Chart for stowaways – 14 January 2017

Here’s the latest album chart:

  1. Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène 3
  2. The Human League – Anthology – A Very British Synthesizer Group
  3. Dusty Springfield – Reputation
  4. C Duncan – The Midnight Sun
  5. Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène Trilogy
  6. Delerium – Mythologie
  7. Air – Twentyears
  8. David Bowie – Legacy
  9. Yello – Toy
  10. Brian Eno – Reflection

Chart for stowaways – 21 May 2016

Here are this week’s top albums:

  1. Jean-Michel Jarre – Electronica 2: The Heart of Noise
  2. Pet Shop Boys – Super
  3. Jean-Michel Jarre – Electronica 1: The Time Machine
  4. New Order – Music Complete
  5. Conjure One – Holoscenic
  6. Róisín Murphy – Hairless Toys
  7. David Bowie – Best of Bowie
  8. Little Boots – Working Girl
  9. Brian Eno – The Ship
  10. Leftfield – Alternative Light Source

Artist of the Week – Moby

The scheduling must have shifted a bit at some point, as this one is listed as the first artist of the week, but was definitely broadcast first, around 4.20am (!) on the third week of the radio show Music for the Masses, back in late 2004.

As before, apologies in advance for any inaccuracies, errors, hyperbole, or plagiarism in this piece – it was written twelve years ago and intended to be read out loud…

I want to kick off by explaining a little bit about [Moby‘s] musical career. He first picked up the name Moby as a child, being the great great grand-nephew (or something) of the Moby Dick author Herman Melville. During his relatively troubled childhood, he became passionate about music, particularly punk and John Lydon‘s Public Image Limited, among others.

Whilst at college, he formed several punk bands, none of which saw any great success, but in the late 1980s he moved to New York, and started DJing and making music for small underground record labels. In particular, he came up with a number of pseudonyms to become the driving force behind Instinct Records, who would go on to release several compilations of his early material.

After several underground successes, he first became known in the UK with his phenomenal hit Go, which drew heavily on Angelo Badalamenti‘s score for the David Lynch TV series Twin Peaks. After a few false starts, the single reached number 6 in the UK, and was a huge hit across the world.

During the early 1990s he would remix countless major acts, including Michael JacksonPet Shop BoysBrian EnoDepeche  ModeErasureThe B-52s, and Orbital, and in 1993 he was signed to the London-based label Mute Records.

His first proper album Everything is Wrong would explore and thoroughly question the different aspects of dance music, and would yield single after single in the UK, all of which were substantial hits. The follow-up though, 1996’s Animal Rights would throw dance out of the window, and turn to hard rock instead.

In 1997, following his fantastic reworking of the James Bond theme, he released a compilation of film tracks, entitled I Like to Score, and following this, he would see his greatest success ever, even if it took rather a long time to grip the world’s consciousness.

The first single from Play was Honey, and was released in mid-1998. At this time the album was already completed, but was delayed as he didn’t have a US record company. On its original release in the UK, it peaked at number 33 and in the US it only scraped the top 100. However, after prostituting every single album track, b-side, and remix onto films and adverts, he finally had his first US hit, and climbed his way up to the top of the UK charts. The album would eventually become so successful that no fewer than eight singles were released in the UK.

The follow-up, 2001’s 18 was seen by many as a disappointment, perhaps simply because it wasn’t adventurous enough. It’s a beautiful album though, and still yielded several hit singles and topped the charts again in the UK. After seeing underground success with his Voodoo Child side-project, his next proper album is due in the spring.

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.

Record Store Day 2015

Record Store Day always ruffles a few feathers, although the charming story about a mini-popup shop opening in London this year on the NME website does make up for some of the controversy.

In previous years, we’ve taken a spin through a selection of the special releases for Record Store Day, and this year is no exception. The list starts here:

  • a-haTake on Me (7″ picture disc, 5,000 copies in the US, 1,000 copies in the UK, also Germany / Netherlands)
  • AirPlayground Love / Highschool Lover (coloured 7″, 5,000 copies in the US, 500 copies in the UK, also Germany / Netherlands)
  • Amorphous Androgynous (still also known as The Future Sound of London) – A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble (Exploding in Your Mind) / The Wizards of Oz (2xLP, 500 copies, UK and Germany)
  • David BowieChanges (7″ picture disc, 6,000 copies in the US, 3,000 copies in the UK, also Germany / Netherlands) Kingdom Come with the same song by Tom Verlaine on the other side (7″, 9,600 copies in the US, and 2,000 copies in the UK, also Germany / Netherlands) and also 1966 (white LP, 2,000 copies, UK only, also Germany)
  • Buena Vista Social ClubChan Chan (7″, 1,000 copies, regional release, US / Germany / Netherlands)
  • CamouflageShine + Remixes (12″, 500 copies, UK / Germany / Netherlands)
  • ChvrchesGet Away / Dead Air (7″, 1,000 copies, UK only)
  • Empire of the SunWalking on a Dream (LP)
  • Brian EnoMy Squelchy Life (2×12″, 4,000 copies, US / Netherlands)
  • ErasureThe Violet Flame Remixes (12″, 400 copies regionally in the US, and 700 copies in the UK, also Germany / Netherlands)
  • GarbageChemicals / On Fire Stunvolume (10″, 4,000 copies in the US, and 500 copies in the UK)
  • GoldfrappFelt Mountain (coloured vinyl LP, 3,200 copies – first US LP release, US only)
  • Happy MondaysPills Thrills ‘n’ Bellyaches (coloured 12″, 1,000 copies, UK / Netherlands) and Live Brixton Academy 2012 (orange double LP, 1,000 copies, UK / Netherlands)
  • Jon HopkinsI Remember (Nils Frahm Remix) (10″, 1,000 copies in the US, 500 copies in the UK)
  • LambTrans Fatty Acid (Pure Filth 2014 Mix) / SH09 is Back (10″, 500 copies, UK / Germany)
  • Little BootsBusiness Pleasure (180g white 12″, 500 copies, UK / Germany / Netherlands)
  • MadnessLovestruck / Le Grand Pantalon (7″, pop up sleeve, 1,000 copies, UK only)
  • Orchestral Manoeuvres in the DarkJulia’s Song (Dub Version) / 10 to 1 (10″, 1,000 copies, UK / Germany / Netherlands)
  • The ProdigyIbiza (glow in the dark vinyl, Germany only)
  • The ResidentsIntermission (LP, 1,000 copies, US only) and Satisfaction (7″, 500 copies, UK / Germany)
  • Donna SummerAnother Place and Time – The UK 12″ Singles (5×12″ box set, 1,000 copies, UK / Germany)
  • Tears for FearsShout / Everybody Wants to Rule the World (180g 12″, Germany only)
  • Tracey ThornSongs from the Falling (Germany only)

