Step Down, Eddie: A Tribute

by Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

Apologies, apologies for those of you who were expecting a column last week. I know there’s probably one of you, two of you maybe. I’m probably just going to give up soon. Do you want an excuse? Sure. Sadness, and an inability to find the right words to justify this column in such a short space of time. However, one week has passed, and there’s an ability to now put into digital print just what the passing of “Fast” Eddie Clarke means to me, and the wider music community.

With Eddie‘s tragic passing at just the age of 67, this now means that the ‘classic’ Motorhead line up is no longer of this earth. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve dropped the edgy r/atheism side to my personality, I don’t really care what people believe as long as they’re good & righteous in their actions, and taken a wider view as to what happens to us when we die. Whilst I don’t know what happens when we die, I do hope, wherever the Three Amigos have ended up, there’s a bottomless bar, a stack of Marshalls and some er… ‘nasal decongestants’ to paraphrase Philthy Animal.

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But with his passing last Wednesday, the last connection to some of the most influential rock ‘n’ roll records in the world was finally closed, to an outpouring of love & sadness from the people who inspired him most. Despite the fact he hadn’t played with Motorhead since 1982, his lightning riffs & screaming solos laid the blueprint for some of the biggest bands in the world, including Metallica, Anthrax, and Megadeth. Whilst Lemmy will forever be remembered as the beating heart & snarled face of MotorheadEddie should forever be remembered as the soul of Motorhead. “Fast” by name, “Fast” by nature, he contributed to the full-frontal speed based attack that made Overkill, Bomber Ace of Spades so good and why they’re still widely regarded as some of the band’s best works, despite all being on the cusp of 40 years old.

Which says it all, considering that he spent considerably more time out of Motorhead than in Motorhead, both he and Philthy Animal are still held in such high regard, not just because of their raw talent, but because as a trio, they were, and still are a formidable combination. 50% of early Motorhead was the music, the other 50% was because they looked & sounded like biker pirates from outer space, who’d steal your wallet, your girlfriend & your heart in the same one hour set. If someone wanted to dress up as a rockstar for the evening, you’d just need to show them a photo of late 70s Motorhead and be done with it. That was and still is rock ‘n’ roll. But there was no posing involved, that’s how they genuinely dressed, cool as ice as they played red-hot music.

However, it’s not like Eddie left Motorhead in 1982 and then just disappeared after falling out with the band over recording with The Plasmatics; or being pushed out of the band largely by Philthy, depending on which version of events you believe although no member was available for comment on this via ouija board. After leaving, he formed his own hard rock, heavy metal express Fastway. Was this just a way of keeping himself busy? Absolutely not. In the eighties alone, Fastway released five full-length studio albums, each bottling the essence of heavy rock itself; fast, loose and unforgiving. Had glam rock risen to prominence in the mid-Eighties, history may remember Fastway a bit more kindly, but music nowadays is all about finding those hidden gems. Go and stick Fastway and All Fired Up on, you’ll be pleasantly delighted. It’s not quite Motorhead, but it’s still got that roll-in-the hay filth to it.

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With Lemmy’s passing just over two years ago, which I’m still not fully over, the death of Philthy a few weeks prior and now Eddie, it’s terribly sad that the creators of some of the finest rock and roll albums ever have now passed on. Eddie made sporadic appearances here and there with Motorhead, one of which I missed because I was on holiday with my awful, horrible, nasty girlfriend at the time, and every time he climbed on stage, he was greeted as if he never left. Every fan in that audience, even the ones born years after he left Motorhead recognised and understood Eddie‘s contribution to the rich tapestry that was those first five records, plus No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith, still one of the finest live records out there.

So with this, after booking out an entire column to pay tribute to you, all I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you, Edward Allan Clarke, for playing a huge part in writing some of my favourite albums, for inspiring some of my favourite bands, and for forever creating a white-hot rock & roll aesthetic.

