David Bowie / Hunky Dory

 

Hunky Dory (180 Gram Vinyl)

Hunky Dory is the fourth studio album by the English musician David Bowie, released on 17 December 1971 by RCA RecordsIt was his first release through RCA, which would be his label for the next decade. Hunky Dory has been described by AllMusic‘s Stephen Thomas Erlewine as having “a kaleidoscopic array of pop styles, tied together only by Bowie’s sense of vision: a sweeping, cinematic mélange of high and low art, ambiguous sexuality, kitsch, and class”.

The album has received critical acclaim since its release, and is regarded as one of Bowie’s best works. Time chose it as part of their “100 best albums of all time” list in January 2010, with journalist Josh Tyrangiel praising Bowie’s “earthbound ambition to be a bohopoet with prodigal style”. The style of the album cover, designed by George Underwood, was influenced by a Marlene Dietrich photo book that Bowie took with him to the photo shoot.

The Analysis—-

Changes—-One of the most loved and well received tracks in the massive Bowie catalog, this track still plays so incredibly well today. The smooth and eccentric style of Bowie’s style at the time are all over this record. This was an artist becoming into his own…all the while surprising us at every turn. I loved this man….like he was a member of my family…I miss him…and this is just a small reason why. A magnificent track.

Oh! You Pretty Things—-Bowie…in his best quirky vocal style, delivers a song that is one for the history books. This is a remarkable vocal delivery….Bowie causing us to study every single line and asking ‘What Does This All Mean’? I fell so in love with this record. When the chorus opens up with that double track vocal…you can allow yourself to be taken somewhere else…somewhere you have never been. The song makes me incredibly happy for some reason…the lyrics and music…a huge joyous affair.

 

Eight-Line Poem—-Wonderfully delivered piano and blues based guitar intro that lulls you into a magical comfortable zone where you find it very easy to lose yourself. And that is before you hear a single word. Bowie enters with a croon that is so remarkable…it wraps right around the music….and amazingly…it all becomes one huge entity that lives in your brain forever. This is beautiful…experimental…erratic…and masterfully constructed. Damn, I loved this guy!

Life On Mars—-So wonderfully constructed and delivered. Bowie delivers a vocal and music that drives me to a euphoria that is hard to describe. The chorus is a fantastic joyous affair…Bowie sings his heart out….driving me to study every word…..the quaint lyrics, combined with the euphoric chorus is a moment in time I will never forget.

Kooks—-Tinny guitars and a folksy delivery introduce the track…a tribute to his new born son Zowie. The love that he feels is portrayed in the music…everything plays like a wonderful lullaby to his son. This is a wonderful and warm moment…it reeks of love and affection.

Quicksand—-Still reeking of the 70’s rock-folk movement at the time, I love how even back in those days, they managed to move the clear and wonderful vocal to the very front of the song. This is remarkably emotional and delivered in a masterful acoustic style that sounds so fresh and real to me today. This was masterful.

Fill Your Heart—-Jaunty and sounding like a show tune from long ago, this was the ability of the man. This is so light…pleasant and filled with moods and quirky musical sty lings. Perhaps my favorite Bowie release ever, this album always reminds me of why I fell in love with the persona of Bowie. This is a magic moment.

Andy Warhol—-You can’t be a Bowie fan without finding obsessions with Warhol and Lou Reed. This song produced in me, a life long obsession with every word I could ever find out about Warhol…then I found out how it all tied together. The song is fantastic…tongue in cheek and a bit hilarious. I love this moment in time. Bowie understood the genius…..as did Warhol!

Song For Bob Dylan—-Twangy and with a slight Country twinge to the whole damn affair, Bowie manages to portray the feelings about Dylan at the time. This is constructed so well…sliding back and forth between the Alt-Country feel to the more modern guitar based Bowie, this was brilliant.

The Bewlay Brothers—-Nice and rock based. this is a perfect closer to such an eclectic release. Bowie almost talk his way through this track…but with perfect pitch changes and enunciation. This is just perfect.

*****out of 5

 

 

Blondie / Pollinator

Pollinator

Blondie is an American rock band founded by singer Debbie Harry and guitarist Chris Stein. The band was a pioneer in the early American new wave and punk scenes of the mid-late 1970s. Its first two albums contained strong elements of these genres, and although successful in the United Kingdom and Australia, Blondie was regarded as an underground band in the United States until the release of Parallel Lines in 1978. Over the next three years, the band achieved several hit singles including “Heart of Glass“, “Call Me“, “Rapture” and “The Tide Is High” and became noted for its eclectic mix of musical styles incorporating elements of discopopreggae, and early rap music.

Blondie disbanded after the release of its sixth studio album The Hunter in 1982. Debbie Harry continued to pursue a solo career with varied results after taking a few years off to care for partner Chris Stein, who was diagnosed with pemphigus, a rare autoimmune disease of the skin. The band re-formed in 1997, achieving renewed success and a number one single in the United Kingdom with “Maria” in 1999, exactly 20 years after their first UK No.1 single (“Heart of Glass”).

