That Was The Year That Was

[11 Dec 02] The end of year has always been best-of-lists time around these parts, where 'always' equals 2000 and 2001. Since skipping a year would require messy surgery on the space-time continuum to remove 2002 from the collective consciousness, it seems a lot easier just to continue the tradition with the latest instalment. Guaranteed to be at least as pointless and arbitrary as whatever your local paper printed last weekend, and a lot less wasteful of trees.


[ 6 Dec 02] MeFi is coming through with the goods today: Show and Tell Music is another glorious album cover site (mp3s, too), packed with classics like Charles Burpo and Mr. Bat. Dangerously addictive.


Must Be Time for a Better Place

[ 3 Dec 02] Midnight Oil, 1976-2002:

I grew tall in this lucky land
And I thank God for that, but there's needles in the sand
Ozone in the eucalypt and on the Steppes tonight
There's pushing and a shoving on the throne tonight

I don't want to run, I don't want to stay
Cos everything that's near and dear is old and in the way
Emergency has gone, apathy rolling on
Time to take a stand
Redneck wonderland

People, wasting away in paradise
Going backward, once in a while
Moving ahead, falling behind
What do you believe, what do you believe
What do you believe is true
Nothing they say makes a difference this way
Nothing they say will do

Said it's a pity 'bout the middle class Holden mass
We get a bit to play around with doesn't really matter
They kid us with their dole, kid us with the dope
But generally speaking, nobody's got a hope

Hypocrisy helps me helps you
Democracy helps me helps you
Ideology helps me helps you
Put your trust in me I'll help you through

Tucker box is empty now, the heart of Kelly's country cleared
The gangers on the southern line, like the steam trains have disappeared
Pelicans glide, miracles up in the sky
We vote for the government, with axes in his eyes

We carry in our hearts the true country
And that cannot be stolen
We follow in the steps of our ancestry
And that cannot be broken

The rich get richer, the poor get the picture
The bombs never hit you when you're down so low
Some got pollution, some revolution
There must be some solution but I just don't know

It seems to me that what we're saying
Nobody really wants to talk about it
This is no time to be wondering why
I do the best I can do
The human jungle and the global zoo
I'll find my way it's a very special way


The Deep Deep Sound

[ 2 Dec 02] Ill. Aching. Home from work. A rare opportunity to listen to Mike. (Jane isn't a fan. Definitely isn't.)

I haven't listened to my Oldfield albums much in the past few years; his newer releases haven't done a lot for me (the most recent, Tres Lunas, is tres snoozas—though it's meant as the soundtrack to a Myst-like game, so that's some excuse ).

But this afternoon I put on an old favourite and wondered to myself, is there any music anywhere that will ever make me as happy as 'Taurus II'?

Back when I was an impressionable teenager overwriting his cortex with every riff and melody Mike ever wrote, I used to make my friends the following compilation tape, on specially-purchased 'C90+16' cassettes:

Side A:
Platinum Parts 1-4, 19:18
Ommadawn Part 1, 19:17
Ommadawn Part 2, 13:50*
*minus 'On Horseback' to save space

Side B:
Afghan, 2:37 (Discovery-era b-side)
Taurus I, 10:17 (from QE2)
Taurus II, 24:43 (from Five Miles Out)
Taurus III, 2:26 (from Crises)
The Lake, 12:10 (from Discovery)

And y'know—although I'd now have to throw in a C60 of Amarok—it would still serve as a damn fine explanation of why some of us worship the guy. Certainly better than the singles and extracts compilations that Virgin have been churning out for the past ten years. (Note the absence in those titles of the word 'Tubular'.)

But the world continues to think of him, if it does at all, as the bloke who did that seventies prog LP with the twisted bells on it. An impression not helped by the man himself, who has recycled the name again and again (not that those were bad albums per se), and is currently recording a note-for-note remake of the original.


He has a perfect right to record whatever he likes, of course, and I'll continue to prop up his Spanish mansion habit by buying them, but sometimes I wish I could be fifteen again, with Five Miles Out in the immediate past and Amarok in the future.

