WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF FANTASY ALBUMS WHERE MUSIC FANS ARE PUT TO THE TEST TO DECIPHER THEIR ULTIMATE COLLECTION
The rules are simple(ish): they can’t repeat an album, and to just make it that little bit more interesting they have to use the same track number from another album. For example, Track 1 could be the opening track of the incredible Stone Roses’ debut ‘I Wanna Be Adored’. Track 2 could be Blur’s ‘Song 2′ – you get the idea? – basically their fave track 1, 2, 3 etc from 10 different albums.
Matt Blair is has many strings to his bow: comedian, podcaster, Twitch streamer, quiz host and musician. He currently co-hosts the podcast Geekatorium with fellow comedian Rik Carranza and discuss all the things happening in the geek world and steams three times a week on Twitch.
“There aren’t a lot of albums that could be described as crossing genres like the UK Indie Scene with prog-rock. But Mansun’s Six is definitely that sort of crossover. The storytelling, the production and the song structures create one of those rare masterpieces. Not a single bad or even average song on the album. And it’s all set up so perfectly with track one, also the title track, Six. I particularly love the filter effects on the vocals on the final verse. Creatively weird. Awesome.”
“To those that know me, know that my guitar hero is Satch. This is the song that made me fall in love with his playing. Not many people can enjoy listening to guitar instrumentals. Luckily I can listen to this sort of thing for hours. It’s bluesy, it’s rock n roll, It’s just so damn COOL! And perhaps it’s my own interpretation, but I find this sort of virtuoso playing to have an element of humour to it. It’s like a wink and a nudge saying “listen to this” than merely showing off. But yeah, it’s also showing off. And honestly, if you can do it, why not show off? “
“Steve Vai is another virtuoso guitarist. Funnily enough he was also taught how to play by Joe Satriani. Usually he does pure instrumentals as well but there are a few exceptions. This is one of them. It’s from an album that starts as instrumentals and then the second half includes vocals. So technically this is track three of the vocal songs. It’s fairly minimalist and yet still busy. And it also has a bit of a Prince vibe without the falsetto. It’s pretty aggressive and in your face but not in a death metal kind of way. More in an intervention sort of way. It demands your attention. “
“This is a very much unheard of band out of Canada. I only happened across this song from a friend who thought I’d find the song amusing. They were right! I do like the whole album but this song is about the obsessive fan in all of us. As someone who actually bought a signature guitar of my favourite guitarist, this song could easily be about me and Satriani. But what I really love about this is the scrappy-ness of it. It sounds like a bunch of 16 year olds. The production is cheap, the playing is under practiced. It reminds me of me and my old bands when I was a teenager. Like when a smell triggers a memory, this song does the same for me when I hear it.”
“Perhaps not the most obvious Metallica song a Metallica fan would choose. And especially choosing one from an album where the band was going through a slightly mellower phase. They had also just cut all of their hair off which was hilariously controversial at the time. To me this is another one of those cool songs. A sleazy bass line, a crunchy riff and growling vocals. And of course a Kirk Hammett solo that’s saturated by a wah-wah pedal. This song was also used in an episode in The Sopranos. Which I’d appreciate more if I actually watched The Sopranos.”
“Nine Inch Nails is essentially Trent Reznor as a solo artist with a band name (though he did have a band that had an ever changing lineup). And Reznor is now more known as an Oscar winning composer of film and TV. But in the 90’s, NIN were the go-to artist for anyone’s inner emo. Lots of screaming and noisy guitars on top of heavy industrial drums. That’s their usual sound. However this song is a bit more tender and intimate. It plays like a melancholy anthem. It comes from an album that was recorded in a studio that was converted from an old funeral home. That’s some deep shit right there.”
“Terrorvision were never really anyone’s favourite band. But they were mine for a long while. The album How to Make Friends and Influence People was played on repeat throughout my teens. Most people know Terrorvision for Tequila, Oblivion or even Middleman. This track was one that stuck with me. It’s bluesy, melodic and raw. It’s definitely their best guitar solo. And the section where everything becomes a swirling merry-go-round is just a chef’s kiss moment for me.”
“In the great indie wars of the 90’s, I was Team Blur. Oasis could go fuck themselves. Blur were more creative and a lot more fun. You felt like you’d want to be friends with them. Maybe not Alex James but that part came way later and I can’t deny his talent on the bass. No one sounds like him. This song comes from The Great Escape album and is a stand out track to me. The lyrics at first seem dumb as it’s about wanting to win the lottery and be worry free. But I feel a more sinister tone in there. “Don’t worry if it’s not your lucky number, tomorrow there’s another”. It sounds like the lottery itself feeding a gambling addiction, promising a better life if you just keep playing. Perhaps I’m reading too much into it. “
“For a start, yes to us Brits, Theatre should be spelled r-e at the end, not e-r. But that’s how the band spell it. Take it up with them. This is a prog-metal instrumental masterpiece. It’s legendary amongst musicians for its complexity. For a start, there are 108 time signature changes throughout this track. There’s a bass solo, guitar solo and also a honky-tonk piano solo because why not? One could argue that this track is everyone playing a solo at the same time. Yet somehow it works. It’s incredible and also a bit funny.”
“Some people might remember a band called At The Drive In. When they broke up two of their member formed The Mars Volta. In my first track on this list I described it as indie-prog. The Mars Volta to me are punk-prog. Though they hated that label. Sure, punk-prog is a bit of an oxymoron but they have big ideas played sloppily. But they have a STRONG rhythm section. Flea plays bass on this and shines. The jangly opening riff sounds like spiders crawling in your ears. The wailing vocals are like an angel in distress and the guitars are the monster causing the distress. I love it.”
A non-surprising guitar driven fantasy album from Matt. It’s rare to see Blur mentioned along side Metallica and Nine Inch Nails, and why not? A quality listen.
You can listen to the Geekorium podcast here
Or catch his Twitch here