120 Seconds..

A while ago I had an idea that I would do a compilation where none of the songs would be longer than two minutes, and that it would be a cross section of all styles if possible, and that it would be representative of my CD collection, so that all the tracks featured would be one that I would own.

Although this project started off as a thought in my head, it was finished on Wednesday 19 September 2007, and so I present to you not just the full track listing but also with notes about every track, because I can. It's going to be a right ride and there's forty five tracks (nice number, 45!) in just under seventy nine minutes of music, meaning that I also get under the eighty minute CD limit as well at the same time. You never know, you might find a track that you think "wow, I remember that one!" and get digging through your collection.

Feel free to suggest other great two minutes or less tunes in the meantime: indeed one suggestion almost made it had I not picked a track already by the same bands and artists. So here goes..

1. The Smiths – Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want (1:52)
In many ways, a perfect start. A song that for me has so many meanings and yet it’s still one of the finest Smiths songs out there. Whether it be the really lush acoustics, Morrissey’s angelic voice here or in fact the orchestration at the end which really brings tingles down the spine, I’m not sure. But it just works like it should and ends “Hatful Of Hollow” in the right way.

2. The Magnetic Fields – Asleep and Dreaming (1:53)
From the epic triple CD “69 Love Songs” this gem finds Stephen Merritt in lovely form, whether it be the fact that the accordion sets things off in a soft way or the vocals which really pierce the soft silence, there’s just something so right about the way that this little love song just has a lot to give.

3. Roy Harper – Feeling All The Saturday (1:56)
From Roy’s classic “Flat Barouque and Berserk” album this is one of the jolliest little songs that he ever wrote, and quite in contrast with the track before “I Hate The White Man”. In many ways it’s nonsensical but that actually just adds to its appeal and makes it just full of good natured humour, and that has to be a plus. And sometimes the simple ideas make for great songs – here’s one of them.

4. Kristin Hersh – Cartoons (1:20)
The closing track off Kristin’s “Strange Angels” album, it just seems beautifully short and to the point, and showcases her acoustics and vocals in a perfectly small and formed little package. It sounds beautifully sparse but yet full of feeling all at the same time, which is how all the best acoustic songs should work isn’t it? And I don't know what the giggling is at the end, but I left it in to show a sense of fun and feeling.

5. MJ Hibbett and the Validators – Say It With Words (1:55)
The title track of the album, and one that really defines Hibbett’s excellent song writing. It doesn’t actually need to say that much because the words do all the talking but it really does explain that how often we need to say things with words, and how it’s much better to actually note what you’re feeling by doing it that way. I’m sure as well that it would be a perfect little love song for when I next fall in love, note!

6. REM – Dark Globe (1:52)
On the B-side of the “Everybody Hurts” CD single is REM doing Syd Barrett. If I had the original Barrett track I’d have probably gone for that, but this way REM get to be here, no bad thing. Stipe’s vocals sound really emotional, and the pianos are just beautifully lush. It doesn’t need to be long to make the point but the sparsity makes it work just like it should.

7. Barenaked Ladies – Tiny Little Song (1:02)
A very tiny little song indeed, from their second album “Maybe You Should Drive” and actually sung by Jim Creegan’s brother, who used to be in BNL before they recruited Kevin Hearn. Fact. The pianos just sound rather dramatically sparse and the words are just a little on the nonsensical side, but it actually works well because of that. Sort of mock mini opera all in one.

8. The Wonder Stuff – Rue The Day (1:57)
Ah, the days of The Wonder Stuff, and “The Eight Legged Groove Machine” album which was a classic as I was growing up. Sometimes the Stuffies were best when doing really simple songs such as the acoustic number with drums in the background punctuating the track just the right side of rightness, and building up to a dramatic finish, rueing the day, I’m sure.

9. Violent Femmes – Lack of Knowledge (1:54)
From the album “Why Do Birds Sing?” it was the under-rated Femmes album so I felt something had to be here to redress the balance a fair bit. It reminds me of being at a girlfriend’s place at the time and she had this album on tape, and the tape would get played as nice music in the background to relax to. It’s also just showing a more emotional side of the Femmes too, and I quite like that.

10. They Might Be Giants – Particle Man (1:59)
We’ve entered the little silly geeky part of the album now, and this track from “Flood” demonstrates everything good about TMBG. Triangle Man hates Particle Man. They have a fight. Triangle wins. Triangle Man. Absolute lyrical and mad genius and I’m sure with the accordion at the end of each verse and chorus it just seems to add that level of daftness that we all need sometimes.

