Thursday, November 30, 2006

Girls Aloud - Greatest Hits Live DVD

Ok, so it's techincally NOT the Greatest Hits Live and is actually the Chemistry tour, but Girls Aloud are nothing if not commercially sound.

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This is little more than the tour extravaganza with three bonus promo video's tacked on (Biology, See The Day, Whole Lotta History) but really if you are a fan of Girls Aloud you'll want this. If you're not then you probably would find chewing off your own feet more beneficial than watching this.

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STILL, I'm nothing if not impartial and this is entertaining, although as with the What Will The Neighbours Say tour DVD its no replacement for actually being there.

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But the salient points you need to know are handily reproduced below in bullet-point form;

* They can all sing live
* The ballad's aren't any better live than on record
* It STILL annoys me when a band who do pop records with mostly electronic backing go on tour and decide the first thing that they need to do is get a "proper" band behind them.
* I Predict A Riot is as ropey on the DVD as it is on the Bonus disk with the Greatest Hits album.
* Despite what you might otherwise think, Nicola is a mighty fine piece of ass.
* Sarah will get on your nerves with her "come on London", "sing along" and "ooh" bits.
* It still annoys me that they don't do all of Wild Horses.
* They REALLY REALLY have always dreamt of playing Wembley. Yes even when Cheryl was in those adverts for British Gas and Sarah was posing naked covered only in an England Flag for FHM honey's.
* Despite what it leads you to believe on the back cover, they do sing Wake Me Up.
* The "shit" in both No Good Advice and Models is blanked out.
* The promo video to Biology is completely awesome when watched on a 32 inch LCD television.
* It's a good job Nicola didn't do a "Britney".
* Nadine's accent is still the sexiest thing on two legs.
* They rather thankfully edit out most of the bits where that "Professor Mad" attempted to be funny. Sadly this also means that the backstage bit where you see them getting changed has been cut off too.

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One question of course remains; what are they going to call the DVD of the actual Greatest Hits tour?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Single Releases 27/11/06

Well thank you to the one person who asked me where this week's single reviews have got to. At least someone reads this page :D

My internet is being dodgy and I'm enjoying a week off work. So here is a VERY QUICK rundown on what you should/should not have bought this week.


Knights Of Cydonia - Muse
Bones - The Killers


Lonely Girl - Sandi Thom
101 - Albert Hammond Jnr
We Used To Vacation - Cold War Kids


Can't Catch Tomorrow - Lostphrophets
Girl In The War - Josh Ritter


We're All In This Together - High School Musical
So Excited - Janet Jackson.

And yes, I'm aware the Zutons and the Fratellis have singles out this week as well, but if I comment on them, some people will get very upset.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins - Fernando

Sadly not the Abba song. But hey, could any trio surpass the Gee, PJ and Parsons version?

It bears repeating that I love Jenny Lewis.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Dreams: the Ultimate Collection - The Corrs

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JUST what the world needed, another Corrs compilation...ok, so that was sarcasm, and yes this is the SECOND Corrs Greatest Hits set and no, it doesn't come close to even being the "ultimate" in Corrs material.

What I don't understand is that unless you happen to be a Corrs fan who doesn't happen to own ANY of their records you will have absolute no need for this at all. I mean a live version of Ruby Tuesday is hardly essential (even if it does drag in Ronnie Wood as a helper). And if you really wanted to hear them sing All I Have To Do Is Dream then you might need to get out more.

That said, we can only disucss the mertis of the compilation itself. And some of it is very good indeed. I started as a fan with 1995's Forgiven Not Forgotten but only the title track and some good old Irish nonesense in the form of Toss The Feathers make it onto this CD. Which is a shame as The Right Time was a wonderful slice of meoldic pop which may still rank as the best thing they've ever done.

1997's Talk On Corners is well represented, which is fair enough really as that is a superb album. However even by 1999's Unplugged album I was losing interest, although the version of Radio which is on this album is a good one and is miles better than the abomination that surfaced on 2000's In Blue. And to be honest that album's attempt to be American mainstream turned me off for good. The handful of tracks from both 2004's Borrowed Heaven and 2005's Home hardly change my mind.

And therein lies the problem. I suppose a fan who's stopped at In Blue might be tempted by this collection to check out what followed, but if they do they are sure to be disappointed. If your music collection has a Corrs-size hole in it which you desire to be filled , then, in my opinion, you would be better off with either their first greatest hits collection or getting Forgiven Not Forgotten and Talk On Corners. This is mere superfluous padding.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Magic Of Boney M

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Ok, they were a bit naff, and yes this is the umpteenth Boney M collection on the market and is only being released no doubt to cash in on the Daddy Cool musical but I don't care.

I love Rasputin and EVERYONE should download that song alone. Especially History students.

And somewhere, Des Alker is weeping.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Very Best Of Gloria Estefan

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There was a brief time around 1989 when Gloria Estefan was, to my eyes, the sexiest thing alive; a title that was subsequently nicked by Cathy Dennis (again for a brief period). There is no real point to telling you that, but I thought I might as well share that with you given that a) we have this newly released VERY Best Of to contend with and b) it might explain the warm feeling that you might gauge from this review.

