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Jason Parkes "We're all Frankies'" (Worcester, UK)
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Some Girls Wander By Mistake
Some Girls Wander By Mistake
Price: £12.35

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The early years..., 27 Jan. 2007
The Sisters of Mercy are a reminder that like Cocteau Twins & The Smiths of the potency of the single/e.p. format in the 1980s - building their sound over the releases compiled here and waiting five years before releasing their debut album `First and Last and Always.' Not something you'd get from bands these days or even in the last decade or so...

Some Girls Wander By Mistake was the compilation of their early years and a companion to the major label compilation A Slight Case of Overbombing. It includes their 1980 debut single The Damage Done, which became very collectable and was rumoured to have been paid for by the Psychedelic Furs' singer Richard Butler. I can't say that any of the three tracks are that exciting - The Damage Done is slightly better than the Gary Marx-compositions Watch and Home of the Hitmen.

The band expanded with the arrival of Craig Adams, later followed by guitarist Ben Gunn - a series of classic singles and e.p.'s were released. 1982's Body Electric b/w Adrenochrome was great stuff - drug inflected goth that nodded to their influences with included Motorhead, the Stooges & Suicide. Body Electric would be re-recorded for 1984's Body & Soul e.p., possibly in a superior version - while Adrenochrome remains a favourite, despite the fact its central guitar riff is a speeded up version of Bela Lugosi's Dead by Bauhaus!!!

The Furs' John Ashton produced the next wave of material - 1983's Anaconda b/w Phantom, the Alice/Floorshow/Phantom/1969 single, and the Reptile House e.p. Anaconda is a demented version of pop which some object to, I think it's fine, but do wonder why Good Things (which featured in a Peel Session of the era) didn't make the cut? Phantom is an extended soundtrack companion to the later Floorshow that featured on both the Anaconda and Alice singles and suggests the eclectic qualities that would become apparent in the "band" from 1983 to 1987.

Alice (later re-recorded in 1993) was a definite Sisters' classic, as was its companion Floorshow - both songs would survive in their live-sets over the following years. Alice is a chiming, spectral joy that sadly gave influence to a wave of bad goth acts with songs that have girls names in the title; while Floorshow has a primal dirgey bass that goes wonderfully with the Iggy-vocals and the lyrics that might be about a World War I trench or a moshpit at a Sisters concert! The cover of The Stooges' 1969 is sterling stuff, though sadly Adams and later Sisters' member Wayne Hussey would perform a dire version of it with their band the Mission. This one feels like Iggy fronting Suicide, which was probably the point.

The epic Reptile House e.p. was far more difficult and less catchy than its predecessor, though it appears to be a real fan's favourite and the six-tracks are probably the band's darkest collection of songs. Kiss the Carpet is an epic, slow approximation of metal whose lyrics fit with the narcotic haze of much of the band's material - it would be the common set opener for their concerts of the era. Lights is another ballad, Eldritch's whine "in the rain/in the rain" and the feel of the song would get extended on with later material like Afterhours & Some Kind of Stranger. Valentine is probably the most up-beat song here, which isn't saying much, and displays a more subtle sound that would give way to the joy that is Heartland on the next single. Fix is a junky-themed dirge with sinister moaning vocals followed by the circular guitars and pulsing drum machine of Burn and Eldritch's gothic moan...this is hardcore! Finally a brief reprise of Kiss the Carpet occurs, closing the densest release from the band called the Sisters of Mercy.

The compilation (non-linear) closes with 1983's final Merciful Release/indie single Temple of Love - this is the epic extended version of the title track, which again, would be re-recorded almost a decade later with guest vocals from the late Ofra Haza. It's much more epic and probably more rock and certainly lead to the exit of Gunn from the band (to be replaced by Hussey), later songs like This Corrosion, Dominion/Mother Russia and More came from this place! I always preferred the b-side Heartland which is a subtle refinement of material like Lights and Valentine, the Marx-Eldritch writing team clearly worked well, reaching its zenith on the second side of First and Last and Always. Finally there is a cover version of the Stones' Altamont anthem Gimme Shelter, which hasn't dated well but was one of their many notable cover versions played at the time (see Emma, Jolene, Gimme Gimme Gimme, Sister Ray, Ghost Rider , Teachers etc).

Some Girls Wander By Mistake is an enjoyable trawl through the early indie releases prior to the band signing up to Warners and disintegrating/metamorphosing soon after. Probably the best place to start with a band that seems to exist in a vague live form these days and were inescapable in the decade we call the 1980s.


A Merciful Release
A Merciful Release
Offered by YouWantIt-WeGotIt
Price: £29.14

64 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Box set of three Sisters albums thus far..., 24 Jan. 2007
This review is from: A Merciful Release (Audio CD)
This box-set collects together the three albums by the Sisters of Mercy released on Merciful Release via a Warners imprint and reissued in November last year by Rhino. Having bought all three albums at a reduced price I would have no reason to buy this, but if you haven't so far, then its well worth getting - the track listing is the same as the currently available versions of First and Last and Always, Floodland, and Vision Thing.

