Yaz / You And Me Both

You And Me Both

Yazoo (known as Yaz in North America for legal reasons involving Yazoo Records) were a British synthpop duo from Basildon, Essex, England, consisting of former Depeche Mode member Vince Clarke (keyboards) and Alison Moyet (vocals). Formed in late 1981 after Clarke responded to an advertisement Moyet placed in a UK music magazine, over the next 18 months the duo made two critically acclaimed albums, Upstairs at Eric’s and You and Me Both, blending Clarke’s synthesizer melodies with Moyet’s blues– and soul-influenced vocals. Yazoo enjoyed worldwide success, particularly in their home country where three of their four singles reached the top three of the UK Singles Chart and both their albums made the top two of the albums chart. In North America they are best known for the song “Situation“, originally only a B-side in the UK but which was a club and airplay hit in the US and Canada before being released as the band’s debut single in North America.

Despite their success, the duo split acrimoniously in the spring of 1983 due to a combination of Clarke’s reluctance to make more records under the Yazoo name, a clash of personalities, and a lack of communication between the pair. Clarke went on to form Erasure, another successful and longer-lasting synthpop duo, while Moyet embarked on a highly successful solo career. Although their musical career was short, Yazoo’s combination of electronic instrumentation and soulful female vocals has been cited as an influence on the house music scene that emerged in the mid-1980s, as well as bands such as LCD Soundsystem (who name-checked them on their debut single “Losing My Edge“), Hercules and Love Affair (whose leader Andy Butler has said that “Situation” was his biggest musical inspiration as a child), La Roux, Shiny Toy Guns and Blaqk Audio.[10]

In 2008, 25 years after splitting up, Clarke and Moyet reconciled and reformed Yazoo to play a successful tour of the UK, Europe and North America in support of the reissue of Yazoo’s two studio albums and a box set of their material. The pair briefly reunited again in May 2011 to play three Yazoo songs at a music festival organised by their record label.

The Analysis—-

Nobody’s Diary—-When the familiar strains of Clarke’s synth line opens this track it is as if you take a step back in time. This remastered version of the record seems to bring Moyet’s vocal more to the fore front of the music giving it a more full and warm feel. The synth line sounds dated but never seems to get old….Clarke often repeating certain musical lines in many future songs. Moyet….sounding remarkably like Andy Bell gives a bluesy-soul infused vocal full of emotion and pain…but bright at the same time.

Softly Over—-With a ghostly and sad synth line, Moyet delivers a slight echo filled vocal that brings sadness and loneliness to the track. This is mysterious and filled with an emotional feel….the double tracked vocal giving the song a very large feel despite the sparse synths from Clarke. This is a beautifully sad song….but sounds like it was recorded yesterday….a great remaster project.

Sweet Thing—-Very familiar Depeche Mode style synth lines open this hyper kinetic track…..dance floor ready and filled with underlying effects that dance from speaker to speaker. Moyet sounds driven to keep up with the pace of the song….the over dubbed vocals adding to the full feel of the song. The remarkable and memorable thing about this track is that classic Clarke sound.

Mr. Blue—-Returning to the trademark Moyet style, Clarke delivers a synth ballad that seems to be built around the expressive soulful voice of Moyet. I think Allison is to ignored in American Music Culture…..Moyet was Adele before Adele knew who she was. This is a remarkably beautiful song…sparse yet layered with sounds. effects and blips that create a landscape all of its own.

Good Times—-Returning to a synth line that is familiar in sound, the remarkable thing about this sing is that Clarke was able to almost build a blues style synth line throughout the song. Moyet sounds so comfortable with this style of singing…like its natural and built in. This is a fun song….with a bevy of backdrop voices adding to the jubilant feel of the song.

Walk Away From Love—-By far, my favorite track from this release and the band as well. This has that familiar Clarke synth line that was repeated in the Erasure song Stop! Allison sounds brilliant…with her double tracked vocal and soulful delivery sliding smooth over the shine of the synth line…this was 80’s brilliance at its best. I freaking love this song.

Ode To Boy—-Sparse yet full of a dense dark sound, this is how I preferred this band from the very first time I heard them. Moyet delivers a much more emotional sound when the music is settled and calm. This song is dark….naked and allows her vocal to shine like never before. I love how everything seems to over lap itself yet still remains naked….Clarke settled and calm with special effects dancing from speaker to speaker…this is wonderful.

Unmarked—-With a somehow stationary  yet escalating synth line, Moyet has a vocal that seems a little pushed to the back of the mix…but remains powerful and emotional. I love the male back drop vocal and the urgency that Allison manages to propel over the synth line. The bass heavy line that drives the synth has that constant high pitch line that keeps things from being to dark…this is fantastic….I love this band. Wish I could have seen them live.

Anyone—-Almost orchestrated synth lines make up the back bone of this song…..lending to the occasional wave crashes and special effects. Moyet delivers a sad and mournful vocal that leaves you with a slight ache in your heart. It is amazing Clarke was able to rein in his fingers enough to allow such a dark and mournful track….but that is talent. This is remarkable. Moyet delivers some lines that are so vocally strong…it almost overwhelms the music itself….wow!!!

Happy People—-A simple piano synth line creates the backbone for this song and it sounds amazingly like Erasure!!! This was the beginning of the end for this band…but they managed to deliver a song like this? This is so English in sound….and Moyet sounds almost removed from the different voices on the track…fun but not wonderfully brilliant.

And On—-Brilliant stacks of synth lines on top of each other begin this swan song for the band. Moyet delivers a vocal so emotive and sad it is hard to listen to….this is stark…beautiful and so very sad…..makes me tear up…..I cant get enough of this….just incredible…..this has everything for me. The emotion…the bright piano line…the low hum of sadness…..and Moyet.

****1/2 out of 5

 

 

The 1975 / I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It

I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it [Explicit]

The 1975 are an English rock band originating from Wilmslow, Cheshire. The group consists of Matthew Healy (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Adam Hann (lead guitar), Ross MacDonald (bass), and George Daniel (drums).

