Reuben’s first song on their first album was surely a sign that the entire album was to be a great success. “One of the band's favourite songs,” Was a fairly big statement to make when they had 50 songs, how they feel about it now, with more than 100, is unknown. What we can determine though, is that the fans agreed, and what better way to show it, than it kicking off the top ten? Undoubtedly, the song is about growing as a person, with the opening lyric “You try my patience and I break your outer shell, Inside there's sweetness, but you hide it so well,” revealing a hidden poet in Jamie Lenman’s lyrics.
9. Three Hail Marys (230 points)
Where number ten allowed Jamie to grow as a person, this third album banger showed Jamie’s lyrics in an entirely different light. Three Hail Marys showed Reuben at their most stadium sounding. The song is large, anthemic, fist-pumping Nirvana-esque brilliance. Of course, Nirvana seemed to be a huge influence on Reuben, having stated it many times, not least in the lyrics to a fellow album track ‘Crushed By The Weight of Enormous Bullshit’ stating “I can still remember when I first heard the riff that opens "Nevermind" Up...My neck hairs stood up stiff”. Their influence on the band appears many times, whether in the style of lyrics, the sound of some songs (especially earlier), or just the chaotic nature of some songs. “And I am going to break, these things in my heart, Dark and disgusting, Feeling and growing, Taking over.”
8. Blamethrower (259 points)
This huge riff beast is one of the most potent on the band’s second album ‘Very Fast Very Dangerous’ with the basic message of ‘Take the blame, and don’t pass the buck,’ laced throughout the song. The anger from Jamie towards these people is also evident in the vocals and the nature of the song, making it a thunderous and shouty song, while still maintaining a cool head and perfect sound. One of the first songs to be heard from the second album, it was a huge difference from Reuben’s first, which is nothing short of a good sign, especially to Reuben fans. “You got to blame somebody for all your fucking mistakes, so someone else will pay for all the bad choices that you make, and it is all your fault that you feel angry like you do, But you cannot admit it and you're stuck thinking: "Now I don't feel so fucking good.””
7. Freddy Kreuger (260 points)
Of course, in all this aggression, Reuben are just a pop band at heart, with songs like this bursting out of Radio’s everywhere, and oozing good feeling. This is a lament to Reuben themselves, and was probably the one song every fan wanted to hear live more than any other. The anthemic chorus and sing-a-long lyrics are so potent and evident that you can understand it being the biggest acclaim the band ever got, getting a huge amount of play on music channels, and even circulating the radio stations at high velocity. Of course, it’s just a song that shows Reuben are just fun at heart, a message that came through with every interview and live show they ever did. Of course, the lyrics are probably about being sick of everything, even horror films, but that doesn’t matter… does it? “My name is Freddy Kreuger, and I've got the Elm Street Blues, I've got a hand like a knife rack, and I die in every film.”
6. We're All Going Home in an Ambulance (272 points)
This was probably the first recorded song I had heard from the third album, showing me a darker, more intelligent band behind the wheel. The songs lyrics are about a more serious topic than I thought Reuben were capable of; the tolerance for bullying and, in a way, racism. This is captured quite clearly within the lyrics, and how Jamie himself went through a few ordeals to inspire it. He tells of how “At school the choices I made were rock and roll bands and getting good grades. But brains and wearing all black, to some of these guys, it's like a red flag,” and further “I wish I had the guts to stand up for myself, and for others as well, against these fuckers.” Obviously, while it’s a tough subject for him, the song received huge acclaim from fans and newcomers alike, who heard the song on a Rock Sound CD. The song is an incredible act, and is definitely one of my top 5. “I once saw a man, with blood on his face, from beating up black kids, I could hardly breathe.”
5. Lights Out (274 points)
In perfectly odd fashion, this was one of the first songs heard from the second album, also having been put on a Rock Sound CD. What are the chances? This song was a chance for Reuben to experiment, it was their way of “attempting to try and create dynamism without heading straight for the distortion pedal.” Of course, they succeeded and created a great song too. Thomas Lockyer from the Reuben forums thought so, as he put it number one, “Lights Out is my favourite Reuben song above all other Reuben songs for a few reasons. …It has a great distinctive riff, a few nice vocal additions from Jon, it's easy to sing along to, but I think the main reason is the fact that a lot of people can relate to… the lyrics. Most (if not all) other Reuben songs also have these qualities, but Lights Out does it in a different way which keeps me listening again and again.” I couldn’t have said it better myself, so I won’t.