First and Last and Always (1985) was the Sisters of Mercy's debut album that followed several e.p. and single releases that had found them a devoted fan base. This was the sole album to feature founder members Andrew Eldritch and Gary Marx, with later members Craig Adams & Wayne Hussey. The album as a whole feels divided into two, the first side generally written by Eldritch and Hussey, as the latter half is composed by Eldritch & Marx. `Black Planet' is the dark opener that would be poorly reworked as `Dance on Glass' by The Mission on their debut LP - the lyrics look forward to the radiation clouds present on `Floodland' and Eldritch makes a dark joke by manipulating the "Turn on, tune in..." tag associated with Timothy Leary. Both single `Walk Away' and a reworked `A Rock and a Hard Place' are very poppy, emphasising Hussey's past in Dead or Alive. Second single `No Time to Cry' is a rare band composition and like several tracks here shows a keyboard sound that would be developed on `Gift' & `Floodland.' The first half closes on `Marian (version)' which is the darkest Eldritch-Hussey song with a hypnotic quality that drags the listener in to feel like the narrator...The second half opens with the title track which advances on the territory of `Body and Soul' and is followed by the dirgey `Possession' - the sole fruit of the short-lived trio Adams-Eldritch-Hussey. The debut concludes with a classic triad of `Nine While Nine', the burnt-out `Amphetamine Logic', & the epic ballad `Some Kind of Stranger' The Rhino reissues comes with all of the b-sides of the two singles, `Long Train' (originally a limited edition of `Walk Away' later on `Lucretia My Reflection'), and a demo version of `Stranger.' *****

Following a messy split and the `Gift' LP by the Sisterhood, a solo Eldritch with faithful drum machine recorded the apocalyptic `Floodland' with a number of collaborators including Jim Steinman, James Ray & Patricia Morrison. Released in 1987 amid the Cold War, Chernobyl and visitations of a drowned world, `Floodland' is probably the masterpiece. A much more epic, keyboard-based work it feels like the previous Sisters with aspirations that feel on one hand Pink Floyd, the other...er, Meat Loaf? The three singles `This Corrosion', `Dominion' (here with the extended `Mother Russia' rap in the style of Bowie's `We Are the Dead') and `Lucretia...' are all classics - though the epic version of `Corrosion' here is quite draining! It might be about someone called Hussey incidentally!!!...The two-part `Flood' is great, `I' keyboard driven and sounding not that far from Suicide, while `II' features more guitar while both share lyrics. There's another sequel in the form of `Driven Like the Snow', a relative of `Nine While Nine' made implicit by lyrical references and its title. A complete diversion is found with `1959', another ballad, here performed solely with piano making it feel like a relative of Depeche Mode's `Somebody.' The final track `Neverland (a fragment)' was a bit inconsiquential, now in the bonus track sequence there is the full-length version that has been performed recently by the band live. The other bonus tracks veer from the so-so (`Torch' and `Colours' - the latter a re-recording of the track found on `Gift') to their excellent cover of Hot Chocolate's `Emma' (which had been a live favourite for the earlier incarnation of the band). *****

Further line-up changes occurred and the keyboard heavy sound was traded in for one that had the guitars up to 11r - 1990 saw the release of `Vision Thing' and the return to live performance for the first time in five years for the "band." VT is very obvious, like certain Cult records of the era or Iggy Pop's `Instinct', only the Steinman-assisted `More' features keyboards akin to the previous album - a ridiculous song like `Paranoid Android' or `Stay Together' that is probably far too long - Eldritch's trademark "rap" is great when it comes and the end (complete with piano recalling the intro to `The Sun Always Shines on TV'!) is thoroughly addictive. I want more!...There are several standard rock tracks - `Dr Jeep', `Detonation Boulevard', `When You Don't See Me' and the title track - very effective and very obvious. Better are the two ballads `Something Fast' (the kind of song you wished Bowie had recorded between 1984 and 1991) and `I Was Wrong' - which is great if a bit indebted to The Cure's `In Your House.' The greatest track here and sort of a blend of earlier Sisters and `Cat People (Putting Out the Fire)' is `Ribbons', which is also repeated in a slightly faster (if no less effective) version in the bonus track sequence...The rest of the bonus tracks are decidedly average - a dull extended `Dr Jeep', a not very remixed `When You Don't See Me', a faithful live version of `Something Fast', and the poor b-side `You Could Be the One' - which is as bad as the worst stuff on `Midnight to Midnight.' Either *** or **** dependent on the mood in all honesty.

An odd release this since many will now have these reissues - I'm sure fans would like to see a box-set which could include previously unheard live recordings (the 1984 version of `Adrenechrome' from Utrecht is great), fave covers like `Jolene' and `Knockin' on Heaven's Door', the thus far unreleased Peel Sessions (including `Good Things', `Emma' & `Floorshow'), the `Body and Soul' e.p. in full, the `Under the Gun/Temple of Love' singles from the 90s, the early MR-releases, and who knows what else lurking in the vaults?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 11, 2014 5:13 PM BST


The Space Between
The Space Between

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent electronic collection from TG member, 24 Jan. 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Space Between (Audio CD)
The sleeve notes state the following, which you might want to be aware of:

`The Space Between was originally released in 1980 as a ninety minute cassette by Industrial Records. It has been digitally re-mastered and edited specifically for this CD version by Chris Carter at Studio 47, May 1991. The tracks were recorded between 1977 and 1980 at the studios of Industrial Records and Throbbing Gristle. Some were recorded onto cassette format and as such retain some of the qualities inherent in that medium. Total Playing Time: 76 minutes.'

