I have to confess that I had not heard of MC5 before I was asked to review this album. A great pity really, as I had considered myself a great punk fan when I was a student; I worshipped at the altar of the Ramones, X ray Spex, the Pistols and so on, and yet I owned neither Stooges nor MC5. Having now rectified this matter, I’ve discovered just what a feel-good, has-to-be-played-full-volume piece of kick-ass that Kick Out The Jams is. At least, half of it.
A good metric of an outstanding album is the ability to grab you by the ears and have you tapping your feet along, nodding into your giant indie-kid headphones with approval. By such a metric, Shoot Out The Lights is just such an offering for me. Being wholly new to the work of former Fairport Convention-er Richard Thompson (sadly, I’ve never managed to become well-versed in folk music in general), this album was recommended to me by a friend who I trust has more experience in such matters as vintage music that I’ve shamefully missed out on.
The enigmatic and tragic Nick Drake is someone I discovered, like the late Eva Cassidy, through repeated posthumous playing on radio and various interesting documentaries. I found him a fascinating character- highly intelligent, precociously gifted and criminally underrated during his short lifetime. Weighing in at barely 30 minutes of running time, Pink Moon was his final effort, a sparse direction shift from the lavishly orchestrated previous albums to one with a simple piano and guitar accompaniment.
(I was very much at an impasse as to whether I was going to choose an upbeat, poppy album or a droopy, self-reflective offering. The onset of certain unavoidable hormonal changes swung me towards the former.)
I’ve always been a big Madonna fan, since I was a little girl. Possibly less so in recent years- and it’s not that her newer albums are not innovative, just too ‘urban’ for my liking- and it’s the material from the 80s and early 90s which for me truly epitomises the game-changing innovation which Madonna brought to the charts. This period is covered fairly definitively by The Immaculate Collection.
Nevermind is one of those albums that has transcended ‘classic’ and risen more to ‘mythical’ status, helped along by the brightly burning star that was Kurt Cobain snuffing out, and retrospectively hailing this as the great mainstreaming saviour of the alternative scene. Coming to this album having heard only Nirvana’s singles, and Dave Grohl’s subsequent work with the Foo Fighters, it’s easy for me to get complacent about this driving yet highly polished face of alternative music and forget the rawer, unrefined sound of Bleach that preceded Nevermind. Nevertheless, there’s a roughness present under the polish, and Cobain’s anger is just on the right side of restrained, before it spilled out into somewhat more disturbing territory in In Utero.
While I’m plugging away trying to make up for the lost weekend, I thought I’d recommend a couple of programmes on iPlayer that will be around for the next 5 days or so.
– The excellent David Quantick (@quantick on Twitter; well worth a follow) is having his Blagger’s Guide repeated on Radio 2. My favourite episode is currently on the headphones; the jazz guide, where my personal highlight is the ‘Jools Holland Ruins Some Music’ section. This still plays in my head when Jools comes on TV or radio. Probably because he does ruin some music.
– Radcliffe and Maconie had as their guest last week the king of ambient, Brian Eno. It’s well worth a listen for teasers to Small Craft On A Milk Sea, and the startling revelation that Eno has a double life as a retro 50s/60s singer who can sing a mean opening to Blue Moon. Seriously worth a listen.
– Finally, the 6Music documentary on Peter Gabriel is also a fascinating treat.
The writing torrent has halted temporarily due to a busy weekend involving too much chilli con carne, certain questionable music talent shows and slapping the L plates on Mr P’s car for a hair-raising bit of practice. We’re intact, fear not.
Instead of a review, then, I present an idea that popped into my head after looking at the ‘how OS Fanboys and iPhone users see others’ diagrams. This was constructed entirely during Weekend Wogan using nary an expensive tool but good old Paint (and insert Fair Use for Hilarity Purposes copyright statement here):
In case some of the famous faces aren’t known, a brief primer for the discerning listener below the cut.