The group toured and performed throughout the world during the following years, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. Blondie has sold 40 million records worldwide and is still active. The band’s tenth studio album Ghosts of Download, was released in 2014 and their eleventh studio album Pollinator was released on May 5, 2017.

Pollinator is the eleventh studio album by American rock band Blondie, released on May 5, 2017 by BMG Rights Management.

The Analysis—-

Doom Or Destiny—-The drums that introduce the song are classic Blondie. It is amazing at this point in life how fresh and young Debby Harry sounds…you would think this was recorded long ago. The New Wave leanings of the band are in full effect…the jaunty and pogo style of music sounds just amazing. this is brilliant….I am amazed at the fresh sound of the band.

Long Time—-Funny intro introduction that sounds like A Heart Of Glass, I guess this is Part II. This is a brilliant song…the mood is so nostalgic…the vocal is damn near perfect. Harry sounds comfortable and ageless. The driving instrumentation is timeless. I have fallen in love all over again with a band I have not paid much attention too. This is a brilliant track….a miracle for my ears.

Already Naked—-Huge wakes of guitars introduce the song…..the vocal enters with a nice reverb and echo that sounds fresh and brand new. This is brilliant….the melody of the song is so damn contagious and new…I have no idea how they keep surprising me. This is a favorite of mine from this release. The sound is remarkable…the style is consistent…the melody wakes me up at night. A pure triumph.

Fun—-I did not really care for this track upon the first listen…it took a bit for the quirky Nile Rodgers style melody to ingratiate with my brain. Even the vocal is a bit to high to make me feel comfortable with….but eventually, I guess the inner workings of the song worked a magic and became stuck in my brain. This is not the best I have heard…but the chorus and the melody is pretty damn contagious.

 

My Monster—-I like this….much more guitar and drum based…going back to the more consistent erratic style the band always had with the music. Harry delivers a deep sounding vocal that seems pushed to the back of the mix a bit more than i expected. The chorus allows a brief New Wave style synth sound that sticks in your brain. Not bad.

Best Day Ever—-A nice guitar intro…but the remarkable thing is the magical New Wave-ish vocal from Harry that sucks me in….the vocal is so clear and concise. The music never threatens to over play on the voice…even when things open up on the chorus and the music becomes more layered. This is really nice…very consistent.

Gravity—-I love the intro music for this track….reminding me of classic Devo intro music. Harry has a vocal that is delivered with a bit of unnecessary distortion…the fuzz becomes a bit annoying after a bi..I would rather have that remarkable clarity instead. This is nice…but not a favorite. The saving grace is the remarkable chorus and melody line.

When I Gave Up On You—-I loved this right from the very beginning…..Harry delivers an almost lazy sounding vocal that is sultry and aggressive at the same time. This is full of sexy, mellow sounds that lull you into a nice mood. The chorus is wonderful….never bombastic, it is pleasant and addictive none the less.

Love Level—-Much more aggressive in drum and guitar delivery, there is still a remarkable pop element to the track. Harry sounds so incredibly young with her vocal…delivering line after line of fresh sounding words. The hook seems to be missing a bit here for me…but as a whole, the song is pretty damn great. The male vocal slight rap in the break was a surprise…but still Harry is the star of the show.

Too Much—-I love, love, love the intro to this song. The instrumentation is instantly addictive. harry enters into the song with a fresh vocal that allows you to hear every single word. The chorus is a fantastic, HUGE romp through perfect pop music renderings. This is a real favorite of mine….every element of the song could fit on any Blondie release from the past. This is damn magical.

Fragments—-Hmm….this is fairly dark and plodding…taking away from the pop mastery of the previous track. Harry though, delivers such a strong and emotional vocal. This makes me think of classic 80’s band The Motels. I don’t hate this…but it has not caught my attention very much. The song does pick up magically at the mid-point…with the vocal becoming a bit more angry and full of vehemence. I can tolerate it.

The Breaks—-Really great drum based intro, this again finds that remarkable airy vocal from harry in full effect. The drums….are really the star of the show on this track…which is actually the B-Side from the single Long Time. It fits perfectly in the mood of the album.

**** 1/2 out of 5

The Killers / Wonderful Wonderful

Wonderful Wonderful

The Killers are an American rock band formed in Las VegasNevada, in 2001 by members Brandon Flowers (lead vocals, keyboards, bass) and Dave Keuning (lead guitar, backing vocals). Mark Stoermer (bass, rhythm guitar, backing vocals) and Ronnie Vannucci, Jr. (drums, percussion) would complete the current lineup of the band in 2002. The band’s name is derived from a logo on the bass drum of a fictitious band, portrayed in the music video for the New Order song “Crystal“.

The band has released five chart topping studio albums: Hot Fuss (2004), Sam’s Town (2006), Day & Age (2008), Battle Born(2012) and Wonderful Wonderful (2017). They have also released a B-sides and rarities compilationSawdust (2007); a live album, Live from the Royal Albert Hall (2009); a greatest hits album Direct Hits (2013); and a Christmas compilation Don’t Waste Your Wishes (2016).

