Saturday, 31 December 2011

December Music Purchases

 As Noddy Holder says, It's Christmas and therefore it's been a busy month for music purchases so here goes.....

Pearl Jam - Live On Ten Legs latest live instalment from Seattle’s finest. Includes them covering P.I.L‘s Public Image.

Smith & Burrows – Funny Looking Angels Can’t decide if this is a Christmas album or a Winter Album I don’t really care, what I know is it is brilliant. A great collaboration.

She and Him – A Very She and Him Christmas Lovely slightly off kilter Christmas album. Full of reworks of classic Christmas tunes.

Tom Waits – Original Album Series Always felt a bit guilty about not knowing enough about Tom Waits, this box set packages his first 5 albums together, Closing Time, The Heart Of Saturday Night, Nighthawks At The Diner, Small Change and Foreign Affairs. Should be able to decide whether I like Mr Waits or not by the time I have listened to them.

Sigur Ros – Agaetis Byrjun & () Final couple of albums to complete my collection, making me realise that pre Takk Sigur Ros might just have been better than post Takk Sigur Ros.

David Sylvian – Sleepwalkers – Alchemy An Index of Possibilities – Darshan (with Robert Fripp) Picking up older Sylvian stuff when it’s cheap and one of his newer albums in preparation of seeing him perform in Manchester next April.

Dakota Suite – The Side of Her Inexhaustible Heart & The Hearts Of Empty 2 recent releases from one of my favourite bands/artists. As always beautiful stuff that makes the heart weep. More people should know this music.

The National – The National filling the final gap in this bands collection sure it will be as good as all the others.

Stiff Little Fingers – Inflammable Material Really important punk album from 1979, reflecting on the troubles in Northern Ireland, songs like, Barbed Wire Love, Wasted Life, Johnny Was and Suspect Device are very honest accounts of life in Northern Ireland in the 70’s. SLF are sadly overlooked when we talk about classic punk bands but for me they were up there with the Pistols and The Clash.

Admiral Fallow – Boots Met My Face Found these guys via Twitter and the ever knowing @aldowonkenowbi I know nothing about them but I like what I hear.

The Leisure Society – Into The Murky Water another recommendation from Aldo, this version of the album comes with an extra CD of the band doing cover versions.

Phillip Selway – Familial finally caught up with debut release from the Radiohead drummer. I was impressed when I saw him support Wilco earlier this year, looking forward to hearing the album.

Laura Marling – A Creature I Don’t Know Latest offering from the girl that can do no wrong at the moment, if it’s anything like the last 2 albums I will like a lot.

Jonathan Wilson – Gentle Spirit One to watch in 2012 this album sounds like California in the 1970’s brought into 2011. Brilliant, hoping to catch him live in 2012.

Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo know nothing about this artist other than all the magazines had it in their top 50 albums 2011 so took a punt on it, he’s hoping it’s as good as the critics say.

The Darkness – Permission To Land Publically lambasted (he called me a twat) on Twitter by #Masterpieces picker @riggerthegeek for saying I could never get past the comedy of this band, I thought I’d give it another go (well it was £1 in Poundland). Suspect I’ll still be a twat after I have listened to it again but maybe I’ll be surprised!.

So there you go I think 170 albums bought this year, and a list of about another 170 I want. See you in 2012.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Christmas Music - The Good The Bad and The Ugly

At the beginning of December I started pulling out the Christmas CD’s from my collection and was a little bit shocked to realise how many I had, if you include the 5 that make up Sufjan Steven’s Songs For Christmas box set I have 24 in total, however I don’t have a single CD that contains, songs by Band Aid, Slade, Wizard and the likes, not that I don’t like these songs, but I can hear them in any number of places in December.

I thought as some of my CD’s are a little abstract I’d write a few comments about each one in case anybody fancied trying something a little bit different for next Christmas.

A Very Special Christmas Volumes 1, 2 & 3.

Volume 1
These are compilation albums raising money for charity made up of various artists covering Christmas classics and some new original festive songs. Volume 1 released in 1987 is the strongest with songs from Bruce Springsteen, U2, Madonna, Bon Jovi amongst the 15 tracks. Highlights for me, Springsteen covering Merry Christmas Baby, John Mellencamp singing I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus and Run DMC Christmas in Hollis and the worst, Madonna’s Santa Baby, Stings Gabriel’s Message and Bon Jovi’s  Back Door Santa, which is all dodgy lyrics about ‘coming once a year’ etc.
Mark 7/10

