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Songs in A&E

12 customer reviews

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Songs in A&E + Lazer Guided Melodies + Amazing Grace
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Product details

  • Audio CD (26 May 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Universal
  • ASIN: B0014KWQGQ
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 36,473 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Harmony 1 (mellotron)
2. Sweet Talk
3. Death Take Your Fiddle
4. I Gotta Fire
5. Soul On Fire
6. Harmony 2 (piano)
7. Sitting On Fire
8. Yeah Yeah
9. You Lie You Cheat
10. Harmony 3 (voice)
11. Baby I'm Just A Fool
12. Don't Hold Me Close
13. Harmony 4 (the old man ...)
14. The Waves Crash In
15. Harmony 5 (accordian)
16. Borrowed Your Gun
17. Harmony 6 (glockenspiel)
18. Good Night Goodnight

Product Description

Amazon.co.uk

The title Songs to Sing in A&E isn't simply a reference to Jason Pierce's chords of choice on this, the sixth album from Spiritualized. Rather, it's a blackly comic reference to the events that preceded this album's creation--specifically, a bout of pneumonia that saw Pierce fighting for his life from a hospital bed. Spiritualized, however, have always specialised in transforming personal travails into great art, and there's something morbidly compelling about a song like "Death Takes Your Fiddle", a chilly blues song accompanied by the wheeze of an artificial respirator. There may be some unfortunate repercussions from Pierce's illness: his voice sounds somewhat frail in comparison to the brave soul we found on 1997's Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space, and this rather seems to expose occasional shortcomings in his lyrics (to follow a song called "I Gotta Fire" with "Soul on Fire" and then "Sitting on Fire" suggests wells of inspiration may be running low). One thing's for sure, though, Pierce is a fine arranger. Lush strings, choirs and flourishes of percussion flesh out simple acoustic songs into impressive symphonies. Meanwhile, "Yeah Yeah" proves Pierce still has a way with an itchy, strung-out blues stomp. --Louis Pattison

BBC Review

As the old cliche goes; reports of Jason Pierce's demise have been greatly exaggerated. His recent escape from double pneumonia has been widely talked of, but it may be wrong to place too much emphasis on the whole brush-with-death aspect of Songs In A & E. Most of these songs were written before his bout with illness with the newest material here being some gorgeous instrumental interludes (H1-6) composed in honour of friend, Harmony Korine for whom he composed the score for last year's film, Mister Lonely (and whose wife, Rachel duets with him on Don't Hold Me Close). Yet it was the songs' very prescience that made returning to the project such a source of turmoil. ''Think I'll drink myself into a coma, I''ll take every way out I can find'' he croaks on Death Take Your Fiddle. The song even has the faltering breath of a patient on a respirator as its accompaniment. The grim reaper's boney fingerprints are all over this album.

But Songs In A&E is ultimately positive and strangely life-affirming despite ending with the words: ''funeral parlour, funeral parlour...''. He's been brought back to us with a sense of renewed purpose and even vigour. The gospel choir is still here as is the orchestra and, despite the constant reference to fire and flames, this album is more heavenly than demonic.

Since Ladies And Gentlemen... Pierce has been toying with American song forms, from gospel to rock. Now with an abundance of acoustic-driven songs he adds a backwoods folk ambience. But with the Spaceman now the only remaining member of the original clan, and with two of Julian Cope's sidemen involved on a regular basis it makes perfect sense that the most hopped-up moments here are reminiscent of early Can. Pierce's voice, ravaged by illlness and time now resembles that of the krautrock legend's first singer, Malcolm Mooney. On the rattling wah wah fest of I Gotta Fire it sits somewhere between pleading and resignation and lifts these two chord vamps into testaments of spiritual and emotional exorcism. A song like Sitting On Fire has him paying for past crimes. New love is pitted against an old flame that threatens to drag him back from the edge of release and redemption. But such honesty just conveys a maturity that's been missing from his more hedonistic excesses in the past. Kevin Shields has been quoted talking about how Pierce/Spaceman has a 'realness' that sets him apart and maybe it's this quality that's finally come to the fore.

Yes, the huge slabs of Phil Spector-on-acid noise that he conjured up on Let It Come Down have been tamed somewhat, but those worried that this is some unplugged affair will be pleased to know that Pierce still doesn't know the meaning of restraint, when it matters. The album's central wig-out moment, Baby I'm Just A Fool, builds from simple strumming to a free jazz blow out.

This was always Pierce's genius: The ability to take such simplicity and make it seem effortlessly affecting. And while the final song, Goodnight Goodnight, may return us to the post-sartori come down that he specialises in, you feel that what drives him now is more emotional than chemical, just as he always protested. Now, more than ever, Spiritualized are less about the trip into the outer limits and more about the frailty of love and mystery of individual existence. As such, Songs... may be his finest moment. --Chris Jones

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Colonel Kurtz on 8 April 2008
Format: Audio CD
Patchy? Who said 'patchy'? Hardly. I've only given this album one listen yet it's beauty is instant. It's a wonderful album. No white noise freak outs like on Ladies & Gentlemen, just pure harmony, soft instrumentation on most tracks....some more up tempo but not abrasively so. It has the feel of his acoustic mainlines shows from last year which were out of this world where joy can be found in the most sad heart ripped open lyrics and songs.

