I began something of a love affair with the albums of Ladytron in 2013 and have been playing them relentlessly ever since.
I’d previously heard ‘He Took Her To A Movie’ on a Lamacq Evening Session, donkey’s years ago, circa 2001, and of course it wasn’t long later ‘Destroy Everything You Touch’ was so big. Quite why it took me a decade to fall into them properly will remain a mystery. And it just so happened that the timing of my fandom fell in the early part of an 8 year barren spell for albums, ‘Gravity The Seducer’ of 2011 being the last release until this year’s eponymous ‘Ladytron’. Typically me to find them just as they go dark. But it was a good chance to play their old stuff over and over and get into the back catalogue without the distraction of new stuff.
In 2009 they visited the US radio station KCRW for a live set during the promotion of that year’s album ‘Velocifero’. I discovered this many years later while in a YouTube rabbit hole. For some reason the official channel doesn’t have it, but this channel does.
And while I don’t listen to a lot of their live output, some of the versions here are the best I’ve ever heard. Discotraxx in particular.
Perhaps this set is a more accessible way to get into them than their albums, particularly some of the earlier albums have tracks that really aren’t all that accessible. Perhaps the occasional song in Bulgarian doesn’t help! The hooks, though…
And I just like watching how they do their thing live. It helps that this set contains some of my favourite songs.
Anyway, this is a band that really ought to be more in the popular consciousness than they are, beyond niche or specialist stations. I imagine they’ve influenced a great many artists who are. Give it a whirl.
2. Destroy Everything You Touch
3. Soft Power
4. Black Cat
I’ve intended for a while to write more about music. Here is a great opportunity – recently one of those Facebook memes was doing the rounds, of the type I usually ignore, but this one got my attention. It was fun to think back!
List 10 albums that made a lasting impression on you as a TEENAGER, but only one per band/artist. Don’t take too long and don’t think too much. Re-post your answers on your own timeline and tag me.
Oasis – What’s The Story (Morning Glory)
Sleeper – The It Girl
Blur – Parklife
Manic Street Preachers – Everything Must Go
Placebo – Without You I’m Nothing
Stereophonics – Performance And Cocktails
Radiohead – OK Computer
Echobelly – On
Space – Spiders
Idlewild – Hope Is Important
I was definitely a 90’s Britpop/indie/rock teen! I didn’t start listening to albums and developing a taste in music until I was 15, in 1995, and didn’t explore older stuff and other genres until I was 19 or 20. I think most people start discovering music in their teens. Prior to ’95 I was listening to a small handful of ‘various artists’ cassettes. Then I started making mixtapes with a lot of stuff from the above list and more.
The one album per artist rule made it difficult! I wanted to include The Masterplan by Oasis,the B-sides album really was better than a lot of other artists primary albums, and The Great Escape by Blur though looking at it today I don’t think that one stood the test of time. I liked Definitely Maybe but didn’t listen to it as often.
You have to write the list in one go without spending too long on it. After writing it I realised I could swap out Idlewild or Space and put in Bring It On by Gomez or perhaps Free Peace Sweet by Dodgy. I also went through a phase of very heavily listening to a Queen mixtape I’d made.
And obviously The Bends is as much as classic Radiohead album as OK Computer, but it was released before I was really paying attention – OK Computer really was the one that got me to pay attention to them, especially the video to Karma Police.
What’s The Story was my first ever album on CD format, it was given to me for Christmas.
Sleeper I found through a (now former) school friend and I became addicted this album, which turned out to be the best of their three as well as most successful.
Without You I’m Nothing seemed a perfect fit for an angst-ridden 18 year old and made for a great driving album! I’m not sure I’d listen to it now when driving, but at 18..
Space were always a bit quirky and I did like that album a lot at the time. I think they’re often forgotten today.
Idlewild was what came to mind while writing, again another one that suited an angst-ridden 18 year old. Hope Is Important is a very raw album that sounds nothing like their polished radio-friendly later work.
‘Playing Favourites’ is an irregular series in which I share some of my favourite albums, or just whatever I’m listening to at the time. I’ve wanted to do this since I started the blog, then Christine’s album adventure inspired me to make the effort to actually do it.
These aren’t really reviews and they aren’t new discoveries, though they might be sometimes. More a slightly self-indulgent sharing of some things I like. Some albums will be very well known, others may just have a few highlights, others I think deserve to be bigger and more widely-known than they are. All in my humble opinion, of course.
First up is something for this amazing hot summer of 2018 we’re enjoying.
It combines a mixture of vocal pop with more club-focused dance tracks, with a strong house influence. This is an album of collaborations with Disclosure providing the music and guest singers lending their voices.
When MJ Cole released ‘Sincere‘ and ‘Crazy Love’, back in about 2000, the sound I hoped would follow is what Disclosure have created in this album. It really does feel like an advancement on that style (which was a clear departure from the UK Garage scene it was included within) – I’m glad it exists.
Probably the most familiar songs from the time of release are ‘Latch’ featuring Sam Smith giving a great performance, and ‘White Noise’ featuring AlunaGeorge. ‘White Noise’ makes me feel like I’m in a club aged 20 again.
