Saturday, 16 December 2017

Various ‎Verve // Remixed Christmas

Hello Everyone Last Post Of The Year - Thanks For All Your Comments & I Wish You All A Happy Christmas & A Happy New Year
Back On January 10th 

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Verve Records had several producers and DJs remix a set of classic holiday songs from the label's impressive back catalog and the result was the album called Verve Remixed Christmas, and this set serves as a companion to that volume, containing the untouched mixes of the songs in their original versions. Remixed or no, there are some pleasant treats here, including Jimmy Smith's funky big-band soul-jazz approach to "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," Nina Simone's stunningly intimate phrasing on "I Am Blessed," and Louis Armstrong's classic "What a Wonderful World" (is this really a Christmas song? No matter, it's great.) One could argue that none of these sides really needed to be remixed, and the proof of that is certainly here, but listening to this set in conjunction with the remixed versions is a lot of fun, and quite fascinating at points

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Various ‎Chantons Noël Ghosts Of Christmas Past LP

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Aztec Camera's Hot Club of Christ is a busy, Django-esque run through a few well-known Christmas ditties, while Michael Nyman's Cream or Christians is a silly but loveable fragmented organ collage in a typical English eccentric tradition. Elsewhere, A Certain Ratio's Simon Topping contributes a beaty, bongo-brassy little thing, which would have sounded a lot less formal had the likes of Rip Rig been let lose on it, Tuxedomoon are in playful Residential mood, while The Durutti Column's One Christmas For Your Thoughts is exactly what you'd expect, an exquisite, gentle instrumental operating on a level where factors of 'interest' and 'boredom' don't figure

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Shed Seven ‎The Singles Collection

Shed SevenThe Singles Collection

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Never the most fashionable of outfits, York four-piece Shed Seven nevertheless were one of the few Brit-pop bands to sustain a career once the whole scene had eaten itself. They may have lacked the swagger of Oasis, the raw energy of Elastica, and the critical success of Pulp, but their solid brand of anthemic indie rock, backed by frontman Rick Witter's distinctive vocals, spawned an impressive 15 Top 40 hit singles over a nine-year period, before they disbanded in 2003. Now, following the lead of other '90s mid-table indie bands Cast, Dodgy, and Echobelly, they have re-formed for what has turned out to be their biggest-ever U.K. tour, hence the release of their second greatest-hits package, The Singles Collection. This extensive two-CD, 38-track compilation includes all but one of the 15 tracks that appeared on 1999's Going for Gold (only "High Hopes" is omitted), alongside a bonus disc which features 12 B-sides handpicked by the band, and eight previously unreleased songs and demos. Listed in chronological order, the album proves that despite their formulaic reputation, each of Shed Seven's four studio albums showed a steady progression. The likes of early singles, mobile phone ad jingle "Speakeasy," and the plodding "Ocean Pie" are pretty standard indie fare which sounded utterly pedestrian when compared to the colorful output of their more illustrious counterparts. But their breakthrough album, A Maximum High, considerably upped the ante, with its ultra-confident, Smiths-esque sound responsible for five anthemic arena singalong Top 20 hits, including the storming brass band-heavy "Getting Better," and their jangly guitar-led signature tune "Going for Gold," surprisingly the band's only Top Tenner. However, it was "Chasing Rainbows" which belatedly appeared on third album, Let It Ride, that provided the band's career high point, a heart-wrenching melancholic ballad which sounds uncannily like the Killers' more Anglo-centric early material. Although they never reached the same heights again, they were still capable of producing the odd killer single. The shouty terrace anthem-style "She Left Me on Friday" echoes the punchy mod-pop of Parklife-era Blur, "Disco Down," like its title suggests, is an indie disco number full of swirling strings and Superstition-esque funky basslines, while the Franz Ferdinand-style swan song "Why Can't I Be You?" suggested the band's decreasing chart positions weren't the result of a lack of trying. The re-recorded and remixed versions of several tracks and the second disc of rarities means The Singles Collection is more likely to appeal to their loyal following rather than the casual fan who may have picked up their previous compilation. But while they've perhaps unfairly remained a minor footnote in the success of the Cool Britannia era, The Singles Collection proves that when it came to creating admirably catchy guitar pop tunes, not many bands did it better.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

The Brilliant Corners ‎Heart On Your Sleeve (A Decade In Pop 1983-1993)

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Singles comps are interesting things; if the programmer presents the songs in chronological order, one can hear the maturity of a band. In the case of Bristol-based indiepop band The Brilliant Corners, one hears a band that started out fabulous only grow more amazing and more, ahem, brilliant. Their first single, “She’s Got Fever,” is a quick burst of something new; it’s part punk, part rockabilly, the genre made more confusing by the addition of a muted trumpet! B-side “Black Water” is a funk number with a rolling bass line that reminds of Gang of Four. In other words, for a debut single, it’s confusing, because they deftly do not define their sound; the only thing that links them is the distinctive singing of Davey Woodward. The diversity didn’t stop, either; the 48 songs on this collection never sit still, presenting a healthy amalgam of punk, rock, rockabilly, and pop. As prolific as they were—eleven singles and EP’s and five albums over a ten year period is a lot of music, Surprisingly, quality control was never an issue, nothing feels like filler, and it’s always a promising sign when a band’s unreleased material leaves the listener wondering why those songs were shelved. It wasn’t until 1988’s single “Teenage” that one starts to see a distinctive signature sound begin to form; after that, their sound was more in tune with the British indie-pop sound, and even though later singles don’t vary as much, that doesn’t decrease the overall quality of the material. For those familiar with this lovely band, you’ll want this to complete your collection. For those unfamiliar—as I most certainly was—this is a superb and excellent compilation of a band that deserves to be rediscovered.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Richard Hawley ‎Lowedges