May you never run aground
Or fall into the deep deep sound
Stormy weather turns to blue
Here's a song to take with you



[28 Nov 02] In the early days of the 12" single, before they became the exclusive domain of 'remixes' consisting of the main vocal over a wildly inappropriate 140 bpm backing-track (I'm looking at you, U2), extended singles were just that—singles extended with new verses, bridges and solos, creating a fuller, more complex version of the song. Or an even more irritating version of 'The Reflex'. (A favourite early music-listening moment was hearing Duran Duran on a local FM station being ripped from the turntable in mid 'fle-fle-fle-' by a DJ saying 'That's enough of that.')

The days of the extended version are gone—in an age of hour-long CD albums, the standard versions are extended versions—so I was surprised to be reminded of them when listening to, of all things, a symphony.

Not just any symphony, either, but one of my favourites: Sibelius' Fifth, matched only by his Second and Seventh (though I love them all). When I was 22 and seriously exploring classical music, I must have played Leonard Bernstein's controversial 1989 recording of the 5th and 7th dozens of times, soaking their nordic grandeur into my pores until I smelled of pine-o-cleen.

There were other symphonies I admired, by Beethoven, Brahms, Rachmaninov, but the Finn surpassed them all. Grand without being pompous; emotional without being sentimental; icy without the icing; the raw, elemental, geological forces of nature trapped in notes. Sibelius' music is mountains, forests, glaciers: it makes everything else sound indoorsy.

My love for it must be genetic, because Dad loves Sibelius too, giving us another point of musical agreement to add to 'Leo Kottke plays a mean twelve-string' and 'Roger Whittaker sure can whistle'.

If things had gone a little differently I might have ended up even more of a classical aficionado; but the next year was the year punk broke (again), the year of indie music and Achtung Baby, the year that saved rock and roll. I'd still listen to a spot of strings now and then, but more often it was the Clouds.

But circumstances change; specifically, neighbours change, from raucous 20-somethings who are too busy playing their own loud rock music to notice yours, to interfering old busy-bodies who call a body corporate meeting if you sing in the shower. Not that we've had any complaints—well, just the one, on the one day of spring when it was warm enough to have the windows open and I foolishly dropped Redneck Wonderland into the CD player—but it's worth being cautious. And frankly, at the end of a dark winter evening I'm rarely in the mood for a Peter Garrett freak-out. Instead, I've been listening to a disturbing amount of latin jazz and ambient techno—two genres I'd never have tolerated a decade ago—and rediscovering classical music.

Mostly, that means 'classical lite', or at least 'quiet': Beethoven's piano sonatas, Schubert's impromptus, John Williams playing solo guitar, and so on. But rediscovering the soft stuff has led straight back to the hard stuff, to ol' baldy himself—which kind of defeats the intention. You're hardly going to appease a crotchety neighbour with an acute sensitivity to bass notes when there's a Fjord Thunderbird revving its trumpets downstairs.

But who cares. They're going to hear plenty of Sibelius in heaven, so they might as well get used to it now.

In this renewed state of Scandinavian awareness, I noticed on the shelves of the Edinburgh Music Library the familiar black cover of a BIS CD, a label known for its comprehensive coverage of the region's composers. This, to my surprise, was a disk of the original version of Sibelius's Fifth, which hadn't been recorded when I first discovered his music, and hadn't even been performed in years. So of course I borrowed it and took it home—which is where I had my fle-fle-flashbacks.

The Fifth debuted in 1915, but Sibelius rewrote it heavily before its publication in 1919. To anyone familiar with that final version—so familiar they can whistle the whole thing in the shower, like Roger Whittaker live in Helsinki—the original sounds drastically different. It's stuffed with extra intruments, extra bars, extra notes; the first movement is split in two; the final stark blows from the brass section are backed by strings; and the whole fourth movement is just too long. The last five minutes are particularly disconcerting; it's like seeing your grandmother in a Batman costume.

