Sunday, November 30, 2008

747. Sheryl Crow - Tuesday Night Music Club (1993)


















Track Listing


1. Run, Baby, Run
2. Leaving Las Vegas
3. Strong Enough
4. Can't Cry Anymore
5. Solidify
6. The Na-Na Song
7. No One Said It Would Be Easy
8. What I Can Do For You
9. All I Wanna Do
10. We Do What We Can
11. I Shall Believe

Review

Yes... Sheryl Crow, not very edgy, not an amazing songwriter, particularly if you compare her to her contemporary females we've been having here (Tori, PJ, Aimee, Liz, yes I am on first name basis with all of them). Still I like this album. Call me what you want, I grew up with it. It's completely MOR but it is still getting a 9, deal with it.

I like this album because it is unpretentious, it's music you can listen to with your parents and they'll like it too... I dislike it for the same reasons, it is commercial clearly aimed at a large audience, it doesn't sound very autobiographic or very true to life... it's just what it is. My wife says it's good driving music... I don't know, I can't drive... what kind of man am I? I get my wife to drive me, might as well chop my balls off... but then she'd have no motivation to drive me around.

It is pleasant enough, some of the arrangements are quite good and let's face it Sheryl never made another album which was infinitesimally as good as this one. It often happens with first albums, you use all our good ideas right there and then, then you peaked. Life's not worth living any more, you are not an artist you are just milking your first album, leading people on in the vain hope that they might get something else like it. They won't. (Sponsored by Zoloft)

I drove a go-cart once.

Track Highlights


1. All I Wanna Do
2. Strong Enough
3. Can't Cry Anymore
4. We Do What We Can

Final Grade


9/10 (have a cookie Sheryl, you can go into the light now)


Trivia


From Wikipedia:

The group existed as a casual songwriting collective prior to its association with Crow, but rapidly developed into a vehicle for her debut album after her arrival (she was at the time dating Kevin Gilbert, who actually co-wrote most of the songs for the TNMC album along with Crow, Baerwald, Ricketts, Bottrell, Schwartz and MacLeod). Her relationship with Gilbert became acrimonious soon after the album release and there were disputes about songwriting credits. Crow claimed to have written them in interviews later. Both Gilbert and Baerwald castigated Crow publicly in the fallout, although Baerwald would later soften his position. A similar tension would arise with TNMC member Bill Bottrell after her second album, over which he collaborated, at least in the early stages.

Sheryl, when she was attractive:


Saturday, November 29, 2008

746. Blur - Modern Life is Rubbish (1993)

















Track Listing

1. For Tomorrow
2. Advert
3. Colin Zeal
4. Pressure on Julian
5. Star Shaped
6. Blue Jeans
7. Chemical World
8. Intermission
9. Sunday Sunday
10. Oily Water
11. Miss America
12. Villa Rosie
13. Coping
14. Turn It Up
15. Pop Scene
16. Resigned
17. Commercial Break

Review


Of all the bands to have come out of the Brit-pop scene, Blur have been the most consistently original and just plain good. Actually, they are probably the only major Brit-pop band that I actually like. Damon Albarn was and is a bit of a genius as his reinventions have proven, from baggy trousered Madchester bandwagoner to Brit-pop star, to holographic ape and to composer of fusion Chinese Opera/Circus.

You have to admire the man, and his collaboration with Graham Coxon made Blur doubtlessly the most interesting of the Brit-pop bands. The reason is actually pretty simple: like all Brit-pop bands Blur are derivative, unlike most they are derivative of 100 great different things.

On this album alone you get The Kinks, Brian Eno in his pop phase, early Roxy Music, Adam Ant and so forth and so on. I love them all and Blur are able to synthesise them into something for the 90s. Is it supremely original? Not really. Is it smart and tasteful? Yes.

