Album Reviews: June 2003

 

Inspiral Carpets - Cool As... (Mute)

To kick off this month an album of memories taken from my yoof! Well ok that might be just a little bit of a white one, let's just say "a time when I should have been old enough to know better", but that's giving us a lot of ley-way!

One hell, of a package is how I can only describe this definitive release from a band that epitomised 'baggy' in the early ninties. That distinctive sound of Clint Boon's 'farfisa organ', 14 thousand fan's packing out Manchester's G-mex in 1990, the followers that walked the streets of our cities on a Saturady afternoon, all sporting "Cool As Fuck..." on their chests and that cow that Clint scribled down on a scrap of paper that became branded and the rest, as they say is history.

But back to why I describe this as the definitive release? Well three discs comprising the band's singles, 20 of them! A second titled "Rare as", now where have we heared that used before(?), collecting all those rarities, mixes and never before released on CD tracks (this one's for the fan's as they might say) and finally a DVD that collects all The Inspiral Carpets promo videos, live tracks and interview footage that will keep you amused for hours. Oh and Mark E Smith in that video to 'I Want You', "Good evening, people of Brixton, all the way from Oldham, Lancashire, they're all good looking lads.....no one's ever heard of them either." Well come on it is Mark!

So as if we really need to ask the guys what they think about this opus, let's ear-wig their thoughts;

T: Inspiral Carpets. They were great.

N: They still are.This album supercedes tour commitments in the months of March and April, and whether or not the three new tracks featured here, "Iron", "I Don't Want To Go Blind" and "You've Got What It Takes" will see the light of day on another format remains to be seen. I suppose it all depends on how this is received.

T: Well I personally hope it goes well for them. I always felt that their fall from grace was a little harsh, as they continued to make what I considered to be glorious albums throughout their "neglected by press" period, with "The Beast Inside" being a prime example of this. I met Tom when he played Leicester a few years back, and he was not too chuffed that day as the Inspirals' agent had booked that gig on the same night as Blur were playing Leicester University. That kind of bad management was probably what put the band out of the limelight enough for them to be forgotten. Not to mention a certain roadie of the band overshadowing them completely with a string of huge hit singles by a far inferior band.

N: "Husband don't know what he's done, kids don't know what's wrong with mum, he can't say, they can't see, putting it down to another bad day..." This band's attempt at social comment on the mighty "This Is How It Feels", stands as testimony as to just why they were, are, and always will be remembered as a true force in UK music. But it doesn't just stop here, this is "Madchester" in its true naked glory, every tune here is steeped in history, soundbites every one of them.

T: I guess all that's left to be said is - thanks Tom, Clint and co for giving us some golden moments in our musical heritage. All that remains now is our final judgment. 10/10

web site

 
 

 

Shed Seven - Where Have You Been Tonight? LIVE (Taste Media)

Shed Seven - the band that suffered a worse fate than the Inspiral Carpets...

T: and totally unjustifiably too. If you scour through past recordings by this band, there is no shortage of nuggets and that is reflected here in what is more or less a live version of their greatest hits. The rip roaring "Getting Better" opens proceedings and along the way, such gems are dropped in as "She Left Me On Friday", "Chasing Rainbows" and latest single, the available-for-one-day-only "Why Can't I Be You?" I think this album is a gentle reminder to the mass public that "Hey, we're still here, and we're actually still great as well, you know".

N: Can't dismiss that, and I confess to passing this band by at times. But this album is well timed, and its motive quite blatant, although I acquit this without charge. 8/10

web site

 
 

 

Various Artists - Goodlife Volume 1 (Goodlife/[PIAS] recordings)

This is the first compilation for the French techno-electro label and it certainly demonstrates the variety of styles on offer. All the tracks have a very european feel as would be expected, but they all seem to offer a slightly different flavour. If you are into dance music with an edge, this complilation gives you that, with tough techno drivers and more minimal tech-house. The selection is funky in places and more industrial in others.

The first track 'Situation' by co-founders of Goodlife, Oxia & The Hacker, sounds like something we were all break dancing to in the eighties (well some of us anyway!) but with a new millenium edge of more sinister grooves. Following this is the great 'Monique' by Kiko. I love this track! Its tough and funky and has its own sound, not to mention a great guitar riff loop. The third track '134' by Oxia is a dark, almost tribal vibe, which breaks down into a funky base line then builds and builds. These first three tracks sum up the rest of the compilation well. They offer the full gambit of style and sound without being predictable at all.

