guns n roses

What would you do with £148 million…?

16 August 2012

An artist's impression of what it will look like when The Lightyears meet Guns 'N' Roses.The lucky winner of last Friday’s EuroMillions lottery, Adrian Bayford, netted nearly 150 million quid – and has announced he’d love to spend some of that money re-uniting the original line-up of Guns ‘N’ Roses.

I think this is brilliant. It would never happen of course (the original members probably don’t need the cash and, quite simply, all hate Axl just a bit too much), but I love the fact that he came up with the idea in the first place. Most lottery winners come out in the press with the usual ‘I’ll buy a new house for my parents, and maybe start a charity’ spiel, but Bayford’s just gone straight for the bonkers, and I think he should be lauded for that. If more people with absurd fortunes started spending their money on ridiculously pointlessly wonderful things, the world would probably be a happier place.

So my question to you folks is this – what mad thing would you with 150 mill?

Taking Adrian Bayford’s musical pipe-dream as an inspiration, I’ve come up with my top three Mental Things I Would Do With A Gigantic Fortune:

1) Build my very own Keyboard Roller-Coaster for use at gigs. You know, for solos and that. Time for a solo, get on the coaster. Boom.
2) Hire legendary film composer John Williams for a month and get him to soundtrack everything I do with an epic string section.
3) Pay Nicki Minaj to stop. Just that – stop. I don’t care how much money it takes, as long as she stops.

My very own Rock Supergroup

20 March 2009

Writing consecutive blogs about Guns N Roses and Michael Jackson has got me thinking about my rock supergroup. To be taken seriously in muso circles, every self-respecting, self-aggrandising rock fan should have their own supergroup, just as they really ought to be able to reel off their Top Five “Track One Side Ones”*** on request.

I’ll cut to the chase. Whilst I’m on the subject of MJ and GnR, the King Of Pop (circa 1987) would take on vocal duties whilst Slash would provide lead guitar. As tempted as I would be to include Axl in the line-up as well, I believe that supergroup regulations forbid any two members to have come from the same original band and, in any case, you can’t have two frontmen. Well, unless you’re The Beatles. Or The Libertines. Anyhow, I digress. Since the band would OBVIOUSLY be piano-led, I’d have to employ Jerry Lee Lewis on the ivories and have Ben Folds waiting in the wings to fill his shoes when the inevitable happens. Tim Commerford from Rage Against The Machine would play bass and Zeppelin‘s John Bonham (resurrected) would be my stick-man.

And so, I hear you cry, what kind of music would this pure pop/hard rock/hip-hop metal fusion/50s throwback leviathan pump out? Well, exactly that – heavy riffing, face-melting, boogie woogie hook-laden pop with wicked dance moves.

And I shall call them “Dangerous Killing In The Name Of A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On Heaven’s Door” (yes, it works).

Coming to a stadium near you.

Chris Lightyear

ps. please do comment back with your own supergroups and we’ll see if we can out-do each other like Top Trumps.

*** “Black Dog” from Led Zeppelin IV, “Taxman” from Revolver, “Jackson Cannery” from Ben Folds Five, “La Breeze” from Simian’s We Are Your Friends and “Slam” from Pendulum’s Hold Your Colour (if you discount the 53-second opening prelude, which for these purposes I do)

Great Rock Albums That Never Were – Part One

2 March 2009


So, I’ve been listening to Guns ‘n’ Roses a lot this weekend and it’s got me thinking about Use Your Illusion – one of the single greatest rock albums never made (technically speaking). 

Obviously, Guns released Use Your Illusion parts I and II as a double-album in 1991, representing the follow-up to their blistering debut Appetite For Destruction, and together the two works are punctuated by a string of absolutely corking tracks. However, due mainly to the effects of Axl’s growing megalomania and the band’s inevitable course towards implosion, the double-album was somewhat blighted by inconsistency – and, crucially, by simply being too long.

And so I ask you this – what if UYU had in fact been a more conventional hour-long single album? Would we not have had a contender for the most sublime rock record ever released? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. In the meantime, here’s how – if they’d thought to include me in the studio sessions – I would have written the tracklisting (I suppose employing a ten year-old child from West Berkshire for this task would have been a little out-of-character for Guns ‘n’ Roses at the time, but nevertheless I think we can all agree it was an oversight):   

Perfect Crime
Don’t Damn Me
Civil War
Pretty Tied Up
You Could Be Mine
Dust ‘n’ Bones
Don’t Cry
Bad Obsession
Live And Let Die
14 Years
November Rain
Get In The Ring
You Ain’t The First

OK, the order’s not quite there (everybody knows it take months to properly order an album) but I think we can all concur that there’s no dead wood involved.  

