Sunday, February 28, 2010

February - Wrapup


Well that one just whizzed by - anybody would think there were less days to do everything this month.  Oh, wait...

So I guess we mostly discovered whose musical bones are broken - or who we're tone deaf for, which in my case is Radiohead, and in my husband's case is Madonna.  But the reviews keep coming and we're exposing ourselves to a whole bunch of stuff we ordinarily wouldn't be listening to.

This month I most enjoyed discovering The Grifters.  And as I have the next week off from work, I'm looking forward to revamping my gym-workout list to include some of the new music I've discovered and the songs I've rediscovered.  I'm also heading off to purchase Florence & The Machine after finally listening to some samples, and confirming to myself I can in fact still decide what music I like just by reading a review.  Age-based self-doubt, begone!

I guess what I might ask from some of you who are reading is - given you've taken note of what we own and what we like, do you any suggestions for us?  Who do you think we might enjoy getting down to?


February gave us the broken bone dilemma.  As Mine has mentioned, we both discovered which of our musical bones are useless beyond repair.  But isn't this again a perfect example of just how our individuality shines when it comes to any form of art?

I had a moment when the pointy stick came down on Madonna, you better believe it.  But then I remembered Mine also had to go through the same with Radiohead and I felt a little better.  These two artists are probably the most perfect example of the musical distance between Mine and YourZ (truly).  But the beauty of this month, the moments worth savouring are not the distances, but those when we're close.  I was stoked to hit on Aint My Lookout by The Grifters, an old favourite I hadn't listened to for ages.  And it returned the favour Mine gave me last month with Wild Wood by Paul Weller.

In the last Wrapup, we wrote we were giving James Hunter's The Hard Way, to my parents.  Well we're happy to report they really enjoy it, as we thought they would.  In fact, my father, bless his orthopaedic socks, has said if there is anything else like that we want to get rid of, he'd be happy to take it off our hands.  This month, we've decided to give away Billy Bragg's William Bloke to one of our favourite kindred bloggers, Chris at The Small Takeover (see his blog here).  Chris, if you're reading this, send us an email with your address, so we can send you some padded baggy goodness (and we'll also try and contact you direct).

When we started this project, we wanted to do it without the influence of friends or family.  We wanted to make a good start, suss out the problems and sort out exactly how we were going to run this blog without the burden of other opinions.  And believe me, some of our friends and family have very large opinions, so this was important to us.

But the thin veil of anonymity became even thinner this month.  It was lifted rather easily by an ex-girlfriend who, through another blog, discovered our identity.  This has led us to deciding we're going to 'come out', so to speak, and let everyone know we're writing this blog.  I don't know what this will mean but it's exciting.

Finally, I just want to mention two very important individuals who came into our lives this month, bringing with them chaos, mess and so much joy, our world is all the more richer for having them.  Here's to Dusty and Strummer, our wonderful new kittens.

Free CDs - February throwouts


George Michael - Ladies & Gentlemen The Best Of George Michael
Roots Manuva - Awfully Deep, Run Come Save Me and Slime and Reason
Petula Clark - Greatest Hits
Queen - Greatest Hits II, Greatest Hits III, Made in Heaven (we're keeping the others)
Snow Patrol - Final Straw

Also still waiting for a good home from January (please hurry or we may have to put them down)

Come - Near Life Experience, Eleven : Eleven and Don't Ask, Don't Tell
Ben Harper - The Will To Live and Diamonds On the Inside
Lightning Seeds - Sense
Sugar Ray - Floored

To reiterate, we are GIVING these CDs to anyone who wants them.  You don't even have to worry about postage - we'll cover it.  Just send us an email with your details and a little bit about why you want said disc and we'll forward it to you as soon as we can.

The Stax Story


Welcome to the second of our compilation reviews.  The choice of this collection was another no-brainer for both Mine and YourZ (truly).  It is a stunning document of a label whose influence is without doubt.  Just look at their roster: Carla Thomas, The Mar-Keys, Booker T & The MGs, Otis Redding, Albert King, Isaac Hayes and so much more.  I mean, whether you like R&B, soul or blues music, there is no denying the potency of the Stax label.

I have to thank Mine for having the good sense (and taste, of course) to ensure she had this in the collection.  The only problem I have with reviewing it is trying to figure out which disc (there's four of 'em) I most prefer.  What this essentially comes down to for me is familiarity (as it does for most of us).  Tracks such as Green Onions and Groovin' by Booker T & the MG's, Walking The Dog by Rufus Thomas, Soul Man by Sam & Dave and Dock Of The Bay and These Arms Of Mine by Otis Redding all evoke powerful memories from my childhood. 

But there are also some lovely surprises among the tracks too.  I am very familiar with Elvis Costello's version of I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down but had never heard Sam & Dave's version (still prefer Elvis' version more).  And to hear Isaac Hayes sing the disco classic I Never Can Say Goodbye is a treat, as is the original version of Respect Yourself by The Staple Singers.

I've only really touched on some the gems contained on The Stax Story.  There are so many more (anything touched by Booker T, for instance or some of the other tracks by Sam & Dave or Otis Redding).  If you like this music, you may well already have this collection or, at the very least, some of the artists featured here..  If you don't know this music, you couldn't do much better than this as a starter kit for your learning pleasure.  Either way, you gotta have soul, man.



I was introduced to the idea of this kind of compilation back in the 80s, with the Atlantic Rhythm & Blues collection.  Back then I was poorly paid (some things never change) and couldn't afford the whole thing so I bought Volume Six.  And I'd love to hear it again, but it's currently languishing with the rest of the vinyl, unplayable.  (Do you begin to see a pattern here?) (YourZ sez: lets put it on the to-do list, huh?)

So when the Stax Story became available, at a more reasonable four-volume set, I snapped it up.  And it's been a regular on my CD player ever since, with great tunes I never knew had originals (What A Man), plus old favourites like Green Onions.  I must admit I don't play the Blues album as much as the rest, but then my general meh-ness toward the blues has already been well documented on these pages.  I defy anybody with an ounce of soul in their system not to groove along with the Hits, Finger-snappin' and Live albums in the set.

Now I yearn for the Atlantic recordings to again be mine... I'm really looking at bidding on a decent turntable in good condition on eBay.

VERDICT:TURN IT UP (get on down)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Robbie Williams - Greatest Hits


It's a gift!  And I think YourZ is a little pissed I don't play this more.  But there's a good reason for that.  I forgot I had it.  And now the chat is out of the sac, watch out!

Actually I love Robbie.  My sister-in-law is deeply fond of him, telling me "He's a bad boy and should be sent to my room".  He's a bit of a looker, there's no denying it.  But mainly I recommend this album be sent out to every music school and put on the syllabus as "Pop Song 101".   Williams and his songwriting mentor Guy Chambers turn out effortless pop, made less-than sweet by the lovely sardonic note that infuses everything Robbie sings.  They split up, didn't they?  Shame.

