Archive for ‘My Essential Albums’

August 20, 2007

MY ESSENTIAL ALBUMS: ANDREW W.K. – I Get Wet

Mercury 5865882: November 2001
“It’s time to party, let’s party, hang out with yourself and have a crazy party, hey you, let’s party, have a killer party and party!”

This album has three songs with the world ‘Party’ in the title.  Also look at the opening verse (Above) which as you can see, mentions the word ‘Party’ six times in eleven seconds.  The cover is infamous, with people protesting that it endorsed Cocaine. Actually, Andrew W.K. smashed a brick into his face to create the image (Which is of course infinitely preferable!!).

I’m not a fan of Metal as a rule because of its tendency to be whiney rubbish about death, with what sounds like a grunting pig with a sore-throat shouting over a laughably bad dirge.  However, this album is about life and the living of it “Never gonna die, ‘Cause we gotta keep it alive”. Before his detour into hard Rock, Andrew W.K. was a classically trained pianist so there are high-energy Pianos on every track, which are a strange compliment to the loud Metal guitars.  Usually when you say an album sounds like ‘Fun House’ you mean The Stooges’ 1970 album.  In this case it sounds like the theme to Pat Sharp’s classic gunge splattered kids show.  Behind every song on this album lies a rich seam of finely crafted hands-in-the-air Pop.

If you’re feeling down you can listen to songs like ‘Got To Do It’ which are almost like motivational anthems “When you’re down in the mud, you gotta do it, and you’re covered in blood, you gotta do it!”.  I can’t play this album without forming my hands into fists and punching the air.  I’ve often listened to this before going out to a club and it has the kind of effect that only seventeen cans of Red-Bull could reproduce.

Andrew W.K. – Party ‘Til You Puke mp3

Click here to buy ‘I Get Wet’ from HMV for just £7.99.

Click here to visit Andrew’s YouTube channel and be sure to check out one of the greatest music-videos ever made, ‘She Is Beautiful’ (The best bit is where he stops for a smoothie!)

Andrew W.K. Website / Andrew W.K. MySpace

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January 8, 2007

MY ESSENTIAL ALBUMS: LOU REED – Transformer

RCA LSP4807: November 1972
“Vicious, you hit me with a flower, you do it every hour, oh baby you’re so vicious”

‘Transformer’ is Lou Reed’s love-letter to New York and the Andy Warhol art scene. It’s an album that took me a while to get into because the famous songs like ‘Perfect Day’, ‘Walk On The Wild Side’ and ‘Satellite Of Love’ where so familiar that the temptation to skip right to them was pretty strong. The deathbed lament of ‘Perfect Day’ is a contender for the most beautiful song ever written and ‘Walk On The Wild Side’ has the official greatest Bass line in musical history. But after many listens, you discover that all these songs have over the other album tracks is their familiarity. There is the wonderful poetry of ‘Andy’s Chest’, the dreamy camp masterpiece ‘Make Up’, the mischievous prayer in ‘Wagon Wheel’ and the liberating Glam-Rocker ‘I’m So Free’.

A lot of credit must go to David Bowie and Mick Ronson’s production. They managed to tame Lou’s wild genius without dulling any of his spirit. The suicides, the drugs and the death are all still here, but the production is so sumptuous and Lou’s voice is so velvety that the songs never sound anything less than seductively romantic. ‘Transformer’ is a master-class in how to create a perfect mainstream Pop album while retaining all of your underground credibility.

Lou Reed – Wagon Wheel mp3

Click here to buy ‘Transformer’ from HMV for only £6.99.

As far as I know there aren’t any official videos for the ”Transformer’ album but I’ve found a few live clips on YouTube. Lou Reed is known to reinterpret/ruin his classic songs but here are a few performances that do them justice:

Vicious (Live In Paris, 1974)
Walk On The Wild Side (Live In NYC, 1983)
Who Am I? / Perfect Day (Live On Later With Antony Hegarty, 2003)

Lou Reed Website / Lou Reed MySpace Page

December 21, 2006

MY ESSENTIAL ALBUMS: ADAM GREEN – Friends Of Mine

(For some time I’ve been thinking about doing a “Top 50 albums of all time” list, complete with reviews. This task has proved a tad ambitious and therefore it’s been on the back burner. So I’ve decided to simply make it an occasional thing. A random opportunity for me to recommend an album that I couldn’t do without. And the first piece of sonic wonderment is…)

Rough Trade RTRADECD107: 23rd June 2003
“Bluebirds are so natural, I wanna buy them for my friends, Bluebirds are so dismal, and I want to trade mine in”

Adam Green’s first album or his work with the Moldy Peaches had a lo-fi amateurish charm, but there’s only so long that you can do that, without it sounding forced (Surely at some stage you learn to play properly). So on his ‘Dance With Me’ single he re-recorded three songs from his debut album in a lushly produced Scott Walker style. It was a breathtakingly success, and his second LP, ‘Friends Of Mine’ completed his transformation into a Vegas style crooner for the mentally ill.

The catchy tunes, warm acoustic Guitars and rich orchestral backing provide the perfect compliment to Adam’s dark and wildly offensive lyrics. “Do me doggy, rape me in the parking lot” being just one example and to quote Mary Poppins “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”. This album deals with suicide, kidnap, murder and infamously, sex with a girl with no legs. But these dark themes are always soundtracked by the most perfectly produced pop.

At first, the lyrics seem like nonsense but when you really get into this album the images that they conjure up can collectively paint pictures in your head “Prostitute fingers, fumbling with matches, tucked in red couches, under green moons”. Hours of fun can be had by trying to put yourself in the same headspace as the deranged mind that wrote these words. It seems that every time I listen to this album, my ideas of what the lyrics are about can change. So I find myself constantly fascinated with this record. His next two albums had some incredible tunes, but they didn’t match the sustained brilliance on display here.

Adam Green – Jessica mp3

Click here to buy ‘Friends Of Mine’ from HMV for only £9.99.

Here are links to watch videos for ‘Jessica’ and the title track ‘Friends Of Mine’ on YouTube.

Adam Green Website / Adam Green MySpace Page / Fans Of Mine Fansite