It's not bad—Sibelius was almost 50 when he finished the original, after all, with four other symphonies to his name—but the final version is so clearly better that it leads one to wonder how many other less-than-perfect works would benefit from four years of painstaking revision in the middle of a world war.

It seems that in symphonies, as in singles, the extended version isn't always the best.


You Better Listen to Him

[22 Nov 02] Graham's collecting a list of Australasian Albums of the '80s at Records Ad Nauseam. If you're of an Austral persuasion, why not suggest a few.


[ 4 Nov 02] Oh God, not again.

Four hours of exposure to Catatonia's International Velvet and I'm already singing "Every day when I wake up/I thank the Lord I'm Welsh".

I mean, I'm not even New South Welsh.


Bleep On

[26 Oct 02] Went along this afternoon to the Royal Museum of Scotland's new exhibition Game On, with over a hundred playable video games from Pong to Halo. A nostalgia trip for anyone who's grown up in the past thirty years, and it left me wanting to race out to buy a PS2 and a copy of Grand Theft Auto III. Oh, and a TV.

One of the more intriguing exhibits wasn't video, though, but audio: a bunch of listening posts featuring music from various eras of gaming. A listen to various 1980s Commodore 64 themes was a potent reminder of the roots of '90s dance music. To hear for yourself, download a SID music file player for Mac OS Classic or Windows, search the High Voltage SID Collection for 'Arkanoid' by Martin Galway, follow it up with an mp3 remix from, and bleep the night away.


The Great Britpop Play-Off

[18 Oct 02] Supergrass and Suede go head-to-head in my latest review at Records Ad Nauseam [mirrored here].


[28 Sep 02] So, hands up who expected that the new Beck album would be laid-back orchestral country-and-moog?


[23 Sep 02] Fascinating Guardian article about the new (old) world of pop, where songwriters-for-hire—sometimes former stars themselves—are the real power behind the throne:

If pop music in the 21st century seems to be carrying on as though the Beatles never happened, there's a good reason for it. The Beatles were never meant to happen.


[ 1 Sep 02] A rushed review of A Rush of Blood to the Head at Records Ad Nauseam [mirrored here].


Noises Off

[31 Aug 02]

Fireworks at the end of the 2002 Edinburgh Festival.
Festival Fireworks

The Festival is over, but before it went out with a bang we caught a few more £5 concerts at the Usher Hall.

Hearing the renowned pianist Alfred Brendel play Beethoven's Diabelli Variations was good, but the trouble with Variations is that they're, well, variations. On a theme. Again and again. For an hour. Sure, it's fascinating to watch his hands fly up and down the keyboard, but the mind wanders somewhere between variations 1 and 33.

I was happier with the Florestan Trio, who performed Schubert's Piano Trio No 1 in B flat. Not quite the match of his liede last week, but still tuneful and enjoyable. Some of the audience enjoyed it so much that they clapped at the end of each movement, to the disgruntled murmurings of the hard-core classical concert-goers in the audience. Not the done thing, don't y'know. "It distracts the performers," complained one grey-haired gent to his wife on the way out. I'm not sure if that was actually Mahler's theory when he instituted his ban on applause between movements as conductor of the Vienna Phil a century ago; I suspect he was just being precious. Certainly Schubert would have expected and appreciated such applause in the early 19th century.

The series ended on Friday with Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time for piano trio and clarinet. Except this performance was a Concerto for piano trio, clarinet, nose, throat, shoes, chair-springs, and mobile phone, performed by several hundred. The audience was the coughingest I've ever heard, every hack and hurrumph amplified ten-fold by the excellent acoustics. Some person in a squeaky seat in the middle balcony was shifting position every five minutes; another clomped off to the loo and back halfway through. No-one applauded between movements (distracts the performers, y'see...)—instead, they coughed and cleared their throats en masse, echoing like a respiratory ward in a cathedral.

The piece was originally composed and performed in a World War Two prison camp. The audience was clearly trying to recreate the background noise of tuberculosis victims and people being tortured.