His best-ever song is Let Me Entertain You, which perfectly describes him - he's an entertainer.  But unlike a whole legion of people, I really, really dislike Angels, which I think is pop pap of the highest order.  No, I prefer the wry Robbie in ballads - like when he's singing Strong - You think that I'm strong/ but you're wrong/ you're wrong.

Whatever YourZ actually thinks of this I don't care (YourZ sez: and nor should you).  It's a Forgotten Gem as far as I'm concerned.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP (shake your ass come over here)


Robbie Williams; a few years ago, every lad wanted to be him and every lass wanted their lads to be like him - cheeky, good looking, talented, sexy and, probably, rich.  But his appeal went a lot further than this.  When my mother tells me she thinks this Robbie fella is some kind of wonderful, then you know he's more than just another teeny pop idol.

I'm not a big fan of this kind of pop music, particularly the ballady stuff, but I can sure recognise how good it is, if only from an entertainment point of view.  And Robbie, if anything, is a fucking awesome entertainer.  I remember accidentally seeing some of his performance of old standards and he really did have the audience in the palm of his hand (I'm also sure he got so well laid after that show he probably didn't need sexy time for six months after).

I have a problem with the idea of 'Greatest Hits' collections though, particularly for an artist who hasn't really been around long enough to clock up enough hits to put on such an album.  Some of these songs were hits, sure (see Let Me Entertain You, Kids or Angels), but to call some of the other tracks hits is dubious. However, I also understand it is a great ploy for record companies who want to reinvigorate a favoured artist's career, as this collection certainly did this for Robbie at the time.  At least he didn't go the stage musical route.


For more information: 

Friday, February 26, 2010

Sunscreem - O3


Oh, dear, this is really tragic. 

It is just the sort of techno dance schmaltz that makes me gag.  I never liked it, never got into it and especially never danced to it.  In fact, there is not a single song on this album I recognised.

I can, however, understand why Mine liked it.  Thankfully, her taste has improved greatly since then.  For example, look at who she married.



I had this great story all ready for this about how I saw them live and what happened when I did and then I realised I'm not thinking of Sunscreem at all.  No, I was thinking of Aussie band Def FX - only similar in the fact that they were around at the same time, played a similar kind of heavy duty dance and had a blonde lead singer.  Damn!  That was a good story.  All about how this really fat guy decided to get up next to the lead singer and boogie with her and how she wasn't into it and then he went to do a stage dive and the crowd just parted and he ended up faceplanting on the floor.  Oh well, I've used it anyway - no danger of needing it later because for some reason we don't own any Def FX.  Pity.  (YourZ sez: I supported DefFX years ago - they're nothing like this band.  They were more like early Nine Inch Nails, I think)

So this isn't getting the CD reviewed, sorry.  OK, I  used to wiggle around many dancefloors to Love U More, and their version of Broken English is kinda adequate.  It's a pretty standard 1993-era dance album and will now find a couple of tracks migrate over to my gym workout playlist.  But I'm only likely to put in on to the house CD player if I'm feeling, um, chemically motivated. (ooh, naughty!)


For more information:

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Snow Patrol - Final Straw


YourZ tells me I bought this.  Which frankly amazes me.  And as I don't actually recall handing over cash for the CD, I'm more inclined to believe he means that I brought it home - maybe from a radio station I was working at?  Because I really can't imagine I ever actually liked this.

When I confronted YourZ about it, he commented that they sounded like a "B-grade Coldplay" which was exactly what I was thinking.  And wherever the pointy stick lands, my friends, it aint gonna land on Coldplay, because we don't own any.  And nor should we own any Snow Patrol.

Did I really buy it?  This is gonna keep me awake nights....



Well, I certainly didn't mean to cause Mine to lose sleep.  There is nothing much worse than a tired Mine, let me tell ya (if you don't believe me, I can even show you the scars).

I am a little annoyed she stole my line too.  While Coldplay generally and Chris Martin specifically give me the shits, Snow Patrol don't even interest me enough to annoy me. Having said this, it must be noted that we both like The Reindeer Section, the 30 odd strong Scottish indie super group formed by Snow Patrol leader, Gary Lightbody, and made up from members of Teenage Fanclub, Mogwai, The Vaselines, Belle & Sebastian and Idlewild, to name but a few.  From the outside, it might all appear to be the same but trust me, it is a very different listening experience altogether.

I can't even be bothered arguing with Mine about who added it to our collection.  But I'll be happy to see it go. My final words are ones of caution - misquoting Mr Frank Zappa - don't eat the yellow Snow Patrol.


For more information:

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Roots - Game Theory


Of all the bands my foray into the world of hip hop introduced me to, The Roots are, without a doubt, my most favourite.  (Having said this, I've always been a big fan of both The Beastie Boys and Run DMC). 

This collective includes not only some of the best songwriters and MCs in the business but also some of the best musicians (if you've not seen David Chappelle's Block Party, which feature most of The Roots as the house band, then I highly recommend it as not only is it funny but the music is superb).  Jimmy Fallon picked them to be his house band, a decision I was mighty pissed about when I heard this because it meant The Roots had to cancel a forthcoming tour of Australia and I would have finally got to see them live.

This particular album also has one of my all time favourite songs, Here I Come.  While not as political as some of their other tracks, this one has such an infectious groove, it is hard not to want to try to dance like I'm really fly.  (Incidentally, I'm not).  But then this album is chock full of great songs; Clock With No Hands, In The Music, Long Time, False Media...  In fact, I could name every track on this album because there isn't a dud one.

I think I made a big statement in the recent review of Fun DMC by People Under The Stairs when I said I thought theirs was what real hip hop was about.  But the fact is the articulation, both musically and lyrically, The Roots have accomplished over the years, is what hip hop should be about; relevant, smart, confident and intelligent.  It's unfortunate the genre, for the most part anyway, is everything but this.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP and teach the kids what it really is all about


It's not very cheerful, is it?  Ah relax YourZ - just pulling your leg.  I get it, it's really great hip-hop, actually reminds me of the Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy.  Politically aware, eclectic, well structured.

Hmmm, but when will I actually feel like listening to it?  Maybe if I'm bored with my pop sensibilities and want something a bit meatier.  The problem with that is my job.  REVEAL: I'm a journalist and spend my days dealing with the hard realities of politics, crime, natural disasters et al.  Is it any wonder I feel like some Kylie in the car on the way home?

VERDICT:TURN IT DOWN (but I'll play it when I'm on holidays, honestly)

For more information:

In our collection, we also have: Rising Down, Phrenology  and  The Tipping Point

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Queen - Greatest Hits II


In our collection, there's a disturbing amount of Queen.  And there's a reason for this.  In my previous incarnation as a creator of radio programming, I once put together a series of vignettes for the Queen's Birthday holiday here in Australia.  This involved sections of interviews with the various members of Queen plus other celebrities, all taking about Queen songs, to be played in front of a Queen song.  And in order to do this, I rang up the record company distributing their music, and received - free - their entire back catalogue of greatest hits.

