unknownpleasures1979

 

 

Year: 1979

Genre: Post-punk

Preceded by: An Ideal for Living (EP, 1978)

Followed by: Closer (1980)

Related to: not available yet

 

 

Low. David Bowie wasn’t the happiest person on earth on his eleventh album (January 1977), which was subtly reflected in its title. Ian Curtis must have loved it.

Bowie was recovering from a cocaine addiction in Berlin, while Curtis was recovering from growing up in England during the seventies. Bowie was supported by Brian Eno, who co-wrote the track ‘Warszawa’, the ambitious opening of side two. Curtis met his peers Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner and Terry Mason, who had formed a punk band together. Curtis joined the band as the singer, and they called themselves ‘Warsaw’. From this moment on, Curtis injected the band with lots of personal ‘low’, turning rage into desperateness, or punk into post-punk.

The band made their first appearances as a support act for The Buzzcocks, before reaching its definitive line-up with Stephen Morris replacing Mason on drums during the summer of 1977. Caused by some legal issues with another band, the name of the band was subsequently changed into ‘Joy Division’, after a literary red light district in a nazi camp. As provoking was the main raison d’être for punk bands (after all, the band mentioned above was called ‘Warsaw Pact’), the four enlarged the controversy surrounding them by portraying a Hitler Jugend member on the cover of its first EP, calling it An Ideal for Living (June ’78).

It was Tony Wilson, just after creating his own record label Factory Records, who offered the band a place in the spotlights by letting them perform for the first time on TV, in his own show (Wilson and his relationship with Joy Division was elaborately portrayed in the movies 24 Hour Party People (2002) and Control (2007)). The popularity of the band subsequently grew, and they start the recordings for their first studio album. However, concerns are raised about Ian Curtis, who suffers from his first epileptic episode in December.

The debut album was nonetheless released in the summer of 1979, called Unknown Pleasures. The sales of the album initially were disappointing, but significantly increased after the release of the single ‘Transmission’ (no singles were released from the album). But more important, the combination of Joy Division’s original sound with the working methods of mad genius Martin Hannett resulted in an album that, above all, sounded very new. More than any other did this album describe the atmosphere of desperateness in Northern England during the late seventies. Even on The Smiths’ cynical debut album, you could still hear echoes of Roger McGuinn’s sunny guitar playing, while Unknown Pleasures only offers a low baritone and minimalistic instrumentation.

The album can in fact be divided into two types of songs: tracks (6) with very dark lyrics on which depression is cunningly camouflaged by a dynamic and often uptempo instrumentation, and songs (4) that overtly ask you why you still haven’t killed yourself. Let’s start with the first ones, as the brilliant album opener is one of them! It’s Stephen Morris kicking things of on ‘Disorder’, with an uptempo drum rhythm that survived the band’s punk years. Right on this opening track it becomes clear that this is no place for screaming singers and primitive guitar riffs that are repeated till eternity: the uncontrolled punk rage has been replaced by resigned depression; a feeling exhaled best by no one less than the bass player, the most obscure species among musicians. It’s Peter Hook calling the tune here, condemning guitarist Sumner to complement him. Meanwhile Curtis sings about the pleasures of life, being unknown to him as he’s losing ‘the feeling’.

Also on side 1 is ‘Insight’, an interesting song musically (the general lyrical theme may be clear already, besides, their specific meaning is often open for interpretation). While the drum pattern doesn’t differ much from ‘Disorder’, the bass line would return later in the tremendous (and much better) song ’24 Hours’ on the following album Closer. Moreover, the influence of Hanett is clearly audible here, with vocals that were recorded through a phone line and lots of special sound effects.

The four other songs in the first category are to be found on side 2, back to back from the start. ‘She’s Lost Control’ is the first in line and also the most interesting. Of course it’s one of the band’s best known songs because of the fact that Curtis sings about a girl he once saw while she was suffering from an epileptic attack. But above all, listen to the surprising combination of that simple drumbeat (which I seem to have heard another 843 times in random electronic songs afterwards) with those sharp guitar riffs from Sumner!

