Teenage Picks: John Gilleese
In this instalment of Teenage Picks, our Manchester photographer John Gilleese takes us through his ten best from his teens in the mid to late 90s…
Guns N’ Roses – “Appetite for Destruction” (1987)
My picks were always going to start with this album, as it is the first record I ever truly loved. In fact, this was the first album that saw all 5 Gilleese siblings agreeing to its quality. Axl Rose was an unlikely style icon, halfway between the spandex covered cock rock of the 80s and the grunge apathy that was to follow. Plus he was cool as shit live! This was the album that sent Gn’R into the musical stratosphere and I have fond memories of sitting in a tent in our garden in rural Ireland singing along happily to Mr. Brownstone, and not having a clue what it was about.
Cradle of Filth – “Vempire or Dark Faerytales in Phallustein” (1996)
You’re 16, living in a small country town with friends who think Paul Weller, Oasis and Paul Oakenfold are the pinnacle of music, and you’re trying to do the whole teenage rebellion thing. There’s only one thing for it, Cradle of Filth! Suffolk’s finest extreme metal export ticked all the boxes: loud and fast music, gothic horror infused lyrics, half naked women everywhere and offensive merch (I still have my “dead girls don’t say no” shirt somewhere). The first time I saw them live was in 1998 when I drank most of a bottle of whiskey, sat on a BBC camera man’s head (by accident), fell asleep in the middle of a main road on the way home and missed all my 4th year exams due to alcohol poisoning, which included throwing up in some guys school bag. Ahhh, memories…
Deicide – “When Satan Lives” (1998)
Glen Benton, the frontman with the inverted cross burned into his forehead who said he would kill himself at the same age that Christ died, 33 (he didn’t). If you were looking for a balls-out band drenched in Satanic imagery, you couldn’t really go wrong with Deicide. To say they drove my quite religious mother demented would be an understatement. The reason I chose this album over their very excellent eponymous debut is because of how I acquired it. Our PE teacher had a scam where he’d take orders from students, travel across the border to Armagh where records were cheaper and then sell them to us at an inflated price which was still cheaper than in town. Possibly the most important piece of education I got from that school.
Marilyn Manson – “Antichrist Superstar” (1996)
The moral panic and worry that surrounded Marilyn Manson when Antichrist Superstar came out was everywhere. There were rumours of backward masking on the record telling people to kill and worship Satan, tales of live animal sacrifices at his shows and a fear that he was brainwashing kids to murder their parents. But in reality, it was an album by a guy called Brian which showed that he had matured from his previous records and one that introduced me to industrial rock. I still laugh when I hear Kinderfeld because my brother said it sounded like a mad duck with a chainsaw.
Nine Inch Nails – “The Fragile” (1999)
Where Marilyn Manson introduced me to industrial rock, Nine Inch Nails defined it for me. The Downward Spiral is a great album, one of the best ever recorded, but The Fragile is their magnum opus (or magnificent octopus, to quote Baldrick). Sprawling across 2 discs, this album had everything, great lyrics, amazing production, subtle instrumentals and full on headbanging tracks. A bone fide classic album, and one of the reasons why NIN are still my favourite band.
Beastie Boys: “Ill Communication” (1994)
It wasn’t all metal and Satan worshipping in the Gilleese household. In the days when MTV played actual music videos, one stood out from the crowd, Sabotage by Beastie Boys. A seventies inspired short that sat perfectly with the rock-infused hip hop of the song, Sabotage was a fantastic advertisement for the rest of this album. Ill Communication was a mix of hip hop, rock, jazz, funk and some strange Buddhist chanting that was just electrifying to listen to as a teen. If you want to find out who’s cool at a party, just shout out “Shit, if this is gonna be that kind of party” and see who makes a move towards the mashed potatoes….
Dr. Dre – “The Chronic” (1992)
After leaving the game changing N.W.A, Dr. Dre had but one option, to release possibly the greatest rap album known to man. And he did. The Chronic is just sublime, with its G-funk production, smooth flowing lyrics and Snoop Dogg popping up every now and again to make a name for himself. As a basketball playing teen, rap and hip hop would obviously come as part of the scene, and I’m pretty sure myself and a friend at the time almost wore out his cassette tape while trying to learn the lyrics to Nuthin’ But A G Thang.
Rage Against The Machine – “Rage Against The Machine” (1992)
Rage Against The Machine were one of the blueprints for nu-metal with their rap/rock style of music, but I can forgive them for that because their debut album is a stone cold classic. Sounding raw and passionate and with a burning monk on the album sleeve, RATM were a band that appealed to your angry and righteous side. Before I had my own copy, I sneaked into my brother’s vault like bedroom to “borrow” the CD so I could tape it for myself. And in 1994, I got into my first moshpit in a basement disco in Germany during a school tour when Killing In The Name came on. I did my best, but all the 5th years kicked the shit out of me.
Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – “Murder Ballads” (1996)
Where The Wild Roses Grow, Nick’s duet with Kylie Minogue from this album, got some airtime on MTV, but it was only when a friend gave me a loan of the CD that I got the full effect of the Bad Seeds. Where the duet was a kind of twisted love song, Stagger Lee is a reworking of a toast poem about a bad motherfucker who essentially kills everyone he encounters. But that’s the heart of Murder Ballads, a selection of songs detailing crimes of passion that hadn’t really been heard in the mainstream before. And it was certainly something that I had never heard before. Sure, heavy metal is full of people being mutilated and butchered, but not with the melody and song craft that Nick Cave managed.
Korn – “Korn” (1994)
I may have slightly derided nu-metal above, but Korn are exempt from this scorn. I’m watching MTV Headbangers Ball in, I think, 1996 and there’s a guy on screen in an Adidas tracksuit playing bagpipes. “What the hell is this” I think to myself before they rip into Shoots & Ladders. Blind follows that one and I’m sold! Before Fred Durst and the rest of the nu-metal crowd showed up and made a mess of it all, Korn had a new and distinct sound backed with very personal lyrics from frontman Jonathan Davis. Shout out to the guys a couple of years older than me who entered our school talent show under the pretence of playing some radio friendly crowd pleaser, but launched into Blind instead and created barely controlled panic among the teachers present.
These are ten albums that I have really fond memories of, but I had a shortlist of about twenty to work from. Taking the time to look back on each of them has been really interesting, reminding me of where I first heard a band, the friends I had that introduced me to different bands and making me think about why I liked certain albums at that time. But that’s not to say that I don’t listen to these albums any more… in true old man fashion, they don’t make them like that any more!