Greatest Hits 2020

Happy New Year! To celebrate, here are ten reviews from the last few years that you might have missed:

Deep Dish – Junk Science

For some reason, I never expect dance acts to produce good albums. For years, throughout the mid and late 1990s, Deep Dish had turned up creating dark and long house mixes of tracks by my favourite artists, and then in 1998 they finally recorded their own album, led by a single with Everything But The Girl. But somehow I still didn’t expect it to be any good.

It wasn’t until about fifteen years after its original release that I finally tracked down Junk Science, buoyed by just how good that single and a couple of the others were, and of course I was pleasantly surprised. Just a bit late to the party.

The opening track Intro: Morning Wood doesn’t bode well though – starting an album with a sort of cut-down version of another track is exactly what I would have expected. That doesn’t last long, though – and neither does the track. Before long, we’re into the brilliant collaboration with Everything But The GirlThe Future of the Future (Stay Gold), which also closed the folk duo’s 1999 album Temperamental. This version is longer, clocking in at nine and a half minutes, and is still entirely brilliant. The deep house beats with Tracey Thorn‘s vocals work perfectly together. What a song.

It’s not all deep house here though, as the dub elements of Summer’s Over demonstrate. Enormous reverb and warm warping synth sounds captivate you throughout the seven minute duration of this track, and even though it never really goes anywhere, it never stops being fantastic.

After all that, the more generic house beats of Muhammad is Jesus… are a bit of a disappointment. Much as I agree with the sentiments of the lyrics, there isn’t a lot of substance to the rest of the track. So Stranded is a bit of a surprise, a beautiful bluesy track with some gentle guitar and piano work and a great vocal. The omnipresent house beats of course take up a significant part of it, but there’s plenty of room for more soulful music here too.

The title track Junk Science makes a nice centrepiece for the album, some welcome time off work for the house beats, as this chilled out instrumental murmurs its way along. But sadly nothing else on here is really ever quite this good again – Sushi is another pleasant instrumental, this time with more of an electro feel, but it’s not quite up to the same standard. My Only Sin is alright, but it’s just a bit too repetitive to be especially memorable. This is probably the weakest track on here.

So it continues: Monsoon is a noisy instrumental with shades of drum and bass, which just drones on a bit too long to really be enjoyable. It mixes into Persepolis, which is pleasant, but also a little on the dull side, and mercifully short.

After all that, Chocolate City (Love Songs) is a bit of a surprise. It starts off by sounding like a contemporary chart dance track, before mixing elements of jazz, disco, and goodness only knows what else. It’s a fun mix, and while it still isn’t quite up to the standard of some of the earlier tracks, it does at least make for a bit of a change.

By this stage, the album is pretty much over – there’s a gentle dub version of Muhammad is Jesus…, followed by the obscurely titled Wear the Hat, which is a pleasantly punch house track to close the album out.

All told, Junk Science is a surprisingly good album, in spite of the slight disappointments of the second half, and definitely well worth tracking down. Even if you’re even later to the party than I was.

You can still find Junk Science at all major retailers.

Artist of the Week – Everything But The Girl

Time now for the last of our old artists of the week. As always, please accept my apologies for errors, plagiarism, laziness, greed, or anything else that might annoy you!

Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn formed Everything But The Girl way back in 1984, after each releasing a solo album. Throughout the 1980s, they scored numerous minor hit singles and albums, but their biggest hits were always cover versions, including 1988’s I Don’t Want to Talk About It. In 1992, Ben Watt famously came very close to death, suffering for over a year from a near-fatal illness.

Their return in 1994 with Amplified Heart saw them carefully examining different musical directions, but it was at the end of the year when they worked with Massive Attack on the Protection album, and this saw them head into the world of dance music. Todd Terry‘s 1995 remix of Missing propelled them to the top end of the charts, providing them with their biggest hit, and the following year they returned with the Walking Wounded album, with numerous substantial hits.

In 1998 they wored with Deep Dish on The Future of the Future, and this saw them heading deeper and darker into house and drum and bass territory. 1999’s Temperamental album was a deep and dark affair, with extensive exploratory tracks but a few accessible moments.

