This Week’s Albums
September 29th, 2015
IT is a case of “Something old, something new/something ‘borrowed’, something…
that doesn’t rhyme”. I do a D.J. gig every week at The Stoke Pub and Pizzeria (https://www.facebook.com/TheStokeGuildford?fref=ts); I have the opportunity to play four different albums: one that is ‘old’ (to my mind, anything pre-1985), something ‘new’ (released brand-new that week); something influential (and has inspired a genre/other acts) - in addition to dealer’s choice (any album I choose). Having done this for over a year-and played everything from Graceland to Pearl Jam; FKA twigs to Beastie Boys- it is enormous fun. I get to talk to people about music; play some awesome stuff- turn people on to some great/forgotten sounds- well, I try to! I shall publish this every week; try and highlight some fantastic albums- maybe some you have forgotten about.
The Old: Tom Waits- Rain Dogs (1985)
One of the quintessential albums of the ‘80s; it stands out as one of Tom Waits’ finest creations- it followed the spectacular Swordfishtrombones. Waits’ voice and persona- that he has cemented in earlier recordings- is that louche and poking songwriter: that whiskey-soaked burr wraps itself around 19 tracks of curiosity, beauty and weirdness. It is hard to label Waits and Rain Dogs: the album cover so much ground; visits diverse and colourful territory- it takes many listens to absorb everything; really get down to the album’s roots. With Marc Ribot’s dominating and dangerous guitar adding bite and drama- the album saw Waits change his tactics. Less honed and focused than Swordfishtrombones; Rain Dogs is nevertheless a triumph. Regarded as one of the 1980s most cherished albums- the likes of Rolling Stone and Slant Magazine have placed it in their top 20 (of the ‘80s); you cannot deny its power. Waits established himself as a surreal master on Swordfishtrombones- his wordplay and lyrics delved into some pretty far-out back alleys- which continues on Rain Dogs. With more romance and musical innovation across the board, the album remains one of the ‘80s moments. Whilst Waits would never quite match his 1983-’85 regency; Rain Dogs laid down a tremendous standard- one that not showed just what a tremendous songwriter Waits was.
DOWNLOAD: Singapore; Jockey Full of Bourbon; Gun Street Girl
STAND-OUT TRACK: Jockey Full on Bourbon
The New: Eagles of Death Metal- Zipper Down (Released 2nd October, 2015)
The band’s fourth album- and their first in seven years- Zipper Down does not sound like an over-perfected and inconsistent album (what one might expect if the entire record takes seven years to gestate). With Josh Homme touring and promoting Queens of the Stone Age; Jesse Hughes looking at solo projects- it is impressive the album was made at all. Clocking-in at just over 34-minutes; it is an L.P. that showcases typical Eagles of Death Metal hallmarks: the sleaze and tease; the humour and wit; the raw riffs and primal purr. Silverlake (K.S.O.F.M.) boasts electrifying and sexy riffs; a scuzzy and leather jacket-wearing hook- something that showcases what exceptional song-crafters the duo is. Lead-off single Complexity is a simple and scintillating jam: the vocal (from Hughes) proclaims “It’s so easy without complexity”. Swaggered and confident; doubting and nervy- the song is one of the album’s highlights. It shimmies and shakes; grooves and slithers- just what the band are all about. Elsewhere, their cover of Duran Duran’s Save a Prayer is reinvented and reborn: fully exposing the lyrics and meaning- the one-night stand and all it beholds. In Eagles’ hands, the song takes on a fuzzed-out and lip-licking quality- something that wouldn’t have seemed possible when Duran Duran recorded the original in 1982. It is clear Eagles of Death Metal and back and loose as ever- good news indeed!
DOWNLOAD: Complexity; Silverlake (K.S.O.F.M); Save a Prayer
STAND-OUT TRACK: Complexity
The Influencer: Mary J. Blige- What’s the 411? (1992)
In 1992, What’s the 411? lead to Mary J. Blige being crowned “Queen of Hip-Hop Soul”- by the way she mixed modern Hip-Hop and classic soul. This is reflected in her voice, which expresses soulful and strong edges; cutting and sassy Hip-Hop elements. Where (in previous releases) Blige focused on Soul and Pop motifs; here she borrows from Rap heavily- in no small part due to collaborators Sean "Puffy" Combs; R&B producers Dave Hall and DeVante Swing; Rap mogul Tony Dofat and rapper Grand Puba. You Remind Me shows how effective and stunning Blige’s voices- a pure weapon of soulfulness. Real Love marries a street-real beat with a huge vocal performance- as our heroine yearns for a new love; someone to satisfy her needs. Elsewhere; Sweet Thing mixes Gospel into the agenda- earning Blige comparisons with Chaka Kahn. In a time where the likes of En Vogue were splicing Gospel, Soul and Hip-Hop- creating stunning milestones like Funky Divas- What’s the 411? surpasses them all: not only setting a blueprint for ‘90s Hip-Hop; its sample-heavy sound compelled a range of artists. Few albums remain as influential and inspirational: with such rich and vibrant fusions; stunning productions throughout- few albums remain as compelling and fascinating.
DOWNLOAD: Real Love; You Remind Me; Love No Limit
STAND-OUT TRACK: Real Love
The ‘Other One’: The KLF- The White Room (1991)
I ‘rediscovered’ this album a few weeks back: when playing The KLF’s stunning track Justified and Ancient (featuring the late Tammy Wynette on vocals) my heart leapt. One of the ‘90s essential anthems, take a listen to The White Room- one of Acid-House’s most essential cuts. There is Justified and Ancient’s heavy beats and hypnotic chorus; those rebellious and authority-defying lyrics- masterfully presented by the British masters. 3 a.m. Eternal (Live at the S.S.L.) and Last Train to Trancentral (L.P. mix) complete the album’s ‘holy trinity’- yet there is plenty of invention and majesty to discover. Released in 1991, the album not only evokes images from a golden age in music- it remains well-aged and contemporary. The songs and beats translate; the sonic innovations still sound fresh and alive- the songs compel the listener to swing their head; move their feet in a frenzy of submission. The KLF disbanded in 1992- a shock that reverberated around the music world- yet their masterpiece shows that imagination and silliness; the stunning grasp and confidence. The White Room is a creation to unwind to; get lost inside; let its dreams and realities shock and seduce- a work that is designed to
DOWNLOAD: 3 a.m. Eternal (Live at the S.S.L.); Last Train to Trancentral (L.P. mix); Justified and Ancient
STAND-OUT TRACK: Justified and Ancient