10 Awesome Albums

1. “Blonde on Blonde” – Bob Dylan

Blonde on Blonde

For some reason I had this on repeat during the dark days of 2001 when I was totally lost in life. I stayed in bed for about 6 months and the only thing I really done was listen to music. Loudly and with the lights off and curtains drawn. The only way to listen to good music! Amazingly, the album didn’t depress me further but helped me out of the hole.

If I had to pick standout tracks they’d be:

2. “A Rush of Blood to the Head” – Coldplay

A Rush of Blood to the Head

This was the first album I streamed when I got my first ever PC in 2002. I also attempted to illegally download it by holding a mic up to the pc speakers! I’ve come a long way since.. I listened to it a lot just as I became a “man”.

Best tracks:

  • Politik” – (What an intro to an album!?)
  • Clocks” – (That bit at the end with just the piano…Ynom)

3. “Brothers in Arms” – Dire Straits

This is a bit of a cliche to have in your favourites list but I don’t care. It’s awesome.

Standouts:

Brothers in Arms” – (That solo!!)
The Man’s Too Strong” – (Awesome folkiness!)

4. “Talkie Walkie” – Air

Talkie Walkie

I’ve been listening to Air for at least 12 years now. It’s absolutely beautiful chill out electronica from France of all places. I want to make music like this some day.

Best tunes:

  • Biological” – (Sciency love song extrordinaire!)
  • Alone in Kyoto” – (Such a delicate, subtle but awesome track)

5. “The Soft Parade” – The Doors

The Soft Parade

The Doors have to be here somewhere and I wasn’t going to pick an obvious album. Having deconstructed and even recorded every single Doors album song in my time as well as having been in a Doors tribute band at one stage, I know these songs inside out and can appreaciate them, even the weird ones, more than most.

I feel like the Doors had fun with this one and let loose their respective influences in what on the surface sounds like a mismatch of styles but when you dig deeper or even just treat each song on it’s own merits, there’s some real gems here. Everything from Rock to Ballads, to Jazz to Country!

Favourite tracks:

6. “Definitely Maybe” – Oasis

When I first got into music seriously and was learning guitar, Oasis was fairly popular. The first band I joined in the late 90s were mad for Oasis and Britpop in general and before I turned them into a Doors tribute band (ahem!) we had good fun with some of Oasis’s songs. I remember really enjoying playing these songs on stage:

7. “The Bends” – Radiohead

Similarly re Oasis, we played a lot of Radiohead songs in the bands I was in. The Bends was out then and is still probably my favourite Radiohead album. Loved these ones:

  • Street Spirit” – (Lovely finger style riff throughout)
  • High & Dry” – (Hard to sing but nice acoustic feel)
  • Just” – (Intense!)

8. “Mellow Gold” – Beck

Mellow Gold

 

Beck has a way with words…and music! There were some great old style influences in the tunes on this album. These songs are permanently in my head:

9. “The Black Album” – Metallica

The Black Album

I learned to play lead guitar or maybe guitar in general with Metallica’s riffs. This album used to get me to sleep at night…in a good way! Standout tracks include:

10. “Pet Sounds” – The Beach Boys

Pet Sounds

Are you a Pet Sounds or Sgt Pepper person!? Sgt Pepper was obviously groundbreaking but there’s a bit too much messing with electronics and recording tricks for me. Pet Sounds is just beautiful music from start to finish from the genius mind of Brian Wilson and has way more depth than Pepper. I love these most:

Musical Drives Around Ireland

Considering how deeply and how long I’ve loved music (both listening and playing) it’s a little sad how few of the very many famous and iconic Irish music locations I’ve visited. Apart from coming from the same part of Dublin 12 that gave rise to half of Thin Lizzy’s lineup, Drummer Brian Downey and lead man Phil Lynott, and visiting the latter’s grave in Sutton Cross cemetery, Dublin once upon a time, and going to the odd gig here and there, I really havn’t got about at all. Maybe a road trip is on the cards for me some day soon!?

