This is a review of the albums that I have been listening to whilst working from home. Albums listened to for week 16 cover from 6 to 7 July.
Monday 16 July – Mazzy Star and Madder Rose
Kicking off the new working week with some not so new music. David Roback passed away in February this year and when I was trying to find out who he was I picked up on a few songs that were on YouTube. One of them being Fade Into You. The version I listened to was from the Jools Holland BBC2 later night music show called Later.
I really liked what I heard and tried to search for some of their back catalogue.
She Hangs Brightly (1990), So Tonight That I Might See (1993) and Among My Swan (1996) were the three albums I managed to buy in HMV recently and I can’t believe I missed this band first time round. I soon realised that I had come across the singer Hope Sandoval before as she done backing vocals with The Jesus and Mary Chain on their 1994 album, Stone & Dethroned.
Panic On (1994) by Madder Rose was my introduction to this band. Although not played today, I may have played this earlier during WFH lockdown. I picked out their first album, Bring It Down (1993) which was a really great record. I only have two of their albums but have found out that they released three other albums between 1997 and 2019. On the to do list for future purchases.
Tuesday 7 July – 1970s rock day
Today I picked out four bands from the 1970s – Rush, Black Sabbath, Cheap Trick and Led Zeppelin. Out of the four bands played that day I have seen three of them. I will give you a clue, definitely not Led Zeppelin. I was too young when these bands were round first time but that doesn’t stop you enjoying a bit of rock music from another era.
Rush were a three piece power trio from Canada. A friend of mine introduced me to their music back in 1990. I might have known some of their singles from the 1980s but can’t tell for sure.
The first albums I ever listened to were Moving Pictures (1981), Exit…Stage…Left (1981),Grace Under Pressure (1985), Hold Your Fire (1987) and I was blown away by what I heard.
The first album I bought was Chronicles (1990) which was a double LP of 28 tracks (I have this on both vinyl and CD) comprising of their best known songs from their debut album Rush (1973) right up to Presto (1989). It is a fantastic collection of songs and you can see how the bands evolves with each album. I got to see them in Dublin in 2012 when they done the Moving Pictures anniversary tour. That was my favourite Rush album and it was good to get to see them life. The band retried a few years ago and Neil Peart the drummer sadly passed away this year.
Black Sabbath were one of the early pioneers for heavy metal. A band that I probably would never have been allowed to bring their music into the house! Think my mum, God reset her soul who not approve of them. I only got to appreciate the band later seeing them live in both Belfast and Dublin as the band you would want to cross off on your bucket list.
Both gigs they did not disappoint and I was glad to have been able to see them live. I don’t have many of their albums, only two really. The compilation Iron Man: The best of Black Sabbath (2012) was a repacking of the 2009 greatest hits album which covers some of their better known songs like War Pigs, Iron Man and Paranoid. Many of the bands like I like cite Black Sabbath as an influence and Faith No More’s cover of War Pigs is great.
A must admit a band that I never thought I would have liked and it was thanks to a live covers of Surrender by Cheap Trick, done by Pearl Jam and they had Robin Zander join live them on stage that I took an interest them. Quite a big back catalogue so the only album I have is the compilation The Essential Cheap Trick (2004) features their best known songs over the years. A fantastic collection and I jumped at the chance to see them live when they supported Def Leppard. A rare occasion where you are more interested in the support act than the headline act. Cheap Trick were great live and definitely gave Def Leppard a run for their money!
Last but not least were Led Zeppelin. A band I must admit that I never gave a proper listen to. This compilation Mothership (2007) was released when their entire catalogue went digital. For a casual fan like myself it provides a good introduction to the band.
Wednesday 8 July – Weezer
At last it was the turn of Weezer. With a huge back catalogue it was going to be some task to pick out the best of the bunch and I hope that the albums I picked here do the band justice.
Weezer formed in 1992 and I got into them in 1994 when they released the Blue Album. when came out around the time that grunge was reaching it’s peak. It is a great album and one of my all time favourites from the 1990s. The follow up Pinkerton (1996) was a more darker album than the first album. It got mixed reviews when it came out but it is definitely regarded as one of their best.