The Killers are seen as one of the biggest rock bands of the 21st century, and the most successful rock band to ever emerge from the state of Nevada, having sold an estimated 22 million records worldwide. They have also achieved worldwide success as a live band, performing in over 50 countries and on six continents, headlining venues such as Madison Square Garden and Wembley Stadium.

The Killers released their fifth studio album, entitled Wonderful Wonderful, on September 22, 2017. The album was produced by Jacknife Leeand lead single “The Man” was released on June 14, 2017.

Wonderful Wonderful become the band’s first album to reach the number one spot on the US Billboard 200it also claimed the top spot on the UK Album Chart making The Killers the first international act to have their first five studio albums all reach number one in the UK.

The Analysis—-

Wonderful Wonderful—-A nice almost sonic intro leads up to a strong bass line that slowly allows for the introduction of Brandon and his unmistakable vocal. The track has a nice dark one to it…leaving the poppy madness of earlier releases in the dusk. It is when the chorus hits that you understand the beauty and mastery of the track. The faux [?] horns and big sound is unmistakable…..the song slowly grows on you. I’m sure his track will generate many U2 comparisons.

The Man—-A huge intro reminds you for sure that this is indeed The Killers. Brandon delivers a vocal that shines like a million stars. the remarkable melody line runs through the entire track…delivering a quasi-dance floor track that reminds me of the glorious days of bar music. Brandon and his vocal sounds refreshed and driven with an ambition not heard recently. This is stellar.

Rut—-A surprising introduction to the song…but what follows is just pure magic to my ears. As in many past releases, Flowers seems to call on his inner Springsteen to deliver a quiet but damn powerful ode. The music swirls around your head and gives your soul a slight joy…and causes you to push the replay button more than once. For me, this is a magical track.

Life To Come—-Coming out of the silence with a low hum, Flowers enters over a sad and forlorn sound that again brings forth the Boss. The vocal is in the very front of the mix…as the music becomes even stronger, you are again reminded of classic U2 sounds that made the band so popular. When the song finally reaches it’s crescendo. you realize it is imperative to sit through the quieter moments. Just fantastic!

Run For Cover—-The intro to this track reminds me of classic Interpol so much…the atmospheric bass line and the building music. Flowers enters with an urgent vocal that drives the song along with the pace of the music. The chorus hits you and makes your brain agree…this is a classic Killers track. Huge and built for arenas, this will play so well live. I have no words for the mastery here…this is brilliant.

 

Tyson Vs Douglas—-Interesting track from the opening effects…..the music that opens the track is hyper kinetic and delivered with a nice urgency. I love the reminiscent quality of the song…this is obviously Vegas inspired. Flowers delivers that classic huge chorus that makes the band seem literally monstrous. It is a joy to know that he magic is still there….the band has never sounded better. This is a monumental track.

Some Kind Of Love—-With incredible song placement, the band returns to a more somber feel here and allows you to realize the band is so much more than Glam and Glitz. This is magically quiet and beautiful…Flowers reaching notes I didn’t think he was capable of. The ghostly and funeral feel of the song gives me goosebumps. This is fantastic…..

Out Of My Mind—-Brilliant and crisp guitars and drums open the track. Flowers sounds so much like Bono on this track, I’m almost confused. The lyrics…on every single song on this release, are meaningful and lead you somewhere. I don’t really care for the chorus here…the female singers seem to almost take the spotlight away from Flowers who is in the best voice here than in recent memory. Still a great track though…full of nostalgic lyrics.

The Calling—-Wow….politically charged and filled with lyrics that will make you sit back and think for a minute. The bluesy quality of this track came as a slight surprise to me…the classic downbeat guitar is remarkable…as well as the drums. The vocal is a bit to staccato for me…but the lyrical content is made to allow you to think. I really, if I do have a complaint about this release, do not like the female vocals all over this release. Other than that…no complaints here.

Have All The Songs Been Written?—-Ending this release on a fairly somber note, Flowers delivers such a remarkably clear and concise vocal…I have chills once again The music…a slow and low hum interrupted by short guitar notes gives the track and even lonelier feel. This is a magical track….the beats pick up and the song becomes a bit larger as it continues…but you never lose that lonely and melodramatic effect. Just masterful.

**** out of 5

 

 

Berlin / Best Of Berlin 1979-1988

Best of Berlin 1979-1988

Berlin is an American new wave band. The group was formed in Orange County in 1978 by John Crawford (bass guitar). Band members included Crawford, Terri Nunn (vocals), David Diamond (keyboards), Ric Olsen (guitar), Matt Reid (keyboards) and Rod Learned (drums). The band gained mainstream-commercial success in the early 1980s with singles including “The Metro“, “Sex (I’m A…)“, “No More Words” and then in the mid 1980s with the chart-topping single “Take My Breath Away” from the 1986 film Top Gun.

The Analysis—-

Blowin’ Sky High—-For me, Berlin was one of the under-rated and under appreciated bands of the early 80’s. The tight musicianship, combined with the strong and flexible voice of Nunn helped to create a landscape of material and helped the band become mainstays on MTV. Crawford had an unmistakable guitar style that ebbed and flowed around the vocal. This track, never a huge hit…which I don’t understand, has that rhythmic guitar song that drives it to great heights at the chorus aided by super strong drums. This is a standout track.

