Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

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.

 

 

Advertisements
Comments Off on Headlines and Deadlines: The Hits of A-Ha – A-Ha [#572]

Happiest Days of My Life – David Galas [#567]

First post in a year and with it, our last visit to a David Galas album (unless he releases another album before I reach Z). Happiest Days is Galas’ difficult second album with anger, gloom and despondency key elements at play.

Smouldering gloomy guitar work coupled with a flavour of the conceptualisation of returning from war; shocked and horrified by the sights witnessed. Dark places. Dark wave.  Again, Galas pulls it off. It is a vast difference from Cataclysm and you can hear the developing themes that would later appear in Ghosts of California. 

I’d like to thank David Galas for this and all his solo albums to date. Thank you for making such life changing and affirming music at the right time. Your work has been a stretcher bearer for me on many occasions and  I guess you’ll never know how much it means to me and others. Please don’t give up on your amazing talent.

Comments Off on Happiest Days of My Life – David Galas [#567]

Cammell Laird Social Club – Half Man Half Biscuit (#242)

Cammell Lairds Social ClubCammel Laird Social Club – Half Man Half Biscuit

Cammell Laird Social Club  is possibly one of my most favourite albums. Not only is it a sly dig at Buena Vista Social Club but it’s possibly the finest bit of musical wit and whimsy that has ever existed.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments Off on Cammell Laird Social Club – Half Man Half Biscuit (#242)

Bodkin – Bodkin (#208)

BodkinBodkin – Bodkin

This album is exactly what I’m doing the Music Project for.

My music collection is so vast it is impossible for me to have listened to every single album. The point of this project is to listen, filter and discuss with others what the albums mean to me, them and the rest of history. It is also there for me to delete albums that I have no wish to listen to again. However it is also there for me to discover albums I didn’t know I had. This is like that.

Bodkin is a gem. A prize in Prog-ism. Heavy in Hammond organ. Crazy drug inspired lyrics and wild wild instrument solo breaks. What more could a prog fan want?

Bodkin were a Scottish progressive rock band from the 1970s Doug Rome (Hammond organ), Mick Riddle (guitar), Bill Anderson (bass), Dick Sneddon on drums and Zeik Hume on vocals. A smooth mix of dirty blues (much like the Groundhogs) and Heavy Prog (King Crimson). Unique sound. An absolute pleasure to listen to and almost akin to Thotch

Unfortunately, Bodkin is the only album Bodkin made and it leaves you wanting more.  Considering I heard this for the first time the other week, the album has already gone up my personal charts and nuzzled itself between Illusions on A Double Dimple (Triumvirat) and Animals (Pink Floyd).

Comments Off on Bodkin – Bodkin (#208)

A Broken Frame – Depeche Mode [#24]

A Broken Frame– Depeche Mode

I was surprised to find this album in my library; I’d never heard of it.

Turns out this is the second studio album by DM; the first following the departure of Vince Clarke. Seems like Martin Gore described it as “our worst album”. It shows.

I’m not familiar with any of the songs on here and if you’d said to me this was DM I’d have said “Is it?!”

1 Comment »

01011001–Ayreon [#22]

000-ayreon-01011001-(advance)-2cd-proof-2008

01011001 by Ayreon

I can’t remember how I first heard about Ayreon. It might be listening to a compilation or something but from the first song that I heard, I just knew that I would like his work.

So I managed to get his back catalogue with this fantastic double album being released at the moment that I began getting Ayreon’s work.

I think that Ayreon, or Arjen Anthony Lucassen, does a bloody good job of uniting various artists such as Floor Jansen, Anneke Van Giersbergen, Bruce Dickinson and Fish under a single project umbrella. Much in the same way as Ivo Russell-Watts did with 4AD and This Mortal Coil. The difference being that Lucassen creates a concept album as the central cusp of the union.

So let us see….changing artists – Check; Concept albums – Check; Bearded and hairy musicians – check; Rock music – Check….so does that make it prog? New prog? In my opinion, yes it does.

01011001 tells the tale of the descent of man into destruction despite alien entities, psychically beaming visions of our destruction into our little heads. It works. It tells a story. With music and catchy tunes.

Comments Off on 01011001–Ayreon [#22]

9012 Live: The Solos & 90125- Yes [#20] & [#21]

9012 Live: The Solos – Yes

People that have known me for a while will no doubt agree when I say, as a youth, I was weird. When all my contemporaries were enjoying U2, Deacon Blue, Blur and Shakespear’s Sister; I was deeply entrenched in a puddle of prog. Most notably, Yes and Triumvirat.

