Monday, April 28, 2008

564. Scritti Politti - Cupid And Psyche '85 (1985)
















Track Listing

1. Word Girl
2. Small Talk
3. Absolute
4. Little Knowledge
5. Don't Work That Hard
6. Perfect Way
7. Lover To Fall
8. Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)
9. Hypnotize

Review

Scritti Politti moved from being a fairly interesting Post-Punk band with interesting and extremely literate lyrics, to becoming soft-pop crap.

The 80s hit them like a ton of bricks, particularly in this album, which sounds more like Savage Garden than anything else.

It's pretty poor, but I can see how it was influential. Sadly it's a case of shitty music being influential on other shitty music. I am going to Portugal until the 9th of May, so don't expect anything until then.

Track Highlights

1. Absolute

Final Grade


5/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

The name Scritti Politti was chosen as a homage to the Italian Marxist theorist Antonio Gramsci: The name is generally understood to refer to Gramsci's political writings (although the correct spelling in Italian would have produced "Scritti Politici"). Green changed it to "Scritti Politti" as he thought it sounded more rock and roll, like "Tutti Frutti".

Absolute:

Sunday, April 27, 2008

563. Dexy's Midnight Runners - Don't Stand Me Down (1985)
















Track Listing

1. Kevin Rowland's 13th time
2. Occasional flicker
3. This is what she's like
4. My national pride (formerly Knowledge of beauty)
5. One of those things
6. Reminisce (part 2)
7. I love you (Listen to this)
8. Waltz

Review

You will possibly notice that the track listing above is different from the one in the book. This is because this track list is from the Director's Cut version of the album, which changes the mixing, adds the first track and changes some of the titles on the other tracks. That said it is a superior version to the one released before.

Dexy's give us an absolute career suicide in the form of this album, tellingly their last album. Something that is career suicide is not necessarily bad, and in this case it is very very good, only you could never release any of these tracks as a single in the mid 1980s.

In an era where music was all about efficiency in production, tight pop-music, often full of synths with very recognisable hooks and so on, Dexy's give us a collection of sprawling, disjointed tracks that sometimes last for as long as 12 minutes, being constantly interrupted by chatter, and it works. The album just creates a totally relaxed atmosphere, you can tell that even if no one else is enjoying their work, at least they were. They jam, tell jokes, take digs at each other, basically fuck about, and you enjoy listening to it. In a deliberate effort not to create another Come On Eileen the might have erred slightly too much on the other side, but what a great work they made.

Track Highlights

1. My National Pride
2. I Love You (Listen To This)
3. This is What She's Like
4. The Occasional Flicker

Final Grade

9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

During the mastering process for the Creation release, a stereo enhancer was used, which Rowland felt "ruined the dynamics". As a result, a third version of the album was released in 2002, subtitled "The Director's Cut". The tracks were again digitally remastered, and the CD featured new artwork, further notes by Rowland and the additional track "Kevin Rowland's 13th Time". According to Rowland, the album now sounds to him "as it was intended to sound". "Kevin Rowland's 13th Time" had originally been intended as the opening song, but was left off the original issue of the album due to a "dodgy drum beat at one point". Rowland penned two pages of notes relating to the track, as well as a "foreword to The Director's Cut".

Video for This Is What She's Like, but it is just part of a 12 minute suite:

Saturday, April 26, 2008

562. Simply Red - Picture Book (1985)

















Track Listing

1. Come to My Aid
2. Sad Old Red
3. Look at You Now
4. Heaven
5. Jericho
6. Money's Too Tight (To Mention)
7. Holding Back the Years
8. Red Box
9. No Direction
10. Picture Book

Review

Now it's time for Manchester's shame with Simply Red, yes, a band so fucking annoying, with such a fucking annoying lead in Mick Hucknall that no city in the world would be proud to have them, they will share the lower circle of hell with their fellow Mancunians M People.

Simply Red try to make a soul album and fail. The guy is ginger for fuck's sake. We all know ginger people have no soul. So Mick is brought up with punk, being at the famous Sex Pistols gig in Manchester with people like Ian Curtis, but while Ian Curtis creates Joy Division, Mick spawns Simply Fucking Red.

The whole thing sounds opportunistic and little more than a commercial endeavour, which actually worked perfectly in the sense that it made them shit loads of cash. But not a very good album.

Track Highlights


1. Jericho
2. Money's Too Tight (To Mention)
3. Holding Back The Years
4. Picture Book

Final Grade

6/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Simply Red's roots originate from the 1976 Sex Pistols gig at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester. Manchester art student Mick Hucknall was one of the many young music fans present, along with original members of Joy Division, The Smiths and Buzzcocks, who was inspired to form a band after witnessing that gig. The first incarnation of the band was a punk group called The Frantic Elevators. This band existed for 7 years, with limited releases on local labels, but split in 1984 with only limited local attention and critical acclaim for their final single, "Holding Back the Years".

