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
A lot of artists have one big album that projects them into mainstream consciousness and for Peter Gabriel this album was ‘So’. As is typical of the mid-eighties the album is full of synthesisers and electronica and is an album for the MTV generation, with some of his biggest singles featuring. I saw him in concert around this time but, as what can happen with live shows, only have a fleeting memory of the light show during “Big Time”. It captures a mood of the time where many people faced the reality of unemployment while others grew wealthy. Despite its commercial feel his experimental side still appears on some of the tracks which makes it an interesting album to listen to. It manages to do what good albums do – convey a range of emotions to the listener and draw you into to the lyrics.
Standout Track – This Is The Picture (Excellent Birds)
50 years on it’s easy to see why some people don’t get Sgt. Pepper. It’s not just about the music, it captures the spirit of a particular time in 60’s British culture that can be hard to appreciate. Hearing this music for the first time back then was revolutionary and whatever you might think of the lyrics the music is spectacular. What we take for granted at the click of a mouse today the Beatles invented with customised equipment and tape loops literally sped up or slowed down. I love catching the little things that are easy to miss when you are engrossed in the melodies, like a little guitar flourish or Ringo’s squeaky seat. It’s difficult to pick my favourite between Paul’s bass lines or Ringo’s drumming. It is an album where you can close your eyes and let it fill your minds eye, perfect for the tube!
Standout track : How can you pick one? Whichever I pick you are probably going to disagree anyway!
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.