Whilst I'm waiting for my shuffleathon CD to work its way through the postal system, I've somehow managed to find myself in the position of carrying out a virtual shuffleathon CD exchange with TheCatGirlSpeaks. Cat had caught wind of the shuffleathon over at bedshaped's blog and was so taken with the idea that she spent a bit of time thinking up what would have gone on her CD. We got talking:
ST: if you can burn it, I bet I can find you a recipient....... even if it has to be me!
Cat: my problem is both lack of know-how and lack of equipment. My employers obviously don't want me spending my working days making CDs as they have selfishly not provided me with a CD burner. I've no PC at home, so am a bit stuck!
ST: In the spirit of virtual shuffleathons, I'll send you a tracklisting to the CD I'd send you, if you like. Although, of course, I actually will be able to send it to you.
Cat: why don't you review my "virtual CD" (I'd imagine you know the tracks on it, just remember that some of them were chosen for sentimental reasons as opposed to artistic merit! - doing this made me realise how much music is linked to events and people in my head) and I'll review your "virtual CD"?
ST: OK - you're on.
So here we are then.
Let's start with my review of Cat's CD:
1) There is a Light That Never Goes Out - The Smiths
Ah, the shortcut to my heart. As probably everybody knows, I adore The Smiths, and this is probably my favourite of their songs. Yes, perhaps it is a bit obvious, but that doesn't take away an iota of its impact. Ah, the darkened underpass. There was a time when this song really spoke to me. It still does.
2) Everything Flows - Teenage Fanclub
Teenage Fanclub are one of those bands that I resisted for a long time. I think I took an irrational dislike to them around the time of "bandwagonesque" or "Thirteen" and I held onto the grudge until the moment I heard "Sparky's Dream". From that moment onwards, the guitarist's stupid haircut and the slightly fawning coverage in the NME stopped being a problem and I allowed myself to be seduced by their music.
This song is much earlier and perhaps a bit rougher around the edges than some of their more recent stuff, but it's a lovely record. God bless the Fannies!
3) Suffocation Blues - The Kevin McDermott Orchestra
I've never heard of this band before, but on first listen it seems like a pleasantly acoustic little number. It's a bit of an old lyrical conceit - the first verse is about a woman sitting alone in her room, and the second verse is about a young man sitting alone in his room. I'm just thinking that they might be getting it together in the third verse when the song ends. I quite like this actually.
It's a touch overbilled though: one bloke and his guitar doesn't sound much like an orchestra to me.
You snogged this guy after a gig? Did he have that crappy haircut then too?
4) Add It Up - The Violent Femmes
A band that I've heard of but not heard anything by. Wobbly and slightly whiny lyrics at the start.... and no doubt a big guitar soon. Oh yes... here we go. It's a bit shambolic and strangely reminscent of The Libertines, actually. The backing track sounds oddly like the Stray Cats too... sort of shuffling and acoustic. Big guitar solo and then the big finish. It sounds like it was recorded on the cheap but it also sounds quite dirty and urgent. I like it.
5) Set You Free - N-Trance
I know this one. Of course I know this one. It's a stone cold classic and definitively not my cup of tea at all. What would you call this? Euphoric House or somesuch? This is all very well, but I can't listen to this stuff for pleasure, and it conjures disturbing images of Monday night discos ("The Top Banana") when I was at University.
I've heard far worse than this, but no thanks.
6) My Lady Story - Antony and the Johnsons
One of the most incredible voices I have heard in a long, long time.
I first heard that voice when I saw Antony performing "Hope There's Someone" alone at a piano on "Later..." (mercifully without any 'helpful' boogie-woogie accompaniment from Jools). I was probably sat in front of my telly impatiently waiting for some no-mark indie band to come on, but I was utterly transfixed by this fat bloke in a dress and wearing a terrible wig.
Utterly unique and often deeply moving stuff.
7) Central Reservation - Beth Orton
I quite like Beth Orton and I have her first album, but I have never really understood why so much fuss seems to be made of her. She's okay, but is she really all that? Having said that, this is a really lovely record. I love the leisurely pace of it and her voice sounds great.
This has the slightly melancholy edge to it makes it perfect listening for a Sunday.
8) Groove is in the Heart - Dee Lite
A classic, for sure... but we're back at that Monday night disco again.
Actually, I think it must be impossible to hate this song - it's just so absurdly upbeat and catchy. I think I'll draw the line at downloading it though; it though, I know what this one sounds like already, thank you very much. That whistling bit is already lodged in my brain and I have absolutely no doubt that this bloody song will be appearing in Friday's earworm list, so thanks for that.
9) Ten Storey Love Song - The Stone Roses
I don't like "Second Coming" very much. I thought their debut album was stunning, but was deeply, deeply disappointed by the sub-Led Zeppelin nonsense they subsequently produced. A five year wait for this? At least this song didn't contain any of the silly and overlong guitar wig-outs that ruin the rest of the album.
Having said that, I saw them live in 1995 and they opened their set with "I Wanna Be Adored" - "She Bangs The Drums" - "Waterfall" - "Ten Storey Love Song". I still don't think I've ever seen a better half hour at any concert I have ever been to. They were magnificent, and this song blended right in.
I think that was John Squire's last gig, actually. Have I ever mentioned that I also saw Izzy Stradlin's last gig with Guns'N'Roses? No? Consider it done.
People tell me that the album isn't as bad as I remember it, but I'm now just listening to the four or five minutes of rubbish before "Breaking into Heaven" kicks in, and I still can't be bothered with it.
Oh, and Ian Brown couldn't carry a tune in a bucket in the studio, never mind live. Never, ever go and see him perform live. I've had that misfortune twice (as a solo artist) and I won't make the mistake a third time. Arrogant tosser.
10) Hairdresser on Fire - Morrissey
Ah. Marvellous song. It's not my favourite Morrissey song, but it's one that I don't listen to often enough. I must put "Bona Drag" on.
Is that it? I was expecting 12 songs really. Oh well.
I like. I'm going to playlist this one up in iTunes and give it a proper listen now.
Right. My turn. I'm going to deliberately avoid any of the songs that I put onto my shuffleathon CD...
1. "Farmer in the City" - Scott Walker
From "Tilt", one of his more recent and more difficult albums. After 11 years of listening to this, I still can't really fathom what it's about. Is it an auction of some sort? Eerie. Compelling. He's a genius, obviously.
2. "Talk (Thin White Duke remix)" - Coldplay
I don't normally do remixes, but this one I really do like. As the riff was lifted from Kraftwerk in the first place, this sort of takes it back to where it came from.
R. E. M. I. X.
3. "Ladykillers" - Lush
Ah. A real blast from the past and something of a guilty pleasure. I've got this on CD single, if you can remember such a thing.
4. "Apply Some Pressure" - Maximo Park
This is a gem. Urgent, frantic, geordie.
5. "An Innocent Man" - Billy Joel
6. "More Than A Feeling" - Boston
Absurd slice of MOR with a brilliant guitar solo. Another guilty pleasure, I'm afraid.
7. "PDA" - Interpol
I always say that Interpol are the band that personnifies my music taste: four skinny white blokes playing slightly doomy indie rock.
Smiling is overrated.
8. "This Mess We're In" - PJ Harvey (feat. Thom Yorke)
This is beautiful, haunting duet from an excellent album. I love the bit where Thom Yorke's pained, half-mumbled wail echoes the words that PJ is speaking.
9. "Sweet Jane" - The Velvet Underground
...worth it for Lou Reed's playful "....just watch me now!" at 2:06.
10. "Interlude" - Morrissey & Siouxie Sioux
Gorgeous. This was recorded as Morrissey was transforming into something of a crooner (and for my money he still sounds at his best today when he is backed by an orchestra and not by a slighly limited bunch of rockabillies). Siouxie sounds great too.
11. "Born of Frustration" - James
Very underrated this lot, in my opinion. Yes, obviously Tim Booth was (and no doubt is) a bit of a prat, but they wrote some fantastic songs.... This is surely one of the best whoops ever committed to record, isn't it?
12. "If You Could Read My Mind" - Johnny Cash
I was talking about this the other day. Beautiful. Heartbreaking. You can hear his voice cracking as he sings. This had to be the last song on the CD - you can't follow this.
[please note, although the temptation was almost overwhelming, I have resisted the urge to put any Keane songs onto this CD....]
This is exhausting. I'm **almost** all compilationed out.