The Playlist of Life --- Trollheart's resurrected Journal - Music Banter Music Banter

Go Back   Music Banter > The MB Reader > Members Journal
Register Blogging Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read
Welcome to Music Banter Forum! Make sure to register - it's free and very quick! You have to register before you can post and participate in our discussions with over 70,000 other registered members. After you create your free account, you will be able to customize many options, you will have the full access to over 1,100,000 posts.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 05-25-2012, 01:58 AM   #1281 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 26,971
Default





__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2012, 01:59 AM   #1282 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 26,971
Default


Time to rock this place as we stumble towards what looks like being a very warm, sunny and pleasant weekend (cue stormclouds and torrential rain!), with the Clash!
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2012, 10:03 AM   #1283 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 26,971
Default

Stronger than pride --- Sade --- 1988 (Epic)


Jazz, as most of my readers will know, is not my thing. It's quite the “Unknown Country”, and I have very very little experience in it. What jazz I have heard has generally bored me, and though I can tell you the names of a few of the greats, I'd be hard-pressed to list any of their songs. I think my dislike of, or lack of tolerance for jazz comes from its openly experimental and improvisational nature. I like my music to be structured, and while I'm sure there are jazz fans out there who will dispute this, I find jazz to be very freeform, and I really can't get into it. Don't anyone try to convince me either: I know what I don't like, and for that very reason I may enter the world of jazz at some point for my “Stranger in a strange land” series, but that will be my only real dalliance with this genre of music.

All very well and good, I hear you say, but here you are preparing to review an album by a band who are known to have jazz influences, if only soft jazz, as well as soul, funk and r&b. So what's the deal? Well, the deal is that at the time I bought this album I was well into my short career as a radio DJ, and Sade at the time were quite popular (though of course everyone thought Sade was the name of the singer. Well, it is, but also the band. So it's not “she had a great song” but “they had a great song,” and so on) with hits like “Smooth operator” and “Your love is king”. Now, they came from the debut album “Diamond life”, but this was four years later and the new album was out, so I thought I'd hop on the bandwagon early and be first to unleash it on my adoring public of three or more listeners.

Thing is, though “Diamond life” was extremely popular and introduced the world to Sade, making them (her) a household name, this album was destined to be a lot more low-key, despite the fact that their most successful US single would be on it. Most of the rest would not do so well, and Sade would not repeat the chart success they had achieved in 1984. Put simply, this album would be for the fans, not the casual listener, and definitely not for the chart record buyer.

But is it any good?

Well, it's not bad. It certainly has its moments, though I would think it's less immediately accessible than “Diamond life”, and although I've not heard that album through, I base that conclusion on the sudden rise of Sade through the charts, the way people took to their music and the hits they had, all of which tell me that their debut must have been a very strong album indeed. This? Well, it's more... seasoned. A more mature album, showing the band less worried about having hits and more interested in writing good music, which is never a bad thing.

The title track gets us underway, with bassy, echoey drumbeats and lead singer Helen Folasade Abu, shortened to Sade's voice floating like some sort of ethereal presence across the music. She certainly has a very hypnotic voice, and though this music, to someone who was into Iron Maiden and Motorhead in the late eighties, came across as boring, it is in fact very ambient, with a lot of deep soul infusion and a very smooth and cool jazz base. Definitely good music to have on when she/he comes around, really sets the scene for a romantic night in. Nice guitar touches filling out the sound, which is mostly carried on keys and that muted percussion, and it's a nice slow introduction to an album that's obviously never going to have any pretensions towards rocking out, but even at that, “Paradise”, which turned out to be Sade's biggest hit single in the USA, up next, is more uptempo.

With a nice funky bassline and Sade's voice more animated but still sultry and cool, it rides along on a nice keyboard and guitar line and you can see why it was such a big hit on the dancefloor too. Not a ballad, not a smoocher but not a floorfiller in the sense of the likes of “Rhythm is a dancer” or “No limits”, it was still intensely popular at discos. “Nothing can come between us” takes the tempo down a notch, with some lovely sweet sax from Stuart Matthewman and very effective backing vocals from Leroy Osbourne, but it's the chilling “Haunt me” that remains the album's standout track for me.

