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The Style Council – Café Bleu &/or My Ever Changing Moods (1984)

UK

exemplary artwork by Sarca @ caughtmegaming

Made in the UK Artist #1: Duran Duran

Made in the UK Artist #2: The Charlatans

Made in the UK Artist #3: Elton John

Made in the UK Artist #4: Pet Shop Boys

Made in the UK Artist #5: Jim Dead & The Doubters

Made in the UK Artist #6: The Chemical Brothers

Made in the UK Artist #7: The Style Council

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[Album 448/1001]

When titles are changed for North American audiences, I understand the rationale (less intimidating title = possibly shift more units) but it’s usually a deflating experience for me.

Although I’d like to think I’m supporting an artistic creation, such title modifications take away some of the magic, reminding me that I’m buying a carefully packaged product.

Speaking of magic, the first Harry Potter novel is a fine example of such unfortunate renaming. Sensing “The Philosopher’s Stone” would intimidate potential readers, the much more accessible “Sorcerer’s Stone” was substituted for U.S. audiences. Thankfully, this practice was discontinued on subsequent novels in the series (“Chamber of Secrets” did not become “Big room of Secrets,” “Guy in Wizard Jail” did not replace “Prizoner of Azkaban”).

Harry Potter

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I had a difficult time finding The Style Council album Café Bleu.

I had no trouble however repeatedly seeing a Style Council Album named My Ever Changing Moods, featuring a track Café Bleu.

Upon a wikipedia search, I learned the albums are one and the same. Sort of.

Whereas the Harry Potter novel was essentially the same outside of the odd translation (philosopher – sorcerer, crisp – chip…), this album varied dramatically depending on where, and on what format, it was procured.

style council

style councils

With the 3 versions, tracks were added/removed, closers became openers, alternate versions were included, running orders were shifted around.

Bonus marks if you noticed that track 2 (incidentally my favourite here), The Whole Point of No Return, was the only constant in the track-lists.

I see why Café Bleu was renamed My Ever Changing Moods, clearly there’s nothing more intimidating than an accent aigu!

But in this case, instead of feeling like I was buying a carefully packaged product, the running order games felt more haphazard than calculated.

Considering the indecision on titles/track inclusions, the revised name, My Ever Changing Moods, is apt.

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Once the listener got over this initial confusion, Jam fans may have been similarly perplexed by the actual audio content.

Did anyone see the rap track (A Gospel) coming in 1984?

Weller’s guitar work is unsurprisingly on display but the jazzier ventures may have been somewhat more head-turning at the time.

After really enjoying The Jam’s All Mod Cons and Sound Affects, I was keen to check out this Paul Weller post-Jam effort.

I’m quite pleased it didn’t feel like a watered down version of his previous records, it was a definite change of pace.

This is one of those records that has something for everyone, the diversity of styles was a nice selling feature for me.

However, when anyone can find a track they like, it’s unlikely to be an entirely appealing album to everyone.

Writing something that appeals equally to 7-year olds, 70-year olds, and just about everyone in between can’t be an easy task.

Why, you’d have to be a sorcerer, or a philosophér, to conjure such magic.

Top 5 Descending (yet Uplifting) UK Patterns

UK
Exemplary artwork by Sarca @ caughtmegaming

Talk about a niche category!

Perhaps it’s ironic that notes heading down the scale can sometimes raise my spirits.

In any event, these 5 descending/made-in-the-UK melody lines will brighten my day every time.

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5. Keane, Bedshaped (at 4:19)
The closing piano line, a fitting end to a fine debut record.

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4. Blur, Best Days (at 1:38)
It somehow keeps descending for several octaves!

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3. The Libertines, Death on the Stairs (at 2:45)
Reminds me of the big Pas de Deux from the Nutcracker.

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2. Duran Duran, Ordinary World (lead pattern)
As I said when I reviewed Rio, I’m no longer shy about liking Duran Duran…

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1.The Cure, Just Like Heaven (lead pattern)
…and I have never, and will never, be remotely timid about my Robert Smith adoration.