Other tracks worthy of mention are Henrick Muellers' 'Fadin Away'. Drum machine versus casio keyboard! Minimal but very catchy! 'Computronic' deserves serious attention sounding like some alien transmission we were never meant to hear and 'Sundown' offers a fusion of many elements to create a ghostly tech-house groover. The compilation is finished off by the Hacker and Oxia with 'Another side'. It is a deep, funky track with seeping strings, very nice!

Overall a good collection of tracks which brings us a sound that we hear little of in the UK. Not for every dance music fan but even the 'discofilteredhouse' lovers will get something out of it. Although it might be a bit too tough for them in places!
Out on the 23rd of June, buy it if you want to sample a new flavour in dance music. 8/10

Nic Caesar

goodlife site / [pias] site

 
 

 

Blur - Think Tank (Parlophone)

So how do the boys get on with their first album without Graham Coxon?

T: Blur never cease to amaze me. You would have thought, after the departure of Coxon, that they would have lost at least a little of their creative sparkle, but not a bit of it, as "Think Tank" turns out to be probably the most inventive album they have created yet. I think it's a shame that nearly all reviews you read of this band compare them with Oasis ever since that "Roll With It" vs "Country House" thing, as Damon has proved the band's superiority over and over again consistently. Every time Blur release a new album I find myself thinking "My God, this is the best album they've done!", and this is no exception.

N: Taking their role as "musical innovators" with ease, we've seen a consistent string of releases by the guys where they have seemed to produce tunes that grasp this mantle by the horns. Like colleagues (once rivals) Radiohead, as my partner in crime points out, make music that constantly amazes.

T: This album, in brief, makes you want to laugh ("Moroccan Peoples Revolutionary Bowls Club", makes you want to cry ("Sweet Song" and "Out Of Time"), dance ("Crazy Beat"), or even pogo to the early-Clash like "We've Got A File On You" and is another incredible chapter in the big book of Blur. If I HAD to pick a low point I would choose "Good Song", but even that is...er...well..a good song. 9/10

web site

 
 

 

Radiohead - Hail To The Thief (Parlophone)

First and foremost you should know that I am not a die-hard Radiohead fan. I did not particularly like The Bends and Pablo Honey, and Ok Computer passed me by, being as best mediocre. For these first three albums Radiohead seemed to be a fairly average ‘Indie-esque’ Brit band.

Then came Kid A. Even if the rest of that album had been utter dross it would have been indelibly etched upon my memory forever; never has an album had such a brilliant and original opening track. "Everything In Its Right Place" is one of the most defining and brilliant pieces of modern ‘pop’ music. The rest of the album was hit and miss in such a gigantic pendulum fashion it was hard to comprehend. It was musical pretentiousness at its worst and best. Then barely a year passed and Amnesiac was released. Recorded apparently at the same time as Kid A, Amnesiac continued the bands exploration of their newly found amalgamation of quirky electronics and jazz arrangements, mixed up with an atmospheric nod towards Angelo Badalamenti.

Amnesiac was slightly more evolved and intricately arranged than Kid A with the stand-out tracks "
You and Whose Army" and "Pyramid Song" setting new standards of what could be called pop music without sounding condescending or insinuating a vague sense of insult.

So with sweaty palms and a certain loss of breathing I played Hail to the Thief. Before even the first track-started, I loved the name. I listened to the album all the way through without missing a second until I got to track 10, "I Will".

At this juncture I have to say something about Thom Yorke’s voice. I was never a fan of it even on Kid A. It wasn’t until Amnesiac that I realised what it was Thom was try to do with it. The lack of lyrics printed in the album booklets was one thing. The next was the careless abandon with which he would not sing the lyrics properly. How many times have I heard people ask what it was that he was singing, a syntactical analysis for the listener to obtain some clever gem of wisdom from a lyrical observation.

It’s not contempt for the classic structure of the pop song, no more so obvious than in the Lennon/McCartney Beatles songs. Perhaps Thom doesn’t want a sing along, but neither does he seem to be actively trying to disassemble the current standard. The voice more seems to be used as an instrument in itself to produce a melody, a mood or a quality than cannot be defined with language. This is no more obvious than the utterly stunning track "I Will". Utter brilliance.

