It’s been a week of numbers. What with Daisy and mine’s sixth anniversary, yesterday being a year of me being in my current job, and at least two 40th birthdays in the past week – not to mention Daisy’s Grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary in three weeks time, and with nuclear fears in the news again from Japan, next month also marks 25 years since the Chernobyl Disaster. So let’s go for songs featuring numbers. A slightly random list, and a slightly random subject, but hey, on with the show.
As usual, most of it is on a Spotify playlist, and also on a YouTube playlist.
Vulgar Display Of Power
It probably ought to have been The Ramones opening this, but if I’m thinking of a count-in, it’s this every single time. It’s a quick “ONE TWO THREE FOUR” before Pantera’s shortest song blasts your face off for two-minutes and forty-nine seconds of some of the most anthemic metal in existence. Don’t think it’s anthemic? Everyone who goes to alternative/metal clubs knows the opening and chorus to this.
Relationship of Command
Man, I remember when these guys were the fucking future. At the turn of the millenium, when this single dropped, followed by the rapturously received album, the music press were falling over themselves to proclaim them the best band in existence – ever. That is, until the band collapsed under the weight of pressure and fame, and the press moved onto something else. Listened to again away from the hype, this is a phenomenal song still – savage hardcore with an anthemic edge, and I never did quite work out what the titular item was – I seem to recall it’s something to do with space travel, but I can’t remember exactly what.
It was perhaps amusing that as Blur finally shed their Britpop associations (instead professing a love of bands like Pavement), and seemingly did their best to be a little more serious (man), it was a gonzoid, throwaway two minutes that even kept it’s working title that blew the doors open in the US for Blur at long last. What was also of note was that this was pretty much a rehashBank Holiday or Jubilee – i.e. short, dead fast and catchy as fuck – but less English and more, well, rock. Since then, it’s soundtracked countless adverts and sports events. Everywhere.
Ritual de Lo Habitual
Never, perhaps, has a song been so aptly titled. At first listen, it appears to go on for about three days – it’s actually a few seconds shy of eleven minutes – but once you adjust to the proggy stylings of this song, and you listen again and again (as you will), it’s clear that the song deserves all of the time allotted. About a (lengthy) threesome Perry Farrell once had, apparently, it’s also appropriately part of the astonishing three song “triptych” that makes up most of the second half of Jane’s finest album.
Disco Six Six Six
House of GVSB
Sixes? Commonly in metal – and, I guess particularly in black metal, but then again I could of course have just gone for Number of the Beast. But that would be too easy. So let’s turn to one of my favourite bands of the 90s (and, frankly, since then, too) – the sleazy alt.rock of GVSB. And this song definitely brings the sleaze – a swaggering, organ-drenched steady groove topped off by Scott McCloud’s growling voice. As for what Disco Six Six Six is? Fuck knows.
I never have worked out what those seven words are, to be fair [edit: George Carlin, d’oh!], but most of Chino’s lyrics were indecipherable on Adrenaline, so maybe we weren’t meant to know. This is one of the few moments of clarity on the album, though, where the band absolutely explode through the buzzing guitars and dry production, and unleash the first of many anthemic tracks to come. Oddly enough, there was also One Weak and Engine No. 9 on this album – something of a numerical theme here.
Twenty Twenty Sound
(no longer available)
The sprawling, feedback-laden opening to Dark Star’s first and only album set out the stall nicely – everything here teetered on the edge of collapse, if not chaos. But then, part of the skill is to make it sound like they are losing control, when they are anything but. So the verses reveal a sparse, taut control, before the powerful riffs (and David Francolini’s astounding drumming) take over for the chorus. The subject matter was just as dark as the rest of the album (which was mainly about alienation, loss, or battles within the mind) – the titular length of time is how long since the subject of song has been sober. (Incredibly, this is the only song from this album not on the OHMRecordings YouTube channel)
Tanz Mit Laibach
Counting to four in German appears to be all too common in industrial songs (really, there are too many examples to count). But perhaps this is the finest exponent of them all. A nod to Deutsch-Amerikanische Freundschaft in both of it’s terms, this was a monster dancefloor hit and perhaps gave Laibach a wider audience amongst clubbing rivetheads than they would ever have had otherwise. But why is it here? Well, that thumping chorus of Ein, Zwei, Drei, Vier might be a subtle pointer…
My Revenge On The World
At least one bleepy act prefers to count in English. Step forward Jennifer Parkin, whose best (and most aggressive) song is dominated by numbers. Amid the seething delivery, and old-school EBM beats, Jennifer is counting out the ways she’s getting her revenge. Ten ways and more, you might want to step back or there will be trouble…
Finally, let’s turn to a band who I’d almost forgotten about. Female-fronted rock, who just for a while in the 90s were actually pretty awesome. I can’t say I ever bothered with the later albums – or apart from a few initial listens, the second album Eight Arms To Hold You either, but the first album was – and is – just ace. Equally influenced by classic rock, grunge and metal, it had it’s radio-friendly moments (Seether, Celebrate You), and then it’s more introspective moments, like this lengthy track at the tail end of the album. Although it deceives to start with – a minute or so of a monstrous, metallic groove, which then stops dead and the track evoves into a power-ballad of sorts. The numbers? Counting up ages from five, and things she did at those ages. We never do find out what it was at twenty-five she did, either.