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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Album Review: The Clash - London Calling (1979)

Rip off an Elvis Presley album cover, take a bunch of English lads playing punk rock and infuse a bit of reggae and what do you get? London Calling by The Clash, that's what. 19 great (and by my own admission, a couple of dull) tracks, and the guilty conscience that occasionally surfaces with a cheapskate mentality subsides for a moment as you glow with a sense of unadulterated satisfaction for buying one of the greatest 10 buck punk albums ever made (second only to the the Ramone's self titled debut, of course). "London Calling", "Brand New Cadillac", "Lost in the Supermarket", "Clampdown" and "Revolution Rock" are just some of the corkers that have been etched into this brilliant record. Which is of course, your cue to go out and buy the blimmin' thing. Maybe it's the early onset and undiagnosed Parkinson's, or the childlike excitement that is me when I'm happy, but this thing gets you shaking faster than Mr T. coming at you. A

Friday, November 12, 2010

Album Review: Shania Twain - Come On Over (1997)

What do you get when you cross Shania Twain, Robert "Mutt" Lange, pop music and country music? One of the greatest albums of the 1990s and without a doubt one of the best of all time. This album was a life-saver in the ever increasing sea of musical garbage that was the late 1990s. Some very retro sounding tunes in here, but why should I complain - that's what got me hooked on the album in the first place. Granted, there's some rubbish songs on it, but fortunately they are an insignificant minority. Songs you should listen to are "When", "From this Moment On", "Man, I Feel Like A Woman!", "I'm Holding on to Love", "You're Still the One" and "Come On Over." That's right, all the one's that received radio airplay, and for good reason too. And I can't help but compare this with Def Leppard's 1987 masterpiece Hysteria for some reason. Perhaps it's because both were produced by Lange and both had half of their track listings make it onto the airwaves. My final verdict - imagine a hyperactive, sugared-up toddler clapping its hands furiously at a Wiggles stage show and you should get half the picture. A

Album Review: Bloodhound Gang - One Fierce Beer Coaster (1996)

Blatant disregard for the sanctity of human life, dignity and freedom from persecution make up the theme of this comedy CD cleverly disguised as an alternative rock album. Witty, musically sound (especially for alternative music, I might add), and with all the wrong messages espousing everything from the merits of killing yourself, the harassment of the homely, to downright idiocy, this album has everything going against it in terms of what constitutes a reputable album. But I don't really care, because I'm a drooling neanderthal. And having said that, for some reason this album has struck a chord for me in the entire 14 years that I've owned the flippin' thing. And to all my fellow music snobs and critics out there, for this I hope you will forgive me. A+

Note: Changes to review-writing

Writing music reviews for me nowadays can be a time-consuming process, even if the article is a mere 300 words long. But, after a long hiatus I am thinking about writing reviews again - however they will be somewhat shorter and less detailed, and as a rule I will be doing away with the intro paragraph that has previously accompanied my reviews. This of course will only apply to reviews I've written and not essays.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Creating the Ultimate Love Song - Do It Right and Forget about Love

The first ever love song I ever heard was Chris de Burgh's "The Lady in Red", way back around '86-87 or so. And despite being able to pick out several prominent flaws, what a brilliant love song it was, certainly from a musical perspective anyhow. The lyrics, I thought, were a bit too soft and mellowed out for my liking. And I must admit they still are. However, it did help open the door to a lifetime passion for the art of popular music, despite the words being a bit too lovey-dovey for a wee kid like myself. Never before had I heard a song so passionate and so serious, and that is probably what sent the shivers up my spine for all the wrong reasons. The paced, going-the-grope on your secretary tempo was forgivable, and I much prefer a fast song to a slow one, but toward the end you hear Chris whispering "I love you", which instantly invokes disturbing thoughts of a DJ from some Easy Listening radio station rambling away with a light, dulcet soft voice as he dedicates a song to a couple celebrating the husband getting it up for the first time in 37 years.

And since then I've heard all sorts of love songs from different artists spanning different genres. Bob Dylan wrote a few. So did Stevie Wonder. Bryan Adams wrote some appalling numbers, and the Bee Gees wrote some memorable tunes, even if they did sound all alike, no matter who happened to be singing them. And who could forget Barry White, bar most virgins and everyone in the third world? Dire Straits had their "Romeo and Juliet", Minnie Riperton blew out a few speakers with her glass-shattering, cacophonic ear-bleeder, "Loving You", and there was also the more acceptable, "Annie's Song" from the late John Denver.

But enough with the padding and rambling, and let's move on to a song that I genuinely believe is the greatest song that will EVER be written. Seriously. It is Bryan Ferry's "Slave to Love", and it is so good you'll marry the CD it comes on, in various ways effectively rendering the romantic intentions conveyed by the song redundant. And I bet Bryan was wearing a beret and oversized bowtie as he wrote it, because this is a masterpiece of epic proportions. This is one love song that doesn't make me shiver and go, "urgh." The Bossa Nova texturing, the very romantic aura, and the poetic precision of the lyrics all combined into one create a song that will make your eyes water as if you were sucking on a lemon. Top it off with the quietly cool Ferry's distinct vocals and you will have before you the most potent cure for depression that will ever be conceived.

When I first heard the song on the radio (possibly much, much earlier than what first comes to mind), I was blown away. You will be too if you listen to it. So here's some advice; forget about love, listen to this song and you'll be too busy basking in the aural succulence to be worrying where your next wild night will be coming from. Amongst all the praise, however, I must warn you that this song has been covered (in other words, destroyed) by other artists; my advice would be to not listen to them, as I have wisely done. Love songs just can't get any better than this.