Friday, 14 May 2010

Five Albums You Really Should Own (But At Least Four Of Which You Most Likely Won’t)

OK – so this is something I’ve been meaning to post about for a while and by return I would appreciate comments that suggest at least 2-3 albums that you think I’m not likely to own but might enjoy. Some of these bands or artists you will have heard of, others you probably won’t have. They appear in no particular order whatsoever.

No1: “Ukranian John Peel Sessions” by The Wedding Present

Who?
The Wedding Present were 4-5 lads and an occasional girl from Leeds who were mostly famous for their ultra-fast, but not especially brilliant, guitar playing. Singer David Gedge sang in a slightly monotone about life, love and failed relationships often with a sense of bleak humour

Quite how four lads from Leeds came to allow the one Ukranian member of the band to persuade them to record a series of sessions with (legendary UK DJ and radio presenter) John Peel is something of a mystery, but the end result is a rather odd, but engaging series of tracks that gets better with every listen. Fast, energetic and with a reckless sense of abandonment the album does require several listens before you really “get” it but after a few months you will find yourself wondering how you ever lived without it and why it isn’t longer

Where Can I Get This Album?
Well, that’s the tricky bit. You may still be able to order the vinyl at Amazon but it’s very expensive. The other option is to visit http://www.scopitones.co.uk/

The album will show as unavailable, but if you send them an email you will get a response in about 3 weeks saying “sorry for the delay, I had to pop to the warehouse to get a copy” – you will then be able to buy it from the site. It’s worth the price of admission just for the experience!

What Else Did They Do That’s Worth Having?
Debut album “George Best” is more their usual style and I love it – containing the much quoted “Shatner” amongst others

No2: “Foot Of The Mountain” by A-ha

Who?
Former teen-sensations from Norway the band comprised the increasingly complicatedly named Morten Harket (vocals), Pal Waktar-Savoy (guitars) and Magne Fulholmen (Keyboads)

In a year when all the bands that I liked back in the 80s were bringing out rather disappointing albums (Morrissey, Peter Gabriel, Pet Shop Boys, U2, Bruce Springsteen – you are all guilty of this) A-ha produced a tour-de-force that harked back to their synth-pop days without sounding dated. It soared where it should soar and left you wanting much more. Perhaps sensibly the band have now decided to disband and finish on a high note

What Else Did They Do That’s Worth Having?
“Soundrel Days”, released at the height of their fame is a surprisingly dark album with a recurring theme of crime and punishment and the genius of "I've Been Losing You", and the album“East Of The Sun, West Of The Moon” released just after they were famous but one of the finest in my collection

No3 “Vespertine” by Bjork

Who?
Darling of the US in the mid-90s, called a genius by some and a nutter by others Bjork Godmundsdottr is the musical equivalent of Marmite – you either love her or you hate her.

For me it’s that mix of innocence and raw passion in her voice that does it every time, even when she’s singing about eating limousines (as she did with her band The Sugarcubes) or doing an entire album of throat-singing (OK, so that was a bit hard going even for me)

Vespertine is an album that you put on and it just transports you to a really chilled out place and remains one of her most focussed albums

What Else Did They Do That’s Worth Having?
A good starter for people unfamiliar with her Icelandic weirdness is her first solo album “Debut” which is the most commercial of the lot – but I warn you now that anyone who disses the song “Coldsweat” by The Sugarcubes does so at their own risk – it remains one of my all time favourite tunes (look it up on youtube for the slightly disturbing video)

No4 “Half These Songs Are About You” by Nizlopi

Who?
Cut back in time about 4 years and to the year when Shane Ward (who??) won The X Factor. Just one week before his song was released for Christmas an entirely independent band from Leamington Spa sneaked into the number one slot with “The JCB Song” Comprising of just two members, a singer/guitarist and double bass player/human beatbox (yeah, I know) their debut album was a surprisingly good and solid effort of songs that were simple and uplifting

What Else Did They Do That’s Worth Having?
Nizlopi only produced one other album and an EP – neither of which I have, so cannot comment on

No5 “Little Creatures” by Talking Heads

Who?
70s/80s student Icons David Byrne (vocals and guitar), Tina Weymouth (bass), Jerry Harrison (guitar) and Chris Frantz (drums) started out from the punk movement, ventured into funk and veered sharply around the corners of country music

Three albums before their split they produced the most perfect album in the world ever (ruined only by a pointless remix chucked onto the end of the CD version) – I mean how can you go wrong when you have an album cover painted by someone who gets his pictures from God? (or so he claims)

Talking Heads remain one of my favourite all time bands (if not THE favourite) and “Little Creatures” just shows how damn good they were from start to end. If you do not own this album then your world is incomplete

What Else Did They Do That’s Worth Having?
The only album I’m not keen of by them is “Remain In Light”, but anything from “Speaking In Tongues” onwards is pretty damn good – a good place to start is with “Stop Making Sense” – and you can now get the full film soundtrack on CD so there really is no excuse. Again watch out for "(Nothing But) Flowers" on their final album "Naked" - insult that one and I'll be round your house with a baseball bat

6 comments:

Argent said...

I enjoyed the Wedding Present album the other day, it was suitably bonkers and fun I thought - and different, which is always a goodie. I have a lot of respect Bjork and Mr byrne but don't know their work all that well. The A-Ha thing sounds very interesting and I have the Nizlopi albumen myself and agree that it's excellent. One albumnen that I love but nobody else seems to own is The Prince of the Deep Water by the Blessing - William Topley the lead vocalist has a voice to die for and the songs contain some potent imagery. Mr Topley is still about I think (Youtube may comfirm this). Muchly enjoyed this post.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

argent - people often underestimate a-ha because of their initial teeny-bop image, but they are much better than people give them credit for - especially Morten Harket who has a great voice if really odd personality.

Should have mentioned "Headlines & Deadlines" the greatest hits collection you can get for about £4 (much better than the more recent best-of)

I think you've mentioned Mr Topley to me before - thanks for the comment

the watercats said...

hhhmmmmm....... bjork. agreed.. talking heads.. agreed... after that is dodgy ground for me :-D

Lydia said...

Don't know any of them but Bjork. Pretty amazing list to look into further!

Terry Von Pants said...

You can hardly go wrong with any Wedding Present album, but I do think the Ukranian one is criminally underrated. So much festive energy to it, and good drinking music.

The Clandestine Samurai said...

What? Didn't A-Ha do "Take On Me", the video where they were drawings and had to escape into real life? I like Bjork, and I just downloaded a song by the Talking Heads called "Road To Nowhere" because I wanted to write a rhyme to the track.