Coming soon – Stowaway Heroes

This blog might be five years old and rapidly approaching school age, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do new things here every once in a while. Starting next week, and for the next few weeks, we’ll have a series of Stowaway Heroes, people who aren’t necessarily directly credited for having huge hit singles, but have somehow shaped the sounds we’ve been listening to around here.

The names will remain a secret for now, so stay tuned!

Five years of stowaways – Part 5

So this concludes the celebration of this blog’s fifth birthday! One thousand, six hundred and thirty-five posts later, at an average of 6.2 posts per week. It’s no wonder there’s a bit of drivel mixed in here and there. OK, a lot, but you get my point.

What next for this blog? Well, it will continue for the foreseeable future, but it might start to wind down a bit more. A lot has changed in the last five years, as you might expect, and I fully expect it to change a lot in the future as well. It’s exactly two years since I gave up on the idea of trying to post every day, and now even five times a week seems a lot of work. But it will still be here, in some form, for as long as the music lasts.

Perhaps the most exciting release of the next few months is Hippopotamus, the new album from Sparks. I’m not clear whether this is one of the tracks on there, but of course it’s brilliant:

Five years of stowaways – Part 4

As you might have gathered over the course of this week, we’re right in the middle of celebrating this blog’s fifth birthday. No, frankly, I had no idea it would come this far. We’ve clocked up just a touch over 32,000 page views, and astonishingly the number of views per month, after a fairly sedentary first couple of years, keeps going up and up.

I’ve always felt that stars who stand up on stage and say daft things like “I’d like to thank the fans,” and “We wouldn’t be here without you,” are probably lying, but it’s certainly fair to say that while I might have started writing this blog purely for my own benefit, that hasn’t been true for a long time. Five years on, you’re as much to blame as I am.

While you deal with that bombshell, here are Kraftwerk, performing the wonderful Radioactivity:

Five years of stowaways – Part 3

Well, this might be the blogging equivalent of eating an entire chocolate cake, but it is our fifth birthday this week, and a bit of gluttony now and then is no bad thing.

When I was a teenager, tuning into the charts every Sunday on BBC Radio 1 (or “1FM”, as it was known in those days) was one of the most exciting parts of the week. I would memorise and write down the charts, and get excited about what was number one, and what the highest climber was.

So it should come as no surprise that when this blog started, the Charts for stowaways quickly became one of the key features. It’s really just a personal chart merged with the real charts, to let you into a bit of a secret – it’s a combination of my own listens and a bit of input from the official UK charts. Which still exist, by the way. Just about, anyway…

For now though, here’s a song about how great the charts used to be – from their glorious last album Words and Music by Saint Etienne, here are Saint Etienne with Over the Border:

Five years of stowaways – Part 2

Today marks five years since I started this blog, quickly setting something up just before I went away on holiday for a couple of weeks, just to see what would happen. The first post was the announcement of Pet Shop Boys‘ then-new single, Winner.

This is appropriate, because one of the reasons this blog exists in the first place was that I was keen to try and keep in touch with what my favourite artists were doing. It’s so easy these days if you don’t follow the right people in the right app to completely miss the new single from someone you love, and hence the Preview section, now running weekly on Mondays – it forces me to go out and find what’s coming up, and listen to whether it’s any good or not.

So Pet Shop Boys kicked this blog off, and it’s only fair that they get the slot on its birthday too. Here’s the current single Undertow, in its original form:

Five years of stowaways – Part 1

I promise this might perhaps be the last time we do anything to quite this degree, but it’s not often that you get to celebrate the fifth birthday of a blog! The actual birthday is tomorrow, but I think it’s alright to have a bit of self-indulgence now and then.

Honestly it’s really only because of the reviews (and to a lesser extent also the oldies) that this blog exists. Nearly a decade ago, I bought a new computer, and started ripping all my music onto it, and then I realised that I owned loads of things that I’d never actually listened to, or hadn’t heard for years. So, in no particular order, starting in late 2008, I worked through my entire music collection, listening to every song once.

It took two years, finally ending with a lot of crap at the end of 2010, and then I spent the next year allowing myself to listen to the good stuff a second, and occasionally even third time.

The end result of which was that by the start of 2012, I had completely lost touch – I had gone from buying several new CDs every week five years earlier, to pretty much buying nothing.

So, in order to revitalise my music listening, I started this blog, and forced myself to write reviews of the good stuff. The only rule: I had to listen to the whole thing, properly, and in full, while I wrote the review.

The style of the reviews has changed a bit over time, but the very first one that I wrote, just a touch under five years ago, was this one, for Jean-Michel Jarre‘s Essentials & Rarities collection. So let’s listen to something from that:

Greatest Hits – Vol. 10

A couple of times a year, I like to take a little breather and highlight some of the reviews that you might have missed on this blog in the past. Here are my choices this time. Enjoy!

If you enjoyed that, why not check out Volume 9, here?