC refused to play the song because of it, and they ended up making Warren Ellis do a dozen takes with it before Nick overproduced the shit out of it to get it right. I can’t do the story justice, so here’s the full Red Hand File from Nick this past September: https://www.theredhandfiles.com/breathless-moves-me-beyond-words/

Track #3: Babe, You Turn Me On

Mainly spoken word verses from Nick makes me feel like this is him and the Seeds doing Pulp, which isn’t always a bad thing (I refer you to the Bad Cover Version b-side which saw Nick cover Disco 2000). We’re once again served a slice of vivid natural imagery which mixes very nicely with the delicate notes from the piano, and in keeping with the Pulp stylings of this song we have some innuendo. The last verse is especially full of this, with the narrator and the titular babe standing ‘awed inside a clearing’ and with ‘crimson snow/carpeting the ground’.

Track #4: Easy Money

So I thought this song was about a prostitute. I had to Google it to make sure I was right. And yup, it’s about the life of a guy who prostitutes himself to make ends meet and make sure that his family are both safe and secure. Easy Money? Total myth. This song shows the true skills of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, turning something so depressingly ugly into something so beautiful.

Track #5: Supernaturally

Right off the bat I knew I was going to enjoy Supernaturally as it starts with a very knees up intro that sets up the tone of chasing love. But much like the song before it, this one turns something ugly (A guy stalking a girl and not taking no for an answer) into something beautiful with a spectacular tune.

Track #6: Spell

Well this is deliciously romantic isn’t it? Like Hiding All Away on Abattoir Blues, Spell has that old-fashioned film vibe thanks to those faraway violins that come in to play after the chorus. In keeping with the thread of spiritualism that runs through both of the albums, this song more than any strikes me as the narrator’s love letter to God more than anything else, given the references to the sky and the stars and the lyric ‘I whisper all your names’.

Track #7 and #8: Carry Me and O Children

I’m bumping these two together because they do feel intertwined to me, both with similar sounds incorporating violins and backing vocalists. Carry Me feels like a calm before the storm, as the voices from below begin to rise and the narrator using weaponry in their imagery (‘Who will lay down their hammer?/Who will put up their sword?’). When we get to O Children, the song that exploded in popularity after Harry Potter and Hermione Grainger danced to it six years before its release, it feels like an acceptance of fate as the narrator asks for ‘that lovely little gun’. As the storm comes, he makes his final stand. Fighting fate.

This song truly feels like a finale, not just to The Lyre of Orpheus, not even Abattoir Blues, but the entire Bad Seeds discography up to this point. Of course we know that’s not the case, they’re still doing albums to this day but let me remind you what I talked about at the beginning of the AB review; with Blixa Bargeld gone and the middle-of-the-road efforts of No More Shall We Part and Nocturama, the Bad Seeds seemed on shaky legs. And of course, after this album Nick Cave started the Grinderman project. O Children could very well have been the Bad Seeds’ last stand. But let’s be honest, with a song as damned good as this, that was never going to happen.


In fact, with an album as damned good as this, there was not going to be a chance in hell that this was going to be the end. While Abattoir Blues was a good effort, The Lyre of Orpheus more than surpassed my expectations, which let’s not forget had been raised after I had listened to AB in the first place. I wanted something as good as the first part and I got something a lot better. And I think it confirms in my mind that I do prefer the slower contemplative ballads from Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds over the fast paced rock. Lyre is chock full of classics, the only song that I wouldn’t add to my personal playlist being Babe, You Turn Me On. The rest? Get in there. While I say that The Lyre of Orpheus is a stellar effort, I’m not suggesting you should dismiss Abattoir Blues. There’s something for everyone across these two discs. If you want fast paced, borderline goth blues, then disc one is for you. If you would prefer more reserved and thought out affairs, then go for disc two.

Stayed tuned for more, folks! The next entry will be another single review, before we go into another instalment of B-Side Myself.