Hunters & Collectors – Human Frailty
I’m not sure there’s a more important record to me. I mean, not necessarily in the obvious ‘this influenced me’-way but much more generally. It’s certainly the first album I treasured as my own. Sure there’s something to be said about nostalgia, that maybe things develop an aura over time which somehow dismisses them from the usual critique. That’s OK. The point is I still dearly love this record – still know every word, and in all likelihood this will never change. Like any great album it places you in time. It draws from your own private intimate experiences and actually feels personal.
Hunters & Collectors are from Melbourne and so am I. I’ve never met them or seen them play live. I wouldn’t even say I’m fluent in all their albums. Still, because of this one record I feel forever inextricably linked to them on a level that reaches far beyond mere notes, words and songs. Human Frailty has made that gargantuan leap from being a ‘great album’ or an ‘album that I love’ to MY album. Something that means more to me than anyone else around. Undoubtedly there are heaps of other people who love this record (it was a commercial success in Australia) but the point is, I don’t know them. In that way it exists as something unique and particular to me. So meaningful in ways that can’t easily be conveyed.
Of course, besides all this, the songs are just tremendous. Great melodies and driving rhythms punctuated by an astute use of brass instruments. It’s one of those albums that makes me imagine the recording as this kind of seamless ease of immediacy. Where the band knows the songs so well just because they’ve played them live down the pub for months beforehand. Of course this could all be wrong and the process may have been completely opposite but at this stage that’s really beside the point. It exists exactly how I imagine it to exist.
Men’s Recovery Project – Bolides Over Basra
Apart from pointing out that this record is loosely conceived around ideas of the Middle East, it’s pretty hard to describe. Post-punk synth rock? Ugh – I hate those kind of labels. All I know is this – Bolides Over Basra is just endlessly fascinating and inspiring. I reckon it’s probably the record I listen to the most out of the ones I’ve chosen to speak about here. Mostly because it just makes me want to make music – and that, in and of itself, is reason enough to count it in my top favourite albums.
It came out in 2000, which was the ultimate time for me to hear the work. Aaron and I had just conceived Liars and we’d spend our days bundled inside our Brooklyn loft making endless amounts of songs on four-track tapes. The process of how we made music then is similar to what attracts me to Bolides Over Basra. Basically ‘musicianship’ was the furthest thing from our minds. The most important thing was the idea of creation and making music for the limitless expression it enabled. We’d do things like put a brick on a Juno keyboard to generate a steady tone then record ourselves playing drums mic’d through guitar pedals. Then we’d run a microphone out the window and scream lyrics from the rooftop. Stuff like that is kind of hard to imagine us doing now but when I hear Bolides it makes me want to pull out the four-track and find a handy brick.
Anyway, back to the album. Y’know I’m sure some critique can be made of Men’s Recovery Project’s decision to dedicate a full album of songs to their vision of the Middle East. That maybe they were essentially epitomising an overused trope and contributing to stereotypes associated with that part of the world. I don’t know. To me, it doesn’t read that way. I always heard it as fascination with the mystery and history of the region rather than anything derogatory. It offered a really interesting backdrop for their music and gave the album this otherworldly air that was tied together so completely by the subject matter. Of course this all took on even more weight and relevance the year after the album’s release when 9/11 happened. How could MRP have been so prescient with their album title? In no time flat we were all watching images of tracer fire in the night sky over Basra that could easily have been described as showers of bolides [meteors]. Whether you call it intuition or just plain dumb luck, for me this has always lent an extra level of significance to Bolides Over Basra.
White Magic – Through The Sun Door
I remember hearing the name Quixotic back in the day. They were everyone’s new favourite band. There were always stories of amazing line-ups, shows where every band that played was someone you’d want to see. The feedback from those nights was always the same: “Yeah, everyone was good, but that band Quixotic were amazing.”
When I finally got a chance to see them it was the line-up with Mick Barr from Orthrelm on bass and I thought it was brilliant. The guitar playing was incredible and of course the singing was otherworldly. The thing that blew me away most next to the singing was Mira’s drumming. Her drum patterns, style and technique were so unique and enhanced each song.
