52% intelligent. 9% modest. More monkey than bear.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

turn off your mind, relax and float downstream...

ALPHABETICON - Part ii: B<<<<<

Right. Back again for another trawl through my archives. Remember: this is not an attempt to definitively list every album that I own. Rather, this is a run through the CDs that are gathering dust on the shelves in my study.... I have other ones sitting around near the stereos and in the car, and more albums that I only have on my laptop. None of them count. This is a stroll through the albums that I may not have listened to in years.... and if as a result of doing this, I listen to some of them, then so much the better.

Incredulous "Whatnos" more than welcome.

Previously in the Alphabeticon: A

27. Badly Drawn Boy – About a Boy

I saw Badly Drawn Boy playing at Glastonbury once and he was ferociously dull. I resisted the charms of the various singles from "Hour of Bewilderbeast" and instead got suckered into buying this because I quite enjoyed the film. It's a good film, and this is a pretty good soundtrack. Have I listened to it recently? No. Am I planning on listening to it? Not really. Hmmm.

28. RL Burnside – An Ass Pocket of Whiskey

I think I bought this because I had a brief flirtation with the John Spencer Blues Explosion when I was a student, and RL was a friend of theirs who collaborated with them on "Now I Got Worry". This is pretty much straight down the line blues. Not really on my "most listened to" playlist. In fact, not on my iPod at all.

29. The Beta Band – The 3 EPs
30. The Beta Band – Hot Shots II

Did I get this before I saw "High Fidelity"? Possibly. Do I listen to much more than "Dry The Rain"? Not really, although both of these albums are actually pretty good. I must dig these out and give them a spin - which is kind of the whole point of this exercise.

31. The Buzzcocks – Singles: Going Steady

Superb. I bought this as a student on the strength of "Ever Fallen In Love...", but you can't go wrong with this. "Orgasm Addict" is also a fantastic opening track...

32. Blondie – Parallel Lines

It's a classic, innit.

33. David Bowie – Singles Collection
34. David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust
35. David Bowie – Aladdin Sane
36. David Bowie – Heroes
37. David Bowie - Low
38. David Bowie – Hunky Dory

The singles compilation came first, when I was about 17 years old and a member of the Britannia music club, of all things. Does that still exist in the internet age, do you suppose? The other albums have been accumulated over time, and as I fluctuate through Bowie phases, the most recent of which was triggered by "The Life Acquatic With Steve Zissou"... an excellent film, but also one feeaturing a lot of Bowie covers sung in Portuguese.

39. Beatles – Abbey Road
40. Beatles –White Album
41. Beatles – 62-66 (Red Album)
42. Beatles – 67-70 (Blue Album)
43. Beatles – Revolver
44. Beatles – Sergeant Pepper
45. Beatles – One
46. Beatles - Love
47. Paul McCartney – All the Best!
48. John Lennon - Legend

Ack. The red and blue albums came first, replacing an old cassette I used to have with the hits on. Like Bowie, I've added the rest over time. The McCartney and Lennon compilations are filed here for convenience... and in my opinion, neither is a patch on the work they did together. Well, with the possible exception of the Frog Chorus, obviously.

49. Belle & Sebastian – If You’re Feeling Sinister
50. Belle & Sebastian - The Life Pursuit
51. Belle & Sebastian – Dear Catastrophe Waitress
52. Belle & Sebastian – Tiger Milk
53. Belle & Sebastian – Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant
54. Belle & Sebastian – The Boy With the Arab Strap
55. Belle & Sebastian – Storytelling
56. Belle & Sebastian – Push Bartender to Open Old Wounds

Ah, a band I used to loathe with a passion.... a hatred founded more or less entirely on a preconception of them as folky no-marks and on a ill-advised appearance on Top of the Pops with "Legal Man". Then, one night round at a friend of mine, I heard an album that I absolutely adored on first listen. The album? "If You're Feeling Sinister", an album that I still think is their high watermark (apart from possibly "Dear Catastrophe Waitress". Was I annoyed that my preconceived idea of them had been so wrong? Not really, I was just delighted to discover how much I liked them and how much of their back catalogue I had to explore. They're not to everyone's taste, I'm sure, and they can be awfully fey... but I like them.

