Retro chart for stowaways – 19 May 2007

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

  1. Sohodolls – My Vampire
  2. Dragonette – I Get Around
  3. Groove Armada feat. Stush – Get Down
  4. Jean-Michel Jarre – Téo & Téa
  5. Client – Drive
  6. Onetwo – Cloud Nine
  7. Air – Once Upon a Time
  8. Faithless – Music Matters
  9. Erasure – I Could Fall in Love with You
  10. Client – Lights Go Out
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Random jukebox – Air

Today’s random jukebox comes from Air‘s 2001 album 10 000 Hz Legend. One of several French-only singles, this is the lovely Don’t Be Light:

Retro chart for stowaways – 27 March 2004

These were the top ten albums, this week fourteen years ago:

  1. Air – Talkie Walkie
  2. Goldfrapp – Black Cherry
  3. Dido – Life for Rent
  4. Pet Shop Boys – PopArt
  5. Zero 7 – When It Falls
  6. Deep Forest – Essence of the Forest
  7. Sugababes – Three
  8. Sparks – Lil’ Beethoven
  9. Kylie Minogue – Body Language
  10. Delerium – Chimera

Chart for stowaways – 24 February 2018

These are the top albums this week:

  1. Sparks – Hippopotamus
  2. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – The Punishment of Luxury
  3. David Bowie – Legacy
  4. Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon
  5. Bent – The Everlasting Blink
  6. Mgmt – Little Dark Age
  7. Liza Minnelli – Results
  8. David Bowie – A Reality Tour
  9. Above & Beyond – Common Ground
  10. Air – Talkie Walkie

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.

Retro chart for stowaways – 13 November 2004

Just for a bit of variety, let’s take a look at the albums chart from thirteen years ago this week!

  1. Depeche Mode – Remixes 81-04
  2. Client – City
  3. Dirty Vegas – One
  4. Delerium – The Best of Delerium
  5. Bent – Ariels
  6. Jean-Michel Jarre – Aero
  7. Groove Armada – The Best of
  8. Air – Talkie Walkie
  9. Client – Client
  10. Duran Duran – Astronaut

Begin again – revisiting the beginner’s guides

In all, between 2014 and 2015, this blog posted 66 beginner’s guides. The idea was to present six things:

  • Key moments – why you might have heard of these people before
  • Where to start – my thoughts on which of their albums to buy or listen to first
  • What to buy – the three items you should track down next
  • Don’t bother with – an item that is probably best avoided, or definitely should wait until you graduate to the level of completist
  • Hidden treasure – one song that’s hidden away somewhere and should be located at all costs
  • For stowaways – some collected highlights from their posts on this blog

They were very popular – in fact, for a long time, Depeche Mode‘s was the most popular post on this blog, and while that does suggest to me that it reached the wrong audience slightly, it’s still a good thing. They were also divisive – inevitably, people disagreed with a lot of what I wrote and told me so in angry or passive-aggressive ways. This is the internet, after all.

So what’s happened since they were written? Here are some highlights:

  • Air released a vinyl-only box set called Music for Museum, which you can probably skip for now
  • Conjure One released Holoscenic, which is nearly as good as their debut album, so is probably worth tracking down
  • Crystal Castles came back with a new lineup – I haven’t heard it yet, but the feedback seemed positive
  • Depeche Mode returned with the fantastic Spirit. You wouldn’t want to start with it, but it should be high on the list
  • Erasure keep churning albums out every couple of years, and finally seem to have returned to the consistent quality of the late 1980s and early 1990s
  • Goldfrapp have a new album, but it’s not quite as good as the previous one
  • The Human League have a new best of to consider, A Very British Synthesizer Group
  • Hot Chip keep throwing out great albums every time you turn your back for a moment
  • Jean Michel Jarre has managed three fantastic new albums: the two Electronica volumes and Oxygène 3
  • Kraftwerk now have a diverting live collection to consider
  • New Order now have the fantastic Music Complete to add to the list, which wouldn’t be a bad thing to add to the “what to buy” list either
  • Pet Shop Boys brought us the lovely Super
  • Röyksopp reappeared with two albums, Do It Again and The Inevitable End, before taking what looked at the time like an early retirement
  • Saint Etienne reissued their reissue series and just came back with Home Counties

You can find the index to all the beginner’s guides here.