Album Reviews: November 2000

Underworld - Everything, everything DVD (JBO)

Last month I reviewed the album of Underworld's latest live release and as I recall had some pretty special things to say. This month I have had the opportunity of viewing this latest release on DVD, the up to the minute format that puts high quality images to a 5.1 Dolby digital soundtrack, and WOW.

Packed with features this DVD does its best at giving the viewer the opportunity to explore all that is available to him/her on this format. Comprising not only 90 minutes of concert footage in montage form from the boy's 1998/99 world tour that crossed continents in pursuit of the ultimate high, but also features 'video art' created by video designers, Tomato. This you can watch in isolation played to the concert soundtrack, (although I see little point, that is unless you have dropped a couple before pressing play), or switch between the two while viewing the concert by aid of the camera angles facility available to some players.

Presented in widescreen and 16:9 anamorphic, the disc also gives you the user, the opportunity to program your own concert in a similar way to that on a programmable CD player. I sat and waited in anticipation as 'Pearls Girl - track 4' played into 'track 7 - Born Slippy' and to great disappointment found that as I had expected the tracks did not move seamlessly into one another. The only way I can see that you might be able to achieve this is to higher the group to come play at your party, first presenting them with your desired playlist, but this option is going to cost you far more than the 15.99 price tag this disk warrants.

The presentation also comprises two bonus tracks played to rather dull black and white images, as well as featuring a DVD-ROM feature that gives you access to internet links and the ability to mix your own vision.

A disc that despite its jaw dropping features and presentation fails to meet the 22nd century head-on and do the impossible and as such only scores - 4.75/5
Nick James

Turn - Antisocial (Infectious)

How I sometimes wish we marked out of ten on these pages, as this is so obviously a seven and a half.. The thing is, Turn know how to bang out a good rock tune - see the single "Too Much Make Up" or track two "Beretta". Then there are great pop tunes such as "Queen Of My Heart" which any self-respecting band would be proud of. Where the album wavers, however, is at points where the Dublin based trio end up sounding a little too much like Ocean Colour Scene. Namely the ballads.

Whilst those tracks come across as maybe a little dull there is enough here to keep any musical purists happy. 3/5 Tone E

Placebo - Black Market Music (Virgin)

The one big problem that Placebo have, like the Smiths before them, is that Brian Molko has such a distinctive voice that to the uneducated ear a lot of the songs will ultimately sound the same.

They encounter no such problems to this particular listener though. This is a beautifully constructed album, from the moment it starts with the fine pop racket that was "Taste In Men" through to the lush curtain closer "Peeping Tom", a track that held me in a trance and made me feel like crying.

Sandwiched in-between you will find songs that have already become live favourites such as "Special K" and no little amount of humour. "Commercial For Levi" contains some of the most amusing lyrics I have heard in quite some time. Not that I can repeat them here - this is after all a family site!
Let the Placebo play on - this is top stuff. 5/5 Tone E

Gorky's Zygotic Mynci - The Blue Trees (Mantra)

Almost classical in its melancholy feel and almost Country and Western in places, this little oddity nevertheless delivers the goods in bucketloads.
It is the last album to feature any kind of contribution from drummer Euros Rowlands, who apparently has left the band to teach art in Swansea! That's some drastic career move.

OK this album's not exactly going to get you up and dancing, save maybe the merry jig a long "Fresher Than The Sweetness In Water", but if you're a fan of lying lazily on the settee whilst some soft music plays in the background then this is definitely for you. 4/5 Tone E

Lolly - Pick 'n' Mix (Polydor)

Hilarious. This really is one of the funniest albums I have ever heard. Young Ms Lolly should seriously consider a career in the comedy industry once the hits start drying up.

One of the funniest tracks you will hear during your brief stay on this earth is the girl here's version of "She Loves You". And a bit later on, yes this is true, a song that you never thought or hoped you would ever have to endure again appears in the guise of "Puppy Love". Yep. That song made infamous by the notorious Donny Osmond.

I almost feel guilty for slating this album. It feels like I'm finding the most backward kid at school and then pushing her over, but what the hell, she makes more money than I do. Overall sick but funny. 1/5 Tone E

Paul Oakenfold - Travelling (Perfecto)

Released under the banner of "Perfecto Presents", this double CD is the first in a series of compilations bringing together the best of what the label has to offer. If you're the boss, of course you have the right to be the first and Paul does this in style on a compilation that documents his last twelve months at the heart of international dance music.

