Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Home – The Gathering [#589]

Gathering_homeDuring the Great Download Free For All of the mid-noughties when I was ripped from the comedy inflatable bosom of Nightwish and thrown grovelling at the awesome rock prowess of The Gathering, I was self-tasked with the necessity to obtain the band’s entire catalogue.

Fortunately, this was one of those times when such an action was worthwhile. Aside from the band’s first couple of albums, Always and Almost a Dance, which are both truly dreadful and were swiftly deleted from my collection, their other albums just kept on sending tingles.

The Gathering are another example of where the UKs coverage of quality Euro music is lacking. The downright snobbery of the UK music industry in regard to artists from beyond the North Sea frequently turns my stomach. There really are some excellent artists out there but because a minority have the monopoly on what is seen and heard in the UK, it is often the case that without the internet, nothing “non-British” would be available. Indeed, even with impending changes to the accessibility of internet this will only get worse and result in  further impedence of the spread of culture from east to west while the spread of culture from west to east will continue unhindered.

Home is The Gathering’s eighth album and the last to feature Anneke van Giersbergen who, in my opinion, made the band. It seems that 2006 was the time of departure for a few female led Eurometal bands (eg Nightwish and Tarja’s departure), but rather than disappear into obscurity, van Giersbergen went on to work with Ayreon and do her own stuff and quite successfully too. Like Mandylion, it has an almost progressive concept album feel to it but the concept album vibe might just be my overactive imagination.

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Hazards of Love – The Decemberists [#571]

I once accidentally found a folder filled with illicit music on a hot desk PC at work. I’ve found over the years, the music I have self-discovered on the various platforms available, that have been left or lost by other people has become incalculable. Disguarded cassette tapes at the side of the road, mysterious CDs left in cars, abandoned MP3s on computers. So many different forms over the years and, like porn in park bushes, a form of discovery denied to future youth because of the controlled way that music is proliferated and consumed.

I suppose that is why I started this music project. A way to explain, not only to myself, that my music tastes have developed over the years but to also preserve for future generations a catalogue of music to discover for themselves without commercial interference and duplicity.

The Decemberists were one of those bands that I self-discovered via an abandoned folder of illicit downloads; Hazards of Love was a legitimate purchase made on the back of that discovery. But as we all know, downloading music illegally killed music, and this is why today, The Decemberists have to tour and continue to produce sound to feed their starving faces.

I’d not listened to Hazards of Love for some years after its purchase. Mostly because it languished in my collection out of reluctance to listen to it. Eventually, sometime in 2016, I plucked up the courage. My disappointment in having not listened to it before then forced me to reevaluate the whole purpose of the Music Project; this, curiously, took me a whole year to do.

Hazards of Love is a prog masterpiece. A true concept album and much more enticing than Crane Wife, Hazards of Love tells the story of magical beings that live in an enchanted forest and how falling in love in such environments is never a good idea. Some really catchy tunes with intricate lyrics make up this acoustic soundscape which will lure you in like a forest enchantress. Ideal as a first tentative step into the back catalogue of The Decemberists especially for those looking to later paddle into the shallows of post-pre-neo-revival prog rock.

Yes, I make up my own genres.

 

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Guitar Legends – Various Artists [#563]

Guitar Legends The guitar. Some would say it is a crucial instrument in modern music. “Without guitar” they might say, “All you have is some bloke singing with drums and a keyboard.” Which is true, but as we have already heard with the likes of Morphine and Matt Howden, the guitar is merely a tool in the production of great music. However, one cannot ignore the guitar completely, especially when presented with a compilation such as today’s album.

This two disc 41 song Capital Gold compilation features some interesting choices. It starts off quite promising with songs by Queen, Derek & the Dominos (guess which song), Rainbow and even Motorhead. But by the mid-way point it drifts into a sort of smokey late eighties blues nightclub (the proper sort where you go to listen to live music and smoke not to get pissed and/or laid) where Skynrd, Frampton, Santana and Lee Hooker have been placed on the bill with later guest appearances by John Lodge & Justin Hayward, Nick Drake and the Shadows.

If, for some reason, you’ve been living in a guitar free world and you’re interested in finding out what can be done with the instrument, I suppose this is a good way to find out.

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Green – REM [#560]

R.E.M._-_GreenAfter the incessant hounding of “should liking” U2 ended (I liked original Waterboys instead, never saw the appeal of U2 to be honest) the incessant hounding of “should liking” REM began.

People kept saying “OMG! REM are teh bezt” insisting that Michael Stipe and his chums were something new and exciting. Except, much like what happened with INXS, I hated them. Every song I heard was happy pop bollocks and reminded me too much of god bothering They Might Be Giants. Then James H Reeve played “Orange Crush” on his show late one night and explained the reasoning.

