Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

If You’re Feeling Sinister – Belle & Sebastian #606

Belle_And_Sebastian_-_If_You're_Feeling_Sinister.jpgOften seen as the quintessential gay album of the nineties, I was gifted If You’re Feeling Sinister by old gay pal Gay Jamie who, himself, had obtained it during the Great Internet Download Free-For-All of the mid to late 1990s.

At the time, I saw Belle & Sebastian as a kind of hipster bollocks band. Loved by trendies and soul patch sporting arts students and with such prejudice, I  wasn’t all that bothered by them. Of course, this was in my late, uninformed, uncultured, blinkered, pre-internet, pre-university, unenlightened, pre-millennial twenties where most of my world still revolved around Liverpool, a shit office job and regularly going to the pub with similarly minded folk and talking shite.

Of course, hipster pals were already hinting that I would like the band long before I’d actually listened to the album. Indeed, when I met him, Hipster Nick was already much of a keen fan and Telly Expert Tim, who would often talk about how he was into Belle & Sebastian before anyone else had even conceived of the idea of a band called Belle & Sebastian and that, besides which, they weren’t as good now, anyway, since Stuart had left the band, would sneer at anyone who clearly had only recently become a fan. The thing was, this time they were right; I did like the band.

Fortunately, Stuart was still in the band at the point of releasing If You’re Feeling Sinister and Tim was quite right, the band’s early albums are, in my opinion, the better ones. Much in the same way that Syd Barratt’s influenced Pink Floyd albums are distinctly different to those that come later and indeed, after, Roger Waters. Well crafted, the songs on the album have a unique sound with a lyrical poetic genius that is lacking from the majority of modern bands some of them define adolescent exploratory gay sentiment while others reflect on angst, paranoia or obsession.

A genius of an album!

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Harbour of Tears – Camel [#568]

Andy Latimer and Pete Bardens conceptualise the departure of generations from Ireland to seek prosterity in the New World.

If you can imagine Justin Hayward had joined Clannad. Yeah? Well that’s the sound you get.

Harbour of Tears is an interesting album from Camel’s catalogue. You can hear the aural fetuses of themes developed further in later albums such as Stationary Traveller and Rajaz. Also, unlike with earlier Camel albums, gone are the Tolkienesque overtones and there is actually some really good guitar work from Latimer.

It’s a real shame about Camel. They could have been much bigger than they were but with the looming brooding shadow of punk and new romance and their bastard child corporate saccharine pop, progressive rock bands like Camel were never going to break out of daddies record collection before the core band members died off. A condition made worse by the record company’s DMCA writs fired out at fans trying to entice newer uninitiated fans into the temple of prog on social media platforms.

It’s almost as if they don’t want any publicity…

So no fan video for you, freeloaders. Instead have a cover version…..

 

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Greatest Hits – Falco [#553]

UnknownThese Greatest Hits albums feel almost never ending.

We’ve met tragic Austrian pop star Falco before on the Music Project back in December so I won’t labour the point about why he is present in my music collection, but for those readers new to the project in short, Falco’s Greatest Hits was added to my collection while I was searching for his third album Falco 3.

His hit Rock Me Amadeus features (because, lets face it, that was his “hit”) as does his other, less famous, “hit” Jeanny. Those two tracks aside, there are a couple of other tracks from Falco 3 and some of his other, not so remarkable albums. Of course, I must not forget that although he was only fleetingly popular in the UK, his unique brand of Euro-pop was much more popular on the continent. Which says a lot about why the UK keep failing to win Eurovision.

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Goth Box – Various Artists [#540]

R-427454-1292370992.jpegHad I started this project at “G” back in 2012, at this point we would be at Gothic Compilation Vol 342. But rather than shed even more readership, I opted to weed out those compilations and reduced them to  the selection that follows.

Today’s album, four volumes, G, O, T and H. In a box. Goth Box. Genius. Made up of four volumes, it is a showcase compilation of gothic artists from Europe featuring artists such as Inkubus Sukkubus, Big Electric Cat, Bauhaus, Mephisto Waltz, Lycia, Love is Colder Than Death and Black Tape for a Blue Girl.

I really like this compilation. It scares me like all good goth music should, in that I’m not entirely sure what it is I like about it all. It’s a compilation that I dip into for a bit, then quickly dip out of. The arrangement features gothic music from most of the goth subgenres including cybergoth, fluffy goth and neoclassical goth across the decades. There’s something for every wanna be goth, though there are exceptions and omissions that I, personally, would have included had I been compiling the compilation.

The compilation is massive, coming in at a whopping sixty tracks long and would make the perfect gift for any wannabe goth or moody teenager looking to discover their own identity.  Rather than list the tracks and artists featured,I’ve opted to let you discover the album yourself through the wonders of Amazon. 

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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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Era – Era [#430]

Era_Era_CoverEra are another of those bands jumping on the nu-age Enigma bandwagon complete with choral and world music overtones. Indeed, Era (or +ERA+ as they like to stylise themselves) sit nicely between Enigma and Deep Forest.
Not typically a band you’d want to listen to on repeat though. Nice for a bit of a “chill-out” session maybe, or perhaps one of those dinner parties where you intend to show off your collection of African masks and world music to bemused, easily impressed work colleagues. Or perhaps you’re looking for some music for a film set in the gritty hauntological Miami Vice  era of the eighties beset with pink neon, white linen suits and moody beach shots.

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Celestine Prophecy – Christopher Franke [#255]

Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 13.45.24Celestine Prophecy – Christopher Franke

Utter shite.

A musical “accompaniment” for the best selling book by James Redfern which sparked off a new age revolution in the 90s. Plenty of floaty tofu weaving vaginary in this album as well as new age world m-yewsick wankery. And pan pipes. Lots of pan pipes.

In collection for interest only.

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Bad Hair Day – “Weird Al” Yankovic [#119]

Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 17.42.04Bad Hair Day – “Weird Al” Yankovic

Weird Al returns to the project once more. This time with the 1996 album Bad Hair Day. 

Al does the treatment on U2, Forest Gump and Gangster’s Paradise.

Silly.

 

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Actual Fantasy – Ayreon [#54]


Ayreon_-_Actual_Fantasy
Actual Fantasy – Ayreon (1996)

The second Ayreon album in this project.

This is a really good album. I really wish the UK made more out of our European cousins music. There are some really good bands over there and had I been aware of Ayreon in 1996, I would probably have bought this album then.

Think hair. Lots of hair. Think synth. Lots of synth. Think rock guitar. Lots of rock guitar. Add a sprinkling of Jeff Wayne and you have Ayreon.

The album is like a compendium of short stories with each song telling a tale about some weirdness involving time travellers, computer zombies or fantasy worlds where books can kill.  If you like Jeff Wayne, prog or your songs to tell stories, then this is one artist you cannot afford to ignore in your life. The best song, in my opinion, is Abbey of Synn which has a catchy tune and a chorus that will lay ear worm eggs in your mind.

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