Rebecca Reeve - Marjory’s World, 2012
I felt a tingle of pure jealousy when I heard Dubstar’s “Disgraceful” album for the first time back in the mid-1990s.. It felt like they made exactly the sort of album I wanted to do back then, and I was annoyed that I had been beaten to it.
Probably best remembered for “Stars”, that song was only the start of the story. At their most accomplished, Dubstar were a meeting point between ABBA, The Smiths and Pet Shop Boys. Their best songs have lyrics that are angry, melancholy and fatalist all at once.
This, “The Day I See You Again” is particularly grim - the protagonist receives a letter from her ex, and decides to see him once more, and as she thinks ahead to when they meet (“I’ll wear a new dress…wear the earrings that you chose”) she’s in no doubt how the evening will end (“I’ll tell you straight as we undress that / things got better when you left”) before revealing her desperation (“no-one else would have me so / I’ve made this day, of all days / the day I see you again”.)
In short: love is a wonderful thing (terms and conditions apply.)
This is “Imperfect List” by Big Hard Excellent Fish and it features swearing so it’s NSFW.
A friend of mine came to London a couple of years ago and gave me a mix CD called “Cracking Cuts” (the cover was a naked bum!) and this was the first track. I’d heard the name, a long time ago, but had never heard the song. As soon as it started, I was transfixed.
A list of things imperfect (“duh, really?I”) it’s sad (“cancer”…”depression”), funny (“Stock. Aitken. And Waterman”…”tasteless A&R wanker”), angry (“fucking bastard Thatcher”…”Sun newspaper”) and mundane (“mile-long checkout queue”…”red sock in the white washing”.)
Melancholy, funny, beautiful.
Prefab Sprout have become legendary for the records they haven’t made rather than the ones they have. Endless rumours circulate of the records that Paddy McAloon has completed in demo form but never released - everything from concept albums about the life of Michael Jackson (“Behind The Mask”) to an entire history of the world in song form (“Earth: The Story So Far”.)
We finally got one of these albums a few years back when “Let’s Change The World With Music: The Blueprint” was released in the form of a set of demos mixed for public consumption. But we found out that when Paddy McAloon says “demo” what he actually means is “fully realised and orchestrated to a state that would shame many ‘proper’ albums”.
So when the announcement came last year that we were getting “Crimson/Red”, a “proper” album of new PS songs, I was excited enough to get straight down to the nearest record shop (HMV Sheffield; I was mid-Moyet Tour) to buy it on release day (I also bought Chris Wood’s “Albion” and Oneohtrix Point Never’s “R Plus Seven” that day, fact fans.) I wasn’t disappointed; it’s an album full of perfectly honed writing, arranged using sympathetic programming in a “band without a band” style.
But the high point is “Adolescence”. It dispenses with the “band” sound, instead settling between an electronic shuffle and baroque pop, coming out like the lost link between Frank Ocean and Paul McCartney. Melodically it’s both complex and effortless with a fantastic lyric that nails its subject with practised ease. Simply put, it’s the best song Paddy’s written since “Jordan: The Comeback”.
Well, the best one we’ve heard, anyway.
BTW Oscar tmr……
not a huge fan of Leonardo but, dont cry babe, one day you’ll get it
When I first discovered Tori Amos, I became obsessed with her work. “Little Earthquakes” was barely out of my stereo for a couple of years, and I tracked down every single I could get my hands on for the marvellous array of b-sides.
I was perfect casting for that kind of monomania - a geeky musical teenager with a “gotta catch ‘em all” mentality. I didn’t think I could still feel like that, but it’s recently happened to me again with another artist, making me feel like I’m having a rather pleasant mid-life crisis. So it goes.
Of course, a devotion that strong will often burn itself out, and even by the time of Amos’ second album “Under The Pink” I was finding myself less enthused - it’s an album with several missteps, for me. But the good parts are fantastic, and this song is, along with “The Waitress”, the high point.
There’s a rich vein of songs about female masturbation, but I’m going to say this is the best one ever.
Postscript: just when I thought I was getting over Tori, “Boys For Pele” came out and dragged me back in.
never expect Tori Amos would be in the jukebox too but OMG YES
This is “Lonely” by Effie. And you probably won’t like it. So, I apologise in advance, but into the jukebox it goes.
I’m not trying to be ironic by hitching my wagon to this song, and neither am I about to mount an untenable defence of it by painting it as a lost pop classic. It’s not. This record is straightforwardly derivative pop of its era - it even shamelessly includes the hook from Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face”. I know it’s not one for the ages.
But at the same time, when I first heard this (on one of the myriad of music channels on telly) I found myself going back to it again and again on YouTube. Yes, there’s a sense of the ridiculous about both the track and the video (Effie’s miming of the part where the vocals slow down is a highlight, although that’s also my favourite bit of the song) but, despite everything, this song is an unashamed spoonful of sugar, and I’ve got a sweet tooth.
Another great lost pop band from the 1980s - the majestic Frazier Chorus, who for some reason didn’t go on to be enormously popular and successful.
I saw this video for “Dream Kitchen” on The Chart Show in 1989 and did something I often did as a youngster - I noted it as being pretty dreadful, and then spent the week with the chorus going round and round my head before finally surrendering to its charms. (Funnily enough I did the same thing with a pre-“West End Girls” Pet Shop Boys when I saw them on kids’ game show “Runaround” performing “Opportunities”. I remember being quite unimpressed and thinking, “we won’t be hearing from them again.” I look at my complete set of PSB albums and smile.)
Anyway, back to Frazier Chorus. I love how they combine gentle, wistful music with acidly funny lyrics, all delivered so calmly. It’s a fascinating combination, both soothing and prickly.
Annoyingly, only their first album, “Sue”, has been reissued on CD but it’s a must - get it here http://www.cherryred.co.uk/shopexd.asp?id=1022
Final fun fact: Frazier Chorus singer Tim Freeman is the elder brother of actor Martin Freeman.
its a bit weird when every week you listen to your professor complaining “McDonald’s is evil! They sell bad breads, they sell bad meat, and they sell drinks with tonnes of sugar innit!” but Ive been eating 4 mcdonald’s burger since this monday.
btw, slept for 3 hours to write my papers (2nd time in this week again), why can’t i learn the lesson and try to finish my duties fast?
This is “You Make Me Feel” by Milosh. I absolutely love this, and let’s face it, who doesn’t love a bit of hypnotic electronic sensuality?
I often imagine Marvin Gaye singing this song - it’s like a blissed-out, lovestoned rewiring of “Let’s Get It On”. Plus it’s got one of my favourite lyrics with “you, beautiful moment in my life, a sweet wrinkle in time so let’s stretch this thing out”. Yeah, baby.
Mentally add your crush of the week and stir, stir, stir.