59. David Bowie – Low

David Bowie - Low

59. David Bowie – Low (1977)

1. Speed of Life
2. Breaking Glass
3. What in the World
4. Sound and Vision
5. Always Crashing in the Same Car
6. Be My Wife
7. A New Career in a New Town
8. Warszawa
9. Art Decade
10. Weeping Wall
11. Subterraneans

Who is/are David Bowie?

If you’re still not sure despite the previous, rather spot-on, Wikipedia bio in the last post, this obituary from the BBC is pretty good.

Why did you buy this album?

Even though I consider myself fairly knowledgeable when it comes to Bowie’s music, having listened to most, if not all, of his albums, I don’t actually own all that many of them, relying on generous friends and streaming services instead.

Having bought ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars‘ whilst at university, and his final album ‘★ (Blackstar)‘ shortly before his untimely death, I thought I should invest in some further albums. I decided to go for the first of his so-called “Berlin Trilogy” from the late 1970s, ‘Low‘. At some point, I may get the other two albums, ‘“Heroes”‘ and ‘Lodger‘ but at the moment, I’m happy.

What’s it like?

This is the start of Bowie’s use of electronic and ambient music. The first half of the album is made up of pretty straight-forward pop songs, albeit better and more complex pop than most other artists at the time (or since). The second half is where it gets interesting, and it moves into longer, experimental, ambient tracks, helped by input from Brian Eno.

Considering the Eagles’ ‘Hotel California‘, Queen’s ‘A Day at the Races‘, and ‘Blondie‘ by Blondie were released the previous month, ‘Low‘ sounds ridiculously ahead of it’s time, even considering how good those albums are.

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

I do. I’ve long had a fondness for minimalism*, and an album that combines Bowie, Eno, and minimalism is an easy win.

Having said that, ‘Low‘ is not an easy listen, and I’ve probably listened to this album more for this post than any of the other albums so far. Thankfully, it’s less than 40 minutes long…

Any stand-out tracks?

From the first half, ‘Be My Wife‘ and ‘Sound and Vision‘, with nods to ‘Speed of Life‘ and ‘Always Crashing In The Same Car‘.

From the second half, ‘Warszawa‘, with a nod to ‘Subterraneans‘.

Rating out of 10?

9/10.

Next up: David Bowie – ★

*Except Philip Glass and Einaudi. I’m not a monster.

58. David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

David Bowie - The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars

58. David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)

1. Five Years
2. Soul Love
3. Moonage Daydream
4. Starman
5. It Ain’t Easy
6. Lady Stardust
7. Star
8. Hang On to Yourself
9. Ziggy Stardust
10. Suffragette City
11. Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide

Who is/are David Bowie?

To Wikipedia! According to them, David Bowie “was an English singer, songwriter and actor. He was a figure in popular music for over five decades, becoming acclaimed by critics and other musicians for his innovative work. His career was marked by reinvention and visual presentation, his music and stagecraft significantly influencing popular music. During his lifetime, his record sales, estimated at 140 million albums worldwide, made him one of the world’s best-selling music artists.”

Was… *sniff*

Why did you buy this album?

This is another purchase from my university days. Around the time Bowie released ‘hours…‘, his entire back catalogue was re-released on CD, remastered of course, and for a fairly reasonable price.

Having had a thorough education on Bowie through former colleagues at the British Library*, I chose to purchase ‘Ziggy Stardust…‘ based on memories of listening to the album in that office, and prior familiarity with ‘Starman‘, ‘Suffragette City‘, and ‘Moonage Daydream‘ thanks to my parents listening to BBC Radio 2 throughout my childhood.

What’s it like?

For many years, with the exception of the film ‘Labyrinth‘, this album was everything Bowie to me. There’s glam- and hard-rock in there, all mixed in with Bowie’s unique delivery, and all working together to form a fantastic, coherent album.

It’s been named as one of the best albums of all time by various publications, including Time, Rolling Stone, and Q. I’m not going to argue with them.

Well, maybe I’ll argue with Q. They did give a Semisonic album 5 stars…

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

I love this album. As I said earlier, this album was Bowie for me, and even though he released loads of music since, most of which has been brilliant, ‘Ziggy Stardust…‘ is my clear favourite.

Yes, it’s even better than the soundtrack to ‘Labyrinth‘.

Any stand-out tracks?

I definitely have a thing for the start of albums, as ‘Five Years‘ is terrific, and one of my favourite Bowie songs.

There’s also the obvious stand-outs of ‘Starman‘ and ‘Suffragette City‘, and I’ll also put forward the cover ‘It Ain’t Easy‘ and closing song ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide‘.

There are also notable mentions for, well, the rest of the album…

Rating out of 10?

10/10.

Next up: David Bowie – Low

*Well, everything up to Tin Machine at least…

57. Blur – The Magic Whip

Blur - The Magic Whip

57. Blur – The Magic Whip (2015)

1. Lonesome Street
2. New World Towers
3. Go Out
4. Ice Cream Man
5. Thought I Was a Spaceman
6. I Broadcast
7. My Terracotta Heart
8. There Are Too Many of Us
9. Ghost Ship
10. Pyongyang
11. Ong Ong
12. Mirrorball

Who is/are Blur?

These chaps…

Why did you buy this album?

We’ve established by now that my wife and I are fans of Blur, so when this album was released in 2015, I bought it for both of us to listen to.

What’s it like?

This is Blur back in the studio for the first time since ‘Think Tank‘ in 2003, and, unlike that album, it’s all four of them working together throughout.

There’s less of the traditional guitar/bass/drums on this album, with Albarn adding synths and keyboards to tracks to compliment the work done by the other three. There’s also less of the youthful exuberance of earlier albums, as befitting a band in their third decade together, and even the poppier tunes have a subtle maturity.

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

I like this album more now than I did when it first appeared, though I think I was listening to the ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron‘ soundtrack, and other Marvel-related soundtracks at the time, and not really in the mood for intelligent alt-rock.

Having said that, I still find this album suffers from a lack of memorable songs, other than those chosen as singles.

Any stand-out tracks?

Opener ‘Lonesome Street‘ is still my favourite track by far, with ‘Ong Ong‘, ‘Go Out‘, and ‘There Are Too Many Of Us‘ also worthy of note.

Rating out of 10?

7/10.

Next up: David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

56. Blur – Parklive

Blur - Parklive

56. Blur – Parklive (2012)

Disc 1
1. Girls & Boys
2. London Loves
3. Tracy Jacks
4. Jubilee
5. Beetlebum
6. Coffee & TV
7. Out of Time
8. Young and Lovely
9. Trimm Trabb
10. Caramel
11. Sunday Sunday
12. Country House
13. Parklife (featuring Phil Daniels)
Disc 2
1. Colin Zeal
2. Popscene
3. Advert
4. Song 2
5. No Distance Left to Run
6. Tender
7. This Is a Low
8. Sing
9. Under the Westway / Commercial Break
10. End of a Century
11. For Tomorrow
12. The Universal
Disc 3
1. Under the Westway (Live from 13 – Matt Butcher mix)
2. The Puritan (Live from 13 – Matt Butcher mix)
3. Mr Briggs (BBC Maida Vale session)
4. Colin Zeal (Live at Wolverhampton Civic Hall – 06.09.2012)
5. Young and Lovely (Live at Wolverhampton Civic Hall – 06.09.2012)

 

Who is/are Blur?

I think we’ve established this by now…

Why did you buy this album?

My wife and I are Blur fans. This was a new Blur album with new material. It got bought.

What’s it like?

Back in 2012, London hosted a little event called the 2012 Summer Olympics. Blur, as part of the closing celebrations, played a show back in Hyde Park as a companion concert to the official closing ceremony. This 3 CD set includes that entire show across 2 discs, along with a third CD of new songs (‘Under the Westway‘ and ‘The Puritan‘), a couple of B-sides (‘Mr Briggs‘ and ‘Young and Lovely‘), and a performance of ‘Colin Zeal‘.

The show itself is good, with a thankfully different set list than the previous live albums, and, thanks to Damon Albarn’s comments throughout, gives a great snapshot of the feeling in London during the Olympics that year.

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

Had I listened to this independently of the previous live albums, I’d have loved it. As it is, I’m a bit fatigued by live Blur, and miss the studio sound.

Any stand-out tracks?

At last, ‘Caramel‘ from ‘13‘ makes a live appearance, and it’s great, as are ‘Trimm Trabb‘, ‘Out of Time‘, ‘Sing‘, and ‘For Tomorrow‘.

The new song ‘Under the Westway‘ is also really good, with ‘Young and Lovely‘ also worthy of note.

Rating out of 10?

8/10.

Next up: Blur – The Magic Whip

54 & 55. Blur – All The People: Blur Live at Hyde Park 02 & 03 July 2009

 

54 & 55. Blur – All The People: Blur Live at Hyde Park 02 & 03 July 2009 (2009)

Disc 1
1. She’s So High
2. Girls & Boys
3. Tracy Jacks
4. There’s No Other Way
5. Jubilee
6. Badhead
7. Beetlebum
8. Out of Time
9. Trimm Trabb
10. Coffee & TV
11. Tender
Disc 2
1. Country House
2. Oily Water
3. Chemical World
4. Sunday Sunday
5. Parklife
6. End of a Century
7. To the End
8. This Is a Low
9. Popscene
10. Advert
11. Song 2
12. Death of a Party
13. For Tomorrow
14. The Universal

Who is/are Blur?

Okay Google, inform me;

“Rock band”

Wow…

Why did you buy this album?

After 2003’s ‘Think Tank‘, and the subsequent tour, Blur went quiet. Five years later, Blur announced they would play a concert in Hyde Park on July 3rd 2009, later adding a second date at that venue, and a preview tour in June.

Being Blur fans, my wife and I went to the final date on this preview tour, at the then Manchester Evening News Arena, two days before they headlined the Glastonbury Festival, and a week before the “homecoming” Hyde Park concerts. When the CDs for the Hyde Park concerts were announced, I noticed the set list was identical to the Manchester Arena show, and ordered them.

What’s it like?

Live! Yay!

Complete sets! Yay!

Near enough identical performances on both nights! Oh…

Had I known that both nights would be so similar, I would only have bought one of these albums, fan or no. They are a nice reminder of the Arena gig we saw, and the next best thing to having a recording of that show, but I really don’t need two live versions of ‘Tender‘ performed 24 hours apart…

Other than that gripe, the shows themselves are really good. The songs seem somehow more energetic and angry than when they were first recorded, and this is no bad thing.

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

They’re not the best live albums around (see BNL’s live output for that), but they do show a band doing what they do best.

I’ve reviewed both the 2nd and 3rd of July in one post, as they are basically the same show twice, but I think the latter holds up better.

Any stand-out tracks?

Parklife‘, with guest vocalist Phil Daniels on both occasions, is terrific, far more angry and energetic than the original album version. ‘Trimm Trabb‘ will never not be a favourite, and ‘Oily Water‘, ‘Chemical World‘, and encore ‘For Tomorrow‘, all from ‘Modern Life…‘, are outstanding.

Notable mentions also go to ‘Popscene‘, ‘Beetlebum‘, and the updated version of ‘Out of Time‘.

Rating out of 10?

8/10. For both nights…

Next up: Blur – Parklive

53. Blur – Think Tank

Blur - Think Tank

53. Blur – Think Tank (2003)

1. Ambulance
2. Out of Time
3. Crazy Beat
4. Good Song
5. On the Way to the Club
6. Brothers and Sisters
7. Caravan
8. We’ve Got a File on You
9. Moroccan Peoples Revolutionary Bowls Club
10. Sweet Song
11. Jets
12. Gene by Gene
13. Battery in Your Leg

Who is/are Blur?

Much in the same way we knew who Barenaked Ladies were fairly early on, I think we should all know who Blur are by now…

Why did you buy this album?

By the time this album was released in 2003, I’d met, fallen in love with, and got engaged to a Blur fan. In fact, we’d marry in the October of that year.

As such, on the day this album came out, I spotted a special edition on sale in the now dearly-departed HMV on Market Street in Manchester, and bought it for her.

What’s it like?

It’s an odd one, this. It’s the logical continuation of the jam-based style developed through ‘13‘, but somehow it feels less of a band effort, and more of a Damon Albarn solo effort.

The fact that guitarist Graham Coxon is only on one track may explain some of that…

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

I do. Having initially dismissed it at the time as “ugh, I miss Graham”, who was especially missed during the accompanying tour, I found that I liked it more now. It doesn’t always quite sound like Blur, and it’s not up to the standards of ‘Modern Life…‘, ‘Blur‘, or ‘13‘, but it is a good listen nonetheless.

Any stand-out tracks?

The one track with Coxon on, ‘Battery in Your Leg‘, is great, and the opening pair of ‘Ambulance‘ and ‘Out of Time‘ are pretty good.

A notable mention also goes to ‘Jets‘ for novel use of free-jazz saxophone…

Rating out of 10?

8/10.

Next up: Blur – All The People: Blur Live at Hyde Park 02 & 03 July 2009

52. Blur – 13

Blur - 13

52. Blur – 13 (1999)

1. Tender
2. Bugman
3. Coffee & TV
4. Swamp Song
5. 1992
6. B.L.U.R.E.M.I.
7. Battle
8. Mellow Song
9. Trailerpark
10. Caramel
11. Trimm Trabb
12. No Distance Left to Run
13. Optigan 1

Who is/are Blur?

By now, we know that Blur are made up of Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James, and Dave Rowntree, and that they are a British band with a new album, ‘The Magic Whip‘ coming soon. Except that ‘The Magic Whip‘ was released in 2015…

Why did you buy this album?

After enjoying the previous album ‘Blur‘, I bought ‘13‘ off the back of seeing the band perform ‘Bugman‘ on ‘Later…‘.

Meanwhile, the Blur fan later to become my wife bought a Special Edition version of the album, in a big white box. It’s this copy we kept once our collections were combined.

What’s it like?

Having taken a (welcome) step away from Britpop with 1997’s ‘Blur‘, ‘13‘ continues to experiment with musical styles. The guitar-led songs are still there, with ‘Bugman‘ and ‘Coffee & TV‘ of particular note, but these are now supplemented by more psychedelic and electronic tunes. Yay!

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

Once I’ve got past the opening track, ‘Tender‘, I really do like this album. The more, shall we say, traditional guitar rock songs are good, and nicely compliment the more experimental tunes, bringing the album together as a nicely coherent whole.

In summary, it’s really good, and would be my favourite Blur album, but ‘Tender‘ just goes on and on and on…

Any stand-out tracks?

Bugman‘ is great, as are ‘B.L.U.R.E.M.I.‘, ‘Battle‘, ‘Caramel‘ and ‘Trimm Trabb‘.

Rating out of 10?

9/10. Point deducted for the length of ‘Tender‘…

Next up: Blur – Think Tank