I’ve kept coming back to this album for more than 30 years. It’s a complete mess from start to finish and sounds like it was recorded in a club toilet. But it’s also great in its own shambolic way. Shaun Ryder sings out of tune like no one’s listening and there’s something of the everyman in that, he’s not trying to be a rock star. He’s also a great lyricist. The way he uses the rhythms of ordinary (often sweary) language to express meaning and match the melody is extraordinary. For example, the lines from ‘Wrote For Luck’ about his lack of education: ‘I’ve not been trained, I can sit and stand and beg and roll over, I don’t read I just guess’. Ryder isn’t book smart and he can barely sing, but he’s very good with words. He was awarded the NME Godlike Genius award in 2000, and I know they give the award every year but there really is something preternaturally gifted about Shaun Ryder that justifies the genius label. Best song: Wrote For Luck
It’s difficult not to be influenced by the back-story, but this stumbling search for music seems completely authentic. I felt close to something mysterious and powerful.
I listened to the Jordan Rudess cover of Tarkus and it really helped. Back to the original album again and after a few listens I eventually liked Tarkus and Bitches Crystal.
I like the witty cover of Public Enemy and the Portishead adjacent “Hell is Round The Corner”. The rest is just too evocative of a sinister demi-monde for me. All credit to Tricky for diving into this psychosexual morass, but it's very disturbing. The fact that it’s also really boring to listen to doesn’t help.
The run from 'Red Barchetta' to 'YYZ' to 'Limelight' is great. The rest doesn't grab me in the same way, but I like 'Witch Hunt' enough.
Mr Brightside is a bit annoying after you’ve heard it a zillion times, but I have to concede that the first half of this album is relentless, banger after banger. The second half is pretty good as well, it only seems weak compared to the first half.
An excellent album. Ahead of its time, but great songs in their own right as well.
The blues rock jamming on Disc 1 is nice to listen to, but In Memory of Elizabeth Reed and Whipping Post on Disc 2 take it somewhere else. About 15 minutes in Whipping Post is clinically dead, but I kind of like how they nonetheless persist and keep going, even resorting to Frere Au Jacques at one point. It's the impression of music being formed in real time that draws my attention.
An exhilarating, energising album. It's campy fun, but there's also a raw, primal power.
Classic Northern Soul. Kevin Rowland captures the feel of late 50s/early 60s US soul perfectly. The mannered vocals, the crying/singing is very specific to the music he's evoking, and outside of that context it's a bit of a challenge to listen to.
I liked the drumming, quite a distinctive style. I liked some of the songs: Tonight Tonight, Jellybelly, Zero, Bullet With Butterfly Wings, Love, Galapogos, Take Me Down, Bodies, XYU, By Starlight.
The female vocalist (Exene) really makes this album for me. Her singing is terrible, but that’s exactly what this kind of music needs. John Doe can sing, and the combination of the two voices is just perfect. The lyrics are wonderfully clever/stupid. Great fun.
Beautiful music and excellent lyrics. I like the patterning of words and phrases across the different songs. For example, variations on the phrases ‘come home’ and ‘lay down’. The patterns create strange emotional ambiguities as the phrases are repeated with slightly different meanings.
I liked Words and There Goes The Fear. A bit folky, ethereal, dance beats. The rest was dreary and leaden.
The singer sounds like he’s on the verge of laughing at the silliness of it all. Pirate aaarghs!, amateur dramatic society Olden Times accents, a chorus of ‘Get your tits out for the lads!’. It’s such a daft album, lots of fun.
Surprisingly delicate in places, but mostly like being plugged into the mains.
Maybe I'm missing the point with this kind of music, but isn't it supposed to be fun and exciting? Like The Faces and The Rolling Stones. This is mostly a joyless trudge, except for the excellent piano work provided by session musician Chuck Leavell (formerly of The Allman Brothers, keyboardist on Rolling Stones studio albums). I watched the video for Hard to Handle, and the lead singer is a cool dude, he looks a lot of fun. None of that came across listening to the album.
Songs that pulsate like living things on life support. Electronic heartbeats, waves crashing, lovely swooshing noises, swirling, enveloping, jangly, surprisingly danceable. A Forest is a great dance track. Part John Carpenter horror movie, part disco for the despondent.
The music changing every 10 seconds made this a difficult album to get a fix on. I really liked Heart of the Sunrise, especially the last sung part. I also liked South Side of the Sky.
An erratic dial up internet connection in musical form. Nostalgic for interference, static and distortion. Stuttering, dark, dystopian, decadent, nihilistic. Also very catchy and accessible.
Alternates between dance tracks and gloomy gothic. I really liked Lucretia, This Corrosion, Flood II and Driven Like Snow. 1959 is pretty good as well.
Definitive late 80s indie pop. Best in class for this kind of thing. Soul and dance beats, funky bass lines, jangly guitar, interlacing melodies, bookish lyrics. A lot of indie disco floor fillers here.
I like the first half. Weirdly aggressive lyrics at odds with the easy-going vibes. Girl is a creepy song. The second half is mostly cowboy songs and 60s pop pastiches, but Rental Car is back in the world of the funky psychopath.
