Sad, sad day

It was a very sad day in our house today so the music choice had to be something happy. The choice was my daughters so it quite outside the norm; “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry.

Yesterday our cat died, she was 21 years old and we had owned her since a kitten. That’s a very good age for a cat to reach but it has still knocked everyone. She had been around through all the big things like kids, house moves, new jobs…

So today we needed to get out of the house and go for a walk. My daughter had this idea for the music in the car. Yes I know this is bubble gum pop and is nothing like the music I normally listen to. But there is a time and a place for this type of cheery happy music.

I have to say this album is a bit phenomenal in terms of hit tracks. “Teenage Dream”, “California Gurls”, “Firework” were all worldwide hits. And they are easy sing-a-long tracks which was quite suitable for this afternoon.

Normal service will be resumed on the next post.

Is this album Pleasurable?

A real obscure blast from the past today with “The Pleasure Principle” by Gary Numan.

I was really into Gary Numan when I was a kid however I never listen to his music now. At the time I liked the weirdness he portrayed during this phase of his career coupled with that very eighties electronic sound. Looking back on it now he was also very productive releasing an album every year over an 8 year period. This album was only 6 months after his last effort “Replicas”.

This album is unusual in that the opening track is an instrumental only using synthesizers. The other track of note is “Cars” which is the most well know track by Gary Numan; it still gets played now and has been re-recorded or re-used by lots of other artists.

When listening to the track “M.E.” I realised that the bass beat sounded more familiar than an album I haven’t heard for 20 years. Found out that it was sampled by Basement Jaxx in their “Where’s Your Head At?“.

Considering it is over 30 years old this album still sounded good with a unique feel. If you are looking for raw electronic eighties music about a bleak world governed by robots; then this is the album for you !!

One Hit Wonders ?

So recently I’ve been finding it difficult to find time to write posts for this blog. I have a few albums pending that have been in and out of my ears over the last week or so. Today’s post is a bit random “Hopes and Fears” by Keane.

This début album was a massive hit at the time selling over 2.5 million copies in the UK alone. The first two singles “Somewhere Only We Know” and “Everybody’s Changing” were big hits. It got a Mercury nomination in 2004. But in my mind everything that followed didn’t reach this level of success. This may be related to the singer checking themselves into a rehab clinic following the usual pop star routine.

It is obvious why the album was so successful because main of the tracks have a ‘warm’ pop sounds that appeal to the masses. And to be honest it does have that general appeal with nothing being to annoying. All tracks heavily feature piano since that is the main song writer’s instrument and hence none are “in your face” tracks. Musically it comes across as quite accomplished; a nice smooth blend sound across the instruments. The vocals are pretty ear catching as well because the guy has a good voice.

For me the stand out track was “Untitled 1” which is the most up-tempo track on the album. Can’t say I will be revisiting this any time soon but it was nice to hear it again.

Sheffield music (part 2)

CoverAfter listening to The Human League in the last post I decided to keep the Sheffield vibe going for another album; “Penthouse and Pavement” by Heaven 17.

So out of the big fallout from The Human League came Heaven 17 with this their debut album. Unbelievably the first single “(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang” was banned by the BBC because there were concerns it would be offensive to the incoming US president Ronald Reagan. Amazing looking back on it now considering the lyrics and content in tracks of today.

The album wasn’t such a success compared to The Human League’s “Dare“. Comparing the two together, this one feels rougher and not as polished; tracks for tracks it’s not as good. However I still like the track “Play to Win” with it’s sarcastic view on the riches of stock market traders In the eighties.

Sheffield music

CoverThis week BBC 6 Music have been having a focus on Sheffield, so I thought I would join in with an album from one of my favourite Sheffield bands, “Dare” by Human League.

A classic electronic album that captured that time perfectly. Of course this is the first Human League album in the second line-up that was more pop music focused than the founding line-up. Who hasn’t heard the massive hit “Don’t you Want Me”; I remember the video being played all the time when it was released.

However whilst it may have been the biggest track it’s not the best. “Love Action (I Believe)” has to be the best as it’s one of my favourite Human League tracks; just love the keyboard sound on this track.

Amazing to think that this iconic album was recorded all those years ago just a few miles down the road from where I now live. If I had looked at the sleeve notes originally I would have had no idea where this place called “Streatley” was.

Sounds very old

Tonight a short quick post on something from the archives. I genuinely had totally forgotten this artist existed or that I owned any of their work; “Magnetic Fields” by Jean Michel Jarre.

So I came across this cassette in the garage at weekend when potting around. It was in a box of other old cassettes; got no means to play cassettes any more so had to resort to Spotify to re-live this.

Was it worth it? Well it was pretty strange as the music felt it had really aged. Sounded so basic compared to the electronic sounds of today. Obviously this guy at the time was noted for being at the forefront of electronic music in terms of what was possible although probably not in terms of mass popular appeal. Listening back to it I had the feeling that some of the sounds could be easily be reproduced on the Casio electronic keyboard owned by my son. In particular the last track which reminded me of the built-in demo tune that these keyboard have these days.

Having said that at the time I remember it being quite unique in terms of a whole album consisting of nothing but synths.

It’s a very short album at just over 35 minutes and more amazingly over half is taken up by the first track. This being called ‘Magnetic Fields Part 1’, the other tracks being numbered 2-5. Obviously not wasting any creative effort on naming the track then.

Reading Festival Memories

Another album today inspired by a live performance; “Night Visions” by Imagine Dragons.

I saw this band at the Reading Festival last summer. I knew nothing about them really beforehand but our friend who went with us to the festival was mad keen on seeing them so we tagged along. They played the late afternoon slot on the main stage were I always feel like taking it easy and sitting down on the grass in the sunshine. I have to say they were pretty good live which is why we got this album afterwards.

I hadn’t appreciated how many hit singles they had released from this album. 4 out of the first 5 tracks all had significant air play on the radio so they were already familiar; although none of them got near the top 10 of the charts. The rest of the album tracks are a bit of filler; I felt it was quite commercial.

What I found odd about this album was some of the other tracks have a ”World Music” feel which is quite a contrast to the commercial single tracks. Generally it’s alright; not bad when it comes up on random in the car but I wouldn’t make a plan to sit down and listen to it.