Sunday, 2 June 2013

May's Soundtrack

Somehow managed to miss April, but to make up for it, the soundtrack to May was a varied one, some of which was as follows:

1. Slayer - Live Undead (from South of Heaven, 1988)

The somewhat shocking death of guitarist Jeff Hanneman made me reflect on the fact that, although Kerry King is probably the band's most iconic member, it's the King/Hanneman team that makes the guitar playing in Slayer so special; Live Undead is one of the best examples there is of the duo in action.

2. Depeche Mode - Everything Counts (from Construction Time Again, 1983)

The perfect marriage of then-avant-garde industrial sampling etc with chart-friendly pop. Dave Gahan's vocal is so 80s and robotic that he more or less gets away with singing some of Martin Gore's impossibly lame and naïve lyrics.

3. War -  Why Can't We Be Friends (from Why Can't We Be Friends, 1975)

Silly reggae-fied funk singalong. Ridiculously sunny and good-natured.

4. Candy Mafia - Alzheimer (2010)

Dayglo Thai girl rap-pop which would be extraordinarily irritating if a) I didn't like it and b) the chorus didn't include the line "A-A-Alzheimer"

5. The Beach Boys - Little Girl (You're My Miss America) (from Surfin' Safari, 1962)

Early Beach Boys music has a naïve charm of its own, encapsulated in this slightly twee and sentimental classic from their debut album.

6. Bootsy Collins - Mug Push (from Ultra Wave, 1980)

Typically bouncy, Funkadelic-esque track from the generally not-bad-ish Ultra Wave.

7. Morrissey - Interesting Drug (1989)

Never one of Morrissey's best songs, this sounds better than ever now, light and poppy in comparison with the average Morrissey single of the 21st century.

8. Carcass - Keep on Rotting in the Free World (from Swansong, 1996)

More vegetarians! Often overlooked because of it's accessible 'rock' qualities, Swansong is full of catchy tines and groovy riffs; Keep On Rotting is one of the best - intelligent, catchy, heavy.

9. Drudkh - Tears of Gods (from Songs of Grief & Solitude, 1996)

Beautifully minimalist, stark and hypnotic Ukrainian folk music; just acoustic guitar and some kind of rustic sounding flute/recorder, but as intensely atmospheric as it is skeletal.

10. Talking Heads - A Clean Break (from The Name of This Band is Talking Heads 1982)

The two discs of this live album showcase the early, basic punky version of Talking Heads and the arty, wold music dabbling one. Which you prefer is a matter of taste but the band rarely sounded stronger than on this characteristically yelpy early classic.

11. Sailor - A Glass of Champagne  (from Trouble 1975)

The classic chart hit by German post-Roxy Music glam popsters Sailor; fun and appropriately sparkling.

12. Kiss - Black Diamond (from Kiss, 1974)

Kiss weren't always stupid; the only idiotic things on their first album are some intentionally crass lyrics. This is probably the most sophisticated song on the album and is still one of the best they ever wrote.

13. Paul Simon - Leaves That Are Green (from The Paul Simon Songbook, 1965)

This simple little tune is, like most of the acoustic performances on The Paul Simon Songbook far superior to the more polished Simon & Garfunkel version.

14. Dio - Night People (from Dream Evil, 1986)

Typical Dio; i.e. very good traditional heavy metal.

15. The Geto Boys - Damn It Feels Good to be a Gangsta (1999)

Unapologetically obnoxious gangster rap, but with a nice tune. Falls into the usual gangster trap of not wanting to seem unintelligent (fair enough; they aren't) but saying things that are pretty stupid.

16. Tom Waits - You Can Never Hold Back Spring (from Orphans 2006)

One of the many lovely, lachrymose scratchy, archaic sounding ballads from what must be one of the very few consistently great triple albums in the history of recorded music.

17. Skalmold - Kvadning (from Baldur, 2010)

One of the best Viking/pagan/black/folk metal albums of recent years, and this song is one of its catchiest tunes.