After playing this track about five times I managed to get through the rest of the album. As far as I am concerned this album is their most accomplished to date. It’s more structured musically, not only in the production but also in its complex arrangements and operatic style of layering the instruments and voice to a crescendo.

Brilliant keyboard programming blends itself with the trademark hollow-sounding piano and Thom-trying-not-to-sing (I don’t know what else to call it) style of singing is more appropriate to the arrangements, particularly on "Sit Down. Stand Up’ & ‘Backdrifts".

The guitar tracks are also up there competing with in the brilliance stakes; "Go To Sleep" has a nod or two to the Velvet Underground and there is a greater sense of the surreal on this album too, "Suck Young Blood" gets the nomination to be in a David Lynch film. Perhaps my only reservation is that one or two of the tracks are a bit weak, such as "Myxamatosis".

After listening to this I can only wonder what they can do next? Do they rest on their laurels and continue in this vein or do they do something new. For now though we can keep ourselves occupied with Hail to the Thief. Radiohead have only themselves to compete with, their music is more mature, sophisticated and interesting than any other artist today. 9/10

Harry Lime

web site (dead good link!)

 
 

 

Twinemen - Twinemen (Cooking Vinyl)

Formed from the ashes of the band Morphine following the death of fellow band member Mark Sandman, Twinemen, comprising of remaining members Billy and Dana, apparently combine improvisation and organic soul chemistry with a deep respect for the song.

T: Well my description would be a deep seated lazy, bluesy, jazzy chunk of dark soul and I'm sure their dear departed friend would have been moved by the feelings of thankfulness, sadness, and above all optimism conveyed by his former cohorts.

N: Just going from the group's tag and second grade artwork, this doesn't work for me. But what it should be about is the music, and the earlier evaluation certainly has no relation on what I'm listening to. In fact, as they say, "all becomes clear" and both name and artwork suddenly gel. "Indie" of true alternative strain. Fantastic rhythm, sublime vocals, and music that truly is infectious. 8/10

web site

 
 

 

Fabio - Fabriclive 10 (Fabric)

Drum and Bass never really gets it deserved recognition in my opinion. This live mix will do something to remedy that. A really distinctive mix of tunes that demonstrate the variety available within a genre and a DJ that is happy to bring all this variety to the same (turn) table.

This mix album will dispell the darker images of drum and bass and reaffirm it as one the funkiest party genres of all. The mix goes from tough vocal edged grinders to industrial funkathons and back to gleaming, harmonic, latin tinged party tracks that ooze summer scenes!

It heavily features the brazilian influence that is slowly seeping into mainstream D&B thanks to the likes of DJ Marky. My partner in crime 'The Beatfreak' (the other half of the Funkaholics) has been playing quality Brazilian D&B for while and recieved some seriously positive crowd reaction ( Nomad, Leicester - bank holiday weekend!).! This mix album is a good measure of the D&B scene today. High energy, funky, positive and warm party tunes for enlightened people!
I like it a lot and the mixing is good to boot! 8/10

Nic Caesar

web site

 
 

 

The Stranglers - Singles Box Volume 2 (EMI)

One of the greatest bands in the history of music. Some of the most classic tunes ever made. This is a box set of 12 CD singles spanning the group's glorious era on United Artists label between 1979 and 1982. Of course they were brilliant even before that, and in fact, did make the odd good record even afterwards.

N: A nice idea, I used to trawl the second hand record shops on a Saturday afternoon locating singles that I'd missed along the way. The fact that this brings together those singles and their artwork is just gorgeous. I get out more now you see.

T: I don't actually know what to say, because I peaked too early with the introduction and I pretty much said everything I needed to say in that.

N: That's your problem, peaking too early. 9/10

Video link for; Golden Brown - Audio link fo; Strange Little Girl

RealOne player required to play these links - click to download

 
 

 

Underwater - Episode 2 (Mixed by Darren Emerson and Mutiny)
(Underwater Records)
 
Needs no real introduction after the success of Episode one last year. Quality tracks throughout and mixology of the highest calibre from label boss Emerson and Mutiny.
 
Disc one represents up and coming realeases for Underwater including the next Tim Deluxe effort, 'Less Talk More Action'. A good track and a solid follow up to 'It Just Wont Do'. Other notable tracks include Paul Jacksons - 'The Push' and Gus Gus - 'Call of the Wild'. Only downer for me was the Wally Lopez - 'Tribute to Acid house', enough old school retro already! Generally, a great blend of tunage with great mixology!
 
