Retro chart for stowaways – 26 February 2005

Here are the top ten albums from eleven years ago:

  1. Mylo – Destroy Rock & Roll
  2. Erasure – Nightbird
  3. Client – City
  4. The Chemical Brothers – Push the Button
  5. Bent – Ariels
  6. Lemon Jelly – ’64-’95
  7. Depeche Mode – The Remixes 81-04
  8. Kylie Minogue – Ultimate Kylie
  9. Girls Aloud – What Will the Neighbours Say?
  10. Dirty Vegas – One

The Stowaway Awards 2016

Here are the winners of this year’s Stowaways:

Best Track

As announced over the New Year, the winner of this year’s Best Track award was New Order feat. Elly Jackson, with Tutti Frutti.

Best Album

These were the nominees:

  • Camouflage – Greyscale
  • Dave Gahan & Soulsavers – Angels & Ghosts
  • Hot Chip – Why Make Sense?
  • Jean-Michel Jarre – Electronica 1: The Time Machine
  • Leftfield – Alternative Light Source
  • Little Boots – Working Girl
  • Marsheaux – A Broken Frame
  • MG – MG
  • Roísín Murphy – Hairless Toys
  • New Order – Music Complete

The winner is New Order!

Best Reissue / Compilation

  • Air – The Virgin Suicides
  • Delerium – Rarities & B-Sides
  • Erasure – Always – The Very Best Of
  • Everything But The Girl – Walking Wounded
  • Faithless – Faithless 2.0

With an exceptional selection of b-sides, mixes, and rarities, the winner is Everything But The Girl, for the special edition of Walking Wounded.

Best Video

  • Étienne de Crécy – Hashtag My Ass
  • Dave Gahan & Soulsavers – All of This and Nothing
  • Hot Chip – Huarache Lights
  • Leftfield & Sleaford Mods – Head and Shoulders
  • Little Boots – Better in the Morning

The winner is Leftfield.

Best Artist

  • Camouflage
  • Sarah Cracknell
  • Hot Chip
  • Jean-Michel Jarre
  • Leftfield
  • Little Boots
  • Marsheaux
  • Roísín Murphy
  • New Order
  • Soulsavers

Winner: Hot Chip.

Best Live Act

Winner: Little Boots.

Best Ambient Track

Winner: Jean-Michel Jarre and Lang Lang, for The Train and the River.

Best Remix

Winner: Röyksopp, for The Presets‘ remix of I Had This Thing.

Best Dance Act / Remixer

Winner: Étienne de Crécy.

Outstanding Contribution

  • Erasure
  • Everything But The Girl
  • Hot Chip
  • Leftfield
  • Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

Winner: Erasure.

 

The Best of the BRIT Awards

The 2016 BRIT Awards take place tonight, but unfortunately (well, fortunately, for me) I’m actually on holiday right now, so I’ll have to catch up when I’m back. In the meantime, here’s something I knocked up a few weeks ago – you could call it The BRIT Award Awards, or perhaps The Best of the BRIT Awards.

I’ve gone through each of the previous ceremonies, and worked out the most nominated and winning artists for each category. So here goes! For the most part, we’ll be using the current awards and names.

British Male Solo Artist

  • Phil Collins. Won 1986, 1989, 1990.
  • George Michael. Won 1988, 1997.
  • Cliff Richard. Won 1977, 1982. Nominated 1983, 1984, 1988, 1990.
  • Paul Weller. Won 1995, 1996, 2009.
  • Robbie Williams. Won 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003.

The winner is Robbie Williams, with four wins. Honourable mention to Ed Sheeran for scraping into sixth place.

International Male Solo Artist

  • Beck. Won 1997, 1999, 2000.
  • Eminem. Won 2001, 2003, 2005.
  • Prince. Won 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996.
  • Justin Timberlake. Won 2004, 2007. Nominated 2014.
  • Kanye West. Won 2006, 2008, 2009.

Winner: Prince, and an honourable mention for Bruno Mars, for just missing out on the nominations.

