Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

House of Yes: Live at the House of Blues – Yes [#594]

House_of_YesWhen this album was released back in 2000, the internet as we know it today was still in its fledgeling state. Websites were mostly created and owned by actual people rather than by corporations and users actually had to seek out their news rather than have it shown to them if an algorithm deigned to do so. As a result, I was only aware it had been released because I saw it while I was browsing the CD racks in HMV.

Of course, with it being a Live/Best of compilation and I already had most of the songs Live or in compilations, I was reluctant to part with hard earned cash for stuff I already had and instead bought something a little more desirable like Air’s Moon Safari or whatever else was about in those days. However sometime later, probably during the Great Internet Download Free-for-All of the early noughties, I was given a copy of the album by a work colleague and so it joined my collection.

House of Yes is a live double album featuring music from Yes’ earlier career and their album The Ladder. It also features Billy Sherwood on guitar and Igor Khoroshev on keyboards, Sherwood left shortly before the album’s release and Khoroshev had already been booted out of the band by that time due to a sexual harassment controversy.

I can’t say that I don’t like this compilation. There are some good performances on the album the enjoyment of which can be enhanced by the viewing of the DVD of the gig.

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Forever & Ever – Fields of the Nephilim [#487]

R-571075-1165231721.jpegMore brooding beats from the cadaverous cowboys that are Fields of the Nephilim taken from the soundtrack of their video release Forever Remain.

I suspect after Ginger Chris’ cassette finally drove the music industry into an irretrievable spiral of descent, my enthusiasm for music waned too. As I wandered around the global car boot sale that was the early internet of 2004-2010, I would pick up remnants of forgotten things called albums from the digital flotsam and jetsam and store them for humanity on my hard drive. If it wasn’t for my actions I’m fairly certain the music industry would have been completely destroyed by home taping.

Forever & Ever is a rip of a live video album and features many of FONs “greatest hits”, all favourites of mine. I could have quite happily left my appreciation of the band there but subsequent releases enticed me in with the promise of good music. I suppose by then, the zeitgeist had leaked from the loosely sealed bottle of life and I began to realise that the new rules and flavours brought about by the demise of the music industry were bitter and unpalatable.

 

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Dresden Dolls – Dresden Dolls [#396]

The_Dresden_Dolls_-_The_Dresden_DollsSome time ago I was working in a help desk for a major university in the UK. It was at a time when software and media piracy was looked upon with the same fondness one might have for free toys in boxes of cereal. With that attitude and super fast internet, some of the computers in the main help desk became literal media suckers by day, downloading all manner of treats.

Often partial downloads would be left in folders on the computers on the main desk. These folders would be digital gold mines of interesting music and films.

One day I found a folder containing several music files. Some of the files were of the Ditty Bops, others were the Decemberists but the ones that struck a chord for me were those featuring the Dresden Dolls. Now we’ve met the Dresden Dolls on the music project before but in their constituent parts; Brian Viglione (who also played with Rasputina, Black Tape For a Blue Girl and Revue Noir) and Amanda Palmer. This is their first album. The one they released before everyone went Amanda Palmer cray-cray and reimagined themselves as hipsters.

I’m particularly fond of the Dresden Dolls, though not so much their solo works. I really like their quirkiness and how they’re like some naughty anti-christ version of the White Stripes.  We’ll see more of the Dresden Dolls later in the music project, so as it was an introductory album for me, here is an introduction for you, dear reader, if you have been living under some sort of hipster rock for the past ten years or so…

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Discovery – Mike Oldfield [#374]

DIRTY+DANCINGDiscovery – Mike Oldfield

Steelrattus here again, with the third of my guest posts in this seven day run.

Mike Oldfield. I first got into Mike Oldfield at university, courtesy of the previously mentioned UniversityRichard™. It was Oldfield’s original sound which hooked me, along with the other bands that Richard introduced me to. I must have heard the titular track from Tubular Bells prior to this time, but finally I heard the entire album, and many more such as Hergest Ridge, Ommadawn, Five Miles Out, Crises, and the wonderfully nutty Amarok. While at university in the early to mid 90s Tubular Bells 2 and The Songs of Distant Earth were released. And that was pretty much where my relationship with Mike Oldfield ended. I have listened to some of what he has produced subsequently, but none of it has hooked me like the earlier albums.