Travelling I can tell you, saw the Oakenfold express take in China, South East Asia, Australasia, Israel and Southern Africa, not to mention his Perfecto's residency at Pacha in Ibiza during the summer this year.

One interesting point to note though, if you're not a DJ and are not in need of up-to-the-minute dance tunes, I couldn't help noticing that this takes in most of Perfecto's catalogue during the last year, so why not save those pennies and buy this instead. But that said, here we see top kraut DJ Timo Mass rub shoulders with Jazzy M, The Utah Saints with Mekka and in turn Jan Johnston, all together a thoroughly exhilarating time can be had by all and Mr Oakenfold's mix is pretty good too. 4/5 Nick James.

Shivaree - I Oughtta Give You A Shot In The Head For Making Me Live In This Dump (Capatol/Odeon)

If I were to pick this album off the shelf in the record store while browsing, I would assume it was a 4AD artist beneath the black and white photography. Needless to say it's not, but the content wouldn't be out of place.

Now get this, Shania Twain meets Portishead on a night when you're breath freezes in the air and gives 'crisp' a whole new meaning. This is Elvis Costello, Nicholas Cage in "Leaving Las Vegas", it's the kind of cinematic that was made for Dennis Hopper, and those vocals sultry, wanting and sexy, this albums filled with so much you'll forever be finding new areas to explore. And get a loada that title! 4/5 Nick James.

Fifth Amendment - Fifth Amendment (One Little Indian)

'En route to a gig in their Post Office van, Alf (bass) allegedly jumped the lights ("It was amber," he protests), colliding with an unsuspecting scooterist. All hell broke loose as both parties denied responsibility.

Alf ever the diplomat tried to cool things down, little realising that he was dealing with Alli (vocals), only daughter of the fiery Macinnes clan. As the argument accelerated, Pix (drums/programming) saw trouble brewing when the wee McInnes took off her helmet and shook her flamming red locks.

Witnesses fled the scene. The house money was on Alli in all four rounds, Neale (guitar/backing vocals) taking refuge in the van, was spellbound - the emotion, the passion, the danger. The voice' Ok so now we've got the introductions out of the way, let me state for the record, rock is not dead, it's just got more emotion, not everything all at once anymore, oh and did I mention, more funked up.

Living Colour goes to Glasgow, smokes some skunk, survives the ordeal and emerges smiling, needing to vent some of that creative energy. More rock'n'roll than Texas and nothing like the Proclaimers, this rocks in a familiar kind of way, dragging up emotions from your past that you thought you'd lost. Like the 'hooks' in Hellraiser, this grows, kicking out more pleasure than pain, like a good book you'll find this hard to put down.
4.5/5 Nick James.

Vast - Music for People (Mushroom)

Their first album was described by Metallica's Lars Ulrich as "one of the best debut albums I've heard in a long, long time". So with such confidence in their sound coming from within the industry this puts tremendous pressure on anything that follows, but I can state categorically that they have delivered the goods, on time and intact.

I use the word 'plagiarism' carefully here, as occasionally they slip into this arena, whether it be out of tribute or just an unfortunate stumble, but with so much out there it is difficult to assume that an artist is not going to be influenced by the outside world. The track "Free" does lean toward that of Zepplin's "Kashmir", as do vocals sear toward a Sabbeth'esque calling and surprisingly enough at "The Gates Of Rock'n'Roll", Orbital's "Box" can be sometime heard. But all of this adds up to the fact that music can no longer be 'pigeon holed', as so much used to be the case. If a Mod saw you wearing the wrong cut of clothes or sporting the wrong haircut, a rumble was bound to ensue and vice versa. All this collapsing of genre barriers has enabled music to grow outside of the once constrained confines.