As for the music: difficult, but ultimately rewarding, particularly the last movement with the violin climbing to its highest note and fading into nothingness. It was enough to bring a lump to the throat. Ehherk. Ah, that must explain it.


Words About Music

[27 Aug 02] Bought a new album on its day of release for the first time in ages yesterday: Coldplay's A Rush of Blood to the Head. I feel I should review it at the new-improved RAN, but it really needs a few days to soak up and sink in. (The three-listen summary: It's great. They're gonna be huge.) I also seem to have lost the urge to review my favourite album bought this month, Loss by Mull Historical Society, a tuneful slab of singer-songwriter splendour in the mould of World Party, Matthew Sweet and the like. In fact, looking back at other musical obsessions of the year, I've failed to write reviews of most of them: Badly Drawn Boy's debut and latest; the Run Lola Run soundtrack; Space's Spiders (late to the party again, but what a party); The Strokes' Is This It (ditto); Black Rebel Motorcycle Club; everything ever recorded by Air; the brilliant Les Hommes and Mo' Horizons; and the completist drive to buy every album by James (Wah Wah is proving elusive). Not to mention an embarrassingly nostalgic 30-something quest to fill in the gaps in my collection of '80s classics (I'll not hear a word against Judas Priest's Turbo, y'hear? Not one word! Besides, who can resist a heavy metal album priced at €6.66?).

Somehow the urge to write words about music has been subsumed by the urge to just listen to the music one more time—especially when it's on our glorious new slab of hi-fi. Why waste time writing that Coldplay are set to become the stadium successors to U2 when you can have a stadium in your living room?

Maybe I've just reviewed myself out over the past month or so of Fringe musings. Expect some more words about music when things have settled down a bit. And some different things altogether, now that Fringe-capturing and Berlin-recapturing are out of the way.


Every Day Should Be A Holiday

[22 Aug 02] Love the Dandy Warhols with a hot, burning passion? Of course you do. But did you know that they recorded a 'lost' album in their early days with Capitol? ...oh, you did. Okay, so I'm the one who's hopelessly out of touch. Bohemians like you will have no need, then, to read this interview or this track-listing or download these mp3s from their official site. Oh yes, you think you're so clever—but fandom is so passé.


Pages, Stages and Images

[19 Aug 02] Another weekend of festival-packed fun. On Friday night we went along to one of the £5 concerts being held as part of the Festival proper at Edinburgh's Usher Hall. The seats were way up in the gods, but the acoustics were perfect for hearing Angela Hewitt's fine performance of Bach's Goldberg Variations (not so good for seeing her individual finger-movements, but you can't have it all). Wonderful music, too; I've never been a big Bach fan, but this could make a convert of me.

Saturday was a profusion of riches: all-too-rare warm weather, the streets packed with visitors, and the festivals in full swing. Started the day by hearing Neil Gaiman talk about his new book, Coraline, at the Edinburgh Book Festival. From the readings he gave us, it sounds like an excellent dark little fairy-tale. The questions from the audience were also thoughtful and interesting, prompting explanations of Gaiman's childhood fascinations, his wanderings across genres, the differences between the British and American publishing industries, and how Good Omens came to be one of the funniest books ever written (both Gaiman and Pratchett were racing against each other to get to the next "good bit" in their tag-team collaboration).

In the evening it was Fringe time, with Club Seals at the Pleasance Dome doing a terrific set of sketches about 'The Museum of Everything'. Well-observed and performed, with great use of props and video segments: the animatronic Merlin talking about the History of Wicker while perched on a skateboard; shrunken heads bitching about the New Acquisition; a talking whale and a reggae-loving octopus; an audio guide that compares every exhibit to 'your mum'; and the mystery of Jack the Wippah revealed. Good stuff.

Rounded out the evening with another Festival concert, Schubert's song cycle Die schöne Müllerin (The Miller's Beautiful Daughter) performed by Jonas Kaufmann (tenor) and Helmut Deutsch (piano). A revelation; I'd never heard classical song in concert before, only ever on record or TV. It's amazing to hear a single human voice fill a huge hall without the aid of speakers and amps; rock concerts suddenly seem amateurish by comparison. And Kaufmann—who looked the part, with his big Beethoven hair—was a marvel, conveying every emotion of the songs even when every word was in German. Beautiful music; the hall wasn't as packed as Friday night, but I enjoyed this concert even more.