Discovery is another of these odd albums which somehow I’ve managed to miss in the chronology, as it was released after Crises in 1984. I’m guessing though that the reason I’ve not heard it is because it’s not very good. Curiously the biographical section of Mr. Oldfield’s Wikipedia entry, presumably curated by one or more dedicated fans, doesn’t mention it at all. Does this also suggest that generally it’s not viewed very favourably? There is a short dedicated page for the album though which tells us it was recorded as a follow up to the very successful single Moonlight Shadow, from the Crises album. To that end, and unusually for Mr. Oldfield, most of the album is comprised of short songs that were presumably intended for the pop market, and a lot of the songs feel like variations on the Moonlight Shadow theme. The only exception is The Lake, the final track, which is a distinct instrumental that is three times the length of the other tracks on the album, and for me at least the stand out track. Oldfield has said this final track was inspired by Lake Geneva, as he recorded the album in Switzerland (he was living there for tax reasons), and could see the lake from his recording studio.

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Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd [#336]

Dark_Side_of_the_MoonWhen I was 17, the former acquaintance now known as Shitbag said to me:

“Pink Floyd don’t make any CDs anymore. You’ll not find this in HMV so don’t go looking”

So naturally I went looking, opening up a whole new world to me. I’d been aware of Pink Floyd for several years up to that point, but mostly only for their work The Wall. But as we learnt in Animals, there was a lot more to the band. Indeed, much later works like A Momentary Lapse of Reason and Division Bell just proved that there was still a lot to be produced and earlier albums like Atom Heart Mother and A Saucerful of Secrets proved there was a lot more to discover.

Darkside of the Moon was the second Pink Floyd album I bought. At the time a lot was going on in my life. It was also a time when the new millennium was approaching and with it esoteric disaster, spiritual end times and a new age of yogurt weaving, tofu knitting and miso misery was dawning.

There was also a total eclipse of the sun that was to be visible from the British Isles and Cornwall was to be the best spot to view it from. So, to avoid the crowds I planned an excursion to the nearest westerly point my girlfriend and I could reach without breaking the bank. Having bundled the tent and the king size duvet into the Citroen AX, all that was left was to make a mix tape for the car as entertainment.

Driving through rural Wales with the album on the car stereo blaring out in time to every twist, turn, 60mph stretch, open road and chicane it was uncanny. Culminating in coming down the hill into the picturesque village of Aberdaron on the western Llyn Peninsula just as Pink Floyd broke into Eclipse was possibly on of the most inspiring and thought provoking moments of my life. It was as if the album was written for the journey, the experience and the event.

Synchronicity at its best. Although next time I’ll try the whole experience again while watching Wizard of Oz and see how that works out.

I also have Dark Side of the Sky. A live recording of a performance of this album, but I see little point in writing a separate entry for it.

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Cassette – Fields of the Nephilim [#251]

UnknownCassette – Fields of the Nephilim 

No. This isn’t some long forgotten album or boot leg. This is a special compilation made for me by Chris Herbert in the 1990s after I expressed an interest in goth music. Chris was happy to oblige and provided me with a cassette, which I still have, with some Nephilim songs on.

At first, I thought it was a bit too dark, but over the years it grew on me. To such an extent that it’s possibly one of my most favourite compilations and one of my most cherished cassette tapes. Even though, now, I still have most of the songs on it in much better and clearer format.

It’s possibly the nice line up of FoN’s Celebrate, Love Under Will and Last Exit for the Lost that has had the most effect. I still remember sitting in parks on cold wet days in February, sulking and listening to this on my crumby Walkman while waiting for youthful opportunity to knock. It also used to accompany me on my long daily commute from my flat on Patterdale Road to Bootle New Strand. Much respect to Chris. Cheers mate, you’ve truly made your mark on my life with this compilation.

Last Exit for The Lost

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