Mira’s sense of rhythm can be heard in her supreme piano playing as White Magic, where her drumming skills are transposed into expressive piano lines and vocal rhythms. I’m trying not to do the obvious and just praise her singing, but it’s really impossible to ignore. Her voice sounds to me like if every human being that ever spoke was a solid state amplifier. Suddenly she sings and you hear, and practically SEE a bright red glowing tube amp giving off this hugely rich tone.
I’m not sure if Liars ever had the pleasure of playing on the same stage as White Magic but I have seen them a number of times. When this record came out we listened to it constantly. I wonder if someone that’s never heard of White Magic could listen to their cover of Nina Simone’s ‘Plain Gold Ring’ on this record and tell you what year it came out? It, and all the songs, sound timeless. All of the playing on this record is perfect, not one note superfluous.
Through The Sun Door was released in 2004 which was an interesting point in time for Liars. It was the last year we spent in New York before moving off to Berlin to write and record Drum’s Not Dead. White Magic were definitely our favourite band in the city at that time, as well as Blood On The Wall, whom Miggy Littleton also played drums for. This album was on my headphones during 3am runs in the snow to the all-night cyber cafe in Kreuzberg – clinging to some connection with the city I’d left behind. I think this record shares what’s common for all classic albums – that ability to transport you to places in your past, while invigorating you in the present to make the possibility of a brighter future more clear.
Guns N’ Roses – Appetite For Destruction
One of the ways to understand an album’s influence is to gauge how it’s evolved with you over time. This record came out when I was about nine or something. At that age most of what was going on within GN’R’s music and around the band went right over my head. I remember even being turned off by the artwork. What did turn me on though was of course the massive hit ‘Sweet Child O’Mine’. So much so that I started sporting the bandana headband and growing my hair out like Axl Rose. It’s a great song, no doubt. Slash’s guitar solo particularly just blew my mind. Still, like I said, the rest of the album and whatever Guns N’ Roses stood for was quite beyond me and I was happy to go back to listening to ‘Rockit’ by Herbie Hancock.
Then my teenage years came around and once again Appetite… was in full rotation. This time though I was primed to go deeper. I remember I had a girlfriend called Michelle and so of course ‘My Michelle’ became my dirge. The references to drugs and porn not only made sense to me but now I could connect with them. It felt like my life was just catching up to the imagery of the record. All these things I’d been hearing about from this band that went over my head as a youngster, I now felt like I had a real association with. And so I dove in. I don’t want to say Appetite… made me want to chug Jack Daniels and smoke cigarettes, but in fact it did.
Later, in my 20s when I first found myself in Los Angeles this record once again loomed large. I was living outside of LA at art school and Aaron and I would drive down on the weekends to the most seedy places we could find on the Sunset Strip to dance and see bands and do bad things. Of course this was the playground that birthed Appetite… so it only felt natural for us to crank ‘Rocket Queen’ as we slugged back beers on the freeway. This was also the time period when I first began to make music so the album kind of morphed from just a purely visceral and graphic listen to an understanding of its pure and unadulterated musical prowess. The songs, playing and flow of the record just blossomed my appreciation for what a group of people making sounds together could achieve. To this day I’m in awe that this record was created. It’s one of those rare gems that the band had no hope of improving with their follow-up releases. It just wasn’t possible.
Michael Franks – The Art Of Tea
The fact is I can completely understand many people reading this might hate this record. It may even stand for everything they hate about music. An artist and a group of songs that could quite easily be labelled ‘elevator music’ or ‘smooth jazz’. That’s OK. This record is important to me. Michael Franks is important to me.
I was first introduced to him by my dad. Growing up our household wasn’t particularly musical. Sure my parents owned a bunch of Beatles records that I ploughed through but beyond that we weren’t really ‘vibing’ together on any classic rock hits or cool 80s groups. I was left to my own devices and was happy to let 3 Feet High And Rising play non-stop in my bedroom.
One day though, my dad, quite out of the blue, brought home a CD. He sat me down and said, “Look, I don’t know what that stuff is that you’re listening to all day but this right here is pure gold.”
Well, I thought, this should be interesting. My dad is quite the wordsmith and his claim was that this music had the best lyrics he’d ever heard. I was intrigued. On first glance I had to admit the title of the record and the cover were alluring. The Art of Tea sounded like some pure hippy shit and the guy sitting cross-legged on the cover even more so but still for some reason the simplicity of it all, the black and white photograph, the blank expression, the guy’s name – it all just kind of worked for me and so I went into my first listen of the songs with an open mind.