The band’s origins trace to them attending Wilmslow High School and playing together as teenagers in 2002. Gigs organized by a council worker led the band to formally sign as The 1975. Their choice of name was inspired by a Jack Kerouac beat poetry book. They eventually signed a record deal after their success with Dirty Hit and Polydor.

They have released four EPs and two albums. Their self-titled debut was released on 2 September 2013 through Dirty Hit and Polydor,[4] topping the UK Albums Chart on 8 September. Their second album I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it was released on 26 February 2016, topping both the UK Chart and the US Billboard 200.

The Analysis—-

The 1975—-Coming out of the darkness with a lush and textured sound, this short intro does not even try to do the rest of the release justice. This is just a slight taste of the beauty and brilliance about to come.

Love Me—-With staccato guitars and a schizo synth line, this will bring to your memory the best of the 80’s pop and experimentation’s. At times, this band reminds me of early INXS so much….this has an underlying funk to it reminiscent of Prince, but still maintains a rock appeal as well. This is fabulous!

UGH!—-Bringing yet more funk with a rock sensibility that makes me think of Maroon 5, this has a bit of something for everyone. the synth lines are so 80’s inspired but yet the vocal delivery is smooth and you can catch every word. This has a dance element but still remains true to the direction the band laid with it’s previous release. This is an album of the year…hands down.

A Change Of Heart—-Changing direction and sound at the drop of a dime, this arrangement and song are lush and layered with an emotional feel that makes you want to press repeat over and over. The vocal reminds me of early Alison Moyet almost….the lyrics are stark and beautiful and the delivery is wrought with emotion…this is just beautiful.

She’s American—-Again delivering a slight mellow feel at the onset, this track opens up with a throwback 80’s sound that makes you want to pull out all your old records. The guitars are understated but instrumental to the groove of the song. This is magnificent….I can’t wait for more from this band.

If I Believe You—-An odd intro opens up into a mellow vocal that is so beautifully smooth it reminds you of the best of everyone. The music is, for the most part, lush and layered with occasional effects popping up here and there….giving the song an unpredictable direction. The backdrop of almost choir vocals give you a feeling of sadness and reverence. This is fantastic.

Please Be Naked—-A slow and almost mysterious build up as the song emerges from darkness and airy sounds into a stark and lonely piano. The lush sound of the backdrop effects give the song such an air of loneliness and sadness…..a slow burning hum running through the backdrop of the instrumentation. At times, this instrumental threatens to become noisy and belligerent…..but it never looses the mood it created with the very first note.

Lostmyhead—-Almost a continuation of the previous track, the intro of this song slowly opens up to a noisier instrumentation. The vocal is sweet and breezy…..stuck midway between the guitar fuzz and the low dark hum that runs through the entire song. This is layered with sound…giving you every emotion you can imagine. Just beautiful. This track has a very English Shoe-gaze sound to it.

The Ballad Of Me And My Brain—-Again….sounding like an almost different band at the onset of this track, the odd intros this band manages are always interesting. The synth line opens up with a very laid back 80’s feel and the vocal again makes me think of Adam Levine at times….other times…it can’t be compared to anyone. This is a fantastic track…a nice break in the middle of the release from the lower mood songs and the funkier sound….wonderful.

Somebody Else—-Light and airy musically, the vocal enters with a sadness and emotional delivery that almost breaks your heart. The synth line and the very British delivery of the vocal makes me think of bands like Icehouse from way back in the day. This is beautiful…nostalgic…yet fresh…new and wonderful.

Loving Someone—-Wow…..it just seems like every single track on this release is a surprise. This has a stark instrumentation…..the vocal at the onset set way back in the mix and then suddenly becoming like a classic 90’s track from a band like Sugar Ray. The chorus returns and the stark feeling returns…making this a roller coaster of a track that leaves such a pleasant taste in your mouth you crave another bite.

I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It—-Gentle synth lines and odd effects that make your headphones rattle usher in this track….sounds entering both ears at the same time layering the sound in a heavy yet beautiful texture. This is wonderful….my God…it is hard to find enough good words to describe the brilliance that makes up this band….every song is an adventure in emotion and reaction. The vocal is beautiful…stacked on top of each other…..building a huge sad sound that makes me weep but crave even more beauty. This is just incredible.

The Sound—-Returning to a more upbeat sound that breaks up the sadness of the middle of the record is a fantastic idea. This track travels at a nice funky speed that could turn any radio station on its head. This has a modern yet classic sound with a huge choir of voices delivering the melodic vocal. This is great song placement….breaks up the release wonderfully well.

This Must Be My Dream—-With a retro intro that conjures up the best of the 80’s sond, the vocal delivery is wonderfully current and reminds you where you are at this very moment. The vocal delivery is very boy band inspired…..with a nice R N’ B flavor…it is a rather addictive song…..just incredible. Nice horns make me think of so many 80’s bands…..like Spandu Ballet?

Paris—-Jaunty and fun at the onset, this has that hum that runs through the underbelly of the song…giving it a dark feel. The instrumentation is remarkable…..borrowing a bit from The Police. The vocal is very laid back and cool…..just making you feel happy and carefree…..you can almost feel the sun shining on your face.

Nana—-A beautiful acoustic guitar intro ushers in this track…followed by a pleasant and beautiful vocal that makes your heart ache….but brings a smile at the same time. This is naked and laid back…..almost silent and peaceful….I’m not sure what this track is about…but you can draw conclusions…a beautiful tribute.

She Lays Down—-With a remarkable sadness, I hear this release come to an end. The intro to this track again heavy with the sad acoustic guitar and stark and unaffected vocal. The voice is pure…sweet and without effect…just delivered straight forward with a sadness and a heaviness that sticks in your brain and makes you think about your own life and all that is happening in it. That is the true beauty of good music…it makes you think….makes you feel….makes you ache and makes you smile. This is a wonderfully delivered, masterful, genius record. GET IT!!!!