Five Essential Steely Dan Solos by Walter Becker

By Sean Hannah (@Shun_Handsome)

Living hard will take its toll” sang the backup vocalists on Steely Dan’s Glamour Profession on the group’s (first) farewell album Gaucho.  Donald Fagen and Walter Becker knew this all too well; as the Glimmer Twins’ nerdy, jazzy alter egos, the duo’s profligacy ran rampant across the 1970s before impelling the group into dissolution in 1981.  After several reformations and breakups over the next three decades and an undeniably storied career, it was announced on September 3rd that Walter Becker had passed away.  And though Becker’s website refrains from listing the cause of death, one can only imagine that his past addictions played a hand in his untimely passing.

Fronting a revolving door of accomplished musicians, Fagen and Becker were long recognized as the two-headed chieftain behind Steely Dan’s inimitable sound.  But with Becker relegated primarily to bass guitar and background vocals, it’s easy to dismiss him as the Art Garfunkel of ‘70s jazz rock.

On the contrary, Walter Becker was just as instrumental in the Steelies’ musical identity as Fagen, co-penning lyrics that both limned drugged-out low-lives as persecuted heroes and created the occasional inroads to the beau monde.  More aloof onstage than his lead vocalist counterpart, Becker never had to vie for the spotlight, as his role in the band was always well understood.  And as Dan’s career progressed, his presence became increasingly salient, as evidenced by his indispensable guitar work on the following songs.

  1. Pretzel LogicPretzel Logic (1974)

Becker’s first documented solo in the group, his musicianship seems deceptively tentative on those first couple bars.  Initially slow and unassuming, it’s clear this is not the work of lead guitarist Jeff Baxter.  But as the song swells to accommodate Becker’s bluesy noodling, his prowess becomes indisputable.  Featuring one sour note on the song’s outro, Pretzel Logic is a document of perhaps the band’s only mistake in the studio, but it remains one of Steely Dan’s most memorable solos.

  1. Black FridayKaty Lied (1975)

Cutting through the sheen of the rest of the band’s polished production, Becker’s fuzzed-out guitar-god riffing immediately takes command of the song upon its first appearance.  Languid, confident, and absolutely electric, the song stands out as one of the group’s most engaging blues indulgences, due in no small part to Walter Becker’s nonpareil guitar sound.

  1. Bad SneakersKaty Lied (1975)

In spite of a chorus featuring an almost Zappa-esque lyrical phrasing that all but alters its time signature, Bad Sneakers’s warm R&B piano on its verses and the lugubrious Michael McDonald vocals on the second pre-chorus establishes the song as a work of sympathy rather than cynicism.  Over the bridge’s two-chord progression, Becker exhibits a stentorian sound that not only complements the pathos of the song, but also documents Becker at his jazziest.

  1. The FezThe Royal Scam (1976)

The Royal Scam introduced funk into Steely Dan’s palette when it was released in 1976.  And on The Fez, the band’s PSA for safe sex (which starkly contrasted the lifestyle Fagen and Becker led at the time), Becker yet again showcases his predilection for guitar distortion while creating a sound consistent with the rest of his bandmates.  He seems to be dueling with the keyboard that appears intermittently during this solo, yet by the time the song’s main riff reemerges, the entire ensemble yields to Becker and his sleek/jagged guitar enigma.

  1. JosieAja (1977)

Boasting what is perhaps the Steelies’ sexiest riff, Josie is one of the band’s most memorable album closers.  With its laser-precision funk rhythm guitar, an ethereal synth that instantly merges with the song’s brass section, and lyrics that indefatigably praise its titular heroine, Josie proves a quintessential Steely Dan song.  Becker’s guitar solo on the track begins with a repetition of Fagen’s vocal melody, but soon careens into far more beguiling territory that effectively distills his love of blues, rock, and jazz into one shimmering gestalt.