Following are ’Shadowplay’ and ‘Wilderness’, with the first being one of the few tracks with a dominating guitar (including a real opening riff).  The second one has another catchy bass riff which creates a moderately relaxed atmosphere that contrasts in an absurd way with the, again, dark lyrics. The penultimate track on the album is ‘Interzone’, by far the most punky track on the album. Not only because of its minimal length (2’15”), but also because of its high pace, which is set by Sumner. Adding the alternating vocals between Hook and Curtis makes this song the odd man out, but therefore not less delightful.

Over to the second category of songs on the album then, starting with track two, ‘Day of the Lords’. While you can pep up any party with the albums’ opener, the second song is well suited to send everybody home in anxiety, thinking about the remains of what once was a person, sitting in the corner of a dark room with a pistol on his bed. No doubt that the synthesizer from the chorus will still chase them down in an occasional dream, while Curtis asks them where it will end. The following song,’Candidate’, only further intensifies this mood. Not just for using some haunted house sounds, but especially because Curtis’ frightening voice is now only supported by a minimal drum and bass section.

Side 1 is closed by ‘New Dawn Fades’, which has a great intro with Hook and Sumner playing in opposite directions. It also contains one of Curtis’ best vocal performances on the album (building up towards a climax in the end), which makes this song one of the highlights on the album. Last but not least, the album is closed in a sinister way with ‘I Remember Nothing’.  This song might give you the idea that Jim Morisson didn’t die after all, that he now has a hypermodern studio (including a large collection of Hannett’s sound effects) at his disposal to make a sequel for his own debut album’s closing track, ‘The End’.

The recordings of Joy Division’s second album, Closer, started early 1980, while Curtis’ epilepsy worsened and also appeared during live performances. In the early morning of May, 18th 1980 Curtis hangs himself, right before the band would undertake its first tour around the US.  The posthumous single ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ was released in June, followed by the album in July. Unlike The Doors, the three remaining members didn’t continue without its original singer, but transformed into New Order.

Unknown Pleasures was one of the best attempts to come up with something new in rock music’s history. The questions remains whether or not the band would have stagnated on this point of breakthrough afterwards (variation never was the band’s greatest trump). Considering this, the short lifespan of Joy Division might have been its blessing, and critics might touch the truth in this way when stating that the band owes his praise because of Curtis’ suicide. However, their two albums remain two of rock’s finest  and deserve your attention. Enjoy.

Top Tracks:

1. Disorder
2. New Dawn Fades
3. She’s Lost Control

1. The Velvet Underground – What Goes On (The Velvet Underground, 1969) thevelvetunderground1969

One of my favorite Velvet-songs, this second track from their (post-Cale) third album. Pretty straight forward, with that awesome pushing Velvet guitar sound. The instrumental combo with the rhythm guitars and Doug Yule’s (replacing Cale) organ could easily be called one of rock’s greatest song climaxes ever.

2. The Cure – The Figurehead (Pornography, 1982) thecure-pornography

Just like Faith from 1981, this fourth album continues the bands practice from its break-through album Seventeen Seconds (1980): explicit melancholy written by the classic line-up Smith-Tolhurst-Gallup. This song in particular resembles The Smiths’ sound, especially the surprisingly melodic guitar riff and of course the desperate lament, but is fortified with that typical repeating drum and bass rhythm. The instrumental parts laid the groundwork for post rock, while Smith himself would rather concentrate on writing some solid pop songs later on.

3. XTC – 1000 Umbrellas (Skylarking, 1986) xtc-skylarking

Andy Partridge signed the end of XTC’s touring history in 1982, as he started to suffer from stage fright. Just like The Beatles did earlier, XTC concentrated on working in the studio from then on and also picked up the idea of making a concept album. Skylarking was supposed to be about growing up, getting older and dying, all in one day. The result was an incredible album filled with orchestration, like the numerous string sections in this song, completely in line with the Paul McCartney Academy of Pop Music.