Of course by the time the 10 year old Icon was falling in love with her, she'd got 10 years of recordings behind her. Still, the triple whammy of the albums Anything For You, Cuts Both Ways and Into The Light will always bring back memories of those lazy days when the grass was greener and the sky was bluer and all that.

Even now the best tracks from those three albums can cheer me up. Rhythm Is Gonna Get You and 1-2-3 are the most memorable from Anything For You, Cuts Both Ways gave us Get On Your Feet and Oye Mi Canto whilst Into The Light served up the delightful Coming Out Of The Dark (which might, might, be the only track off that album on this collection).

Throw in the likes of Dr Beat (and yes, the Mylo version is tagged onto this collection too), Bad Boy and Turn The Beat Around you have an enjoyable run-through of her greatest hits. It's not really an essential album, but for anyone who ever liked her its a nice trip down memory lane. And it does mean I can finally put the cassette versions of her albums into the loft! :D

Monday, November 20, 2006

Single Releases 20/11/06

Well it's the moment that any woman from, what, 20 to 40 has been waiting for, the new single from Take That. It's ok (even though I still think it borrows from Nerina Pallot's patience) but is hardly the kind of thing that makes you think "boy am I glad they've come back. Still its not at all bad. And sometimes that is enough.

I mean, it's a whole lot better than Lemar isn't it? Look fella, I know you've got quite a good voice but doing dull songs like Someone Should Tell You isn't getting us anywhere is it?

And I mean it's better than that new one by The Feeling as well. I kind of fall in and out of love with The Feeling. And I Love It When You Call is one of those when I feel like falling out of love with them.

And as for Pink...well Nobody Knows isn't very good either.

And then we get to Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Hey Oh (Snow) (or is it Snow (Hey Oh)?) is ok, but not really anything special. Credit them for something a little different, yes, but this is still a bit dull.

I plain don't like Jet.

And what a surprise. The bloke from Faithless is moaning about war or whatever.

The Lostprophets return with their latest single this week too. As ever, once you get to the third single things go downhill slightly and Can't Catch Tomorrow is no exception.

JoJo returns with Too Little Too Late, which may well be the case. I don't care what you say though, that Leave (Get Out) tune she did was fantastic.

I've seen the 1990's live, and they were good, but nove even that quite prepared me for You're Supposed To Be My Friend...which is pretty bloody good actually.

I know this had been a bit brief this week, but I just can't get excited at all.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Something Kinda Daisy

Even though I may not have been able to stay up late enough to catch Nerina Pallot on Children In Need, Terry Wogan at least had the sense to schedule Girls Aloud on early. Enjoy.

Naughty Nadine....

Saturday, November 18, 2006

You Know You Want To

What more could you possibly want from a CD?

But what a pity is had to be bloody Kate Thornton doing the voice-over huh?

Thanks to Snoop for this.

Friday, November 17, 2006

FAME! (Of Sorts)

Check this out. (Last pic on top row at time of going to press).

(you'll have to copy and paste it into your browser)

I guess the next stop is the News Of The World and a "Sandi Thom Spanking Expose"!

Stop The Clocks - Oasis

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Popular opinion goes as follows; when a "pop" band releases a greatest hits or best of compilation they're cashing in, when a more serious band releases such a CD they're treating us to a retrospective of their greatest work.

With that gripe out of the way, the main selling point of this compilation seems to be that the Gallagher's themselves chose the tracklisting (a concept which actually only came about becuase Sony were going to release the compilation against Noel's wishes anyway and he thought he might as well participate). Which given that the tracklisting weighs heavily in favour of Definately Maybe, What's The Story and The Masterplan makes for a poignant statement. It's as if they themselves realise that they will never recapture the spirit or quality of their heyday.

But the dross that, largely, followed Morning Glory (whilst Be Here Now and Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants were pretty awful, Heathen Chemistry and Don't Believe The Truth aren't all that bad at all in my opinion) should not be allowed to take away from what was so great in the beginning.

The tracks from the first two albums retain their spark to this day and anyone of a certain age will listen to them with delight; I mean who hasn't sung their lungs out to Wonderwall in a drunken haze, or chilled out to the wonderous (and somewhat overblown in reality) Champagne Supernova? My others favourites are the majestic Slide Away (it was a pleasure to be reminded of how good this is) and the Definately Maybe selections Supersonic and Live Forever.

Less memorable are the leaden Lyla and Songbird proves that letting Liam write some songs was probably not such a good idea.

I'm surprised that Whatever is missing (although I belive this is due to songwriting credit issues with Neil Innes) given that it was a single that was never on an album, and is perhaps one of my favourite Oasis tracks of all. However the very nature of this collection means that not everybody's favourite tracks can make the cut.

