Sunday, January 11, 2009
Some Kinda Shuffle
At last at last at last. Here is my Shuffleathon CD Review for Greetings from Shuffleathon. Many thanks to the mystery person who sent it to me several weeks ago, who is no doubt wishing he or she had sent it to someone slightly lest prone to procrastination. But here it is, my full track by track review.
First, the cover is as above: the plaque sent with the Voyager probes out into the depths of space. With a handy map for any marauding alien fleets planning on invading the Earth, and photos of our puny human bodies, ripe for some probing. Very nice it is too. But enough of this, to the review proper!
1. Os Mutantes - Panis et Circenses (3:37)
An auspicious beginning... A blast of horns and then... Something foreign! Now, my Latin is distinctly ropey, but I think the title almost certainly refers to penises and circumcision. The lyrics are Portugese (I think), and equally incomprehensible. Halfway through it grinds to a satisfying halt before reprising with organ and whistles, building to a latino climax. Then it fades to black with clinking, disparate chatter and the Blue Danube. It's all over the place and I haven't got a clue what anyone's saying. In short, it's great. This is a very promising start....
2. Scott Walker - 30th Century Man (1:29)
A name I know well, but whose music I'm rather ignorant of. This is a wonderful acoustic guitar driven song. A philosophical musing on... I'm not sure really. But feels no less deep for it. The whimsical tone is offset perfectly by the musicbox that ends the song. Short and sweet.
3. The Everly Brothers - Turn Around (2:47)
Another familiar name, but I've not heard this one before. A bittersweet lament for the end of summer and a relationship. The harmonies and strings compliment each other perfectly. It's slight, but lovely.
4. April March - La Fille a la Moto (2:28)
Fantastic! Any song that starts with a revving motorcycle gets my vote. A sexy sixties strut with gallic charm in spades. All I can think of is Marianne Faithful astride her throbbing Harley in Girl On A Motorcycle. No bad thing. Absolutely fabulous. Darling.
5. Phil Spector - Spanish Harlem (2:10)
Eschewing the wall of sound for a change, this feels almost delicate. Voice and guitar alone, and is it actually Phil singing? I didn't know he had such amazing pipes! Curse his talented arse. Still, he's bound to get his comeuppance someday....
6. The Thamesmen - Gimme Some Money (2:26)
Now, I'm not one to namedrop, but I've actually met these guys. Well, sort of. After this hit, they changed their name to Spinal Tap and turned everything up to 11. I always preferred this early R&B direction to their later psychedelic and heavy metal material....
Go Nigel go!
(True fact: Liam Gallagher thought they were real.)
7. MC Honky - What A Bringdown (3:49)
Slightly annoyed by this artist before i'd even heard the song, as that's such a brilliant monicker, I wish I'd thought of it myself. Far more soulful than I was expecting. Sweet vocals and female spoken word bits too, which is always a winner. Sounds like something Eels might knock out in their lunchbreak. A bass led breakdown is the icing on the cake. Probably my favourite thing on the whole album. Delightful.
8. Bob Dylan - Obviously Five Believers (3:35)
As a fairly recent convert to all things Dylan, I'm always grateful for new stuff of his I haven't heard before. Pardon my ignorance. I initially hear the first line as "Early in the mornin', I'm calling youtube." But I think that might be wrong. Anyway, it's a bluesy rock out with a raspy vocal performance, Dylan at his best. And all the more evidence that I need to listen to more of Robert Zimmerman's work.
9. Beck - Gold Chains (4:59)
Haha! Yes. Scratching and vocoders. I love Beck. I love that he somehow squeezes country and hip hop into the same box, and makes it not sound cheap, crap or novelty. Would fit perfectly on Odely or Midnite Vultures. To be honest, I'm surprised I've not heard this before, but pleasantly so.
10. Black Francis - Rock My Soul (1:50)
At different times in this track, Black Francis seems to be channelling Kurt Cobain or Lou Reed. Not bad at all, but as cliched as it is to say it, this would've sounded so much better as a Pixies song. Sorry... But there it is.
11. CSS - Off The Hook (2:40)
Reading Festival 2008. Sunday night. After a whole weekend of anticipation, Metallica rocked the mainstage, with a huge light display and massive screen. They were absolutely amazing. One of the best shows ever. Or at least, that's what I heard from other people. Cos I was in the dance tent grooving to this impossibly wonderful band. And they were, to coin a phrase, off the freaking hook.
12. Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators - Feelin' Free (1:40)
An impossibly sweet little number. Strings pluck and sweep. And just before you think nothing else will happen, a soulful vocal professing a love of the boogie and the dancefloor leaps in. Shouldn't work, but it does. Another short but perfectly formed treat.
13. The Cardigans - Erase/Rewind (3:38)
A great singles band. I've never fully succumbed to their albums, but I know this song well. Nina has a great voice, and this has got a bit of darkness to it that was missing from their earlier work. It's not their best, but it's good enough to get me shuffling, and what more can you ask for?
14. Serge Gainsbourg & Brigitte Bardot - Bonnie & Clyde (4:18)
More Frenchie wondrousness. Somehow still sounds fresh and fun. A classic.
15. The Flamin' Groovies - Slow Death (4:40)
Time to rock. Perfect. Great name, too. Really nice dirty little groove practically drowning out the vocal. They don't make em like this any more, and more's the pity. They should put this on guitar hero. Just great.
16. The White Stripes - Little Room (0:50)
More short n sweetness from Jack and Meg. I love White Blood Cells, so this is a welcome appearance.
17. Gene Clark - Ship Of The Lord (2:34)
Gene Clark tones things down a little. Takes a while to get going, but worth it once it does. Another acoustic led number gives time for some contemplation. And finishes it up without overstaying it's welcome. The kind of number that doesn't really stand out on the first listen, but reveals it's beauty more slowly.
18. The Rising Storm - Frozen Laughter (3:08)
With haunting reverbed vocals, this is a downbeat closer complimented perfectly by some gentle vinyl crackle. As with Gene Clark, not nearly as immediate as everything else here, but in no way a bad thing. Just the right side of 60's psychedelic mumbo jumbo. The organ line and gentle acoustic guitars bring us to a close before a noisy coda gives them the last laugh...
So... yeah! Overall, a great success. Some really wonderful tunes in there, and lots of short little interludes that made the 18 track compilation really zip along. Plenty of new sounds amongst some old favourites. Thank you very much mystery benefactor, please do make yourself known. And apologies again for taking so long to review it, but I am a bit of a perfectionist (ahem) about such things, and wanted to do it justice. I hope I have!
My own Shuffleathon CD is now also complete and winging it's way to an unfortunate victim. I'll link to their review once they've done it. Unless they majorly slag it off in which case let's just brush the whole sorry affair under the carpet...
Coming soon... Lots of lists of stuff from 2008! Please try and contain your excitement!
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