Track Highlights

1. Chemical World
2. For Tomorrow
3. Star Shaped
4. Sunday Sunday

Final Grade

9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Suede and America fuelled my desire to prove to everyone that Blur were worth it." Albarn told Mojo in 2000, "There was nothing more important in my life." Albarn felt the popularity American grunge music was enjoying in Britain at the time would soon run out of steam, and argued that Blur would embody a renaissance of classic British pop on their next album. Although the singer felt Blur had finally found their musical identity, not everbody was convinced with Albarn's new British-centric manifesto. Food Records owner David Balfe, in particular, strongly disagreed, and got into fierce arguments with Albarn over the proposed change in Blur's image. After the still-skeptical Balfe finally relented, Food warily gave Blur the go-ahead to work on their second album with Albarn's first choice of producer, Andy Partridge of XTC. Blur and Partridge began work at The Church, a studio in Crouch End owned by musician Dave Stewart. However, the pairing didn't work out. Bassist Alex James described the sessions as a "disaster"; he added that "as it was all being put together, they were all good parts, but it just wasn't . . . sexy". The band successfully recorded four songs, but they were wary about working in the same conditions again.

Chemical World:


Friday, November 28, 2008

745. P.J. Harvey - Rid Of Me (1993)

















Track Listing


1. Rid Of Me
2. Missed
3. Legs
4. Rub 'Till It Bleeds
5. Hook
6. Man-Size [Sextet]
7. Highway '61 Revisited
8. 50 Ft Queenie
9. Yuri-G
10. Man-Size
11. Dry
12. Me-Jane
13. Snake
14. Ecstasy

Review


Another great album by Ms. Harvey. If on Dry I talked a lot about her restrained energy in the music, the same is not as true of this album. A lot is still restrained and that is clearly her style, but Steve Albini at the production controls makes the whole thing scream louder when necessary.

In fact if I have a problem with the album it is that the quiet/loud dynamics are really pronounced. When the album is quiet it is really quiet and you put your stereo up, when it turns loud it turns really loud and you turn your stereo down. It is hard to find the middle term.

Now, this would not be a problem if my upstairs neighbours were not assholes who like to come down here and complain about the noise in the rudest terms possible. Of course I hear noise from upstairs as well, but I understand what living in an apartment building entails. I was not brought up in a farm, they probably were. At least my wife doesn't sound like a fucking horse clop-clopping around the house in heels all fucking day. So fuck you upstairs neighbours. They probably only like to listen to Dido anyway (yes that's the kind of neighbourhood I live in, they must cross themselves when Public Enemy comes on). They probably live in fear of the foreign man below them who doesn't listen to acceptably middle class "young professional" dinner party music... shit I never heard them hear anything except the fucking TV. I hate my upstairs neighbours on principle. Downstairs neighbours are cool, they complained once that the music was too loud, but it was 4 in the morning and I was blasting something like "Best Brass Bands Marching Hits" (VERY drunk), so they had reason to complain.

Anyway fucking great album this is. I recommend it, give it to your mother for Xmas. She'll love sentences like "lick my legs I'm on fire".


Track Highlights

1. 50 Ft Queenie
2. Rid Of Me
3. Man-Size [Sextet]
4. Hook

Final Grade

9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Harvey explained to Filter magazine in 2004 that:

Rid of Me was when I'd first signed to a major label and I felt that I wanted to—more than ever—demonstrate that I was not going to be the kind of usually expected major artist material [laughs]. So, I chose to work with Steve Albini, who is definitely not a particularly commercial engineer and I made a very difficult record. And I'm glad I did because I think it really did set the tone... I just wanted the people involved to know that I can only do things that follow my heart, that I cannot make music to suit other people. It has to be the way it has to be and if you don't like it, then leave me alone. So, that was part of that, but having said that, I've been with the same label for 12 years and I think they know me very well and just let me get on with it now.

50 Ft Queenie, live:


Thursday, November 27, 2008

In case you people are blind or stupid that thing on the side means I have a Twitter now. Get insights here!

In case you are reading me through an RSS feed you are not putting enough effort in!
744. Pet Shop Boys - Very (1993)
















Track Listing

1. Can you forgive her?
2. I wouldn't normally do this kind of thing
3. Liberation
4. A different point of view
5. Dreaming of the Queen
6. Yesterday, when I was mad
7. The theatre
8. One and one make five
9. To speak is a sin
10. Young offender
11. One in a million
12. Go West

Review

If asked to describe the Pet Shop Boys in 10 words, gay would be pretty much up the list. If asked to describe this particular album it would probably be even further up the list. Actually... it's a good thing.