57. The Beautiful South – Solid Bronze
58. The Beautiful South - Carry on Up the Charts

How I come to have two compilation albums by the same band, I'm not quite sure. They're only different by about three songs, I think.... still. Great band. Have I ever been tempted to explore their back catalogue properly? Not really.

59. Billy Bragg – Must I Paint You a Picture?
60. Billy Bragg – Don’t Try This at Home
61. Billy Bragg & Wilco – Mermaid Avenue
62. Billy Bragg & Wilco – Mermaid Avenue II
63. Billy Bragg – Back to Basics

The Bard of Barking is a long-time hero of mine. I discovered him when I was still at school, thanks largely to the Pollstar, and listened mainly to those albums where it's just him and his guitar singing about unrequited love and politics. Later on, I discovered the songs he did with a full band, culminating in the "Mermaid Avenue" project that Bragg did with Wilco, where they took some long lost lyrics by Woody Guthrie and put them to music. Fantastic albums both. The man is a legend. One of the good guys.

64. Beastie Boys – Ill Communication
65. Beastie Boys - The Sounds of Science Anthology

This is (almost) as far as the rap genre in my collection goes, and even then, they're hardly NWA, are they? I probably first got into them when I was 13 years old and thought "Fight For Your Right" was cool. Actually, it was pretty cool, wasn't it?

66. Ian Brown – Music of the Spheres

I've seen this clown live on a number of occasions (always when he's been supporting someone else) and he's been absolutely awful on each occasion. This album is alright, but it's all a bit of a comedown from the Stone Roses, isn't it? I was lucky enough to see the Roses live, and somehow their magic was so powerful that the fact that Brown can't carry a tune in a bucket didn't seem to matter a jot.

67. Blur – Modern Life is Rubbish
68. Blur – Parklife
69. Blur - Blur
70. Blur – Think Tank
71. Blur – Best Of

I bought "Modern Life is Rubbish" when it came out and I absolutely loved it... right up to "Villa Rosie" it was pretty much perfect. I was therefore queuing at the shop when "Parklife" came out and wished them nothing but the best in their stupid media war with Oasis. I wasn't too enamoured with "The Great Escape", but as the band sought to escape from the top of the charts, I came back to them and I think "Blur" and "Think Tank" are amongst their finest work. The singles album? Well, it was for the car. A good band. Alex James is still a cock of the highest order though.

72. Jeff Buckley – Grace
73. Jeff Buckley – Live at Sine-e

I saw Buckley singing at Reading in 1994. He was fantastic, of course, but I can't really get away from the fact that the reason I was there at all in the middle of the afternoon was that Gene were up next. They were also excellent, but it's Buckley who is the legend now. I've had "Grace" for a long time, together with a vague notion that I should get some more of his stuff. This was an itch that I scratched earlier this year when I bought the double disc special edition of the "Live at Sine-e" album, which document Buckley playing unaccompanied in a New York coffee shop, moulding his songs and just generally mucking about. It's a sublime album and he was a sublime talent. Worth it just for his cover of "Hallelujah".

74. Beach Boys – Surf’s up / Sunflower
75. Beach Boys – Pet Sounds
76. Beach Boys – 20 golden greats

It all started with "Pet Sounds" really, which always seems to be there-or-thereabouts in those "best albums ever" type polls. I bought it out of curiosity, but subsequently discovered that actually I think that "Sunflower" is a much better album, it's just less well known. The greatest hits album? I'm not sure there's a better album to listen to as you drive through Somerset approaching the Glastonbury site before another festival.

77. Ben Folds – Rocking the Suburbs
78. Ben Folds Five – Whatever and Ever Amen
79. Ben Folds Five - Ben Folds Five

Another artist it's taken me a long time to get over my own preconceptions... Ben Folds suffering from a dreadful party I went to where the guests ended up sitting around the BBQ singing his songs (along with the Barenaked Ladies) to an acoustic guitar played by an absolute tit called Dylan. Anyway. Ten years later and I got over myself sufficiently to enjoy "Rocking the Suburbs", and it was a short journey from there to his most famous albums. He's still unbearably smug though.

80. Belly – Star

My favourite album of the long summer of 1993. I loved this album then (when I had it on a cassette with the Suede debut album on the other side) and I love it now. A much underrated band.

81. Boo Radleys – Wake Up
82. Boo Radleys – Giant Steps

"Wake Up Boo!" is sublime, of course, but "Giant Steps" is better.

83. Black Grape – It’s Great When You’re Straight, Yeah!

I haven't listened to this in a decade, but I really must dig this out. The Observer was saying at the weekend how this was one of the best albums of the 1990s and should have won the Mercury Prize that year. I don't know about that, but I really should give it another listen.

84. Black Crowes – Shake Your Money Maker
85. Black Crowes – Southern Harmony and Musical Companion

Originally dating back to the tail end of my heavy metal years at school, "Southern Harmony" was actually the first album I played when my parents had left me at the start of the first term in my University career. They do a pretty mean cover of "Hard to Handle" too.

86. Bon Jovi – New Jersey

I'm actually a little surprised that I don't have more Jovi in my collection than this, to be honest. I bought this in about 1988 when it came out and I think you'll struggle to find an album with a better opening salvo than "Lay Your Hands on Me" and "Bad Medicine".... they're also pretty handy live (I saw them on the "Keep The Faith" tour, when I was arguably old enough and into the Smiths enough to know better... but they were ace!)

87. Bjork – Debut

A rarely listened to classic. I must get this out and give it a spin. I don't even think it's on my iPod, which is shocking.

88. Bluetones – Expecting to Fly
89. Bluetones – The Singles
90. Bluetones - Bluetones

I love the Bluetones, and I actually used to work with a lovely Geordie chap called Pag in HMV York who claimed that he was their original bassist. Perhaps he was. He certainly had nothing but good things to say about them and wished them nothing but the best. They've faded from public view since "Slight Return", but they're still going strong and are, if anything, much better now than they were in those days. They tour every November, and they're always excellent value.

91. British Sea Power – The Decline of British Sea Power

Talked about a lot a few years ago. Any good? Meh.

92. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – BRMC


93. Next Brel (various)
94. Jacques Brel – de 24 Grootste Successen

One of the side-effects of having a wife who grew up in France is my love of Jacques Brel. Initially I discovered his work through Scott Walker's covers, but when I met C, I soon discovered the originals. It seems hard to believe now, but back in the 1990s, the only Brel album I could find was a Dutch import..... Amazon has changed all of that, of course. The "Next Brel" album was a spontaneous purchase in Fopp of Brel covers, and was well worth a fiver just for the Dusty Springfield version of "If You Go Away" and The Sensational Alex Harvey Band's bonkers version of "Next". The originals are pretty good too though, although when he sings in Flemish, you wouldn't have wanted to be sitting in the front row.

95. Devendra Banhart – Nino Rojo
96. Devendra Banhart – Rejoicing in the Hands

Discovered when I saw him on "Later...." and I was amply rewarded by his album, which was a real treasure trove. Not something I could listen to all of the time, but really very good indeed. He must have a really adventurous agent though, because I keep hearing snippets of his music used to advertise things like cheese, which is a bit incongruous. Fiercely prolific though, so I don't even attempt to keep up with all of the records he puts out.

97. Bloc Party – Silent Alarm

Very much the "next big thing" a couple of years ago, and in my opinion this album largely delivers. I saw them first on the same "Later..." as Interpol, if memory serves me correctly.

98. Carla Bruni – Quel’q'un Ma Dit
99. Carla Bruni - No Promises

Model-turned-singer sounds deeply unpromising, but Carla Bruni's first album is an absolute joy and stands repeated listens. The second album is all in English and features adaptations of famous English poems.... and whilst being pretty good, isn't a patch on the first one.

100. Black Sabbath – Paranoid

Worth it just for the title track, never mind "War Pigs", "Iron Man" and "Fairies Wear Boots". Well, perhaps not that last one.

101. Bright Eyes – I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning

This is supposed to be good, right?? For some reason I've never given this a proper listen. This must change soon.

102. James Blunt – Back to Bedlam

Alright. A bit embarrassing perhaps, if I cared much. I think he's probably a bit of a twat (witness any of his recent interviews), but the simple truth is that when I saw him perform "Goodbye My Lover" on "Later..." in what was his TV debut, I couldn't shake the song from my head. He had been awfully nervous and had performed the song pretty badly, but the song stuck. Soon enough, I bought the album (I had to hunt for it!) and I thought it was pretty good. By the time I saw him performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury at lunchtime on the sunday, the cat was well and truly out of the bag and the crowd was massive. The rest is history, and for all that the music snob in me wants to run screaming, I can never forget that I quite liked those early songs. Will I buy the new album? No, probably not. Do I carry the ticket for the Blunt gig I attended in Nottingham with C around in my pocket? Yes, I do. It's to remind me not to be too snobby about music. Does it work? Hmmm.

103. Boy Kill Boy - Boy Kill Boy

Bad hat. Bad hair. Average album. Great singles.


Shuffleathon update:

In so far: Tina, Sarah, Cody Bones, Mark, Michael, Hen, Cat, bedshaped, Pynchon, J, The Great Grape Ape, Ian, Martin, Monogodo, Threelight, Paul, Charlie, Lord B.

Anyone else?

Do you want guidelines for the compilation, or do you just want to freestyle?

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  • At 10:18 pm, Blogger Mark said…

    I auditioned to be in The Charlatans in 1990..

  • At 11:17 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think you should come up with a lengthy list of guidelines...being that you're all into lists, and all.

    And I think throwing Lennon and McCartney into the Bs is questionable.

  • At 11:59 pm, Blogger Katyola said…

    I'd like to join. May I?

  • At 12:00 am, Blogger Katyola said…

    The Shuffle-thon, that is. If I wasn't clear.

  • At 1:17 am, Blogger monogodo said…

    Guidelines would be cool. They can be as specific or as general as you'd like.

    I think there should be at the very least a total number of songs (like last time), and a rule that they all must be separate tracks (no continuous mixes).

  • At 4:53 am, Blogger Charlie said…

    Swiss, Folds isn't smug - there're few artists who are more down-to-earth or take themselves less seriously.

    Now, if you were to say "his recorded output has been getting worse with every record," you'd be right on.

    And I'm in the Shuffleathon for two discs - one for whomever I get in the spirit of the thing, and the second one for you.

  • At 6:14 am, Blogger Michael said…

    I trust your judgment with guidelines.

    I also trust my now 8600 songs on my PC against any set of guidelines.

  • At 9:53 am, Blogger LB said…

    (I do think Folds is a bit smug, btw).

    We listened to the "About A Boy" soundtrack in the car this very weekend, actually. It's really, really rather good.

    And, I can supply you with the entire Beautiful South back catalogue, if that helps?

    what no Bros? Brother Beyond?


  • At 12:07 pm, Blogger Cat said…

    Post Mercury prize last week I've been listening to Badly Drawn Boy too - Hour of Bewilderbeast is quite lovely. And do give Bright Eyes a chance!

  • At 12:37 pm, Blogger Lisa Rullsenberg said…

    "I was lucky enough to see the Roses live, and somehow their magic was so powerful that the fact that Brown can't carry a tune in a bucket didn't seem to matter a jot."