In the final reckoning, if faced with the choice between this 2 disc "best of" and the three afformentioned classic albums (Definately Maybe, Morning Glory and The Masterplan) I'd pick the three albums every time. Rumours (led by Noel himself) that a "singles" package will follow suit hardly make this compilation any more "must-have" either, especially as there is no brand new material to speak of. Still it proves that their early output still stands up today, and that not all of the post Morning Glory stuff was a bad as people made out. It does provide a slight tinge of sadness though as you think that the true glory days are long gone and are never to return.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Forever: The Singles - The Charlatans

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The Christmas silly season continues, but despite the Charlatans only releasing their last studio album in April of this year (the disappointing Simpatico), and having released Melting Pot back in 1998 (and bonus points if you know who bought me that CD ;-D), and the obvious smell of contractual obligation hanging about as a result, I happen to think that the world needs a Charlatans singles compilation if only in the hope that people might realise just how under-rated the group continue to be (although sadly, an entry position of number 38 last week seems to suggest my hope is in vain).

Of course it's nigh on impossible to condense a near 17 year career into the 80 minutes that can fit onto one CD, but whilst this may not give the whole story it offers up proof that when they were good, The Charlatans were very special indeed.

Another chronologically ordered singles compilation, this takes us from their debut single Indian Rope (surprisingly they don't start with The Only One I Know) to 2006 single Blackened Blue Eyes. If neither track is essential, a lot of what lies in between is.

The Only One I Know is the baggy Manchester sound at it's best whilst Weirdo brings a kind of gothic northern sould to the party. The soul of this particular party though has to be the cuts from the Charlatan's best album Telling Stories. Four songs are taken from it (One To Another, North Country Boy, How High and Tellin' Stories) and even they only hint at the majesty of the album as a whole.

Even though it didn't seem to appeal to fans of that album, I always found Wonderland a great album too. It only produced two top 40 singles and both make it onto this collection, the sublime Love Is The Key and A Man Needs To Be Told.

Sadly from there, the collection does noticeably dip in quality. The last two studio albums (2004's Up At The Lake and the afformentioned Simpicato) were disappointing and even cherry-picking the "best" from those two doesn't leave much excitement. The new track is also a lesson in pointlessness. You're So Pretty We're So Pretty was a good song to start with, and was scheduled to be a single once upon a time, but the disco tinged remix does nothing for the song, or for the the collection as a whole.

Whilst this is undoubtedly a compilation that tails off to the end, it serves as a great reminder of how good the Charlatans were at their peak. Who knows, it may even serve as a reminder to the group themselves after the last two disappointments.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Ben Kweller LIVE

Well at least the Poolstock route made Gee late in picking me up, even if the return route was as ever fairly straightforward when I wasn't driving.

A nice game of "work out the England Under 21's team" was accompanied by a few drinks and then, donner kebab later, we headed to the venue, where we'd just missed the support act. Ah well.

Anyways, it was good that Carlos Puyol could take time out from stifling Spanish forwards to kick off his UK tour in the less than palatial surroundings of Manchester Academy 2. I know I bang on about how crap this venue is, but I don't like it.

BEN KWELLER..................CARLOS PUYOL...
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Anyways, on with the show. And a very good show it was too. He rattled through a nice mix of old and new songs which kept the crowd entertained throughout. Kweller was like a whirling dervish on the stage, switching between guitars, and getting down and dirty on the electric piano.

The highlights for me were Penny On The Train Track, This Is War and The Rules, with a wonderful solo version of Thirteen tossed in for good measure. Kweller certainly was on top form and seemed to be having a great time and it was a great time that was shared by all.

My only complaint would be that his band, and thus some of the tunes, were a little too workmanlike. This isn't to say that they weren't good, just that on occasion the vibrancy and edginess of some of his songs from the record was lost. At times it could almost have been any of the recent singer-songwriters up there such was the slight middle of the road twinge given off.

Still, this was only a minor complaint and certainly didn't spoil the evening in any way. If you get the chance to check out Kweller on his current UK tour, you are in for a treat indeed.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Very Best Of Volume 1 - Depeche Mode

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I know that the Christmas season is upon us, and I know there are always a lot of pointless and un-needed compliations foisted upon us. But this may be the most pointless of the lot.

You may already have the Catching Up With Depeche Mode album...or indeed it's repackaged The Singles 81>85 version. You may have the Singles 86>98 collection...or indeed the Singles 81>98 collection that combined the two. Maybe you have the singles box sets on your shelf...indeed you may have the American only compilation People Are People if you are a really hard-core Depeche Mode fan.

The point is of course that unless you have never heard of Depeche Mode before, or somehow only got around to buying their last two albums, there is nothing much on here that will suprise you (even the bonus DVD special edition contains video's you're able to get elsewhere) or really make you feel the need to buy it.

But luckily, and despite all the above, there is no doubting that what you do get is very, very good indeed and the collection proves that Depeche Mode have been, for the most part, a very consistent group indeed.

Early tracks such as See You and Everything Counts sit comfortably not only along side "mid-era" Mode tracks such as Enjoy The Silence and Personal Jesus but also along side 21st Century Mode efforts such as Precious and new track Martyr.

It's unlikely that any Depeche Mode fan would pick the same 18 tracks that you find on this collection, but that's merely an indication of just how good Depeche Mode have been over the years.

