Category Archives: Music Reviews

How Insensitive

I burned 6 or 7 CDs today. With esther’s spanky new computer, this isn’t hard at all. If you have a master disc to copy from (I was mostly making copies of existing compilations I’d made before), it can be done in around 6 minutes, with no pissing around copying files to the harddrive and deleting them. Pretty cool, huh… I made a new brasilian compilation for a friend I’m doing a trade with. This involved trawling through a lot of old archived mp3s as well as encoding some vinyl. A self-indulgent but quite fun way to spend a Sunday. Hit of the day was probably ‘How insensitive’ by Elis Regina. The song is so well known that you wouldn’t expect this to be all that compelling, but the infectious, relentless rhythm, coupled with string arrangements by Peter Knight, who did some of the arrangements on Scott Walker‘s solo albums, make for a really delicious track.

Another mp3 I’m enjoying at this exact moment is Francoise Hardy‘s obscure English language version of Ennio Morricone‘s ‘se telefonando’, most famously recorded by Mina. ‘I will change my life’ is a slighly clumsy sounding track; the backing is identical to that of Francoise’s French version (‘je changerais d’avis’), but somehow the English words don’t sit so well: ‘I will change my whole life everything I ought to remember will soon be gone….I will change my whole life if that’s what you want I’d be glad to let you leave me…oh….I will change all my friends if that’s what you’d like and do anything you want me…to…..if you really love me I know I could give it all up and change my whole life…for…you’. Oddly, this track was only ever referred to as ‘I will change me life’, which as well as making no sense is clearly not what she sings. Hmm.

Posted in Music Reviews | Leave a comment

Wow, I got so stressed today I really thought I was going to lose it. But, no thanks to a certain travel agent, I didn’t, and am going to London tomorrow for a week. I might update this site. But I might start working out and eating meat, so I wouldn’t hold your breath. I’ll be back on Tuesday 9th July.

In the meantime, I have some news: it looks as if I have joined a band, as lead guitarist, possibly playing a bit of sax as well. It’s a dark, twangy, nicely retro sounding band, and I’m rather excited about the whole thing. Nice one.

I’ve also bought quite a few new records recently. No time to properly log them in, but if anyone else has the new Belle & Sebastian single, did you notice how the second track completely rips off a Lee Hazlewood song from ‘requiem for an almost lady’. It’s odd – it’s not even a very special melody which they steal, but it’s distinctive enough that I’m pretty sure they lifted it. They should stick to ripping off their own melodies – they do it so well!

I also made a very funky compilation for my friend Dan, who I’ll be seeing in London. I’ve added it to my compilations page. Cheers!

Scott Walker: 'Scott' (CD; Fontana; 1967)
Show Details
click to see larger image and full details
This is a pretty incredible album, full of strong emotions and dense orchestrations. I am utterly enamoured with Scott, yet there are definitely sides to his work which I greatly prefer over others. For example, this opens with 'Mathilde', one of his Brel covers, sung in a flamboyant, caberet style (he also does Brel's 'my death' and 'amsterdam' on this album). It's brilliant, and extremely fun when you're in the mood for it, but for me at least, that's not every day. However, I could listen to 'Montague Terrace in Blue', and especially 'Angelica', every day. Scott's croony, Sinatra-esque side comes out on great tracks like 'When Joanna Loved me' and 'You're gonna hear from me', while 'lady came from Baltimore' has a more folky, country-ish feel. Aside from 'Angelica', my favorites on this album are all written by Scott himself - the superb 'Such a small love' and the truly incredible 'always coming back to you', in which Scott mourns an old love with incredible lucidity and elegance.

note: the orchestrations on this album are by Wally Stott and Peter Knight. Peter Knight went on to orchestrate Elis Regina's 'Elis Regina in London' album, while Wally Stott went on to become a woman.

Posted in Music Reviews, Musical Projects | Leave a comment

Don’t Follow Me

I read about a new mp3 format today, mp3pro. It seems pretty cool. In a nutshell, it uses a better encoding method, with the result that songs encoded at 64kbps sound more like they were encoded at 128 kbs. You can check this out by downloading a trial player from this URL and listening to my silly album, which I’ve encoded at 64kbps using the new system – all tracks are available here.