Volume 2
19 tracks this year (1992) and again it includes some great tracks and some real duds. The collection starts to get a real R ‘n’B feel with Run DMC, Boyz II Men and Tevin Campbell making appearances. Treats for me are Tom Petty & Sinead O’Connor (I Believe in You) and the sublime duet between Bonnie Raitt and Charles Brown (Merry Christmas Baby). The tracks I skip Michael Bolton (White Christmas) Debbie Gibson (Sleigh Ride) and Extreme (Christmas Time Again)

Mark 5/10

Volume 3
The last volume I have although the last time I looked there was another 2 volumes. This was release in 1997 and again the artists reflect the changing times in the musical landscapes, with appearances from Sheryl Crow, The Smashing Pumpkins, No Doubt, and the Christmas All Stars which includes Puff Daddy, Snoop Dogg and Rev Run.
My favourites on this album are Hottie and The Blowfish (The Christmas Song) Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds (Christmas Song) which is responsible for igniting my Dave Matthews obsession, and Jonny Lang (Santa Claus Is Back in Town) and the duffers, Patti Smith’s version of We Three Kings, Enya (Silent Night) and Chris Cornell murdering Ave Maria.

Mark 7/10

Christmas Blues CD’s

I have 3 of these, all compilation 2 released by Blues Labels, Bullseye Blues Christmas and Black Top Records Blues, Mistletoe and Santa’s Little Helper (who appears from the CD cover to be a scantily clad young women in a red Santa’s outfit!) These are good quality blues CD’s mostly offering original blues tunes with a Christmas theme. Tiles include Poor Man’s X-Mas, Lonesome Christmas and Young Girls Drive Me Wild at Christmas!
Marks (both) 6/10

The 3rd album is called Blue Xmas and is entirely instrumental, it has an amazing line- up of artists including Corey Harris, Alvin Youngblood Hart, and Roy Rogers but the album is terrible, classic Christmas tunes with the vocals picked out by solo guitar playing which is just dull and is heading to the charity shop in the New Year.
Mark 1/10

Soul and Gospel Christmas CD’s

A Christmas Gift For You from Phil Spector nothing to say about this Cd other than the greatest Christmas CD ever recorded, if you don’t have it go get it now!

Mark 10/10

James Brown – Funky Christmas better than I remembered this is mostly classic Brown funk workouts with a Christmas theme, it goes on a bit (17 tracks) but if you little James Brown you’ll like this and it gives you a chance to play some funk on Christmas Day.

Mark 6/10

A Christmas Present From Motown Volume 1 A bit hit and miss even though all the classic Motown artists are there, The Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, etc. It’s good but not great and again suffers from being over long, Spector’s Album is 33 minutes long this has 19 tracks and would make a great 10 track album! 

Mark 5/10

The Blind Boys of Alabama – Go tell It on the Mountain classic Christmas tracks supplemented by song great artists, Tom Waits, Michael Franti, Mavis Staples, Aaron Neville and Solomon Burke make this my second must have album. Brilliant from start to finish.

Mark 9/10

The Others

Brian Setzer Orchestra – Boogie Woogie Christmas ex stray Cat now plying his trade with a more traditional rock and roll style, hits us with swing versions of Jingle Bells and Blue Christmas and also has a go at Classical Music (The Nutcracker Suite) but this album promises much and then kind of runs out of ideas.

Mark 5/10

Various Artists – Where Will You be Christmas Day Recordings From 1917-1959
Great if not the most festive of compilations with titles like Christmas In Jail – Ain’t That A Pain, and Christmas Morning The Rum Had Me Yawning gives you an idea of where this album is coming from but a fascinating delve into American music in the early to mid 1900’s.

Mark 5/10

Leon Redbone – Christmas Island worth buying maybe for the duet with Dr John on Frosty the Snowman but very little else jumps out from this album. Redbone has a style like a lounge singer but the album washes over me, another for the charity bag.

Mark 2/10

Mojo’s Festive Fifteen and Blue Christmas 2 good freebie’s from Mojo Magazine, which have enough good tracks for me to keep both of them, highlights Sharon Jones, (Ain’t No Chimneys in the Projects) R.E.M. (Deck the Halls) Ed Harcourt (in The Bleak Mid Winter)

Mark (both) 6/10

Low – Christmas Maybe not one for Christmas Day but an amazing album with Low doing what they do best to classics like Little Drummer Boy and Silent Night whilst writing their own Christmas Classics with Just Like Christmas, Long Way Round The Sea and If You Were Today standing up as brilliant songs that could be played the whole year round. Brilliant.