If you've only a curiousity about Depeche Mode and haven't got any of their records, then this obviously is a very good start. But be warned; if you like what you hear you'll have an awful lot of catching up to do afterwards.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Single Releases 13/11/06

Robbie Williams is back this week with Lovelight. It's his best single since Rock DJ. Yes, it's THAT good. And, well, yes...ok...some of his recent singles have been a bit crap as well. I still think it sounds like a George Michael tune though.

Justin Timberlake also releases the second single off his new album this week. But sadly My Love is every bit as dull and pointless as SexyBack was brilliant.

AND YET ANOTHER big superstar releases the second single of her new album this week; Christina Aguillera tells us she's Hurt, but to be honest love we could kind of tell that by the amount of vocal gymnastics you unneccesairily "treat" us to in this one.

A bit of proper glam is injected into proceedings by Betty Curse and The Girl With Yellow Hair. It's another fantastic one, no question, but me telling people to buy it doesn't seem to have had much effect on her chart placings, so maybe a bit of reverse psychology is required. Don't buy this......

Mambo by Helena Paparizou is one of those tracks that The Hits and The Box insist are smash hits as they implore us to spend £1.50 on a text message to request it. I just repeat my oft-used point; people who criticise the likes of Girls Aloud should be forced to listen to proper crap pop like this just to make them see the error of their ways.

I hate Snow Patrol. You should know that by now. But for once I thank them. I thank them for singing a song with Martha Wainwright and shooting a video where she looks very foxy. But Set The Fire To The Third Bar is still terrible.

A bunch of "credible" bands who don't sell many records yet also take the opportunity to remind us of their existance this week. First Love by the Macabees, Nag Nag Nag Nag by Art Brut and Man I Hate Your Band by Little Man Tate are all quite good. Ninteen by Forward Russia and Fashion Parade by Misty’s Big Adventure are less so. The Kerfuffle EP by Ladyfuzz though is rather brilliant indeed.

SHOCK HORROR!!!! Eminem hasn't really retired. But why Marshall did your big comeback have to be with Akon. Mind you, i'll give credit where credit is due. Smack That is at least 134 times better than anything Akon has ever done before.

Most pointless release of the week is the Stop The Clocks EP by Oasis...featuring 4 songs you already have. Still, the video for The Masterplan is one of the best of the year isn't it?

Orson seem to have hit the nail on the head with the title of their new one..."Already Over". I hope you're right boys!

Supposedly Emma Bunton's cover of Downtown is out this week. It is absolutely bloody dreadful.

And finally someone tells me Sybil (as in "When I'm, when I'm good and ready") releases a new song this week! But I can't find anywhere where I can listen to it...

High Times: Singles 1992-2006 - Jamiroquai

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First things first; it is an absolute pleasure to see a chronological hits compliation. This is how they should be done. Ok it does miss of some of the hits (including two of my favourites in Half The Man and King For A Day AND a top 10 hit Stillness In Time) but then good old Jay Kay has had 23 top 40 hits in the UK alone so you can let him off.

And it is a "him". They might be a band in name, but it's always been Jay Kay and a revolving door of bandmates. And that is perhaps symptomatic of the problems with this collection. Everything since the superb Emergency On Planet Earth album has been, well, much of a muchness as if Kay has but the two ideas; fast songs that sound a little like Stevie Wonder...and slow songs that sound a little like Stevie Wonder.

What's here from the debut is still classic today, even if all lyrically concern the same eco-warrior themes. It all went "wrong" though from the Return Of The Space Cowboy album, if an artist with 6 top 3 studio albums can be said to have gone wrong. Sure he could usually be relied on to come up with at least one great single per album (at least in the early days with tracks such as Virtual Insanity and Canned Heat) but everything sounded, well, the same.

Indeed by 2001's A Funk Odyssey the Jamiroquai vessel was definately on auto-pilot and not even a gap of 3 years to 2005's Dynamite could revitalise the music. Still, on the first two thirds of this collection at least, there is much to enjoy in a disco-style fashion. I mean seriously, if you can't have a boogie to the best of the tunes you've probably never been on a dance-floor in your life.

As for the new trakcs, Runaway sounds exactly as you would expect a Jamiroquai song to sound like but at least it's better than Radio, which might well be the worst song on the collection and reeks of fullfilling contractual obligations. Who knows, with this contract finishing best of in the bag, and talks of taking a year off, maybe Jay Kay will soon be in a position to really kick of his shoes when the time comes around for his next new album.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Black Cadillac - Rosanne Cash

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Surely it would stand to reason that an album whose lyrics chiefly concern the death of not only Rosanne Cash's parents (father Johnny Cash, mother Vivian Liberto) but her step-mother too (June Carter Cash) should be a miserable experience for the listener. Thankfully, Black Cadillac is anything but miserable or depressing but is ultimately uplifting and beautiful.

What will surprise many is the sheer breadth of styles Rosanne melts into the album; Burn Down This Town rocks out, whilst Radio Operator gives us a slice of rockabilly; World Unknown is a piano-driven epic whilst the horns in the rhythmic title track and the jazzy World Without Sound are no doubt a tip of the hat to the horns in Ring Of Fire.

In many ways this album makes a fitting companion to Johnny Cash's Personal File cd released earlier in the year being as it is a very personal collection of songs that obviously mean the world to the performer. There is no over-sentimental navel-gazing on display here; I Was Watching You's autobiographical leanings, where Cash relives the death of her father on what she calls the "longest day" of her life, could be cloying in less accomplished hands, but instead Cash transposes the mornful with the redemptive.

And in a sense that is what this triumph of an album is all about. Grief can never totally disappear, but then those loved ones that pass on never truly leave our side either. But this is much more than a tribute to a fallen icon, this is an album which will touch anyone who listens to it. And if you can keep your eyes dry during the closing track The Good Intent, especially when Johnny Cash tells his little baby girl "bye, bye, bye" then you might want to check your pulse.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Overloaded (The Singles Collection) Sugababes

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I could go on about how it's pathetic that they are down to one original member now, I could go on about how pathetic it is to wipe out all traces of Siobhan on this collection and I could moan about how pathetic it is that not ALL the singles are on this album (seriously would it have hurt to plonk New Year on at the very least - and really they could have stuck them all on, especially when one of the ones they've missed off - Follow Me Home - is one of the few singles Amelle was actually on) but really, that would be missing the point. I'm not here to judge what's missing after all but what's actually here. And what's here is, for the most part, very good indeed.

They have, to my mind at least, three classic pop singles. Overload was their debut single and would still cause a stir today if any new band released it; Hole In The Head was one of those "holy shit" moments coming after what I thought was a reasonably dull set of singles from their second album Angels With Dirty Faces; and Push The Button was one of those tunes that virutally EVERYONE liked. Yes, even those amongst you who laughed when I said before you'd even heard it that it was a classic.

Hold on though, I hear you say, but what about Freak Like Me and Round Round, to name but two? Well Freak is one of those songs that I just don't like (and the idea of mixing the two songs in it wasn't even their idea) and Round Round would fit comfortably in the "good but not neccessarily great" catergory along with the likes of Run For Cover, Stronger and Red Dress. I'm not saying those are bad songs, far from it, but they are a notch below the three classics I mentioned above.

The new tracks are probably in this group as well, even though both are written by the guys from Orson. Current single Easy is a bit dull, but kicks into life around the two minute mark which just about makes up for the first part. Better is the next single, Good To Be Gone, which had a kind of Depeche Mode feel to it in some respects. Whether or not it signifies the girls new direction as some have claimed is open to question (surely they'll have moved on to more new writers for the next album) but it's catchy.

As for the rest, well you know me and my pop ballads. Shape is as dull as you'd expect a Sting cover to be and Caught In A Moment and Too Lost In You are tailor-made Middle Of The Road FM movie tunes with only interest in the bottom line of how much money you can make by selling them off for use on Soundtracks.

Of course I can tell you will be itching for the obvious comparison with the recently reviewed Girls Aloud greatest hits compilation, and I'm not one to disappoint, even if you might be surprised by what I say.

Obviously I think that the GA collection has more classic moments. Only Hole In The Head and Overload come close to matching the ilk of Love Machine, Biology, Wake Me Up, No Good Advice, The Show and Something Kinda Ooh. But by the same token, the Sugababes collection doesn't have the multitude of poor cover versions that the GA effort has (I'll Stand By You, Jump, I Think We're Alone Now). Of the new tracks on display, well the afforementioned murdering of the Tiffany "classic" may be Girls Aloud's nadir, but neither of the two Sugababes new tracks come close to matching the brilliance of Money.

So really whilst I obviously would say that the Girls Aloud collection has the better individual songs, there is probably less "duff" on the Sugababes collection. But in any case, and self respecting pop-fan simply has to have both CD's in their collection anyway! (Even if either of the two covers reproduced here would have been better ;-D).

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Friday, November 10, 2006


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I have decided, contrary to the tracks I mentioned in the actual review that "Swallow Tattoo" by The Long Blondes is their best track and is one of the best tracks I've heard all year. Basically I love it. That is all.

Oh, and I'm definately in love with Kate Jackson.

Half the Perfect World - Madeleine Peyroux

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Against all the odds I found myself quite enamoured with Peyroux's previous album Careless Love. Even so I found the over-abundance of slower melancholic songs on that collection a bit tiring.

So you can imagine what I would have liked from this album...and you can probably guess what I actually ended up getting.

First things first though. Madeleine's voice is perhaps better than ever, and as ever should please fans of Billie Holliday. And when the songs are upbeat the combination is a winning one.

The cover version of Leonard Cohen's Blue Alert is a flirty treat,the opener (co-written by Peyroux) I'm All Right even see's Peyroux laughing and perhaps the highlight of the CD is Smile (written by Charlie Chaplin nonetheless) which despite it's melancholic lyrics ends the album in a wondrfully upbeat mood.

However, less successful are the dull cover of Everybody's Talking and the version of Tom Waits' Looking For The Heart Of Saturday Night doesn't do enough to match up to the original.

If you're a fan of Peyroux's style of music, no doubt you will find much to enjoy here. Personally I'm disappointed that this isn't all that different from Careless Love and happens to most resemble the bits of that album that I wasn't fond of. Still, Billie Holliday aficionado's will find much to enjoy and no doubt the album will be the soundtrack to many a Christmas dinner party this festive season.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

2006 Concert List

Well it looks as if, thanks to Nerina Pallot's postponement there is only one concert left in 2006, so what better time than to take a look back at what was the year in concerts 2006. But who knows maybe something will spring up for December yet.

11th Feburary - Jenny Lewis - Manchester Academy 3
27th February - Editors - Manchester Academy
1st March - Fun Lovin' Criminals - Liverpool Academy
2nd March - Gemma Hayes - Liverpool Academy 3
9th March - The Like - Manchester Academy 3
18th March - Sugababes - Liverpool Philarmonic Hall
30th March - Depeche Mode - MEN Arena, Manchester
20th April - Giant Drag - Night & Day Cafe, Manchester
23rd April - Jenny Lewis - The Lowry, Salford
25th April - Flaming Lips - Apollo, Manchester

28th April - Buddy (the musical)- The Lowry, Salford
21st May - Dinosaur Jr & The Like - Manchester Academy
22nd May - Divine Comedy - Manchester MDH
27th May - Girls Aloud - MEN Arena, Manchester
28th May - Phoenix & The Like - Manchester Academy 3
30th May - Nerina Pallot - The Lowry, Salford
31st May - Martha Wainwright - The Lowry, Salford
2nd July - Pet Shop Boys - Summer Pops, Liverpool
10th July - The Pipettes - Late Room @ Life Cafe, Manchester
3rd August - The Hedrons - Barfly, Liverpool
30th August - Metric - Late Room & Life Cafe, Manchester
9th September - The Subways - Manchester Academy
25th September - The Pipettes - Manchester Academy 3
14th October - The Automatic - Manchester Academy
16th October - The Hedrons - Barfly, Liverpool
21st October - Lily Allen - Manchester Academy
26th October - Sandi Thom - Manchester Academy 3
4th November - Divine Comedy - Carling Academy, Liverpool
6th November - The Flaming Lips - Manchester Apollo

8th November - The Hedrons - Night & Day, Manchester
14th November - Ben Kweller - Manchester Academy 2

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Hedrons LIVE

As I sit here writing this I am suffering the effects of a rather bloody altercation with a broken Cadbury's Roses glass jar but I'm nothing if not resiliant and so we must press on with the show.

A day off meant an earlier than usual departure and an arrival in Manchester in plenty of time for a rather wonderful Chinese "all you can eat" buffet,with the added classy touch of the food being served to you. None of this getting up and serving yourself nonsense. Lovely.

Anyway, a few pints in the Wetherspoon's followed (with the sad sight of a realationship breaking up in front of our very eyes) before we made our way to the venue. Not having tickets we went a bit earlier than we would have done otherwise only to be met with the Night and Day having about 50 people in. Roughly 30 of whom,it turned out, were friends and family of the support acts.

Support Act 1 was Strategic Intent, who we missed most of so I couldn't really offer up much of an opinion. Support Act 2 was Three Mile High, who shrugged off me criticising them in front of their lady friends to put on a show that was nothing if not ambitious. Sadly my lasting impression was that it was like watching a Depeche Mode show where Martin Gore sung all the songs...and that's not meant as a compliament.

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So it was finally onto The Hedrons. Before their show Chi once again walked amongst the crowd and sent Gee into mute-mode whilst he was also mortified when Tippi didn't recognise him, although he later claimed she did.

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Anyway, I know you might be sick of me saying this by now, but this proved once again that The Hedrons are a force to be reckoned with. Loud they might be, but they also have the tunes to back up the power. Singles Be My Friend and I Need You are by no means their best either; B-Side Bad Charm was a delight live and future single Heatseeker is a top-quality slice of rock too. The absolute highlight may well have been I Couldn't Leave Her Alone but all bodes well for the album One More Won't Kill Me,due in early 2007.

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Tippi did her usual foray into the crowd (no mean feat in itself given the stage set up at Night & Day) and even battled past her microphone cables coming apart. Sure there may have not been a lot of people there but on a night like this it's hardly the point. The Hedrons, quite simply, have "it" and if there's any justice in the world (thanks once again Lemarr) then soon the rest of the world will find that out too.

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After the show we hung about a bit and got to meet the girls again. I cornered Soup first and she was as delightful as ever, (even if she wouldn't sign my newly procured Hedrons poster without me buying something ;-D) and in a terrible affront to Gee recognised me as having been to see them before. We even had a delightful discussion about Wigan Pier. Tippi then signed my poster before trusting me with her marker pen to go and find Chi and Rosie to get them to sign it as well. Gee actually had a conversation with Chi, much to my astonishment; sems like poor Chi was having trouble with blisters and I left Gee to it ;-D. Not least because I had to return the marker pen to it's rightful owner! Gee then had some pictures taken and then that was it.

So yeah. They're lovely, but they're also bloody good too. This was the third time I've seen them live and they just get better and better. Roll on 2007!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Someone To Drive You Home - The Long Blondes

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Rarely is the occasion when upon purchasing a CD I listen to it from start to finish first time around without skipping a single moment. Even rarer is the occasion when I listen to it a second time straight through right afterwards. However, it's only once in a blue moon that I can listen to an album straight through for a third time in a row.