***** out of 5

 

 

 

 

David Bowie / Legacy

Legacy

David Robert Jones (8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016), known professionally as David Bowie (/ˈbi/), was an English singer, songwriter and actor. He was a figure in popular music for over five decades, regarded by critics and musicians as an innovator, particularly for his work in the 1970s. His career was marked by reinvention and visual presentation, his music and stagecraft significantly influencing popular music. During his lifetime, his record sales, estimated at 140 million worldwide, made him one of the world’s best-selling music artists. In the UK, he was awarded nine platinum album certifications, eleven gold and eight silver, releasing eleven number-one albums. In the US, he received five platinum and seven gold certifications. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.

Born and raised in South London, Bowie developed an interest in music as a child, eventually studying art, music and design before embarking on a professional career as a musician in 1963. “Space Oddity” became his first top-five entry on the UK Singles Chartafter its release in July 1969. After a period of experimentation, he re-emerged in 1972 during the glam rock era with his flamboyant and androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust. The character was spearheaded by the success of his single “Starman” and album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, which won him widespread popularity. In 1975, Bowie’s style shifted radically towards a sound he characterised as “plastic soul“, initially alienating many of his UK devotees but garnering him his first major US crossover success with the number-one single “Fame” and the album Young Americans. In 1976, Bowie starred in the cult film The Man Who Fell to Earth and released Station to Station. The following year, he further confounded musical expectations with the electronic-inflected album Low (1977), the first of three collaborations with Brian Eno that would come to be known as the “Berlin Trilogy“. “Heroes” (1977) and Lodger (1979) followed; each album reached the UK top five and received lasting critical praise.

After uneven commercial success in the late 1970s, Bowie had UK number ones with the 1980 single “Ashes to Ashes“, its parent album Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps), and “Under Pressure“, a 1981 collaboration with Queen. He then reached his commercial peak in 1983 with Let’s Dance, with its title track topping both UK and US charts. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Bowie continued to experiment with musical styles, including industrial and jungle. Bowie also continued acting; his roles included Major Celliers in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983), the Goblin King Jareth in Labyrinth (1986), Pontius Pilate in The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), and Nikola Tesla in The Prestige (2006), among other film and television appearances and cameos. He stopped concert touring after 2004 and his last live performance was at a charity event in 2006. In 2013, Bowie returned from a decade-long recording hiatus with the release of The Next Day. He remained musically active until he died of liver cancer two days after the release of his final album, Blackstar (2016).

Bowie Legacy is a greatest hits album by British musician David Bowie, released on 11 November 2016 through Sony Music Entertainment.

The album’s contents are mostly identical to the two-disc edition of Bowie’s previous greatest hits album Nothing Has Changed(2014), with a few differences between both releases. “Love Is Lost” and “Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)“, which were present on Nothing Has Changed, are replaced by three new selections: “Lazarus” and “I Can’t Give Everything Away“, both from Bowie’s final studio album Blackstar (2016), and the radio edit of the Heathen song “Slow Burn” (which also appears on the three-disc version of Nothing Has Changed). Additionally, a previously-unreleased mix of “Life on Mars?” is present instead of the original version from Hunky Dory (1971).

The Analysis—-

Disc One:

Space Oddity—-Of course, we as music fans are very familiar with this track, as well as many on this release. What surprises me more than anything is how well this song still plays today….never giving hint at the age or the inexperience of Bowie or the track. The mystical elements live very well…the double tracking on the vocal give it a big feel despite the technology. Truly a genius.

The Man Who Sold The World—-I have been a lifelong fan of Bowie…owning around 80 Bowie releases. I do have my favorites as well as songs I tend to pass over. This is one of those songs I usually overlook on a casual listening day…..hearing it today, I ask myself why? The remastering of the track brings out some of the classic background effects that bounce from speaker to speaker….the overdubs fill out the regular mono sound of the original. Fantastic.

Changes—-Overplayed on classic rock radio, this sounds as dated as it is to me. Although it was a track I cut my Bowie teeth on, I guess I’m a little burnt out on it. The ebbs and flows in the track are remarkable…giving it a somewhat joyous feel…and the chorus still sounds as huge as it always has. A great song….but just overplayed a bit.

Oh You Pretty Things—-I love the wonderful almost vaudevillian sound of the piano at the onset of the track. Bowie delivers an almost sideshow sounding vocal that is jaunty and sounds slightly amused. I love this track, the way the chorus opens up with a slight funk brings a smile to my  face…..tracks like this make me fall in love with the man all over again.

Life On Mars? [2016 Mix]—-This always brings to mind the Warhol days of Bowie and the Studio 54 days when he was so public in NYC. I love the ever present piano and the way that the chorus builds and builds and lands with an exhilarating feel on your brain. This was in my opinion Bowie at his finest…..a brilliant track. Although the ‘2016 Mix’ does not sound any different to me. The remastering is incredible though.

Starman  [Single Mix]—-There are certain songs in the Bowie catalog that immediately fill me with an inner happiness I can’t quite explain. Life On Mars is one…..Starman is another. There is just a good feeling to the vocal and to the music. I love the funkier feel to this mix….still sounding classic yet a bit fresh. This is brilliant Bowie…..a true master. When that chorus hits me, I can’t help but grin.

Ziggy Stardust—-Bowie is his best persona and best Rock n’ Roll mode, Ziggy still plays very well today although a bit far-fetched these days. I love the introduction of the more ‘cool’ laid back vocal and the brilliant upfront guitar. This is noisy, glamorous and driving.

Moonage Daydream—-This another one of those Bowie tracks I tend to skip over on a regular basis while listening casually. The vocal is brilliant, although moved back from the music a bit. The piano is as present as the guitars and the drums really bolster the backbone of the track. Everything comes together really well. The center ‘break’ in the song is fantastic.

The Jean Genie [Single Mix]—-Really noisy and with a funky bass line playing underneath the track, this is full of attitude from the very onset. The harmonica and slight blues feel gets on my nerves a bit….but it is classic Bowie. This version has a slight echo that plays through it……getting on my nerves a bit.

All The Young Dudes—-I have never been a fan of Bolan or of this track. I guess it is pivotal in the Bowie catalog…but for me it was never Bowie at his finest. I like the way Bowie almost talks his way through the track, but anything that is too blues based tends to rub me the wrong way…none the less…this remastered version sounds so clear and full.

