Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Heart Shaped World – Chris Isaak [#573]

Heart_shaped_worldTrouble all around, says Chris in this his third album.

This was the second Chris Isaak album I added to my collection and was the first that hadn’t been copied from a friend’s CD onto cassette (Thanks, Mike!) and the first I bought having seen Mr Isaak play at my first gig at the Royal Court in Liverpool.

As a single teenager the angst-ridden lyrics meant something to me. Well they seemed to. As with all Chris Isaak, they are songs about either a woman done me bad, oh noes my drinking buddy has died or  hey mrs robinson milf I’m a young and virile chap let’s do the jiggy.  Though admittedly, they are mostly about cheating on lovers and are a little whiney.

Isaak’s breakthrough album in Europe, with two albums already under his belt; Chris Isaak and Silvertone, the success of Heart Shaped World and his singles, Blue Hotel and Wicked Game meant that releasing his best of compilation, also called Wicked Game, as the next album was a clever marketing trick. Indeed, as Isaak himself, and his music, started to appear more regularly in films and on TV it wasn’t long before  his fan base started to grow in the UK and people stopped asking me “Who?” when I said that I liked Chris Isaak.

Sadly people I spoke to still daubed him with the Country & Western brush instead of the American Rock genre I liked to classify his music as. Indeed, as there was a bit of a wait until his next album San Fransisco Days to show how diverse his music skills were.

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Forever Blue – Chris Isaak [#488]

220px-Forever_Blue_-_Chris_IsaakIn 1995, just when I thought Chris Isaak had given up and gone off to that place where successful musicians disappear to, Isaak released Forever Blue. Nicely timed too, as dramatic changes were taking place in my own life.

Forever Blue was once described as the most “depressing Chris Isaak album ever”, fitting really as Isaak’s childhood sweetheart and wife died during the production of the album, a fact I only discovered last year. This nugget of information helps explain some of the lyrics and the songs on the album.

Regardless of situation, Isaak pulls out all the stops. Moping and pining lyrics dotted with the yearnings of pathetic love sick teenagers bring an extra departure from previous more jovial albums such as San Fransisco Days returning us to the near original classic Chris Isaak of Chris Isaak and Silvertone era. An excellent album for a break up.

This album helped me through the dark years of 1995-1997 and, if you were to jump into a time machine and go to my old flat back then, you’d have probably heard this album repeatedly being played, ingraining itself in my aural memory as a “flat album”.

Great stuff.

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Chris Isaak – Chris Isaak (#269)

Chris IsaakChris Isaak – Chris Isaak

Back in the nineties, Chris Isaak’s song Blue Hotel stormed the UK charts quickly followed by his hit Wicked Game which had appeared in some film or other. Isaak mania hit Britain like a soggy clump of wet tissues.

Mike Regan, good old school friend of mine, once said to me: “Hey Ste, this Chris Isaak is alright isn’t he?”. I had to agree. There then followed a trip to the Royal Court in Liverpool to see Chris Isaak. Live. In the flesh. WOW!

There he was, looking all sweaty on the stage. I was near the front. Mid-way through Heat of the Jungle Isaak swigged from a bottle of water on the stage and spat it into the air back over himself to cool himself down. Being close to the front I got a nice wash from Mr Isaac’s spittle laden self-fountain. I’ll always remember, I bet he doesn’t.

Anyway, Chris Isaak went on to be another artist who had a major influence on my life. From the pre-post-adolescent angst of failed relationships and sitting about in parks, unemployed, gazing wistfully at young couples engaged in petting through to the period of life where I suddenly start wearing black, being miserable and all mystically new agey, Isaak was there. Being cool. Being musically excellent.

Even to this day, Isaak still puts out a good tune and every time I listen to one of his albums I am immediately transported back to the early 1990s. Every time I hear his music I’m dancing about imagining I’m all Chris Isaaky, curling my lip Elvisly and air guitaring like a maniac.

Curiously, I later found out that some of Isaak’s support musicians were musicians for another band that I liked yet to feature on this project, The Tubes, showing that weird connectivity I’m trying to prove with this project, that all my core music likes have some sort of tenuous connection.

