Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Hidden Treasures – Dead Can Dance [#584]

UnknownThe problem with bootleg albums is that they become addictive. Especially when the band has been around for ages and you’ve come to them late. Following my introduction to Dead Can Dance in the autumn of 1993, I had already collected the majority of their albums on CD by the time the Great Music Download Free For All hit the UK in the mid-noughties. So I would often spend hours late at night scouring the alt.sounds.gothic.mp3 newsgroups looking for new and rare Dead Can Dance material that I was, perhaps, unfamiliar with.

Hidden Treasures is one such catch. Released in 1994, possibly recorded in Italy though some sources differ, the “Unofficial” album has live performances of tracks stretching back through from the band’s Towards the Within stage of life but also features a collection of tracks from much earlier. Thing is, as with all live bootleg recordings, some of the songs are much different than their studio recordings which, I suppose adds to their appeal amongst fans.

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Herzelied – Rammstein [#583]

Rammstein_Herzeleid_coverDavid Lynch’s Lost Highway is an often disregarded cinematic masterpiece. Dark, brooding and just plain fucking weird. It also happens to be right at the top of my top ten favourite films list.  For me it’s not the twisted script and imagery that makes the film so enjoyable, nor is it the years of enjoyable debate I’ve had with others trying to interpret its meaning. For me, the cherry on the top of the enjoyability of the film is its soundtrack. Upon which a, then relatively,

For me, the cherry on the top of the enjoyability of the film is its soundtrack. Upon which a then relatively unknown German band featured with two songs, Heirate Mich and Rammstein. Both of those songs appear on this album. Sadly HMV and Virgin Megastore in Liverpool

Sadly, when I was looking for albums by the band in the mid90s, neither the HMV nor Virgin Megastore in Liverpool had anything by them. I did ask a young metal loving shop assistant I knew in Virgin if he had heard of them but he declared that he wasn’t “into any of that Euro shite mate”.

Of course, having poked about on the then fledgeling internet via dial-up, I was able to locate a European exporter of the band’s albums. So, brandishing my new credit card I bought copies of both Herzelied and Sehnsucht online. They were my first ever internet purchases and they took two weeks to reach me.

Herzelied is Rammstein’s first album. It is a little boisterous for those with an ear unaccustomed to mid-nineties Euro metal and, like the guy in Virgin, you might not be “into any of that Euro shite”. But if you’re looking to leaving those big-haired American rock ninnies behind and having your head shaved and your body oiled up as you enter a world of more diverse and interesting world of Euro quasi post-industrial metal, then you won’t go wrong with a bit of Rammstein.

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Hecate – Ordo Equitum Solis [#581]

R-436890-1421008785-2640Further darkwave caterwauling from the Franco-Roman musical union of Ordo Equitum Solis.

It is with this album one is clearly able to distinguish the influences from bands like Dead Can Dance, Miranda Sex Garden and Coil woven throughout the album’s fabric. Like a dusty tome, the album is often difficult to digest in the wrong setting. This isn’t something you might want to accompany you while you do the vacuuming or brass polishing, nor is it the ideal setting for a children’s eighth birthday party unless, of course, you are fostering future gothlings. Instead, this is the kind of album you’d probably want to burn some incense sticks with while donning one’s floaty hooded gown following a healthy manicure for those extra long nails of yours and drinking large amounts of dark red wine while lasciviously doing the dance from Kate Bush’s music video for Wuthering Heights.

The album is split into at least four sections, an introduction, Songs of the Man, Songs of the Fool and a coda which kind of suggests to an old Prog fan like me, that this work should be listened to in its entirety with attention paid to the liner notes or the song titles. Sadly, I don’t have any liner notes. All I have is song titles and from them, I conjure up mental imagery of sordid sexiness of the hooded variety in vaulted cellars filled with wine and incense smoke. Which probably says a lot about my own psychology than anything else…

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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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The Gospel of Inhumanity – Blood Axis [#539]

Gospel_of_Inhumanity_CoverBlood Axis’ first album noted for featuring an interview with crazy Charles Mansun and poetry by Ezra Pound (The Voyage (Canto)).

There are two “songs” on the album that really strike me as significant. The first is track 5, Herr nun lab in Frieden (Men now live in peace) in which an excerpt from Moynihan’s interview with Charles Manson features. Manson talks about his grandfather’s realisation of the futility of war in the trenches during World War I.

The second is Absinthe (track 7) which is a tantalising taste of Moynihan’s then future collaboration with Le Joyaux de la Princesse.

Despite the album’s perceived intellectual leanings toward far right fascism, mostly due to Pound’s presence and his political beliefs and poetry by Nietzsche,  Blood Axis’ Michael Moynihan has denied such a connection. During the nineties, this album, industrial, neofolk and other similar genres became synonymous with neo-nazism notably by those fearful of the rise of gothic movement following the shootings by the Trench Coat Mafia at Columbine (conservative Americans).

However, a little research will reveal that in fact Moynihan has denounced the far right stating:

” Whether they’re the Marxist/Communist/Socialist people who think that humans want to get along on a grand scale, or whether it’s the Nazis, who think that if everyone was just of the same race, they’d all get along perfectly, or the anarchists, who think everyone would love to live this way if you just took away the police. They’re all deluded. People should worry about what happens on their block. They should get along with their neighbours before they worry about the great ills of society and about telling someone who lives 200 miles away what to do.”

