Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Electronic ‎Get The Message The Best Of

Get It At Discogs
When New Order's Bernard Sumner joined the Smiths' Johnny Marr to form Electronic in 1989, some called it a dream collaboration. Marr's gifted guitar work made him a star musician on top of making the Smiths one of the greatest bands to emerge from post-punk. Sumner and his coolly boyish vocals stepped up to fill the shoes of his old friend, the late Ian Curtis, upon the end of Joy Division in 1980. New Order and the Smiths were two bands that matched one another in appeal and importance. Both groups also defined what would be known as alternative rock, so Marr and Sumner coming together just made sense. Get the Message: The Best of Electronic is a definitive look at how the super duo succeeded in making cohesive and appealing dance-rock and became one of the greatest alt-rock bands. All three albums -- 1991's self-titled masterpiece, 1996's Raise the Pressue, and their 1999 hidden treasure, Twisted Tenderness -- are represented throughout along with an assortment of outtakes and remixes. Their various collaborations, including their very memorable work done with the Pet Shop Boys' Neil Tennant, cannot be forgotten, either. Their U.K. Top 20 hit "Getting Away with It," the fluid acoustic guitars of "Get the Message," and the previously unavailable single mix of "Disappointed," all of which feature Tennant on vocals, remain timeless standouts for Electronic. Other highlights include the sexy synth beats of "Imitation of Life" (B-side to "Forbidden City") and "All That I Need" (B-side to the Karl Bartos-penned hit from Raise the Pressure's "For You"). With Rhino's meticulous selection of tracks, Get the Message is definitely one of those collections tailored for both longtime fans who already own everything and for new fans seeking a great prelude.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Manic Street Preachers ‎The Holy Bible 10th Anniversary Edition

Manic Street PreachersThe Holy Bible 10th Anniversary Edition

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Formed in 1991 and fashioned after The Clash, the Manic Street Preachers had its heart set upon rescuing the British music scene from the acid-drenched dance grooves pouring forth from Manchester, and it quickly became a controversial force that was either loved or hated by the English press. A strange episode of public mutilation by guitarist Richey James during an early interview — he carved the words "4 Real" into his arm — alluded to the troubled times to come, and sure enough, just as the ensemble was poised to enter and potentially conquer the American market, James disappeared without a trace, never to be found. As a result, the collective’s third album The Holy Bible wasn’t released in the U.S., though that didn’t stop the Manic Street Preachers from developing a cult of fans that spanned the globe. Despite its initial belief that a band should dissolve after releasing a single outing, the group, having already surpassed that mark, remained together, and although it continued to record and tour, it never fully recovered from its loss. Indeed, The Holy Bible was the Manic Street Preachers’ finest moment, and with its revolutionary slogans, angst-filled despair, and snarling punk rock attitude, it was a direct descendent of The Clash’s London Calling, the Sex Pistols' Never Mind the Bullocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, Nirvana’s Nevermind, and Jane’s Addiction’s Ritual de lo Habitual. Ten years after the fact, the collection has been given the sort of treatment that is customary for classic albums. Its official U.S. debut comes as a 2-CD, 1-DVD set that includes the original album; the band’s preferred bombastic re-mix of the outing that Tom Lord-Alge prepared for the American market, which surprisingly is an improvement; a handful of thunderous concert cuts; several unremarkable demo recordings and radio sessions; numerous television appearances; a 30-minute interview with the surviving members; and several promotional videos. It’s an overwhelming amount of material, especially since The Holy Bible will be unfamiliar to most. Yet, the attention also is much deserved, even if the entirety of the affair doesn’t achieve the magnificence for which its ambition obviously strives. Musically, Manic Street Preachers bends punk, pop, and heavy metal into a distorted mass of twisted, violent mayhem, and the entirety of The Holy Bible unfolds while punishing waves of percussion, ominous rumbles of bass, and rampaging assaults of guitar scream in a menacing fashion behind the disturbed howl of front man James Dean Bradfield. Yet, it’s the lyrical content that makes the collection so challengingly difficult to embrace. Pitting Nicky Wire’s socio-political rants against James’ tormented musings, the collection is abrasive, confrontational, and, at times, downright shocking in its examination of human suffering. True, there are moments when the group’s anarchist diatribes go astray, such as on the apparent pro-death penalty posturing of Archives of Pain or via the anti-gun control cheering — which admittedly might be intended as an anti-Ronald Reagan mantra — that concludes IfWhiteAmericaToldtheTruthforOneDayIt’sWorldWouldFallApart. For a leftist band, these two songs rather ironically embody the passions of the current conservative-minded American government, and its supporters likely would adopt the tunes as their own, if only the Manic Street Preachers didn’t scare the bejesus out of them. Even so, it isn’t likely that they’d wander much further than the opening song Yes, which harshly criticizes Western imperialism. Not surprisingly, however, it’s James’ compositions that cut the deepest, if only because buried within his images of anorexia (4st. 7lb.) and self-loathing (Die in the Summertime), he offers glimpses of his own dark soul. Where the passage of time has removed some of the biting sting from outings by the Sex Pistols and Nirvana, Manic Street Preachers’ The Holy Bible is as harrowing, horrifying, and intense as ever. Not to be taken lightly, the album also shouldn’t be overlooked.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Suede ‎Coming Up Deluxe Edition