Drifting on a beautiful classical guitar melody with backing by piano, it's one of two ballads on the album, and head and shoulders above everything else. When I bought the album, found it was “boring”, as I saw it at the time (and kind of still do, I have to admit) I consoled myself that there was at least one track for which I was glad I had bought the record. And it is very good indeed. With a soft yet insistent vocal from Sade, with just the right inflections and the right emphases at the right time, it's completed by Gavin Wright's gorgeous violin passages which meld with some truly special piano work from Andrew Hale. Some luscious female backing vocals worthy of Judie Tzuke and a sumptuous sax break from Matthewman top this gem off, and it's a real pity that it's so relatively soon in the album, as really nothing comes close to this, nothing even stands in the same light as it.

Getting a little funkier with a tight little bassline and some nice guitar, “Turn my back on you” has Sade in higher, falsetto voice, and being the longest track on the album at just over six minutes, it has almost a minute of instrumental intro before she starts singing. It's another song of declaration of love and fealty, as many of the songs on this album are: not surprisingly, as the overall theme, which ties in with the title of the album, is that love is stronger than pride, and should always be fought for against all odds. The album, however, it must be said, is not stronger than “Haunt me”, and even though that is one amazing track, it is only one, and can't be expected to carry the other nine.

“Keep looking” is another mid-paced soul-flavoured piece, and “Clean heart” is a little more in ballad territory with a more commercial pop feel about it, nice sax breaks and some really insightful digital piano. “Give it up” slips along on a bongo/castanets beat with that solid digital piano again and some nice upbeat sax, the song itself a more jaunty effort than any of the last, while “I never thought I'd see the day” slows everything right down, though perhaps just a little too much, as it seems to almost stop. Hale's digital piano virtually carries the entire song, with minimal percussion and bass, though Sade's voice is a strong as ever, if a little too relaxed at times.

The closing track is a rather nice instrumental called “Siempre hay esperanza”, and it's been a very long time since I took Spanish, but I think I can be reasonably confident that it means “I always have hope”. Not completely sure why it's in Spanish --- Sade has no Spanish heritage that I know of, having been born in Nigeria to an English mother and a Nigerian father --- at least the likes of Gloria Estefan can justify, if justify is the right word, using Spanish lyrics, being Cuban. Then again, Heart had a Spanish song on their album “Desire walks on”. Guess it's no problem, but a little odd. Nice little track though, and it does give the band a chance to really shine, with the bulk of the melody taken by Matthewman on the sax and the guitar, some nice trumpet indeed from James McMillan, and another of Paul Denman's cool little basslines driving the thing. Oddly, since she is identified almost as being the band, there's no place for Sade herself on the closer, as she doesn't play any instrument.

I'm still not that impressed by this album, and in some ways I regret buying it, though that money is long spent now! It's definitely not my kind of music, but for a third album by a band who topped the charts with their first effort, it's an interesting departure from the style ascribed to them. Brave in a way, although of course they don't deviate too far from the winning formula that gave them hits with “Smooth operator” and “The sweetest taboo”, this album is nevertheless a little more intense, for such a laidback recording.

As for me, I may spin one of their discs every so often, or add a track to a playlist, but I don't think I can ever see myself becoming a fan of Sade.

TRACKLISTING

1. Love is stronger than pride
2. Paradise
3. Nothing can come between us
4. Haunt me
5. Turn my back on you
6. Keep looking
7. Clean heart
8. Give it up
9. I never thought I'd see the day
10. Siempre hay esperanza
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-26-2012, 05:21 AM   #1284 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 26,971
Default





__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-26-2012, 05:24 AM   #1285 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 26,971
Default


Hey, anyone out there remember Climie Fisher? No? Anyone? You, there at the back...
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-26-2012, 05:44 PM   #1286 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 26,971
Default

Hail to England --- Manowar --- 1984 (Music For Nations)


As a fresh-faced nineteen year old who was deep into heavy metal by the early eighties, I thought Manowar were an answer to prayer: a band who played unashamed, undiluted heavy metal and merged this with songs steeped in classic mythology, particularly Norse, my favourite kind. These albums had zero ballads, did not use pianos or synths, and were pretty much proudly proclaimed as “albums for men!” The songs were invariably about fighting, struggling for a cause, drinking, riding motorcycles and occasionally women. Manowar were a hard, guitar-based band rooted in the traditions of the “new” heavy metal, mostly gleaned from the rise of the NWOBHM, not surprisingly really as although they're American they formed in and used the UK as their base, and it was here that they gained their biggest following.

However, after a year or so I began to see the cracks appear in Manowar's “harder-than-****” claims. They always bragged they would take on any band who thought they could play louder or faster --- though of course many did --- but never made good on that boast. Then an article in “Kerrang!” made me question their sincerity, when it was reported they had a run-in with (I think) another metal band, and ran away from the fight, their defence “Hey, we're musicians, not boxers!” Manowar had always portrayed themselves as the hardest, baddest metal band on the planet (yeah I know: they really needed to get over that sense of modesty!) and yet when it came down to it, they ran like little girls when faced with some good old-fashioned violence. Now, I would never advocate fighting, and a more devout coward you would go far to find, but come on: if you're going to throw down a challenge and create an image at least make an effort to live up to it!

This was when I realised that the operative word there was “image”. Manowar were no harder than the next band, in reality: they just wanted to seem like they were. They were creating a persona, an identity that they believed fit in well with heavy metal fans, and while bands like Sabbath and Motorhead regularly got into fist-fights and all-out brawls, Manowar were, to be frank, all mouth.

But was their music equally as disappointing? Well, that's where it all changes, because although they didn't live up to their hard-drinkin', hard-ridin', hard-fightin' image, their music spoke louder than any words, threw down a gauntlet that was hard to pick up, and established them as one of the premier emerging American heavy metal bands of the eighties. These guys were not afraid to scream that they were heavy metal; in a time when many bands, including the older ones, were muttering about being “hard rock” or even “blues rock”, Manowar stood up to be counted, and musically at any rate didn't care what anyone thought of them.

This was the last of their albums I bought, and it's the one on which their massively overblown image and their equally often pompous, epic music crashed head-on and reached critical mass. It was in ways a massive PR faux pas to call this album “Hail to England”, as they more than likely immediately alienated all Scottish, Welsh and indeed Northern Irish (to say nothing of us down here in the south!) fans, who probably complained that England wasn't the only place that had taken these American metallers to their hearts. Had they called it “Hail to Britain” I think that might have been more acceptable, but the title and the ridiculously comic art on the sleeve just made them full-blown laughing stocks, and I decided I'd had enough.

Not that the album is bad: it's not, though it's not really a patch on the first two, and although I recently acquired their discography, I have yet to listen to another Manowar album after this. It has some great tracks, some not so great, and really, for an Irishman to buy an album called “Hail to England”? Well, let's just say it was a little embarrassing, no matter how fundamentally flawed that thinking may be. It also would not have gone down well had they toured here in 1984/5 with that album, but they never came here, to my knowledge.

It starts off powerfully, though at first with just chiming guitar chords then the drums kick in and vocalist Eric Adams screams and launches into “Blood of my enemies”, a crunching power metal stormer, with definite mythological overtones: ”Strong winds, magic mists/ To Asgard the Valkyries fly/ High overhead they carry the dead” and some fine guitar solos from Ross the Boss, who is pretty much the heart of Manowar. Great choral vocals, created on Ross's keyboards (hold on! I thought these guys didn't believe in using keys? Well, it seems they're not averse when the need arises) and a real sense of the epic, even though the song is only just over four minutes long, and it takes us into one which edges closer to black metal with a much deeper, growlier vocal from Eric Adams and chugging rather than blazing guitar from Ross. It's probably my least favourite on the album, but even at that, “Each dawn I die” is a solid metal track and you can certainly bang your head to it.

There's a thunderous rhythm section in the shape of Joey DeMaio on bass and Scott Columbus on drums, and indeed it's the latter who introduces “Kill with power”, starting off on slowly rolling drums that quickly pick up speed, like a steam train, the song itself Manowar's first fast one, with Adams screaming in glee ”Kill with power! Die! Die!” No, there are no deep political or socio-economic issues being discussed on this album! It's metal, through and through, unapologetically heavy and in-your-face.

It works well. Manowar followed the same sort of themes that Virgin Steele and Tyr, along with probably a lot of others who practiced Viking Metal and the like, though at the time I didn't know of these bands, and thought the boys were being really original. Ah, the innocence of youth! Sort of. The title track then rides along on a wave of glory and anticipation, evoking invaders heading for plunder, though the lyric is somewhat confused: ”The quest for the Grail/ To England we sail” Er, the only ones who searched for the Holy Grail were King Arthur's knights, and they were already in England. Nonetheless, it's great fun and I'm sure many an English heart swelled listening to this.

Great energetic chorus, which surely went down well onstage. More great guitar solos from Ross, and he is good, but just that: he's not a prodigy and he's certainly not the greatest metal axeman there ever was, as I think he may once have claimed. The song slows down near the end in a grand, dramatic finale, with no doubt much air-punching and flag waving, and ends on a powerful guitar and vocal hammerblow, Columbus's drums almost exploding. Then you get “Army of the immortals”, which is a song written about their fans, and really is quite cringeworthy, although the music is good enough, a sort of mid-paced metal puncher, but there's a sneaking sense that Kiss have done this sort of thing before, and better.

To be fair, you have to listen to Manowar with tongue firmly inserted in cheek. They made out when they released their first album that they were totally serious about the claims they put forward, but they couldn't have been really. This had to be at least partially meant in jest, as otherwise it comes across as completely poe-faced and ridiculous. But taken on that level, it's good fun, and I was definitely a fan. Even now, listening to the last album I would ever buy from this band, almost thirty years later, I have a smile on my face, and while it may seem dated in many ways, in others it's as fresh and relevant as it was back in 1984.

There's an interesting departure from the normal metal stuff as the album comes to a close (yeah, there are only seven tracks on it: what a rip off, huh?) as Ross is allowed take centre stage for “Black arrows”, an unashamed wankfest on guitar with an ooh-so-scary spoken into that warns of the ”Black arrows of death” that will go ”straight to the hearts of/ All those who play false metal!” Oh no! Save me! I didn't mean it! I can c hange! See what I mean about surely not taking themselves seriously? Remember, these are the guys who ran from a fight in reality. Makes ya think, dunnit?

There's no denying the technical brilliance of Ross's guitar work, and anyone who enjoys shredding will get a kick out of this, with some neo-classical touches put in, not to mention the obligatory I-can-make-my-guitar-sound-like-a-motorbike effect, but really, do we need three minutes of indulgence on an album that only has seven songs?

It closes exceptionally well though, it has to be said. A nine-minute epic called “Bridge of death” which opens with sharp acoustic guitar with very classical influences, almost harpshichordal, then settles down for heavy, doomy synth with the guitar fading into the background and a very effective, low-key vocal from Adams, no percussion at all as yet --- or very little --- with the keyboard work on this album showing other metal bands how it should be done. Rather than soften the metal, they complement it and add an extra dimension to the music. Hard metal guitar then kicks in, Scott Columbus's drums powering in as the song moves into what I guess would be its second movement as Adams faces the Devil at the end of his life.

Having sold his soul for a life of power and glory, it would seem, Adams now pays the price as he sings ”All my years of earthly pleasures/ gave support unto the bridge/ I now cross it, giving him my soul!” Then there's another silly spoken vocal as Adams dedicates his eternal soul to Satan, as Manowar perhaps try to cash in on the black metal movement, shouting ”Lucifer is king! Praise Satan!” But no-one is going to believe it, as they haven't referred to any sort of devil worship prior to this, unless very peripherally. Bells of doom peal out, before the music returns to the opening melody, Adams doing a fine job as the soul of the doomed warrior, damned for all time, willingly selling himself into slavery at the mouth of the pit. Laughter which is no doubt meant to be evil and ghastly at the end is just comical, and wouldn't scare a rabbit, but other than that it's a good ending.

After this album I moved more towards progressive rock and tended, for a long time, to leave metal alone, so as a result I never bought any more Manowar albums. It wasn't that I didn't like this one (though as an Irishman who never forgets, the title did sort of stick in my craw and may have had something to do with my decision, if only on a subconscious level) but it just never seemed to be that important to seek out the next Manowar album in the way I had waited with bated breath for the first three.

It's said this is seen as the best of the early “classic” Manowar, though I think personally I prefer “Into glory ride”, on which album I think they perfected both their sound and their image, but as it was the last one I bought for three decades I wanted to concentrate on it. It's quite possible that their later material blew this to hell, I don't know: I will make a point of listening to some “newer” Manowar as soon as I can, if only to see how they developed while I was away. But as long as you don't fall into the trap of taking them too seriously, or deconstructing their music, I think Manowar could always be relied on to satisfy most metalheads.

Though I do wonder if they played Edinburgh on this tour...?

TRACKLISTING

1. Blood of my enemies
2. Each dawn I die
3. Kill with power
4. Hail to England
5. Army of the immortals
6. Black arrows
7. Bridge of death

Suggested further listening: “Battle hymns”, “Into glory ride”
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-26-2012, 05:53 PM   #1287 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 26,971
Default





__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-26-2012, 05:56 PM   #1288 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 26,971
Default


Not a huge fan of hers, but this is a nice one from Christina Aguilera, this is, well, “Beautiful”.
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-28-2012, 02:06 AM   #1289 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 26,971
Default





__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-28-2012, 02:14 AM   #1290 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 26,971
Default


Nice relaxing little tune to ease us into another Monday morning, this is Simply Red with an old classic.
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Similar Threads



© 2003-2024 Advameg, Inc.