18. Plasma Pool - The Story of Flying (from I 1996)

Depeche Mode-esque electronica suits the distinctive tones of Mayhem vocalist Attila Csihar far better than one might expect, mainly because he is one of the very few black metal frontmen to actually sing as opposed to the standard rasping/shrieking of even some of the greatest BM vocalists. Catchy tune too.

18. Louis Prima & Keely Smith - Just a Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody (1956)

The contrast between the ebullient jazziness of Louis Prima and the chilly coolness of Keely Smith was always great and funny & although she doesn't have much to do on this record footage of them doing it on TV is priceless.

19. Whitesnake - Come An' Get It (from Come An' Get It, 1981)

Big rock tunes, big voice, innuendo-laden lyrics; Whitesnake, despite their massive success later in the 80s, made some of the great late-70s/early 80s style rock records; Come An' Get It being one of them.

20. Seth - Hymn Au Vampire (from Les Blessures de l’Ame, 1998)

Since the early 90s, French black metal has had a particular stylized, vampiric aesthetic. Seth were not innovators in the field but they did bring the French 'second wave' style to a kind of perfection.

21. Big Star - September Gurls (from Radio City, 1974)

Another kind of perfection; September Gurls is Big Star's most famous song for a reason; a perfect pop/rock song, warm, melodic and melancholy, with one of Alex Chilton's best vocal performances.

22. Dornenreich - Drang (from In Luft Geritzt, 2008)

On this album Dornenreich proved that it is possible to create all the drama and atmosphere of a full-blown black metal album using just an acoustic guitar, violin and some sibilant vocals; a great album and this, the opening track, is as good an example of their style as any.

23. The Electric Prunes - I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)  (from The Electric Prunes, 1967)

Archetypical US psychedelic rock, the band's breakthrough single which they never bettered; didn't need to either since this has gone down as one of the classic songs of the psychedelic era.

24. Gene Clark & Doug Dillard - Why Not Your Baby (1968)

Beautiful melancholy country-tinged rock from Byrds founder Gene Clark & banjo player Doug Dillard, somehow left off the original Fantastic Expedition of Dillard & Clark album, despite clearly being the equal of any song on the record.

25. David Bowie - It's No Game no. 1 (from Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), 1980)

Despite its reputation as one of the great Bowie albums, Scary Monsters is a little patchy and doesn't really compare with the series of albums from Hunky Dory to  Low). It gets off to a great start though with this new wave-ish tune and excellent guest vocals from Michi Hirota.

26. Love - The Good Humor Man (He Sees Everything Like This) (from Forever Changes, 1967)

Most of the time this song is FAR too sweet to actually listen to, but when in the mood it's lovely.

27. Tom Waits - Warm Beer and Cold Women (from Nighthawks at the Diner, 1975)

Tom Waits again, this time is his marginally less gravelly boozy/bohemian period. Lovely, melancholy and comforting (if you like it).

28. The Shaggs - Philosophy of the World (from Philosophy of the World, 1969)

Legendarily inept 60s pop that somehow works despite the lack of normal pop things like melody, tempo, in-tune instruments etc. Love them though I do it's hard to see how the Wiggin's father thought they had commercial potential.

29. BJ Snowden - In Canada (from Life in the USA & Canada, 1996)

Very peculiar and endearing song about Canada where 'they never will be mean' apparently.

30. Forteresse - Ancienne Voix (from Les Hivers De Notre Epoque, 2008)

Canadians who might be mean. Quebec has a very strong post-Burzum black metal scene & this long song by Forteresse is as representative of the Quebec BM sound as any other.

31. Jex Thoth - The Places You Walk (from Blood Moon Rise, 2013)

Excellent dark occult psychedelic rock; great 60s-ish Sabbath-esque atmosphere, catchy tune, good lyrics and Jex Thoth's great voice, what more could you want?

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