Shuffle of the week #7

This is an ode to the shuffle. How better to get a good insight in your digitized album collection than by a classic shuffle? Finally discover the albums you never got into, finally throw the ones away you will never get into and worship those classics that never grow old again. The Shuffle of this week:

[singlepic id=91 w=80 h=50 float=left]1.    Arctic Monkeys – When the Sun Goes Down (Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, 2006)
If the shuffle is trying to give hints the past couple of times, than it wants me to start listening to the Arctic Monkeys again for some reason. It’s been a while, but I’m gonna listen to this album the next couple of weeks (update: never underestimate a good debut album, this still is a great one).

2.    Wilco – Poor Places (Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, 2002) [singlepic id=98 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Penultimate track of the album I basically don’t know good enough (update: fan!), while I did  play the life out of their last album (The Whole Love) last year. For me this is one of those rare contemporary bands that keeps improving itself throughout their career and explores new directions.

3.    Arcade Fire – My Body Is A Cage (Neon Bible, 2007) [singlepic id=90 w=80 h=50 float=left]
The shuffle keeps floating through the recent past with the third track from the zeroes in a row. A band that made a great impression with its debut, but of which I actually can’t say whether they continued in the same way. I realize at this actual moment that a lot of recent albums are catching dust in my virtual record cabinet.

4.    Tame Impala – Solitude Is Bliss (Innerspeaker, 2010) [singlepic id=97 w=80 h=50 float=left]
On the other side, new recent albums are still added from time to time. This one for example, from a band that released its second album last year. However, for me personally, this debut album was one of the albums of that year, since I discovered it with a two-year delay thanks to DJ Grinder. At its best when cycling through a sunny city.

5.    Beirut – In the Mausoleum (The Flying Cup Club, 2007) [singlepic id=92 w=80 h=50 float=left]
The shuffle really makes a survey of the past ten years, not missing out this wonderful song from Beirut.

 

6.    Pink Floyd – See Saw (A Saucerful of Secrets, 1968) [singlepic id=95 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Finally we jump into the rich past of music history with this mysterious track from an even more mysterious album. I’m listening to this album some couple of weeks now, and it has really become one of my favorite Floyd albums. It incited me to make a poll about this, so please share your opinion.

7.    Grizzly Bear – Southern Point (Veckatimest, 2009) [singlepic id=93 w=80 h=50 float=left]
And back to our musical overview of the past ten years with this track from the third album of this Brooklyn-based band. It’s the opening track, and also one of the best with some nice instrumental parts.

 

8. Ray Charles – One Mint Julep (single, 1961) [singlepic id=96 w=80 h=50 float=left]
At first I thought Booker T. and the MG’s were kicking in again, but it turned out to be mister Charles. This is the version that finally claimed some fame for this song, in a swinging instrumental way. Original song by Rudy Toombs.

9. Meat Puppets – Violet Eyes (Too High to Die, 1994) [singlepic id=94 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Abrupt transition than when we suddenly land into the grunge of the Meat Puppets. Also the opening track of the album.

 

10. Yim Yames – Long, Long, Long (Tribute To, 2009) [singlepic id=99 w=80 h=50 float=left]
And the shuffle closes in a beautiful way with this cover from Jim James, the lead singer of My Morning Jacket, of this White Album track from George Harrison. This album, which is an entire tribute to this former Beatle, is hardly recommended by yours truly. If you’re not acquainted with it, only imagine this guy singing songs like ‘My Sweet Lord’ en ‘Love You  To’.

“You are your mother’s only son and you’re a desperate one ”: The Smiths (The Smiths)

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Year: 1984

Genre: Alternative Rock, Indie Pop

Preceded by: –

Followed by: Meat Is Murder (1985)

Related to: not available yet

 

 

No history book gives a better insight into the UK of the 1980’s than The Smiths’ self epynomous debut album: a country under the reign of Thatcherism and confronted with dangers like AIDS and crimes like the Moors murders. Besides, the album reintroduced the guitar in a world of synthesizers, laying the groundwork for how music would sound like in the UK of the 1990’s. Like that isn’t enough for an album review.

Thank God The Smiths were there during the mid-eighties, reshaping the musical landcape while standing on the remnants of post-punk, a genre pioneered by bands like Joy Division. The charts were ruled by bands like Culture Club, and there simply wasn’t a way out of this decade yet, it was only 1982! There was only one option left: be an eigties band in the sense of being against it. Call upon this lost generation you see around you and see how many followers you can get. It happened to be a very successful call, as it meant the birth of alternative rock in the UK, more specifically indie pop, which means it principally sticks to melodies. ‘Indie’ basically means they did everything themselves, according to punk’s DIY-strategy: make your own records with your own artwork, release them by yourself and write your own fanzine about it.

