On that Brit award shambles

For my Lent music commitment this year, I thought I’d start with an unbridled rant about the disaster that was last night’s Brits.

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Day 15- Elbow, ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’

Elbow are one of many criminally underrated groups that seem to have to wait an eternity before managing to break through into the ‘mainstream’, and their finally achieving it has reaped great rewards, not least for lead singer Guy Garvey; not just a Mercury Prize and other accolades, but his very own 6Music show were offered to him in the wake of The Seldom Seen Kid’s success.

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Day 14- U2, ‘Achtung Baby’

Just about everyone I know has some strong opinion on U2 these days. Whether it’s approving nods at impersonators sending up Bono and The Edge on TV, mostly-correct rants about Live 8 do-gooding and Bono’s ascent to media sainthood, or serious arguments about when U2 actually stopped being ‘good’. I used to assert that The Joshua Tree/Rattle And Hum period was the last great time for them, with odd single release exceptions. (And really, Bono? Get on your boots? Your sexy boots? Get your coat and take a hike, more like.) So it was with some trepidation that I set about listening to Achtung Baby.

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Day 13- Joni Mitchell, ‘Ladies Of The Canyon’

I first came to Joni Mitchell, as many do I should think, through her most famous hit Big Yellow Taxi, then through various eclectic uses of her songs on soundtracks. From ‘Both Sides Now’ on Love Actually, the heartbreaking ‘River’ on ER and other TV series, and the enigmatic ‘Sire Of Sorrow’ on leftfield Reeves and Mortimer classic Catterick, I started to absorb Joni’s excellence. What better place to start with her works than the brilliant Ladies Of The Canyon, then…

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Day 12- The Rezillos, ‘Can’t Stand The Rezillos’

 

(Still behind on reviews here at Musical Towers, and might likely be delayed over this weekend due to holidaying in Bucharest with Mr P. Shall endeavour to bring some music with me to mull over, though.)

We’ve all had down days where we’re just utterly drained and bereft of energy and spoons to do anything. Ways to remedy this might include curling up in a duvet with a mug of cocoa, blasting your face with a SAD lamp or escaping into a book. As I recently found out, though, the cure for the winter blues comes in the form of Can’t Stand The Rezillos, because from when I started listening to the album until the last track ended, I had bounced out of my seat and was pogoing around the house. Tricky when you were trying to drink a cuppa at the time.

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Oh, Sting. Sting, Sting, Sting.

As I fired up Spotify* to look for the album I wanted to write about, I spotted a new Sting offering just released digitally, titled Symphonicities. It promised to be a series of orchestral reworkings of classic solo and Police material, and temptation proved too great  so I had a listen.

Now, as a disclaimer, I should point out that I am a massive Police fan, and a lukewarm Sting fan; I have all the former’s albums (and mostly on vinyl, for added anorakery), and I occasionally dip into the good parts of Sting’s solo material, which I find to be sparsely scattered through the decades.

Sadly, this orchestral offering was as good as my initial expectations; in short, it just doesn’t work. Tracks have been picked that don’t benefit from lush strings and brass in the slightest. Particularly galling is the version of Roxanne that, as far as my meagre words can describe, takes the original, shoots it in the back of the head, stabs it in the chest several times, violates its still-warm corpse, sets it alight, nukes it from orbit with several long-range missiles, then flattens the smouldering corpse repeatedly with a steamroller.

It’s that bad.

Look, Sting, I put up with your great white reggae efforts in The Police, I tolerated your solo jazz pretensions…hell, I even put up with your jaunty tap-dancing in Brimstone and Treacle. But your orchestral stylings just bring nothing fresh and exciting to the originals. It’s pretension of the highest order, quite excelling even befriending your plate-lipped rainforest chum Bono-style and becoming a charitable thorn in my side as well as a man with delusions of musical grandeur.

Now, what have we all learned from this faux-pas, class? That’s right, I suggest as a basic starting point you all go off and listen to a semi-decent greatest hits, then go and buy yourself Outlandos d’Amour or Reggatta de Blanc (though all the Police albums are worthy of being in anyone’s collection). And then we can forget all about this little mistake. Can’t we, Mr Sumner?

*And while I’m ranting, I should hope Spotify’s staff seriously don’t think Coldplay are a ‘related artist’ to The Police. Really? Really? Really?

Day 11- The Stooges, ‘The Stooges’

We’d all like to forget the music icons who have sold out in certain recent TV commercials. Perhaps the bitterest pill to swallow there was Iggy Pop appearing in a car insurance ad, because along with similar commercial whore John Lydon they embodied all that was raw, primitive and anti-Establishment about the punk and alternative scene. So mind-numbing were the recent telly travesties that I almost entirely forgot about The Stooges and their pioneering forays into punk, garage rock and alternative, which forged the path for all modern rockers.

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