Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Images – Jean Michelle Jarre [#612]

Images - Jean Michel Jarre

Not available in the UK

Having now swapped to the more hard drive friendly Apple Music, when writing entries for the music project, I often try to do research by listening via my iPhone through my car stereo while driving to and from work. This usually works well for the more mainstream bands in the collection but sometimes I’ll have difficulty locating the album on Apple Music because of “Licencing Laws” which I feel is a bit of a bugger because I have the CD!

Images is a “best of” compilation of Jarre’s work. It is the last CD I ever bought from the Virgin Megastore in Liverpool (now the awesome Clas Ohlson) during a 5 for £20 mega sale. Isn’t it a shame that streaming media providers like Apple Music and Amazon don’t do the good old “5 for £20” deals? Instead, they sting you for music you already own. Meh.

Jarre is one of those artists whose music screams 1970s hauntology. In fact, I’d probably hazard a guess at him being an influence on the likes of Belbury Poly, Focus Group and other Ghost Box stalwarts. To me, if it isn’t the expectation of hearing the hum from my father’s stereo’s badly earthed amplifier or the memory of the cassette tape with the picture of the weird skull/bleeding Earth picture on the front, the 1970s is this type of music. The tracks on this album are pretty similar to those on Essential and Aero, indeed, this is just simply a record label’s attempt to cash in on some hapless music nut wanting a bargain in a 5 for £20 deal.

Advertisements
2 Comments »

Heaven’s Open – Mike Oldfield [#577]

Mike_oldfield_heavens_open_album_coverLong term followers of this blog may remember my joy at Amarok, when that came out I was overjoyed, but when Heaven’s Open came out the following year, I was ecstatic. Here was Oldfield singing pop songs, angry ones at that, and doing a whole side of his multi-instrument magic. Awesome.

Of course, this was in the days before the internet. When music news and gossip was gleaned from NME and Melody Maker, both publications that I avoided because I didn’t want to be seen to be a desparate hipster, and, of course, because I wanted to happily stay in my musical comfort zone with Yes, Mike Oldfield and the Tubes. So I was unable to learn until much later that this was Oldfield’s last album on the Virgin label and a great big “Fuck You” to Richard Branson, although if you listen carefully to the lyrics of the songs, it’s fairly obvious.

With five singles tracks, including the non-hit title track, Heaven’s Open and a massive 20 minute opus much akin to Amarok, the album is totally out of character compared to later and earlier works. Even Oldfield’s temporary rebranding of himself (to Michael rather than Mike) gives the whole album and uneasy feel. However you can hear the development of stylistic motifs from both Islands and Amarok and the birth of riffs and styles that would cross over to Tubular Bells II.

 

Comments Off on Heaven’s Open – Mike Oldfield [#577]

Headlines and Deadlines: The Hits of A-Ha – A-Ha [#572]

Back in the dark days of the mid to late eighties, when it was acceptable to go out wearing lurid colours, leotards and sweat bands, a unique music video was doing the rounds on Saturday morning children’s TV shows and it wasn’t anything to do with Brian Pern.

A woman reads a comic in a steamy cafe when suddenly she sees one of the characters winking at her, next thing she knows she is pulled into the comic and having swoony near smoochies with said comic book guy, curiously looking like A-ha’s lead singer Morten Harket. Iconic. Almost as iconic as the use of plasticine in a music video.  As it happened, my middle brother was fond of the band too so, as you can imagine, I was subjected to frequent plays of their music until he too disappeared. Sadly not into a comic world of spanner wielding motorcyclists but to the more sinister South Coast of the UK. Comic book world would definitely have been cooler though.

Headlines and Deadlines was one of the last “multibuy” CDs I bought (5 for £20) at Virgin Megastore. Ah Multibuys, how I miss you. MP3 streaming and downloads just aren’t the same when you pay per track or pay upwards of £8 for a flaky album. Thank goodness for the likes of Music Magpie and Amazon, doing to major record retailers what major record retailers did for independent record shops. For me, listening to the album is like taking a float down memory lane, sitting on a natty couch in a cruddy bedsit. Cheap, nostalic plastic pop.

 

 

Comments Off on Headlines and Deadlines: The Hits of A-Ha – A-Ha [#572]

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.

 

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

Greatest Hits – Eurythmics [#552]

Eurythmics-GreatestHitsA compilation featuring the “best” of the Eurythmics.

I would categorise it in my collection as an “inherited” album. While the songs are like the musical equivalent of a time travelling De Lorean, in that while researching for this post every song I heard took me back in time to various stages of my childhood and youth, I’m not a fan.

I’ve been told I should be, having grown up at a time when the band was at its peak. Thing was, Annie Lennox always made me feel uncomfortable; I don’t know why, she just did. Dave Stewart did however feature again in my life soundtrack with his album Jute City (see here again in about 2 years) but ultimately, he too made me feel uneasy. So I guess with those feelings it was inevitable that I wouldn’t stray much further than the Greatest Hits, which, when added to a shuffled playlist for long car journeys, often has passengers singing along.

Which makes a change from the griping about all those weird bands I like.

Comments Off on Greatest Hits – Eurythmics [#552]

Goodbye Mr Pink Floyd – Roger Waters [#538]

goodbye-mr-pink-floydSeen by many as Water’s two fingered salute to the band that still to this day makes him a pretty packet of royalties, Goodbye Mr Pink Floyd is a live bootleg concert compilation album recorded in Canada in 1987.

