Thursday, 7 July 2016


In 1989 or so I lived in a shitty student house in Toxteth, Liverpool with a geography student called Nick Smart whose enthusiasm for the music he loved was infectious. He was way more into Husker Du than me. I had their last three albums but he had everything and took great pleasure in enlightening me to the emotional rollercoaster Zen Arcade.  I’d only heard a few REM singles but never been that bothered by them but he had all their albums and by the time they released Green I was hooked. Life’s Rich Pageant was their album that really turned me on, beginning as it does with their two most exuberant and joyous songs and following them up with two of their most tragic. When we saw them on the Green tour at Liverpool Royal Court it was so perfect I never needed to see them ever again and never did. They slowly grew ever more bland after Green, but most albums had at least one song worth hearing until eventually they made an album so boring it wasn’t worth listening to twice or remembering its title but it was almost certainly the one after Up if you care which I don’t expect you do. Whilst the Peel session version of Walk Unafraid is the last thing they recorded that I think is worth a listen or three, sounding like it could have been recorded for Green unlike the inferior album version, and Accelerate was OK if unmemorable, their final moment of greatness was this cover of a Leonard Cohen song. I hope none of you are stupid enough to consider me anti-semitic for preferring it to the original.

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