11. Moxy Fruvous – Spiderman (1:48)
Another cover? Well not just any one. Moxy Fruvous were so under-rated especially as Barenaked Ladies were around at the same time but the Moxys never made it massive. But this version of the TV theme tune from “Bargainville” is great fun, lovely acapella vocals and plenty of mad suggestions for daft Spiderman episodes at the end which just makes you giggle.

12. Johnny Cash – Country Trash (1:47)
From the silly to the serious, and a perfect example of what the “American Recordings” series was all about. This was a Cash original but the acoustic guitar together with Cash’s excellent vocal was so stripped down and to the point that it made you sit up and take notice of what he was doing, and if that got him a whole generation of fans then that’s a sign of a true legend, right there.

13. Morphine – Potion (2:00)
From their “Like Swimming” album this is an example of what the band were about. It was dramatic. It was emotional. It was also a wish for love by wanting a potion and making it a double, but lovely use of the saxophone here and the slightly downtrodden feel just made me want to slip it in right here to give you that feeling of moroseness after the country side.

14. Teenage Fanclub – What You Do To Me (2:00)
So after this, an uplifter. The days of hearing this in the background during “Eldorado” on BBC1, and the fact I bought the US import of the single for the cover of “Like A Virgin” (true!!) – said it all. It was a great tune that I used to go mental at in indie nights, and had the simplest of vocals but no one cared. There’s something about this song that’s got me down on my knees you know, that’s what it does to me!

15. Frank Black – Whatever Happened To Pong? (1:34)
It was hard picking one Frank Black track but in the end the opener of “Teenager of the Year” and the fact it was about playing an old classic arcade game kind of won it for the old school gaming geek in me. The intro has no clues to the madness that follows and it’s an absolutely manic pace, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the fun – even with samples of the Pong machine thrown in. Ball in the machine!

16. Therapy? – Knives (1:56)
The opening track of their “Troublegum” album just set it up nicely for the bloody excellent “Screamager” on track 2, but this also reminded me of classic Metallica as well which had some really loud guitars and drums which pierced the movement perfectly, and really got me in the mood to mosh, and if a track does that, then it wins. The whispered vocal parts make it a bit more sinister too.

17. Nine Inch Nails – A Big Man With A Gun (1:36)
So from that to proper Industrial, and although the track’s on the album “The Downward Spiral” it was from the “March of the Pigs” single too, and it’s just really fast paced and doesn’t let go. Is the big gun a resemblance to a penis? I’ll let you decide if that’s the case but it sure does sound like it in this dark and Industrial world that Trent Reznor pretty much ruled during the mid 1990s.

18. PJ Harvey – My Beautiful Leah (1:59)
Having seen PJ Harvey live earlier this year, this absolute gem sounded fantastic live and it sounds just as good on record. It’s also quite dark as well which made me really appreciate her almost muffled and dark vocals almost sounding Industrial like, from her “Is This Desire” album. It really does sound evil and sinister when she sings it and that for me really is intriguing, especially as she’s so out there in a good way.

19. Moby – Heavy Flow (1:53)
Moby’s “Animal Rights” album is for me still his best work. He ditched the dance stuff and went instead to some really dark and angry guitar music really laying his emotions on the line, and this demonstrated just why that was such a brave move. His almost screamed Pixies-like vocals really just added to the uncomfortable loudness and pounding guitars which made you realise how much he was letting go.

20. Shelter – Rejuvenate (1:54)
Shelter were a different punk/hardcore band, cos they were all into Hare Krishna, hence the term Krishna-core. They wrote some great tuneful songs though and this example from their “Beyond Planet Earth” album showed you just what they were about. It runs along at a furious pace but is never unintelligible and really gives you so much passion and power at the same time. If Krishna gives them this much focus, well..

21. Hooker – You And I (1:49)
From Hooker’s first six track untitled mini album, a band I still hold in high regard even now, this was just the sort of thing I loved them for. Really dirty guitars and a pounding drum, and Zoe’s excellent vocals which really put her at the front of girl rock around the Manchester area. It’s great songwriting, neat guitar break in the middle, and just sounds so raw and immediate, just how I like it.

22. Ramones – Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue (1:37)
Couldn’t not have a Ramones track, especially as their “Hey Ho Let’s Go” compilation has so many gems, but some over 2 minutes (or else “Blitzkrieg Bop” would be here). This song sums up the bored feeling of growing up with nothing to do and all that the punk kids would want to do is sniff glue instead cos it was a high for them to do that. Simple and to the point, just like the band were. Stuff of classic.

