Classic Albums 1 – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (Arctic Monkeys)

It’s now 2014 and time for a new series of posts. I have been thinking about my favourite albums and came to the conclusion that I could do a series of 10 Classic Albums.

First question is  – what constitutes a Classic Album? Always difficult, so I’ll settle for – whatever I say it is! This is, after all my, blog! There will not be many recent albums included, not because I don’t like contemporary music – I really do – but because I’m not going to call something a classic album until I am still listening to it at least 5 or 10 years down the track.

So the first one off the list is Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not by the Arctic Monkeys. A mate of mine, Nathan, back in 2006 told me that he thought I’d like this album given his knowledge of my musical taste. And he was right. This is a gloriously raw sounding debut album about adolescence. It has clear punk influences mixed with more contemporary styles. It kicks off with high energy right from the opening track The View From The Afternoon with it’s heavy guitar riffs. Then it goes into the hit song I Bet You Look Good On the Dancefloor – one of the best songs on the album with its infectious chorus and upbeat rhythm. Fake Tales of San Francisco is a slower song about all those who bullshit in conversation – love it.

Dancing Shoes is another with an infectious rhythm, a song about being tongue-tied at the disco. Like all the songs on this album it isn’t chock full of unnecessary production and relies on the energy and lyrics to make its impact. This is also true for the next track You Probably Couldn’t See For the Lights but You Were Staring Straight At Me – wonderfully short at 2:11, and followed by Still Take You Home. Most of the tracks are short – around 3 mins or less. Nothing wasted here – just songs packed into brief energetic delivery.

My favourite song on the album is Riot Van – which is much slower and reflective, but at the same time with more impact than the rest. All about dodging the coppers on a night out. This shows the melodic and mature side of the band as does Mardy Bum.

The quality continues right through the album with Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secured and Perhaps Vampires is a Bit Strong But… both lyrically strong with great rhythms. Another hit single When The Sun Goes Down comes near the end of the album – this is a story about streetwalkers and pimps that manages to convey the sleazy desperation. After a melodic start the song gets into a foot-tapping beat that must be acted upon. The last two tracks are From The Ritz To The Rubble and A Certain Romance round of the album with two more of my favourites off the album. They illustrate a certain rage at the sameness of life, a desire to escape camouflaged in acceptance of the everyday experience.

This album combines gritty lyrics and stories of growing up in northern England, but could apply to many places in the world. The feeling of this album is of rage mixed in with genuine affection and a bit of cynical humour. I love the contradictions that it brings as these make the songs almost hypnotic and give them credibility. I still put this album on 7 years after I bought it. Personally, I don’t think that the Arctic Monkeys have matched it since.

Listen to Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not here

About George Fripley
I am a writer who enjoys writing humour, satire, poetry and sometimes a bit of philosophy. I live in Perth, Western Australia and occasionally get a poem or article published. It's all good fun! I have two books available for unwary readers, Grudges, Rumours and Drama Queens- The Civil Servant's Manual (This contains all that anybody could ever want to know about why government runs so slowly) and More Gravy Please! - the Politician's Handbook. (available through Amazon)

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