How Bowie could not give everything away

The temptation was to return to blog posting on Monday 11th January. This was the day the world at large heard of the passing of the music icon, artist, rock god, known to most of us as David Bowie. But jumping in with a somewhat raw statement was a thing many seemed to be doing. Many articles interesting to read, but with a slight whiff of “getting my angle out first”, before someone else does. And did I have anything different to say anyway?

I listened to “Blackstar” the final David Bowie album prior to his passing, on its day of release, David’s birthday, the 8th of January. Before release I had read reviews, most of which said the same thing, little bit of a departure, return to form, generally pretty good, the jazz musicians here have a good thing going on. I played it twice that day. It was not underwhelming as hyped albums often are. It is interesting, but does need a few plays to open up, usually the sign of a good album. It has since grown on me some more. It is somewhat different compared to preceding album “The next day” which whilst enjoyable, was a fair nod to the past. This one different musicians, a different sound not really “bit of the weird”, but still some mystery, still engaging. A bit, well, Bowie really. Somewhat of a delight.

But there was somewhat of a feeling something a little off. Not in the quality of the album but the messages as an art piece. The black star, a metaphor? Paying respects? Remembrance of the Starman? Note, also a cancer reference (although I didn’t know that at the time). The bleak feel of both music and lyrics, and slightly detached lyrical references such as “Look at me, I’m in heaven”. The Lazarus video. But also interesting that choice of last track. I’ve always liked the album as a concept and always found the choice of the final track something to think about. If this is the final thing you do, or at least until the next one, then that track is what you sign off with. With Backstar we got “I can’t give everything away”.

Seeing more and feeling less
Saying no but meaning yes
This is all I ever meant
That’s the message that I sent

The most “pop” song on the album. Using the classic pop song trick of saying less but seemingly saying more. Well more to interpret, so more questions anyway. Listen to the chorus with “I can’t give everything”, then as it pauses before “away”, and wonder what he is actually referring to. Good songs are often written to provide a relatable thing to draw us in, and ambiguity or space left for our own interpretation. This album seemed very layered off the first few listens, and even more so now we know that he knew, that this might be his last. It makes for poignant listening now, especially that last track. Telling us something, and having a laugh with its possibilities as an art piece. And in that, tellingly, was one of my favorite things about Bowie.

As anyone familiar with Bowie’s music knows, a journey through the albums in order yields a journey through different musical styles, different characters, different moods and messages. But aside from inhabiting different roles, David has consistently worked with different musicians. Musicians who bring something different to his songs and melodies, making an easier transistion to work different ideas or go in different directions, from what had been recorded before. Often to great effect. The seventies in particular yielded a run of albums that might be unparalleled in both quality and styles. Try Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust, Diamond dogs, Station to station, Low, as just some. The first two alone would make most careers! Arguably the eighties and nineties are more of a mixed bag, but plenty of high points in there. But what makes them good is not the ability to change, experiment and try something new, but the ability to connect. Good songs engage the listener in some way. Words might tell a story, or share a common experience or feeling, but also allow the listener to bring their perspective into it. Maybe a phrase in the verse or chorus when attached to a melody, or sung a certain way, connects emotionally. On the flip side, the music might hook in the listener via a myriad of ways. A catchy melody or beat, a guitar riff, or a new noise, a certain tempo or key. If you get this with both the words and music you get good and often great work. Bowie had this  understanding with music. He had this great way of bending convention, creating mystery and inner beauty, drawing in all kinds of different people who realized that yes, there is a place for them. He could change styles yes, but still with an eye on engaging the listener. Making that connection. Highlighting the different places in art, and inviting in the different people who inhabit or enjoy them. When you can do this with different musicians and make the connections consistently then it also brings something else. Possibilities.

