Favourite Irish album of all time, eh? Pffft, didn’t even flinch at this one…
On The Boards by Taste, hands down.
I swore to myself that I wouldn’t start this with “I remember”, but when it comes to rambling on about one’s favourite anything of all time, I guess a certain amount of nostalgia comes into play.
Therefore… I remember ‘What’s Going On?’ the opening track of this record, blaring out of the speakers of our old, dark, overbuilt, wooden record player from as far back as I care to recall.
It was my Dad’s Saturday morning record, and his favourite tune was (and still is) ‘Railway and Gun’. I think he likes the dynamic of it; the soft, intricately picked guitar in the verse, crashing into the heavy overdriven blues riff of the chorus; followed by a ridiculously good solo.
There are a lot of ridiculously good solos on this record actually. And you know Rory knew they were shit hot too, ‘cos you can actually hear him gleefully “do-do-do-ing” along with those solos at times, aping the noises with his mouth; basking in the sheer stinging melody of those searing guitar lines.
But it’s not all about the guitar. Richard “Charlie” McCracken and John Wilson play out of their freakin’ skins throughout. They both push, pull and compliment Rory’s compositions, until they’re something so tight knit, so complete, that you can’t imagine them ever not existing.
To be honest (and I realise this might be close to blasphemy to some), I never really ‘got’ Rory’s solo stuff. It was just a bit too blues rock for me, I guess. But this record has it all – from the balls out rock of ‘What’s Going On’, to the skronky jazz freakout of ‘It’s Happened Before, It’s Happened Again’, to the quiet folky introspection ‘If the Day Was Any Longer’ (amazing tune) and ‘See Here’.
The basic blueprint of this kind of ‘schizo’ album has continued to appeal to me throughout my life. Through Beck’s Mellow Gold, to Beastie Boys’ Check Your Head, and even Foo Fighters’ Colour and the Shape (yup).
I love the sound of a band successfully genre-hopping within the restrictive confines of an album, but in a cohesive manner, such as on this record.
We moved house a lot when I was growing up, about 7 or 8 times I reckon, which may account for my being drawn to this sort of of ‘genre restlessness’ in music. But, no matter where we were living, this record was to be heard blaring out of our old wooden speakers every Saturday morning, with at least one member of our family skillfully playing air guitar to the intro of ‘What’s Going On’.
I guess it’s probably true to say that, from the moment I started to learn guitar, from the moment I clumsily fingered that first G chord, all I ever wanted to do was to learn the main riff of that particular opening song. Many years later, and many bruised fingertips, I finally got it.
Still can’t touch that freakin’ solo mind…
Steve Ryan has brought Windings from a looping solo side project to a fully-fledged indie rock outfit about to play Canadian Music Week, with a much anticipated album on the way on Out On A Limb Records. He formerly ripped shit up with Giveamanakick and is one of this country’s foremost rock guitarists. (Noise is not surprised by his favourite album!) Windings play The Pavilion, Cork, on Saturday March 3