I read about this album as a TG/Industrial Records-related product in Simon Ford's excellent history of COUM Transmissions and Throbbing Gristle, `Wreckers of Civilisation.' Enamoured with all things TG and liking the price in the marketplace, I decided to order it, since it is one of those IR-recordings like `The Worst of Monte Cazazza', `The Bridge', and `Disposable Half Truths' that complete the picture. It was later remixed by contemporary electronic souls, though I haven't had the pleasure as yet (`Ear One' I do believe).

Obviously all TG is good TG, even when it was punishing mind dreck! But the studio side of the band was dominated by resident electronic expert Chris Carter, his influence apparent on tracks such as `Distant Dreams Part Two', `Walkabout', `AB/7A', `United', `Dreamachine', `Something Came Over Me', `Hot on the Heels of Love', & `Adrenalin.' Obviously TG wasn't just Carter, but those electronic directions were key and if it is that side of the Gristle you dig, this is a place you really must visit. (Is that Cosey on the cover by the way?).

I think `The Space Between' is a key electronic album, one to rate up there with the best , see: `Love and Dancing', Suicide's second album, `Red Mecca', `Selected Ambient Works I', `I Hear a New World', `Incunabula', `Music Has the Right to Children', `E=MC2', `Autobahn' etc. Anyone interested in electronic music should proceed here, there are fantastic ambient moments (the closing `Resonance'), revisits to TG tracks (notably `Walkabout'), and many a joy that appears to have been the precedent for a label like Warp Records.

If in the mood for TG I listen to them a lot, but to be fair, you might not always want to listen to `Mission of Dead Souls', though I do think Nelly Furtado could go further if she covered `Guts on the Floor'! I bought this on a completist whim as it were quite cheap like, and was expecting some amateur recording and plenty to skip...how wrong were I? I think this is an addictive collection of instrumentals - though there is the odd vocal that sounds like Genesis on a few tracks - put it this way if you like electronic music or a TG track like `Distant Dreams Part Two', you should love this. An unexpected pleasure. I want to proceed in a Chris & Cosey/Carter Tutti direction, but they really need a reissue programme...can someone initiate? Supreme stuff and highly recommended anyways...


Pierrepoint [DVD] [2006]
Pierrepoint [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Timothy Spall
Price: £6.00

17 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent British film, 21 Jan. 2007
This review is from: Pierrepoint [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
Like the recent `Last King of Scotland', 2005's `Pierrepoint' (a.k.a. `The Last Hangman') is Lottery Funded and the type of project that really should be funded by charity - rather than `Sex Lives of the Potato Men' or some sub-Richard Curtis silliness (or worse, sub-Ritchie tripe). It's the kind of thing TV sometimes does, like the Samantha Morton/Jim Broadbent-vehicle centring on Myra Hindley and a Catholic Lord, but less so with formulaic TV these days (cop shows, reality shows, soap operas, talking head list shows, minor celebrities dancing or ice-skating or splitting the atom etc). It's the kind of thing that has sometimes been done in British cinema - the related `Dance with a Stranger' say, - but probably doesn't have many commercial prospects with its subject matter: capital punishment. Hardly `Love Actually', is it?

Written by Bob Mills (surely not the guy associated with all that bad TV?) and Jeff Pope and directed by Adrian Shergold, `Pierrepoint' dramatises in the way that many biopics do, the interesting life of an individual. Here this is Albert Pierrepoint, third of a family line of executioners in the United Kingdom - though he wasn't technically the last executioner prior to abolition as suggested by the film's alternate title.

We meet `Pierrepoint' as he starts his trade and strangely, as he courts the woman that would become his wife - the film then follows him over the years as he executes many, touching on the Nuremberg trials and such controversial executions as those of Timothy Evans (later found to be innocent) and Ruth Ellis. It doesn't really touch on the equally controversial Derek Bentley case - perhaps as this has already been done in the excellent `Let Him Have It.' Like many good biopics, it makes you want to find more out about its subject, so you can let go the fact that Pierrepoint's Nazi executions appear to all be in one session, when that wasn't the case.

Bizarrely the `Tish-storyline, which feels fictional, was actually true - reminding me a little of `Pennies from Heaven', which drew its influence from another murderer Pierrepoint executed as part of his role as Chief Executioner from the 1930s to the 1950s. Documents released following Pierrepoint's death in 1992 centre on his real reason to cease his work - he saw that capital punishment was no deterrent; the card at the end reveals a quote from him that it is merely revenge. A pertinent statement in light of recent Capital Punishment debates and events in the USA, Pakistan, Iran, China and US-occupied Iraq that have lead to people being cleared, executions being suspended, and global revulsion at a show trial/sectarian execution in the case of Saddam Hussein. `Pierrepoint' touches on this debate while also working as a reminder of the vile form of punishment we once had in this country and how we became civilised to end it.