There are a lot of bands or musicians out there, we all have our favorites, who mainly work on variations on a theme. Similar stuff each time. Sometimes that not a bad thing, sometimes it is, giving the impression of nothing else to offer or a creative tank run dry. Bowie though, always had possibilities. Somewhere else he might go. Sure some might say “well it’s possible anyone might do this or do that” in an anything is possible sense. But with Bowie things were possible in a real sense. He was not afraid to go somewhere different. It made things exciting, interesting, worth experiencing and seeing where the connections might lead. What different layers might exist, what new discoveries  might be found. He influenced people, and sometimes changed their lives just by showing us what possibilities are, what could be realized. What being different is. Not everything worked but a lot of it did. His hit ratio better than most. Wonderful quality control. Wonderful talent. It really did feel like the possibilities were endless because he was that good. His body of work speaks to this, as does his sphere of influence. And he always understood that in creating the layers, you leave a bit of room for the listener to bring themselves into it. That bit of mystery. That bit of ambiguity. Don’t give everything away, even if you want to. That last track on Blackstar, no? Even at the end he wanted to explore that space between connections and possibilities. We might ask, is that what he really meant? And he might answer that is all he ever meant.

David Bowie I always loved your work. As one of the true icons in a musical sense, you were right up there at the top. After time away from music, from 2003 till the next day, I came to appreciate your work even more, if that is possible. More reason to enjoy what you brought to us. Blackstar your final gift on your terms. Your death, a loss to many. Thank you for the art and the inspiration, the connections and the possibilities. Thanks for not giving it all away and leaving us more to find and learn about, and understand. Thank you for the music.

P.S. Just yesterday I was listening to the Ziggy Stardust album for the, I don’t know, 500th time. I still notice things going on with the vocals or guitars, and how the sound is used that I had not noticed before. So good…

Blur – The alternative take

What do you need to know about them?

Blur are (or were) a British pop / rock band consisting of four band members; Damon Albarn (mainly vocals and keyboards), Graham Coxon (Guitar), Alex James (Bass), and Dave Rowntree (Drums). They appeared in 1991, before stopping around 2003 after Damon and Graham had a falling out. They made friends again and re-appeared for some emotional gigs in 2009, including a triumphant headline slot at Glastonbury, and a Hyde park gig recorded and later released . They won the Brit award for “outstanding contribution to music” at the 2012 Brits. If you are British I don’t see how you cannot know who they are. They are pretty much a British institution, most people have a soft spot for them. If you are American, you may know them, might know them for “Song 2”, or won’t have a clue.

Where did I first become acquainted?

Quite probably from fairly early on. In the summer of 1993 I was working in the warehouse of a crappy retail chain. A least it afforded me the opportunity to have the radio on all day, at a time when I was really getting into music again. I loved “For Tomorrow” and was excited about the follow up singles. This being a time when single releases could still be a little exciting. That sounds a bit daft these days. Anyhoo, I got the album “Modern life is rubbish” and never looked back.

Parklife was an even better follow up and took them on to huge success in the UK. In 1995 when they had the singles war with Oasis for number one “Country house” Vs “Roll with it”. I bought both editions of the Blur single. And the Oasis single. Sadly both these efforts were pretty weak for both bands at the time. Still it was fun at the time.

The single Beetlebum actually got me into the band Pavement which in turn gave me one of my favourite albums of all time, Pavement’s “Brighten the corners”.

What to buy:

Depends what mood I’m in. I have everything including the album of remixes, and a live bootleg. However this is my post, so I’m choosing:

  • Blur – The one influenced by American bands after getting a bit fed up of Britpop. Has song 2 (everyones heard of that).
  • Parklife – The 2nd album, the big britpop one, chic full of good tracks and singles.
  • Modern life is rubbish – The second album containing lots of pop, but a bit less melodic than Parklife. Still a fab album, one that reminds me a lot of College.
  • 13 – The broken hearted Damon one, a bit more “art rock” whatever that means, more Graham guitar brilliance, more introspective lyrics.

Some key tracks to listen to:

There is a really good singles compilation (yep I have that too, even though I already have all the tracks), so that is a good place to start. With that in mind, heres some alternative good tracks which might not have been singles (or are just favourites of mine).

