I have been popping into the Charity Shops every now and again over the last several weeks and have, since the last time I posted about them, picked up 158 CD’s at an average of £0.33 each, so costing £52.14 in total. If I see something even remotely interesting then I get it, taste doesn’t really enter into the decision making process. So here is a list, don’t judge me, well do, but know I don’t care.
The Essential Tony Bennett (A Retrospective)
More Music To Watch Girls By
The Fat Of The Land
Bat For Lashes
Fur And Gold
Magical Mystery Tour
The Guide (Wommat)
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
The Best Of (The Star And The Wiseman)
Stepping Out – The Very Best Of Joe Jackson
Paper Scissors Stone
Back On Top
Playing The Angel
The Marshall Mathers LP
Standing In The Way Of Control
Afro Celt Sound System
Volume 2 : Release
The Very Best Of
Yours Truly, Angry Mob
The Look Of Love
All Mod Cons
West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum
The Divine Comedy
A Secret History: The Best Of The Divine Comedy
The Best Of Prefab Sprout: A Life Of Surprises
Boy Kill Boy
Panic! At The Disco
A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out
Dirty Pretty Things
Waterloo To Anywhere
Days Are Gone
Los Grandes Ã‰xitos En EspaÃ±ol
Crazy Itch Radio
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Take Them On, On Your Own
Queens Of The Stone Age
Songs For The Deaf
Open Heart Zoo
Beauty Behind The Madness
Cieli Di Toscana
Magnolia – Music From The Motion Picture
Year Of The Gentleman
Welcome To Jamrock
I’m Breathless (Music From And Inspired By The Film Dick Tracy)
I rarely talk about Pearl Jam, which is odd as I really rather like them and have done since they released their debut album. A lot of their releases came out when I was buying CD’s rather than vinyl, but any album that contains the track ‘Spin The Black Circle’ deserves to be owned on that format I think.
So this is how Pearl Jam get in my head, played on repeat while I am doing something else or left in the car CD player for weeks on end so it always comes on while I am driving. I had ‘No Code’ in for a couple of months and when I listened to it a few years later was surprised I knew all the songs, having forgotten about the car marathon.
One of the problems I initially had with Pearl Jam was that everything I heard that wasn’t ‘Jeremy’, wasn’t ‘Jeremy’, which is silly really but there you are, I compared everything they did to it and if it wasn’t vaguely similar I was displeased. Now this is clearly stupid, several albums of songs that all sound the same would be pretty crappy but that’s how it was. It was this subconscious listening that I later did that shook me out of that idiocy and it’s a good job it did otherwise I would have completely missed so many great songs.
Just in case you are wholly unaware of who Pearl Jam are, here is a very synopsised synopsis:
Pearl Jam where formed in 1990 in Seattle, Washington. Since its inception, the band’s line-up has included Eddie Vedder (lead vocals), Mike McCready (lead guitar), Stone Gossard (rhythm guitar), and Jeff Ament (bass guitar). Since 1998, the band has also included drummer Matt Cameron (also of Soundgarden). Boom Gaspar (keyboards) has also been a session/touring member with the band since 2002. Drummers Jack Irons, Dave Krusen, Matt Chamberlain, and Dave Abbruzzese are former members of the band.
Formed after the demise of Gossard and Ament’s previous band, Mother Love Bone, Pearl Jam broke into the mainstream with its debut album, Ten, in 1991. One of the key bands in the grunge movement of the early 1990s, its members often shunned popular music industry practices such as making music videos or giving interviews. The band also sued Ticketmaster, claiming it had monopolised the concert-ticket market. In 2006, Rolling Stone described the band as having “spent much of the past decade deliberately tearing apart their own fame.”
I’m not a big fan of favourite songs from an album, unless it’s one of those albums that really only has one good song on it, and I do like the whole of Viataology, but if somebody held a gun to my head and asked my to pick one song, well, I’d suggest they need some serious medical help, but I would also pick ‘Corduroy’.
As a band I like their ethos, which I take at face value, in that they really do not seem to take advantage of their fan base, or, they really take advantage but don’t appear to. I hope the former. In its first week of exclusively vinyl release (back in 1994), Vitalogy sold 35,000 copies and was the first vinyl album to chart due to exclusively vinyl sales in nearly a decade.
I do remember disliking this album on first listen as I was still in ‘Jeremy’ mode I think but, like so many of their albums, it has grown on me over time and now it has several favourites on it, but it doesn’t stand up as a complete work. ‘Pry, To’ is filler. ‘Bugs’ is just terrible and “Hey Foxymophandlemama, That’s Me” should never have been conceived let alone given birth to. Take these away and you have a great, but shorter, album.