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"Pick a fight with Suede, you gonna pick a fight with the Suede fanbase," warned Matt Lucas on Shooting Stars in 1997. Leave aside the fact that Lucas was then dressed as a menacing man-baby: the truly surreal thing about this pop culture nugget is its target. Suede, suburbia’s moodiest, druggiest misfits, were now so mainstream-famous that they could be knowingly mocked on primetime, thanks to their biggest album yet, the hit-rammed, melody-overloaded Coming Up. 22 years later, it seems obvious that Britpop’s John the Baptists would rise from the grave to claim some of the rewards being lavished on lesser lights like Kula Shaker and Shed Seven, but it wasn't at the time. Despite their punchy 1993 debut generating a whirlwind of hype, the loss of wunderkind guitarist Bernard Butler and the sprawling darkness of 1994’s subsequent Dog Man Star read like a two-part commercial suicide note. Replacing Butler with a teenage fanboy and the drummer’s cousin was hardly encouraging. Yet amongst the B sides, lost songs and demos lovingly collected in this third lavish re-issue from the Suede back catalogue (the compilers clearly taking Matt Lucas’ threat seriously) lies the first clue that everything was about to go magically right. Together, a 1994 B side, was the first collaboration between Brett Anderson and new guitarist, Richard Oakes: its shamelessly poppy ebullience, fizzy guitars and breezy bubblegum vocal created a blueprint for the album which followed. And what a dazzling, spangly pop album Coming Up, remains, made shinier still by expert remastering. Anderson cites the surging outsiders anthem Trash as the pinnacle, but Beautiful Ones is more remarkable, the urgent, knotty wordplay of its verses giving way to an ecstatic chorus which embodies the album's title (the demo fascinatingly reveals that the song began life as Beatles-y whimsy). That these big pop beasts were interspersed with savage melodramas like She and swooning love songs like Picnic by the Motorway made Coming Up more alluring and enduring.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Super Furry Animals ‎Rings Around The World US Album

