Sunday, September 28, 2014

Records (CDs) Re-visited 2 - Geffery Morgan by UB40

There was a time in the far distant past when UB40 were a pretty cool band. They got themselves off the 1980's dole queue by writing about it in songs. They were a mixed race band (still rare back then!). They were a reggae band with a white singer whose dad had been big in the folk scene. They wanted to change the world and we believed in them.

I was a massive UB40 fan in the early to mid 1980s. My friend Clare and I hitchhiked down to London to see them play at Wembley Arena - they were great. They had none of the pomp that many bands went in for at the time. They played on a bare stage - I don't even remember a backdrop, although there may have been one. It was all about the music. Their sound was big and they were a big band. They filled the stage and had everyone up on their feet dancing. That was The Rat in Me Kitchen tour - Rat in Me Kitchen was the last UB40 album I bought - they were starting to get a bit silly.

Geffery Morgan was one of my favourite UB40 albums and it was one I bought brand new.  It was their fifth album and was released in 1984. It has some great tracks - including Riddle Me, As always You Were Wrong Again and If It Happens Again - which was apparently written in response to Margaret Thatcher's election victory in 1983. There are some other great tracks in there too and I love the way some of the tracks seem to morph into one another. UB40 are one of those bands whose early albums (along with bands like The Specials, The Beat and The Fun Boy Three) really epitomise the dire political state of the country at the time.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Records (CDs) Re-visited 2 - Remain in Light by the Talking Heads

I bought this album on vinyl when I was around 15 I think. It was released in 1980, so I guess I bought it the next year. I remember that I bought it from Rumbelows in Thetford, which was largely an electrical appliance shop that, for some reason, also sold albums. I played this album incessantly after I bought it, but for some reason didn't purchase another Talking Heads album until a few years later - and that was Stop Making Sense.

Remain in Light has remained my favourite Talking Heads album, and is one of those few albums that has a fresh sound even now, over 30 years since its release. It is clear listening to it that The Talking Heads have had a strong influence on many bands that came after them.  I remember how groundbreaking their sound was back in the 1980s. I am not knocking the 1980s - I own a great many albums from that era - but usually you can tell immediately they start which era they are from. They have that particular 1980s sound/flavour - mostly I think it is to do with the way synth is used, but it probably also has a lot to do with the way that they are produced. Remain in Light, for some reason, just does not have that immediately recognisable 1980s flavour. It has a full sound but everything about it - the vocals, the guitars, and everything else marks it out as different. It even has some rap and some spoken poetry! It is also one of the very few albums in my collection where I don't skip tracks - and those are few and far between these days!

As to favourite tracks I am hard pushed to choose a favourite - but if I had to I would go for The Great Curve (which has great backing vocals) closely followed by Once in a Lifetime.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Records (CDs) Re-visited 1 - Synchronicity by The Police

I have a sizeable CD collection and realise that  there are a quite a few of them that rarely get played, so I have decided that I am going to try and listen to one album per day and post about it .

Today's CD is Synchronicity by The Police. I actually wanted to listen to Outlandos D'amour but to my horror discovered that I don't have it on CD. This was the next best thing. There are some cracking tracks on here - although there are also a few that have been so overplayed that it is hard to listen to them any more - Every Breath You Take for example - a track that for some bizarre reason has become known as a love song and is a popular choice at weddings. I say bizarre because it is one of the most stalkerish songs I know.

My personal favourites on the album are Synchronicity (all three versions), walking in Your Footsteps and King of Pain (Sting always was melodramatic). The album was released in 1983 and was their final recording. I bought this album on vinyl when I lived in the commune - probably around 1985, so not when it first came out. Worth listening to for the Synchronicity tracks alone.