Jericho, look at the audience:

Friday, April 25, 2008

561. New Order - Low-Life (1985)
















Track Listing


1. Love Vigilantes
2. Perfect Kiss
3. This Time of Night
4. Sunrise
5. Elegia
6. Sooner Than You Think
7. Subculture
8. Face Up

Review

Like Joy Division after a rest cure and a massive dosage of Prozac, New Order brings us 80s dance music that is actually cool. And not many people can do that. To the grave with Ian Curtis went the gothic elements of New Order, all in all it was a bad loss, New Order were never as good as Joy Division.

On the other hand not much is as good as Joy Division, and New Order are able to provide very good music indeed. Probably not to the exact same audience, however, New Order is most definitely pumped up music.

The fact that this is pumped up dancy music does not mean that there aren't moments of extreme lyrical beauty in the album however, the instrumental Elegia is one of those. In general a pretty great album by one of the best and most influential bands in my adopted hometown of Manchester.

Track Highlights

1. Love Vigilantes
2. Elegia
3. The Perfect Kiss
4. Sunrise

Final Grade

9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

The album's artwork is the only New Order release to feature photographs of the band members on its sleeve. On most issues, drummer/keyboardist Stephen Morris is on the front cover. Some re-releases, including the 1993 London Records CD, feature four photographs inside the case and a semi-transparent piece of paper with the band's name on. Owners can choose which band member is seen through the sleeve.

Elegia in an Academy Award nominated short film by Mark Osborne, More:


Thursday, April 24, 2008

560. The Jesus and Mary Chain - Psychocandy (1985)
















Track Listing

1. Just Like Honey
2. Living End
3. Taste The Floor
4. Hardest Walk
5. Cut Dead
6. In A Hole
7. Taste Of Cindy
8. Never Understand
9. Inside Me
10. Sowing Seeds
11. My Little Underground
12. You Trip Me Up
13. Something's Wrong
14. It's So Hard

Review

The Jesus & Mary Chain present us with an interesting proposal, making pop songs and drowning them in feedback and noise. I am interested in their proposal and would like to subscribe to their newsletter.

But interested is really the word, I am not particularly riveted, but I like it, I like the concept of it and I hope they will eventually refine it into something even better. At the moment they sound like Velvet Underground's poor cousin.

Still the fact that they sound somewhat like VU makes them a huge highlight in the mid 80s, and the music is fascinating, it is also particularly fascinating to listen to it at very low volume, where only highest ranges of the feedback come through, but that makes for a less pleasant album. In the end it is a mixed bag, with an excellent concept and some real good songs, curiously the slower and less feedbacky ones, showing that under that wall of noise there is a sensitive and very melodic band.

Track Highlights

1. Just Like Honey
2. Cut Dead
3. Taste Of Cindy
4. Taste The Floor

Final Grade

8/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Psychocandy utilised the then-radical notion of combining simple pop tunes, à la The Beach Boys, with the searing guitar noise more akin to The Velvet Underground, effectively prefiguring shoegaze. The album is considered to be a landmark recording, frequently appearing in various "best-ever" album lists, such as placed at number 88 in 2000 Q magazine list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever. In 2003, the album was ranked number 268 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Just Like Honey:

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

559. Tom Waits - Rain Dogs (1985)
















Track Listing

1. Singapore
2. Clap Hands
3. Cemetery Polka
4. Jockey Full Of Bourbon
5. Tango Till They're Sore
6. Big Black Mariah
7. Diamonds And Gold
8. Hang Down Your Head
9. Time
10. Rain Dogs
11. Midtown
12. 9th & Hennepin
13. Gun Street Girl
14. Union Square
15. Blind Love
16. Walking Spanish
17. Downtown Train
18. Bride Of Rain Dog
19. Anywhere I Lay My Head

Review

Now I spit out the bitter taste of Morrissey and replace it with the manna that is Tom Waits, of course this manna tastes a bit of cigarette ashes mixed with coffee and Bourbon, but that is a taste incomparably better than the Santorum of Morrissey.

Waits keeps on the same line that he was taking for Swordfishtrombones, even if this is a slightly poppier release, and he does it again, another brilliant album. The lyrics are just as amazing as the innovative music and instrumentation.

Possibly the best move that Waits ever did was to ditch the piano based stuff and go all hog with the instrumentation, the music sounds mysterious, seedy and beautiful all at the same time. It sounds fresh, as fresh today as then, because it sounds completely out of time, like a nostalgia of a time that never was, almost mythical in its portrayal of what feels like the first half of the 20th century, but one populated by one armed midgets, Puerto Rican mistresses with one wooden leg all in a haze. Like an album that has seeped from the Twin Peaks world of the Red Room into our universe, alien, fascinating, beautiful and slightly unsettling in the best way possible.