Richard HawleyLowedges

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Richard Hawley's second album, Lowedges, retains all the virtues that made his debut long-player, Late Night Final, such an out-of-left-field stunner: the late-night atmosphere, the subtle yet dramatic arrangements, Hawley's deep and expressive vocals, and, above all, the low-key and catchy songs that will have you remembering past loves, glory days, and autumn nights. It is nothing but very sentimental and emotional stuff from beginning to end without any traces of mawkishness. Hawley sings with tender resignation and, unlike most singers these days, absolutely never sings two notes where one will do. The arrangements are even more sophisticated on Lowedges, with loads of subtle strings, standup bass, twangy guitars, and more judicious use of reverb. Throughout, Hawley is fond of using swooping slide and pedal-steel guitars to provide atmosphere: on "Darlin'," the slides whisper in the background like star-crossed lovers and on "The Only Road" they hover like specters in the distance. This album features a little more dynamic range than Late Night Final. A couple songs dial the volume up a bit: "Oh My Love" has a power ballad feel with the chorus amped up with distorted guitars and massed backing vocals and "Run From Me" has an epic wall of sound and sounds like the best Bad Seeds song in many a year. A couple tunes (the chiming closer "The Nights Are Made for Us" and "I'm on Nights," which has some haunting guitar lines) bop along like weird '50s doo wop ballads. All the tunes are first-rate. Hawley is a compelling mix of the pastoral beauty of English folk rockers like Nick Drake and the urban cool of balladeers like Scott Walker with a dash of the otherworldliness of Julee Cruise. He doesn't make a false step on this album. Most likely it will be overlooked by the masses, but that's OK. They don't deserve to be hip to such a wonderfully intimate and, well, wonderful artist and record. Let's keep it a secret -- a wonderful secret

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Cinerama ‎Va Va Voom Japan Album

CineramaVa Va Voom

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"I did get your message...I can't believe you're doing this." So goes the line from the answering machine comment used to start off "Maniac," Va Va Voom's first track, and as an initial reaction from longtime Wedding Present fans, it probably works just as well. However, David Gedge approaches his new project with neither false bravado nor, it must be said, all that much of a change from the past in many respects. The key difference is the music, which the band name captures perfectly -- classic, often theatrical pop that refreshingly escapes self-consciousness just by being itself, while retaining a strummed guitar at the center of things. Gedge and Sally Murrell make for a fine core duo, with wistful but not weedy duets and performances throughout; Gedge's singing is certainly much less rough than it has ever been. What hasn't altered in the least is Gedge's lyrical focus on love, emotional betrayals, twists and turns in relationships, and so forth; those who have always found a connection to his work there won't be disappointed at all. At the heart of things, most of the songs could easily have been calmer Wedding Present tracks, so what it comes down to are the arrangements, with a compact string section, along with flute, oboe, and trumpet adding to the gentle layers of keyboards, vibes, and warm atmosphere throughout. It's at once very '60s without sounding totally nostalgic -- a hard balance to maintain but one which Cinerama pulls off. While names like Burt Bacharach/Hal David and John Barry are often invoked in discussing the band, there are other connections as well, such as "Comedienne," with the breezy feeling of the Cure's lighter pop moments in its sound. The full guest list of performers is a neat mix, including Church singer/guitarist Marty Willson-Piper as one of the key players, while Delgados leader Emma Pollock duets on the bitter "Ears

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan ‎Ballad Of The Broken Seas

Isobel Campbell & Mark LaneganBallad Of The Broken Seas

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It's tempting to say something facile like "beauty meets the beast" in writing about this collaboration between former Belle & Sebastian member Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan, best known for his work with Screaming Trees and Queens of the Stone Age. After all, Campbell's voice is all sweet angelic whisper while Lanegan's whisky-and-nicotine rasp sounds like the product of ten thousand nights in a barroom, but somehow these sweet and sour elements come together with striking and impressive results on Ballad of the Broken Seas. It helps that musically these two are not far away from the same page; the ghostly blues-based structures of Lanegan's Whiskey for the Holy Ghost and The Winding Sheet may be starker than Campbell's stuff with Belle & Sebastian or her solo set Amorino, but they both appear to revel in the sort of glorious sadness that draws beauty from melancholy, and they find a dark and lovely common ground on this set of songs. Campbell produced the album and wrote the bulk of the material (though Lanegan wrote one song, the moody and satisfying "Revolver"), and while it's no great surprise that she comes up with superb material for herself, she also knows what to make of Lanegan's expressive rasp ("The Circus Is Leaving Town" is as good a performance as he's ever recorded), and their numbers together (especially "The False Husband" and the cover of Hank Williams' "Ramblin' Man") recall what one hoped Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue's duets on Murder Ballads would sound like. Ballad of the Broken Seas is a superbly crafted bit of late-night introspection that brings out the best in both Lanegan and Campbell and adds new and unexpected facets to their impressive repertoires.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Robert Palmer ‎Woke Up Laughing

Robert PalmerWoke Up Laughing

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Here's a new approach to a compilation. Robert Palmer has looked back at his catalog and plucked a set of album tracks, which he has in some cases remixed or partially re-recorded. A great many of his stylistic borrowings from around the world, especially Africa and the Caribbean, are featured, and since the songs deliberately are not his hit singles or even better-known album cuts, the result sounds like a lost album from early in his career, and a good one, too

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Mercury Rev ‎The Essential Mercury Rev Stillness Breathes 1991-2006

