This Week’s Albums
November 23rd, 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: The Jimi Hendrix Experience (1968)
It goes without saying that this album ranks among the ‘60s’ very best. The third album from the U.S.-U.K. force, it ranks as Hendrix’s most scintillating works. Reconciling the electric Funk of Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys, the album benefits from a cavalcade of studio innovations- back-masking, chorus effect, flanging etc. - to create an album that defined the decade. Aside from the obvious classics on the album- All Along the Watchtower, Voodoo Child (Slight Return) stand out- there are a host of gems. Opener …And the Gods Made Love sees Hendrix mix spirituality and love with something raw and conflict. It is not just the psychedelic and jaw-dropping guitar wizardry of Hendrix that sticks in the mind. With Noel Reading and Mitch Mitchell providing stunning backing, you get an album that takes you somewhere truly magical. A completely immerse experience from beginning to end it inspired a wave of Hard-Rock albums and bands. Whilst others have tried to replicate Electric Ladyland’s sonic innovation and sheer quality; none have come close. Not surprising the album ranks as one of music’s all-time best. Audaciously accomplished and far-reaching it’s a record that does not dim with age or repeated plays- a masterpiece that keeps revealing new shades, colours and emotions.
DOWNLOAD: Crosstown Traffic; All Along the Watchtower; Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
STAND-OUT TRACK: All Along the Watchtower
The New: Adele- 25 (Out Now)
It is one of the most hotly-anticipated albums of the year and with good reason. After the mass-selling and huge acclaim of her previous album (21) Adele concentrated on family life. Suffering from writer’s block leading up the album’s creations it was unsure whether 25 would ever surface. Fortunately the young singer had a breakthrough in 2013 and the creative juices flowed. Adele refers to the album as a ‘make-up’ creation; this shows on a lot of the numbers. There is redemptiveness and love among the recriminations and doubts. Although the album suffers some lags- Send My Love (To Your New Lover) and Love in the Dark could have sat on the studio floor- the album brims with confidence and intent. Hello is an obvious lead-off track that has gained record YouTube views and sales figures. Adele stretches words and vowels to create something mind-spinning and intoxicating. The music and lyrics is a perfect match and at every stage she gives the material complete heart, soul and dedication. That inimitable and dramatic voice makes tracks Remedy and Water Under the Bridge sound essential and gripping. It will be fascinating to see where Adele goes from here but based on her current album the signs are promising. One of this country’s most astonishing talents, it is a relief to hear Adele back- let’s hope there will be no more writer’s blocks! If you want to discover a true singer show how music should be made, then ensure you get your copy of 25- an album that is flying off the shelves!
DOWNLOAD: Hello; Remedy; Water Under the Bridge
STAND-OUT TRACK: Hello
The Influencer: Aaliyah- Aaliyah (2001)
Few people I speak to are familiar with Aaliyah, which is quite galling. Without her (and her self-titled album) the likes of Beyoncé would sound completely different. A young artist taken too soon- she died in a plane crash after filming the music video for Rock the Boat- Aaliyah is an album that changed the game. Drawing Funk, Hip-Hop and Electronica into the mix, the album showcases synthesized vocals and fragmented beats; manipulated vocals and choppy guitars came together to truly highlight Aaliyah’s unbridled talent. More Than a Woman is the album’s true highlight: that catchy hook sees Aaliyah’s vocal ride in the mix. Showing her sensual side to maximum effect, it boasts a truly spectacular vocal. Throughout the album Aaliyah shows her mix of maturity and sexuality to great effect. The likes of Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado looked at Aaliyah and its innovative production- without this album their careers may have gone very differently. One of the best Soul albums of the decade (the ‘00s) its highlights- Rock the Boat, Try Again and I Care 4 U- see the combination of exceptional production- Timbaland and Bud’da were among the producers- blend seamlessly. With so many singers indebted to Aaliyah it is only right you discover an album that redefined and changed the Pop/Soul landscape upon its release. With its influence still being felt, there is no escaping its wonder and brilliance.
DOWNLOAD: Rock the Boat; More Than a Woman; Try Again
STAND-OUT TRACK: More Than a Woman
The ‘Other One’: Metallica- Metallica (1991)
I have featured Metallica in my D.J. sets before- their Master of Puppets was on the block- and it is great to come back to the legendary U.S. band. Obvious stand-out Enter Sandman must rank among music’s most forceful and memorable tracks- those riffs and vocals are hard to forget- but the album is so much more than that one track. Tracks Nothing Else Matters and The Unforgiven rank among Metallica’s very best- whilst displaying sensitivity in spots- and signaled a move away from the thrash and grab of previous albums; here they were embracing something less harsh and more refined. Boasting intensity and true Metal production values- no gloss and polished studio crap- it was not an avoidance of past glories; simply a progressive step forward- the band almost invented a new genre (Progressive Thrash, if you will). The album saw the band’s fanbase explode massively. Whilst previous albums seemed bloated and directionless, the band streamlined and focused their attentions. Making their music more commercial- whilst not compromising integrity and ethics- it sees them at their very peak. They never recaptured the same dizzying highs in the careers, so for that reason alone, Metallica stands as a truly singular moment in Rock history.
DOWNLOAD: Enter Sandman; Holier Than Thou; Nothing Else Matters
STAND-OUT TRACK: Enter Sandman