Greatest Hits – Covid Edition

I’m all too aware that there haven’t been a lot of new reviews around here lately – sorry for that. For now, with the lockdown firmly in place, let’s roll back to some of the reviews from the last couple of years that you might have missed!

Deep Forest – Made in Japan

By 1999, Deep Forest had already seen some huge hits with their first couple of albums, and had now settled into a somewhat comfortable space, pulling musicians together from around the world and adding electronic sounds and beats. So having taken many of the Comparsa guests on tour the preceding year, the live album Made in Japan was a natural next step.

It opens with Ekue Ekue, which is one of the better tracks from Comparsa (1998), and you can definitely hear an impressive live energy in the performance. Where it suffers a little here is from a fundamental cheesiness, and it’s the same for Green and Blue, too – it’s a good song, but not necessarily the best version of it. By 1999, Deep Forest had been supplanted by many younger and more successful musicians as France’s favourite export, and some of their melodies just sounded a bit naff. It’s sad, in a way, because you can hear that the singers are having a great time, but they do just sound a bit rubbish in places, particularly when the synth noodling extends a song by a whole minute.

The less energetic pieces are better – Deep Weather feels infinitely less frantic, while still retaining some of the live emotions of earlier tracks. While the Japanese version squeezes in another Comparsa track next, there is, fortunately, some space left for some earlier songs, as a series of tracks from Boheme (1995) follow. First is Bohemian Ballet, which is one of my favourites. The live vocal doesn’t quite work for me, honestly – despite the fact that I don’t speak any Hungarian, so can’t understand a word of it, the singer clearly can’t either, which means the emotion and energy feels a bit misplaced sometimes. It’s still a good song, but I’d maybe have given the singers a bit of a break at this point.

For Deep Folk Song, they do, and while it’s a bit of a mess at times, it’s pretty faithful to the album version. Then it’s back to the faux-Hungarian, with the lovely Freedom Cry. The delivery on this one is better, actually working pretty well, to my untrained ear. Yes, the accordion playing is a little bit too much on this one, particularly towards the end, but it’s a nice song.

The Boheme section closes out with Cafe Europa, a sweet instrumental from the tail end of the album. It’s strange, in a way, that they weren’t confident enough to mix the albums in with each other, particularly given the way that each seemed to have been a little less good than its predecessor. This is one of the better tracks from Boheme, though, and fits well here, although I wonder if the piano wankery at the end might have worked better visually than it does on audio.

Forest Power is next, taking us back to Comparsa. It’s a worthy performance, with a lot going on, but again, you have to wonder whether the visuals might have made a difference here – there just seems to be a lot of the performance that’s missing somehow.

By 1999, Deep Forest had already seen some huge hits with their first couple of albums, and had now settled into a somewhat comfortable space, pulling musicians together from around the world and adding electronic sounds and beats. So having taken many of the Comparsa guests on tour the preceding year, the live album Made in Japan was a natural next step.

It opens with Ekue Ekue, which is one of the better tracks from Comparsa (1998), and you can definitely hear an impressive live energy in the performance. Where it suffers a little here is from a fundamental cheesiness, and it’s the same for Green and Blue, too – it’s a good song, but not necessarily the best version of it. By 1999, Deep Forest had been supplanted by many younger and more successful musicians as France’s favourite export, and some of their melodies just sounded a bit naff. It’s sad, in a way, because you can hear that the singers are having a great time, but they do just sound a bit rubbish in places, particularly when the synth noodling extends a song by a whole minute.

The less energetic pieces are better – Deep Weather feels infinitely less frantic, while still retaining some of the live emotions of earlier tracks. While the Japanese version squeezes in another Comparsa track next, there is, fortunately, some space left for some earlier songs, as a series of tracks from Boheme (1995) follow. First is Bohemian Ballet, which is one of my favourites. The live vocal doesn’t quite work for me, honestly – despite the fact that I don’t speak any Hungarian, so can’t understand a word of it, the singer clearly can’t either, which means the emotion and energy feels a bit misplaced sometimes. It’s still a good song, but I’d maybe have given the singers a bit of a break at this point.