4. Afghan Whigs – Now You Know (Gentlemen, 1993) afghanwhigs-gentlemen

Typical guitar sound from the nineties, resembling that of their lumberjacket wearing peers from Washington. However, not only did their wardrobe differ, also the lyrics from this Cincinatti band sound much more mature and devoted, even reminding of Dylan sometimes. This is of course their best (and fourth) album, released one year after break-through album Congregation (great cover) and recorded in Memphis.

5. The Beatles – Not a Second Time (With the Beatles, 1963) thebeatles-withthebeatles

Iconic pop album, released in the US as Meet The Beatles. It’s actually a mix of some of the bands’ live covers like ‘You Really Got A Hold On Me’, ‘Please Mister Postman’ and ‘Money’, together with the Fab Four’s first songwriting gems, like McCartney’s ‘All My Loving’. This one is a Lennon song without electric guitar, so no Harrison.

6. Smashing Pumpkins – To Forgive (Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness, 1995) smashingpumpkins-melloncollieandtheinfinitesadness

For me personally one of the biggest rediscoveries last year. Billy Corgan already dominated the Pumpkins on their second album (Siamese Dream (1993), on which he frequently overdubbed the bass and guitar parts with his own stuff), and on this magnificent third (ultimate cocktail of riff & melody) he shined like never before, and never afterwards. The threatening, modest sound of this song would dominate the next album and also returned on Radiohead’s OK Computer .

7. Pavement – Conduit For Sale! (Slanted and Enchanted, 1992) pavement-slantedandenchanted

More nineties, and not complaining. Californian trio that formed in 1989, played till 1999 and saw their status grow each year since. Great record that offers a lot, except pretention.

8. The Raconteurs – Top Yourself (Consolers of the Lonely, 2008) theraconteurs-consolersofthelonely

Second and (for now?) last album of The Raconteurs, written by Brendan Brenson and Jack White, the man who secured the heritage of all preliminary guitar music in the new century. Whatever band this guy played in, it never took long before I liked it.

9. David Bowie – Right (Young Americans, 1975) davidbowie-youngamericans

Bowie leaves his androgen identity behind and freely throws Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder into the blender in a way that makes all other attempts at white soul pale into insignificance. Featuring Carlos Alomar for the first time.

10. The Eagles – Life in the Fast Lane (Hotel California, 1976) HotelCalifornia1976

A dash of funk blew over from the previous song into the guitar playing of Joe Walsh. Classic.

1. Eels – Hospital Food (Electro-Shock Blues, 1998)  eels-electroshockblues

The Beautiful Freak from 1996 had his reasons to sing the blues on this second album, as he lost his mother (lung cancer) and sister (suicide), making him the only remaining member of the family after his father’s death in ’82. Good album (not really comparable to the later and great Blinking Lights), with a cover of Daniel Johnston’s ‘Living Life’ being often played during its supporting tour (an admiration that eventually led to a tribute album in 2004).

2. 13th Floor Elevators – Splash 1 (Now I’m Home) (The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators, 1966)  13thfloorelevators-thepsychedelicsoundsofthe13thfloorelevators

One of my favorite sixties bands, despite (or maybe thanks to) their limited discography. Band that came from Texas, but when the lead single from this album (‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’) reached San Francisco and people there heard about this band that served as an elevator for your consciousness, their fame was made in the Bay Area. The Elevators started performing at the notorious Fillmore with bands like Quicksilver Messenger Service and The Great Society. After the release of their second great album, the band practically split up, despite the release of a third ‘album’ in 1969. Later work that ís worth mentioning: singer Rocky Erickson’s album True Love Cast Out All Evil (2010), a collaboration with Okkervil River.

