“The true beauty of music is that it connects people. It carries a message, and we, the musicians, are the messengers.” – Roy Ayers
I’m Free – The Soup Dragons
It does say a bit about The Soup Dragons that they’re best known for a cover. There’s no shame in that however (there is a little bit), and at least it’s a bloody good cover. Originally part of the burgeoning jangle-pop C86 scene north of the border in Scotland with contemporaries like Primal Scream and Teenage Fanclub, The Soup Dragons adopted a dance-infused rock sound much like the Happy Mondays for their 1990 album ‘Lovegod,’ resulting in the creation of this take on The Rolling Stones’ ‘I’m Free,’ peaking at #5 in the singles charts.
Afterglow – The Crookes
Think two-parts generic 2000s indie, two-parts ‘Made in Chelsea’ soundtrack and you’ve just about got this one nailed. Since releasing their debut album in 2010, The Crookes – named after a suburb in their native Sheffield – have enjoyed a moderately successful run without ever really taking off. ‘Afterglow,’ the lead single from their 2012 album ‘Hold Fast,’ remains their crowning moment: an uptempo tune with a driving bassline and an infectious chorus.
London – The Smiths
For all its outstanding musical output, 1980s Manchester wasn’t the nicest of places. Many tried their hardest to escape down to London, which master wordsmith Morrissey notes on ‘London,’ a 1987 b-side for The Smiths. It’s not entirely the band’s typical sound, although it does showcase their underrated rhythm section, before Johnny Marr’s melodic chimes take over at the end. Lyrically, it’s classic Morrissey, as he recounts the story of loved ones watching a family member depart for Euston at the train station. “Do you think you’ve made the right decision this time?” he ponders on the platform.
Cornerstone – Arctic Monkeys
They might be the all-conquering giants of arena rock that can turn every touch into gold now, but seven years ago the Arctic Monkeys retreated into the Californian desert with Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme to record a divisive third album. Introducing listeners to a different sound, one that would eventually evolve into the slicker-than-slick cockiness that took over the world in 2013, ‘Humbug’ did however feature this sublime tender cut. There’s some now-classic lyrics from Mr Turner, as he goes searching all over town – through pubs, bars and taxis – to find a long-lost lover.
Sunrise – Pulp
It’s been fifteen years since Pulp released their last album, ‘We Love Life,’ complete with this: one of the best album closers of all time. The Sheffield legends have come and gone for a brief reunion since then, reaffirming their iconic status during their live return in 2011. Although ‘We Love Life’ proved to be a parting gift from a band on the brink of breaking up, it did give us the masterpiece ‘Sunrise.’ It’s a slow burner, building to an explosion of beautiful noise which feels just about right closing Pulp’s final album.