Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Greatest No.1 Singles – Various Artists [#559]

41SXZJ8MHCLWhether it’s Garth and Wayne singing Bohemian Rhapsody in a car, Robert de Niro in Jackie Brown rocking away to a strip tease to the Supreme’s Baby Love or fish faced Julia Roberts poncing down a New York high street to Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman, this compilation has a selection of songs that everyone born in the last 50 years should be familiar with somehow or other.

Originally this was a two volume compilation (still available on Amazon)but over time volume 1 has been lost. Probably for the best as the “greatest” singles on the second volume were all a little too contemporaneous compared to those presented on volume 1. There was a spate of similar compilations after the millennium, Greatest This, Greatest That and who could forget the Absolute All Time Best of Super-dooper Mega Party Funtime Hoo-Har Music Ever Volume 3, all vying for the  hard earned cash of the gullible.  Of course, as with all compilations, there are some tracks I feel shouldn’t be there, and others that are conspicuous by their absence. Never the less, Greatest No.1 Singles is a nice “leave it on in the background while you do the cleaning” album.

 

 

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Gladiator: More Music from the Motion Picture – Lisa Gerrard & Hans Zimmer [#525]

Gladiatorsoundtrack2Lisa Gerrard lends her voice to another Zimmer soundtrack. Honestly, if it wasn’t for her work with Dead Can Dance I’d probably have given up on Ms Gerrard’s caterwauling, although maybe that is a little harsh.

In case you’ve been living in a cellar for the past sixteen years, Gladiator is a film about a Roman general (Russell Crowe) reduced into slavery, seeking revenge on the guy  (Joaquin Phoenix) who murdered his father (Richard Harris). I’ve only seen Gladiator once, and to be quite honest, I was a bit underwhelmed by it. I suppose this was because, at the time, my head was buzzing still from the story of Spartacus and I felt that the Spartacus story would have been a better choice to make into a movie (again).

The movie was a box office smash (just check out the rather lengthy Wikipedia page) and the soundtrack won awards and brought Gerrard’s voice to the masses. So much so, the Original Soundtrack spawned today’s entry, which didn’t sell as many copies. Indeed, Gladiator: More Music reeks so much of over-milked cash cow, I’m surprised heaps of unsellable follow up merchandise such as Gladiator cook books and Build your own Forum kits didn’t pollute the shops.

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Funeral Music for Perez Prado – Nurse With Wound [#505]

Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 12.35.31Avant Garde shite I downloaded in an effort to out weird hipsters.

Really, I never listen to this album in its entirety unless I’m trying to weird someone out or I’m trying to write an article about it. On it’s 6th listen it still hasn’t improved. Why do I keep this shit?

The way the percussive rhythm blends into each section seamlessly or the way the percussive rhythm lowers the active mind into a focused trance, rhythmically it is enjoyable. This alone is probably, on reflection, the main reason I keep the album. For those moments waiting to go into surgery or those moments when you’ve been given three months to live and a tab of LSD.

Yeah. Maybe that’s why.

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From Gehenna to Here – Fields of the Nephilim [#499]

From Gehenna to Here Another appearance from Carl McCoy and his dust ridden forsaken cowboys, Fields of the Nephilim. This time with another compilation of songs from their catalogue. I’m not sure if it’s the lack of production or what, but to me this sounds more like recording of a tribute act than actual Nephilim songs. In the recording I have, McCoy sounds like he’s singer from a slightly higher register than usual.

Not going to say much more than that as I’ve already covered a lot in previous entries regarding these guys.

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Forrest Gump: OST – Various Artists [#492]

Low_res_cover_Forrest_GumpI was never a fan of Tom Hank’s lumbering buffoon Forrest Gump. The film was a little too whimsical for my liking but I felt that the soundtrack was well researched and included a good few classic popular songs from the period of history in which the film is set.

A nice compilation of tracks featuring classic songs from the sixties by The Byrds, Beach Boys, The Doors and Dylan.