To be a little more specific, it was down in Manchester where Steven Patrick Morrissey and Johnny Marr met each other, being both children of Irish immigrants. The first one had already fronted a punk rock band (and would soon drop his first names) and the latter was a guitarist-songwriter. After recruiting Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce as definite band members on bass and drums respectively, Morrisey called them The Smiths, as it was the most ordinary name out there. The recipe for their sound was a great dose of post-punk filled up with sixties rock, a straight outcome of Morrisey’s and Marr’s background. It’s well-known that Morrissey is a huge fan of punkrockers New York Dolls, but also of sixties icons like Dusty Springfield and Marianne Faithfull, while Marr’s jangly guitar sound was obviously influenced by The Byrds‘ Roger McGuinn and (by consequence) George Harrison.

After releasing some singles, the band would come up with their debut album in 1984: The Smiths, featuring the actor Joe Dallesandro on the cover. The album met with a lot of controversy, as a number of songs would deal with the theme of pedophilia, which was always denied by the band. If you give the songs a closer look, the central theme of the album would rather be the loss of innocence instead. Let’s run over them.

It all starts with a short drum intro before Morrissey’s voice kicks in on opening track ‘Reel Around The Fountain’, the longest track on the album. Morrissey sings about losing your innocence with someone who just sees you as a sexual object, while Marr’s Rickenbacher quietly follows on the background. The main character knows this other person just wants sex from him, but his love is too big to refuse another 15 minutes of pure lust. ‘You’ve Got Everything Now’ also has this solid rhythm section, with some really fantastic lyrics. Some people will without any doubt recognize themselves in this story of a guy leaving school feeling he has more talents than his peers, but ending up jobless while these other people have success. But are these people actually happy? Because ‘I’ve seen you smile, but I’ve never really heard you laugh’.

Another favorite of mine is the next one: ‘Miserable Lie’. It all starts off slowly with a some smooth guitar playing and drums, but suddenly explodes when Morrissey lets free all his rage about the lie love often is, when just being an excuse to get in somebody’s pants as fast as possible. In a third section, the vocals become much higher (sounding desperate) and an occasional guitar solo is added. Alltogether, this is an awesome track which still has that raw Joy Division sound, revealing the bands post-punk roots. In case you wondered if Morrissey had any confidence in women left, the fourth track gives you the answer: ‘Pretty Girls Make Graves’. More than any other song on this album, it really idealizes the concept of innocence, guided by a delicous funky bassline and closed by a very melancholic solo riff from Marr.

It seems that this riff continues in a more amplified way on the next track: ‘The Hand That Rocks The Cradle’. This is another song meeting a lot of controversy, which isn’t surprising if you listen to the slightly repulsive lyrics for a first time. Of course it could as well be about just protecting your children, I leave the interpretation to the listener. ‘This Charming Man’ (you got to love Morrissey’s song titles), didn’t appear on the original release, but it did on all other versions that followed. Marr wrote this up-beat song with very catchy guitar riff, while Morrissey added this mysterious story about an encounter with a stranger using a very vulnerable voice.

‘Still Ill’ shows the melodious tandem that Morrisey-Marr certainly was, as vocals and guitar playing are perfectly adjusted to eachother here. The song reaches its peak for me personally on the line ‘If you must go to work tomorrow, well if I were you I wouldnt bother’, which is I believe a clear but subtle rejection of Thatcherism, which ideas were really hated by Morrissey. Another highlight (musically as well as lyrically) then, when ‘Hand in Glove’ starts. Seldomly was loneliness (Morrissey often was lonely and depressed during his adolescence, but this shouldn’t surprise you anymore by now) better portrayed than in this song. But wait a minute, what’s that sound on the background? Oh yes, in a time where even the guitar was almost replaced by synthesizers, an harmonica is suddenly thrown in, completely in Beatles‘ ‘Love Me Do’-style.

Three songs left then, but ‘What Difference Does It Make?’ (although featuring another nice guitar riff) and ‘I Don’t Owe You Anything’ are in my opinion among the least tracks. But the album closes in a beautiful way with ‘Suffer Little Children’. Although the theme is very sad, the Moors murders that took place between 1963 and 1965 near Manchester, it’s another fine example of the chemistry between Morrissey’s voice and Marr’s guitar.