3. The Smiths – Unhappy Birthday (Strangeways, Here We Come, 1987) smiths-strangewaysherewecome

Final (Marr even left the band before the release) and probably best Smiths album. It’s a classic thoroughbred cooperation between Marr (music) and Morrissey (lyrics), both acting on their top level.

4. Tortoise – Six Pack (Standards, 2001) tortoise-standards

Album that was already shuffled a couple of times before, but that couldn’t convince me. Called post-rock, alternative rock or indie rock, although I personally would never associate any of those genres with Tortoise.

5. Jethro Tull – For a Thousand Mothers (Stand Up, 1969) StandUp1969

From Jethro Tull’s key album, on which this song is the memorable clincher. Ian Anderson must have realised he just created a pretty damn good album and on this track he throws out all his anger towards his parents, who were always doubting his potential. His voice and flute sound more uptempo than anywhere else on the album, finishing it off with a tremendous flute solo.

6. The Mothers of Invention – Concentration Moon (We’re Only in It for the Money, 1968) frankzappaandthemothersofinvention-wereonlyinitforthemoney

‘No Commercial Potential’ was the name of Zappa’s project (‘it’s all one big album’) that produced four of his best albums, with this one perhaps having the most commercial potential. That would have even been higher when the original cover artwork (parodying The BeatlesSgt. Pepper’s and eventually being used as interior artwork) would have been used, but Zappa didn’t get permission from The Fab ‘only in it for the money’ Four’s managers. This is probably still the reason why some Zappa-fans don’t play any Beatles music in their bar.

7. The Byrds – Don’t Doubt Yourself, Babe (Mr. Tabourine Man, 1965) mrtambourineman1965

Of course a lot of Dylan-covers on The Byrds’ deciding breakthrough album, but this song was written by Jackie Deshannon. She supported The Beatles before during their first US ‘In it for the money’ Tour and also wrote some hit singles (like ‘Don’t Turn Your Back on Me’) together with Jimmy Page, before he started Led Zeppelin. Time to discover some more of her own music.

8. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Sweet Hitch-Hiker (Mardi Gras, 1972)  creedenceclearwaterrevival-mardigras

Last track on Creedence’s last album, and maybe one of the best songs they ever made. Or should I say … he ever made? Always an interesting issue, but if one album makes clear that CCR would have been nothing but a very mediocre roadhouse band without John Fogerty’s songwriting, than it’s this one, thanks to its somehow hilarious historical account. The other members of the band would have requested to have additional say in the group’s musical decisions. As a result, Fogerty kind of obliged them to contribute songs equally, resulting in by far the worst Creedence-album, although Fogerty himself shines again with this song and his masterpiece ‘Someday Never Comes’. However, how many classics like this did he make during his solo career…?

9. The Moody Blues – House of Four Doors (In Search of the Lost Chord, 1968) moodyblues-insearchofthelostchord

Hands down one of the best albums ever made, on which the magnum opus (‘Legend of a Mind’) is captured between the two parts of ‘House of Four Doors, separated by John Lodge’s cello (aka the cracking door). The four doors the Moodys open during this first part represent four musical eras in European music: medieval minstrel music (acoustic guitar and flute), Baroque (harpsichord and cello), classical music (piano) and… modern rock music, as the opening of the last door is followed by the epic ‘Legend of a Mind’.

10. Fleet Foxes – Battery Kinzie (Helplessness Blues, 2011) fleetfoxes-helplessnessblues

Already three years old this one, but still played now and then in expectation of that crucial third album. Pecknold’s intentions were to create ‘that kind of cohesive sound’ like on Astral Weeks, ‘with guitar mistakes and without flawless vocals’. Did he succeed? I guess not, but there are a lot of gems out there on this album, like this one for example.

