Rings around the world (well, the park)

Rings around the world (well, the park)

We recently posted Andy Johnson’s blog (Pt 1) detailing his sound track as he prepares to take part in the Great North Run, here he details his progess:

Distance approx 8 miles. Time approx 1.2 hours

A heavy weekend of gigs (all with various permutations of The Southmartins, pubs, big festival spots, weddings, WMCs – what a life) and calorie consumption (Burgers and beers mostly) has left me a bit knackered and a slight sense of failure at my last run didn’t bode well for getting back into my stride. I attempted 12 miles on Saturday but could only manage 5 due to three layers of blisters from previous runs. I was determined (once I’d started at least) to do a decent length run tonight. Sticking to laps of the local park meant I could pull up at any point and not have far to walk home if the blisters became unbearable again. I couldn’t quite remember how far one lap of the park perimeter was so kept going for six, convinced it was at least 10k (approx 6 miles). Turns out it was a fair bit longer.
I’ve ordered some new trainers in the hope I can solve the blister problem, which I haven’t suffered at all from until now, but its not advised to try and wear a new pair in less than a month to go so I’ll just have to see how that goes.

Soundtrack – Super Furry Animals Songbook.

There’s been a bit of 90s thread running through these blogs in hindsight. Having lived through it, it’s not a decade I thought had the most to offer in terms of pop/rock music but I’m starting to change my mind a bit and remember or discover some great stuff.

The Charlatans had a “best of” called Melting Pot but it may as well have been called Magpie’s Nest as they plucked from a fairly small pool of influences and although they made some great records (One To Another, How High era) they didn’t always have brilliant songs but were, in my opinion, as much a triumph of production as much as anything.

If any band could genuinely be said to be all-welcoming in terms of what they would consider using in their sound then Super Furry Animals would be up there in the running. I didn’t listen to SFA a huge amount when they first broke through with songs such as Something For The Weekend and Hermann Loves Pauline but I’ve since bought a lot of their albums and they’re always diverting if not always classic.

Super Furry Animals are a Welsh “Acid Rock” band. Psychedelic but in a fairly modern way. They came out of Acid House into indie-rock rather than the other way round like Stone Roses or others. The eternal “problem” with experimental bands is that they miss the mark as often as they hit it but as long as the quality of what they produce when they do succeed is of this kind of standard you can forgive them their indulgences and explorations as they’re all part of the same process. There’s a real outsider quality to their music and lyrics they don’t really fit anywhere and although they don’t have a signature sound they always manage to sound like themselves.

This collection gathers together their better known work and singles and jumbles it around in a non-chronological order which I’m not sure works and I think there’s something to be said for a linear retrospective of a band’s work as it shows their development. That said, the stuff on here is great. They sometime sound a bit like Blur if Blur genuinely been into dance music and hadn’t used the indie/dance crossover as a stepping stone to fame (something I’m sure, and the evidence suggests, they regret) but there’s also a little bit of Ray Davies in Gruff Rhys’ delivery and perceptions. Occasionally they seem to stray into dad-rock with songs like Rings Around the World with its Quo-esque riff but they’re probably more similar to Hawkwind’s space rock. There’s a fair bit of low-tempo songs where the song writing skills of the band shine through (Demons is a personal favourite).

They have enjoyed cult success and acclaim for the best part of 20 years now and although they used to really push the boundaries of what a rock-band could be and do they have, perhaps thankfully, never quite stood in the same spotlight as Oasis, Blur and other contemporaries. Maybe that’s why they’ve kept going so strong. They make as big a deal in promoting their albums about the cover art now as the music which is a shame but it’s reassuring to know they’re still out on the outer reaches of the solar system heading to galaxies unknown.

Oh and I think I’ve entered the wrong race…

For further articles by Andy Johnson please visit his own blog page

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