Sunday 26 November 2017

So Tough

A bunch of Saint Etienne albums were recently reissued on vinyl. I think they are limited pressings so are not available for long. I made sure I grabbed a copy of my fave Saint Etienne record 'So Tough', a record I love so much it made my list of albums to take to my grave. Even now, some 24 years after its release, 'So Tough' delights me. It hasn't dated one jot, maybe because it was imbued with the past throughout, very retro yet very modern and timeless all at the same time.

It's easy to love any of its individual songs, but ultimately 'So Tough' should be enjoyed as a whole. That said, here's a couple of the singles released from it. Avenue remains a long-standing fan favourite, though the single edit sounds a bit rough to me. The full 7-minute version is perfect; this cropped version doesn't really do it justice, but nonetheless, it's still a great way to spend four minutes.

Better still is Hobart Paving. This is by far my favourite Saint Etienne moment. This single version eclipses the album mix. The added strings sound beautiful, but for me the highlight is the wonderfully mournful French Horn solo absent from the album mix. A real eye-moistener.

Monday 13 November 2017

The Genius of Nick Cave

#28: Night Of The Lotus Eaters [extended version]

One of Nick's most hypnotic and eerie songs, it's essentially based on Mick Harvey's three-note riff repeated over and over. Taken from 2008's 'Dig!!! Lazarus, Dig!!!' album, it's credited to the Bad Seeds, but sounds more like what Grinderman were doing around that time. In fact, the line-up - in the video at least - features only three Bad Seeds: Warren Ellis and Jim Sclavunos were both in Grinderman with Nick, but here it's Harvey in place of Martyn P. Casey.

The meaning of the song is rather opaque. In Greek mythology the lotus-eaters were a race of people living on an island dominated by lotus plants. The lotus fruits and flowers were the primary food of the island and were a narcotic, causing the inhabitants to sleep in peaceful apathy. Nick uses chivalrous symbolism for the role against the "philistines and barbarians" - a heater is a kind of shield and a sap is a short club. Therefore are the lotus eaters the brainwashed materialistic masses "roaming the shopping malls"? Is he urging us to fight back against our "catastrophic leaders" to keep our honour and integrity? Or am I way off the mark?