    God, you ain't wrong. I saw the Roses at Spike Island and Ally Pally and loveaduck he was hopeless on both occasions: but the momentum of the event was more than enough to sustain high glee.

  • At 12:40 pm, Blogger Lisa Rullsenberg said…

    PS shufflethon! Am I too much of a newbie to come in? Would certainly love to join in but would appreciate some guidelines if thats what's best...

  • At 1:36 pm, Blogger swisslet said…

    Lisa - you're most welcome to join. Guidelines will all be up here at some point, together with any instructions you need. Watch this space!


  • At 5:48 pm, Blogger Tina said…

    Wot no Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band?? I don't believe it!!

  • At 9:46 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Guidelines please. What are the songs meant to represent ? Current favourites ? Songs that have changed your life ? All time top tunes ? Literally what comes up when you choose shuffle on your computer or mp3 player ? Any of the above ? Could maximum number of songs be upped from 12 to 15 (but without a minimum)? Could there be review guidelines as last year I really enjoyed reading peoples reviews but thought that it must be quite disappointing for people who had gone to the effort of preparing cds to find that the review of their efforts was only a few words per track. Some idea of how much it was liked or not and more importantly why (and consequently some degree of insight into the mind thoughts and life of the reviewer) would make life more interesting for everybody. I also noticed this week (whilst wondering about what the guidelines are and already considering options for inclusion - I too am a compulsive list maker)that some of last years reviews are no longer online which is a shame. Could this years reviews be archived somewhere on your site ?No intention to overburden you or anybody but just my thoughts. Looking forward to the shuffle.

  • At 1:41 pm, Blogger Graham said…

    count me in

  • At 4:59 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    P.S. Whatno Big Black ?

  • At 5:12 pm, Blogger Pynchon said…

    If I remember rightly the only guidelines that existed last time were 12 songs only that meant something to the compiler. Simple, beautiful, classic.

  • At 11:13 pm, Blogger bedshaped said…

    You should listen to Boy Kill Boy again. I think it's way above 'average'. But then again, if you rate The Beautiful South so highly as to get 2 collection cd's, then maybe there's no hope.

  • At 11:48 pm, Blogger swisslet said…

    I'm not censoring this list, but then again I feel no need to explain anything either. I saw the Beautiful South earlier this year (or perhaps last year, I don't recall) and they were brilliant. I make no apologies for liking them, albeit in a greatest hits kind of way. And what is beyond doubt is that the boy kill boy guy has a bad taste in hats, funny eyebrows and weird hair. If Boy Kill Boy achieve half as much as the Beautiful South, then they will have done brilliantly. I have a feeling they won't get close.....

    So there.

  • At 11:49 pm, Blogger swisslet said…

    although you're probably right that there's no hope. You pick on the beautiful south and miss out on James Blunt?

  • At 2:02 am, Blogger Ben said…

    I'm really getting into I'm Wide Awake It's Morning at the moment, so I'm with Cat - give it another go!

    And shame on you for only having a "brief flirtation" with Jon Spencer! Though admittedly I haven't listened to JSBX for a long time. Have you got Orange, the album before Now I Got Worry? That's my favourite, definitely. Now I Got Worry is probably my least favourite of the ones I've got, actually.

  • At 7:37 am, Blogger swisslet said…

    Ben - when I say brief, I mean I have 3 or 4 albums. Orange is my favourite too, but there's always space on my stereo for his kind of madness.

  • At 9:31 am, Blogger Lisa Rullsenberg said…

    Yay! A belated thanks for letting me in on the Shufflethon! And ta for the recent notes post on the 'guidelines'. I am of course already plotting but will not finalise anything until I get the name of who I'm compiling for... Ooh, I do so love this sort of thing!

    And btw, I like The Beautiful South...

  • At 8:03 pm, Blogger bedshaped said…

    Nothing wrong with Blunty.


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