Monday, 6 January 2014

Review of the year

Distinct lack of blogging during 2013.

New Year Resolution: try to get back to at least one post a week. 

Proof of the pudding: Review of stuff added to my iPod in 2013

Introduction (by way of an excuse)

First off, not a lot of new albums. This is due to a combination of too little time and more importantly, too little money. As a result, most of the additions are charity shop purchases. But here's what I did add, in the order of addition. 

Led Zeppelin - Houses of the Holy (Remastered)
Very pleased to find this in a charity shop early in January 2013. It's an album that I have never owned, not even on vinyl, but one I always intended to get. I was familiar with most of the songs but it is always good to hear stuff in the order decided when it was first released and in relation to the other stuff on album. It is not my favourite Zeppelin album (my favourite is Led Zeppelin I in case anybody is interested) but well worth having. It has a great track to kicking off with in The Song Remains The Same and a very strong finish in No Quarter and The Ocean.

Miss The Occupier - Keeping Company With Wolves
I have featured Miss The Occupier in this blog before and declared a possible source of bias (I know Roz, the lead singer and bass player). I picked up a copy of this album at the launch gig back in March. the addition of keyboards to their sound is interesting. For me the stand out track is Song For The Miserable which, among other things, gives the lie to Roz's claim to be a vocalist rather than a singer!

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss - Raising Sand
Another charity shop purchase. Mr Plant's voice still sounds great but Ms Krauss' vocals don't really grab me. Having said that, Gone, Gone, Gone (Done Moved On) is well worth a listen. 
Slash is an outstandingly good guitarist with a talent for creating memorable riffs. Myles Kennedy is an awesome vocalist able to bring power and emotion to his performance. What's not to like about this album? My favourite tracks from the previous Slash album, R&Fn'R were Back From Cali and By The Sword, both of which featured Mr Kennedy, so I was pleased when I heard he was the only vocalist on this album. Having all the featured vocalists on R&Fn'R was fun but settling on the one vocalist this time made it feel more consistent. There's not a duff track on the album so picking a favourite is tricky. Anastasia is good, but if pushed, I'd probably choose You're A Lie.

The Temperance Movement - Pride EP
Another band where I have to admit to a personal connection - I kent his faither. By "his faither" I mean I know the lead singer's father, and I also know his wee brother, although I have lost touch with both of them. The lead singer is a chap called Phil Campbell and I've followed him from when he was a solo artist, when he was in a group and then solo again... but the stuff he is doing with the Temperance Movement is just outstanding and, for me, this is the best I've heard from him yet. In particular, Only Friend is stunning. First time I heard it was on the radio. At the time, I didn't know Phil was in the band and I assumed it was a cover of an old Blues song. It was only when Inlooked it up that I discovered who the lead singer was and that they had written it themselves. Their new album is still on my wish list - with a bit of luck, I'll get it for my birthday. :-)

I would count myself a fan of Genesis, but more the classic Gabriel era Genesis; I lost patience a bit with them when Collins took over vocal duties. I have most of the Genesis albums but don't have all of the ones produced after Gabriel left. In particular, I never bothered getting Calling All Stations because it was panned by one and all. Picked it up in a charity shop though and it's much better than I thought it would be. It is closer to old-style prog Genesis than the immediately preceding pop Genesis - I suspect that's why it didn't do so well when it was released. It's not a great album but it's not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. There are no five star tracks but four out of eleven tracks rated at four star makes it better than many I have in my iTunes collection!

Hayseed Dixie - Let There Be Rockgrass
Hayseed Dixie featured in my When musical worlds collide post in 2009 but it was only last year, when I came across this album in a charity shop, that I finally got around to listening to more than the odd track. They don't disappoint. Perhaps the key to a good musical spoof is that the spoof has to be good. That is, it works best when the people doing the spoof are not just mocking something but are good at what they do and have a love for the music that they are creating and aping. It seems to me that Hayseed Dixie manage that balancing act perfectly. They are clearly good musicians and perform the Bluegrass style songs with skill and passion. But they also seem to love the rock music they are covering while managing to avoid a stifling reverence for it. For me, the standout track is Highway to Hell - I think Bon Scott would have loved it!

That's all for now. It is already a longer post than I intended. I still have a few more albums that I added to my collection in 2013 but I will try and do another post about them soon.

What were the stand our additions to your music collection in 2013?


Jeff Taylor said...

Happy New Year from another lapsed blogger! HotH was an album I got very early in my Led Zeppelin fandom and it has always been one of my favourites. Are there any other Zeppelin albums you're still missing? "III" is the only studio album I've never owned in any form, although I'm not really sure why that is.

I didn't get a lot of new music last year either, mostly because of the money factor, but I think the most intriguing one I got was Fantomas' "Delirium Cordia". I've been familiar with Mike Patton's work with Faith No More and Mr. Bungle for a couple of decades now, so I knew to expect the unexpected from it, but not even that was enough to fully prepare me for it. Essentially, it's a single 74-minute track that sounds like the soundtrack for an unmade horror movie* (apparently the theme is surgery without anaesthesia) that really pushes the boundaries of what can be properly called "music" - there are no lyrics, but lots of different vocal sounds (including a ton of bone-chilling screams), ambient sections, chanting, sounds of hospitals, water, wind, etc. There's nothing I know of that it can be fairly compared to - I just know that it stays in my mind long after I've finished listening to it, and I've told more people about it than most other music I listen to.

*I'm actually wondering if there are any movies that it might sync up with, even partially, along the lines of "The Dark Side of the Moon" and "The Wizard of Oz".

David said...

Hello Jeff

I'm glad you dropped by. I missed your Christmas posts this year and meant to leave a message on your blog to see if you were OK but Christmas was a bit hectic this year...

Ny first Zeppelin purchase was Led Zeppelin IV because I wanted Stairway! Still missing the last three studio albums but I'll probably get there eventually.

It has to be said, you haven't exactly sold me on the "Delirium Cordia". It sounds like wierd doesn't even begin to describe it!