This is a review of the albums that I have been listening to whilst working from home. Albums listened to for week 38 covers from 7-11 December.

Monday 7 December

Bruce Springsteen has been a regular listening feature during lockdown so today I got out this box set of his 1978 album, Darkness on the Edge of Town.

I remember getting this album after buying Born in the USA and it is is one of my favourite and the box set came out in 2010 containing 6 discs of 3 CDs and 3 DVDs. The Promise CD is a double CD of outtakes from the Darkness sessions.

This is a really nice collection and gives a great insight into the recording process of the album. The deluxe box set contains an 80-page spiral-bound reproduction of Springsteen’s original notebooks documenting the recording sessions for the album containing alternate lyrics, song ideas, recording details, and personal notes.

Tuesday 8 December

Another box set getting listened to is Steve Lamacq’s Lost Alternatives. Hard to believe but I am revisiting this one nearly almost 10 months since it was mentioned on week 1 of the blog. What I really liked about this collection is that it dug a bit deeper giving another side of the nineties which wasn’t all about Cool Britannia, Laddism and Blur vs Oasis.

Instead we get a snapshot of the evolution of guitar music which didn’t focus on the hits but rather the limited edition singles, The Evening Session cult favourites featuring bands that never made it and some that are still releasing music today.

Each of the four discs in this collection takes in the forgotten alternatives and lesser-known songs by bands including Happy Mondays, Flowered Up, Teenage Fanclub, Cornershop, Suede, Catatonia, Ash, Northside, The Auteurs, 60 Ft Dolls, Ultrasound and Mogwai.

Since I started writing this blog when lockdown began the music has been appreciated a bit more thanks to all the positive music posts on Twitter. On second listen I really enjoyed it a lot better than the first time.

Wednesday 9 December

Giving some albums here a spin that I haven’t listened to in a while. Some of them a bit more random such as Vendetta Red and Arbour Labor Union. I picked up Between the Never and the Now which was Vendetta Red’s third album but only hearing them for the first time in 2003. The Arbour Labor Union album I bought in 2016, I Hear You came as a recommendation. Two very different albums to start the day off.

Going back to 1994 for this album which I bought whilst in the USA at the time. Live’s Throwing Copper was a complete random purchase while I was out in America for a few weeks. It might have been hearing the single I Alone on MTV that got me interested as at time I was still listening to the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, etc.

The Hunter is the fifth album by Mastodon and my first experience of seeing these guys live. They were amazing. It is a really good album too and shows that rock is still alive and well.

Continuing on the grunge theme, Manchester’s Nine Black Alps I came across in 2003 with their debut album, Everything Is. Definitely remember playing it earlier during lockdown but here was the follow up, Love/Hate (2007) which was a decent follow up.

Thursday 10 December

Today’s listening had no major theme. Just decided to listen to a few albums that I haven’t heard in a long while.

First up was Kinesis who released Handshakes for Bullets in 2003. The album reminded me of early Manic Street Preachers. However the band didn’t issue any bold statements that they would say millions of records and break up like the Manics said they would. They are still around. By 2005 they had actually broken up on the same day as the their next album was released.

Another English band I took an interest in was Brigade who I found out after listening to local Derry band, Fighting With Wire. Their debut album, Lights (2006) was pretty good and I liked it. It got good reviews in the rock press. Come Morning We Fight (2008) was the follow up and that was the last I had heard of them until I selected these CDs to be played. Sometimes when you haven’t heard something in a long while you appreciate it a bit better.

I can’t remember why I bought a Hole album. I guess it was wanting to know what all the fuss about Courtney Love was. Celebrity Skin (1998) was their third album and only album that I have. I liked it at the time and it is still a good listen. Saw the band live at Glastonbury in 1999 and they were quite good.

From the ashes of Kerbdog, came Wilt who formed in 1998. Kerbdog in my view were so criminally underrated and should have deserved more success. While Kerbdog had the Irish Nirvana thrown at them, for Wilt, music magazines like Rock Sound tipped them as the Irish version of  Hüsker Dü and Weezer which is a nice compliment.

The band released two albums, Bastinado in 2000 and then a follow up, My Medicine (2002). Both good albums. After that it was no more with the band splitting up in 2003. Since then Kerbdog have retuned and done some live shows. I caught the band in Belfast a couple of years ago and it was great to see them again having seen them over the years supporting the likes of Therapy? and Megadeth.

Friday 11 December

Finishing off the working week with some Beck. He rose to fame in the early 1990s with his experimental and lo-fi style, and became known for creating musical collages of wide-ranging genres. He has musically encompassed folk, funk, soul, hip hop, electronic, alternative rock, country, and psychedelia.

Loser was the first Beck song I heard and it was so different to what was being released in 1994 and I bought his third album, Mellow Gold.

It was with his fifth album, Odelay (1996) which brought greater success specially with singles Where It’s At, Devil’s Haircut and The New Pollution. It is a fantastic record.

After that I kind of drifting in and out of his music. Mutations (1998) and Morning Phase (2014) were the last two albums I bought. He came to Belfast in 2018 as part of BBC Music’s Big Weekend and that was the first time I had seen him live. He put on a fantastic performance and should have been on a bit longer, even headlining!

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