CD's - The Clash 'Sound System' box set, The Strypes 'Snapshot', Goldfrapp 'Tales Of Us', The Arctic Monkeys 'AM', & the Manic Street Preachers 'Rewind The Film - Deluxe'.
Downloads - Elvis Costello & the Roots 'Wise Up Ghost', Janelle Monae 'The Electric Lady' and Volcano Choir 'Unmap' & 'Repave'.
Well, quite a big week for releases, though now the Manics album turned up early I'm not expecting anything next week. So, to start off with the big one, the Clash's 'Sound System' the nearly exhaustive ('Cut The Crap' gets conveniently written out of history) career retrospective in a slightly mad ghetto blaster style cardboard box.
What really got me wanting this box set was Mick Jones enthusing over the audio re-mastering. And the relief is that the re-mastering is a job well done, ranging from simply crisper and heavier at least to a massively more open and revealing sound, some tracks sounding like completely different recordings. With three discs of non album recordings including some never officially released label demo sessions, a DVD with rare live recordings and all the official promo video's and a plethora of cardboard, paper and tin memorabilia, this is a must have for any saddo like me that must have the latest and best sounding versions of timeless classics. If the £80-£100 seems too much you can for £30 get all the albums proper in a smaller box. In audio terms its well worth it, if you already own this stuff perhaps you need to think about getting it again, but still, a highly recommended release. Also if you get a chance get to 'Black Market Clash' the Clash pop up shop and exhibition open only until September 22nd in Soho. Here's a link to some pics of that on my Facebook page. .
Arriving with the Clash set were three other new release discs. Firstly, the debut album from the Strypes, one of the youngest bands I have ever seen live but already competent and confident in their own abilities. The great things about this album is that the groups own songs are the standouts, and the covers they do include serve to complement the originals, not show them up for being inferior. If this group continue to develop and grow as they have done so far then they're gonna be superstars by the time they start hitting twenty.
Here's a video I shot of them playing their heroes Dr Feelgoods 'Roxette' at a recent gig on Canvey Island alongside the Feelgood's Wilko Johnson and John B Sparks.
Then there was two great albums by already well established bands. The Arctic Monkey's 'AM' is a mighty thing indeed, a short, short, punchy and direct set that is quite possibly their best so far. It sort of reminds me of when Muse went a bit funky around the time of 'Supermassiveblackhole', it has the same swagger and stride, the songs are great with superb hooks and lyrically the Arctic Monkeys very rarely ever let you down. So confident in fact they can consign songs as great as this to single b-side status....
And finally on this week’s physical releases, Goldfrapp's 'Tales Of Us'. If you were a fan of 'The Seventh Tree', their less electronic more almost folky album from 2008 (which I was) then you will love this one. The feel is lusher with fuller orchestration then their previous non electronic album, the song writing is top quality throughout, it's a very fully realised effort. I'd personally be quite happy if this direction was explored further rather than a return to electro pop. Great album, here's the single 'Drew'.
And then finally, finally for CD's on Saturday the Manics new album landed on my doormat, the deluxe edition which I'd pre-ordered from the bands website was also signed by the three members of the band. The album starts off lively enough, it too is a softer, acoustic, folky affair. There are guest vocalists, most notably Richard Hawley on the title track. However, they're not a band at the peak of their powers, the album weakens towards the latter parts, it's not the weakest Manics album to date but it's nowhere near the best, it is a brave step for the band, and it's very well produced with a great sound, there's just not enough memorable tunes. Hopefully it'll grow on me with repeated plays. Like most recent Manics deluxe editions the album is also included in demo form in full, also with 5 tracks from an o2 show in December 2012.
Also on my radar this week has been, a), Elvis Costello and the Roots 'Wise Up Ghost'. I've never downloaded a Costello album before buying before, but with fewer and fewer moments of joy on his recent albums now seemed like a good time to try before I buy. 'Wise Up Ghost' has a nice feel, it's a warm album, and many tracks are re-works of older Costello songs, given a new lick of paint musically and lyrically. The standout track for me was 'Stick Out Your Tongue', a reworking of the classic 'Pills & Soap'. I'll probably purchase this at some point, maybe when it drops in price a bit. B), I've also listened to both Volcano Choir (Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and friends) albums. The older 'Unmap' was the more difficult one to get through, the newie 'Repave' a more straightforward listen. Not as complete a listen as the last Bon Iver album, but worth a go anyway. C), I've also downloaded Janelle Monae's new album, having read so many good things about it. I've not listened to it yet though a cursory browse suggests it could well be a future purchase.
Finally a read of a NME.com feature, '50 Of The Most Hauntingly Beautiful Cover Versions', lead me to downloading a clutch of the songs and adding some favourites of my own in compiling a cover versions CD. This is the track listing for that CD.
1) Feist - Secret Heart
2) Johnny Cash - First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
3) Arctic Monkeys - Baby I'm Yours
4) Bat For Lashes - I'm On Fire
5) Amy Winehouse - Someone To Watch Over Me
6) Bon Iver - I Can't Make You Love Me
7) Cat's Eyes - The Crying Game
8) Elliott Smith - Jealous Guy
9) Eddie Berman & Laura Marling - Dancing In The Dark
10) Grizzly Bear - He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)
11) The Smashing Pumpkins - Landslide
12) Dave Edmunds - Born To Be With You
13) Hanne Hukkleberg - Break My Body
14) Elbow - August And September
15) Kate Bush - Rocket Man
16) Deacon Blue - I'll Never Fall In Love Again
17) Pavement - Killing Moon
18) Frankie Goes To Hollywood - San Jose
19) Cassandra Wilson - Wichita Lineman
20) David Gilmour - Hushabye Mountain
If anyone can name all the originals to my satisfaction I'll send them a copy. That's it, may not be be anything to write about next week, though a week's a long time so who knows.....