Disc two is a Mutiny set apparently straight out of their box! Tough funky beats and vocals blending and mixed to create one fluid journey. Included are quality tracks by Derek Carter, Sandy Rivera, DJ Sneak and Mutiny themselves no less!
 
Very good all round. Will keep this summer jumping!
Released 26th May. 8/10

Nic Caesar

web site

 
 

 

Gary Moore Re-issues (Virgin)

Twelve Gary Moore albums, re-issued by Virgin, encompassing the ex-Thin Lizzy axeman's solo career are being released in two batches of six in May, and include, as a twelfth disc, super group BBM's "Around The Next Dream" with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker.

N: An artist who should be considered one of the true "Master of Rock". Yes, ok, in line with that are the mighty Zep, but whereas Plant and Page were in fact a phenomenon, Lynott suffered an early fate that curtailed this career. Picking up the pieces, Moore went on to produce some fantastic work, showcasing his fretboard genius and love of the blues riff.

T: There is a tendency with many seventies rock heroes, when embarking on a solo career, to wear big hair and frilly shirts and create music that is twee and cliched and ultimately trite. While Moore is certainly guilty of the former crime mentioned here, he cannot be accused of the latter, and if he is, the chances are he'll get off with a six month suspended sentence. Yes, there are moments that become a little self indulgent, and yes, there are tracks that sound like something you'd hear in your local shopping precinct, but on the whole, Gazza has earned his salt with some solid activity from his chopper and a suitably coarse vocal.

N: A collection to tidy up his back catalogue. I can't make comparisons to those of the initial releases, but certainly one for time spent with a glass of Red late at night in front of the fire. 7/10

 
 

 

 

Vendetta Red - Between The Never and the Now (Epic)

T: This album has its moments, generally when Zach Davidson's vocal is breathless, or sung, rather than yelled. The problem I have though, is when the singing becomes a yelp that is somewhere between Daffy Duck and Tweetie Pie...

N: Initially they certainly make the right impression. When it comes to the music, they draw influences from far and wide - from Pumpkins to Green Day, Clearessence to the Auteurs. Powerful, but I'd agree with the previous comment, at times ungainly. 5/10

web site

 
 

 

British Sea Power - The Decline of British Sea Power (Rough Trade)

"The new favourite band of Jarvis Cocker" is either an accolade that will make a band or kill it, I'm not sure which, but that's the position that British Sea Power find themselves in. Flaming Lips are very fond of them too. What do we think?

N: Finally the debut album from BSP. I've been waiting for this time to arrive for quite a while, and although my initial impression isn't emphatic, it certainly shows promise. Influences drawn from Afghan Whigs, Jazz Butcher and the previously mentioned Lips, this music harks back to the heady days of the alternative sound.

T: I'd say it goes back even further than that. The whole thing sounds like a cross between Wire, The Pale (remember them?) and the former Pulp frontman himself. Not a bad effort all told, but to be honest I'll be expecting better from the next album. 6/10

 
 

 

Cinerama - John Peel Sessions - Season Two (Scopitones)

Like The Wedding Present before them, David Gedge's Cinerama have had a close association with the John Peel Show from the outset. These are the early recordings of songs that went on to form the core of the group's two albums "Disco Volante" and "Torino".

N: "Torino" still remains on my car's playlist. Gedge's lyrical observations are quite superb, and constantly keep me amused. This certainly is a Peel Sessions album though, and lacks the spit and polish of the aforementioned studio releases.

T: I know what you mean but I never like my albums to be TOO polished. I too am very fond of Cinerama, but I'll always be a bigger fan of the Weddoes, given their angsty appeal and hilarious musings on tracks like "Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft" and their baffling enthusiasm to go way off the tracks with things like "The Ukrainian Sessions". Still, this is a worthwhile addition to your own personal listening booth. 7/10

web site

 
 

 

Magnet - On Your Side (Ultimate Dilemma)

Even Johansen, the man behind Magnet, has been compared to such illustrious celebrities as Thom Yorke, Sugarcubes, Air and Glenn Campbell. That's some name to live up to, and he's hoping to do it with this, his debut album to follow his widely acclaimed series of EPs.

N: So we liked their last offering eh? I can't remember which way we leant and might have assumed the negative. But however our evaluation went, it's not gonna stop the traffic though is it?

