Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Islands – Mike Oldfield [#643]

One lesson to learn when curating a large collection of music is to make regular backups. Last week I had to make an emergency restore of my Mac’s OS which meant having to resort to a backup from the iCloud. Unfortunately, this meant that only the files I’ve managed to upload via my very slow 21st Century rural broadband or those matched via iTunes are currently available for me to listen to. Indeed, today’s album, Islands, is not available on iTunes and my iCloud library does not have the files uploaded, which is a shame. Fortunately, I did manage to listen and pencil together a brief draft of observations for today’s entry but it means there may be a slight decline in posting regularity for the next couple of weeks. Please stay with me though!

Good old “x for £xx” deals. If it wasn’t for “x CDs for £xx” deals my music library would probably have been very sparse and I’d have a lot of money.  I first obtained Oldfield’s Islands on CD during a 3 for £20 deal at the Virgin Megastore in Liverpool (now Claus Ohlson) in the early nineties, I think I was still at school.

When Islands was released, computer graphics were, by today’s standards, a little bit shit. But that didn’t stop artists like Mike Oldfield from using visual media to add to their output. So when I came across the music video that accompanied this album, Wind Chimes, I was blown away. “WOW!” I would say, “Look at the detail on that vector graphic!” something I would struggle to recreate on my Commodore 64 even if I had the right programme to do something like that.

So a career in computer graphics passed me by because the technology I had to hand was insufficient to help tease me towards such an occupation. The self-realisation that already older people are often better at things than you is a big train not to miss.

The Wind Chimes is the long piece in this album and is riven with melodies, rhythms and motifs with a heavy eastern and international influences pretty much like most Avante Garde and artistic music of the time (see also the African influences in Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe). The other tracks are songs performed by the likes of Bonny “Total Eclipse” Tyler and Kevin “Nick Drake” Ayres. Also, curiously, Yes alumni Geoff Downes and Enigma’s Micheal Cretu also assisted with the production which just sends chills down my spine as trying to visualise the way my music tastes are connected is what inspired this whole project in the first place.

If you are enjoying this project, please share and tell your social media pals. Publicity is key to any successful blog or online project. I’m not asking for cash and I’m not asking for fame, just an appreciative readership.

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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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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.

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British Music Hall Memories – Various Artists (#224)

61ZbqguhRwLBritish Music Hall Memories – Various Artists

People say that pop stars today have no regard for decency or the effect they’ll have on the youth. Similarly, people say that music these days is a load of shite. The same people say that songs today have too many sexual connotations and nothing in the way of political vitriol or appeasement of folk culture.

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Bridge over troubled waters – Simon and Garfunkel (#222)

Bridge over Troubled Water - Simon & GarfunkelBridge over troubled waters – Simon and Garfunkel

In one of those odd little moments of synchronicity the day my beloved asked me to write about this it was mentioned in a book I was reading ‘the unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ where a bridge by a West Country pub is credited with being the inspiration behind the name. This may not be true, but Paul Simon is well known for his affection for England (and his English girlfriend who couldn’t face life in the limelight).

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Breakfast in America – Supertramp (#220)

Breakfast in America - SupertrampBreakfast in America – Supertramp

 This album takes me back to my father’s office, filled with his diving treasures, a fascinating roll- top desk my mother later worked at (with an old cheque book in pounds shillings and pence in the drawer) and his drawing table where he would draft out plans.  Oh, and the hi-fi, a futuristic silver thing that played my favourites on a Saturday morning when I wasn’t listening to Junior Choice with Tony Blackburn and Arnold the dog (woof woof) on the radio.

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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).

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Album #83 – Aqualung – Jethro Tull

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 16.39.39Aqualung – Jethro Tull

Sitting on a park bench listening to Aqualung reminds me about history lessons at school.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Abraxas –Santana #48

imageAbraxas by Santana

Sometimes I wonder if anyone is still actually reading these entries as I persevere to listen to my album collection in alphabetical order. But do you know? Part of me like to think that long forgotten LJ flisters might still be reading or random people might be coming across these posts many years into the future on WordPress. I also like to think that this is kind of a historical record and in a far off distant future scores of academics and philosophers are debating not only what I meant by vampiresses with comedy inflatable breasts but also why did I have such a massive cock collection of music and were people actually interested in this and if so why?

 

Ritual purposes.

Simple.

 

Anyway, as I plunge on through the “A”s missing out only a couple of two track EPs as they don’t really count as full albums (If you’re really interested they are “Abandoner” by some bloke out of Porcupine Tree and “Absence and Plenum” by Lux Interna who none of you will have heard of anyway. I was also wearing my khaki short sleeved shirt and there are 7 cards in the card holder on the mantelpiece) we arrive at an unusual choice.