There isn’t anything outwardly cool about Steely Dan, despite their dark sunglasses and super rad long hair.  Even in the ‘70s as stadium rock dominated the zeitgeist, the jazz-rock ensemble avoided anything resembling youth culture and effectively alienated themselves from the most voracious (and profitable) consumer demographic.  It’s telling that John Mulaney’s and Nick Kroll’s Oh, Hello Broadway show about two curmudgeonly septuagenarian New Yorkers constantly reiterates the fact that its stars are huge Dan fans.  Steely Dan’s music was mature, it was opaque, and thanks to the presence of Walter Becker, it was completely electrifying.

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Top 10 Linkin Park Songs

By Sanjeev Mann (@Ask_Sanjeevs )

The death of Linkin Park front-man Chester Bennington affected countless people, even those who may not have listened to his work in years. Bennington became a member of Linkin Park in 1998, and released their certified diamond debut album ‘Hybrid Theory’ in 2002 – known as one of the best albums of the decade, it sold almost 30 million copies worldwide and cemented nu rock as one of the biggest genres at the time.

They were a band that represented a new generation and undoubtedly had an impact on the lives of their many fans, especially their teenage following: in a world of chaos, Linkin Park helped those listening know it was okay to be different. For many, Bennington’s voice was one of support and understatement.

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Whether it’s nostalgia, genuine enjoyment or a mixture of both, the news of Bennington’s suicide was shocking and emotional to us all. Not only did his death highlight the fragility of life but also the importance of mental health, especially in men where the biggest killer of those under the age of 30 is suicide. To pay tribute to the talented musician, myself and other contributors of the site have put our thoughts in words and list what we see at the ten most important songs from Linkin Park.

10. Heavy

Album – One More Light

Probably the most controversial pick, the single ‘Heavy’ comes from the band’s latest album ‘One More Light’ which released on May 19th this year. Over the years they tried a variety styles and genres from rock and rap to dance and pop. This has caused a bit of a stir among hardcore fans, but much to his credit Bennington and the band remained adamant that it was the music that they wanted to create. Regardless, this track is as emotional as any single before. “I’m holding on, why is everything so heavy” puts in a nutshell. He wanted to tell us that much of our pain is self-inflicted. The track also aims to give hope amidst difficult times.

Also as touched on (like it or not) it perfectly sums up their change from Nu Metal, towards pop/rock in album’s such as’ Minutes to Midnight’, and ‘A Thousand Suns’. This is something that Bennington was quick to respond to , “Why are we still talking about ‘Hybrid Theory’? Move the fuck on”. A fair comment for those stuck on the past as bands are allowed to change genre after all. This is most definitely a track that represents the bands change in direction.

9. Numb/Encore

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLlF2FMv968

 Album – Collision Course

This really was a track that combined the best of the rap and rock world at the time. This JayZ collaboration was sure to make waves in the music world and is no doubt the best  and most successful song on the album between the two stars. It also perfectly illustrates and reflects the bands massive hip hop influence thanks to writer Mike Shinoda and turntablist Joseph Hahn. It’s a side of the band that many often forget about because of the power of Chester’s voice. Ever since the start they were keen to be different and always focused on a fusion of the two genres. Originally it was only a one off but the pair liked it so much the decided to release  the album ‘ Collision Course’. 

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Linkin Park as a whole helped me transition into some of the heavier bands I listen to today. Numb is still a fantastic song for me and Numb/Encore played a large part in my life growing up. I really appreciated Heavy from the latest album because I like it when bands change and try their hand at new styles and listened to Heavy a lot when it came out. RIP Chester, serious tragedy.

– Will Sexton (@willshesleeps)

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8. What I’ve Done

Album – Minutes to Midnight

Coming from the bands third album ‘Minutes to Midnight’ the heavy lyrics obviously refer to past mistakes and regrets. Chester’s lyrics almost suggests that he’s referring to not just himself but for mankind itself, as shown by the accompanying music video. It’s a song that epitomises their deep and emotional lyrics. It was arguably one of their breakthrough singles on the mainstream scene. Not only were they appealing to rap and rock fans, but pop too. After a four-year hiatus they were back, but with a more adult and mature feel to their music.    