  • Sing
  • Theres no other way
  • For Tomorrow (full version not single edit)
  • Tracey Jacks
  • This is a low
  • He thought of cars
  • Yuko and Hiro
  • Beetlebum
  • On your own
  • Moving on
  • coffee and tv
  • battle
  • trimm trabb
  • on the way to the club
  • Black book (b-side to the music is my radar single, really ought to have been on an album)
Blah, blah, so many good tracks. Listen to some tracks here. Check out the video to “The Univeral” below:

Anything to avoid?

The first album “Leisure” is a bit patchy but does have a few very good tracks. “The Great Escape” is a bit overcooked but still decent, so really it should not be in this section.

Anything else?

They have their own website here and a Facebook page if you want to look that up. There is also fabulous film “No distance left to run” which tells the story of Blur and is available in an edition containing one of the hyde park gigs. There is also an old tour film from the Modern life is rubbish era called “Star shaped” (Yep, I have that as well).

Damon Albarn has had a busy music career. You can check out more of his work in the following:

  • Gorillaz
  • The Good, the bad, and the Queen
  • Mali Music
  • Rocket Juice and the moon
  • Dr Dee
Graham also has had a solo career releasing eight albums. Check out:
  • Happiness in magazines
  • The Spinning top
  • A & E
Plenty of books are available but I would recommend “Blur 3862 days, the story of blur” by Stuart Maconie, and band member Alex James book “A bit of Blur“. A large box set “21” containing all the albums (remastered) and plenty of unreleased tracks, is to be released on July 31st 2012 (pictured at the top of the post).

Enjoy!

Lexicon word of the day: eristic. 

Rolling Stone – The 500 Greatest albums ever

Rolling Stone recently updated it’s 500 greatest albums of all time, in a fresh print version. It’s good fun and has some nice album artwork and other good photos of well known artists. It is an update of a list originally put together in 2003 (for which I believe I still have this issue, somewhere “in the vaults”), which can be viewed here. I don’t believe the top ten has changed but other entries have been added and therefore some dropped off.

In a previous post I mentioned how I like lists, especially where music is concerned. I don’t take them totally seriously, but they make, for me anyway, interesting reading. Of course any list is subjective and one mans good, is anthers bad, blah blah. Well taking that into consideration I’m still going to have a little fun / gripe at it. Being Rolling Stone, the list is mainly focused on Rock or Pop music, with some Hip Hop, little dance, and little (some what crappy generic term warning) world music. But that is Rolling Stone for you, it’s primarily a rock magazine, so you get what you pay for.

I could loosely divide up the analysis into 1) top ten, 2) albums I own and quibble about the ranking, and 3) albums I don’t have but want, or are inspired to check out, 4) Albums not included. So let’s start with the top ten:

  1. Sgt Pepper – The Beatles
  2. Pet Sounds – The Beach Boys
  3. Revolver – The Beatles
  4. Highway 61 revisited – Bob Dylan
  5. Rubber Soul – The Beatles
  6. What’s going on – Marvin Gaye
  7. Exile on main street – The Rolling Stones
  8. London Calling – The Clash
  9. Blonde on Blonde – Bob Dylan
  10. The White Album – The Beatles

A similar poll by Mojo magazine in the nineties had the first two reversed but a similar top ten. Whether you agree depends on your criteria. I would agree that there is not a duff album among them. Out of the ten I’m not overly fond of London Calling, but I do realise how good it is, it’s just not a favourite for me. The White album is my favourite Beatles album, but in music history I can see why Sgt Pepper is more significant. This highlights where criteria comes into the equation. My fave Stones album is Sticky fingers (no 64), my fave Dylan album Blood on the tracks (16). I would make a distinction here between favourite albums of all time and greatest albums. I did a post on my favourite albums of all time which are albums personal to me for various reasons. I would suggest this is different to what I might consider the greatest albums, which might take into account a wider context of music history, how influential and so on, plus which genres I want to consider, which is along similar lines to what this list is about.

