Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

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

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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Music Project – Album #1: 69-95 by Lemon Jelly

’69 – ’95 – Lemon Jelly

I must have first heard of Lemon Jelly when I was living in Huskisson Street in Liverpool, so that must have been about 1999-2000. I most certainly had some of their other albums on my battered old Creative Jukebox 2 and that died when I worked at Liverpool University.

Anyway, in this, the first of several Lemon Jelly albums that I “own”, the artists have used samples from their own record collection to piece together a tidy package of eclectic and eccentric electronica. The first track launches us into a rousing maelstrom of sound that whips us back in time style wise. At times the thumping beats can be a bit exhausting but the album maintains a consistent form. By the middle track ’79 The Shouty Track the listener is cheekily reminded of their time travel through the archives by a heavily Doctor Who influenced track. Curiously, I actually have a mix of the same track where the creator has mixed in the Doctor Who theme which works really well. Then further in, we reach a track where William Shatner does his “talking” to great effect. I understand that in return for this favour, Lemon Jelly provided some of the music for Shatner’s Has Been.

If, like me, you like variety in your modern music then you might like this album. For me, it’s a grower. It used to be my least favourite Lemon Jelly album, but continued listening has made it act like a dose of thrush which has spread across my musical taste buds. Even so, I couldn’t listen to it every day. Maybe occasionally.

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