Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Hits – Pulp [#588]

Pulp_HitsJarvis Cocker and Sheffield’s finest with an hour and twenty minutes of lyrics illustrating gritty northern GenX premillennial social situations.  How times have changed. Yet Pulp is still powerfully relevant and reflective of youthful experiences.

This is the band’s final (at time of press) Greatest Hits compilation and features all the familiar Pulp tunes. I obtained the album having spent years avoiding Cocker’s band like the plague due to the band’s seemingly undue popularity amongst my peers. However, having reflected on how the band’s music seemed to pop up in film soundtracks that I liked I gave them a go by trying their Greatest Hits album. My opinion remains the same, but whenever I feel a little less northern, I give the album a listen and immediately feel all gritty post-industrial.

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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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Gut Feeling – Belly [#564]

R-4389581-1407133358-7875-1.jpegAnother bootleg, another band; You won’t find Gut Feeling in the shops, but you will find it during the music download free for all mid-noughties. Like I did.

It was then that I was  intent on finding as much as I could of Tanya Donelly’s works having heard a few songs on various sampler CDs and having recalled the popularity of Belly amongst my university friends in the nineties. So when I found out that they hadn’t actually made that many albums, I resorted to bootlegs and fan stuff.

Gut Feeling comprises of a compilation of recordings made at the band’s gig in Grant Park in Chicago and New Orleans LA in 1993. It’s nice because there are so few bootlegs out there for the band which is a shame because they are often overlooked these days.

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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.

 

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Greatest Hits – Gipsy Kings [#554]

Gipsy_Kings_-_Greatest_Hits_Cover_ArtSpanish guitar wanking with France’s own Gypsy Kings. Yeah I didn’t know they were French either.

Having heard their version of Hotel California on the Big Lebowski soundtrack and already being familiar with chart topping hit Bamboleo I thought I’d punt their Greatest Hits CD because, even if I didn’t like all of their songs, I’d have some nice background music for when I held paella evenings.

Of course, the paella evenings may have stopped but the music still gets the old toes tapping and you can’t help wanting some chorizo.

 

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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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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.

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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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Gothic Spleens – Dead Can Dance [#544]

UnknownAs we finally come out of the (reduced) gothic compilation portion of the project, we see the peaks of “Greatest Hits” ahead of us but until then there are a few more albums we need to visit.

Gothic Spleens is another bootleg album for Neoclassical/Goth group Dead Can Dance. Recorded from a live radio broadcast from Hamburg’s  Musikhalle in 1990. It has a similar track listing to Golden Age but certainly doesn’t disappoint. Even if we’ve heard it all before.

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Golden Age – Dead Can Dance [#536]

goldenagegifMore neoclassical caterwauling from Brendan Perry with added woeful wailing from Lisa Gerrard in this compilation of bootlegged performances from across Dead Can Dance’s “Golden Age”.

I think the compiler chose anything prior to the world music influenced Into the Labyrinth as the band’s “golden age” to select songs from. Of course, they may have compiled it before that album was released. Who knows?

Tracks listed include In Power We Entrust the Love Advocated, Oman, Toward the Within and my favourite, Rakim amongst others. All lovingly performed by the gang in Paris 1988 and Hamburg in 1990.

 

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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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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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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 Wishes to Eternity – Nightwish [#503]

Nightwish_from_wishes_to_eternity1Scandinavian rock valkyries again, this time with a live set featuring Nightwish’s pre-breakup line-up and Tarja Turunen.

The album is a live recording of a concert performed in Tempere in 2000 and was originally released as a limited CD run and released in DVD format with footage of the actual gig. It features a number of my favourite tracks from across the Nightwish catalogue.
I was never at the gig. Nor am I likely to want to go to a Nightwish gig these days. But, like with all live albums, I can play it really loud while standing in the garden in the dark and pretend I’m at the gig whenever I like.

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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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Forever Faithless: Greatest Hits – Faithless [#490]

Forever_Faithless_–_The_Greatest_Hits At this point, anyone who knows me personally will no doubt be thinking “Hang on, Dance/Trip hop? Isn’t Stegzy a hairy die hard Prog fan?”. Indeed, but sometimes, with every record collection, you find a “loved genre” busting album or band.  Faithless are one of those bands.

Please don’t think I’ve gone and burnt my Yes t-shirt or thrown out my Roger Dean posters, far from it. I liked a couple of songs by Faithless. Happy cheery dance numbers with a dark and foreboding political message for the youth of the day, which, no doubt, was lost on many. I liked those songs sufficiently to try a few of Faithless’ other albums, this one and Back to Mine.