After their debut, The Smiths would release another 3 albums (of which their second, Meat Is Murder, was their only to reach number one in the UK) before breaking up in 1987. Morrissey would pursue a solo career later on, while Marr started other projects with all kind of other atists. The Smiths would (and will) never reunite again, so please enjoy the music they left us.

Top Tracks:
1. Miserable Lie
2. You’ve Got Everything Now
3. Hand In Glove

Shuffle of the week #6

This is an ode to the shuffle. How better to get a good insight in your digitized album collection than by a classic shuffle? Finally discover the albums you never got into, finally throw the ones away you will never get into and worship those classics that never grow old again. The Shuffle of this week:

1.    Tom Waits – Tango Till They’re Sore (Rain Dogs, 1985) [singlepic id=89 w=80 h=50 float=left]
We start in Café Lehmitz near the Hamburg Reeperbahn this week. That’s where the picture on the cover of this album was taken and Tom Waits is playing a dark song behind his piano in the back. If you look well through the smoke, you could see him play.

2.    The Smiths – The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (The Smiths, 1984) [singlepic id=88 w=80 h=50 float=left]
We’re staying in the eighties a little longer, going to the debut of the Smiths one year earlier. This song is characterized by Marr’s dreamy guitar riff and points me to the fact that it’s about time for a review of this album right here.

3.    Andrew Bird – Plasticities (Armchair Apocrypha, 2007) [singlepic id=81 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Listened a lot to The Swimming Hour last summer, but this third post-Bowl of Fire album still remains my favorite Bird. Still have to get the latest album.

 

4.    George Harrison – This Song (Thirty Three & 1/3, 1973) [singlepic id=85 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Cheerful song as there are so many on this sixth solo album from Harrison. Perfect to start a sunny spring day with.

 

5.    Booker T. & The MG’s – Hi Ride (Melting Pot, 1971) [singlepic id=82 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Time to stick around in the seventies now with the album that should have been introduced to me in a Greek van, cruising across the blue ocean. Unfortunately I ended up listening to it while strolling through a rainy city, but it was appreciated nonetheless.

6.    Moody Blues – Legend Of A Mind (In Search of the Lost Chord, 1968) [singlepic id=87 w=80 h=50 float=left]
For me personally hands down the best song from this band, appearing on one of my favorite albums of all time. Needless to say this was a splendid 6’40” for me, thank you shuffle. Comes with a great clip that was recorded in Brussels by the way.

7.    Golden Earring – Bombay (Naked II, 1997) [singlepic id=86 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Dutch glory on this track from the band’s second acoustic live album, released in the aftermath of MTV Unplugged. This track originates from their 1976 studio album Contraband.

 

8.    Guided By Voices – A Big Fan of the Pigpen (Bee Thousand, 1994) [singlepic id=66 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Another one from the album I started listening again after last time. Back then it must have sounded very good.

 

9. The Electric Prunes – You Never Had It Better (Underground, 1967) [singlepic id=83 w=80 h=50 float=left]
CD bonus track from the second album of this typical psychedelic late sixties band. Recommended to Airplane and 13th Floor Elevators fans, who don’t shy away from a little garage.

 

10. Fleetwood Mac – Sunny Side of Heaven (Bare Trees, 1972) [singlepic id=84 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Time to say goodbye with this instrumental from another all time favorite album of yours truly. Pity this is one of the more mediocre moments on the album.

Shuffle of the week #5

This is an ode to the shuffle. How better to get a good insight in your digitized album collection than by a classic shuffle? Finally discover the albums you never got into, finally throw the ones away you will never get into and worship those classics that never grow old again. The Shuffle of this week:

1.    Morrisey – At Least I am Born (Ringleader of the Tormentors, 2006) [singlepic id=75 w=80 h=50 float=left]
The shuffle is majestically opened by the closing track (nice title to conclude an album with) of Moz’ eighth solo album. Last time I spoke about Morrisey I wondered if I would ever get into his solo works. Well, that question is meanwhile answered, since You Are The Quarry stayed on my mp3 for a couple of months. Beautiful album full of fantastic lyrics from the ever cheerful Briton.

2.    Simon and Garfunkel – El Condor Pasa (Bridge over Troubled Water, 1970) [singlepic id=78 w=80 h=50 float=left]
The delightful intro transports me into this song from the last S&G album. From the fantastic album year 1970, although we lost both The Beatles and those guys in that same year. Luckily for us, the music was saved and the solo albums that followed were sweet.