7. Numb

Album – Meteora

The title says it all. Even when Chester was a young boy, he was bullied and always felt on the outside. His history with abuse at a young age is evident. It’s almost a song that represents those who are on the outside of society. It easily their most known and successful song they’ve ever written. It received massive mainstream success across pop and rock charts and spent six weeks at the top of the charts and twelve weeks on top of the rock charts. The track also received critical success and definitely sums a decade of rock and nu metal. Along with the likes of Limp Bizkit, this genre in its infancy was for the first time gaining mainstream success, and this was partly due to songs such as this. “Caught in the undertow, just caught in the undertow” puts it perfectly. He wanted to tell us that no matter what he done, he was stuck in the same place – with what has happened recently, this song carries even more of an emotional punch.

6. Crawling

Album – Hybrid Theory

This is the first song on the list featuring a track from their first  album Hybrid Theory. The Grammy award winning single featured less of rapper and producer Mike Shinoda and more of lead singer Chester Bennington’s aggressive vocals. This is definitely a song that shows off the wide range of his voice, from singing to screaming, he can do it all.  The track focuses on his past experience with drug abuse, from experimenting with cocaine and crystal meth, the chorus being an obvious nod to not only this but the depression he had fought for most of his life.

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I remember being about 11/12 when I saw the video for Faint. Just the raw aggression of it, and how cool everyone looked, because back when you were an angsty teenager, Linkin Park were the epitome of cool. I saw them in Birmingham a few weeks ago, sadly at what would become their last gig, and Faint sounded as angry and as amazing as it did when I was 12. Chester still sounded like he always did, and it made me so happy to see those songs that shaped my teenager years performed live.

It’s such a tragedy to have lost him so soon, and so young. But, I think there’s millions upon millions of people out there who’ll all say the same thing: Linkin Park were their first love. And it’s so sad to have lost your first love.

– Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

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5. Pushing Me Away

Album – Hybrid Theory

The last track from their debut album, Pushing Me Away was extremely successful considering it wasn’t released as its own single. The track is about someone who is in a relationship but can’t stand being with his partner because he only sees his bad side in her. He thought things were ok, but is now beginning to feel the relationship is almost fake. He’s trying to pull away but ends up pushing himself back in over and over again.”Why I never walked away/ Why I played myself this way/ Now I see you’re testing me pushes me away” shows this struggle, a regular theme amongst a few Linkin Park songs on relationships. A typically moody emotional track which is renowned from that incredible first album. A vintage Linkin Park song, typical to their debut style.

4. From The Inside

Album – Meteora

One of their heavier tracks from ‘Meteora’, this really has a deep and dark outlook even with its seemingly melodic and calm beginning. It develops into a hard-hitting chorus with more focus on Chester’s powerful screaming vocals which at one stage lasts for around 10 seconds. The lyrics here focus on being betrayed yet again by someone he believed he could trust. The betrayal was almost expected, and now feels has almost distances himself from relationships because of this. He can longer trust because of lies and past experiences. It’s an aggressive track with true feeling behind it, thanks to the real emotion in Chester’s voice.  A favourite among more of the heavy rock influenced fans of the band. Definitely a track to get your own frustration out!

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I remember discovering Linkin Park aged 12, and thinking they were the coolest band I had ever heard. I soon found myself constantly listening to singles such as Numb, truly feeling a connection with the lyrics despite being so young and naive. But the simplicity of this connection was in reality so strong, as in retrospect their music did shape who I was at that time and who I turned out to be. The news of Chester’s death truly pained me and upset me, more so than many Celebrity deaths as of recent.

To reflect on his lyrics, written with such honesty, rawness and pain, is heartbreaking, and it’s so sad that his demons were what killed him. But it is touching to see how many people his music helped, even if now I know I don’t need it. I don’t, but many do, and that’s what makes his death so tragic. I can only hope his legacy lives on and their music continues to touch the lives of many.