 

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Fate of a Dreamer – Ambeon [#462]

220px-Ambeon_FOADWho is this Ambeon you talk of? Why does their music sound so hauntingly familiar?

Well, if you’ve been following the Music Project for sometime now, you might be familiar with Dutch metal head, Arjen Lucassen, aka Ayreon. He is the musical equivalent of a polymath in that he is accomplished in numerous instruments (like Mike Oldfield), genres and styles (mostly prog). Lucassen, as you might know, is involved in many musical collaborations and projects and Ambeon, is one such project.

Ambeon serves as a prototype of Stream of Passion, in that it was fronted by a female lead singer, (then 14 year old) Astrid van der Veen. Sadly this is the only album by the project, van der Veen citing musical, personal and other difficulties preventing her continued work with the project.

Fate of a Dreamer is an interesting album in that it features a great deal of reworked and evolving themes present in other Ayreon and Stream of Passion albums which any fan of Ayreon will definitely detect. My favourite track from the album is the song Cold Metal. A sorrowful tune about a girl lying on the railway tracks waiting to be run over by a train. Of course, I didn’t know this to begin with as my old music system wasn’t a great one which often made it difficult to hear what people were singing. I used to think she sang “Cold Cold Badgers”.

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Fade to Bluegrass – Iron Horse [#453]

Unknown-1Another of my little partialities is covers bands that change the style of the original performer. We’ve already met Beatallica on the Music Project and I may have mentioned Hayseed Dixie
in the past as well as Polka Floyd. But one of the prize albums in my music collection is Fade to Bluegrass by Iron Horse [http://ironhorsebluegrass.com].

Iron Horse are a bluegrass tribute act who have covered the likes of Van Halen, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. However they are probably better known for their multiple tributes to Metallica. Yep, another Metallica tribute act, but this time in bluegrass.

Surprisingly, bluegrass really works with Metallica but unlike Beatallica, the joke doesn’t wear thin. You can really get the feeling that Iron Horse are big Metallica fans who have put a lot of effort into making the sound work but you should also try out their other stuff, most of which is available from Amazon 

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Exciter – Depeche Mode [#441]

exciterdepechemode.pngHi there! Steelrattus again, on day 3 of his 10 day guest stint.

Today’s album is Exciter by Depeche Mode. An album I know nothing about. My research tells me this was released in 2001, and is the tenth album by Depeche Mode. Apparently the picture on the album is an Agave attenuata, and used to produce tequila, although I couldn’t find why this was chosen. It was a popular release, arriving in the Top 10 in both the UK and USA. It consists of 13 tracks, and was re-released in 2007 with some additional tracks.

I don’t know a lot about Depeche Mode full stop, with the exception of being able to recognise their most famous track, Enjoy the Silence. To be fully compliant with the terms and conditions of Stegzy’s Music Project I have listened to the album. It’s kinda dark in places, but also kinda pop-y in places as well. I asked TheWife™, who knows a couple more Depeche Mode tracks than I, if she recognised it and she asked if it was Duran Duran. And it does sound rather Duran Duran in places. Again this is probably a 3/5 album for me, that is listenable to in places, but it didn’t evoke strong feelings for me. As always, YMMV.

Here’s Dream On, which appears to be the highest charting of the singles released from the album…

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Editor’s Recommendations – Half Man Half Biscuit [#415]

HMHB-EditorsRecommendationJust to reassure you, I’m not, by any means, channelling John Peel here but we did have similar tastes in music it seems. Anyway, those four lads who shook the Wirral take centre stage on the music project once more. This time with a cheeky little EP and a wink at Granada TV.

Now, let me tell you a secret about the music project. I don’t usually include EPs on the music project unless they’re exceptionally significant or relevant to the whole story I have to tell over 4000 plus posts. If I had included EPs from the start, we’d be still in the Bs or worse, and nobody wants to be in the Bs. Especially as we have the Gs to get through and boy, is that going to take the best part of next year.

