The Bells, The Bells

Daniel Holdsworth and Aidan Roberts, Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells for Two *****

There was a time when all I wrote about online was the subject captured in this antique corner of this site. My introduction to Mike Oldfield wasn’t through his most famous album, but once I was hooked I bought it in short order, and there’s no doubt that it helped consolidate my lifelong love of his work. Even if it’s never been my favourite of his albums, that 1973 recording has a vitality that some of his later work lacks, including his subsequent remixes of the album in the search for its platonic ideal, which culminated in its complete re-recording in 2003.

Read More · 27 August 2012

I’d better round off those few posts on the Olympics with one on the closing ceremony. The games themselves kept me enthralled to the end, or at least to Mo Farah’s nail-biting 5,000 metres victory on Saturday night. Meanwhile, the opening ceremony soundtrack has barely left the Now Playing slot on my iPod. I don’t think I’ll be able to say the same for the closing.

Read More · 13 August 2012

I’ve been thinking about the Olympics opening ceremony for days, and better get some thoughts down before they’re obliterated by the games themselves. Many others have already got in first, of course, and it’s especially worth reading these good blog posts and Metafilter comments, as well as the thoughts of its director Danny Boyle and writer Frank Cottrell Boyce.

Read More · 1 August 2012

Fantastic Bombastic

This will surprise nobody who’s ever heard me go on about them, but I can’t stop watching the new Muse video. It’s so perfectly edited, it adds enormously to an already excellent song.

I was trying to think what the expression on Kelly Holmes’s face in the last few seconds reminded me of. But of course: it was another video that made me very happy indeed.

Another subliminal parallel: Bellamy singing “race, it’s a race” at 2:23 brought to mind 0:24 of this. Snake, it’s a snake...

5 July 2012


Several years ago I wrestled with Keane’s catchy debut album and their reputation for being Dad Rock. Their second, Under the Iron Sea, was so good that I decided I didn’t really care what the critics thought about sad paternal rockers, I just loved it. Once I actually was a dad, and album number three came out, I actually went off them a bit, loving the teaser single for it but not the end result—so much so that I failed to purchase their third-and-a-halfth album, Night Train, and figured I was done with them.

But Amazon insisted that I should try their latest, Strangeland, at a bargain price on mp3; and I did.

Read More · 17 May 2012

The first thing I thought of on hearing the news of Donna Summer’s death was the 9.4 reader score for “I Feel Love” at Popular, making it the readers’ favourite UK number one to date. That’s some testament, both to Summer’s influence on popular music and to Popular’s influence on me.

I’ve also been reading her obituary thread at MetaFilter, where this comment in particular appealed. Here’s Sound on Sound’s Classic Tracks dissection of “I Feel Love”.

17 May 2012

Sweet Heart Sweet Light continues to gets its hooks into me (and it really is bristling with hooks), so I’ve been reading around on it. Jason Pierce has been doing the interview rounds: apart from the Guardian interview I linked yesterday, there’s one at Pitchfork and another at Stereogum, where he said:

There are an awful lot of records ... made by people that, whether they want to or not, they've soaked up a bit of that wisdom. ... You might think of them as the great, but often forgotten, mid-period records by big artists. There is this group of records that probably outnumber the records that people hailed as the classics, or the big moves in rock and roll, and they seem like the very backbone, the spine, of the music I love. I wanted to make one of those kinds of records, one of those things that befitted my age a little bit more.

Read More · 18 April 2012

The last few Spiritualized albums did less and less for me, and I thought I’d have to be satisfied with Lazer Guided Melodies and Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, but the just-released Sweet Heart Sweet Light sounds terrific on a first couple of listens. Something about this one stands apart from its immediate predecessors—it’s much more melodic, for a start.

But what a genesis it had. As if the background to Songs in A&E wasn’t bad enough.

17 April 2012

I’ve spent all the time I should have used to write something for the blog for today listening to The Chap. Blame Ben Goldacre.

13 March 2012 · x2

So Last Year

Time for a look back on my favourite music of 2011, before we get too far into 2012. (Early February isn’t too far, is it?) I heard more music last year than in the preceding few, thanks in part to a general relaxing of objections from one of the junior members of our household; in part to buying a Squeezebox Touch so I could move all my CDs up to the attic; and in part to my increasing conversion to buying digital music over CDs. It wouldn’t make sense to focus on 2011 releases alone, or to try to rank everything below, so instead I’ve gone for a list in order of Date Added to iTunes for a chronological wander through my year, listing songs, albums, or both, as seemed most appropriate.

Read More · 4 February 2012

I missed this in August: 25 minutes of new music from Röyksopp, on their site for free. But hang on: turns out I also missed a whole year’s worth.

12 January 2012 · x1

Popular took a while to work its way through 1992, and my comments on it were relatively sparse too (I said nothing about the entertaining “Ebeneezer Goode”, for example), but here they are.

Read More · 5 January 2012

Music in 2011