Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Herzelied – Rammstein [#583]

Rammstein_Herzeleid_coverDavid Lynch’s Lost Highway is an often disregarded cinematic masterpiece. Dark, brooding and just plain fucking weird. It also happens to be right at the top of my top ten favourite films list.  For me it’s not the twisted script and imagery that makes the film so enjoyable, nor is it the years of enjoyable debate I’ve had with others trying to interpret its meaning. For me, the cherry on the top of the enjoyability of the film is its soundtrack. Upon which a, then relatively,

For me, the cherry on the top of the enjoyability of the film is its soundtrack. Upon which a then relatively unknown German band featured with two songs, Heirate Mich and Rammstein. Both of those songs appear on this album. Sadly HMV and Virgin Megastore in Liverpool

Sadly, when I was looking for albums by the band in the mid90s, neither the HMV nor Virgin Megastore in Liverpool had anything by them. I did ask a young metal loving shop assistant I knew in Virgin if he had heard of them but he declared that he wasn’t “into any of that Euro shite mate”.

Of course, having poked about on the then fledgeling internet via dial-up, I was able to locate a European exporter of the band’s albums. So, brandishing my new credit card I bought copies of both Herzelied and Sehnsucht online. They were my first ever internet purchases and they took two weeks to reach me.

Herzelied is Rammstein’s first album. It is a little boisterous for those with an ear unaccustomed to mid-nineties Euro metal and, like the guy in Virgin, you might not be “into any of that Euro shite”. But if you’re looking to leaving those big-haired American rock ninnies behind and having your head shaved and your body oiled up as you enter a world of more diverse and interesting world of Euro quasi post-industrial metal, then you won’t go wrong with a bit of Rammstein.

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Greatest Hits – Guns N’Roses [#555]

GreatestHits_Guns'n'RosesAxl Rose and his buddies cram 14 of their songs onto a CD and call it their greatest.

In my opinion, Guns N’ Roses are a band of a certain time. That time, for me at least, being between 1990 and 1994. Because, it’s during those years in my life that their music features regularly on my life soundtrack. Of course , it’s not entirely as straight forward as that.

Guns N’ Roses are one of those bands I have been continually told that I “should” like. I think that suggestion started when I expressed an appreciation in Iron Maiden but I may be mistaken. To be fair though, GNR did appear to be everywhere in the early nineties and were popular amongst my fellow pupils at school. Thing was, I was still too interested in Progressive Rock and Chris Isaak to be bothered by new comers.

On reflection, when we compare the likes of Yes, Bonzo Dog and similar aged performers, I somehow can’t imagine Axl Rose performing in a similar style when he’s in his 80s. The distinctive shrill shrieky vocals somehow won’t seem dignified emanating from an old man. But, while I’m not a fan out right, GNR are a band from my formative years and through the best of, or Greatest Hits release, I don’t need to venture further into the realms of their albums.

 

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For Your Pleasure – Roxy Music [#485]

Roxy_Music_-_For_Your_PleasureRoxy Music’s second studio album brought to me by a hard drive dump from a former work colleague.

When I obtained this album, I was at a point in my life where my interest in Roxy Music consisted of Flesh and Blood, a live video of Bryan Ferry in concert and a selection of the band’s Best of albums. So having heard tracks from this album such as Do the Strand and In Every Dream Home a Heartache ad nauseam from my prior trove, it’s no surprise that this album gets little in the way of air time through my collection.

Shame really, some good music on it.

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Century Child – Nightwish [#256]

Century Child - NightwishCentury Child – Nightwish

More big boobed long haired gothic operatics from Finland’s second greatest export. Century Child is Nightwish’s fourth studio album. It shows.

At this stage, the music sounds unnatural compared to the previous three albums. Synthetic. Forced. Like rhubarb. Bless the Child and the cover of Phantom Of the Opera (but only for pure amusement) are the only two tracks on this album that are akin to previous works. The rest sounds strained. Awkward. Unnecessary. The sound is tired, the singing like a cheated jigsaw.

The follow up album to this, Once, mirrors this strain and really is a last hurrah. Century Child is probably one just for hard core fans. Unlike me.

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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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Music Project – Album #55– Adventures in Modern Recording – Buggles

AdventuresInModernRecording Adventures in Modern Recording – The Buggles

More than likely, if you’re over 25, you’ll probably be familiar with The Buggles. You’re probably also aware of Trevor Horn and his production skills. If you’re a Yes fan, you’ll probably also know of Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn’s brief stint as members of the progressive rock supergroup.

If not, you’ll probably go “meh” and skip over this entry. Adventures in Modern Recording is the Buggles’ “difficult” second album. I have the 2010 remastered re-release. Two tracks from which stand out, I Am a Camera, which is a reworking of Into the Lens from the Yes album Drama, and We Can Fly From Here which was later reworked by Yes and appears on their album Fly From Here.

As with all second albums, it’s nothing groundbreaking. It’s a nice to have if you’re a Yes fan or you happen to be curious about The Buggles having just heard Video Killed the Radio Star.

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Actual Fantasy – Ayreon [#54]


Ayreon_-_Actual_Fantasy
Actual Fantasy – Ayreon (1996)

The second Ayreon album in this project.