So it's not entirely strange that the pointy stick hit on Queen.  What is strange is that I've kept all of this.  Especially this one, which has only a few songs to recommend it.  I really disturbed myself by singing along to I Want It All  and I Want To Break Free - but I've always loved Radio Ga Ga.  Go figure.  Anyhoo, time to keep the songs we like, and dump the rest.  I'm sure there'll be no argument from YourZ.  Although the Live At Wembley CD is pretty good.



There's no mistaking that voice, being one of the most recognisable in the world.  Ah Freddy, I can't help wonder what you'd be singing today

Freddy built his career on his operatic range and grand sweeping gestures, which so suited the stadium rock the rest of Queen built behind him.  They've been part of my life since I first heard Night At The Opera in the late 70s, a favourite album of my best friend at the time.  While I would try to get him to share my love of Status Quo, Deep Purple, Zeppelin, Kiss and Cheap Trick, he would try to do the same with Queen (and Nazareth, if I remember rightly).  But it never really took.

Don't get me wrong, though.  I really like Queen a lot.  I've just never owned any of their albums.  What I have owned, over the years, is a succession of the same edition of Queens Greatest Hits (isn't there an old joke about if you leave a cassette in a glove box long enough it will morph into Queens Greatest Hits?). (Mine says: either Ben Elton or Douglas Adams came up with that, can't remember).  As Mine has pointed out, we have a lot of Queen in the collection.  The bugger is the pointy stick landed on this one, instead of Greatest Hits I, which has what I consider to be their best songs.

Oh yes, this does have Under Pressure, with that bass line (ice ice baby...) and Radio Gaga, which apparently inspired Lady Gaga's name, if you believe the hype.  It also has I Want To Break Free, which caused my friends and I no end of amusement when it first came out not because of the campy video that accompanied it but for the overwhelming presence of Freddy's lisp.  Just picture the scene, if you will, of the rest of Queen sitting around in the studio, trying not to laugh as he sings 'I want to bwake fwee, I want to bwake fwee...' and see if you don't laugh too.  Puerile, I know, but I've never said I wasn't.

Anyway, I agree with Mine on this one.  I don't recognise most of the songs on this collection and there's far too much bad 80s reverb on the drums of most of these tracks for my liking.  Let's get rid of the chaff and keep the wheat.


For more information:

In our collection we also have: Greatest Hits, Greatest Hits III, Made in Heaven and Live At Wembley '86

Monday, February 22, 2010

People Under the Stairs - Fun DMC


I've got a lot of time for this band.  Theirs is the kind of hip hop I've always liked, where you know they've searched high and low for a rare groove they can sample and build a track around.  It's the sort of hip hop I've never had the chance to make, which is probably why I enjoy this so much more.

The other thing I like about this duo is their overwhelming sense of fun.  It is a bling-less, gangster-less world where the groove and the flow are more important than the car they drive or how many girls they have waiting out back.  And given this album's title, there's no doubting their intentions.

Coming together in Los Angeles in 1997 and bonding over a shared love of rare grooves and old school techniques, P.U.T.S have carved out a niche career in a genre full of try-hards and wanna-bes.  Well known around the world for their live performances and their sense of humour, they continue to capitalise and gain fans in an often-fickle market place.

Fun DMC continues their well-trod formula of their previous half dozen releases - fat grooves, distinct flow and lotsa fun.  This is the way hip hop was always meant to be.  It is also the sort of hip hop Mine doesn't get, as you're about to find out.



Oh, BLECH.  Please please please DO NOT namedrop great funk artists while putting together so-so hip-hop.  You don't even remotely approach Parliament or James Brown, PUTS (oh goody, they sound like Putzes!) so don't mention them.  And what's the deal with all the chat between numbers?  I hate that at live shows and it really doesn't work on an album.

I didn't even care enough about this to look up who these people are and what they're trying to do.  It's low-brow and uninteresting and has the distinction of being the only CD other than Radiohead so far that I actually yelled "SHUT UP" to while it was on. (YourZ sez: if you see a lady in a maroon Seca swearing at her car stereo, avoid at all costs hahahaha...)

VERDICT: THROW IT OUT (the window at high speed)

For more information:

In our collection we also have Stepfather

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Monsters of Folk - Monsters of Folk


The difficulty of buying music for my wonderful husband can be divided into two areas.
  1. He doesn't like being told what music to listen to (as previously mentioned).  I dread hearing the phrase "Well... it's alright" when I've paid my money and made a choice for something I thought would be right up his alley.

  2. He buys it first.  I don't know how many times I've been gazumped by him proudly bearing home a CD I've already earmarked for a gift in the lead-up to Christmas or his birthday.  And I have to smile while mentally swearing loudly.
But in this instance, I was surprised to find he wasn't even considering buying Monsters of Folk, even though the review I'd read of it made it sound like it had YourZ written all over it.  In fact, I even tried to hide the Q magazine the review was in, burying it under a pile of stuff on the kitchen table so he wouldn't take it into his head to give himself a little Christmas magic while shopping for others.
The best part about it is, I love it too! *does little happy dance*  It's another one of those albums that offers a range of different styles, but all well-crafted, tuneful songs that just make you feel happy when you listen to them.  From the kitchen to the living room to the car, this CD fits just about everywhere I/we listen to music.



It's kind of weird but the three albums I've been most impressed by in the last few months have ostensibly been created by super-groups of a sort, these being The Dead Weather, Them Crooked Vultures and this band, Monsters Of Folk.  The first two I actively sought and bought myself.  This one, however, turned up as a Christmas gift from Mine.

I'm usually resistant to anyone else buying me music but Mine, despite her pop-diva delectations, does generally have good taste. (Mine says: high praise indeed...)  But she did better than good in selecting this disc, let me tell you.  It's become a firm favourite when I need a break away from my hard rock yearnings of late.

Featuring Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis from Bright Eyes, Jim James from My Morning Jacket and M Ward from She & Him, MOF have tailored a suite of songs that gets better with every listen, as far as I'm  concerned.

With the exception of Oberst, I'm not familiar with any of the rest of MOF's individual careers.  Of course, I've heard of My Morning Jacket and M. Ward but like a lot of music around at the moment, it all kind of blends into one big mushy mess and I can't be bothered trying to wade through it all to sort out the good from the crap.  I'd rather spend my time actively seeking out music I'm interested in and know will suit my ever-increasing standards.

The opening song, Dear God (sincerely MOF), could confuse the listener, with its trip-hop loops and scratchy beats.  I was really excited when I first heard this track because it led me to think the rest of the album might be similar, which would be something truly different for the players involved.  But it seems as though MOF were merely teasing us, because for the rest of the album, they moved back to their most creatively comfortable territory.  It's here, in their new folk rock/American stylings, where they harmonize, complement and truly shine.

The one thing I've learnt from this is there's still room in my musical palate for new styles.  Also, the mushy mess I spoke of earlier is now a lot less bothersome.  I'm off to listen to some M. Ward and My Morning Jacket.  At least I'll be familiar with the voices.


For more information:

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Massive Attack - Mezzanine


I have a few quirks.  For the most part, you'd have to know me well before I'd reveal them.  But I'm prepared to let you in on one of them now.

And no, it's not some perverted secret love of teen boy bands.