Drive-In Saturday—-It is odd to me how this song starts the milli-second you press play. Like many Bowie classics, this song is laid back and then tends to open up wide when the chorus hits. I like the laid back feel and the added horns to the song…giving it an almost doo-wop feel at times. This is great to hear again….never gets old.

Sorrow—-Beginning with gorgeous strings and that classic Bowie croon, this has many good memories for me. Taking leave from the more heavily guitar based tracks, this is more acoustic and breezy for me….and the horns that play during the ‘breaks’ add a touch that are irreplaceable. The double track vocal makes the song very large. Brilliant!

Rebel Rebel—-Returning to the more guitar driven based Bowie catalog, Bowie again almost talks his way through this track. Although this song has been heard probably a million times by my ears, it still sounds fresh and new to me. I love the fuzzy feel to the production….this is fantastic.

Young Americans—-Ushering in the ‘funky’ Bowie era, the horns are magnificent and the horns add to the flavor. With background vocals by a then unheard of Luther Vandross, this has a funky stab at disco and funk. The drums are wonderful and chorus is another of those tracks that just makes me feel happy.

Fame—-Famously written with John Lennon in 15 minutes in a Soho apartment, this track never gets old. The music is so full….funky and with an undeniable flavor of the mid 70’s. This is classic Bowie…when his oddity was the attraction. The vocal effects live in infamy…this is a brilliant track……just a slight distortion adding to the fullness of the sound.

Golden Years—-I know this is a huge track in the Bowie discography….but to me, this was never one of his best compositions. I think maybe it has just been overplayed….and of course, it helped to make him an even more household name…but I pass on this almost regularly.

Sound And Vision—-For me, this is one of the best Bowie tracks ever recorded. I have countless pumped up remixes of this song…but this original version…with its almost archaic drum machine sound still plays the best. Bowie is in such good voice…and when he hits that baritone stride of his it is incredible. The female backdrop vocals give it an almost fun feel. This is crooning Bowie at his best.

Heroes—-Perhaps one of the most intense Bowie tracks in his entire catalog, this moved away from the funky music stage and carried that German sound that belied his change in address. This is airy but heavy….mystical but poignant…..sad yet joyous. Classic yet fresh!

Boys Keep Swinging—-Sounding European influenced and flirting with all aspects of sexual identification, this still sounds wonderful today. The huge bevy of voices that join David on this track help to make the sound large…the organ that plays in the background adds to the slight old feeling of the song.

Fashion—-Scary Monsters….& Super Creeps remains to this day my favorite Bowie release…..sounding different than anything that he had been doing during the Berlin Trilogy. This has a emerging 80’s feel that is filled with more synth sounds and handclaps….but the guitar is always there as well. Bowie delivers an almost dis-embodied robot vocal…..just fantastic.

Ashes To Ashes [Single Version]—-Going back to my earlier comments about Bowie songs that make me feel elated and giddy….I cite this track as well. This video is hilarious with the archaic firming Technics…but the song has a joyous and fun feel to it…..even though it is not happy. Answering the request for Space Oddity Pt. II…this answered the call quite well….Bowie is such good voice…actually singing again.

Disc Two:

Under Pressure [with Queen]—-An absolutely brilliant idea to combine the voices of Bowie and Mercury, this track never gets old…despite Vanilla Ice…lol. I love the unique sound…the Queen music but the familiar strains of Bowie filling out the song…this was a triumph of imaginable proportions…..

Let’s Dance [Single Version]—-The single and video that brought Bowie to worldwide dominance, I still love this song. It had every 80’s definition in it while still allowing Bowie to be himself as well. Although this album and 3 singles were panned by many die-hard fans, I consider it Bowie at his most creative spurt in years.

China Girl [Single Version]—-The 80’s defined right here in this moment…..this is brilliant. Allowing Bowie to sound different yet the same…..carrying on some material from Scary Monsters, China Girl is another step from that release and his fascination with the Orient at the time. This is magnificent…and the Stevie Ray Vaughn feel is heard loud and clear….just brilliant.

Modern Love [Single Version]—-Bowie…despite his age at the time of this recording, sounds fresh…young and invigorated. Heavy on synth and a prominent drum, Bowie delivers a classic 80’s track that will live in infamy The horns are fantastic and the mood is joyous….the chorus and backdrop vocals sound incredible.

Blue Jean—-As quickly as Bowie rose to prominence, he seem to crash and burn with this release…although personally I consider this one of Bowie’s finest moments. There is an urgency and anger to this track that makes it driving and impactful…and the classic Bowie croon sounds so wonderfully brilliant. To me….this track should have been huge…without the 20 minute video.

This Is Not America [With Pat Methany Group]—-.Laid back and mellow, Bowie sounds fantastic when delivering his lines…although the proper chorus vocal seems pushed to the back of the mix. This is poignant and Bowie hits notes not heard in years…this is a fantastic single that many people forget…I love this.

Dancing In The Streets [With Mick Jagger]—-Ummmm……no!!!! Just dreadful in my opinion. Despite their history, this should have never have happened.

Absolute Beginners—-I like this…..but the singles released at this point seemed to find Bowie dis-enfranchised and upset with the demands that were being put upon him. This has an ‘old’ feel to it…..reaching back to the mellower days of Bowie and finding him rather introspective. This is so nice.

Jump They Say [Radio Edit]—-For me, this song was all over the place….the music is erratic and jerky….the only constant being the more mellow croon that Bowie began to use after the Let’s Dance era. The horns are great on this track…but the music seems disjointed and schizophrenic to me…almost drowning out the wonderful vocal.

Hallo Spaceboy [with The Pet Shop Boys] [PSB Remix]—-A shining moment for me in my own personal music journey….combining two of my favorite acts together under one roof….the idea was so incredible I though i might have a coronary…the result was even better. The combination of these two creative forces resulted in a single of a lifetime….I never, ever tire of this nor will I ever.

Little Wonder [Edit]—-Entering into his dubstep phase, I never liked the erratic music behind the almost gentle vocal. I wonder how Bowie reconciled his vocal over this erratic and maddening beat that drives the song. This is noisy and perhaps more brilliant than I give it credit for…..I love the chorus……but it is just everywhere musically.