So it is with pride and honour that I welcome Half Man Half Biscuit’s cheeky little EP, Editor’s Recommendations to the music project. With a sly dig at former Granada TV news anchor, Bob Wilson, Coronation Street’s Ken Barlow and an absurd trad. arr. song about Slipknot visiting the Pope, twelve minutes of dry scouse  acerbic wit nicely nestles between the release of Trouble Over Bridgwater and Cammell Laird Social Club. Lovely.

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Ease Down the Road – Bonnie Prince Billy [#410]

Easedowntheroad_albumcover
Back when I was in “lifestyle training” my mentor told me I should like Bonnie Prince Billy. Should, as in must. To gain the “Hipster – Level 8” achievement I had to listen to Bonnie Prince Billy and report back to the mentor about how much I appreciated his work.

Let loose, I went forth and researched. I discovered that Bonnie Prince Billy is actually a guy called Will Oldham who is also a sometimes actor. Much like a more laid back Chris Isaak with a penchant for doom and gloom rather than soppy pitiful whining. Deeper into the research I obtained this album, popped it on and listened awaiting enlightenment and the “Achievement Unlocked” sign to flash up in mid-air above my head.

It didn’t.

I reported back that the whole album was a little too slow and laid back for me. I couldn’t think of a particular time when listening to the album would be suited (other than when reading the Guardian supplements on a lazy Saturday while sat in my nice middle class domain). I reported that his lyrics inspired depression and lacked optimism. I explained that the affect Bonnie Prince Billy had on me was one of overwhelming “WTF”.

At this point my mentor nonchalantly held up his hand like some bearded yogi atop a Himalayan mountain to silence me. Leaned forward and whispered:

“You have failed”

I asked for explanation and was told that:

  1. I had selected the worst album to begin my embarkation into the world of Palace Music, Oldham and Billy.
  2. I had not listened to the music correctly
  3. I had not understood the subtle lyrical nuances present in the tracks
  4. My soul patch was not prominent enough
  5. I should get some John Lennon glasses and wear roll-neck sweaters

So I called him a pompous knob sock and never listened to his music recommendations ever again.

 

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Donnie Darko – OST [#384]

Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 14.28.54I missed Donnie Darko on the cinema. First time I knew of its existence was when I saw it on the shelf in the Rialto News video library on Upper Parliament Street looking unloved.

Watching the film had me transfixed in a way a film hadn’t had me transfixed since Lost Highway. Here was a film that was so intricate that one viewing would not suffice. Several viewings would be needed and so, as it should be, I nipped into HMV and treated myself to a copy of the film on DVD. I went round telling people that this film was one they should watch and digest, a suggestion that was met with the usual dismissive shrug.

Since then, the film had an almost viral spread. Months would pass and the people I suggested the film to would say to me “Hey, have you ever seen Donnie Darko?” excited by the prospect that they may have seen something enlightening that would appeal to me before me. Then people started talking about it in the mainstream press, on the mainstream television, even a song from the soundtrack, the Michael Andrews version of Tears for Fears’ Mad World reached number 1 in the UK.

The film, previously a slightly unknown cult movie, was rereleased to capitalise on its growing success with a Director’s cut. Unfortunately, the directors cut didn’t add anything to the original apart from time. In fact it watered the content down if anything. Made it easier to digest and over explained bits that didn’t need explaining. Then there was the sequel,  S.Darko but we don’t talk about that. In fact, let’s not even admit to it existing…

Still, like all good capitalists the owners of the film rights released an extended version of the soundtrack too and today’s album is that very same. The soundtrack features a number of popular contemporary songs from the time in which the film is set interwoven with nice hauntological piano led intermissions. The original soundtrack release featured less of the plinky plonky and focussed more on the atmospherics and contemporary sounds than this version. Still good though.

 

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Classic Rock: Symphonic Rock – Various Artists [#276]

Classic Rock: Symphonic RockClassic Rock: Symphonic Rock – Various Artists

This is another compilation where the core idea works but the choices of tracks don’t.

