Since this is, when you get down to it, a blog, and I am, when you come around to digging it, a blogger, I will now do a bloggy (or bloggish) thing and tell you what I’ve been listening to this past month.
Starting with the most recent, I picked up Roxy Music’s second album ‘For Your Pleasure’ last week. This was the last one with Brian Eno and it is appropriately weird, dense and seductive. Bryan Ferry makes sounding like Dracula a virtue, or makes it work at any rate, and his lyrics are funny as hell. Also grabbed at fervently by me was the Clash live album ‘From Here to Eternity’; I’d already heard their cover of 'I fought the law' off this, but none of the others. As expected, it was a riot. No punk vocalist has ever sounded more urgent than Joe Strummer, and Mick Jones is a perfect foil. Fans of unusual liner notes (an admittedly small sub-section of the music buying public) may enjoy this one - instead of some critic attempting to place The Clash and their music in a sociological context, we get quotes from the actual fans who attended these incendiary shows. Read them, hear the songs, and it’ll be difficult to not wish you were there.
Courtesy of Penfold, was turned onto this amazing Danish band called The Ravonettes via their 2007 album ‘Lust Lust Lust’. They have apparently been making melodic buzzing noises in indie circles for some time now, and while their antecedents are clear, it’s somehow comforting to know that there are still bands out there willing to play the sort of dreamy fuzzy pop that seemingly died out in the mid ‘90s. My Bloody Valentine and Jesus & Mary Chain are likely influences, maybe the Vaselines too. Where The Ravonettes differ from these bands is their unwillingness to bury the melody beneath layers of guitar noise – their distortions are more pleasant than abrasive. Pedantic shoe-gaze purists notwithstanding, this is not a negative, and their album should work for those who like their rock buzzy and laid-back and melodic.
It’s been a slow month for new singles. I’ve grown very partial to a John Mellencamp song called ‘Worn out nervous condition’. I should warn you though - besides a lovely seductive vocal by the Artist Formerly Known As Cougar, it isn’t really what you’d call remarkable. Maybe that’s the secret to its listenability – no hook that becomes a focal point, no corker of a line that distracts from all the others. Also, for no particular reason besides the fact that I heard it recently, please get hold of Cat Power’s revelation of a Dylan cover, ‘Stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis blues again’. It’s on the ‘I’m Not There’ OST and she’s the only artiste on it who covers Dylan in a manner which could be called sexy (hear the way she says “…you’re just like me, I hope you’re satisfied”, it’ll make you smile out loud). The album is also top-drawer by the way.
What else…yes, finally bought ‘OK Computer’. Its absence was getting a bit too tough to explain to my conscience and besides, I love Radiohead’s second, ‘The Bends’. I’ve heard it only once till now, so it may be a bit premature to say this , but my feeling is that even though ‘OK Computer’ hangs together better conceptually and has undeniable greatness and importance running through its veins, it lacks some of that verge-of-conquest freshness that characterised ‘The Bends’. Anyway, one hearing isn’t enough for this one. Ditto for ‘Trout Mask Replica’, Captain Beefheart’s 1969 cult classic. I don’t know whether I’ll ever know quite what to write about that one (Sample lyric: "Fast and bulbous...that's right, the mascara snake, fast and bulbous...also a tin teardrop...bulbous also tapered...that's right")
Finally, to round things off…
In my dashboard: Aerosmith, ‘Get Your Wings’
In my Discman: The Byrds, ‘Sweetheart of the Rodeo’
In my to-buy shortlist: Mark Knofler’s new one ‘Get Lucky’