To add to where I might have changed a few albums in the top ten, I also take umbrage with the position of other albums. Here are a few examples. Wilco’s “Yankee hotel Foxtrot” is at 493 compared to U2’s “All that you can leave behind” at 280. What? 213 places different? I don’t even think that U2 album is that great, certainly not as good as Wilco’s YHF. Radiohead’s “OK Computer” only features at 162. I would likely have this in the top twenty or if not, top ten. But at number 37 is “Hotel California” by the Eagles. I agree with The dude Lebowski on this one, to quote him, “‘I hate the f*ckin’ Eagles, man!” (the same quote which convinced Allen Klein to allow the film the rights to use the Stones song “Dead Flowers”). Is that really better than Ok Computer? I think not. Further comedy with “the Queen is dead” by The Smiths being at 218. Again a stone cold classic, ranked further down the list than three Elton John albums. Three? Sorry Elton, but you are there with the Eagles for me. I would also quibble about The Who’s “Tommy” being ranked at 96 whilst “Quadrophenia” is at 267. I’m not overly fond of Tommy, but I love Quadrophenia, I think it is the Who’s best album. I could quibble about a few more, but I won’t bore you any longer on that point.

I own a lot of music, in fact out of the top 100 here, I have 64 of them, including the entire top ten. There are always things to buy and what I have noticed on the list so far, is a few I definitely want to check out, and have had on my list for a while. They are The Allman Brothers band at Fillmore East (no 49), Dr John’s “Gris Gris” (No ), and Big Star’s “3rd / Sister lovers”. There are a few more but these ones stand out for now. If you asked me again in a month once I’ve read the magazine, I will likely have a few more.

I have mentioned in previous posts, how my music tastes originally developed as an indie kid, and how I like bands like Sugar, The Boo Radleys, The Flaming lips, The Super Furry animals. These days I have much more varied tastes and an appreciation for many albums that might be considered “classic rock”. However the list contains no Sugar “Copper Blue” yet two by Green Day, No Flaming Lips, yet MGMT’s “Oracular Spectacular”, and numerous others I could mention. The Boo Radleys were never even close to big in North America so it is no surprise to not see them, even if I or many others who have heard it, would consider “Giant Steps” a classic. There is no Blur either. What in the top 500 albums ever? But on the other hand, there are entries by PJ Harvey, Arctic Monkeys, Pavement (although not the album I would have chosen).

So the list is interesting, there are hundreds of really good albums.  Not necessarily everything I would have chosen, or in the same order but a lot of good ones. It got me thinking. It is one of the reasons that I like these lists.

Lexicon word of the day: Quack (not the duck speaking definition).

Record shop day and Amoeba records


Yesterday was Record store day, a day to support independent music stores, for the music fan anyway. I suspect most people don’t care too much. That might be a shame considering how many music stores are disappearing in favour of a few online stores. I’m well aware of downloads being the current and mostly future of music (for most people anyway), but I love the physical aspect of vinyl or CDs. Plus the quality. Online downloadable music is not fully up to scratch yet. I did a post about that once. Also as much fun as it can be looking online for music, and it is, I really do enjoy flicking through the racks of a music store. I love the posters, artwork, the smell and feel of a store.

In support of record store day, many artists have been releasing limited edition singles, EPs, or even albums. These are strictly limited number pressings available only through participating independent stores. This year there were a lot of releases, and to some extent it looked like there was a bunch of artists jumping on the bandwagon, just so they will have something out on the day. I might be being cynical, but that is the way it seems. Still there is plenty of cool stuff in there, including a big release by the Flaming Lips (and friends), singles by Jack White, and a good single by Best Coast. However that barely even gives a flavour. A full list of releases yesterday can be viewed at the link at the top of this post.

Having a small child, I’m not really in a position this year to get in line with the music geeks and queue up, making sure I could get a record or two. I kind of like the look of the Flaming Lips release but I figured I was unlikely to get to somewhere before it sold out. That said, whilst I wasn’t desperate to get hold of anything, I figured a trip to Amoeba in Hollywood, was in order (a sort of wedding anniversary gift from my lovely wife). A chance to check out the vibes, and see how different from a normal day it is.

