Friday, 24 February 2006

when the law break in, how you gonna go?

I'm doing earworms this week again, I'm afraid....

I've recently rediscovered the joy of making compilations for other people. Over the last couple of weeks, I have made CDs for Aravis, Spin, Alecya and for Alecya's Beloved. I used to do this quite a lot with cassettes, but that became an increasingly pointless exercise as tape players began to disappear and we all started to listen to CDs in the car and to iPods pretty much everywhere else.

Ironically, I suppose it's the advent of the iPod that has led to me picking this up again. I now have a reasonably sized chunk of my record collection ripped onto my laptop and conveniently catergorised and searchable in iTunes. This makes it an absolute cinch to shortlist tracks and to fiddle with the running order until you are ready to burn it all onto disc. No more half-recorded tracks at the end of a side now you know (although, naturally, my obsessive nature meant that I would rather have a minute of silence at the end of each side rather than a track brutally cut off in its prime. I also became pretty inventive with short instrumental tracks....)

It's the sequencing that's the real trick though, isn't it? You can't just chuck a load of tracks you like onto a disc. Oh no. You have to get the balance right. You need a big opening, of course, but you also need to get the mix just so. There is no scientific formula for this though. It's an art and needs to be approached as such. I try and do it by feel: listening to the ends and beginnings of tracks, looking down my shortlist of songs, and moving them about until it feels right. It's very satisfying when you get it right.

Oh God. I'm sounding all Nick Hornby again.

Of course, the joy in sending out a compilation to someone is in their reaction when they receive it.... and so far they seem to have gone down pretty well (although to be honest, they're all such sweethearts, they would probably never say otherwise).

I've a couple more to do before I'm done, actually.... I'm shortlisting possible tracks for Lord B and for Ka as we speak.

Anyway. Earworms.

10. 'The Leaders of the Free World' - Elbow

For me, this is one of the standout tracks from the album of the same name. It's a fantastic combination of the personal and the political. I saw them in concert the other day, and they're knockout. They aren't an immediate band, but if you give them the time, their songs really work their way under your skin.

"But the leaders of the free world
Are just little boys throwing stones
And it's easy to ignore
Till they're knocking on the door of your homes"

Beautiful, but not in an obvious way.

9. 'Tragedy' - The Bee Gees

Another one inspired by a recent gig.... although quite how Nine Black Alps led me to be earworming a 70s disco classic is something the band should be asking themselves as a matter of some urgency. Sadly it's the Bee Gees version of the song that is in my head, and not the definitive version by Steps....

8. 'Let Me Kiss You' - Morrissey

A classic cut from "You Ate The Curry", which I was listening to in the office this afternoon.

Morrissey's new album is out quite soon, and the early reviews are very good. I hope he'll forgive me but I won't be getting too excited until I hear the evidence with my own ears....this is partly because I own "Maladjusted" and partly because I am aware of how often journalists seem over-compensate for a mediocre review of a good album by piling up the superlatives for an inferior follow-up ("The Great Escape" and "Be Here Now" are just two that spring to mind, although I imagine the Kaiser Chiefs will get this too) . The single sounds a bit 'Morrissey by numbers' to me too (after a single listen, admittedly) .

Incidentally, Nancy Sinatra - Morrissey's LA neighbour - did a great cover of this song.

7. 'Neighbourhood 2 (Laika)' - Arcade Fire

Lots of people have been raving about this album, and it has taken me a while to warm to it.... but I'm warming to it. It still sounds like a slightly weird mix of New Order and Mercury Rev to me.... but it's starting to seep in. I heard this on the radio last night when I was having a shower. Good song.

6. 'Run' - Snow Patrol

It's a classic, of course. Brought back to mind by its inclusion on a couple of the compilations I put out last week. Probably my favourite song of 2004 by miles.

5. 'Pale Blue Eyes' - Velvet Underground

Lou Reed is a grumpy sod, but he has written some gorgeous songs. This is a peach.

4. 'Another Sunny Day' - Belle & Sebastian

A cut from their new album, "The Life Pursuit", and another indication that the big production of their last album is here to stay. Notable because Stuart Murdoch is possibly the feyest person in the whole world, but here he sings about playing football.

They've changed.

3. 'I just died in your arms tonight' - Cutting Crew

Thanks to Alecya for planting this one in my head. It's a classic of course, and every time I hear it, I get a very distinct memory of watching the video being played on some Saturday Morning kid's TV programme....

I should have walked away-a-yay-a-yay-ah!

2. 'Standing on my own again' - Graham Coxon

The lead off single from 'Love Travels at Illegal Speeds', which comes out in March, and another indication that Damon Albarn wasn't the only talented songwriter in Blur. I don't like his new specs though.

1. 'The Guns of Brixton' - The Clash

When they kick out your front door
How you gonna come?
With your hands on your head
Or on the trigger of your gun?

Accept no substitutes.

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Maybe I'll get off my lazy arse and find a Guest Editor for next week.

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any more takers for the fridge game? I'll do the answers and stuff in a couple of days....

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