Thursday, 30 April 2015

Weaponised Songs - 16 songs about weapons

Even Wham had a song called "Young Guns" although that was used of people rather than weapons of death. from shotgun weddings to protest songs at war and nuclear arms, music has been full of references to weapons. Here's a sprinkling for your listening pleasure.

1) "Mack The Knife" - Lotte Lenya & Louis Armstrong
Brecht, Weill, Lenya & Armstrong, does it get any better than this? You really can see that Weill was influenced by Armstrong in this.

2) "Poison Arrow" - ABC
Don't think ABC have ever turned up in any chart of mine. The 1980s really was the death of music. While you lot were liberally applying blusher and hairspray, a few of us were turning our battered eardrums to New York City and the grimy industrial brutalism of bands like Swans and Sonic Youth. Time has not mellowed me as to which was the more worthwhile... Everything about this song grates me, the 'Eastenders' drum sound, the cheesey organ sound, the feeble slap bass...

3) "Burning Spear" - Sonic Youth
See a man playing his guitar with drumsticks, now that's what I'm talking about! Currently I'm trying to decide whether to buy Sonic Youth bassist Kim Gordon's biography "Girl In The Band" or not. She was a tad more than just the guitarist's girlfriend, she was his wife! But they recently got divorced and I think the book's going to be pretty ugly on that score...

4) "Swords Of A Thousand Men" - Tenpole Tudor
I never quite got Eddie Tenpole's schtick. I think I'm right in saying he was in the sex Pistol's movie "The Great Rock And Roll Swindle" and then seems to have had a chip on his shoulder that he never made it to the big time. Except for a brief stint with this knockabout campery.

5) "Eton Rifles" - The Jam
The Jam were really quite subversive. They had so many Top ten chart singles, including this, appeared on mainstream pop shows constantly and all the while not pulling any political punches in many of those chart hits.

6) "Bazooka Joe" - Big Black
So there were these three bands who resolutely refused to have a drummer, but worked with a drum machine and all the performers were out at the front of the stage. One was Carter The Unstoppable sex Machine with their cheeky South London puns. The next was Three Johns with their Yorkshire political fist pumping. And then there was Steve Albini's Big Black who just out-powered them and went for the noise and the dark side of US life. I liked all three in point of fact, but now in my dotage Big Black have way outlasted the other two in my affections, even though they were the only one of the three I never saw live.

7) "Armalite Rifle" - Gang of Four
A throw-away B-Side really, but there's something about its stripped down almost football chant simplicity that sets off the significance of what they're singing about.

8) "6" Gold Blade" - Birthday Party
Well Nick Cave is forever singing about knives and killing isn't he? Always seems to be women on the receiving end of his knives as well...

9) "Love Missile X-111" - Sigue Sigue Sputnik
The debut single of the first manufactured rock band and they disappeared as quickly as they arrived. Named after a real US military weapon, I however am grateful since I initially used it for a title of a stage play of mine. When I rewrote it as a novel I changed the title for another song, Cindy Lauper's "Time After Time". See, I have mellowed... But not in my opinion of this song which is cack.

10) "Careful With That Axe Eugene" - Pink Floyd
It's not like Roger Waters hadn't served you all good notice with this long before "The "Wall" and "Dark Side Of The Moon'. Madness is an ever-present theme in his work. Is that mad grin just a by-=product of his vocal or is it for real? You decide.

10) "Mi Uzi Weighs A Ton" - Public Enemy
Wait, we've got to number ten before mentioning a Rap band with their loves for all things semi-automatic and drive-bys and tings? This was the song that really introduced UK audiences to PE I think. Even though they quickly moved away from this kind of gangster posturing and left that to the West Coast rappers like Ice-T. the beat on this really does seem to weigh a ton.

11) "Tommy gun" - The Clash
We say that about Rap, but every other song by the Clash seemed to contain a weapon or two; "Guns Of Brixton", "Washington Bullets", "Drug Stabbing Time", "sten Guns In Knightsbride". But then they were fighting the revolution I suppose...

12) "Yankee Bayonet" - The Decembrists
The Decembrists have pretty much passed me by. Sound like second rate REM to my ears

13) "Ten percent Pistol" - Black keys
Earnest musos or smash up your guitars as you cavort around the stage lost in the trance of your own thrash trance. Know which I'd rather have...

For which I give you -

14) "Little Man With A Gun In his Hand" - Minutemen
If you think these guys were just a thrash punk band making a noise as in this terrible recording ion a boat, then check out the acoustic version's musical complexity in the video after

15) "My 9mm Goes Bang" - Boogie Down Productions
And we're back with rap's fetishisation of the gun

16) "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" - Breeders
And bringing some calm to proceedings, we all prefer this to the Beatles original right? What do you mean no!!!

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