Curiously, it appears that 70% of the artists featured on the album have previously featured on this project, so if you’ve missed those entries you’ll find that the links take you to those articles.

Anyway, Classic Rock: Symphonic Rock has a relatively good mix of tunes really but not ones I’d have chosen to highlight how rock can be symphonic. It’s a little too…. “twee”…for my liking. There are far better bands that could have featured on this compilation. There’s no Queensryche. No Meatloaf. The Yes option is pretty much mundane and the inclusion of Clannad, of all bands, confuses me no end. Clannad are not what I’d call rock for a start.

Tracklist

1-01 Vangelis Pulsar
1-02 Sky Toccata
1-03 Hawkwind Urban Guerilla
1-04 Focus P’s March
1-05 Electra Scheidungstag
1-06 Gentle Giant The Advent Of Panurge
1-07 Triumvirat A Day In The Life
1-08 Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe Brother Of Mine
1-09 Roger Waters The Bravery Of Being Out Of Range
1-10 Procol Harum A Salty Dog
1-11 Mike Batt Losing Your Way In The Rain
1-12 Clannad Sirius
1-13 Jon Lord Aria
1-14 Barclay James Harvest Child Of The Universe
1-15 Jon & Vangelis So Long Ago, So Clear
2-01 Mike Oldfield Sentinel
2-02 Moody Blues* The Story In Your Eyes
2-03 Rick Wakeman Catherine Howard
2-04 Electric Light Orchestra Standin’ In The Rain
2-05 Alan Parsons Project, The Damned If I Do
2-06 Herd From The Underworld
2-07 Jethro Tull Aqualung
2-08 Gong Ard Na Greine
2-09 Vanilla Fudge You Keep Me Hanging On
2-10 Ekseption 5th Of Beethoven
2-11 Aphrodite’s Child It’s Five O’Clock
2-12 Strawbs Autumn
2-13 Camel Tell Me
2-14 Genesis The Silent Sun
2-15 Yes Heart Of The Sunrise

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A Garage Dayz Nite – Beatallica [#29]

A Garage Dayz Nite by Beatallica

A couple of years ago there was a craze where tribute acts would “fuse” music styles and create a unique sound for which to bang out other artists work. So for example – AC/DC was turned hill billy by Hayseed Dixie; Pink Floyd played by accordion players became Polka Floyd. The fusion that worked with the Beatles was the unlikely fusion of Metallica and Beatles to become – BEATALLICA.

Now, when I first heard of them I was blown away. I thought “How original!”.

Michael Jackson’s lawyers didn’t think so and slapped a DMCA notice on them preventing the use of the Beatles music. However, one US court battle later and it was deemed “Fair use and Parody” and Beatallica continued, prevented, however, from making a profit from their music by the court.

Garage Dayz Nite is an early collection of Beatallica’s work. It’s ok. It gets a bit too much towards the end and the joke does wear thin quickly.  But if you want a taster of Beatallica, there are plenty of examples of their work on the web, Uncle Google is your friend. But as we are all lazy here is a sample:

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Music Project – Album #8: 10000 Hertz Legend by Air

10000 Hertz Legend by Air

I first heard Air in the mid 1990’s when they made 1997-1998 more bearable for me. That was Moon Safari. This is the album that followed.

At the time, the wife and I thought our selves very avant garde. Listening to music by French musicians of the electronica genre. Hey, we even read the Guardian newspaper on Saturdays. And we had a coffee table.

Yes. The coffee table that groaned under the weight of our extensive coffee table music collection. Coffee table music? Did I explain that concept?

