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Ned’s Atomic Dustbin: God Fodder

October 21, 2010

Today’s roll: 2 – 8 – 5.
Result:
God Fodder by Ned’s Atomic Dustbin.

At the time of originally posting this review about a year ago (at www.simplysyndicated.com Ned’s Atomic Dustbin were scheduled to revisit their cuh-lassic 1991 album, God Fodder, for one night only at Shepherd’s Bush Empire this Saturday (Dec. 19th, 2009). I saw them perform the album in ’91 (or ’92) and I couldn’t really recommend anyone attending the “historic” reunion show.

John had an annoying habit of saying “cheers” after every song. And they we just kind of sloppy, boring and horribly dressed. Maybe in the last 18 years they’ve learned some showmanship and acquired a new wardrobe—It should be noted, I dressed like them for years (and maybe still do).

But lackluster North American tour tail-end concerts, tragic fashion-sense, puns and terrible typography aside, God Fodder is a masterpiece.

The summer after I finished high school, the cassette of God Fodder was virtually welded into the tape deck of my brown ’85 Chevette. I dubbed that car Boba Vette and she and I would cruise the beach communities of Parksville and Qualicum looking for a good time. These good times usually involved being too shy to talk to girls at McDonald’s or Dairy Queen, then playing role-playing games in my friends’ basements.

But in-between these two levels of humiliation, Ned’s was the glorious teenage soundtrack. Every note, every plinky lead bass riff, every frantic drumbeat has been processed and internalized in my brain for instant recall in a way few albums are.

My first taste of the Ned’s was in the basement of another friend. Keith was on the other side of the nerdy spectrum from role-playing games. He was an underground music nerd. A year older than me, he played the time-honoured role of surrogate older-brother, bringing new sounds back from his first year of college. I’m not sure what his grades could have been because he must have spent all his time reading Discorder and Off-beat.

Pre-internet, these magazines, and the college radio stations that published them, actually mattered—they were literally the voice of our generation. Copies didn’t always make it to the central Vancouver Island region so I relied on Keith to scour these rags and impart his wisdom on me. He seemed to know everything about every important breaking alternative rock act before anyone else and introduced me to innumerable bands (Pixies) I’d never have heard of until much later. I didn’t like all of them (never “got” Rollins), but I lapped up anything he had to say about music. In my junior year, I even began dressing like him. Imagine a grunge version of Morrissey.

But it was there in Keith’s basement I was first exposed to Ned’s Atomic Dustbin. We were watching The Wedge (the underground music show on MuchMusic) and this song “Kill Your Television” came on. It hit me like a lightening bolt. There’d been videos by Pixies and Mudhoney on already, but it was the Ned’s that mad an impact that night.

In hindsight, the lyric is simplistic and juvenile and the song describes an abusive parent/child relationship I couldn’t relate to on a personal level. Yet, it speaks to a that universal adolescent archetype we all feel within us at sixteen. It’s “Fight the Power” and “Parents Don’t Understand” rolled up in suburban white-boy rock’n’roll angst.

They also had a unique sound. Unique in that they’d taken the pop-punk of Buzzcocks, added a bit of funky Madchester psychedelia and stuck Peter Hook styled treble bass-lines over top. It’s a killer recipe. But apparently a tricky one as earlier singles and later albums failed to come out of the oven quite right.

And though I maybe only wished I could relate to the abstruse, proto-emo lyrics, they somehow resonated with me. “Grey Cells Green“, “Happy“, “Trash” … every song on the album is an anthem of youth, despair, hope, joy and pure teenage abandon. Heck, it still resonates with me. God Fodder is one of the only true “desert island discs” in my collection. I could still listen to this on repeat and never tire of it.

Part of me wishes I could see them play the album once again on the 19th. When Keith and I went to the concert back in the day, I remember watching him disappear into the mosh-pit while I stood at the sidelines too afraid to join in. Part of me always wished I hurtled myself into the fray. Part of me is glad I’m too old to make up for it now.

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5 comments

  1. Good thing there are people who love Ned’s. I remember being the only one listening to them in school. Everyone was into glam rock. No offense to glam. I still love glam. But Ned’s and their contemporaries still dominate up to now my listening hours.


    • It’s a truly classic album and still sounds great.


  2. Hi man, I was 17 when this album came out. At the time I was playing in bands but well into hard rock and metal so I didn’t pay enough attention to the band. I should also explain that I’m from Merseyside U.K. and the U.K. is a small place. Ned’s were pretty much the same age as me and from less than an hour in the car away.

    I just revisited the album this week after all these years and despite it being a bit light it’s great and really ahead of the curve. A couple of years down the road Ash would be the next teen band to go big in the U.K.

    I’m trying to think who was better. Ash’s live shows were notoriously bad but Ned’s were legendary moshes.


  3. Sorry I didn’t drag you in with me. I’m sure it was a happy dance kinda place. Thanks for doing these reviews. It’s fun to read your story / our story / and about the music. It’s harder to find the time to listen to things, especially older stuff so you’ve struck on a great plan of attack.


    • All things considered, I never liked a mosh pit, so don’t worry about it. But I probably should have gone in and discovered that then. Really, I shouldn’t have brought Tikki. Really, I shouldn’t have been dating her.

      Yeah, I’m enjoying writing these older reviews.



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