“Few things are so liberally bestowed, or squandered with so little effect, as good advice.” said Dr Johnson (Yeah, the guy with the Dictionary… thanks Blackadder!). It’s as true today as it was when he wrote it in 1758. No one is short of advice, when it comes to, well… virtually any topic. Musicians and lyricists are particularly prone to telling us what to do. In this list I explore a few artists who’ve made a point of telling us what not to do. I don’t enjoy being told what I can and can’t do any more than the average person, but I suppose it would be churlish to ignore some of this stuff. It is good advice, after all, even if it does come off as a little sanctimonious at times.
1. David Holmes – Don’t Die Just Yet
A beautiful piece of downtempo sampladelica here, from Belfast DJ & Producer David Holmes. I always loved the Ennio Morricone style choral work that come in throughout. ‘Don’t die Just yet’ is pretty decent advice that I would encourage all readers of this blog to follow, whensoever possible. The song comes from Holmes’ second LP ‘Let’s Get Killed’, so it’s fair to say that he hasn’t got a 100% rating when it comes to ‘titles that are also helpful suggestions’.
2. LV feat. Eroll Bellot – Don’t Judge
Again this is pretty good advice ‘don’t judge by the colour of their Rasta eyes’ says Eroll Belllot over this brilliantly produced LV tune. Unless you’re interviewing for a babysitter, or security guard, or in fact any semi-responsible position.
3. Primal Scream – Don’t fight it, Feel it
This is the most overtly ‘ravey’ tune on Screamadelica. It even features a (horribly dated) house piano riff and generic ’80s house-music’ style lyrics. I’ve always interpreted the title as a call to indie-types to let go and just embrace dance music. Of course, that’s considerably easier if, just like Primal Scream’s frontman Bobby Gillespie, you are predominantly made of amphetamines and Jack Daniels.
4. Public Enemy – Don’t Believe the Hype
Edgar Allen Poe said “Believe only half of what you see and nothing that you hear” and it seems that Chuck D and Flavor Flav agreed with him back in 1998.
5. The Streets – Don’t Mug Yourself
A classic slice of ordinary life conversation brought to life by Mike Skinner’s ‘The Streets’. A bunch of lads meet up the morning after the night before and convince their pal Mike to hold back on contacting a girl too soon. “by all means you can vibe with this girl, but just don’t mug yourself”. Good advice? Maybe.
6. Frank Zappa – Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow
Lets face it, this is pretty sage advice. You can’t accuse Frank of being all high and mighty here, he’s genuinely doing you a favour. Even if he is clearly a demented lunatic and it seems counter-intuitive to do anything he says.
7. Penetration – Don’t Dictate
And finally, some advice for all the other artists in this list. Penetration assert their independence and create an anthem for stroppy 70s teenagers everywhere.
If you’d like to listen to all the tunes consecutively – you know, like an old mixtape, but without the semi-legible spider writing – check out the youtube playlist.