Tiga – Sexor

There are times when reviewing things as they hit particular anniversaries can be a little depressing, and so it is with Tiga‘s debut album Sexor, which first appeared a decade ago this week.

After a short introduction with Welcome to Planet Sexor, proceedings kick off in fine form with the excellent single (Far from) Home. It’s short, sweet, and an entirely excellent song,  with a memorable video too. Every summer compilation should include it.

You Gonna Want Me brings a great backing vocal from Jake Shears, of Scissor Sisters fame, which given Tiga‘s track record up to this point makes for a slightly surprising collaboration, but the results are entirely brilliant, with the slightly acidic backing track and clever vocal play-offs.

High School is great too, with an enormous 1980s-style pad breakdown a minute or so in. I’ve no idea what he’s singing about here (something about running for miles and miles), but it’s catchy and inventive, and difficult to fault.

The spoken word interludes are the odd side of this album – on the first, Jamaican BoaTiga gets a call from a friend asking to accompany him on a trip to a pet shop to look at snakes. This leads us into Louder Than a Bomb, a remix of a 1988 Public Enemy track, which adds lots of harsh electronics and bleeps.

Pleasure from the Bass is next, also a single, in which Tiga plays his own vocals against acid bass sounds and crisp drums. There isn’t a lot else here, so if you’re looking for something soft and beautiful, this is the wrong place to look, but it’s compelling and pretty great nonetheless.

A curious little piece called Who’s That? follows, guiding us steadily towards the softer Down in It, a cover of a Nine Inch Nails song from 1989, presumably with rather more synth woodblock than the original. Tiga may not be the most amazing singer, but he’s more than good enough for this song, which works extremely well.

The Ballad of Sexor is an interesting piece of songwriting with some particularly odd lyrics, but in general it works pretty well. Tiga‘s obvious love of the 1980s has left him with strong melody writing abilities, and this is played off nicely here against the minimal dance synth sounds.

The longer Good as Gold follows, taking us into darker territory before another short interlude, Flexible Skulls, and then the Speed of Sexor reprise of (Far from) Home, a meatier version of the earlier song which unfortunately cuts out pretty much all of the melody, making it not quite as satisfying.

The acid house version of Burning Down the House which follows is much more like it. This song with this backing track make for an unlikely pairing, but it works really well. It leads into the lively 3 Weeks, and then another great song in the form of Brothers. Here, it sounds as though Tiga is singing about his own relationship with his brother, which leaves us with a sweet, catchy song. All the way through, the grimy electro noises in the background continue, making for a compelling combination.

Sir Sir Sir belongs very firmly in the late 1980s, but as we now know that definitely isn’t a bad thing. It’s an excellent song, which closes out a great album perfectly. Well, almost closes it out – there’s a little room right at the end for what I think is called 8455584 Mommy, an answerphone message from Tiga‘s mother, who if this message is to be believed, is particularly soppy.

Sexor was a very promising debut, which a couple of years ago would lead to the more consistent but ultimately less satisfying Ciao! (2009) and then a very long bout of silence on the album front. Hopefully he’ll be back soon, and hopefully whatever he delivers will be at least as good as this.

You can still find Sexor at regular retailers. Try to find the double CD version, if it’s available in your part of the world.

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Music for the Masses 5 – 15 December 1999

The last show before Christmas 1999 was on Bay Radio on December 15th, and took an entirely non-festive turn. It continued after the New Year, so we’ll pick things up again in a few weeks’ time.

show5a

Tracks played on the fifth show, Wed 15 Dec 1999, from 11am-1pm

Tracks taken from the playlist (Total 12 tracks). A indicates A-list (7 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 10 tracks). L is dem dere tracks out of the drawer (Total 4 tracks).