Well, no sooner had I finished listening to the second track ‘Eggplant’, I was hooked.
Yes, the music was a slinky mixture of swing and jazz that made me feel a little more mature than my years but it was the lyrics and Franks’ smooth delivery that caught me off guard. It was weird – they were a little racy! “Maybe it’s the way she grates her cheese/ or just the freckles on her knees/ Maybe it’s the scallions/ maybe she’s Italian /I can’t pronounce her name, but eggplant is her game”. I kind of didn’t know if I should feel creeped out that my dad was sharing this with me or chuffed that he would want to. In any case the lyrics, as promised, were nifty. “You’ve got the nicest North America /This sailor ever saw /I’d like to feel you’re warm Brazil/ And touch your Panama.”
Needless to say I became the youngest Michael Franks aficionado in my town. I’d rock up to stoner hang outs and play ‘Eggplant’ and ‘Popsicle Toes’ to my friends in-between bouts of Black Sabbath and NWA. They’d all be like – “Whaa?” Even nowadays I’ll whip this gem out backstage and play it to some uninitiated lot, blowing their minds with the possibilities of smooth jazz.
Unwound – Leaves Turn Inside You
Unwound generated a near flawless discography of work before they disbanded in 2002. It wouldn’t be a stretch at all for me to include any one of their eight studio albums on this list because each of them has taken a turn at the top of my Unwound pile. Still, there’s something overwhelmingly complete and brave about their final album, Leaves Turn Inside You. To record it they built their own studio in Olympia, Washington and produced the music themselves – with the help of Phil Ek. Leading up to this Unwound had seemingly perfected their style of post-grunge, post-hardcore rock. Each player had such an immense ability with their instrument and as a group they created a powerful and fascinating dynamic. Side note: Sara Lund is definitely one of my favourite drummers of all time. Anyway, the work they developed for Leaves Turn Inside Your took a leap of faith and led the band into a much more melodic, psychedelic landscape. At the time this was not ‘cool’. It took courage for them to expand their palette in this way, setting aside what had proven to be a winning formula and laying this epic, two-disc behemoth in front of their fans.
Inevitably there was backlash. Purist Unwound fans weren’t having it. The album is really long, the songs themselves often ambient and overall the pace and tempo of the music is much more mellow and atmospheric than their previous records. Not to mention Unwound used decidedly un-hardcore instruments like Mellotron, piano and (gasp!) string arrangements! What were they thinking?!
Well as far as I’m concerned Unwound were thinking about pushing themselves beyond their comfort zone and into a place that was exciting, challenging and experimental. The results are mind blowing and needless to say we Liars took a large dose of influence from this giant stylistic leap of faith.
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Dazzle Ships
I’d wager that the first thing that comes to a person’s mind when the group OMD is mentioned is either the film Pretty In Pink, or the image of Andy McCluskey dramatically singing ‘Joan Of Arc’ while staring straight into the camera in a cable knit sweater and a fireplace in the background. True, it is indeed the correct band, and it is the same people who find it shocking that this group made the album Dazzle Ships. Personally I’m a fan of OMD albums from all of their phases. Be it the later slick and sax-dusted tracks like ‘So In Love’, to the more immediate, sparse and raw arrangement of ‘Julia’s Song’, some people halted any further investigation through the varied catalog of OMD because of the aforementioned images.
Dazzle Ships is OMD’s fourth album, a highly anticipated follow-up to a record that spawned their biggest hits, and followed a pattern of increasing acclaim and audience – Architecture And Morality. It’s no real surprise that Dazzle Ships, of course, was deemed a flop at the time. Too bizarre, disjointed, and difficult to follow after the immediacy of such hits like ‘Souvenir’ and ‘Joan Of Arc’.
To me though, this album is such a cohesive statement, portraying a bleak and lonely environment of a different sort. I liken it to moments in Brett Easton Ellis novels, rather than the more standard atmosphere of loneliness that would evoke heartbreak in the rain, or a Cameron Crowe film. This is an empty Bloomingdales parking lot in a blizzard, an uneaten plate of food at Spago’s or knowing how life can be hard for a Soc when you’re really just a Greaser in The Outsiders.
