Thursday, 11 May 2017

Top Tens: Colin's Top Ten Lightyear Songs

Last Friday the most exciting piece of musical news of the year was released. One of my all-time favourite bands, Lightyear, announced that they would be reforming permanently, will be doing a UK tour in October to celebrate their 20th anniversary and are working on new music!

I feel like I should rewind slightly and explain who Lightyear are and why I love them so much. Lightyear are a ska punk band from Derbyshire who hit their peak during the early 2000s. Known as much for their lively and raucous live shows as they are for their fantastic and exciting brand of ska punk. I don't think you've really experienced a proper live show unless you've seen Lightyear live. It's everything you would expect from a live set - it's fun, it's filled with mayhem, it's so unpredictable and they'll have you singing and dancing almost as much as laughing. Lightyear are a band like no other. I'm so pleased that I can use the word 'are' rather than 'were' when talking about Lightyear again.

Because of this most exciting news, I decided that the time is right to do a Top Ten Lightyear songs. You might think that this is a bit silly as they only released two albums. I say to those people: it's okay, Lightyear were quite a silly band. I also say it's my blog so I can do it if I want to. And I want to.

10. Uri Gellar Bent My Heart from Chris Gentlemens Hairdresser and Railway Bookshop

When I first picked up a CD of Chris Gentlemens Hairdresser this was one of the songs that stood out due to its title. I was immediately impressed on my first listen, with Chas and Neil doing some absolutely fantastic harmonies. It's a song that isn't particularly horn heavy, especially for a Lightyear song, instead going for a less is more approach with understated blasts throughout. There is also a great spoken word breakdown when Chas denounces many of the terrible political decisions that were made in the early 2000s when the album was released.

9. Trumpet Trousers from Chris Gentlemens Hairdresser and Railway Bookshop

Trumpet Trousers is classic Lightyear. I say this because it's such a unique and unpredictable song. Implementing a turntable and a voice track that talks about testicles exploding, Trumpet Trousers is the most random of songs - it's about drug use. It's a really smart song lyrically as it plays like a conversation of two people having a random conversation whilst under the influence. The chorus is one that remains in your head, especially the line "Chin Up Chas, At Least You're Not The Drummer From Busted."

8. Tread Lightly, Speak Dearly from Call Of The Weasel Clan

Tread Lightly, Speak Dearly is the opening song of debut album Call Of The Weasel Clan. It served as a great opening of what you get from Lightyear from the opening guitar chords. It's a bit disjointed, much like Lightyear, but there is so much charm and joy to the music that it is impossible not to immediately fall in love with the band. This is a fast paced ska punk tune with Lightyear's brass section on top top form, giving the song even more impetus throughout. Tread Lightly, Speak Dearly is a song about dealing with the end of a relationship and working out the best way to deal with things.

7. Blindside from Call Of The Weasel Clan

Blindside is another song about break-ups. Starting off with an extended horn section (which Emma thinks would be brilliantly used in a 90s comedy crime caper with the main character wearing a suit and sunglasses walking down the street dancing). You can't help but want to dance to this track and it has one of Lightyear's best choruses - which is really saying something. I can't wait to shout "There's A Hole Inside Of Me, And It's Cut So Clinically, A Lesson Learned, And No Regret" back at the band. This is also a fantastic song live where the percussion breakdown transforms into a Morris dancing section, as you would expect.

6. Life Jacket Water Wings from Chris Gentlemens Hairdresser and Railway Bookshop

Starting out with some crunching guitars and some thudding drums before quickly switching to a lighter acoustic guitar sound. There is a feeling of happiness and joy to the song, it has such a upbeat and positive sound. If you're listening to the song for the first time it might sound like a lot of nonsense, after many more listens it still sounds like a lot of nonsense but deep down it's a song about leaving your comfort zone, getting out and your day to day life but remembering the good times.