4. A Short History of Nearly Everything (389 points)
This one is my personal favourite. It starts with this huge lumbering bass riff, and slowly brings the other instruments in, ready to charge forward with the great intensity that Reuben fans can expect by the end of the third album. As Reuben do so well, they show great emotion and burgeoning passion for their music, especially in this song, with piano taking the lead for a while, before the song breaks down to complete silence, only to explode into a chasm of wonderful storytelling and sound. Essentially, the song is about a time when Jamie and a friend climbed a big hill, and had a great day doing it, but it feels like so much more. Even Barry Ronayne agrees stating, “It’s one of the best songs to close an album that I've heard.” He also states that on more than one occasion, the song gives him “chills”. I know that feeling. “Do you remember our best adventure? Stealing off to climb Westers Hill? Creeping out of our house at midnight? Do you remember on the way down after,
I cut my leg right open on that fence? And I cried and I cried...”
3. Shambles (403 points)
How fitting too, that the last song by Reuben to be released sits so high up on a list celebrating their music. Not only that, but it was also the last song on their first ever EP! Maybe I should explain. When the Pilot EP came out back in 2001, the band named Angel had just decided to change their name to Reuben. On that EP, for the first 100 copies anyway, a two minute long song called Shambles graced the ears of fans, and they were intrigued. A rumour started to float around that the band were going to put a bigger, longer version of it on the EP, but the studio time ran out, and the short, two minute version was added instead. For years, Reuben fans cried out to hear the long version, and in 2008, they got their wish. The re-recorded song was much more in depth and showed Reuben’s progression as a band to the fullest extent, bursting with a kind of unrealised brilliance. Just before Reuben were laid to rest, their final song showed them at perhaps their most alive. “Stick close to me and I won't let you go, all of this is worth it if it meant a thing to you, so suffer me, if that is all that you can do. I am good, I am good.”
2. Stuck in My Throat (411 points)
When I saw this rocketing up the chart, I couldn’t quite understand it. I had never been the biggest fan of this song, the first proper single from Reuben’s debut album. I had my doubts when I first heard it, whether the album would be as good as I hoped. Of course, I got the album and loved it straight through; with this nestling quite nicely as an album track. It was only when I listened to the song by itself, doing this list now, reading other fans words that it all really clicked. In the words of forum member Wordsfromreuben, “It’s that dirty opening riff. It’s that awkward intensity that accompanies genius lyrical content. It’s that incredibly slick transition from growling to singing that only a Lenman can provide.” It’s everything that Reuben encapsulated as a band. I love it more now than ever, as do I understand it more too. Time is a great thing. “I thought I saw you stray but I love you anyway. And I'd like us to be forever. That's what I tried to say, but it gets stuck in my throat, and words are missing.”
1. Return of the Jedi (453 points)
No Reuben song is more deserving of the number one spot. This is the one song that any Reuben fan can understand; even it spelled the end of the band long before it ever happened. In truth (and the words of Dave Venom), it’s a song that “rages against the music industry with such venom”, while still keeping the Reuben upbeat pop sensibility, and utter lyrical grace. It’s Reuben at their most truthful, stating, “these here Helmet rip offs, they don't buy my lunch, so I will get a real job in the office, and I wont bother to make my music, and I wont bother to sing my songs.” It shows certain vulnerability for their way of life and the state the music industry is in these days. For these kinds of bands who devote their lives cannot make a living off of their love, where so many others can, forcing them to get other jobs and spend less and less time being creative, until their world becomes squashed. “Piracy is piracy if you sail the seven seas or surf the net, Record firms, they're making losses but they spend it like they're making it… so your favourite bands they don't make that second album- dropped by their label cos they can't pay it back- it killed them!” Also with this song, the band take a firm stance against the record labels which have dragged them and so many other bands down into the gutter, and the piracy that causes them to loose their steady paycheck. It’s a heavy song, lyrically and musically, but still swings around with a forceful dancing beat. It’s Reuben in their finest hour, and there is nowhere else it should be than here.
Still, there is a message to be taken from it. Reuben didn’t give up there, and in fact went on to record another album, a Christmas single, and an EP. Felix Carter explains, “the "Sure..." sung in the last seconds of the song, I always took to be a sarcastic retraction of the previous verse (“I wont bother to make my music”). As if he was so in love with music that it had become an indispensable part of him, and regardless of how poor he was, or unsuccessful, he could never give up music. It's an inspiring sentiment for any musician; now bathed in the twisted light of irony, given Reuben's decline.” What else is left to say?
The gap in the hearts of Reuben’s fans will never be filled, unless they come back of course. No band comes close. None. (Cheesy, but true.)
But the saddest part of it all? We’ll never get that Doctor Who themed album!
Still, at least he gets a name drop in their Christmas single: