Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

It’ll End in Tears – This Mortal Coil [#644]

Gloomy collaborative music by Evo Watts’ music project This Mortal Coil.

Like Mike Oldfield’s Islands this was also part of a x for £xx deal at the Virgin Megastore in Liverpool (now Claus Ohlson). I mourn the passing of record shops and their x for £xx deals, this is not an offer the likes of Amazon, iTunes and their ilk seem to foster. I was drawn to This Mortal Coil and their 1984 album It’ll End in Tears via the 4AD Uncut Compilation CD and David Lynch’s Lost Highway in which the band’s cover of Tim Buckley’s Song of the Siren featured and marked the beginning of me being a little more adventurous with my music choices. However I only became aware of them following the rerelease of the album in the nineties.

Of course, this was in the nineties so music downloading hadn’t really taken off in the UK due to the crapness of internet connectivity but it quickly became a prized item in my music library. Especially as it made me feel that I appeared cultured and with it to my Guardian reading, coffee table book owning friends at the time.

Hipster? moi? Nah my trousers are not corduroy and I don’t own a penny farthing.

Apologies for the break in posts last week, I’m still rebuilding my music library following an IT issue with my iMac, and have just returned from a holiday in Dorset so posts will be a little sporadic for a few weeks. However, please do not feel I’ve abandoned this project or stopped writing, I haven’t. Keep an eye out on my other blog, the Compostual Existentialist over the next few weeks for details of my recent holiday.

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If I Could Do It All Over Again, I’d Do It All Over You – Caravan #604

Car-IfIThe thing with Canterbury scene folk music is it is as incestuous as progressive rock in that band members swap around like couples swap partners at a swingers party. Indeed, along with the band members, so also comes a very distinctive sound that pervades the music like the sort of odour that lingers inside a musty old caravan. Moreover, Canterbury scene bands blur the prog rock/folk boundaries and it is often difficult to pigeonhole your selected band into the correct genre.

When you listen to the likes of Caravan, it’s not surprising that it seems so familiar. Indeed, two of the band’s members, Richard and David Sinclair, later joined Camel. But apart from that, one can detect influences both from and to the likes of Gong, Spirogyra, Trees, Renaissance and even Greenslade. I ended up with this and three other Caravan albums following a deeper investigation of bands featured on The Best Prog Rock Album in the World…Ever compilation.

If I Could Do It All Over Again, I’d Do It All Over You is the band’s second album. Released in 1970 and features the original line up of the band – Pye Hastings, David & Richard Sinclair and Richard Coughlan. It also features a rather prog-a-licious heavily jazz-influenced 14 minute track For Richard. 

 

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Has Been – William Shatner [#570]

For those unfamiliar with William Shatner, you might know him as the original Captain Kirk from the original Star Trek or maybe as T J Hooker or the priest from Horror at 37000 Feet. Maybe you might know William Shatner from his sci-fi novels, TekWar . Regardless, what you might not know is that like many other stars of stage and screen, Bill has turned his hand to music.

Shatner’s first album, Transformed Man, was received and ridiculed by many as Shatner’s “singing” style amounted to nothing more than speaking the lyrics to the songs. Surprisingly, if you just accept it as a style, it does actually work well.

I really enjoyed the quirkiness of Transformed Man so when I heard he was working on a collaboration with Ben Folds I was really excited. The fruit of the collaboration is Has Been. Possibly the most famous song on the album is the cover of Pulp’s Common People but there are many other absolute gems here too.

The title track, Has Been is an amusing slant at the “I can do better” people, while the song That’s Me Trying (a song about a father who’s never been there) never fails to raise a smile. The whole album is a priceless gem.

 

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Ghosts of Oxford Street – Various Artists [#522]

Unknown-5 The soundtrack to Malcolm Maclaren’s Christmas film for Channel 4.

Like with the Kinks’ Return to Waterloo, I have an off-air recording of the film on VHS that I treasure. I’d even go as far to say it is one of the primary reasons that I still have a VHS tape recorder tucked away in the loft. Sure there are probably versions of this on Youtube or Vimeo, but they’ll only last as long as the copyright nazis allow them to stay up.

Home video taping is killing music.

That said, I did buy this (and still have it) on CD.

The film has Maclaren poncing around London’s Oxford Street at Christmas telling tales about the dark history of the world famous street of consumerism with each of the “ghosts” played (sung) by different artists. Tom Jones pulls off a great Gordon Selfridge while the Happy Mondays manage an excellent cover of the Bee Gees’ Staying Alive. While Sinead O’Connor, Kirsty MacColl and the Pogues remind us of the festive season with their  songs with a slightly Christmassy feel.

Because of the Christmas bias, it feels odd listening to the soundtrack out of season but it’s not impossible to do so. Skipping the four Christmas centric songs still allows the listener a good twenty minutes of interesting music. Even Ponchielli’s  Dance of the Hours (performed on the CD by the Academy of St Martin’s in the Field) isn’t too festive in feeling and is a really piece of driving Classical music.

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Dreamtime Submersible – Evan Marc & Steve Hillage [#395]

Dreamtime submersibleEvery so often during my exploration of the aural soundscape, I find interesting albums. Usually they are collaborations of some artist I like or a member of a band I like getting together with another band or artist that I like.

This is an example find.

Steve Hillage, formerly of Gong, plays guitar along side Evan “Bluetech” Marc, a chap who has made a living out of playing records at people. Of course such a collaboration is either going to be mind-blowing or a pile of steaming manure.

I guess my aural rhubarb is going to be bountiful.

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Conspiracy – Billy Sherwood & Chris Squire [#304]

Conspiracy - Chris Squire Billy SherwoodYes’ bass guitarist, Chris Squire and his chum, former two album Yes guitarist Billy Sherwood, collaborate and produce a sound that is rather quite good under the working band title of Conspiracy.

You can hear where Yes were heading with this collaboration. Hints of Talk and Big Generator permeate the overarching soundscape of this album and a version of More we Live (Let Go) from Yes’ later Union album features as well as Open Your Eyes and the twee  Man in the Moon from later (and best forgotten) Yes album Open Your Eyes. 

Sadly the collaboration only lasted one more album, The Unknown, and technically Conspiracy is a collection of studio workings gathered over several years. People still debate whether it was Squire who did the dirty on Sherwood or whether other forces were at work. Either way, Squire remains the only member of Yes to have played on every Yes album and Sherwood still floats in and out of prog bands and projects, not really adhering himself to any big name.

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The Best Prog Rock Album in the World…Ever – Various Artists (#176)

The Best Prog Rock Album in the World...Ever - Various Artists (#176)The Best Prog Rock Album in the World…Ever – Various Artists 

This is one of the last CDs I bought. A wicked compilation showcasing a massive range of prog bands covering Canterbury scene, Zappa and even the first sprouts of New Romanticism.

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