For Deep Folk Song, they do, and while it’s a bit of a mess at times, it’s pretty faithful to the album version. Then it’s back to the faux-Hungarian, with the lovely Freedom Cry. The delivery on this one is better, actually working pretty well, to my untrained ear. Yes, the accordion playing is a little bit too much on this one, particularly towards the end, but it’s a nice song.

The Boheme section closes out with Cafe Europa, a sweet instrumental from the tail end of the album. It’s strange, in a way, that they weren’t confident enough to mix the albums in with each other, particularly given the way that each seemed to have been a little less good than its predecessor. This is one of the better tracks from Boheme, though, and fits well here, although I wonder if the piano wankery at the end might have worked better visually than it does on audio.

Forest Power is next, taking us back to Comparsa. It’s a worthy performance, with a lot going on, but again, you have to wonder whether the visuals might have made a difference here – there just seems to be a lot of the performance that’s missing somehow, particularly as the guitar and vocal works draws to a crescendo towards the end. Then Hunting, with a great live vocal, but again, a whole load more messing around that probably worked well when you were there in person, and the crowd very obediently shout back at the singers when they chant random things, but really drags a bit on the CD, I’m sad to say.

That is, with regret, the general story with Made in Japan – it’s a worthy live performance, but the vast majority of tracks are taken from what I think most would agree is the least good of those early Deep Forest albums. Where are all the great hits from the debut eponymous album?

Oh, there they are. Forest Hymn didn’t quite make it onto the original release of Deep Forest, but made it onto later reissues, and it works well here. The thing is, there’s no reason why the early material wouldn’t fit amongst the works from Comparsa, and that’s illustrated well here. It’s definitely a Comparsa remix, but it’s an older and more established piece, and it entirely works.

Then, finally, comes Sweet Lullaby, although it starts in slightly odd form with a rippling acoustic guitar and vocal. After a minute or so, it’s back to where it belongs, with the original weird pad leads and vocal samples. It’s an interesting take, which would work well if it weren’t for the fact that this remains, still, Deep Forest‘s only live album. As it builds, it gets better, but you do have to wonder a little why they chose to release this performance above any others. Or maybe performing live was such an irregular occurrence that this, basically a live performance of Comparsa with a few extra bells and whistles, was the best we could have hoped for.

Quite why that was the penultimate encore rather than the last one is beyond me, but Madazulu, from Comparsa, is what we have to close the album. But having said that, Madazulu is probably the best track on the album, so maybe it isn’t such a questionable choice after all? Of all the decisions they made here, closing with this track is probably one of the least daft. You can hear all the energy of the performance here – maybe it isn’t such a bad album, after all?

Well, Made in Japan is a bit of a mixed bag, if the truth be told. If you like Comparsa, this is fine, but just not very different. If not, there isn’t a lot of other material here. Either way, the fact that it exists is fine, but it just seems a bit pointless without the visuals, that surely must have been amazing? Nice, but it’s fair to say that it’s a bit pointless.

This album is still widely available. There’s a Japanese version with some extra tracks from Comparsa, if you want them. I haven’t heard it, but I would struggle to believe it adds much.

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

Music for the Masses 33 – 23 February 2005

Unfortunately the webcam wasn’t working this week, leaving us with very little documentary evidence of the show. Artist of the week was my long-time favourite act The Beloved, and other highlights included oddities from White Town and The Postal Service.

