I know that some people don’t like Adele’s music, that’s inevitable, but its hard not to like Adele for being Adele. Last night at Wembley she proved (again!) what a superb artist and person she is. Despite having a croaky voice regularly soothed with honey and lemon, she gave a flawless performance of every song she sang. I don’t know if people generally consider her as a soul singer, but she has got a great soul voice and 21 is really a great soul record. She has such a depth to her voice and this album captures the real angst of her relationship breakup at the time. The stripped down feel in some tracks allows her vocal and lyrics to shine, but whatever track you listen to her voice powers through in feeling, not just in volume. There is a real authenticity to her performance that you don’t always get.
Standout track: Take It All
Pop music is often snobbily dismissed as not being “real” music, but I disagree. A well crafted pop record is as good as any brooding rock band track. One of the best girl bands are The Saturdays and to my mind they haven’t received the level of acclaim that other groups like Little Mix have. Their debut album is a brilliant pop album and there really isn’t a bad track on it. From the catchy dance tracks to the ballads they aren’t throwaway fluff. They have decent lyrics that have some depth and carry some emotion in them. Yes, it is pop so don’t expect political assertions or such like but it is great pop, and Chasing Lights is up there with the best pop albums and I never get tired of listening to it.
Standout track: Chasing Lights
The Purple Rain era was the zenith in Prince’s career in terms of commercial success and recognition which cemented Prince’s purple imagery in the public psyche. If you really have no idea about this album you get lots of screaming guitars as well as funky synthesiser laden tracks in a pop/rock/funk mix that only Prince could produce and provides his main source of radio airplay to this day. The 2015 Remaster is one of those releases where you are not quite sure what has been “improved”, other than the volume! I’m sure a close listen would pick out some changes but for me regardless its a solid album that is always a great listen. Its just a shame they wasted a disc in the “Deluxe” release with singles and B Sides that are available elsewhere when much better unreleased material is known about, but the unreleased stuff included is great!
Standout track: The Beautiful Ones
On the way to work this morning I didn’t want something too raucous but at the same time not to slow and sleepy, and this album is just what I needed. The debut album from KT Tunstall has a mellow feel even with the faster tempo songs on it. It manages to retain an acoustic sound although it has a variety of other instruments. KT has an almost bluesy and at times soulful voice which complements the guitar-based sound in a really distinctive way. The songs are just great to listen to and its just an album that is really listenable. Another great Scottish export!
Standout track: Stoppin’ the Love
I can’t remember when I first got into Graceland. It certainly wasn’t in the 80’s when I was much more into dance music and rave culture! The singles that charted give a flavour of the South African musical contributions and influences of this album, but the real gems sit on the album itself. Simon’s lyrics are cleverly constructed but it is the musical and vocal performances that make this album worth listening to. The drums, percussion, accordions and guitars create rhythms and tunes that are uplifting and joyful, even when the lyrics aren’t quite so. The harmonies are just great and are wonderful to listen to. If you haven’t listened to Graceland and “world” music isn’t your thing then you should give it a listen if you want something different. It still holds up fantastically after 30 years.
Standout track: Under African Skies
Alongside Blur and Oasis there were numerous other Britpop bands, of which Sleeper were one of the best. This album is there finest in my opinion and is a brilliant collection of songs. It is intelligently written and has the classic 90’s Britpop sound of catchy melodies and jangly guitar riffs. Louise Wener has one of those wonderfully distinctive voices that purrs the lyrics with a slight huskiness. This is a great album to listen to, particularly on a sunny day like today. Some are the tracks are less than 3 minutes, so you get that “hit and run” feeling, where the songs just arrive, do what they gotta do and bang, they’re gone. Sadly I never got to see them live, but I might get the chance now they have reformed earlier this year. If you have never checked out Sleeper this is a great album to start with.
Standout track: Statuesque
I have always liked U2 but never enough to really invest in their albums. I owned the Joshua Tree once but other than that I mainly listen to their singles that I like. I probably bought this on the strength on Vertigo, and it is my favourite track on this. The thing about bands that have been around a while is that their musicianship shows through so the music just sounds good. The Edge’s guitar is always great to listen to and this album is a consummate rock album. Its a good album to listen to on the tube, as you can almost zone out of the vocals and just enjoy the music. The instruments all seem to have room to breathe and not be overwhelmed by production. The fact that I can’t say any more probably sums up my attitude to U2 albums!!
Standout track: Vertigo