`Pierrepoint' has a style that feels like a relative of Mike Leigh's `Vera Drake', while belonging to a downbeat group of films that people should watch despite their unappealing nature: Kieslowski's `A Short Film About Killing', Buscemi's `Animal Factory', Klimov's `Come and See', `Bully', `The Wind That Shakes the Barley', `The Magdalene Sisters', Pontecorvo's `Battle of Algiers', `Lilya 4 Ever', `Nil By Mouth', `The War Zone', `La Haine', '16 Years of Alcohol', `Paradise Now' etc. This is not to say it's as great a work as some of those films, but it comes from a more philosophical side of the film world - a film based around an issue rather than a genre or franchise.

The performances are uniformally excellent, Timothy Spall is always great and was probably the reason I rented this in the first place - a tragedy he didn't get laden with awards for his subtle performance. There are equally excellent performances from Juliet Stevenson, Eddie Marsan, Clive Francis (just the right side of caricature as Monty!), and Tobias Menzies.

Sometimes shocking, often sad, `Pierrepoint' is bizarrely a film I enjoyed very much - a film that lingers sometime after and will provoke debate in those that see it. Not that I changed my stance on capital punishment - which was probably influenced by Kieslowski's `Dekalog/A Short Film About Killing' or travesties like Timothy Evans or Derek Bentley already. Feel good? - probably not. Feel? - yes, a lot.


Fishscale
Fishscale
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £9.03

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Wu Tang Classic..., 21 Jan. 2007
This review is from: Fishscale (Audio CD)
It was likely that the members of the once mighty Wu-Tang Clan and their many relatives were becoming too prolific - releases post 1997 seemed too varied and many were lacking in quality. There became an idea that the initial wave of Wu-Tang Releases - 36 Chambers, Method Man's Tical, Raekwon's Only Built for Cuban Linx, Genius/GZA's Liquid Swords, Gravediggaz's 6 Feet Deep, ODB's Return to the 36 Chambers, & Ghostface Killah's Ironman set the bar too high and would remain unsurpassed. Follow-up albums by Genius/GZA, Ghostface and Method Man all seemed lacking, while the Cappadonna, Inspectah Deck, Masta Killa and U God albums were lacklustre. To be fair, you could still get a one or two disc compilation of classics from the many albums released, and the soundtrack to Ghost Dog: the Way of the Samurai is one of the greatest Wu-related releases. Fishscale follows Supreme Clientale, Ghostface's album that received a mixed reception - possibly as it wasn't Ironman?

There is a notion that acts and producers who have appeared in the wake of the Clan have surpassed them and that the RZA and co are no longer pioneers - something that could be argued when you hear a producer like Dangermouse or Timbaland, or acts like Kanye West, The Neptunes and Outkast/The Dungeon Family. Fishscale has countered that notion, a concept album centred around cocaine (the source being `Fish' from `Ironman' or tracks like `Glaciers of Ice' & `Ice Cream' from `Only Built 4 Cuban Linx' as well as the `Scarface' references common to hip hop). It's done very well critically and was seen as the best hip hop release of 2006, which is fair enough - though am sure this popularity will irk others to suggest other albums for that honour! There has already been a related follow up in December 2006 - `More Fish' - which isn't as great, but is worth getting if you want a bit more...

`Fishscale' offers 24 tracks, including a bonus track `Three Bricks' that features the Notorous BIG and frequent Ghostface-associate Chef Raekwon - I'm quite dubious about any BIG posthumous collaborations as I am the Tupac ones. There are may different producers - Lewis Parker, MoSS, Just Blaze, Metal Fingerz DOOM, J Dilla, Pete Rock, Crack Val, Xtreme, Cool & Dre etc - which helps give the album a varied feel, much like `Stankonia.' Likewise, Ghostface employs plenty of choice samples throughout as well as a cast of great collaborators including Raekwon, Wu-Tang Clan, Ne-Yo, Trife, Capadonna, Shawn Wigs, Sun God & Megan Rochell. Kanye West features on `Back Like That' and the opening song proper `Shakey Dog' is very similar in style to West's `Golddigga.'

The Wu-Tang collage `9 Milli Bros' is excellent and works despite the fact the ODB is deceased - a reformation is due, which could be a great thing (as well as Raekwon's upcoming sequel to `Cuban Linx'). `The Champ' taps into African-American boxing imagery and features a live band, while `Be Easy' has a sample as funky as something on De La Soul's `Three Foot High & Rising' - a killer hook for sure. `Whip You Like a Strap' is a celebrated exploration of Ghost's personal history, while `Kilo' is an addictive coke-themed track that sits easily alongside early Wu-Classics like `C.R.E.A.M.', `A Better Tomorrow', `1-800 Suicide', `Daytona 500', `Killah Hills...', & `Criminology.'