On the subject of harmony, whilst the album is 18 tracks long 6 of these are interludes called Harmony 1 thru to 6. Strange sounding instrumentals that I can only assume were the sounds Jason was talking of when he said the hospital machines were musical. Only a guess. I really like them.

At 51 mins its hardly over long so I really doubt whether anyone would say it is.

Anyways, it's a stunner. Can't wait to get an official copy of it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Chris Widgery VINE VOICE on 2 July 2008
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I've never been one for the jazz themed white noise thrashouts so beloved of Mr Pierce, but always loved the droney cathedral rock of his earlier days (which I appreciate is just as unmusical to some ears - I absolutely love Pure Phase). Ladies and Gentlemen is undoubtedly his masterpiece (jazz themed white noise thrashouts notwithstanding), but why oh why did I not buy a second copy and keep the first fresh in its pill box?

Anyway, post L&G the work declined. Some decent stuff on Let it come down, but I didn't bother with Amazing Grace. This is a return to form. I agree wholeheartedly with the reviewer who said he might need a bit more inspiration when it comes to song titles, but the songs and music are back. I cannot stop listening to Death Take Your Fiddle and Baby I'm Just a Fool.

Not his best, but not far short.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Elliot Davies on 7 April 2008
Format: Audio CD
When I clocked that this album features no less than eighteen tracks, I sighed in anticipation of the tedious criticisms that this would inevitably reap: "Were this album a more succinct ten tracks or so it would have been a classic, but it appears unfocused and several tracks feel like unnecessary filler". Yeah yeah. I've not seen any reviews for this yet, but I'll wager that at least one reviewer will offer the above sentiments in their assessment. It's a tedious inevitability.

But...listening to this, I can sort of see where these (hypothetical) reviewers are coming from. Sort of. Almost. Whilst the album does not feel unbalanced or overlong (though containing 18 tracks it's only 51 minutes in total), some tracks are undoubtedly weaker. That's not to dismiss them as filler, however. These...inferior tracks can still create an impression. "Death Take Your Fiddle", for instance, is the most overtly disturbing song ever penned by Mr. Pierce, sampling, as it does, a respirator. It might just be me that finds the sounds of medicine so distressing, but I find that particular song to be a most uncomfortable listen.

The other "lesser tracks", "I Gotta Fire", and "Yeah Yeah" are simply too short. They're immediate and exciting like the best bits of Amazing Grace, but they fail to build upon their ideas and, as such, are wholly unfulfilling. They're not BAD songs, they're just not good enough...

Well, all of these "lesser tracks" appear during the first half of the album, which itself isn't short of merits. The opening duo of "Harmony 1" and "Sweet Talk" is gorgeous: Atmospheric, heartbreaking, huge...think "Broken Heart" or "Stop Your Crying". The single, too, "Soul on Fire", has a timeless quality about it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Flickering Ember TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 24 Dec. 2008
Format: Audio CD
A very interesting album, Songs In A&E had escaped my notice when it was released but I recently read very flattering things about this album when looking at the end-of-year editions of various music magazines, as it featured in many of their top 50 albums of the year lists.

The music at times sounds as if it's underwater; it's that sort of dreamy, muffled, slightly disorientating sound where you cannot hear it clearly and wonder if you or it are really quite all there.

It's dreamy and ethereal and makes you think and listen, and although it's soothing and relaxing, it at least kept me stimulated. My favourite track is Do It All Over Again.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 28 May 2008
Format: Audio CD
I'm going to guess that the title of "Songs in A&E" refers to Jason Pierce nearly dying of pneumonia during the album's recording.

It's a relatively appropriate title for Spiritualized's latest album, because the lyrics are all about illness -- not of the body, but the distrust and bleakness inside a soul. It's a relatively dark sound for the music -- a satiny mass of ethereal mellotron, brass, guitar and soaring strings, when Pierce isn't driving it into darker areas of rock'n'roll.

"Well, you sweet talk like an angel/With a heart full of lies," J Spaceman (aka Jason Pierce) creaks over a bittersweetly gorgeous pop ballad, backed by a suitably angelic-sounding "ooooooooo"-singing chorale. By the time the trumpets blast in, the song has built itself up to a truly epic climax -- and Pierce is still singing bleakly about how the lover who sweet-talks like an angel.

Bask in the glow for a moment. There are plenty of songs in this vein, like the warmly psychedelic, unabashedly upbeat "Soul Fire," as well as dramatic pop epics, some ghostly little folk ballads wrapped in mellotron and strings. And despite its un-intimate-sounding title, "Don't Hold Me Close" is a weirdly soothing little stretch of somnolent pop, which sounds like it was fed through an old radio.

But not all these songs are feel-good ones. The unnerving folk "Death Take Your Fiddle" is punctuated with the respirator's creak, there are a couple of swirling psychpop numbers, and a Rolling-Stonesian blues-rocker "Yeah Yeah!" And near the end, Pierce drives us into creepsville with "Borrowed Your Gun," a weird little number about a little boy telling Dad he's sorry "I borrowed your gun again/shot up your family...
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