People would say “OMG! REM are teh bezt”. I would say “Well, I liked Orange Crush but nothing else”. People would say “I don’t understand that album” or “I didn’t like the early stuff” and so my theory that to some misguided people, bands are only as good as their popularity and notoriety was proven.

REM are still shite though.

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Greatest Hits Vols 1 & 2 – Queen [#556 & #557]

Queen_Greatest_Hits-1440px-Queen_-_Greatest_Hits_2It often seems like people tell me that I should like bands more than I do.
I’ve never liked Queen that much. Sure I appreciate the groundbreaking style of Bohemian Rhapsody, I also like their soundtrack to Flash Gordon but as I’ve said previously, I never held much love for Freddie Mercury and his pals.

Whether it was the type of person at my school that liked Queen, the sound or the way Freddie Mercury and Brian May, like Annie Lennox, made me feel uneasy. I remember being very young and ill in bed with a fever and Queen was on the radio as I was  having hallucinations featuring Benny from Crossroads, the Yorkshire Ripper, big brown leather cushions and a needle and thread. I guess that swung it.

So I’ve never bought any of their albums, obtaining these two via the generous internet download free for all of the mid noughties. Even so, like with Abba, Guns N Roses and similar artists of the time, their music features on my life soundtrack, so it’s hard to rule them out entirely hence their Greatest Hits being in my collection. Maybe if it wasn’t for Benny from Crossroads, Paul Midgeley’s dad and his Ford Sierra and Nick Gosney’s overly freckly round face, I might have given them a bit more air time.

 

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Greatest Hits – Guns N’Roses [#555]

GreatestHits_Guns'n'RosesAxl Rose and his buddies cram 14 of their songs onto a CD and call it their greatest.

In my opinion, Guns N’ Roses are a band of a certain time. That time, for me at least, being between 1990 and 1994. Because, it’s during those years in my life that their music features regularly on my life soundtrack. Of course , it’s not entirely as straight forward as that.

Guns N’ Roses are one of those bands I have been continually told that I “should” like. I think that suggestion started when I expressed an appreciation in Iron Maiden but I may be mistaken. To be fair though, GNR did appear to be everywhere in the early nineties and were popular amongst my fellow pupils at school. Thing was, I was still too interested in Progressive Rock and Chris Isaak to be bothered by new comers.

On reflection, when we compare the likes of Yes, Bonzo Dog and similar aged performers, I somehow can’t imagine Axl Rose performing in a similar style when he’s in his 80s. The distinctive shrill shrieky vocals somehow won’t seem dignified emanating from an old man. But, while I’m not a fan out right, GNR are a band from my formative years and through the best of, or Greatest Hits release, I don’t need to venture further into the realms of their albums.

 

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Greatest Hits – Aphrodite’s Child [#551]

Aphrodites Child Greatest Hits

Three bearded Greeks and an Egyptian perform their “greatest hits” from their three albums of which, I have one, 666.

Having only heard 666 before, when I first heard this album back in 2004, I was surprised by the other songs on the album. Aside from the tracks from 666 I’d already heard Rain and Tears and It’s Five O’Clock but had no idea they were Aphrodite’s Child songs. I had always thought they were Demis Roussos songs.

Anyway, it’s surprising how many “hits” a hardly heard of band have had and it frequently amuses me when I play people their songs and they exclaim, like me, they didn’t know it was by Aphrodite’s Child.

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Greatest – Duran Duran [#550]

Greatest - Duran DuranThe problem with releasing your “best of” when you’re still an active band is, you might still be an active band in another 20 years. Such is the case with eighties popper, Duran Duran. Thing is, they’re still chucking out the odd song still.

I wrote about the other Duran Duran Greatest Hits/Best of compilation, Decade  in July last year. Greatest is the addendum to that. Effectively, this is all the songs from the 1998 compilation with the 5 hit songs that followed.

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The Grand Design – Edenbridge [#545]

Edenbridge_-_The_Grand_DesignTowards the end of my exploration of the Scandinavian operatic goth metal movement of the late nineties and early noughties, and before branching out down the Ayreon/Gathering path, I uncovered an Austrian band called Edenbridge. Pretty much a Nightwish clone but with better pronunciation of English.

The Grand Design is their fifth studio album following the success of Shine. By this time, I was a little bored of the whole genre. There’s only so many Valkyries you can put up with and with middle age approaching, the constant chuggachugga guitar became a little puerile after a bit. As well, there was a kind of…I dunno…a Sandy Denny quality to the sound.

After some careful consideration, I had a purge of music in September and many Edenbridge albums didn’t make the cut. This one survived purely because it was the first of theirs I’d heard and because Evermore is not a bad song.