Last night I was at Bar d’O for the monthly In Hi-fi party. It was pleasant as always. I managed to muster the stamina to stay and hear all the different DJs – Scott, Jack, plus guests The Millionaire and Chuck Kelly. A few cuts I’ve been really into recently were aired – e.g. ‘Cry baby cry’ by Ramsey Lewis, and ‘mlfjklsdjfl;asdfkj sld’ (an unpronouncable name I can’t remember) by Stu Phillips from the ‘Follow me’ soundtrack.

Posted in Digital Music, Music Reviews | Leave a comment

We’ll let you know

Lots of nice musical experiences today. The first was an email from my friend Phil of the group The Coronets. They have made a new demo, and are doing a gig in London on June 22nd. I listened to the demo mp3s and they are excellent. Listening to exquisiteIy recorded tracks like ‘goodnight’ made me realize that I really need to practice more often so that my own recordings sound less sloppy. Anyway, they play a rather charming brand of gentle pop – check out their website.

I also got a few things in the mail. On CD, from the used store Django’s, I got the Spiritualized ‘Abbey Road’ ep, which I bought so that I could hear the different versions of ‘Broken Heart. For some reason I’m not in the mood to hear variations of this superbly orchestrated pop mini-symphony today, so I’ll report back on it at a later date.

Also from Django’s, I got the Tony Hatch compilation ‘Hatchback’ on Sequel. It’s really a very interesting compilation. Unlike others in the series, this includes more than just straight 60s easy listening and film music, and extends into the mid/late 70s with a few interesting disco/light funk numbers. The best tracks on the disc (on first listen) are the really great lush brasilian style ones – e.g. ‘sole bossa nova’, ‘brasilia mission’ – and the gentle, quiet ethereal ones – e.g. ‘return to the stars’. Other great ones are pretty straight-ahead 60s pop numbers without the vocals – e.g. ‘you’re the one’, ’round every corner’ (which I remember Jack or Scott from In Hi-fi playing a lot). Some tracks are quirky in a way which grates slightly to me – e.g. ‘El Payaso’, ‘Who dun it’, and many have something of a generic, library music feel (e.g. ‘latin velvet’ seems to rip off ‘how insensitive’, ‘who dun it’ seems to rip off ‘felicidade’). However, the best tracks easily make up for this. The compilation has been out since 1997; I’m a little I’m glad I managed get it in the end.

A couple of records from ebay also arrived: Julie London with ‘Julie’, and Ramsey Lewis‘s ‘Another Voyage’. This was the first Julie London purchase I had made in a couple of years, but I was tempted by the incredible cover (it’s the one with Julie lying down in a butterfly chair) and the fact that the album isn’t on CD. I bought Ramsey Lewis‘s ‘Another voyage’ because it is the original album which the fine track Do what you wanna appeared on. I hope the rest is as good. Based on recent experience, it should be good (based on it being a)ramsey lewis, b) on cadet and c) from 1969).

Finally, I actually got into a Morrissey album today for the first time in a few years. I was a huge, huge fan back in the 80s and early 90s. But somehow these last few years I have been too busy exploring other stuff. Still, I’ve been hanging out at recently, and enthusing along with people about Moz. So I figured I should listen to him again and revive my interest, since the peak of my previous interest was probably in the year 1992. I listened to 1992’s ‘Your arsenal’, and yeah, it’s a great album, if a little ‘rock’ for my recent tastes. I particularly enjoyed ‘we’ll let you know’, and my long time favorite, ‘I know it’s gonna happen some day’.

Posted in Music Reviews | Leave a comment


Well, I’m back. The lack of recent posts has been due to the fact that while at work I have been working hard, and while at home I’ve been mostly sleeping. I have no major new music purchases to report; I did get a used CD in the mail last week – the Young Holt Trio‘s ‘Wack Wack’ album from 1967. It’s pretty nice – very like the Ramsey Lewis material from the earlier 60s, except possibly a little simpler, with a tiny bit of funny spoken stuff over the top (e.g. ‘You KNOW I love you baby….!’).
Other music related activity – I finished ‘Impossible music’, and will post the entire thing here for all my screaming fans. I think it’s pretty awful, very silly and under-rehearsed. But I’m glad I did it anyway. High(low)lights? Well, there are 12 songs, a few of which are really 40 second fillers. Of the songs with any substance at all (and there’s not much), ‘Komorov’s Dream‘ is quite interesting (if you like sheer nonsense involving backwards russian speech), ‘warmer times‘ is nice and summer-y, even though it’s a total new order/Smiths/Cocteau Twins rip-off. What else… ‘Impossible music‘ the title track is a ludicrous sound collage; I don’t like it at all, but I smile when I hear it. I’ll maybe introduce a couple more tracks tomorrow, but I’m warning you, these are probably the best ones…Also, esther and I changed the CDs in our 101 CD jukebox. Here is a list of the CDs I put in there. I may annotate this at some point. It’s always nice to listen to a few tracks on random play after changing the CDs – lots of interesting tracks I never knew I had always seem to come on…