No More Words—-There is always a remarkable power and slight anger to be found with many of the songs from Berlin. Nunn delivers a huge vocal….full of an underlying rage and betrayal that makes it instantly approachable. The song…full of trademark 80’s synth sounds comes across now as a bit dated. But if you zero in on the vocal and all of the power from the band, you will find yourself hooked all over again. The ‘breaks’ in the song are classic.

Like Flames—-I have never understood the fickle ways of American pop music listeners! For me, this may be one of the best tracks the band ever produced…but it received little or no attention from fans and/or radio. The vocal is so full of emotion…the band plays with a renewed intensity…the hook of the song stays in your brain for days after just one listen. The galloping musical intro of the song is shattered with a ballsy yell from Nunn. The vocal that follows is so strong and filled with emotion…this is by far my favorite track from this band. It literally makes me want to jump up and down and lose control.

 

Take My Breath Away—-Taken from the blockbuster film Top Gun, this track is largely considered to be the reason for the demise of the band. A mega-hit all over the world, it moved from the traditional sound of the band into a sound the rest of the band was uncomfortable with. Berlin was never really known for the ‘love song component’ and this really did not fit the image the majority of the band had set for themselves. I can take or leave this track..it became too huge, too overplayed and too worn out. The vocal is a bit to whispery for me…the arrangement robbed Nunn of that powerhouse alto she had become known for.

Sex [I’m A…]—-The single that primarily brought the band to the forefront of the New Wave movement in the early 80’s, this is laden with a synth line and effects that drive you to the dance floor. The trademark sounds of the song…full of everything that defined the time period, the song was just interesting enough in content to have us all paying attention. The two vocal delivery is really nice and seldom heard from the band. the synth line is straight out of the Moroder playbook. Still plays really well.

Now It’s My Turn—-Driving synth lines introduce the song and finds Nunn delivering another slight wispy vocal that takes a bit to grow on you. there is a strength in the subtle approach she uses, and the double track lay out gives a bit more bolster and power to the song. Not a favorite…but it plays really well with this release. The chorus is catchy and well delivered….combing a perfect mix of drums, guitars and synth lines.

Masquerade—-Another really favorite track of mine, I love the end of the song the most off all…when all the double tracks of the song play at once…giving it an irresistible hook appeal you can’t ever forget. Again, the band finds a brilliant middle ground that is able to deliver fantastic guitars and drums with the requisite 80’s synth sound. The vocal is at the very front of the mix…Nunn truly shines here. A remarkable testament that the band had a true direction and ability to deliver.

 

You Don’t Know—-As the track begins, there is a slight throwback sound to the 60’s style music….it seems to fall away as Nunn begins her vocal. This is a bit of a weak track for me. The sound is less power packed and seems a bit airy to me. I’m glad to have it, but I generally skip over this track.

Matter Of Time—-A nice jaunty synth line opens the track. as Nunn begins to sing in an almost robotic style vocal, it fits perfectly into the 80’s playbook of Pop/New Wave songs of the time. the guitars and drums are much more pronounced and up front in the mix. The chorus is a double track affair that sticks in your head and reminds me of something right off of a Josie Cotton record. This is superb.

The Metro—-Another track that allowed the band to continue stacking up hits and plays on MTV, this is a track that can be found on about every 80’s hits compilation. Recognizable from the very first note, the schizoid synth line is addictive as hell. Nunn delivers a mysterious sounding vocal that as the song progresses really shows the power that she is able to emit. This is addictive…it has that perfect recipe of lyrics…vocals and synth line that still sounds incredible today. A true classic.

Will I Ever Understand You—-Much more powerful and guitar based than the past few tracks, this was the kind of stuff that helped to propel the band past the ‘New Wave’ era of the early 80’s. You can’t listen to this and possibly deny the power packed vocal style that Nunn delivered later in the band’s career. There is such a subtle slight angry edge to her vocal….it is sublime but damn effective.

For All Tomorrow’s Lies—-A bit of a lackluster performance for me here. I much prefer the band when they have that more aggressive sound that attracted me to them in the beginning. This is sappy, syrupy sweet and laden with too much melancholy. The vocal is nice…but lacks a true emotion for me.

**** out of 5

 

The Go-Go’s / Beauty And The Beat

Beauty And The Beat (30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)

The Go-Go’s are an American rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1978. The Go-Go’s rose to fame during the early 1980s as an all-female band that both wrote their own songs and played their own instruments, rising to the top of the Billboard album charts.

Their 1981 debut album, Beauty and the Beat, is considered one of the “cornerstone albums of US new wave” (AllMusic), breaking barriers and paving the way for a host of other new American acts. When the album was released, it steadily climbed the Billboard200 chart, ultimately reaching No. 1, where it remained for six consecutive weeks. The album sold over 2 million copies and went double platinum, making it one of the most successful debut albums of all time. The Go-Go’s have sold over 7 million records worldwide.

