Music Project–Album #43– A Song for All Seasons–Renaissance

imageA Song for All Seasons–Renaissance

 

I first came across Renaissance in 2002 when I used to subscribe to Last.fm’s radio service.

 

In case you didn’t know, Last.fm supposedly checks what you listen to and then finds artists you might like and plays samples of their music mixed in with yours.

 

The song that kept being played was Northern Lights. It was one of those songs that made me think “Here! I’ve heard this before!”. It was more than probable that I had.

 

Keen to find out more, I spent a week downloading their catalogue and rapidly falling in love with their music. Bewildered by the fact that I hadn’t actually heard of them before that day.

 

They’re a mix of folk and prog. Prog folk? Maybe. Kind of like Fairport Convention meets Yes.

 

No..that’s not it.

 

It’s similar. But not.

 

Anyway, make your own mind up and, as usual, I would be interested to hear what you think about them too.

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Music Project–Album #42–A Secret History –The Divine Comedy

imageA Secret History by The Divine Comedy

 

There is a certain sound that conjures up memories of the 1990’s. Granted, I spent most of the 1990s in a haze of solitude and unemployment. Indeed, I did not really venture much further musically than the compilation album Shine 9. Instead I spent most of the 90s listening to Mike Oldfield, Yes, Triumvirat and whatever I happened upon on my cassette tapes. Those were the days. Days of sitting round, doing nothing. Wasting time.

 

I suspect that The Divine Comedy’s greatest hits, this album, appears in my music library due to Gay Jamie who no doubt put it on one of his many MP3 CDs he wrote for me back in the early noughties.

 

The Divine Comedy are that sound. The sound of the nineties. I’d not listened to this album before I began this project and, apart from a couple of tunes I’d heard on the radio or in other compilations, I’m not all that familiar nor enamoured with the band or their work. I was also surprised by the fact that they wrote the theme tune to Father Ted. So that was a surprise when it started playing midway through the listen.

 

Anyway, I think I’ll just keep the tracks I like off this album and bin the rest.

Music Project – Album #40 – A Momentary Lapse of Reason

imageA Momentary Lapse of Reason by Pink Floyd

 

Oh you knew it was going to happen. This is the problem when you have 2 computers, one of which you use sparingly, and don’t sync them. Well it’s happened. The first one out of sequence.

So there I am, being diligent and thinking of you dear reader, and I think “I know, I’ll listen to the next album while I wfh”. What happens? I see this album. It begins with an A. A – M. Fucksticks.

I’ve already gone on to A-N.

Never mind.

So, A Momentary Lapse is possibly, in my opinion, the best of the Dave Gilmore led Floyd albums.

I came to Floyd rather late. I knew of The Wall but didn’t really have much of an interest in Floyd back then. It wasn’t until 1990 when Shitbag played me Animals and said: “You’ll never find these on CD you know”

A challenge.

So I nipped out to Penny Lane Records on Penny Lane and picked up this album along with Animals and Gong’s Angel’s Egg: Radio Gnome Invisible Part II just to prove him wrong.

Shitbag was a pink sweater wearing parsnip brain.

A Momentary Lapse is a nice “Background” album. It’s not in your face (though One Slip is a little brisk). I managed to do a good 51 minutes of work while it was on.

Music Project – Album #37 -A Radical Recital- Rasputina

A Radical Recital by Rasputina

Sometimes on a musical journey you unearth a treat. On one such foray into the musical world I was fortunate to come across this delightful live set which introduced me to the bands rather unusual works. On first listen I was hooked and listening to it again I’m still filled with warm squishy feelings and squees. Radical Recital is a good starting point for those interested in exploring Rasputina.

If you are unaware of Rasputina, which I suspect quite a few people are, they’re usually a trio of musicians, 2 cellists and a percussionist (onetime Brian from Dresden Dolls) who play a weird Country/goth/rock fusion. It works. I believe the genre is New Weird America. It would be interesting to hear your opinions…..

Music Project – Album #22 – 01011001–Ayreon

000-ayreon-01011001-(advance)-2cd-proof-2008

01011001 by Ayreon

I can’t remember how I first heard about Ayreon. It might be listening to a compilation or something but from the first song that I heard, I just knew that I would like his work.

So I managed to get his back catalogue with this fantastic double album being released at the moment that I began getting Ayreon’s work.

I think that Ayreon, or Arjen Anthony Lucassen, does a bloody good job of uniting various artists such as Floor Jansen, Anneke Van Giersbergen, Bruce Dickinson and Fish under a single project umbrella. Much in the same way as Ivo Russell-Watts did with 4AD and This Mortal Coil. The difference being that Lucassen creates a concept album as the central cusp of the union.

So let us see….changing artists – Check; Concept albums – Check; Bearded and hairy musicians – check; Rock music – Check….so does that make it prog? New prog? In my opinion, yes it does.

