Run For Glory – I: On Your Marks

Hello everyone, and welcome to my new feature ‘Run For Glory’, which is in conjuction with my campaign to raise funds for and awareness of the Motor Neurone Disease Association via my participation in this year’s Great North Run. Over the next few weeks this epically named feature will provide a series of thematically linked songs that will provide you with an insight into not just what I’m running to, but what’s really driving me or pumping me up as I run across the various roads, trails and towpaths of West Yorkshire, England.

This first installment focuses on the only place this could start: the beginning. As in, the songs that prompt you to get up and get out. In the coming weeks, we’ll be publishing lists based on other varying themes, progressing from the start right to the triumphant finish. Let’s get cracking. And leave your appropriate suggestions in the comments box while you’re at it!

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Judas Priest – Battle Hymn/One Shot At Glory
[from ‘Painkiller’, Columbia, 1990]

Judas Priest may have more in common with motorbikes than running, and thematically this song has sod all to do with running the open pathways, but there’s an undeniably epic feel about warming up and heading off to this track. The ‘Battle Hymn’ intro is dispensable, but it serves ably as a warm-up track to mentally prepare you for the miles ahead.

Key lyric: ‘Let me hear the battle cry/Calling in the wind’. It’s the opening salvo and its hard to pick out another lyric to motivate as much as that one, but Halford delivers it with such authority you can’t help but be fired up.

 

wpid-From-Out-Of-Nowhere.jpgFaith No More – From Out of Nowhere
[from ‘The Real Thing’, Slash, 1989]

This selection owes as much to its musicality as it does any wordplay, but the opening riff sets up the beginning of a run perfectly. Of course, it’s a song about a fleeting obsession with a person of extreme beauty before said beautiful person heads off into the never. But portions of its lyrics can be interchanged with that which drives us as runners – but mainly, it’s the riff and the pace of the song that makes this such an excellent track to set off to.

Key lyric: ‘Sifting to the bottom/every day for two/all energy funnels/and all becomes you’. And ‘One minute here, and one minute there/and then you wave goodbye’ – the set up for the driving riff.

wpid-bronx.jpgThe Bronx – Along For The Ride
[from ‘The Bronx (IV), White Drugs/ATO, 2013]

‘Along For the Ride’ possesses a great melodic riff, an anthemic chorus and all round perfect structure to get up and run to. Lyrically it’s perfect as well, with several lines in the song relatable to our eagerness to get up and get out of the door, though the song is seemingly a resignation of trying to be perfect. It sums up exactly what life as a amateur runner should be all about – don’t try too hard to be the best. Just enjoy it.

Key lyrics: The chorus: ‘We’re all flawed by design/we used to be alive but now we’re just along for the ride/there was a time when the world was under our control/but that time has died, so now we’re just along for the ride

 

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Rollins Band – Do It (Live)
[from ‘Insert Band Here’, 2.13.61, 1990]

This one is pretty self-explanatory. The Rollins Band took on this Pink Fairies classic with gusto and morphed it from a psychedelic blues rock number into a…with Rollins as drill sergeant as he barks out the lyrics. As a staple of their live set in their earlier days, the intensity went up another notch, from Rollins’ vocals to the rest of the band. You’d be mad not to follow his commands as he yells ‘Get up off your ass/DO IT!’ 

Key lyric: “I don’t think about it/DO IT!” And pretty much the rest of the song too.

 

 

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Beastie Boys – Alive
[from Beastie Boys Anthology: The Sounds of Science, Capitol, 1999]

OK, so its not exactly a rock track, but good hip hop deserves a much a place in my playlist as any rock or metal soundtrack, and while ‘Alive’ lyrically has no place in a running context, its opening line, as stated below, is emphatic in terms of a primer for when you exit the door or prepare yourself for the mileage ahead.

Key lyric: Its opening statement: I have never been more ready in my entire life to do this right now, never/all building up to this moment…’ That ought to pump you in action.

Peter Clegg

I’m running the 2013 Bupa Great North Run to raise money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association. Please click the link at the top corner to view my sponsor page or click here instead. Thank you.

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Live Review: Immortal Technique @ Manchester Academy 2

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At the O2 Academy on the 28th of October I finally find myself in attendance of Immortal Technique, the hip hop artist, humanitarian and political activist. Born in a Peruvian military hospital and raised in Harlem, New York, he spent a year incarcerated as a young adult which affected his lifestyle and musical direction. He has most recently built an orphanage in Afghanistan from the proceeds of his album ‘The Third World‘.

We head to the bar and wait as the two Union bar staff try and cater to about five hundred thirsty attendees which means there’s plenty of time to absorb some differences in the environment. The crowd present isn’t the usual sea of black t shirts, long hair and misery that I usually find myself a part of when waiting around for metal bands. There’s wide diversity, though true to the vision in my head many of the crowd are wearing baseball caps, baggy gaudy t-shirts and those shiny denim pants. Grating, thick Manchester accents cut through the air as well as over generously applied after shave, the perpetrator of which brushes at the lingering white powder on an inner nostril . While a few things like this stand out to someone like me, apprehensions are quickly forgotten as we enter the venue.

