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!
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 was watching TV the other night and a programme came on showcasing the nominees for the 2017 Mercury Music Prize. One band immediately caught my attention so this morning I listened to the previews on iTunes, got to the fifth track and decided it was a definite purchase. This debut album reminds me a lot of Britpop band Sleeper who I also really like. Sleeper’s lead singer Louise Wener wrote some really lyrically interesting songs which also contained catchy guitar hooks. Not to say that The Big Moon sound like a dated 90’s band. but they have a similarly pleasing and very enjoyable mix of guitars and lyrics. They sound like they had a lot of fun recording this and I get a feeling they will be great to see live so will definitely check out their next London dates.
Standout track: Pull The Other One
A few years ago one of my kids went to the music festival at Reading so I took a particular interest in the bands that were playing and watched the broadcasts on TV. Off the back of that I bought a few albums and one of them was Save Rock and Roll. In the main the rock/RnB sound encapsulates the reason I enjoyed their live performances but for me it starts on a high with The Phoenix and slowly winds down. By the end of the album I felt like i’d had enough. Not sure if it was the music or the vocal style, or maybe the presence of Elton John! While I like some of his work it kind of ends it on a low because I just don’t enjoy his collaborative work of recent years. Still a good album but glad it’s not longer than it is.
Standout Track : The Phoenix
When the record company heard the pseudo-psychedelic ATWIAD for the first time apparently they weren’t impressed. Where was Purple Rain Part 2? While still touring with Purple Rain Prince was writing and recording ATWIAD and as always moved in a different direction to its predecessor. When I think of Prince albums ATWIAD seems to sit quietly in between Purple Rain and Parade, not always springing to mind when browsing my collection but this doesn’t reflect the quality of the album. You have undoubtedly heard of the singles but what defines it is its exploration of different sounds, instrumentation and composition that would characterise at least the next two albums. Where previously Prince would do it all, this is his more co-operative period with the Revolution, Wendy and Lisa in particular. If you have heard Purple Rain and like musicians that don’t stand still then you have to move on to ATWIAD.
Standout track : Condition of the Heart
The poster for Pollinator always caught my eye at the tube station and when I noticed it was available to listen to on a recent flight I didn’t hesitate. Its not often an album grabs me but after one listen I vowed to grab it from iTunes. It’s rare that this happens so this morning I have been trying to decide what it is I like about this album. Primarily its the driving drums that underpin the songs that do it for me, at times reminiscent of the drum track of Heart of Glass. Debbie Harry’s vocal has understandably lost a little of its smoothness, being really noticeable on Doom or Destiny however that might be intentional. This album really has the post-punk-disco-infused sound that for me is Blondie, and while some people may not like that i think its the reason why this album instantly appealed.
Standout Track : Long Time