 

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Beyond The Sun – Chris Isaak (182)

Beyond The Sun – Chris Isaak Beyond The Sun - Chris Isaak

I wasn’t impressed by Mr Isaak when this was released. Albums like this only show the creativity of the original artist and not the one covering the songs.

If you’re not familiar with Beyond the Sun, Isaak released this in 2011 to much publicity. The album features Isaak covering classic songs from the Sun record label of the 1950s/1960s. Isaak channels Presley, Cash and others. Sings and plays just like the originals.

But then you think, why did I spend my hard earned cash on this when I could have just fumbled about in that dusty box of 45s in the loft or paid some guy at a car boot 40p for the originals.

Seriously. Lazy musicianship.

 

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#161 – Best of – Chris Isaak

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 15.55.38

Best of – Chris Isaak

Chris Isaak’s claim to fame is that he spat on me during a performance at the Royal Court in Liverpool in the 1990s. I forgave him, of course, purely because he was unaware I was there to be frank.

Anyway, this compilation brings together all Isaak’s best songs about broken relationships up to about 2003ish. It’s a good compilation.

Isaak has, of late, gone down the route of other songsmiths of similar calibre, focussing on the songs of those that came before them. While this is a good move on a creative scale, I worry that all originality might start to suffer. Like it did with Bryan Ferry. Still, while you can still listen to his better tunes on a Best of  compilation, I don’t think we have to worry too much.

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#120 – Baja Sessions – Chris Isaak

Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 17.46.52Baja Sessions – Chris Isaak

Chris Isaak returns to the project. This time with an unplugged session of some of his better songs and a few covers.

There seemed to have been a movement that passed me by around the mid-90s where bands all started chucking out acoustic and lo-fi versions of their work. I’m not complaining.

This is good stuff. If studio Isaak has you feeling like you should slick your hair back, look aloof and pained yet cool and thoughtful; Lo-fi Isaak will have you wanting to sit on a porch with your dudes and guitar while a stream of girls walk past giving you the eye. Just like they do to Chris.

Of course that’s as likely to happen as the Vatican winning the world cup.

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Album #64 – Always Got Tonight – Chris Isaak

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 13.17.14Always Got Tonight – Chris Isaak

One more day, is all he asks for in his first track of this album.

Isaak returns to form in this 2002 release.

As already discussed in the previous Isaak album entry, 2 Metre Sessie, my love for Mr Isaak’s music stems from my youth. Back in the day, I had moved from regular visits to HMV to relying on friends and the internet for my music information. So it is probably no wonder that I didn’t come across this album until several years after it was released. And what a shame it was that I did.

Had it been released in the nineties I probably would have given it more attention but by the time I had come across it I was preoccupied with home making and Scandinavian operatic rock. So as a result it sat in my music collection unlistened to for some time.

Isaak’s unmistakable sound reverberates through this album like a stick in a metal bucket. It’s full of good lonesome tunes bemoaning the breakup of undiscussed relationships, extolling the virtues of being in love and being America. American Boy the tenth track on this album featured heavily in Isaak’s television show which, for reasons unknown, was shown too late in the night to be noticed by me. Thus I listen to this album and feel guilty about not being a true fan and staying up until ungodly o’clock to watch his escapades.

 

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Music Project – Album #5: 2 Metre Sessie by Chris Isaak

2 Metre Sessie2 Metre Sessie by Chris Isaak

Now the more astute of you or any huge fan of Chris Isaak will be going “WTF?! I don’t recognise this as an album!”. And the answer would be yes. You are right. This is a 1991 recording of a live session from a Dutch radio programme (http://www.2metersessies.nl) which runs regular music sessions with musicians. A bit like John Peel used to do. Without the alleged kiddy fiddling.

Chris strums his way through half an hour of a mixture of his own tunes and some classic covers of Orbison, Diamond and Nelson. If you like Isaak’s style this is a nice little filler your music library if you can find it. It’s from 1991 so don’t expect stuff from his Speak of the Devilor Forever Blue albums. This is Isaak at the point where I got into him. 1991. I remember queuing for his gig at the Royal Court in Liverpool with Laura Beachball, my first girlfriend. Listening to this album I sometimes imagine it being a recording of Chris practicing before going on stage.

A short review this one. Mostly because it’s a brief “album” that few who are interested will be able to obtain. I think I was just very lucky to be on Usenet on the day it was posted.

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