I’ve been getting a lot of compliments on my photographs recently. While I wouldn’t want you to think I’m an egomaniac, this has admittedly felt great! I’ve been putting a lot of work into my picture taking, especially since the launch of Leighton Literature, which has made me more aware than ever of the importance of engaging images. Now, as I live and breathe the potential short stories of the future, I keep half an eye on what some people refer to as capturing the moment.
It’s been almost a year since I posted the first of my top 20 album reviews! My first post was dedicated to the brilliant debut album Attack of the Grey Lantern by Mansun (No, not Hanson or Marilyn Manson), but reading back over it now and the whole piece feels undercooked. Paul Draper and co deserved better but hey, I was just starting out, finding my feet, feeling my way. Maybe I’ll re-write it one day and get it up to scratch.
I was deep into my Nirvana phase when a friend of mine suggested another American band I might enjoy, “They totally influenced Kurt Cobain!” he exclaimed with wide eyes. A few days later he personally hand delivered two CDs, a mini LP called Come on Pilgrim (1987) and a thirteen-track debut album by the name of Surfer Rosa (1988). “Alt-rock pioneers dude!” he told me with a face as serious as a car accident, “I’m telling you… alt-rock pioneers!’’
It took me a long time to get Bob Dylan. For years I was totally immune to his harmonica-laced charms, happy to tell anyone who would listen that I didn’t see what all the fuss was about. After all, the guy couldn’t even sing and having only been exposed to his protest song era, he didn’t seem like a barrel of laughs either. Later, as my music tastes became more discerning, I begrudgingly accepted that he’d written some classic tunes, though still felt he would never really be my cup of tea. In fact, it wasn’t until I heard Blood on the Tracks one day at a friend’s place, initially unaware of who I was listening to, that my attitude began to shift.
I don’t know about you but I’m so relieved to have finally finished my India series! Of my three short story collections to date, this was by far the toughest to put together!
Some of the installments had been written years ago but felt so underwhelming I was forced into complete re-writes. A lack of decent photographs meanwhile had me scrambling around the web seeking out suitable shots I could use without getting into copyright trouble.
It’s easy to forget what an unparalleled tour de force Oasis were when they burst onto the scene in the summer of 1994. Dangerously cool, razor-edge witty and a whole new level of arrogant, they were impossible to ignore, the musical equivalent of Jack Nicholson smashing the door down with his axe in The Shining.
I was sixteen years old when their debut album Definitely Maybe hit the shelves and its impact on me was immeasurable. On the one hand it’s a record brazenly in debt to its influences, which ranged from T-Rex, The Stones, The Sex Pistols, The Jam and The Stone Roses. There’s even a tip of the hat to Gary Glitter, at a time when the man was yet to be declared persona non grata. But while their self-fuelled comparisons with The Beatles remained inescapable, the truth was Oasis sounded nothing like The Fab Four, while as an LP Definitely Maybe was much more than some heady nostalgia trip.
Anyone familiar with my reviews will be far from surprised to hear I’m a big Elliott Smith fan. Like Nick Drake before him, Elliott was a deeply troubled soul who wore his heart on his sleeve, writing immensely cathartic alt-rock throughout a tragically brief solo career. Time and time again I find myself falling for artists like Smith, tortured beings who craft breathtaking records using their own blood and guts as the cement that sticks everything together. Over the course of seven albums (two of which were unfinished and released posthumously), Elliott put it all out there, for better or for worse, no-holds-barred, his songs like open wounds.