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February 27, 2006

A Life Of Music pt. 1

Let's lay verbosity aside for a moment and set it down straight - I fucking love music.

I dipped my toe into Bros. and Rick Astley many years ago and, in them, found an effeminate pairing that sent me on the path of musical righteousness. From there, it was easy. Whatever I liked, I listened to. Roads taken were paved, initially, with Icehouse's "Electric Blue", which used to caress me to slumber on a nightly basis, before I first heard the pained wails of Axl Rose careening through the air. Christmas circa-1991 saw the arrival of my first two CD's - namely, the odd coupling of the Gunners' "Use Your Illusion 1" and Prince's "Diamonds and Pearls". Renowned homophobe Rose penned the emotional, and wildly successful, ballads "Don't Cry" and "November Rain", while Slash, further solidifying his indelible image of snakes, cigarettes and gritty blues, continued in his enamel-removing rock fashion. Clearly the members were at odds with each other, though, and relatively soon after the release of the album the band split (Rose has drifted between isolation and haphazard reformations of the band since). So, with a heavy heart, I laid the Gunners to rest and packed my bags for a trip into the world of brief flirtations with artists that offer little more than momentary spots of light before retreating to obscurity (think Snow, Babylon Zoo, Kriss Kross). I was in limbo, and needed saving.

Enter The Pixies. Discovered a little late, I'll admit, but discovered nonetheless. At about 15 (1995) I got hold of a tape-copied version of "Doolittle" and didn't look back. From there my world opened and this sometimes angry, oft-soothing blend of surf-rock, sci-fi laced lyrics and irresistible melodies lead me to a greater gift - the guitar. I learnt to play via the teachings of the self-coined 'guitar guru' Cliff Lynton, first in Subiaco before it was hip, and then in Mt.Lawley as it was developing the ultra-sharp semblance it now proffers. So enamoured with The Pixies, I took the lyrics, and music, of "Monkey Gone to Heaven" to my tenth-grade English class for dissection. Looking back now, I realise why, since that day, my teacher took every opportunity to lambaste me for any innocuous, milk-and-water offence...taking music into a religious school that states humans are closer in nature to the devil than God would earmark any blond-haired, green-eyed kid as a vessel spreading heathen poetry. Yet the class loved it, and I adored them for that.

Though never besotted by the consistently good music of Nirvana (oddly, I have never bought one of their records), around the time I was perambulating the school grounds with a walkman and my tired Pixies recording, I fell deeply in love with two rocks set firmly in the alternative soil - Weezer and Dinosaur Jr. One of my fondest live memories is seeing Weezer play an unplugged show upstairs at 78 Records around 1996 and, though memorable in part for its brevity, was one of those moments when you knew, at that point in time, you couldn't possibly be anywhere else. I gleefully gorged each word, each perfect note of "No One Else" as a packed room of youngsters feasted on the magic moment being presented. Ole! "Where You Been" was the starting point of my fascination with Dinosaur Jr. A fine record that started with the booming guitar intro of "Out There" before hitting its straps with the moderately funk-infused classic "Start Choppin". From there, the twists and turns took in the peculiar "Not The Same" that showed J. Mascis is as good as anyone at delivering a version of Neil Young and the fast and heavy "On The Way", which possesses a trademark Mascis solo that tears open the middle of the track like all great axe-work should. In the middle of last year I was lucky to catch Weezer again, this time fully plugged in and charming the pants off everyone in the monstrous crowd at the Summersonic festival in Japan. Rivers Cuomo is, quite obviously, a writer with a firm grasp of both humour and misery, but also has the rare ability to consistently produce what nearly everybody loves but rarely admits - a hook.