Having heard the support prior at some point I wasn’t really interested but caught 20 minutes of Poison Pen anyway. About 5 minutes into which, I started wishing we’d somehow delayed ourselves further. The songs were mainly unintelligible but the parts I could make out made my guts try to eat themselves. I don’t mind some of the collaborations done with Immortal Technique and I have to presume these guys must have some qualities off stage. The lack of flow, pointless bravado and chanting “I’ll break your face” repeatedly only made me contemptuous of them and anyone nodding along in some Grand Theft Auto inspired fantasy world. 

Immortal Technique introduces himself to the crowd, building atmosphere and saying that he wanted energy despite us being “really high or drunk out our minds”. ‘The Martyr’, title track of the new album opens and Technique’s passion is projected to the crowd in his distinct gravelly but coherent tone with ease. The track has likely been inspired by his recent trip to Afghanistan, the lyrics speak of the histories and contributing factors behind what might be mistaken as recently problematic scenarios. 

Technique is naturally at ease with the crowd; there’s a lack of pretence that’s inclusive and brings about a general comradery and positive atmosphere. The use of humour is consistent, intertwined with serious elements keeping things laid back. “Raise your shitty phone in the air for this one, don’t be ashamed of your cheap ass fuckin’ phone”, is the introduction for ‘Toast to the Dead’, a tribute to a dead friend. The Spanish ‘Golpe De Estado’ has a backing track that would move a corpse, the Spanish lyrics fitting with a powerful rhythm. The issue that it’s unlikely anyone knows what’s being said in this one is raised by Technique who goes on to talk about the indifference of race, religion and nationality, saying that most of us spoke English he didn’t understand anyway. 

Immortal Technique’s strong political views play a main part in the music he writes, even more evidently so that what is said live. While you might not agree with everything said, it wouldn’t be nearly as appealing without his razor sharp and often dark use of humour . “When I was approached by a major label (undisclosed) this idiot said to me”, “you’re a very intelligent and talented young man but some of what you say goes too far. “If you take this song of the album, we will put it out”. Technique goes on to say that he offered to take it off providing he could fuck the man’s wife. The song in question was ‘The 4th Branch’ which deals with the lack of independent and objective media.

The greatest feeling comes with songs from the second album ‘Revolutionary Volume 2‘, with Technique using the crowd for backings and chants, “I don’t care if you’ve been at the fuckin’ pub all day watching the game (Chelsea-United), stop standing there like your on fuckin’ heroin and get live”, “I need to hear the England that stole 2/3rd’s of the world from its rightful owners”.

Technique builds a heavy momentum as the show goes on through well known tracks, speaking of his appreciation of support and challenging the crowd on their familiarity with the first album. The emotional wrench that’s ‘Dance with the Devil’, in which a gang rape one of their peers mothers only to find out after, is sheer poetic brilliance. “People ask me all the time whether that actually happened.” “I reply it happens every day in every city”.

Things lighten up to round off and the night closes with the catchy and aptly named ‘Obnoxious’, before some realistic advice for any wannabe Che Guevara.“Before you go home and look in the mirror and think your some sort of rebel commando for coming to the show, you make the changes you want to see in life first, not when you’re at the pub drunk or high at some party”. He calls for the liberation of Palestine, the sending home of British troops from Afghanistan and the persecution of Tony Blair before leaving.

Michael Collins

Some random thoughts on Hacktivist’s ‘Unlike Us’

0:09 – I don’t like d***t, but so far so good. That’s not a bad riff. Why would you want your face blurring out?

0:35 – Oh crap. What is that? Meshuggah meets Hollywood Undead? Who knows

1:10 – So the hook is ‘Set the beginning of change‘. Graffiti should make that evidently clear. Yeeeeaah boyeeeezzz!

1:30 – ‘People start fights because of us‘. Real imaginative.

2:12 – This is just getting silly. What would Brian Posehn think?

2:30 – Is this part still going?

2:49 – Here we go – weak polyrhythm breakdown!

Fair enough, my analysis of Hacktivist’s video for ‘Unlike Us’ might be a lame attempt at derisional comedy to some (I’d be the first to admit that), and perhaps a tad bit harsh. But there’s original and then there’s ridiculous. And if by ‘set the beginning of change‘ they mean inspire a generation of kids to fuse dubstep, rap and metal together like its 1999 again, and claim its unique, I do wonder for metal’s future. I’m no troll and if people like this stuff (judging by the numerous positive comments on YouTube, there’s a fair (too) few who do), more power them. Yet, I continue to despair.

Every few months it seems some horrid cross-genre of music emerges. Yes, rock and metal’s golden era was long left behind in the mid-90’s.  We should already admit that. I now truly fear it will never re-emerge if tripe like this is pushed to the fore.

Maybe there’s still hope the Large Hadron Collider might actually create a black hole and cause the Earth to collapse in on itself. A fate more desirable than years of this.

Peter Clegg