Label: Fire Records – FIRELP543X Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Limited Edition, Special Edition, Pink Released: 10 May 2019 Genre: Electronic, Rock Style: Darkwave, Experimental, Psychedelic Rock
If either of you bothered to read the drivel I write then you would know that I have mentioned Death & Vanilla several times before, to prove this you can click here: More on Death & Vanilla (Though you probably won’t).
So a new album on lovely pink vinyl in a special sleeve with music that very much is what they are about. Vintage instruments, atmospheric production, melodies and motifs that tickle your ears until they slip in because there is little other choice.
1. A Flaw In The Iris – 04:45 2. Let’s Never Leave Here – 06:06 3. Mercier – 04:25 4. Eye Bath – 06:25 5. The Hum – 05:10 6. Nothing Is Real – 05:02 7. Vespertine – 04:07 8. Wallpaper Pattern – 05:09
Marleen Nilsson, Magnus Bodin and Anders Hansson are Death and Vanilla and they all hail from Malmo in Sweden (there should be some umlauts on that last O but I’ve no idea how to do them).
As of today I have everything they have ever released on vinyl, which all came about from a random purchase one day because I liked the cover. That they later did a couple of live soundtracks to old films was a bonus, as I do love a good soundtrack, I also love old analog instruments, they are the gift that keeps on giving.
Label: London Records – HA 2332, London Records – HA.2332 Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Mono, Purple Label Released: 1961
I was delighted to find and original copy of this album in the used record store today, filed under Jazz, which is debatable, but a very pleasing discovery nonetheless.
Zenzile Miriam Makeba (4 March 1932 – 9 November 2008), nicknamed Mama Africa, was a South African singer, songwriter, actress, United Nations goodwill ambassador, and civil rights activist. Associated with musical genres including Afropop, jazz, and world music, she was an advocate against apartheid and white-minority government in South Africa.
Born in Johannesburg to Swazi and Xhosa parents, Makeba was forced to find employment as a child after the death of her father. She had a brief and allegedly abusive first marriage at the age of 17, gave birth to her only child in 1950, and survived breast cancer. Her vocal talent had been recognized when she was a child, and she began singing professionally in the 1950s, with the Cuban Brothers, the Manhattan Brothers, and an all-woman group, the Skylarks, performing a mixture of jazz, traditional African melodies, and Western popular music. In 1959, Makeba had a brief role in the anti-apartheid film Come Back, Africa, which brought her international attention, and led to her performing in Venice, London, and New York City. In London, she met the American singer Harry Belafonte, who became a mentor and colleague. She moved to New York City, where she became immediately popular, and recorded her first solo album in 1960. Her attempt to return to South Africa that year for her mother’s funeral was prevented by the country’s government.
Makeba’s career flourished in the United States, and she released several albums and songs, her most popular being “Pata Pata” (1967). Along with Belafonte she received a Grammy Award for her 1965 album An Evening with Belafonte/Makeba. She testified against the South African government at the United Nations and became involved in the civil rights movement. She married Stokely Carmichael, a leader of the Black Panther Party, in 1968. As a result, she lost support among white Americans and faced hostility from the US government, leading her and Carmichael to move to Guinea. She continued to perform, mostly in African countries, including at several independence celebrations. She began to write and perform music more explicitly critical of apartheid; the 1977 song “Soweto Blues”, written by her former husband Hugh Masekela, was about the Soweto uprising. After apartheid was dismantled in 1990, Makeba returned to South Africa. She continued recording and performing, including a 1991 album with Nina Simone and Dizzy Gillespie, and appeared in the 1992 film Sarafina!. She was named a UN goodwill ambassador in 1999, and campaigned for humanitarian causes. She died of a heart attack during a 2008 concert in Italy.
Makeba was among the first African musicians to receive worldwide recognition. She brought African music to a Western audience, and popularized the world music and Afropop genres. She also made popular several songs critical of apartheid, and became a symbol of opposition to the system, particularly after her right to return was revoked. Upon her death, former South African President Nelson Mandela said that “her music inspired a powerful sense of hope in all of us.” – Wikipedia
She has such a beautiful voice and was, in so many ways, a trailblazer for African music. The Click Song may be familiar to you, maybe not, but do have a listen to the concert from Stockholm below, she was amazing.
I watched a brilliant live broadcast by the BBC from the Cheltenham Jazz Festival celebrating the now defunct TV show Jazz 625 called Jazz 625 Live: For One Night Only. It was broadcast in black and white and, though the show was originally broadcast in the 1960’s it inspired me to randomly take a look at 1959.