Indies 'anti-hero' Alan Moulder offers his talents to the mixing of this masterpiece, as vocalist Jon Crosby has a tendency sometimes to evoke vocal emotions of U2's Bono and Ozzy Osbourne as previously noted. This will no doubt be judged as a rock album, but it reaches far wider than that and is a fitting follow-up to the debut that created such a stir. & 5/5 Nick James

Maxim - Hell's Kitchen (XL Recordings)

This is The Prodigy following a bath in hydrochloric acid, Public Enemy after a back2back screening of Dario Argento, this is altogether rock'n'roll with a sadistic streak of menace. A debut featuring twelve tracks of ultimate terror, that are constant in their presentation and come to you without apologising. A vision from hell that may have you reconsidering where it is you want to end your days. This is something I could quite easily see Mel B wishing to become a part of, but I doubt she could handle the heat. 3/5 Nick James

The Utah Saints - Two (Echo)

The group who are widely attributed as "putting the rock'n'roll into rave" (remember that?), the Utah Saints finally bring to the party a new album, Two.

It must be at least four years since it was rumored to me that a new album would be forthcoming from the group, but following legal wrangles the group shelved their proposed second album, giving bootleggers a way to make a living. The 21st century arrived and most had given up the two guys from Leeds for lost. But at various gatherings Tim and Jez could still be heard, playing someone else's tunes, perhaps better known as DJing. Now we are offered an insight into ten lost years with the release of "Two", an album that is distinctly The Utah Saints and may hark back those ten years and illegal gatherings, speed and LSD, at times. Still utilising samples lifted from tunes gone by, such as vocals from Joyce Sims "Come Into My Life" reeling in the background of "Three Little Words", but with a "Love Song" that's not Simple Minds this time.

What seems to be the order of the day this time is to draft in a cast of music's stars to add vocal originals to your tunes, with Chuck D, Chrissie Hynde and Edwin Starr being among those on the payroll. An album that has far more in common with The Chemical Brothers this time, than with the Shamen and is a fine follow-up to their debut, even if it's not. I hope that this album sparks some life into the music scene, more likely we're too comfortable to lift ourselves from our lethargy, preferring instead to be spoon fed the likes of Billie Piper, S Club 7 and untold manufactured boy bands, to be bothered. 4.5/5 Nick James.

Llama Farmers - El Toppo (Beggars Banquet)
The follow-up to last years, "Dead Letter Chorus", sees the Llama's continue on their musical foothold following European and American touring commitments with an album that's as self assured as their recent UK tour was long, dominating most of September and October playing somewhere across these fair shores. This album is somewhat edgier than I remember their debut managing, and the angst is clearly heard throughout a string of tunes. The group would seem to have shaken off the shackles of 'Brit. pop' that I recall and have taken a walk on the wild side, tearing the insides out from the music they perform. 4/5 Nick James.

Radiohead - Kid 4 (EMI)

If it's 'Ok Computer 2' that you were hoping for, then you might be disappointed, this is more Radiohead's 'White Album', a product that strides boldly into that field of concept album. On second thoughts, if you yourself are Radiohead junkies, then this might be almost what you expected, this is wonderful, certainly bigger and bolder than the album I had expected from the group.

Before listening here, I'd almost written band's epitaph, as surely nothing could surpass 'Ok...'. But if you are going to find that reviewers and public alike are going to be expecting the world for 9.99, you might as well go out on a limb and produce something so far out that comparisons cannot be drawn. Thom Yorke's busmans holiday working with James Lavelle on the Unkle album has certainly paid dividends, Damien Hurst and Tracy Emin all rolled into one album. I've heard some great product this year, and this carry's on the trend, I might even be persuaded to say that this takes it by a nose. 5/5 Nick James.

Agnelli and Nelson - Hudson Street (Xtravaganza Recordings)
The Irish duo Agnelli and Nelson, release their long awaited debut long player, 'Hudson Street'. Familiar characters in the club charts and the scene in general, this time these guy's have gone further than we might have expected, producing an album that eventually sears toward the sinister, 'Sidewalk Driller'. A track that from it very name suggests a darker leaning, maybe a London backstreet, circa 1890, smog hanging in the air and then suddenly a chilling scream cuts through the silence, I should really stop watching those trashy cartoons.

But back to the album and where were we, ah yes this is far more than club smash after smash and stands well on its own as the product it wishes to be, taking the listener through many moods from the downbeat, blissed out moments, to the euphoria of a packed club. 4.5/5 Nick James
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