As I reached my early teens my desire for music grew. HMV became the Minaret that called me through it’s doors to the music Mecca that was inside. Remember, this was many years before the Internetz and free musicz. You would have to go through the LPs and CDs alphabetically by artist and hope that there would be something new or exciting within your price range. If they didn’t have the album, you could ask them to order it, but they’d probably charge a fortune. Or you could just hope that on the off chance it would somehow miraculously appear in the racks.

In the day, records were out of my price range and I would use Christmas and Birthdays to boost the contents of my music library by asking grandparents to buy me the albums or by using gift vouchers. One of the albums I got during this time was this. Unfortunately the vinyl got warped somewhere between the printing press and my record player. I didn’t have a receipt. I didn’t have the courage to ask for a refund. Instead I listened to the listenable bits and made do.

This album reminds me of so much about my childhood. Probably because this and the accompanying studio album and video were on repeat

90125 – Yes

I wrote to Jimmy Peado Saville and asked him to fix it for me to sing with Yes because of this album. He was obviously too busy fiddling to Fix anything for me.

90125 is a break from the twiddly weirdness of their earlier stuff. A complete style change from Tormato and Drama. Yet it works. It works well. They even had a new guitarist. Trevor Rabin (Steve Howe had gone to play with Asia). He looked so cool I wanted long hair like his. I wanted to be dark haired so I could have long hair like his. This was new stuff and a new style that would continue to evolve and grow like me. I must have listened to this album a million times as teen and as a twenteen. With the VHS live video to accompany it too.

Incidentally, this is the album which contains Owner of a Lonely Heart; Yes’ most famous song.

3 Comments »

Music Project – Album #19 – 2001: A Space Odyssey – Original Soundtrack

2001: A Space Odyssey – Various Artists (Original Soundtrack)

As a child I thought 2001 was boring. Too much talk. Not enough lasers or explosions. And what was that thing about the huge slabs of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk in space about? And why was Rigsby talking with a Russian accent? But hey! Look at all that cool stuff we’ll have in 2001! Holidays in space, floaty pens and Commodore 64s will have huge red lights and be able to kill you. Wow.

As a twenty something, 2001 became the wall paper for mind experiments. Mostly to do with the weird bits at the end. A chap I knew edited the weird trippy hyperspace sequence at the end into a 3 hour stoner flick complete with far out music. Suffice to say, his place was popular with hippies and tourists of the ether on a Friday night after the pubs had closed.

The soundtrack for 2001 is a mix of familiar classical Strauss waltzes interspersed with more unusual Modernist works by Gyorgy Ligeti. Ligeti, you might recall, is a progenitor of the atmospheric style of music. Eerie chanting choirs (they chant “Eeee” and nothing more) are part of the course with Ligeti and sections of his Requiem provide further feelings of unease and suspense. It’s amazing what music can do isn’t it? Some might think of six minutes of people going “eeeeee” discordantly would be torture, while others listen through the surface and deep below feeling the pulses and rhythms on an almost synesthesic level.

On reflection I seem to recall one of my brothers having the 2001 soundtrack when I was a child. I’m certain my mum insisted that he did not play the album when I was around as it might be too scary. It probably was, but I’m sure the continuous playing during my early years, altered my mind on some level, meaning I can appreciate atmospheric, true industrial, noise and rhythmic genres on a significantly different level.

Or perhaps has given me the ability to spout shite.

Comments Off on Music Project – Album #19 – 2001: A Space Odyssey – Original Soundtrack

1984 – Rick Wakeman [#18]

1984 – Rick Wakeman

Take one Chaka “Chaka” Khan (out of deep storage), a dose of Kenny Lynch, a teaspoon of Jon Anderson, a pinch of cockney rebel Steve Harley and mix well with copious amounts of bearded prog rock keyboard player (remove beard). Garnish with sprinklings of Tim Rice Libretto which has been steeped overnight in a solution of George Orwell’s 1984. Leave to play for 46 minutes.

Serve with bemusment.

Rick the bearded grump mashes out another album of prolonged twiddling this time without the ice skating panto horses. Instead he collaborates with Tim “Jeeeesus Christ Superstar” Rice and tells the story of Orwell’s 1984.

