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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Into the Gap – Thompson Twins [#639]

album cover for Into the gap by the thompson twins
No Eighties compilation can possibly be complete without Thompson Twins. Indeed, no music collection grown across the decade of the eighties can be considered complete without them either. Thompson Twins are a sound so the eighties they may as well have quiffy hairstyles, have a band member of undetermined gender and look moodily into the camera when not dancing freestyle in their music videos.

During one of my many visits to Virgin Megastore when I was a student in 90’s Sheffield, I was desperate to make up a 3 for £20 offer from the selection available, so it was Into the Gap that became the third. Sadly, in a desperate effort to make friends, I loaned the CD out to someone only for me to drop out of uni a few months later and lose contact with the borrower forever.

Fortunately for me, I kept a cassette recording of the CD to listen to on my Walkman and managed to rip the cassette recording nearly an entire decade later. The version I have now is kind of a third gen rip of the album but still really good crystal quality. A testament to the various recording devices I’ve had over the years.

Yet considering I wasn’t all that keen on the band to begin with, I really fell for this album. Perhaps it’s the waves of nostalgia that come with it or perhaps the power of the three hit songs from the band that appear on the album. I’m not entirely sure.

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Human’s Lib – Howard Jones #598

HowardJonesHumansLib

Human’s Lib by Howard Jones

Nothing says 80’s music more than a bloke with spiky hair and a synthesiser.

 

Oh, Howard Jones. I remember you with your spiky hair on singing What is Love? on Top of the Pops. I remember you on Live Aid singing Hide and Seek. I remember trying to work out the inaudibly sung lyrics in pre-internet days. I remember seeing you on a “We wuz in the Eighties” vox pop TV show in the early noughties. I remember thinking “What ever happened to Howard Jones?”.

This is Jones’ first album featuring three of his hit songs from his early 80s career. Rich in 80s synth melody with interesting if a little bitter lyrics the album has fared well in time but doesn’t carry as much of the welly as other albums from contemporary bands and artists. It’s more of a choice of listen than something you would  build an iTunes playlist from.

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Ghostbusters OST – Various Artists [#518]

Ghostbusters soundtrack - various artistsThis is the soundtrack to the classic 1980s blockbusting movie Ghostbusters.

As a regular downloader from the alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.soundtrack newsgroup in the late noughties, I would frequently smugly mark for download the soundtracks for movies I’d always wanted but had been unable to obtain from crappy HMV or Virgin Megastores. One such prize was todays album.

I remember my brother taking me to see Ghostbusters in the Lime Street Odeon in Liverpool. I remember queuing up (in the cold) for hours before the doors opened so that we would be some of the first in the theatre and be able to get the best seats. I remember being excited to rent the video when it became available, and I still remember the anticipation and thrill of being able to video record it off the telly when it was eventually shown over Christmas for the first time on network television.

I also remember the disappointment at being unable to find the soundtrack on CD, a dissipating disappointment when I located it on Usenet.

Classic 80s soundtrack for a classic 80s film. Not sure why they feel the need to “reboot” it.

 

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Electric Dreams – OST [#418]

Unknown-1A film ahead of its time was the little known eighties film Electric Dreams. Possibly more familiar is the song from the closing credits performed by former Human League and car stereo buyer Phil Oakey.

Electric Dreams tells the story of Miles (Twin Peaks’ Lenny von Dohlen), a geeky architect nerd who happens to fancy his new neighbour Madeline (played by Dune Princess Virginia Madsen) just at the same moment he buys himself a home computer and accidentally makes it sentient by spilling wine all over it. As you do.

The music is a perfect eighties music time capsule with songs by Culture Club, ELO’s Jeff Lynne and P.P.Arnold (currently doing the Caribbean Cruise circuit).

I love this soundtrack. I love the film too. It’s such a shame that it’s hardly ever shown on TV these days and it’s pricey on DVD.

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Dune – OST [#401]

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 20.20.28The beginning is a very delicate time. Know then that it is the year 2015, and I’m still only a hundred albums shy of being a third of the way through this music project.

Dune is a very special film and soundtrack for me. My oldest brother used to scoff that I couldn’t possibly have understood the concepts dealt with by the film, especially as Lynch’s version was edited to bits. The weird thing is, I got Lynch from a very early age. In fact, I got Dune on a deeper level through the film than I ever did with the novel. I think Lynch did a bloody good job making a sci-fi snob’s book accessible to many people.

My oldest brother repeatedly tried to “explain” his interpretation of the novel to me, but he had no need as I already understood what the author was trying to say. I understood the hidden depths, the concept of the Kwisatz Haderach, the Fremen and what the spice really was. Even the trope of the sandworms.