Track Highlights


1. Singapore
2. Time
3. Cemetery Polka
4. Rain Dogs

(this was hard, all the tracks are excellent)

Final Grade

10/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Despite the facial similarity, the man on the cover of Rain Dogs is not Tom Waits. The photograph is one of a series taken by the Swedish photographer Anders Petersen at Café Lehmitz (a café near the Hamburg red-light boulevard Reeperbahn) in the late sixties. The man and woman depicted on the cover are called Rose and Lily. The cover typography is similar to that of Elvis Presley's self-titled debut. k.d. lang's 'Reintarnation' and The Clash's London Calling have also used similar designs.

The European version of the cover features red rather than blue text.

Singapore:

558. The Smiths - Meat Is Murder (1985)
















Track Listing

1. Headmaster Ritual
2. Rusholme Ruffians
3. I Want The One I Can't Have
4. What She Said
5. That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore
6. How Soon Is Now
7. Nowhere Fast
8. Well I Wonder
9. Barbarism Begins At Home
10. Meat Is Murder

Review

I hate The Smiths, actually to be more specific I hate Morrisey. I quite like the rest of the band, I like the music they make, I profoundly hate their lyrics and all they stand for, and that is Morrisey's responsibility.

The Smiths have always lived of pseudo-sensibility which is actually a pretty virulent form of passive-aggression, you just have to listen to the title track to get how passive-aggressive this is, it sounds like a particularly agitpropy PETA pamphlet, and fuck you Morrissey Meat is fucking Tasty, when I have an album out I'll probably call it Meat is Tasty, or maybe Murder is Yummy.

Then you have the whining, crap tracks for self-mutilating pubescents like How Soon Is Now, which has all the maturity of an anorexic, self-mutilating, Emo 14 year old with severe learning disabilities. Or Rusholme Ruffians ( I lived in Rusholme a year myself) with the lovely lyric "Scratch my name on your arm with a fountain pen", really Morrissey? Really? Add to this his winning personality and he is my pet hatred in the music world.

But then I am afraid to say the music itself is quite good, it marks a welcome return to guitar based music, it is extremely influential for good reason and Mr. Marr who is responsible for the music deserves my respect and admiration... now it only someone had made sausages out of Morrissey...

Track Highlights

1. The Headmaster Ritual
2. Barbarism Begins At Home
3. I Want The One I Can't Have
4. What she Said

Final Grade


7/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:



* The Chord sequence in "Rusholme Ruffians" is identical to the Elvis classic '(Marie's The Name) of His Latest Flame'. Occasionally when playing live the band would incorporate both into a medley.

* "Rusholme Ruffians" was inspired by an early comic song by Victoria Wood called "Fourteen Again" and has some lyrics in common (including "She is famous, she is funny"), giving the viewpoint of the boys in the Wood song.

* "The Headmaster Ritual" was covered by Radiohead in a 2007 webcast.

* When Morrissey was in the market town of Ormskirk, he saw a piece of grafiti saying "Meat Is Murder" this gave him the idea for the album


Look at the little shit lipsynching and dancing like the quiffed twat that he is:

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

557. Kate Bush - Hounds Of Love (1985)
















Track Listing


1. Running up that hill
2. Hounds of love
3. Big sky
4. Mother stands for comfort
5. Cloudbusting
6. And dream of sheep
7. Under ice
8. Waking the witch
9. Watching you without me
10. Jig of life
11. Hello Earth
12. Morning fog

Review

For the mid-80s, which represent an age of pretty crap music we are going through a pretty great patch of music, and this is no exception. Of course in all times there was the mainstream, the completely outside the mainstream and that which intersects the two. This album is very much in the latter category.

This is a much more single-friendly album than The Dreaming, it does however slightly compromise the craziness of that album by attempting to be more commercial while not taking away all that is great about Kate Bush.

It does that pretty successfully, and manages it particularly by separating the album into two suites, a natural breakup in the days of vinyl which might sound slightly disjointed now with CDs. But it works, the first half is newcomer friendly, radio-friendly and single-friendly while managing to keep the madness, the second half is following up on the freedom of The Dreaming, and is for the deep lover of Bush, of course that first half will make you love her deeply enough to listen to the second one and look at her depth. I would say this is the perfect showcase album for the abilities of Kate Bush and the perfect album for someone who is just getting to know her, and a treat for those who know her well.

Track Highlights

1. Cloudbusting
2. The Jig Of Life
3. Running Up That Hill
4. Waking The Witch

Final Grade

9/10

Trivia

The album is split into two sides, with the first side, "Hounds of Love", containing five "accessible" pop songs, including the four singles: "Running Up That Hill," "Cloudbusting," "Hounds of Love," and "The Big Sky." "Running Up That Hill" re-introduced Kate to American listeners, and received considerable airplay at the time of its release. "The Big Sky" can be viewed as a creative manifesto issued by Bush in response to criticisms of The Dreaming (for which she had been criticized for being too obscure). The second side is entitled "The Ninth Wave", whose title is taken from a poem by Tennyson. As part of a song cycle, each track helps to convey the story of a woman who is lost at sea, facing death by drowning, and the tortured night she spends in the water. Bush's technical mastery is shown to full effect, using samples and vocals played in reverse to synthesized sounds and folk instrumentation.