1. The Books – All Our Base Are Belong to Them (Thought for Food, 2002) thebooks-thoughtforfood

Second time this one comes around, from Nick Zammuto and Paul de Jong’s (New York) debut album. Thought for Food is full of unorthodox sounds, combined with acoustic guitars and finished with a variety of samples to wake you up now and then. Any attempt to stick a label on it would be embarrassing, in general: weighed and found wanting.

2. Pink Floyd – Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast (Atom Heart Mother, 1970)  pinkfloyd-atomheartmother

Thirteen minutes long clincher of the album, featuring the trendsetting ‘no band no title’ artwork by Hipgnosis. Just like on Ummagumma, the individual members of the band compiled the second side with their compositions and this one (if it could be labeled as such) was ‘written’ by Nick Mason. You actually hear roadie Alan Styles having his breakfast while digging up sweet memories of breakfasts he had during the rest of his life. The instrumentals can be split up in three parts: ‘Rise and Shine’, ‘Sunny Side Up’ (a laid back part featuring Gilmour’s guitar) and ‘Morning Glory’ (spotlights on Wright’s piano).

3. Led Zeppelin – Rock and Roll (Led Zeppelin IV, 1971) ledzeppelin-ledzeppeliniv

Another stadium mastodont from the seventies, another ‘no band no title’ album cover. The unrivalled drum intro from Bonham originated from the introduction of Little Richard’s ‘Keep a Knockin’ while Page put in a classic rock and roll riff, as the track was the result of a jam session. Featuring founding Rolling Stones member Ian Stewart on piano.

4. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Moonland (Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!, 2008) nickcavethebadseeds-diglazarusdig

Third track from their 14th album, obviously influenced by Cave’s side project Grinderman (considering the rather raw sound, probably the result of the short recording period). That’s about it, as Cave never really captivated me on disc, contrary to live.

5. José Gonzalez – Deadweight on Velveteen (Veneer, 2003) josegonzalez-veneer

Shuffled ‘Hints’ before, which together with today’s track and The Knife-cover ‘Heartbeats’ (a culturally as well es commercially fully exploited song) is a sure highlight on this reasonable debut. Never lured me into getting his second album however.

6. Brian Wilson – They Can’t Take That Away from Me (Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin, 2010) brianwilson-reimaginesgershwin

Incredible happy sound from the master himself on this album full of Gershwin interpretations. Although Gershwin is obviously explicitly present on this record, this composition stands out because of Wilson’s flagrant injection with Beach Boys sound.

7. Sunset Rubdown – Stadiums and Shrines II (Shut Up I Am Dreaming, 2006) sunsetrubdown-shutupiamdreaming

Another prominent representative of the early 2000’s Canadian indie rock scene, just like Apostle of Hustle last time. Not much to add to what was said last time, except that (despite recent releases from Krug’s otherproject Moonface), one can only hope for a fifth Rubdown album ever to be released.

8. The Great Society – Born to Be Burned (How It Was, 1968) thegreatsociety-howitwas

Live recording from Grace Slick’s family band (featuring her former husband Jerry Slick and his brother Darby), released in the aftermath of Airplane’s success. That fame rose after Darby passed Grace his song ‘Somebody to Love’, that became a massive hit on Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow. The setting of this album’s artwork was The Matrix club in San Francisco, where The Great Society played in 1966, as can be heard here.

9. Moody Blues – Evening (Days of Future Passed, 1967) themoodyblues-daysoffuturepassed

Just like the breakfast we had, the evening can also be split in three parts: ‘Intro’, ‘The Sunset’ and ‘Twilight Time’. Outrageously symphonic at its transition point, thanks to The London Festival Orchestra’s contributon, after which it goes up-tempo towards its peak. Great track.