My number 1 album from this year is pretty obvious when you get to it but there are some really interesting albums along the way, and there are literally hundreds more that could have made it in quite easily, but what I found interesting, looking back on this year from 60 years in the future, is the albums that were dominating the charts when held up against what is now considered the best of that year. Below are the top 10 albums from the middle of this year, and it’s reflective of the whole year:
South Pacific dominated the album charts (these are for the UK) for the whole year and there are so many soundtracks, well, without giving anything much away, none of these appear in my top 30. Speaking of which, I have actually done some research and listened to all of these and more to end up with the chart below, I know I’ve missed some great albums out but this is my considered best guess! Oh, and finally, some are marked with an *, which means I have a copy already, more on this at the end.
30 – Marty Robbins – Ballads And Trail Songs by Marty Robbins
To be absolutely honest I find the voice of Marty Robbins a little too polished for these songs, but they are good songs of their type and opening track Big Iron has been covered by Johnny Cash, and it sounds better to me when Cash sings it. Interesting fact is that the song was used in the console game Fallout: New Vegas and is known by a lot of the younger generation as a result.
29 – Shirley Bassey – The Bewitching Miss Bassey
I have an incredible amount of respect for Shirley Bassey having watched a documentary on Tiger Bay, the area of Cardiff where she grew up. To survive that and do everything she went on to do really is quite remarkable. This is an album of standards which includes what, to my ears, is a quite bizarre version of the Banana Boat song!
28 – Peggy Lee with George Shearing – Beauty & the Beat! *
I picked up a copy of this album for £0.50p from a charity shop I think. As far as I can see this is about the correct price, which is extraordinary for such a fine album.
27 – Leonard Bernstein / Columbia Symphony Orchestra / New York Philharmonic – Rhapsody In Blue / An American In Paris
Rightly or wrongly I’m just going to assume that everybody knows this.
26 – Blossom Deary – My Gentleman Friend
Until very recently I had absolutely no idea who this woman was, and I probabaly would never have known if I hadn’t stumbled accross her absolutely stunning version of Someone to Watch Over Me.
25 – Chet Baker – Chet
Baker specialised in ballads, mostly straight-ahead renditions of evergreen tunes by the likes of Tin Pan Alley writers Rodgers/Hart and Cole Porter. His renditions were somewhat linear, without any improvisational flourish but he was, of course a very capable trumpet player, on this set accompanied by Pepper Adams on baritone saxophone, Herbie Mann on flute and Bill Evans on piano.
Baker was a heavy drugs user and by this point his voice couldn’t be trusted to deliver and so the album doesn’t feature his singing at all.
24 – Jimmy Smith – The Sermon *
The Hammond organ, is, in my view a shitty instrument that makes a shitty sound and they should all be collected in a big pile and burned. One notable exception is the one played by Jimmy Smith who somehow makes it sound so damn cool.
23 – Frank Sinatra – Come Dance With Me
Despite the extremely creepy cover the songs within are not.
22 – Gene Vincent – Sounds Like Gene Vincent
The mighty Gene Vincent with an album I never listened to until now, and it is incredibly good. As far as Rock and Roll is concerned it’s grittier, perhaps darker than many of the other albums in the same genre, at least to my ears.
21 – Miles Davis – Porgy and Bess
In case you didn’t know, Porgy and Bess is an opera by the American composer George Gershwin, with a libretto written by author DuBose Heyward and lyricist Ira Gershwin. It was adapted from Dorothy Heyward and DuBose Heyward’s play Porgy, itself an adaptation of DuBose Heyward’s 1925 novel of the same name. There are loads of versions of it on record and this one by Miles Davis has no words of course but it is a wonderful album and has been on my wanted list for some time, I’ll get it eventually.
20 – Ella Fitzgerald – Ella Fitzgerald Sings the George and Ira Gershwin Song Book
More Gershwin, they were quite the thing back then, this time with Ella Fitzgerald singing some of their best known numbers. I’m somewhat confused by which album is the right one as there seem to be lots of versions with different covers, so as long as it is with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, then it is the right one.
19 – João Gilberto – Chega de saudade
This really was a groundbreaking 12 track bossa-nova album, half of which was originally released on three 10″ 78rpm shellac discs. It is just a lovely sound, cool, laid back and it makes me want a tall gin and tonic over ice in the sunshine, which is always a good thing.
18 – Billie Holiday – Billie Holiday with Ray Ellis and His Orchestra *
I bought a copy of this at a record fair a few years ago, it was £5, quite possibly the best £5 I’ve spent on a record. The songs are great, the performance is great and the sound quality is wonderful. It is probably my favourite album of hers even though it doesn’t really contain any of the songs she is most well known for. If I remember correctly, these are the last songs she ever recorded.
17 – Odetta – My Eyes Have Seen
I listened to this for the first time this week, although I have heard the odd track here and there over the years. It’s brilliant. I’ve started looking for a copy to buy but it is proving quite difficult as it may well have not been released over here in the UK with most of the available copies being in the US.
