Tuesday, May 31, 2005

THE BEST OF...Pet Shop Boys (singles)

This is to commemorate the release of the Back To Mine compilation (review soon) from the boys.

10 - Flamboyant
Their most recent effort as of the time of writing, and a brilliant return to form. If, as they have led us to believe, their next album, due in Spring 2006, is along these lines, it will be very good indeed.
9 - Rent
A song too controversial to be granted an American singles release, but nevertheless this stands up against any of the more succesful singles of the period. Some people think it's a lament on the state of Thatcher's Britain, some say its about male prostitution...I just say it's a bloody catchy tune.
8 - It's A Sin
Perhaps the most grandiose PSB single ever released, complete with nonsensical astronaut count down and latin prayers, this is a stomper every step of the way. Pointless trivia, they successfully sued Johnathan King when he suggested they had plagurised the tune for this from something or other.
7 - I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Anymore
One of the boys blinding song titles, and another cracking tune. One of the sexual intrigue cannon, this is all about a love falling apart. Not something I would strictly know about, but I can imagine being the singer in this kind of situation.
6 - What Have I Done To Deserve This?
Does anyone really know what this is about? And does it really matter when the tune is this good? I actually prefer the Shep Pettibone mix of this, so you can imagine how good that must be.
5 - West End Girls
Where the fame and fortune started, and arguably the first ever "Rap" number one in America...if we aren't getting to technical about these things.
4 - Always On My Mind
Whereas Elvis' version just made you think he was a complete loser (and don't get me started on Chris DeBurgh's version), this up-beat version makes Neil Tennant come across as a cool cad who will probably get the girl (ok, bear with me on that one) anyway, despite her knowing excatly how he won't treat her.
3 - So Hard
The Boys aren't particularily keen on this one, saying it was out of place on the otherwise mellow Behaviour album, but I think it is absolutely superb. Another of the sexual intrigue ones, with the all time classic line "we've both given up smoking, 'cause it's fatal, so who's matches are those?".
2 - Can You Forgive Her?
Oh for the sunny days of the summer of 1993, when I was 14 years old and didn't quite understand the subtle nuances of the story in the lyrics of the song. Still it's rollocking tune and I love the way that the person in the story is completely in the wrong but switches the blame to the woman. A good life lesson there.
1 - Being Boring
Originally not one of my favourites, but as the years go by I can't deny it's all-round awesomeness. A sad tale, beautifuly told.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Girls Aloud LIVE

Oh my god. What on earth can be said about this? I mean come on guys...FRONT ROW!!! :D I have to say that this was one of the greatest concerts nights in my entire concert going history. It kicked off in grand fashion with us actually being sat next to Nicola's family, and for once, Gee's "she looks like a famous person" routine was actually bob on. It was her birthday and we all sang happy birthday to her as well... awww!

The concert itself was just bloody brilliant. You know sometimes you are disappointed when you see a celebrity close up and realise they are not that fit...well that didn't happen here. I'm telling you, I am more in love with Nadine than ever. She is quite simply sex on legs. And she'd even ditched the tousled hair she had at Manchester for my much preferred straighter version. Thanks love. Also thanks for the flash of your knickers during the school-girl bit.

Tweedy had me in stitches throughout with her gurning, and some of the "acting" the girls did (especially during Teenage Dirtbag) was absolutely hilarious as well. Kimberley has such a cute arse that's its almost untrue, and that slit dress that Nicola had on during the ballad portion of the evening almost left us with the sight of her *CENSORED* i'm sure. In a plus for the Gee, Sarah spent what must have been at least 60% of the show right in front of him.

To me this cemented their place as the finest girl pop group EVER. In the flesh all five are quite simply "feet as fook" and I genuinely mean that. And the songs are bloody excellent too. Quite frankly, I love everything about them. Yes, even when they do an off-the-cuff version of "Where Is The Love" I love them. And you really can't get any more of glowing reference than that! :D

Friday, May 27, 2005

KT Tunstall LIVE

Ok, so to be in Liverpool on the night of the Champions League homecoming wasn't ideal, and it did lead to some logistical and transportational problems, but once inside the venue, none what was going on outside really mattered did it?

What can I say really? KT was her usual top class self (although the sooner she stops ruining Heal Over and does the damn tune properly the better) and she really is extremely funny as well.