Show 33: Wed 23 Feb 2005, from 6:05pm-8:00pm

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

  • Mylo – Valley of the Dolls
  • Robert Miles – Children
  • Olive – Miracle (Radio Mix)
  • Röyksopp – Poor Leno
  • New Order – True Faith
  • Enigma – The Eyes of Truth
  • The Beloved – Time After Time
  • Tony di Bart – The Real Thing (Joy Brothers Remake)
  • Sarah Cracknell – Anymore
  • The Shamen – Xochipili’s Return
  • Deep Forest – Yuki Song
  • The Beloved – Sweet Harmony
  • White Town – Duplicate
  • Fluke – Atom Bomb
  • Orbital – The Saint
  • The Postal Service – We Will Become Silhouettes
  • Dario G – Sunchyme
  • Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Electricity
  • The Beloved – A Dream within a Dream
  • Bent – Sunday 29th

Music for the Masses 30 – 2 February 2005

For the seven-week Spring term of 2005, Music for the Masses returned with a Wednesday slot, and was an entirely relaxed affair, with the presenter sitting back and operating the controls with his legs crossed. Or maybe I was just posing for the webcam – it’s difficult to know for sure.

webcama4webcama1 webcama2 webcama3

Show 30: Wed 2 Feb 2005, from 6:05pm-8:00pm

Broadcast on LSR FM, online only. Retrospective of 2004, with predictions for 2005 (no artist of the week).

  • Kings of Convenience – Misread
  • Delerium feat. Zoë Johnston – You & I
  • Goldfrapp – Strict Machine
  • Depeche Mode – Enjoy the Silence (Ewan Pearson Extended Remix)
  • Dirty Vegas – Human Love
  • Bent – I Can’t Believe it’s Over
  • Air – Another Day
  • Zero 7 – Home
  • Duran Duran – (Reach Up for the) Sunrise
  • Mylo – Drop the Pressure
  • Basement Jaxx – Good Luck
  • Télépopmusik – Love Can Damage Your Health
  • Röyksopp – So Easy
  • Lemon Jelly – Only Time
  • Moby – Lift Me Up
  • Daft Punk – Around the World
  • New Order – Ruined in a Day (K-Klass Remix)
  • Erasure – No Doubt
  • Faithless – Why Go?
  • Client – It’s Rock & Roll
  • Sohodolls – Prince Harry
  • Ladytron – Seventeen
  • Deep Forest – Will You Be Ready?

Music for the Masses 24 – 31 October 2004

The last Sunday in October 2004 saw the last ever (to date) FM outing of the Music for the Masses show. While this was something of a shame, not having to get up at 3am every Sunday morning and cycle across a bleak northern city was generally a good thing. And since I didn’t know whether this could even be my last ever radio show, the obvious choice for Artist of the Week was my long-time favourite act, Pet Shop Boys.

Show 24: Sun 31 Oct 2004, from 4:00am-6:00am

Broadcast on LSR FM, on FM and online. Artist of the week: Pet Shop Boys.

  • Depeche Mode – Enjoy the Silence (Reinterpreted)
  • Everything But The Girl – Hadfield 1980
  • Death in Vegas – Aisha
  • New Order – True Faith
  • Pet Shop Boys – I’m Not Scared
  • Erasure – Piano Song
  • Deep Forest – Will You Be Ready?
  • Client feat. Carl Barât – Pornography
  • White Town – Duplicate
  • Wolfsheim – Kein Zurück
  • Pet Shop Boys – Always
  • Faithless – Swingers
  • Utah Saints – What Can You Do for Me?
  • The All Seeing I feat. Phil Oakey – 1st Man in Space
  • Delerium feat. Sarah McLachlan – Silence (Above & Beyond Remix)
  • Kraftwerk – Computer Love (The Mix Version)
  • Pet Shop Boys – Miracles
  • Sparks – My Baby’s Taking Me Home
  • Basement Jaxx – Rendez-Vu
  • Rob Dougan – Clubbed to Death

This show was recorded, and for the most part still exists. It will be posted as a Playlist for stowaways soon.