5. Nuff Cuts from Chris Gentlemens Hairdresser and Railway Bookshop

After a horn lead introduction, Nuff Cuts is one of Lightyear's more punk rock sounding tracks. It will instantly turn a skank pit into a full on mosh pit. Nuff Cuts is a great song for showing off Lightyear's harmonies and excellent gang vocal sections. The track really has everything I want in a ska punk song. It's about getting out of an abusive scenario and shouting "Step Back, You'll Never Lay A Finger On Me!"

4. Positive Outlook from Call Of The Weasel Clan

The penultimate song on Call Of The Weasel Clan, Positive Outlook, is another that heavily features the incredible harmonies and gang vocal abilties of Lightyear. It's a song about friendship and no matter how hard things can get you'll always have your people to look out for you. It's a slower track that is truly infectious in many ways. The melody is one that you'll be humming immediately and the chorus of "And There's A Place Where We'll Forget, The Thing's We've Done, The Thing's We've Said, I Know There's Been Some Hard Times, But I Need You My Friend." There is a disgusting yet humorous voice track of the band discussing eating things you really shouldn't eat, it's the type of conversation that you can only have with your best friends. I thought it was very smart to include it on this song about friendship.

3. Twat Out Of Hell from Chris Gentlemens Hairdresser and Railway Bookshop

The opening track on Chris Gentlemens Hairdresser is also the best on the album in my opinion. It's also the first Lightyear song that I ever heard. It's also my favourite Lightyear song title - I'm amused by the Bat Out Of Hell pun. Twat Out Of Hell is a song about two things, firstly former President George W. Bush's time in charge of the USA and secondly about the struggles of life in a underground band. I like how the premise of the song is supposed to be about Bush but the band continusly find themselves going back to rock band struggles. This is clever songwriting, Chas Palmer-Williams has long been one of the best lyricists in the game. This was such an amazing introduction to Lightyear for me and I've been hooked on them ever since.

2. A Pack Of Dogs from Call Of The Weasel Clan

Lightyear's ode to the 80s is probably their most beloved track. Opening with a voice track about how ska punk will never be accepted in the main stream culture, from there we have one of the catchiest, most fun, smile inducing songs I've ever heard. Starting with the ever amazing brass section, the song gets you dancing straight away before Chas's first two verses make reference to many of the greatest things to come out of the 80s - including The Fonz, Mr T, The Goonies and The Breakfast Club. Then we get to the chorus which switches up the melody and we get some huge gang vocals and the song makes big references to cult 80s game show Bullseye. This is the tradiotional closing track for Lightyear, with very good reason. It's a huge crowd favourite due to its massive sing-a-long moments and rediculously danceable melody. Listen to this song and don't smile. I dare you.

1. Three Basics from Call Of The Weasel Clan

It was a very close run thing but Three Basics is my absolute favourite Lightyear song. The fourth song on Call Of The Weasel Clan wastes no time at all in getting started with some fast paced vocals, helping the song to explode into life and the band shouting "It Will All Fall Down, This Music Doesn't Belong To You!" A great chance for the a live crowd to shout with the band. After the horns come in and help to continue the ferocious start, the tempo of the song changes for the real meat and gravy of the song. This is where we really get a sense of what the song is about. Three Basics looks at all the different prejudices that are forced on you as a youngster, whether it's racism, homophobia or anything else, and how despite all of the terrible things that happen because of prejudice they still have faith in the good in humanity. The song is only two minutes and twenty seconds long but you are taken on such a rollercoaster throughout the song's duration. So much goes on it feels like this is three brilliant songs rather than just one. So many lyrics stand out on this song. One being "And I Know We'll Get Away From This, Believe In A Stupid Song, Not A Social Analyst, But I Know We'll Get Away From This, Faith In Human Kind, Faith To Destroy Prejudice" and "We'll Fight, Forever If We Have To, We'll Stand, Longer Than You Do, We'll Win, Never Any Question, Of The Reason Why, Or Of Our Intention." Just an amazing, uplifting, powerful punk rock song.

My gosh I can't wait for October to see Lightyear once more! Five months is too long to wait!

This top ten was written by Colin Clark.

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