Who? Ian Brown
Title: My Way
Tell me more: You wouldn’t think from listening to any of Brown’s six solo albums that he was once the front man of the Stone Roses, the fey indie pop and burgeoning dance rythms having been truly ditched.
Why the fek should I listen to this? Brown was listening to a lot of Michael Jackson during the recording of My Way which was virtually completed before the alleged King Of Pop’s big goodbye. Strangely, the Jacko influences help drive this album, giving some ooomph to the typical Brown brand of psychedelia and pop. It takes a few listens, as do all Brown albums, but it’s worth the effort – Marathon Man and Just Like You are among Brown’s finest songs. There’s none of the angry world-weary observations as on 2007’s The World Is Yours, the Mancunian preferring to settle some scores and set the record straight, such as the apparent riposte to former Roses member John Squire on For The Glory.
Or should I take it a stick and beat the shit out of it? Whatever possessed him to cover In the Year 2525? It may have a sensible futuristic view, but I cringe every time I hear it.
Trivia: Brown’s songs have featured in a few episodes of the CSI franchise.
Who? The Verlaines
Title: Corporate Moronic
Tell me more: The Verlaines formed in Dunedin in 1981 and soon became part of that unique city sound, given an audience by the local label, Flying Nun. Death and the Maiden was covered by Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus.
Why the fek should I listen to this? Maybe it’s the isolation of the place, maybe it’s the creative student community, but Dunedin has always had some groundbreaking bands. The Verlaines continue to be one of those. Corporate Moronic (a poke in the eye to the way labels churn out happy-clappy tunes) namechecks people like General Lee and Socrates, wonders if there’s a concept called “post-acne anarchy” and generally screams “intellegentsia”. It’s also about many other things, often simple things. Above all, Corporate Moronic is beautifully written and performed.
Or should I take it a stick to it and beat the shit out of it? It isn’t without its faults, but they’re not really worth bothering with.
Trivia: The title of their finest three minutes, Death and the Maiden, comes from a painting by Edvard Munch and references the 19th century French poets, Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine. The words, “Get shot by Verlaine” is about how Rimbaud was killed by his lover.
Who? Bomb Factory
Tell me more: The band will tell their story in an interview with Porky Prime Cuts, that will be posted in the new few days.
Why the fek should I listen to this? The lead track, Tapes, is about how privacy is becoming a fading luxury. It feels like you’re in the mind of the person they describe, who becomes very unhinged at the society he lives in. The third track of the EP, God Loves Us and He Hates You, is about a subject very dear to their hearts. It may clock in at only 9 minutes 32 seconds, but you feel like you’ve had the musical equivalent of Socialist Worker lodged in your ears, in terms of the use of language, rather than the actual politics. Lack of privacy, organised religion and the repressive times we live in: it’s a tale of the times.
Or should I take it a stick to it and beat the shit out of it? Ranting Jack barks a little too much. You feel some subtelty would be more telling.
You can buy it here: http://bombfactory.blogspot.com/
Who? Tiki Taane
Tell me more: Taane’s well-received Past Present Future album (2007) remixed and padded out with new tracks.
Why the fek should I listen to this? The advantage of listening to a remix album without having heard the original is that I have two fresh ears; therefore I can take Flux on its own merits. Taane uses various knob-twiddlers to create reggae, dub, electro etc mixes, some of which work, some of which don’t. A clear highlight is David Lange is Da Bomb, which takes considerably from the former prime minister of New Zealand’s famous Oxford Union address in 1985 in which he basically told the US bomb-loving leaders to piss off, as well as some nuclear bomb information messages. The ever-evolving nature of the tracks, sounds, beats and samples makes for an intriguing ride.
Or should I take it a stick to it and beat the shit out of it? A copy of Past Present Future is not necessarily needed to detect that a couple of the remixers aren’t quite sure of what they’re seeking to achieve.
Trivia: Taane was in Salmonella Dub for 11 years, most of them as frontman.
Who? Flowered Up
Title: A Life With Brian
Tell me more: The actual title of the album released in 2005, is The Best Of … , but this contains all the tracks of their 1991 album, in their original order, with the same cover, with the addition of just one track, Weekender (12” version). They came out of the Baggy scene of the early 90s that fomented traditional indiepop with the developing rave sound.
Why the fek should I listen to this? I re-discovered this in the bargain bin, tempted as much by the price than memories of a lost classic. At the time of its original release there were many similar bands, such as the Stone Roses but it was the dug-addled hedonism of the Happy Mondays that brought the biggest comparisons. The Mondays had a lunatic called Bez who danced about on stage with maracas; the Londoners had Barry Mooncult, who was dressed as a flower.
But it wasn’t that simple. I can hear an awful lot more than when I first heard A Life With Brian all those years ago. It took baggy or indie-dance to another level and they had a modicum of success. Debut single It’s On was piano driven and sounded fresh at the time.
As I had just about finished writing this I read the sad news that the lead singer, Liam Maher, had died aged 41. The Times online version included an obituary, a testament to the significance of the bands of that time.
Or should I take it a stick to it and beat the shit out of it? Their finest moment is often regarded as the hedonistic anthem Weekender, all 13 minutes of it and with an accompanying video that was more famous than the track. But it is repetitive and overlong. Reviews of A Life With Brian weren’t particularly complimentary at the time, and I’m wondering if my quality control is weaker now than it was in the early 90s when I gave this a cursory listen or if I have a finer ear for music now. I like to think the former.
Trivia: Many of the online tributes to Maher are on football fan forums, such as an unofficial Crystal Palace one.
Birds of NZ
The 37 artists here are New Zealand’s native birds, with only the moa being unable to make an appearance on account of it being extinct.
A quirky and popular spot on Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report programme is about a minute of chirping from the likes of the Sooty Shearwater or Buller’s Mollymawk. Bird names are a little bit of contention as the traditional Maori names (Titi and Toroa for those two, respectively) have largely been supplanted by the colonial English names. Politics in birds, who’d have thought it. Sadly, available only on download (link below) so I can’t send it to everyone I know from Canada to Carlisle for Christmas. Do the birds get royalties?