Kate Bush is a flippin’ genius, but even though I teenaged through her peak period of output it’s only in the last few years she became one of my obsessions. Seen by most as her magnum opus (although for me 2005’s Aerial also vies strongly for that position) Hounds of Love contains her biggest singles of the 80’s. It’s B-side features the Ninth Wave, a suite of songs relaying the story of a woman swept overboard during a storm at sea. Her initial acceptance of death quickly reverts to a struggle to survive until her eventual rescue. This is why Kate is a genius. She is a storyteller and you “feel” her music. It gets into your head and stirs emotion within her vivid soundscape. Kate performed the whole Ninth Wave live in 2014 which brought her vision fantastically to life. A 5.1 mix of this album would be fantastic!
Standout Track: Simply can’t choose and i’m not going to!
It’s easy to think that Prince’s side projects as nothing but token artists providing an outlet for his ego, however most (if not all) were/are talented artists in their own right. Jill Jones provided backing vocals and appeared in the video’s for 1999, Little Red Corvette and Automatic but her debut album didn’t surface until 1987. The Family and The Revolution make appearances on the album with Prince providing the songs. It is very much a Prince album, and he features on backing vocals, but Jill’s performance stands up on it’s own and her voice really suits the tracks. Jill has spoken very positively about the whole experience of working with Prince and if you like that 80’s Prince sound it is well worth a listen and for big Prince fans its an essential if you can get it – mine is ripped from my vinyl copy!
Standout track : For Love
You used to be able to get a Mars Bar for less that 50p. Nowadays it can’t get you much but in my local charity shop it got me this CD! This is another album that passed me by on release in 2009 even though I am a fan of Florence Welch’s distinctive vocal style. It’s possible that her version of “You’ve Got the Love” put me off this album. For me the definitive version of this song is the unofficial Candi Staton / Frankie Knuckles version from 1989 however Florence’s album version is different to her single release and it seems more original than the remixed single was. It is an album with a several musical styles but rooted in incredible vocals and one of my pet loves – interesting lyrics and narratives that pull you into little four minute worlds. Definitely one of the best ways to spend 50p!
Standout track : My Boy Builds Coffins
Before I get into my Prince album posts I had to talk about Wolf Alice as they have just been nominated as a candidate for Best British Group in the Brit Awards. I’ve been meaning to include them for a while, particularly after seeing them live which was totally brilliant. Ellie Rowsell is one of those performers you can’t take your eyes away from as she lets rip with her varying levels of vocal dynamics. Their latest album rubs punk-infused ire alongside Prog-rock-like expansiveness with a bit of folk and so you get a wide palette of sounds to enjoy. It’s one of those albums where you can just appreciate the musicians playing on songs that are just so interesting. At first listen you almost don’t know what you are going to get next. Fingers crossed for the Brits!
Standout track: Bit of a tough one, but i’ll go for Formidable Cool
I’ve had a short hiatus from posting due to (amongst other things) not commuting for a few weeks and Christmas. Now I’m back with a lovely set of new earbuds, some Shure SE425’s, thanks to my lovely wife who has also provided inspiration for my first blog posts of the year. Another Christmas pressie was tickets to the Prince Exhibition at the O2 in London. Prince is one of my favourite artists and his untimely death in 2016 is a great loss to the world of music. His breadth of musical styles and influences is massive and following my visit I decided to listen to his albums in chronological order. I don’t intend to post about each album separately as I can probably do two a day, but might if I get inspired enough. By the way if you are a big Prince fan the exhibition is really worth seeing.
Aside from fancying Louise Nurding (now Redknapp), I remember Eternal as one of the most successful groups of the 90’s. With their debut album they had a string of hits and I had it on tape but finally picked it up on CD. Their blend of RnB and pop has that Britishness that always manages to stand out from American groups. I don’t know how well the sound translates to new ears some 20 years later as the distinctive 90’s beats and rhythms dominate this album, but it is still very listenable with some great songs and powerhouse vocal performances. If you like En Vogue or SWV then you are in the right place for Eternal. Following Louise’s departure they continued as a trio then eventually a duo, however it’s their debut album that finds a place in my collection.
Standout Track: Save Our Love
Sometimes I listen to an album not just for the music, but for the story of it’s creation to capture the feeling behind it. It helps if it’s interesting and if burning £1M in cash doesn’t pique your interest then nothing will! It’s difficult to know how far to push your tongue into your cheek. The White Room imitated the mainstream but at the same time produced something subversive and distinctive in its own right. The collector in me has been keeping an eye out for the original 1991 CD release and I picked up a copy in good condition for a really cheap price. There’s something about the concept of an original release that can be important as track listings and mixes can differ in later versions, so losing the intention of the artist. Listen to the trance pop beats and go read about The KLF. Its an interesting story…
Standout track: No More Tears