10. The Go! Team – Huddle Formation (Thunder, Lightning, Strike, 2004) thegoteam-thunderlightningstrike

Industrious end of this lovely music hour from this six from Brighton. Maybe another time.

asaucerfulofsecrets1968

 

 

Year: 1968

Genre: Space Rock, Psychedelic Rock

Preceded by: The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967)

Followed by: More (1969)

Related to: not available yet

 

 

Before: a psychedelic rock band fronted by Syd Barett, having released a couple of successful singles and a more than decent debut album. After: an ambitious rock act, featuring David Gilmour and packed with ever growing ambitions. Struggling with exuberance before, turning vinyl into gold afterwards and threatened to end up in its own shadow towards the end. This is a key album, the only album with Barett as well as Gilmour, a personal favorite, but above all: a beautiful Floyd album, merging great melodies with foggy instrumental parts without drowning in its own sound. As if the title could already foresee what would happen during the early seventies, this would remain the best preserved secret of the band.

Although Roger Waters went to the same high school as Syd Barett, and although Gilmour was hanging around in his neighborhood, he laid down the ground works for Pink Floyd together with Nick Mason and Richard Wright after they met (1962) at the school of architecture. Together with three other guys they played in a band named ‘Sigma 6’. As was made clear later, Waters was already not such a great fan of schools back then and he dropped out after one year, just like Mason. Wright apparently just didn’t show any interest at all in architecture and switched to the London College of Music. Not a bad decision at all, as was also made clear later.

The three of them initially kept playing together, till they are joined by Syd Barett (1964) after the departure of some other members. The younger childhood friend from Waters had meanwhile become an art student, fascinated by work from The Beatles, Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan. Barett’s star within the band quickly rises, as singer as well as lead guitarist, and when the band starts to grow towards its definite form, it changes its name to The Pink Floyd Sound in 1965. The Sound is dropped the next year and the four of them start performing in London’s underground clubs, where their long instrumental improvisations (avoiding to repeat themselves with their limited repertoire) were supported by surreal light effects. It was told that this new band played psychedelic music, which was not at all generally appreciated. Luckily for them, 1967 was within reach.

The rock scene turned upside down right from the start of this year by the massive booming of psychedelic bands, and on the very day the Monterey Pop Festival kicks off on the American West Coast, Pink Floyd releases its second (after ‘Arnold Layne’) single: ‘See Emily Play’. The debut album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn follows in August, being successful in their home country. The support tour in the US however is no success at all, due to many practical troubles and the mental downfall of Barett, set in already during the recordings of Piper. Nevertheless, the band would ultimately play at San Francisco’s famous Winterland in November, after Janis Joplin with Big Brother & The Holding Company.

On their return in the UK in December, Barett’s state of mind has further deteriorated and the band decides to add a fifth band member in case Barett can no longer perform properly: David Gilmour. He would initially become the second guitarist while Barett would stay connected with the band as non-performing songwriter, Brian Wilson-style. However, Barett left the band permanently in March and the four of them remained. Lots of material for the second album was already recorded at that point, resulting in A Saucerful of Secrets being the only Floyd-album with Waters, Gilmour, Mason, Wright ánd Barett.

With Barett gone as the bands main songwriter, the time had come for Waters to take things over. As this new Supreme Being he opens the album with ‘Let There Be More Light’. This track immediately draws your attention to the album, with an opening bass riff that originated from ‘Interstellar Overdrive’ but sounds (especially with the adding of  the threatening organ in the background) like an anachronistic piece of techno music from the late sixties. However, when the drums fall in, you know you’re somewhere up high, lost in the cosmos and in the middle of this ultimate space rock song. The lyrics and music reveal that Waters is still inspired by Barett (and, apparently, some concept album by The Beatles; For there revealed in glowing robes – Was Lucy in the sky?) during his early songwriting, while new member Gilmour is also introduced. He takes on the lead vocals during the chorus and more important, he plays his first Floyd solo towards the end of the song, in that characteristic style we would get used to later on.