`Fishscale' does have those gangsta elements that many think ruined hip hop/rap, but I think it's valid if you consider it alongside artists like Bruce Springsteen (`Highway Patrolman', `Straight Time'), Lou Reed (`Street Hassle', `I'm Waiting for the Man') and Suicide (`Frankie Teardrop', `Harlem') who explore the dark side of lives too. It certainly feels like one of the highlights of 2006 and proves that the Wu-Tang saga is far from over...


Outside
Outside
Price: £7.02

17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A return to form..., 21 Jan. 2007
This review is from: Outside (Audio CD)
`1. Outside was supposed to be part of a millennial themed trilogy of works clearly modelled on Bowie's celebrated Berlin Trilogy - the presence of Brian Eno and the marketing of the record company at the time was a giveaway. Episodes 2 and 3 failed to appear, instead Bowie went drum'n'bass with his `Earthling' album and the great `Mother'-collaboration with Goldie.

The 1980s were bad for Bowie - he had great success with `Scary Monsters' and `Let's Dance' but creatively went into decline with the dire `Tonight' and `Never Let Me Down' albums. Worse than the `Dancing in the Street' single was the dull Tin Machine project, which somehow produced three albums that no one would really want to listen to. `Black Tie White Noise' and the soundtrack to `The Buddha of Suburbia' had some great moments and suggested that Bowie might return to the form of 1979/1980. `1.Outside' at least shows Bowie trying and was probably his best album since `Lodger' (one half of `Scary Monsters' still doesn't work for me!) - though I'd dispute the view here and elsewhere that it's one of Bowie's greatest albums to rank alongside `Hunky Dory', `Low' or "Heroes." Bowie here is more analogous to Neil Young - the results aren't always great, but at least he's trying...

This album was seen as an example of pre-millennium tensions, something that came very much into vogue with Massive Attack's `Mezzanine', Radiohead's `OK Computer' and Tricky's `Pre-Millennium Tension' - so Bowie was becoming influential again. The story is sub-Burroughs cut-up silliness, like many of the interludes here kind of unnecessary - the view that this should be re-cut down to several key songs holds up, the album should be edited into the following: 1. Outside 2. Heart's Filthy Lesson 3. A Small Plot of Land 4. Hallo Spaceboy 5. The Motel 6. I Have Not Been to Oxford Town 7. No Control 8. The Voyeur of Utter Destruction 9. Wishful Beginnings 10. We Prick You 11. I'm Deranged 12. Thru These Architect Eyes 13. Strangers When We Meet - which all sounds like a pretty decent LP to me! It might even make my Bowie Top 10 of albums...

Produced by Bowie and Eno with David Richards it's the sound of the Thin White One returning to the creative form he appeared to have lost - parts of `...Hours' and `Reality' were great, while `Heathen' was brilliant and a complete album to rank alongside that 1971 to 1977 peak. Nice to see some other usual suspects appearing here - Reeves Gabrels (despite Tin Machine!), Mike Garson, & Carlos Alomar as well as Eno. Garson's `Aladdin Sane' style piano features wonderfully on `The Motel' and `A Small Plot of Land' - even if his look circa `Earthling' reminded me of the keyboard player from Spinal Tap!!

The version of `Hallo Spaceboy' is much more industrial than the Pet Shop Boys version, showing that Bowie was probably listening to Ministry and Nine Inch Nails at the time. `I Have Not Been to Oxford Town' is one of Bowie's great pop songs and was quite effectively covered for Paul Verhoeven's ironic fascist movie `Starship Troopers.' `1.Outside' has further film/TV connections, from single `Strangers When We Meet' (which was originally on the soundtrack to `Buddha of Suburbia'), to `I'm Deranged' (which opened and closed David Lynch's excellent `Lost Highway'), and single `Heart's Filthy Lesson' - which was much more effective with those scary titles at the end of the rather bleak serial killer movie `Se7en.' My favourite song is the title track which literally sounds like Bowie finding his way again and sounds contemporary - like Scott Walker's Climate of Hunter colliding with the Cure - I think Radiohead from 1997 onwards might have been influenced? The keyboards are a bit proggy too, which is probably a great thing. "Now. Not tomorrow. Yesterday. Not tomorrow. It happens again. The damage today..." - the song was quite vague, especially if you found the Baby Grace/Adler-storyline tedious or impervious. The song seems quite meaningful with time and `Outside', like a few songs here, is one of several songs I'd hope Bowie would play if/when he tours again.

`1.Outside' was a return to form, but there is quite a bit of chuff here - program those tracks above in and it makes more sense. In the Bowie-scheme of things more a Lodger or a Heathen than a Tin Machine or a Tonight. Someone should do a compilation of this era, taking in a few Buddha-tracks, something like `The Dreamers' from `...Hours', the re-recording of `I Can't Read', or his NIN-version of `I'm Afraid of Americans' - `Heathen' didn't come from nowhere and `1. Outside' was the sound of Bowie becoming interesting again...
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 25, 2010 3:09 PM BST


Another Girl Another Planet The Best Of
Another Girl Another Planet The Best Of
Price: £15.35

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cash in compilation of great band..., 21 Jan. 2007
Another Girl Another Planet is a compilation of material from the great cult band The Only Ones, its title and key track stems from a TV ad campaign that used the song and a cover version of it. This has reportedly been a good financial thing for Peter Perrett and there are rumours of a reunion, which would be deserved since the band didn't get more than critical acclaim during their career from 1977 to 1981 (& health apart, Peter Perrett's The One in the 1990s were great live).