16 – Bill Evans Trio – Everybody Digs Bill Evans
There was some old footage of Bill Evans on the BBC from Cheltenham show, man can he play piano. The backing band, well it’s drums and bass, are amazing as well.
15 – Julie London – London By Night
Let’s never forget Julie, she doesn’t seem to get enough mentions in music documentaries and books etc. but Julie London had a beautiful, smokey, voice, and really knew how to present a song. Discount here later TV appearances and concentrate on the 50’s albums and they are full of quality.
14 – Duke Ellington – Anatomy of a Murder *
I bought a re-issue of this several years ago. This was one of the first films to extensively feature jazz in the musical score with the entire musical soundtrack composed by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn and played by Ellington’s orchestra. Ellington and members of the orchestra pop up here and there in the film.
13 – Thelonius Monk Quintet – 5 by Monk 5
This album was recorded over three sessions in June 1959. In addition to Monk on piano, the musicians were Thad Jones (cornet), Charlie Rouse (tenor saxophone), Sam Jones (bass), and Art Taylor (drums). The title of the album comes from the quintet playing five of Monk’s compositions. These included the new “Jackie-Ing”, which Monk hummed to the others to help them learn it.
12 – Ray Charles – What’d I Say *
I’ve had this album since I started buying vinyl again a few years ago and I love the title track, which was essentially a studio jam, more and more every time I play it.
11 – Nina Simone – The Amazing Nina Simone
In just a couple of entries I make a startling confession! Until then, it’s Nina Simone, she was utterly brilliant and I still find myself listening to this today.
10 – Ornette Coleman – The Shape of Jazz to Come
Coleman’s 1959 Atlantic recording, The Shape Of Jazz To Come, brought his unique vision into focus for a wide audience. Most of them hated it at first. He ignored so much of what had gone before and forged his own path across different keys and chord progressions, but his vision from childhood, as he expressed it to Jez Nelson on Jazz on 3, was that “music was just something human beings done naturally, like eating”.
His influence is still felt as he was the template for so much of what was to come.
9 – Nina Simone – Little Girl Blue *
Well I can honestly state that I had never heard of Nina Simone until 2003, when she died and My Baby Just Cares for Me was released as a single and made the charts, resulting in hearing it on the radio. Quite how somebody so brilliant had failed to shine their light in my direction is a mystery to me, and entirely my own doing, but I’ve tried to make up for that gap in the intervening years starting with this album, a work of genius for which, if my understanding is correct, she never received a penny for.
8 – John Lee Hooker – House of the Blues
This album sounds as though it really was recorded in the building on the cover, it has atmosphere and authenticity by the lorry load and the vocal has that worn, knowing tone that tells you that this guy has lived. It has, for me, everything many people claim Clapton has, but really doesn’t, there’s no comparison.
7 – Howlin Woolf – Moanin’ in the Moonlight
Moanin’ in the Moonlight was the debut album by Howlin’ Wolf. The album was a compilation of previously issued singles by Chess Records and it is a stone cold classic. Smokestack Lightin’ is just about as close to a perfect blues song that it is possible to get.
6 – Chuck Berry – Chuck Berry is on Top
This is the third studio album from Chuck Berry and the appalling cover is not a fair indication of what’s included inside. There are so many great tracks included that it’s difficult now to understand the impact this would have had upon its release. They are so well known now but back in 1959 they were all new and influenced so many musicians that there are too many to list.
5 – Ray Charles – The Genius of Ray Charles
Ray again, and the album title says it all. Again, it is hard to see now, all these years later, but this was a groundbreaking release at the time and caused a stir, particularly in the English music press with one reviewer writing “the mixture of gospel-style vocal phrasing with banal blues lyrics is most unsatisfactory, if not positively objectionable.” What a fool.
4 – Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers – Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers *
If you press play on any video here, go for this one every time, not just for the great quote of “We sincerely hope you buy our record. God knows we need the money” but for the performance, the sheer joy of it written all over Art Blakey’s face (he’ the drummer in case you weren’t aware). They made an amazing record, one of the most loved Jazz albums ever pressed to vinyl.
3 – The Dave Brubeck Quartet – Time Out *
I feel like everybody knows this one, I seem to have seen it popping up all over the place for a large part of my life, usually the track ‘Take Five”. The album was an experiment in unusual time signatures, particulalry those not usually heard in western music at the time, such as 9/8, heard by Brubeck on a trip to Turkey. The album received negative reviews upon its release, and the reviewers where all wrong.
