Album Reviews: December 2000

 

Gary Numan - Pure (Eagle Records)

The teacher enters the classroom and the throng descends to hush. "Class would you open your text books at page 66, today we're going to study 'Post Industrial Noise".

This latest offering served up from the table of Mr Webb, more commonly known as Gary Numan, pioneer of the techno generation in the late seventies, early eighties, is one of those rare masterpieces. Crafted synthetic patterns and vocal control that place lyrics I've not seen since the likes of one of those students, Trent Reznor and his 'Pretty Hate Machine', into perfect context.

God gets a fair pasting here in passages that even Slayer and their likes may not be able to portray and certainly in not such an eloquent fashion. But read the supplied lyric transcription, as, as always Gary's presentation is so clouded in amidst the mist created by synthesized chords that comprehension is not always possible. But done any other way and the impact of the song would be lost and will most certainly see Gary on the lift downstairs when his time comes.

I say this with conviction, this is Gary's best work and after a successful career that spans 22 years, that is saying something and deserves to find a whole new audience and not just those faithful 30-somethings. Ms Werner, Damon and Justine you can keep your 'Brit Pop', I don't need it, I've found 'Dark Pop' and probably the best Gary Numan album since, well ever. 6/5 Nick James

 
 




Dope Smugglaz - Dope Radio (Mushroom)

It's a hard life being a DJ. Traveling the length and breadth of these isles, playing an 18 hour set for the Radio One stage at Glastonbury and on top of all that working with Shaun Ryder and Howard Marks amongst others in the pursuit of your latest album. However when you present "Dope Radio" to the world, it's all going to be worth it, chunky knit sounds and phat swells darting in and out of the channels. Vocals that will ensure the highest of recognition and then we all start again.

If you've always avoided dance albums, but however are open to new possibilities, the Dope Smugglaz are certainly that, mixing Stephen Hawking with Yello and getting away with it. 4/5 Nick James

 




Sade - Lovers Rock (Sony)

I was watching television, as the slot advertising this latest release from, as I remember her, 1984's 'lover's smoothy', came on. Taking this in, I turned to my girlfriend and said "So I suppose I'll be keeping that then?" A nod of confirmation greeted me and 'Diamond Life' seemed to slip away into its place in history.

This is Sade's first new recording in eight years and it's as if she never went away. A great many pretenders have come to fill the void that she left vacant all that time ago, but like riding a bike, once you've left the stablisers in the garage the ability never really leaves you. This album is left bare of any over production, leaving the space for the music to breathe and Sade Adu's vocals to gently caress your senses, as lyrics penetrate your emotional side.

This is fairly heavy going, but well worth every second and as the title suggests, is not breaking any trade descriptions. 4.5/5

 




Precious - Precious (emi)

To be perfectly honest I really surprised myself when it came to this album. Had it been the single I would probably let it pass me by and in the end draw no opinion, but this is an album length product and when put on, I let it play and surprised myself, in that I found myself listening to the albums structure. Lyrically, ok in my opinion we are in the realms of the 'vomit' sector and most probably this all girl troupe have choreographed routines prepared for each and every song, which would prompt me to surf channels or turn away and conduct a conversation.

As an album this works, the audience this is aimed at is not kids, but young adults and up. Ok if I had to part with my cash, I probably wouldn't, but this is better than most I've encountered, add a little more depth to the lyrical content and it might be a different story. 2.5/5 Nick James

 





People Under the Stairs - Question in the Form of an Answer (Puts Records)

What to make of this one, umm? Well I wasn't expecting Hip-hop, a group of undergraduates maybe from Reading, Slough or somewhere similar. No silver spoons you understand, but just a realisation that music had more of an appeal than quantum physics.

