This week, the tempo is high, the pedal is to the floor, and we’re speeding through ten songs. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, when dealing with the subject of speed, ambient songs and ballads barely get a look in, instead, this is one of the most rock-based Tens I’ve done in some considerable time.
Tuesday Ten: 318: Speed King
Tuesday Ten: Related
Thanks once again to the legion of friends and commenters on Facebook who offer up so many more songs than I can possibly include – but if I’ve not featured your band before, don’t worry, there is loads more planned on future Tuesdays on all kinds of subjects. That said, there are at least five bands I’ve never featured before this week.
Other things coming soon – I’m working on a fully searchable (and linked) database for all the songs ever featured in this series (there are an awful lot of unique songs), and that will be linked into the website as soon as I can find a decent, secure way of doing it. Next week, too, will be the return of Tracks of the Month as I start to pick up on the new releases already out there or coming very soon.
Also, transmission: 003, the latest edition of the amodelofcontrol.com podcast, went online last night. Next one should now be next week to catch up, and finish off the letter “c”.
In the meantime, let’s put the foot to the floor and race through this ten.
Out of this World
Afraid of Sunlight
Fifty years ago this month, Donald Campbell died while attempting to break another speed record in Bluebird K7 on Coniston Water. He was attempting the Water Speed Record, which the Wiki page notes that the fatality rate for attempts on the record since 1940 is 85%, making this by a long chalk the most hazardous of the speed records – and perhaps explains why the current record was set back in 1978, and is held by Australian Ken Warby, at 317.58mph.
This lament from Marillion is – to my knowledge – the only song about Donald Campbell, and indeed singer Steve Hogarth sung it at Campbell’s funeral in 2001 after his remains had been brought back to the surface. It is a sad song, too, as it laments his death and also looks at it from the perspective of his loved ones, trying to understand quite why someone would put themselves at such extreme risk.
Risk like this is a thrill, right? And, I guess, it must be a bug once you’ve reached crazy speeds once, you want to do it again and again, even if there is that chance you might not make it.
Finally – and perhaps remarkably – Bluebird K7 was also brought back to the surface, and is now being painstakingly restored with a view to it running again on Coniston Water (although at safer speeds!) in time.
Ok, so I said no drugs, but These Animal Men managed to circumvent this by their early single Speed King being about drugs and driving fast. Perhaps a little unfairly maligned as early Manics wannabees, their amphetamine-fuelled power-pop was actually really quite great at moments, even if they were maybe never quite as good as the hopes hung around their necks by the music press just before Britpop kicked off and gave those hacks the scene they’d been angling for for so long. This song, though: a wonderful chorus, harmonies and a tale of young love, reckless driving and getting absolutely binned. Ah, those days of youth.
Jesus Built My Hotrod
“All of a sudden, I found myself in love with the world
So there was only one thing that I could do
Was ding a ding dang my dang a long ling long”
Aw yeah, Gibby Haynes assisted Ministry for one of their best known songs, his contribution at least in part a stream-of-conciousness babble that makes little sense, other than to help drive this relentless track ever-further forward, it barely pausing for breath over the five minutes it roars out of the speakers at you. This is less a song about speed than being a song of speed. Everything about it roars like a muscle car accelerating into the sunset, the drums like a ticking engine, the guitars like a foot-to-the-floor, with Haynes shouting above the engine noise. The video, too, is just a compilation of drag racing and other cars. What else did it need?
The Process of Belief
See, I must confess that I never really liked Bad Religion. But then, punk bands of their ilk were never really my bag, and couple that with them being played to death in alternative clubs in my formative years, and I have little more than bad memories attached to them. That said, they’ve been suggested a few times in recent months, and this one perhaps fitted best. Interestingly, too, it’s not about speed in the sense of driving fast, but instead about the speed of life, as chances flash by before your eyes, whether you take them or not. The song appropriately blasts past at a similar speed, too…
Not, I have to admit, a band I’m particularly familar with aside from a few well-played singles, of which this late-eighties glory is one of them. A track that is rather more cleverly constructed than it first appears, a whole morass of samples underpin it, including the roar of racing cars, crowd noise and saxophones and horns, while Dieter Meier growls his way through much of the track, offering his bon mots and looking amazingly dapper in a sharp evening suit while carrying a wrench (!) in the video.
Probably the most suggested song when I asked for submissions this week, this 152-second blast of jangling-indie-power-pop is one of the greatest indie singles ever released, in my opinion, and frankly I’m a little surprised I’ve not included it before. This Coventry band created this snarky song that barrels along, with vocalist Tracy Tracy being wonderfully detached in her vocal delivery as she implores someone to stop speeding through life quite so quickly, warning of what might result – although her vocals suggest that perhaps she doesn’t really care that much. But then, the meaning isn’t quite so important in a song this damned fantastic.
Clutch – frankly one of the coolest, smartest and most consistent rock bands out there – weren’t the first band I would have thought to have had a song about a car. But then, this is perhaps a nod to the past. The Rocket 88 probably refers to two things – what is reckoned to be the very first rock’n’roll single in 1951, by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats, and also the titular car that that very song referred to as well. Remarkably, the car was one that remained in production, in various versions, for fifty years and was only discontinued in 1999. The early examples are beautiful cars, too. Anyway – back to the song – an appropriately barnstorming, roaring track that is Clutch doing what they do so well, nothing more complex than that.
So Far, So Good… So What?
502 is a US police code for a DUI (driving under the influence), and this song is Mustaine and his band blasting forward at breakneck speed, complete with guitar solos and a breakdown that puts the song into the background, as the cops catch up with the song’s character, and the crash doesn’t sound pretty. But even with that happening, Megadeth race on through the song, even if the lyrics are full of every rock’n’roll cliche going about looking cool, abusing the law and driving. Still, it is at least a reminder of when Megadeth could still be good (and that was a while ago now, as far as I’m concerned).
Ultraviolence pretty much made a point of their music being really, really fast, and the last song on their last album before Johnny Violent took a break in the 2000s played up to that in every way. Posh female vocals announce “Team Ultraviolence Racing – FUCKING FAST“, and then perhaps a little unexpectedly, fast-paced breakbeats mix in with the rave synths. The rapping is, maybe, a little dated, but every bit of this track is about speed. Even the rapping refers to racing drivers, and anyway, how cool would it have been to see Team UVR on a racetrack? Although I suspect their tagline may not have made it past the censors, mores the pity…
La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Volume One
Even as White Zombie finally broke through with the excellent La Sexorcisto, they were already playing up to rock cliches in gleeful style, and nowhere was that more clear than on the album highlight Black Sunshine, where Iggy Pop joins in the fun on narration duties, in a schlocky tale of a man and a (very) fast muscle car (a Mustang, fact fans). No cliche is missed, the car is compared to at least two different guns, there are B-Movie samples, it rocks like a bastard. What’s not to like?
Mind that Stop sign, as we finish up for today…