LL Turns One!

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It’s Leighton Literature’s 1st birthday!

Does it feel more than a little egomaniacal to wish my own website a happy birthday? Sure, but **** it you only live once.

I can’t quite believe it was a year ago today that I published my first post. Since then I’ve released thirty-two short stories, twenty album reviews and eight installments of my photo series. When I launched the site I was living in Beijing, where a cushy teaching schedule left me with bags of free hours. It was an incredibly productive and fruitful time, some mornings I would set up camp in a local café and slip into a literary coma that would consume me for hours.

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End of series update, My Top 20 Albums.

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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.

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My Top 20 Albums – ‘MTV Unplugged in New York’ by Nirvana.

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In the fall of 1993 Seattle three-piece Nirvana was arguably the biggest rock band in the world. Their debut album Bleach had planted seeds of vehement potential, while everybody and his dog picked up a copy of its all-conquering follow-up Nevermind. Then came the eclectic rarities compilation Incesticide, before recently released third LP In Utero, an abrasive departure that further enhanced the band’s reputation as trailblazers.

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My Top 20 Albums – ‘Surfer Rosa’ by Pixies.

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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!’’

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My Top 20 Albums – ‘Bringing it All Back Home’ by Bob Dylan.

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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.

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End of series update, Incidents In India.

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Dear readers,

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.

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My Top 20 Albums – ‘Figure 8’ by Elliott Smith.

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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.

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