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Mercury Rev are a band of two halves. Their early albums, Yerself is Steam and Boces, were chaotic noise experiments encouraged by their mentor Tony Conrad, a contemporary of John Cale and La Monte Young, and their leftfield peers The Flaming Lips, with whom lead guitarist and eventual frontman Jonathan Donahue originally led a double life (Rev’s David Fridmann also produced The Lips’ 1990 album Priest Driven Ambulance). Championed by Rough Trade, the New Yorkers enjoyed an early UK tour that gained – and maintained – them greater popularity here than in their own country but rock’n’roll partying got in the way and at the end of their equally against-the-rules second album Boces, the band parted company with unpredictable lead singer David Baker. Their first album without him, the prophetically-titled See You on the Other Side, experimented as much with harmonies as feedback and marked the beginning of a new direction for the band, which would be fully realised with Deserter’s Songs, a stunning album of intelligent art rock with enough tunes and choruses to bring them critical acclaim and commercial success in equal measure. Having upped the ante, they have kept it there through follow-ups All Is Dream and The Secret Migration, taking their rightful place amongst too-cathcy-for-indie, too-clever-for-the-mainstream soulmates such as the Lips and REM. Considering their history, the obvious split in a two-disc set might have been between the pre- and post- See You… albums, but we’ve got an even bigger treat in store. The Essential Mercury Rev divides instead into greatest hits (or as close to it as they’ve got) plus an odds and sods of covers, Peel Sessions, remixes and more, which makes for a very pleasing package indeed. Disc One is hardly brimming over with chart botherers but it is none the less peppered with a good few radio friendly sing-alongs that should have crawled higher up the top 40 than they did, from their earliest near-hit, 1998’s Goddess On A Hiway, to their most recent, 2005’s In A Funny Way. The Rev aren’t always easy listening – take Chasing a Bee as a prime example -but in many ways their less commercial works from the early albums sit more comfortably amid the Deserter’s Songs-and-after tunes than they do alone. This could have allowed the tracks from the transitional See You on the Other Side to bridge the gap between the two phases of their career beautifully but instead the ones that have been chosen as its representatives here – Everlasting Arm and Empire State (Son House in Excelsis) – are the two that most recall the earlier material. Incongruously, the sole representative of second album Boces, recorded at a time when the band was both imploding and being thrown off stage at Lollapalooza for being too noisy, is the gentle and almost whimsical Something for Joey. They have since declared the Boces period as one they would rather forget, remembered as sparsely in concert as it is on this compilation. Whether they’re offering up playfully gentle pop, ambitious orchestral pomp The Flaming Lips would be proud of or Velvet Underground-style feedback harmonies, Mercury Rev rarely disappoint. The transition from original vocalist David Baker to Jonathan Donahue doesn’t jar, partly because the songs are structured into a coherent whole rather than presented in chronological order and partly because they’re just so unbearably good. Mixing together songs from all six albums works remarkably well, toning down the more indulgent excesses of the noisefests while reminding the poppier numbers of their music’s darker edge. Disc Two is filled with B-sides and rarities and, as this is Mercury Rev, they are of course exceedingly good B-sides and rarities, including everything from Deadman, on which the band provide backing music to Suicide‘s Alan Vega as he reads from his novel Cripple Nation, to covers of songs by The Beatles, Bowie, Nico, Dylan and others, to interpretations of traditional folk songs such as Streets of Laredo. There are tracks only previously available on a Secret Migrations bonus disc, rare Peel Sessions (1991’s Coney Island Cyclone) and the Chemical Brothers’ Remix of Delta Sun Bottleneck Stomp, which sadly leaves no place on Disc One for the original.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

R.E.M. Automatic For The People

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Turning away from the sweet pop of Out of Time, R.E.M. created a haunting, melancholy masterpiece with Automatic for the People. At its core, the album is a collection of folk songs about aging, death, and loss, but the music has a grand, epic sweep provided by layers of lush strings, interweaving acoustic instruments, and shimmering keyboards. Automatic for the People captures the group at a crossroads, as they moved from cult heroes to elder statesmen, and the album is a graceful transition into their new status. It is a reflective album, with frank discussions on mortality, but it is not a despairing record -- "Nightswimming," "Everybody Hurts," and "Sweetness Follows" have a comforting melancholy, while "Find the River" provides a positive sense of closure. R.E.M. have never been as emotionally direct as they are on Automatic for the People, nor have they ever created music quite as rich and timeless

