With a month to go until perhaps the most important annual event in the music calender, the Mercury Prize 2009, I thought it was about time I did a post about it. Once again, the short-list contains a pleasing mixture of Genres and both Major-Label and Independent releases (Although I would’ve personally added Brakes brilliant ‘Touchdown’ LP to the shortlist).
Since 2000′s win for Badly Drawn Boy, the panel have got it right most of the time. The exception would be Klaxons ludicrous 2007 win over Amy Winehouse and Jamie T’s clearly superior albums. But last year saw the judges hit the nail bang on the head with a deserving win for Elbow, catapulting them into the kind of chart positions they’ve always deserved. These powerful sales boosts always make the excitement that precedes the ceremony almost tangible.
To celebrate, I’ve collected together the best alternate versions I could find related to the 12 albums nominated. If you like them, get your wallet out from storage and buy a few of the LPs themselves:
Bat For Lashes – Daniel (Death Metal Disco Scene Remix) mp3
LP: Two Suns / Label: Parlophone
I love this electrified version of Bat For Lashes’ biggest radio hit to date, ‘Daniel’. It takes the track further away from the Kate Bush sound of the original into a more Björk direction.
Florence & The Machine – Girl With One Eye (Bayou Percussion Version) mp3
LP: Lungs / Label: Island
This deliciously creepy version of album highlight ‘Girl With One Eye’ was a bonus track on the deluxe version (Which I’d highly recommend over the cheaper one disc edition).
Friendly Fires – Skeleton Boy (Paul Epworth Version) mp3
LP: Friendly Fires / Label: XL Recordings
Paul Epworth takes everything great about ‘Skeleton Boy’ and gives it a dancefied polish. Not radically different but brilliant all the same.
Glasvegas – Geraldine (Acoustic Version) mp3
LP: Glasvegas / Label: Columbia
Like The Beatles’ ‘Help’, Glasvegas’ big hit-single ‘Geraldine’ has an intimate lyric at it’s big Pop center. This magnificent acoustic version puts those achingly beautiful words on full display.
Kasabian – Underdog (Instrumental) mp3
LP: West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum / Label: Columbia
Kasabian’s albums always contain amazing Hip-Hop Vs Rock productions with brutal beats that make great instrumentals.
La Roux – In For The Kill (Skream’s Let’s Get Ravey Remix) mp3
LP: La Roux / Label: Polydor
This Remix was the track that convinced me (And quite a few others I’d imagine) that La Roux wasn’t all Hype and had the tunes to back it up.
Led Bib – 2.4:1 (Still Equals None) (Othello Edit) mp3
LP: Sensible Shoes / Label: Cuneiform
After scouring the web for alternate versions of the tracks on Led Bib’s little known experimental Jazz LP ‘Sensible Shoes’ I could find nothing. So I layered up a spell binding speech from Orson Welles’ ‘Othello’ over a brief snippet of Led Bib’s ’2.4:1 (Still Equals None)’ (To my surprise, it isn’t utter shit!?!!).
Lisa Hannigan – I Don’t Know (KCRW Session) mp3
LP: Sea Sew / Label: Hoop Recordings
This is a lovely semi-acoustic version of Lisa’s sublime ‘I Don’t Know’.
Speech Debelle – Searching (Instrumental) mp3
LP: Speech Therapy / Label: Big Dada
Shawn of Speech Debelle touchingly personal and ingenious rhymes, ‘Searching’ is a sumptuous Jazz instrumental that stands up on it’s own merits.
Sweet Billy Pilgrim – There Will It End (Demo) mp3
LP: Twice Born Men / Label: EMI
This demo is perhaps even more haunting than the album version (Some achievement).
The Horrors – Whole New Way (Bonus Track) mp3
LP: Primary Colours / Label: XL Recordings
This great Japan-Only bonus track from the ‘Primary Colours’ LP is half Bass-centric Surf and shiny 80s Electro-Pop.
The Invisible – Monster’s Waltz (Kwes Rework) mp3
LP: The Invisible / Label: Accidental
Future superstar Kwes’ rework of ‘Monster’s Waltz’ takes it even further away from it’s Rock roots into avantgarde territory.
In conclusion, if I had a vote I’d go for Speech Debelle’s magnificent LP. It’s the perfect melding of intricate, intimate and socialy conscious rhymes with gorgeous Jazz influenced beats that has me captivated (I’d also be pleased with wins for Kasabian, Florence & The Machine or Bat For Lashes).