When it comes to music, one of the worst things someone can say to me is "oh, I just know you'll love this band/album/singer".  It just sets my teeth on edge and I go out of my way to either completely ignore said artist or look for inadequacies, no matter how small, so I can put shit on it.  It's like I want to discover it for myself, without anyone else telling me.  I know it probably sounds ridiculous, but aren't most quirks? (Mine says: hence the difficulty in ever daring to buy you music as a present - but I've done it before, and dammit I'll do it again)

Such was the case with Massive Attack. It was years ago when I was a guitarist in a moderately successful indie guitar band and an ex-girlfriend, trying to expand my musical palate a little, used those words about MA's Blue Lines.  She played it all the time, particularly when I was around.  The more she tried to convince me, the more I hated it.  Then we broke up.

It meant I could finally listen to this band without the feeling of someone saying "see, I told you you'd like them".  Massive Attack are without a doubt the best exponents of trip-hop in the world.  The song arrangements and constructs are multi-layered, rich and deep without becoming bogged down in widdly bits.  Mezzanine merely continued to show the rest of the world how it's done proper, like.  Blue Lines will always be my favourite but this album is right up there with it.



While Blue Lines is one of the albums I'd replace instantly should the collection ever vapourise (how? slip into a hole in the space-time continuum?) (YourZ sez: it might slip through a liminal space flaw into some parallel universe and into the hands of a nascent musician who uses it to take over his/her world - yeah, I know, I should stay away from the red lollies, right?)  I also love Mezzanine.  I appreciate trip-hop's not everyone's cup of tea, but I had this album on pre-order before it came out.  I picked it up the day it was released, as I did with its predecessor, Protection.  I love these guys.

That doesn't make for a great review - and I can't even lighten this entry with stories of when I saw them live, as I haven't.  I can say it's another great Sunday-morning-coming-down album (don't the Brits do those well?  Wonder why? tee hee) and it would also make great dinner-party music.

Oh, plus the video for Teardrop is just inspired.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP (close your eyes and drift away)

For more information:

In our collection, we also have: Blue Lines, Protection and 100th Window

Friday, February 19, 2010

Madonna - You Can Dance


Oh yes, you can.  Dance that is.  Whatever anyone may say about Her Madgeness, you can't deny the lady knows how to shake her booty.

While I'm getting somewhat disturbed by the twists and turns her body's taking of late (do you eat, ever?  C'mon, you're only a few years older than me and I'm barely holding it down to a 2-kilo increase per year despite diet and exercise) Madonna has been a large part of my life and I own a whole bunch of her music and I'm never ever going to feel any differently about how I felt when I first saw her writhing on a road in the video for Borderline.

As an album of remixes this succeeds - but of course it was released before her best ever dance song, 1989's Like A Prayer.  Which I've mentioned before, and no doubt will mention again.  I mean, no shit, lots of people agree that's the absolute pinnacle of her danceness.

Anyway, let's get to the album which YourZ will sigh over having to listen (I'm just betting).  Spotlight - meh.  OK.  Holiday - ooooh my my.  Anybody else remember her and those two dudes wiggling on the podium at the Hacienda in 1983, as per UK TV's The Tube?  I used to know how to do that dance.  No, really.  Ahem.  (YourZ sez: ahhh, hahahahaha... no wait, ahhahahahaha... you're killing me, hahahahaha...) Everybody is a pretty bland song and this remix doesn't do it too many favours, but the Nile Rodgers remix of Over and Over isn't too foul.

And then there's Into the Groove.  As featured on Madonna's only great acting role,  Desperately Seeking Susan and that's only because she's just playing herself.  I love that movie, watch it at least once a year, never get sick of it.  Because don't you just know that Rosanna Arquette (Rosanna! oops had a Toto moment) (YourZ sez: oh yeah, thanks VERY MUCH for that, you bugger) is just wrong as a spa-salesman's wife and was born to be with Aidan Quinn?  This is the Shep Pettibone remix and we already know how I feel about his dealings with MadgeWhere's The Party is pretty lame but can we take it for granted how I feel about this CD?  No?  OK then.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP (you can dance... for inspiration)


Alright, you know me well, Mine.  But hey, you're shooting fish in barrel with this one, aren't you?  You think I'm gonna sledge the fuck out it too, don't you?  Oh, and I could.  You know I could.  But you know what? I'm not gonna.  It would be too bloody easy, so I'm not going to give you the satisfaction of saying "I'm right, again", not this time.

I'm simple going to say I don't like it.  Never have, never will.  Your Radiohead bone is as broken as my 80s-disco-diva-dance-crap one.

There, see, not a single sledge in sight. (Mine says: oooh, the restraint.  Amazing.)


For more information:

In our collection, we also have Like A Prayer, Something To Remember, Ray of Light, American Life and Hard Candy

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Paul Kelly - Stolen Apples


I'm really fucking annoyed.  Let me tell you why.

Late last night, I spent a good deal of time reading and researching about Paul Kelly and had started writing this review.  I was really pleased with what I had down and went to bed with the songs from this wonderful album in my head and a satisfied smile on my face, intending to finish it off today.

It was just too good to be true.  When I came back to it this morning, everything I had written was gone.  I can't be arsed going back and trying to rehash it.  You're just gonna have to believe me when I say it was a stunning tribute to one of Australia's most loved troubadours.  He's responsible for writing or co-writing some true Australian classics such as Yothu Yindi's Treaty, and his own To Her Door, Dumb Things and From Little Thing Big Things Grow.

Stolen Apples is his eighteenth studio album and is every bit as relevant a part of his extensive recording career as anything he's previously released.  If there is a voice of contemporary Australian music, then Paul Kelly's is the one.  His muse roams wide as this wide brown land although as I write this, it's been raining heavily all day.  But this is also evocative of Paul Kelly and his many moods.

He knows no bounds either musically or lyrically, whether it's personal country odes to the love of his life (You're 39, You're Beautiful And You're Mine), modern folk songs about Australian legends (The Ballad Of Queenie And Rover) or fictional studies of despicable characters (God Told Me To), Kelly proves once more why he's one of the greatest.



Paul Kelly has the honour of being the first artist I ever bought unheard, purely at the recommendation of a music magazine, the now-defunct and curiously named weekly tabloid RAM.  And my experience of Post in 1985 was so overwhelming, he's been a firm favourite ever since.  On that album he chronicled his moves - from his place of birth in Adelaide and then from Melbourne to Sydney in From St Kilda to Kings Cross, together with his experiences with heroin when he got to the Big Smoke - Incident on South Dowling.

Because Kelly tells his life like it is - and he tells other people's lives, and he makes up stories.  I love him because he does best when he's telling you a story.  Even non-Australians may have experienced his craft, with his version of a Raymond Carver story - So Much Water So Close To Home - becoming part of the soundtrack to the award-winning Australian movie Jindabyne, based on the same story.

