Six Of The Best is a semi-regular feature that pokes, prods and persuades your favourite bands, bards and barometers of hip opinion to tell us six of the best tracks they’ve ever heard. The tracks could be mainstream million-sellers or they could be obfuscatingly obscure, it doesn’t matter. The only criteria set is that, aye, they must be Six of the Best. Think of it like a mini, groovier version of Desert Island Discs…
Number 7 in a series:
Most readers on here need no introduction to Alan McGee. A genuine indie rock svengali, a cross between Andy Oldham (the schemes), Andy Warhol (the dreams) and Andy Cameron (the fitba team), I’d wager that most visitors here own records made possible mainly by him and put out on his Creation Records imprint. Originally more excess than success, it’s amazing that Creation achieved anything at all, but they did, with a style and a swagger to boot -“Bobby the anchor….the star who attracted people there, Liam and Noel the goal scorers.”
August 1983 saw the release of CRE001, ’73 in ’83 by The Legend! Assorted singles by The Jasmine Minks, The Pastels, The Loft and The Jesus & Mary Chain followed, but it wasn’t until the cash registers started ringing to the sounds of the debut album by The House Of Love that the label started to take itself seriously. When they weren’t releasing landmark LPs like Screamadelica and Definitely Maybe, they were championing the experimentalism of Giant Steps by the Boo Radleys and the pervy dance-pop of Momus, all the while nurturing a whole host of white hot guitar bands. It’s easy to reel off long lists of the bands that have blazed a trail in retro-inspired guitar-based rock, but you know all the important ones anyway. You’ll also know that a huge number of them released records on Creation, not bad considering “half these bands were found in pursuit of female“. Throughout the 90s especially, Creation Records was the hippest, most influential label in UK music. When they weren’t down with the kids they were down in Downing Street, SWAT teams and all, unwitting leading lights of the horribly-monickered champagne ‘n charlie Brit Pop era. Apparently McGee spent most of the night keeping an eye on Mick Hucknall because “he was chasing everything that was blonde in the room.”
When I was about 15 I had a copy of Psychocandy that I’d taped after borrowing the LP from Irvine Library. It was played to death, so much so that the tape eventually loosened and stretched and made the guitars sound even more out there and other-worldly. Guitars that had once sounded like glass smashing now sounded like my gran’s ancient Hoover. The Wall Of Sound-on-cheap-speed thunk of Bobby Gillespie’s drums began to sound as if Phil Spector himself had recorded them through one giant phaser in qaudrophonic sound. I eventually bought the LP. And the CD later on. I’ll also be buying the Deluxe Edition when it gets released in September this year. And they said home taping was killing music….
When My Bloody Valentine released Loveless in 1991 I started to wonder if that same TDK hadn’t somehow fallen into the hands of Kevin Shields, given that much of the guitar sound on Loveless sounded exactly like the wonky version of The Hardest Walk that was on my Jesus & Mary Chain tape. Quite ridiculous all things considered, given that some estimates suggest Kevin Shields spent a quarter of a million pounds almost bankrupting Creation whilst trying to perfect the sounds in his head. “Son, I think your tape player’s broken,” laughed an old lady at the bottom of the shop as I stood playing it on the counter one day in Our Price. “Where’s your Daniel O’Donnell?”
Thankfully, there’s no Daniel O’Donnell in Alan’s Six Of the Best….
Sex Pistols – God Save The Queen
It speaks for itself.
Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith/Sonic’s Rendezvous Band – City Slang
Best ever punk rock single.
The Clash – Complete Control
Their best-ever single.
Primal Scream – Loaded
It changed Creation and it changed our lives.
The Rolling Stones – Sympathy For The Devil
It defines rock ‘n roll.
The Beatles –Hey Jude
Every Six Of the Best compilation comes in a handy RAR download file. Get Alan McGee’s here.
Save for being something of a mentor to Glasvegas (read here) and DJ-ing now and again in his local pub, McGee has given up on music, moved out of London and into the Welsh countryside and spends his days listening to The Beatles. For a while he wrote a McGee on Music column for The Guardian and he ran the Death Disco club nights, but it looks like he’s stopped them too. Content to watch from afar as his most important bands become something of a tribute act (come on down, Primal Scream. And bring that tour with you), his whole hedonistic trip is chronicled in recent Creation Records film Upside Down. Seek it out. You’d like it. But you knew that already.
Creation Records took their name from 60s garage band The Creation, who released Biff! Bang! Pow!, a terrific Who-esque mod-stomper of a record. Alan McGee formed a band called Biff, Bang, Pow! who released There Must Be A Better Life (on Creation Records), a slice of none-more-mid 80s indie with elastic band bass and far too much reverb on the snare drum. And talking of none-more-mid 80s indie, The Pooh Sticks recorded I Know Someone Who Knows Someone Who Knows Alan McGee Quite Well. But you’ll have to track down that particular novelty ditty for yourself.
One whole bit about Creation Records and no mention of The Greatest Creation Band In The World….Ever? That would be Teenage Fanclub if you don’t know already.
(Photo nicked from McMark, cheers!)
Coming next in this series –
Six Of the Best from Gruff Rhys (eh, hopefully….)