Vinyl memories

Tidying the garage out today I found some old cassettes and vinyl LPs. I don’t have a deck any more so had to revert to Spotify to replay some of the old stuff. The final choice was “Quartet” by Ultravox.

I have strong memories of buying this album. I went to Manchester on my own on the bus, probably still quite young, to do some shopping. I discovered the old HMV megastore; it was the first time I had visited such a massive shop that sold nothing but records. I particularly remembered that the vinyl was shrink wrapped inside the sleeves in the record racks. I had only visited small record shops where the vinyl discs were kept behind the counter to prevent theft. The point being shops of that size had too many records to store them behind the counter; only the very rare picture discs had that pride of place.

Whilst checking up on this album for this post I discovered that the producer was George Martin of The Beatles fame. How bizarre. I can’t imagine how this combination worked as they appear to come from different styles. However the album was great to hear back again after such a long time. Strange to think that when I bought this on vinyl all those years ago I would never had imagined I would eventually listen to it on something called an iPad using a thing called the “internet”.

My favourite track was “Reap the Wild Wind” followed by “Cut and Run”.

Just to mention I kept the old cassettes and vinyl; there was no way I could throw them out.

Something else new

I’ve been away for a few days break. Driving around on the motorway I listened to quite a bit of music. Generally the kids wanted the music on random; our car plays MP3s off a memory stick so there was a choice of about 4000 songs. A fair few were skipped but we did listen to one complete album; “Hozier” by Hozier.

This is actually my wife’s purchase but I saw him perform on the recent iTunes Festival. He sounded and played pretty good so I thought I would give the album a try.

The music is a style outside my normal choice; quite blues and soul. It has a very similar sound to Van Morrison in places. I’ve never really liked Van the Man but I do like this album. It’s quite a mellow and laid back sound.

A Surprise Present

Back to something more recent with today’s post after a run of older albums; “Caustic Love” by Paolo Nutini.

I’ve had my eye on this album for a while and had already passed by a chance to borrow it from someone at work. However I got home yesterday and my wife had bought it as a surprise present. How nice.

I really like Paolo’s voice, it is very husky. This album is good and I liked it after the first listen when out running; it had an immediate impact for me. The opening track “Scream (Funk my life up)” had me hooked although I’d liked it as a single first time around.

Not only are the tracks good but I saw him on the iTunes Festival this year and he (and his band) can perform the album very well. He does a very good show and really gives it some effort.

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.