It’s such an incredible feat to feature experiments like ‘Dazzle Ships, Pts. 1-3’, and have them compliment and enhance an album with more straight forward tracks like ‘Telegraph’. The instrumentals are crucial to the record and add depth and definition to the other songs.
The album ends with what could be one of my favourite songs ever, ‘Of All The Things We’ve Made’. On an album that features computerised voices, what sounds like marine radar, and a million other analog synths and sequencers, a single drum, a dissonant guitar and piano close out the album perfectly.
It’s kinda strange to us that we’ve never been compared to OMD. I know that may sound pretentious, and we do realise it would be an enormous compliment, but the point I’m making is that Liars may have more in common with OMD than anyone might have previously believed. The group is composed of two songwriters who always handle different duties, and they show their fondness for pop structure as well as free-form experimentation. I hope that if people explore albums like Dazzle Ships it will reveal the complexity and mastery in OMD’s later pop material.
Notorious B.I.G. – Ready To Die
It’s impossible for me to put into words how I feel when I hear Biggie’s voice. I just can’t do it. I get choked up trying to explain. He is in my opinion one of the greatest recording artists that ever lived and I’m 1000% certain there will never be anyone who comes remotely close to his skill with rhyming words. It’s just that simple. He is the best that ever did it. Needless to say any record he put out is a big, big deal to me and quite obviously any that he made before his untimely death could sit happily in my Baker’s Dozen. But I’ve gotta go to the source. To the moment when he first stepped on to the world stage. Ready To Die – I’m not sure there’s even the remote possibility of a debut record with a tougher title. It sets the tone immediately – bleak, but confident as hell. The intro, as is the case with more than a few hip-hop records (I’m thinking of Doggystyleand 3 Feet High And Rising) is brilliant. Its a really smart three minutes or so outlining the musical history from Biggie’s birth (Superfly by Curtis Mayfield), to his early years (‘Rapper’s Delight’ by The Sugarhill Gang), his crime years (‘Top Billin” by Audio Two), to getting out of jail (‘Tha Shiznit’ by Snoop Dogg). I always appreciated the care it took to put that piece together – well done Sean Combs! From there on it’s just lyrical mastery. Song after song revealing the genius of Biggie over great but minimal beats, bass and samples.
The music is a perfect illustration of what’s so attractive to me about 90s era hip-hop. Great repetition. It’s something that has always influenced Liars’ music – getting stuck in a groove and just leaving it there. No need to make things tricky. In my view the really great music is super simple and often super repetitive. Yes, I love smart and complex basslines like you’ll find on ‘Love Is The Drug’ by Roxy Music but when push comes to shove give me the never ending super duper simple recurring bass refrain you hear in ‘Warning’ – track five of Ready To Die. That’s the kind of thing that gets me excited and the thing that has most influenced Liars.
The Doors – Waiting For The Sun
It’s a lot harder to say you’re a fan of The Doors than it is to say you’re really into Love. While this wasn’t the case when both bands were active in the 60s, it most certainly is the case now. The Doors have always been a favourite of ours, and it’s amazing to me how much derision this statement is met with.
While it’s obvious to us as to why – there’s the Oliver Stone movie, the poetry books, shamanism, etc, etc – we know about that stuff. But beyond all this is an incredible body of work that is as adventurous as it is unique.
When recording They Were Wrong, So We Drowned, we came across a copy of The Doors’ Soundstage Performances DVD. We watched it a few times and were completely blown away. Now, to remind you in case you ever decide to watch it these are soundstage performances, NOT concerts. These are performances that are filmed like Letterman, Saturday Night Live, or Later… With Jools Holland. With that in mind, when is the last time you’ve seen any band deliver a performance like any one of these? Just once? Here, on this DVD the Doors have roughly 17 of such performances through the years!
The big difference between these performances and their concert footage is the environment. Jim Morrison is more focussed, and what you get to see is a band playing how I’d imagine they play in their rehearsal space without the grand posturing they put on for their big concerts. You get to see how great of a band they are, and how great of a singer Morrison really was. In these performances, he’s more a part of the band, an instrument that sits in the song along with the guitar, but with an intense focus that brings forth a stage presence I feel worthy of the hype.
We basically went Doors crazy and ordered every Doors record on vinyl. I bought a Rhodes bass organ. We’d take breaks to eat and put on a different Doors albums for every meal until we got through their entire catalogue. Now, I think we’d all possibly say that The Soft Parade is our ‘favourite’ Doors record. But I think we’d also concede that Waiting For The Sun is their ‘best’ album. It’s just so unique.
