Björk – Debut

Björk is definitely an artist that I don’t listen to anywhere near enough. For me, as a newcomer to the world of music, she seemed to appear pretty much out of nowhere with 1993’s brilliant Debut, but of course to anyone who knew what they were talking about, she had been floating around the alternative music scene for six years already as party of The Sugarcubes. Actually, before all that, she was a child star in Iceland, having released her actual debut Björk in 1977, but this is not the story of her career, it’s a review of her Debut album.

But Debut, or perhaps more accurately, “comeback”, opens with the brilliant Human Behaviour, produced, as most of the album is, by the then-prolific Nellee Hooper, and released as her debut solo single in June 1993. It’s a great song, challenging in the way that Björk‘s songs often are, but also catchy and clever at the same time.

Next comes Crying, a slightly more generic but still enjoyable track that leads us through to the frankly brilliant Venus as a Boy, the second single in summer 1993. Producer Hooper had, of course, not long before, taken Massive Attack‘s Unfinished Sympathy into the upper reaches of the charts, and he’s definitely applying some of the lessons learnt here as well.

At the time, there did seem to be quite a lot of singles coming out from this album, although there only actually appear to have been five after all, so there are plenty of songs that would never have been hits, and There’s More to Life Than This is definitely one of these. It’s got a pleasant house-meets-disco feel, and Björk pronounces “ghetto blaster” adorably, but it’s not amazing, frankly.

Just three years earlier, she had collaborated on a partially jazz-themed album Gling-Gló, and it’s refreshing to know that she hadn’t turned entirely to the dance sound, as Like Someone in Love, delivered with a jazz vocal style, pulls together a manically strummed harp, seashore noises, and not a whole lot else actually.

Big Time Sensuality was the final single of 1993, a brilliant house piece coupled on the second CD with millions of remixed by the fantastic Fluke and Justin Robertson of Lionrock. It’s bonkers, of course, but this is one of the finest songs on here.

One Day is pleasant too, a gently chilled out dance track that bobs along very nicely indeed for a few minutes. Some tracks, though, such as Aeroplane, are less interesting. Pleasant to have on here, and useful within the broader context of the album, of course, but definitely less essential.

But you’re never far from greatness on this album – Come to Me is lovely, and Violently Happy, released early in 1994 as the final single, with more mixes by Fluke and Graham Massey of 808 State, actually ended up as the second biggest hit from this release. The Anchor Song is a bit of an odd interlude, but it just about works as the closing track of the original version of the album.

Play Dead closes the album, on all the modern versions – and rightly so. At some point after Debut was originally released, David Arnold worked with her and Jah Wobble on this track for the film The Young Americans. Justifiably the biggest hit from this release, it’s quite fantastic – and a great one to hide for the end of the album. I do feel a bit bad for the people who bought the original version and missed out on this on the end, but if you weren’t quite that forward thinking, you might have had to buy this album twice.

It’s a great album, though, and a fantastic Debut. Highly recommended.

You can still find Debut all over the place – just make sure you get the version with Play Dead on the end of it.

Music for the Masses 39 – 7 May 2005

For the final run of Music for the Masses, from April to May 2005, I had secured the coveted Saturday night slot, building people up to a stomping night out in Leeds. Or alternatively helping them to revise for their exams. Or potentially neither; it was rather difficult to tell. But looking through the playlist, I can see a slightly more uptempo seam running through the show, culminating with the Electromix at the end of the show.

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Show 39: Sat 7 May 2005, from 6:00pm-8:00pm

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

  • Morcheeba – World Looking In
  • Erasure – Here I Go Impossible Again
  • 1 Giant Leap feat. Robbie Williams & Maxi Jazz – My Culture
  • Mylo – In My Arms (Sharam Jey Remix)
  • The Shamen – Comin’ On (Beatmasters Mix)
  • Sylver – Make It
  • Aurora – Ordinary World
  • BT – Orbitus Terrarium
  • Kraftwerk – Aérodynamik
  • The Shamen – MK2A
  • Depeche Mode – Freelove (Live) [The Live Bit]
  • Stereo MCs – Connected
  • Technique – Sun is Shining
  • Felix – Don’t You Want Me
  • Yello feat. Stina Nordenstam – To the Sea
  • New Order – Jetstream (Arthur Baker Remix)
  • The Shamen – Indica
  • Binar – The Truth Sets Us Free
  • Talk Talk – Talk Talk
  • Mirwais feat. Craig Wedren – Miss You [Electromix]
  • Elektric Music – Lifestyle (Radio-Style) [Electromix]
  • Front Line Assembly – Everything Must Perish [Electromix]
  • Fluke – Absurd
  • Bent – The Waters Deep

The Electromix feature from this show still exists, and will be included on a future Playlist for stowaways.

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

Various Artists – Tomb Raider

Finally! A film soundtrack to review where I’ve actually seen the associated film. Not that I actually remember it in the slightest.

But the soundtrack begins with a special mix of Elevation by U2, who always leave me with slightly mixed feelings. So this manages to be at the same time both one of their less good tracks and one of their better ones – it’s a good pop song, but ultimately it just falls a bit flat.

Then industrial rockers Nine Inch Nails turn up with Deep, which is probably very fitting, and not entirely unpleasant, but ultimately it’s nothing particularly amazing. Third come The Chemical Brothers, always enjoyable but not always quite as interesting as their reputation might suggest, sounding very like themselves with Galaxy Bounce.

The first half of this CD isn’t unduly interesting – Missy Elliott and Nelly Furtado do their none-too-interesting collaborative version of Get UR Freak On, with a lot of talking, noodling, and general repetition; Outkast turn up for one of their less interesting moments with Speedballin’ and even Moby is far from being at his best with Ain’t Never Learned.

BT picks things up eventually at track seven with The Revolution, which, while it does sound a lot like BT, is at least a good track, and it gets better after that with an exclusive mix of the brilliant – and entirely apt for the Tomb Raider franchise – Terra Firma by Delerium.

If you never saw the slightly disturbing video for Basement Jaxx‘s Where’s Your Head At, then that’s perhaps no bad thing, because it seems to be indelibly marked in my mind now, but the song still sounds good even now, over a decade after its original release. Which is not so true of Fatboy Slim and Bootsie Collins‘s Illuminati, which is a worthy collaboration, but nothing special. The real theme of this album seems to be that artists haven’t had much opportunity to branch out from their typical sound, and this is a typical example.

Surprisingly, though, things really start to pick up towards the end of the album. Fluke‘s Absurd is a surprising and extremely worthwhile inclusion, as is Leftfield‘s fantastic Song of Life, from Leftism. Whoever compiled this collection was clearly keeping all the good stuff for the end.

Groove Armada‘s beautifully chilled out Edge Hill provides further evidence of this, and then I’d never heard Satellite by Bosco before listening to this compilation, but it turned out to be a great track. After that, even Oxide & Neutrino don’t sound too bad – and in fairness to them (I’m not sure why they deserve it), Devil’s Nightmare is probably their least bad moment.

Film soundtracks are, as it turns out, strange beasts, with selected tracks from all over the place which are only really justified in sitting side-by-side because of one particular film. And this soundtrack, while it started off pretty patchy, got extremely good towards the end, so is definitely worth finding the time for.

You can find Tomb Raider – Music from the Motion Picture at all major stores, such as here.