Big Names:

Birth places, schools, recording/gig venues etc.. of some of the world largest, best known and most influential musicians can be found dotted around Ireland including names such as U2, Van Morrison, Thin Lizzy and more recently Hozier, Imelda May, Lisa Hannigan, The Script and Walking on Cars. Bono & U2 unsurprisingly top the polls as the icons who’s landmarks are the most visited. Places like Bono’s birthplace on Cedarwood Road, Dublin, his school Mount Temple, Windmill Lane studios where U2 recorded a lot of music and Bono’s current home in Killiney, Dublin.

Videos:

Apart from Irish musicians, Ireland, and particularly Dublin has also been the location for many famous music video shoots by international artists from Ed Sheeran’s “Galway Girl” recently, through “Stop” by the Spice Girls – filmed in Carnew Street, Dublin, to “Pour some sugar on me” by Def Leppard – filmed in Mount Merrion House, Dublin and “Our Love” by Caribou – filmed in Lough Ine House, Cork. O’ Connell’s Bar in Galway, scene of Sheeran’s video tops the polls as the venue most people would like to visit!

Venues & Landmarks:

Ireland also has many famous venues including the 3 Arena – Dublin’s biggest and best known purpose built music venue, the Olympia Theatre, Whelan’s of Wexford Street (where Ed Sheeran got inspired watching Damien Rice allegedly), The Róisín Dubh in Galway and the Academy in Middle Abbey Street, Dublin. Famous Irish music related landmarks include The U2 owned Clarence Hotel on the quays in Dublin City Centre, The Irish Rock ‘N’ Roll Museum Experience in Temple Bar, Bruxelles Bar off Grafton Street, O’Donoghue’s Bar – The Dubliner’s haunt on Merrion Row, Freebird Records on Grafton Street and the famous Irish music statues of Phil Lynott off Grafton Street, Rory Gallagher on Main Street, Ballyshannon and Molly Malone on Suffolk Street, Dublin.

So why not stick on an Irish music playlist and head off on an Irish musical landmark road trip!?

This post was inspired by the Chill Insurance “Irish Drives” series.

Leon

My Doors Covers Album!

So around about 2003 I decided to record an album of covers from my favourite band, The Doors. I sold 1 copy online! But it was to a friend of Jim Morrison’s in Paris who collects rare bootleg versions and covers of Doors stuff. I was happy enough to retire on the back of that!

All songs use professional backing tracks which I purchased and all feature my voice as the main vocal. Some are decent, some are not!

Doors-Covers

Alabama Song
Back Door Man
Been Down So Long
Break on Through
Hello I Love You
LA Woman
Light My Fire
Love Her Madly
Love Me Two Times
People Are Strange
Riders on The Storm
Roadhouse Blues
The Crystal Ship
The Unknown Soldier
Touch Me
When The Music’s Over

Download full album (Zip)

Is it time we stopped respecting religious beliefs?

This blog post has been inspired by the murders yesterday in Paris by Muslim fundamentalists at the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in the name of religion and also by the response of Salman Rushdie who said this:

“Respect for religion has become a code phrase meaning ‘fear of religion.’ Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect.”

I don’t know much about the Charlie Hebdo magazine. Seemingly a lot of their most religiously controversial stuff is a bit vulgar, smutty and just silly rather than smart satire that makes us think but no matter what they say or print, coming in and murdering some of them, including a fellow Muslim policeman is just fundamentalism gone off the scale.

Salman’s quote above sums up how I’ve been feeling about religion in general for a few years now. Having been an atheist most of my life, skipping baptism, communion, confirmation etc, no easy feat in Ireland in the late 70’s/early 80’s, I’ve never really had time for any religion. To me it’s been plain to see for a long, long time that it has no place in a modern, secular and scientifically enlightened civilisation. But still it lingers like a disease infecting, sickening and killing people. Religion is still all around us, from events like yesterdays in Paris, to imposing churches around every corner, to pressure from grandparents to christen our kids, to baptismal certificate requirements when starting school and religion being such a big part of the education system.