23. Ned’s Atomic Dustbin – She’s Gone (1:46)
The days of when my friend had a “F***ing f***” Neds t-shirt, and when I had their “Bite” mini album. My brother used to say that this song was clichéd to the extreme, and probably holds the record for the most uses of that word in under two minutes, but that didn’t detract from a chugalong song that was just so typical of the Neds’ fantastic early output that put them well and truly on the map.

24. Rollins Band – Stop Look And Listen (1:48)
People forget that with Henry Rollins doing spoken word and TV shows that he was not only in the legendary Black Flag but also his own band too. This pounding hard gem from their “Nice” album showed that when it came to writing bloody good rock tracks, Rollins could still cut it and above most of the rest too. It is just absolutely great fun to rock to and isn’t that what great rock music is about?

25. Buzzcocks – Love You More (1:51)
And as one of Rollins’ favourite bands were the Buzzcocks, perfect to put them here. An early single but still very much a classic of its time as it really had the band perfect their pop punk sensibilities with Pete Shelley’s vocals on top form and it’s just so easy to sing along to yet get the words wrong! If you can name a better value for money compilation than “Singles Going Steady” you’d be very hard pushed for sure.

26. Tenacious D – Explosivo (1:55)
Ah, the D. Jack Black’s band project with Kyle Gass. And yet he doesn’t get enough credit for not only being able to play guitar but actually sing pretty decent too. This used to be a song in their TV series for HBO but when it went on record it rocked much harder and they even got their good mate Dave Grohl to do the drums for them too – and if that isn’t being serious about rocking, then what is?

27. Suicidal Tendencies – Two Sided Politics (1:02)
So many ST songs I could have picked, but this observation at how the politics of the world and America really didn’t care for the average person was just beyond its time. Even its re-recording here for the “Still Cyco After All These Years” album proves that it didn’t lose its energy and raw passion as it runs at around 200 miles an hour and delivers the vocals even faster. Just how good are ST?

28. Juliana Hatfield – Ruthless (1:59)
I needed a break after that fast pace, and so this gem of a B-side from her “My Sister” single was just the thing. It also demonstrated that Juliana, even with a band, was still able to really craft together an intelligent rocking little song without losing her sound at the same time. The guitar bits in the middle sound even dirtier and just give you that raw feeling as it progresses, and that’s what we like.

29. The Darling Buds – Shame on You (1:59)
I so used to fancy Andrea Lewis from this band and so this just had to appear here to remind me of my teenage years. It was just great fun was the whole “Pop Said” album and this perfect example of C86 era indie pop just showed you how much fun you could have in two minutes. A great little chorus with “get you get you get you get you get you back” punctuating things somewhat perfectly. And good guitars too!

30. Pixies – Tame (1:55)
I could have picked lots and lots of Pixies tracks and reducing it to one was hard. But as this tune was used in an advert a couple of years back and it most reminds me of their wonderful G-Mex gig I went to back in 1991, then it simply had to be this. I can still remember me screaming “Cookie, I think you’re TAAAAAAAME!” even down at an indie night. From the classic album “Doolittle”.

31. Done Lying Down – If I Only Had Listened (1:47)
Done Lying Down’s “John Austin Rutledge” is in my view a very under-rated album. The band really played well live and their songs were short, sharp and to the point. And this just proves it, the quiet bit showing that how children were supposed to be angels, and the loud bit saying that they were demons inside instead. It just works so well in the Pixies mould that it had to follow after a Pixies track.

32. Elastica – Smile (1:40)
Ah, the days of when Steve Lamacq decided to start off his own record label and sign these Londoners, and who could forget that Justine Frischmann was supposed to be dating Damon Albarn at one point? It’s just a shame that their album was over-hyped so much because with gems like this album track it proved that they had a great songwriting craft with rocking guitars to boot, really nice throw back this was.

33. Ash – Get Out (1:43)
From their mini album “Trailer” this was Ash at their raw, almost punk-ish best, and when I saw them live in 1995, it was stuff like this that really got me into them. Straight forward, to the point, and much before all that orchestra bollocks during “Oh Yeah” which I kind of didn’t forgive them for. This was Ash at 100 miles an hour and showing just how much bollocks they had in their trousers, and for that, salute them!

34. The Breeders – I Just Wanna Get Along (1:44)
I have the t-shirt of this song, the highlight of their “Last Splash” album, and it reminded me of when I saw them live many years ago, everyone got up and moshed like mad for this one. It was beautifully tuneful, dirty and rocking all at the same time and was possibly the best non-Pixies track Kim Deal ever had a hand in, just crashingly good fun. I just wanna get along – bitch. Oh yes.