Posted in Music Reviews, Musical Projects | Leave a comment


I’m exhausted after staying up late finishing most of my ‘impossible music’ last night. I will post some mp3s here at some point when I’m feeling less shy. I’ve never publicized this little vanity journal beyond telling one person about it, so it’s quite possible that I’m talking to myself here. Which is absolutely fine, don’t get me wrong…

Anyway, the records from yesterday were pretty excellent. I really enjoyed ‘The soul of’ Paul Mauriat‘; it’s all fun, upbeat orchestral versions of 60s soul classics. I could tell why ‘You keep me hangin’ on’ gets the most attention though – it opens with a deliciously mod sitar go-go sound which makes it just that little bit hipper…

The Francis Lai album (‘plays the compositions of….’), while on the quiet side, has some great arrangements and a very cool organ sound throughout. One outstanding track made me glad I bought it: ‘footprints on the moon‘, a superb, gently funky soundtrack piece with wordless vocals and Carpenters ‘we’ve only just begun’ style horns. The LP is from 1973, and it’s interesting to note the gradual change in atmosphere which seems to have occurred in orchestral LPs since the late 60s, when most my other favorites were recorded…I still really enjoy the sound on this one, but I am less into the mid-late 70s easy listening sound. Dig those disco LPs though…

I only took a quick listen to Walter Wanderley‘s ‘Kee-ka-roo’. It sounded excellent, with some groovy tracks like ‘canto d’ossanha’ and ‘music to watch girls by’. It turns out that this LP is from 1967, and is therefore before the ‘Popcorn’ album I mentioned yesterday. The actual track ‘kee-ka-roo’ is far less cool than the version on ‘Popcorn’, I would say. A very cool LP though; I think, bizarrely, that the only Walter LP on verve I don’t own now is ‘Rain Forest’, the most common one of all.

The Ramsey Lewis‘s ‘Mother nature’s son’ is quite superb, super-funky orchestral pop with electric piano and touches of moog. Definitely one of my favorites of the albums of his I have, and I like them all. Alas, someone outbid me in my attempt to buy 16 of his LPs in one ebay lot…

Finally, Gianni Marchetti‘s ‘The Wild Eye’ soundtrack was probably the most disappointing of my new acquisitions. Maybe I’m just pampered/bloated by the glut of ‘easy tempo’ compilations, but this didn’t really hold my interest. There were a couple of pretty nice wordless vocal soundtrack pieces, but either they weren’t so hot, or I wasn’t in the mood….

Anyway, I have to go design the cover for my silly little record.

Posted in Music Reviews, Musical Projects | Leave a comment


Today I’ve been listening to Julie London‘s sublime and wonderful ‘Julie is her name’ and ‘Julie is her name Vol 2′ albums. I’ve hardly listened to them in the last couple of years, since my peak of Julie-mania, which was in late 98/early 99. They really are superb though, and it’s not hard to see why ‘Julie is her name’ is commonly hailed as a landmark album. Julie’s voice manages to sound beautifully musical at the same time as heart-breakingly frail and vulnerable. The incredibly clean and minimal arrangements featuring Barney Kessel on guitar are also superb. I was amazed to find out that this US EMI 2 on 1 CD is now out of print. Perhaps all their remaining copies were bought up after Julie died last year. Either way, they should really repress it. I was pretty sad when Julie died, but at least felt glad that it meant something to me. Too many great people (e.g. Antonio Carlos Jobim, Henry Mancini) died just before I figured out how great they were…

Posted in Music Reviews | Leave a comment


Enjoyed listening to Astrud Gilberto‘s ‘I haven’t got anything to do’ album this morning. It’s from 1970, and is on a Japanese CD which I extravagantly bought at Tower earlier in the year. Actually, Tower has decent prices on some Japanese titles, particularly when they have a $3 off everything sale.

