Teenage Picks: Mark Granger
In the latest edition of our Teenage Picks series, our reviewer Mark Granger gives us the ten most important records of his teens… there’s some obvious, and perhaps less obvious, 90s choices in this one!
Green Day – “Insomniac” (1995)
Insomniac is the only Green Day album I’ll ever need. Messed up, dark, but never too serious, it is for me Green Day at their best. I knew of them before this album, but I’d never really paid attention. Then I heard Brain Stew/Jaded on Radio One’s Evening Session (or saw the video on the ITV Chart Show, not sure), fell in love with the songs, got the album and listened to it on repeat. I distinctly remember insisting I take my personal cassette player when we went to visit my uncle and auntie, and listening to the album while staring at the inlay sleeve, scared I was going to get caught out listening to sweary rock music.
Kenickie – “At The Club” (1997)
I love Kenickie. They were the first band where I made the conscious decision to collect all the singles (CDs only mind, but CD1 and CD2). I fell in love with Punka, a song that was just fun with a capital fuh. Every single from the album was full of the same fun, slightly naughty, but not too naughty, spirit. At The Club was the first album I remember being genuinely excited about in the run up to its release. I don’t remember people telling me they were great, something that happened with a band like Oasis, I just remember knowing they were great. Fun indie pop rock that reminded me it was okay to not just be moody. Plus they had a song about a robot which made me cry.
Metallica – “Load” (1996)
Metallica released Load at exactly the right time for me. My brother has already tried to get me into them with The Black Album, but I was having none of it at the time, it was way too heavy for my sensitive little mind. Then along comes Load, its lead single Until It Sleeps worming its way into my brain, the batshit video appearing on Top Of The Pops where Hetfield is trapped in a ribcage for no apparent reason at all, and something in my brain connected with this idiocy and lapped it up. I promptly made a copy of it on cassette so I could listen and re-listen to this fantastic album, that I would later learn was so loathed by Metallica fans everywhere. I still don’t know why. People are stupid.
The Wildhearts – “Endless Nameless” (1997)
Having been introduced to The Wildhearts via P.H.U.Q., and (at the time) thinking it okay but not great, I didn’t really start to love the band until Anthem came along, which I remember, again, hearing most on Top Of the Pops. Then came Urge. I was doing work experience at the local radio station at the time, and on my lunch break I went down to buy the single. I came back all excited and put it on the stereo. ‘That’s quiet’ I thought, so I turned it up. Then came the chorus, with its throwing to the wind of volume continuity and stupidly loud bass causing me to nearly fall over in my rush to turn it down and causing all the blood to rush to my face as radio bods stuck their head in to see what all the really loud noise was about. The album itself was just as mad and similarly blasé about volume levels or crisp guitar sounds. It was all bile, distortion and perfect for telling me my teenage moods were all right, because these grown ups were pissed off too.
Symposium – “One Day At A Time” (1997)
Technically a mini-album, but in reality an actual album, because hey, nobody ever told Black Sabbath that eight tracks was too short for a full album. First entering my consciousness with Drink The Sunshine, Symposium were a band that seemed to run on pure joy and energy. Unlike their full length, One Day At A Time was a mix of pop rock, ska and punk that captured their spirit perfectly. Looking back their youth was obvious, and there’s a simplicity and naivety to the songs, but the album’s still awesome.
Jeff Buckley – “Sketches For (My Sweetheart The Drunk)” (1998)
I used to love cover mount CDs. Kerrang! were masters of them in the 90’s, but eventually I wanted something different. Step in Uncut. They would have a wide variety of music on their cover mounts, from Silver Sun to post rockers Gastr Del Sol to Jeff Buckley. Grace had passed me by, mainly because when it came out I was twelve and listening almost exclusively to Bitty McLean. So I when I heard Everybody Here Wants You on that Uncut cover-mount, I’d never heard anything quite like him before. I got a hold of Sketches as soon as I could and devoured it. Beautiful, melodic, dark, and on the second tape, down right odd, it was everything a teenager could possibly want.
Pantera – “The Great Southern Trendkill” (1996)
I was nudged toward Pantera by a friend, but he didn’t give me a useful starting point, and with my heavy music education still in its infancy, I was certainly not prepared for what I was about to hear. Like Sketches I got this album from the library, because before the internet it was the cheapest way of getting albums – £1 for borrowing the album and £1 per blank tape. I took it home and whacked it on. Straight away came a scream from the depths of hell. If it wasn’t for the groove laden main riff and the subsequent melodic guitar playing from Dimebag Darrell I might have bailed on this album, but I stuck with it and it became my first really heavy album. I played so much that the tape warped and the other side, which had a Sex Pistols compilation on, interrupted Living Through Me (Hells Wrath) with ten seconds of backwards Holiday In The Sun. Shame Anselmo’s a dick, innit.
Hefner – “The Fidelity Wars” (1999)
A friend of mine raved about Hefner to me. He said “These are great, my sister insists the singer can’t sing but that’s not the point” (He probably didn’t say that exactly, but you know what I mean). And she was right, he couldn’t sing, not in the conventional way, but Darren Hayman has such an idiosyncratic voice and such an ear for melody and lyrics that it really didn’t matter. An album about love and sex, told with such alarming frankness that it blew my tiny mind. Every song on this album deserves equal attention and to write a proper summary would probably take up my entire word count, so instead I’ll move on to the other album that friend lent me.
Ooberman – “The Magic Treehouse” (1999)
The closest you can get to prog without listening to prog and still convince yourself you’re listening to indie pop. That’s how I’d describe this album. Full of tunes that were criminally under appreciated, only one of the singles, Blossoms Falling, scraping into the Top 40. Not that the Top 40 is any indication of what’s good and what isn’t, but they were so good at pop tunes that they should’ve been massive. Again, every song’s a winner, but for a taste of their mad genius make sure you listen to Sugarbum or Stormtrooper.
Manic Street Preachers – “Everything Must Go” (1996)
Now, I could lie, I could say that I got into Manic Street Preachers earlier but I won’t. I first paid attention to the Manics when Design For Life came out, a massive song that mentioned libraries and nestled along nicely with the Queen part of my brain. It took a while for it to hook in properly but, boy, when it did, it really did. To say I really understood the album when I first got it would also be a lie, it’s true brilliance not really sinking in for years, but it was full of big sounding music as well as melancholia so, yeah, it pandered to both parts of being a teenager. The miserable side and the part that thinks you’re the centre of the universe. And it was a gateway to everything else they did. I remember going to look for their other albums, finding The Holy Bible and not being a hundred percent sure it was the same band. From then on I devoured everything Manics, starting a life long love affair with the band. And it’s all thanks to the huge, miserable, uplifting, confusing, monster of an album.
This isn’t a conclusive chronicling of my musical evolution. I would have to start earlier for that, reaching back to family holidays when Queen, Eurythmics, Chuck Berry, Neil Sedaka and that rock and roll mix album we always had on. I would have to reveal further my continuing love of Eternal, Bitty McLean and Rick Astley, my love/cringe relationship with Oasis, and my dalliances with nu-metal. I left out some of my favourite artists but I hope I’ve given some sort of snapshot into my teenage brain, just not the disgusting, hormonal, permanently horny part. That… that would be wrong.