Some of you might have heard that I’ve finally achieved a real job. Maybe you’ll even be distressed because I’m not working very much on things like Project Y4, due to being out from half seven in the morning until six at night.
The thing about slaving away at a computer all day is that I don’t have access to my CD collection. Since the ‘done thing’ appears to be to make use of Spotify to while away the 7.5-hour working day (and, let’s face it, somebody else is paying for the internet connection), I’ve been taking this opportunity to discover all the strange music I’ve never been able to find in the shops (or have been wary of purchasing)…
I’ve listened to lots of things (check out my Last.fm account, whence all this madness is scrobbled… Or check my Spotify account, assuming you can actually work it), but these are the ones that stood out as being particularly interesting. Follow the links to sample them for yourself… If you dare. And why not, I say — Spotify is free (and legal).
Space — Magic Fly
This is another one that Radio 2 introduced me to (and, horror of horrors, it was Dale Winton’s crusty countdown classic chart show). This is apparently a pioneering album of the “short-lived space disco” genre, and the title track made it into the charts all the way back in the mid-to-late 70s. It sounds somehow familiar, but I can’t place it at all.
Aside from some dubious track names, the only downer for me was the final track Carry On, Turn Me On, which introduced vocals.
Erasure — I Say I Say I Say
Every so often, I have to remind myself that I don’t own anywhere near close to Erasure’s full back catalogue, despite seeming to have exhausted all the albums the high street is willing to offer me. So I decided to take a gander at this album, which came after Chorus, and is home to the inimitable Always — if you haven’t heard that song by now, you haven’t been on the Internet. Alas, I liked it before Robot Unicorn Attack popularised it, but I liked Never Gonna Give You Up before Rickrolling too, so I’ve always been ahead of the wave.
Anyway, the album is good, and there are plenty nice tracks besides the obvious lead single. Funnily enough, I have seen some battered old copies of Always the single in the shops… But never the album.
Howard Jones — Human’s Lib
I bought Howard’s greatest hits a while back, and eventually decided that I wouldn’t make any particular attempt to acquire any albums — because most of his singles don’t seem to be that great.
But whoa! Human’s Lib is full of awesome synthwork across the board, and all the album-only tracks far surpass the ones that got released alone.
It also kept reminding me of the music from Sonic 3D: Flickies’ Island.
Midge Ure — The Gift
I’ve wanted this for a long time, but even the internet finds it hard to track down — the likes of Amazon only list about five copies at ridiculous prices. But having listened to it a few times on Spotify, I’m beginning to think it might well be worth the outlay (like Sonic the Hedgehog: the Movie).
… Actually: I just checked HMV and a definitely remaster (in the same style as the recent Ultravox re-releases) is now available for pre-order. Fina-fucking-ly! Sounds like another run to the shops between the bus getting to town and the train home will be called for when this one drops…
This is a very, very good album, especially if you’re into Ultravox. It’s got foot-stompers, the slow and upliftingly atmospheric title track, and a number of instrumental tracks. Extremely satisfying.
Ryan Paris — I Successi
I always remember Ryan Paris’ Dolce Vita from Classic Dance Saturday. This was a show I used to sit alone in my bedroom playing Lego to, and they’d play all kinds of long-lost 80s disco classics (along with more modern party remixes, like the awesome dance version of Leane Rimes’ How Can I Live Without You). So for some reason, the fancy took me to try finding something more by him: I ended up with this, which appears to be a greatest hits compo, as no real album was forthcoming (god damn, though the rest of the Internet seems reluctant to acknowledge that he even ever released a proper album).
It’s surprising in that it’s all very high quality synth pop, rather than horrifyingly cheesy euro-pop as Dolce Vita might lead you to believe. The vocals remind me somewhat of Rick Astley, in fact, and I can imagine him being masterminded by some kind of Italian equivalent of Stock, Aitken and Waterman.
And then there are some things that were quite enjoyable, but weren’t particularly block-rocking.
- Matthew Wilder — I Don’t Speak the Language: ain’t nothing gonna break my stride… and some other niceties.
- Talk Talk — It’s My Life: despite the obnoxious review Spotify selected for it. Why do they do that?
- Melanie C — Northern Star: I Turn To You and the title track are highlights here.
- Ultravox — U-Vox: the difficult fifth album, made sans drummer Warren Cann because of ‘creative differences’ or somesuch, doesn’t sound at all like Ultravox. Possibly for this reason?
- Big Country — The Crossing: you might say ‘too rock’, but they use their guitars in a very synth-pop kind of a way.
I have such an eclectic taste… In pop music. Specifically, electonic-based pop music. Synth-pop in particular. Where they use keyboards.