Remember, some of these will be available in different countries, so they may vary where you are… More details at the official US Record Store Day website, the UK one, the German one, the Dutch one, and you might also want to look at Wax Poetic.

Depeche Mode – Songs of Faith and Devotion

When I wrote about Depeche Mode‘s previous album Violator a few weeks ago, I closed the review by saying the only thing to do was to move onto Songs of Faith and Devotion. Finishing with Violator would feel as though you were leaving a job half-done, so here’s the second half of that review.

But things are very different this time around. Violator, from its very first notes, is characterised by analogue warmth. There’s none of that here – right from the start of I Feel You, you’re both pulled in and alienated by noisy grungy feedback, and whereas the guitars were kept to a minimum previously, they’re in full force here.

I Feel You is a fantastic return, a grimey love song with gospel backing vocals. It also reveals the curious contradiction of the title – there’s plenty of Faith and Devotion here, but Prejudice and Sex might have been more accurate. Second track Walking in My Shoes is perhaps closer to the album title, and is a less guitar-driven piece. Compare this to the Depeche Mode of just five years ago, and you might be a little confused by what you hear, but Walking in My Shoes is definitely among their finest moments.

The heavily gospel-influenced third track and also third single Condemnation follows, thoroughly justifying the Faith in the album title. They had never released anything quite like this before, and that alone should be reason enough to like it. Mercy in You is probably closer to what you might expect from Depeche Mode, although that might only be true with the benefit of hindsight.

For the first time in a couple of albums, Songs of Faith and Devotion does prove to have its weaker moments. Martin L. Gore turns up to deliver an occasional vocal on Judas, and while there’s really nothing particularly wrong with the song, it’s a little unforgettable alongside its more energetic and unusual neighbours.

The second half of the album opens with the exceptional fourth single In Your Room, although in slightly different form to the wonderfully powerful version which would become a single a year or so later. Unquestionably another of Depeche Mode‘s finest songs, with Dave Gahan at his grungy best.

Get Right with Me is another slightly weaker moment. It’s a gospel song in the style of Condemnation, but doesn’t quite grab you in the same way that it’s predecessor did. It’s followed by Interlude No. 4, an excerpt from Brian Eno‘s remix of I Feel You (numbers 1-3 were on previous albums) before proceedings are kicked back into shape with the brilliant Rush.

Songs of Faith and Devotion is an unforgiving album – the first time you listen, you might well find you hate it, but with time it will be songs like Rush that stick in your head. It’s a rock piece, but it hides a little bit of 1980s Depeche Mode in the grimey post-chorus melody, and it turns out to be an exceptionally good song.

One Caress sees Martin L. Gore delivering his own vocals again, this time with the accompaniment of a string quartet. It’s improbable, both for Depeche Mode and for this album, but it’s truly brilliant. Gore’s quivering vocal delivery fits the song perfectly, and it’s a perfect interlude between all the rock, and yet somehow it fits extremely well too.

Finally, it’s time for the album closer, an enormous piece entitled Higher Love. It’s huge, anthemic, and entirely brilliant, and finishes the album off in entirely appropriate style. Unlike Violator I don’t find myself desperately grabbing at the next album, but even so, it’s an exceptional closing track for a great album.

It was this album which pretty much broke the Basildon four-piece, with Gahan coming disturbingly close to death, and the others in a deep turmoil which culminated with Alan Wilder‘s decision to leave the band and concentrate on his Recoil project instead. Their recovery and return four years later with the disturbed Ultra was a welcome relief – the trajectory of young pop stars working their way up to rock idols, mapped out from Speak and Spell through to Songs of Faith and Devotion, would have been an extremely disturbing epitaph. But they did come back, this wasn’t the end, and fortunately it’s possible to enjoy it as one of their darkest hours.

As with Violator, the double disc version is the essential one to track down if you can, but otherwise go for the 2013 remastered version, still widely available.