T: I would imagine it's something pleasant enough to chill you out if you're stuck in it though...

N: Touche! It certainly possesses an air of Lisa Germano though. Is "Last Day Of Summer" a cover or just an uncanny coincidence? At the next opportunity I'll go through the record collection. Whichever way this falls, this is growing on me.

T: Yes, I can see little bits of it sticking out of your arms.

N: No, that's something else. Do you know how long it takes to get a doctors' appointment these days?

T: I know I keep stalling here by asking silly questions, but I honestly don't know what to say about this, except that it's mellow and...er...nice. 7/10

web site

 
 

 

Junkie XL - Radio JXL - A Broadcast From The Computer Hell Cabin (Roadrunner Records)
 
This is a very interesting double mixed CD full of artist collaborations and electronic musical expressions. The first CD - 3PM is song based collection of collabs with the likes of Peter Tosh, Gary Numan and Chuck D. A very mixed bag to say the least. All the tracks have a progressive edge to them and represent some slick production from JXL.
 
The first notable track for me featured Peter Tosh with 'Sleeping Policeman'. A reggae tinged dance track with a funky bass line and the gorgeous echoeing vocals of one of reggae's enduring living legends. This is followed by a track called Spirits featuring Saffron. Great tough vocals and a nice electro guitar loop. Tasty!
 
The Gary Numan collab follows and is very atmospheric, with a haunting vocal hook. This is blended into a melancholy, more acoustic track featuring Anouk.
The Chuck D colab is interesting and displays a political, anti-materialistic tone in the lyrics which fits with Chuck D's previous material. An interesting track but for me Chuck D will never sound better than with Terminator X and Flavour Flav of Public Enemy from back in the day.
 
The remaining tracks are varied, offering a range of rock and roll and downtempo vocal expeditions such as 'Rivers' featuring Harland. Very nice.
 
The second CD - 3AM starts where the first left off, chilled out beats and rhythms and minimal funky tracks such as 'Casio'. It then builds half way through into a progressive journey of beats, synths and vocals .'Breezer' featuring Sasha kicks in at just under 3 minutes into the track, with very dancable beats and lots of peaks and troughs. 'Nudge' has a nice looped spoken filtered vocal, similar beats.
 
The CD progresses to its completion in this style. Altogether this is an eclectic combination of a vareity of moody, well produced tracks. The collaborations work well and are characterful. This CD demands that you listen intently and is mixed together to create an emotional trip through electronic musical expression. 7/10

Nic Caesar


web site

 
 

 

Macy Gray - The Trouble With Being Myself (Epic)

It's been out a while we know, but we thought, given her still growing reputation and nominations for Brit and Grammy awards alike, that it was probably worth a review.

N: I think Macy has already carved out her own niche, and her existing audience is going to assure a certain number of record sales, but I suppose the question has to be - is this going to win her any more followers? Well judging on what I am hearing, she is, if not breaking new ground, producing work of consistent quality.

T: To me, Macy Gray is the musical version of a chick flick. Women lover her, and blokes buy her albums for their missus to keep them happy and maybe even quiet for a few minutes. Having said that though, even though it doesn't really tickle my own tastebuds too much, it's a fairly listenable sack of tunes so I wouldn't lump her in with the same dreadful sentimantal tosh that Celine Dion churns out on a perennial basis. It's ok I suppose.

N: No, much to my surprise I really do like this,she has nothing to prove and this shows in an album of justified confidence, but before I close, no glib comments Mr.E.

T: Well you ARE wearing a dress. 7/10

web site

 
 

 

Dave Gahan - Paper Monsters (Mute)

After more than 20 years with one of the most influential bands of our time, Dave Gahan finally breaks away from Depeche Mode to release his debut solo album.

N: The opening title, and current single here "Dirty Sticky Floor" definitely contains the air of "Barrel Of Gun" era mode. Dark, fucked up, and altogether awesome. Surprisingly, the album finds delicate emotion before once again reaching for the bottle and diving deep into dark waters.

T: What surprises me the most is that this doesn't actually sound like Depeche Mode to me at all. There are moments when his vocals are more David Sylvian than Gahan, and I respect the refreshing change. That said, I agree that this is a very dark album, but that's what the Mode did best in my opinion, so kudos to the man for another slice of despair.

