The Cribs

TrackSingle / Album
Another NumberWichita - WEBB 051s
I'm A RealistMen's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever
Leather Jacket Love SongPayola
Kind Words From
The Broken Hearted
Wichita - WEBB 156SX / Payola
Shoot The PoetsMen's Needs Women's Needs, Whatever
Mirror KissersThe New Fellas
Jaded YouthIn The Belly Of The Brazen Bull
MartellThe New Fellas
Year Of Hate24-7 Rock Star Shit
Be SafeMen's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever

spotify-logo-primary-horizontal-dark-background-rgb-sm

 

The Cribs photo

The Cribs (l to r): Ross Jarman (drums), Gary Jarman (bass, vocals), Ryan Jarman (guitar, vocals)

 

Contributor: Graeme Lucas

Whenever I am speaking to someone about music, and they seem to share my tastes, I always feel the need to find out their views on The Cribs. This normally elicits one of four responses:

1) Who?
2) They’re crap
3) I love them too
4) I really liked the Men’s Needs album but haven’t heard much else

Of these, whilst all are perfectly acceptable, I find answer 4 kind of depressing. Of course, Men’s Needs is a classic of its ilk – a tour de force of mid-fi/indie/punk and it has great song after great song. It would be easy to do a top 10 if I had only heard that album. However, with most bands, their most popular work generally only scratches the surface of what makes the band great. The same is true of the Cribs.

For this top 10, I am hoping to choose ten songs that demonstrate their diversity, versatility and overall greatness. Given that I had fifteen years, seven albums, loads of singles and B-sides to go at, choosing 10 was virtually impossible. I once made a Spotify playlist of my favourite Cribs songs and there were over fifty, so I hope you understand the scale of the task. Initially, I wanted every album represented, along with a couple of non-album singles and the famous B-sides. Once I started down this path, however, it became clear that this would have led to a lower quality top 10. There are some notable omissions and no doubt some aficionados will look at this and scream, “I can’t believe he didn’t choose track X, Y or Z” – but the list is what it is; a journey through my life as a Cribs fan.

Hopefully, some of the choices will make some new fans. The order in which they are chosen is important too – it is not chronological, or in order of preference, but designed to be listened to in that order, by way of introduction to the band. My advice for anyone who has never listened to the Cribs? Listen to the first three selections. If you don’t like them, go no further. You won’t be a fan. As the list progresses, however, more sounds, styles and techniques will reveal themselves. Ultimately, great riffs, great melodies and singing of variable quality are what makes the three brothers from Wakefield (and that’s all your getting in terms of band history – look it up if you’re interested) what they are.

Another Number
This song is really where it all began in many ways. Back in 2003, this was released as a limited edition AA-side single, along with Baby Don’t Sweat and both ended up on the debut album, The Cribs. For me, Another Number is an utterly timeless classic. I have seen them live on many occasions and this is one the crowd always demand. If we are more than half way through a set and this hasn’t made an appearance, you can guarantee that the main repeating riff will be sung at the stage until the song gets played. A very simple song, based around what is a really simple riff … now how does it go? Der der der der der der der …

I’m A Realist
Moving on to the breakthrough album, Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever, and skipping The New Fellas for a reason here. Another Number had that riff and for me MNWNW was an album that was absolutely jam packed with great riffs, so for people just getting a taste for the Cribs, moving onto this seems to me to make sense. Definitely not lo-fi any more, this song has a slick feel to it, but again, the second they start to play it, especially live, an electricity seems to kick in. It’s an absolute classic and in terms of this era, I chose it ahead of the other two obvious choices – Men’s Needs and Our Bovine Public.

Leather Jacket Love Song
A song built around a mythology. After MNWNW was released, the band were joined by rock royalty, Mr Johnny F Marr. The album they made together is widely considered by Cribs fans to be the weakest to date, but this is not a view I share. As a Marr obsessive since 1984, I may be biased. Anyway, the album came and went and one song, Leather Jacket Love Song, was often spoken of, but never released and then Johnny left and that, I thought, was that. A few years later, however, came Payola, a ‘greatest hits’ album of sorts. One unreleased track featured – it was this. Such a beautiful guitar line played by Johnny – wistful, nostalgic and unmistakeably Marr. The video added to this nostalgia with some really old footage of the band set against the backdrop of this amazing song.

Kind Words From The Broken Hearted
Also from Payola which was accompanied by a second disc and this is where the Cribs really excelled; the lost art of the humble B-Side. Gary has gone on record as saying that all their best songs are on this disc. I wouldn’t necessarily share that view but, for many people, songs such as So Hot Now, On A Hotel Wall, Don’t You Wanna Be Relevant? really represent what the Cribs are about. I love loads of these – Fairer Sex, Get Yr Hands Out Of My Grave and many others – but there is a real bounce and chaos to this, lyrically full of hope and hopelessness and it always strikes a chord with me. “Sweet words from a tortured mind.”

Shoot The Poets
Back to MNWNW – a great album closer – probably the most ‘Uncribsy’ song I have chosen. A ballad of sorts that always reminds me of a great night in Preston watching them and Ryan performed this solo, preceded by an anti-industry rant about how the media hate them because “they say I can’t sing …” His ‘don’t care about anything but the music’ attitude really tells itself in this great little singalong. Turn it up loud and sing along …

Mirror Kissers
Angry Cribs. Again, a real live favourite and certainly one that is in my top 3. Discordant, loud and the punk spirit burns brightly in this. A total departure from the previous song, but the attitude remains. Set against a harsh guitar line, this song has a real go at ‘the mirror kissing ways of the hipster type’. Nothing oblique about this – obvious, harsh and utterly rifftastic. From the second album, The New Fellas, this is still often a set opener and always gets any venue bouncing.