We usually head to Amoeba for when it opens, to get decent parking, but as anyone who has lived around LA can tell you, also to avoid some of the worst traffic. When we arrived, there was an enormous queue of people outside, a couple of blocks long. It was soon revealed as a line for those wanting to try to buy releases for record store day. Otherwise you could head straight in. Good luck to them I say, as previously mentioned, I was not in a position to queue in the hot sun, and I figured I was so far back I would not get what I wanted anyway. So a little disappointed that I might not be able to get the Flaming Lips release, I went for plan B. I was at Amoeba, might as well just browse the store and pick up a few things.

So that I did. It was pretty busy (which is good really, even if not the best for browsing), And I didn’t spend a lot, but I picked up the following:

  • Wilco – “Kicking Television – Live in Chicago” (Wilco are a really good band live, and I have never heard this).
  • Pavement – “Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain” (deluxe edition)
  • Graham Coxon – “Love travels at illegal speeds” (I already had this, but it came from the time when there was stupid copy protection on the disk and I could not even import it into iTunes, I always wanted to pick it up again with a “clean” disk).
  • Pete Townsend – “Lifehouse elements”
  • The Verve – “Forth” (I thought this might be a bit average, but it was cheap so worth a go).

See, I’m a music fan who has a lot of albums, and a lot that I like. Sure there is always something to discover, but sometimes my music browsing is often to pick up a few things round the edges that I haven’t got yet. Actually I have a list of some things I want to pick up. Many were not there today, but that is ok. I got others, I supported an independent store a little. In terms of record store day releases it was a washout for me, but maybe next year if there is something I want, I will get up nice and early. Amoeba is always good for a look, for something new, or for something to add to the collection.

I think Amoeba had a successful day. You can read their store blog about it here.

Lexicon word of the day: gallimaufry.

Led Zeppelin – The alternative take

What do you need to know about them?

Led Zeppelin were a fabulous hard rock group, from the seventies, perhaps the biggest at the time. – Oh come on I’m not going to explain the whole thing here, either you know them or you don’t. Look them up on wiki. Four geezers, Robert Plant (Vocals), Jon Paul Jones, (Bass and keyboards), Jon Bonham (Drums), brought together via the ashes of The Yardbirds, by Jimmy Page (Guitar). As hard rock groups go, they are pretty much the best. They started in 1968, seven years before I was born, and ended due to the death of John Bonham, in 1980. They briefly reformed to terrible effect at Live aid in 1985, and to tremendous effect in 2007 for the Ahmet Ertegun tribute concert.

All the members except Robert Plant wanted to continue from the 2007 concert. Robert has moved on with other successful projects. Personally I was too young to see the Zep play live, and would love to see them, but it’s hard not to agree with Roberts perspective also. Led Zep were the four original members and that ended when Bonzo passed away. Going back to all that now, having all the press attention when it is not wanted, moving aside current interests, – all too much hassle.

Where did I first become acquainted?

Well my dad had some albums and compilations so  I probably heard them growing up. I think I started with the remasters compilation in the early nineties and started buying the albums from there. It’s Led Zep, what’s not to like?

What to buy:

Depends what stage of Led Zep you want. However this is my post, so I’m choosing:

  • II – Their second album, the one written on tour. It’s a bit sexy dirty, and begins with Whole lotta love.
  • III – The third album (see the theme developing here), a mix of acoustic, some soft and some harder tunes. Starts with Immigrant song.
  • Houses of the Holy – Some might go with other albums ahead of this one, but I think this works better as an album than most of the others do. Plus it opens with The song remains the same.
  • IV – Contains Stairway to Heaven so is naturally one of the most popular. Also contains the much sampled (for Drum breaks) When the Levee breaks’
  • Physical Graffiti – Big two disk affair often considered to be their best. Contains Trampled underfoot, and Kashmir, those being two good examples for consideration.