The Go-Go’s broke up in 1985, but reconvened several times through the 1990s and beyond, recording new material and touring. Though their 2016 performances were billed as a farewell tour, the band remains active on a sporadic ad hoc basis, most recently appearing as guests on a March 2017 episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live!.

Beauty and the Beat is the debut album from Californian new wave band the Go-Go’s. Released in 1981 on the I.R.S. Records label, the album was preceded by the single and signature song “We Got the Beat“, which became a massive club hit in Europe and, later, the United States. When the album was eventually released, it steadily climbed the Billboard 200 chart, ultimately peaking at number one, where it remained for six consecutive weeks, ranking second among Billboard’s Top 100 albums of 1982. The LP sold in excess of two million copies and reached double platinum status, making it one of the most successful debut albums of all time. Critically acclaimed, it has been described as one of the “cornerstone albums of American new wave”

The Analysis—-

Our Lips Are Sealed—-There are such remarkable memories in my brain when i hear this song…really, having embraced the New Wave movement as a kid. I fell in line with these girls from the very first listen. This was remarkable…post-pop-punk music from an all girl group that conjured up the beach…the 50’s…the 70’s and the 80’s all in one song. this was a fantastic introduction to New wave…and MTV loved these girls…..Just a wonderful moment.

 

How Much More—-Fully embracing the Beach sound of the huge girl groups of the 50’s. this was addictive as hell for me. The vocal harmonies that are led by Belinda but by the guitar from Jane as well made this an infectious and fum romp through the yesteryear…but a look to the future as well. god…this song had everything.

Tonite—-A bit more aggressive in the guitar delivery. even the vocal from Belinda is more driven. this was really pure pop perfection at the time. I can only try to describe how much stuff like this meant to a kid in the 80’s…this was a whole new world. The song has a dark mysterious element to it…the guitar and the bass line from Weidlin are masterful. This was an is still incredibly well delivered. these girls were not afraid to party…lol

Lust To Love—-Really one of the overlooked songs on this release, it remains a centerpiece for me on the whole release. There is a remarkable dark element to the music and the lyrics..letting you know that this is not all pure fun pop madness. Belinda delivers a vocal that at times is damn dark and menacing. The remarkable magic of the band is still strong…there is a strong pop element to the entire thing…but if you lift the covers and look underneath. you can find the dark and aggression clearly. a pure masterpiece.

This Town—-This was designed to attract everyone from every town…because this song could be about your very home town right? The girls deliver an almost dirty track that is aggressive in nature…but the bass line from Jane gives the entire thing a punk/new wave feel that stayed true to where the girls started. the vocal harmonies almost make it too pretty….the underlying message a but more aggressive than I imagined it back then. This is a pure pop masterpiece…every element…the guitars….the drums…that bass line…the vocal….just incredible.

We Got The Beat—-Meant to be commercial and a massive hit, this kind of steered away from the true message of the band. Of course, it had kids po-going all over the nation. But the song has a dark message to it as well…this fell back into the roots of the band…fast…aggressive and meant to cause mayhem. This is perfect…but I guess I missed the real meaning at the time.

Fading Fast—-Returning to the darker nature of the band….so many of the songs really spoke of Female Empowerment, this is a remarkable track. The vocal harmonies are like a wet dream…never have voices together sounded so incredible. The disappointment that the lyric describes are perfectly transposed in Belinda and her delivery. This is a huge song….the sound…even in 2017 sounds incredible…the harmonies…the bass line…..the drums. This is brilliant.

Automatic—-And again, we keep the concept clear and concise. The dark feel of the song is remarkable…the vehemence that the vocal is delivered with can be no mistake….these might be really pissed off girls…delivering pop mastery set to a wonderful beat. This just shows…that if you trace the roots of the band back to the very beginning….this huge record really never steered far from the original message they were delivering. This is fantastic…..huge…dark…but damn contagious.

You Can’t Walk In Your Sleep [If You Can’t Sleep]—-I love the pop-punk element of this song. The music is jaunty and the joined vocals provide a nice layer to the dark element of the lyrics. The band is so well rehearsed and delivers a stellar performance. Everyone heralds Belinda so much with this band….but damn Jane Weidlin is a fantastic musician. This is a fantastic track.

Skidmarks On My Heart—-Without a doubt, my favorite track on this release. Belinda sounds so damn pissed off when she delivers her vocal. The drums are fucking incredible. The vocal harmonies add a huge feel to the song…but here…yeah…Belinda is the star and she is pissed at the stupid ass Hetero dude….lol.

 

Can’t Stop The World—-Ending the release with the same aggressive pop sensibility that began it, Belinda and the band are in full pogo mode…leaving the sand splashing in your face from the beach as they go in search of the instruments that will make them giants. The drums are fucking magical on this track. Jane and that bass line leads the whole thing…by the end of this classic release…I’m in an exhausted joy.

