Posts Tagged ‘The Kinks’

features, music

Why Blur’s Modern Life Is Rubbish is one of the most special albums ever

By Stefano on May 10th, 2013

Today we are celebrating Blur’s Modern life Is Rubbish – you’ll find out why in mo – one of the most brilliant and influential albums of the 90s. Here’s ten reasons why you should give it a spin tonight (and every night).

1 It has the most amazing image on the cover

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That’s The Mallard, the art deco-esque train, coughs, Class A4 Locomotive, that was the fastest in the world at the time

2 It really was the album that made started to make Britain, and especially London, an incredible place to be in the 90s.

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The early days of Brit Pop were incredible. And this album’s success inevitably made it easier for Pulp, Oasis, Elastica and, err Menswe@r to break through.

3 The brilliant B sides

This beautiful song inexplicably didn’t make the cut and ended up as the B side to Chemical World.

4 Those group photos

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Remember this was a time when no one was wearing British clobber. No one else dressed like this in the early 90s.

5 It is partly responsible for finishing Grunge’s popularity in the UK

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Grunge by then was well past its sell by date. Nirvana was one thing, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden were another..

6 It kicked off the trend for those bonkers instrumentals that Blur are so good at

Intermission and Commercial Break were just the start

7 Without Modern Life there would be no Parklife

The fantastic reception the albums got was the catalyst for Blur to create Parklife, End Of A Century and especially this tune

8 It brought classic British songwriting back to the fore

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This lot. But also The Jam, XTC, Teardrop Explodes, The Kinks, Bowie and this fella.

9 For Tomorrow’s video captures a moment in 1993 when to be young and living in London was like winning life’s lottery.

I am not sure if Damon intended it to be taken that way but it just exudes optimism.

10 It is 20 years old today

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Now don’t you feel old



music

Mondo Jet Set – Provincial Drama Club review

By Stefano on February 3rd, 2013

mondo jet setLuke Haines has quite possibly the best Twitter profile description ever. The one time Auteurs and Black Box Recorder man who recently rewrote the history of Britain in the North Sea Scrolls describes himself as being at ‘At the coalface of conceptual rock n roll.’

And mining away next to him in producing melodic pop gems with wonderfully pretentious monikers like ‘I Danced in A Secular Fashion and ‘Everyone I Know Dead Or Fire’ are Mondo Jet Set. And they are good, very good.

Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t heard of them. The West Country band are very under the radar and seem quite content about it too. Some of the members were in a late sprouting Brit Pop act called Garfield’s Birthday. With Mondo Jet Set they have now issued four albums which have steadily got more ambitious, bizarre and tuneful as the years have gone by.

Their latest, Provincial Drama Club, which came out a week or so ago is their most brilliant, and most baffling yet. It is a collection of 23 songs, the vast majority of which clock in at under two minutes. Even the longer tracks like Caravan/The Slow Arcade are actually two songs spliced together.

The quirkiness and brevity of many of the songs remind me of The Magnetic Fields’ magnificent 69 Love Songs where the band veer from Busby Berkley show tunes to Velvet Underground style punk and then on to cheesy jazz in the space of five minutes. I’d also namecheck the rather brilliant and very hip Foxygen as fellow travellers too in the way that the LA band’s tracks are so packed with unexpected twists and turns.

Provincial Drama Club is slightly less exotic than 69 Love Songs – the key influences here are The Kinks, early Blur B sides and occasionally the harmonies of the Wilson Brothers – but  is still a disconcerting listening experience.

Yet like 69 Love Songs, which took me about 10 plays before finally getting under its skin, stick with Provincial Drama Club and  pretty soon you’ll be so addicted to it you’ll wish there were even more songs to hear.

There really are so many highlights here from the instant pop blast of ‘Everyone I Know Dead Or Fire’ or the Blur-esuqe (think Bank Holiday type thrashes) ‘Moth Attack.’ Pretty much everything on the album has a a hook or a melody and some odd instrumentation that makes it very memorable.

It does get a little too much at times. Alice – the latter part of John Before The Fire – has a gorgeous Beach Boys’ style melody which you want to hang around for way longer than the one minute that MJS give it.

But given the ambition and scope of Provincial Drama Club I can forgive them anything.

And when finally you have exhausted this album – and it has taken me the best part of three months to get in any way remotely tired of it, there is its predecessor Ha, Ha, Ha to explore – an album that for me was the best, ok second best, of 2011. A must buy for anyone who cherishes quirky English pop.

 



music

Nirvana’s finest album – not Nevermind

By Stefano on December 13th, 2012

For well over a decade now Nirvana fans trawling through websites like Amazon have probably gasped with excitement as they saw previously unknown (to them at least) albums by their heroes with titles like All Of Us and The Story of Simon Simopath.

For as they were about to find out, before Kurt and the chaps pinched a Pixies riff or two and delivered a pair of noisy grunge pop platters, they made a few rather wonderful whimsical British pop sike albums.

They may only have been in nappies at the time, but the baroque, heavily orchestrated pop albums Nirvana left in their wake would easily dwarf their later grungier efforts. Interestingly Kurt, who had chosen the splendid nom de plume of Patrick Campbell Lyons, had affected a nasally but quite appealing singing style. Meanwhile Dave Grohl had also taken a very imaginative pseudonym of Alex Spyropoulos, and perfected the art of playing all manner of obscure instruments. As every Foo Fighters fan knows – he was wasted on the drums.

Nirvana mark one even played a few shows in the hipper London venues of the time and hung out with pop royalty like The Kinks, who would sadly not influence their later work at all, and of course future front man Paul McCartney.

Perhaps Nirvana’s finest hour then is All Of Us, a brilliant hotch potch of silky, psychedelic pop songs that stay in your head for days. It also features their first hits too in Rainbow Chaser, a heavily phased track with the most delicate of tunes, and arguably their best ever song Tiny Goddess, a Left Banke style lilt that would later be covered admirably by French folk ice queen Francoise Hardy (see below for video of her singing the song in Italian).

Other highlights include the title track of sorts, The Touchables (All Of Us), the theme from the movie of the same name which features an unforgettable rabble-rousing chorus.

Sadly, having delivered their wonderfully chirpy soft pop masterpiece Kurt and Dave hit their wilderness years (primary school) which would see them suffer pain and angst – feelings all too familiar to anyone unfortunate enough to have heard their In Utero album (just kidding grunge fans!).

Ironically I was fortunate enough to meet the real Patrick Campbell Lyons a few months before his namesake band released Nevermind. He told me that he was thinking of suing the other Nirvana for pinching his name. ‘Don’t waste your money!’ I told him. ‘That dodgy old American punk band will never amount to anything.’ Spot on there wasn’t it?




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