If you can listen through Chaka “Chaka” Khan’s screeching you will hear something quite entertaining. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t “Lounging about on the sofa drinking coffee” music, nor is it “bring some girl home and romance her” music (unless you’ve found the mythical female prog fan). It isn’t even “Aren’t we refined” dinner party music. It’s “Let’s vacuum the house” or “Wash the dishes” music.

Admittedly I used to listen to it when I did my paper round so it isn’t all that bad really.

Except for the screeching.

<

1 Comment »

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?!

Comments Off on Music Project Album #17 – 1200 Curfews – Indigo Girls

Music Project Album #16 – 666 – Aphrodite’s Child

666 – Aphrodite’s Child

Aphrodite’s Child is to Greece what the Beatles are to Liverpool and Abba to Sweden. If Greece had maintained such quality progrock output I suspect they wouldn’t be in financial difficulty now.

Though what do I know about economics? Stuff all.

I suspect most of you will not have heard of Aphrodite’s Child (AC) but I’m certain you may be aware of two of the lead members: Vangelis and Demis Roussos. The band was a product of a time when Prog was popular in the west – long before punk appeared. With a style similar to the Moody Blues, AC only managed to churn out 3 albums. 666 is the last AC album before they split to pursue solo projects and is a concept double album based on the bible’s Book of Revelation.

I’ve only ever attempted to listen to the album all the way through a couple of times. It’s quite hard going but there are a couple of sections that stir up desires and send prog infused shivers to your toes via your spine. These being most notably The Four Horsemen and Hic and Nunc If you know the works of Vangelis and Roussos you would probably listen to it blissfully unaware of who you are listening to, this album being so detached from their later styles.

But to truly experience the album in its fullness, you need to abide by the following recipe:-

You will need:
A room (plastered, painted white with lines of blue to resemble some form of Greek restuarant)
Some form of heating (can be natural)
A beard
3 chest wigs
A kaftan
Some drugs
Metaxa
Strong smelling aftershave from the 1970’s (Brut 33, Blue Stratos, Denim or HiKarate will do)
A record/tape/MP3/media player
A couple of friends with beards and kaftans
Numerous cushions (varying in size)
A mezze board of kebab meat

Method:

1. Take the room, heat to unbearable sweaty levels. Sit in the room. On a cushion. Wearing your kaftan with your beard and similarly attired friends. Stuff the largest cushions up your kaftan and encourage your friends to do the same. This is to increase your girth and make you at one with Roussos, Sideros and Vangelis.

2. Douse each participant in the strong aftershave and apply the chest wigs (if you are doing this on your own because you have no friends, use all three chestwigs for full appreciation). Repeat until fumes effect visibility or motor functions. Ensure all participants have worked up a really big sweat.

3. Partake in the drugs and metaxa. Cannabis is recommended here as you can usually get a good hit if you use a hooka pipe which will also add to the authenticity of the experience. Other drugs can be used but may effect the overall experience detrementally (especially crack or crystal meth).

4. Play the album and nibble on mezze board.

5. Chill

6. Halucinate and sway about.

7. ???

8. Profit.

1 Comment »

101 – Depeche Mode [#15]

101 – Depeche Mode

Depeche Mode’s music incites a strange mix of emotions and feelings. Kind of kinky dirty but also grimey in the same way. I suppose it’s because I know some members had a really bad smack habit so often images of Grange Hill’s Zammo slumped in a dirty public bog, hypodermic needle in his arm and dirty burnt silver foil in his hand come to mind.

Saying that, some songs especially those off Songs of Faith & Devotion onjour images of Martin Gore and Dave Gahan in bondage gear flagellating each other in some weird S&M orgy involving penguins and matchsticks. Dunno why….it just does.

My first post-childhood exposure to Depeche Mode, as in one where I was starting to become aware of popular music, occurred in 1992 when I was a student at Sheffield Hallam University. It was while supporting my studies working at Halfords I met a strange chap (who smelt of used sleeping bags) whose belief was no Sunday was complete without 7 hours of constant Depeche Mode. I suppose the repetition helped. I even went and bought their albu Songs of Faith and Devotion, the tracks from which became the soundtrack of those days. Mostly because it was the only CD other than Mike Oldfield that I had with me during my stay at Uni. But I’ll go into that more in about a year or so…when I get to S.