Super Furry AnimalsRings Around The World

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Super Furry Animals' leap to a major label in the U.K. with Rings Around the World isn't that drastic of a change -- Fuzzy Logic was also released on Epic in the U.S., Creation was subsidized by Sony, and they never were exactly wanting of money on their previous records -- but the band nevertheless seizes the opportunity to consolidate their strengths, providing an introduction for listeners that may not have been paying attention before. As such, it's hard not to consider it as a bit of a missed opportunity, since this is the first SFA album not to progress from its predecessor, or offer the shock of the new, and that's hard not to miss -- but, if this is the first SFA record you hear, it'll likely intrigue, even dazzle, with its kaleidoscopic blend of pop, prog, punk, psych, and electronica. Still, this is nearly Super Furry Cliff Notes, offering a glossy, big-screen variation on all of their themes -- decadently lush pop-psych, chugging rock & roll, bitter leftism, sublimely warped imagery, experimentalism wrapped in luxurious productions. Alluring, to be sure, and satisfying, too, and there certainly are wonderful details scattered throughout the album, the least of which are cameos by John Cale and Paul McCartney. Plus, there is exceptional songwriting here, such as the cinematic "Juxtaposed With U," "Sidewalk Serfer Girl," and "Receptacle for the Respectable," which encapsulates nearly every side of the band within five minutes. Still, it's hard not to want a little more from the band that was the best pop band of the late '90s. It's hard not to at least want surprises (since there are none) or, if it's going to be a consolidation, to have it be a statement of purpose, since it lacks either an overarching theme or a music that gels. So, it's not what it could have been, but what it is is still pretty damn great, satisfying with its melodies, textures, and ideas. Compared to what Super Furry Animals have done before,

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

The Levellers ‎Greatest Hits

The LevellersGreatest Hits

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The Levellers have proven themselves worthy rock contenders with a slew of organic anthemic pop-rock songs that fuel a lengthy twenty-six-year career. The band have managed to attract a cult following during those years, but haven’t received the widespread attention that they truly deserve. With the release of this deluxe 2 CD Greatest Hits Album, could this be their chance to turn this around? After all, there’s plenty here to keep the most dedicated of rock-listeners happy and engaged.It should be noted that this isn’t your average Greatest Hits album; The Levellers haven’t merely thrown together a list of their most-loved songs on 2 CDs and left it at that. Many of these tracks have been re-recorded and given a new lease of life by adding guest artists into the mix. Billy Bragg lends his strong vocals to the song Hope Street, giving it an element of soul while violins and banjos serenade him. Even long-time Levellers fan, Frank Turner joins in the action, lending his vocal talents to Julie. Likewise, Imelda May’s strong female singing voice is perfect for Beautiful Day. Of course, if these new collaborations don’t quite suit your listening needs, the versions with lead singer Mark Chadwick’s vocals are also present here. Not that there’s anything wrong with the new versions since they add some variety to the record with its special guests.The addition of guest artists aside, the album is a commendable display of The Levellers’ ability to craft anthemic pop-rock songs. A particular stand-out is One Way, bursting out with a strong rhythm section with singer Mark Chadwick passionately declaring “There is only one way of life and that’s your own, your own, your own” as he berates the working class lifestyle. Indeed, those who want their music to have a message won’t be disappointed here. Catchy rock song, Burn America Burn details the way the States are depicted in the media and how it is slowly destroying itself. It’s a song with rhythmic, grumbling guitars and a grouchy vocal from Chadwick, an honesty that doesn’t find its way into many songs in rock.However, it would be honesty in itself for me to say that that The Levellers are one of the most criminally overlooked and underrated bands of all time. With some honest songwriting, great hooks and famous artists such as Billy Bragg and Frank Turner joining them on the record, The Levellers have put together an impressive collection of their hits and more, re-establishing themselves towards a brand new audience and hopefully garnering the recognition they deserve. If you’re looking for foot-tapping alternative rock, then you’ve come to the right place.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