Cloudbusting, based on Wilhelm Reich's ideas... crazy:

Sunday, April 20, 2008

556. The Pogues - Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash (1985)
















Track Listing

1. Sick Bed of Cuchulainn
2. Old Main Drag
3. Wild Cats of Kilkenny
4. I'm a Man You Don't Meet Every Day
5. Pair of Brown Eyes
6. Sally Maclennane
7. Pistol for Paddy Garcia
8. Dirty Old Town
9. Jesse James
10. Navigator
11. Billy's Bones
12. Gentleman Soldier
13. Band Played Waltzing Matilda

Review

This is one of the best album titles of all times, and it is also one of the most appropriate. The title truly captures the feeling of the album, as if a group of Irish Pirates had taken to a sing-along.

Of course when I say Irish, the truth is that Shane MacGowan is as English as they come, taught at the exclusive Westminster school, but he does capture a certain feel, of rowdy drunkenness which really does wonders for the album.

The album is a mix of great covers, original songs and instrumentals and it all works wonderfully. Really an indispensable album for anyone who wants to know how punk attitude can work perfectly in what essentially is an Irish folk context.

Track Highlights


1. Sally Maclennane
2. Dirty Old Town
3. The Sick Bed Of Cuchulainn
4. A Pistol For Paddy Garcia

Final Grade

10/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

In August 1985, the album was launched on HMS Belfast – and one writer at the event was thrown into the Thames. It reached number 13 in the UK charts. The track "A Pair of Brown Eyes" went on to reach number 72 in the UK singles chart. "The Old Main Drag" would later appear on the soundtrack to the film My Own Private Idaho. A remastered and expanded version of Rum, Sodomy and the Lash was released on 11 January 2005. The cut "A Pistol for Paddy Garcia", the B-side of "Dirty Old Town" and which only appeared on the initial cassette release, was moved to the bonus tracks.

Sally Maclennane:

Saturday, April 19, 2008

555. Suzanne Vega - Suzanne Vega (1985)

















Track Listing

1. Cracking
2. Freeze Tag
3. Marlene On The Wall
4. Small Blue Thing
5. Straight Lines
6. Undertow
7. Some Journey
8. The Queen & The Soldier
9. Knight Moves
10. Neighborhood Girls

Review

Fucking brilliant, that's what is it. We've been missing a really good folky here and Vega bring it back to us in strength. Her tracks are so strong, so determined, so well written that I can't help but love her.

This is a huge refreshment from the 80's crap that goes on, common denominator it isn't.

When the Iraq war started all I posted on my Livejournal was The Queen and the Soldier, that's how powerful it is.

Track Highlights

1. The Queen And The Soldier
2. Marlene on the Wall
3. Small Blue Thing
4. The Knight Moves

Final Grade

10/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Vega's debut album, Suzanne Vega, was released in 1985 and was well received by critics in the U.S.; it reached platinum status in the United Kingdom. Produced by Lenny Kaye, Steve Addabbo and Steven Miller, the songs feature Vega's acoustic guitar in straightforward arrangements. Vega's writing often featured vignettes of characters and even inanimate objects, such as in "Small Blue Thing". A video was released for the album's song "Marlene on the Wall", which went into MTV and VH1's rotations. During this period Vega also wrote lyrics for two songs on Songs from Liquid Days by composer Philip Glass.

The Queen and the Soldier followed by The World Before Colombus:

Friday, April 18, 2008

554. Big Black - Atomizer (1986 !!!)





















Track Listing

1. Jordan, Minnesota
2. Passing Complexion
3. Big Money
4. Kerosene
5. Bad Houses
6. Fists of Love
7. Stinking Drunk
8. Bazooka Joe
9. Strange Things
10. Cables

Review

In the midst of all these albums from 1985 the book makes a cock-up again and puts a 1986 album on the list. And they even write 1986 on the entry... where are the editors? That's what I'd like to know.

That said it is a great album, sounding like some mix between punk sensibility and noise rock/ industrial, Big Black gives us some of the most original music to come out of the punk scene. It sounds like nothing before it, but like plenty after it.

The lyrics are very much in the tradition of other hardcore punk bands of the milieu. Just look at Kerosene, about boredom and having nothing to do and being saved by kerosene which might provide some fun. This is, however surrounded by the most menacing industrial sounding noise which also makes the track pretty cool. That track is heads above the other ones, but it is still a pretty great album.

Track Highlights


1. Kerosene
2. Cables
3. Bazooka Joe
4. Jordan Minnesota

Final Grade

9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

It was released on CD, with the Headache EP and "Heartbeat" single, as The Rich Man's Eight Track Tape, which omitted the instrumental "Strange Things", as well as the artwork and liner notes from the original LP. This is in line with Steve Albini's general dislike for the CD format.