N: "Paper Monsters" certainly proves, as we all suspected, that Dave Gahan is more than just the Gore-Fletcher mix. 8/10

web site

 
 

 

Martin L Gore - Counterfeit (Mute)

And so to Dave Gahan's ivory tinkling counterpart, who has released a second album full of covers including David Essex's "Stardust".

T: Hmmm...where do you stand on covers albums then?

N: See what you mean, and ordinarily, I would perhaps be dismissive in nature but here, Gore has chosen his material well and put together a selection of reinterpretations that only pay tribute to their original authors. Now let's just skip straight to "Stardust", Essex's opus track and any artist who tries to emulate this "rock 'n' roll king" is alright in my book, but sharing space with the likes of Lennon, Dylan, Reed et al can only increase this one's glory.

T: I concur that these are extremely well thought out versions and reworked accordingly. I'd still prefer original material though and that's really the bottom line here. 7/10

web site

 
 

 

Chumbawamba - English Rebel Songs 1381-1984 (Mutt)

Chumbawamba's homage to the men and women who never had obituaries in the broadsheets; those who never received titles or appeared as an entry in "Who's Who". A record of those who have gone against the dictates of politicians, royalty and the rich and powerful. This release is an updated and re-recorded version of their 1988 album, so where to start?

T: Sometimes I think Chumbawamba really are taking the piss...

N: This is a little too folky for my taste, and not unexpectedly political in nature. I have no problem in artists being political, and as such portraying this in their material. But I can't sit and listen to this shit!

T: I think that's maybe a little harsh, but I know what you mean. I fully expect, in the near future, to hear an album where they burp the words to the songs all the way through. 3/10

web site

 
 

 

Tahiti 80 - Wallpaper For The Soul (Atmospheriques)

France's finest return with their second album at the tail end of June. Their debut album was a huge hit in Europe, the US and, in particular, Japan. Time to establish why.

N: Step aside Jay Kay. Time to go on holiday. I hear Tahiti's nice at this time of year. Ok, so this is not as charged as a Jamiroquai epic - chilled more like, that's wher it's coming from.

T: A fair assessment, my little speckled friend. It's not unlike the floppy hatted one performing slowed down versions of Boo Radley's most well known tracks. Hell, some of them could even be a new soundtrack to "Little House On The Prairie". Goodnight John Bob. 7/10

web site

 
 

 

Scratch Perverts - BADMEANINGGOOD (Whoa/Ultimate Dilemma)
 
This is the fourth volume in the compilation series which aims to allow UK hip hops finest, the opportunity to display the 'music that makes the music' so to speak. So, this is the music that make the Scratch Perverts who they are?
 
Well. I'm glad because this a is a great journey through a wide variety of genres representing several decades of quality tunage. The mixes are as expected, superb without being 'skills' heavy. The track selection is bang on and includes classic tracks such as The Specials, Ghost Town and the genius Blackaliscious track, Alphabet Aerobics.
 
The compilation demonstrates the musical and cultural diversity that exists within hip hop. A example of this is the blending of Minnie Rippertons, Les Fleurs with
its giant choir like vocals and the ever cool Sister Nancy's, Bam Bam with its simple ragga beats.
 
The complilation includes elements from drum and bass, breaks, old skool hip hop and classic soul and R&B. With this in mind the compilation is tastefully completed with a new cut from the Scratch Perverts themselves, Beat Down. The track samples sounds and elements from all genres with funky drum breaks, dark d&b flanges, and smooth hip hop/soul vocals. An urban production of cinematic scale!
 
If your into Hip hop and R&B/ soul, this complilation has it all and is available to buy on the 9th June. 8/10

Nic Caesar

web site

 
 

 

Whitesnake/David Coverdale/Coverdale Page - Silver Anniversary Collection (EMI)

A 2 CD collection representing the best work from the last 25 years of Coverdale and co.

T: Slip on your faded denims with the patches on your knee, do your hair in a poodle perm, and muse about how nice girls hate you, and you'll be transported back to an age where Whitesnake ruled the planet. I remember being, at the age of 12, a big fan of Iron Maiden, Saxon, Whitesnake and Motorhead. Now, I will confess that all of these bands still have some merit, but frankly the latter one is the only one I can really still listen to. What mum? Whaddya mean turn it down, it's only on quietly...

N: Ok, I was five years older, but 1987 and "Slip Of The Tongue" were MY Whitesnake days. Haven't we all got these in our closet? I just love "Judgment Day", it's got everything a true rock classic should possess, menace, that sense of impending doom, and I think it was Steve Vai's licks riding Coverdale's vocal presentation. Cor!