35. Weird Al Yankovic – Twister (1:03)
Weird Al does the Beastie Boys? Surely not? Surely yes!! In an inspired move, it’s an advert for the old classic game Twister, and done with so much affection and mentioning of all the great moves that people would do when playing the game. Left hand red, oops, I’ve fallen off! Yes, that was it. And if it was purely fun and daft for a commercial, then why shouldn’t it be here?

36. Fun Lovin’ Criminals – Coney Island Girl (1:28)
The closing track from their “Come Find Yourself” album and one where they started off mellow and gradually built up the manic feel later on. It works really well and every time I’ve seen the band live this has featured somehow, either as a memory or of them doing so and just really blitzing it with affectionately good fun. I really wanted Huey to do this song with that dog he had to look after on the telly a while ago!

37. Manic Street Preachers - Damn Dog (1:52)
Early Manics? Check. I think that their earlier stuff still holds its own and this from “Generation Terrorists” just proves how good an album that was for its time. It really sums up what they were about at the time and has that slight punk feel thrown in which certainly came to the fore on the likes of “You Love Us”. The anger before the pretence? Give me the anger every single time.

38. Green Day – Emenius Sleepus (1:43)
I think most people in the mid 1990s will have had a copy of “Dookie” at some point. Of course I used to go mental to “Basket Case” (who didn’t?) but the album proved that it wasn’t just one hit wonder stuff, but plenty of excellent little songs which showed just how they’d progressed since their early stuff on the Lookout label. This for me was the pinnacle of the whole album and that’s saying something.

39. Ice T – Police Story (1:33)
Ice T together with three quarters of the then Rollins Band covers the Black Flag classic. And arguably the T’s vocals are better than Rollins in the original. It sounds much more angst ridden when someone from “da hood” tells it like it is and the anger in the way he yells out “run by pigs” really demonstrates that the anger is still there amongst the American people. From the “Rise Above” compilation of Black Flag songs.

40. The Undertones – Here Comes The Summer (1:44)
If you’ve seen the Irn Bru advert with the Goths, then this is the song for you, my friend. The original classic punk pop song, all about the British summer holiday in a small and perfectly formed nugget. Hard to believe that Fergal Sharkey was so good vocally back in the day, but you’ve got to love the really rocking little middle bit that breaks the song in half. Now, where’s that made from girders drink?

41. Bennet – Hello We Are Bennet (1:12)
As an intro to the band that to this day I felt were one of the most under-rated indie bands, it’s good perfect fun. They would sometimes open their live sets with this gem, as then you’d get to know who the band were. And the only vocals were the title of the song in English and French. “Bonjour, nous sans Bennet” indeed. It’s from the “Mum’s Gone To Iceland” CD single. And what a great song that was, too!

42. The Jesus And Mary Chain – Drop (1:57)
The wind-down starts here. When the JAMC went acoustic near the end of their “Automatic” album everyone must have been thinking “what the..?” But in fact, this is one of my favourite songs of theirs. Much like “Just Like Honey” when they get mellow they can write a darned good song. And it reminds me of buying this in Power Cuts sale and playing this track about 15 times over, that’s how much I liked it.

43. Liz Phair – Fantasize (1:55)
Another under-rated woman here, and this track near the end of her “Whitechocolatespaceegg” album had a nice little suite of guest players, namely three quarters of the classic REM line up (everyone minus Michael Stipe) which meant lovely percussion and guitars with Liz’s wonderfully soft vocals over the top proclaiming that you’ve got to hide your love away, and sounding so sad yet beautiful all at the same time, which was just perfection in a nutshell.

44. Kaiser Chiefs – Boxing Champ (1:31)
The most recent song, from their “Yours Truly Angry Mob” album, a break near the end with just a piano and vocal, but one that also reminds me of being on the Isles of Scilly and walking round St Mary’s island with this on in the background. A song that could have been written about Ricky Hatton, especially if he does destroy Floyd Merryweather in Decmber this year.

45. Morrissey – There’s A Place In Hell For Me And My Friends (1:52)
The closing track of his “Kill Uncle” album and a favourite amongst many fans including me, this really saw him on bleak and melancholy form but there’s a lot of comfort to be had within, it just sounds the right side of morose with the piano, the vocals and then the lush arrangement coming in. Sometimes less is more and this proved to be the case here. Wish he’d do more like this!