I am pretty sure this is the first unashamedly and unambiguously gay album on the list and by 1993 it is high time already. Then, it is a fun album. It hasn't aged particularly well, as most electro-pop hasn't, but it is still pretty emblematic of a time.

It is hard not to sing along or do stupid dances while listening to several of the songs here. It is a bit ridiculous, but the lyrics are good, the production is quite brilliant and it is nothing but good gay fun. Not the kind of thing I really like to listen to at home or on my iPod, but I would sure as fuck dance to it.

Track Highlights

1. Go West
2. Can You Forgive Her?
3. Yesterday When I Was Mad
4. I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind Of Thing

Final Grade

8/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

The LP is generally considered the pinnacle of the Pet Shop Boys' mainstream commercial appeal, with five singles reaching the UK Top 20. The biggest of these, "Go West", hit number two but was the last of the band's singles to record any real chart longevity. Although future singles would debut strongly in the UK charts (eight of them in the Top 10), they would then drop dramatically in their second week, suggesting first week appeal to hard core fans but a failure to connect with the mainstream music-buying public.

Go West, a great cover of the Village People:


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

743. Jamiroquai - Emergency on Planet Earth (1993)

















Track Listing

1. When You Gonna Learn (Digeridoo)
2. Too Young To Die
3. Hooked Up
4. If I Like It I Do It
5. Music Of The Mind
6. Emergency On Planet Earth
7. Whatever It Is I Just Can't Stop
8. Blow Your Mind
9. Revolution 1993
10. Didgin' Out

Review

I am slightly ashamed to realise how much I enjoyed this. First I'll go through the reasons not to like it: it's derivative, sounds too much like a Stevie Wonder rip-off, Jamiroquai is endlessly repetitive and all his other albums sound very much like this, so he is not really a great artist, more of a one trick pony. The lyrics are neo-hippie twaddle.

Secondly, reasons to like it: It's a very good Stevie Wonder rip-off. The singles are completely unrepresentative of the album as for example Too Young to Die is cut to half its length from the album version. The fact that the tracks are actually really long here, sometimes over 10 minutes long allows Jamiroquai to explore an Acid Jazz side which is not represented in the radio edits and the famous singles.

In the end I was surprised at just how good this actually is, but I can also tell you that you don't really need any more Jamiroquai albums. This is the one where he is freer with his form and is not playing for sales. It's funky, jazzy and a lot of fun.

Track Highlights

1. Too Young To Die
2. Blow Your Mind
3. Hooked Up
4. Whatever It Is, I Just Can't Stop It

Final Grade

8/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Entertainment Weekly (8/13/93, p.74) - "...turn out gritty organic grooves with enthusiasm..." Rating: B+

Q magazine (3/01, p.124) - 4 stars out of 5 - "A funky and beautiful record, a contender for best British soul album of the '90s, and frankly better than anything Stevie Wonder has made since Hotter Than July."

Too Young To Die

Compare the single version:



With the album version:


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

742. Nirvana - In Utero (1993)

















Track Listing

1. Serve The Servants
2. Scentless Apprentice
3. Heart Shaped Box
4. Rape Me
5. Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle
6. Dumb
7. Very Ape
8. Milk It
9. Pennyroyal Tea
10. Radio Friendly Unit Shifter
11. Tourette's
12. All Apologies/Gallons Of Rubbing Alcohol Flow Through The Strip


Review


This is probably the best studio album ever that Nirvana ever made. I only say probably because my impression of Nevermind might be tainted by "listener's fatigue", it has been so overexposed that it is hard to come to it with fresh ears.

In Utero avoids the problem of Nevermind by sounding fresher, something which might also be attributed to Steve Albini's great production work. Albini gives Nirvana an edge which was absent from their previous albums, it both makes the album more challenging and more rewarding.

There are a couple of big hits here and Heart Shaped Box is one of the best Nirvana tracks ever, but the rest of the album is just as good, if less radio-friendly. There is still the MTV Unplugged to come, and it really the apex of Nirvana, seeing their progression it is a pity to see Cobain's career cut short by bulletitis.