I’m Afraid Of Americans [V1]—-Bowie working with Reznor was yest another re-invention of the Bowie persona and worked incredibly well for me. The music is noisy and a bit disjointed…but the vocal matches the urgency that Trent brought to the production. This was a fantastic creative stretch in Bowie’s career….much like Gary Numan these days.

Thursday’s Child [Radio Edit]—-Brilliantly orchestrated and moody, Bowie returns with that older age croon that defined much of his later work. This is remarkably melodic and dark…yet beautiful and joyful…a look back and a look forward…this plays so well with the backdrop vocals. I love the feel of the song….again making me smile.

Slow Burn [Edit]—-This track has a definite throwback feel to it….allowing Bowie to continue his new singing style but remaining true to his sound. The strength of his vocal is remarkable…his occasional falsetto making the entire song rather spectacular. I love this….

Everyone Says “Hi” [Edit]—-On this track, Bowie at the onset sounds almost unrecognizable…delivering word after word that sounds almost child-like and playful. The music is uplifting and joyful…easing any woes that might be in your brain…this is fantastic as well….I love the bouncy feel to the gentle acoustic guitar.

New Killer Star—-A slight bluesy lazy vocal seems to drive this song as much as the punchy jaunty guitar. The chorus is a sing songy type deliver that drives the speed of the song, while the chorus calms things with the croon…this is just wonderful. This is a return back to the old days.

Where Are We Now?—-The unintentional [or intentional?] swan song begins with Bowie still sounding remarkably young and poised….with a strong voice and an introspective message. The music is stripped bare and the voice is the star of the show…the moodiness is sad and sorrowful….but the swells of the music makes you happy you ever discovered this genius.

Lazarus—-With the music sounding remarkably modern and fresh….horns are slight in the backdrop and you notice the darkness of the song now. The tense delivery is what keeps you on the edge of your seat….but you notice how Bowie sounds….incredibly fresh and healthy….driven and poignant…..incredible.

I Can’t Give Everything Away [Edit]—-Happy in delivery, the music is fresh and jubilant. The vocal sounds incredibly fresh for a man who knew that he was dying and kept it all a secret…perhaps this was a message for all of us. I think this may not be the last we hear of The King….but if it is….I will die a happy man as well.

***** out of 5

 

 

 

 

Devilment / II-The Mephisto Waltzes

II - The Mephisto Waltzes [Explicit]

Originally formed by Daniel Finch back in late 2011 amidst a bout of religious delirium, DEVILMENT back then experienced a myriad of problems trying to hold down a stable vocalist (the rope, I believe, was never quite strong enough).

Enter Daniel’s friend Dani Filth (CRADLE OF FILTH, TEMPLE OF THE BLACK MOON), who, although not entirely stable mentally, agreed to help out on a couple of tracks, having some time off from his other projects. Dani Filth comments, “When I heard what Dan Finch was doing, I just had to get my claws into it. It had a unique sound to it that was both creepy and heavy, but indelibly groovy. I instantly saw where we could take this beast…”

The Analysis—-

Judasstein—-Huge drums and a whispered airy vocal begin the hell of this release. Dani delivers a growl and moan that is matched only by the pace of the music. Filth growls and screams at a moments notice…the voice still so strong and incredible. This is atmospheric, slightly orchestrated but delivered incredibly well.The maniacal laughs and swirling keyboards give the song a very dark feel.

Hitchcock Blonde—-Very Cradle inspired at the onset of this track…the jaunty keyboard and guitar delivery is very familiar. Dani delivers a vocal that is much slower in pace and you can actually catch the words. The perquisite backdrop female vocal is intact and adds a lot of body to the song. This is really pretty great! This has a melody that ends to stick with you….thanks in part to the huge catchy chorus.

Under The Thunder—-With a much more present guitar at the onset, the swirls of atmosphere enter along with the whispered evil sounding vocal from Dani. Despite the pace of the track, this is not that different from a Cradle release. The female backdrop vocal is very Evanesence inspired…not light and airy as current Cradle singers. Dani growls and gravels his way through this track….delivering line after line of guts and glory. And a huge hellacious scream in the middle of it all……fantastic!

Full Dark, No Stars—-Heavy and very loud keyboard keys usher in this track….an almost maddening tune that will stick in your brain. They fall to a quiet when the guitars pick up the melody line and Filth enters with his vocal…..the female vocal seems to have the majority of the burden of carrying the song though…as Dani takes a back seat to the pretty and melodic female vocal. I sit here amazed at the fluctuating ability of his vocal though….from a growl to a scream at the drop of a hat…..still amazing all these years in.

Shine On Sophie Moone—-Much faster…..delivered with a blistering pace…the vocals come so fast you can barely catch a word…let alone your breath. This has a nice dark undercurrent flowing through it that is very Cradle inspired and seems like it could be that very band. The drumming on this track is phenomenal…leading the entire pace of the song. This is fantastic!!!!

Life Is What You Keep From The Reaper—-With a higher guitar tone and a much more straight on metal feel, the drums again are front and center on this track. The vocal becomes mundane after a spell…we all recognize the versatility and remarkable ability of it. The female vocal makes a reappearance and steers the center of the song…giving it some versatility and a nice contrast. This is good.

DEA Della Morte—-Again, the intro is the mysterious toy piano sound that adds to the darkness of the song. The lead guitars enter but the drums again steer the true direction of the song. The feel is huge and smoky….Dani adding his deep whisper growl that has intermittent squeals and squeaks. This is nice…but this sounds to me like it has been done before with his previous bands. The female vocal saves the track from obscurity.

Entangled In Our Pride—-At the onset, this is quite a ‘pretty’ track…..even when the instruments add to the fray, the melody line is undeniable. The lead guitar soars and sings as nicely as Filth does. The feel of the song is everything we have heard before though…it is hard to hear anything new in this. The song is not bad…..but it is again only saved by the melodic and fantastic female vocal that is in such sharp contrast to Filth.

Hell At My Back—-Little new is offered here…..at this point, this release as a whole becomes rather forced and a chore to finish. The pace of the music keeps me interested…..the drums from this band are phenomenal….but this is all been done before from Filth and his many incarnations.There are some unbelievable screams though!!!!

