Random jukebox – Björk

She might be a bit crackers at times, but she does come up with some fantastic music too. Here’s Björk from 1997, with Jóga:

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Air – Moon Safari

Can this really be true? Can Air‘s hugely acclaimed debut Moon Safari really be twenty years old? Apparently, yes.

Of course, it wasn’t really quite their debut – the preceding three years had seen the release of a number of one-off singles and the compilation EP Premièrs Symptômes, but it was the sudden success of Sexy Boy that would cast them into the limelight in early 1998.

The album opens with the glorious La Femme d’Argent, a seven-minute Hammond organ-driven instrumental that drops us gently into the album. There’s really nothing to fault here – the jazzy bassline and sampled vocals come together perfectly, and I suspect you might find you’re in love with this album barely half way into the first track.

The lead single Sexy Boy was all over the charts in early 1998, so by the time you heard it on the album, you would have known it well already. Honestly, despite a pretty good level of French, particularly back in 1998, I’ve never really had much idea what they were singing about, but it’s a catchy song nonetheless.

I think my favourite track on here is the third single All I Need, with its stunning vocals from Beth Hirsch. It’s beautifully laid back, but also sweet and deeply meaningful.

The singles were essentially all the uptempo tracks – or as uptempo as anything on here is – so it’s hardly surprising that we get through them all in one go. Second single Kelly Watch the Stars is next, a particularly daft vocal coupled with an exceptional instrumental which somehow really comes together rather well.

After all this energy, it’s time for something a little more laid back. The beautiful Talisman is next, slowing things down beautifully, and is followed by an adorable vocal track Remember, the first track on here that could perhaps be faulted for being a little on the bland side.  But not by much.

Then Beth Hirsch is back for another adorable track, You Make it Easy, a slow, catchy piano piece which has been transformed into a gloriously chilled out song. Honestly, if you’re less than a little obsessed with this album by this point, you really do have no soul.

So of course, Ce Matin Là is fantastic, and New Star in the Sky is a sweet, adorable lullaby – there may be few surprises left at this end of the album, but that’s hardly what you want at this stage. This is an album which has spent 110 weeks on the UK chart in the last two decades, so I think it’s fair to say that there’s some consensus on this matter.

Air‘s career may have taken some slightly eccentric twists and turns, but in the early stages, they were truly brilliant. Moon Safari is as close to flawless as you could ever hope to get, and strongly deserving of the two years it’s spent on the charts.

Ideally, you want the multi-CD anniversary version, which gets you a disc of rarities and a DVD with all the videos, but you can get most of the pieces separately. Start with the main album here.

Preview – Yazoo

I know this made it onto our 2017 countdown as a late entry, but I wanted to share this rather lovely video for an entirely lovely new version of Yazoo‘s Only You, which came out as a single again just before Christmas:

Albums chart of the year 2017

It’s been a great year for reissues, so it’s no surprise to see a few on the 2017 top twenty. Here’s the full list:

  1. Depeche Mode – Spirit
  2. Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène 3 [number 21 in 2016]
  3. Saint Etienne – Home Counties
  4. David Bowie – Legacy [number 27 in 2016]
  5. Kraftwerk – 3-D Der Katalog
  6. Pet Shop Boys – Release [released in 2002]
  7. Goldfrapp – Silver Eye
  8. Erasure – World Be Gone
  9. The Human League – Anthology – A Very British Synthesizer Group [number 37 in 2016]
  10. Pet Shop Boys – Nightlife [released in 1999, number 89 in 2004, number 177 in 2005, number 83 in 2006]
  11. Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon [released in 1973, number 34 in 2014, number 20 in 2015, number 42 in 2016]
  12. Pet Shop Boys – Fundamental [released in 2005, number 5 in 2006]
  13. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – The Punishment of Luxury
  14. New Order – Lost Sirens [released in 2013]
  15. Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène Trilogy [number 40 in 2016]
  16. Pet Shop Boys – Yes [released in 2009, number 172 in 2015, number 171 in 2016]
  17. Dusty Springfield – Reputation [released in 1990, number 35 in 2016]
  18. C Duncan – The Midnight Sun [number 12 in 2016]
  19. Gorillaz – Humanz
  20. Pet Shop Boys – Elysium [number 2 in 2012, number 14 in 2013, number 179 in 2014, number 120 in 2016]

Stowaway Awards 2018 – Nominations

Apart from the Best Track category, which will be awarded based on the “top tracks of 2017” that we listed here on the run-up to Christmas, there are just five other categories in this year’s all-important Stowaway Awards. Here are the nominees:

Best Album

  • Depeche Mode – Spirit
  • Erasure – World Be Gone
  • Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – The Punishment of Luxury
  • Saint Etienne – Home Counties
  • Sparks – Hippopotamus

Best Reissue / Compilation

  • Liza Minnelli – Results
  • Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – The Punishment of Luxury: B Sides & Bonus Material
  • Pet Shop Boys – Nightlife
  • Pet Shop Boys – Release
  • Pet Shop Boys – Yes

Best Artist

  • Depeche Mode
  • Erasure
  • Goldfrapp
  • Saint Etienne
  • Sparks

Best Live Act

  • Jean-Michel Jarre
  • The Jesus and Mary Chain
  • múm

Outstanding Contribution

  • David Bowie
  • Vince Clarke
  • The Future Sound of London
  • Leftfield
  • Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

The best selling cassettes of 2017

You might have seen this article a few weeks back. Sadly, it hasn’t yet been updated to cover the last few weeks of the year, but it’s rather pleasing to read nonetheless. Like me, you probably grew up in the age of the cassette, and finally, one of the most physical of physical formats is back, and just celebrated its fiftieth anniversary!

Here are some of the highlights from the chart:

  • 1. Original Soundtrack – Guardians of the Galaxy – Awesome Mix 2
  • 2. Kasabian – For Crying Out Loud
  • 3. Enter Shikari – THe Spark
  • 10. Erasure – World Be Gone
  • 11. Gary Numan – Savage (Songs from a Broken World)
  • 16. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – The Punishment of Luxury
  • 17. Sparks – Hippopotamus

You can see the rest of the Top 40 at the Official Charts page.