Music for the Masses 17 – 10 May 2000

If you’ve ever wondered how real radio stations do competitions, the answer is that they make up pretend entries. When I was doing my Bay Radio show, I obviously hadn’t learnt this yet…

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Show 17: Wed 10 May 2000, from 10.55am-1.00pm

Tracks taken from the playlist (Total 14 tracks). A indicates A-list (8 tracks); B indicates B-list (3 tracks) and C indicates C-list (2 tracks). S indicates the Single of the Week. R indicates tracks taken from my own collection (Total 7 tracks). L indicates the ones from the “library” (Total 5 tracks).

  • 1. Bluetones “Autophilia” A
  • [IRN 11.00 News]
  • 2. Moby “Run On” L
  • 3. Richard Ashcroft “Song for the Lovers” C
  • 4. Inter “Radio Finland” B
  • [Advert Break]
  • 5. Asian Dub Foundation “New Way New Life” B
  • 6. Duran Duran “Someone Else Not Me” L
  • 7. William Orbit “Ravel’s Pavane pour une Enfante Défunte” R
  • 8. Billie Piper “Day & Night” A
  • 9. Death in Vegas “Dirge” L
  • 10. Wannadies “Big Fan” A
  • [Advert Break]
  • 11. Watergate “Heart of Asia” A
  • 12. Deep Forest “Savana Dance” (Sierra Nevada Remix) R
  • 13. Enigma “Push the Limits” R
  • [IRN 12.00 News]
  • 14. DJ Eric “Desire” L
  • 15. Utah Saints “Funky Music” S
  • 16. Bentley Rhythm Ace “Theme from Gutbuster” A
  • 17. Chicane feat. Bryan Adams “Don’t Give Up” L
  • [Advert Break]
  • 18. Looper “Mundo 77” C
  • 19. Basement Jaxx “Rendez-Vu” R
  • 20. Dubstar “I (Friday Night)” A
  • 21. Sahara Hotnights “Drive Dead Slow” B
  • 22. Dandy Warhols “Get Off” A
  • 23. Gomez “Machismo” A
  • [Advert Break]
  • 24. Space Brothers “Forgiven” L
  • 25. Jean Michel Jarre “Tout est Bleu” R
  • 26. Robert Miles “Maresias” R

Producer: None.

Notes: Bit rusty… Also, my first compotion. No-one entered. Darn. Fiddle-de-dee.

Chart for stowaways – 7 March 2015

Here are this week’s top ten albums, as Étienne de Crécy takes over the top spot on both charts for the first time:

  1. Étienne de Crécy – Super Discount 3
  2. Shit Robot – We Got a Love
  3. Marsheaux – A Broken Frame
  4. Röyksopp – The Inevitable End
  5. Shit Robot – From the Cradle to the Rave
  6. Erasure – The Violet Flame
  7. Erasure – Wild!
  8. Enigma – A Posteriori
  9. Deep Forest – Music Detected
  10. Andy Pickford – Terraformer

Beginner’s guide to Deep Forest

There’s a good chance you won’t have come across Deep Forest before, and even if you have, you’ll very probably have forgotten them. That’s no reason not to check them out and see what they have to offer, because there’s plenty of good material hiding in their back catalogue.

Key moments

The eponymous single Deep Forest and its follow-up Sweet Lullaby were enormous hits in the early 1990s, and the globe-trotting career which followed included plenty of strong moments. Sadly they split in 2004 and have done relatively little of worth since.

Where to start

The 2004 compilation Essence of the Forest is brilliant, and a worthy introduction to the group. You’ll get highlights from the first decade of their career with some excellent new versions too.

What to buy

Start with Deep Forest (1992) – get the 1994 World Mix version, and you’ll find it to be largely flawless. Bohème (1995) is a good next step, and then jump forward to 2002’s more experimental Music Detected.

Don’t bother with

Any of their solo material – including the Deep BrasilDeep IndiaDeep Africa series.

Hidden treasure

The Pacifique film soundtrack is surprisingly good, if not especially well known, and many of the singles are worth tracking down for the interesting remixes.

For stowaways