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Goth Electro Tribute to Depeche Mode – Various Artists [#541]

UnknownAnother tribute compilation album featuring artists nobody has heard of covering a band people have heard of.

Today, Goth Electro bands mostly murder 12 classic Depeche Mode songs but surprisingly, I’m willing to reduce the sentence to manslaughter with diminished responsibility. Or maybe even just a “slap on the wrist don’t do it again” common assault charge.

Because on about fifth listen, some of the tracks actually work. It’s that age old thing of music suiting the environment and situation. Here I am, listening to the album in bed, late, alone at night while Mrs Gnomepants is out at an Ezio gig, and it’s kind of fitting.

Goth electro is not my favourite gothic sub-genre by any means. It’s a little too cyberpunk for me, wet streets, stupid hair styles and skin-tight plastic clothes in a post industrial futuristic vampire nightmare. This album is that, only with Depeche Mode.

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Gold Collection: The Best of Jefferson Airplane [#534]

Gold Collection - Jefferson AirplaneAnother case of “Why have I got this?”. Gold Collection is essentially one of the bands many greatest hits compilations available on the market

Although I was already familiar with White Rabbit I was a little unsure as to which other songs Jefferson Airplane I knew. Turns out the only other one I knew was Somebody to Love.

Jefferson Airplane are icons of the sixties to many, their history as multi-branched as any prog rock tree.  Much like the earlier music project entry, Black Mass by Lucifer and future project entry, Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls by The Coven, Jefferson Airplane slots itself into a specific genre of weirdness garnished with shouty woman lead singer. Pretty much like X.  But I guess, like Grateful Dead, you have to have been a part of the scene or “been there man” to fully appreciate the appeal for the whole angry shouty sixties psychedelic music sound.

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Glorious: The Singles 97-07 – Natalie Imbruglia [#528]

Natalie_Imbruglia_-_Glorious_The_Singles_1997-2007Bitter sentiments from ex-Neighbours star and friend of Jason and Kylie, Natalie Imbruglia. An inherited album from the first marriage’s joint collection so it holds no special sentiment for me.

Imbruglia does the uplifting music to bitter lyrics thing quite well and I do like one or two of the songs from this album. Again, not an album I would usually either openly admit to owning or buy but some good tunes.

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Glittering Prize: 81/92 – Simple Minds [#526]

Glitteringprize8192It’s 1992. School has finished. University has begun. Trudging the city streets of a rain soaked Sheffield is a tall fair haired male with a Sony Walkman. On the Walkman is a copy of this album.

That man was me.I’d embarked on a new phase of life. University. And with university as a young 19 year old male came new people, new experiences and, best of all, new music. Because, of course, a new phase in a new city meant new shops. Shops that didn’t feature in Liverpool. Or if they did, not on the scale they did in Sheffield or the Meadowhall.

And there, on Fargate, opening to much fanfare and huzzah, a Virgin Megastore, the size of which I’d not seen before; within, a selection of cassettes as broad and as vast as the selection of pastries in Greggs the Bakers.

I bought Glittering Prize:81/92 on cassette from the Virgin Megastore on Fargate, Sheffield using an opening day discount voucher given to me at the student union during Freshers week. So began many years of listening. I still have the cassette, granted with nothing to play it on, but it is still in my belonging.

As “best of” compilations go, this was an excellent introduction to the band for me. Of course I was already familiar with the band having heard their work on the radio while I was growing up, but there were a number of songs I was unfamiliar with. Later investigations into other Simple Minds works proved to me that this album was probably the best choice to listen to the band as a beginner. Other albums were difficult to digest and I never really explored beyond Glittering Prize.

However, considering the number of times I’ve listened to the album over the years, it has fallen relatively out of aural favour since obtaining it on MP3 in 2009. Yet everytime I hear a song from it, I’m there, in nineties Sheffield, walking around the ruins of an ancient cutlery empire on my way into town or into University.

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Ghosts from the Darkside III – Various Artists [#520]

R-708447-1150309381.jpegCompilations, it seems, are like buses. You wait for ages then two come along at once.

Ghosts from the Darkside III (I’ve no idea what happened to Ghosts from the Darkside I) is pretty much the same as Ghosts from the Darkside II, darkwave/goth music somewhat difficult to ingest aurally driving to and from work.

This time Tristania, Clan of Xymox and L’Âme Immortelle join the dark pageant but again, the rest of the acts I’d never heard of, nor did I find any affinity with.

Unfortunately, this eagerness to embrace the dark resulted in me getting quite a few albums and fan compilations like this and, advanced warning here, very soon we will see examples of other Gothic compilations on the music project.