I also had the pleasure of meeting a nice bloke called Andy off the KT forum, although I didn't join him at the front of the crowd. The real downside of the evening was the idiot stood near us who talked through all but three of the songs, and who was, quite frankly, a complete and utter knob jockey.

Still he couldn't ruin the evening. Another top notch crew event.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


Right as a bit of a commemoration of the double Girls Aloud concert whammy, I've decided to list my Top 5 Girls Aloud songs (in reverse order for added suspense);

5 - Love Bomb
This sorts out the true fans from those people who follow trends doesn't it? Only available on the original edition of the Sound Of The Underground album, this is perhaps quite rubbish if I were to really think it through, but it's just so damn catchy that I can't help loving it.
4 - Stop
This one has a bit of a gangsta rap kind of feel to it's opening (well, sort of...) and is one of those great songs that just builds and builds as it goes along. Nadine does quite a lot in this one as well, which is good as she is the best singer.
3 - Wake Me Up
Power pop at it's finest (almost). This was the track that I picked out as a single when I heard the album, and thank goodness that the record company agreed. Still, even if the song had been rubbish, it would have gained legendary status for the "moet in mud, bottle of bud" line alone.
2 - No Good Advice
Forget about the over-rated Sound Of The Underground single, and instead look to this pumping tune which owes more than a little to The Knack's sublime My Sharona. It's better with the swearing in though isn't it?
1 - The Show
What can I say? This, for me, is still the quintessential Girls Aloud song. If Kraftwerk were to suddenly find five women and have them front a band, this would be the end result. I loved this song the first time I heard it, and I still love it to this day. In many respects, this is the finest pop song this century so far.

The Best Of... An Explanation

Due to sheer boredom, I have decided to pepper this blog with the occasional best of list. These lists will be basically my opinions of the best songs of particular artists, and where possible there will actually be a reason for me choosing that particular artist at that particular time.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Aimee Mann - The Forgotten Arm

I'm convinced that there is no such thing as a "bad" Aimee Mann album but it does seem that the law of diminishing returns is applying itself to her career since the wonderful soundtrack to the film Magnolia. Her last two efforts (Batchelor No 2 and Lost In Space) were good, but not in the same class as Magnolia or Whatever or even, the much unfairly maligned, I'm With Stupid. And whilst The Forgotten Arm doesn't reach the peaks of her earliest work, it is still her strongest effort since Magnolia, and has much to reccommend it.

Loosely, the concept of the album is of a boxer returning from the Vietnam war, but really any close inspection of the album as a whole shows up many flaws in the "story". It's saved by the fact that the best tracks work best as stand alone songs. Two great examples are Dear John and Goodbye Caroline, which both stand comparsion with her old favourites.

However there is the feeling that whilst this is a good album, it contains nothing that we haven't heard before from Mann on previous releases. If you like her, then you'll like this. If you haven't been convinced by her previously, then you won't be convinced by this.

Icon's View - 3 1/2 out of 5.

Monday, May 23, 2005

KT Tunstall LIVE

KT time again, and despite me being ever so slightly tipsy, and being LATE for the concert (oh the shame), this was yet another top night of concert action.

The songs were as good as ever, and KT's banter was priceless. Not too keen on the Heal Over live version which morphed into some bizzare version of Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This, but other than that this was faultless. I honestly don't think I've sung along as much to any concert in my entire life. Quite basically I just had so much fun. Can't wait until the next one! :D

Friday, May 20, 2005

Girls Aloud LIVE

Well the finest girl group since the Spice Girls finally made it on tour, but would it be worth the wait...? The answer is a resounding YES!!!

Quite frankly this was a superior pop show, even better than last year's classic Sugababes effort, and was one hell of a spectacle. The Girls ran through all their hits, the highlights being The Show, Wake Me Up and Jump, and threw in some tasty album tracks such as the delightful Grafitti My Soul for good measure. Toss in a wonderfully bizarre cover of Wheatus' Teenage Dirtbag and you have all the makings of a great night.

The girls can all sing, and even Nadine seems to be able to dance to a certain degree these days and the energy level never drops. Hell I was even singing away at the top of my voice to I'll Stand By You, which quite frankly is an abomination on record, but seemed top notch crew live.

My only minor gripe would be that once the music stopped, not much of the girl's personalites shone through although as the show progressed all five seemed to be really enjoying themselves, which is half the battle isn't it? The costume changes were well timed, and certainly got the Dean's seal of approval, and showed that really, all five of the lasses are lovely. Although Nadine is still far away my favourite. I mean come on...those legs :D

So to paraphrase my own good self, this was book of the dick, and one of the most "fun" concert nights I've ever had the pleasure of. Roll on next week!!! :D

Finally, apologies to that woman sat next to me (although try as she might to put on a stern face at our group's antics she couldn't help laughing along with us) and if that woman sat in front of me is reading this, please get in touch. I imagine you'd be very good at...erm...well you know ;)

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Casino LIVE

Ok, so basically on the Night Of Legends, I stumbled across this free gig in a Nightclub. There were fairly decent considering I've not a clue who they are or what they do. They rock out quite well. And they had a lovely lady (who I assume is/was bethrowed to one of the band) on their merchandise stall. So yeah, I might as well count this as a concert...for the reason that it was!

Friday, May 13, 2005

Weezer - Make Believe

Five albums in and little has really changed for River Cuomo and the boys, but nevertheless Make Believe is a very good "rock-pop" record, which whilst probably not converting any new fans to the cause, will keep Weezer fans all over the world very happy indeed.

Thankfully much of the bile that enveloped Maladroit seems to have been mellowed out, and whilst the lyrics still bite it's a much more pleasant listening experience than their last album, and sees them a similar ground to the much loved Green album. Lead single Beverley Hills is a perfect stomp along track, even if it is slighlty grating to hear multi-millionaire Cuomo moan about his affluent neighbours, but future hit single "We Are All On Drugs" is perhaps the perfect Weezer song and is the song you'll be humming all summer.

It's not a perfect album (the album's slower songs are nowhere near the quality of previous "slowies" such as Say It Ain't So) but it does give you pretty much what you want from a Weezer album. And personally, that's just the way I like it.

Icon's View - 4 out of 5

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Holly Palmer - I Confess

It's upon listening to a CD like this that you realise that nine times out of ten there is no justice in the world of pop music. Becuase quite frankly, this is one of the best pop music albums you are ever likely to hear (knocking the crap out of anything the likes of Britney Spears or Kylie Minogue could do) but chances are you won't have heard of Holly, and are likely never going to. Apart from now, when I've mentioned her to you.

I had to stumble across this one thanks to an article in Playboy, and a review in the Mail On Sunday, but I sure am glad I stumbled across it. This is funky, quirky and, above all, sexy pop and takes roughly about one listen for half the tunes to be lodged in your head.

Title track I Confess is the kind of sassy and funky track which would be a hit in any circumstances, Does Your Mama is the best Avril Lavigne track that Avril could never do herself, and the Dr Dre produced Jumping Jack is superb. The album falls down slightly on the last two tracks (and I hate the MP3 player runing 20 minutes of silence on track 10 before some stupid speaking part kicks in) but from tracks 1-8 this is quite simply the essence of pure pop. It's intelligent, funky, danceable, hummable, sexy and, quite frankly, brilliant. Do youself a favour and check this out.

Dean's View 4 1/2 out of 5

Monday, May 09, 2005

Ben Folds - Songs For Silverman

Ben Folds is certainly one of my all-time favourites, but the nagging suspicion upon the release of each of his three ep's in the recent past is that he would never quite manage to once again reach the heights he did with Ben Folds Five, nor indeed the heights to which his first solo album Rockin The Suburbs soared. Thankfully it turns out that Ben was saving the good stuff for his second album afterall, although it still doesn't quite match up to some of his superb earlier output.
The one particualr problem I have with this album is at times it seems a tad too pedestrian, and also the fact that if the album well and truly starts off with a bang, it somewhat meanders out towards the end.
"Bastard" is a superb opener, showcasing Folds wry obsertvations to their fullest effect and is perhaps the most "BFF" style tune on the collection and . "Landed" is anything but grounded, as it's a soaring tune which would have, in a fair world, supplied a huge international hit. Songs that in prinicple could be feared to be overwriught (such as "Gracie" - an ode to his young daughter and "Late" - in memory of the late Elliot Smith) just sneak in at the right side of tenderness to avoid a cliched fate.
Folds has certainly still got "it" as evidenced on this fine collection, but for me he doesn't quite reach the heights I associated with his previous work. Perhaps I lament the passing of Ben Folds Five too much to be totally unbiased, or perhaps it's my fault for watching Ben move on, without wanting to leave behind my own past. Ben's still on form, but now he's playing a different game.

Icon's View - 4 out of 5