3.    Franz Ferdinand – 40’ (Franz Ferdinand, 2004) [singlepic id=72 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Quite a brutal transition to the guitar driven song from this debut album. I actually kind of forgot how mature this band already sounded at that point. Pity that they didn’t go through with it on their later work.

 

4.    The Who – Cut My Hair (Quadrophenia, 1973) [singlepic id=80 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Track from an album I discovered only a couple of months ago. It didn’t convince me immediately, time to further unravel this riddle.

 

5.    Quicksilver Messenger Service – Where Do You Love (Happy Trails, 1969) [singlepic id=77 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Psychedelic rock with  a piece from the ‘Who Do You Love’ suite. Lot of picking and improvising. Definitely an album that also gets its second chance.

6.    Quicksilver Messenger Service – Light Your Windows (Quicksilver Messenger Service, 1968) [singlepic id=76 w=80 h=50 float=left]
That’s at least what I had in mind, because the shuffle does something extraordinary this time: it switches right away to the previous album of this band, the other one in my collection. Since this one pleased me the most till this moment, it’s this one that gets its second chance first.

 

7.    Genesis – I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) (Selling England by the Pound, 1973) [singlepic id=73 w=80 h=50 float=left]
When the first sounds of this masterpiece blow through the speakers subsequently,  a spontaneous smile appears on my face. It were without any doubt the best four minutes of the day. Me, I’m just a lawnmower, you can tell me by the way I walk. From the best album of all time.

 

8.    Steely Dan – Reelin’ In the Years (Can’t Buy A Thrill, 1972) [singlepic id=7 w=80 h=50 float=left]
The atmosphere of the seventies stays a little longer with this delicious guitar riff, combined with Donald Fagen’s great vocals.

 

9.    Leonard Cohen – Sing Another Song, Boys (Songs of Love and Hate, 1971) [singlepic id=74 w=80 h=50 float=left]
And we’re moving one year back in time again with Leonard Cohen. He’s gonna sing another song and makes it a long one with a sing along outro. So everybody join in before we close this week’s party with…

 

10. Sonic Youth – Master-Dik (Sister, 1987) [singlepic id=79 w=80 h=50 float=left]
… some screaming guitars from the late eighties. This is from the album that precedes the famous Daydream Nation. Apparently it happens to be a CD bonus track that didn’t appear on the original album. This is the last one I’m gonna relisten the next couple of weeks.

Shuffle of the week #4

This is an ode to the shuffle. How better to get a good insight in your digitized album collection than by a classic shuffle? Finally discover the albums you never got into, finally throw the ones away you will never get into and worship those classics that never grow old again. The Shuffle of this week:

1.    Guided By Voices – Echos Myron (Bee Thousand, 1994) [singlepic id=66 w=80 h=50 float=left]
After giving the shuffle some inspiration with The Beatles’ ‘Sexy Sadie’, it exceeds my espectations by finding a Guided By Voices track that lasts longer than 2 and a half minutes. After being recommended this album so many times, the shuffle gives the sign to finally listen to this one thoroughly.

2.    Arctic Monkeys – 505 (Favourite Worst Nightmare, 2007) [singlepic id=31 w=80 h=50 float=left]
It also tries to make clear to me that I have to listen to the Arctic Monkeys more, but this offer I’m going to reject one more time.

 

[singlepic id=70 w=80 h=50 float=left]3.  Tindersticks – My Sister (Tindersticks (II), 1995)
After Lambchop last time, we meet another one from the same genre, a long one this time (8 minutes). This one appeared on their second album, which was a very pleasant sequel to their debut, and features a spoken monologue from Drugstore singer Isabel Monteiro.

4. Beatles – There’s a Place (Please Please Me, 1962) [singlepic id=33 w=80 h=50 float=left]
There’s the Fab Four again, another one from their debut album.

 

5. Johnny Cash – We’ll Meet Again (The Man Comes Around, 2002) [singlepic id=67 w=80 h=50 float=left]
From the Cavern to a dark jazz club, where the old Johnny Cash is performing this Vera Lynn evergreen in the back, wrapped up in smoke. Marvellous album that’s full of beautiful covers of rock classics, including contributed vocals from the original artists. It hardly ever happens that an artist makes such a beautiful album at such an age.

6. Of Montreal – Disconnect the Dots (Satanic Panic in the Attic, 2004) [singlepic id=68 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Directly from the jazz club to the fun-fair then, with the nice and enchanted opening track of this melodious rollercoaster. Neo-psychedelia that sounds like The Beach Boys getting high on 21st century technology.