The album features Waters performing Pink Floyd faves from Wish You Were Here, Dark Side of the Moon, Animals, Final Cut and The Wall with only Radio Waves and The Powers That Be from his solo album Radio K.A.O.S (which doesn’t feature on the music project).

Probably just to show Waters era Floyd was a golden age. Seeing as he wrote most of it.

 

Comments Off on Goodbye Mr Pink Floyd – Roger Waters [#538]

Gish – Smashing Pumpkins [#524]

GIsh - Smashing PumpkinsOnce, while talking about the amazing film Lost Highway and its soundtrack with a former acquaintance, the conversation went like this:

Me: – I love the soundtrack, especially the David Bowie intro and I’ve already gone and bought a Rammstien CD off that new “interweb” thingy.

FA:- Really? Well I really liked Eye by the Smashing Pumpkins

Me:- Yeah? Me too. Over all it’s a good soundtrack

FA:- Well if you like the Pumpkins, you should get Gish. I rate it. You should like it 

Regular readers will know how I feel about being told that I “should” like something. But this is one of those rare occasions where I did actually like some of their songs. Not all of them but some. Again, given limitless time to listen to music I probably would have developed a taste for them. Sadly real world pressures meant diminishing time to devote required attention to new music and the changing way we consume music (focussing on individual tracks rather than whole albums) meant eventually the Pumpkins slipped by me.

Comments Off on Gish – Smashing Pumpkins [#524]

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.

Comments Off on Ghosts of Oxford Street – Various Artists [#522]

From Oblivion – Pink Floyd [#500]

Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 10.39.49Bootlegs bootlegs bootlegs. They killed live music you know.

From Oblivion is a compilation of bootleg recordings of gigs by Pink Floyd. Only this isn’t. The album in my collection is labeled From Oblivion but looking at track listings around the internet, we have the correct track listing for the first 4 tracks then completely gaga for the rest which appear to be bootlegs from the Dark Side of the Moon tour.

Still. Good music. And, whenever I feel like I want to go to a Pink Floyd concert, I can bob this on the stereo, go and stand in the far side of the room, turn the lights off and charge myself £80 for the privilege.

 

Comments Off on From Oblivion – Pink Floyd [#500]

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.

 

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

Earth Inferno Live – Fields of the Nephilim [#407]

Live mix of concerts of Carl McCoy’sEarth_Inferno_Fields_of_the_Nephilim group of forsaken dusty cowboy zombires.

Earth Inferno has all my favourite classic Nephilim songs; Last Exit, Dawnrazor and Moonchild. This was one of the last CDs I bought before the great internet download feast of the noughties. Sadly the CD was damaged but I’m happy to say I still have the rip I made.

Great for wearing black to.

Comments Off on Earth Inferno Live – Fields of the Nephilim [#407]

Dust and Dreams – Camel [#402]

Camel_Dust_And_DreamsAndy Latimer and Pete Bardens with their band again, this time with their 11th studio album.

Camel are a mixed bag progressively speaking in that their stuff either works or it doesn’t. I love their earlier albums such as Mirage and of course Snow Goose, then my next favourite Camel album is  their tenth, Stationary Traveller along with their penultimate, Rajaz. But there is a lot of Camel that’s a bit…bobbins – Dust and Dreams being an example of bobbins.

Latimer and Bardens churn out another concept album, this time based on Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. Having never (shock horror) read the book, I guess I just don’t get the same enjoyment out of it as I would War of the Worlds, 1984 or Journey to the Centre of the Earth but saying that I’ve never read Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda but I really like Yes‘ Tales from Topographic Oceans. 

I found Dust and Dreams dry, stodgy and forced. I got the impression that Latimer and Bardens went to their bookcase, pulled out a book and went “Let’s write a concept album based on that”. It’s as though Camel were trying their best to bring Progressive Rock out of it’s coma by beating it across the head with a heavy book.

I don’t get it.However, it is an interesting album because the sharp eared listener can hear early development of themes used later in Rajaz and further development of themes used in Stationary Traveller. 

 

Comments Off on Dust and Dreams – Camel [#402]

The Commitments: Original Soundtrack [#293]

Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 14.38.02 I inherited this album from Jamie.

I’ve never seen the film, nor does it interest me in ever seeing it. I’m sure it’s a good film but it’s not one that appeals to me.

The soundtrack is a compilation of soul classics, none of which appeal to me.

Why I still have it in my collection is beyond me.

Comments Off on The Commitments: Original Soundtrack [#293]

Music Project – Album #25 – A Change in the Weather – Bliss

A Change in the Weather – Bliss

25 hours of listening in 96 days of 24 hour listening remaining.

I went to see Chris Isaak with Laura Beachball in 1991 and the band that was supporting was called Bliss. At first they were booed but the audience warmed to them rapidly. I did likewise.

The following day I ran into town and bought the album from HMV in that future proof format – Cassette Tape.

What a knob.

Of course they never made it big and as the CD vanished off the shelves forever, the tape became one of my valued possessions. That’s not to say I never listened to it. I did. I listened to it many times over the following years until my cassette player was packed away never to return. Before packing away the player, I connected the bugger up to my PC and copied the precious audio from the cassette tape.

I’m glad I did.

A few months later, I got a new car. With an in car Cassette player. “I know” I thought, “I’ll listen to some of my old cassettes”.  Then….driving down the M1 imagine my horror when Rachel Morrison starts sounding like she’s having a stroke. Imagine my horror growing as tape starts spewing out of the aperture.

Bloody glad I ripped the cassette now though. Bloody good tunes..

Comments Off on Music Project – Album #25 – A Change in the Weather – Bliss

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.

1 Comment »

%d bloggers like this: