42. Bellowhead – Hedonism

Bellowhead - Hedonism

42. Bellowhead – Hedonism (2010)

1. New York Girls
2. A-Begging I Will Go
3. Cross-Eyed and Chinless
4. Broomfield Hill
5. The Hand Weaver and the Factory Maid
6. Captain Wedderburn
7. Amsterdam
8. Cold Blows the Wind
9. Parson’s Farewell
10. Little Sally Racket
11. Yarmouth Town

Who is/are Bellowhead?

According to Wikipedia; “Bellowhead was an English contemporary folk band, active from 2004 to 2016. The eleven-piece act played traditional dance tunes, folk songs and shanties, with arrangements drawing inspiration from a wide diversity of musical styles and influences. The band included percussion and a four-piece brass section, and was known for its energetic live performances.”

I think that covers it.

Why did you buy this album?

This was a gift from my wife, either a birthday or Christmas present.

We’d both seen Bellowhead on the BBC’s Glastonbury coverage one year, and liked what we’d heard. I added their first two albums, ‘Burlesque‘ and ‘Matachin‘, to my Amazon wishlist, and received the latter as a gift shortly afterwards.

When third album ‘Hedonism‘ was released in 2010, this also ended up on my wishlist, and was dutifully purchased at the appropriate time. If only I could remember when that was.

Oh, and if anyone’s wondering why I haven’t reviewed ‘Matachin‘, it’s because I loaned it to somebody and have yet to get it back. If you’re out there reading this, and you’ve still got my copy of ‘Matachin‘, I would like it back please…

What’s it like?

This is fun. Bellowhead are essentially a live band, and their studio recordings do capture most of the energy of the live shows.

The majority of the album is made up of traditional songs, given a new lease of life by the then 11 piece band. Alongside the usual folk instruments of fiddles and pipes, there’s occasional funk guitar, New-Orleans-second-line-alike tuba, and a four-piece horn section.

After listening to it now, do you (still) like this album?

It’s a good album, but a number of the tracks do drag, despite the live band energy (mid-album tracks ‘Captain Wedderburn‘ and the Jacques Brel cover ‘Amsterdam‘ are particularly guilty). The blame for this must be laid at the songs chosen though, rather than the band themselves, as the arrangements are still good.

Any stand-out tracks?

The opening pair of ‘New York Girls‘ and ‘A-Begging I Will Go‘ are possibly the highlights on this album, with notable mentions going to ‘Parson’s Farewell‘ and ‘Yarmouth Town

Rating out of 10?

7/10.

Next up: Bellowhead – Broadside

 

41. The Beautiful South – Quench

The Beautiful South - Quench

41. The Beautiful South – Quench (1998)

1. How Long’s a Tear Take to Dry?
2. The Lure of the Sea
3. Big Coin
4. Dumb
5. Perfect 10
6. The Slide
7. Look What I Found in My Beer
8. The Table
9. Window Shopping for Blinds
10. Pockets
11. I May Be Ugly
12. Losing Things
13. Your Father and I

Who is/are The Beautiful South?

Make haste to Wikipedia! “The Beautiful South was an English pop/rock group formed in 1988 by two former members of the Hull group the Housemartins”.

I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Why did you buy this album?

This is one of my wife’s albums. Having seen The Beautiful South (supported by Barenaked Ladies no less), ‘Quench‘ was given to her a a Christmas present. She loves it.

What’s it like?

It’s mostly radio friendly pop rock, nothing too offensive musically. Lyrically, it veers from absurdism (‘The Table‘), to innuendo (‘Perfect 10‘), to unintentional nonsense (‘How Long’s a Tear Take to Dry‘, ‘Window Shopping for Blinds‘).

After listening to it now, do you (still) like this album?

I wanted to like this, I really did. I’ve always dismissed the Beautiful South as purveyors of fairly bland pop with lyrics that sound more clever than they actually are. I have not quite had my opinion challenged by this album.

Musically, there’s a lot to like. Each song is finely crafted, well arranged, and a little-too-well produced. The problem I have is the lyrics…

I just can’t get the lyrics from the opening track, ‘How Long’s a Tear Take to Dry?‘, out of my head; “I’m so sorry, (make it plural) / My heart’s broken, (mine’s the same) / I still love you (make it plural)…”

“Make it plural”? What’s this supposed to mean?