*****out of 5

Tears For Fear / Rule The World : The Greatest Hits

Rule The World: The Greatest Hits

Tears for Fears are an English pop rock band formed in Bath in 1981 by Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith. Founded after the dissolution of their first band, the mod-influenced Graduate, they were initially associated with the new wave synthesiser bands of the early 1980s but later branched out into mainstream rock and pop, which led to international chart success. They were part of the MTV-driven Second British Invasion of the US.

Their debut album, The Hurting, released in 1983, reached number one on the UK Albums Chart, while their second album, Songs from the Big Chair, released in 1985, reached number one on the US Billboard 200, achieving multi-platinum status in both the UK and the US. Their second album contained two Billboard Hot 100 number ones: “Shout” and “Everybody Wants to Rule the World“‘, the latter winning the Brit Award for Best British Single in 1986.

Smith and Orzabal parted company in 1991, after the release of their third platinum-selling album The Seeds of Love (1989), though Orzabal retained the Tears for Fears name throughout the remainder of the 1990s. The duo re-formed in 2000 and released an album of new material, Everybody Loves a Happy Ending, in 2004. Since 2013, the duo have been working on their seventh album. Tears for Fears have sold over 30 million albums worldwide

The Analysis—-

Everybody Wants To Rule The World—-It is always interesting to look back at the music that helped to form your teen years and see how it stands the test of time in your adult brain. I was disappointed at yet another Greatest Hits record from this band…but it is always nice to hear the classics again. This track is monstrous…melodic and really does manage to stand the test of time. The two voices when joined together are a force. Roland has that remarkable upper register. The synth drive of the song screams 80’s…it is brilliant.

Shout [7″ Edit]—-Laden with every trademark gimmick of classic 80’s pop music, this song..in it’s heyday was an absolute monster. I assure you….it still plays with exquisite flavor in 2017. That classic vocal…the long notes from Roland that adds depths of emotion to the song…still can give you goosebumps even now. This is a remarkable reminder of why the 80’s still live on with a bit of success.

 

I Love You, But I’m Lost—-One of the new offerings that are offered on this release. I listen to this very carefully…looking for the magic that served as the propulsion for the band in the early years. The sound at the onset is dense, giving way to a synth laden happiness that captures my attention. The vocal is a bit odd for me….they sound more like MGMT to me. the chorus is not the huge affair I expected…but the track does not let me down. There is a catchy element to the song that makes me smile somewhere inside my self…I don’t profess pure love…but I don’t hate it either.

Mad World—-I think the key elements of this track were meant to burrow into your cerebellum and just stay there. this is a recipe laden pop song that hits a perfect 10 on every mark. The jungle drums…the static synth line…the guitar line…the beautiful and perfectly clear vocal…the intermittent horns….how can you go wrong here. This is, for me. pure pop perfection.

Sowing the Seeds Of Love—-This for me, was one of the best tracks the band ever produced. the track shows a progression of sound…while still retaining the trademarks that made the band a huge hit. The slight psychedelic feel of the song propelled them further…while the vocal harmonies were stronger and more intact than ever. The horns at the end of the track were incredible. This is a pure masterpiece…a song I never really ever tire of hearing.

 

Advice For The Young At Heart—-I remember when I first heard this song, I though maybe i was hearing a new song from Icehouse or Icicle Works….I was surprised. This is wonderfully layered with that magic emotion the band was able to produce…as well as a chorus that will live with you…even twenty plus years on. This still sounds great…still sounds important as ever…and still plays in my brain like the very first time. Those voices…it’s like magic.

Head Over Heels—-Perhaps the biggest selling single for the band…and the one that sent them way over the top in the 80’s and the video driven world, this still plays as well as it did from day one. The vocals are so strong…the way the band plays off of each other is just pure magic…there is an almost pulley system between the two….where the voice and the guitar strive to be the best. The synth lines are so strong…producing a magical melody that will never leave you alone…this was a pure magical time.

Woman In Chains [feat. Oleta Adams]—-Funny to hear this song with the climate of the nation today. It seems right in line with all of the stuff that seems t be going on. And the vocal guest from the fantastic Oleta Adams is literally heartbreaking and wrenching. This is timely…and should be played everywhere. the soaring vocals give me goosebumps…this is brilliant…way before it’s time.

Change [Radio Edit]—-Another one of those tracks that carries so many familiar sounds of the times. At certain times, the synth line sounds like a pure rip off of Rio from Duran Duran…..but the vocal kicks in and you know this is classic. The long drawn out vocal sounds from Roland gives the song a remarkable emotional quality….even while the instrumentation plays right up in the front of the song. This is brilliant.

Stay—-The second of the two new tracks on this compilation, I find this rather flat and a bit uninspired for my ears. The trademark sounds of the band seem to be largely missing…where is the play of the back and forth between the members. The vocal sounds almost foreign to me….I really do not like this very much….but I’m still glad to have it.

Pale Shelter [2nd US Version]—-This has that nice synth driven sound that is actually aided by the guitar base of the song. I love the vocal…even though it seems almost hollow in this mix. The voice is one of the key elements of this band…and the way they play back and forth with each other. I wonder what would have happened if a band like INXS would have recorded this…..wow….