Track Highlights

1. Heart Shaped Box
2. Serve The Servants
3. Rape Me
4. All Apologies

Final Grade

9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

The original title for In Utero was to be I Hate Myself And Want to Die, sharing its title with a song that was planned for the album. The phrase had originated in mid-1992 from one of Cobain's journal entries, and was meant as humor. It was Cobain's response whenever someone would ask him "how are you?". The tentative album title would be changed after Novoselic convinced Cobain that I Hate Myself And Want to Die could potentially result in a lawsuit. The band considered the title Verse Chorus Verse, a title shared with "Verse Chorus Verse" and an earlier working title of "Sappy". The final title was taken from one of Courtney Love's poems, and is a Latin term meaning "in the uterus".

Heart Shaped Box:




Monday, November 24, 2008

741. Grant Lee Buffalo - Fuzzy (1993)

















Track Listing

1. Shining Hour
2. Jupiter And Teardrop
3. Fuzzy
4. Wish You Well
5. Hook
6. Soft Wolf Tread
7. Stars 'n' Stripes
8. Dixie Drugstore
9. America Snoring
10. Grace
11. You Just Have To Be Crazy


Review

This is one of those rare acquired taste albums. I had read some stuff about Grant Lee Buffalo before but had never heard it, I knew Fuzzy to be particularly mythical with all the celebrity endorsements and stuff. At first I did not get why Michael Stipe would love them so much... but that is exactly why I don't just listen to the albums once... some times they are subtle little things.

So this has now grown steadily into a great album with repeated listening. As you start noticing the lyrics more carefully, as the songs become familiar, as you notice the things he does, it starts to dawn on your just how good it is.

There is something of a country element to the album, although I would hardly call it country music... It is reminiscent of Neil Young at times, other times The Waterboys but it is unlike anything exactly. One of the great highlights are the lyrics, however, complex, narrative and beautiful. Recommended.

Track Highlights

1. Stars 'n' Stripes
2. America Snoring
3. The Hook
4. Dixie Drug Store

Final Grade

9/10


Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Grant Lee Buffalo had an Americana tinged sound, clearly influenced by the likes of Neil Young and elements of old-fashioned country music, and often tackled political and social issues in their lyrics (for example, “Lone Star Song” from Mighty Joe Moon references the infamous Waco siege and “Homespun“ from Copperopolis is a critical assessment of modern American society). They toured with major bands of the early-to-mid 1990s such as R.E.M., Pearl Jam and the Smashing Pumpkins.

Video for Fuzzy:


Friday, November 21, 2008

740. Aimee Mann - Whatever (1993)



















Track Listing

1. I Should've Known
2. Fifty Years After The Fair
3. 4th Of July
4. Could've Been Anyone
5. Put Me On Top
6. Stupid Thing
7. Say Anything
8. Jacob Marley's Chain
9. Mr. Harris
10. I Could Hurt You Now
11. I Know There's A Word
12. I've Had It
13. Way Back When

Review

I first was aware of Aimee Mann after seeing her perform
Save Me at the Oscars for the soundtrack of Magnolia. A couple of months later I saw the film and then I got the soundtrack album, which I vividly recommend. So it is kind of a trip down memory lane to have Aimee Mann here, kind of back to the same time I was into Tori Amos and Fiona Apple... yes I was a bit gay.

Aimee is one of the best lyricists in the business, and at the moment we seem to be having a pretty big influx of very talented female singer-songwriters which is a good thing. Aimee isn't as sexually confrontational as Tori Amos, PJ Harvey or Liz Phair, her songs are softer and more pondered, it makes an interesting contrast.

One of the best things about the album are the astounding arrangements in many of the songs, there is a great variety of very good music here, the production work is pretty fantastic and fortunately it is not intrusive on the lyricism of most of the songs. A great album.

Track Highlights

1. Jacob Marley's Chain
2. 4th of July
3. I Know There's A Word
4. Mr. Harris

Final Grade

9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

In 1993, Mann released Whatever, her first solo album. Promotion suffered due to the collapse of her label, Imago. With modest sales, the album was critically praised and paved the way for her next release, 1995's I'm with Stupid, through Geffen Records. Again, reviews were positive, but sales were weak.

