Saturday, March 25, 2006

1001 albums you must hear before you die

1001 albums you must hear before you die is coffee table book that might have been written for me personally. I have spent most of the past few months fondly looking at a copy in a local bookshop. Last week I had to buy a crate-load of books for my next professional exam from amazon and I noticed that it was half price. I bit the bullet and bought it. It's great.

Of the 1001 albums listed I own around 312 (I counted - I am a sad bastard) and I have heard several more. Most of the choices are pretty sound. Each album is reviewed with some biographical information about the band/artist involved.

It does pretty well on rock, jazz, punk and hip-hop although I thought the reggae section was a bit week (no toots, no max romeo, no lee perry). I would argue about some minor points (eg Husker Du - why warehouse.... and not zen arcade) but all in I think this is a tasteful and intelligent guide to modern music. The last entried include the MIA album and the last white stripes record.

If you are a music geek like me, you will love it.

Da funk

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Nick Cave is rather good.

I was talking to a friend (well, boyfriend of a friend, same thing) about Nick Cave at the weekend. He was telling me that he could never like someone who doesn't like Nick Cave. I don't really go for that degree of musical facism now. A few years back I realised that I wasn't going to meet many girls who really loved the dead kennedys so musical facism went out the window. However, I know where he is coming from.

Nick Cave is rather good.

I think the first time that I heard Nick Cave was on a peel sessions cassette that came free with vox magazine. It featured 'Big-Jesus-Trash-Can' by The Birthday Party, his first internationally successful band. In Australia he had been a member of Boys Next Door but they weren't great. I liked Big-Jesus-Trash-Can because it reminded me of the Jesus Lizard who really floated my boat back then. I kept my ears open for more Birthday Party stuff.

I eventually got The Birthday Party 'hits' cassette on 4AD. Again it kicked ass, with tracks like 'nick the stripper' and 'release the bats' standing out in my memory. At that time I didn't really connect Nick Cave with The Birthday Party. To me, the Birthday Party were a mutant punk band while Nick Cave was, as far as I knew, an old goth.

I really started to like Nick Cave when I saw him play some tracks from the murder ballads album on Later with Jools Holland on BBC2. I think they played 'Stagger lee', 'Curse of Millhaven' and something else. I had videotaped the show and I watched it several times. I don't know if it was the intensity of the performance or the gleeful use of the word 'motherfucker' in 'stagger lee' but my schoolboy heart was pierced by Cupids arrow.

As I was a schoolboy I didn't have much money so I borrowed the CD from the local library and made a cassette copy of it. I listened to it many times. It was good.

Over the next few years I picked up a few more of his records. 'Kicking against the pricks', 'live seeds' and the inevitable 'best of' CD. All of them were rather good.

I saw Cave live for the first time at a solo show in Edinburgh in August 1998. It was him, a piano, a violinist and book readings. He played 'into my arms' which was amazing and 'love letter' which he had just written was memorable.

'The boatmans call' was a great album but the next couple of records weren't so good. I feared that Cave had lost his touch. Luckily, I was wrong.

Abbatoir blues/the lyre of orpheus was a startling return to form. It might even be his best work. Line-up changes resulted in an amazing new energy. Songs like 'get ready for love', 'there she goes, my beautiful world' and 'nature boy' just make me smile. I like smiling. It's good.

I saw Cave and the Bad Seeds Live at the Glasgow Academy in November 2004 and it was one of the best shows I've ever seen. Members of a London Gospel Choir provided backing vocals. The stage was filled with scary old goths. The music was loud. Red right hand was amazing.

I haven't seen the propostion yet and I haven't got round to reading 'and the ass saw the angel' but I hope i do.

Required records
1 - Abbatoir blues/the lyre of orpheus
2 - Murder ballads
3 - Let love in

Required records for Jesus Lizard fans
1 - The Birthday Party - hits

check 'em out. I could still like someone who didn't like Nick Cave. I could even love them but I would probably really annoy them by listening to his records loud. Then they would leave me. That's a nice negative thought to end on. ;-)


Sunday, March 12, 2006

Giant drag - hearts and unicorns

I guess this record is derivative but it rips off records that I like. It's a dreamy mix of Loveless by My bloody valentine with the Breeders seductive vocals. It's loud and unfocused.

Giant drag are a duo, Annie Hardy and Micah Calabrese. Hardy was initially a singer/songwriter sort-of girl before being introdued to micah by her mum (according to the interview I read anyway). They got together and made some music. Find out more at

Anyway, the album is good. It has a cover of wicked game by Chris Isaak. I like it. Check it oot.