  • 1. David Bowie “Thursday’s Child” L
  • 2. Longpigs “The Frank Sonata” A
  • 3. White Town “Your Woman” R
  • 4. New Order “Ruined in a Day” (K-Klass Mix) R
  • 5. Corrs “Radio” A
  • 6. Lighthouse Family “High” L
  • 7. Cuban Boys “Cognoscenti vs. Intelligentsia” A
  • 8. Peach “On My Own” R
  • 9. James “We’re Going To Miss You” S
  • 10. Europe “The Final Countdown 2000” A
  • 11. Erasure “Always” R
  • 12. Bob Marley & Funkstar Deluxe “Rainbow Country” B
  • 13. Beck “Sexxlaws” C
  • 14. Nine Inch Nails “We’re in this Together” B
  • 15. Stereophonics “Local Boy in the Photograph” L
  • 16. Pet Shop Boys “You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk” R
  • 17. Saint Etienne “I Was Born on Christmas Day” R
  • 18. Mr. Hankey “The Christmas Poo” A
  • 19. Human League “Stay With Me Tonight” R
  • 20. Rhinocerose “La Guitaristic House Organisation” B
  • 21. Tom Jones & Cerys “Baby it’s Cold Outside” A
  • 22. Charlatans “My Beautiful Friend” A
  • 23. Kraftwerk “The Model” R
  • 24. O.M.D. “Enola Gay” R
  • 25. William Orbit “Barber’s Adagio for Strings” L
  • 26. Robbie Williams “She’s the One” C
  • 27. Shamen “Ebeneezer Goode” R

Producer: None.

Notes: Not at all bad. Anyway, there’s definitely a conspiracy going on somewhere here, because it would appear that either I do a good show every other week, and alternate, doing a bad one every other other week, or I do my best shows in the face of adversity. Well, at any rate, that was probably my best yet, even though I had to set the studio up myself (which I almost managed too), meaning I didn’t start on time, and also my first link consisted of dead air, since the mic lead wasn’t working. Also, we would appear to have new equipment, just to make my life more complicated… aah well, ne’er mind, eh?

Music for the Masses 4 – 8 December 1999

Some radio shows go better than others, and sometimes the audience is more aware than at other times. According to my commentary below, this was a total disaster, but looking at the tracks played at least, it sounds like a pretty good show. Originally broadcast on Bay Radio.

show4br (2)

Tracks played on the fourth show, Wed 8 Dec 1999, from 11am-1pm

Tracks taken from the playlist (Total 12 tracks). A indicates A-list (8 tracks); B indicates B-list (2 tracks) and C indicates C-list (2 tracks). S indicates the Single of the Week. R indicates tracks taken from my own collection (Total 8 tracks). L indicates tracks I played with the general aim of impressing people (Total 7 tracks).

  • 1. Madonna “Nothing Really Matters” L
  • 2. Deep Forest “Boheme” R
  • 3. Robbie Williams “She’s the One” C
  • 4. Cuban Boys “Cognoscenti vs. Intelligentsia” A
  • 5. Beastie Boys “Alive” A
  • 6. Groove Armada “At the River” R
  • 7. James “We’re Going To Miss You” S
  • 8. Depeche Mode “It’s No Good” R
  • 9. Corrs “Radio” A
  • 10. Everything But the Girl “Hatfield 1980” R
  • 11. Robert Miles “Children” R
  • 12. Sparks “When Do I Get To Sing ‘My Way'” (Sticks & Stones Remix) R
  • 13. Solid Gold Chartbusters “I Wanna 1-2-1 With You” L
  • 14. Longpigs “The Frank Sonata” A
  • 15. Fun Lovin’ Criminals “Couldn’t Get It” B
  • 16. Tin Tin Out feat. Emma Bunton “What I Am” L
  • 17. Heaven 17 “Another Big Idea” R
  • 18. Chicane “Saltwater” (Original Mix) R
  • 19. Tom Jones & Cerys “Baby it’s Cold Outside” A
  • 20. Charlatans “My Beautiful Friend” A
  • 21. Basement Jaxx “Rendez-Vu” R
  • 22. Mr. Hankey “The Christmas Poo” A
  • 23. Europe “The Final Countdown 2000” A
  • 24. Nine Inch Nails “We’re in this Together” B
  • 25. Beck “Sexxlaws”
  • 26. Gene “As Good As It Gets” L
  • 27. William Orbit “Barber’s Adagio for Strings” L
  • 28. Jean Michel Jarre “Oxygène 8” R

Producer: None.

Notes: Eeeh dear, let’s see if we can not repeat that performance for a while, shall we children? Well, my defence is “Ugh, I feel bad ” (which I do), and I’m sticking to it… we had two records playing at once; sticky play button problems again; drying up on air… the list goes on and on…

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.

