Chart for stowaways – 27 May 2017

Here’s the latest album chart:

  1. Depeche Mode – Spirit
  2. Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène 3
  3. Goldfrapp – Silver Eye
  4. New Order – Lost Sirens
  5. New Order – Music Complete
  6. Gorillaz – Humanz
  7. Jean-Michel Jarre – Electronica 2: The Heart of Noise
  8. The Human League – Anthology – A Very British Synthesizer Group
  9. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Lovely Creatures – The Best Of
  10. Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon

Chart for stowaways – 20 May 2017

Here’s the latest singles chart:

  1. Depeche Mode – Where’s the Revolution
  2. Pet Shop Boys – Undertow
  3. Goldfrapp – Anymore
  4. Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène (Part 17)
  5. Depeche Mode – You Move
  6. Depeche Mode – Cover Me
  7. Robert Miles – Children
  8. New Order feat. Brandon Flowers – Superheated
  9. Depeche Mode – Going Backwards
  10. C Duncan – Wanted to Want It Too

Chart for stowaways – 13 May 2017

Top albums this week:

  1. Depeche Mode – Spirit
  2. Goldfrapp – Silver Eye
  3. New Order – Lost Sirens
  4. Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène 3
  5. Gorillaz – Humanz
  6. The Human League – Anthology – A Very British Synthesizer Group
  7. Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène Trilogy
  8. Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon
  9. Feist – Pleasure
  10. C Duncan – The Midnight Sun

Chart for stowaways – 6 May 2017

This is what the latest single chart looks like:

  1. Depeche Mode – Where’s the Revolution
  2. Pet Shop Boys – Undertow
  3. Goldfrapp – Anymore
  4. Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène (Part 17)
  5. Depeche Mode – You Move
  6. David Bowie – No Plan
  7. C Duncan – Wanted to Want It Too
  8. Pink Floyd – Interstellar Overdrive
  9. Depeche Mode – Going Backwards
  10. Depeche Mode – Cover Me

Artist of the Week – Apollo 440

This is almost the last of our old Artist of the Week reprints. This one dates back to 2005, and as usual, is full or errors, omissions, and hyperbole.

Liverpool has long been known as a hotbed of inventive and eccentric new music. Apollo 440 may not be a widely known name on this scene, but their tracks are considerably better known than their name. They started recording and remixing at the start of the 1990s, shooting to fame with their 1993 single Astral America, which brought them a huge hit single. The brilliant album Millennium Fever followed the subsequent year, but failed to break them into the mainstream.

It was with the second album Electro Glide in Blue that they truly entered the mainstream, with the singles Krupa and Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Dub shooting them into the upper end of the charts. The following year their updated theme for the film Lost in Space brought them another huge hit. ·

One of their greatest strengths, however has always been their haunting soundtrack music. Some of the score to Lost in Space was their work, they also composed the soundtrack for the game Rapid Racer, and following the third album High on Your Own Supply, released in 1999, they scored another huge hit with the theme to the first Charlie’s Angels film.

Further huge hits followed, with Stop the Rock and Heart Go Boom both gracing the upper end of the charts, as well as their duet with Jean Michel Jarre on Rendez-Vous 98.

Their return in 2003 was sadly rather less of a success. After nearly four years working on the fourth album, the double CD epic Dude Descending a Staircase was released, but failed to make any impact on the charts whatsoever. The single of the same name was a minor hit, but in many ways lacked the impact of their earlier works.

Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène 7-13

By 1997, nearly three decades into his career, Jean-Michel Jarre had finally achieved legendary status. All he needed to do was find a way to follow up on his debut chart hit Oxygène, and the world would be his oyster. So that’s what he did.

The album opens with Part 7, a bold, eleven minute piece which kicks off with single, bright synth notes, before building gradually into an enormous synth dance piece. Jarre was clearly in his element here – finally, mainstream music had caught up with him, and he was able to play along and show everybody else how it was done. He may no longer have been the cultish outsider, but he was really at his creative peak.

Jarre had already flirted with his past on 1994’s Chronologie, which had yielded a couple of hit singles, and so recording Oxygène (Part 8) must have been pretty straightforward. But this is so good! Somehow this is classic Jean-Michel Jarre, and yet he had never quite released anything like it before.

Part 9 is perhaps the gentlest piece on here, and the only one that strongly reminds the listener of the original album (although the same synthesisers were used, so the general “mood” remains the same across both releases).

Side B opens with Part 10, which was also the second single, albeit in a vastly reworked form. There’s something rather glorious about the melody, although somehow the backing is just a touch too cheesy to have ever performed well on the charts by itself. Then Part 11 is perhaps the least penetrable piece on here, and energetic, heavily arpeggiated piece, which fits perfectly in the album context, but might not have got too far if it had been released by itself.

Part 12 is brilliant though, and probably could have been a hit as well. Powered largely by a very bouncy synth arpeggio, the melody is cleverly hidden amongst the electronic chirps, and it’s an extremely beautiful piece of music. Then, finally, we reach Part 13, an even sweeter closing track than Part 6, which ended the original album. A simple and sweet pad melody with soft harmonies is accompanied by some slightly overwrought percussion, and that might seem like an unfair description, but I don’t think it’s too far off the mark. It’s still a fantastic piece of music.

When the original Oxygène album came out in 1976, he already had a handful of little-known releases under his belt, so it’s far from naïve, but this sequel is still infinitely more confident, and some might suggest therefore that it lacks some of the innocence of its predecessor. I don’t think that’s true – it may not be quite as close to perfection, but it’s still pretty darn close.

This second volume in the Oxygène series is still widely available, either in its original form, or retitled Oxygène 2 as part of the Oxygène Trilogy boxed set.

Chart for stowaways – 22 April 2017

Not too many changes at the top of the charts at the moment, but here’s an update of the albums:

  1. Depeche Mode – Spirit
  2. New Order – Lost Sirens
  3. Goldfrapp – Silver Eye
  4. Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène 3
  5. The Human League – Anthology – A Very British Synthesizer Group
  6. Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygène Trilogy
  7. C Duncan – The Midnight Sun
  8. Dusty Springfield – Reputation
  9. Clark – Death Peak
  10. Depeche Mode – The Best Of – Vol 1