There would be no new album until their comeback in 2001 with the Green Album was a return to form. It was quickly followed up the next year with Maladroit (2002). Their fourth album Make Believe (2005) brought them to Ireland for the first time. Think it was their first ever gig in Dublin that year and it was great to see them on home soil.
I skipped the next three albums and went for 2014’s Everything Will Be Alright in the End. This album was my favourite since Pinkerton. The song Back to the Shack is very nostalgic wishing for a return to roots in 1994. How I wish it could be the 1990s again.
Thursday 9 July – Suede
I was late getting into Suede. Considered as one of the big four of Britpop – Oasis, Blur and Pulp, I seemed to miss them first time around 1992 as I was really mostly into grunge and alt-rock bands from America. I was aware of their stuff but for some reason it didn’t do it for me at the time.
My introduction to the band was 1999’s Head Music which was Suede’s fourth album. A friend of mine in Dublin got me into them, gave me a copy of Dog Man Star on tape and we went to see the band play at the Olympia theatre. It was a great gig and I really wondered what took me so long to listen to them.
So for today as well as playing Head Music, I also played their debut Suede (1992), Dog Man Star (1994), Coming Up (1996) all really great albums. Two compilation albums feature here – the really excellent double album Sci-Fi Lullabies (1997) consisted of all the b-sides from their first three albums. Definitely one of the best collections of b-sides I have listened to.
The Best of Suede (2010) is a collection of from all four albums plus some b-sides. Not to be mixed up with the other compilation Singles (2003) this album is more like a best of as endorsed by the band and even the fans.
Friday 10 July – Therapy?
The end of the working week and the start of the long bank holiday weekend what better way to end it by playing the mighty Therapy?
Second time round for Therapy? during lockdown. Last played on April 24, I decided to give Nurse (1992) another blast along with a few compilations, live albums and an acoustic album. You are probably reading this thinking Therapy? doing acoustic does it really work? Read on to find out.
Nurse as always is a great album and my first one purchased. They were pretty much underground prior to this and I must admit that I never really took much notice of local bands at the time but thanks to all things Nirvana my attitude to local bands changed opening up such acts like Ash, Joyrider, Cuckoo, Sheer, Schtum to name up a few.
The first best of album So Much for the Ten Year Plan (2000) featured two new tracks Bad Karma Follows You Around and Fat Camp plus the best tracks from all their albums up to this point My copy was the limited edition UK release which had a bonus CD of selected b-sides.
An interesting contrast is this years new best of Greatest Hits (The Abbey Road Sessions) . Twelve tracks and all re-recordings of the UK Top 40 singles originally released between 1992-98. This album is fantastic as it gives the older songs a revamp for 2020. Highlight has to be James Dean Bradfield on Die Laughing which was fantastic.
The second disc entitled Official Bootleg 1990-2020 is also fantastic as it doesn’t repeat live versions of the songs featured on the first disc but picks out the best of complied from the band’s personal archives.
The album would eventually get renamed Greatest Hits (2020 versions) following an issue raised by the studio over naming rights. I missed out on the pre-order but when lockdown started easing a bit I was pleasantly surprised that HMV had it stock with the original title.
Music Through a Cheap Transistor (2007) is a collection of five different performances by the band between 1991 and 1998 for BBC radio. It was nice to have them on CD as I have various copies for radio performances throughout on tape and this is a nice way of getting them all in one box.
Wood and Wire was released through the band’s website and features a more stripped back acoustic versions of their songs. I must admit I didn’t think it would work but it actually does especially their earlier stuff. I got to see them perform acoustic at the Empire in Belfast and it was one of my favourite Therapy? gigs. The live album, Communion: Live at the Union Chapel (2017) was recorded in London during the Wood and Wire tour. My copy included a third disc which included four songs not played at Union Chapel, two of them being from the Empire gig that I was at.
This year I was due to see them play Dublin and Belfast as part of their 30th anniversary tour. Now put back until next year for the 31st anniversary. Doesn’t have the same ring to it. In the meantime, I am really looking forward to their official biography next month.