It helps, if, like me, you first approach the album without knowing the alleged political and philosophical subtexts within the music. Indeed, taking the supposed philosophies and politics away from the album and approaching it, like I did, as a work of art, is not a difficult thing to do. In doing so, you actually can appreciate a dark, intellectual and thought provoking selection of music combining poetry, samples from Wicker Man and aural sound paintings similar to that presented later by Blood Axis when working with Le Joyaux de la Princesse on their collaboration Absinthe.

 

 

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Galore – Kirsty MacColl [#508]

KirstygaloreThere was a fleeting moment when I thought relatives of Kirsty MacColl lived in my street when I was growing up. Instead it turned out Andrea McCann wasn’t related, but just happened that she looked a little bit like her. If you squinted.

This is another relationship legacy album, inherited when my previous wife and I split the MP3 library. I’ve never really been a fan of MacColl but I’ve always know who she was and enjoyed Christmas when she would grace my screens with the Pogues. Indeed, my knowledge of her sound is not limited to that song and, this album being MacColl’s best of album, this album features many of her top hits that were present in the charts during my childhood.

As a time machine, this album works, transporting me back to a time of paper rounds, Saturday’s working in Halfords and Christmases visiting Flannagan’s Apple for the  Guinness.

And so we reach G. A world of compilations and best ofs (eg Greatest Hits) and Gothic music by far the largest group of albums alphabetically. Sorry if you’re expecting me to get to L by Christmas….

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Forever Blue – Chris Isaak [#488]

220px-Forever_Blue_-_Chris_IsaakIn 1995, just when I thought Chris Isaak had given up and gone off to that place where successful musicians disappear to, Isaak released Forever Blue. Nicely timed too, as dramatic changes were taking place in my own life.

Forever Blue was once described as the most “depressing Chris Isaak album ever”, fitting really as Isaak’s childhood sweetheart and wife died during the production of the album, a fact I only discovered last year. This nugget of information helps explain some of the lyrics and the songs on the album.

Regardless of situation, Isaak pulls out all the stops. Moping and pining lyrics dotted with the yearnings of pathetic love sick teenagers bring an extra departure from previous more jovial albums such as San Fransisco Days returning us to the near original classic Chris Isaak of Chris Isaak and Silvertone era. An excellent album for a break up.

This album helped me through the dark years of 1995-1997 and, if you were to jump into a time machine and go to my old flat back then, you’d have probably heard this album repeatedly being played, ingraining itself in my aural memory as a “flat album”.

Great stuff.

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Final Experiment – Ayreon [#470]

440px-Ayreon_The_Final_Experiment Arjen Anthony Lucassen and his rag tag collection of musicians again this time with his first album under the collective name of Ayreon.

Final Experiment sets the ground work for Ayreon’s later works such as Universal Migrator and 01011001Far off in the future, the remnants of the human race project telepathic images to a minstrel living in the past with King Arthur and Merlin in an effort to prevent an almighty calamity.

This is it. This is the album that those who like story based concept albums such as War of the Worlds or Spartacus (both Triumvirat’s and Jeff Wayne’s versions) or later unrelated Ayreon works such as Actual Fantasy should like. Yes, you should  like it. I know I know, I take the piss out of endless lists of people who tell me I “should” like some music, but I mean it this time.

Ayreon’s mix of story telling and rock music improve with age and time and it should be remembered that this is the first Ayreon album so things aren’t quite honed to perfection but it is a strong foundation to grow the seedlings of fandom in.

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Don’t Bore us Get to the Chorus – Roxette [#383]

Roxette_-_Don't_Bore_Us_2000More Europop, this time with late eighties popsters from Sweden, Roxette.

You might recall Roxette from such hits as Joyride, Listen to Your Heart and Must Have Been Love. I did. I remembered how much I liked their songs and realised, mid noughties, that I had none of their albums. So with copious amounts of internet to consume, I set about downloading their Best of compilation and this is it.

All their hits from 1988 through to 1995 are here including those already mentioned, The Look and Dressed for Success. Re-listening to the album for the purpose of the music project just kept shoving me into a mental Delorian back to my youth in the late eighties and early nineties.

Great stuff so have three!

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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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Music Project – Album #40 – A Saucerful of Pink: A Tribute to Pink Floyd

A Saucerful of Pink: A Tribute to Pink Floyd by Various Artists

Somebody once said to me “You know when a band is good by the number of tribute acts”. Someone else once said to me “Turn this fucking racket off”. This album illustrates why both these people were correct.

This album is the result of a group of lesser known artists such as Psychic TV, Sky Cries Mary, Eden, Alien Sex Fiend and Controlled Bleeding gathering together to tortuously mutilate 2 hours of Pink Floyd instrumentals and songs. Some say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. After 30 minutes of this album I challenge them to repeat that claim without a grimace on their face.

To be fair, some of it isn’t too bad. Nothing is “individual” or stands out. I suspect this is another album heading its way to the digital recycle bin in the sky. Of course, if you’re brave you’re welcome to ask me to upload it somewhere for you…..

I swear, my musical tastes have become a lot more conservative in recent years….

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Music Project Album #17 – 1200 Curfews – Indigo Girls

1200 Curfews – Indigo Girls

What is this shite doing in my music library and how did it get there?!

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