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A Song By My Favourite Band

May 16, 2014

The band that ultimately makes the most sense to me is Orange Juice. Their influences were impeccable, which is remarkable considering the bands they championed were highly unfashionable at the time, like Creedence Clearwater Revival and Chic. I love the do-it-yourself thing they did with Postcard. I love the prickliness. I totally understand that sounding trashy wasn’t enough for them, that they wanted to sound accomplished. They were very tuneful and they dropped wonderful lyrics onto inventive, beautiful melodies.

But I have to ration them. I can’t listen to them constantly. And every now and again, a band will come along that will completely take over my listening habits for a while. Flaming Lips, The Smiths, Midlake, The Beatles, The Stone Roses, Black, Elliot Smith, Arctic Monkeys, Black Keys, White Stripes, Jesus and Mary Chain, Belle and Sebastian, Postal Service, even Judas Priest, Deep Purple and UFO, if I go back to my Heavy Metal days. Each of those has been the band that captured my entire attention for a month of so and, while they did, I couldn’t imagine any band wanting to sound any other way. (This caused a real problem when I was recording the Scaremongers album. I so desperately wanted to sound like the Black Keys and the Mary Chain that I made the guitars far too heavy, which ultimately did the album no favours. It would have been much better if I’d kept the guitars jaggedy and lighter on their feet).

The Sensational Alex Harvey Band are a prime example of a band that completely won me over for a while. I love them, though I can’t vouch for everything they did. They released one magnificent album, SAHB Stories, and lots of great singles. I never saw them live, which is a real disappointment. Alex was still alive when they first crossed my radar.

Their version of Next is by far the best, for me. All the theatricality that Alex Harvey could bring to a performance is front and centre here and the arrangement is better than either Jacques Brel‘s and Scott Walker‘s, the other two most notable versions, though I like both of those, too, (I’m sure you’re aware that it’s a Jacques Brel song).

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