I Monster – Daydream in Blue

Sometimes you would just expect the video to be exceptional, even if you never saw it the first time around. And so it is with I Monster‘s wonderful Daydream in Blue.

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Pet Shop Boys feat. Example – Thursday

With its enormous, evocative analogue synth pads, Thursday is, at the time of writing, Pet Shop Boys‘ most recent single. It’s also very definitely one of the best songs on their most recent and entirely brilliant album Electric.

Curiously, there are two different radio edits, one on each of the download packages, and featuring the middle section from Example in varying quantities, but neither really catches the sheer perfection of the five minute album version. It’s still up there among the best songs PSB have ever recorded, but it does feel a little bit incomplete, and the fact that they quietly released both edits would seem to suggest they weren’t entirely happy with either. In this case, you have to say that there would have been no shame in a five minute single.

The first of the two b-sides is called No More Ballads, an ironically downtempo piece which, while entirely nice, was never realistically going to be on an album. That’s not unusual for b-sides, but it is unusual for Pet Shop Boys, who have always been able to explore exciting new worlds on their b-sides and bonus tracks, proof of which can be found on their two fantastic compilations Alternative (1995) and Format (2013). With that in mind, this seems a very rare example of filler.

Odd Man Out is better – it still wouldn’t have fitted on Electric, and so a bonus track for Thursday is an appropriate thing for it to be. Unlike No More Ballads, it has a typically intriguing Neil Tennant lyric (probably more interesting than the single, actually), and an extremely catchy chorus, which are really the key ingredients of a great song. The quote at the end leaves me particularly mystified, as I’ve never managed to work out exactly what’s being said.

The fourth track on the first package (or the CD, if you’re that way inclined) is a remix of Thursday by Tensnake, which features relatively little of the original but is somehow rather compelling – actually it’s probably the best of the remixes, so this disc is definitely worth owning.

The second package is less essential. The radio edit of Thursday which opens this set is the one which removes Example‘s rap in its entirety, leaving only his singing sections and making the track feel rather empty. It’s still brilliant and powerful; just not quite as good as the full version.

The other two tracks are less exciting too – Eddie Amador‘s remix of Thursday is a curious disco/house crossover, which almost works but somehow seems to be lacking something, and Mindskap‘s version is a similarly odd mix of styles with much the same outcome. It’s difficult to get too excited about anything here.

So ultimately Thursday is one of the finest tracks on Electric, but while it definitely deserved a single release, the treatment it got was something of a disappointment. Still, as the only single from this album to creep onto the charts, it does at least have the place in history it deserves.

The CD is rather less widely available now, but you can still find the two packages described above – the EP is here, and the less good remix package is here.

Music for the Masses 20 – 7 June 2000

Apart from the legendary demo tape (more next time), this was the last of the original run of shows, broadcast on Bay Radio, Aberystwyth’s student radio station. It closed with Erasure‘s lovely Piano Song.

show20br

Show 20: Wed 7 June 2000, from 10.55am-1.00pm

Tracks taken from the playlist (Total 13 tracks). A indicates A-list (9 tracks); B indicates B-list (2 tracks) and C indicates C-list (1 tracks). S indicates the Single of the Week. R indicates tracks which were taken from my own collection (Total 8 tracks). L indicates the ones from the “library” (Total 5 tracks).