Saturday, 11 November 2017

INXS ‎Kick Deluxe Edition 2004

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The Australian band INXS reached their absolute commercial peak with the well-crafted pop/rock/dance album Kick in 1997. This was the band’s sixth overall studio album since 1980 and marked a distinct migration from their New-Wave roots towards a more funk and soul oriented refinement of late eighties pop. It yielded four Top Ten hits, more than any other album in their career. The album’s sound was perfectly in sync with the visual media and the image forged by iconic front man Michael Hutchence which, in turn, also translated well into the non-visual radio and dance club formats. It ultimately transformed the band from the status of an alternative niche to that of a mainstream pop headliner, a status which they maintained well in the 1990s. Produced by Chris Thomas, the album was initially rejected by Atlantic records who felt the funk and dance elements would alienate INXS’s traditional rock following. They were reportedly offered $1 million to “go back to Australia and start again” but the band persisted in sticking with their plans and the label eventually relented. The result is amazingly accessible while still maintaining a level of originality from track to track, with each song possessing a different feel from the one previous. Still there are some common elements throughout, especially the simple, direct, and upfront drum beats of drummer John Farriss and the unambiguous guitar riffs forged by brothers Andrew Farriss and Tim Farris. This mixture proved to be a winning formula which the band soon rode to international stardom.The drum infused, monotone “Guns In the Sky” starts the album off, complete with opening grunts by Hutchence. The song barely leaves the repetitive, two-chord structure but sets up as a nice contrasting intro for the subsequent, more melodic pop song “New Sensation”. The first of several funk-infused rockers on Kick, “New Sensation” is a fun ride led by a twangy and flanged guitar riff and containing some direct, shouting vocals and well-timed breaks for effects. The album then moves to a dance oriented semi-suite which contains some of their most popular songs ever. “Devil Inside” is a cool and riff-driven tune with dynamic vocals in both range and style. The lyrics are sexually-fused and nicely complimented by the crisply distorted guitar riff, which cuts through the otherwise smooth sound scape. The song eventually builds towards a strong, climatic ending with building keyboard presence by Andrew Farriss. “Need You Tonight” continues the same general theme and feel, while adding a bit more funk in it’s constant, rotating riff. A well arranged song with overlapping elements, each catchy and memorable in its own right, which helped to make this the band’s top overall hit. “Mediate” is an interesting extension to “Need You Tonight” with a droning rap set over a constant beat and sunrise key pad, before finishing with a well-placed saxophone lead by Kirk Pengilly. Each of these songs contains strong video counterparts, with “Mediate” intentionally replicating the format of Bob Dylan’s classic video for “Subterranean Homesick Blues” right down to the point of apparently deliberate errors. The sides are bookmarked with strong but middle-of-the road tunes. “The Loved One” has elements of blue-eyed soul with a more modern 1980s arrangement and beat, which gives the impression it could have been a hit in its own right. “Wild Life” is another funky song with a good pop hook and an anthemic vocal hook.Never Tear Us Apart”. Driven by fast strings and accented by strategic rests, this song stands out from the band’s other radio hits as a brilliantly composed ballad, complete with counter-harmonized backing vocals and a Pengilly sax solo that doesn’t sound like it was put there just to satisfy some formula. This song proves that the band can, in fact, succeed by stretching the limits of their musical scope. The album concludes with a series of less popular yet very strong songs (there is no filler on this album). “Mystify” is an upbeat swing tune, which is held down to earth by the rock guitars and drums. The title song “Kick” features 1960s style, soul-rock with liberal use of horns throughout and a great driving bass by Garry Gary Beers. “Calling All Nations” returns to the funk formula driven by bright guitars and “Tiny Daggers” is pure 80s pop, keyboard led with slightly interesting vocals. In total, Kick did just about everything you can expect from a high-end pop/rock album of the 1980s. It forged incredibly catchy and modern sounding songs, while not giving way to the mind-numbing, formulaic trends on many contemporary artists of the time.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Shack Here's Tom With The Weather

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Here's Tom With the Weather reads the sleeve, and on Shack's fourth full-length album, the forecast calls for mostly delicate vocals, partly chiming guitars, and more-than-occasional ballads. With these twelve hushed songs, songwriter Michael Head has crafted the most relaxed album of his career. Song titles like the Lilac Time-esque "The Girl with the Long Brown Hair" and "Byrds Turn to Stone," which declares an obvious musical influence, are every bit indicative of the lilting, graceful songs they name. Head's tunes haven't felt this soft and bouncy since he fronted the the Pale Fountains, but that doesn't mean the album ever feels dull. Quite the contrary, Head's songwriting channels so many decades and genres, that all one can do is marvel at the subtle melodies, and hum along to his easy vibes. Tropical beats bounce in the air, harps reverberate romantically, and chiming, sometimes chugging guitars inspire easy moods. Spanish guitars paint texture, threatening to explode out of any given song, and finally do so on the album's most bombastic track, "Meant to Be," which throws in wonderful horns and strings to stir true passion. "Carousel" is, perhaps, the finest Nick Drake song that Drake didn't write, its stirring jazzy arrangement and yearning piano as bittersweet as can be. Here's Tom With the Weather feels like it could be the work of a super-group obsessed with the music of the Byrds and Love, made up of members of Aztec Camera, The Ocean Blue, Doves, Trembling Blue Stars, Echo and the Bunnymen, and the La's. That Head has been quietly creating music this strong in relative obscurity for so many years is remarkable. Maybe Shack just doesn't gel with the zeitgeist, and maybe that's part of what makes them a consistently compelling listen. No matter from which angle one approaches Here's Tom With the Weather, it's an excellent, timeless musical treat.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Spectrum Soul Kiss (Glide Divine)

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Spectrum's debut album -- and at the start, at least, it was something of a regular functioning group -- follows on readily from the end of Spacemen 3 and Sonic's own solo album Spectrum. It's the same lyric obsessions, combination of simplicity and overdrive in the music and the inexpressible spark which so often transforms Sonic's music from celebration of the past into its own boundless future. His partners on the record -- multi-instrumentalist Richard Formby and the Mike Stout/Geoff Donkin rhythm section -- readily kick up the right level of energy or drowsy passion needed. The hands-down pop winner comes right at the start -- "How You Satisfy Me," a near perfect garage-rocker ready for Nuggets combined with more tremolo and flanging than the world should readily be able to handle and a killer chorus. From there, Soul Kiss generally explores things on a much calmer note, with any number of audio clues pointing toward Sonic's next major effort, Mesmerised by EAR. Consider the slow drones and swirling sounds in "Neon Sigh," which while far more minimal than the early EAR material definitely follows the same general pattern of open-ended exploration, drifting in space. Concluding track "Phase Me Out (Gently)" takes this to an even more extreme level, a 15-minute overlay of wordless vocals and tones that lives up to its name in fine fashion. When Spectrum focuses on more traditional song structures, the results are engaging, Sonic's own brand of light gauze over gentle chords. "Waves Wash Over Me" has perhaps his highest singing ever, not so much a whisper as a breeze from above, while "Sweet Running Water" is as perfect a bliss-out as anyone could ask, a slow cascade of feedback and rhythm. Various guests, including regular collaborator the Jazz Butcher on sax and, also on that instrument, Kevin Martin, sometime EAR partner, contribute here and there to the proceedings.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