01011001 tells the tale of the descent of man into destruction despite alien entities, psychically beaming visions of our destruction into our little heads. It works. It tells a story. With music and catchy tunes.

Music Project – Albums #20 & 21 – 9012 Live: The Solos & 90125- Yes

9012 Live: The Solos – Yes

People that have known me for a while will no doubt agree when I say, as a youth, I was weird. When all my contemporaries were enjoying U2, Deacon Blue, Blur and Shakespear’s Sister; I was deeply entrenched in a puddle of prog. Most notably, Yes and Triumvirat.

As I reached my early teens my desire for music grew. HMV became the Minaret that called me through it’s doors to the music Mecca that was inside. Remember, this was many years before the Internetz and free musicz. You would have to go through the LPs and CDs alphabetically by artist and hope that there would be something new or exciting within your price range. If they didn’t have the album, you could ask them to order it, but they’d probably charge a fortune. Or you could just hope that on the off chance it would somehow miraculously appear in the racks.  

In the day, records were out of my price range and I would use Christmas and Birthdays to boost the contents of my music library by asking grandparents to buy me the albums or by using gift vouchers. One of the albums I got during this time was this. Unfortunately the vinyl got warped somewhere between the printing press and my record player. I didn’t have a receipt. I didn’t have the courage to ask for a refund. Instead I listened to the listenable bits and made do.

This album reminds me of so much about my childhood. Probably because this and the accompanying studio album and video were on repeat

90125 – Yes

I wrote to Jimmy Peado Saville and asked him to fix it for me to sing with Yes because of this album. He was obviously too busy fiddling to Fix anything for me.

90125 is a break from the twiddly weirdness of their earlier stuff. A complete style change from Tormato and Drama. Yet it works. It works well. They even had a new guitarist. Trevor Rabin (Steve Howe had gone to play with Asia). He looked so cool I wanted long hair like his. I wanted to be dark haired so I could have long hair like his. This was new stuff and a new style that would continue to evolve and grow like me. I must have listened to this album a million times as teen and as a twenteen. With the VHS live video to accompany it too. 

Incidentally, this is the album which contains Owner of a Lonely Heart; Yes’ most famous song.

Music Project – Album #19 – 2001: A Space Odyssey – Original Soundtrack

2001: A Space Odyssey – Various Artists (Original Soundtrack)

As a child I thought 2001 was boring. Too much talk. Not enough lasers or explosions. And what was that thing about the huge slabs of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk in space about? And why was Rigsby talking with a Russian accent? But hey! Look at all that cool stuff we’ll have in 2001! Holidays in space, floaty pens and Commodore 64s will have huge red lights and be able to kill you. Wow.

As a twenty something, 2001 became the wall paper for mind experiments. Mostly to do with the weird bits at the end. A chap I knew edited the weird trippy hyperspace sequence at the end into a 3 hour stoner flick complete with far out music. Suffice to say, his place was popular with hippies and tourists of the ether on a Friday night after the pubs had closed.

The soundtrack for 2001 is a mix of familiar classical Strauss waltzes interspersed with more unusual Modernist works by Gyorgy Ligeti. Ligeti, you might recall, is a progenitor of the atmospheric style of music. Eerie chanting choirs (they chant “Eeee” and nothing more) are part of the course with Ligeti and sections of his Requiem provide further feelings of unease and suspense. It’s amazing what music can do isn’t it? Some might think of six minutes of people going “eeeeee” discordantly would be torture, while others listen through the surface and deep below feeling the pulses and rhythms on an almost synesthesic level.

On reflection I seem to recall one of my brothers having the 2001 soundtrack when I was a child. I’m certain my mum insisted that he did not play the album when I was around as it might be too scary. It probably was, but I’m sure the continuous playing during my early years, altered my mind on some level, meaning I can appreciate atmospheric, true industrial, noise and rhythmic genres on a significantly different level.

Or perhaps has given me the ability to spout shite.

Music Project Album #15 – 101 – Depeche Mode

101 – Depeche Mode

Depeche Mode's music incites a strange mix of emotions and feelings. Kind of kinky dirty but also grimey in the same way. I suppose it's because I know some members had a really bad smack habit so often images of Grange Hill's Zammo slumped in a dirty public bog, hypodermic needle in his arm and dirty burnt silver foil in his hand come to mind.

Saying that, some songs especially those off Songs of Faith & Devotion onjour images of Martin Gore and Dave Gahan in bondage gear flagellating each other in some weird S&M orgy involving penguins and matchsticks. Dunno why….it just does.