Mark 10/10

Sufjan Stevens – Songs For Christmas 5 volumes apparently Stevens makes these records every year for his family, drawing the covers and we even get a comic Stevens has drawn for his family. The box set is amazing a mix of Stevens’s originals and classic tracks sprinkled with what Stevens does best. If you like Stevens then get this, if you haven’t heard him before then maybe this is not the Christmas album for you.

Mark 8/10

She & Him – A Very She & Him Christmas Nice take on some classic Christmas songs from the duo that is M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel. A really nice Christmas album and a clever take on Baby its Cold Outside with the gender roles being reversed.

Mark 7/10

Smith & Burrows – Funny Looking Angels More of a winter album rather than a Christmas album but brilliant all the same. Tom Smith (Editors) and Andy Burrows (We Are Scientists) turn their hands to some winter themed songs. This has never been off my player this December it’s stunning and I just hope they continue writing together.

Mark 8/10

Kate Bush – 50 Words For Snow Definitely a winter album and not a Christmas album, to me at times this sounds like the music of Talk Talk and that can’t be a bad thing for me. Snowed In at Wheeler Street a duet with Elton John is worth the price of the album alone in my opinion. It takes a little while to get into this album but it’s worth persevering with.

Mark 7/10

Thursday, 1 December 2011

November Music Purchases

 I quiet month this month as I try and catch up on stuff I haen't listened to but some great stuff all the same.

David Ford - 4.1 and Live in New York City catching up on a couple of releases by the wonderful Mr Ford. This live video is in New York and gives you a feel of how he works a song using a loop and his talents.

Zola Jesus – Stridulum II Recommended by fellow tweeter and music obsessive @substabdardnerd sounds a little bit like Siouxsie and The Banshees and Florence and The Machine. Good record.

The Phoenix Foundation – Buffalo say these guys on Later they are from New Zealand apparently, wherever they are from they make a glorious noise. The album comes with a code to download their second album Pegasus for free. Brilliant!

Ryan Adams – Ashes and Fire A return to form for the talent that is Ryan Adams, Beautiful.

Lanterns On The Lake – Gracious Tide Take Me Home already had a ‘gifted’ copy of this after seeing them live felt I should give the band my money, amazing debut album. Also bought 3 of their earlier EP’s all packaged beautiful my most played album of the  month. Amazing.

Turin Brakes – The Optimist: Live Tour only release celebrating the 10th anniversary of The Optimist album. 

Kate Bush - Fifty Words For Snow Much anticipated album, not as direct as say Hounds of Love but brilliant just the same. 

Ok that's it for this month, next month will have my new Christmas albums and hopefully whatever Santa brings me!

Monday, 31 October 2011

October - Music Purchases

Alabama Shakes – Alabama Shakes EP Discovered via Danny and the Champions of The World this band are very new and very very good. I predict big things for this band, and everybody I have played it to has been amazed.

Grand Drive – Grand Drive bought this thinking it was the one original Grand Drive that I didn’t have, failed it’s a ‘Best of’ compilation very good but I have all the tracks....oh well back to Amazon.

Wilco – The Whole Love Next instalment from Jeff Tweedy and co never a disappointment.

Steven Wilson – Grace For Drowning latest outlet for the talent that is Steven Wilson, whether it’s solo, or with one of his many bands, No-Man, Porcupine Tree, Blackfield or Bass Communion always a pleasure. 

Foster The People – Torches Bought his because of all the hype and the fact that it was £2. Good but feels like this MGMT or Empire in The Sun. Nice but nothing new here.

Peter Gabriel – New Blood Although I have always liked Peter Gabriel but never felt the need to buy an album until last year. I bought Scratch My Back on the back of some great reviews and was blown away. This album is equally as good, orchestral reworks of classic Gabriel songs. Special mention most go to Ana Brun who replaces Kate Bush on Don’t Give Up and is a revaluation.

The Hold Steady – A Positive Rage I love the Hold Steady they fit into that pub rock style band for the masses. This is a live album and DVD package made all the better by the price (£3 I love Fopp Records)

David Sylvian – Brilliant Trees Inspired by obtaining tickets to see Sylvian next year in Manchester, started picking up back catalogue albums.

Mazzy Star – Among My Swan Had a copy of this Fopp Records forded me to buy it....

Deep Purple - Made In Europe and Come Taste The Band Childhood vinyl purchases replaced after many years on CD. Wonder after listening I will remember them so fondly. 

Manic Street Preachers - National Treasures The Complete Singles I already have a greatest hits but all the singles from a band that really are a great singles band was to tempting for me.

Instant People - Tour CD. Supporting Glen Campbell this 5 piece contain 3 of Campbell's siblings. Great 6 track CD. I predict we will hear more from this band.