Requests

Love, Ire and Song – Frank Turner

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Track Listing
1. I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous
2. Reasons to be an Idiot
3. Photosynthesis
4. Substitute
5. Better Half
6. Love, Ire and Song
7. Imperfect Tense
8. To Take You Home
9. Long Live The Queen
10. A Love Worth Keeping
11. St. Christopher is Coming Home
12. Jet Lag

So, Frank Turner then? Some would say he is the hardest working guy in music. He’s constantly touring far flung places around the world.

Before all of this, he was struggling a little bit. In the aftermath of the disbanding of hardcore punk band Million Dead, he made the good but flawed ‘Sleep is for the Week’ followed by the more confident ‘Love, Ire and Song’. This more confident album is the subject of today’s review.

This is one of Miranda’s favourite albums, she was being very indecisive in choosing an album for me to review so I effectively chose it on her behalf.

The album starts with the slow burner ‘I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous’ with it’s declaration about life being about love, last minutes and lost evenings. It ends with the unforgettable line “the only thing that’s left do, is get another round in at the bar”.

This song pretty much sets the tone of the album. The attitude throughout is quintessentially British, melancholic but plucky. Things will go wrong but nothing that a cuppa tea or something stronger won’t solve.

‘Love, Ire and Song’ is packed full of punky folk anthems such as ‘Photosynthesis’ with it’s rebellious declaration of “I won’t sit down, and I won’t shut up, and most of all I will not grow up”. The kind of song you’d expect a crowd to bark back at him, as a lot of his songs are.

Something that comes across well is Turner’s bold and confident singy shouty vocal, particularly on the title track. This song is an angry ode to disillusionment and one of defeat but calls for one last swan song and somehow manages to stir something in the heart.

A highlight is ‘Long Live the Queen’, it is a song about the passing away of one of Frank’s friends, which again communicates that bad things happen but life goes on. This is a message that is conveyed throught the album.

Last track ‘Jetlag’ is a favourite, a different turn of pace being piano led, and a bit of a humblebrag from Mr Turner as he sings about falling for 15 different girls. But it is a song that people in long distance relationships can certainly identify with. Frank comes across as jaded and exhausted by love, an album which has differing attitudes ro it including hopefulness and despair.

So, it is generally a good album, Miranda certainly loves it, and if there’s another album that gets her singing and dancing as loud as she does with this one, I’m yet to hear it!

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Requests

Hounds of Love – Kate Bush

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Tracklist:-
1. Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)
2. Hounds Of Love
3. The Big Sky
4. Mother Stands For Comfort
5. Cloudbusting
6. And Dream Of Sheep
7. Under Ice
8. Waking The Witch
9. Watching You Without Me
10. Jig Of Life
11. Hello Earth
12. The Morning Fog

This album was a particularly challenging listen, thanks to Naomi for the request. I had never listened to a Kate Bush album before today and I only knew of one song ‘Hounds Of Love’ of which I had only heard The Futureheads rather excellent cover version, you can listen to their version by searching for it on Youtube, it’s well worth a listen.

So to Kate Bush then, first of all my opinion of Kate Bush before listening to this album is that she is a crazy cat lady, the album cover really did not help with that image, if you by some odd chance you bump into her in the street she’d probably look like this:-

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All joking aside though Kate Bush is an extremely successful artist for whom there is a lot of love, clearly demonstrated by her sold out run of shows last year. It has to be said this album is really rather good.

The album starts with the synth led ‘Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)’ which sounds quintessentially 80s and reminds me a lot of the Pet Shop Boys. A lot of tracks are driven by this style, but other songs have beautiful string arrangements. Some tracks are quite frankly disturbing with the likes of ‘Waking the Witch’ which would give you nightmares for days to come. The startling vocals from the song sounds like some kind of demon. The song for me drove my imagination to think of Bush sitting in a corner with demons flying around her head, constantly haunting and taunting her.

‘Hounds of Love’ is a highlight, I love the way that she says the word “throw”, delivered with such drive and abandon. It managed to knock the Futureheads version out of my head (for a little while anyway).

My favourite tracks on this album though are where Bush sings in a wonderful, understated and intimate way on tracks such as ‘And Dream of Sheep’.  The track is just Bush with her piano, it is a beautifully crafted song where you could really dream of woolly mammals.

The lyrical themes for me seem very striking, there seems to be a lot of fear in Bush’s words in which she creates the impression of a little girl who is very scared. She is scared of the wider world and the dangers that it brings, such as pain and despair. This is delivered sublimely by her emotive vocal style which really grabs your attention.

There is also a song called ‘Jig of Life’ which has a real celtic feel to it with the fiddle playing a upbeat tune. ‘Jig of Life’ is a song that sounds full of hope after the darkness of which preceded it.

I hope some of you will find the time to listen to this album on the back of the review. It is a slow burner and may take a few listens to ‘get’, but please do as you will certainly be rewarded.

Requests

Heroes – David Bowie

 

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Tracklist:-

1.Beauty And The Beast
2.Joe The Lion
3.Heroes
4.Sons Of The Silent Age
5.Black Out
6.V-2 Schneider
7.Sense Of Doubt
8.Moss Garden
9.Neukoln
10.The Secret Life Of Arabia

First of all, a special thanks to my mate Dave for suggesting I listen to this album, before I crack on with my ‘Top 100 of all time’ project I thought it would be fun to cut my teeth with a few requests from friends.

So I just want to say that I have never listened to this album so I didn’t know what to expect as I put it on my headphones and set off out of my door this morning to go to work.

First impressions are that it is a very different David Bowie than what I had listened to before, I have listened to the likes of ‘Hunky Dory’ and ‘…Ziggy Stardust…’ many times and I have enjoyed them all. This album however sounds a lot more experimental, electronic and ambient than these.

The album was released in 1977, when punk was starting to emerge as a real mainstream force with the likes of Sex Pistols and The Clash emerging onto the music scene. This album was probably an antidote to this sound, not that I am saying punk doesn’t have it’s merits of course. I am a big fan of The Clash and many of the bands I love were heavily influenced by the sound that emerged at this time.

The album seems to be split into two halves, the first half being vocally lead songs that feel very personal lyrically and deal with themes such as alcoholism. The lyrics feel that he was reflecting exactly how he felt at the time, the songs Bowie sings do not feel premeditated at all and sound very off the cuff.

The second half however has a lot of moody instrumentals, where the album cover where Bowie looks like some kind of mad magician really represents the music well, I really loved the crazy saxophone parts and the very eastern feeling that this half has in places. ‘Sense of Doubt’ certainly exudes a real feeling of dread, and it made me feel very uneasy especially when walking through a particularly gloomy, overcast part of Derby with it’s decaying terraced houses and depressed looking people stomping off to work.

This part of the album also sounded like a soundtrack to a ‘Labyrinth’ prequel in which Bowie wrote the soundtrack and gave the best bad acting performance these eyes have ever seen.

All in all, it is a very dark album, which matches the Cold War environment within post war Berlin where it was recorded. The album evokes images of the wall with it’s guards marching up and down purveying the bomb hit scene which surrounds them.

The stand out track is of course the famous title track which is a soaring masterpiece which has not lost it’s effect of making the listener feel like they are ten feet tall, despite being covered by countless lesser respected artists such as one year’s X Factor contestants horrific, laboured effort.

To conclude, this is an album I would definitely listen to again, it is evidence that David Bowie truly deserves his place amongst the heroes of music (sorry, pun intended!).