By the way, I like to maintain that, whilst they had a tendency to release the occasional duff track, GNR summed up the essence of rock and roll like no other band has before or since. These guys were 100% thoroughbred. Take Slash, for example, a man who hit the substances for so hard and so long that he ACTUALLY DIED in an elevator and had to be brought back to life by his manager. I don’t care how many swimming pools you’ve driven cadillacs into, THAT is the most rock and roll thing I have ever heard. And in some ways, the band’s reputation and image supercedes the impact of the actual songs themselves. By which I mean that GNR (whilst my favourite band of all time) don’t have nearly as many great tunes as The Beatles or Pink Floyd – but what they have in greater abundance than any of their competitors is an elusive quality that Hugh Padgham would call ‘tude. That is, the attitude of a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Long live the Guns, I say.   

By the way, I’ve just discovered, via the wonder of Wikipedia, that the compilation album Use Your Illusion was in fact released in September of 1991 (in the USA only). Mind you, this was comprised only of the songs lacking profanities in order that the record could be sold in Walmart. Depressing, eh?   

Chris Lightyear

(Disclaimer: this feature is unlikely to have a Part Two. It just sounded like the kind of title that required the suffix “Part One”. You know, like it’s a series on VH1 or something)

The Lightyears’ Family Tree

19 January 2009

Today, to mark the release of our new album London, England, I thought I’d attempt the impossible – to figure out where the heck it is that The Lightyears come from. 

People always ask musicians “Who are your influences?”, and musicians tend to answer with long, protracted diatribes about rare Frank Zappa B-sides and unreleased Captain Beefheart LPs that leave normal people reeling.

From now on then, when people ask me that question, I can simply refer them to this article.

Essentially I’m talking about a musical family tree. Who are our musical forefathers, our rock ancestors, our guitar-strumming, key-bashing, stick-wielding predecessors? 

To answer this question, we must begin at the beginning… 

It is 1994. Everybody’s dressed in inexplicably baggy t-shirts and careering round the playground bellowing Harry Enfield catchphrases at each other. I am still struggling to crack the mysterious phenomenon of the Magic Eye picture (“No, I can’t see a bloody dolphin in there! What do you mean look through it?”) and Les Dennis is still considered entertaining. Most importantly, soft-rock overlords Bon Jovi have taken George and I by the scruff of our tiny, grubby necks and, charmingly, have inspired us to start our own band.

George and I bonded over a mutual love of Bon Jovi. Mainly I think George encouraged this to distract me from Pantera and I, in turn, did so to distract him from Chris De Burgh. In hindsight, I think we can probably both agree that this was a very smart move.

Elsewhere, in Reigate, Surrey, Tony is diligently studying old Cream LPs and dreaming of one day smoking a cigar with Ginger Baker. Stoically anti-fashion, he spurns the bands everyone else is into and in doing so paves the way for a lifetime of shameless contrariness.

When the two worlds collide and The Lightyears (née Satellite) are formed, cheesey-nice-boy hair-rock goes head-to-head with pretentious prog-rock in a terrible battle for supremacy.

The resulting war of musical prejudices plays out something like this:

(Disclaimer 1: Rock Genealogy is not an exact science. I may have taken a few liberties here.) 

(Disclaimer 2: our biggest single collective inspiration is probably The Beatles but I haven’t included them in the tree on account of the fact that bands citing the Fab Four as an influence is a bit like a chef saying he’s influenced by salt and pepper.)

Bugger. Just realised I missed out Blur. And The Small Faces.

Well, it’ll have to do for now. To avoid unnecessary debate, this diagram is not designed to be chronologically accurate – it simply traces the course of our tastes in music. If you’re particularly anal you may enjoy some of the logical segues – take Ben Folds Five into Jerry Lee Lewis, for example, or Counting Crows into Death Cab For Cutie – and I hope that, by the same token, you will ignore some of the absurd non-sequiturs (nobody goes direct from Funkadelic to Dodgy, I mean that’s just silly. Problem is, drawing all those little lines took ages and, well, it’s not like I don’t have other important stuff to do).

Speaking of which, my tax return is staring at me from across the room like a dreadful paper Sauron. “I seeeeeee you…”, it’s saying. Yeah whatever. You’re not the boss of me, Tax Return. 

Later kids!

Chris Lightyear