Posted in Listed

Favourite Distant (Re)Discoveries 2018

5. Paris Angels – Perfume (Song): When going down a YouTube rabbit hole late one night, we discovered this lost track from the early 90s Madchester scene. We like to consider ourselves fairly up on British guitar bands from that era but had never even heard of this band before. With well over 200K views on YouTube, it is not obscure by any stretch and the anthemic quality to the track is a good reason why. The “loved up” version on Apple Music is the one to get.

4. Pet Shop Boys – Please/Further Listening 84-86 (Album): Over the past two years, Pet Shop Boys have been re-releasing remastered versions of their albums along with B-sides and rarities discs. The first album in their long career,Please provided a worldwide smash hit in “West End Girls”, a handful of great singles, and memorable album tracks. The second disc is a strong collection of dance mixes and B-sides almost as good as what appears on the original album (“In The Night”, “Was That What It Was?”).

3. Paul Simon – The Paul Simon Songbook (Album): Taking advantage of sales and gift cards, we picked up both the Simon & Garfunkel box set as well as the solo Paul Simon collection. While the S&G debut failed to deliver, many of those songs appear on the Paul Simon Songbook a year later in better form (“The Sound of Silence”, “He Was My Brother”) along with acoustic version of future classics (“I Am A Rock”, “Kathy’s Song”). The recordings are sparse and at times Simon delivers them by spitting out the lyrics but this album helped gain a following in England and superstardom back home was only a few months away.

2. Lily Allen (Feat. Giggs) – Trigger Bang (Song): Right at the end of 2017, Allen released one of her best singles in years. A brief intro by Giggs before the lady herself steps in singing about her past party lifestyle. As with her best songs, “Trigger Bang” was self-aware with a chorus that sticks in the head for days.

1. The Beatles – Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 2CD Deluxe (Album): This was an easy one. Released in November of 2017, I received this at Christmas last year and started listening in early 2018. The original album continues to be a wonder and the new remix by Giles Martin/Sam Okell make it even more so. After listening to the album for the 1000th time and just when you think it couldn’t get any better, “A Day In The Life” appears at the end. The second disc of different recording takes with new versions of “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane” was better than most rarities collections. It is one that will continue to get played for years to come (see: the title track, “Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds” and “Getting Better”).

Posted in Album Reviews

Paul Simon – The Paul Simon Songbook (1965)

51xz1aZGmuL._AA327_QL65_After the commercial failure of the first Simon & Garfunkel album, Wednesday Morning, 3AM, Paul Simon retreated to England to play theatres and folk clubs.  It was there with just a microphone and acoustic guitar that Simon recorded the tracks that would form The Paul Simon Songbook.  The album combines tracks from the S&G debut and others that would appear on future releases.

Classic tracks that appear is the first recording of the effective young man angst “I Am a Rock”, a version of “The Sound of Silence” where Simon practically spits out the first lines and a beautiful rendition of “Kathy’s Song”. Other highlights include the Billy Bragg inspiration in “Leaves That Are Green” and vocal charm of “April She Will Come”.  The unfortunate Dylan parody of “A Simple Desultory Philippic…” is dreadful but is redeemed by the lyrical wordplay of “Flowers Never Bend With The Rainfall”

The sound of the album can be brittle and stark at times, a lone performer sitting on a stool with just a white spotlight upon them.  There is little warmth or texture but Simon is in fine vocal form singing songs from the heart. This is an essential recording as Paul Simon finds his voice and performs tracks that would become beloved the world over in just a few short years.