I liked the indie/post-punk tracks: Generation Genocide, Good Enough, Something So Clear, Fuzz Gun and Pokin Around. I didn’t like the full-on metal tracks.
The second half is really rather lovely. It just lifts you up and floats you away. By the end of the final lullaby I was completely relaxed. And it works surprising well with the daftness of the first half. Like you’re loosening up with jokes and a good old sing song first.
Romantic, sexy music for grownups. A great let's get back together album. So many people saying it's too long, you're listening to Vol 1 & 2! The original album is 40 minutes long and ends with Hey, Good Lookin'...
Outside of the hits, I really liked some of the curios here: That’s Me, Tiger, Arrival. A more eclectic album than I was expecting.
A pleasant, undemanding listen. Ideal music for a nice sit down and a cup of tea. I’m really liking some of the Randy Newman vibes.
I bought the follow up to It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back as soon it was released, and, blimey, if it wasn’t even better. One of the most powerful musical experiences of my life. Instead of rough, industrial beats for Chuck D to rap over, the music is much lusher, more depth, more funk. It wasn’t the political content that hit me back when I first heard it (because ITANOMTHUB is similar in that regard, although Fear Of A Black Planet does package it up more neatly into discrete topics), it was the new way it was being delivered. It takes the ITANOMTHUB song ‘Party For Your Right To Fight’ and follows through on its promise. As well as the full-on party friendly funk, another thing that’s different on this album is the use of interludes and snippets. They control the pace, but also provide context and/or make rhetorical points. For example, the ‘They would rather switch than fight’ introduction to Fight The Power and the phone call that abruptly transitions between Anti-Nigga Machine and Burn, Hollywood Burn. You don’t get that kind of thing on It ITANOMTHUB. On the downside, Meet The G That Killed Me is incredibly crass, and I always skip it. While I’m about it I skip Pollywanacraka as well. The attitude to women in a couple of the tracks is a bit cringe. Chuck D isn’t a convincing feminist, which isn’t surprising really because he’s one of the world’s great mansplainers.
I’d heard of The Slits, thought they would be a challenge, wasn’t expecting this at all. It’s loads of fun, incredibly catchy post-punk/ska.
I like this, but the soul seems like filler to the blues. El Camino is the other way round.
Turn of the century electronica/exotica/cabaret combined with turn of the century singer-songwriter. I didn't find it very interesting. I do like that they did a track with Humphrey Lyttelton though, it’s the best on the album.
Ms Dynamite emerged from the UK Garage scene, but she didn’t have the same global success as Craig David. It’s a decent British R&B album. I really liked it.
The Temptations are the epitome of classy, the kind of act that if you're in a tight spot you might think, what would The Temptations do? The answer being grab a tuxedo and style it out. Turns out they were in a tight spot with this album. They wanted to keep it classy and not use the n word. On the other hand, they also wanted to keep it classy and not sing a song about an irresponsible father. They weren't happy, but they slid into the tuxedos and went to work.
It’s making me think of ‘My So Called Life’. So many bands sounded like this in the late 80s and early 90s, The Lemonheads don’t really stand out from the rest, but it’s easy on the ears, pleasant enough indie pop.
The proto EDM of Chameleon makes an initial impact. There’s a jittery, nervous energy to side 1 that I found anxiety inducing. The anxiety is resolved about 2 minutes into Sly at the start of side 2. The two halves complement each other perfectly. It's also got a great album cover. Favourite track: Sly.
I thought this was great. It’s got a 60s Happenings vibe to it, part beatnik party, part performance art. The white noise and distortion add to the atmosphere, sounding like the hubbub of a crowd or a poorly recorded bootleg. Favourite track: Sister Ray.
Better than I expected. And it’s trying so hard to be liked, bringing in the guest vocalists and everything. It meets the listener half-way, and I’ll return the courtesy by bumping them up to a 4.
My favourite Bush album so far. The title track includes contributions from well-known animal impersonator Percy Edwards, and well-known didgeridoo player Rolf Harris. Bush herself channels Kenneth Williams’ Rambling Syd Rumpo. She really embraces the music hall tradition, 60s and 70s light entertainment and novelty records. The whole thing is completely bonkers, loads of fun.
It’s all very film noir. The romantic tough guy. The lyrics are strikingly prosaic and domestic. There are a few poetic descriptions of rain falling and whatnot, but mostly it’s easy chairs, empty beds and toothpaste around the mouth.
Absolutely bloody brilliant, like everything by The Fall. The only downside was that I knew I was going to listen to the full 2 hours including extras. This is described as one of the most accessible albums from The Fall, but don't worry, the ‘accessible’ bit just refers to a dance music tilt, other than that it's business as usual. Favourite lyric from the extras: ‘If I ever end up like Richard Madeley cut my hands off with an axe please’ (A Past Gone Mad, Peel Session 16) Favourite song: Lost in Music
One of my all-time favourite albums. BB hams it up something rotten, but to say the audience lap it up is something of an understatement. The atmosphere is electric, I’m imagining people being carried out on stretchers.
Meat and potatoes rock, but the horns and Elvis Costello vibes are fun, I might come back to it.
I liked Side 1, and the closer Hey, Hey, My, My.
Favourite song: I Shall Be Released.