2 – Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um
I’ve only ever had this on CD, which is a situation I really must rectify. Mingus’s musical forebears figure largely throughout this album, “Better Git It In Your Soul” is inspired by gospel singing and preaching of his childhood, “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” is a reference (by way of his favoured headgear) to saxophonist Lester Young (who had died shortly before the album was recorded). “Open Letter to Duke” is a tribute to Duke Ellington, and draws on three of Mingus’s earlier pieces (“Nouroog”, “Duke’s Choice”, and “Slippers”). “Jelly Roll” is a reference to jazz pioneer and pianist Jelly Roll Morton and features a quote of Sonny Rollins’ “Sonnymoon for Two” during Horace Parlan’s piano solo. “Fables of Faubus” is named after Orval E. Faubus (1910–1994), the Governor of Arkansas infamous for his 1957 stand against integration of Little Rock, Arkansas schools in defiance of U.S. Supreme Court rulings (forcing President Eisenhower to send in the National Guard).
1 – Miles Davis – Kind of Blue *
Kind of Blue has been regarded by many critics as the greatest jazz record, Davis’s masterpiece, and one of the best albums of all time. Its influence on music, including jazz, rock, and classical genres, has led writers to also deem it one of the most influential albums ever recorded. Those writers got it right for once, and it could be nowhere else but number 1.
So you may have noticed that I have 9 of these 30 albums already, which is coincidence, I just happened to have them and didn’t check when they were released when I decided on 1959, however, having listened to all 30 of these and more to compile this list I now feel like I’d like to collect them all, which won’t be easy but I think it’s a nice little project.
XTC – Senses Working Overtime Virgin VS 462 1982 UK
I happen to think that this is one of the greatest 45’s ever pressed to wax, a truly brilliant pop song that has intelligent lyrics but a rather simple hook. XTC had a lot of great songs but this one, as far as singles go, is right up there at the very top in a collection that is already in another league.
This was one of my albums of 2018, though I’d never mentioned it before then. There’s actually a lot of albums that it takes me while to get around to mentioning, some going back several years, I’ll get to them eventually. So, in the best of 2018 I wrote this: I like modern flamenco, who knew? Not me for sure, until I was told what genre this actually fell into. Apparently the album is based on a Occitan novel from the 13th or 14th century and documents a toxic relationship where the mans jealousy drives him to imprison a woman. This was part of her degree thesis I believe and the whole album was under her complete control, delivered to the record company for distribution only. It is a triumph.
And here, through the magic of the interwebs is a wonderful performance of the lead single on Later with Jools Holland:
Flamenco is often seen nowadays as something cheesy put on for the tourists amusement and is discounted as a result, but Rosalía Vila Tobella has ripped up whatever rule book there was and created her own, new version of the traditional genre that could be listened to without the knowledge that there was any link at all. It is seeped in modernism, deploying production techniques that are more akin to the chart toppers of today than the castanet wielding dancer of yesteryear.
My only complaint would be its brevity, clocking in at around 30 minutes, I have 12″ singles that play for longer, however, that is because I want more of the good stuff and I would rather it be short than padded out with fluff. It does come in a nice gatefold sleeve with a good 12×12 booklet so that does help justify the price a little.
There are a couple of earlier releases for me to investigate, and I do hope that the success that Rosalia is currently enjoying is used as a springboard to greater things, although this album will be a difficult one to top.
Public Image Ltd – Public Image Virgin VS 228 1978 UK
I saw the single in its newspaper wrapping in Woolworths, though I can’t remember where, in Oxfordshire I would guess. I remember walking over to it and picking it up, then opening it up to have a look to see what it was and then putting it back because I had no money. In Abingdon maybe? No matter, the important bit is that I couldn’t buy it, which is a shame as I absolutely loved it and still do all these years later.
We all have different views, opinions and tastes but for me, this is a masterpiece.
The Clash – Tommy Gun CBS, CBS S CBS 6788, 6788 1978 UK
I never owned a copy of this as far as I remember, a couple of friends did and I used to play their copy whenever I went around to their house. I remember setting up an elaborate trade with one friend, some of my singles for some of theirs and this was in the ones I would be getting as part of the trade but, despite spending hours discussing it, somehow valuing things in fractions with this being worth 1.5 of whatever I was offering, or something like that, the trade never actually happened.
Although I didn’t listen to it very much, the B-side is pretty decent too.
I was 16 in 1983 and, to be honest, it wasn’t a great year in music for me. Choosing 30 albums for this list was difficult, not because of what to include, but actually finding albums to include. There are several albums that, had I been writing this list in 1983 I would have included, in fact, it would be a very different list indeed. Holy Diver by Dio, Piece of Mind by Iron Maiden, Thunder & Lightening by Thin Lizzy and suchlike would have been in the list, but those albums turned out to have no longevity for me and I haven’t listened to them for 30 years or more. So there is definitely an element of hindsight in the selections I made, a good example being the album at 25, I would never have listened to it at the time.