Some key tracks to listen to:

Lots of tracks, and you could easily just pick up one of the compilations as they all give you the main ones. For arguments sake let me divide them up a bit

Short hard rock ones:

  • Good times, bad times
  • Communication breakdown
  • Whole lotta love
  • Bring it on home
  • Immigrant song
  • Trampled Underfoot
  • The Wanton Song
  • Custard pie
  • Rock & Roll

Long guitar twiddly ones:

  • Song remains the same
  • Since I’ve been loving you
  • Achilles last stand
  • Nobodies fault but mine
  • Stairway to Heaven
  • Kashmir

“Lighter” ones

  • Tangerine
  • Thats the way
Blah, blah, so many good tracks. Or listen to some tracks here. Check out this fab version of Trampled underfoot.

Anything to avoid?

Coda, a collection of outtakes and unused tracks is a bit naff. The film The song remains the same, is amusing for all the stupid fantasy footage, but isn’t the greatest concert performance. I say 50/50 as to whether you watch or not, but don’t go in with high expectations.

Anything else?

They have their own website here. There is a good fan site here. There was not a lot of filmed concert footage, but the best was pooled together to make this dvd collection Led Zeppelin which became the biggest selling music dvd of all time. It is really good.

Robert Plant has some decent solo albums, I would check out:

  • Mighty Rearranger (with band the strange sensation)
  • Raising Sand (with Alison Krauss)
Jon Paul Jones joined with Foo Fighter man, and ex Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, plus Queens of the Stone age main man, Josh Homme under the name Them crooked vultures for:
  • Them Crooked Vultures (ok, self titled)
Robert Plant and Jimmy Page recorded two half decent albums together:
  • No quarter: Unledded
  • Walking into Clarksdale
And Jimmy Page was featured in this fabulous guitar film It might get loud (along with U2’s The Edge, and Jack White).

Enjoy!

Lexicon word of the day: Somniferous. 

What music and horoscopes have in common.

I shall immediately start with pointing out that I’m not a believer in horoscopes or star signs, but if you stick with me you’ll see where I’m going. Don’t worry, it’s not a long piece.

In the box set Quadrophenia by The Who (my favourite Who album) there is an essay by Pete Townsend, where he describes how the many facets of the album came about. I won’t go into everything it covers other than to say, the essay is interesting if you like the album, and you like the story, or the details behind albums. There are also good photos, reproductions of notes, and other things in the box set (click the picture above to view it on Amazon). I love the Quadrophenia album so for me, well it’s all good. However as someone getting back the writing bug there was one part of the essay which stood out a bit more in a different way, and this concerns how to write something that makes sense to the audience.

Pete points out that there is a fundamental difference between how someone writes a story, or drama, compared to someone who writes rock music or songs. From Pete’s perspective, the rock composer has to guide the listener in someway but not provide all the details, leaving something left for the listener to fill. I hope he won’t mind if I pinch a quote:

“The listener jumps into the music and it is only then that the real story begins. Too much information, too much detail, too much plot, makes the leap impossible. Rock and Pop fans don’t merely want to identify with the story … They want to be the story”.

To me this is a great point and something I agree with. That is the reason so many people can take a song and have it mean something to them. It may only be a part of a song that clicks with someone, but that part links with your world. If the whole song does that, then you get something you really like. A classic. But it is how you fill that hole that means so many people from different backgrounds can get so much (and often different things), from one song.

Regular readers might have noted that I’ve been attempting some poetry with varying levels of success. Some are more like songs than poems (like this one), but it makes me wonder if I have achieved that hole that a reader can inhabit. Well if I haven’t, it is something to aim for in the future. I kind of figure poetry in some forms is a fine line of difference between it, and a song, with perhaps some obvious verse, chorus, structure differences, but often that same rule will apply. Again it is why different people can find themselves in different ways within a poem.

So how does this relate to Star signs? Well I could go on a big rant about what nonsense they are, but I suppose this sentence will do that job. If there are any readers who have read a few star signs in their time, they might have noticed that some astrologists, or as I call them “writers”, seem to be better at it, or more related to your life than others. That I believe is a simple point. Horoscopes also work with the same “hole”, that the reader needs to inhabit. If they are too direct and have too much detail, then it won’t fit most readers. Readers of horoscopes are not after a story, they are after something that relates to them. Like any area of writing, some writers are simply better than others. Those <ahem> “good” ones are just better at creating the hole.

