Beginner’s guide to Electronic

One of the most interesting – and best named – supergroups, as New Order‘s Bernard Sumner and The Smiths‘ Johnny Marr teamed up variously with Pet Shop Boys, Karl Bartos and others to create some truly brilliant electronic music.

Key moments

Get the MessageGetting Away with It, and Disappointed are the three that most people will remember, but there are a lot of other special moments hidden away.

Where to start

Buying a “best of” from an act who have only released may seem like an odd step, but Get the Message (2006) actually makes a pretty good collection – plus it includes Disappointed, which doesn’t appear on any of the studio albums, and a couple of the better b-sides.

What to buy

Start with the brilliant debut Electronic (1991) – get the 2013 reissue with the bonus disc, if you can, as it contains instrumental highlights of the rest of their career. Then move on in chronological order to Raise the Pressure (1997).

Don’t bother with

Sadly, the third album Twisted Tenderness lacks the charm, inventiveness, and even the songwriting of its predecessors. Anything that’s worth hearing on here is on either Get the Message or the bonus disc of Electronic.

Hidden treasure

Many of the b-sides are surprisingly good, notably Free Will and Imitation of Life, and there are some particularly good remixes hidden away on the singles too.

For stowaways

The BRIT Awards 2006

Chris Evans hosted the 2006 BRIT Awards on 14th February at Earls Court in London.

This post is part of a series about the history of the BRIT Awards. You can read about the 2005 ceremony here, and the 2007 ceremony next time.

MasterCard British Album

Presented by Madonna. Nominees:

  • James Blunt – Back to Bedlam
  • Kate Bush – Aerial
  • Coldplay – X & Y
  • Gorillaz – Demon Days
  • Kaiser Chiefs – Employment

Winner: Coldplay

Best British Single

Presented by Morten Harket of a-ha. Nominees:

  • James Blunt – You’re Beautiful
  • Tony Christie feat. Peter Kay – (Is This The Way To) Amarillo
  • Coldplay – Speed of Sound
  • Sugababes – Push The Button
  • Shayne Ward – That’s My Goal

Winner: Coldplay

Best British Male Solo Artist

Presented by Wayne Coyne. Nominees:

  • Antony and the Johnsons
  • James Blunt
  • Ian Brown
  • Robbie Williams
  • Will Young

Winner: James Blunt

Best British Female Solo Artist

Presented by Jo Whiley. Nominees:

  • Natasha Bedingfield
  • Kate Bush
  • Charlotte Church
  • Katie Melua
  • KT Tunstall

Winner: KT Tunstall

Best British Group

Presented by Blondie‘s Debbie Harry. Nominees:

  • Coldplay
  • Franz Ferdinand
  • Gorillaz
  • Hard-Fi
  • Kaiser Chiefs

Winner: Kaiser Chiefs

Best British Breakthrough Act

Presented by Chris O’Dowd. Nominees:

  • Arctic Monkeys
  • James Blunt
  • Kaiser Chiefs
  • The Magic Numbers
  • KT Tunstall

Winner: Arctic Monkeys

Best British Rock Act

Presented by Tamsin Greig. Nominees:

  • Franz Ferdinand
  • Hard-Fi
  • Kaiser Chiefs
  • Kasabian
  • Oasis

Winner: Kaiser Chiefs

Best British Urban Act

Nominees:

  • Craig David
  • Dizzee Rascal
  • Kano
  • Lemar
  • Ms. Dynamite

Winner: Lemar

Best British Live Act

Presented by Thandie Newton. Nominees:

  • Coldplay
  • Franz Ferdinand
  • Kaiser Chiefs
  • Oasis
  • KT Tunstall

Winner: Kaiser Chiefs

Best Pop Act

Presented by Harry Hill. Nominees:

  • James Blunt
  • Kelly Clarkson
  • Madonna
  • Katie Melua
  • Westlife

Winner: James Blunt

Best International Album

Presented by Paris Hilton. Nominees:

  • Arcade Fire – Funeral
  • Green Day – American Idiot
  • Madonna – Confessions on a Dancefloor
  • U2 – How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
  • Kanye West – Late Registration

Winner: Green Day

Best International Male Solo Artist

Presented by Boy George. Nominees:

  • Beck
  • Jack Johnson
  • John Legend
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Kanye West

Winner: Kanye West

Best International Female Solo Artist

Presented by Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys. Nominees:

  • Björk
  • Mariah Carey
  • Kelly Clarkson
  • Missy Elliott
  • Madonna

Winner: Madonna

Best International Group

Nominees:

  • Arcade Fire
  • The Black Eyed Peas
  • Green Day
  • U2
  • The White Stripes

Winner: Green Day

Best International Breakthrough Act

Presented by Beth Orton. Nominees:

  • Arcade Fire
  • Jack Johnson
  • John Legend
  • Daniel Powter
  • The Pussycat Dolls

Winner: Jack Johnson

Outstanding Contribution to Music

Presented by Ray Winstone.

Winner: Paul Weller

Performances

Further Reading / Viewing

Leftfield – Leftism

Most people could probably name where they were the first time they heard Leftfield‘s debut Leftism. Opening track Release the Pressure just seems to explode out of nowhere, in a way that’s extremely rare in music.

It takes a couple of minutes before Release the Pressure really starts properly, but even before it does, you can tell there’s something unusual about it. I’m not convinced that anything quite like it has been released in the two decades since the album originally appeared, but certainly in 1995, the mix of dark electronic beats, African and West Indian influences, and I really have no idea what else – it remains totally unique.

So it continues – Afro-Left, also a single, still sounds pretty much unlike anything else on the planet, and still sounds absolutely faultless, with its enormous tribal beats. The deliciously chilled out Melt is also entirely brilliant, and it and its neighbour Song of Life must have appeared on every film soundtrack in the last couple of decades.