Mothers Talk [US Remix]—-This has never been a very favorite track of mine….it seemed like the band was really coming apart during this period…adding all kinds of back drop vocals…nor heavy guitars and a distant between Kurt and Roland…you could smell the dissonance between the two here.

Break It Down Again—-Perhaps one of the most aggressive sounding tracks from the band, it is remarkable in melody and truism. The band offers a new bolder sound…but still managed to keep the base of the sound in the song at the same time. this has a nice anthemic quality to it. I really still love hearing this track. Really a nice memory.

I Believe—-Ghostly and full of a magical sadness that still can raise the hairs on your arms, the vocal is so pre and without any effect. The instrumentation has a slight underlying jazz edge to it that lulls you into the lyric of the track…this is so nice to hear….a magical moment.

Raoul And the Kings Of Spain—-Never a favorite track of mine…..I found nothing that was released around this particular period…out side of Sowing that appealed to me. This is so noisy and unorganized to be…like a smash and haberdasher track to satisfy an obligation….ummm….no……

Closet Thing To Heaven—-Again, there are certain elements of this track i really like. but the band seems to have lost a bit of direction here. The sound…the huge sound they always managed to produce…seems to be missing. The chorus is very nice…but the drums are too loud…the vocal sounds a bit weird as well. I like the melody…but where is the key element we love…the back and forth of the vocal and the guitar…..this is not a favorite….

**** out of 5

 

 

 

 

 

Pet Shop Boys / Elysium: Further Listening 2011-2012

Elysium: Further Listening 2011-2012 (2017 Remastered Version)

Elysium (/iˈlɪziəm/) is the eleventh studio album by English synthpop duo Pet Shop Boys. Released on 5 September 2012, it is the duo’s final album with Parlophone. The album was produced during 2012 in Los Angeles by Andrew Dawson and Pet Shop Boys.

As well as the remastered album with original track-listing, the ‘Further listening’ album of additional material features previously unreleased demos entitled ‘Vocal’, ‘She pops’ and ‘In slow motion’, as well as PSB mixes and remixes of ‘Leaving’ and ‘Memory of the future’.

The Analysis—-

Disc One:

Leaving—-From the very first opening strains of this track, you knew that the boys had fully returned to form after a few forays into a bit less that traditional PSB music. Tennant delivers a vocal line that wraps right around the instrumental melody and aided by backdrop vocalists the song becomes even fuller. This is traditional…remarkable and very damn pleasant.

Invisible—-The wonderfully melancholic strains of the song wrap themselves around your head right from the opening notes. Tennant delivers line after line of alienation that is so damn relatable it is almost sad. I love the underlying hum of sadness that runs through the belly of the song…allowing you to submerse fully into the mood of the song. this is a band that seldom does wrong.

 

Winner—-Originally written and performed for the Olympics, this has long been a very favorite track from this band for me. There is a certain empowering and joyous feel to the song….the whole damn affair seems to make me happy and a bit elated. The double track sound to the vocal…and the sing song delivery from Neil gives the song this huge sound.But it is the chorus of the song that truly brings it all into focus….the joy and the happiness is contagious….all the while the low sad hum underneath of everything adds a perfect landscape of a song that should have been HUGE!!

 

Your Early Stuff—-British humor and tongue in cheek delivery is in full effect here. Tennant has a way of delivering self-effacing lyrics that still produce a magical effect. Of course, The Boys must be realizing the length of time of their career and the difference in music as opposed to now and then. this is a wonderful nod to the past and realizing the future. And in the gay world…this takes on a whole new meaning. Tennant has his pulse on human emotions.

A Face Like That—-Building and building, this becomes a stomper right out of the gate. This has the classic Lowe sound to the synth line…full of shuffling beats that are replaced by the rhythmic dance beats that fill a dance floor. Tennant…by now, knows how to phrase and deliver lines that are in tune to the music…this is a wonderful track. The effects from Lowe come at you from all directions. Neil has a vocal that is echoed and removed from the fore-front…but it is still magical.

Breathing Space—-Surprisingly introduced with an acoustic guitar sound, the song is both airy and filled with emotion. Tennant amazes me….this voice never seems to show age or abuse…it is as remarkable as the very first day. when the chorus of this song hits you….the tears threaten the back of your eyes…the emotion comes right through your speakers. Perhaps this is a tale of an aging musician……wonderfully told.

Ego Music—-Delivering a nice break in the more introspective elements of the album, this delivers a nice simple kind of song…un-complicated and delivered with a bit of fun and a nod back to the Very release with the spoken word kind of delivery. Not a favorite…but a nice break….placement is everything. The lyrics speak of the true life of famous musicians everywhere…..classic.

Hold On—-Another huge and joyous song that seems to speak to me in the saddest and most overwhelming of times. The huge choir of voices gives the song an anthemic feel….you can wrap all of your negative energy around it…press play and send it flying out of the window. This is a beautifully constructed, cheerful and empowering track.

Give It A Go—-This opens with a classic Lowe styled synth line that magically gives way to the mellow crooning from Neil. The stark piano that rides on top of the subtle synth line is a PSB magical moment. I love this…it has every element that is required with a PSB track.