British Female Solo Artist

  • Kate Bush. Won 1987. Nominated 1986, 1988, 1990, 1993, 1995, 2006, 2012.
  • Dido. Won 2002, 2004. Nominated 2001.
  • Annie Lennox. Won 1984, 1986, 1989, 1990, 1993, 1996.
  • Alison Moyet. Won 1985, 1988. Nominated 1984, 1986, 2003.
  • Lisa Stansfield. Won 1991, 1992. Nominated 1990, 1993, 1995, 1998.

The winner is Annie Lennox, a tearaway success with six wins.

International Female Solo Artist

  • Beyoncé. Won 2004. Nominated 2007, 2009, 2012, 2015.
  • Björk. Won 1994, 1996, 1998. Nominated 2002, 2006, 2008, 2012, 2016.
  • Madonna. Won 2001, 2006. Nominated 1986, 1987, 1988, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1999.
  • Kylie Minogue. Won 2002, 2008. Nominated 1989, 1995, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2011.
  • Rihanna. Won 2011, 2012. Nominated 2008, 2010, 2013.

The winner is Björk, much loved and much deserved.

British Group

  • Arctic Monkeys. Won 2007, 2008, 2014. Nominated 2012.
  • Coldplay. Won 2001, 2003. 2012. Nominated 2006, 2009, 2015, 2016.
  • Manic Street Preachers. Won 1997, 1999.
  • Simply Red. Won 1993, shared win 1992.
  • Travis. Won 2000, 2002.

The winner, with three wins and rather more nominations than Arctic Monkeys, is Coldplay!

International Group

  • Bon Jovi. Won 1996. Nominated 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990.
  • Foo Fighters. Won 2008, 2012, 2015. Nominated 1996, 2003.
  • Kings of Leon. Won 2009. Nominated 2004, 2008, 2011, 2014.
  • R.E.M. Won 1992, 1993, 1995. Nominated 1997, 1999, 2002.
  • U2. Won 1988, 1989, 1990, 1998, 2001. Nominated 1992, 1993, 1994, 2005, 2006, 2016. Nominated for British Group 1985, 1986.

Winner: with five wins, U2.

British Producer of the Year

  • Brian Eno. Won 1994, 1996. Nominated 1988.
  • Flood. Co-won 2014. Nominated 1994, 1995, 2012, 2013.
  • Trevor Horn. Won 1983, 1985, 1992. Nominated 1984, 1986, 1987, 1993, 1995.
  • David A. Stewart. Won 1986, 1987, 1990. Nominated 1992.
  • Stock, Aitken and Waterman. Won 1988. Nominated 1987, 1990, 1992. Pete Waterman nominated separately in 1993.

Winner: Trevor Horn.

British Single

Adele and Coldplay tie for fifth and sixth place in the nominations, so we have six nominees:

  • Adele. Won 2013. Nominated 2009, 2012, 2016.
  • Blur. Won 1995. Nominated 1995 (again), 1996, 1998, 2000.
  • Coldplay. Won 2006. Nominated 2001, 2009, 2013.
  • Queen. Won 1977, 1992.
  • Take That. Won 1993, 1994, 1996, 2007, 2008. Nominated 1993 (twice more!)
  • Robbie Williams. Won 1999, 2000, 2001. Nominated 1998, 1999 (again), 2002, 2013.

Winner: Take That, with an honourable mention for Robbie Williams for taking part in several of their wins too.

British Artist Video

There are seven nominees in this category, because four artists are tied for the bottom position, with one win and two nominations.

  • All Saints. Won 1998. Nominated 1999, 2001.
  • Blur. Won 1995. Nominated 1996 (twice), 1998.
  • The Cure. Won 1990. Nominated 1991, 1993.
  • Peter Gabriel. Won 1987. Nominated 1993, 1994.
  • One Direction. Won 2014, 2015. Nominated 2016.
  • Spice Girls. Won 1997. Nominated 1997 (again), 1998.
  • Robbie Williams. Won 1999, 2000, 2001. Nominated 1999 (again), 2002 (twice).

Winner: Robbie Williams.

British Album

Six nominees again for this one:

  • Arctic Monkeys. Won 2007, 2008, 2014.
  • Blur. Won 1995. Nominated 1996, 2004.
  • Coldplay. Won 2001, 2003. Nominated 2006, 2009, 2012, 2016.
  • Florence + The Machine. Won 2010. Nominated 2012, 2016.
  • Manic Street Preachers. Won 1997, 1999. Nominated 1997.
  • Oasis. Won 1996. Nominated 1995, 1998.

