Fear and Whiskey by Mekons (1985) #553/1001
A rare beastie indeed! Not only a record I haven’t heard before but a band I haven’t heard of before. I went into this one not even knowing the kind a music I would be listening to. Turns out it’s pretty good. A little hard to describe, I guess a little similar to The Pogues (except with a more coherent singer), and a little similar to Dexy’s. Described in the 1001 albums book as ‘lauded by many as the best album of the decade’……well I certainly wouldn’t go that far but it’s definitely worth listening to. If you’re a fan of vaguely aggressive punk pop with the odd violin, or is it a fiddle, not that I really know the difference, then this is for you. It’s a good’un.
Next up: Meat Is Murder by The Smiths
Pacific Ocean Blue by Dennis Wilson (1977) #385/1001
I like The Beach Boys, fantastic singles band, but I always find their albums a little bit of a disappointment. Not that they’re dreadful or anything, they’re pretty good, but I always expect them to be better than they actually are.
So hopes weren’t high when I first listened to the solo LP from Beach Boy drummer and resident party animal Dennis. But what a surprise! This is a fantastic album. It bears very little resemblance to anything by the Beach Boys, this is a completely different sound entirely. There isn’t a bad track on the whole disc. From the opening “River Song” through to “End Of The Show” the quality doesn’t drop. It has a wonderful relaxed almost weary sound throughout and Dennis’ voice is magnificent. What a shame we never got a follow up.
If you’ve never heard this record do yourself a favour and check it out.
Next up: Fear And Whiskey by Mekons
Talking Heads: 77 by Talking Heads (1977) #382/1001
I felt this to be a slightly more conventional record than some of Talking Heads later albums, but a very good one all the same. It’s pretty much what you expect from a Talking Heads record, David Byrne to the forefront expertly backed up by the rest of the group. Favourite tracks would have to be Who Is It? and the superb First Week/Last Week….Carefree.
Next up: Pacific Ocean Blue by Dennis Wilson
Since I Left You by The Avalanches (2000) #920/1001
There’s no doubt that the title track of this album is an absolute classic, and when it came out it sounded like nothing before, rather ironic seeing as it is made up mostly of samples. And here lies the problem with the rest of this record. Whilst one track composed of samples feels innovative and interesting, a whole record of it soon feels tiresome. No other song on the LP reaches the height of the title track and the whole thing just becomes a little tedious. Just download the first track and skip the rest.
Next LP will be: Talking Heads ‘77 by Talking Heads
Darkdancer by Les Rythmes Digitalis (1999) #891/1001
Whilst I didn’t exactly hate this album I didn’t actually like anything about it……alright, at a stretch I’d say the closing track wasn’t bad. But otherwise totally forgettable.
Next up: Since I Left You by The Avalanches
The Suburbs by Arcade Fire (2010) #1001/1001
I’ll say right now that I think Arcade Fire are possibly my favourite band around at the moment. With each album they seem to surpass themselves and that is quite an achievement considering how highly I regard their debut.
On this third LP they created something extraordinary, an incredibly atmospheric work from start to finish. Highlights are almost too many to mention but Empty Room, Half Light (I and II), We Used To Wait and Sprawl II are all stunning.
The only slight down side is it’s length. I mention time and again that LP’s are too long, for me a record in the range of 35-45 minutes is just about right, there are a few exceptions but usually shorter is often better for me. So at 64 minutes this one is just a bit too long, but then again I struggle to think which tracks would go (Wasted Hours and Deep Blue possibly, but even these two have their charms).
But I digress, this is a superb record. highly recommended.
Next LP: Darkdancer by Les Rythmes Digitales
New Boots And Panties!! By Ian Dury (1977) #393/1001
Usually lumped in with the punk movement this album is far cleverer and musically interesting than the majority of others from that genre. This record is all about the lyrics, funny, inventive and more often than not saucy, it’s an album that delights in it’s storytelling.
The final few tracks are more recognisably punk but for me the best tracks are on the first side with both I’m Partial To Your Abracadabra and My Old Man being especially fine.
An all round good record.
Next up: The Suburbs by Arcade Fire
Warehouse: Songs and Stories by Husker Du (1987) #596/1001
A band I’ve heard of but never heard I dive straight in with this double album. The record is pretty evenly split between songs from guitarist Bob Mould and drummer Grant Hart. Their styles are slightly different and I have to say I enjoyed the Bob Mould songs more……I notice there is one Sugar LP in this book so I’m quite looking forward to that one when it comes along.
There’s no getting away from the fact that overall it has big similarities to another band recording around the same time, namely REM and frankly I think they were doing it better.
Not a bad record at all (though, as with most double albums, too long) and definitely worth a listen but Husker Du aren’t my new favourite band.
Next LP: New Boots And Panties!! by Ian Dury
Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not by The Arctic Monkeys (2006) #974/1001
I’ll say from the start I think The Arctic Monkeys are a very good band. Constantly trying new things and evolving with each album. But saying all of that I don’t think their debut is that great. It’s ok for a starting point but they’ve got much better since.
This record does have a bit of a pub band sound which, exciting though it appears on first listen, means that you don’t get much else from it on repeated listening.
There are highlights, the two singles along with Mardy Bum and the closer A Certain Romance are all very good.
Alex Turner’s voice leaves a lot to be desired on this LP, surprising as I actually think he is a very good singer….this wasn’t his finest moment.
So all in all a strong enough start but they’ve gone on to do much more impressive things.
Next up: Warehouse: Songs and Stories by Husker Du
Lust For Life by Iggy Pop (1977) #392/1001
Without a doubt an absolute masterpiece.
I don’t know how much of this is down to David Bowie but surely it’s no coincidence that he was deeply involved with Iggy’s two best records.
Saying that this isn’t simply a Bowie record with Pop on lead vocals, his contribution to every track is essential. It’s impossible to pick a highlight, there are too many……the title track, Some Weird Sin, The Passenger, Tonight, they just keep coming.
Truly an amazing album and if you’ve never heard it stop what you’re doing immediately and get listening.
Next up: Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not by The Arctic Monkeys