This is a really good album. I really wish the UK made more out of our European cousins music. There are some really good bands over there and had I been aware of Ayreon in 1996, I would probably have bought this album then.

Think hair. Lots of hair. Think synth. Lots of synth. Think rock guitar. Lots of rock guitar. Add a sprinkling of Jeff Wayne and you have Ayreon.

The album is like a compendium of short stories with each song telling a tale about some weirdness involving time travellers, computer zombies or fantasy worlds where books can kill.  If you like Jeff Wayne, prog or your songs to tell stories, then this is one artist you cannot afford to ignore in your life. The best song, in my opinion, is Abbey of Synn which has a catchy tune and a chorus that will lay ear worm eggs in your mind.

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Accessories – The Gathering [#51]

Accessories – The Gathering

This is the second album alphabetically that I have from The Gathering. It is one of those filler albums. The ones that bands or record labels release to maintain interest in their music between albums. Accessories is a compilation of live, rare and b side songs.

Songs from Mandylion like Strange Machines, Amity and In Motion are joined by covers of Dead Can Dance (In Power We Trust the Love Advocated) and instrumental and orchestral versions of other classic Gathering songs.

I suppose it is one of my favourite albums by the Gathering, purely because it showcases most of their better songs. Spread over two discs, the playtime runs to just over 2 hours 25 minutes and is a good introduction to the band if you couldn’t face A Noise Severe.

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Music Project – Album #47–A’arab Zaraq Lucid Dreaming–Therion

 

imageA’arab Zaraq Lucid Dreaming by Therion

Back in the good old late nineties, Scandinavian metal and rock bands started to experiment with their sound. Whilst the likes of Nightwish and Within Temptation experimented with female operatics, Therion went the whole hog and opted for a full choir.

 

Curiously it works.

A’arab Zaraq Lucid Dreaming is an early release for the band and the style they later became synonymous for is still on the carpenters bench at this stage so to speak.

I first came across Therion on a “goth rock” compilation album which, is as goth as Metallica. But still, the sound they create is unique and unusual, both aspects that float my boat so it comes as no surprise that I downloaded their back catalogue based on the listening of one song.

Sadly my brain is now becoming close to full with music and my consumption of music has changed dramatically so it takes exceptional musicianship to make me listen to the album in its entirety. Unfortunately, this album isn’t too exceptional.

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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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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 #35 – A New World Record – ELO

A New World Record by Electric Light Orchestra (ELO)

 

If you have been around since the seventies, chances are you’ve heard ELO. Chances are you’ve even heard of their music. Chances are you even probably know more than Mr Blue Sky. 

 

I’ve liked ELO since childhood and even to this day, I find their music easy to listen to and never offensive. Indeed, I would probably go as far to say, listening to ELO frequently involves me saying “Oh! They did this did they?!”

A New World Record is the sixth ELO album and was released in 1976. It has a number of their hits such as: Telephone Line and Livin’ Thing. According to my records I’ve only ever listened to this album twice before (in MP3 format since 2001). Still enjoyable but surprisingly short at just over 36 minutes in length…..

 

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A Hillbilly Tribute to AC/DC – Hayseed Dixie [#30]

 

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 16.46.08A Hillbilly Tribute to AC/DC by Hayseed Dixie

You’ll probably now see a lot of albums that start “A Tribute” or similar. On the back of the artist of the previously reviewed album, Beatallica, I was introduced, through a conversation, to Hayseed Dixie.

Hayseed, as discussed earlier, were one of the many “tribute scene” bands that “fused” styles with artists in the last decade. I’m still waiting for a Folk version of Rammstein or a Tweecore tribute to something like Fields of the Nephilim. I guess I’ll have to wait.

I went to see Hayseed when they toured the UK. They played, and played, and played. The Student Union staff at Liverpool turned on the lights. They continued to play. The security unplugged their equipment. They continued to play. We left. They continued to play.

One trick pony.

I’m not a fan of AC/DC. I am aware of their works. But I am not a fan. I guess a lot of this is wasted on me.

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A Garage Dayz Nite – Beatallica [#29]

A Garage Dayz Nite by Beatallica

A couple of years ago there was a craze where tribute acts would “fuse” music styles and create a unique sound for which to bang out other artists work. So for example – AC/DC was turned hill billy by Hayseed Dixie; Pink Floyd played by accordion players became Polka Floyd. The fusion that worked with the Beatles was the unlikely fusion of Metallica and Beatles to become – BEATALLICA.

Now, when I first heard of them I was blown away. I thought “How original!”.

Michael Jackson’s lawyers didn’t think so and slapped a DMCA notice on them preventing the use of the Beatles music. However, one US court battle later and it was deemed “Fair use and Parody” and Beatallica continued, prevented, however, from making a profit from their music by the court.

Garage Dayz Nite is an early collection of Beatallica’s work. It’s ok. It gets a bit too much towards the end and the joke does wear thin quickly.  But if you want a taster of Beatallica, there are plenty of examples of their work on the web, Uncle Google is your friend. But as we are all lazy here is a sample:

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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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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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