The Beloved ‎Sweet Harmony The Very Best Of The Beloved

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Controversial dance outfit the Beloved became the chilled-out advocators of the early-'90s rave scene with their blissful brand of dreamy synth pop, which provided the perfect comedown soundtrack for many a hardcore clubber, but they actually started out half-a-decade earlier as a new wave rock band influenced by the less-likely dancefloor favorites Nick Cave and Joy Division. Not that you'd know it from Sweet Harmony: The Very Best of the Beloved -- their third compilation after 1997's Single File and 2005's The Sun Rising -- which, like its predecessors, ignores their guitar-heavy 1989 debut Where It Is, and instead focuses on their three more successful, electronica-based albums. All but one of Happiness' ten songs are included (only closing track "Found" is omitted) with the most recognizable being the gorgeous "The Sun Rising," based on a sample of the haunting choral piece "O Euchari," which first introduced us to the seductive whispering tones of frontman Jon Marsh and their unique fusion of Balearic beats and ethereal acid-house synths. Elsewhere, the gothic undertones of the Depeche Mode-influenced opener "Hello" perfectly bridged the gap between their indie beginnings and their new-found loved-up sound; the skeletal guitars and languid piano chords of "Don't You Worry" echoed the Hacienda house of New Order; while more poppier, Erasure-ish influences crept in on the hi-NRG electro of "Scarlet Beautiful" and "Up, Up and Away." Only two tracks fail to make the cut from 1993's number two commercial breakthrough Conscience ("Lose Yourself in Me" and "1000 Years from Today"), their first release since Marsh's wife Helena replaced founding member Steve Waddington. Famed for its risque naked video, signature tune "Sweet Harmony," a glorious slice of ice-cool synth pop which manages to be both brooding and euphoric at the same time, is unsurprisingly the album's highlight. But the gospel-fused trip-hoppy "Spirit," the new age trance leanings of "Dream On," and the psychedelic techno of "Outerspace Girl" shows that Conscience had more than one trick up its sleeve. But by the time of 1996's swan song X, the whole illegal warehouse rave scene was all but a distant memory, and although the lush ambient soundscapes of "Spaceman," the Underworld-esque techno of the nine-minute "Crystal Wave," and the anthemic Italo house-inspired "Satellite," were valiant attempts at a more experimental sound, the rest of the album failed to transcend their club roots in the same way as its predecessor did. Hardcore fans will be delighted at the inclusion of "Loving Feeling," a previously unreleased song from their early days, but for a band so synonymous with the dance scene, it's surprising that not one of the tracks from their 1991 remix album Blissed Out makes the grade. Besides their two big hit singles, the Beloved aren't really treated with the same respect as other early-'90s dance luminaries like the KLF and Saint Etienne, but this comprehensive two-CD collection suggests they deserve far more credit than they're given.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Pere Ubu ‎Cloudland Reissue

Pere UbuCloudland Reissue

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In a press handout that accompanied the original release of Pere Ubu's Cloudland, David Thomas quipped "We'd never been asked to write a pop record before. I guess it never occurred to anyone." Given the sonic Dadaism of much of Pere Ubu's work, what's most startling is not that it took so long for someone to suggest they make a pop record but that they were able to comply so successfully. Stephen Hague, who had previously worked with the Pet Shop Boys, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and New Order, produced these sessions, and Cloudland boasts a glossy surface that was unprecedented for Pere Ubu's work; the drums sounded crisp and tight, the songs included traditional melodies and melodic keyboard lines, Allen Ravenstine's noisy punctuations were pushed to the back of the mix, and the harmonies sounded as if they were performed by actual professionals. However, beneath the hipster friendly production, Cloudland remained a Pere Ubu record -- David Thomas' yelping vocal style was as unrestrained as ever, and while the tunes here lack the sharp angles of Pere Ubu's first era, the lateral sway of the melodies is still cheerfully off kilter. Lyrically, Cloudland finds Ubu moving cautiously from their passionate defense of the Midwest's industrial wastelands to a look at the broad plains that lurked elsewhere, as if they were looking for sunnier climes like many other denizens of the Rust Belt and finding many strange, troubling and wonderful things in their new surroundings. Ultimately, Cloudland showed that however much you dressed up Pere Ubu's music, their heart and soul would show through, and that is a very good thing. In 2007, Mercury Records reissued Cloudland in a new remastered edition created with the input of the band. The new disc includes two non-LP B-sides, "Wine Dark Sparks" and "Bang the Drum," as well as a live BBC recording of "Bus Called Happiness" and alternate mixes of "Breath" and "Love Love Love." David Stubbs' liner notes describe the circumstances behind the making of the album as well as Thomas' lyrical themes on this material

