In Classic Rock 200 we counted down the 200 greatest songs of the magazine's lifetime, 1998-2014. Today, it's the final part of our short series in which our writers tell stories about some of these these songs, and about the bands that made them.
Four Songs from 200, Part Six
Biffy Clyro, Black Stone Cherry, Manooghi Hi, Motorhead
Biffy Clyro — Black Chandelier
Storm Thorgerson used to find it mystifying. “Why doesn’t Classic Rock cover Biffy?” he’d scowl. I’d try and explain that we probably should but, y’know, Kerrang! does and maybe, really, they’re for a generation younger than our readers, and - c’mon, let’s face it - we’re a bit too late to the party and y’know- He’d lose patience before I got all the excuses out. “They play rock music,” he’d say. “And where are you from, Ayrshire? So are they! You should give Simon a call, you’d like him.” The last time I saw Storm he was barking at someone on the phone about the sleeve for Opposites: “Of course the cutlery has to be glass! That’s the WHOLE POINT! They’re opposites!” Black Chandelier probably isn’t the best Biffy song – I genuinely haven’t listened enough to know – but that’s my fault, not theirs.
Black Stone Cherry — Soul Creek
After AC/DC played the O2 in 2009, I was asked to DJ at the aftershow club at the Indigo and dragged Sian Llewellyn along with me. I thought I was going to be playing background music in a bar. Instead, the decks were in the middle of the stage and 500 or so hyped up DC fans were ready to party. Sian and I quickly hit the free booze and served up an appropriately amazing selection of rock, old and new. I can’t remember much from that night but I clearly remember the reaction to this little beauty – a full dance floor and half a dozen people mouthing “Who is this?” at the stage. (I played Be Back Soon from Oliver! as the last song while I marched around the stage like Fagin/a dick. Goes without saying I never was asked back.
Manooghi Hi — Om Baba
I have no idea where this came from. I mean, I know Manooghi Hi are a rock band from Seattle fronted by an Indian pop singer Mehnaz Hoosein – but how did we end up listening to it? Who introduced it to the office? I dunno. Geoff Barton has to be chief suspect – it has that Bartonesque balance of cunning pop-suss matched by sheer ludicrousness – but on the other hand Sian Llewellyn could always be counted on as the one blasting it through the office stereo on deadline day, puncturing the stress with it’s otherworldly eastern wail and gonzo ‘om-baba-ba-ba-ba-ba-om-babba-ba’ backing vocals. Hear it once and you’re singing it for days.
Motorhead — Life's A Bitch
I’m useless at taking drugs but when I started out in this game, I promised myself that if a rock star ever offered me any, I’d take them. As points of principle go, it was a really fucking stupid one, I admit. The logic was twisted and sheep-like: the kids I grew up with would’ve killed to be offered drugs by a rock star, I reasoned. Ergo, I’d be a total pussy for turning them down. There were professional reasons too – no good story ever started with someone eating a salad etc – but it was basically a dare I had with myself.
It didn’t happen often. In fact, I think I’ve been offered Class As twice: once by a member of Ocean Colour Scene and once by Lemmy.
Lemmy was the first person I interviewed when I started on CR. We were supposed to go on a pub crawl but he was sick (had something seriously weird going on with his toe) and couldn’t leave his hotel room. We sat down to do the interview and he poured me a large JD and coke (9 parts Jack to 1 part Coke), then he stuck a knife into a bag and offered me some white powder off the tip of the blade. “Want some?” he said. “Nah, I’m alright with this,” I said, pointing at the JD. He got stuck in.
The interview was great. He was hilarious. We drank JD all afternoon, him occasionally dipping into his bag. Ginger Wildheart turned up in the middle of it to video something for the Wildhearts Fanclub and Lemmy was gracious. After the interview he said we should stay and meet his son, who was coming any minute, played us some solo stuff he’d done with the Reverend Horton Heat, and raved about Steve Marriott and Gary Moore.
The press officer was there the whole time. “In all the time I’ve worked with him I’ve never seen him open up like that with anyone,” he told me later. I was chuffed. A few years later I bumped into Ginger and introduced myself. “We met once before,” I told him, “I was interviewing Lemmy in his hotel room…”
“Ah, yeah,” said Ginger, “that was the weekend he couldn’t get any speed and was on coke and in a brilliant mood…”
And I’d thought it was my amazing interview technique…
Life’s A Bitch? It sounds like ZZ Top if they were wired on Jack Daniels and snorting cocaine off a knife.
You can view the entire 200 tracks in issue 200 of Classic Rock, which can be ordered online from MyFavouriteMagazines.
Alternatively, you can download the Classic Rock magazine app from iTunes.