Bergen Link

I kicked the run of two compilation albums in a row today with “The Understanding” by Röyksopp.

There is a gap of 4 years between their debut album “Melody AM” and this follow up. I think there is a change in the musical style between these two album. The first album I always imagine as background music in a trendy lounge/coffee bar. This album is more like background music in trendy clothes shop; it’s OK but not as good as the first one.

So you may gather that this album doesn’t have the same impact as the debut. In fact I can’t really pick any track that stands out. This is a good album to have on in the background.

What is interesting is something I read recently about these guys. They are Norwegian and got together as a duo in Bergen. I used to visit Bergen on work trips and it is a beautiful place. It has a great funicular taking you to the top of the Fløyen mountain.

Another Compilation !!

So I haven’t really done many compilations in this blog but now this is my second in a row. In fact this choice is a direct result of the last post; I decided to see what other compilations we had in the CD cupboard. I had forgotten that we owned this CD; “Red Hot + Blue“.

This was produced for the “Red Hot Organisation” which is a charity raising money for AIDS research through music. It was released 90s when AIDS was very big in the media and culture. It seems now that AIDS is not such a big headline grabber these days although it is still a horrible incurable disease. Maybe as a society we are more accepting that it exists and not as scared now there are medical treatments to slow or control the disease; but it’s still a killer. Anyway back to the music moving away from the dangerous area of commenting on society.

Listening back to this was a pleasant surprise. This album is songs from Cole Porter musicals that have been covered by music artists. All the covers are very different from the original musical versions. To be honest I knew very little Cole Porter songs or musicals before getting this album. The fact that the covers are so different means I only recognised the very well-known ones like “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”; covered by the Thompson Twins.

My pick of the best tracks:

  • “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” performed by Neneh Cherry
  • “You Do Something to Me” performed by Sinéad O’Connor. Amazing whispering vocals.
  • “Love for Sale” performed by Fine Young Cannibals. Never really became as successful as their music deserved.
  • “Night and Day” performed by U2
  • “From This Moment On” performed by Jimmy Somerville. Brilliant voice.
  • Rubbish Weekend

    I had a bit of a rubbish weekend this week for two reasons:

  • I reversed my car into a parked car on Friday night.
  • Our cat has been rushed into the vets and put on a drip.
  • Neither of these put me in a great mood today and required something upbeat for my run today. I jumped back to the 80s with a reasonable massive compilation “Original Hits: The Eighties“.

    This is very close to those type of compilations that I hate; you know the type “Now That’s What I Call….”. But I’m OK with this one because it’s a compilation that covers a whole era, plus I have a soft spot for 80s music. However this is a 110 track monster and therefore has a fair share of rubbish; not all music was great in the 80s.

    I don’t have all 110 tracks on my iPod because some are pretty awful. These are a few picks that I particularly favour:

  • “Ghost Town” The Specials. Brilliant video featuring the legend Terry Hall.
  • “Love Action” The Human League. The classic 80s band.
  • “Are Lips Are Sealed” Fun Boy Three. Terry Hall again; one of my favour tracks on the album.
  • “Planet Earth” Duran Duran. The 80s was their time.
  • “Thin Wall” Ultravox
  • “It’s My Life” Talk Talk
  • Memories of Brigthon

    Today in the car I listened to an album that is a little difficult to categorise; “Version” by Mark Ronson.

    This is an usual album for me as it is mainly cover versions of other songs that Ronson has re-produced in a very different style. This is what is appealing about the album; the version are very different from the originals. Also there is good mixture of collaborators including the sadly departed Amy Winehouse who had recently released her album “Back to Black” produced by Mark Ronson. Their version of “Valerie” was more successful in the charts than the original !!

    This album had good success within the UK but didn’t really make an impact on the charts anywhere else.

    It has been a little while since I listened to this album. What is amazing is how music can trigger memories; for me this album reminded me of being stuck in a traffic jam on the outskirts of Brighton. It was a dark winter Friday evening in rush hour; we were on the way to stay in Brighton over the weekend; nightmare trip.

    That difficult second album

    I listened to something rarely played when driving in to work this morning; “Ta-Dah” by Scissor Sisters.

    This is a good example of that “difficult second album”. Their first self titled album was a family favorite at home; very light hearted and a bit jokey. Easy to sing-along. This follow-up just doesn’t have that feel to it. Maybe the purpose was to try and make a more grown-up album or maybe the debut was a one off; hence I’ve not listened to this often once it was originally released.

    The stand out track is “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin'” which was a great single and very similar to the debut music. After that the rest of the album is a bit dull. However the bonus track on the UK edition “Transistor” is a bit unexpected as it is not like the rest of the album; it reminds me of Gary Numan during his “I, Assassin” phase.

    A Great album showing things to come

    Went out running this morning to an old friend; “Power, Corruption and Lies” by New Order.

    Wow how good is this album. Like my last post it’s another album that I have neglected for a few years since I don’t play my vinyl any more. What is interesting about it that the original release didn’t contain their massive single “Blue Monday” but you can hear the same style coming through in some of these tracks. “5 8 6″ is very close to the single.

    It also shows the influences at the time; “Your Silent Face” sounds very similar to Kraftwurk at the start. Plus tracks like
    “Leave Me Alone” expose the naive sounding vocals of Barney as he comes to terms with being the singer; it make the album seem very real. Although it is now 31 years old !!!

    The style is still quite raw like the earlier Joy Division but the presence of synthesisers is coming to the front. I feel this is a transition album to the follow-up of “Low Life” which is classic New Order. But don’t get me wrong this album is brilliant.

    Like my last post this is another example of great artwork; this album was chosen by the Royal Mail to be on a stamp celebrating classic albums covers.

    A Classic Album

    I was working at home today so listened to some old vinyl off Spotify; one album was “The Wall” by Pink Floyd.

    I had seriously forgotten how much I liked this album and how good it is. I am certainly going to be revisiting it quicker than last time I played it. It’s a massive double album taking nearly one and a half hours to get through it from start to finish. Luckily I had the time to hear it uninterrupted. But it is also a clever album telling a story of the rise and fall of a fictitious pop start called Pink.

    By all accounts the recording was very difficult with the inner musical struggles within the band coming out in the open. Maybe that helped propel the making of this album to contain great quality tracks.

    I remember when this was released being a kid and hearing “Another Brick in the Wall” on Top of the Pops. It created so much publicity because people perceived it as being anti-establishment and a threat the fabric of society if some commentators were to be believed. Some people insisting it should be banned. I just remember it being about kids not liking school; that’s what every kid thinks isn’t it?

    Another fact about this album is it has a very distinctive cover that can only be given justice on the full vinyl sleeve. The very stark wall design was carried over into the live show as well with a massive wall that was knocked down on stage. I didn’t actually get the album on vinyl until a few years later. It was a present from some friends who gave it to me in a pub; the guys sat next to us, who we didn’t know, stopped and said what a good album it was and then proceeded to spent a few minutes talking about it. So it shows there aren’t many albums that people recognize just from the cover.