I’d never heard of Santana until they appeared on a soundtrack for a film I liked. So as I liked one of their tracks I did my usual thing of downloading their entire back catalogue. Yes. It was getting a bit silly doing that. Anyway, Abraxas contains Black Magic Woman and Oye Como Va  which always makes me feel like I should be in some seedy Spanish restaurant in the 1980s. Surrounded by bullet ridden corpses having just survived a Spanish Mafia attack by hiding behind the fake plastic plant in the corner.

I know some of you guys like Santana.

Good for you.

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Music Project – Album #46 – A World We Pretend–Twilight Garden

 

imageA World We Pretend by Twilight Garden

Every so often I come across a band in my library and I think “How the hell did I ever get this?”

 

Twilight Garden are one of those bands.

 

 

They are a curious cross of Depeche Mode, the Cure and maybe a tiny bit of Bauhaus. Lots of echoey guitar, forlorn vocals and the kind of production that makes it sound like they’re recording in some disused quarry. In the rain. After a group of smack head punks from the 80’s have been and daubed the walls with political slogans.

 

Perhaps they recorded in the foot tunnel depicted in their album cover?

 

 

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Music Project – Album #45 – A Metal Tribute to Abba – Various Artists

 

imageA Metal Tribute to Abba – Various Artists

Possibly one of the best compilations I have in my library. The Metal Tribue To Abba compilation never fails to raise a smile on faces as a group of (mostly) European metal bands rip into some of Abba’s popular pop songs with the power of a force ten gale. And it works.

 

Starting with Summer Night City performed by choral metal group Therion the listener is carried through Thank you for the Music, Voulez-Vouz and Chiquitita by bands whose names probably won’t be familiar to people inside the UK. Really, this is a treat. I urge anybody with even the slightest penchant for chugga-chugga guitars, thrash drums and chicks in latex with long hair and comedy inflatable breasts to find and listen to this album.

 

In the meantime….here is a Youtube clip

 

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Music Project–Album #44–A Thousand Roads–Lisa Gerrard & Jeff Rona

imageA Thousand Roads by Lisa Gerrard & Jeff Rona

A Thousand Roads is a film by Chris Eyre released in 2005. This is the soundtrack for it.

I’m very fond of soundtracks and there are many in my collection. Mostly they are of films that I have seen but this is one of 2 film soundtracks of films I’ve not seen.

I’m also very fond of Lisa Gerrard’s music including Dead Can Dance (but more about them in a later post).

So there’s two things: Lisa Gerrard and Soundtracks. What more could I want? Well there is a third thing. World music. I first got into World Music as a teenager when I was taken on a school trip to see the Gamelan at the Empire Theatre in Liverpool. Initially I was resistant but an hour into the performance I began to recognise repetitions, subtleties and changes in rhythm which none of my classmates seemed to appreciate. On the back of that experience I embraced World Music and, over the years, have collected some interesting music (again, more of that in a later post).

A Thousand Roads is a lovely mix of etherical wailing, tribal chants and haunting synths. A rare treat for travellers and explorers of the musical soundscape.

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A Song for All Seasons–Renaissance [#43]

imageA Song for All Seasons–Renaissance

 

I first came across Renaissance in 2002 when I used to subscribe to Last.fm’s radio service.

 

In case you didn’t know, Last.fm supposedly checks what you listen to and then finds artists you might like and plays samples of their music mixed in with yours.

 

The song that kept being played was Northern Lights. It was one of those songs that made me think “Here! I’ve heard this before!”. It was more than probable that I had.

 

Keen to find out more, I spent a week downloading their catalogue and rapidly falling in love with their music. Bewildered by the fact that I hadn’t actually heard of them before that day.

 

They’re a mix of folk and prog. Prog folk? Maybe. Kind of like Fairport Convention meets Yes.

 

No..that’s not it.

 

It’s similar. But not.

 

Anyway, make your own mind up and, as usual, I would be interested to hear what you think about them too.

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Music Project–Album #42– A Secret History –The Divine Comedy

imageA Secret History by The Divine Comedy

Two today because I’m feeling generous.

There is a certain sound that conjures up memories of the 1990’s. Granted, I spent most of the 1990s in a haze of solitude and unemployment. Indeed, I did not really venture much further musically than the compilation album Shine 9. Instead I spent most of the 90s listening to Mike Oldfield, Yes, Triumvirat and whatever I happened upon on my cassette tapes. Those were the days. Days of sitting round, doing nothing. Wasting time.

 

I suspect that The Divine Comedy’s greatest hits, this album, appears in my music library due to Gay Jamie who no doubt put it on one of his many MP3 CDs he wrote for me back in the early noughties.

 

The Divine Comedy are that sound. The sound of the nineties. I’d not listened to this album before I began this project and, apart from a couple of tunes I’d heard on the radio or in other compilations, I’m not all that familiar nor enamoured with the band or their work. I was also surprised by the fact that they wrote the theme tune to Father Ted. So that was a surprise when it started playing midway through the listen.

