When most people think of Dr. John, first, they’ll think of his 1968 album ‘Gris Gris’ – a groundbreaking work melding voodoo blues, deep psychedelia and a touch of New Orleans jazz – or his popular ‘Right Place, Wrong Time’ single which showed a love of funk that fit the early 70s perfectly. Maybe they’ll think about his appearance at The Band’s Last Waltz, where he was invited to sing ‘Such A Night’, captured on celluloid for future generations to discover.
The ska revival of the early 80s brought some great and timeless music, but The Beat’s debut album and associated singles were among the finest slabs of vinyl to emerge from the scene. Part of The Beat’s enduring charm came from great chorus hooks, but for many, the real energy and brilliance came from Ranking Roger.
When people talk about British punk, first, they’ll invariably mention Sex Pistols, The Damned and The Clash. The breakthrough of a whole new wave of alternative music was never limited to the London suburbs, of course, and Manchester’s Buzzcocks were at the forefront of a whole musical revolution.
On 2nd October 2017, Tom Petty died following a heart attack. His unexpected passing marked one of the blackest days of the year, since Tom always felt like someone who would always be there and always be part of life’s fabric. The fact that he left behind a marvellous body of work – most of which never seems to age – means that in some way, he’ll always be a part of millions of lives, but the idea that we’ll never hear a new Tom Petty album is very hard to comprehend, especially so soon after critically acclaimed works like ‘Hypnotic Eye’ and ‘Nobody’s Child.
Those last records featured tracks that were potentially as solid as anything Petty had ever recorded, lending weight to the fact that he was one of the finest and arguably most consistent songwriters of his generation.
Hüsker Dü were the ultimate power trio. From hardcore punk beginnings, the band pioneered alternative rock sounds which eventually blended distinctly US punk noise with a more thoughtful singer-songwriter approach, which in turn paved the way for guitarist/vocalist Bob Mould’s solo career. Contrasting Mould’s abrasive approach, drummer/vocalist Grant Hart later wrote songs with a more palatable quality. Hart – a truly underappreciated songwriter – captured raw and emo-ish beauty on tunes like ‘Don’t Want To Know If You Are Lonely’ and ‘Every Everything’; tunes that were pivotal to the Hüskers’ balance between sheer force and a cerebral approach to punk.