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2003 – Milkshake

March 23rd, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Music · No Comments · Music

Music has always been an important part of my life. Its a source of entertainment but also emotional support, distraction, inspiration and excitement. I had wondered whether, when I turned 40 towards the end of 2002, I would continue to get enthused about new music or just retreat into the old favourites and leave modern music to the younger generations.

To an extent I have done that: there are huge areas of mmodern music that I know nothing about and I don’t care that I know nothing about them. I don’t even care that there might be some good stuff I am missing out on. I know nothing about Busted, Girls Aloud, Atomic Kitten, or Blue for example.

But I need not have worried. There is just so much music and access to it that even with huge areas of ignorance there is still more music that I like than ever before. I didn’t so much turn way from new music as accept that there is too much to keep on top of and not care if I was missing out on parts of it. Its only music so no need to get worked up with FOMO!

With all that in mind, 2003 came along at just the right time and showed me that, even in my 40’s, I could still get excited about new artists. There were three particular records that proved this, all of them new artists and and I was still as excited as I would have been as a teenager: Boy In Da Corner by Dizzee Rascal, Ego War by Audio Bullys, and Problem Is by Dub Pistols. The last was a single and grabbed my attention by featuring Terry Hall singing ska again, so maybe this was a mixture of new and old.

Talking of old, there were some notable comebacks where artists returned after a long absence or re-hashed old material. Kraftwerk released a surprise album 17 years after their last one (Tour de France Soundtracks), Steely Dan continued their re-union with Everything Must Go, Metallica released St Anger, their first new album for six years, there was a triple CD of old Led Zeppelin live tracks (How The West Was Won) and Mike Oldfield re-did his greatest hit with Tubular Bells 2003. I have that as a surround sound disc. To be honest I find it disconcerting to listen to because it is all re-reorded and I know the original so well that even the slightest difference jars a bit, but as a 5.1 mix it is good for getting immersed in it.

Neither new nor old, but merely new to me was the White Stripes’ Elephant. I had seen them mentioned in the music press but not heard them until Seven Nation Army arrived like a sledgehammer. Now better known as the “Oh Jeremy Corbyn” song to some people, although I always think of it as Michael Van Gerwen’s walk-on music, it was and still is a proper rock anthem and a contender for my playlist.

Other albums I bought and mostly enjoyed were Missy Elliot’s This Is Not a Test, Bubba Sparxx’s Deliverance, Hail to the Thief by Radiohead and Think Tank from Blur. I also got the 50 Cent album, mostly because our son really liked him. I liked the big single, In the Club, but couldn’t really get on with the rest of the album and the whole “he’s been shot 18 times” backstory.

This was also a good year for greatest hits packages. Pet Shop Boys had their PopArt box set and Erasure had their Hits! collection. In both cases I only had the first few albums on cassette so this let me get the main hits on CD without having to re-purchase a load of albums. The PSB collection had one disc labelled Pop, one labelled Art, and a third one labelled Mix with some interesting remixes on it. The Erasure CD came with a second disc which had 18 of their songs all mixed into one track called the ‘Erasure Megamix’. All of this was right up my street as my fondness of a radical remix is second only to my affection for an interesting cover version – and Erasure spoiled us with them by also preceding the greatest hits CD with an abum of other peope’s songs called (imaginatively) Other People’s Songs.

Jayne and I went to see Erasure at the Hammersmith Odeon, as it may have still been called then and the cover versions went down very well. At the time the venue had a capacity of about 3,500 and while we were there we bumped into an old schoolfriend who was sitting about two rows behind us. I’m never very surprised if this sort of thing happens in somewhere like Sydney or Amsterdam as they can feel very small and compact cities, but always amazed if it happens in London.

The other concert we went to was Santana at the Wembley Arena, another one of those rare intersections in our musical tastes. I was especially pleased when he did Adouma and Angelique Kidjo came onstage to join him for it. It almost made up for him not including Soul Sacrifice in the setlist, although there were other opportunities for drum solos by all three drummers/percussionists.

There were also some singles to excite the inner teenager in the now-40’s body: Laura by Scissor Sisters, Gay Bar and Danger! High Voltage by Electric Six, Milkshake by Kelis and the Darkness’s gloriously over-the-top I Believe In a Thing Called Love. I still regret that I didn’t get to see them live during 2003 because, by all accounts, they put on a really good show.

Probably the biggest impact on my music-listening in the year was technological. I bought myself an mp3 player after about six months of dithering over which one to get. I had considered the Creative players after seeing one that a friend had that looked like a portable CD player, and I also thought about a Thomson one because at the time I could get a good staff discount on Thomson products, but I ended up with an iRiver player. It had a hard drive rather than solid state storage so had a massive capacity for the time. It could play mp3, wma, wav and even Ogg Vorbis files and it had a line in port so you could use it to record and encode music from analog sources without having to wire up your PC to your stereo. This was important or me because my stereo and PC were both big with lots of attached wires and were at opposite ends of the room!

I spent a lot of time digitising old records and tapes and it was brilliant commuting to work with my whole collection in my pocket. No more having to carry spare minidiscs and faff around changing them. I often left the machine on random play of the whole disc to make each journey to work a bit of a surprise.

Deciding which 2003 track to put on my playlist was hard because there were quite a few deserving tracks – the Darkness, Seven Nation Army and a couple of candidates from the Metallica, Kraftwerk and Radiohead albums, but I went with Milkshake by Kelis. That chorus still makes me smile – “I could teach you, but I’d have to charge” indeed.

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