Him: “I still love you”

Her: “Make it plural”

Him: “Okay, I still loves yous?”

Grrrrr…..

Follow that up with songs about big coins, a threatening table, and a slide, plus ‘Perfect 10‘, which was on the radio almost constantly in 1998, and I’m losing interest quickly.

Any stand-out tracks?

Not for the right reasons. Mostly because ‘How Long’s a Tear Take to Dry?‘ and the awful “make it plural” lyric therein will not leave my head.

Rating out of 10?

5/10. With apologies to my wife… I tried…

Next up: Bellowhead – Hedonism

40. The Beatles – Abbey Road

The Beatles - Abbey Road

40. The Beatles – Abbey Road (1969)

1. Come Together
2. Something
3. Maxwell’s Silver Hammer
4. Oh! Darling
5. Octopus’s Garden
6. I Want You (She’s So Heavy)
7. Here Comes the Sun
8. Because
9. You Never Give Me Your Money
10. Sun King
11. Mean Mr. Mustard
12. Polythene Pam
13. She Came in Through the Bathroom Window
14. Golden Slumbers
15. Carry That Weight
16. The End
17. Her Majesty

Who is/are The Beatles?

I’ll just leave this here….

Why did you buy this album?

I had a few, shall we say, unofficially obtained copies of most Beatles albums over the years, mostly on cassettes, but never ever had a copy of Abbey Road. Most of the songs I’d heard in other ways, such as on ‘1967-1970‘ (aka the ‘Blue Album‘), and on various other compilations, but I’d never listened to the full album. At university, I had the chance, and loved it, but never got around to buying it, despite the multitude of music retailers in Manchester.

When the Beatles back catalogue was re-mastered and re-released on CD in 2009, with prices well below usual chart price, I thought it my duty to make amends for all the C90s and actually purchase a legitimate copy of an album I adored 8 years previously.

What’s it like?

It’s probably the pinnacle of late-era Beatles, with all four members contributing strong songs; even Ringo*. There’s not a wasted moment on it, and not a single song feels like it shouldn’t be there.

After listening to it now, do you (still) like this album?

It’s brilliant. Each song holds up ridiculously well, and the closing medley (from ‘You Never Give Me Your Money‘ to ‘The End‘) is, to my ears at least, some of the most enjoyable music the Beatles ever recorded. It’s definitely my favourite Beatles album; sorry, ‘Sgt. Pepper‘, but you can blame ‘Within You Without You‘.

Any stand-out tracks?

As with ‘Sgt. Pepper‘, I tend to have one solid favourite, and a rotating roster of other’s that pique my interest at different times.

In this case, my favourite is actually three; ‘Golden Slumbers‘, ‘Carry That Weight‘, and ‘The End‘. Those three, coming at the end of the medley, never fail to get my attention.

Notable mentions also go to ‘Come Together‘, ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)‘, and ‘Because‘.

Rating out of 10?

10/10.

Next up: The Beautiful South – Quench

*Seriously! I challenge you to listen to ‘Octopus’s Garden‘ and not smile…

39. The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

The Beatles - Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band

39. The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

1. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
2. With a Little Help from My Friends
3. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
4. Getting Better
5. Fixing a Hole
6. She’s Leaving Home
7. Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
8. Within You Without You
9. When I’m Sixty-Four
10. Lovely Rita
11. Good Morning Good Morning
12. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
13. A Day in the Life

Who is/are The Beatles?

I’m going to assume most readers will know the answer to this. I can’t remember a time I didn’t know who the Beatles were, and I was born ten years after they broke up.

Anyway, for the few of you who don’t know who the Beatles are, firstly, welcome to our planet, and secondly, here’s Wikipedia’s summary; “The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. With members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, they became widely regarded as the foremost and most influential act of the rock era… The Beatles are the best-selling band in history, with estimated sales of over 600 million records worldwide. They have had more number-one albums on the British charts and sold more singles in the UK than any other act. According to the RIAA, the Beatles are also the best-selling music artists in the United States, with 178 million certified units.”

Not bad for four lads from Liverpool who were only together for ten years.

Why did you buy this album?

Way way back in the dim and distant mists of the tail end of last century, I was gainfully employed as a part time dogsbody by the British Library in King’s Cross. Our “office”, for want of a better word, had a CD player in which we were welcome to play anything we brought in.

On my way to work one morning, I detoured via the WHSmiths in Victoria Station, looking to kill some time as I was horrendously early. Going upstairs to the music/video department, I noticed a promotion on Beatles CDs, all recently re-released in slipcases. For some reason, the one remaining copy of ‘Sgt. Pepper‘ was a good £2 cheaper than all the other albums, so I snapped it up.

Upon arriving at work, encouraged by my colleagues (most of whom remembered it coming out the first time around), I put the CD in the player, hit play, followed by repeat-all, and there it remained for the rest of the day…

What’s it like?

This is the Beatles’ response to the Beach Boys’ ‘Pet Sounds‘, which in itself had been prompted by the Beatles’ earlier ‘Rubber Soul‘. As such, it’s a concept album, framed around a performance by the fictional eponymous band, using a number of different musical styles throughout.

Each song is fantastic in its own right, with the possible exception of ‘Within You Without You‘ which is about three minutes too long, and the whole album sits together brilliantly, despite the disparate styles.

After listening to it now, do you (still) like this album?

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve listened to this album. I will never not like it. I’d would say it’s my favourite Beatles album, but that crown has since been taken by a later album…

Any stand-out tracks?

Where to start? Almost every track is superb, and my favourites change with each listen. Consistently top of the list though is ‘A Day in the Life‘, followed closely by, for today at least, ‘Getter Better‘, ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds‘, and ‘Good Morning Good Morning‘.

However, I can live without ‘Within You Without You‘. At 5mins 04secs it’s just too long…

Rating out of 10?

9/10. Loses a point for ‘Within You Without You‘.

Next up: The Beatles – Abbey Road

38. The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds

The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds

38. The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds (1966)

1. Wouldn’t It Be Nice
2. You Still Believe in Me
3. That’s Not Me
4. Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)
5. I’m Waiting for the Day
6. Let’s Go Away for Awhile
7. Sloop John B
8. God Only Knows
9. I Know There’s an Answer
10.Here Today
11. I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times
12. Pet Sounds
13. Caroline, No
14. Hang on to Your Ego
15. Wouldn’t It Be Nice (Stereo)
16. You Still Believe in Me (Stereo)
17. That’s Not Me (Stereo)
18. Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder) (Stereo)
19. I’m Waiting for the Day (Stereo)
20. Let’s Go Away for Awhile (Stereo)
21. Sloop John B (Stereo)
22. God Only Knows (Stereo)
23. I Know There’s an Answer (Stereo)
24.Here Today (Stereo)
25. I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times (Stereo)
26. Pet Sounds (Stereo)
27. Caroline, No (Stereo)

Who is/are The Beach Boys?

Hmmm. I’d be hugely surprised if anyone reading this was unaware of the Beach Boys, but just in case, here’s Wikipedia’s summary; “The Beach Boys are an American rock band formed in Hawthorne, California in 1961.”

As that’s something of an understatement, here’s another couple of  lines from the same article; “Distinguished by their vocal harmonies and early surf songs, they are one of the most influential acts of the rock era…” and “The Beach Boys are one of the most critically acclaimed, commercially successful, and widely influential bands of all time.”

Why did you buy this album?

During the second year of my university studies, I found myself studying song writing as a module. As part of that, we were recommended a number of albums to listen to, including ‘Pet Sounds‘. As I rarely ventured into the university library to use anything other than books and the photocopier, often at the same time, I decided to buy the album.

In those days, I barely used Amazon, so a trip into Manchester was called for. Usually on one of these trips, I’d visit two HMV branches, Polar Bear, two Vinyl Exchanges, Piccadilly Records, Virgin Megastore, and Our Price. My copy of ‘Pet Sounds‘ was likely bought in one of these…

What’s it like?

It’s iconic. Every track is familiar, but you hear something new and different on each listen. It’s been described as “art-rock”, “psychedelic pop” and “progressive pop”, and apparently paved the way for concept albums and prog-rock.

A couple of the tracks do suffer from over-familiarity, ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice‘ being a prime example, but that’s what comes of being a ground-breaking single and one of the best songs of the 1960s…

One advantage of the edition I own (released 2001) is that it has both the original mono mix, and a remastered “stereo” mix, meaning I can listen to it twice without any effort on my part*.

After listening to it now, do you (still) like this album?

I was fully prepared to go into this album and not like it. I remember being somewhat underwhelmed in 2001 when I first listened to it, but the intervening years have been kind. Each time I’ve listened to it this time round, another track has leapt out at me, and I’ve found myself reconsidering my opinion on songs I’d previously dismissed as saccharine 60s pop.

In summary, it’s brilliant, and I like it a lot more now than I did 16 years ago.

Any stand-out tracks?

At different points this week, every track has been a stand-out track. However, if I had to choose, I’d go for ‘Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)‘, ‘God Only Knows‘, and ‘I Know There’s An Answer‘.

Rating out of 10?

9/10.

Next up: The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

*Admittedly the only effort in listening to an album twice in one sitting nowadays is making sure “repeat-all” is selected on my phone music app…

37. Bat for Lashes – The Bride

Bat For Lashes - The Bride

37. Bat for Lashes – The Bride (2016)

1. I Do
2. Joe’s Dream
3. In God’s House
4. Honeymooning Alone
5. Sunday Love
6. Never Forgive the Angels
7. Close Encounters
8. Widow’s Peak
9. Land’s End
10. If I Knew
11. I Will Love Again
12. In Your Bed

Who is/are Bat for Lashes?

Over to the official Facebook page; “#TheBride is out now>> batforlashes.com”.

I couldn’t have put it better myself…

Why did you buy this album?

It was a new Bat for Lashes album, so having enjoyed the previous 3 albums, I pre-ordered this one, with the bonus that it came to me signed by Ms. Bat for Lashes, Natasha Khan, herself.

What’s it like?

Behold the concept album.

Unlike the past three albums, ‘The Bride‘ tells a story through its 12 songs, that of a bride-to-be whose fiancé dies on the way to their wedding, and her resultant grief and recovery. Not exactly the cheeriest of topics, but one that is very well explored.

This is a more stripped down album, with the over-busy instrumentation of ‘Two Suns‘ now a distant memory. The majority of songs are led by Khan’s voice with a simple piano or guitar accompaniment.

After listening to it now, do you (still) like this album?

I do like this album, though it’s not one I’d pick to listen to regularly. I generally listen to my own music whilst in the car, or whilst eating my lunch, neither of which suit the more sparse and intimate nature of this album.

However, when listening to it for this post, I was reminded of just how much I enjoyed it the first time I heard it, whilst glossing our youngest son’s rooms skirting board…

Any stand-out tracks?

Sunday Love‘ is a strong contender, along with lead single ‘In God’s House‘ .

Rating out of 10?

8/10.

Next up: The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds

36. Bat for Lashes – The Haunted Man

Bat For Lashes - The Haunted Man

36. Bat for Lashes – The Haunted Man (2012)

1. Lilies
2. All Your Gold
3. Horses of the Sun
4. Oh Yeah
5. Laura
6. Winter Fields
7. The Haunted Man
8. Marilyn
9. A Wall
10. Rest Your Head
11. Deep Sea Diver

Who is/are Bat for Lashes?

To Instagram! (@batforlashes); “smarturl.it/BFL.IIK.store”.

Says it all…

Why did you buy this album?

By the time this album came out, I’d say I was a fan of Bat for Lashes, so when the first single, ‘Laura‘, came out, I went and pre-ordered the album.

What’s it like?

Compared to her first two album (reviewed here, and here), ‘The Haunted Man‘ is a more stripped back affair, losing much of the sonic clutter of ‘Two Suns‘, whilst maintaining her unique sound.

There are still elements of her influences to be heard, but this is not necessarily a bad thing…

After listening to it now, do you (still) like this album?

Less so than I did the first time I heard it, but it’s still really good. Losing the busy arrangements of ‘Two Suns‘ certainly helps the songs on this album, and the whole thing holds together really well.

Any stand-out tracks?

Lead single ‘Laura‘ is great. It could easily have been an over-wrought, string-heavy, X-Factor-esque ballad, but is kept from that by a sparse arrangement and an understated, yet impressive, vocal performance.

Other tracks of note are ‘Lilies‘ and the title track, ‘The Haunted Man‘, especially once the bass kicks in around the 3:00 minute mark…

Rating out of 10?

8/10.

Next up: Bat For Lashes – The Bride