My first post-childhood exposure to Depeche Mode, as in one where I was starting to become aware of popular music, occurred in 1992 when I was a student at Sheffield Hallam University. It was while supporting my studies working at Halfords I met a strange chap (who smelt of used sleeping bags) whose belief was no Sunday was complete without 7 hours of constant Depeche Mode. I suppose the repetition helped. I even went and bought their albu Songs of Faith and Devotion, the tracks from which became the soundtrack of those days. Mostly because it was the only CD other than Mike Oldfield that I had with me during my stay at Uni. But I'll go into that more in about a year or so…when I get to S.

101 is a live album. As with all good live albums they provide a snap shot of a band's catalogue at the time of going to press. Indeed, I find live albums a good way of determining whether or not I'll like a band. With some exceptions. But we'll get to that in a few months time.

Recorded in 1989 at the Pasadena Rose Bowl,101 is a good collection of Mode favorites. Most importantly it has an accompanying live concert video which I saw back in the mid nineties. I recall seeing it when at Ginger Chris' house. Everyone was smashed out of their heads on their intoxicant of choice and discussions regarding Egyptian spirituality, UFOs and conspiracies were rife. I suppose that situation reinforced the imagery I described earlier in this entry.

Mode, like Abba, are one of those bands who feature on everyone born in the 1960's to 1970's personal life soundtrack. I'm sure there are some younger readers who will also say "Ah but they feature on my life soundtrack too", and that may be the case. Such is the power and distinctive style of Depeche Mode. Indeed, this live set contains some of their earlier more poppie tunes (I maintain the best thing that Depeche Mode ever did was persuade Vince Clarke to leave) such as Just Can’t Get it up enough and People are People

It would be pertinent to expect to see a fair bit of DM during this project.

Music Project Album #12 – 25 Jaar Na “Waterloo” – Abba

25 Jaar Na “Waterloo” by Abba

I am a firm believer that when someone breaks John Lennon’s rose tinted spectacles, historians will realise that the most influential band of the past 50 years was not John, Paul, George and Ringo and was in fact Abba. No. You will fail to convince me otherwise. I won’t hear it. Every record collection of people born in the 1970s should include at least one Abba single or album. Everyone knows an Abba song if not an album. Every family gathering since 1978 has had a cheezy disco with at least one Abba song or melody playing.

Hell, Bjorn and Benny have not stopped with Abba and have continued to exude their musical talent in areas you probably wouldnt believe. Their mix of cleverly crafted lyrics and joyous pop tell dark and sinister stories of unrequited love, collapsing relationships and even underage sex. There is nothing more disconcerting than watching old Aunts cheerfully caterwaul along to an Abba song, blissfully unaware what the true meaning of the lyrics are.

I can see you will need convincing.

Listen to  Take a Chance on Me and tell me that the lyrics are not those of a stalker. Dancing Queen – a story of a leering pervert. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! – the wanton desires of a nymphomaniac. Chiquitita – the story of someone taking advantage of someone in dire romantic straits. The Name of the Game – about prostitution.  Knowing Me, Knowing You – the story of a failed marriage and the fallout of a truly disastrous argument, the consequences of which are self uncertainty and depression further supported by Winner Takes it All which is clearly the vitriolic outburst of the spurned spouse. It’s weird watching people dance, stomp away and sway joyfully at songs with such deep and dark meanings. It’s kind of like watching your gran sing along to Radiohead’s Paranoid Android. Wrong on so many levels.

25 Jaar Na Waterloo (aka 25 Years Since Waterloo) is a compilation album from the Netherlands. I don’t need to tell you what it sounds like as unless you’ve been living in a soundproof booth for the past 40 years you will know Abba. It’s a good mix of Abba favourites, maybe not for all the family, but certainly for those that like them.

Music Project Album #10 – 10cc – 10cc

10cc –  10cc

The following entry has been written by a “special” guest writer – Zoefruitcake.

Stegzy delayed playing 10cc by 10cc as he knew I liked 10cc, and then decided I should be the one to write about it. So tonight he popped it on, we settled down to listen…and I discovered something.

I’ve got a CD called Changing Faces – The very best of 10cc and Godley and Creme. In the distant past I paid someone at work to record it from my cassette tape on to that CD and it has great songs on it like Wall Street Shuffle, Under the thumb (still one of my all time favourite songs) and Dreadlock Holiday. I’ve listened to it for years, and along with watching a BBC 2 showing of 10cc in concert circa 1970-something (which I enjoyed so much when I saw it that I actively wished time travel existed) I thought I was a fan of 10cc.

Tonight I was proved wrong, because 10cc by 10cc is a big pile of steaming horse shit that didn’t talk to me in the slightest. Ok, so it didn’t contain any of the later big hits I enjoy so much, but I expected to enjoy it and feel some connection. Nope. Maybe if I was younger and less tired I would play it a few times to see if it grew on me but I’m confident that unless this was the last album on earth that isn’t going to happen.