I left it there. My two favourite songs appeared on the album, Insomnia and Mass Destruction but the other songs were a little bit too beyond my cultural tastes. While similar to Massive Attack in some respects, the later dance tracks take me out of my cultural safety zone. A prime example of when getting a greatest hits album will give you a good idea of whether or not you’ll like a band’s other works too.

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Fairy World 3- Various Artists [#454]

Unknown-2A sampler compilation of a variety of European artists which I received for free when buying some forgettable obscure music during the end of my exploration of the European Darkfolk genre.

Nothing memorable and apart from Collection d’Arnell Andrea appearing, I’ve never heard of any of the other artists.

Disappointing.

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Essence of the Deep Forest – Deep Forest [#431]

Essence of the deep forestThis week, it seems, we will mostly be listening to French and Belgian artists.

Today, Deep Forest. Essence, is essentially Deep Forest’s Best of album, though arguably they really only have a couple of songs that they remix continuously. Never the less, Deep Forest remain a firm favourite of the music project. I’m kind of interested to hear what Steelrattus has to say about the band as I know he is a fan.

Anyway, take Enigma to the rain forest, add some indigenous tribal chants and add a sprinkle of wholesome “I’ve seen the world and its colourful diversity” world  traveller and you have, in essence, Deep Forest. Indeed, you probably have the best of. Which, in essence is, Essence. But I’ve already said that. Kind of like how Deep Forest, Enigma and Era take the same theme and remix it over and over again. Remixing works in music I suppose, but not in prose. Which in essence, is Essence of the Deep Forest.

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Dogs and Sheeps – Pink Floyd [#381]

Dogs and Sheeps - Pink FloydMore bootleg nonsense from Pink Floyd. This time just before Animals was produced and just after Wish You Were Here was released.

Interesting if only for listening to the evolution of some of the familiar songs in Animals.

 

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Definitive Simon & Garfunkel – Simon & Garfunkel [#356]

440px-The_Definitive_Simon_and_GarfunkelRegardless of what my wife thinks of Paul Simon and the hirsute Art Garfunkel, I’ve never really gotten on well with the pair. I was forced up with Mrs Robinson as part of my life soundtrack in the 1970s, and, since establishing firm musical boundaries between myself and my parents, I have distanced myself from the artists known as Simon & Garfunkel. Sneering contemptuously whenever their musical prowess or influence is mentioned.

So why, you may ask, is this album in your collection? Well it’s there purely because, as highlighted on numerous occasions during this project, my collection is an amalgamation of my own musical tastes, music forced upon me by peers and music harvested from various relationships over the years.

What makes this the Definitive then? Well to me Definitive means exactly what it says, this album should therefore define the artists, Simon and Garfunkel. Like if you were to look up the band in a musical dictionary this is what you would hear.

So don your cheesecloth, your kaftan and your gingham. Get yourself into a car from the 1960s. Grow your hair like a hippy, wear flowers, tattoo yourself with Dharma initiative symbols and run off to join some San Fransisco based Manson-esque cult with this album on your in car 8-track.

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Decade – Duran Duran [#352]

Duran_Duran-Decade–Greatest_HitsThe problem with being a successful band is that no sooner have you released a “Best of” compilation, you run the risk of releasing other hit records that fans feel cheated out of until your next “Best of” compilation.

Decade is Duran Duran’s “Best of” compilation from the CD rush of the early nineties and features all their fabulous songs: Girls on Film, Rio, View to a Kill etc. I managed to get this album from a bargain “5 for £30” offer at the Virgin Megastore in Liverpool, which, when you think of the price of music today, was a bit of a bargain. You don’t tend to see iTunes selling selections of albums in “x for £x” offers. Nor do you see Amazon doing the same with their physical and digital sections.

Still, who pays for music these days?

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Death to the Pixies – The Pixies [#351]

Pixies-DeathToThePixiesCoverSometime in the 1990s I must have been living under a rock or something. It seems that, to everyone else, the greatest band that ever performed were around and releasing records. Of course, living under a rock meant that I was unaware of this. Probably in the same way as I was unaware of many other musical things. See, that’s what it was like in the pre-internet nineties; if you wanted to find out about the latest music you either had to know someone who worked at Our Price or read NME.