The Seductive Poison—-A nice synth line introduces the song…accompanied by a guitar lead and drums that make for a very large sound at the onset. The speed of the song increases and the barrage of noise is everywhere. The soaring guitars are the star of the show….Dani sounding rather bored with this whole affair himself. I’m over this release…lol

Father Dali—-Ending this lackluster release much as it began…with mystery and a promise, the drums enter and give you a nice respite breath of life. Everything else about this track has already been repeated over and over on this release….not an album I will turn to often.

**out of 5

 

 

 

 

Metallica / Hardwired…To Self Destruct

Hardwired...To Self-Destruct

Hardwired… to Self-Destruct is the tenth studio album by American heavy metal band Metallica, released as a double album on November 18, 2016 by their independent label Blackened Recordings. It is the band’s first studio album in eight years, following Death Magnetic (2008), marking the longest gap between two studio albums in the band’s career. It is also the first studio album by the band not to feature songwriting contributions from Kirk Hammett since he joined the band in 1983.

The Analysis—-

Disc 1:

Hardwired—-Incredible Ulrich drums right off the bat and a thrash styled guitar lets you know that the band is back and better than ever. Hetfield sounds so driven with his vocal…its as good as the old days. The precise breaks and the chord changes are just outstanding. This is a classic song with all the elements we have been missing…..brilliant. The urgency to the vocal delivery is awesome…..can’t wait to see this live!

Atlas, Rise!—-Allowing the bass guitar to serve as the intro for this track, the drums are not far behind. The staccato guitar line adds to the layers of the song.The vocal is slow to enter but is filled with a nice melodic tune rather than just an all out pummel like the previous track. The delivery from Hetfield reminds you of the good old days of the band…when the melody was as important as the thrash. Crisp and clean.Guitar solos and all!

Now That We’re Dead—-Sounding entirely different than the other two tracks, this is a release that keeps you guessing! The intro bass line is huge….the drums adding to the deeper plodding sound. The production is fantastic….not at all muddled despite the bass heavy delivery. The vocal is very slow to enter and has an almost blues tinge to the sound of it. The crisp clear sound lets you catch every word…this track sounds a bit dated…sounding like something from the late 80’s or early 90’s…but it is not bad in the least. I like the variety.

Moth Into Flame—-Returning to that deeper bass driven melody the band is famous for, the prominent bass line almost gallops at the onset of the song. Very Maiden! Hetfield enters with his higher tone vocal that inspires urgency and a driven message. The break in the song has a nice barrage of higher lead guitars and fore front drums. The chorus is damn catchy…with a nice break between lines. This may well classify as a future classic Metallica track.

Dream No More—-Sounding at the onset like a long lost Sabbath track, the higher instrument tones that enter give the song a funeral march feel. The bass guitar kicks in with the huge drums behind it and fills out the entire thing. The vocal when it enters is even Sabbath inspired. The double vocal in higher and lower tones damn near mimics Osbourne in his better days. This is deep, dark and intense. Fantastic!

Halo On Fire—-Crisp and crunchy with a soaring guitar lead intro, this is yet another different sound than previously displayed on the release thus far….for me that is a plus. The track slows and quiets and introduces the perquisite ballad. The vocal from Hetfield barely sounds like himself at the onset. The chorus and the bridge are huge…..creating a memorable track that will play really well live. This is damn near perfect.

Disc 2:

Confusion—-Blasts from the bass furnace kick off the second disc while a guitar melody plays underneath the riff and delivers a wall of sound. The stop…start…stop…start is incredible and speaks well of the talent in this band. The fast paced bass line that runs through the underbelly of the song keeps things dark but melodious. The vocal is a bit odd…sounding somewhat muted and incomplete….but the overall feeling of the track is huge. This is great.

ManUNkind—-Beginning with a gentle almost quiet guitar intro and a underlying bass line, the song slowly erupts into a classic heavy Metallica riff that sounds incredible traveling from headphone to headphone. The lead guitar line is crisp and clean and leads the song more than Hetfield and his bass line. The vocal enters and is so damn pleasing….but there is a remarkable familiarity to this song. Not sure why….but it does not sound entirely new to me.

Here Comes Revenge—-Bass heavy and noisier at the onset, this has a lot going on in the track…but clears way for the prominent sound that most of this release has. Again we get the nice galloping bass line ala Maiden that propels the song….but quiets suddenly to allow for the quieter vocal. I would not call this a ballad…but rather a track with many different moods and textures….sometimes Hetfield bellows….other times he seems to whisper. This is fantastic!

Am I Savage?—-Once again, slowing things down into an almost ballad style, the intro to this song is false as it opens up. the lead guitars soar and the drums sound louder than ever only to be matched stroke for stroke with the bass guitar. this is great….the song once again displaying a slight blues edge that is attributed to the drawn out lead and vocal. Let me also say….Hetfield has not sounded this good in years…like he has been re-invigorated with a new energy…..just what this release needed.

Murder One—-Much in the musical vein as the previous track, this begins slow……explodes and slows again…..taking you through the many moods of the song. Ulrich delivers a stellar drum performance on this track…letting you know he is alive and well behind the kit. Hetfield enters with a slight evil edge to his vocal delivery….and the breaks and mood shifts are all over the place. This is extraordinary. I rather like this song.

Spit Out The Bone—-Ending this release with a 7 minute extravaganza of speed and power riffs, the machine gun blasts from the bass are incredible and super human….aided by the huge drums. This song is by far the fastest and most driven thing on this release and leaves a remarkable taste in your mouth…almost begging for more. Hetfield sings so fast and so driven it is as if he is possessed by some demon. This is a HUGE track….full of everything….trademark bass and drums….clear lead guitars and a vocal for the history books.

***** out of 5

 

Cradle Of Filth / Dusk And Her Embrace: The Original Sin

Dusk And Her Embrace... The Original Sin [Explicit]

Cradle of Filth are a British extreme metal band that formed in Suffolk in 1991. The band’s musical style evolved from black metal to a cleaner and more “produced” amalgam of gothic metal, symphonic metal and other metal genres. Their lyrical themes and imagery are heavily influenced by gothic literature, poetry, mythology and horror films.

