“Crisis: a time when a difficult or important decision must be made.” – OED
"Life is like a sewer – what you get out of it depends on what you put into it." – Tom Lehrer
“These are the times that try men's souls.” – Thomas Paine
Where to start? How about the hypnotic bass groove of the Temptations mighty floorfiller Ball Of Confusion (nominated by bishbosh). A highlight of their psychedelic period “That’s what the world is now”. Plus ca change.
Ceremony (Skydog7) was one of the last songs written by Joy Division. I bought the 12-inch the day it came out, little understanding the angst of a (then ancient) 23-year-old. New Order took it on and the sense of foreboding is almost overbearing:
“This is why events unnerve me
They find it all, a different story.”
An almost operatic take on relationship crisis, Kenny Carter sings Showdown with such unbridled passion it deserves to be much better known. Another absolute belter brought to us by attwilightlarks.
An apparently sunny song, Sagittarius’ My World Fell Down (ShivSidecar) unites Gary Usher, Bruce Johnston, Glenn Campbell and the Wrecking Crew on a fabulous example of mid 60s pop. The lyrics reveal an altogether darker message.
“'Cause it's wintertime
And the leaves are brown
Since you went away
My world fell down.”
The Undertones’ Positive Touch is an album I loved since first listen. A throwback even then to the days where an LP had seven great tunes on each side. No filler. Crisis Of Mine (Uncleben) is one of many that wouldn’t be out of place on Nuggets.
“A drop in the ocean making us sweat
Hear another notion shaking us yet
This crisis of mine.”
To Nick Lowe. Go-to record producer, great singer-songwriter and all-round good guy. Here with Rockpile colleagues on Cracking Up (megadom) – the jaunty tune again masking the lyrical message:
“Cracking up, like a worn out shoe
Ain't wet, but the world's leakin' through
I'd run, but I find no pace
I laugh, but it's wrecking me.”
No such disjunctions on I’ve Been Waiting For Tomorrow (All Of My Life) by The The (nilpferd). Opener to Soul Mining, a terrific song about personal crisis. Stellar performance by Zeke Manyika on real drums: this has aged much better than many tinny contemporaries.
“All desires have been denied to put me in this state of mind
Another year older and what have I done
My aspirations have shrivelled in the sun.”
Next up a tour de force from Kate Tempest. Europe Is Lost references climate change, mass immigration and the pernicious doctrine of disaster capitalism. My find of this week. Thanks to shoegazer.
“How is this something to cherish?
When the tribesmen are dead in their deserts
To make room for alien structures
And kill what you find if it threatens you
No trace of love in the hunt for the bigger buck
Here in the land where nobody gives a fuck.”
Neptune (Suzi) by the Poozies continues on the despoliation of the world around us. Kate Rusby provides gorgeous, plaintive accompaniment:
“But when he spoke, it was a plea not a roar
If you want my love, then go and tell them all
Don't oil my beaches, don't slaughter my whales
Don't cross me with diesel, cross me with sail
Give me some time to heal up my wounds
Give me more poison and I will die soon.”
I could listen to Anohni reciting the phone book. Crisis, as you might expect, is a lament for something more serious. Thanks to severin for this one.
To another great voice. In the wonderful Wake Up Everybody (DiscoMonster), Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes deliver a call to arms:
“The world won't get no better if we just let it be
The world won't get no better we gotta change it yeah, just you and me.”
On to another of Tom Waits lyrical vignettes of personal crisis. Here’s On The Nickel (swawilg):
“I know a place where a royal flush
Can never beat a pair
And even Thomas Jefferson
Is On The Nickel over there.”
An interlinked couple that need no description. Brain Damage/Eclipse by Pink Floyd (Suzi) brings this week’s list to its conclusion.
Sort of. I cheated a bit this week to add this fine example of club rock. Since the mid 80s John Shuttleworth has been ploughing his lonely furrow, posting dispatches from the front lines of the northern club circuit accompanied by his trusty Yamaha keyboard. Two Margarines (OliveButler) is one such tale of a crisis brought about by culinary inattention:
“Two margarines on the go, it's a nightmare scenario
Two margarines in my fridge, it's enough to end a happy marriage.”
No cliché left unturned. Thanks to all who took the time. Special thanks to the Landlord for another wise and witty introduction.
The Disaster Division 1 Playlist:
The Temptations – Ball of Confusion
New Order – Ceremony
Kenny Carter – Showdown
Sagittarius – My World Fell Down
The Undertones – Crisis of Mine
Nick Lowe – Cracking Up
The The – I’ve Been Waiting For Tomorrow (All of my Life)
Kate Tempest – Europe is Lost
The Poozies – Neptune
Anohni – Crisis
Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes – Wake Up Everybody
Tom Waits – On The Nickel
Pink Floyd – Brain Damage/Eclipse
John Shuttleworth – Two Margarines
The Dilemma Division 2 Playlist:
Joy Division – Digital
Jesus and Mary Chain – Upside Down
Oxymoron – Crisis Identity
Negativland – Downloading
Of Montreal – Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse
The Tiger Lillies – Life is Mean
Sweet Honey On The Rock – State Of Emergency
The Housemartins – Think For A Minute
Randy Newman – I Think It’s Going To Rain Today
The Candyskins – Car Crash
British Sea Power – Canvey Island
Emmy The Great – Dinosaur Sex
The Ethiopians – Things A Get From Bad To Worse
Guru’s Wildcard Picks:
The Carpenters – Rainy Days and Mondays
Hawkwind – Time We Left This World Today
These playlists were inspired by readers' song nominations from last week's topic: Where did it all go wrong? Songs about crisis …. The next topic will launch on Thursday at 1pm UK time.
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