Any movie set in the sunburnt country would be the better for featuring his iconic, laconic Aussie drawl.  He's as Australian as a kookaburra, and just as delightful.   In his many incarnations, with the Dots and the Messengers and the Coloured Girls, Kelly's songs paint a picture of the Australian experience I would encourage anyone planning to visit to experience before getting on a plane.  They'd be just as good as a travel guide, and far more enjoyable.

*sigh* This also means we gotta buy Post and Gossip at least on CD, huh YourZ?  They're languishing on vinyl right now, and I miss them! (YourZ sez: I'll add 'em to the list, honey buns...)


For more information:
Or for a listen to some of Australia's finest artists playing the great man's songs in a tribute concert:
In our collection, we also have Songs From The South, and So Much Water So Close To Home

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Grifters - Ain't My Lookout


What a surprise - I actually liked it!

I've never even heard of this band, and they've now disappeared into that special ether that's reserved for "weren't you in the...?" indie bands.  But the tunes are excellent, the mix was unobjectionable, and the instrumental track in particular blew me away.  Positively orchestral in parts.

Um, the singing - not so much.  Not that it's really bad - but there are moments when it's of that deliberately-untuneful-indie-band style that initially led me to suppose I'd hate this CD.  But the tunes are so delightful, it's possible to allow those flat notes to just drift past, like an oil splodge on the surface of an otherwise picture-perfect lake.



The Grifters' Aint My Lookout was another one of those discs I was asked to review and ended up keeping because I loved it.  It was 1996 - I'd quit my job in the public service, took a hefty redundancy package and moved from Canberra to inner-city Sydney hoping to become a rock star.  

I immediately started working for a street press publication as a feature writer and live/ CD reviewer.  I was seeing lots of fresh, interesting and exciting acts and copping a lot of great free music.  I was into all things indie and noisy and lofi.  To give you an idea, I was listening to (among other things) a lot of Pavement, Sebadoh, Superchunk, Archers Of Loaf and other bands I've long forgotten.  

Listening to this disc after quite a number of years, I still feel a tingle of delight hearing songs like Boho/AltParting Shot, Covered In Flies and Day Shift.  There's also something distinctly Bowie-esque about them (just listen to Last Man Alive or Give Yourself To Me).  There's absolutely no doubting his influence.  Of course, The Grifters are now long gone, more's the shame.  I'm sure there are a bunch of indie kids out there now who would take to them like a duck to water.

I'm almost sure Mine probably won't like this but then I thought she'd vomit when she heard Pavement so I'm fully prepared to be wrong on this one.  (Mine says: tee hee, and you are) I'm glad I still have it to remind me of those times.  And in honour of this, I'm definitely naming it another Forgotten Gem.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere


On another blog I write, I recently named Danger Mouse as my favourite producer of the decade.  Let's recap for the sake of the discussion: he started with the mashing of The Beatles' White Album and Jay Z's Black Album.  Whatever there is left to say about this, there is absolutely no denying its scope and genius. 

Then there's his production for The Gorillaz' Demon Days, undoubtedly a modern classic, The Good The Bad and The Queen's debut and for The Black Keys Attack and Release.  He rescued Beck's flagging career with his production of the under-rated but brilliant Modern Guilt.  He also added his weight to a staggering array of other projects.  His touch was not just golden, it almost guaranteed platinum success.  But it does make me wonder when he's had time to sleep in the last half dozen years or so?

St. Elsewhere came across as a breath of fresh air in pretty tired and hackneyed scene.  Like Katalyst, Gnarls Barkley paved their own way, relying on both fresh sounds and updates of old school ideals to bring something altogether new and uniquely their own but somehow also comforting and familiar.  Cee Lo continually hits the mark and astounds with his versatility.  From the gospel-on-steroids of the first track, appropriately called Go-Go Gadget Gospel (don't you just love a good piece of alliteration), the soaring chorus of Crazy, the loyal interpretation of Gone Daddy Gone, the pumping rhythm of Smiley Faces, the authentic modern soul of Online and so on, Danger Mouse pulls out all stops and Cee Lo meets it all head on.

I don't doubt Danger Mouse is going to continue to push himself and those he works with to achieve bigger, better and grander musical masterpieces, but as a standalone work, St. Elsewhere is a shimmering success and a constant delight.  Now, why don't we have The Odd Couple?



Okay, YourZ has said it all here - hail, hail Danger Mouse.

And I love this album with its high-class bop and classy lyrics.  But it's one of the slow songs that makes it really stand out for me.  I understand why YourZ hasn't name-checked Just A Thought - we've discussed together many times the fact he doesn't really understand depression (YourZ sez: I think I do have an understanding of it - had too many friends suffer it over the years not to have some small understanding) he's never experienced it (lucky bastard).  This song expresses depression perfectly - and the final lines are just exactly how I've felt when I've had my deepest depression and yet have tried to shake it off when around my nearest and dearest.

And so I've tried/ Everything but suicide/ But yes - it's crossed my mind/ But I'm fine

Getting out of that deep "Great Depression" isn't easy, and happens in different ways for different people.  Me, I favour counselling, diet, exercise, avoiding alcohol and drugs.  Others take different routes, and I say - whatever works.

I didn't mean to be all down about Gnarls - this CD has so many great songs on it I'm also wondering why we don't have The Odd Couple.


For more information:

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots


Her name is Yoshimi/ She's a black belt in karate...

If you know the song, I'm betting you're smiling right about now.  Wayne and the Lips gave the most far-out performance (and truly deserving of that term) I've ever seen.  Made even more special after the fact, when I learned that they were sharing a stage with Drew Barrymore in an animal suit (she was dating Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti at the time and they were playing the same festival).

These guys are fun and far-out and happy and sad and just gosh-darn GOOD to listen to.  I know I've mentioned funeral songs before, and I guess Do You Realise? would be a really good one to add to the list. (YourZ sez: yeah, thanks, I'll have that one too, babe)   But I'm trying to keep it short, geez, no-one wants to hang around for hours at a memorial!,

This is definitely on the list of CDs to replace right away if disaster strikes.  It doesn't come out often enough these days and I'm glad the pointy stick made me re-listen.

It's just an illusion caused by the world spinning round



She uses va-a-a-a-aseline...

I thought I'd take a leaf out of Mine's book and start with a Flaming Lips lyric.  Oh sure, this lyric isn't from a song on Yoshimi but it was the first song of theirs I heard and loved, way back in the dim dark early 90s.  I remember is was accompanied by a wigged out, nutso video.  The song epitomised every thing great about DIY and slacker rock of the time.  I absolutely loved it.  But a lot of the world didn't.  In fact, I remember Beavis and Butthead slagging it off good and proper.

Fast forward to 2002 and the release of Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots and all of a sudden, The Flaming Lips found their place in the hot light of international fame.  As Mine mentions, we were blown away when we saw them at a Big Day Out a number of years ago.  They were the last band on the bill, and a perfect way to end a wonderful day of music.  Their blissed out, effects-laden live show was simply wonderful. 

In a lot of ways, I think festivals saved this band from slipping into obscurity as they perfectly suit the communal atmosphere often found there.  That they also definitely enhance any, erm, chemical experiences the audience might be having works very well in their favour.