  • 1. Richard Ashcroft “Money to Burn” A
  • [IRN 11.00 News]
  • 2. Dubstar “Stars” (Way Out West Remix) R
  • 3. Moby “Porcelain” A
  • 4. Muse “Unintended” A
  • 5. Mo-ho-bish-o-pi “Hear the Air” A
  • 6. Maxim feat. Skin “Carmen Queasy” A
  • 7. Apollo 440 “Heart Go Boom” L
  • 8. Depeche Mode “The Things You Said” R
  • 9. Duran Duran “Someone Else Not Me” L
  • 10. Idlewild “These Wooden Ideas” A
  • 11. Limp Bizkit “Take a Look Around” S
  • [Advert Break]
  • 12. Air “Playground Love” L
  • 13. Pet Shop Boys “Je T’Aime… Moi Non Plus” R
  • 14. Dandy Warhols “Get Off” A
  • [IRN 12.00 News]
  • 15. Jean Michel Jarre “Je Me Souviens” R
  • 16. Space Brothers “The Light” (Space Brothers Remix) L
  • 17. Paul van Dyk feat. Saint Etienne “Tell Me Why (The Riddle)” R
  • 18. Tom Jones & Mousse T “Sex Bomb” B
  • 19. Billie Piper “Day & Night” C
  • 20. Phoenix “Too Young” A
  • 21. Beloved “Loving Feeling” R
  • [Charts]
  • 22. Sonique “It Feels So Good” A
  • 23. Olive “Miracle” R
  • [Advert Break]
  • 24. Dum Dums “I Can’t Get You Out of My Thoughts” B
  • 25. Travis “Baby One More Time” L
  • 26. Erasure “Piano Song” R

Producer: Me. Waha! I shall take over the world!

Notes: Not a bad last show (well, for the time being). Pity my co-host never turned up, but there we go. The aim was to get in all my favourites from the last year or so, which I think I managed. Et fin!

Preview – Delerium

In the absence of any new material from Delerium for a couple of years, the appearance of their new Rarities & B-Sides album is very welcome indeed. It boasts a slightly curious track listing, with the inevitable remixes of biggest hits Silence, Innocente and Underwater supplemented by some random oddities, but it’s bound to be pretty good too.

In the absence (at the time of writing) of any official videos, here’s the original version of After All, from 2003:

Retro chart for stowaways – 24 April 2004

Here are the top ten singles from eleven years ago this week:

  1. Pet Shop Boys – Flamboyant
  2. Air – Surfing on a Rocket
  3. Kraftwerk – Aérodynamik
  4. Dido – Don’t Leave Home
  5. Sugababes – In the Middle
  6. Air – Cherry Blossom Girl
  7. Goldfrapp – Black Cherry
  8. Delerium feat. Nerina Pallot – Truly
  9. Basement Jaxx – Plug it In
  10. Kylie Minogue – Red-Blooded Woman

Beginner’s guide to Dubstar

If you were listening to pop music in the 1990s, you should probably have come across Dubstar. Their discography may not have turned out to be quite as extensive as it ought to have been, but there were plenty of good hits along the way.

Key moments

The string of singles which started with Stars, Anywhere, and Not So Manic Now back in 1995-1996, and never really stopped until their split five years later.

Where to start

Start with the 2004 compilation Stars – The Best of Dubstar, which gets you a whole load of highlights from all three albums plus a couple of acoustic versions and a demo.

What to buy

All three albums are worth tracking down in their own way. Disgraceful (1995) is pure pop genius; Goodbye (1997) has too many tracks, but plenty of good ones among them; and finally Make it Better (2000) is darker, but still has things worth hearing.

Don’t bother with

Most of the remixes, apart from the Disgraceful bonus disc (1996).

Hidden treasure

There are heaps of singles with hidden goodies on them, such as the first disc of No More Talk, or the EP that was led by The Self Same Thing, which includes collaborations with Gary Numan and Ian Broudie of Lightning Seeds.

For stowaways

Starting Points

Here’s another entry from the archives, this time from my 2004-2005 radio show for LSR FM. On the website, I listed five albums, as starting points, which are shown below…

Here are five essential albums every house should own, in no particular order…

  • Various Artists – Robopop Vol. 1 (2004) – stunning – includes exclusives from Client, Alpinestars, White Town, Komputer, Vic Twenty
  • KraftwerkThe Mix (1991) – it’s rather difficult to choose only one essential ‘werk album, but as a starting point you can’t go wrong with this one
  • Pet Shop BoysPopArt: The Hits (2003) – an absolutely perfect set of CDs
  • Depeche ModeExciter (2001) – every track a cracker
  • RoyksoppMelody AM (2001) – debut of the millennium

You get the general idea.

Here’s a dilemma… obviously I came up with this list pretty quickly, but how on earth do you come up with a list of five essential albums?