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Beck ‎Midnite Vultures

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Midnite Vultures is flourishing with a deranged sense of psychedelia that disorient the senses, while mesmerizing the mind with surrealistic melodies. Surrealism has often been defined as an artistic movement that deviates from the conscious laws of reason and convention. It is a philosophy dedicated to exploring the most obscure realms of the human imagination. Surrealism originally began as an expressionistic approach to visual art, but the ideology of imaginative indulgence transcended into other art-forms such as film and music. Beck has once been described as a composer whose music spontaneously transcends through genres, while simultaneously reinventing them. Beck's pervious albums, like Mellow Gold and Odelay!, displayed a distinctively eccentric and innovative musical style. Amalgamating different genres such as Folk, Hip-hop, Rock and Electronica to create an unusual listening experience that is directly inspired by the unconventional nature of surrealism. Beck's prior albums have constantly exposed us to his experimental tendencies, but none of those experiences even come close to the utter abnormality of Midnite Vultures. This is Beck showing absolutely no restrain, as he takes us on a metaphysical journey to the most abstract dimensions of his mind. "Nicotine & Gravy" is perhaps the essence of what Midnite Vultures is all about. The song is composed by an excessive barrage of psychedelic effects flowing along a mellow arrangement of bass and drums. But as we descend further and further into "Nicotine & Gravy", we find the song being constructed by a diverse musical landscape that arrives to an eruptive medley of kaleidoscopic sounds. Midnite Vultures introduces an eccentric style of ambient music. "Peaches & Cream" displays the typical musical approach of the album, exhibiting condensed layers of sounds comprised from the rhythmic groove of Funk music and trancing instrumental elements. As I said before, this album is flourishing with a deranged sense of psychedelia that disorient the senses, while mesmerizing the mind with surrealistic melodies. We can really see Beck's growth as a songwriter in this album. The lyrical content still contains Beck's usual delivery of nonsensical comedic witticism, but the instrumental sections demonstrate innovative orchestral techniques that we hadn't really seen in his past albums. In songs like "Hollywood Freaks" and "Get Real Paid", we find Beck returning to some of his past tendencies as he revisits his Hip-Hop and Electronic roots. We have seen Beck incorporate both electronic and sampling effects in his music before, but they were always an occasional decorative arrangement. In Midnite Vultures, electronic sequences serve to play a prominent role in the musical structure of almost every song on the album, adding a higher level of spontaneity to the music. "Milk & Honey" and "Mixed Bizness" perfectly display all of the different approaches Beck uses with electronic effects, from eruptive discharges of cosmic sounds to inducing a more melodious dancing atmosphere. In the end, Midnite Vultures proves to be highly entertaining because it's simply Beck doing what he does best- altering the norms of musical orchestration while blending several different musical elements to create a truly captivating musical experience

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Thanks A Million

Since I Started This Blog In July 2014

Just Like To Say Thanks A Million For The All Visits And Comments

Thanks Again Aid00

Various ‎Retro:Active2 (Rare & Remixed)

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If you're an '80s alt-pop junkie who scours the various-artist bins for new series that take surprising turns, Hi-Bias' Retro: Active series might fit the bill since it compiles alternate and extended mixes that tend to come from the original 12" releases. A lot of the tracks in the series have been out of circulation since they were first issued, so Hi-Bias should at least be credited for not recycling the same old batch of hits and semi-hits. Notables on this, the second volume, include the extended mix of the Human League's "Human," the dance remix of Blancmange's "Don't Tell Me," the Madhouse mix of Yaz's "State Farm," and the dub mix of Tears for Fears' "Shout.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

The Beta Band ‎The Best Of The Beta Band Music

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The Beta Band's biggest claim to fame was that homage in High Fidelity, which speaks volumes about this sorely missed British talent. When John Cusack's character puts The Three EPs on in his record shop, his customers ears immediately prick up. 'Whats this?' they ask, 'It's good!' To which Cusack replies, smugly, 'I know'. If only everyone did... The Beta Band disbanded at the end of 2004, citing their frustration at being critically lauded but commercially ignored. They left behind a legacy of innovative and inspiring tunes, which a small but devoted legion of fans had grown to love. This Best Of does a grand job of placing the finest moments from their four albums in chronological order. There are, perhaps, one too many tracks included from last album Heroes To Zeroes, at the expense of epic live jam, "The House Song", but this is nitpicking. Thankfully, the latter does appear on disc two of this set, as the conclusion to a triumphant live set, recorded at Shepherd's Bush Empire during their final farewell tour. This release is an essential purchase, just to hear the crowd refuse to let "Dry The Rain" finish by repeatedly singing the chorus back to a bemused band.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

The KLF ‎Chill Out

The KLFChill Out

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Recorded and mastered over the course of two days (and apparently recorded in one mammoth take) Chill Out is, as its name suggests, an album for the early morning rather than the night before. It’s the sound of rosy fingered dawn emerging sleepy eyed from behind the horizon, coating existence in swathes of delicious honey and drowsy outlines of amber before playfully chasing somnolent shadows across the horizon. In retrospect, it makes perfect sense that a band active in a scene notorious for getting as close to god as chemically possible would make music like this; Chill Out is the ultimate come down album. Yet dismissing this as simply another early 90’s pillhead album would be the height of ignorance. You don’t need to be insufflating anything to appreciate this; the music itself is utterly sublime. Delicate waves of synths wash over percussive trains that trundle lazily through sleepy towns, punctuating brief and fragile fragments of conversation that leak out of yawning doors and slowly blinking windows. From time to time, vehement roars emanate from the open doors of a Baptist church that trembles in divine ecstasy. The KLF deserve the highest praise for painting the musical picture of places utterly alien to them, in the process creating an astounding aural soundtrack to a journey that would only ever take place on the shrouded highways of the listeners mind. This being the good ole days before Gilbert O’Sullivan decided to ruin music, samples are inserted wholesale into the mix; Elvis on the Radio, Steel Guitar in my Soul, which places In the Ghetto over drifting hawaiian guitars, is particularly heart wrenching. Like all good sampling, the individual pieces combined are more than the sum of their parts; church choirs, impassioned preachers, the braying of animals and children - everyday sounds flickering by that somehow succeed in conjuring up intense visions of mysterious and magical places, lonely landscapes and lonelier people.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers ‎Anthology Through The Years