Kerosene... what geeks:

553. Mekons - Fear And Whiskey (1985)
















Track Listing

1. Chivalry
2. Trouble Down South
3. Hard To Be Human Again
4. Darkness And Doubt
5. Psycho Cupid (Danceband On The Edge Of Time)
6. Flitcraft
7. Country
8. Abernant 1984/5
9. Last Dance
10. Lost Highway

Review

This is actually a pretty hard album to review, I like it, but unlike most albums it doesn't grow on you with repeated listening, it doesn't get any worse as well, it just kind of remains the same. It doesn't do much to jump to attention, it is just good.

This is an album which has been unfairly said to have started the alt. country movement, well these were obviously people who had never heard of X or the Meat Puppets. So it isn't that original, but it is quite original for the UK, not many bands in Leeds being inspired by country, I'm sure... well good bands anyway.

The album has some very brilliant elements, and it is the songs with the heaviest use of the country elements that work better, that sound more original and inspired, so all in all a pretty good album which I didn't warm up to as much as I think I should have.

Track Highlights


1. Trouble Down South
2. Psycho Cupid
3. Hard To Be Human Again
4. Lost Highway

Final Grade


8/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

The album's musical style represents a sharp break with the group's previous work, as fiddle, harmonica, and steel guitar are included, but the staple instrumentation of punk music is also notable, particularly on the energetic "Hard to be Human Again." Tom Greenhalgh, one of the primary creative forces in the Mekons, commented that as he listened to a great deal of country & western music in the early 80's, "pretty soon the difference between the three chords of country and the three chords of punk became blurred." The album closes with a cover of country music icon Hank Williams' "Lost Highway."

Hard To Be Human Again:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

552. Prefab Sprout - Steve McQueen (1985)
















Track Listing

1. Faron Young
2. Bonny
3. Appetite
4. When Love Breaks Down
5. Goodbye Lucille #1
6. Hallelujah
7. Moving The River
8. Horsin' Around
9. Desire As
10. Blueberry Pies
11. When The Angels

Review

This is very much not a cool album to like, but then, I do like it, and no one can ever accuse me of being cool. If they do I can just say: "I quite like Prefab Sprout" and that will be that.

The attempt to produce something approaching Pop for a mature audience can many times give birth to pretty disgusting music, except when it is Pop for a literate mature audience, and then you can have good things. This kind of music at this time seems all to be coming from northern Britain, particularly Scotland, with Lloyd Cole, Tears For Fears for example, and Prefab Sprout who are from County Durham, at the northern edge of England are all very different examples of the same thing.

A better comparison would be with another Scottish band, The Blue Nile, only Sprout have a more Pop structure to their music. And the lyrics are really quite good, not as pretentious as many other bands, but simply smart and the music works perfectly for its ends. Actually a pretty great album.

Track Highlights


1. When Love Breaks Down
2. Appetite
3. Goodbye Lucille #1
4. Faron Young

Final Grade


9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Critically acclaimed at the time it reached #4 in the 1985 NME end of year poll for best albums and #28 on the Pazz & Jop poll.

It has subsequently featured in a number of all time polls for best album including #47 in a poll by The Times in 1993, #90 in a poll by Mojo in 1995 and #61 in a 1997 poll by The Guardian.

When Love Breaks Down:

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

551. Dire Straits - Brothers in Arms (1985)
















Track Listing


1. So Far Away
2. Money For Nothing
3. Walk Of Life
4. Your Latest Trick
5. Why Worry
6. Ride Across The River
7. Man's Too Strong
8. One World
9. Brothers In Arms

Review


Well, having just come back from a Breeders concert, I am quite tipsy and also Dire Straits is sounding quite shitty to me right now. Not to say that it didn't sound quite shitty to me before.

I do, however, have a kind of sentimental attachment to this album, it is one of the first albums that I remember listening to, as my brother bought it in cassette just when it came out. But I have a foolproof excuse, I was 3 at the time.

Dire Straits are over-produced yuppie baiting crap. They are the music that yuppies could listen to and think they were in touch with the age. That was of course bollocks, and the music isn't that good. But Dire Straits do have something in this album, all the tracks become indelibly marked in your memory, and much like gang-rape you keep having flashbacks of them. That said, much like gang-rape, there is something strangely alluring to it.

Track Highlights

1. Money for Nothing
2. Brothers In Arms
3. So Far Away
4. The Man's Too Strong

Final Grade

6/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

In 2000 Q magazine placed Brothers in Arms at number 51 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever. In 2003, the album was ranked number 351 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In November of 2006, the results of a national poll conducted by the public of Australia revealed their top 100 favourite albums. Brothers in Arms came in at number 64 (see "My Favourite Album").

As of August 2006, Brothers in Arms was 4th on the list of best-selling albums (UK) and is the 112th best-selling album in the United States.