Ok. You know when you go round to people’s houses. No probably not. People dont go to other people’s houses anymore. Not like they did in the 90’s. People sit at home and interact with others through the wonders of a like button. Well before the thumb when people visited others and held non-judgmental dinner parties, people would leave books they had no intention of reading on the coffee table for the guests to peruse and assume levels of intellect and culture. Likewise, the concept passes into music. Albums that people would play when they had guests as background music. It would show the visitor that the host was cultured, stylish and a Guardian reader. Hey, they probably also had a copy of the Buena Vista Social Club somewhere and they could then sit and discuss how everything was going well with their lives.

10000 Hz Legend could have been one of those albums. Sadly, Moon Safari did too much of a damn good job and it wouldn’t be until the recent Le Voyage Dans la Lune that Air would recapture the Moon Safari vibe. Legend is a little bit too much different to Safari to ease into. It’s like having a new conservatory built then completely demolishing it because you want a new carpet. There are some good tracks though, Wonder Milky Bitch is very weird while Sex Born Poison adds to the feeling of odd aural eclectica present but Caramel Prisoner takes you back to the Air pool with a nice gentle splash.

It’s another grower.

http://www.allmusic.com/album/10000-hz-legend-mw0000004288

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2 Sides of Yes by Rick Wakeman [#4]

2 Sides of Yes by Rick Wakeman

In case you didn’t know, Rick Wakeman was once the keyboard player for 70’s prog band Yes. The wizard of the keys. The bearded wonder of twiddle. A very talented musician. Sadly tainted by religious fervor and self important attitude.

As a big fan of Yes, it makes sense to have some solo albums by the numerous members of the group. Indeed, you will see I have several. However, really I should have a clear out. This is utter dirge.

Uncle Rick twiddles about for 52 minutes playing keyboard versions of some Classic Yes songs. It kind of reminds me of those awful musak albums we used to have in the 1970’s. You know the type, the ones you’d pick up from an all night garage because you were stoned when you went to get the emergency rizlas on your credit card at 3am. The sort that plays in the elevators in Hell. Or in waiting rooms in wanky restaurants in London.

I think at this point in Rick’s career he needed a bit of cash to pay off the credit card he maxed out while buying Rizlas at 3am in the morning at the 24 hour garage on the Isle of Man. It clearly shows. This style of record production does nothing to enhance an artist’s career. Far from it. It just shows that in reality they are talentless lazy fucks who once had a good idea but can’t think of any more now so here’s a best of or compilation album for you adoring fans. It’s like when I post best of journal entries. Or when they do those mid season flashback clip shows on TV.

So if you want to have a preview of the music you will be listening to in the elevator to the fiery click the link below.

http://www.allmusic.com/album/two-sides-of-yes-vol-1-mw0000739523

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Music Project – Album #2: …All this time by Sting

  ….All this Time by Sting

I think this must have been one of Clair’s. You’ll notice as this project goes on, that I have a lot of unusual unconnected music tastes. This is one of them. Personally I can’t abide the bloke. Some of the Police songs are ok. But I’ve never liked Sting as an artist. If you were to ask me to delete some of my MP3s, I would probably delete this. But then sometimes there are moods where all you want is some Stingesque sounds.

If I lived in New York in an apartment overlooking the city in a re-purposed warehouse and it had been a sweltering hot day that had ended with a bit of rain.  I would probably swing open the massive windows, pop this on the old MP3 player of choice and listen to it. Perhaps with a nice glass of red wine and some cheese with them nice little crackers with the pepper sprinkles.

I’d probably then invite some dark female media type round. We would listen to it together over some rent-a-pasta dinner and chat shit about media and wankery before she either calls me a boring twat or takes me to the bedroom for some Olympic sports.

The album is a bit of a live affair. One of those live affairs where the artist takes over some gentleman’s club (no  not the sort you frequent) and performs to the diners who hoot and coo in approval in an attempt to appear well cultured when in reality they are as cultured as three week old yogurt. It takes you through some of Sting’s caterwaling before dipping into some Police classics and spitting you out the other side wanting to tipsily head off to bed with a dark sultry media type with big knockers.

Like I say, one for the fans. Or those in lofty rain soaked New York apartments.

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