Every week, Mr. Peacock and I have decided to talk about a great past album that we think we should talk about. This is entry one.
I remember back in the good ole days (year 2002) when certain artists seemed like the world was theirs and they could do anything. The Strokes seemed infallible and The Libertines seemed like they could take us to great lands and rule them with wisdom and grace. Yet, things don't always come out to play as you'd like them to. The Strokes failed, and that's is all you can say. The Libertines lost their nerve and made us cry. There was another artist who I thought could change music, as we know it, forever. When I first heard of his name, he was a mysterious lad making music in South London (raised in Birmingham). This man was Mike Skinner aka The Streets.
I remember the first time I heard The Streets. I honestly hadn't heard anything like it before. It was so fresh and exciting. It was extremely clever and inventive. Being from the USA, I had never heard of this thing called "garage," so the beats were very unique to me. I remember on the first song, "Turn The Page," how well it set the mood for the album with the strings looping at the beginning and the beats coming in. In the song Skinner says, "I'm 45th generation Roman." I don't know about you, but that line had always just seemed too kick ass. I don't know why. It just does. When I look back on it, if you take away the vocals on "Let's Push Things Forward," you have a dubstep song. Crazy eh? Ahead of its time? Maybe. The interplay between Calvin and Skinner on "The Irony of it All" has always been something that has stuck with me. It is funny, clever, and well.... ironic. One song that just penetrates me, and will continue to, is "Stay Positive." Holy Shit, first off, the beat is k-k-killer. I really do love that one. Also, the subject matter and how it is delivered is just ace. As music has shown us, disillusionment with drugs makes great music. From The Stranglers, Spiritualized, Blur, and to The La's, they all have created great songs about a character that is "mugging" themself about their drug. Mike Skinner does the same.
Sadly, Skinner has fallen to his own lyrics. Golden Rule: Cocaine makes artists make shitty music: Doherty, Oasis, Happy Mondays, Stone Roses, and the list goes on. Skinner was a shadowy figure when I first encountered his music. Then he has turn into this celebrity figure like Doherty. His second album was a fine one, but it doesn't have that mythology that lies in the first one. There are so many great stories and ideas on Orginal Pirate Material. The beats were full of texture as well. Skinner has lost it. He is too big. Skinner needs to get back to "street level." In the end, The Streets first album will always be an album that is so dear to my heart. It is as interesting and orginal today as it was a few years ago. When I listen to it, it still "pushes things forward."