Jacob Marley's Chain:


Thursday, November 20, 2008

739. The Afghan Whigs - Gentlemen (1993)

















Track Listing

1. If I Were Going
2. Gentlemen
3. Be Sweet
4. Debonair
5. When We Two Parted
6. Fountain And Fairfax
7. What Jail Is Like
8. My Curse
9. Now You Know
10. I Keep Coming Back
11. Brother Woodrow/Closing Prayer


Review

The Afghan Whigs give us a perfectly nice album, which is clearly influenced by Grunge as much as by soul and R&B. This makes for an interesting mix at times, but I really don't think they reach their full potential here.

In theory the album is quite a bit better than in practice. It just doesn't sound that exciting... anyway I think that happens often with what are supposedly "cutting edge" bands in the 90s. This might simply be a result of over-exposure to the musical style and the never-ending rip-offs.

I know that the Afghan Whigs have a big cult following, this usually means one of two things, they are genuinely amazing and so original that their time, or any time, wasn't ready for them or they might just be sub-par. The Afghan Whigs fall somewhere between the two... at times they are very unimpressive and at other times you really think their stuff deserves a wider audience... depends on the track.

Track Highlights

1. Be Sweet
2. Gentlemen
3. What Jail Is Like
4. Brother Woodrow/Closing Prayer

Final Grade


8/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

The Afghan Whigs signed to a major label, Elektra Records, and in 1993 released another album, Gentlemen. Although the singles “Debonair” and “Gentlemen” were fairly popular, the album failed to launch the band into the mainstream.

Beside regular appearances on MTV's playlists, their track "Fountain and Fairfax" also appeared on the television series My So-Called Life in 1994

Gentlemen:


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

738. Liz Phair - Exile in Guyville (1993)
















Track Listing

1. 6'1"
2. Help Me Mary
3. Glory
4. Dance Of The Seven Veils
5. Never Said
6. Soap Star Joe
7. Explain It To Me
8. Canary
9. Mesmerizing
10. Fuck And Run
11. Girls Girls Girls
12. Divorce Song
13. Shatter
14. Flower
15. Johnny Sunshine
16. Gunshy
17. Stratford-On-Guy
18. Strange Loop

Review

Liz Phair is a dirty, dirty, woman... I like it. With a vocal style that falls somewhere between Suzanne Vega and Kate Rusby and a lyrical style that reminds one of Ani Di Franco, Liz Phair is despite all that a true original.

Phair has a perfect union of lyrics that are at times acidic, at times bittersweet, often just bitter with music that is more often than not sweet. She may be less famous that her contemporaries in the female singer-songwriter business, that may be for the simple fact that a lot of the lyrics are even more confrontational than her colleagues. Listen to flower if you don't believe me.

So, yeah another album to stick in my iPod, for those days when I feel like I have changed gender and have PMS. It's one of those rare albums that works at all levels and for that it should be cherished. Get it.

Track Highlights

1. Fuck and Run
2. Flower
3. Help Me Mary
4. Gunshy


Final Grade

9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Phair commented in interviews that the album was a song-by-song reply to the Rolling Stones' 1972 album Exile on Main Street. Some critics contend that the album is not a clear or obvious song-by-song response, although Phair apparently sequenced her compositions in an attempt to match the song-list and pacing of the 1972 album.

Flower, with lyrics NSFW:


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

737. The Auteurs - New Wave (1993)
















Track Listing

1. Show Girl
2. Bailed Out
3. American Guitars
4. Junk Shop Clothes
5. Don't Trust the Stars
6. Starstruck
7. How Could I Be Wrong
8. Housebreaker
9. Valet Parking
10. Idiot Brother
11. Early Years
12. Home Again

Review

Here we have another one of those formative albums in the development of Brit-pop that is coming just around the bend. And this one is better than Suede's self-titled effort.

I can't say that this album is homogeneously good, but there are enough good to great tracks here to push it up a notch. Again the influence of glam-rock is very obvious, albeit in an updated version, in fact some of the tracks here seem like they could have come from the soundtrack to Velvet Goldmine.