I’ve re-numbered these so many times that I have to stop and just post it. The moment I do I’ll want to change it again so let’s look at it as a guide only.
I may have missed something obvious, if I have do let me know, I’m happy to revise if necessary. So here we go again.
30 – Robert Plant – The Principle of Moments
I still have a copy of this. It was Plants second solo album and one could, at times, still sort of relate it to Zeppelins final studio album, In Through The Out Door. The two stand out tracks were In The Mood and Big Log.
29 – The Cure – Japanese Whispers
Technically a compilation but still, it had some great tracks on it. Again, I still have my copy and have played it recently and, as I’m writing this Im starting to think I should have put it higher. Maybe tomorrow I will.
28 – Siouxsie & the Banshees – Nocturne
Another I listened to only the other day, a double live album notable to me because it was the first time I heard Israel, which is a song I really love. Robert Smith of the Cure pops up again immediately as he plays guitar on it.
27 – Level 42 – Standing In The Light
I never wanted to see Level 42 but was dragged along by Dave, I’m not going to explain who Dave is, and I enjoyed it more than I expected. It has always surprised me quite how popular they were at the time as they didn’t seem to fit well with everything else that was going on in music. The were really good musicians though and had good songs, from this I think I like Micro-Kid best.
26 – The Waterboys – The Waterboys
I’ve always liked this album, and ‘This is the Sea’, both of which I bought when they were released, from Our Price in Leamington Spa. ‘A Girl Called Johnny’ should have been a massive hit single, it wasn’t. If you haven’t ever listened to this album you should give it a spin, it’s really very good.
26 – Tears For Fears – The Hurting
I’ve never bee a fan of Tears for Fears and have never really paid them much attention. There’s no denying that Mad World is a really good piece of songwriting though, even if it took the Gary Jules version to make that obvious.
24 – Genesis – Genesis
This is what I previously wrote about this album: One of the problems I have with this album is that I think that the track ‘Illegal Alien’ is a steaming pile of shit, I really do. I enjoy side 1 but as soon as I turn the album over I am confronted by said steaming pile of shit. There are decent songs on the album though and it spawned 4 singles, ‘Mama’, ‘That’s All’, ‘Home by the Sea’ and ‘Steaming Pile of shit’ (I won’t mention it again!)
I remember liking ‘Mama’ at the time and I’m pretty sure I have the 12″ single of it somewhere, although I’m not as keen on it now, I think it was of its time but ‘Home by the sea’ and a few others hold up still.
Theres a post about all the Genesis albums here. It has a graph.
23 – Mike Oldfield – Crisis
Moonlight Shadow really isn’t my favourite Oldfield track. At this point he seemed to be chasing hits, but there’s plenty more on the album which is worth a listen. I actually prefer every album he did before this one.
22 – The Jam – SNAP!
It’s a compilation, that’s true, but what a compilation! Pretty much everything you could want with the exception of Pretty Green, that woud have made it perfect, ot as close as one might get.
21 – Brian Eno – Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks
Eno’s most learned followers proclaim Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks as the best of his ambient productions. Thye must skip Silver Morning, composed by Lanois alone, which doesn’t fit with the rest of the album at all. Neither does Deep Blue Day but everything else is ambient brilliance.
20 – Peter Gabriel – Plays Live
There are number of reasons for including this live album, the first is because I had a copy at a time when I didn’t have many records, the second is because I saw Gabriel at Crystal Palace football ground in 1983 and the third is because it really is very good.
19 – Xmal Deutschland – Fetisch
I loved Xmal Deutschand back in 83.84. Take Joy Division, Siouxse & the Banshees and make them form a band, then make them only sing in German, brilliant.
18 – Depeche Mode – Construction Time Again
I never gave Depeche Mode much thought back then, it was probably not until 1990 and Violator that I really noticed them, but there are several albums, this being one, that were worth going back to listen to. I particularly like the keyboard break n Love, In Itself (below) which sounds like it is either from a completely different song or that the keyboard is just broken.
17 – The Rolling Stones – Undercover
This is, for me, the last good Rolling Stones album, nothing since has had any interest for me, and I have listened to most of them. This one was a bit of an event at the time, certainly in the circles I moved in, because it was good and because it had some really good tracks on it.
16 – Billy Bragg – Lifes a Riot
Billy Bragg writes really good songs and perhaps more people, if they are looking for songs to cover, should look at his back catalogue. The only one of note is Kirsty McColl’s version of New England. At 17 minutes long this album is brief, but brilliant.
15 – U2 – War
This is an album I bought on release. Opinions on U2 can be coloured by their releases after this album, with the huge concerts, some poor albums and more than a whiff of pretentiousness at times, but at release this was a cracking album.
14 . R.E.M – Murmer
This debut album from R.E.M was released 8 years prior to they’re worldwide explosion with Out Of Time but, partly due to Stipe’s vocal, they are instantly recognisable. No, this is not the career defining album but it’s a fine debut.
13 – Bob Dylan – Infidels
I’ve always felt this was an under rated album, Jokerman is pretty damn good and the penultimate track, I and I, is a favourite of mine. Give Adele the closing track from this album, Don’t Fall Apart On Me Tonight, and she will have another massive Dylan penned hit.
12 – P.I.L – Live In Tokyo
A live album that draws on the brilliant early output from P.I.L. The front cover shot alone is worth a pace in this list, love it, but importantly I think is the how tight the band are and how much better they were than people may have expected.
11 – Big Country – The Crossing
Another debut album, and a corker. I had a copy and liked it but didn’t really connect with them fully until I saw them live at Reading Festival in this year. They put on a great show, and over the years I have looked back on it more fondly than I did at the time, I was 16, thought I knew everything but knew nothing.
10 – The Police – Synchronicity
I had, for the most part, lost any real interest in the Police after their 2nd album, probably due to songs such as De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da, which I thought was absolutely crap. Despite this, Synchronicity was pretty much unavoidable, spawning such massive radio friendly hits as it did. I have been able to go back and listen again to all their albums with a more positive view I’m glad to say.
9 – Echo & The Bunnymen – Porcupine
‘Porcupine’ saw Echo & The Bunnymen at the height of their commercial powers, with their biggest hit ‘The Cutter’ opening the album. Despite this it is not a particularity commercial release with much of it being rather dark and experimental. Perhaps this is what makes it so good.
8 – Marillion – Script For A Jesters Tear
I was on a school trip to Birmingham for some reason, I can’t for the life of me remember why, all I can remember is driving past sex shops in the bus and seeing these really cool posters for Marillion, which would have been before their first album, this one, was released. When I did eventually hear them it seemed very much to me that they had been handed the baton by the Gabriel era Genesis, and that was fine with me. I saw them in 1984 at Reading Festival, or possibly 83, I forget, but it was a great set.
7 – Talking Heads – Speaking In Tongues
Talking Heads were always off somewhere left of centre, never quite following the paths that others before had worn down before. Exemplified by Buning Down The House, it sounds like Talking Heads but not really anybody else, it is certainly instantly recognisable. To quote Rolling Stone:
The real art here is the incorporation of disparate elements from pop, punk and R&B into a coherent, celebratory dance ethic that dissolves notions of color and genre in smiles and sweat
6 – Tom Waits – Swordfishtrombones
Well, Frank settled down in the Valley And he hung his wild years on a nail that he drove through his wife’s forehead He sold used office furniture out there on San Fernando Road And assumed a thirty thousand dollar loan at fifteen and a quarter percent And put a down payment on a little two bedroom place His wife was a spent piece of used jet trash Made good bloody Marys, kept her mouth shut most of the time Had a little Chihuahua named Carlos That had some kind of skin disease and was totally blind They had a thoroughly modern kitchen, self-cleaning oven, the whole bit Frank drove a little sedan, they were so happy One night Frank was on his way home from work, stopped at the liquor store Picked up a couple of Mickey’s Big Mouths Drank ’em in the car on his way to the Shell station Got a gallon of gas in a can Drove home, doused everything in the house, torched it Parked across the street laughing, watching it burn All Halloween-orange and chimney-red Then Frank put on a top forty station Got on the Hollywood Freeway, headed north Never could stand that dog
5 – David Bowie – Let’s Dance
This was an album where Bowie wanted hits, and he got them through his collaboration with Nile Rogers and, on my favourite track on the album, with Giorgio Moroder. It was a massive success and I think it was probably his most complete release for several years, although there were high points in everything that followed.
4 – New Order – Power, Corruption & Lies
As I actually bought a copy of this album at the time and played it to absolute bloody death I feel it quite right that it should be high on this list. The moment the first track starts playing (Age of Consent) it takes me back back 36 years and I just think, bloody brilliant.
3 – Cocteau Twins – Head Over Heels
The Cocteau Twins were a revelation to me, I loved everything about them and this music taught me that I didn’t have to understand the words and that there was so much more to music than I had previously been hearing. This eventually led me to listen to music in other languages, and long instrumentals, which I’d previously been rather bored by, because it didn’t have words.
2 – XTC – Mummer
I bought this album for one track, Love on a Farmboy’s Wages, which I adore, and everything else on it is a bonus, and what a bonus. I don’t see that much talk about Mummer compared to many of the other albums and I really do think it deserves to be up there with the rest. More great song writing, more great melodies, cutting lyrics, superb arrangements, well engineered/produced and bears up to repeated listening. There were three singles released, Great Fire, Wonderlandand Love on a Farmboy’s Wages, the last being the only one to touch the charts at number 50.
1 – The The – Soul Mining
I had this on cassette when it was first released and played it to death. It caused quite a stir with folks round our way when it was released, which was quite surprising as these were Prog and Rock fans, Zeppelin, Floyd, AC/DC, Sabbath and so on. ‘Soul Mining’ wasn’t a good fit but it seemed to slowly spread until everybody knew about it. I seem to remember that there was an accompanying story that it was just one guy, Matt Johnson, who made the whole thing in his bedroom, which would have resonated with a lot of people as they were trying to do exactly the same thing, except it wasn’t true. It was studio recorded and they had a record deal, it wasn’t ever a DIY affair, how could it have been with a Jools Holland piano solo on it?
As an album it is a strange listen as your own mood can discern exactly how it makes you feel, it can be an uplifting listen, or it can be rather heart wrenching, full of self-doubt, but it is always a good listen regardless of which mode you are in as there are enough pop elements in there to make it listenable. It talks about destruction but in a good way, a positive way, “you can’t destroy your problems by destroying yourself” but has many moments that search for answers, “How can anyone know me, when I don’t even know myself”.
I’m a fan of Lamb, both the group and the meat, though I would only put mint sauce on one. I wasn’t looking for it but I found and bought their new album today in HMV. I only popped into for a browse as I don’t really tend to use them much but it was there and I was going to buy it at some point and now seemed reasonable enough.
Though I haven’t had a chance to give it a good listen yet I like it already, which I was expecting as I like everything I’ve heard before, even though there are some nuances in some of the tracks that I haven’t heard them do before, such as the lead single featuring a guest vocal. Here it is:
The track that really grabbed me was the third on the album, for which they also made a video, but it was more a document of the time they spent in Goa than relevant to the actual song so I’ve not used it here, I’ve used straight audio instead as the video is distracting, do seek it out if you like but I’d recommend listening to the audio first as it’s a really quite atmospheric and this is lost with the visuals.
After one listen I’m pretty pleased and I think this one will grow on me a I listen more.
in 2017 I was supposed to be going to see Lamb at Manchester Cathedral and Pledge music had a campaign for a live album of the event so I signed up. Unfortunately I didn’t get to go due to work commitments, which was a huge disappointment, but it was nice to receive the album, a triple on three different shades of blue vinyl. It took a year after the gig to arrive but it was worth the wait.
Trans Fatty Acid
We Fall In Love
As Satellites Go By
I can’t find any video from the gig but here is one from around the same time.
Having seen that I really wish I went as Manchester Cathederal would have been an amazing setting.
Back in 2002 I bought the album Open Heart Zoo by Martin Gretch having heard a song of his somewhere, Dave might remember where (Hi Dave). Back then I thought it was a rather brilliant album. I have no idea where my original copy is, I may have sold it, given it away, lost it or it could be in a box somewhere, it’s a mystery, a rather boring one, but a mystery nonetheless.
Today I was in a charity shop and there was a copy sitting on the shelf, which was a delightful surprise as I had pretty much forgotten about it. I listened to the whole album on the drive home from work and I can confirm my original assessment was correct, it is rather brilliant. If I were to take Radiohead and Peter Gabriel and put them in a blender, it would make a terrible mess and I would probably end up in jail, however, the sound that would result would be a new flavour that encompassed both.
Because I can’t really rely on Dave to remember I looked it up and discovered that the track “Open Heart Zoo” (written when he was 15 years old) was featured on a Lexus advert on British TV in 2002. This sounds vaguely familiar so let’s go with that.
As far as I can tell there was only 1 video created for tracks from this album, for the title track, here it is:
Here It Comes
Open Heart Zoo
Only One Listening
Death Of A Loved One
Now there is an issue with Martin, he hasn’t released anything for bloody ages. As far as I can tell he has had an album ready for release for at least 2 years but, for a number of reasons, is unable to release it. There are 2 albums I’ve never listened to though, the last one released in 2007, and I can’t decide whether to get them or listen to them online as there is no vinyl version of anything. I’ll probably do a little of both.
I listen to a lot of music and I have difficulty understanding why Martin Grech isn’t a huge star when others, whose output is quite sub-standard, are. I do see him guesting on a few things but, for reasons unknown to me, he hasn’t released anything for 12 years. Maybe that is the roadblock to superstardom, and let’s be honest, I probably wouldn’t be as keen if he was, fickle music fan that I am.
Here is the album, if you have the time, have a listen, I genuinely think it is worth it and I will soon be doing a best albums of 2002 list, this will be in it.
Speaking of guesting on some tracks, give this one a go, it’s a corker!