So that is what music and horoscopes have in common. Agree or disagree? Or do you even agree with Pete’s point about the hole?

Lexicon word of the day: Indubitable.

The Super Furry Animals – The alternative take

What do you need to know about them?

The Super Furry Animals formed in the early nineties. Are a Welsh rock / pop / tecno band with leanings toward psychedelic rock. In late 1995 they were signed to Creation records, the home of Oasis, and Primal Scream. They sing mostly in English, but there have been welsh tracks and a welsh language album. They have more ideas on most of their albums than a lot of bands have in a lifetime. They’re a little bit mad in places, but lots of fun.

Where did I first become acquainted?

Towards the end of my first year, when I was still at university,  the band played live. I didn’t see them. Then I saw a great review for their first album, a great deal on price, and bought it. I realised my mistake. Thankfully I have seen them live since. I’ve bought every album since (including the welsh one). Their second album “Radiator” reminds me so much of university, and I like it so much that it is in my all time top ten album list. It is fabulous.

One time I went to a free tv taping for some Japanese tv show at the now demolished London Astoria. The gig was so loud that afterwards I have a memory of my friend and I shouting at each other in Virgin Megastore on Oxford street (which I think is also gone now), with most other people in there looking at us. We didn’t realise we were shouting. The ringing in our ears was blocking it out. Still there was a good version of “Night vision” and an awe inspiring version of “the man don’t give a f*ck”, which sent the Astoria’s legendary bouncy floor, a bouncing. Short of them coming out as Nazi’s or racists, it was hard not to love them after that.

Actually I think this might be it here (Youtube you are cuddly and brilliant, and me, why did I never look on Youtube for this before now, [numpty]?).

Ok that was the song. The audio isn’t fantastic on this clip, and it doesn’t seem as amazing as I remember, although still very good. I guess you had to be there.

What to buy:

About three or four albums back, a friend had listened to some singles and wanted to get into the band. He had noticed the albums were in a sale and wondered where to start. It’s simple I said, buy all of them. I would almost say that now, but start with these:

  • Radiator – Their second album and personally my favourite. I mentioned above this is in my all time top ten albums.
  • Guerrilla – The third album, and one where they had a few minor hits. A good mix of pop, and “noise”. It was after this one came out that I saw the Japanese tv taping.
  • Fuzzy Logic – The debut album, the most rock, and the least electronic. It is not conventional rock, and contains lots of melody. It’s great.
  • Rings around the World – The first on the “Epic” label. Considered the most polished and accessible although personally I prefer the three above.
  • Dark days / Light Years – The latest album, more of a return to form.

Some key tracks to listen to:

Lots of tracks, but start with these:

  • God! Show me magic
  • Bad behaviour
  • She’s got spies
  • Hermann loves Pauline
  • The man don’t give a f*ck
  • Do or die
  • Night vision
  • It’s not the end of the world?
  • Juxtaposed with you
  • The undefeated
  • Slow life
There are plenty of other good tracks, some which make more sense in the context of the album. Or listen to some tracks here.

Anything to avoid?

Personally I’m not keen on Love kraft. If you’ve no interest in the Welsh language you may have no interest in Mwng either (although it does sound good).

Anything else?

They have their own website here. There is a good fan site here. You know how songs or albums come round in cycles, by which I mean, you may love a band, listen to them for a while, then they go away for a while? Then one day you get in the mood and recall how good they are, and listen to them again? I hadn’t listened to the furries for a while but when I started typing this, I realised how much I love this band.

Gruff Rhys has a decent solo career check out Candylion. He also made a good album with Boom Bip as “Neon Neon” called Stainless Style (a loose concept album around the creator of the Delorean motor).

Enjoy!

Lexicon word of the day: Consentient.