Various Artists – (Ahk-toong Bay-bi) Covered

Ah, Achtung Baby. An incredibly important album, or so we’re told. So important that a little under two years ago Q Magazine put together a compilation of covers entitled (Ahk-toong Bay-bi) Covered.

The original by U2 isn’t actually an album that I know, and if I’m honest I actually only tracked down this album so I could hear the Depeche Mode track. But in a way, having tracked it down, I feel I should be fair and review it in full, and so here we go. To make this a little more challenging, I’m not going to look up anything about the original album or the artists, so we’ll see where this takes us. Let’s hope I don’t say anything too stupid or rude, and there aren’t too many real U2 fans passing.

The first track is Zoo Station, covered in an industrial rock style by Nine Inch Nails. Since this genre is pretty much what U2 do, it would be interesting to know how different it is. It’s pretty pleasant, but it does drag on a bit at six and a half minutes, including a minute or two of droning feedback in the middle. I guess Zoo Station is a reference to the Zoologischer Garten railway station in the central shopping area of West Berlin.

Second is actually a remix rather than a cover – Jacques Lu Cont takes on one of the huge hits from this album Even Better Than the Real Thing, and rather wonderfully turns it into a modern rock/dance crossover track. I think it’s probably fair to say that this is the best track on this album, melding together the original elements (such as the drumming) with the more contemporary sounds.

Acoustic / folk singer Damien Rice‘s take on One is very good, full of emotion and feeling, although it does rather lack the energy of the original. Patti Smith‘s Unti the End of the World is just about listenable. I wonder what her fans thought of this? Or maybe she’s always as bad as this; I really don’t know.

Then another track where I know the original, albeit not especially well. Garbage have taken Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses, and they have turned it into a typical Garbage track. Which is all good and fine – all the ingredients are there for an excellent song. Unfortunately somewhere it slightly misses its mark – the softer verses are pleasant, but the rocky chorus doesn’t quite work somehow.

Which is symptomatic of the whole album really for me – there are lots of great artists, performing great pieces of music, and not doing a particularly great job of it. Depeche Mode suffered a lot of criticism from their fans for So Cruel, but when you listen you realise that, unfortunately, this is entirely right. From the fun growly overloaded synths at the start through to the clicking and bleeping half way through, and with Dave Gahan‘s typically powerful vocal, all the ingredients are there. The end result isn’t bad, but it just isn’t particularly memorable, in any way. As with much of this album.

The original Achtung Baby obviously took a lot of influences from Germany, but don’t take that to mean the pronunciation guide on this album is correct – Ahk-toong Bay-bi would give you an entirely erroneous impression of the name (actually I believe the album title is correctly stylised as (Ǎhk-to͝ong Bāy-Bi) Covered, which I suspect is closer, but I didn’t want to use that everywhere in this post as it would probably quickly start to become illegible to anyone without access to those symbols). I wonder therefore if that’s an in-joke that I’m missing.

Gavin Friday turns up next to do a really adventurous take of The Fly, full of wobbly electronic noises and creaking sounds, and successfully sounding absolutely nothing like the original but also very good at the same time. It’s another strong track, probably second only to Even Better Than the Real Thing on this collection.

Snow Patrol‘s version of the brilliant Mysterious Ways starts off pretty unpromisingly, but builds into a good track towards the end, and then just as it’s getting started it’s over already. Of course, what made the original special was the combination of all its parts, but in particular the guitar effects, of which there is no sign this time around.

Then The Fray take on Tryin’ to Throw Your Arms Around the World for one of the less notable tracks on the whole compilation, followed by The Killers doing a pleasant but largely forgettable version of Ultra Violet (Light My Way) and just in case you thought the mediocrity was become a little monotonous, Glasvegas turn up with a largely hideous take of Acrobat.

The final track sees Jack White take on Love is Blindness, again leaving something pleasant but fairly unremarkable behind him. Things get a bit more exciting as he wanders towards the crescendo at the end, but then most of the tracks on this album had something going for them.

The general theme of (Ahk-toong Bay-bi) Covered, then, is “pleasant but forgettable.” As a tribute to a great album, is this really doing its job? I’ll let you decide. At least it’s all for charity.

You can find (Ahk-toong Bay-bi) Covered on iTunes and all the normal download locations. The physical format is probably available second hand too, but of course that’s not for charity…