This Week’s Albums
November 6th, 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: Aerosmith- Toys in the Attic (1975)
Regarded as one of the best albums of the 1970s; Toys in the Attic showcased big riffs and sex a-plenty-the sound of a band at their absolute peak. The cocaine-fueled tracks see the U.S. legends marry their love of The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin: the sexualised stunners of the former; the heavy and addictive jams of the later- into an album brimming with nuance, confidence and gems. One listen to Joe Perry’s riffs on Walk This Way and you begin to smile (it is one of the most recongisable and classic sounds in Rock history). Its teenage hot-and-heavy motifs boast one of Steven Tyler’s most electrifying vocal performances. Uncle Salty and Adam’s Apple are packed with innuendo and impish smuttiness. Elsewhere, the band does not stray too far away from promiscuousness and lust (Big Ten Inch Record and Sweet Emotion leave little to the imagination). Although Aerosmith are not as refined and exceptional as Zeppelin or possess The Rolling Stones’ songwriting panache and clout- Toys in the Attic is an album that shows they have a real good time. Their boozy late-night revelry and lascivious one-mindedness never seems weary or knuckle-dragging. Thanks to some exceptional licks and riffs; phenomenal band interplay and an insatiable lead, you get an album that sticks in the mind and keeps you coming back for more.
DOWNLOAD: Toys in the Attic; Walk This Way; Sweet Emotion
STAND-OUT TRACK: Walk This Way
The New: Jamie Woon- Making Time (Released Today)
Making Time is a particularly apt title given the time Woon spent creating it. With his debut Mirrorwriting a four-year-old memory, fans and critics were eager for new work- Making Time is the result. The album certainly boasts attention to detail and plenty of focus. You would be hard-pressed to find another album this year that shows so much sweat and hard work. At times this lack of relaxation and slavishness compromises the naturalness and quality of the music- there is slight sag towards the mid-way point of the album. Whilst songs like Thunder are rife with quirky touches and delicious guitar notes; Dedication is a gorgeous and near-symphonic closer. The 32-year-old Brit manages to combine breezy and cool with concise and sprawling. Whilst a lot of people were starting to forget about Jamie Woon- the quality and credibility he brought to music in 2011- he has not been wasting his time. Woon’s Neo-Soul blends and stunning vocals give the album vibrancy and contours; plenty of emotion and seductiveness. The Pharrell Williams-endorsed Sharpness sees Woon tie-in smooth piano with a wonderful falsetto vocal. Whilst there are the odd filler moments- the Willy Mason-featuring Celebration takes time to appreciate- the album shows a young man with a clear passion and role in music. Let us hope Woon’s third album will not take four years to create: what Making Time shows is that Woon has lost none of his intuition, soul and ability. A fantastic artist with many more music moments ahead of him.
DOWNLOAD: Movement; Sharpness; Dedication
STAND-OUT TRACK: Sharpness
The Influencer: Underworld- dubnobasswithmyheadman (1994)
In a week where three of the albums could be seen as influential- James Brown and Aerosmith’s cuts have inspired legions- it is Underworld that come to my mind. In a decade that saw some groundbreaking releases; the British Synth.-Pop maestros moves into Techno. and Progressive-House on their third release. 1994 was a year that saw a wave of world-beating releases: Underworld’s stunning album surely competes with any of the year’s most distinct releases. The odd and demented lyrics sit seamlessly alongside beautifully retrained Techno. sounds. Walls of sound and sensual underpinnings nestle with gritty guitars and cross-genre fusions. It is the production that really stands out, mind. It is hard to believe dubnobasswithmyheadman packs so many genres and sounds into one album- all with such expertise and natural affinity. At the time of its release it enthralled critics and compelled legions of Techno. artists- it opened doors and showed what could be achieved. Songs like Dirty Epic and Cowgirl are hugely evocative and filled with memories. For those of us who grew up around this time, it is great to hear those tracks so many years later. Underworld's leader Karl Hyde wrote a lot of the material whilst sojourning in the U.S. Songs such as Mmm… Skyscraper I Love You were inspired by New York’s skyscrapers and Greenwich Village life; Dark and Long is a paen to the prairies of Minnesota. Undeniably one of Electronic music’s most essential moments; dubnobasswithmyheadman is a timeless joy that is still inspiring artists today. Pick up the album and witness a record whose influence cannot be understated.
DOWNLOAD: Mmm… Skyscraper I Love You; Dirty Epic; Cowgirl
STAND-OUT TRACK: Dirty Epic
The ‘Other One’: James Brown- In The Jungle Groove (1986)
Released in 1986 by Polydor Records; In the Jungle Groove compiled some of James Brown’s rawest workouts- capitalising on the popularity Brown has among Hip-Hop circles of the time. Upon its release, some saw the album as too serious and restrictive; reserved for aficionados of Brown’s work and perhaps not accessible enough to appeal to great swathes. Fresh ears show just how short-sighted that assumption is. Funky Drummer is not only a much-sampled stunner; it shows how phenomenal a band leader Brown was. Combining his classics from ’69-’71, In the Jungle Groove shows Brown at his most hypnotic and assured. From delirious and sweat-pouring workouts like Give It Up or Turnit a Loose (Remix) to It’s a New Day’s phenomenal nuance and passion, you have an album that has transcended time and boundaries. The album saw Brown step-out as one of music’s Funk and Soul innovators; inspire a scene and mark himself as one of history’s most staggering and exhilarating performers. Whilst Brown’s lineup and band was revolving and interchangeable, the quality of the music and the sheer intensity cannot be faulted. With so few great modern Soul voices- and fewer who can pack so much punch and sexuality into a performance- as good as Brown, more ears and eyes should investigate In the Jungle Groove. Those stunning grooves are just the beginning of the story: the album is testament to the transcendent power James Brown possessed. A preacher and gospel leader; Brown could ignite and seduce audiences with ease. In a way, In the Jungle Groove captures him at his most fertile and influential. An album for Brown aficionados and new fans. An album that somehow gets better with time.
DOWNLOAD: Funky Drummer; Give It Up or Turnit a Loose (Remix); Talkin' Loud and Sayin' Nothing (Remix)
STAND-OUT TRACK: Funky Drummer