101 is a live album. As with all good live albums they provide a snap shot of a band’s catalogue at the time of going to press. Indeed, I find live albums a good way of determining whether or not I’ll like a band. With some exceptions. But we’ll get to that in a few months time.

Recorded in 1989 at the Pasadena Rose Bowl,101 is a good collection of Mode favorites. Most importantly it has an accompanying live concert video which I saw back in the mid nineties. I recall seeing it when at Ginger Chris’ house. Everyone was smashed out of their heads on their intoxicant of choice and discussions regarding Egyptian spirituality, UFOs and conspiracies were rife. I suppose that situation reinforced the imagery I described earlier in this entry.

Mode, like Abba, are one of those bands who feature on everyone born in the 1960’s to 1970’s personal life soundtrack. I’m sure there are some younger readers who will also say “Ah but they feature on my life soundtrack too”, and that may be the case. Such is the power and distinctive style of Depeche Mode. Indeed, this live set contains some of their earlier more poppie tunes (I maintain the best thing that Depeche Mode ever did was persuade Vince Clarke to leave) such as Just Can’t Get it up enough and People are People

It would be pertinent to expect to see a fair bit of DM during this project.

Comments Off on 101 – Depeche Mode [#15]

90 Bisodol (Crimond) – Half Man Half Biscuit [#14]

90 Bisodol (Crimond) – Half Man Half Biscuit

There are these four blokes from Merseyside in the UK who formed a band and stormed the world with their music. Unfortunately they were very over rated, one had such a big opinion of himself he got shot; another took too much drugs in India; the third couldn’t play or write any good songs and the fourth is popular with the ladies for some reason.

They were shit.

Then there was this other group of four blokes from Merseyside. They too formed a band and stormed the UK with their unique sound, acerbic lyrics and cutting social commentary. They are not known well enough. I hope this corrects itself soon.

HMHB, to those in the know, have been going for many years. The late John Peel listed them as one of his favourite bands. I do too. 90 Bisodol is their most recent album and it performs very well.

As with most new music it does take a while to get into but I think Excavating Rita (a humourous song about necrophilia) was the first song on the album that grabbed me by the funnies. But it wasn’t long before the sarcastic account of mischief around a village fete in Fun day in the Park (They lied to me they lied to me on their posters!) that had me hooked and landed like a gasping trout. Side ways jibes, observation and commentary on British middle class society permeate HMHB songs. Sadly I worry that their unique observations do not translate well to other cultures beyond the UK. Do Americans have issues with local scolds on lower walks? Do Europeans understand the concept of attempting to descend the Stiperstones or cross the road without drawing attention to ones self? I don’t know. What I do know is HMHB talk to me like I talk to myself. Which is a good thing right? I mean I talk to myself all the time. Its the only way I get a sensible answer sometimes…..

Comments Off on 90 Bisodol (Crimond) – Half Man Half Biscuit [#14]

Music Project Album #13 – 25 Years On – Hawklords

25 Years On – Hawklords

Hawklords are the little known reformation sub-band of the widely known Hawkwind.

You might know Hawkwind from such mind altering albums as Quark Strangeness and Charm or Pxr5 or the single Silver Machine or perhaps you know Hawkwind as that prog-band with the tits(Hawkwind employed a topless dancer for live concerts who would just squirm and gyrate, topless, to their sets) or the band that Lemmy used to play for before Motorhead. Of course, you might not know Hawkwind at all.

Hawkwind are true prog. Concept albums abound, frequently changing line ups and weird lyrics that morph into socio-political Sci-Fi motivated anthems such as Highrise. For the album 25 Years On, the lineup consists of Hawkwind stalwarts Bob Calvert, Dave Bork and Simon King (no not that Simon King, the other one) with a couple of lesser known musicians. If you are familiar with Hawkwind you will detect the immitable Hawkwind sound permeating throughout the set. In fact that is basically what it is. A Hawkwind  album performed by three regulars and a couple of session musicians.

Songs of note from the album include Psi Power and Flying Doctor. Both testaments to Calvert and Brock’s lyrical genius.

http://www.allmusic.com/album/25-years-on-mw0000808795

Comments Off on Music Project Album #13 – 25 Years On – Hawklords

Music Project Album #12 – 25 Jaar Na "Waterloo" – Abba

25 Jaar Na “Waterloo” by Abba

I am a firm believer that when someone breaks John Lennon’s rose tinted spectacles, historians will realise that the most influential band of the past 50 years was not John, Paul, George and Ringo and was in fact Abba. No. You will fail to convince me otherwise. I won’t hear it. Every record collection of people born in the 1970s should include at least one Abba single or album. Everyone knows an Abba song if not an album. Every family gathering since 1978 has had a cheezy disco with at least one Abba song or melody playing.

Hell, Bjorn and Benny have not stopped with Abba and have continued to exude their musical talent in areas you probably wouldnt believe. Their mix of cleverly crafted lyrics and joyous pop tell dark and sinister stories of unrequited love, collapsing relationships and even underage sex. There is nothing more disconcerting than watching old Aunts cheerfully caterwaul along to an Abba song, blissfully unaware what the true meaning of the lyrics are.

I can see you will need convincing.

Listen to  Take a Chance on Me and tell me that the lyrics are not those of a stalker. Dancing Queen – a story of a leering pervert. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! – the wanton desires of a nymphomaniac. Chiquitita – the story of someone taking advantage of someone in dire romantic straits. The Name of the Game – about prostitution.  Knowing Me, Knowing You – the story of a failed marriage and the fallout of a truly disastrous argument, the consequences of which are self uncertainty and depression further supported by Winner Takes it All which is clearly the vitriolic outburst of the spurned spouse. It’s weird watching people dance, stomp away and sway joyfully at songs with such deep and dark meanings. It’s kind of like watching your gran sing along to Radiohead’s Paranoid Android. Wrong on so many levels.

25 Jaar Na Waterloo (aka 25 Years Since Waterloo) is a compilation album from the Netherlands. I don’t need to tell you what it sounds like as unless you’ve been living in a soundproof booth for the past 40 years you will know Abba. It’s a good mix of Abba favourites, maybe not for all the family, but certainly for those that like them.

Comments Off on Music Project Album #12 – 25 Jaar Na "Waterloo" – Abba

Music Project – Album #11: 18 – Moby

18 by Moby

Ah Moby. Your baldness makes you who you are.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Moby. To me, his albums are nothing but coffee table music. The kind of music you put on when you’ve got some girl back to your flat that you want to romance over very large glasses of red wine in the warm autumn evenings.

Unfortunately, every music editor for television documentaries and films since 1997 has immediately turned to Moby for incidental or illustrative music. 18 is one of those albums where you spend the majority of the time listening to it half expecting to see the irritating toothy grin of “Professor” Brian Cocks [sic] loom into view and give one of his patronising monologues about why you are doing the dishes.

After you have washed Brian Cocks’ blood off your hands you then start to muse about which film the song you are listening to appeared in (Extreme Ways is the end credits tune for the Bourne films). Your date looks on horrified at the bloodied corpse of Brian Cocks and listens to your pleas that it was for the best as you could never let him take the over Sky at Night since Patrick Moore’s death. It was for the good of the nation. At this point she picks up her bag and leaves. The evening spoilt. Thanks to Brian Cocks. Brian Cocks and his baldy musical chum Moby. He looks at you from the album cover. Grinning that “Heh! I’m famous for playing bits of records me!” smile and you vow to track him down and do the same to him as you have done with Brian Cocks.

Then, while you clean up the bloody cadavers of Moby, Cocks, Cameron and anyone else that takes your fancy, you think “Hey! What I could do with is some nice background music. I’ll put that Moby CD on…”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/18_(Moby_album)

1 Comment »

Music Project Album #10 – 10cc – 10cc

10cc –  10cc

The following entry has been written by a “special” guest writer – Zoefruitcake.

Stegzy delayed playing 10cc by 10cc as he knew I liked 10cc, and then decided I should be the one to write about it. So tonight he popped it on, we settled down to listen…and I discovered something.

I’ve got a CD called Changing Faces – The very best of 10cc and Godley and Creme. In the distant past I paid someone at work to record it from my cassette tape on to that CD and it has great songs on it like Wall Street Shuffle, Under the thumb (still one of my all time favourite songs) and Dreadlock Holiday. I’ve listened to it for years, and along with watching a BBC 2 showing of 10cc in concert circa 1970-something (which I enjoyed so much when I saw it that I actively wished time travel existed) I thought I was a fan of 10cc.