In this age of political correctness we are all told to respect other people’s beliefs and leave them to them. We all have immense fear of insulting one religion or another. It’s become a taboo almost just to dare to question any aspect of any religion publicly. Should we continue to respect people’s beliefs or even the people who hold those beliefs no matter how ridiculous they are or what people do in the name of those religions such as murdering, abuse and torture? Is it time we stopped living in fear of religion and stopped respecting it?

The only thing that gives me hope is that most younger generations seem to be giving religion less if any place in their lives and when the current older generations are gone maybe we will be free from religion once and for all. I’m talking about Catholicism in Ireland mostly of course. Religions such as Muslim, Islam etc may not die away as quick unfortunately. Perhaps what we need to do is stop attaching such significance and importance to religion by constantly talking about it, practicing it and making it part of our lives in some way.

Maybe Charlie Hebdo should have found something else more relevant to write/joke about than “a mediaeval form of unreason”, not because of the fear of retaliation but more to help bury religion to a distant memory?

I’m even fearful writing this damn post..

Fuck you religion…fuck you.

Charlie Hebdo
Illustration by Dave Brown for The Independent

Do I Have an Autism Spectrum Disorder!?

First off I need to say that I’m not writing this in the spirit of jumping on the Autism or Aspergers bandwagon, looking for sympathy, support or anything like that. I’m merely feeling a sense of curiosity, relief and the desire to tell the world that there might just be a long overdue “label” or explanation for all the weirdness that has been ME for the last 39 years!

I’ve always felt a bit different to everyone else and found things others seem to find simple a real challenge. Things like making friends, social events, school, large crowds, maintaining eye contact etc.. I’ve also shown signs of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). My family and friends regularly joke about me constantly tidying and organising stuff! I also seem to have mysterious talents doing things I’ve never trained for or studied, like running an IT business for the last 9 years! I’ve often been called aloof, arrogant and cold too but I’m not really. For the whole of primary school for example, I stood on my own in the same spot at lunch time. Every day for the best part of 8 years. I would have done the same in secondary school but preferred to cycle home instead. The school was damn far away and I only got a few mins at home to actually have lunch but it was better than staying among people. All these things are allegedly symptomatic of Asperger’s Syndrome or “Arse Burgers” syndrome as I like to call it. I’ve wondered over the years, although never in any great dept, if I might have some kind of mild mental deficiency. It would have explained a lot.

lalala

So I seen a link on Facebook a few months ago that got me wondering even more! It was a link to a generally well respected online Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) test, devised by Simon Baron-Cohen. I took the test a few times then and again just last weekend too prompted by some autism awareness training that I had to do as part of working with local kids. Stuff mentioned in the training sounded uncomfortably familiar to me. Anyway, having done the test a load of times now, answering as honestly as I possibly could, more honestly each time, I score around the 30 point mark give or take a point or 2 either way. A mark in that range is supposedly indicative of a “borderline autism spectrum disorder and possibly Asperger’s Syndrome.

It was initially a little shocking to think that maybe I might have a recognised mental “disorder” but I’ve since relaxed into a sense of relief that I might now know what has caused a lot of stress in my life and generally made my life difficult. After all, knowing the source of a problem is the first step to fixing or dealing with it in some way. People who score in my range are advised to go to a local GP and request a referral to a proper consultant who can diagnose officially. I may or may not do that. I havn’t decided. I am aware that self diagnosis, especially involving the internet is not 100% wise but I feel that if it’s an explanation that works for me, then fine. Also, who is anyone to say that being different in this way is a “disorder”? Maybe all the normal people without these so called disorders are they ones who have the real disorder!?

I reckon a lot of people in our modern society might score highly on the AQ test so I’m aware this could all be nonsense and I may be nothing more than a bit different or a bit shy and to be honest it’s something I feel I may have under control anyway considering I’ve found some kind of moderate success in life. I’m married, I have children, I run a business, I own my own home and car etc.. so I can’t say it’s been a real issue of late but there’s still days when I feel overwhelmed and feel like I just can’t function.

Maybe the best thing that can happen as a result of all this is that the people who know me best might think twice about me now and be less offended by my weirdness.

That is the reason for this blog post I guess.

Leon