2nd May…

The news that the World’s Most Wanted Man has been killed will, in time no doubt become an important date in history.
Here isn’t the place to debate the questions his death raises – however you can rest assured that the world certainly in the immediate aftermath has become just a little bit more dangerous.
CNN, Fox News etc are already reporting that the US has increased its Terror Alert, here in the UK David Cameron has done likewise – there will be increased security at transit points; airports, rail stations etc

Some might say its better to stay at home; but having opted for remaining indoors what is there to do? Watch satellite TV? 350 channels of essentially shite and re-runs…

Why not listen to some music?

The 2nd of May even prior to Bin Laden’s demise was an important date;

2nd May 1991 – Formed by singer-songwriter-guitarist Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic, Nirvana released their debut album ‘Bleach’ in 1989 on US indie Sub-Pop. Their drummer at the time, Chad Channing, was replaced in 1990 by former Scream drummer and future Foo Fighters front man, Dave Grohl. Cobain and Novoselic had seen Grohl perform at a Scream show, and they were more than impressed.

Sub-Pop were struggling financially, so Nirvana considered signing to a major label, a deal was struck with DRG via Geffen who offered up a recording budget of $65,000 – This allowed Cobain & co to employ Butch Vig as producer and on this day in 1991 they went into Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, California.

Later reports suggest that recording the album was easy, it was completed within a few takes, apparently the band were recording the tracks so quickly that Cobain could barely keep up being forced to write his lyrics literally ‘on the hoof’
‘Nevermind’ was released on September 24, 1991; it came with very little fanfare and few commercial expectations. But then the unexplainable happened, and this little album blew up like a nuclear bomb.

2nd May…

Barely three months after its release it was a commercial phenomenon, thanks in large part to the success of the album’s first single (and subsequent video) “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” By January of 1992, barely 100 days after its release, it knocked Michael Jackson’s ‘Dangerous’ album off of the #1 spot, a watershed moment that arguably transformed alternative rock into mainstream.

2nd May 2005 – Another death… Link Wray dies of heart failure at his home. Wray released ‘Rumble’ in 1958 and perhaps changed the shape of rock ’n’ roll forever – the buzz saw guitar sound that he created had never been heard before.

Wray was born on May 2, 1929 as Fred Lincoln Wray in Dunn, North Carolina. He caught guitar fever at age eight when he heard a bluesman called simply “Hambone” playing slide at a carnival. However it wasn’t until he returned from the Korean War that Wray bought his first guitar, his aim was to write and sing his own songs; however as a result of catching TB whilst in the jungle he suffered with just one lung, and was unable to sing proficiently.

Wray, who was self-taught, was never the sharpest technician on the instrument, but had a great sense of melody and understood the power conveyed by hanging chords. From those two strengths he created “Rumble” in 1958. From its surf vibrato to its descending single note riff, “Rumble” sounds like a Dick Dale tune, but the fact of the
matter is that Wray was likely an influence on surf-rock king Dale. “Rumble” was issued a year before Dale’s first single, and rapidly climbed the charts thanks to its dance-ability. Despite being banned (‘outlaw music apparently!) it went on to sell 4million copies and secured Wray’s name into the history books.


Despite this early commercial success, further sales eluded him from 1962 onwards and its was not until he was picked up by the UK punk movement in 1976/77 that he rose to prominence once more, he was in favour again in the early 80’s with the rockabilly/psychobilly movement, and at this time his back catalogue was picked up by Ace Records.

His most lasting recognition was the use of Rumble in the Tarantino film ‘Pulp Fiction’.

Despite Wray’s essential role in the development of rock guitar tone, he has yet to be acknowledged by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Nonetheless, he was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and received many other honors, including a #67 ranking in Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists”


Listening to these two greats should keep you occupied for a while…

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Phil Newall is 47, from The Wirral - he earns his living not writing about music nor playing music...though sorely wishes he could. He was fortunate enough to see many of the first generation punk bands when they played the U18's matinee shows at Eric's, Liverpool. As an attendee at Eric's he was exposed to punk rock, dub reggae, art rock, and all manner of weirdness; as a customer at Probe Records he was variously served and scowled at by Pete Wylie and Pete Burns - he has written for Record Collector, Whisperin & Hollerin, and Spiral Scratch and wanted to write a book detailing the Liverpool punk scene; however with 'Head-On' Julian Cope beat him to it...and frankly did a much better job.


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