Since then they seem to have faltered somewhat as a band, but of course they are now married with children. Ben Watt spent three years running the Lazy Dog club in London, and continues to put out individual deep house tracks on small independent labels including his own Buzzin’ Fly label. They’ve also put out their third singles compilation Like the Deserts Miss the Rain, and, more recently, an astoundingly good remix album, Adapt or Die.

Music for the Masses 32 – 16 February 2005

Always keen to try new features on the show, the Spring term had seen my try out the Unsigned Act feature, where I would try to give a new or unsigned artist a bit of free airtime, with no strings attached (well, except they had to be good). In the end, it was a bit of a failure, as pretty much everyone who showed an interest failed to submit anything on time. One of the few exceptions was Blue Swan, whom we also covered here on the blog.

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Show 32: Wed 16 Feb 2005, from 6:05pm-8:00pm

Broadcast on LSR FM, online only. Artist of the week: Faithless.

  • BT – Love, Peace and Grease
  • Conjure One – Centre of the Sun (29 Palms Remix)
  • Dave Gahan – I Need You
  • Mirwais – Naïve Song
  • Leftfield – Afro-Left
  • Faithless – Don’t Leave
  • Bomb the Bass – Winter in July
  • Echoboy – Lately Lonely
  • Groove Armada – At the River (Live)
  • Blue Swan – Black Widow [Unsigned Act]
  • Jollymusic feat. Erlend Øye – Talco Uno
  • Faithless feat. Dido – One Step Too Far
  • Electribe 101 – Talkin’ with Myself 98 (Beloved Mix)
  • Vic Twenty – Sugar Me
  • Moby – Left Me Up
  • Étienne de Crécy – Am I Wrong?
  • Yazoo – Don’t Go
  • Faithless – Mass Destruction
  • Deep Dish – Stranded
  • Goldfrapp – Utopia

Albums chart of the year 2014 for stowaways

Here are the top twenty albums of 2014 for stowaways:

  1. Röyksopp – The Inevitable End
  2. William Orbit – Strange Cargo 5
  3. Moby – Innocents
  4. Erasure – The Violet Flame
  5. B.E.F. – Music of Quality & Distinction, Vol. 3 – Dark
  6. I Monster / People Soup – I Monster Presents People Soup
  7. Napoleon – Magpies
  8. William Orbit – Orbit Symphonic
  9. DARKSIDE – Psychic
  10. Erasure – Snow Globe
  11. U2 – Songs of Innocence
  12. The Human League – Dare
  13. Röyksopp – Junior
  14. David Bowie – Nothing Has Changed
  15. Sparks – In Outer Space
  16. Goldfrapp – Tales of Us *
  17. Way Out West – We Love Machine
  18. Deep Dish – Junk Science
  19. Kevin Pearce – Matthew Hopkins and the Wormhole
  20. Maps – Turning the Mind

* Number 3 in 2013

Last year’s number 1, Pet Shop Boys‘ Electric, slips just outside this chart to number 21, while Röyksopp and Robyn‘s collaborative mini-album Do it Again grabs the number 1 spot on the EP chart.

See also: Albums chart of the year 2013 for stowaways, Albums chart of the year 2012 for stowaways.

Everything But The Girl – Temperamental

Three and a bit years after Walking Wounded (reviewed just a few weeks ago on this blog), Everything But The Girl returned with their last album to date, Temperamental (1999). It will be fifteen years old in just a few weeks, which is more than a good enough excuse to listen to it now.

Temeramental opens with the lead single, the deep house Five Fathoms, and it is a contrast from the previous album in every way. Whereas Walking Wounded had been a very clear progression from their folk roots to their new-found electronic sound, this time the vocals are very urban, and music inspired. It’s a great track actually, and the elements come together really well, but it wasn’t exactly the best choice for lead single in the world.

The more laid back Low Tide of the Night follows. Temperamental is an album about going out, and this track describes the darker side of that very well – “when you’re down and troubled you don’t tell your friends, you don’t tell your family.” Then comes the drum & bass – darker this time than anything on the previous album – with the fantastic non-charting second single Blame. The vocals are sparse and haunting, and the beats are heavy and powerful – it’s really an extremely good track.

My favourite moment on this album is Hatfield 1980, with its beautiful piano counter-melody, in which Tracey Thorn describes what I imagine is her life in London in the early 1980s. It’s still rather dark though – I had wondered whether this might have been a better choice for the lead single, but maybe not.

