3 Colours Red - Beautiful Day

This is one of a handful of songs that I recall as being the first MP3 I ever downloaded. I'm not 100% sure what the first one was; there are a few possibilities downloaded a few weeks apart which have kinda blurred together in my hazy teenage memory.... I will post them all, over time, with a view to working out which one was 'my first'.  It'll be like that show 'Mama Mia', except without the old troll who conquers menopause by singing every inane thought that comes into her head whilst leaping deftly around a Greek villa like an advert for Tenna Lady.

3 Colours Red were a UK band I had only heard once on a late-night music show.  We didn't have cable TV at home (this is back when there was only one 'MTV' channel, and it still showed music videos - just about...), but I would stay up late filling my musical boots whenever asked to sleep over at a mate's place, remembering the songs I liked and then noting them down to look up online when I we next 'logged on'.

So my musical awakening (or something less gay sounding) happened around the same time as I discovered MP3s, which probably makes me the poster boy for illegal downloading.  You know when they talk about all the kids growing up not realising that by downloading music we're stealing artists' livelihoods? Or how 'we wouldn't steal a car so why would we download a movie'? Well, that's me.

Downloading an MP3 was like finding money.  You almost couldn't believe you had gotten away with it.  Here's this beautiful noise coming from the tinny PC speakers (this was WAY before the iPod was a twinkle in Steve Jobs' eye) and you hadn't even paid for it....well.....apart from the cup of coffee it'd cost to get into the local internet cafe; our 28.8k modem just couldn't hack MP3s, but they had an ISDN line.  128k, I think.  PER SECOND.  Blazing!

For the first time, I wasn't constrained to having my musical taste drip-fed to me by Radio 1 (which, in those days, actually played some pretty bitchin tunes... Kevin & Zoe on the Breakfast Showwww...........).  I could download a song by a band I'd only heard of, and decide whether I liked them enough to go seek out their latest album in the local Our Price...

So, here's maybe the first song I ever downloaded:

The National - All The Wine


I've never called The National one of my favourite bands.  They're a five-piece indie-rock band outta Brooklyn, NY, but as far as I can tell they've never had any UK hits; I've only heard of them through the interwebs.  They're kinda like this recurring character in a story that everyone but the protagonist knows is the 'soulmate' if only the protagonist would stop looking down dead end alleyways and see the amazing friend that's right in front of them.

I have a feeling that if I really got into them, it would be a life-long love affair.  Maybe I will.  Only time will tell; until then, though, here's my 'love at first sight' moment: from their 2005 release 'Boxer', All The Wine is a self-righteous, self-affirming song of self-love that almost borders on arrogance if it weren't for the hint of self-doubt and possibly even an unconscious self-loathing within the lyrics.

I'm put together beautifully;
Big wet bottle in my fist, big wet rose in my teeth,
I'm perfect piece of ass
Like every Californian.
So tall I take over the street, with highbeams shining on my back;
A wingspan unbelievable,
I'm a festival, I'm a parade.

And all the wine is all for me.

Life Without Buildings - The Leanover


Life Without Buildings were a Glasgow-based indie band made up of the scum of the modern world, art students.  But I kid; their only studio album is actually very good - the spoken-word almost stream-of-inner-consciousness lyrics mumbled, rapped and sometimes spat out by painter-turned-rhymist Sue Tompkins certainly differentiated them from other bands of the time, and probably inspired a lot of other female fronts in years to come.  I personally love it.  And this, I think, is my favourite track:

Life Without Buildings - The Leanover

Natalie Imbruglia - That Day

I recently added the gorgeous Natalie Imbruglia to my other blog 'Hot Trumps'.

I disclosed as part of that posting that while I wouldn't call myself a 'fan' of her work, her hits have been quite good, but for me there's quite obviously one huge standout track, the opener from her sophomore record 'White Lilies Island':

Natalie Imbruglia - That Day

Great songwriting.  The rambling, almost stream-of-consciousness lyrics kinds remind me of Glasgow indie students 'Life Without Buildings'.  In fact, that reminds me of another heart-song....

Jimmy Eat World - Spangle


Are there any three sweeter words in the English language?  For those that don't yet know of my unconditional love of this alt. rock band from Mesa, AZ....don't worry, you soon will.

Simple. Short. Not even an original song. But somehow beautiful, and aren't all great songs like this?

Jimmy Eat World - Spangle

This was a cover that appeared on the eponymous 'singles' album in 2000. The original was by a somewhat obscure indie band from Leeds (of all places!) called The Wedding Present.  I can only hope that one day a band as cool as Jimmy Eat World will cover the songs of a young musician hailing from Gateshead...).

BONUS TRACK: Jimmy Eat World - Roller Queen (Live from Mesa Arts Centre, 03/08/2007)

How dare radio stations play 'The Middle' over and over again when there's unmeasured greatness seeping quietly from every other track they've ever recorded.  Yeah, I love Jimmy.

Doves - Pounding

Live on Later...

The Left Banke - Walk Away Renee

I'm just slightly in love with this song at the moment:

The Left Banke - Walk Away Renee

Walk Away Renee is one of those songs that, despite having been around for a while and being simple and brilliant, doesn't get played a lot.  Which only serves to add to its reputation (over-saturation is music cancer...).  It's one of those stalwarts of music so well established that it has its own Wiki article, the most interesting part of which, I believe, is the story behind the song's namesake, Renee Fladen-Kamm:

The song is one of a number Brown wrote about Renee Fladen-Kamm, then-girlfriend of The Left Banke's bassist Tom Finn and object of Brown's affection. She was associated with the band for a few weeks, and described as a free-spirited and quite tall blonde. The song was written one month after Brown met her.[7] "Walk Away Renée" was one of series of love songs the infatuated Brown wrote after meeting his newfound muse.[8] Other songs written about her include the band's second hit "Pretty Ballerina" and "She May Call You Up Tonight". After decades of obscurity, she was identified in 2001 as a noted singer, vocal teacher and artist on the West Coast.[9]
Brown says of his unrequited love for Renée:
"I was just sort of mythologically in love, if you know what I mean, without having evidence in fact or in deed...But I was as close as anybody could be to the real thing"[7]
Fladen-Kamm was looking on during the recording of the song, and her presence nearly prevented its completion. In an interview, Brown stated:
"My hands were shaking when I tried to play, because she was right there in the control room," he says. "There was no way I could do it with her around, so I came back and did it later.[10]"

I think most of us have known this kind of 'bad love'.  The infatuation, the unhealthy interest bordering on obsession, the building-up of one person on a monumental pedestal that is ultimately un-achieveable, all compounded and made all the worse by the unrequited nature of the feelings.  Grrrrrreat stuff.