Other highlights include ‘You & Me’ (ft. Eliza Doolittle), ‘Defeated No More’ (ft. Ed MacFarlane from Friendly Fires) – and ‘Voices’ (ft. Sasha Keable), which I never heard anywhere at the time yet is one of the best on the album.
For me, ‘When A Fire Starts To Burn’ and ‘Grab Her!’, though very catchy, they aren’t my thing. The first has a really good hook and I wish they’d not looped the vocal so often as I think it takes away from it. The other I don’t care for at all and it just doesn’t fit the rest of the album. I think they learned this for ‘Caracal’, the second album, which is more flowing.
What’s interesting about ‘Settle’ is at the first few listens it sounds like an upbeat summery album to while away the day. Then when you listen to what they’re saying you find there’s a lot more depth to it.
There are 14 songs on the original release, the Deluxe version adds four more including the infectious ‘What’s In Your Head’.
I planned to have a ‘top tracks’ section before I knew which album would go first. It just so happens the first pick has at least seven that I think would be considered standouts on most albums! There’s a lot of good stuff on this one.
Latch (ft Sam Smith)
White Noise (ft AlunaGeorge)
You & Me (ft Eliza Doolittle)
Voices (ft Sasha Keable)
January (ft James Woon)
And from the Deluxe edition are ‘What’s In Your Head’ plus the Disclosure remix of Jessie Ware’s ‘Running’ which is totallydifferent to the original (which is also really good).
Last week I had the amazing fortune to see the Manic Street Preachers live, and not just live but ‘at home’ in Wales, in the centre of Cardiff!
I went along with friends Duncan (known for years), Luke (who I’d been to the Belgian Grand Prix with, and other things) and ‘Mr C’ who co-hosts the Sidepodcast F1 podcast and community many of us are addicted to.
We met in the TGI Friday’s opposite the venue (er, eventually.. Mr C was his trademark late arriving which had us a bit worried, with him having the tickets!) where we stuffed our faces with large servings of food. Cheesey double bacon cheeseburger, HUGE.
We got to the Arena in time for the support act, The Joy Formidible. I had an idea of what to expect after Lukeh sent me a link a few weeks ago but hadn’t really had the time to listen properly. Well now I will: they were very good live. We were generally agreed they need a single or catchy song to hang the rest of the songs around, but they could play live to a big crowd, no doubt about that. It sounded more like a complete album rather than a collection of potential singles, and there’s nothing particularly wrong with that – I’ll get the album and perhaps it’ll make more sense that way.
They sounded really familiar though and none of us could pinpoint why. Familiar.. but also different. A cross between Editors and Catatonia and Blondie and their own sound too. I liked it and shall buy the album.
If you were to ask me to describe the Manics live this paragraph would just be a string of superlatives.
They seemed a bit more polished than some bands I’ve seen, although I reckon they’ve probably toured a lot more too. Polished isn’t always a good thing live because you don’t want it to sound like an album is being played out over the speakers, needs to be an element of ‘live performance’ too. I think they struck a good balance, especially with the acoustic songs.
Never would I have expected an acoustic version of Everything Must Go, I’d only heard that in a live appearance in a radio studio to be honest had forgotten it, so when Bradfield started playing I didn’t think it would work with a huge live crowd – but it did!
There was a song from every album, something for everyone from the angrier more raucous earlier stuff to calmer quieter side. From the anthems which made them popular to the more ‘grown-up’ sounding songs they’ve released over the last few years. For those of us who like the whole back catalogue – and the four of us are in that category – we loved it all.
My highlights were Motorcycle Emptiness, Enola/Alone, Faster, Everything Must Go, Suicide Is Painless and the finale, A Design For Life – during which they launched confetti/tickertape over the crowd!
I was so pleased they played My Little Empire too, one of my favourite songs not just from that particular album but from their whole repertoire. There was something a bit lacking from it (a guitar sound) but I didn’t care.
Some King of Nothingness was pretty damn good as well, come to think of it.
All in all a fantastic gig. We were buzzing afterwards. I hadn’t even been drinking! (Apart from a half.)
Here’s some of Slash’n’Burn, and scroll underneath for the full set list.
Your Love Alone Is Not Enough
(It’s Not War) – Just The End Of Love
Life Becoming a Landslide
My Little Empire
Slash ‘n’ Burn
Solitude Sometimes Is
You Stole The Sun From My Heart
Postcards From A Young Man
Of Walking Abortion
If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next
Can’t Take My Eyes Off You (Acoustic)
Everything Must Go (Acoustic)
The Masses Against the Classes
Let Robeson Sing
Some Kind Of Nothingness
Suicide is Painless (Theme from MASH)
You Love Us
A Design For Life
WHAT a set list! There was barely a break between each song as well, consumate professionals, outstanding.
Go to the Setlist.fm page which has links to the songs, some of them are live from a random gig and some are promo videos. Great idea for a site because you can listen to songs in the same order as the gig without having to make a playlist or buy the things you’re missing.
I’m so pleased to now have seen nearly all of my favourite bands I listened to as a teenager in the late 90s:
Blur (amazing comeback gig),
Oasis (not long before they split),
not to mention two fantastic R.E.M. gigs! (with Idlewild at one and Editors at another)
I may be ten years late, but that’s an ambition fulfilled! Thanks to all those who helped make it happen.