I can’t think of any band since The Doors that sound anything like them. They’re too bizarre! A jazz drummer, a keyboard player with a Rhodes Bass, a flamenco guitarist, and a blues singer. What?! There have been plenty of bands since the 60s to sound like The Stones, The Beatles, Black Sabbath, etc. Name one current band that has made anything remotely close to ‘Spanish Caravan’, ‘The Unknown Soldier’… or even ‘Hello, I Love You’. Check out the great, lesser known tracks on this record like ‘Yes, The River Knows’ and ‘Not To Touch The Earth’.
PJ Harvey – Is This Desire?
Is This Desire? exemplifies for me some of the things I admire the most about music and the artists who make it. PJ Harvey fearlessly pushes the boundaries of what she had, up until this point, been known for. Where before she’d garnered acclaim for her kind of tough guitar-driven rock she now set that aside and completely opened up to an entirely different palette of sounds and moods. Of course I’m a huge fan of To Bring You My Lovebut somehow Is This Desire? remains just as powerful, yet feels so completely gut-wrenchingly sensitive. I had already admired the incredible production of her work with Flood on To Bring You My Love – particularly the bass sounds, but Is This Desire? kind of kicked this into overdrive. I distinctly remember turning to someone when listening to the track ‘My Beautiful Leah’ and asking, “How on earth do I make that sound?”. It’s really the first time I can remember as a musician wanting to try and exactly emulate a sound I heard on a record. Interestingly, to this day I don’t think I’ve ever been able to achieve that sound. It might actually require calling up Mick Harvey, John Parish or some of the other great players on this album and begging them for the real scoop.
Beyond mere bass sounds the album makes use of drum machines, strings and keys in such a kind of limitless investigation of possibilities. It really feels like someone exploring their sonic potential by utilising the courage of experimentation. I’ve remained a staunch supporter of PJ Harvey and though I won’t say with certainty that the other of her albums have affected me as much as Is This Desire?, I still completely and utterly appreciate her willingness to experiment and reinvent the way she approaches music and record making. A great example of this is the way she went about making her most recent album Let England Shake where she began writing lyrics before creating the music – much of which was developed with the autoharp. A very fascinating challenge that afforded a completely new way of working. That kind of thing I find really inspiring.
Underworld – Beaucoup Fish
I’ve always been a dance music fan. It really was the music I grew up with. My teenage years revolved around the dancefloor and I’d spend most of my nights ‘stomping’ to house music. Thing is, the electronic artists I loved didn’t make albums I cherished, they made singles and apart from some obvious exceptions like KLF – The White Room, I didn’t really own many dance albums. My tastes moved on to hip-hop and it wasn’t until 1999 when Aaron arrived home with this Underworld record on double vinyl that I finally came to know and appreciate a full and complete dance music album. Finally here was a set of songs that flowed seamlessly together over pure beats with incredible synth lines. I couldn’t get enough. In fact the level I became obsessed with this record at that time put it by far and away in the lead of albums that influenced the first Liars record. We tried to tell journalists this but all they wanted to imagine was that we mainlined Gang Of Four and PiL every day which really couldn’t have been further from the truth. Anyway, I digress. Beaucoup Fish still has a big influence on me musically and I’d be remiss to point out that it helped to inform the way some of the more up-tempo dance songs on our new album, Mess came together.
I’m particularly a fan of the use of voice samples in spots throughout the record. One of the highlights being the beginning of the track ‘Jumbo’ – “…there’s a little sale on uh vests at uh, Walmart – nine dollar, eight something, yeah, nice little vest… light”. I always found this so interesting and perplexing. Yes the words themselves are great but the sample itself created such a strange impression in my mind. This is a British group, with a French album title and they have a sample of some Yank guy talking about Walmart? It just kind of threw out any sense of where or how this music was created. I liked that. I’ve always felt that was one of the greatest things about dance music. It just seems kind of borderless and universal. Unlike other genres of music that gets so steeped in the culture and environment where its created, electronic dance music speaks all languages and moves beyond its temporal scope into a more limitless functionality.
