Vinyl love: Adorable “Against perfection”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: Adorable
Album Title: Against perfection
Year released: 1993
Year reissued: 2018
Details: 180 gram, Limited edition, 25th anniversary reissue, Flaming orange vinyl, numbered 532/1500

The skinny: It’s the Thanksgiving long weekend here Canada and the leaves are in the midst of their annual change from boring green to the splendours of yellows, oranges, and reds. To celebrate the season, I thought I’d spin and share one of my favourite vinyl pieces that is coloured to match the leaves that are currently falling and filling up my yard. This reissue of Adorable’s debut album, “Against perfection”, was given the limited edition treatment by Music on Vinyl for the 25th anniversary of its original release. The album originally came out just as shoegaze was on the wane but because of the string of singles that preceded it (more of which appeared on the US release that I still have on CD), it still sold reasonably well. The singles even did quite well on Alternative radio here in Canada, especially the song below, which is where I first heard them and got hooked. And the album still sounds amazing.

Standout track: “Homeboy”

100 best covers: #74 The Charlatans “Time for livin'”

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In the very first post in this series, I made mention of the compilation, “The Help Album”. It was a charity album to raise funds for War Child, an organization that helps “children in war-affected communities reclaim their childhood through access to education, opportunity and justice”*. All of the songs, along with a handful that were released on a companion EP, were recorded on one day, Monday, September 4th, 1995, mixed the following day, and released to the buying public a few days later, on Saturday, September 9th. The artwork on the copy of the compilation that I still have on CD did not make mention of any of the artists or songs, given how quick everything came together. Instead, a yellow sticker was affixed to the front of the disc with this pertinent information.

The songs on the album are all performed by Irish and English artists that were current at the time and given the year, you might be unsurprised to see that many of them were associated to the BritPop movement. Some of the songs were those that the bands had been demoing for upcoming albums, some were reimagined, previously released songs, and many, many more were covers. Hence, my mention of this album today. And besides this particular cover by The Charlatans of the Sly and the Family Stone tune, “Time for livin'”, Manic Street Preachers’ cover of “Raindrops keep falling on my head” has already appeared in this series at the aforementioned 100 spot and I’m reasonably certain without looking at my list that there might be one or two more songs from this compilation to appear later on.

The Charlatans were one of my favourite bands from the early 1990s. I had adored their first two baggy-infused albums but was slightly disappointed by their third. In early September 1995, however, they were just over one week removed from releasing their fourth, eponymously named album and to me this was a remarkable ‘comeback’ of sorts. And this cover fits right in with the sound and energy of that album, all danceable rhythms, roaring guitars, and Rob Collins’ wailing organs. It actually ranks up there with my favourite recordings by the band, not actually knowing it was a cover until many years later. Then, when I found out, I avoided listening to the Sly and the Family Stone original until just a few days ago because I just couldn’t imagine a different version. I mean, Tim Burgess singing those lines: “Time for changin’, re-arrangin’, no time for peace, just pass the buck. Rearrangin’, leader’s changin’, pretty soon he might not give a f**k.” C’mon!

So apologies to those fans out there of the original, but I’m going with the cover here. You can go ahead and try but I don’t think you’ll change my mind,

The cover:

The original:

For the rest of the 100 best covers list, click here.

* This quote is taken directly from the charity organization’s website.

Best tunes of 2011: #7 The Decemberists “This is why we fight”

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Let me get this out of the way right now. The Decemberists are one of my absolute favourite bands to come out of this young century.

I got into the Portland-based indie folk five-piece right around the time that they were prepping to release their third album, the very excellent “Picaresque”, in 2005. Incidentally, that album would ultimately become their final release as a true indie band, given that they signed to Columbia near the end of that same year. Any fears that they would sell out, though, were immediately dispelled when their debut album on the major label was released. Indeed, I’m sure their fans breathed a sigh of relief (as I did) while listening to the three part title track inspired by a Japanese folk tale and the twelve minute prog-folk-rocker that riffed on the themes from a Shakespeare play. They then followed that up with an album that was originally meant to be staged as a musical but was ultimately found impossible to mount.

Two years later, in the first few days of 2011, we saw Colin Meloy and the group release what is possibly their most accessible album to date and two weeks later it incredibly found its way at the top of the U.S. album charts. “The king is dead” is different from the albums that came before it in that it feels more singular in sound, taking for its focus a healthy steeping in Americana and the American folk traditions. Meloy has said that he had the band R.E.M. at the front of mind while writing the material. In fact, Peter Buck makes several appearances on the album, along with singer/songwriter Gillian Welch.

Neither of these appear on our track for today, the album’s penultimate track, “This is why we fight”, but that doesn’t mean their presence isn’t felt. It rocks a little harder than most of the other songs on the album, a driving drum beat pushing the thing forward, holding at arms length the opposing guitars, on the one side dark and foreboding and the other hopeful and jangly, and what sounds like harmonicas, though oddly distorted, pushing its sad, sad agenda. And of course, I can’t speak about The Decemberists without mentioning the lyrics, though here Meloy’s words are less esoteric and doesn’t necessarily have you reaching for the dictionary as often. Instead, he lists the many reasons why it may be necessary to take up arms, leaving lots of room to interpret how literal to take things.

“This is why
Why we fight
Why we lie awake
This is why
This is why we fight
And when we die
We will die
With our arms unbound”

Even in the video, the teens living out a “Lord of the flies” existence in a post-apocalyptic world, we see the build up and the “why” of the fight but it all goes to black before the two sides come blows, leaving the terms of the conflict up to the imagination. Pure awesome.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2011 list, click here.