Then comes what’s perhaps the most commercially accessible track on the album, the fantastic Original. Despite definitely having “hit single” written all over it, it also fits perfectly on the album, alongside its more underground compatriots. It’s a beautiful pop song with a brilliantly performed vocal, but also with the enormous electronic burbles and crunches that we’ve got used to over the preceding tracks. If that isn’t pure genius, it’s difficult to know what is.

If this album has a weak point, it’s over the next few tracks, but only because we’re forced to take a break from the catchier, more standout tracks and launch into the darker tribal explorations of Black Flute and Space Shanty. By no means is there anything wrong with them, but perhaps it’s only thanks to the preparation of the first half of the album that you’re ready for this kind of thing to turn up. Or perhaps your expectations are so high by this stage that you won’t accept anything less than exceptional.

Either way, it’s pretty hard to figure out what’s going on in Inspection (Check One), which seems to be an exploratory voyage more than anything, but good nonetheless. The dark instrumental Storm 3000 follows, still very much exploring new sonic territories.

Open Up, originally released a couple of years earlier as the first single from the album, does cause a slight change of direction for the release, even at this late stage. It’s undeniably great, although John Lydon‘s vocal is a little odd to say the least.

The album comes to a close with the fantastic 21st Century Poem. Deep, dark, dejected, and very good indeed, it’s a fitting close to a fantastic album, with all its reverse samples and haunting sounds. Or rather, it would be – there’s a short bassy postscript that follows after a few seconds’ silence, which is the real end to this truly unique release.

If you can find it, the double CD version from 2000 adds some extra remixes and alternative versions, making the album into an even more complete experience. But even without it, no music collection can ever possibly be complete without a copy of Leftism.

Unfortunately the double CD reissue seems to be harder to find these days, but the original release is still widely available.

Music for the Masses 8 – 9 February 2000

Way back in the distant past, I used to do a student radio show for Bay Radio in Aberystwyth called Music for the Masses. Show 8 would have sounded a little bit like this…

show8br

Tracks played on the eighth show, Wed 9 Feb 2000, from 11am-1pm

Tracks taken from the playlist (Total 12 tracks). A indicates A-list (6 tracks); B indicates B-list (3 tracks) and C indicates C-list (2 tracks). S indicates the Single of the Week. R indicates tracks taken from my own collection (Total 12 tracks). L is the ones out of the drawer (Total 5 tracks).

  • 1. Kelis “Caught Out There” A
  • 2. Lighthouse Family “Raincloud” L
  • 3. Saint Etienne “Pale Movie” R
  • 4. Ten Benson “Robot Tourist” C
  • 5. Enigma “Gravity of Love” R
  • 6. Jay-Z “Anything” A
  • 7. Bellatrix “The Girl with the Sparkling Eyes” B
  • 8. Depeche Mode “Home” R
  • 9. Super Furry Animals “Do or Die” C
  • 10. Death in Vegas “Aisha” A
  • 11. New Order “True Faith 94” R
  • 12. Gorky’s Zygotic Mynki “Poodle Rockin'” S
  • 13. Everything But the Girl “Temperamental” R
  • 14. Space Brothers “Shine 2000” L
  • 15. Grid “Texas Cowboys” R
  • 16. Azzido da Bass “Dooms Night” B
  • 17. Kraftwerk “Expo 2000” (Kling Klang Mix 2002) R
  • 18. Pet Shop Boys “Closer to Heaven” R
  • [Rag Week Advert]
  • 19. Wannadies “Yeah” A
  • 20. Robert Miles “One & One” R
  • 21. Tamperer feat. Maya “Hammer to the Heart” L
  • 22. Raissa “How Long Do I Get” A
  • 23. Jean Michel Jarre “Je Me Souviens” R
  • 24. Deep Forest “Savana Dance” (Savana Sans Voix Mix) R
  • 25. Oasis “Go Let it Out” A
  • 26. Sgt. Rock “Yeah Word Party” B
  • 27. Olive “I Don’t Think So” R
  • 28. Basement Jaxx “Rendez-Vu” R
  • 29. William Orbit “Barber’s Adagio for Strings” L

Producer: None.

Notes: The second in the “me against the world” week, which was probably less good than its predecessor, completely uneventful, and once again I decided the Rag Week jingle was rubbish. Oh yeah, and while I had far too many tracks the previous day, for this show I had far too few. You never can be too careful…

Albums chart of the year 2014 for stowaways

Here are the top twenty albums of 2014 for stowaways:

  1. Röyksopp – The Inevitable End
  2. William Orbit – Strange Cargo 5
  3. Moby – Innocents
  4. Erasure – The Violet Flame
  5. B.E.F. – Music of Quality & Distinction, Vol. 3 – Dark
  6. I Monster / People Soup – I Monster Presents People Soup
  7. Napoleon – Magpies
  8. William Orbit – Orbit Symphonic
  9. DARKSIDE – Psychic
  10. Erasure – Snow Globe
  11. U2 – Songs of Innocence
  12. The Human League – Dare
  13. Röyksopp – Junior
  14. David Bowie – Nothing Has Changed
  15. Sparks – In Outer Space
  16. Goldfrapp – Tales of Us *
  17. Way Out West – We Love Machine
  18. Deep Dish – Junk Science
  19. Kevin Pearce – Matthew Hopkins and the Wormhole
  20. Maps – Turning the Mind

* Number 3 in 2013

Last year’s number 1, Pet Shop Boys‘ Electric, slips just outside this chart to number 21, while Röyksopp and Robyn‘s collaborative mini-album Do it Again grabs the number 1 spot on the EP chart.

See also: Albums chart of the year 2013 for stowaways, Albums chart of the year 2012 for stowaways.