That’s a decisive win for Arctic Monkeys!

And that’s your lot! If it seems a slightly odd list, think of it as a list of the typical nominees and winners at the BRITs. If you’re more interested in the ceremony that’s about to happen, that would be here.

Anyway, enjoy the ceremony tonight, and we’ll catch up on the results here very soon.

The Grammy Awards 2016

Every year in recent times during Awards Week, I’ve tried to go through the list of Grammy winners comprehensively, and come up with some of the highlights. If only it weren’t such a bloody long list…

Best Dance Recording is always an eccentric list, particularly with the US opinion on what counts as dance (although the BRITs always seemed to want to fill the nomination list with Jamiroquai back in the days when the category existed). This year’s nominees included Above & Beyond with Zoë Johnston, with We’re All We Need, and The Chemical Brothers featuring Q-Tip with Go, but of course the winner had to be Justin Bieber, accompanied by Skrillex and Diplo, whoever they might be.

Best Dance/Electronic Album also showed some promise, but Skrillex and Diplo carried that one away too. Unsuccessful nominees included Caribou‘s Our Love, and The Chemical BrothersBorn in the Echoes.

I’ve never really understood what “alternative music” is supposed to be, but Björk must have been a strong contender with Vulnicura in the Best Alternative Music Album category. Ultimately, she lost out to Alabama Shakes.

Best New Age Album probably showed some promise, but I’d never heard of any of them. Congratulations to Paul Avgerinos for the win. Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Gilberto Gil lost out to Angelique Kidjo in the patronisingly named Best World Music Album category, while David Bowie‘s Sue (Or in a Season of Crime) managed a belated win in the somewhat inexplicable Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals category.

In the completely bizarrely named Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical (because those classical remixes are such a big deal now), Dave Audé won for his reworking of Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars‘s Uptown Funk. And finally, in the eighty-third category, Best Music Film, Roger Waters‘s concert recording The Wall lost out to Amy, the documentary about Amy Winehouse. Probably justified, although The Wall live was a pretty impressive spectacle.

There’s a whole lot more, and there are probably other things of interest to you, if you can make it through the ridiculous number of awards, which I’m sure doesn’t devalue them in the slightest. You can view the results in full here.

Awards Week 2016

So, we’re finally here! Welcome to this year’s Awards Week!

Over the course of the week, we’ll celebrate this year’s BRIT Awards, Grammy Awards, and of course – most importantly of all – our very own Stowaway Awards. Take a seat for a whirlwind of award-related information!

Chart for stowaways – 6 February 2016

There’s not a lot of change in the top ten singles this week:

  1. Pet Shop Boys – Inner Sanctum
  2. New Order feat. Elly Jackson – Tutti Frutti
  3. Conjure One feat. Hannah Ray – Kill the Fear
  4. Róisín Murphy – Exploitation
  5. Goldfrapp – Stranger
  6. Jean-Michel Jarre – Remix EP (I)
  7. Conjure One feat. Christian Burns – Only Sky
  8. Dave Gahan & Soulsavers – All of This and Nothing
  9. Róisín Murphy – Hairless Toys (Gotta Hurt)
  10. The Human League – Don’t You Want Me

William Orbit – Hello Waveforms

William Orbit traditionally unleashes his albums in fits and spurts, and so it was a five-year wait between 2000’s seminal Pieces in a Modern Style and the follow-up Hello Waveforms. It finally appeared a decade ago this week, which seems a good excuse to go back and check it out again.

Orbit has always been a dab hand with slower, softer pieces, as he proves with the lovely portamento-driven Sea Green, which opens the album. The rest of the album might well end up being a touch livelier than this, but if the whole thing were in this mold, that would definitely be no bad thing. But while Sea Green could have easily fitted on one of his many Strange Cargo albums, second track Humming Chorus is a different matter. It’s still soft and gentle, but doesn’t quite have the same mood. In many ways this track owes more to the classical reinvention project that preceded this one.