Tom Petty And The HeartbreakersAnthology Through The Years

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For the fan that wants more than the superb single-disc Greatest Hits yet doesn't want to delve into actual albums or the exhaustive, rarities-heavy box set Playback, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and MCA Records offered the double-disc Anthology: Through the Years in the fall of 2000. This set basically offers all the singles and album rock radio favorites, with a couple of odd selections here and there and one new song, "Surrender." There are a few omissions -- "Make It Better (Forget About Me)" isn't here, for instance -- but not enough to really be noticeable, especially since this consolidates the bulk of Petty's great songs and plays very, very well. Greatest Hits might have a slight edge to Anthology because of its conciseness, but this double-disc set illustrates that Petty's catalog was deeper than just the hits.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

The Charlatans ‎Forever The Singles Limited Edition

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What separates the 2006 compilation Forever: The Singles (released in the U.S. in 2007) from the 1998 Melting Pot? The simple answer: the eight years separating the two compilations and that Forever draws heavily from the four albums that came out since Melting Pot, resulting in such '90s Charlatans classics as "Just Lookin'" and "Jesus Hairdo" being left behind. In effect, if Melting Pot documents the Charlatans peak, tracing their rise from the baggy of 1990's Some Friendly to the retro-rock of the 1997 masterpiece Tellin' Stories, Forever is the story of how this quintet turned into rock & roll survivors, weathering tragedies and shifts in fashion to become a strong, reliable rock band, always dependable for solid, entertaining albums even if their singles were not as big or as memorable as "The Only One I Know," "Can't Get Out of Bed," "Just When You're Thinking Things Over," "One to Another," or "North Country Boy." Forever is a good overview of that band and is a worthwhile introduction in that regard, but Melting Pot remains a better portrait of the band at its popular and creative peak

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Marc Bolan & T.Rex 20th Century Superstar

Marc Bolan & T.Rex 20th Century Superstar

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Although Marc Bolan and T. Rex are no strangers to the best-of racks, it is a sad truth that only one previous attempt has been made to represent the singer's entire career, the Australian triple album 20th Century Boy, back in 1981. And, regardless of whether or not the compilers of this set took that package as their benchmark, the best possible compliment that one can offer 20th Century Superstar is that it doesn't simply equal its predecessor, it utterly surpasses it. Arranged chronologically across four CDs, 20th Century Superstar follows Bolan from his first-known recordings, versions of Dion's "The Road I'm On" and Dylan's "Blowing in the Wind" cut under the name Toby Tyler in 1965, through to his final single, 1977's "Celebrate Summer." That's 108 tracks, with no less than 19 previously unreleased relics of Bolan's Tyrannosaurus Rex days, presenting the most well-rounded portrait of that era yet. The years 1967-1970 are, after all, the one part of his career to have so far evaded the wholesale archive scraping that characterizes his earlier and later (post-fame) years, but here we have three previously unheard songs, 11 alternate takes, a couple of demos, and, most important of all, a three-song session recorded with producer Joe Boyd in 1967, which is as astonishing as such a collision ought to be. Woven among these gems, of course, are all the highlights one would hope to hear, from the biggest hits to the all-time fan favorites, from BBC sessions to pseudonymous singles, and onto a couple of extra-curricular goodies -- Bolan's guest spot on David Bowie's 1969 "Prettiest Star" single paramount among them. Add a genuinely sensitive remastering job and an excellent essay by Bolan biographer Mark Paytress, and it all adds up to a presentation that renders virtually every other Bolan compilation superfluous. He may have been a 20th century superstar, but he looks fit to run well into the 21st as well

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Marc Bolan / T.Rex Greatest Hits

Marc Bolan/T.Rex Greatest Hits

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Marc Bolan fans who find this U.K. release while browsing record shelves should rejoice with a gruff Bolan-esque "Yeah!" An overabundance of T. Rex compilations has tried to capture the full span of the godfather of glam rock's career, with very few succeeding -- 20th Century Boy: The Ultimate Collection being the most likely choice. Greatest Hits could practically be marketed as an extended director's cut of that CD with bonus features. This 40-song set includes 17 of the songs found on The Ultimate Collection and groups them with alternate singles and B-sides from 1965 to 1977. Not only does this pairing illustrate the simple brilliance of his 15 songs that hit number one or two on the charts -- including "Bang a Gong (Get It On)," "Cosmic Dancer," "Ride a White Swan," "Children of the Revolution," "Telegram Sam," and "Jeepster" -- but it also shows that Bolan was an absolute songwriting machine, with many of his lesser-known grooves sounding just as powerful as his big hits. The one minor problem with this stellar collection is that most newcomers looking for an introduction to Bolan would probably find a few other songs from his biggest '70s albums (T. Rex, Electric Warrior, Tanx, and The Slider) more essential than some of the picks from his earlier folkie Tyrannosaurus Rex days or later pre-disco years. Regardless, this is a strong overview. "Life's a Gas" is a swaying acoustic classic worthy of any collection, and the boisterous rockers "Laser Love" and "Soul of My Suit" show where David Bowie got his inspiration for his "plastic soul" era. Considering that Bowie was both a peer and pupil of Bolan's, most notably in his Ziggy Stardust phase, this could make for a perfect shelf accompaniment to Bowie's stylistically similar anthology, Singles: 1969-1993; subsequently, no one ever quite explained the curly-headed trailblazer's cultural impact better than Bowie himself, when he spoke for the entire glam community in "All the Young Dudes" and sang "Who needs TV when I got T. Rex?" This collection sums up Bolan's discography brilliantly

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Arab Strap The Week Never Starts Round Here Deluxe Edition