 

Anyway, I think I’ll just keep the tracks I like off this album and bin the rest.

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Music Project–Album #41–A Saucerful of Secrets–Pink Floyd

image

A Saucerful of Secrets–Pink Floyd

Album 40 was A Saucerful of Pink one of the many Floyd tribute albums. This, however, is the real deal. The second Floyd album and the first without Syd Barratt, although he did write the track Jugband Blues, which features on this album.

 

It shows as early Floyd. Bizarre lyrics, lots of moog and weirdness. Just my cup of tea.

It’s also interesting to contrast albums from this era of Floyd to later eras such as A Momentary Lapse of Reason.

See, if it was this, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn and Ummagumma that was my introduction to Floyd, I would have gotten into them a lot earlier. It’s so far away from The Wall it’s practically down the garden path, across the road and under the tree in the neighbouring field. Right up my street.

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Music Project – Album #39 – A Rush of Blood to the Head- Coldplay

A Rush of Blood to the Head by Coldplay

I never did the Coldplay thing. To me they were too mainstream, boring, bland, over exposed and overused. Listening to this album again did nothing to change that opinion.

While listening I kept expecting the soothing tones of Kirsty Wark or Prof Brian COCKs to pipe in over the top and tell me about the illusionary one armed orphan made of atoms that was in need of some respite or donations so they could buy a camel to dig a waterhole in their flooded landscape with their one eyed baby. Or someone like Lenny Henry to start telling me about Samanfa from Barnes who has over come her addiction to jam and has returned to the area where her abuse of jam started only to be reunited with Kelly her old friend who has now lost a leg. Or something.

If you’ve watched any documentaries or charity programmes since this album was released, there is no doubt you have already heard this album. I don’t know why. Perhaps it just brings to mind unbearable mental images of depression, deprivation and false hope.

Anyway, for you guys, I listened to the whole album. I didn’t want to. I wanted to gloss over it but I am loyal to you and so I tortured myself by listening to it. Please don’t make me do it again…..I can’t. I’ve recycle binned it…

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A Radical Recital – Rasputina (#38)

A Radical Recital by Rasputina

Sometimes on a musical journey you unearth a treat. On one such foray into the musical world I was fortunate to come across this delightful live set which introduced me to the bands rather unusual works. On first listen I was hooked and listening to it again I’m still filled with warm squishy feelings and squees. Radical Recital is a good starting point for those interested in exploring Rasputina.

If you are unaware of Rasputina, which I suspect quite a few people are, they’re usually a trio of musicians, 2 cellists and a percussionist (onetime Brian from Dresden Dolls) who play a weird Country/goth/rock fusion. It works. I believe the genre is New Weird America. It would be interesting to hear your opinions…..

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Music Project – Album #37 – A Psychedelic Guide to Monsterism Island- Various Artists

A Psychedelic Guide to Monsterism Island by Various Artists

Towards the end of my most recent exploration of musical genres I kind of rediscovered Psychedilia for myself. One of the many trophies I gathered from my foray was this collection.

Of course, listening to it again I can only assume that somehow my ears had been affected by something. Not drugs. Probably tiredness.

Whatever the case..this is utter bollocks. Except maybe for the fact it has a Belbury Poly tune on it. Nah…it’s shite. Don’t waste your time….

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Music Project – Album #34 – A Monsterous Psychadelic Bubble- Various Artists

A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble by Various Artists

One of the many pitfalls of downloading music illegally is that sometimes you download an incomplete rare album and you’re unable to find the missing tracks to make the album complete. Usually I’ll just delete and discard. But this compilation is somehow connected to my mind in some sort of mystical way.

You see, it has been my wish for a very long time, that in the event of ever finding out I have a terminal illness and a short period of life remaining, that I obtain some LSD and trip to the other etheric plains. This album, it seems, will be one of the albums that play during this trip session.

A curious compilation of all manner of Psychedelia tunes mixed by Amorphous Androgynous. If you’re planning on dropping some acid soon, I suggest this is what you want to have on in the background. Unless of course if, to you, dropping acid means a chemical spill in the lab. You might not want this on when the HSE come to visit.

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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?!”

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A Bit O’ This & That – Emilie Autumn [#23]

220px-Emilie_Autumn_-_A_Bit_o_This_and_ThatA Bit O’ This & That – Emilie Autumn

I guess this is one of them “Oh you need to be a fan” type albums. I’m not a fan. I have no idea why this album is in my library.

I tried. I really did. I played 8 tracks off this before turning it off.

It must be one of those things. Age? Hearing? What I had for breakfast? No idea. Just guess it’s not my cup of tea.

Anyone want it before it gets deleted forever?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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