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Old 01-11-2023, 08:29 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I think had it not been for Nebraska, this would be my favourite of his. My journey though in fact began with Born in the USA, then backwards through The River, Darkness and Born to Run, to the two first albums and on from there. Nebraska came afterwards, and after that I was just a huge Springsteen fan. I'd love to see him and Waits collaborate, though I couldn't ever see it happening. Still, he did cover "Jersey Girl".
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Old 01-12-2023, 12:44 PM   #12 (permalink)
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996.


Album title: Different Light
Artist: The Bangles
Nationality: American
Year: 1986
Genre: Pop
Chronology: 2 of 5
What this album means to me: It surprised me with the quality that’s on it. It may also have been my first album by an all-girl band (though I had of course albums by female artists prior to this)
Highlights: Manic Monday, In a Different Light, Walking Down Your Street, Walk Like an Egyptian, Following, Not Like You, Standing in the Hallway, Return Post
Lowlights: September Gurls, Angels Don’t Fall in Love, If She Knew What She Wants
Lyric of the album: “You call me a loser/ You call me a shadowing fool/ Look over your shoulder/ Then you say I’m haunting you” - “Following”

Hit singles can be a real curse. Anyone who heard “Sledgehammer” probably thinks all Peter Gabriel’s music is like that. Those who heard “All Night Long” could care less for Ronnie James Dio’s Rainbow and its lack of hits. And so with the Bangles. No doubt if you ask anyone to name a song by this all-female band (rare enough at the time, especially in the charts) they’d answer with either of the two hit singles they had. But “Manic Monday” was written by Prince (as Christopher, one of the worst-kept secrets in pop) and “Walk Like an Egyptian” was a cover version, which means anyone who did not buy the album missed out on some pretty good songs written by the girls. Due to the uptempo, poppy nature of those two songs, the Bangles got lumped in with bubblegum/teen pop acts such as Debbie Gibson and Tiffany, but there’s a lot more about them. This ain’t no bubblegum pop album.

Not only that, most of it is written by the band, again a pretty rare enough thing at the time. In a way, it’s a pity they chose Prince’s song to introduce themselves to the world (although this is not their first album it’s the first time they had a hit) because it sort of restricted them to being “that band that played the Prince song”, and to follow it up with another cover, well. But while this could not in any way be called a rock album, it’s a bit more than just a collection of pop songs or radio airplay fare. There are some pretty mature tracks on here, such as the dark “Following”, which recalls a stalking incident, or “Return Post”, chronicling an on-again, off-again relationship and the damage it does. There are also some songs which I think personally would have made great singles, such as “Standing in the Hallway” and indeed “Return Post”.

I was in fact quite surprised at the quality of the songs on the album, expecting a sort of backup for the hits, but there’s a lot there, and the album is reasonably solid all the way through. There are duff tracks, such as the cringy “Angels Don’t Fall in Love” and another cover “September Gurls” (why spelled with a “u”? Dunno) but there’s definitely enough there to keep you interested and consider you got value for money. They would have another two hits, one being covered by Atomic Kitten over ten years later, the ballad “Eternal Flame” from their next album, and yet another cover, this time of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Hazy Shade of Winter”, but then broke up and, as is the way of these things, everyone forgot the Bangles. Their reunion in 2003 went largely unremarked, and they never troubled the charts again.

But Different Light marks their pinnacle, when they were on top of the world and everyone was either singing about how manic their Monday was or else was walking like an Egyptian. I, however, will remember them for a truly great album and not just their singles. It’s possible I’m not the only one, though I imagine I’m in the minority.

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Old 01-12-2023, 01:00 PM   #13 (permalink)
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September Gurls- Big Star cover and it was how they spelled it.