We finished the weekend at the Edinburgh Film Festival screening of Philip Noyce's Rabbit-Proof Fence. Noyce himself was there, as were the lead actress and the writers of the screenplay and the original book. The film is not without flaws—the social and historical context could be fleshed out a little better, especially for the benefit of international audiences—but it has an undeniable emotional impact. Ultimately, its greatest importance is as testament against the lie that white Australia and its current government have no need to apologise for the wrongs done to the Stolen Generation.

Here's an idea. Let's take any member of federal Parliament who refuses to apologise on behalf of white Australia to aboriginal Australia—let's call him 'John H.'—and fly him to Edinburgh to watch Rabbit-Proof Fence among an audience of intelligent fair-minded Scots. Then let's see if he can make it all the way to the end without feeling a deep sense of shame on behalf of his country and its majority culture, and an overwhelming desire not to say a word until he's well away from the cinema in case anyone hears his Australian accent. Hey, it worked for me.

(Coincidentally, a thread on MetaFilter prompted a few more words along related lines today.)


Why Wasn't I Told?

[15 Jul 02] Cha-cha-cha with Senor Coconut's El Baile Aleman:

The concept alone is almost enough to get music lovers to shell out fifteen bucks. Get a traditional Latin salsa band to cover Kraftwerk songs, including the classics 'Trans-Europe Express' and 'Tour de France,' complete with marimbas, congas and maracas filling in for the primitive synthesizers and drum machines of the pioneers.

Must... own... must... own... must... own!


[10 Jun 02] Recent compilations of 1950s and '60s exotica are all well and good—and some of them are very well and good indeed—but they lack that finishing touch of the original album art. Thank the mighty gods of lounge, then, for 317x, home to beauties like Moog Power, I Dig Chicks, Ping Pong, The Plastic Cow Goes Moooooog and Mambo for Cats. [Via I Love Everything.]


Rocketing to Number One

[ 1 Jun 02] Lance Bass, member of NSync, is reportedly attempting to become the next space tourist. He said it was his life-long dream to fly into orbit, which certainly must make him unique among Western males under the age of 25. (Why do I have a mental image of Bass in silver jumpsuit standing next to Miss Piggy and the other Pigs in Space, with Kermit waving his arms and thanking him for being this week's guest on the Muppet Shooowwww?)

This has to be a propaganda coup for opponents of the RIAA, though. The music industry can hardly cry poor over Internet downloads when it can afford to pay a 23-year-old pop star enough to spend a week in orbit.


Romantic Melodies

[12 May 02] Röyksopp's Melody A.M. and Luna's Romantica get the once-over from me at Records Ad Nauseam. [Mirrors? But of course: Röyksopp; Luna.]


The Man from Uncool

[ 6 May 02] I was a Rolling Stone reader (of the Australian version) for ten years, lured in by their '100 Greatest Albums of All Time' list of 1987—although I missed the first instalment, so only ever knew the 67 almost-greatest. Over the years their lists came and went—Greatest Albums of the 1980s, Greatest Singles, Greatest Stuff We Had Lying Around in the Glovebox—and I eagerly read them all, appreciating their pointers to new sounds even when disagreeing with their rankings.

They're still doing it, with recent lists of the 50 Coolest and now the 50 Uncoolest Records of All Time (as it Always Is—so musicians, you're in luck: nothing you record from now until the heat death of the universe will be uncool).

The 'coolest' list is as maybe. I've got a few of 'em, and am tempted to hunt down a couple more—Jorge Ben's Africa Brasil and Serge Gainsbourg's Comic Strip, for a start. But these days, the whole idea of 'coolness' leaves me cool.

