I refer you back to pt.1 of the Feline Alchemy soundtrack for the rationale of this post; also, for unmissable links to more pop music of splendour. Now, here is the equally gorgeous pt. 2 –
Chapter 5 – Pixies, Caribou
“This human form where I was born I now repent.”
Pixies were the most bizarre, non-conformist, thrilling mix of practically every element that US rock music felt the need to overlook/dismiss/neglect/ban from the airwaves. In their prime the singer once described Pixies as “ruined cool.” He was right. US rock music was unsurprisingly wrong. Black Francis’ singing here veers typically between the raucous, petulant and angelic. Of course, nowadays when angels fall they end up flogging the consumerist wet dream for Apple. But let’s remember them this way.
Chapter 6 – Siouxsie & the Banshees, Peek-a-boo
“Furtive eyes peep out of holes.”
Rulebook for creating a classic single – Step 1: take an old recording from your studio vaults. Step 2: play aforesaid old recording backwards. Step 3: add accordion and a strident vocal that sounds like an ambulance crashing. Step 4: Rip up the rulebook. Easy. When I have a child I shall name her (or him) Siouxsie Sue. And everyone else should do the same.
Chapter 7 – Velvet Underground, Venus in Furs
“Ermine furs adorn the imperious.”
It’s 1967 – ok, let’s mix Leopold von Sacher-Masoch with rock’n’roll. Erm… what?! Enter the Velvet Underground. Lou Reed changes the game indelibly, inventing the indie/alternative outlook from scratch in the process. John Cale sprinkles avant-garde weirdness into the brew whenever it needs an extra kick. On this song Cale scrapes complaints out of an electric viola like sinews being stretched on the rack, appropriately enough.
Chapter 8 – The Jam, Ghosts
“Lift up your lonely heart and walk right on through.”
Notable among the debris that UK punk junked and scattered liberally about the music scene was a certain elegance and sophistication in terms of outlook and presentation. Those ideas were suspect and passé. Paul Weller was the exception that made an ass of the rule. Not only did the lyrics have the precision of Ray Davies but the Rickenbacker had to look exactly right. That isn’t vacuousness; it’s attention to detail, the watchword of 60s mods. It meant that The Jam were the key bridge between the brightest English 60s bands, punk, and later The Smiths. Surely, compliments don’t come much higher?