This compilation is an exercise in the obvious, the three stars are for the averageness of the package and the emphasis on Another Girl, Another Planet - already their singularly most popular moment having featured in the film Me Without You, been on New Wave compilation the Sound of the Suburbs, countless other compilations of that era, and having been covered by the Replacements. It's a less well thought out relative of the previous single disc compilation `The Immortal Story' released in the 1990s. If a one disc, budget priced compilation of the Only Ones is required, then `The Immortal Story' is the one. It should be pointed out that for not much more than the cost of this compilation you can get the two disc `Why Don't You Kill Yourself?' collection of CBS recordings, which is pretty much comprehensive (though I think their Peel Sessions album was brilliant and is as good a primer as any since it includes all their key tracks and isn't quite as produced as the originals).

Three stars for five star material is the case - along with the slightly cheap budget priced look of the cover, the selection is less interesting than the tracklist on `The Immortal Story' and I'd wonder if songs like City of Fun, Trouble in the World, Fools, & Out There in the Night should make a first division of Only Ones - when songs like Telescopic Love, Curtains for You, The Immortal Story, In Betweens, & Baby's Got a Gun don't make the cut?

The Only Ones were one of the great cult acts, a definitive example of the type of band who were pioneering and revered, who sadly never made the big-time; see The Replacements, Big Star, The Go-Betweens, New York Dolls, The Sound etc. They have been cited by and their influence can be detected in many acts too - Luke Haines/The Auteurs, the `Mats, The Libertines/Babyshambles, The Sisters of Mercy (whom John Perry played with), The Pretenders (who covered Lovers of Today), Anderson/Butler-Suede, The Smiths, Husker Du, Mansun, The Lemonheads, Blink182, etc. A band who like the Stranglers and the Police were probably too proficient musicians or old for punk? - their sound is sometimes as polished as early Dire Straits, though they fitted into a rubric alongside such acts as Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers (who Perrett & Mike Kellie played with), Richard Hell & the Voidoids, New York Dolls, & the Dead Boys.

The songs? - of course they were brilliant. The three CBS albums `The Only Ones', `Even Serpents Shine' and `Baby's Got a Gun' were great and much of their key material is here. `Lovers of Today' is as great as `Another Girl...' , while `Flaming Torch', the bleak `Miles from Nowhere', `No Peace for the Wicked', `Oh Lucinda (Love Becomes a Habit)', & the caustic `Why Don't You Kill Yourself' are all present and correct. There are lots of junky themed songs - `Another Girl..' like the LA's `There She Goes' and Blur's `Beetlebum' has lyrical imagery that appears to refer to shooting heroin. Meanwhile `Miles from Nowhere' is the new wave equivalent of `Against Nature', and the downbeat epics `The Beast' and `The Big Sleep' showcase the darkest side of things...

`Another Girl...' is worth buying for a few quid if you haven't got a compilation already, or can't find `The Immortal Story', or aren't willing to get the completist CBS recordings compilations. Every home should have an Only Ones record, and it would be nice if folk realised that there is much more to the Only Ones career than the fantastic `Another Girl, Another Planet'...


A Stich In Time
A Stich In Time
Price: £6.81

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Companion to Powder Burns..., 21 Jan. 2007
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This review is from: A Stich In Time (Audio CD)
` a stitch in time' is a companion to Twilight Singers' 2006 album `Powder Burns', three of the tracks (`sublime', `they ride' & `the lure would prove too much') feel like leftovers from those sessions - which the presence of Joseph Arthur, former Afghan Whig colleague Rick McCollum (in a co-writing capacity) et al suggests. Parts of the production like `Powder Burns' seem a little slick and were much better live when the Twilight Singers toured (...a live album could be a great thing, especially the points where Dulli was on his tod on the piano or when Mark Lanegan appeared!).

Lanegan has a history with Dulli - both were in great bands that were kind of tainted by the whole Grunge Phenomenon and the pair were rumoured to have been housemates during the chemical years that followed. Dulli had previously guested on 2003's `Here Comes the Weird Chill'/the following year's `Bubblegum' on the mighty `Methamphetamine Blues' and Lanegan returned the favour on the Twilight Singers' covers album `She Loves You.' Lanegan joined up the Twilight Singers tour (just at the time his collaboration with Isobel Campbell was doing very well!) and surfaced halfway through the set and sometime for the encore for several tracks including `Where Did You Sleep Last Night. Lanegan features on two tracks here, a brilliant cover of the Terry Callier-fronted Massive Attack song `Live with Me', which is perfect for those gnarly vocals, and for another cover version `Flashback' (I won't pretend to be familiar with the original). The e.p. is worth buying for those two tracks alone, though `sublime' is great - the vocal interplay between Arthur and Dulli is similar to that of Dulli and Lanegan and Greg sounds a bit like Lanegan sometimes (as the lead singer of Comets on Fire sounds like Dulli on `Lucifer's Memory!).