Memory Of The Future—-A nice shuffling synth line…..played underneath of a classic Tennant vocal. This track seemed to garner tons of attention from fans….I mean…I like it….but it was never a pure unadulterated favorite from this release. The chorus is huge and addictive…but repetitive and without tons of substance. I like the music more than the vocal…and that is rare with this band.

Everything Means Something—-An odd intro ushers in an almost orchestrated synth feel…..with a steady bass beat in the backdrop. Tennant delivers a vocal that seems less than heartfelt and almost by rote. I never gelled with this 100%. I like the chorus and the way it opens up…it just seems a bit lackluster to me.

Requiem In Denim And Leopardskin—-A classic proper ending to a PSB release. A tongue in cheek nod to the community that buys every minuscule element of the band and a nod to Tennant. This is the gayest track I have heard since New York City Boy…I love all the references and the true understanding of the community that we live in. The chorus is a huge Gay Parade affair that makes me want to dance and proclaim myself at the top of my lungs. A magical moment.

Disc Two:

Vocal [Demo]—-For a so-called Demo, this is well constructed and delivered in classic PSB fashion. There is nothing in the least under-developed about this track. This is a joyous romp through club-land debauchery that makes me happy….allows me to dance all by myself…and fills me with an unmatched joy that only this band can bring. Brilliant!

She Pops [Demo]—-From the very first note, this is literally BRILLIANT. That low mechanical hum that drives the song underneath everything adds to the feel of the song once Tennant begins to sing. This has a nice retro feel that is so damn addictive…I can’t stop listening to it. Why this was not huge is beyond me. This has every single element that constructs a classic synth pop masterpiece.

Inside [Remastered Version]—-Right from the onset, this was a track that I could take or leave. This duo rarely ever steers me wrong…and this is NOT a bad song…but it sounds a bit uninspired and less than driven to me. Even the vocal seems a bit distant to me….not sure what the problem was here…not a favorite.

In Slow Motion [Demo]—-This has such a classic PSB sound to it…it reminds me of every great moment in this career. The lyrics are tender and real…full of emotion and a certain realness. The synth line is true to form..understated enough that they belie emotion in their very delivery. The vocal is as perfect and clear as from day one. A true classic…..

Listening [Remaster]—-Hmmmm….a slow and plodding synth delivery introduces a vocal that sounds a bit empty…until the ‘chorus’ opens up and delivers a slight dark journey through perfect pop music. The synth swells suck me in…the chorus is what makes this masterful…I don’t care for the line to line of the song…but when you get that hook….damn…you are sucked right in.

Hell [Remaster]—-Returning to full on dance mode, there is a nice jaunty feel to this song that sucks you right in from the very onset. Lowe provides enough blips and bleeps to power a space ship. Tennant relies on a slight lazy vocal that seems to fit the mode of the song in a magical way…these two know each other very well. a nice magical moment.

The Way Through The Woods [Long Version]—-Well…..this really struggles to find a place in my memory bank. there is nothing for me that stands out as incredible for me here. I was a bit disappointed…because I never heard this before…but i find it lackluster and that it tries to hard. Not a favorite at all…..sorry

I Started A Joke [Remaster]—-Whomever decided that The Boys should cover this track was a pure genius. This is a spectacular result…the emotions of the original seem to grow even stronger with this version. This is another magical PSB moment. I freakin’ love this cover….it could be huge the entire world over. Tennant delivers a vocal that is so pained and emotional…i actually cry. This is brilliant.

 

In His Imagination [Remaster]—-A huge shuffling and undeniable PSB synth line introduces this track. This is perhaps one of the most brilliant tracks I have never heard from the duo. this is sad…uplifting…emotional…joyous….full on entendres…..dance able……magical…….and wonderfully PSB. I love this track undeniably. That voice! That bass line….that magical quality…..this is wonderful.

Leaving [Believe In PSB Remix]—-Swirls of an almost Soundtrack quality introduce the track that fall away quickly to a deep house dance floor beat. This version begs you to hit the dance floor and become sweaty and trace dance with the magical synth lines….it is so easy to fall into the trance of the vocal delivery. This is magical. I love the breaks and the airy sound of the mix. Quality!

Leaving [Side By Side Mix]—-This offers a much more sonic feel to the song that is obviously designed for DJ mixing and club play….there is nothing new here…except the breaks that allow for extension…..we all have this already.

Leaving [Freedom Remix]—-This is a much. much, much better remix. The galloping beats and the synth sounds that dance from speaker to speaker are fantastic. The Lowe sound replicates an almost Moroder feel to the song that almost makes you wait for Donna to start singing. This takes a track and escalates it to a level that is historic. By far my favorite…this is magical!

Memory Of The Future [New Single Mix]—-What I really like about this remix is that it begins with the chorus in your brain….so it is already laid in there…that magical quality. Even though Tennant delivers the chorus in ‘real time’ it is already in place…..this is brilliant. I have developed a new affection for this track.

****3/4 out of 5