Interestingly this album was never a big sales success, which goes to show that people are stupid. They chose to give Suede the place that was rightfully this album's.
New Wave's influence has been recognised later and it has fortunately, now, achieved the place of a classic that it deserves... well at least in the context of early Brit-pop.

Track Highlights

1. Bailout
2. Junk Shop Clothes
3. Valet Parking
4. How Could I Be Wrong

Final Grade

9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

New Wave (1993), was nominated for a Mercury Music Prize and saw The Auteurs associated with the emerging Britpop genre.

However this association never sat well with Haines who frequently made derogatory remarks about his peers. After New Wave, the band remained on the fringes of the music scene.

Show Girl:



Monday, November 17, 2008

736. The Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream (1993)

















Track Listing

1. Cherub Rock
2. Quiet
3. Today
4. Hummer
5. Rocket
6. Disarm
7. Soma
8. Geek U.S.A.
9. Mayonaise
10. Spaceboy
11. Silverfuck
12. Sweet Sweet
13. Luna

Review

Now, The Smashing Pumpkins are very much one of those love them or hate them bands. I am in the first camp but I completely understand and sympathise with the arguments of the second camp. Particularly the argument that baldy is whiny and annoying, as is his voice. Yes, I agree, but I still really like them.

A good reason for liking them is this album. Not as sprawling as Melancholy and just generally better than anything else they ever did, it is the perfect introduction to them. When heard in historical context they come across as particularly fresh, not only by moving away from the prevalent grunge scene, but because they are essentially creating a new musical style here.

One of the first things you notice is the quiet/loud dynamics of the album. The album is anything but relentless, therefore when the heavier elements kick in they kick in with particular strength. When you do a whole album which consists of relentless noise you can't go anywhere, when you temper the noise with melody then you have somewhere to go. So the Pumpkins mesh the sounds of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath with the wall of sound of shoegazing and the quiet psychedelia of Pink Floyd. This gives them a varied swatch to take their sounds from and it is in this variety that their music has power. Pretty great album.

Track Highlights

1. Disarm
2. Cherub Rock
3. Today
4. Geek U.S.A.

Final Grade

9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan felt "this great pressure to make the next album set the world on fire." The immense pressure to succeed intensified an already problematic situation. Drummer Jimmy Chamberlin was undergoing an increasingly severe addiction to heroin, guitarist James Iha and bassist D'arcy Wretzky had recently ended their relationship, and Corgan, aside from battles with weight gain and suicidal depression, was suffering from his worst-ever bout of writer's block.

Disarm:


Sunday, November 16, 2008

735. Paul Weller - Wild Wood (1993)

















Track Listing

1. Sunflower
2. Can You Heal Us (Holy Man)
3. Wild Wood
4. Instrumental One (Part 1)
5. All The Pictures On The Wall
6. Has My Fire Really Gone Out?
7. Country
8. Instrumental Two
9. 5th Season
10. The Weaver
11. Instrumental One (Part 2)
12. Foot Of The Mountain
13. Shadow Of The Sun
14. Holy Man
15. Moon On Your Pyjamas
16. Hung Up

Review

Paul Weller does some great retro-stuff here, mixing the psychedelic rockyness of Traffic with the folksiness of Nick Drake. Although that description might sound derivative, it is anything but. Weller creates a distinctively British form of retro-folk-rock which would be extremely influential through the rest of the decade and beyond.

The retro qualities of the music are precisely what make this album age well, it sounds like it could come from pretty much any time from the mid 60s onwards. Then there are some pretty amazing folk songs like Wild Wood or Country which show him at his best as a lyricist.

Weller is great at re-inventing himself from the Jam to Style Council and now in his solo career he does what is possibly his most successful reinvention since the Jam, an album of great musical variety which is successful at every style he attempts. Pretty great.

Track Highlights

1. Wild Wood
2. Country
3. Shadow Of The Sun
4. Sunflower

Final Grade

9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

It made it to number 2 in the UK charts, and contained two UK hits: "Wild Wood", which reached #14 in the UK charts and "Sunflower", which reached #16.

In 2000 Q magazine placed it at number 77 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever.