Final Fantasy aims to one day have CGI as good as this:

Monday, April 14, 2008

550. Tears For Fears - Songs From the Big Chair (1985)
















Track Listing

1. Shout
2. The Working Hour
3. Everybody Wants To Rule The World
4. Mothers Talk
5. I Believe
6. Broken
7. Head Over Heels / Broken
8. Listen

Review

Look at those faces on the album cover, faces only a mother could love. But the music is really not that bad. This album has pretentions to being something better than A-ha, for example, and it manages to be that. It is more adult, less reliant on novelty value, all-around better pop.

It is in those pretentions, however that the album has its downfall. The lyrics try to be quite smart but they don't have much more to say than you could find in a new-agey pocket book of the week. Primal Scream is good, Greed is wrong... it just becomes annoying.

All that aside, however the songs are very competent pop indeed, they are composed in actually pretty complex ways, now that you look at them removed from the context of the 80's. This is an album which is now starting to be reapreciated, and it deserves it.

Track Highlights


1. Shout
2. Everybody Wants To Rule the World
3. Head Over Heels/Broken
4. The Working Hour

Final Grade

8/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

The album was remastered and re-issued on CD in 1999 with bonus tracks, including b-sides and remixes. Three of the tracks ("The Conflict", "The Marauders" and "Broken Revisited") are actually from the The Hurting period.

The album was re-released again in Deluxe Edition 2-disc format in 2006 with the full collection of b-sides and many alternate versions and remixes of the album's tracks.

Shout:

Sunday, April 13, 2008

549. A-Ha - Hunting High And Low (1985)
















Track Listing

1. Take On Me
2. Train Of Thought
3. Hunting High And Low
4. Blue Sky
5. Living A Boy's Adventures Tale
6. Sun Always Shines On TV
7. And You Tell Me
8. Love Is Reason
9. I Dream Myself Alive
10. Here I Stand And Face The Rain

Review

We are getting into a prize time for 80's pop, and we start with a-ha. The most famous band from Norway! YAY! And the album starts with a banger, with probably the most recognisable Synth tune in the world at the beginning of Take On Me.

This is very much an album of the beginning of the MTV age, but fortunately it does not live on just one single, there are a couple more good songs here, the title track is nice and so is the Sun Always Shines on TV.

This album is worth more for its kitsch value than its musical qualities, but it is still enjoyable like a snapshot of the mid-80s frozen in time. A fun album, especially if you are, like me, a child of the 80s.

Track Highlights

1. Take On Me
2. The Sun Always Shines on TV
3. Hunting High and Low
4. Living a Boy's Adventure Tale

Final Grade

8/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Beginning with a bang, a-ha's debut album sold more than eight million copies worldwide and spawned three #1 hits. In the fall of 1986, "Take on Me" and "The Sun Always Shines on T.V." were nominated for 11 MTV Video Awards combined, and a-ha won eight of these.

In June 1986, a-ha began a world tour which carried on through August 1987. The band had never played a single concert when "Take On Me" shot to #1 in America; soon they could boast a 16-country, 113-city tour under their belt along with countless interviews and television appearances.

Take On Me:

548. Abdullah Ibrahim - Water From An Ancient Well (1985)
















Track Listing

1. Mandela
2. Song For Sathima
3. Manenberg Revisited
4. Tuang Guru
5. Water From An Ancient Well
6. Wedding
7. Mountain
8. Sameeda

Review

Water From An Ancient Well, even though it is a good Jazz album sounds very much like a throwback. With a few exception, like the very moving beginning of Song for Sathima, it all sounds like it could have come from the late 50's.

This is not a bad thing in itself, we are at a time, after all, where retro is the new new. Thankfully for 1985 this album manages to tread the fine line between good and tacky, it never quite falls into porn jazz, although it gets close sometimes.

It also gets close to some of the jazz-like accompaniments to music by people like the Dire Straits, and that is not nice. Still, it manages to fall on the right side of music. Good, but not amazing.

Track Highlights


1. Song For Sathima
2. Mandela
3. The Wedding
4. Manenberg Revisited

Final Grade

8/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Abdullah Ibrahim is a towering figure in South African music, an artist who brings together all its traditions with a deeply felt understanding of American jazz, from the orchestral richness of Duke Ellington's compositions for big band to the groundbreaking innovations of Ornette Coleman and the 1960s avant-garde.

Ibrahim has worked as a solo performer, typically in mesmerising unbroken concerts that echo the unstoppable impetus of the old marabi performers. He also performs regularly with trios and quartets and larger orchestral units. Since his triumphant return to South Africa in the early 1990s, he has been feted with symphony orchestra performances, one of which was in honour of Nelson Mandela's installation as President. He has also founded the "M7" academy for South African musicians in Cape Town, and was the initiator of the Cape Town Jazz Orchestra, an 18-piece big band launched in September 2006.

The Wedding, Live at Montreux in a recording from 1980:

Friday, April 11, 2008

547. The Fall - This Nation's Saving Grace (1985)
















Track Listing


1. Mansion
2. Bombast
3. Barmy
4. What You Need
5. Spoilt Victorian Child
6. LA
7. Gut Of The Quantifier
8. My New House
9. Paintwork
10. I Am Damo Suzuki
11. To Nkroachment/Yarbles

Review

Here we are, just arrived at the mid-80s and we get there with an album that is somehow not of that time. It is of no particular time, however, it has elements of the most interesting rock coming out of the 70's like I Am Damo Suzuki, Marl E. Smith's tribute to Can and the best song in the album, or elements of stuff to come in the 90's.

No band's guitars sounded as much like late Radiohead as The Fall's in this album, particularly in Bombast and the last track. There are also elements which go all the way to the B-52's with LA and Vixen, while still sounding distinctively like the Fall.

This is a much easier album to listen to than Live At The Witch Trials for example, but that doesn't make it less of a Fall album, in fact this if this is what The Fall sound like doing pop, bring it on.

Track Highlights


1. I Am Damo Suzuki
2. LA
3. Paintwork
4. To Nik Roachment: Yarbles

Final Grade

9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

The group were without Paul Hanley, who left amicably towards the end of 1984. However, they were also briefly without his brother bassist Steve Hanley who took four months paternity leave from the band in the early part of the year. A tour was undertaken and the group recorded the double a-sided single "Couldn't Get Ahead / Rollin' Dany" and subsequent single "Cruiser's Creek" with Simon Rogers standing in on bass. The group had met Rogers through ballet dancer Michael Clark and he had already co-produced the early recordings of Brix Smith's other group The Adult Net. When Hanley returned, Rogers remained with the group, switching to keyboards and guitar - Hanley's return was marked with the inscription "S Hanley! He's Back" on the run-out groove of side one of the album.

The album is frequently cited as one of the group's finest. It ranked at #46 in Spin's "100 Greatest Albums 1985-2005" and the CD edition was awarded the rare accolade of 10.0/10 by Pitchfork.

I Am Damo Suzuki live at the Hacienda... sorry about the sound quality:

Thursday, April 10, 2008

546. Bruce Springsteen - Born in the USA (1984)
















Track Listing

1. Born In The USA
2. Cover Me
3. Darlington County
4. Working On The Highway
5. Downbound Train
6. I'm On Fire
7. No Surrender
8. Bobby Jean
9. I'm Goin' Down
10. Glory Days
11. Dancing In The Dark
12. My Hometown

Review

This is an album which divides people in two fields, those who think it's the best Springsteen album and therefore the best album ever, and those who think it is a pile of shit. I am in neither of those two field.

This is most definitely not the best Springsteen album, that merit would go to Nebraska followed by Born To Run. But it certainly isn't shit, in fact it is very, very good. What happened is that the 80's caught up with Springsteen, and he is making an album of that age. And for that it is a great album.

Firstly it is hard to make an album where most of the song are supremely catchy and so very well written. Then it is an album which even if it does have its superficial charms deserves closer listening to. If you are one of those poor deluded Reagan-like fools who think Born in the USA is a patriotic anthem, think again.

Unfortunately the album sounds much too joyous for its lyrical content, making it very easy to misinterpret, but the lyrics are overwhelmingly depressing, disillusioned and angry, but it sounds cheery. Weird, but a much deeper album that people give it credit for, and it toppled Thriller out of the top five, making it worthy to have existed for that reason only.

Track Highlights

1. Glory Days
2. My Hometown
3. Working On the Highway
4. Darlington County

Final Grade

9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

"Dancing in the Dark" was Springsteen's biggest hit single, reaching #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. (It was kept out of the top spot by Prince's "When Doves Cry".) The song featured up-tempo synthesizer riffs and noticeable syncopation, both a first for Springsteen. A dance-oriented remix was even made for it, by Arthur Baker. Springsteen pulls a young, short-haired Courteney Cox onstage in a Brian De Palma-directed music video for the track. The video helped launch the actress's career.

"Cover Me" was a dance track originally intended for Donna Summer. "My Hometown" is based on 1960s racial and economic tensions in Springsteen's hometown of Freehold. "No Surrender" and "Bobby Jean" reflected in part the departure of Steven Van Zandt from The E Street Band.

In all there were seven top 10 hit singles from this album, tying the record for most hit singles from an album also held by Michael Jackson's Thriller and Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814.

Glory Days:

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

545. Youssou N'Dour - Immigrés (1984)

















Track Listing

1. Immigrés/Bitim Rew
2. Pitche Mi
3. Taaw
4. Badou

Review

You probably know Youssou N'Dour for his collaboration with Neneh Cherry. But if you don't know him for anything else you really don't have a perspective on his career or where he is coming from.

This album is a very worthy one indeed. Part of its worthfulness is its authenticity, this is an album for Senegalese consumption, it is not an album made to be a "breakthrough" album, it isn't catering for Western tastes, and that simple fact makes it a rare thing to find on this list.

The music is pretty good, and the highlights are the two first tracks, both of them amazing. Yes, there is some use of synths here, but they are never overpowering, and the influence for Cuban music as well as the original Senegalese elements come through much more markedly. This is music that would be extremely influential. In no time Youssou would be working with Peter Gabriel and Paul Simon. For an album to break the boundaries of a country like Senegal and become internationally recognised is no mean feat, and represents the sheer quality of the music within. And Youssou has an amazing voice.

Track Highlights


1. Pitche Mi
2. Immigrés/Bitim Rew
3. Badou
4. Taaw

Final Grade


9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Rolling Stone described the album as "wonderfully moving,"

Immigrés:

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

544. Lloyd Cole and the Commotions - Rattlesnakes (1984)
















Track Listing

1. Perfect Skin
2. Speedboat
3. Rattlesnakes
4. Down On Mission Street
5. Forest Fire
6. Charlotte Street
7. 2cv
8. Four Flights Up
9. Patience
10. Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken?


Review


This is a pretty nifty album, we've been having a good run lately. And there's not much that's better than some jangly indie music from Scotland. Lloyd Cole has a very interesting voice, with some quite good tracks.

The real highlight here are the lyrics though. Of course there is there is a legitimate point that can be raised due to the fact that they depend on relentless name-dropping and pretentiousness, on Lloyd Cole showing how literate he is. And this is all true, but it is also all saved by his delivery.

Lloyd delivers his pretentiousness with an appropriately tongue in cheek voice, giving you a little wink, he knows he is being pretentious, and you should be in on the joke. If you aren't, it's your loss. When Lloyd Cole is not dropping names, however he is being an extremely witty songwriter with some of the best lines to come out of the 80's. The kind that just stick in your head, and you can maybe one day quote. And all the songs are like that. Great Album.

Track Highlights

1. Rattlesnakes
2. Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken?
3. Forest Fire
4. Perfect Skin

Final Grade


9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Their auspicious debut effort Rattlesnakes (1984) was initially dismissed as a "student bedsit classic", but now is regularly cited as one of the important works in rock music (and is much revered as a student bedsit classic...). NME included in its top 100 album of all times list, the title track was also covered by Tori Amos and Manic Street Preachers included it amongst their top ten albums of all times.

Rattlesnakes:

543. Minutemen - Double Nickels On The Dime (1984)
















Track Listing

1. D.'s Car Jam/Anxious Mo-Fo
2. Theatre Is The Life Of You
3. Viet Nam
4. Cohesion
5. It's Expected I'm Gone
6. #1 Hit Song
7. Two Beads At The End
8. Do You Want New Wave Or Do You Want The Truth
9. Don't Look Now
10. Shit From An Old Notebook
11. Nature Without Man
12. One Reporter's Opinion
13. Political Song For Michael Jackson To Sing
14. Maybe Partying Will Help
15. Toadies
16. Retreat
17. Big Foist
18. God Bows To Math
19. Corona
20. Glory Of Man
21. Take 5 D.
22. My Heart And The Real World
23. History Lesson
24. You Need The Glory
25. Roar Of The Masses Could Be Farts
26. West Germany
27. Politics Of Time
28. Themselves
29. Please Don't Be Gentle With Me
30. Nothing Indeed
31. No Exchange
32. There Ain't Shit On T.V. Tonight
33. This Ain't No Picnic
34. Spillage
35. Untitled Song For Latin America
36. Jesus And Tequila
37. June 16th
38. Storm In My House
39. Martin's Story
40. Dr. Wu
41. World According To Nouns
42. Love Dance
43. Three Car Jam

Review

As you can see there are a lot of tracks here, it doesn't mean that the album is that long, however, it's just that many of the songs don't even get to the 2 minute mark. Yet, unlike many other albums from the same milieu of the Minute men, all the tracks are pretty much distinct.

What is amazing here as well, is just how many of these tracks stand up as great, this is truly a very good album. Imagine a mix of Pere Ubu and Gang Of Four with some Black Flag thrown in for good measure and you might have an approximation. A better tactic would be to actually listen to the album.

Double Nickels on the Dime is a vast and great album, from the lyrics to the effective and economic playing, the whole thing is pretty great. Also as you can see above some of the song titles are pretty funny... and that's always a plus in my book :P

Track Highlights

1. Corona
2. History Lesson Part 2
3. Political Song For Michael Jackson To Sing
4. Do You Want New Wave Or Do You Want The Truth

Final Grade

9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Double Nickels on the Dime is often seen not only as the Minutemen's crowning achievement, but, as critic Mark Deming notes, "one of the very best American rock albums of the 1980s." Although Double Nickels on the Dime did not receive mainstream reviews upon its release, the album now appears on many professional lists of the all-time best rock albums, including Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.


History Lesson Part 2: