Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Ipcress File – John Barry [#642]

If you’re one of those people who only engage with media that is no older than twenty years old, then not only are you deluding yourself, but you are missing out on a whole trove of cinema, music and literature. One such diamond in this trove is the 1965 film Ipcress File the soundtrack for which is today’s entry in the project.

The Ipcress File is pretty much how James Bond would be if he was real. Lots of form filling, shit salary and offices that have seen better days. The film follows the adventure of Michael Caine’s Harry Palmer character who is caught up in a bit of cold war era espionage involving the reprogramming of prominent scientists through sinister mind washing techniques employed by Soviet-era bad guys. There are more twists, turns and double-crosses in this film than a box of headphone cables.

The iconic music, also a diamond musically, has been sampled to death over the years by bands like Portishead and makes heavy and distinctive use of an instrument known as a Cimbalom.

The soundtrack was one of the first albums I bought through the new iTunes store back in the noughties. However, as I didn’t have a portable device capable of playing Apple’s proprietary music files, I could only listen when at my computer. This was, of course, in the time when computers where huge things that sat on your desk and not the candy bar sized multimedia devices of today. But when you see the film and the size of computers in 1965, you’ll be grateful you don’t have to cart one of those around if you want to make a phone call.

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Into the Gap – Thompson Twins [#639]

album cover for Into the gap by the thompson twins
No Eighties compilation can possibly be complete without Thompson Twins. Indeed, no music collection grown across the decade of the eighties can be considered complete without them either. Thompson Twins are a sound so the eighties they may as well have quiffy hairstyles, have a band member of undetermined gender and look moodily into the camera when not dancing freestyle in their music videos.

During one of my many visits to Virgin Megastore when I was a student in 90’s Sheffield, I was desperate to make up a 3 for £20 offer from the selection available, so it was Into the Gap that became the third. Sadly, in a desperate effort to make friends, I loaned the CD out to someone only for me to drop out of uni a few months later and lose contact with the borrower forever.

Fortunately for me, I kept a cassette recording of the CD to listen to on my Walkman and managed to rip the cassette recording nearly an entire decade later. The version I have now is kind of a third gen rip of the album but still really good crystal quality. A testament to the various recording devices I’ve had over the years.

Yet considering I wasn’t all that keen on the band to begin with, I really fell for this album. Perhaps it’s the waves of nostalgia that come with it or perhaps the power of the three hit songs from the band that appear on the album. I’m not entirely sure.

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Insane Times – Various Artists [#634]

 

61FhX7u36eLInsane Times: 25 Psychedelic Artyfacts from the EMI Vaults is a compilation album of really odd music. I’d say completely odd but the inclusion of Bonzo Dog, Yardbirds and Kevin Ayres kind of bring the oddness down a bit. It is though, very much the Psychadelic Rock version of the folk anthology Gather in the Mushrooms

Amongst the bands appearing in this compilation are Mandrake Paddle Steamer, Simon Dupree & the Big Sound, The Lemon Tree and The Orange Bicycle with some oddly familiar yet new to many songs. I saw this compilation as a gateway to new-to-me and interesting acts from the psychedelic era, about the time when the Beatles were farting about with Sergeant Pepper and lots of drugs and indeed, there are subtle beginnings of some huge prog acts within this album and bands in which young prog stars cut their teeth.

Very much an interesting selection.

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Hergest Ridge – Mike Oldfield [#582]

Hergestridgecover.jpgOldfield’s second album takes inspiration from a delightfully picturesque area of Herefordshire where Oldfield was living while attempting to escape the media attention gained from the success of his first album.

Until about 2000, I had only been brave enough to listen to the extract of Hergest Ridge that featured on the Complete Mike Oldfield box set having been advised by an elder sibling that “It isn’t much cop”. Still, as with all things in life, your siblings sagely advice can be similar to the type of sage that sits at the back of one’s parent’s kitchen cupboard in that Sharwoods bottle that dates from the 1970s, out of date and a matter of preferential taste.

To be fair, they were kind of right because even after a delayed listening, Hergest Ridge just doesn’t reach the dizzy heights of Tubular Bells or later works such as Islands or AmarokIt’s a very reflective or poignant work, perhaps one that is for good listening to when reading broadsheet newspapers while ensconced in one’s garret. Sure, it is Oldfield’s “difficult second album” but it shows off the young Oldfield’s developing talent and has some beautiful recurring melodies that also crop up in later works.

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Camera Camera – Renaissance (#241)

Camera Camera - RenaissanceCamera Camera – Renaissance

Prog is a funny old thing. Lots of twiddly widdly. Lots of showing off. Long songs. Nice things like that. Punk came along and ruined it; turned music listeners into consumers of sweet saccarine junk with about as much artistic merit as a lump of tar.

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