A two disc deluxe edition was released on 22nd October 2007.

Wild Wood:


Saturday, November 15, 2008

734. Suede - Suede (1993)

















Track Listing

1. So Young
2. Animal Nitrate
3. She's Not Dead
4. Moving
5. Pantomine Horse
6. Drowners
7. Sleeping Pills
8. Breakdown
9. Metal Mickey
10. Animal Lover
11. Next Life

Review

There is one word for this album... derivative. From both David Bowie (the piano on the first track is an almost direct lift from
Aladdin Sane) and Morrissey (the modulations in the singing are almost identical in Moving for example). In the end it is never more than the sum of its parts... and because those parts are not original it becomes less that it's influences.

This is not to say that the album is not perfectly inoffensive, because it is. It's fine to listen to, quite catchy, quite fun... all of that, but it is also supremely unoriginal.

Of course this lack of originality would lead to the development of a lot of the Brit-pop movement and because of that it has also not aged particularly well. It is perfectly nice, but a bit uninspired and unoriginal... meh.

Track Highlights

1. Metal Mickey
2. The Next Life
3. Animal Nitrate
4. Pantomime Horse

Final Grade


8/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

The album's gender-ambiguous cover art provoked some controversy in the press, prompting Suede frontman Brett Anderson to comment, "I'm not really interested in being controversial. If we wanted to be controversial we'd have called the album I Fuck Dogs."

Metal Mickey at TOTP:



Friday, November 14, 2008

733. P.J. Harvey - Dry (1992)

















Track Listing

1. Oh My Lover
2. O Stella
3. Dress
4. Victory
5. Happy and Bleeding
6. Sheela-Na-Gig
7. Hair
8. Joe
9. Plants and Rags
10. Fountain
11. Water

Review

Ms. Harvey has always been a cool lady, this album is no exception. She is a part of the great triumvirate of early 90s female singer-songwriters together with Tori Amos and Bjork. Fortunately and interestingly none of these are copies of each other or even in the same musical medium.

Harvey is very much in a rock idiom, but in a laid back, sultry but quite aggressive rock, which manages to be all these things at the same time. There is a feeling of repressed emotion just waiting to explode in all of the tracks in this album, this makes it actually pretty effective.

Unlike many albums of this time, including those by other female singer-songwriters, Harvey has aged like a good vintage, it does not sound out of place or badly aged in 2008, it sounds just right. If there is one word to actually define this album it is "cool", Harvey keeps the whole thing simmering just below boiling point in a way that really gets into you. At first it might even seem quite strange, but after repeated listening you'll want to add this to your library.

Track Highlights

1. Sheela-Na-Gig
2. O Stella
3. Plants And Rags
4. Dress

Final Grade

9/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Speaking to Filter magazine in 2004, Harvey said of her debut album: "Dry is the first chance I ever had to make a record and I thought it would be my last. So, I put everything I had into it. It was a very extreme record. It was a great joy for me to be able to make it. I never thought I'd have that opportunity, so I felt like I had to get everything on it as well as I possibly could, because it was probably my only chance. It felt very extreme for that reason."

Sheela-Na-Gig:


Thursday, November 13, 2008

732. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan - Devotional Songs (1992)
















Track Listings

1. Allah Hoo Allah Hoo
2. Yaad E Nabi Gulshan Mehka
3. Haq Ali Ali Haq
4. Ali Maula Ali Maula Ali Dam Dam
5. Mast Nazroon Se Allah Bachhae
6. Ni Main Jogi De Naal

Review


I have heard plenty of Qawwali, in fact my third year dissertation at university was on the Qawwali songs of the Nizamuddin Auliya in Pakistan. That leads me to two conclusions when listening to this album, firstly it is quite pleasant and all nice music, secondly it is a terrible adulteration of what Qawwali is all about.

Qawwali is a distinctly Sufi music style that is meant to lead the worshipper to an almost spiritual ecstasy in remembrance of God, it is usually performed with drums (table or dholak) and harmoniums. What the fuck is the little flamenco guitar doing here? It simply does not belong. Also why is Nusrat's voice so prominent, Qawwali usually has a much more even distribution of vocal parts, but here star power matters.

This has led me to a conclusion about much of the "World Music" included on this list. It's an imperialist music list, the only "World Music" deemed acceptable is that which has been appropriately westernised. It seems to hard to accept other musical cultures for what they are: foreign, demanding of some effort by the listener to approach them, some understanding. The list simply opts for what meets the Western listener midway. The thing is, in this case, the Qawwali is ruined, there is none of the religious fervour of the original, none of the excitement and spontaneous joy that you get if you ever saw Qawwali live. This is a studio album, Qawwali is not studio music, it is performance music. I would recommend you get some authentic field recordings of Qawwali. In fact I would recommend
this instead.

This is still good, but it is so adulterated it annoys the shit out of me.

Track Highlights

1. Allah Hoo Allah Hoo
2. Haq Ali Ali Haq
3. Ali Maula Ali Maula Ali Dam Dam
4. Ni Main Jogi De Naal

Final Grade

8/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

Nusrat reached out to Western audiences through his collaborations with Canadian musician, Michael Brook and his work with Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder in 1995 on the soundtrack to Dead Man Walking. He went on to gain popularity in the West through his contributions to the soundtracks of The Last Temptation of Christ and Natural Born Killers, together with his friendship with Peter Gabriel. Nusrat was unhappy with the use of his vocals on the Natural Born Killers soundtrack, stating that the nature of the film was contrary to the beliefs and the ideals conveyed in his work.

As you see here Nusrat could do it properly as well, takes around 20 minutes to play a song, uses harmoniums, no guitar and only kicks in at 6 minutes 30:

Allah hoo, part 1:



Part 2:


Monday, November 10, 2008

731. Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - Henry's Dream (1992)

















Track Listing

1. Papa Won't Leave You Henry
2. I Had A Dream Joe
3. Straight To You
4. Brother My Cup Is Empty
5. Christina The Astonishing
6. When I First Came To Town
7. John Finns' Wife
8. Loom Of The Land
9. Jack The Ripper

Review

Now, there are some four Nick Cave albums on the list, if you are not counting the Birthday Party album. This means that he is woefully under-represented, unlike Morrissey for example. I am the school that claims that his whole discography, with the possible exception of Nocturama should be here. I am particularly vexed with the absence of
Let Love In or Tender Prey from the list.

All that said this is a fucking great album, not only are the songs great but the whole thing is extremely cohesive, there is a guiding line through the whole thing, even if the songs are about different things Cave just manages to imbue them with a sense of retro-nightmare that makes them unarguably part of the same work.

Nick Cave is quite brilliant at creating these albums which while not being quite concept-albums feel like musical numbers in a longer story, here the feel is a bit dust-bowl, early thirties America, without actually explicitly making any musical or lyrical references to it, it just feels it. So yeah, the man is a genius, most of his albums are damn near perfect and he still keeps putting out outstanding work, not only with the Bad Seeds but also with Grinderman. Plus he is a great screenwriter and novelist,
And The Ass Saw The Angel is the best work of fiction to come out of Australia since... well... ever! I am a Nick Cave fanboy and proud of it... although he scares me a bit.

Track Highlights

1. Christina the Astonishing
2. Straight To You
3. Papa Won't Leave You Henry
4. John Finn's Wife

Final Grade

10/10

Trivia

From Wikipedia:

There are possible references to John Berryman's series of poems The Dream Songs, which logs the dreams of the protagonist Henry. This album remains a big favourite amongst Bad Seeds fans, although Nick Cave himself was reportedly unhappy with the production by David Briggs. Briggs preferred a "live-in-the-studio" method he had used with Neil Young. This led to Cave and Harvey re-mixing the album, and ultimately to the Live Seeds recordings, as Cave wanted the songs "done justice". It was the first album to feature long-standing members Martyn P. Casey (bass) and Conway Savage (piano, organ), both Australian. The latter is a singer-songwriter in his own right and has contributed distinctive backing vocals to a handful of Bad Seeds songs; here he and Cave deliver a rousing duet in the chorus of 'When I First Came To Town'. The album is considered by some to have a vague "concept", i.e. song narratives overlapping and/or sharing characters.

Straight To You: