It’s kind of weird at this time of year because I’m half on holiday following the Christmas period and as such have much more free time than usual – I have actually been reading books and even watching a little television! Paradoxically though, I am listening to less music than usual and have had the occasional headphone free day, which makes my ears itch uncontrollably. Nevertheless, I have been working a little with private classes and have been putting my bus time to valuable use; here are the aural delights that have been spinning on my wheels of steel.
Patti Smith – Horses
This is one of those albums that basically left me on the island, (to be honest I always found Patti a little scary, can’t think why), so I just never listened to it – it was just one of those records people talked about as being classic – so yeah, ok, whatever. Anyway, whilst reading the fabulous Viv Albertine book, ‘Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys.’, in which the ex The Slits guitarist gives her perspective on punk etc, she waxes lyrical about ‘Horses’ and gives me the push I needed to give it a go. Have to say that I’m pleased I did. A few weak tracks aside, like ‘Redondo Beach’, it pretty much lives up to the hype, considering the context in which it was made, ‘Gloria’ and the monumental ‘Land’ being particularly impressive. I now look forward to reading Patti’s own book ‘Just Kids’, reflecting on her relationship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe – a kindle snip at 99p!
In anticipation of the release of the new Megadeth album, I was the first to shoot my hand up when my editor at Already Heard offered up assignments on upcoming releases. I then had the (un) enviable task of wading my way through their entire back catalogue, so as to be able to produce a bio and comments on three albums; finding someone that cites them as an influence has proved far more difficult however! There were days when I listened exclusively to balls to the wall speed metal ballistics, and although some of the newer material was a little hard to digest, especially ‘Super Collider’, it was a pleasure to dissect earlier work like ‘Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying’ and ‘Rust in Peace’. I wandered down memory lane and was transported back to longer haired days when fast was synonymous with good and was pleased to find that, in thrash metal terms, these albums were labelled classics with good reason. The new album has also proved to be a surprisingly good listen, but nothing they could do today will ever reach the dizzying heights of ‘Holy Wars..The Punishment Due’. Classic.
Conrad Keely – Original Machines
My first review of the new year for AH, (link here:http://alreadyheard.com/post/137154188770/album-review-conrad-keely-original-machines#_=_) was such a pleasant surprise that I can’t stop playing the damn thing. IMHO this will go on to be one of the albums of 2016, I may well be totally wrong but I can always put this down to a series of stupendously good releases to come later in the year that I have no idea about right now. But if I am right, I will appear sage and all knowing with gifted insight into what makes a record good, besides one’s own opinion. Either way, check it out, Conrad is enormously talented with fingers in many musical pies and he has made a wonderfully imperfect record that may well encourage a little pause for thought.
David Bowie – Blackstar
What an achingly tragic week it has been with the loss of such an icon, quickly followed by the death of another much loved Brit, actor Alan Rickman, under frighteningly similar circumstances. The only good thing is that David was gracious enough to release the sublime ‘Blackstar’ as a parting gift to us mere mortals; donating another slice of his remarkable talent, which, along with his enviable back catalogue, we must content ourselves with to fill the Bowie shaped hole in the fabric of modern culture. Had it on repeat most of the week.