Tonight I was proved wrong, because 10cc by 10cc is a big pile of steaming horse shit that didn’t talk to me in the slightest. Ok, so it didn’t contain any of the later big hits I enjoy so much, but I expected to enjoy it and feel some connection. Nope. Maybe if I was younger and less tired I would play it a few times to see if it grew on me but I’m confident that unless this was the last album on earth that isn’t going to happen.

Comments Off on Music Project Album #10 – 10cc – 10cc

Music Project – Album #9: 10 Neurotics by Black Tape for a Blue Girl

10 Neurotics by Black Tape for a Blue Girl

Aside from Porcupine Tree’s In Absentia which is a concept album about a serial killing pervert, this is possibly one of the more….twisted….albums I have.

Each song on the album tells the story of some sort of sexual depravity, kink or perversion. Some very dark indeed.

Black Tape are a kind of darkwave caberet band. Think Dresden Dolls wearing gimp suits in an S&M dungeon (as opposed to an M&S dungeon; which is something else entirely). Interestingly Brian Viglione of the Dresden Dolls plays drums on this album. Which is nice.

Anyway, the story is that the lyrics, themes and topics dealt with in this album caused a lot of Black Tape regulars to quit the band. Zoe was at home when I was playing this album and even she commented that the lyrics made her feel uneasy. If you listen to the lyrics you’ll see why.  If you don’t you’ll probably think “Oh this is a nice tune”…kind of the way your folks probably did with Abba in the 70’s without realising the twisted sordidness of Benny and Bjorn’s lyrics. (Dancing Queen? Really? You do know what that’s about don’t you?)

No.

This is dark. Dark and happy. Dark and scary. Dark and disturbing. Much in the way that you feel dirty after listening to it and realising that Perfect Pervert is socially unacceptable on so many levels, Marmalade Cat is about Furries and Pleasure in the Pain…well…I’ll link to the video….you make your own mind up…but do try it, it has one of the best lyrics in  a song ever – “I wake humiliated by the reality of what I’ve imagined”

Black Tape are on the Projekt Records label. Take note. I will be mentioning that label again.

1 Comment »

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

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

Music Project – Album #7: 9 by Damian Rice

9 by Damian Rice

He lies.
There are 10. Not 9. He might be referring to 9 albums. Or 9 pairs of socks. Or something. Not sure what. Don’t really care.

Rice is one of those artists I thought “Oh I like that song on such and such a soundtrack, I’ll get their other stuff because it must be equally as good” only to find out that the other stuff isn’t as good and fail in erecting my interest. Are you detecting a theme here dear reader?

Folky strumming at its least mediocre. You just know what the album is going to be like when you see track 10 is over 20 minutes long (Just over 5 minutes of music with 15 minutes of silence or imperceptible noise). Only a very few artists pull that trick off well. Mr Rice doesn’t. However I don’t want to be too harsh on him, think James Blunt with talent. Or maybe even David Gray with feeling. I appreciate Rice’s work for what it is. 9 is pleasant moody coffee table music that makes a moody Sunday afternoon coffee just that little bit more enjoyable. Of course, those that know me will say “Ah! But Stegzy, you don’t wear stylish clothes, live in a stylish apartment in Crosby nor do you sup black coffee on Sunday afternoons”. No. I don’t. But the person that does does. And the person that does listens to Damian Rice. I know. I’ve met him. Not Damian Rice. The chap in the flat.

Comments Off on Music Project – Album #7: 9 by Damian Rice

4AD Presents…-Various Artists [#6]

4AD Presents the 13 Year Itch by Various Artists

This is the first of many compilation albums and the first of several sampler albums that I’ve collected over the years.

I’ve been a huge fan of Ivo Watt’s 4AD label since the early nineties. Watt’s distinctive production reverberates throughout all the artists borne from the 4AD stable. Throwing Muses, Belly, Lush, Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, This Mortal Coil, Department of Eagles…they’re all 4AD bands. What is unusual is that I was unaware at the time that the vast majority of them were 4AD artists. Indeed, at the time I was buying CDs and it was only in about 1991 that I actually started to pay attention to the studio and record label. So when the download frenzy of the last decade began I eagerly sucked every album I could from the 4AD label.

It was interesting at the time because I found it difficult to get most of the stuff I wanted legally due to licensing and limited editions. I would look full of whist at the catalogues and try to imagine what the songs sounded like. When I gained super fast broadband I was able to source the actual tracks and, no, I wasn’t disappointed.