While every track on the album is a winner for me, I don't quite know how to put into words what I feel about Do You Realise?  Aside from its simple profundity and the beauty of its melody, Wayne Coyne's vocals and lyrics resonate with me like very few artists do (I can count 'em on one hand).  It's a beautiful, melancholic inspired piece and definitely one of the tracks in my Top Ten favourite songs of all time.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP, turn off the lights, turn on the lava lamps and float away on purple clouds of pleasure, man.

For more information:

In our collection we also have At War With the Mystics, Ego Tripping At The Gates Of Hell, The Soft Bulletin and Fight Test

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Fast Crew - Set the Record Straight


My first reaction when the pointy stick touched down on this New Zealand posse's 2004 debut was 'oh, no, here we go' because it's another of those albums I bought when I started doing production for a local hip hop MC.  Fast Crew and my band had a similar line-up and were using much the same techniques to create our beats.

On the first listen through (it had been a while), I thought there were some great catchy tracks highlighting the machine-gun raps of Kid Deft and, despite myself, I was actually enjoying it.  But listening to the album through for a second time, there was no doubt it has dated and on top of this, the synth bass lines just started to aggravate me.  The production is polished, it also comes out sounding fairly bland.  And while I don't doubt his chops, I was struck by the obvious Eminem influence in the Kid's raps. 

Fast Crew lived up to their name, rising up pretty quickly and disappearing just as quick.  I think if they'd made some different choices for singles, as some of the album tracks (such as Don't Speak My Name) are much stronger, they might have lasted longer.  And while the big hit single I Got is a great party track (as is Oops My Bad) and Suburban Streets has a nice summery feel about it, the rest is, well, pretty average.



I was steeling myself for someone shouting at me and it didn't happen.  In fact, I Got is going on the gym workout playlist.  There are a bunch of tracks on there that are really great, although some got a bit same-y.  Whoever told them to open with Set the Record Straight (I know it's the title track)  has rocks in their head (YourZ sez: oh, yeah, I agree completely).  You gotta open with the killer on your debut album, right?

Anyway, these guys are fun, their raps are fast and smart, they're well worth a listen.  This is going to annoy YourZ but when I was listenng to it I thought - this is what he could have done his band if they'd had some more cash for studio time.  They were doing the same thing at the same time, using the same dreamy girl voice to lighten the rap, getting the rapper to sing... all of this, honey, YOU did.  But they got a gold record (OK, in New Zealand, whoopee) and you guys didn't.  What happened?  Did you guys overthink it?  Maybe you should have just marketed yourselves as the Aussie Fast Crew and got while the getting was good...  (YourZ sez: While I could probably point out that we weren't sycophantic or cool enough for the local hip hop community, which is true, I think it was probably more a case of losing a great, committed vocalist and musician and then having all sorts of trouble finding a replacement).


For more information:

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Dead Weather - Horehound


I have to preface my dissing of Jack White by giving you a bit of background.  A few years ago I was employed by a company who made radio programs, and as such I spent a large part of my time in a recording studio.  While we didn't record music as such, it gave me an insight into how music is mixed - and it gave me my own view of how each mix "feels".

As a musician and producer, YourZ understands this somewhat - although he has the disturbing talent of being able to isolate items in a mix and listen to them by themselves (weirdo) (YourZ sez: not weird, just incredibly talented, indelibly relevant, brilliantly handsome etc).  I just listen to the whole thing, and describe the mix according to where I feel it's coming from.  So, listening to Parliament involves a sound that wraps around my hips and wiggles my shoulders.  Most hard rock starts in the guts and involves the neck (they don't call it head-banging for nothing).  Jack White sits right in front of your eyes and says "LOOKATME LOOKATME LOOKATME".

I actually had to come home and put on Elephant to confirm that it's him, not the new combo that's responsible for this.  He pushes the percussion way up in the mix too, so it's like he's hitting that cymbal RIGHT NEXT TO MY EAR. (BTW Jack?  sounds a bit cheesy like that)

I really really wanted to like Horehound as I've not really given the White Stripes a fair go in the past and I've read so much about his love of analogue recording (my kinda guy!)  But listening to this made me wonder if every rock guitarist just wants to make his own Led Zeppelin album.  I'd classify this CD as "intellectual rock" - more of an exercise for those with the time and money to do so.  It's very clever, with an annoying number of time-signature changes (YourZ sez: I think you mean tempo changes as opposed to time changes but then, I am incredibly talented etc...) and some go-to-the-top-of-your-class syncopation.  What it's NOT is a bunch of rock songs, crafted and performed by a group who've worked on them over and over till they can't help but play them right.

I read in a review that the album was recorded in three weeks.  It sounds like it.

Also, the Mosshart-penned song So Far From Your Weapon sounds remarkably like a Michelle Shocked song dating back to the 80's - When I Grow Up.  That bothered me for days till I worked it out.  Ever have that happen to you?  Infuriating, isn't it?



Every generation has its pop stars, its movie stars and its icons, these days even more so, given how incredibly pervasive the cult of celebrity has become.  But true legends, ones who affect multiple generations are far less common.  In contemporary music, names such as Lennon, Bowie, Dylan and Marley, for example, are continually cited as being of such influence.

So if I had a time machine and I took a 50 year leap into the future, which names would future stars be lauding.  It would be fair to say there may be a few artists from the last few decades on the list and, if this is fair to say, then Jack White might well be one of those names.  Given Uncut recently named him Man Of The Decade, I don't have a problem with my speculation. (Mine says: but remember how many music magazines still fawn over Oasis, and we both know how talented THEY are)

But all this Jack White adulation aside, The Dead Weather comprise of three other very fine musicians: Alison Mosshart from The Kills, Dean Fertita from Queens Of The Stoneage and Jack Lawrence from The Raconteurs and The Greenhornes.  In the strictest sense, this is a supergroup as it comprises members of other established acts.  Often times this can be a recipe for something less than ordinary, but in this case, thankfully it proves to be more than the sum of its parts.

White's duties as drummer show yet another amazing weapon in his arsenal of awesomeness while Mosshart's voice, a favourite of mine for a few years now, sounds dirty and sexy and snarly all at the same time.  Coupled with the duel attack of Fertita's guitar and Lawrence's bass, this quartet's take on post-modern blues is simply fabulous.  In another blog, I'd named this album as one of my picks for 2009 and I stand by it.  From the infectious riff at the start of the first track, 60 Feet Tall to the final throes of the final track, Will There Be Enough Water, it never disappoints.


For more information:

Friday, February 12, 2010

Petula Clark - Greatest Hits


Wow, this takes me back.  I remember my mother singing along to a lot of these songs on the radio when I was a little tyke, pushing matchbox cars around the kitchen floor and generally getting under her feet.  There is something vaguely comforting about these tunes, almost like they're lullabys.  In fact, I found myself drifting off while listening to them. 

Oh, wait a minute, maybe this because I also find them pretty bland and boring, the kind of pop schmaltz I've never been interested in hearing.  But the fact that I pretty much knew every song on this disc kind of disturbs me too. 

