Retro chart for stowaways – 9 October 2004

Sorry for the delay today! Here’s a retro chart again, as the technical issues causing problems for the chart continue.

  1. Client – City
  2. Jean-Michel Jarre – Aero
  3. Delerium – The Best of Delerium
  4. Groove Armada – The Best of
  5. Air – Talkie Walkie
  6. Faithless – No Roots
  7. Client – Client
  8. Delerium – Chimera
  9. Bent – Ariels
  10. Pet Shop Boys – PopArt
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I Monster – Neveroddoreven

Just to make one thing clear before we get into this too deeply: I Monster are clearly certifiably insane. That’s pretty obvious from the intro to Some Thing’s Coming, in which a crowing cockerel gets hit on the head with a frying pan. Conventional really isn’t in their vocabulary.

When they get going, though, they really are rather good – inventive, clever, and very unusual, but also extremely good – Some Thing’s Coming turns out to be a great song, with a slightly grimy bass part and a rhythm that reminds you of the 1970s. Then the brilliant Daydream in Blue, their one and only hit single, in which they heavily channel Air, but do it so cleverly that you can hardly blame them.

I Monster had first appeared in the late 1990s, initially on a series of underground Sheffield compilations, and by the turn of the millennium had already released their debut, the now ultra-rare These Are Our Children (not to be confused with the track of the same name – more on that later).

Neveroddoreven first came out in 2003, fifteen years ago this week, with a very different track listing, although broadly the same collection of tracks – for the purposes of this review, we’ve stuck to the better-known 2004 reissue, but even that hides some secrets – rewind from the start of the first track on a compatible CD player, and you’ll find Cells hidden at the beginning, and Lucifer You Are a Devil at the end.

So next comes the Glamour Puss mix of single Hey Mrs., a glorious glam piece which should really have hit the top of the charts. As with most of the album, it is a bit unconventional, to say the least, but it’s also fantastic on every level. Then Everyone’s a Loser is a glorious song about the life of awkward people.

On any other album, by this stage, you would expect to find something a bit conventional, but here, even that is exceptional – I think the slower and more subdued Heaven might be my favourite track on here, and then Who is She? is entirely exceptional. Drawing heavily from a 1968 track called The Vengeance of She (Who Is She?) it comes together brilliantly.

Even the filler tracks are great – the short interlude A Scarecrow’s Tale is delightfully rustic, and carries us through to the curious electro-didgeridoo-blues of Stobart’s Blues. This is, for the first time, a slightly weaker track, but given the overall standard of this album, that was inevitable, and it’s hardly a bad thing. So, in fact, is The Backseat of My Car, now remodelled as Sticky Black Vinyl Mix, which somehow, while perfectly good, doesn’t quite seem to work.

But then we’re back to the perfection again – the song These Are Our Children (not, as I said earlier, to be confused with the album), is a beautifully dark ragga piece with children’s vocals. Then the more subdued Sunny Delights makes a late entry, full of sweet flutes and growling synthesisers.

Right at the end, you get the long version of The Blue Wrath, the daft jazzy piece that originally appeared in Shaun of the Dead. It’s a great closer for this album – completely ridiculous, of course, but also a lot of fun, and musically brilliant too.

So Neveroddoreven, with its palindromic title, is an exceptional album, however you look at it – and there’s a good chance that even if you know it already, you probably don’t know the hidden extra tracks quite as well. Well worth owning on CD, if you don’t already.

You can still find Neveroddoreven at all major retailers.

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

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.