Friday, 27 February 2015

50 albums to take to my grave #18, #19 & #20

Here are three important albums I've already written about in the past 12 months. The text is lifted from the original articles which I have linked to if you want to read them in full.

#18: Empires And Dance – Simple Minds
(adapted from ‘Great Minds’, 3 March 2014)

I Travel was the opening track on Simple Minds’ third album ‘Empires And Dance’ from 1980. On first listen, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I Travel was hugely influenced by the burgeoning European dance music scene. It’s hard to imagine now, but this song failed to chart on three separate occasions. Today it would be an instant classic. Thirty Frames A Second is begging for a hundred remixers to get their grubby mitts on it and turn it into a dancefloor filler, though it is its spiky minimalism that gives it a unique appeal; and This Fear Of Gods just bubbles and pops with fitful excitement throughout its seven glorious minutes.

‘Empires And Dance’ was, and still is, a brilliant, brilliant record. As a whole it displays qualities that placed it way ahead of many of their contemporaries even if it wasn’t appreciated at the time. Its minimalist approach is heard in so many records released today. You only have to listen to the likes of Alt-J, Hot Chip, Metronomy, CHVRCHES and numerous other current hipster favourites to see how lasting this amazing record is (if only those bands sounded nearly half as good).


#19: So Tough – Saint Etienne
(adapted from ‘This Is Pop!’, 28 Feb 2014)

Pop doesn’t get any poppier than Saint Etienne. Having said that, there is something about their moodiness which sets them apart from the rest. When I say moodiness, I don't mean miserable; Sarah Cracknells' sweet and blissfully light vocals can put a smile on even the grumpiest old git's face. There is a definite air about them, though.

The opening "ooohs" on Mario's Café lead into a glorious stream of observations - the people, actions and conversations in a London caff. Dull? Not likely – it’s a slice of real life. Musically, it's still relevant because a lot of it was quite retro at the time of release; You're In A Bad Way is like an understated Phil Spector-esque girl group minus the wall-of-sound, while Conchita Martinez mixes Italian house piano with a sample of Rush's Spirit Of Radio. Hobart Paving is a lovely song I listen to even when I'm not in the mood for something so light; while Avenue is an entrancing and rather offbeat seven-minute opus which demonstrates a slightly more adventurous side to the group.


#20: Stone Roses – Stone Roses
(adapted from ‘Happy, stoned and cool as f*ck’, 7 April 2014)

Everyone seemed to be constantly banging on about the Stone Roses in 1989 but I remained rather cautious about them, refusing to be drawn into the hype machine. Then one day I heard their album and it all changed.

The Stone Roses’ eponymous debut album is often cited in such lists as ‘greatest debut albums of all time’, ‘records that changed the world’, ‘best ever records ever made ever!’, and in all honesty I can’t find myself disputing its eligibility. In spite of my guarded, cynical approach, that record blew me away, and it pretty much still blows me away to this day. While I maintain R.E.M.’s ‘Lifes Rich Pageant’ has the best opening sequence of songs on an album, without a doubt the best closing sequence occurs on ‘The Stone Roses’: Shoot You Down, This Is The One and I Am The Resurrection. Impossible to separate those tracks, in my opinion, they work as one.



  1. Three great choices - SImple Minds anther contender for the When They Were Good series along side Rod Stewart,UB40 and Dwight Yoakam

  2. 3 fine choices! Love old Simple Minds

  3. Choosing and Imperial Period Simple Minds is nearly impossible for me...But it would be between Empires and Dance and Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call. The Stone Roses grows on me the further away from The Nineties we get. As for Saint Etienne, their brilliance is in never repeating themselves but allowing all the puzzle pieces of their albums fit so well together.