The other thing disturbing me about this is just how invasive these tunes are as earworms.  Please, let's get rid of it before I turn into Engelbert Humperdinck (I can't believe I knew how to spell his name - scary!)



Alright, apart from Downtown and Don't Sleep in the Subway, this is pretty cheesy.  As I've mentioned before, my childhood soundtrack included a cassette that had Dusty Springfield and Petula back-to-back - the chief reason for buying this CD.

But no more.  Although as with Dusty, I do know all the words, some of the songs haven't travelled that well.  Particularly Colour My World - the tune used to promote a local TV station in my youth and which always makes me feel vaguely 13, spotty and awkward.

I can be reliably relied upon to burst into song while driving when this is on - but I seriously wouldn't play it if anyone else was in the car.


For more information: (OMG she's still performing!)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Luka Bloom - Between The Mountain And The Moon


Forgotten Gem!  I love Luka - that Irish accent just makes me weak at the knees, doesn't it girls? - but I'm so predictable when it comes to what I play of his, whenever I'm tempted to give his CDs a spin.  It's either my first Bloom - The Acoustic Motorbike - or Turf, or his covers collection, Keeper of the Flame.  All of which are delightful in their way, but I've only played this one once or twice. 

And now I have to put all my Luka on the iPod so I can have that supreme relaxing, everything's-going-to-be-alright feel on tap.  Just the thing after a hard day at work, or after a fight with my mother (all too often these days), or when I'm just feeling a bit out of sorts.  Guaranteed to dispel road rage - maybe he should be required listening for courier drivers and taxis, so they don't act like hooligans all over the road.

He's a big fan of the Antipodes, and I've seen him lots and lots of times.  A real showman, I recall one great performance when Sydney threw on one of her big summer storms - thunderbolts and lightning didn't seem to faze him, though he did have to turn the volume up a bit!  Wonder when he's coming again? (YourZ sez: yeah, lets go see him again - I'm keen!)

VERDICT: TURN IT UP (aah, I'm relaxing already!)


One of the first concerts Mine and YourZ (truly) went to as a couple was to see Luka in a solo show.  So keen was Mine to see him, she got online very early and got us seats in the front row.  I can't remember who the supports were because they absolutely paled next to Luka.  He sang and played and told stories like he was playing to a group of friends instead of a few thousand people.  It absolutely blew me away and is still one of the most memorable live performances I've ever seen. (Mine says: remember the girl in the audience who sang Sunny Sailor Boy with him?  Goosebumps!)

Having said this, I now have to admit I don't listen to his recorded material despite the fact we have a number of his discs in our collection.  I've heard The Acoustic Motorbike lots over the years and his album of covers a few times as well (His version of Radiohead's No Surprises is worth the price of the album alone).  But I've not heard Between The Mountain And The Moon before. What a treat it is.  I can't go the whole hog and call it a Forgotten Gem like Mine has done because I didn't know it was in the collection to start with, but it's well deserving of  the title regardless.

The think about Luka I enjoy is his ability to maintain my interest.  I'm not much into this kind of music, generally speaking.  But I happily listened to Between The Mountain... a number of times in a row.  I didn't feel bored or skip through any of the tracks.  His is the music of joy and light and I will just as happily listen to it again soon, along with the others in our collection.  And no, I'm not going soft either.


For more information:

In our collection we also have The Acoustic Motorbike, Keeper Of The Flame, Turf, Salty Heaven and Before Sleep Comes

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Beautiful South - Carry On Up The Charts


Well here's a first.  Despite this being a greatest hits collection, I don't know a single song on it (with the exception of their cover of Everybody's Talkin').  Okay, maybe I'm being a little bit hard on myself, given how much music is in the world.  But I know the name of the band quite well as they were around for nearly 20 years and in all that time, I never heard a single song of theirs I could recall.

On top of this, they were formed by a couple of the guys from The Housemartins, Paul Heaton and Dave Hemingway (another of the Housemartins was Norman Cook, better known to all as Fatboy Slim).

So, where's all this going.  Having listened to this collection, I think that even if I had heard some of their tracks over the years, I probably would have forgotten them almost straight away.  While I appreciate Mine's love of this, it's nice, pretty, safe music that will remain forgettable, as far as I'm concerned.

(Mine says: The LYRICS, dude!  Seriously, do you dismiss something just because it SOUNDS pretty?  I guess you prefer hard edgy rawk that rhymes moon and spoon!) (YourZ sez: I think this is a bit of say 'pot, meet kettle' - its not like Kylie or Abba or Madoona are known for their lyrics, right?) (Mine says: and I'd never object to you dissing Madge et al because they produce disposable pop.  Which this isn't, it contains damn fine lyrics and you're throwing out the baby with the bathwater when you do. hmph)



There's one song on this album that's guaranteed to have me smiling and crying at the same time - and dammit I think I need to add it to my list of funeral songs.  It's Good As Gold - "I want my love, my joy, my laugh, my smile, my needs/ Not in the star signs/ Or the palm that she reads/ I want my sun-drenched, wind-swept Ingrid Bergman kiss/ Not in the next life/ I want it in this/ I want it in this."

Sidebar: in case you're interested, the list of my funeral songs is currently (and in that order): Tender by Blur, Movin' on Up by Primal Scream, and Dancing Queen by Abba.  Anyone else plan their memorial soundtracks?  I've been doing it since I was 16, and past songs have included Total Control by the Motels and Let the Sunshine In from the musical Hair (which I performed in at the tender age of 19 and yes I went nude).  (YourZ sez: now you got me thinking - definitely want Jeff Buckley's version of Hallelujah and something by QOTSA and, erm...)

This is another one of those albums that I have to turn up and SING to.  The songs range from the poetic (I'll Sail This Ship Alone) to the acerbic (A Little Time) to the downright funny (36D).  It's all about the lyrics.  I know this compilation's from fairly early on in their career, and they sold a bunch of records afterwards, but I love this album.  I love the fact that despite blokes wrote the songs, I can find a whole lot to relate to as a woman.  I can understand why they split up after so long together - and I can understand why they've re-formed - because what they do is just so GOOD.

And YourZ, sometime when I'm not around you can play Prettiest Eyes and see why it makes me cry.  "You can't have too many good times, children/ You can't have too many lines/ Take a good look at these crows feet/ Sitting on the prettiest eyes."


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Aztec Camera - Love


It's completely impossible for me to be objective about this album, as it's been a mainstay of my life since I first heard it in 1988.  As I've mentioned before, this period was when I took a deep breath, left my first husband (YourZ sez: I'm glad of this, as bigamy is not a game I wanna play), and moved hundreds of kilometres to start a new life. 

1988 saw me introduced to a whole bunch of new things - like the concept there were people in Australia who weren't particularly excited by the Bicentennial celebrations and were instead protesting Invasion Day.  Like ecstasy - and dance parties - and the realisation I fitted into that world like nothing I'd experienced ever before.