The third single was the title track Temperamental, although they used a pretty awful light house remix as the lead version. The original is probably the most “pop” track on the album, although it’s still haunted by a degree of deep house melancholy. The weird vocal samples which form the main melody take a bit of getting used to, but it’s a really good track. Perhaps this should have been the lead single?

Side B is, for the most part, less varied, and honestly less exciting too. The largely instrumental Compression leads onto Downhill Racer, at just under four minutes the shortest track on the album. By no means are any of these bad tracks, but they don’t quite generally grab you in the way that some of the others might.

Lullaby of Clubland, the last single in the US, is the standout track on this half of the album, and it also came with a stunning array of remixes when it was released. It’s a bit of a welcome surprise too – by this point in the album you might be starting to feel as though you’ve heard everything it has to offer, but clearly not.

The penultimate track No Difference follows, another short one relatively speaking, and again quite unlike anything else on this release. As the late night rain falls and Tracey Thorn‘s haunting but slightly chirpy vocal drifts over the gentle backing, you realise that Everything But The Girl have really pulled it out of the bag with another great album.

Temeramental finally draws to a close with a slightly edited version of the 1998 collaboration with Deep Dish The Future of the Future (Stay Gold). It’s another of the best tracks on this album, and you can see how it might have helped shape the sound of this release, with its deep house beats and weird electronic squelches. As the closing piece, it’s pretty much perfect.

In the fifteen years which have passed since, both Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt have been active with various projects, but there’s been nothing new from them as a duo. Which does add to the mystique of their handful of albums, but it’s a great shame too. Let’s hope they return soon.

You can find Temperamental from all major retailers, such as Amazon here. Or you could own what seems to be an unofficial gold disc for it, if you prefer.

Chart for stowaways – 8 February 2014

The top ten singles:

  1. Röyksopp – Running to the Sea
  2. I Monster – Devils on Horseback
  3. Pet Shop Boys – Winner
  4. Depeche Mode – Soothe My Soul
  5. Napoleon – You Could ❤ This
  6. Goldfrapp – Yes Sir
  7. Way Out West – Surrender
  8. Deep Dish – Summer’s Over
  9. Kevin Pearce – Weevil Ven Bone
  10. Depeche Mode – Heaven

Meanwhile Napoleon hold onto the top of the album charts for yet another week.

Chart for stowaways – 1 February 2014

Here are this week’s albums:

  1. Napoleon – Magpies
  2. I Monster / People Soup – I Monster Presents People Soup
  3. Kevin Pearce – Matthew Hopkins and the Wormhole
  4. Deep Dish – Junk Science
  5. Way Out West – We Love Machine
  6. Röyksopp – Junior
  7. Pet Shop Boys – Nightlife
  8. Goldfrapp – Tales of Us
  9. Marsheaux – Inhale
  10. Karl Bartos – Off the Record

Apart from Napoleon holding on to the top spot for yet another week, this week’s chart reads a little like a Best Of 2013, which is all very exciting.

Chart for stowaways – 18 January 2014

As we stealthily skip a couple of weeks to try and catch up, here are the albums:

  1. Napoleon – Magpies
  2. Kevin Pearce – Matthew Hopkins and the Wormhole
  3. Way Out West – We Love Machine
  4. I Monster – I Monster Presents People Soup
  5. Deep Dish – Junk Science
  6. Télépopmusik – Angel Milk
  7. Client – Command
  8. William Orbit – Pieces in a Modern Style
  9. I Monster – Swarf
  10. Skywatchers – Poyekhali!

Chart for stowaways – 30 November 2013

Here are the top five singles:

  1. Pet Shop Boys feat. Example – Thursday
  2. Röyksopp feat. Susanne Sundfør – Running to the Sea
  3. Depeche Mode – Should Be Higher
  4. Erasure – Gaudete
  5. Kosheen – Harder They Fall

The albums were still doing odd things by the end of November, but let’s look at the top five anyway:

  1. Deep Dish – Junk Science
  2. Way Out West – We Love Machine
  3. Bent – Best Of
  4. Pet Shop Boys – Actually
  5. Pet Shop Boys – Introspective