Categories
Vinyl

Vinyl love: The Charlatans “A head full of ideas”

(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: The Charlatans
Album Title: A head full of ideas
Year released: 2021
Details: Limited edition, indies only opaque white vinyl, 3 x LP, includes “Live _ Trust is for believers”, and signed art print

The skinny: One of my favourite bands for most of my life, The Charlatans (or The Charlatans UK in North America), were all set to celebrate their 30th anniversary last year. Of course, COVID derailed that, just as it did everything. Instead, the group announced plans to celebrate their 31st anniversary earlier this year, including a tour in their native England and a career spanning compilation. Of course, I jumped right on the pre-order for this white opaque, three disc version and it just arrived in the mail a few days ago. The first disc glosses over the highlights of their heyday in the 1990s. The second disc collects everything that has come from this surviving and thriving group since the turn of the century. And the bonus disc includes live cuts of tracks that haven’t appeared on the first two, recorded at a number of different shows throughout their whole existence. It’s a great collection that illustrates the group’s resiliency and chameleonic evolution, a nice trip down memory lane, and well, the autographed photo insert is just a nice touch.

Standout track: “The only one I know”

Categories
Tunes

100 best covers: #55 Smashing Pumpkins “Never let me down again”

<< #56    |    #54 >>

I’d consider myself a pretty big fan of Depeche Mode, especially of their period spanning the late 1980s to the late 1990s. In fact, last year on these very pages, I did a series of three posts on the iconic synth pop band, each one focusing on my top five tunes of their three very distinct eras: the prolific 1980s, the popular 1990s, and everything that followed, in a more experimental but still very relevant vein.

Near the end of that middle and very popular period in the 90s, a tribute album was put together by the artists and management team behind the industrial rock group, God Lives Underwater. Titled “For the masses”, it featured reimaginings by said band, but also by The Cure, Veruca Salt, Meat Beat Manifesto, and yes, Smashing Pumpkins. I bought the compilation on compact disc, of course, but was mostly disappointed with it and only ever listened to it a few times. And often those few times that it found itself in my player were because I had a hankering to listen to one of the disc’s meagre bright spots, that is, the track that we are focusing on today.

Smashing Pumpkins originally included their cover of “Never let me down again” as a B-side to the single, “Rocket”, released in 1994, just as they were breaking into the mainstream. The cover’s later inclusion on this compilation was the impetus for my buying the CD, after hearing it quite a bit on alternative radio. It is one of the few examples here that the covering artist really remakes the subject matter into their own thing. Where the original was robotic, dark, cold, and practically unemotional, Billy Corgan and gang inject a bit of warmth and yes, some increased sensuality to the proceedings. They take the convertible out for a ride in sunshine, still wearing sunglasses and cool, of course, the guitars are jangling and the drumming peppy, and Corgan is all snarls and whispery and just this side of screaming it out.

Yeah, it’s a great cover. Can I really say it’s better than Mode’s original synth pop evocation of drug euphoria? Nope.Do I think it’s still worth playing over and over? Oh yes.

Cover:

The original:

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

Categories
Randomness Tunes

“Sit down”

“I’ll sing myself to sleep
A song from the darkest hour”

It’s been a few weeks now since I’ve posted to these pages. And this is not like the last time I took a break from posting back in July, when I decided I needed a break and took a planned vacation. No, this break wasn’t planned at all. It just happened. The words weren’t coming so I didn’t force them.

Much like 2020, the year 2021 has been a hard one for me and I’m sure it’s been the same for many of you. It’s not just the pandemic though, there’s a lot of things, just as there always seem to be, but now they are exacerbated by our collective current situation. Thankfully, music has been a blessing through all of this. That’s the truth. And the blogging about music through all of this has also been a gift, but at the same time, it’s also been a hefty weight. And in stepping back from it for the second time this year, I’ve asked myself a number of times if I should continue on or simply pack it in.

“If I hadn’t seen such riches
I could live with being poor”

The answer came to me while spinning vinyl on the eve of my birthday this past weekend and one of my favourite songs by one of my favourite bands came up. Singing along to these words, as I have so many times, I decided that there’s no way I should pack this in. There’s still so much music to write about, and gush over, and over and over, if necessary. But I also decided that I don’t want to continue on in the same way. I don’t want this to be a weight. I don’t want to be posting words just because I feel obliged to do so.

So instead, I am going to post words when it feels right to do so. The posts may come less on a rigid schedule and less frequently, but hopefully, they will be even more worthy of your time and attention. I have a couple pieces in the pipe that should see the light of day soon but in the meantime, let’s have another listen to this great number that topped my list of tunes for 1991.

Yeah, sing it with me…

“Those who feel the breath of sadness
Sit down next to me
Those who find they’re touched by madness
Sit down next to me
Those who find themselves ridiculous
Sit down next to me”