The band has broken free from its original niche by courting mainstream publicity (often to the chagrin of its early fanbase), giving the band a “commercial” image. This increased accessibility has brought coverage from the likes of Kerrang! and MTV, along with frequent main stage appearances at major festivals such as Ozzfest, Download and even the mainstream Sziget Festival. They have sometimes been perceived as satanic by casual observers,[1] even though their outright lyrical references to Satanism are few and far between; their use of satanic imagery has arguably always been more for shock value rather than any seriously held beliefs.

Dani Filth revealed plans for a 20th anniversary release of the original 1995 Cacophonous recordings in 2015, and a release date was officially announced in 2016. Filth told Team Rock:

The original recordings of Dusk – which were literally just sat gathering dust on someone’s shelf – are actually going to see the light of day. It’s going to be a really cool part of Cradle history, and obviously they’ve never been heard before by anyone.

The title for the new release was Dusk… and Her Embrace: The Original Sin. It was released on CD and digital on July 8, 2016, with a vinyl version promised for a later date.The liner notes confirm that the lineup for this version was almost the same as for The Principle of Evil Made Flesh, including Paul Allender and Paul Ryan, but excluding Robin Graves, who was shortly replaced by Jon Kennedy. Both left the band before the 1996 version of Dusk… was recorded.

The Analysis—-

Macabre, This Banquet—-Wispy orchestration enters your headphones…a deeper sound than the later release…but the grandiose introduction is clear leading you into…..

Nocturnal Supremacy—-The drums are much in the forefront as this track begins…the deep mystery of the sound is shattered by the intro scream from Dani….still amazing to me! The sound quality is a bit lighter…tiny if you will…but the power of the vocal can not be denied….from the piercing scream to the deep gut ranting…Dani remains the star of this how. This has a much darker and mysterious sound to it…but the groundwork laid was clear.

Heaven Torn Asunder—-The bass line that introduces this track will blow your head off. I wish the vocal was moved back up to the front of the mix….but these kind of recordings were meant to be presented in the most original form. Dani delivers a vocal that sounds driven and straight from hell…the high tones of his rants are piercing and from the very inside of his body. The pace of the song is driven by the drums and the bass line…it really picks up speed and drives it right into the center of your head. This is fantastic! The bass work…..just incredible!

Dusk And Her Embrace—-A classic track that was still being played last time I witnessed this band in a live setting. The opening growls from Filth are incredible…the dark and mysterious feel of the song is aided by Jezebel on backing vocals…the spoken word parts of the song making it sound far more evil than it actually is. Filth has a vocal that is almost hidden much to my chagrin….but it is there and strong….this is for collector’s only.There remains a undeniable melody line throughout the song…this is not a balls to the walls metal affair…but a well constructed release.

A Gothic Romance—-Clocking in at over 8 minutes in length, the opening organ strains of the introduction set the tone for the song. Leading you on a funeral march that seems to never end, this is huge and orchestrated with grand overtones. The tiny piano sounds add to the mystery and the wolf sounds make it even scarier. Filth enters with a spoken word intro before that ungodly scream greets your ears. The marching, plodding nature of the song adds to the dark flavor that carries this entire release. This is huge and overblown…but just a taste of the magnificence that was to come from this band. Remarkable.

The Graveyard By Moonlight—-A short and melodic interlude…the production IS sub par…but the feeling of mystery and evil carries it on its own. This is a nice respite from the relentless nature of the band and prepares you for the next onslaught.

Funeral In Carpathia—-Another 8 minute track that takes you on yet another journey of unrelenting screams and ungodly inhuman drumming. The pace of the song is incredible….adding fuel to the fire by the revolving sound of the bass line that drives the song to the depths of hell. Filth delivers one piercing lyric after the other…..settling in your brain even though you try to shake it. There are melodies in all of this sound that stick with you…that is remarkable..this is not just pure straight out pummeling. The female vocals give form to the song and make them even catchier. This is brilliant.

Beauty Slept In Sodom—-With an almost toy like piano intro that sounds straight off of a King Diamond record, the track begins with a deep vocal intro that allows you to sink into the mystery. Dani joins Sarah on a vocal that is in such contrast that it is fantastic. The squeal of his vocal is incomparable..no one can sing like this man….seemingly possessed but with the ability to drop to a growl at a moments notice. This is airy at times…melodious and orchestrated at others…and straight out metal from hell at other times. Fantastic…..the guitar leads that break up the song allow such credibility…..this is extreme to the max.

The Haunted Shores Of Avalon—-Sounding a bit crisper and less muddled, this track begins with a slow buildup that burst wide open with a guitar lead and then a rush of darkness accompanied by the hellacious bellow that only Dani can produce. Then the mayhem occurs,,,the song travels at 1000 miles an hour….making me wonder how the hell he can keep up with everything that is going on in the song at the same time. This is dark…extreme…brutal and melodious….a journey all of its own.The deep oral spoken word adds to the evil contents of the feel of the song…this is fantastic!

Camilla’s Masque—-Ending the proper release with another toy like piano interlude that tries to erase the brutality of the previous material, this track is much in the vein and recipe of many Cradle releases….smack you in the head and then try to sooth your damaged senses with beauty……remarkable.

A Gothic Romance [Bonus Demo Track]—-Funny, I almost prefer this demo track to the one that is on this release…it has a fuller sound and the tone is jauntier and more mysterious. The vocal from Dani is as you would expect…the song slowed a bit so you can catch the feeling that is coming from the growl before the screams. This is almost worth the re-issue in itself.

Nocturnal Supremacy [Bonus Demo Track]—-The only new thing for me here are the incredible monk voices that introduce the song and seem to have been removed from the later version. That kind of shit lends credibility to a band of this genre…..I’m just sayin’. Dani enters with his hyper-kinetic vocal that leads the song on an incredible romp.The melody line though seems much more present and is as later releases would be…up front and in the center of your forehead. A fantastic demo.