This is a fine companion to `Powder Burns' and a taster for the upcoming Dulli/Lanegan collaboration as the Gutterhearts/Gutter Hearts (has anyone told Marc Almond?). Between that Lanegan is touring last year's `Ballad of the Broken Seas' with Campbell, which must mean Dulli is about to work with Belle & Sebastian? Maybe not...


Station To Station [Japanese Mini Vinyl Replica]
Station To Station [Japanese Mini Vinyl Replica]

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reissue of Bowie's 1976 masterpiece, 20 Jan. 2007
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It's always great to see another version of Station to Station, the Bowie album that I feel is probably his greatest and certainly my favourite work of his. He had released several classic albums already - Hunky Dory, Ziggy, Aladdin Sane, Young Americans - but this took him into another realm. Bizarrely this was recorded at a very bleak point in Bowie's life, addiction directly referred to in the title track ("It's not the side effects of the cocaine, I'm thinking that it must be love..."), dead Playboy model lovers on the Pacific Coast Highway, Diabolism & Occult related practices, a Hollywood Abyss, & appearing as an alien in the Man Who Fell to Earth in his spare time. Bowie wasn't in a good place, this album came from there and manages to transcend all that.

There is a slight hangover from the plastic soul period of the previous year, which is great as it compliments the cocaine-inflections and the European elements. Bowie was looking back at Europe - the European Canon is here - and moving towards the Berlin-period that would produce the sequence centred on The Idiot-Lust for Life-Low-"Heroes"-Christiane F-Stage-TV Eye & Lodger which advanced his rejected soundtrack for the Man Who Fell to Earth and his Krautrock directions.

The title track opens with a three-minute plus intro before Bowie begins to sing - the whirring noise that opens is pure Neu! - whom Bowie was rumoured to have approached the following year prior to hooking up with Eno! The character the Thin White Duke appears here (Lester Bangs, a fan of this LP, only had a problem with the opening line!) and the station's here appear to be those of the Cross (though Kraftwerk had different ideas the following year with the Bowie/Pop featuring `Trans Europe Express'!). The gearshift five or so minutes into `Station to Station' always seem life affirming to me, there's real as well as plastic soul here (as there was on much of `Young Americans'), and the song is stuck in a wonderful groove as Roy Bittan, Dennis Davis, Carlos Alomar, Earl Slick & George Murray back Bowie repeating "It's too late! It's too late! It's too late!...the European Canon is here." Probably Bowie's greatest moment and not the side effects of the cocaine, thinking that it must be one in a million...

`Golden Years', which was a hit and later covered by Loose Ends, is a cooler relative of the `Young Americans'-material. Perhaps it was the side effects of the cocaine? `Station to Station' fits into that rubric of albums seemingly infected with the taint of Bolivian Marching Powder: There's a Riot Goin' On, Exile on Main Street, Greetings from LA, 461 Ocean Boulevard, Gaucho...'Golden Years' again feels life affirming - "nothing's gonna touch you" feels more positive than negative. It sets the tone perfectly for the epic ballad `Word on a Wing', which sounds like 70s- Pink Floyd playing soul - not as bad as you might think! Bowie's version of soul feels highly individual, the soul elements like those Krautrock designs appeared to have gone into the Bowie-machine and come out as something that only Bowie could do. The point in `Word on a Wing' where Bowie declares "I'm ready to shake the scheme of things/I'm ready..." seems really important. It should also be pointed out that `Station to Station' offers some of the greatest repetition in popular music.

`Station to Station' has a feel, something deeper throughout - even Bowie's ode to his video camera `TVC15' sounds meaningful! The "uh-uh-uh" harmony is brilliant, as effective as the brilliant backing vocals on the previous album and the part of the song that veers off into "transition...transmission...transition...transmission oh my TVC15 oh-oh! TVC 15 oh my TVC15 oh oh TVC15 oh my TVC15 oh oh TVC15 oh my TVC15 TVC15 oh my TVC15 TVC15..." always does it for me for some reason. The words appear to mean nothing, the artist making the songs appeared to be close to nothing, but it feels like everything. Strange.

The album stays as strong as it has been thus far with the funky epic `Stay', which feels like a relative of Chic - Alomar & Slick's guitar work is wild stuff and like Can's `Halleluwah' and `Moonshake' this feels like a precursor of a lot of indie-dance stuff a decade or so later (the live version of 'Stay' is great too). Lyrically Bowie might be singing to a lover, but I like to think he's singing to himself in the mirror, just before he peels his eyes off and draws something awful on the carpet. Events close on a gorgeous cover of the Diomkin/Washington track `Wild is the Wind' (also covered by Nina Simone & Cat Power), which may very well have related to a rumour at the time that Bowie was going to play Frank Sinatra in a film (???). Bowie has stated in the odd interview that it's his best vocal and there was nothing as bizarre as Bowie & band playing it on the idiotic TV show TFI Friday eight years ago. It's a gorgeous torch song, one of longing and one that feels like it has certainly influenced a few acts that followed - notably Associate Billy Mackenzie (who also recorded it).