This my friends, was one of those occasions.

And don't be fooled into thinking this was purely because of the traffic jam I found myself in last night as I could quite easily have changed the CD or at least skipped certain tracks. But I didn't. And I didn't because this is quite simply a brilliant album.

Those "in the know" spotted the Long Blondes a couple of years ago. I didn't. But there is something endearing about purchasing a debut album on the day of it's release with four singles already on it, although I am informed that some of them have been suitably souped up for this release.

The first thing obvious that the Long Blondes have going for them is lead singer Kate Jackson. Smart, sexy and cool, and although she doesn't actually write most of the lyrics (that's the job of guitarist Dorian) she carries them with such conviction, and adds that all important X-Factor to the equation.

But of course that would mean nothing without the tunes and they match the lyrics every step of the way. Within two or three listens it feels like you're listening to a classic album that you've known for years.

It's difficult to single out any particular tracks for specific praise as this is simply a delight from start to finsh but if pushed I would say my favourites were Once And Never Again (with the delightful starting couplet of "nineteen, you're only nineteen for god's sake, you don't need a boyfriend), Seperated By Motorways, You Could Have Both and Weekend Without Makeup.

If you ever thought what Pulp-esque lyrics would sound like if matched with Blondie-style tunes, then this is the record for you. And as this album shows, the end result is something very special indeed. In a year when the Arctic Monkeys didn't quite live up to the hype another group from Sheffield have given us an album which has it all.

And apologies to the Pipettes, but The Long Blondes are now my new favourite band!!!

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Flaming Lips LIVE

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45 minutes. 45 BLOODY MINUTES. That's what it took me to drive the first two and a half miles of so of my journey to this concert. On a clear road I could get there and back in less than an hour. So if anyone from the traffic department of Wigan Council happens to read this...SORT F*CKING POOLSTOCK LANE OUT YOU SET OF WASTERS!!!!


Anyway, this time the Chippy was open. But young Alan learned a valuable lesson. If you want chips and two large sausage then ask for chips and two large sausage...not two large sausage and chips because then you end up getting two portions of one large sausage and chips. It's elementary stuff, but they're just not teaching the kids valuable stuff like this anymore.

Then it was a couple of pints off the German barmaid at that nice little pub around the corner from the Apollo and then into the venue. Nice balcony seats on Row B and it was time for another extravaganza from Wayne and the boys.

And...well it was as entertaining as ever. The only problem was that visually it was the same show I'd already seen earlier in the year, with pretty much the same set of songs (albeit in what I assume was a different order).

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but my "problems" with the show are pretty much the same ones I had back in April. Some of their songs (Race For The Prize, Yoshimi, She Don't Use Jelly etc.) are brilliant, but there does seem to be an awful lot of padding in a 90 minute (plus encore) show. Be it Mr Coyne's long-winded speech's about love, friendship and the evils of George W Bush or be it re-singing parts of songs over and over again you couldn't help get the feeling that the Flaming Lips are more about style than substance.

That's not to say that it wasn't an entertaining night, but it didn't differ substantially enough from what I'd seen before (although the encore of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody was a most welcome touch)to make it special. So whilst I would still heartily reccommend the Flaming Lips as a "must-see" live act, I don't think they are neccessarily a band you need to see over and over again.

Single Releases 06/11/06

How appropriate that the day after Girls Aloud hit number one in the album charts, their close rivals the Sugababes and All Saints release singles...

The 'Babes hit us with Easy, which if I'm being honest is a bit dull. It sort of kicks into life about two minutes in mind you, but that's not quite enough to save it. Especially as they dance in toilets in the video. TOILETS! And that's before we get to the lyrics, which are so sexed up that you can guarantee there would be a three page story in the Daily Mail if GA were to release something like it. Anyway, the girls can do better.

All Saints on the other hand probably can't do better than the pretty poor Rocksteady. You see if they'd stayed split up they might have forever been remembered as the girl band it was "cool" and "ok" to like. Sadly by coming back, and with such a poor song to boot, they've exposed the myth that surrounded them. Although thinking about it, their solo "careers" pretty much did that job too didn't it? Ah well, cringe-worthy stints on reality shows await...oh wait...some of them have already done that as well haven't they?

Both of those songs however beat the living hell out of the latest Westlife effort. But then what else would you expect. The housewives will love it.

Madonna on the other hand unleashes Jump, an upbeat little ditty about adopting a child from a third world country. No wait, it's just a straightforward pop song. Much like the rest of the "Confessions" album though, it suffers in isolation from the album as a whole, but gains some ground for the blatant "West End Girls" opening.

This week also sees Bono once again avoiding taxes whilst simultaneously telling the rest of us that we don't do enough to stave off world poverty. It's ok though Bono because I'm following your advice and next week I'm nipping into the studio in between facial wax treatments to murder an old song in the name of charity. Bono has roped in Green Day to join his U2 buddies for The Saints Are Coming, which should help their profile with the young kids no end. Listen peeps, do me a favour. I'm all for helping the victims of Hurricane Katrina, so instead of pandering to Bono's ego and buying this as a means of raising some money donate the equivalent to Red Cross or something of that nature.

And having annoyed the majority of U2 fans with that, I shall now endeavour to rub salt into the wound by saying that Paris Hilton's new single, Nothing In The World is quite good. Sure, she has little talent, but that's secondary. It's a good tune and one that would send the whole world wild if sung by Kylie.

Avoid at all costs though the Poundstretcher Paris, Michelle Marsh, and her dreadful song I Don't Do. I Don't Do A Musical Career For Much Longer more like it.

And I'll tell you how bad that Michelle Marsh single makes Infernal's Self Control seem awesome. Although lets face it, Laura Branigan's original is a great song. I've got the 7" vinyl of that somewhere.

Finally we come to two band who's critical acclaim leaves me somewhat nonplussed, Kasabian and Gnarls Barkley.

Who Cares/Gone Daddy Gone is a double effort from the Gnarls, and as you might expect neither song comes close to matching Crazy.

Mind you, at least GB did one good song; Kasabian, to me, just sound like the biggest load of old nonsense. Shoot The Runner is no exception, but there will be thousands out there who love it.

Lucie Silvas makes her long awaited return this week as well, with Last Year. She might well hark back to last year because that was as good as it gets for Silvas I fear. It's a perfectly pleasant tune, but can you really see it being a smash hit? Not really.

We end this week with perhaps the scariest amalgamation we've ever seen...George Michael and Mutya Buena with This Is Not Real Love. And thank the christ it's not. I mean can you imagine what sort of offspring they would produce if they did the nasty?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Divine Comedy LIVE

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Well Saturday morning started off in grand fashion with Great Britain stuffing the Aussies, and so it was with a spring in my step that we made our way to Liverpool for the double bill of Divine Comedy and Duke Special at the Carling Acadmey.

Duke Special is (are?) better live than they are on record for my money, and once again they proved it with a great opening show. And don't you just love The Temperance Society Chip Bailey? True they lost the suprise element that had made their Gemma Hayes support slot such a wonderful moment but they are still a class act live. And Salvation Tambourine is a bloody brilliant song.

Then onto the main course and as ever it was a delightful main course. The Divine Comedy may not be selling as many records these days (sad, but true) but they're still a great live act. This show was a lot less "Victory For The Comic Muse" driven than the one earlier in the year and, for the most part, was the better for it. It is true though that some of the more obscure tracks left certain parts of the audience chatting into their pints.

Still, for those down with the Divine, there was no complaints. Most of the classics were there, with Alfie, Something For The Weekend and National Express gaining the most raptuous applause. There was also a class version of Raspberry Beret and Neil even opened the floor to requests (even if he did appear to be hearing what he wanted to when people shouted out suggestions ;-D) which gave us Lucy and Frog Princess. Neil forgot the words to Frog Princess at one point, but was quickly helped out by a large section of the crowd.

The abiding memory of the evening was of a band having fun, even when Neil was complaining, tonguie in cheek, that, London and Newcastle aside, the crowds had been "shit" during the tour. If they really have been then I don't know why because Neil and the crew are on top form...and long may it continue.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Rudebox - Robbie Williams

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I doubt that even Robbie himself could have forseen when he started off in Take That that he'd be here in 2006 releasing his 9th solo album. Knowing Robbie's fraglile ego though, if he'd pondered that back in the day he probably would have expected the downright painful reviews that most critics have given Rudebox...but fear not Robbie, I'm not about to join the massed throngs lined up to give this album a good kicking.

For sure, there are some of the worst, or most embarassing, moments in Robbie's career but they sit alongside some of his most edgy and exciting work;

So whilst The 80's may be a wretched attempt at autobiography, The 90's is actually a genuinely affecting piece of work, and tells his story better than any number of Heat expose's ever could.

So whilst you could ponder the point of covering a song called "We're The Pet Shop Boys" and getting it produced by the boys themselves all day, you can also marvel at the icy detachment that Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe bring to the superlative She's Madonna.

And whilst you may wonder why Williams had to cover the Human League's Louise (although he has long stated that it's one of his favourite ever tracks), the cover of Lewis Taylor's Lovelight works on every level and has to be his best single in a good few years.

Throw in what I thought was a great single (Rudebox) and some catchy and zeitgiest catching cameo's from Lily Allen (she even brings a certain charm to the ludicrous cover of King Of The Bongo) and you have a pretty great album indeed. Sadly, as suugested before the other half of the songs would make a pretty lame album.

It also amazes me the stick he gets for not sticking to his "hits" formula, but then I get that's the peril of being a "popstar" and whilst it may well be true that the housewives who adore him for Angels may not neccesarily like what they hear here you can sense that Williams is making the album that he want's to make and probably doesn't really care if it's not the huge success his record company is after.

So leave your preconceptions at the door, have a blank CD-R ready to burn the best tracks and you'll find mch to enjoy here. Half borderline genuis, half self-indulgent nonsense it may be, but it's also a telling reminder that there is only one Robbie Williams. And long may it stay that way.