The Bangles were a much better band earlier having had released a monster EP in 1983 and a pretty decent album a year later. Yes, they were a lot more than just some pop band, but I guess, as with many artists, money overrode the quality in the end.
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Old 01-12-2023, 01:02 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Yeah I know it was a Big Star cover; I was just pointing out that I didn't know why it was spelled that way.
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Old 01-13-2023, 03:01 PM   #15 (permalink)
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995

Album title: The City
Artist: Vangelis
Nationality: Greek
Year: 1990
Genre: Instrumental/New Age/Electronic
Chronology: 13 of 20
What this album means to me: It’s really different. I am a big Vangelis fan and I loved the way he put this together. It’s very atmospheric after the mostly spacey Direct
Highlights: Morning Papers, Twilight, Procession
Lowlights: Good to See You
Lyric of the album: N/A

From my teenage years I loved Vangelis’s music, having first heard it on Carl Sagan’s documentary series Cosmos. This I found different to his usual work, melding as it does instrumental passages with ambient sounds, voices, recordings and sound effects to give the idea of the city of the title. There are footsteps, traffic sounds, ringing telephones and washing over it all the gentle, almost new-age music the late Greek genius produced so effortlessly, as if it flowed organically from his brain to his fingers and to the keyboard. It’s hard to listen to this and not see in your mind the images of a city, at first as dawn breaks, then going through the day and finally as the sun sets, and to all but feel the warm breeze, the fading dawn and then later the stars twinkling in the heavens as night descends. It’s very relaxing.

I could probably do without the rather long (nearly seven minutes) piece set in an office, and based around one side of a telephone conversation, but that aside this album is one I play through all the way, and it’s not a long one either. Starts and ends well, and has some great material in between. Almost a case of field recordings, though I don’t know if those sounds were created on his synthesiser; they may have been. But a fine album and it shows once again how versatile the man could be, switching from cinematic historical soundtrack to outer space sounds and then coming right back to Earth.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LPpJbgod_k

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Old 01-18-2023, 09:43 AM   #16 (permalink)
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994


Album title: Exit 0
Artist: Steve Earle & The Dukes
Nationality: American
Year: 1987
Genre: Country
Chronology: 2 of 22 (so far)
What this album means to me: I see it as a progression from the purer country and almost bluegrass of his debut and a signpost (no pun intended) to the first real crossover album he put out.
Highlights: Nowhere Road, Angry Young Man, San Antonio Girl, The Rain Came Down, I Ain’t Ever Satisfied, It’s All Up to You
Lowlights: Sweet Little ‘66
Lyric of the album: ”So don’t you come around here with your auctioneer plans, cos you can have the machines but you ain’t takin’ my land!” - “The Rain Came Down”

Wiki tells me this was Earle’s last pure country album before he crossed over into a more rock style, blending the two, but I disagree. While I certainly agree that his third album, 1988’s Copperhead Road was more rock than country, and some of his subsequent albums kept on that track till he sort of veered back towards country and folk in the twenty-first century, I still feel this album has a lot of rock about it. Take the seething anger in the appropriately-titled “Angry Young Man”, the exuberance of “San Antonio Girl” or the rockabilly joy of “I Ain’t Ever Satisfied”, and while you’ll hear country influences leaking from his debut, Guitar Town, without question his most country album until 2011’s I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive on songs like the lonely opener “Nowhere Road” and “The Rain Came Down”, this isn’t what I’d call a country album.

Not that there’s a thing wrong with that. Country is how Earle made his start, and it remains true to his heart and important in his music, even as he tries - mostly successfully, in my opinion - to accomplish the often difficult feat of straddling both genres. But I find Exit 0 a more, well, mature album than Guitar Town, and it certainly points the way towards his next outing. Perhaps interesting, perhaps coincidental, that both albums begin with a track about a road, in this case one going nowhere. This album isn’t perfect, sure. I could do without the throwaway sub-Springsteen “Sweet Little ‘66” and the maudlin, self-pitying “No. 29”, but other than those two I like most of what’s here. “The Week of Living Dangerously” is kind of another throwaway track but whereas “Sweet Little ‘66” annoys me with its genericity, “The Week of Living Dangerously” is rip-roaring adventure and fun all the way through.

Earle does, however, continue the process he began on his debut, and which he keeps up to this day, of wearing his political heart on his sleeve, singing about the rust belt, vanishing American values, big business walking on the little guy, and getting out of small towns. The ideas are embryonic here though, and mostly held over for the next few albums, where he rails and spits at everything from the death penalty to snake oil salesmen and from homelessness and the plight of war veterans to the DEA and the desperation ordinary folk are driven to. To some degree, then, like the signpost on the cover and like the title, I feel Exit 0 can be seen as a point where Earle, to put it in perhaps more, ah, rural terms, quits pissin’ into the wind, jams on his cowboy hat, pulls on his cowboy boots and saddles up to take on the bad guys.

You really don’t want to be them.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_WN...ghbIZei_oIylfy
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