T: I think I went off this kind of stuff when everyone else I knew that liked it was into playing "Dungeons and Dragons" as well.

N: That's what they all say... 7/10

web site

 
 

 

Paddy McAloon - I Trawl The Megahertz (Liberty)

Described by the ex-Prefab Sprout frontman as "a talking book", "I Trawl the Megahertz" is a highly personal project embarked upon by the author after he suffered extreme impaired vision in 1999.

T: Sprout were one of the best bands of the eighties, possibly even of all-time, so it is with sadness that I observed the above comments and with an intrigue I approached the new album. It's actually quite a heartbreaking listen, voiced over by an actress at the outset, and Paddy himself doesn't sing until track seven, "Sleeping Rough". All of the lyrical prowess shown in McAloon's previous incarnation remain though, and as such it is quite a profound achievement.

N: Here we find Paddy McAloon the composer, not one third of Prefab Sprout. Not that it's unrecognisable, just different. Like Vini Reilly's latest, it's more introspective than anything else, it's serious work and absorbing at that. I'd describe it as "an album buyer's album".

T: Yeah, just don't put it on if you have suicidal tendencies...8/10

 
 

 

Michael Franti and Spearhead - Everyone Deserves Music (Boo Boo Wax)

Having picked up legions of devoted fans since the release of "Stay Human" in 2000 (was it REALLY that long since we reviewed it?), Michael Franti and Spearhead have been touring relentlessly and produce the yearly "Power To The Peaceful" festival in San Francisco.

T: A bit like you'd expect Alexander O'Neal to sound if he'd immersed himself in politics.

N: Or spent his summer listening to Bob Marley and submerged in other peoples' haze.

T: I feel like I should be putting on a sparkly gold waistcoat while listening to this. Possibly even a loincloth.

N: I'm not going for that.

T: No, nooo, no can do.

N: Put that away, let's mark it. It's not funny, it's not clever...and it's not terribly big for that matter. 6/10

 
 

 

Nightmares On Wax - LateNightTales (Whoa Music)
 
Previously reviewed on AD, this is my take on it.....
 
Another compilation series which demonstrates the eclectic influences of urban music in the UK. Nightmares on Wax delivers a silky blend of 'hiphopelectrocarbootsoul'. An eclectic mix of laid back party tunes for the early hours.
 
In my opinion this is pure genius! House DJs eat your hats! Cos this is the real deal, real DJing, real mixing! I am mainly a house DJ so I'm not saying this off hand but I have a lot of respect for this kind of production.
 
Track selection is unpredictable eccentricity. I prove my case with the example of the excellent Mad Doctor X 'Intergalaticthrowdown' followed silkily by Dusty Springfields 'Spooky'. I guarantee you wont hear a combination like that very often!
 
No show boating here just genuine quality listening with high class mixing knowhow to boot! Educational! 9/10

Nic Caesar

web site

 
 

 

LSK - Outlaw (Sony Music)

Leigh Stephen Kenny used his lyrical assault to wondrous effect on Nightmares On Wax's excellent "Seventies Eighties" track, and this is his second full length album in the guise of LSK.

N: The Streets in dub. The product is fresh but the idea's been done before. Whether or not Kellyhad the idea some time ago, Skinner beat you to it. I'm not putting this down, but I still think that Skinner should have walked off with the Mercury Music Prize this year. Maybe this will have another bite at the cherry, but then again, maybe it's a little too extreme.

T: But surely saying that The Streets already did this is a bit like criticising Marvin Gaye for SINGING his songs when Elvis Presley did so before...

N: But you can't liken Gaye to Presley. What I was saying was that "Takeover" was exactly like the Streets, but in dub.

T: Mmmm this humble pie is GOOOD. 5/10

And for a second opinion...our dance survey said;
 
This is the second full length album release for LSK aka Leigh Stephen Kenny. A street smart, soulful, reggae tinged collection with intelligent, heart felt lyrical content. I really like this album and key tracks for me start with the first track 'The Takeover'. A spoof takeover of Pete Tongs radio one show. The lyrics are similar to the stylings of 'The Streets', but no matter who did this first, it works.
 
