Last week U2 announced that they’d tour their album 1987 The Joshua Tree for its 30th anniversary later this year. The band aren’t the first to pull the trick of performing a classic album from front to back and they certainly won’t be the last. We look at some of the albums that would have us salivating if we saw them performed in full.
Arcade Fire – Funeral
With their fifth album supposedly incoming in spring 2017, I’d want to roll back the years and watch Arcade Fires 2004 debut album Funeral in full. While anthems ‘Wake Up’ and ‘Rebellion (Lies)’ are still absolute musts in an Arcade Fire setlist it would be the album rarities that would have me front and centre. The chance to hear ‘Crown of Love’ and all four neighbourhood tracks in a single set would warrant any ticket price but the real value would be in the delicate final track ‘In the Backseat’. The closing song combines thought provoking lyrics with the unmistakeable sound of Regine Chassagne before drifting into a beautiful string outro. Whatever direction Arcade Fire choose for their fifth album, the debut will always be hard to top.
The Streets – A Grand Don’t Come For Free
Mike Skinner and Co’s second offering A Grand Don’t Come For Free is the urban epitome of a concept album. On the surface lies a straight-forward narrative: a guy finds a girl he loves, messes up and loses her to his mate. Pretty simple. That however, is not the intrinsic brilliance of A Grand… but rather it’s the subtleties. It is British urban life laid bare across 50 minutes: the ecstasy and heartbreak, the camaraderie and deception and not to mention the hardships of returning a rental DVD. With a typical suburban background Skinner delivers no pretence, yet succeeds in sufficiently detailing the story, suggesting a hint of autobiography. Their ‘Urban-Opera’ sound has blurred the lines of poetry and music, paving the way for artists like George-the-poet and Kate Tempest. Following its release The Streets released four albums that were nowhere near as successful (and which no-one remembers, it’s not just you) before calling it a day in 2011. It would be a real gift to hear the story in full. Alas Skinner has made no suggestion of performing as part of The Streets project ever again.
Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
Before becoming the smooth-talking, hair-flicking lotharios swaggering about LA, Arctic Monkeys were just four scruffy lads from Sheffield, pissing off cabbies and getting into pavement side scuffles. You’re never gonna get that back but you could relive your youth if they chose to tow out this 13-track onslaught. As delightfully manic as staple hits ‘When The Sun Goes Down’ and ‘I Bet That You Look Good on the Dancefloor’ would be, there’s some under-rated gems in the pack too – ‘Still Take You Home’, ‘Dancing Shoes’ and ‘Perhaps Vampires Is A Bit Strong But…’ – divided by the breather of ‘Riot Van’. It’s a set you wouldn’t be leaving before the lights came on.
Red Hot Chili Peppers – By The Way
Red Hot Chili Peppers have become renowned for their funk-infused signature style of music. While songs such as Under the Bridge, Give it Away and Californication are, undoubtedly instantly recognisable crowd-pleasers, most songs from these albums have been played live during the bands 34-year career. It is perhaps By The Way therefore, that remains their most virtuoso, and secluded work to date. Songs such as Minor Thing, Tear and Venice Queen have been played just a handful of times since the EP’s release in 2002, while track 4, Dosed, perhaps the most wistful song in the bands extraordinary back-catalogue, has still not made its live debut 15 years after release. Josh Klinghoffer has proved he was probably the only natural successor to fill the Peppers’ vacant guitar spot in 2009, but to see the brilliance of John Frusciante performing By The Way from start to finish with his old band, any RHCP fan will tell you, would be simply unmissable.
Gorillaz – Demon Days
Gorillaz Demon Days stretched from front to back would make for a truly unforgettable gig. It’s an album that masterfully combines synth-y electronics with alternative rock beats and form. Every song on the album is atmospheric and the warped vocals fit. The beauty of this album is that it has it all; you can sway to Don’t Get Lost in Heaven or Fire Coming Out of a Monkey’s Head, head bop to Kids with Guns, go crazy to White Light, the list goes on. The guest appearances from MF DOOM, Roots Manuva and De La Soul on different tracks combine good rapping with hypnotic beats. It’s not hip-hop and it’s not straight electronic, but it works smoothly.
Blink-182 – Blink-182
In many ways, Blink 182’s 2003 Self-Titled album is an anomaly amongst the rest of their back-catalogue. Melancholic, varied and capturing a wide range of influences from post-hardcore to gothic rock to hip-hop, it’s a creative high to which the band has never returned. Fifteen years on and with two less than impressive follow-up records under their belt, it feels like the perfect time for Blink to celebrate the birthday of their last great musical effort. It would also be an ideal opportunity for Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker to reunite with estranged ex-bandmate Tom Delonge, who opened the door for Blink 182’s expansion into darker territories with Box Car Racer in 2001. For Blink 182, revisiting the complex and expansive sounds of Blink-182 could be the impetus needed to finally write another great record.
The Smiths – The Smiths
Undoubtedly one of the greatest indie rock bands of all time and a great influencer of many modern artists. The combination of Morrissey’s lyrical tongue in cheek witticisms [“I would go out tonight, but I haven’t got a stitch to wear. This man said, it’s gruesome that someone so handsome should care”], and Marr’s unique ability to write a terrifically catchy riff meant The Smiths rise to the top of the British music scene was abrupt. The album that often tops all ‘Best of The Smiths’ related lists is album three The Queen Is Dead, however their imperfect self-titled debut is perhaps their most exciting. ‘This Charming Man’ is as alluring as the man the song is referring to suggests, while the pop jangle of tracks such as ‘What Difference Does It Make’, ‘Hand In Glove’ and ‘You’ve Got Everything Now’ defined 80s Pop culture. Although the following albums may be more critically acclaimed, the thought of seeing The Smiths, in full, in a packed out Manchester basement is more than an enticing one.