Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Into Temptation: The Best of Gothic Rock — Various Artists [#637]

intotemptationThere are as many compilations claiming to be the best of gothic rock entitled Into Temptation as there are compilations claiming to be the best of gothic rock. Confusing really as this isn’t really what I’d call Gothic Rock, it’s what I’d call Scandinavian symphonic rock fronted by tight-fitting low cleavaged black catsuit wearing busty sirens in a wind tunnel aimed at appealing to frustrated teenage males with big hair and middle-aged balding forty-somethings trying to recapture their lost youth.

When the much talked about Great Internet MP3 Download Free-for-All of the mid to late noughties hit, I was trying to develop my musical tastes in the dark elven forests of gothdom. As long-term readers may remember, one of the many tactics I use to discover music is to download compilations to figure out which bands I like the sound of.

One of the first compilations I downloaded was called Into Temptation. It had some really good songs on it from bands like Nightwish, Within Temptation and Ayreon. Sadly, I lost the first version due to file and disk corruption and, despite repeated attempts, was unable to locate the version I had. But with acts like Nightwish, Within Temptation, Ayreon, Sirenia, The Gathering, Lacuna Coil AND Tristania….it will do.

Complete tracklisting for this compilation:

1 –Within Temptation – Ice Queen
2 – After Forever – My Pledge Of Allegiance #1 (The Sealed Fate
3 –Nightwish – Ever Dream
4 – The Gathering – In Motion #1
5 – Tristania – Wormwood
6 – AyreonMy House On Mars
7 –Within Temptation – Our Farewell
8 – Ambeon – Cold Metal
9 –Lacuna Coil – Senzafine
10 –After Forever – Emphasis
11–Trail Of Tears – Driven Through The Ruins
12 – Sirenia – Meridian
13 – Beseech – Between The Lines
14 – Therion – O Fortuna

And if that list doesn’t get you running for the Kleenex you’re obviously listening to the wrong genre.

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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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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.

 

 

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Great British Psychedelic Trip (Vols 1-3) – Various Artists [#548]

Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 11.39.20A compilation of psychedelic music covering 1966 to 1970.

This is a relatively new addition to my music library and as a result I’m yet to form a reliable opinion on the songs therein. However, during the cursory listen given for the purpose of this entry I can reveal there are some very strange additions. It’s no wonder that some of the over 60s are so weird.

Songs with titles such as Baked Jam Roll in Your Eye by Timebox, Vacuum Cleaner by Tintern Abbey and In My Magic Garden by Tinkerbell’s Fairydust and bands with far out names like Virgin Sleep and The Crocheted Doughnut Ring all come together for a four hour trip through the weirder parts of the genre. Its easy to see how many of these bands influenced each other and how even the lesser known bands had some influence on those who would become superstars.

What else is interesting is how the bands all seem to have formed from various liasions and chance meetings. Like with the prog and Canterbury scenes, band members would swap bands, ideas, songs and even drugs. Some would go on to do great things, others would end their days in a bar in Liverpool bemoaning the fact that they “could have been famous man”. As an observer, I often think about how modern manufactured bands don’t seem to be interchangable. Ok you sometimes get “projects” and “collaborations” but you don’t see the likes of say,  some guy out of 1D joining up with someone out of Steps and someone out of Back Street Boys to form a mega supergroup.

I blame home taping.

 

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Gold: Greatest Hits – Abba [#535]

ABBA_Gold_coverMy music collection and thus Stegzy’s Music Project has more gold than Fort Knox it seems. This time it’s Swedish gold from seventies/eighties pop gods, Abba.

If you’ve been following the project for some time, or maybe had a late night discussion with me over a few pints, you’ll already know of my feelings about Abba and how I hold them in higher regard than to the Beatles for their contribution to world music and our musical development. A sentiment backed increasingly by other self important gobshites on  recent documentaries shown on the BBC.

Abba’s Gold is a true treasure trove of songs, most of which we’ve already heard on similar “best of” albums such as 25 Jaar Na “Waterloo” and will hear again on Thank You for The Music. Thing is, when you’re a band that solely relies on the resale of your own music through the proliferation of Greatest Hits, Best ofs and similar albums, you run the risk that future generations will not buy your other albums because they’ve “already got 90% of that album now already”.

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Gold Collection: The Best of Jefferson Airplane [#534]

Gold Collection - Jefferson AirplaneAnother case of “Why have I got this?”. Gold Collection is essentially one of the bands many greatest hits compilations available on the market

Although I was already familiar with White Rabbit I was a little unsure as to which other songs Jefferson Airplane I knew. Turns out the only other one I knew was Somebody to Love.