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Too often in music, bands get referred to as being ‘unique’, but this Scottish duo genuinely were that most rare of things. Middleton pulled the strings musically - improving ten fold with each subsequent release yet always maintaining that mystique to the songs’ atmosphere – whilst Moffat supplied the words and tone of voice, always pitching it perfectly between humorous (but often cynical) banter and painfully honest admissions of one’s own faults. People regularly remark of bands putting themselves into their work, but within Moffat’s words lie the entire outline of his life to date. Over their career of 11 years, the band outgrew their initial miserablist mistag and became a relatively unsung national treasure for both their recorded work and live shows. And so it seems right that this, their debut album, should now be reissued forevermore with a second disc featuring their first four Peel Sessions and debut King Tut’s gig (having formerly been packaged in the Scenes of A Sexual Nature boxset). The Week Never Starts Round Here is a perfect snapshot of a Nineties indie band finding their feet. Some songs here hint at what was to come; ‘Blood’ still sounds delightful, walking a fine line between amusing and scathing ("My last lover’s playing with her new man now / It’s only three weeks we’ve been apart / They sat together and he sent her flowers / Well he can fucking keep that fickle disco tart"), whilst ‘Kate Moss’ still sounds remarkably fresh, with its opening statement of shock that someone could not find the model "pretty". Others jar a little with the rest of the band's output, but are still wholly decent indie romps when taken outside of that realm, such as the booming reverberating-snare used on the slightly eerie ‘The Clearing’ and the whimsical ‘General Plea to a Girlfriend’, complete with its whistle solo. It’s particularly interesting hearing the live renditions on the second disc alongside these studio versions, with the results sounding fuller and more rounded, even at this early stage. The Peel Sessions also yield interesting results. ‘The Smell of Outdoor Cooking’ – an early single – is fun whilst ‘Soaps’ gets an early airing before its pivotal role on their second album. Whereas ‘I Saw You’ is a wonderful example too of what it’s like meeting someone for the first time, with the words and music marrying perfectly; starting with sweet reflection, a period of nervous energy as to where you stand and ending in a mess of loved up joy and confusion, featuring such insight along the way as "I saw you twice and both times you were wearing orange / And she told you I fancied you in the toilets at The Garage". But despite the band going on to better it, both the Peel Sessions and album belong to ‘The First Big Weekend’. Even 21 years on, it sounds utterly mesmerising. The splendid live version has entirely ‘new’ lyrics detailing their journey to the BBC and Malcolm’s dour backing, bemoaning the weather, but the accolades belong to the studio recording. Building from a simple guitar line until the starring drum beat expands into a wonderful climactic indie anthem, it captured the hearts of Peel, Guinness’s advertising team, the label bosses and most music fans of the time; because it totally ‘got’ what being a twentysomething in this country was like during your downtime; nights out with your friends, some drinking out, some watching of The Simpsons, some passing interest in the opposite sex and a bit of late night cheese misuse. It’s the song that still defines the band to many, and one that certainly raised the bar of expectation surrounding the band such is it’s confidence and perfection.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

XTC ‎Fossil Fuel The XTC Singles 1977-92

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Fossil Fuel: The XTC Singles 1977-1992 is a splendid double-disc set that runs through every one of the group's 31 A-sides, from the nervy "Science Friction" to the lush, sighing "Wrapped in Grey." Between those two songs, XTC's craftsmanship grows remarkably fast -- based on the edgy pop of their new wave singles "Statue of Liberty," "This Is Pop," "Are You Receiving Me?," and "Life Begins at the Hop," it's hard to believe that they would later write the subtle, near-pastoral Beatles, Kinks, and Beach Boys pastiches of "Love on a Farmboy's Wages," "Great Fire," and "Grass." And those songs just scratch the surface of the terrific pop singles available on Fossil Fuel: "Making Plans for Nigel," "Ten Feet Tall," "Generals and Majors," "Towers of London," "Respectable Street," "Sense Working Overtime," "This World Over," "Dear God," "The Mayor of Simpleton," "King for a Day," and "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead" are wonderful songs and forgotten classics. Although XTC continually made carefully constructed albums, they were a dynamite singles band, releasing songs that were tightly constructed and impossibly catchy. They never had hits, because their unabashed pop was never in fashion; plus, Andy Partridge's voice was too pinched and his lyrics frequently too cerebral. But XTC's music stands as some of the best and most influential pop of their era, and nowhere is that more evident than on Fossil Fuel.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Everything But The Girl ‎Home Movies The Best Of Everything But The Girl

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Like most Everything but the Girl compilations, 2001's Home Movies: Best of Everything but the Girl restricts itself to the duo's first decade, before they reinvented themselves as the pop face of trip-hop with 1995's "Missing." A roughly chronological sprint through Everything but the Girl's first seven albums, from 1984's Eden through 1992's Acoustic, there's no room for any more than two or three songs from any one record; while this does a handy job of tracing Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt's career path from folk-jazz indie to sophisticated and adult pop music, it also means that several worthy songs, especially from the group's early days, are missing: no "Night and Day," "When All's Well," "Riverbed Dry," "Sugar Finney," or "Oxford Street." On the other hand, the songs chosen are a balanced and representational lot, including favorites like Thorn's indelible bossa nova "Each and Every One" and the lovely, Dusty Springfield-like orchestral pop of "Come on Home." Home Movies is an excellent introduction to Everything but the Girl's early years for newcomers beguiled by later hits, but all of the group's early albums (Eden, released in a very different U.S. version as 1984's Everything but the Girl; 1985's Love Not Money; 1986's Baby, the Stars Shine Bright; and 1988's Idlewild) are well worth seeking out on their own.
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