Anna Cowan (@L0VESlCK)

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3. By Myself

Album – Hybrid Theory

It’s time for the top 3, and it’s ‘By Myself’ that wins the bronze. Originally called ‘Sad’ and coming from their pre-signed name ‘Xero’, this track again talks about again a common Linkin Park theme, trusting others around you, and yourself too. Chester’s previous problems with drug addiction, and alcohol abuse are well documented and this track could be a direct reflection of this.  He also sings about doing what’s needed to survive the environment that surround us, and asks himself why he’s still feeling pain. “I ask why, but in my mind/I find I can’t rely on myself (myself)“. He knows inside that he can’t even trust himself, never mind others.  Nothing can help his emotions, and is almost putting on a face that isn’t him – an analysis that feels especially haunting now.

2. Faint

Album – Meteora

I can’t feel the way I did before” illustrates Chester’s change in emotions after things went downhill. He was now a different person to who he wanted to be after past experiences. The track was a massively important track to the band because of the lyricism in the single that almost reflects their position in the music industry. Shinoda’s first verse put’s it nicely with 2 possible connotations; “I am what I want you to want/ What I want you to feel“. The first conveys that they are only trying to be themselves, even after receiving a lot of hate due to being and independent/ underground music artist in the mainstream. In a 2013 interview by pigeonsandplanes.com, Mike said; “Indie music purists may want to hate… simply because I represent a mainstream music act which they think is at odds with their “independent” or “underground” aesthetic. If that’s you, so be it; I know your deal”. The other meaning could come down to a common teenage problem. Being different, and trying to fit in with everyone else, something I’m sure many teenagers have at some point experienced during their time in secondary school. This is a typical track true to the early Linkin Park days, and a firm favourite amongst the bands heavier and hardcore fans.

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It’s hard for me to think of a time during my childhood where Linkin Park weren’t present or played a role in some way. Whether it be during my adolescence where Hybrid Theory would be played on repeat or I’d chuck What I’ve Done on Guitar Hero to let out that teen angst. This made it equally hard in recent years when it came to criticising the band, something that I felt extremely guilty of following the news of Chester’s passing. However, I know it was so much more than just reviews that lead to his fate and it’s something that myself and many others struggle with on a day to day basis. Much like Sanjeev pointed out in the intro, Chester’s death is a reminder of why now more than ever that we have to be transparent about mental health as it is no longer something we can be quiet about. The more we talk, the more we help.

– Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

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1. In The End

Album – Hybrid Theory

Here it is then! My number 1 quintessential Linkin Park track from their incredible and turbulent career. Of course, it’s ‘In the End’, a song that has it all. Strong emotion and meaning, talented musicians, huge mainstream and critical success and a brilliant hook to put the icing on the cake. This really is a track that left the music world in awe, and not just the ‘Nu metal’ rock scene. This is definitely Linkin Park in their purest, most accurate selves. Released as the 4th single from ‘Hybrid Theory’, ‘In the End’ was a blockbuster and most definitely the most popular, and recognizable track they’ve ever released. Again, it received mostly excellent reviews with most critics applauding the trademark piano rift. Kerrang also credited the track as the number 1 best Rock song of all time in a top 100 list in 2015.

The song itself is about someone who’s relationship worked in the past, but only due to him not being his real honest self. “I tried so hard and got so far/ But in the end, it doesn’t even matter/ I had to fall to lose it all/But in the end, it doesn’t even matter.” The strong lyrics also talks about his partner in relationship not even knowing the real him because he kept “everything inside”. Finally, in possibly their best hook, Chester refers to a concept called Nihilism. A concept created by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzshe. This idea essentially means everything equals up to nothing, and if this idea is followed life is pointless and without purpose. Linking to song, the person has given up with everything after his relationship crumbled. He’s so angry he couldnt care less.  “I tried so hard and got so far/ But in the end, it doesn’t even matter/ I had to fall to lose it all/But in the end, it doesn’t even matter“. A dark yet troubled insight into someone’s life, the song is a brilliant reminder of how important a part Linkin Park, and music as a whole play’s in everyday life. A typical song from an emotional band, that sums up an entire generation of music. This is definitely 100% Linkin Park in their purest, most accurate selves.


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