The Future Sound Of London ‎Lifeforms

The Future Sound Of LondonLifeforms

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Having indulged in more explicitly ambient realms with the Amorphous Androgynous side project, FSOL returned to full action with Lifeforms, a double-disc effort that ranks as one of the best experimental techno releases of the '90s. If not as immediately memorable on a song per song basis as, say, Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works collections, as an overall piece, Lifeforms makes for an inventive, fascinating aural experience, as rich and detailed as the Orb's best work. Where FSOL differs from that band in particular is the comparative lack of overt humor and less immediate desire to make people groove -- this is something to listen to rather than necessarily dance to. In comparison to Accelerator, this is an extremely subtle listen, with rhythms generally buried in the mix, serving the melodies rather than vice versa. In comparison to the upfront breaks and steady house beats just two years previous, here they're stuttered, echoed, often approaching dub in pace and impact. Meanwhile, the space-alien bubbles and noises and haunting tones take to the fore, making for a disorienting, evocative experience, a mix of natural sounds and artificial elements much like the band's own artwork. Even the singles, "Cascade" and "Lifeforms," play down the beat. The one for "Cascade" is barely there, swooping samples and soft synth hooks to the fore, while "Lifeforms," for its comparatively more direct impact, relies as much on its keyboard swell and chiming melody as much as the complex overlay of rhythms. There are a few guest appearances here and there, but they're mostly notable for how the band incorporate them instead of letting them stand out -- Robert Fripp's guitar on "Flak," Talvin Singh's tablas on "Life Form Ends," and Toni Halliday from Curve doing a "vocal texture" on "Cerebral."

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

808 State 808:88:98

808 State 808:88:98

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Celebrating, as the title hints at, ten years of work together, 808:88:98 makes the brilliant case for 808 State's place as a modern techno pioneer. Time has shown that while a rougher breakbeat approach ended up defining much of dance in the broad public eye during the '90s, 808 State's own slightly cleaner approach was no less energetic and instantly compelling. Starting with the hyperactive shimmer and smooth flow of "Pacific," an instant trip back to the acid house days of the late '80s, 808:88:98 merrily makes its way through the years, touching on both the smash hits and some side diversions. The guitar mania and prototypical synth riff blare of "Cubik" provides the second blast, while both tunes reappear at the end in 1998 remixes. 808 State practically invented the "famous guest vocalist" cameo in techno and a slew of its various collaborations are sprinkled throughout. Bernard Sumner and Ian McCulloch aren't included, while regretfully the resolutely unspectacular MC Tunes is ("The Only Rhyme That Bites" isn't even much musically), but otherwise it's a feast of choices. Björk's playfully dark spin on "Ooops" (the clear harbinger of her eventual solo career), the Manic Street Preachers' James Dean Bradfield's winsome turn on "Lopez," and even UB40's work on "One in Ten" all make for reasonable crossover winners, though Lamb's Louise Rhodes steals the show with "Azura." For all that, the group's own work stands out most of all, from the threatening vocal snippets and drum slams of "In Yer Face" to the multi-percussive clatter and charge of "Bombadin." An appreciative essay makes the case for the band's landmark work and broad appeal, among other things noting that 808 State played for American crowds numbering in the thousands well before the major labels thought techno even existed.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Lionrock ‎An Instinct For Detection

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There's something joyous afoot throughout Lionrock's excellent, overlooked gem of an album An Instinct for Detection. Equal parts throbbing, frazzled instrumentals and tracks with too-cool vocals, the entire album shines. When things get heavy, Justin Robertson and company throw in hilarious samples, before getting back to the business of creating a soundtrack for city life. The instrumental tracks, abuzz with inebriated electronics, work in a caffeinated vein, repeatedly suggesting a controlled driving force; it's first-class dance music when it goes the dance route. Particularly delightful tracks along this path are the absolutely ominous-sounding dark movements of "Death Valley Clapperboard" and the evocative film noir suggestions of "The Guide." Vocalist MC Buzz B uses a vocal inflection that is entirely infectious on "Straight at Yer Head," "Peace Repackaged," and "Depth." His style is a cross between singing and syncopated speech; the ultra-precise enunciation works as an excellent counterpoint to the aggressive, accessible throttle of the music. Perhaps the album didn't catch on with a wider audience because it came too early in the electronica boom of the late '90s, but it certainly contains massive charms and a handful of tracks that could very easily be hit singles. An Instinct for Detection is a remarkable, wonderful album that shows consistent mastery of the pop and electronica genres. It's the perfect example of an album that masters dance and pop music, and it is perhaps the greatest lost classic of the '90s in any genre.
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