The seven day music challenge.


My pal, Peter Flockhart, challenged me to find seven songs that would sum up my musical taste, but I got a little carried away.  Thought you might like to see them all in the one place as we reach day 30.  They are in no particular order and, surprisingly, only one artist appears twice.  Tom Waits.

Day 30

Day 29

Day 28

Day 27

Day 26

Day 25

Day 24

Day 23

Day 22

Day 21

Day 20

Day 19

Day 18

Day 17

Day 16

Day 15

Day 14

Day 13

Day12

Day 11

Day 10

Day 9

Day 8

Day 7

Day 6

Day 5

Day 4

Day 3

Day 2

Day 1

Skyfall review


To begin with I must state that I am NOT a Bond fan.  But I have an open mind and of all the Bond movies I’ve seen in my time (many) I have to say that I thought Daniel Craig’s Casino Royale was probably my favourite.  I chose not to see Quantum of Solace; a movie with a name as ridiculous as that had to be hiding something and it seems my gut feel was right given its poor reviews.  But Skyfall seemed different.  Certainly the advance reviews have been excellent and so I turned up on opening weekend willing to be impressed.

I was.

This is, by some margin, the finest Bond film I’ve ever seen.  Although it has its faults (it’s a little too long) it scores points in nearly every department; the acting is universally excellent, The plot and script suitably overblown but flecked with humour and humanity throughout.  Outrageous chases and set pieces (the rooftop motorbike chase just about winning price for most audacious chase scene I’ve ever seen).

But it’s what lies at the soul of this film (and it really does have a soul) is the cast.  In particular we see the cloth lifted on what motivates Bond, his back story and in  particular his upbringing.  It’s this that starts to flesh out his (and more unexpectedly Javier Bardem’s) relationship with M who although as feisty as ever actually develops into quite a sympathetic and interesting subplot.

The film is excellently directed (by Sam Mendes!) with a theme (yes a Bond movie with a “theme”) about age and the battle between tradition and modernity running through it like a stick of rock (occasionally clunkily so).  This allows the production team to have great fun with old Bond gadgetry (and music) alongside the very latest in technology – an obfuscated living data network being at its centrepiece which allows a new and ridiculously young looking (he’s actually 32) Q to be introduced in the shape of Ben Wishaw (Perfume).

But its Daniel Craig’s complete mastery of Bond as a character that is setting the movie industry into overdrive and not surprisingly.  In the movie, in tune with the theme of age and aging, he’s almost not fit for purpose having “taken one for the team” possibly once too often.  He’s on the verge of breakdown at the movie’s outset and takes the requisite, and to be expected, barrage of beatings as it unfolds, emerging at its denoument just about in one piece and ready for action with whatever lies in store in the next instalment.  It’s an interesting dimension and works well with Judi Dench’s excellent central performance as M.

Craig is the complete Bond.  Rugged, handsome, athletic, suave but with more steel than any since Connery and, to my mind, he’s a better actor than Mishter Cool himself.

As the face of not one but two major film franchises (The Girl with…) he’s solid gold and, for my money, worth every penny of it.

I also like Adele’s theme music.

Adele. The phenomenon.


A year to the day since its release (24 Jan 2011) Adele’s 21 returned the number one spot on the US album charts.  It’s pretty much never been out of the top ten in the intervening 104 weeks and 16 of them have been in that coveted top spot.She’s had 19 weeks at the top in the UK.

It’s a remarkable achievement for a singer who has, in that period, become nothing short of a national treasure.

OK, I know a lot of us are sick to death of her, but not me.  I think it’s fully deserving of the 3.84 million units it has shifted in the UK (17m worldwide) especially as it has been without the help of Simon Cowell and on an independent label; XL records.

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I love the Mercury Prize.

It’s the only music awards with utter credibility.  The only one where PJ Harvey and Anna Calvi can be ranked joint favourites ahead of Adele and all three have equal creative status and regard.

But the best record, for me, this year has been the beautiful King Creosote and Jon Hopkins record.  I’ve said this before and I shared moments from it with you.  Here’s another.  Please enjoy it.

It’s an ambient piece – the intro to the album – it has a really beautiful soul to it.  It’s a field recording from a tea shop in Anstruther or Pittenweem.

Meanwhile I have invested in these Chuckle Brothers to the tune of Five English pounds at 14 to 1.

Because a principle is not a principle unless it might cost you money.

The Brits


Funnily enough, The Brits was good tonight.

OK, so some/most of the music wasn’t great.

I like that big Tiny Tempah song, “Pass Out” (I suppose) but everything else he does bores me to tears.

But 17 million YouTube hits is kind of impressive

Mostly what was good about the Brits tonight was that it genuinely was a celebration of music.

Adele was wonderful, as were Arcade Fire; Cee lo Green was cool as…

Mumford and Sons nearly pulled off one of the most amazing acapella performances ever (but Adele beat them to it and she was better).

James Cordon, mostly, didn’t try to be too funny.

All in all a good show.

What’s more, Arcade Fire won best international; album to follow up their top billing at The Grammy’s on Sunday night and now we (Me , Jeana, Ria and a n other) are going to see them at Edinburgh Castle Esplanade on 1st September.

Surely the world’s best band at the moment. Equivalent, whether you like them or not, to Radiohead, U2, REM, Bruce and The E Street Band, The Clash and Bowie in each of their days?

We are blessed.

Recent listening – a Hidden gem


Eg White is pretty much unknown.  Well, have you heard of him?

Initially he and his brother were in an 80’s band called Brother Beyond who had a number two hit with “the harder I try”.

He left the band and in 1991 released a masterpiece with Alice Temple (as Eg and Alice) called 24 years of hunger.  It is one of my favourite pop recrords of all time.  Beautiful, poignant and with superbly crafted electronic songs.

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We’ve had to wat 18 years for its follow up, Adventure man, which I discovered in the secondhand section at Avalanche late last week.

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But he hasn’t been posted missing totally, initially joining the Stock, Aitken and Waterman writing team in the late 80’s he has penned hits for Alison Moyet, Duffy, adele, Sophie Ellis Bexter, James Morrison, James blunt (rhymes with….), Emilianna Torrini.

He wrote ‘Chasing Pavements’ for Adele (the stand out track on her excellent album) as well as Warwick Avenue (the stand out track on Duffy’s debut.)

So the boy can write.  (indeed he’s won a bunch of Ivor Novello’s)

And me, well I think he can sing too.  On Adventure Man things pretty much take up where ’24 years’ left off.  He doesn’t have a classic voice, it’s a bit on the thin side but it’s the songs that count and in ‘But California’,’ Broken‘ and ‘My People’ he has three songs that will finish the year among the top of the year.

But you know what?  Unless you do something about it he will remain in public obscurity whilst being a megastar industry-side.

The best of 2008


OK

It’s that time of year again. The wrap. After a great deal of deliberation I have arrived at my Albums of the year and my best of 2008 CD.

You’ll not be surprised to see my usual heavy inclusion of female singer songwriters, although in percentage terms they are rather lower than usual – only about 25%. There’s more Rock ‘n ‘roll than previous years. Don’t know why. Just a good year for rock I suppose.

In no particular order my albums of the year were.

Dig Lazarus Dig!!! by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Reviewed here. A total classic that is full of cracking and totally unique songs. I absolutely adore this record.

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Third by Portishead. Ten years in gestation it was worth every second of the wait. Eerie, disconcerting. Unique. I reviewed it here.

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22 Dreams by Paul Weller. I’m not a fan usually, but this record is wonderful. Reviewed here.

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The Very Best of Ethiopiques by various artists. What a wonderful discovery. In a classic year for world music, in particular african stuff this blew me away as I explained here.

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Welcome to Mali by Amadou and Mariam. Just in. Just Wonderful. This Malian couple make stunning fresh pop music. Not had time to review it yet.

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The Seldom Seen Kid by Elbow. Deserved winners of The Mercury Prize. This album came from nowhere and was a hot contender for my album of the year. I reviewed it here.

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Only by the Night by Kings of Leon. They just keep getting better. This is a fine record with great grinding melodies.

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Stay Positive by The Hold Steady. What a wonderful, opoetic record. The other big contender for album of the year. Reviewed here.

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Glasvegas by Glasvegas. Yikes. Scotland’s best this year. Huge sound great lyrics and Geraldine is a gem of a song. Reviewed here.

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A Piece of What You Need by Teddy Thomson. This is a great underground folky, rocky album by the son of Richard and Linda Thomson that has been on heavy rotation this year. I suspect Jeana would have it as her album of the year. Very good. Reviewed here.

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Juno Soundtrack by Various Artists. One of the movies of the year and a cracking soundtrack to go with it. Another one that received heavy rotation in the spring and summer. Reviewed here.

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Aman Iwan by Tinariwen. Last but certainly not least it was actually released in 2007 but it only came to my attention this year. The third of my much loved African albums on the list. Reviewed here.

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I have to say in conclusion that Dig Lazarus Dig!!! wins my overall album of the year.

And so, to my best of the year CD…

As usual, if you want a copy you need only ask.

Probably the hardest decision of all was to leave off One day Like This by Elbow in favour of Starlings, but my rules only allow one song per artist.

Overall I thought 2008 was a vintage year and I think this might be my best ‘best of’ yet…

Here’s how it pans out.

1. Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
2. That’s not my name by The Ting Tings
3. Cler Achel by Tinariwen
4. The Rip by Portishead
5. Come On Over (Turn Me On) by Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan
6. Have You Made Up Your Mind by Paul Weller
7. Freeway by Aimee Mann
8. Family Tree by TV On The Radio
9. Lights Out by Santogold
10. In My Arms by Teddy Thompson
11. You Cheated Me by Martha Wainwright
12. Geraldine by Glasvegas
13. Starlings by Elbow
14. Daydreamer by Adele
15. The Age Of The Understatement by The Last Shadow Puppets
16. Crawl by Kings Of Leon
17. Lord, I’m Discouraged by The Hold Steady
18. 5 Years Time by Noah And The Whale
19. Sabali by Amadou and Mariam

So good was this year’s stock that I’m strongly considering a ‘B sides best of”.

What do you think?

The aforementioned One Day Like This would feature, as would a couple of tracks from the Very Best Of Ethiopiques, and a great Karine Polwart song called Sorry are among the contenders…

Sense check


A friend of mine, who wishes to remain anonymous,  has noted the enhanced activity on my blog today and has made the following observation…

“I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but your blog’s gone all pish and is suddenly full of luvvies talking crap that only makes sense to members of the coterie.

Quick.

Do a review of an obscure record to scare them off…”

So…anyone heard the new Adele Album; 19 which I am listening to a lot just now?

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Nice.

Just remember; don’t go chasing pavements.

Whatever that means.