I only received a couple of low key new releases this week, Agnes Obel’s 2nd LP ‘Aventine’ and a John Harle CD, ‘Art Music’ that I only purchased because it featured vocals on two tracks by Marc Almond. My week musically got beefed up by a Monday visit to HMV in Basildon where I picked up in their 4 for £10 deal, The Clash ‘Cut The Crap’, The Futureheads ‘Chaos’, The Velvet Underground & Nico “Andy Warhol” 2012 2CD re-issue and a 6 disc Motörhead ‘Classic Album Selection’; that’s 6 Motörhead albums on CD for £2.50! More of that later…. Also as a bonus a quick splash of Kylie Minogue sings Prefab Sprout.
Agnes Obel’s 2010 album ‘Philharmonics’ was a low key discovery that grew on me well over time. I only really investigated it because of the striking portrait of Agnes on the cover, and probably that her name was Agnes too, it sounded like an unlikely name for a recording artist, even a Danish one. So I awaited her second release, ‘Aventine’ with surprising expectation. Unfortunately after a couple of listens I find it a mild disappointment. She is described as a folk/classical artist, and both albums have a delicacy that sets her apart from the rock or indie scene. This album is more instrumental than its predecessor and bearing in mind how the debut LP grew on me I feel confident that I’m gonna end up liking this more over time. Maybe because it’s her second I feel there’s less originality about this set, I can hear some Björk and Tori Amos in particular in there, the first album brought no-one else to mind. If you like a bit of quirky, delicate, quiet and sophisticated stuff at times though I’d urge you to investigate, there’s very little else like this out there.
My only other new release purchase of the week was a John Harle CD called ‘Art Music’, a set of music inspired by the paintings of Lucian Freud, David Hockney, Francis Bacon, John O’Connor and John Craxton. It was Marc Almond’s involvement on two of these recordings that tweaked my interest. Marc’s ‘songs’ are based on Hockney’s ‘3 January’ and ’30 March’ with words taken from or inspired by William Blake. If you’re thinking somewhat sarcastically, ‘sounds like a laugh’ then you’d not be wrong. However it’s decent sober and sombre stuff, a bit loftier in concept than my average purchase, but I is well educated. For an Essex boy, innit.
And so onto my bargains of the week from HMV, 10 discs for £10! I’ve mentioned the Clash a bit in recent weeks. Not having ‘Cut The Crap’ on CD the chance to get it for £2.50 could not be passed up. I’ve not listened to this album since its release, so on a nice drive to Southgate & on it went…and, though still awful it was not as bad as I remembered it being. There is some variation musically and the constant terrace style chanting backing vocals at least try to summon up the ghost of Mick Jones recently departed at the time the album was made. To be clear, another nearly 30 years could easily pass before I listen to it again, but if you consider it more of a debut Strummer solo album (as such it probably would’ve been greeted with much less negativity) then at least it can lose its skid mark on a career tag.
The Futureheads ‘Chaos’, their 2010 4th album is pretty much the same album as the preceding three. I saw them supporting the Pixies at the Alexandra Palace in support of their debut album in the mid noughties. Their career feels like a bit of a wasted opportunity, but if truth be told ‘Chaos’ is sharp, well formed and very listenable, even it does reference Orville the duck (it doesn’t, IT DOES). The Velvet Underground and Nico’s self/untitled (or ‘Warhol/Banana’) LP is well known by any rock music fan of inquisitive nature. This 2012 deluxe issue sounds great but the bonus tracks add little to the legend. However, for £2.50, I’ll have some of that.
And so onto Motörhead’s early career. The ‘Classic Album Selection’, 41.6p per disc, is a trawl through Lemmyworld and beyond. Their classic 2nd – 6th albums and 1981’s ‘No Sleep Til’ Hammersmith’ (their first 6 of 7 for Bronze) are included here, and I’ve listened to the lot, this week. So, Lemmy’s mantra for life appears to be – sleep with as many chicks as possible. If possible, don’t ask them their names. If you can get two chicks in bed at the same time, even better (no guide as to whether or not you ask for names). If the chicks happen to be in their teens even more betterer (Motörhead seem to be decent upstanding chaps, so I presume they mean over 16, legal, late teens chicks). Also, gamble, drink heavily, and be an individual that is at odds with the normal world. And have a job in a road crew if you can. Having said that though, Motörhead’s classics are classic. ‘Overkill’ is like the Damned on speed and doesn’t know when to stop, surviving two false finishes. ‘Bomber’ is a bomber, ‘Ace Of Spades’ needs no introduction; I’ll think I’ll watch that Lemmy DVD that’s sat idle on my shelf for a couple of years now.
And so finally Kylie sings Prefab Sprout. Not sure how this eluded me all these years. Recorded in a part of her career when no-one really paid that much attention ‘If You Don’t Love Me’ was one the Sprouts most commercial moments, appearing on their first 'Best Of' as a new track. Kylie makes it a ballad in the vein of last year’s ‘Abbey Road’ recordings, eventually resurrecting the song on the Aphrodite tour. It’s a Prefab Sprout classic, not a Kylie classic, but I need no excuse to listen to either.
And talking of Prefab Sprout, next week ‘Crimson/Red’ is out. The 10th official Sprout album, magazine reviews have been great, and what I’ve heard suggests this to be true. So fingers crossed, a classic should be landing on my doormat on Monday. I’ll let you know next week.