>>>>> ST's ALPHABETICON - U <<<<<
Previously in the Alphabeticon: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, singles, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T
As we wind our way down towards the arse end of the alphabet, I have a feeling that these posts are (mercifully) going to be getting shorter and shorter. I've got a few Vs and Ws, but I have a feeling that Xs, Ys and Zs are going to tumble by in a flash... just as the Us are likely to do.
As always, a word or two of caution: this isn't a definitive list of my entire music collection, and in fact to interpret it as such would be to seriously misjudge my current tastes, I think. This is something of a trip down memory lane, as encased on one particular set of shelves in one particular room in my house.... the cave: home to my desk, my beer fridge, my old stereo system, lots of CDs and the posters C. doesn't really want anywhere else in the house (A Manet print of Venice, Ali v Liston, Abbey Road, a signed picture of Andrew Flintoff, Morrissey and Marr, Han Solo.... that kind of thing).
Anyway. On we go.
484. U2 – Achtung Baby
485. U2 – All That You Can’t Leave Behind
486. U2 – How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
487. U2 – Best 1980-1990
488. U2 – Best 1990-2000
Hm. I'm not at all sure about U2. For much of my life, I have hated them with a passion. In the early days, I'm not even really sure where this loathing came from. It wasn't that I had a problem with their earnestness or their mullets or anything like that. I didn't even really listen to their music. I just didn't like them. I actually bought "Rattle and Hum" on cassette during this period, but it never really did anything for me and merely served to entrench me in my position of detached dislike. This abstract disliking for them came to a head when I was a student and ended up sharing a house with (amongst other people) a red-headed Brummie called Tina. Tina was a lovely girl in many respects, but for all her virtues, she absolutely adored U2. In fact, she barely listened to anything else. This was around about the time that "Zooropa" came out, and I began to shift from a position of passive hatred, to a more vocal hatred of them. All that crap about getting Salman Rushdie onstage and ringing up the pope. It was all so ghastly. U2 were trying too hard and it annoyed the hell out of me. I fought over U2 with Tina on many, many occasions... something that once had the distressing effect of driving her to listen to M People at high volume and more often than not saw her laying into The Smiths just to piss me off. It seemed that me and U2 were never going to see eye to eye. I think I must have mellowed. A love of "One" (possibly as a result of hearing Johnny Cash's cover, but more likely because I actually gave it a chance and realised what a great song it is) saw me revisiting "Achtung Baby" and discovering that underneath my annoyance at the number of singles from it that used to infest the radio, there was the beating heart of a pretty decent album. I didn't bother with much of their other stuff, but the run of great singles ("Beautiful Day" and all that jazz) saw me buying "All That You Can't Leave Behind", and there I was, suddenly owning a couple of U2 records and actually thinking it would be kind of cool to see them live. Another U2 album saw "Vertigo" become the first song that I paid to download, and then I did go and see them live. At Twickenham they played "Vertigo" twice, which is a cardinal sin, but otherwise they were very good. Somewhere along the line, I shortcut the need to buy any of their back catalogue by lazily cherry picking the two Greatest Hits albums and thus remaining resolutely "Joshua Tree" free (although C. has it somewhere, I think). I still think that Bono is a burk, but I think that so too does most of the rest of the world. The funny thing is that I'm still not really sure if I like them all that much. They might well be the biggest band in the world, but they're not the best.... but they are reasonably good, I suppose..... although their albums always have more filler on than I would like, and although he peaks are very high, but I'm not sure about their quality control....and the less said about Bono's laughable lyrical cliches - bullets ripping desert skies and all that - the better.
Tina's still wrong about The Smiths though, and M People are unpardonable. End of story.
489. Ungdomskulen – Cry Baby
I think this is the first (and so far only) CD that I have ever bought at a gig. That Ungdomskulen were actually the support band (to the Young Knives at the Rescue Rooms) probably makes it even more remarkable. They must have been good, right? I don't usually make it to the venue until the headline act are practically walking onto the stage, nevermind watching the bands further down the bill (in my defence, this is not a policy of mine and happens mainly due to a lack of time and organisation rather than a lack of desire to watch support bands.... ) Still, that night I got to the venue early and was lucky enough to see this lot. They were brilliant. They're a threepiece from Norway and, as I said at the time, "come across as a kind of scruffy Hives mixed with a touch of prog, a hint of Pavement and perhaps a dash of Sonic Youth". They have a brilliant drummer and they are well worth checking out if you get a chance. If they're on the bill at a gig you're going to.... get there early.
...erm, and that's it for the Us.
Next week: V..... featuring Lou Reed (solo) and John Cale (solo). My filing system, my rules.
Lost somewhere in iTunes: Underworld, The Undertones, The Um Bongo Theme, Urge Overkill....