7. Uncle Tupelo – John  Hardy (No Depression, 1990) [singlepic id=71 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Something completely different: pure alternative country from this epic album. Suppose you’d be a decade, you would be pleased with such an album to kick off things.

 

8. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Keep on Chooglin’ (Live in Europe, 1973) [singlepic id=64 w=80 h=50 float=left]
We continue with some 13 minutes of jamming with these rock veterans, full of some good old improvisation. The live track almost turns into a medley when Fogerty sets in a very threatening version of ‘Pagan Baby’ in the middle of the song.   .

9. Django Reinhardt – Ou est-tu, mon amour? (Djangology 49, 1949) [singlepic id=65 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Small Belgian jazz song about a guy who has lost his Abbey Road album.

 

10. Pink Floyd – Hey You (The Wall, 1979) [singlepic id=69 w=80 h=50 float=left]
Always pleasant to conclude with Pink Floyd, certainly when it’s one of my favorite album tracks, delivered to you with excellent vocals from Gilmour and Waters.

Prog Albums Explained: The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (side 4)

Progressive rock, a genre to love or hate.  It originated in the late sixties thanks to heavy psychedelic rock influences and was pioneered by bands that wanted to go beyond the standard verse-chorus  based song structures.  As a result, often complex instrumental songs were bundled on concept albums with epic pretensions. It’s well possible that you once caught yourself asking what the hell one of these bands was trying to tell you while listening to one of their albums. The answers are provided here, in Prog Albums Explained. All you need  is the album, a comfortable couch and some good headphones.

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Year: 1974

Genre: Progressive Rock

Preceded by: Selling England by the Pound (1973)

Followed by: A Trick of the Tail (1976)

Related to: Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon

 

 

Side 4: (continued from Side 3)

Track 1: The Colony of Slippermen (The Arrrival – A Visit to the Doktor – Raven) + Track 2: Ravine

After an intro full of strange sounds, the propelling keys and drums kick off the closing side, starting with an absolute highlight. After escaping from the snakes, Rael runs into a bunch of mutilated entities called the Slippermen. They tell him that the same thing happened to them with the snakes and that Rael will end up the same way: Don’t be alarmed at what you see, you yourself are just the same as what you see in me. Amongst the creatures Rael recognizes once again his Brother John, who tells him that the life of the Slippermen is devoted to satisfying the never-ending hunger of the senses, which has been inherited from the Lamia.

So we’re getting more and more indications that the criminal activities of Rael have something to do with sexual misbehavior. Certainly when John tells Rael that they’ll have to go to Doktor Dyper to remove the source of the problem, castrating that is. After getting it done, they receive their testicles in a little tube. But the brothers don’t get the time to walk home safely, as a black raven flies by (represented by the haunting synths), stealing Rael’s tube and dropping it in the water below. Rael runs behind it while his brother fears this sign of bad luck, leaving his brother behind once more: Now can’t you see, where the raven flies there’s jeopardy. The track merges into Ravine, an instrumental piece representing the wind across the cliffs of the ravine.

Track 3: The Light Dies Down on Broadway

As the title already presumes, this track shows some similarities with the opening track of the album. But to the contrary of the rest of the album, the lyrics of this track would have been written by Banks and Rutherford and not by Gabriel. However, Rael is searching for his testicles when he suddenly sees a glimpse of reality, as if there was some kind of portal to NYC in one of the cliffs. He sees the streets he’s so familiar with and runs to the way out. But at that point he hears John, screaming for help while he’s drowning in the water below. Rael now has to choose between returning to reality or saving the brother that left him so many times… Hey John!

Track 4: Riding the Scree

So Rael has decided to go after his brother and during this track he’s running along the ravine, chased by the synths. But.. If I want John alive, I’ve got to ditch my fear – take a dive… Here I go!

Track 5: In the Rapids

So Rael’s in the water now, trying to grab his brother. Although the lyrics describe a fairly exciting scene, the track is sung in a very calm way. Rael succeeds to get John out of the water and tries to reanimate him. But then he notices something remarkableSomething’s changed, that’s not your face. It’s mine!

Track 6: “It”

So we arrived at the closing track now, just having discovered that John is actually Rael, in some kind of split personality. As the title of the last track already gives away, it was all the time about ‘it’. It is chicken, it is eggs, it is in between your legs. You should really read the lyrics of this last track yourself, to experience the brilliance of it. And like Peter Gabriel says on the very end of it: If you think it’s pretentious, you’ve been taken for a ride..