Kool Keith – Black Elvis/Lost In Space
First off, let me just point out that Kool Keith not only produced this album himself but did it at the same time as making another record – First Come, First Served. He wanted both albums to come out on the same day but was knocked back by his label who delayed the release of Black Elvis/Lost In Space for four months. I mention these factors not to necessarily bolster my conviction that this is an amazing record but just to illustrate what I love about the guy and this album.
Fifteen years after listening to this for the first time I’m still amazed by what I hear going on beneath each track. Yeah, it’s true it can be argued that Keith’s other records like Dr. Dooom 2 or Dr. Octagonecologyst utilise a ‘crazier’ or more unpredictable set of tools but I personally think it all comes down to what you’re listening for. Plus he did this himself! I think the record sounds deceptively minimal. Take a song like ‘Rockets On The Battlefield’ for example. It’s really intricate even though the beat and bass line is simple and repetitive. There’s so much other stuff going on and I find it enjoyably easy to get lost in the details.
Still, the focus is always going to been on Keith and his hyper imaginative lyrics. The ideas, imagery, tangents and overall verbal gymnastics that Keith performs on this record are twice as dense as the music itself. Half the record is devoted to ‘Lost In Space’ so it’s all robots and flying saucers plus everything in between, while the other half is Keith performing in the persona of Black Elvis, the sexually active “rock star walking down Broadway”. The combination of these two apparently disparate concepts speaks volumes on how smart and interesting this record is. It’s just so damn baffling that floating a word like genius to describe Keith is not at all out of context.
The Cure – Boys Don’t Cry
The Cure is arguably both mine and Aaron’s favourite band. There’s a ton of records of theirs that could’ve been selected for this list but I think it’s interesting to mention Boys Don’t Cry. It’s such an incredibly sparse record. Drums, bass, guitar with barely any effects. What that manages to achieve is to exemplify what a serious songwriter Robert Smith is. These songs could work on any one instrument and still be amazing. You could play ‘Fire In Cairo’ by yourself on an unplugged bass guitar and the song would still be great and connect with people.
I’ve often tried to imagine being able to hear the Cure and never know what they looked like, or know what they’re famous for. If somehow I could erase all prior Cure knowledge from my mind and discover their whole catalogue in a box of blank tapes. What came from this scenario is that I think their music covers such a wide range styles so successfully. From pure pop hits like the title track from this record to more elaborate and inquisitive expeditions like ‘A Forest’ on Seventeen Seconds. I think they get short changed as just being a goth band, when they were so much more diverse. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the goth element of The Cure, but I’m also aware of their incredible ability to express themselves through such a wide range of musical styles. That’s what places them in my mind far above and beyond many of the other commonly referred to ‘all-time bands’.
Another thing I like to imagine is walking into a club randomly in the present day and seeing a three-piece group with the same instrumentation playing a set of songs as good as these. There’s just no way. The Cure were too good. I’m glad they are overlooked in this sense because it makes The Cure feel like a more secret connection, but I think it’d be nice for the band to know how much their work means to people and how much they are appreciated. Another thing to notice is how awesome Robert Smith’s guitar playing is. Robert Smith and Prince are the most overlooked guitar players in music. We didn’t get a white Fender Jazzmaster because of Sonic Youth, or Dinosaur Jr., or My Bloody Valentine. We got a white Fender Jazzmaster because of Robert Smith and The Cure.
Right, once again I’ve cut and paste each of the thirteen pages into one blog post added one track per album above but I’ve lifted it UK music website The Quietus’ Baker’s Dozen set. As I was saying yesterday they need some more Aussie artist in this set, if I could I would challenge them to it so maybe I should email them or something? Last month I did blog two artist who happen just to be both Americans and now today and yesterday are a couple of Aussie so maybe sometime I should pick out my two fave English acts who have done the Baker’s Dozen because it is an English website.
This interview, sorry I didn’t take note by who but was around the time of the Liars’ Mess album of 2014 which I think is my fave of all their stuff so the wicked cool video clip for the song Mess On a Mission is just above too! In the last year or so Liars’ Angus Andrew has finally returned home to Australia after years, as you can see in the feature image just above he’s living in the bush somewhere? I did finally did get to see Liars play live just a month or two ago too! This month is now the second month in a row I’ve done my daily posting every day even if half of it have been re-posting plus with all AA’s talking has made this blog post now my longest ever!