The Chemical Brothers – Dig Your Own Hole (1997)

UK

exemplary artwork by Sarca @ caughtmegaming

Made in the UK Artist #1: Duran Duran

Made in the UK Artist #2: The Charlatans

Made in the UK Artist #3: Elton John

Made in the UK Artist #4: Pet Shop Boys

Made in the UK Artist #5: Jim Dead & The Doubters

Made in the UK Artist #6: The Chemical Brothers

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[Album 447/1001]

Favourite line from Lord of the Rings (LOTR)?

Mine is delivered early on, courtesy of Bilbo Baggins.

And it lives on, in meme form!

29b5d860edacfd6104f7ca0b70c5bd61

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Now I know the LOTR films well, I like them (as well I should!), and I believe they are deserving of the praise they have received over the years.

I have no problem with the 9+ hour running time, I’m happy to immerse in that world and enjoy the ride.

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There are probably many who are thrilled to immerse in The Chemical Brothers 220px-Dig_your_own_hole_album_coverdiscography for similar time-frames.

While the running time of Dig Your Own Hole is about 8 hours shorter than the LOTR trilogy, it’s more than I need in one sitting (though I’m sure die hard fans may be clamoring for extended editions).

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Admittedly, there’s plenty of ignorance on my part, I’m well out of my element here.

Wikipedia classifies Dig Your Own Hole as a mix of ‘big beat, electronica, and psychedelia’ – when listening to such a genre mix, I feel a bit like Kimmy Schmidt in this scene:

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Which isn’t to say it was a miserable listening experience.

I really like the track Setting Sun (featuring Noel Gallagher), as I have for the last 19 years. There were a few similar tracks at the time (Econoline Crush’s Home comes to mind) that really appealed to me, combining conventional song structures with electronic instrumentation. It also doesn’t take a big beat/electronica/psychedelia expert to see some Setting Sun parallels with Tomorrow Never Knows.

However, what made Tomorrow Never Knows so special for me is that it sounded unlike anything else on Revolver (or anything really for the next 30 years!).

Due to the nature of loop-based music, the tracks tend to drift together here. Part of that is intentional, the continuous flow between CD tracks is a nice sequencing feature.

But also with loops, I don’t typically find going around and around terribly exciting, regardless of what gets added/removed each time.

As a result, not many of the tracks were standouts. Though I admire the craft, and there’s likely a lot more going on that I don’t fully appreciate, I don’t really enjoy the music as much as I feel I should.

Or put another way, even after repeated listens, I don’t know half of the tracks half as well as I should like.

And I probably like less than half of them half as much as they deserve.

Jim Dead & The Doubters – Pray for Rain (2015)

UK

exemplary artwork by Sarca @ caughtmegaming

Made in the UK Artist #1: Duran Duran

Made in the UK Artist #2: The Charlatans

Made in the UK Artist #3: Elton John

Made in the UK Artist #4: Pet Shop Boys

Made in the UK Artist #5: Jim Dead & The Doubters

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Due to the nature of the 1001 albums project, I listen primarily to music released between 1955-2005. When I picked this CD up last year, it felt very out of character to be acquiring an album in its year of release. So for the first time in recent memory, I’ll be reviewing an album that was released in recent memory!a0137445401_16

When I listen to a new-to-me artist, I’ve realized I tend to look for three things:

1. Where can I play this?

In the winter I tend to listen to music at home/at work/in the car. Most music works pretty well in one location, but is less effective in others. Some music ain’t bad in 2 of the 3.

Pray for Rain is one of those rare albums that seemed to work equally well, regardless of where or when I listened.

Slide1

2. What am I listening to/for? (ending on a double preposition, sorry english teachers!)

Am I focusing solely on the music, while the lyrics drift along? Are the words commanding too much attention and disrupting the musical flow?

With this Jim Dead & The Doubters release, the balance is optimal. The music is memorable, the lyrics matter, they mesh nicely.

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Some of my favourite musical moments: the 3rd line of the May the Road Rise intro, the Home side snare hits & abrupt ending, the Wooden Kimono groove.

And some lyrical highlights: “played loud music to keep out the noise,” “somewhat lost yet always tethered to home,” “cause those telephone lines tell lies”

3. Do I want to hear more?

A resounding yes, for the reasons above and below.