The film is also important to me because of how the music actually makes a good accompaniment in the way that Queen’s soundtrack to Flash Gordon makes Flash Gordon what it is. Toto do an outstanding job of the soundtrack especially considering their only other significant contribution to the soundtrack of my life is their hit song Africa and Brian Eno’s atmospherics also add to the whole parcel of the film.

Soundtracks for Lynch’s films appear several times in this music project but if asked to save one from deletion it would definitely be the soundtrack for Dune. A film that still sends shivers down my spine and, in some respects, seen by many as a premonition/allegory/parable for the events in Syria, Iraq and the Middle East as we live right now and, I believe, has been since it was written.

 

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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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Classic rock: 1984-1985 – Various Artists [#277]

Classic rock: 1984-1985 - Various ArtistsClassic rock: 1984-1985 – Various Artists

The next three entries follow a similar pattern. That’s because the next three entries are very similar compilations. I could spare you the time but I’m cruel like that and I put the effort in to listen to these albums so it’s only fair.

The first in our trilogy of Classic Rock:198x – Time Life compilations is for the range 1984-1985, a glorious period in music, rich in a variety of hair, guitars and stadia. So it’s curious as to why the compiler chose the songs they did. I suspect that the compiler for Classic Rock: Symphonic Rock, which is also a Time Life compilation, worked on the same project.

Seriously that guy needs to broaden his music tastes.

1-1 Billy Idol Rebel Yell
1-2 ZZ Top Legs
1-3 David Lee Roth California Girls
1-4 Huey Lewis & The News The Power Of Love
1-5 Pat Benatar Love Is A Battlefield
1-6 Eurythmics Here Comes The Rain Again
1-7 Waterboys Whole Of The Moon
1-8 Kate Bush Running Up The Hill
1-9 Jon & Vangelis State Of Independence
1-10 Marillion Kayleigh
1-11 John Waite Missing You
1-12 Rick Springfield Jessie’s Girl
1-13 Glenn Frey The Heat Is On
1-14 Starship We Built This City
1-15 Tears For Fears Shout
2-1 Meat Loaf Modern Girl
2-2 Bonnie Tyler Holding Out For A Hero
2-3 Talking Heads Road To Nowhere
2-4 Talk Talk It’s My Life
2-5 Dio (2) Rock ‘N’ Roll Children
2-6 Deep Purple Perfect Strangers
2-7 George Thorogood & The Destroyers Willie & The Hand Jive
2-8 Los Lobos Don’t Worry Baby
2-9 Bette Midler Beast Of Burden
2-10 Nils Lofgren Secrets In The Street
2-11 Cars* Drive
2-12 Foreigner I Want To Know What Love Is
2-13 REO Speedwagon Can’t Fight This Feeling
2-14 Chris Rea Stainsby Girls
2-15 Far Corporation Stairway To Heaven

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The Best of Jon & Vangelis – Jon & Vangelis (#169)

Jon & VangelisThe Best of Jon & Vangelis – Jon & Vangelis

Two titans of prog meet and out prog themselves with prog in a very pro-prog kind of way. Jon Anderson of Yes joins forces with Vangelis of Aphrodites Child to forge an unholy progressive rock alliance bringing the auditory senses an extra dose of twee, sax and plinky plonky synth.

I used to really like this album when I was younger. I had it on CD, then on tape and just to be format friendly, nicked it off the internet. I think by the third time I had obtained this album, I’d already overspent.

Sure, its a good album if you’re a fan. But it’s certainly a product of the time. Just too twee. You half expect to sprout a kaftan and start waving a smudge stick about the place while sticking up Roger Dean posters everywhere just by listening to it.

Great if you like Greek blokes with beards and mop haired guys from Altrincham with inexplicable American accents.

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1984 – Rick Wakeman [#18]

1984 – Rick Wakeman

Take one Chaka “Chaka” Khan (out of deep storage), a dose of Kenny Lynch, a teaspoon of Jon Anderson, a pinch of cockney rebel Steve Harley and mix well with copious amounts of bearded prog rock keyboard player (remove beard). Garnish with sprinklings of Tim Rice Libretto which has been steeped overnight in a solution of George Orwell’s 1984. Leave to play for 46 minutes.

Serve with bemusment.

Rick the bearded grump mashes out another album of prolonged twiddling this time without the ice skating panto horses. Instead he collaborates with Tim “Jeeeesus Christ Superstar” Rice and tells the story of Orwell’s 1984.

If you can listen through Chaka “Chaka” Khan’s screeching you will hear something quite entertaining. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t “Lounging about on the sofa drinking coffee” music, nor is it “bring some girl home and romance her” music (unless you’ve found the mythical female prog fan). It isn’t even “Aren’t we refined” dinner party music. It’s “Let’s vacuum the house” or “Wash the dishes” music.

Admittedly I used to listen to it when I did my paper round so it isn’t all that bad really.

Except for the screeching.

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