I didn’t know anyone that worked at Our Price. I knew someone that had a music shop, but they sold instruments and rented videos on the side. I also didn’t read NME. Paul Sanderson read NME. Mike Reagan read NME. Most other people I knew thought NME was something to do with miners or something.

Then the late nineties came and I was more musically astute. There I am listening to Uncut magazines 4AD compilation upon which is a track called Debaser. Only to me they’re singing about a steam basin. Lyrics have never been my strong point. My then pre-first-wife says to me that this song is by the Pixies and that I should like them.

At some other point in that time, there I am in work, whistling absent mindedly along to Debaser while doing a stock take in the stationery cupboard. Along comes my chum Nick.  “I didn’t know you liked the Pixies” he says to me from under his beret and soul patched face. “I don’t” I replied. “Well you should like them“.

It seemed that if I wanted to be accepted in the world, I had to relinquish my grasp of seventies prog and, at that stage, eighties goth and embrace the modern musical age welcomingly by liking The Pixies. So I went to the Virgin Megastore (HMV was and is shit for music like this) and picked myself a copy of the Pixies’ greatest hits.

And this is said album. I know I should like them. But I don’t. I like two songs on their greatest hits, Debaser and Monkey Gone to Heaven. I should like more of their work. I don’t. I am a failure when it comes to being a hipster it seems.

 

 

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Dead Can Dance (1981 – 1998) – Dead Can Dance [#348]

Dead_Can_Dance_(1981-1998)A four volume compilation of various works by the band Dead Can Dance.

Being a bit of a DCD nerd, I couldn’t turn my nose up at this. Sure I have most of the tracks already on other albums but there are some tracks on here that aren’t available on conventional releases.

Radio recordings and rare songs appear here along with the foetal essence of some well known DCD songs. It also came with a DVD of the live Toward the Within concert which will appear here on the music project in a few years time.

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De Afrekening Vols 4 & 5 – Various Artists [#346]

During the height of the download free for all, I was taken by the idea that my musical tastes were fairly limited. I was also struck by the idea that the majority of introductions to new music used to come from cassette compilations made by friends or those cassette compilations found discarded on the road, possibly by car thieves.

So I took the initiative to download compilations created professionally or by fans. De Afrekening is one such professionally produced compilation founded from a Belgian radio and record chart broadcasting program featured on Studio Brussel. There were many De Afrekening compilations available at the time and I recall downloading many. However, it now appears that I only have the two remaining ones.

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 07.05.23Volume 4 contains the following:

Liberty Song  – Levellers
Nearly Lost You – Screaming Trees
Rockin’ the Res – John Trudell
Rosie – Claw Boys Claw
In Liverpool – Suzanne Vega
Changes – Sugar
Stockholm – New Fast Automatic Daffodils
Suspicious Minds – Dwight Yoakam
A Letter to Elise – The Cure
Cold by the Sea – Betty Goes Green
Sting Me – The Black Crowes
This Is Not a Song – The Frank & Walters
Dit is mijn huis – De Mens
Goodbye – The Sundays
Soap Bubble Box – Nits
I Had a Dream, Joe –  Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Generations – Inspiral Carpets
Als de rook om je hoofd is verdwenen – Tröckener Kecks

 

No songs that really grab me on this selection, lots of indie Madchester rubbish and it’s nice to see Susanne Vega there but I’m not all that enamoured with this compilation.

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 07.05.12For Volume 5:

Two Princes – Spin Doctors
You Suck – Consolidated
Creep – Radiohead
Would? – Alice in Chains
Courage – The Tragically Hip
Feed the Tree – Belly
Cats in the Cradle – Ugly Kid Joe
Killing in the Name – Rage Against the Machine
If I Can’t Change Your Mind – Sugar
Why Should We Wait? – Soapstone Mountain
I Feel You – Depeche Mode
Sugar Kane – Sonic Youth
The Ballad of Lea and Paul – K’s Choice
Your Town – Deacon Blue
Somebody to Shove – Soul Asylum
Can’t Call Me Yours – The Scabs
Little Baby Nothing – Manic Street Preachers
Underwhelmed – Sloan

This volume contains a few good tracks, notably including Belly and Depeche Mode. Some other classics including Ugly Kid Joe, which always reminds me of 1993 and Spin Doctors, who feature later in the music project, also feature on the compilation.

While the idea of discovering new music through compilations was good, using the De Afrekening compilations as a method to achieve this was probably not a good idea.

 

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