Give me the uncoolest, baby. Show me where to find Perrey and Kingsley's The In Sound From Way Out, The Moog Cookbook's Ye Olde Space Band, and The Amazing World of Joe Meek. Is This It is it-ish, if not quite this (or is it?), but these days it seems like the weirdest, most unconventional and most interesting sounds are being made—were always being made—by musicians who eschew the black leather jacket for a stylish tweed or a natty blue skivvy.

So call one of my favourite albums of the 1980s uncool, Rolling Stone, and see if I care. When I wake up, yeah I know I'm gonna be, I'm gonna be the man who wakes up all uncool. And that's cool with me.


Why Does My Head Feel So Bad?

[29 Apr 02] One listen—one listen—to Moby's 'We Are All Made of Stars' on MTV in a Belgian hotel ten days ago, and I can't get that bloody song out of my head.

Now I'm going to have to buy 18 when it comes out and listen to it thirty-eight times. Not because I particularly want to, but as inoculation.


Jumped in the River, What Did I See?

[ 8 Mar 02] A postcript to that brief entry about Last Plane to Jakarta. I've now read John Darnielle's entire deconstruction of Amnesiac, and it's completely changed my attitude towards the album. On initial listens I thought it was good enough, but not as good as Kid A. Then I had something of a conversion while driving south along the Hume Highway just before leaving Australia, listening to the two in sequence: nothing but darkness, white lines on the road, and the red lights of the car ahead all the way through Kid A; then halfway through Amnesiac the glow of Melbourne approaching, with the album finishing as I plunged into its outer streets. Suddenly, the music made much more sense.

But I put Amnesiac to one side, as you do when there are so many competing demands for attention, and left it mentally filed somewhere below their last three albums. It took Darnielle's lengthy analysis to prompt me to listen to it again, properly. Our improved sound system lifted the music to a new level, but it was his framing that made the real difference. It was like a whole new album: and, yes, a landmark, every bit the equal of Kid A or The Bends.

It's a fine critic indeed who can transform a work by his criticism. It's the unspoken aim of any critic: not just to commend or condemn a work, but to explain it, to get inside the head of its creator—and into the head of the reader, to connect one to the other.

A tall order, and how often do we see it achieved in the press? Hardly ever, really; a few days' acquaintance with a complex work of art isn't enough to reveal its full range of meanings, but no newspaper or magazine is going to hold over their Amnesiac review for six months to let its implications sink in.

Which may be why some of the best writing about music in years wasn't in Q or Juice, but here on the Web.


[ 6 Mar 02] Last Plane to Jakarta is an impressive music crit site, particularly for its song-by-song take on Radiohead's Amnesiac. Fine writing, fine presentation.


We Would Sing and Dance Around

[26 Feb 02] Ain't no techno-lust can beat hi-fi lust.

After six months of listening to CDs on an aging boom-box, and a month of spending our Saturdays in hi-fi stores, we've finally bought a new stereo. And not just any old stereo: the dream stereo. The once-a-decade upgrade. The stereo that makes the last one sound like a bellowing herd of wildebeest.

I've spent the weekend hooking up silver bi-wire speaker cables, interconnects with gold-plated plugs, and solid metal stands with spikes underneath... and can't help thinking of my first stereo, a Pye three-in-one with turntable, tuner, and twin tape deck. No silver bi-wire there: more like barb-wire, with mufflers instead of woofers and a recording-head made out of cotton wool. Listen to 'Octopus's Garden' on that little beauty and you'd be convinced that Ringo really was singing underwater.

And listen I did: that Pye worked overtime, taping the top 40, dubbing third-generation C90s* of the White Album and Jethro Tull, gouging the fine musical detail from the grooves of Hergest Ridge and Under a Blood Red Sky with its needle of flint. The sound quality wasn't up to much, but the sounds were, and that was all that mattered.