Anyway, I stopped by Academy at lunchtime and picked up three things:
– The World Shopping with Space Ponch. I bought this because it was very cheap and I had a feeling it was recommended on the exotica mailing list a while back. Anyway, it’s ok – synth-laden electro pop with a lot of vocoder and some Jean-Jacques Perrey-style electronic samples (much like the ones Stereolab used on their ‘Transient Random Noisebursts…’ LP.
Kirsty MacColl – Tropical Brainstorm. It might seem as if I’m being morbid, but I really wanted to hear this. She died last year (was run over by a boat or something), and I was pretty sad about it. One of my first records was Kirsty’s rendition of Billy Bragg‘s ‘A new England’. After that I found that she was a very handy popstar to be into – I was eleven years old, and was able to afford her records because they were normally reduced to 20 or 30p in WH Smith… I remember being very young and listening to ‘He’s on the beach’ and ‘Terry’. They were cool records. Anyway, ‘tropical brainstorm’ sounds nice enough. It’s very smoothly produced with a kind of radio-friendly electronic-cuban pop hybrid thing going on. Kirsty still maintains her sardonic, detached vocals, but a lot has changed since the singles of the mid 80s. There is a lot of humor on the album – one song is about cybersex with an anonymous Dutchman. All in all, a weird purchase – I wouldn’t have bought this if she hadn’t died; I probably won’t listen to it much; yet I’m enjoying listening to it… hmm….

– I also bought a used copy of Neutral Milk Hotel‘s ‘in the aeroplane over the sea’. I haven’t listened to this yet, and it was bought entirely on a (very strong) recommendation from Tim, who works for my company. He is so mentally into this band that I figured I’d better check it out. I haven’t listened to it yet, but I’ll write about it here when I do…

Posted in Music Reviews | Leave a comment

Tower outlet

My oh my -only three days since I posted; I’ve bought so many records since! And tonight is the WFMU fair….

On Tuesday I stopped by Tower Outlet (now moved to above Tower Books on Lafayette St at 4th, nyc) and found myself stuck in there for hours. All midpriced CDs were reduced to $8, which seemed like a good deal.
I picked up Trio Mocoto‘s self-titled 1973 album on a Brazilian CD this way. Trio Mocoto were Jorge Ben‘s backing band, and were pretty cool on their own. Without the genius Jorge there they lack focus slightly, but there are still some great numbers (‘disculpe’ struck me as excellent) and even a Bacharach cover (raindrops keep falling on my head, sung in Porguese).

I also got what, incredibly, was my first Bob Dylan album on CD, Blonde on Blonde. I have never been into Dylan remotely. I own probably 10 of his records, picked up at charity/thrift shops/yard sales over the years; never listened to them. But some friends of mine have become so obsessed by him that they have opened my eyes slowly. Why is it that I always get into things in such a strange order? I guess without the internet my path might have been more linear. I say this because the thing which really struck me most about this album on first listen was how much ‘I want you’ was ripped off by Belle and Sebastian on their sublime ‘The state that I am in’.

The $8 thing was also enough to persuade me to pick up the Pixies album ‘Trompe le Monde’, which was the one album of theirs I never had. One of many recent purchases I haven’t listened to yet.

The last purchase was a $2.99 Mystic Moods Orchestra ‘One stormy night’ CD, sealed, which turned out not to have the CD in it. Very odd, and the first time that has ever happened to me.

Tower outlet also sells vinyl, and incredibly, they seemed to have old, unplayed cutout soundtrack stock from the 60s. I think perhaps someone had been in before me and wiped most of it out, but I managed to pick up Johnny Williams‘s score to the 1966 film ‘Penelope’. It’s extremely groovy; the first track features a vocal group and sounds very reminiscent of Free Design. I was pretty happy with that at $5; I passed up on Quincy Jones‘s ‘Enter laughing'; hope I didn’t screw up… Finally, I got a Bud Shank album of movie themes on World Pacific from the mid-late 60s. Some of this is pretty sleepy, but a couple of the tracks are great Lalo Schifrin numbers (one is even from his impossibly rare ‘Murderer’s row’ soundtrack), and at least one other has that groovy 1966 rocking now sound feel.

Posted in Music Reviews | Leave a comment