It’s up to the other new songwriter next, Richard Wright, presenting a song that was an outtake from Piper: ‘Remember a Day’. As we are used from him, the lyrics mainly deal with childhood memories, but because of the albums’ context it feels like we’re looking down from above to witness those young children playing. Might sound mellow or even poppy at first, but as a matter of fact it’s a real showcase for the drums (ironically played by producer Norman Smith instead of Mason on this track), giving this song a haunting groove from the moment they set in. That’s why Wright basically doesn’t need any guitars here, with Gilmour also being absent (Barett would have played acoustic and slide guitar but it’s barely noticeable). Great song.

The third song was the first one that was recorded for the album: ‘Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun’. This is the only Floyd song on which all five members play, although the guitars are quite overruled by drums and organ again. However, there’s only one guy completely defining this song: writer Roger Waters. Of course there’s the awesome bass playing, proving that it’s possible to create an entire song with this instrument as long as the guy who plays it is haughty enough to believe it. But the secret power of this song is without any doubt Water’s threatening whispering, in a style Thom Yorke would later apply to some Radiohead songs.

It’s followed by another Waters song, closing side one: ‘Corporal Clegg’. As the title already might presume, it’s also his first of many song dealing with war (inspired by Waters’ father, who died during World War II). The lyrics tell about this Corporal Clegg, a soldier suffering from shell-shock and losing his leg, while the music drenches the song in sarcasm by using a kazoo (played by Gilmour and once invented by… Thaddeus Von Clegg) in the second part. And in fact, apart from the solo on the opening track, this is the first song on which the guitar really shines.

Side two opens with the title track, a twelve minutes lasting instrumental that was compiled from several separate pieces, composed by Waters, Wright, Gilmour and Mason. According to Waters, it’s the musical translation of a battlefield, including the setup, the actual battle, the view of the dead afterwards and, in the end, the mourning. Again, it are the drums and the piano (+organ) that claim the leading role here. Nick Mason even shows that the drums can perfectly take over the role of the guitar when it comes down to soloing, if this instrument is played brilliantly. Meanwhile, Wright pounds the keys out of his piano with his fists, as can be seen on the legendary Pompeii recording. Some minutes later he switches to his church organ, and creates this mystical atmosphere on a part that might be considered a dress rehearsal for ‘Echoes’. To sum up: listening this song evokes more subterranean imagery than successively watching the entire Indiana Jones collection.

Over to Wright’s second contribution then, lyrically not differing very much from the first one. If one track must be called the least one on this album, it must perhaps be ‘See-Saw’. It sounds kind of peaceful all along and surely can help you falling asleep quietly, and maybe that’s why it was called ‘The Most Boring Song I’ve Ever Heard Bar Two’ on the recording sheet. Throughout the entire song you can ask yourself whether if it’s a charming dream or a sad condolence.

The final secret to discover is ‘Jugband Blues’, the only song out there written and sung by Barett. It was already recorded before Floyd’s trip to the US and Barett must already have known that he would soon (have to) leave the band. The Salvation Army band was added on his insistence, and initially he just wanted them to play whatever they wanted, independent from the rest of the group. Was he maybe inspired by Dylan’s opening track on Blonde on Blonde or is it a little naïve to presume that there still was some memory left at that point? Whatever the answer might be, if there was ever made a song that literally translates somebody’s mental state of mind into music, it must be this one, displaying total schizophrenia between lyrics and instrumentation. That’s why it deserves its spot on this album as a worthy clincher, with Barett seeming to drench his goodbye speech to the group in black humor and irony: I don’t care if the sun don’t shine, I’ll do my loving in the winter.

Altough Barett is represented by only one song on A Saucerful of Secrets, his songwriting still echoed in the first experiments of Waters and Wright. In this way they didn’t break completely with the band’s roots, something that would more or less happen on following albums. This new approach is already announced by the title track, which was a collaboration between the four members who would form the band from now on. That band would exceed their limits in many ways during the following years, but on almost every next album you can find something that points back to A Saucerful of Secrets. Enjoy.