Anyway back on track and inner artwork suggested that 'Budweiser ad' they're currently running. And the music, probably what those guys do when they're not drinking beer and watching the game. This is as you might say, 'free', or at least sheet music doesn't play much of a part to what you're hearing. A jam session, I've been to a few and inspiration is born out of a mutual understanding, "sounds good, yeah ok lets try that and how about this?". Not as politically hard as Public Enemy, but of course it plays a part in lyrical content, as you might describe 'easy listening' within the 'Hip-hop' community, but totally cool. 3.5/5 Nick James

 





Space Raiders - Hot Cakes (Skint)

Imagine a 'dirge' of funk, rock guitar and trip-hop beats put together in a filthy mix en-route to alternative dance floors and you've got the Space Raiders. The only thing this is missing is a 'parental guidance' label attached to the front, 'cos this is the musical equivalent of all those seventies 'skin flicks', hey why narrow it down? If the sales ever dry up guys, cut the vocals and you've got a new career mapped out before you, producing soundtrack music for the porn industry. Now there's something where the work never drys up, goes a little soft maybe from time to time, but there's always 'Viagra'. 3/5 Nick James

 




Fatboy Slim - Halfway Between the Gutter & the Stars (Skint)

Who'd have thought that a career started out in cardigans would've ended up one of the biggest names on the dance floor, as well as being married to Zoe Ball. (I wonder if he ever asks his father-in-law to help reconcile his accounts, with the aid of a ball bearing, funnel and a jug of water?). I'm unsure whether this is just another dance album, or something a little more profound? Certainly the Fatboy's vision is one of rare quality, to have the thumping 'Star', complete with questionable lyrics, next to the recent single, 'Sunset (Bird of Prey)', now where's that coming from? No, now seriously for a moment, Norman's best move ever was to finish The Housemartins, what sort of life would it be to end your days languishing in the bargain bins down at Woolworth's? www.gutterandstars.com 4/5 Nick James

 




Cousteau - Cousteau (Palm Pictures)

Not quite their debut, that's long since been deleted, but now with the backing of label, Palm Pictures, Cousteau have re-recorded a number of those early tracks and have embarked on releasing their first album proper. Where would you put this album in the record store? Well 'Blues' might be as good a home as any, or maybe in between the recent Sade album and the Nick Cave back catalogue. An album that will have you awe-struck at the great many facets it possesses. Take vocalist Liam's songs down a an octave or three and I'm convinced we'd have the next 'Cave' album. Silky smooth and crying innocence lost, this is one record that should be on every serious music lovers playlist. www.cousteau.tv 3.5/5 Nick James

 




Etienne - De Crecy - Tempovision (XL/Solid)

Casually flipping this on a few weeks ago, I drew the conclusion this was weird! Some French guy, full of himself putting out third rate material, but how wrong was I? Don't be so small minded Nick, listen and I did, and this is almost as would imagine a holographic album, probably the norm in my next lifetime, to be. A great dance album, but with that chill-out strain so important now. Phat sounds and driving beats, I do have to say this is a little 'blue-print', but then it goes somewhere I'd not have thought of before and redeems itself. We hear little of Parisian music, but this is a fine product. www.tempovision.com 3.5/5 Nick James



Tailgunner - Tailgunner (No Label Records)

You may have heard of this guy and his music, or interpretation at least. Mark Coyle, yeah you know, Oasis producer, that's the one and Tailgunner is the first fruits of his solo project. It leaves you thinking, "Why the hell was this guy stuck behind a desk?". Harking back to the excitement of early nineties indie rock, Tailgunner enlist the talents of Paul Stacey on bass and pedal steel, while one Noel Gallager contributes drums, but why is it I keep thinking of Ringo Starr, but hey he went on to narrate 'Thomas the Tank Engine', set for life he was.

Tailgunner is an awesome three piece. The first supergroup of the 21st Century, and as the 'pr' states reapes influences from the likes of T-Rex, Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd and Neil Young, but hey more recent artists feature, obscure and you'll probably never have heard of them, but hey they were probably influenced by the likes of the earlier mentioned as well. The newly emerged Manchester based, 'No Label Recordings' can lay claim to being the home of Tailgunner, but that's the joy, an album that appears void of the high finance so common today. Just one more thing to say and that’s 'BUY-IT!'. www.tailgunner.net 5/5 Nick James

 
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