Jaded Youth
In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull was the follow up to Ignore The Ignorant (the one with Johnny Marr) and after a dabble in jangle, this showed a return to the abrasive punk ethos from earlier albums. This one, however, had a sharper production, some great singles which you’ve probably all heard, but this song is just massive and for someone like myself, who is on the wrong side of 45 but often to be found ‘looking for a piece of the action’, it is by far the best song on the album. I’m boring myself no, but that riff … huge. Love it.

Martell
Having gone huge on the previous track, I want to return to my favourite Cribs album, The New Fellas. As with Mirror Kissers, this is a sneering look at certain people within ‘the scene’, but is slightly poppier in its approach and definitely more accessible. I wanted to choose 5 or 6 off this album, and am still beating myself up over the omission of It Was Only Love, but I had chosen Shoot The Poets – couldn’t have 20% slow songs in a Cribs top 10!

Year Of Hate
Time to come up to date. In 2015, the Cribs went to America and recorded an album with Rik Ocasek, which was, in my opinion, the weakest. That said, Mr Wrong, Different Angle, Pink Snow are great songs in their own way, but for me, as an album, it was too polished in parts and the singles didn’t grab me. Maybe it was just too poppy. Not chosen any from For All My Sisters. Anyway … back to mythology. For years, rumours abound that there were some recordings left over from the 2012 Belly Of The Brazen Bull sessions and in the summer of 2017, the Cribs dropped a couple of quick singles, along with an album 24-7 Rock Star Shit and it was, in my opinion, their most powerful body of work since The New Fellas. The lead off single, Year Of Hate, was perfect – angry, loud and did everything the mythology had ever suggested. The whole album is ace – but this track really symbolises the whole album.

Be Safe
Couldn’t be anything else. A spoken word epic, in partnership with the amazing Lee Ranaldo from Sonic Youth. I took my son to see the Cribs on the 10th anniversary tour of MNWNW and, having seen them in small venues for years, the Leeds Arena was a bit weird, but it worked. That night, I bought a t-shirt with the lyrics to this song on, with the ‘OPEN ALL THE BOXES’ bit on the back. It’s in a handwritten style and it’s probably my favourite t-shirt ever. Trouble is, it does use bad language in the song, which he gleefully pointed out to his mum – so I can only wear it in certain places! Anyway, that night, the unthinkable happened. As they came to play this, Ryan started talking about something special, never been done before … and on walked Lee Ranaldo, armed with sheets of paper with lyrics on. What a moment, what a song … “I know a place we can go where you’ll fall in love so hard, you’ll wish you were dead …”

Anyway, that concludes my 10. I’d probably choose differently tomorrow, but I think it’s a selection that represents all that is great about the Cribs. I’d say I hope you like them too, but I’m a bit like Ryan Jarman, and I don’t really care anyway!

 

The Cribs poster

 

The following three photos were taken by the writer at a Cribs exhibition at Wakefield Museum.

 

Ryan Jarman photo

Ryan Jarman

 

 

Gary Jarman photo

Gary Jarman

 

 

Ross Jarman photo

Ross Jarman

 

The Cribs official website

@thecribs – Offical Twitter feed

The Cribs YouTube Channel
Hundreds of videos to be found here, with some really great entire gig footage, including this gem from 2002. Raw is an understatement:

The Cribs biography (iTunes)

Graeme Lucas has been a fan of the alternative music scene since stumbling across Joy Division and Bauhaus as a young child. Thanks to them, the Smiths and Echo and the Bunnymen, he spent most of his teenage years miserable and alone. A lover of live music, he likes film and stores a small amount of gig videos on his YouTube Channel and can be followed on Twitter @glpne73

TopperPost #753

2 Comments

  1. Keith Shackleton
    Nov 26, 2018

    Nice work. There’s no way I could actually commit to ten songs, so kudos to you. I guess I don’t neatly fit into your categories in that I am “5. I really liked the Men’s Needs album but haven’t heard anything to quite match it yet.”
    I’ve seen them three times. The last was with Johnny, in a smallish bar here in town, and my reckon on that time is that both band and artist were and are better apart, much as I love JM.
    The first was one of the legendary gigs.. at the now defunct Dimples Karaoke Bar in Burbank, a side-show to Coachella 2007, which was absolutely ferocious. One of my companions that night was (is) a Mighty Lemon Drop, and he says that at one point, he thought the Cribs were on course to rule the world. A little exaggeration, maybe, but I can well see what he means as around that time they had everything.. fire, skill, and the kind of ‘don’t give a shit’ attitude that most bands can only fake. And then I saw them sidestage at the main event, still great, but just a little out of place in a big tent in the daytime.
    Apart from Men’s Needs.. as the absolute pinnacle, Brazen Bull is the album that gets nearest to it for me. Albini pretty much lets them get on with it as Kapranos did, but you can still tell it’s Albini at the controls.
    Cheers.

    • Graeme Lucas
      Dec 8, 2018

      Thanks for the comment Keith.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

↓