Top Tracks:

1. Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun
2. Remember a Day
3. A Saucerful of Secrets

1. The Lemonheads – Hannah & Gabi (It’s a Shame about Ray, 1992) lemonheads-itsashameaboutray

North-America during the late eighties: many punk influenced high school bands are trying to make their own respectable music which was later called ‘alternative rock’, characterizing the pop climate of that time. Many were as short-lived as their songs and if they were lucky, they left us one good album. Lemonheads (Boston) had theirs with this one and it would never become much better afterwards (with several line-ups). Acoustic and electric guitar dance well together on this track.

2. Apostle of Hustle – Kings & Queens (Folkloric Feel, 2004)  apostleofhustle-folkloricfeel

To the more recent past with another trio, from the flowering Canadian indie rock scene in the beginning of the new century. Apostle of Hustle was founded by Broken Social Scene guitarist Andrew Whiteman, during the recordings of their own album You Forgot It in People. His personal folkloric feel didn’t fit on this album, but thank God he didn’t waste it but threw it on another great record instead.

3. Tindersticks – No More Affairs (Tindersticks (II), 1995) tindersticks-tindersticks2

First single from their second (really) album, which (just like its contemporaries, the self-eponymous debut and Curtains) I used to appreciate a few years ago. Started to repeat themselves at a certain point, although this was well intended in some cases.

4. The Doors – My Wild Love (Waiting for the Sun, 1968)  thedoors-waitingforthesun

Always a tough one to pick the strongest Doors album out of these five gems (disregarding The Soft Parade and the post-Morrison period). The first two (obviously) contain the band’s most original sound, Morrison Hotel probably is the rawest and hardest one, while LA Woman has that legendary gloom around it. But this one might have the best songs, like ‘Not to Touch the Earth’, ‘Spanish Caravan’ and closing song ‘Five to One’. This one is another interesting odd one, with Morrison acting as the high priest of a mendacious cult.

5. Traveling Wilburys – Last Night (Traveling Wilbury’s Vol. 1, 1988) Vol-1_1988

The story of the notorious Wilburys might meanwhile be well known. This track was mainly written by Tom Petty, but especially captivates when Orbison shines during the bridge.

6. The White Stripes – I’m Bound to Pack it up (De Stijl, 2000)  thewhitestripes-destijl

Played the life out of this great (second) album last year. The band tributed it to Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld (an important temporary representative of the homonymous art movement) and Blind Willie McTell, who was honored another time by Jack White more recently, on his last solo album Lazaretto with his interpretation of McTell’s classic ‘Three Women Blues’.

7. Thom Yorke – And It Rained All Night (The Eraser, 2006)  thomyorke-theeraser

Singer of another great band from the 21st century, who also released some solo work afterwards (‘with their blessing’). This was his debut (and only) album, which is as reverting to the recent past (‘The Gloaming’ more specifically on this track) as predicting some later work with his band. However, in the end it’s above all Yorke without the rest, which keeps you hungry for those characteristic Kid A / Amnesiac grooves.

8. Steve Miller Band – While I’m Waiting (Abracadabra, 1982)  stevemillerband-abracadabra

Easy listening closing track from the band’s twelfth album. Not a great lover anymore, although it remains difficult to not sing along with tracks like ‘Keeps me Wondering Why’ and ‘Cool Magic’.

9. Simon & Garfunkel – Homeward Bound (Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, 1966) simongarfunkel-parsleysage

One of Simon’s best known compositions (from their marvelous third album), written in an era when it was no option to post a picture of yourself waiting in a train station, to make clear to other people that you’re actually waiting in a train station. All you could do was, well, wait, and (if you were a genius) write a great song about it.

10. My Morning Jacket – Librarian (Evil Urges, 2008) mymorningjacket-evilurges

Certainly daring, but not the band’s strongest album. This track however can delight me now and then.

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