13 year Itch  is a compilation sampler of the bands that were available in 1993. It starts with a rousing dose of shoe gazing with Lush’s Desire Lines, passing by The Breeders brooding about the Invisible Man and heading briefly into shady Brendan Perry (Dead Can Dance) territory (Perry performs a cover of Tim Buckley’s Happy Time) before nose diving into the This Is the Way, Part 2 climax with Ultra Vivid Scene. The zeitgeist of the 90s lives on through these artists and the 4AD label . If I was to relive my youth, I would want this to be the soundtrack. I would want to be a little older and better off than I was. I would also want to be hanging round with moody gothesque shoe gazers, talking about the impending doom of the approaching millennium, whilst sitting in bed sitting rooms that stink of Patchouli, joss sticks and couscous.

Wait…

I did.

I just described my early 20’s.

Sadly this album wasn’t playing.

If I was to do it again. I would expect it to be playing on my Sony Walkman or at least on my Sony CD player.

If you’re interested in 4AD this is the second best compilation sampler to get hold of. The first is the Uncut freeby, which I will probably review sometime in the next year.

http://www.allmusic.com/album/4ad-presents-the-13-year-itch-mw0001811485

1 Comment »

Music Project – Album #5: 2 Metre Sessie by Chris Isaak

2 Metre Sessie2 Metre Sessie by Chris Isaak

Now the more astute of you or any huge fan of Chris Isaak will be going “WTF?! I don’t recognise this as an album!”. And the answer would be yes. You are right. This is a 1991 recording of a live session from a Dutch radio programme (http://www.2metersessies.nl) which runs regular music sessions with musicians. A bit like John Peel used to do. Without the alleged kiddy fiddling.

Chris strums his way through half an hour of a mixture of his own tunes and some classic covers of Orbison, Diamond and Nelson. If you like Isaak’s style this is a nice little filler your music library if you can find it. It’s from 1991 so don’t expect stuff from his Speak of the Devilor Forever Blue albums. This is Isaak at the point where I got into him. 1991. I remember queuing for his gig at the Royal Court in Liverpool with Laura Beachball, my first girlfriend. Listening to this album I sometimes imagine it being a recording of Chris practicing before going on stage.

A short review this one. Mostly because it’s a brief “album” that few who are interested will be able to obtain. I think I was just very lucky to be on Usenet on the day it was posted.

1 Comment »

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

Comments Off on 2 Sides of Yes by Rick Wakeman [#4]

Music Project – Album #3: ….the Last Embrace by Arcana

 ….the Last Embrace by Arcana

Ok, so before the pedants start, J River Music Center orders punctuation before numbers and the letter A.

Anyway. Arcana is one of those bands I heard once and thought “Oh that’s a good tune, I’ll download their back catalogue because surely all their other stuff must be the same quality”. This is a stupid idea. Do not fall for such tactics. Building your musical library with albums from artists based on one track (which incidentally you can’t find now) is a stupid thing to do.

To be fair, some of this is alright if you’re into spooky doom laden misery. This is the sort of album you might listen to if you wanted to scare the wits out of a complete stranger you have just invited into your house. Or maybe you are a moody twenty something with a penchant for dark clothing, pentagrams, red candles and joss sticks. I know I always wanted to be that person. Unfortunately when I was that age, the internet was just two computers and a jam jar and my goth friends thought I was too “normal” to be involved in their regular Sunday night listening to dark music while smoking pot and talking about Aleister Crowley sessions. If that’s the kind of thing you’re into though, you’ll like this album.

Moreover, if you are a Dead Can Dance fan in a really bad mood, you might also be drawn into this album with gusto. Arcana mix dark atmospheric synths with tubular bells and wailing women. And probably a few glasses of absinthe with goats blood. Be warned though, this isn’t the darkest album in my collection. This is the kind of darkness where you can still make out shapes. Good to morris dance to. In the dark. With good shoes on.

Of course, it has only taken me three reviews to realise that most people will not have heard of some of the bands I like, so what I should do is somehow link to a sample to give you a flavor. Furthermore, should you want a copy of the music yourself, I suppose I could set some sort of Dropbox thing up. Meh. Listen to it yourself here. Tell me I’m right and that it’s truly the stuff of nightmares. I like this album. It makes me want to eat raw chicken.

http://arcana.bandcamp.com/album/the-last-embrace

Comments Off on Music Project – Album #3: ….the Last Embrace by Arcana

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.

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

%d bloggers like this: