Tuesday, August 31, 2004

"Rex Bob Lowenstein"

Having been a disc-jockey once (for a couple of months, but what a gig!), I have some sense of what it must be like to be a jock on a small-town station, with three cats for listeners. I like songs that pay respect to the down-trodden, ever-hopeful, folks who love what they do and don't ask for the world in return. So this song is fab. Rex is a drivetime DJ who's about to lose the job he loves. "He's forty-seven, going on sixteen/He's frequently heard but he's seldom seen".

"Everything Must Go"

This one's a real tough choice. The Manic Street Preachers are my guilty pleasure these days. I don't identify so easily with their early stuff, but I'm a slave to anything that came after Richey Edwards disappeared. I like their inability to write a song that isn't an football anthem, I like that they always want to draw on a big, big canvas and talk about big ideas, and I love the fact that they can't seem to avoid writing commercial. They write great big chiming church bells of songs, James Bradfield's voice always sounds like it's about to unravel, and Nicky Wire looks fantastic in a skirt. What a band. They make me want to jump up into space and chew on Saturn.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

"Power in The Darkness"

Wasn't Margaret Thatcher GREAT? A strong-minded political leader, riding roughshod over any and all opposition, destroying the unions, shoring up the forces of conservatism against us students. It was a lot of fun being a paranoid, conspiracy-theory-believing, badge-wearing, meeting-attending lefty back then. Tom Robinson was one of the standard bearers for politics-as-identity, with these great anthems of oppression and victimisation. This one is great for memories of Greenham Common, roll-ups and political correctness before it became mandatory.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

"She's A Star"

I should have chosen "Sit Down" really, but I've got sentimental reasons for this choice. It's got such a great chorus that any guy simply isn't going to be able to sing since it's so high, swooping guitars and bittersweet lyrics. James wrote such great songs but never really got the interest they deserved.

Monday, August 16, 2004

"How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live"

You have so much choice with Ry Cooder: he writes funny, he writes blues, he writes low-life and low-rent, he writes Latin, the man's a genius, basically. This is low-rent, and it's beautiful, short and to the point. What I like about Ry is that he's happy to just play; doesn't matter who with; and he does turn up in the strangest places. Any man who can write an ode to "One Meat Ball" has got to be all right.

Monday, August 09, 2004

"Somewhere Only We Know"

Usually, I like to take some time, you know, mull over, consider and think about a band or song before I get all preachy or enthusiastic, but this grabbed me right away. I think Keane are damn good: they've got an unusual schtick, with a keyboard and vocals leading, but the voice reminds me a lot of James (who were great) and the songs are interesting. OK, it's not down with the kids, for sure, but it's intelligent and at times achingly sad. Works for me.

Friday, August 06, 2004

"First/Second/Third Rendezvous"

I'll be frank here: I'm a huge, I mean HUGE, Jean-Michel Jarre fan. I had a classical music upbringing, so his music has always resonated, despite the electronic nature. I thought "Zoolook" was a riot, I loved "Magnetic Fields" to bits, and I even thought "Equinoxe" was damn fine. But Rendezvous 1-3 blew me away. It's like Bach's Toccata & Fugue, a Requiem Mass at 200 mph, a soundtrack to the Day of Judgement, you name it. It's very, very classical, but Jarre throws the kitchen sink of noises and gadgets at this and it turns into some forbidding piece of High Gothic. If you're out driving through the Black Forest or the Dolomites at two in the morning in the pitch black, crank this up and watch out for vampires.