For the most part, instrumentals are the order of the day here, as the fantastic Surfin proves. It was subsequently recreated in even softer fashion by Orbit’s long-term collaborator Laurie Mayer on her solo album Black Lining, but the Hello Waveforms version soars above, and is by far the best track on here. There’s just something about the soft and gentle synth work that really gets under your skin.

The softer, almost Indian-sounding You Know Too Much About Flying Saucers comes next, serving ultimately only to build up to the magnificent Spiral, featuring Sugababes on vocals, and proving that if nothing else, they are definitely extremely good at singing.

The second half of Hello Waveforms is, it’s fair to say, just a touch less remarkable, although you wouldn’t think so from the album’s centrepiece, the adorable Who Owns the Octopus. Maybe with so much high calibre material coming before, some of these later tracks just feel a little less special than they actually are, and Bubble Universe certainly fits nicely – but it also isn’t one that you’ll be humming for weeks after listening.

Other later moments are more striking, such as Fragmosia and the intensely lovely choral piece They Live in the Sky, but other songs such as Firebrand and Colours from Nowhere fit better into the “nice” category than the “excellent” one. Ultimately it’s better to view them as part of the wider soundscape of the album, rather than potential hit singles in their own right.

But Hello Waveforms is, for the most part, quite exceptional. Six years after his most successful work, William Orbit returned with something quite different, not straying too far from his roots, but at the same time remaining as inventive and adventurous as ever. In the end, you have to wonder whether this might be his best work to date.

You can still find Hello Waveforms at all major retailers, such as this one.

Erasure – Rock Me Gently

As far as I’m concerned, there’s little argument about which Erasure album is best – definitely one of the main candidates would be 1995’s enormous eponymous Erasure, which we listened to previously a while back.

After two fairly minor hit singles, and a relatively unsuccessful album (it only peaked at number 14, whereas the previous five had all hit the top spot, although releasing a studio album in November in those days generally wasn’t great for chart positions), the decision was made not to release any more singles in the UK, but the Czech Republic and Germany got an extra one, the brilliant Rock Me Gently.

It’s one of the first intentionally non-charting singles I know of, as the Czech version was widely available on import in the UK, and it might be my favourite single ever. First, you get the single version, a subtle but beefed up reworking of the original, cut down from ten to four minutes without losing too much of the atmosphere of the album version.

It’s a curious choice of single, and it was never going to be a huge hit anyway, so why should it have conventional remixes? First up is A Combination of Special Events, which takes the soft organ sounds which we would later learn belong to the original demo version, and spreads them out over ten minutes, mixing in some more exploratory elements for the long middle section with Diamanda Galás.

Next comes a remix from Phil Kelsey, a regular guest on Erasure‘s 12″ singles, which takes the track into darker, almost deep house territory. There isn’t a lot of vocal here, but it still doesn’t feel too removed from the original, particularly the long middle section.

Possibly the best Erasure remix ever follows, the Bamboo version, reworked into a curious drum and bass-inspired piece by George Holt. By the standards of this era, it’s short, clocking in at just seven and a half minutes, but it’s quite unique and extremely good.

Having lost a good chunk of the original version on the cutting room floor when the single version was put together, it’s nice to see it recovered for the Extended version, which pretty much just takes the album version and adds the drums from the single. Leaving it every bit as good as the original, just a bit more bangy.

The near-instrumental b-side Chertsey Endlos brings the Czech CD to a close. I remember being a bit perplexed by it at the time, but actually it wraps this single up rather nicely. It may not be quite as essential as its predecessors, but neither does it diminish their power.

For the particularly adventurous, the German CD adds two more tracks. Having worked again through the single version and the b-side, you also get a live acoustic take of album track Sono Luminus, a pleasant interpretation of the song which is neither essential listening nor entirely forgettable. Then finally, the Out of the Moon remix of the title track by George Holt and Thomas Fehlmann (the latter occasionally of The Orb). This is a pleasant dub version built generally around the “mood” of the original song and with some of the elements of the Bamboo mix we heard earlier.

But while the German CD may not be entirely essential, the Czech one definitely is – as a companion to the original album it’s inescapably brilliant, and highly recommended.

Neither of the Rock Me Gently singles are still in print, and they never seem to have quite made it to the download universe either. But I’d heartily recommend tracking one or the other down. Seek and ye shall find.