**** out of 5

 

 

Sigue Sigue Sputnik / 21st Century Boys-The Best Of Sigue Sigue Sputnik

21st Century Boys - The Best Of

Sigue Sigue Sputnik were a British new wave band formed in 1982 by former Generation X bassist Tony James. The band had three UK Top 40 hit singles, including the song “Love Missile F1-11” and “21st Century Boy”.

The Analysis—-

Video Trailer Mix—-I suppose this small intro is to remind us that SSS were above all else a multi-media experiment and a very visual band. As I recall, they were the first and probably only band to sell commercials that appeared in between songs on the first proper release. This mash-up of songs basically prepares us for what is ahead.

Love Missle F1-11—-Perhaps the bands best known work, this Moroder produced single embodies the late 80’s sound with spacey synths, sound effects…manipulated vocals and a constant familiar guitar from Tony James. The track is an extravaganza of sound and textures and still plays very well today.

Hack Attack—-The synth line that runs through the under belly of this track seems very Moroder inspired also, reminding me of some classic Disco songs from the late 70’s. The effects are all over the place…the song moves from speaker to speaker in an extravaganza of sound and constant effects. The vocals are almost done in a dub manner….hit and miss with the effects really being the star of the show. This really does sound excellent in headphones and once again is rather timely.

21st Century Boy—-A huge single for the band overseas, this band was never really a well-known entity here in the states. The musical track is a bit noisier…with James really adding more guitar than usual. The effects are all in place…the music from this band rarely deviated from the very first single…so every track suffers a bit from the ‘sameness’ effect. The hits package almost plays like one very long song. It is the innovation that is remarkable.

Buy EMI—-This track really does have a bit of a different sound to it, although the band never steers to far from the trademark sound. With a nod to their record company EMI, this almost reminds me of something Gen. X might have done. There are some nice chord changes in the song that mix up the sound but the synth line is always present. I rather like this track.

Rockit Miss USA—-With a fantastic spoken word intro….including a cameo from Clint Eastwood, the band quickly falls back into familiar territory that mimics the earliest sounds of the band. The effects very upfront…the vocal effects bouncing back and forth and the far back guitar from Tony James always present…seeming to play the same melody over and over. This is not a bad track, but the sound is so predictable. There is little room for variance with this band.

Teenage Thunder—-Coming back at you with the predictable synth line, the vocal begins a bit more subdued and pushed to the back of the mix. The guitar is more present and a bit varied than on previous tracks…this almost plays like a modern synth punk rock track. I love this song.

Suicide—-Darker at the onset, this has a slight different heavier synth line if you will. The low hum that runs through the track gives everything a darker feel. The vocal is again in a dub style that floats behind all of the effects…and the guitar sounds fuzzier and more intense. Not a favorite…rather tedious to get through.

Massive Retaliation—-Borrowing a huge bass line from the rap world, a synth line that reverberates your head and a beat that is different from previous tracks makes for a really great track. This envelops all of the classic sounds of the band but with the use of sampling gives us something really large and different. I had forgotten about this song….really fantastic!!!

Sex Bomb Boogie—-With a really nice guitar intro, the song quickly dissolves back into the familiar and constant synth that plays through most every song from this band. The lack of variance is a bit tedious…but the effects that are layered upon layer make things tolerable. This is a chore after a few songs…but the whole concept of the band was rather brilliant.

Success—-This is so much jauntier, if you will. The synth line is huge and encourages a mass of voices to sing along with the almost joyous feel of the song. This is brilliant…..the pace of the song is increased and the movement is incredible…I really love this track…another song I had almost forgotten about.

Frankenstein Cha Cha Cha—-Another track that offers a nice guitar intro before dissolving into the familiar synth line, this seems to be the same song that we heard earlier with different lyrics. The track plays almost exactly like Sex Bomb Boogie…but the words are a bit different. The chorus is a nice affair…but the self rip-off is evident.

Dancerama—-This has a darker more ‘revolving’ synth line that is quieter and a bit different for the band. To say this is subdued is an understatement. This is nice production placement…it serves to break up the ‘sameness’ effect from this band….allowing you a cool down and a look at the more introspective part of the band. Tony James gives a nice guitar solo mid-point…this is nice.

Barbrandroid—-With a futuristic intro, the classic voice that did all of the commercials for the band introduces the song. This is again, more subdued and sedate with that swirling synth line that makes you think of Moroder and Summer. The deep spoken word is throughout the track and this has a more chill, experimental feel to it. Again, the song placement is brilliant…really breaks up the release.

Albinoni vs. Star Wars [Part I]—-Light and airy at the onset, this is again a bit more low key and filled with huge atmospheric synths that almost sound orchestrated. The airy feel and the light pleasant melody is in sharp contrast to the earlier things we have heard on this release. This plays like a film score….freakin’ brilliant. Mid point is the Tony James guitar…but it never takes from the airy and intense feel of the track.

Albinoni vs. Star Wars [Part I & II]—- Not differing from what we heard on the previous track, I would have rather they included Jayne Mansfield instead of a redux of this track…until the midpoint of the song! It becomes alive and sounds like every fantastic 80’s band that you keep hidden from your friends. This is brilliant…a nice mix of trademark sounds and a laid back mellow sound that you can really listen to over and over again. Fantastic!

Rio Rocks—-Returning to full throttle SSS sound, the synths are back in full swing. The track sounds a bit under produced…the crisp sound with all of the effects are not as present. This plays like a rather dated punk rock anthem that you can sink your teeth into. This is a lot of fun and a bit dated….but still sounds fantastic!

Aliens—-Again, the synth line on the opening of this track is much brighter and less muddled with mass effects…..giving the band more substance and to me credibility in the talent that was there. This is lighter and with more air…..building and building with an almost pretty melody line.

Love Missle F1-11 [Westbam Remix Short Version]—-Removing the loud synth line, this remixed version makes the song a bit more dance floor friendly with the predominate bass line and allowing for contrast between this and the original. I much prefer this…the mid point of the song becomes very alive with a fuzzy synth while removing the vocal to the back of the mix. This is outstanding!

Sputnik Advert—-Just  a short advert for EMI…..classic SSS!

**** out of 5