But it also introduced me to Roddy Frame and his album Love - that now strikes me as being almost easy-listening.  I'm sure it's one of those acquired-taste things that "you had to be there" for, but I still love the lyrics from Somewhere In My Heart - "From Westwood to Hollywood/ There's one thing that's understood/ Is that you can't buy time/ But you can sell your soul/ And the closest thing to heaven is to rock and roll."

It's a vignette of a time long past and it may have a certain "Eau de Fromage" after all these years.  But I vacillate between wondering if I was ever really that young, and wondering how 20 years can have passed from a moment I recall as clearly as if it were yesterday.



As Mine says, this disc has a high cheese quotient.  To me, this kind of British soul (in this case coming from Scotland) has never been appealing.  Okay, the one possible exception is Paul Weller, but even then, I wasn't a fan of his soul music either.  Besides, Paul is in a completely different league, as far as I'm concerned.

The only song on this disc that sparked any recognition in me is Somewhere In My Heart.  I kind of remember it being on various music shows and the radio when it was released.  But it left absolutely no impression on me whatsoever.  To be honest, the whole sound of this record reminds me of a lot of what was bad about 80s pop music.


Monday, February 8, 2010

The Best Of The Velvet Underground - Words and Music of Lou Reed


I can't remember why I own this collection.  I think I bought it at a time when I was maybe trying to make my then collection look a little more intelligent or  respectable or something.  But it's well worth having, even if only as a reference point for some fine song writing.  Notice I said 'song writing' as opposed to 'singing'.

I don't have much time for vocalists who can't really sing.  I appreciate Lou Reed (and Bob Dylan, for that matter) as brilliant song writers and innovators who charged the scenes they inhabited with such fervid talent, there was no doubt they were going to be stars.  I just wish they could sing properly.

Oh sure, there are some of you (in fact, probably a lot of you) who will think Mine and YourZ (truly) are being particularly picky or maybe even clueless and/or tasteless but at least we're honest.  I was brought up on a diet of some of the greatest pop vocalists the world has ever known and, even as a child, couldn't understand why Bob Dylan rated up there with the rest of them when I thought he couldn't sing to save his life.  The same goes for Lou Reed.   

VERDICT: TURN IT DOWN or, even better, learn to play and sing the songs yourself - they'll probably sound at least as good as Lou Reed's versions


So after I'd listened to the first half of this I came stalking into the house and demanded of YourZ if he knew any women who've made a stellar and respected career out of music despite not being able to sing all that well.  Like Bob Dylan and Lou Reed who spring to mind immediately.  His offerings were Grace Jones, Laurie Anderson and Yoko Ono.  And I'm sorry, but "Computer says NO" for all three, as none have managed the awe and reverence inspired by Mr Zimmerman or the singer on this album.  (Or for part of it, I know, Nico's there too.)  So why is that?  Why can men who have only a passing acquaintance with a tune manage to carve out long and well-respected careers in the music industry, while girls who are the same get to be behind-the-scenes songwriters (Carole Bayer Sager, I'm looking at you even though I really loved that album, played it to death when I was 16.)  Why is that? HUH??????

Listening to the second half of the album, another question popped up ( I originally wrote that as pooped up, snerk).  Why is it I can listen quite happily to Lou Reed (most of the time) but Bob Dylan makes me twitch?  I did have to push the skip button on Lisa Says (which really sounds uncannily like Bob, now I think of it) but all the others just wandered past my ears and into my brain causing no grimacing at all. In fact, there was significant sing-a-long (particularly for Sweet Jane) and a fair bit of turn it up and bop along.

I remember being terribly into Lou as a try-hard intense teenager.  I do have an album on black plastic somewhere and no doubt if I played that I would instantly transport myself into my teen bedroom - burning candles, pop posters etc.  This CD was great to listen to, and I want to make sure I listen to it more often from now on.

By the way, when we began this whole bloggy-thing, YourZ suggested we remove all the 'best-of" albums from the batch we point the stick at.  I firmly voted him down, as this would have removed lots of music.  And to date (YourZ will tell you I love to do the I-told-you-so and I do admit it's a character flaw, but when I'm right, I'm right) (YourZ sez: yeah, yeah, yeah, you're right, I know...) out of the 39 album's we've reviewed - 10 have been best-ofs, including this one.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sublime - Sublime (Deluxe Edition)


Another example of the wide, wide distances that exist in this musical marriage.

Sublime are great at what they did, when they did it, but I find nothing in common with a bunch of SoCal surfer/skater/smoker dudes.  I've listened to this CD all the way through, twice, and occasionally I nod or tap in time.  I can't deny the voice of the late Bradley Nowell is beautiful.  The production's great and there aren't many songs that have me reaching for the skip button.

But it's just not my language they're talking.  I'm a child of the so-called second wave of ska (Specials, Madness, etc) and find this reggae/punk/ska hybrid at the same time vaguely familiar and yet unsettling.  Like all those songs I keep hearing in the gym that remake the good and bad songs of my youth, it's not quite what I was expecting - it doesn't quite deliver what I want.  I'm a Two-Tone girl at heart, really.

VERDICT: TURN IT DOWN (play it while I'm out, hon)


Oh come on...  I honestly though Mine would get why I love this band so much and fall in love with it too.  I mean, it's not a big ask.  Like her, I'm a fan of the second wave of ska as well so I don't understand why she doesn't like it as this has so many damned good ska flavours on it.  I guess there's just no pleasing some people.  And she calls herself a punk.  Hah!  (Okay, I think I've baited her enough.  I do have to sleep next to her and don't fancy waking up with my testicles nailed to the ceiling).  (Mine says: never called myself a punk never ever.  She's a mod She's a mod...) (YourZ sez: I stand corrected; she IS a mod)

Me and Sublime go way back to a time when I was a guitar-playing punk (of a sort) in a band of punks who shall collectively remain nameless (as they are now very respectable sell-outs, the bloody splitters!)  I was introduced to this band via a CD called 40 Ounces To Freedom.  A rambling, somewhat disjointed disc of 20 plus songs, this became the soundtrack for a number of wasted years.  These guys sounded like a cross between NOFX and The Specials, with a little bit of Marley and The Clash thrown in for good measure.  I adored them and wished hard for them to tour the other side of the world so I could see them live.

But the whole thing came crashing down when I heard about the death of Bradley Nowell, from a heroin overdose mere months before the release of this major-label debut.  In a lot of ways, this had a much more profound effect on me than the death of Kurt Cobain some years earlier mainly because I had (and still have) a bigger connection to their music than I ever did to grunge.  And it's telling that this band's style is still a reference point for a lot of newer, lesser bands (yes, Sugar Ray, in your case, much lesser).

I have such an attachment to this album, it's hard for me to pick out favourite tracks as they all pretty much inspire and delight me with every listen.  From the SoCal punk of Paddle Out, the authentic ska of Wrong Way, the cruisy, dubby sound of Caress Me Down, the sheer summery delight of What I Got and the fresh (at the time) hip hop stylings of Doin Time, there's literally something for just about everyone.

RIP Brad, you're still missed.


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In our collection we also have 40 Ounces To Freedom, Robbin' The Hood, Second Hand Smoke and What I Got EP