Uncut Editor's Diary
The Second Comings Of Arcade Fire And Arctic Monkeys
What I’ve been playing most recently has been Neon Bible, the second album from The Arcade Fire, the follow-up to Funeral and possibly one of the most keenly-anticipated albums of the year, for which great things are predicted and will probably happen.
Following an album like Funeral is, of course, no easy task and what most fans will want to know is whether it’s as good, better, different or best avoided.
Unfortunately, I am presently unable to answer any of these patently straightforward questions. The record is under embargo for the moment and I probably would bring down upon my head unimaginable wrath if I said too much about it.
For what I think in detail about it, you’ll have to wait until the next issue of Uncut, which is on sale next week. I think all I can tell you here is that opinion is somewhat divided – whether oddly or predictably, the people who loved the first album with an unqualified passion are perhaps more guarded in their enthusiasm for Neon Bible than some of the people who thought the debut too singular, too relentlessly intense, and have found a greater variety and pitch on Neon Bible that makes it more approachable.
Anyway, it’s had the office both buzzing and talking – as I suspect will the Arctic Monkey’s follow-up, also soon due, to Whatever People Say I Am I Am, That’s What I’m Not.
John Mulvey’s going to hear the Monkeys’ album this week and will be writing about it on his Wild Mercury Sound blog, and may also have something to say at an appropriate moment about Arcade Fire
In the meantime, a chat with a couple of friends about Neon Bible found Phil and Jerry launching into full-on list-making mode, something they are prone to over a couple of pints, with tonight’s topic turning out to be the 10 Best Second Albums Ever Made.
There was a lot of initial discussion about what could legitimately be included – the second solo album, for instance, by someone who’d already made a couple of records with a previous band was quickly ruled out, which meant I was sulkily obliged to leave out Neil Young’s Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere and Gram’s Grievous Angel.
There was also a debate about whether the second albums we were talking about should be follow-ups to momentous debuts that were eclipsed either musically or commercially - or both - by what came next. The way things were going at this point, it didn’t look like we’d ever get around to agreeing on anything.
So I came up with the following entirely partisan choice, while they were otherwise occupied.
1 Bob Dylan – The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan
2 The Velvet Underground – White Light/White Heat
3 Elvis Costello & The Attractions – This Year’s Model
4 Little Feat – Sailin’ Shoes
5 Roxy Music – For Your Pleasure
6 Love – Da Capo
7 Paul Seibel – Jack-Knife Gypsy
8 R.E.M. – Reckoning
9 The Clash - Give ‘Em Enough Rope
10 Whiskeytown – Strangers Almanac
This, of course, is where I hand it over to you – what would your Top 10 be? Let me know via the comments box.
While you’re thinking here are a couple of YouTube links – the first is to some rare live footage of the young Ryan Adams with Whiskeytown, playing “Excuse Me While I Break My own Heart” from Strangers Almanac. The second is footage of Little Feat from 1976, playing “Cold Cold Cold” from Sailin’ Shoes.