Thankfully, LSK has more to offer across the rest of the album. He leaves the spoken word rapping to one side and develops soulful reggae chats and vocals that emulate the great Pete Tosh, Bob Marley and Lee 'Scratch' Perry. The lyrical tones take you through a variety of emotional journeys from the uplifting positivity of 'Stick to ya Guns' and 'No Big Thing' to the melancholy romance of 'Life without you'.
 
The lyrical content strikes a chord with me and mine, tired of the same old radio/tv churnings of manufactured output with no real integrity. A yearning for a break from the tabloid negativity and a more positive approach to 'British' culture, black or white or whatever. 
 
The upcoming single release ' Rap Starr' is a nice reminiscent look back at the 80's/early nineties rap culture. A melodic, dubby track with notable chord striking lyrics.
 
Allround a very listenable album with more than a touch of realism and a positive youthful vibe. Released 9th June. 9/10

Nic Caesar

 
 

 

Blackbeard - I Wah Dub (Zonophone)

A re-released album from 1980, when Dennis "Blackbeard" Bovell described it on its original sleevenotes, he paid tribute to some of Britain's legendary sound systems. So what is the AD sound system's view of it?

T: "Amigo, amigo, amigomigomigomigomigo". This album kind of reminds me of Black Slate's "Amigo". Can you tell?

N: Can't disagree with you there, because I don't know what you're talking about. Nothing new there then, but we do seem to have found ourselves up to our knees in dub right now. This is not going anywhere fast, but then again, I suspect this was the idea.

T: What I will say is that I "ain't talking 'bout du-u-ub". Ain't talking 'bout du-u-ub.

N: Shut up. I'm bored with you now.

T: So you're just going to toss me away like a child's plaything.

N: You're not my plaything and I have never tossed you! 2/10

 
 

 

Clue To Kalo - Come Here When You Sleepwalk (Mush)

This is the debut album from Adelaide's Mark Mitchell. Apparently it's a "cycle of slow-burning, wide eyed introspection, and about as human an electronic album as you're ever likely to hear". Ok then...

N: And bad english. I mean, "I Think We Can Kinetic". Where did he go to school?

T: Australia.

N: Oh, that would explain it then. But then again, he is an artist, so the very fact that I can now say "fish" should have no bearing on my state of mental health.

T: It's kind of like Unkle, but without the whistles and bells. But in response to your last comment, I have trousers for kettles in Chegwin.

N: Can you not detect that we're finding it difficult finding anything sensible to say about this album?

T: Er...didn't I just say it was like Unkle, but without the whistles and bells?

N: Yes you did, but don't believe a word he says because it sounds nothing LIKE Unkle.

T: No, no Unkle. My Uncle Bob I mean.

N: Oh that would explain it then.

T: You said that earlier...

N: Yes...and I also dribbled. Nice day today isn't it? 5/10

web site

 
 

 

Corrigan - How To Hang Off A Rope (Bright Star)

"In ancient Celtic folklore, the Corrigan is a mischievous fairy spirit fond of stealing the souls of human children". So, seeing as we at Atomic Duster have a mental age of approximately twelve and a half, have they stolen ours?

N: Well next birthday I'll be nine...

T: Er...right then, seeing as Nick has spun off and is currently contemplating replacing all his material possessions with rubber versions of the same things, I guess I ought to say something about this album. Well, who would I compare it to? To be honest it doesn't sound a great deal like anyone, though I'd imagine A House may sound a little like it if you set fire to their pants and made them sit through repeated re-runs of "Last Of The Summer Wine". I like it actually, it's got guts and occasionally, yes I suppose it has a kind of Husker Du feel to it, maybe even Pixies to a lesser extent.

N: (sits rocking back and forth)

T: Er... 8/10

web site

 
 

 

David Bowie - Aladdin Sane (EMI)

The Thin White Duke's ultimate 1973 album has been remastered as a 30th anniversary special edition. His first number one album (in the UK) is a timely reminder of just how great this legendary performer was, and, in fact, still is. A "glam-soaked, hard-rocking masterpiece", the album marked the last time that Bowie played with the Spiders From Mars on record. See the links below for more glorious snippets and memorabilia of Bowie in action.

'Drive-In Saturday' Russell Harty Show 1973 (courtesy of Granada Media)
video link

'Cracked Actor' Live performance Hammersmith Odeon 1973
video link

'Time' Live performance Hammersmith Odeon 1973
video link

web site

RealOne player required to play these links - click to download

 
 


© Copyright 2000/7 Atomicduster - all rights reserved