Each of the tracks on Pray for Rain manages to remind me of something else, yet sound like nothing else. That ability to sound instantly familiar yet completely original kept me coming back, as shown graphically here.

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I’m not sure if many artists have albums that provide such agreeable answers to my 3 questions. Which puts Jim Dead & The Doubters (incidentally, terrific backing band name) in pretty exclusive company, smack dab in the middle of the 3-circle diagram.

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In the interest of full disclosure, I “knew” Jim prior to listening, as he is a fellow blogger.

Also in the interest of full disclosure, I know (no quotation marks) this is a stellar album regardless.

I now have a new favourite Glaswegian artist.

Well done lads.

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For further Jim Dead appreciation, I practically insist you read these fine reviews from Aaron, Deke, Brian, and Mike!

Pet Shop Boys – Behaviour (1990)

UK

exemplary artwork by Sarca @ caughtmegaming

Made in the UK Artist #1: Duran Duran

Made in the UK Artist #2: The Charlatans

Made in the UK Artist #3: Elton John

Made in the UK Artist #4: Pet Shop Boys

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[Album 446/1001]

I remember being particularly offended by a 1998 review of The Tragically Hip (TTH)’s Phantom Power. Offended as only a 16-year old can be when his/her favourite band is not wholeheartedly & unreservedly praised.

I can’t recall the author/periodical/rest of the review, but one (paraphrased) line remains 18 years later:

“only Bobcaeygeon & Fireworks (tracks 4 & 7) provide the expected TTH magic here.”

Why I never!

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Perhaps there are 16-year olds (or some still holding on to 16 as long as they can) reading today who will be equally offended decades from now.220px-PetShopBoysBehaviour

That being said, for me, only How Can You Expect to be Taken Seriously & So Hard (tracks 4 & 7) provide the expected Pet Shop Boys (PSB) magic here.

There’s some mismanaged expectations at play to be sure: I Actually really enjoyed the first two PSB albums from the list so I had Very high expectations here.

There’s also the issue of under-utilized talent in the form of Johnny Marr, who guests on two tracks. Without reading the sleeve, you’d never know it was him. I gather that at the time, he was trying to distance himself from the sounds of the Smiths, evolve as an artist, and other such understandable, even admirable goals. Even still, Marr’s guest appearance here felt a bit like having Louis C.K. as the special guest at a banquet, only to have him deliver a completely serious pre-dinner grace. Sure, he’d probably perform admirably but to give him a microphone and not hear some jokes…

Behaviour likely works best as an appropriate segue, a connecting bridge between the PSB of the 80s into the 90s.

Some might say this bridge between the decades is the main attraction in the PSB catalogue, this journey between 80s & 90s PSB is its own reward.

With this particular bridge, I likely prefer the destinations on either side.

Let’s Talk

BellLetsTalk

I tend to subscribe to the Wayne’s World quote, “contract or no, I will not bow to any sponsor.”

But sometimes it’s worth noting when companies get it right.

While this post won’t contribute financially by using the hashtag, #BellLetsTalk, I’m pleased that Bell will be donating 5¢ for every tweet/text/facebook image shared with that hashtag today.

More importantly, I’m grateful to see so many people taking part, sharing stories, thoughtful quotes, and helping to end the stigma.

One of my favourites from today, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be Kind. Always.”

Talking helps, keep the conversations going.

 

Top 5 “London” Songs

UK
Exemplary artwork by Sarca @ caughtmegaming.
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Is London the most referenced city in popular music? More so than NYC?

A quick wikipedia search reveals a staggering amount of tunes about London.

To narrow it down somewhat, I’ll pick my top 5 songs with the six letter sequence ‘l-o-n-d-o-n’ somewhere in the title.

Enjoy!

5. Hall & Oates, London Luck and Love
I like the guitar tones almost as much as the Ritz product placement.

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4. Coldplay, Cemeteries of London
I’m a sucker for 6/8 time signatures.

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3. The Clash, London’s Burning
Though I prefer the album London Calling to The Clash, Burning tops Calling in the battle of ‘London + Verb’ tracks.

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2. The Smiths, London
What? Not #1?

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1.Blur, London Loves
No shame in being 2nd to Blur!

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