The Sharp component system a few years later was a definite improvement, bringing such innovations as Dolby B and C, high-speed dubbing, chrome and metal tape-recording capacity (never used, because I was too cheap to buy metal tapes; and anyway, isn't chrome a metal?), and—the master stroke—a both-sides-play sliding-tray turntable. (This was, naturally, the one feature I came to regret: both sides play = twice as many needles to buy at once, and sliding tray = potentially not-sliding tray.) With the addition of a temperamental Sony CD player it saw me through Amarok and Achtung Baby, the Underground Lovers and Luna. Now it sits in storage on the other side of the world, along with all my non-metal tapes and never-played records: nostalgia in cryogenic suspension, a musical Cold Lazarus.

And now we've just spent more on a new stereo than my entire taxable income for the 2000-2001 financial year. It cost two to three times what the last one cost, and does less—much less. In fact, all it does is play CDs, using an amplifier, a single-disk CD player and two speakers. But it plays them very, very well. Suddenly my entire CD collection sounds brand new.

Suddenly, all I want to do is lie on the couch and float in a sea of music.

I'd like to be
Under the sea
In an octopus's garden
In the shade.


The Dido Seismographic

[17 Feb 02] A post lazily cobbled together from comments left on other sites.

It's yesterday's news now, but I feel compelled to note here that this Guardian article on the Dido demographic shook me to my very core. (Well, not really, but I have to justify the 'seismographic' somehow.)

Dido's No Angel was one of the biggest-selling albums in the UK last year, which of course means that nobody likes it. It also means that if you own it, or a dozen other once-fashionable disks like it, you're a pathetic pseud who's well and truly past it. Or so says Stuart Jeffries.

It's amusing to see the Guardian attacking its own: half its readers would be perfect 'Dido demographics'. And amusing that an article on those who 'don't like music as much as they used to' is in the paper where former rock journo Julie Burchill, who covered '70s punk for the NME, now spends her valuable column inches bagging her ex-husband and her local council. On the whole, its implications are probably pretty accurate if you own twelve of these albums in a small collection. The trouble is, even if you own two or three you're bound to feel a shiver of impending old-fartdom down your rapidly aging spine. So what if you own nine?

Well, you could argue that in a large collection it could just as easily mean that you buy the occasional 'album of the moment' to keep in touch with what everyone else is listening to. Same way you might switch on ER to see what all the fuss is about. Buying any particular album is a big deal if you buy one or two a year; it isn't if you buy one or two a week.

Or you could argue that The Joshua Tree, OK Computer, The Man Who, Parachutes, What's the Story Morning Glory, Different Class and, yes, Graceland are all die-hard classics no matter what some snarky journo says, and Urban Hymns still has its moments, and, okay, Play is a fair call because you really should have bought it six months before you did to be ahead of the game, but 'Southside' is still boffo.

Or you could accept that your newly-mortgaged status and recent 34th birthday make you a sad shadow of a human being, as opposed to the happy 24-year-olds who live wonderful This Life existences filled with sunshine and laughter, and hurl yourself under the wheels of a passing Volvo.

Lucky thing I don't actually own No Angel. But hey, I heard 'Stan' on Triple J once, so paint me decrepit!


Nothing to Get Hungabout

[14 Feb 02] Interesting thread on "fakery" versus "reality" in music over at MeFi (my comments mirrored here), which got me thinking about Milli Vanilli for the first time in years. Not something I ever thought I'd be typing into Google.


[ 4 Feb 02] Some Stone Roses nostalgia at Records Ad Nauseam (mirrored here).


It Began in London-don-don-don

[31 Jan 02] The Chemical Brothers' Come With Us reviewed by yours truly at Records Ad Nauseam (mirrored here).


Clash Photography

[24 Jan 02] Q Magazine has chosen the cover photo of London Calling by the Clash as the greatest rock and roll photograph of all time, and it's hard to disagree... One aspect that never seems to get mentioned is the hunched back. This is no rock-jock he-man flexing his muscles: this is the skinny outcast venting his frustrations at the world through his music and, for one intense moment, his instrument; rock star as Quasimodo. And that, it seems to me, is closer to the spirit of rock and roll—the driving force that keeps it reinventing itself, generation after disaffected generation—than any image of long hair and leathers.


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