Jefferson Airplane are icons of the sixties to many, their history as multi-branched as any prog rock tree.  Much like the earlier music project entry, Black Mass by Lucifer and future project entry, Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls by The Coven, Jefferson Airplane slots itself into a specific genre of weirdness garnished with shouty woman lead singer. Pretty much like X.  But I guess, like Grateful Dead, you have to have been a part of the scene or “been there man” to fully appreciate the appeal for the whole angry shouty sixties psychedelic music sound.

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Faun at the Pagan Folk Festival – Faun [#463]

Unknown-1Yet another visit from Music Project denizens Faun who’s last appearance was in January 2015.

This is Faun’s 5th album and their 1st live recorded in Utrecht in 2007. I don’t remember ordering this CD but it arrived on my door mat one morning at a time in my life when I was actively listening to the Aural Apocalypse as a way to discover new and interesting bands in the darkwave/neofolk genres. I suspect that I heard them on there first, but then I’m not sure because this live concert also features guest spots by In Gowan Ring and Sieben, both artists that appear on the fabled Looking for Europe Neofolk Compendium.

Regardless, I remember listening to it for the first time only to hear the lead singer proclaim

“Please welcome on stage Mr Matt Howden”

Matt Howden (aka Sieben, Sheffield’s own neofolk superstar) then begins to play his violin along to Rad to much audience satisfaction. Wow. But then, to further turn the album into a squee fest, Faun do a cover of my favourite Sieben song Love’s Promise. Mind. Blown.

It was this album that made me realise that the tight community of internet backed musicians collaborate, much like the old Prog musicians of Yore, making me feel all warm and tingly inside. It also made me realise that Germany and continental Europe have a much more diverse and vibrant musical culture than the UK claims itself has.

 

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Changesbowie – David Bowie (#260)

changesbowieChangesbowie, released in 1990, is an attempt to cram a twenty-something year career onto one eighteen-track CD. To give you an idea of the challenge, in that time Bowie released seventeen studio solo albums. For some of them he (or his record label) employed competent people to do the cover art; for this one, they apparently got the intern to knock out something on a Friday afternoon.

Let’s assume that, if you live in the Western world and don’t hate music, you’ll be at least passingly familiar with David Bowie. If you’re buying this album then you probably want a little bit of Bowie in your life, but really can’t be faffed with all those seventeen (now up to twenty-five) albums. You want a nice slice of curated pop, showcasing the weird and the genius while skipping all the bits that were just a little too weird.

And to some extent, I’d say this delivers. It starts, of course, with 1969’s Space Oddity, takes in the biggies of the early 70s, skips pretty lightly over the Berlin years, catches up with the pop hedonism of the beginning of the 80s, and then is (wisely) silent on the end of the decade.

Of course, with any compilation like this the question rapidly becomes not “what’s on it?” but “what got left off?” leaving us to wonder exactly who thought that rather turgid Fame was more worthy of inclusion that the excellent Life on Mars or Starman. To be fair, both of those made it onto the slightly-longer LP/cassette versions. Why didn’t they miss off the rather soupy Golden Years in favour of Ziggy Stardust’s overblown Rock and Roll Suicide? But at the point you’re asking those questions, maybe it’s time to move on and buy a couple of albums. This is certainly a decent snapshot, and covers Bowie’s development through musical styles over a couple of decades. It also gives the impression of being a carefully-compiled list (and not, in fact, a rushed-out record-label cash-in brought on by Bowie’s decision to go off and produce completely different music with Tin Machine at the time). If you’re an absolute beginner, it’s not a bad place to start.

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Call on the Dark – Various Artists (#238)

NB_0233_1167839428_largeCall on the Dark – Various Artists

I think it’s probably best that I warn you in advance. When I get to “G” there will be a whole load of compilation albums similar to this resulting from my search into gothic music. If you read regularly you’ll already know of that search.

Call on the Dark is a compilation album. No idea where I got it from but it’s more than likely I downloaded it because it has a track by Fields of the Nephilim. Anyway, the compilation consists of the following:

  • Annwyn, Beneath the Waves – Faith and the Muse
  • Flash in My Veins – Silke Bischoff
  • Dawnland – Love Like Blood
  • Demon – London After Midnight
  • Kick It – Nitzer Ebb
  • Bin Ich Es Denn – Das Ich
  • Dawnrazor – Fields of the Nephilim
  • Dreamland – Girls Under Glass
  • Chains – Dreadful Shadows
  • If Only – Born for Bliss
  • Disorder – Shock Therapy
  • Godsent – Dreamside
  • Kleine Schwester – Umbra et Imago
  • Precious Limetree – Darc Entries
  • To a Loyal Friend – Sopor Aeternus & The Ensemble of Shadows

Nephilim aside, there’s nothing much to like about this compilation. I suppose I keep these kind of things just incase I find something I like but 8 years on, I still haven’t.

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