`Station to Station' was where Bowie got really interesting - with `Low' and "Heroes" it forms what I feel is his peak. It's the album where he starts to find himself again. It towers over a lot of records in the late 1970s and early 1980s that it partly influenced - Brian Eno liked it and changed his mind about Bowie (Bowie & Roxy had played together earlier and Eno objected to something in the Bowie camp) and acts like Ultravox!, Japan, Simple Minds, Associates, ABC, Spandau Ballet, Duran et al probably would have been a bit lost without it. I've bought Station to Station several times already. This is another version I will buy as it's my favourite Bowie album. Wouldn't You?

Many happy returns to the Thin White One...
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Sacrilege
Sacrilege
Price: £24.47

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remix project of Krautrock gods..., 20 Jan. 2007
This review is from: Sacrilege (Audio CD)
Released in 1997 and aligned to the material found on the lovely Can DVD released a few years ago, `Sacrilege' is a remix project centring on one of the most evolutionary bands of all time, the mighty Can. The core line-up of Holger Czukay, Irmin Schmidt, Jaki Liebezeit & the late Michael Karoli appeared to approve of this approach taken towards their material - evident in the sleeve notes and on the documentary part of the Can DVD (& also the highly amusing video of Westbam's take on `I Want More' that the foursome cut an amusing rug to). Like Bill Laswell's retake of late 60s/early 70s Miles Davis `Panthalassa', the similar `Mutant TG' remix of Throbbing Gristle works & the second disc of Gang of Four's `Return the Gift' there is a very contemporary feel to the tracks here - with Can I'm still not sure if it is the remixer or the work that is being remixed?

The title, explained by Schmidt in the DVD documentary, nods to some people's idea of what remixing Can appeared to tantamount: sacrilege. Daniel Miller points out that certain key Can fans from the world of rock and roll declined the offer of remixing - Mark E Smith, Julian Cope, John Lydon. They appeared to have thought the originals were untouchable, which is more than fair enough, and something Brian Eno appears to have wrestled with according to his sleeve notes here (all the remixers say a little something). But the originals are all lovingly restored and remastered and thoroughly available - this is a bonus take on the mighty Can, which is not for everyone but feels thoroughly necessary. Especially when many recent acts nod their way - Primal Scream (`Burning Wheel's intro is `Future Days'!), Kasabian, & Death in Vegas and their influence has been acknowledged/referenced/borrowed by such acts as David Bowie, Happy Mondays, Sonic Youth, Wire, Julian Cope, Loop, David Sylvian, Public Image Ltd, Radiohead, Talk Talk, Alan Warner, Throbbing Gristle (who seem quite analogous to them and a band dependent on what each individual brought without commercial concessions), Ultravox!, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lo Fidelity All Stars, Stereolab, The Fall & tons of others (there are many mentions of them as an influence in John Robb's recent Punk Rock history).

The sixteen different versions here approach Can material from Delay 1968 (Eno's Pnoom), Ege Bamyasi (Sonic Youth's Spoon; the U.N.K.L.E. mix of Vitamin C), Unlimited Edition (Kevorkian's Blue Bag; Bruce Gilbert's take on TV Spot), Soundtracks (Tango Whiskeyman by A Guy Called Gerald), Tago Mago (the Orb's version of Halleluwah; Gareth Jones & Daniel Miller's reworking of Oh Yeah & Secret Knowledge's version of the latter too), Future Days (Carl Craig's Blade Runner mix), Flow Motion (Westbam's reworked I Want More & Air Liquide's mix of the title track), & Monster Movie (Father Cannot Yell by Pete Shelley & Black Radio & Yoo Doo Right by 3P). In addition, there is the intriguing Unfinished Hiller/Kaiser/Leda Mix & System 7's collision of Soon Over Babaluma's Dizzy Dizzy and Ege Bamyasi's Spoon - which should satisfy those mystified by Sonic Youth's slowed down version of the latter!

It's all highly listenable and makes you think of the originals and how groundbreaking they were that they can give way to seemingly endless versions of themselves. The Miller/Jones take on Oh Yeah is great, as is the Westbam `...And More', Craig's breakbeat ridden `Future Days' , Gilbert's eclectic `TV Spot' & Eno's too brief `Pnoom.' It's kind of surprising that certain records aren't alluded to - it would be interesting to hear a reworking of Landed's Verbal Equinox, Rite Time's Below this Level, Can's All Gates Open, or Saw Delight's Animal Waves. I think another contemporary remix of Can should be done in the future and tracks like those should be tackled, as well as attention given to tracks like Mushroom, Bel Air, Mother Sky, Aumgn, I'm So Green, Moonshake, Splash, Chain Reaction, Thief & Last Night Sleep that I'd love to hear a remix of.

I bought this in a sale alongside a similarly reduced Can DVD and the two compliment each other wonderfully, giving a dimension to a band that always seemed to have infinite dimensions anyway. More than interesting then...


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