1-01 Flesh Field Animal 5:34
1-02 Funker Vogt The Journey 5:52
1-03 Terminal Choice The Saviour 6:46
1-04 In Strict Confidence The Truth Inside Me 5:05
1-05 Yendri Bodyless 5:49
1-06 Diary Of Dreams Winter Souls 5:45
1-07 Clan Of Xymox Crucified 6:00
1-08 Sanguis Et Cinis Phantom 4:57
1-09 Illuminate Energie 4:58
1-10 Umbra Et Imago Mea Culpa 4:47
1-11 Samsas Traum Für Immer 5:23
1-12 Mondsucht Verlies Der Ewigkeit 4:28
1-13 Mantus (2) Feuer 7:08
1-14 Exovedate Truly 2:30
1-15 Ophelia’s Dream Quando Corpus Morietur 3:09
2-01 L’Âme Immortelle The Immortal Part 4:53
2-02 Claire Voyant Love The Giver (Eskil Simonsson Of Covenant)

Remix – Eskil Simonsson

5:28
2-03 Love Like Blood Bleeding 6:02
2-04 The Garden Of Delight Chaos AD 5:09
2-05 Tristania Beyond The Veil 6:39
2-06 Grabesmond Totgeboren 3:45
2-07 Stillste Stund Drei Sind Eins 4:28
2-08 Cinema Strange Lindsay’s Trachea 5:17
2-09 S.P.O.C.K Klingon 2000 (Radio Mix) 3:49
2-10 Klirrfaktor Dekadenz 4:10
2-11 Cleaner Anti-Arctic (Hard Vox Version) 5:38
2-12 Absurd Minds Fairy Stories 5:12
2-13 Hocico Spit As An Offence (Suicide Commando Remix)

Remix – Suicide Commando

5:25
2-14 Siechtum Gesellschaft Mord 3:36
2-15 Dulce Liquido Illusión Hecha Mentira
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Genius of America – The Tubes [#514]

The_Tubes_Genius_of_America Fee Waybill and the guys regroup and return following a ten year hiatus and departure from  Capitol Records with their first album on the Critique label.

Despite filling the years between 1986 and 1994 with The Tubes on my Walkman, I didn’t come across this album until much later. Thing is, HMV were never any good at stocking records for non-mainstream bands, even though the Tubes were fairly mainstream at the height of their career. Trips to the HMV in Church Street, Liverpool, during my youth would see me flipping through the Ts..TUs…TUB…Oh bugger..TUBEWAY ARMY…no Tubes.

“Never heard of them mate” was the mantra from the shop staff.

And yet, it seems, The Tubes were more influential than we know with some members of the band having sessioned with Chris Isaak , and with Richard “Hazard” Marx producing today’s album.

To say Genius of America takes off from where Love Bomb ended is incorrect. Stylistically, the album is Tubesesque but it’s a far cry from Remote Control and Completion Backward Principle. Indeed, it’s almost as if the band have had a style transplant during their hiatus, because unlike other bands that have split and reformed, there is a recognisable difference in sound.

I’m still waiting for it to grow on me.

Unfortunately, I am unable to back up my conjecture with my usual inclusion of a sample Youtube video for this album. It seems that the copyright police have cleared it of any of the tracks from this release. So instead, here is one of the band’s classic songs.

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Geek Freak Stadium – Ban Jyang [#513]

51bsuZeDOoLWay back in the early days of internet and Windows Millenium, I obtained a compilation CD from an innovative music website known as Peoplesound. The idea behind Peoplesound was years ahead of its time, crowd funded/supported bands could sell their EPs, demos and albums via the site and hipsters everywhere could potentially discover artists years before anyone else. I claim that privilege with Mull Historical Society and Sugarplum Fairies. Another band I had hoped would blossom into something else was Ban Jyang.

Loud, brash and similar sounding to Rage Against the Machine, Ban Jyang had three albums to buy. Of course £10 an album was a lot of money to fritter away on music, so I bided my time until I could afford to buy them.

Unfortunately during this time, the band imploded. Folding in on itself, they vanished from Peoplesound. Previous searches had revealed a website but this had been hacked and warning messages appeared whenever it was visited. Eventually that too disappeared and along with it the “free to download” back catalogue of the band.

So more than “they were an artist who sound like Rage Against the Machine”, I am unable to tell you but remnants of their work remain on the internet. For instance you can still buy this album via Amazon and their MySpace page is still live (https://myspace.com/banjyang/music/albums).

Geek Freak Stadium is a live compilation of “hits” from their other albums Weirdo Side Effects and Religious Love Hater, possibly recorded at a gig they probably did sometime somewhere. It sounds like it’s really popular but then I suspect they just added a cheering audience backing track in the studio.

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