Ritz To Rubble: Arctic Monkeys' Debut Album Ranked - Song By Song
23rd January 2016, 06:00
Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not is ten years old today. Good grief. To celebrate, here at Radio X we've banged our heads together to rate the album's tunes, track-by-track. Agree? Disagree? Let us know.
13: You Probably Couldn’t See For The Lights But You Were Staring Straight At Me
Coming in at 2 minutes 11 seconds, the indulgently titled You Probably Couldn’t See For The Lights But You Were Staring Straight At Me is a perfect snapshot of the band at their most juvenile. Turner throws away lyrics that would come to define the band’s early sound (“Could all go a bit Frank Spencer”) and, more specifically, his habits as a young songwriter.
12: Riot Van
Rarely ever performed live, Riot Van was the traditional “slow song” on the album. More than a crowd pleasing banger, Riot Van depicted a the story of unruly youth winding up the police until the inevitable happens. Riot Van is concise, clear and a great example of how the band could create audio polaroids.
11. Red Lights Indicates Doors Are Secure
"Din't ya see she were gorgeous, she was beyond belief / But this lad at the side drinking a Smirnoff ice came and paid for her tropical Reef.” Possibly the most “Arctic Monkeys” lyric ever written, Red Lights Indicates Doors Are Secure is a long way from L.A. shine of R U Mine. It’s just as punchy though, and the choral shout of “NO SURRENDER” is nothing but fun.
10. Perhaps Vampires Is A Bit Strong But…
Even in the early days, Arctic Monkeys were cynical. Perhaps Vampires…looks at the sycophantic world of the music biz and lashes out at it. The extended outro sees Turner and Cook performing more than simple indie riffs with their guitars. More than any other track, Vampires really showed their potential musically.
9. When The Sun Goes Down
Although a festival and fan favourite, When The Sun Goes Down has fallen out of favour with the band in recent years - and that’s probably because they’ve played it about 5,000 times. But the opening vocal and solo guitar performance is iconic and you can still hear it regularly at indie clubs.
8. The View From The Afternoon
This track, the album’s opener, was a compelling taste of what was to come from the Monkeys. Helders’ drumming takes centre stage here, demonstrating the musicians' fresh-faced and enthusiastic ability.
7. From The Ritz The To The Rubble
Ever been turned away from a nightclub? Of course you have. That’s why From The Ritz To The Rubble resonates so effectively.
6. Fake Tales Of San Francisco
Fake Tales Of San Francisco was one of the first, and most popular, Monkeys tracks. It’s also where the immortal lyric “Love’s not only blind but deaf” came from. A pitch-perfect thumbnail sketch of local wannabe bands.
5. Dancing Shoes
“Get on yer dancing shoes” calls Turner at the start of this AM classic. As one of the album’s meatier riffs, the band have always held onto it in their live shows.
4. I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor
I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor was an instant hit, reaching No.1 before folks had even had the chance to hear it twice. Obviously it ticked all the “indie floorfiller” boxes (big chorus, easy lyrics, guitar solos) but there was something so effortless about it that connected with people, and it’s never been out of the setlist since.
3. Mardy Bum
Mardy Bum became one of the most celebrated anthems of 2006, and arguably the noughties as a whole. It was flippant, witty and, well, a tune. The track defined the album - that combination of relatable lyrics and big choruses. Plus, it wasn’t even a single. That’s good work.
2. Still Take You Home
Of all Arctic Monkeys tracks, Still Take You Home is the one that perfectly summed up the mid-noughties days of cheap booze deals, tacky clubs, and shameless attempts to pull. The lyrics are funny yet self effacing, and it was instantly nostalgic. Of all the racing, thrashy Monkeys tunes, Still Take You Home was the most concrete, and definitely one of the funniest songs on the record.
1. A Certain Romance
Before they’d even appeared on TV or radio, Arctic Monkeys were everywhere. One of the reasons was this track. Thanks to MySpace and the mid-noughties social media explosion, A Certain Romance (along with other scratchy demos) circulated quicker than anyone expected. It was an anthem for the modern age, for the working man. From the rolling drum intro to the concluding E Major brush, A Certain Romance encapsulated exactly what this band had to offer; lyrics, riffs, tunes.