Record Companies – Virgin Records

All of the major labels are big enough that they have, at times at least, been able to boast an impressive range of artists, but few are as interesting as Virgin Records. Formed in 1972 by Richard Branson, Simon Draper, Nik Powell, and Tom Newman, they went on to become one of the most influential labels in the music business.

Famously, Mike Oldfield‘s Tubular Bells was the label’s first release, and in the early 1970s, they became well known for their prog rock releases, also becoming an early home to Tangerine Dream, but then in 1977, hit the mainstream by signing the Sex Pistols. Major releases from Culture Club, The Human League, Simple Minds, XTC, and others followed, making the label a household name throughout the 1980s.

That was essentially it – in 1992, Richard Branson sold Virgin to EMI, and while the list of signed artists continued to grow, including such huge names as The Future Sound of London, the Spice Girls, and Meat Loaf, its heyday as an influential brand really seems to have passed by this time.

You can read more about Virgin Records here:
https://www.virginrecords.com/

Ivor Novello Awards 2016

The 2016 Ivor Novello Awards occurred on Thursday 19th May at Grosvenor House, in London.

PRS for Music Most Performed Work

  • James Bay – Hold Back The River
  • Jess Glynne – Hold My Hand
  • Years & Years – King

Winner: James Bay

Best Television Soundtrack

  • Stuart Earl – And Then There Were None
  • Edmund Butt – From Darkness
  • Keefus Ciancia and David Holmes – London Spy

Winner: London Spy

The Ivors Classical Music Award

Winner: Oliver Knussen

International Achievement

Winner: Wayne Hector

Best Song Musically and Lyrically

  • Ed Sheeran and Rudimental – Bloodstream
  • Wolf Alice – Bros
  • Jamie Lawson – Wasn’t Expecting That

Winner: Jamie Lawson

The Ivors Inspiration Award

Winner: Happy Mondays

Album Award

Nominees:

  • Villagers – Darling Arithmetic
  • Jamie xx – In Colour
  • Gaz Coombes – Matador

Winner: Villagers

Songwriter of the Year

Winner: Adele

Best Original Film Score

  • Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury – Ex_Machina
  • John Powell – Pan
  • Faris Badwan and Rachel Zeffira – The Duke of Burgundy

Winner: Ex_Machina

Best Contemporary Song

  • Snakehips feat. Tinashe & Chance the Rapper – All My Friends
  • Roots Manuva – Cargo
  • Skepta – Shutdown

Winner: Snakehips feat. Tinashe & Chance the Rapper

Outstanding Song Collection

Winner: Simple Minds

PRS for Music Outstanding Contribution to British Music

Winner: Portishead

Lifetime Achievement

Winner: Damon Albarn

PRS for Music Special International Award

Winner: Bryan Adams

More here and here.

Q Awards 2014

A few weeks ago, we ran through all the “shortlist” for the 2014 Xperia Access Q Awards (for that is what they are apparently now called), and last week the ceremony took place, with Jimmy Carr presenting, and upsetting Daily Mail readers for making slightly off-colour jokes in the process.

The winners were as follows:

Q Best New Act presented by Xperia Access

  • Ella Eyre
  • George Ezra
  • The Fat White Family
  • FKA Twigs
  • Hozier
  • London Grammar
  • The 1975
  • Royal Blood
  • Sam Smith
  • Temples

Winner: Sam Smith.

Q Best Track presented by Absolute Radio

  • Kaiser Chiefs – Coming Home
  • Kasabian – Eez-eh
  • Lorde – Royals
  • Paolo Nutini – Iron Sky
  • Sam Smith – Stay with Me

Winner: Paolo Nutini.

Q Best Video

  • Arctic Monkeys – Arabella
  • Coldplay – Magic
  • Elbow – New York Morning
  • Paloma Faith – Only Love Can Hurt Like This
  • Jamie xx – Sleep Sound

Winner: Jamie xx.

Q Best Album presented by RAYMOND WEIL

  • Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots
  • The Black Keys – Turn Blue
  • Elbow – The Take Off and Landing of Everything
  • Kasabian – 48:13
  • Manic Street Preachers – Futurology

Winner: Elbow.

Q Best Live Act presented by The Cavern Club

  • Arcade Fire
  • Arctic Monkeys
  • Kate Bush
  • Kasabian
  • Jack White

Winner: Kasabian.

Q Best Solo Artist presented by Citroën

  • Damon Albarn
  • Jake Bugg
  • Paolo Nutini
  • Ed Sheeran
  • St Vincent

Winner: Ed Sheeran.

Q Best Act in the World Today presented by Buster + Punch

  • Arcade Fire
  • Arctic Monkeys
  • Kate Bush
  • Kasabian
  • Pharrell Williams

Winner: Kasabian.

Q Classic Songwriter

Winner: Andy Partridge.

Gibson Les Paul Award

Winner: Johnny Marr.

Q Outstanding Contribution to Music

Winner: Richard Russell.

Q Inspiration

Winner: Simple Minds.

Q Hero

Winner: The Charlatans.

Q Innovation in Sound presented by Xperia Access

Winner: Jean Michel Jarre.

Q Icon presented by Carling’s Black Label Project

Winner: Wilko Johnson.

Q Hero

Winner: The Charlatans.

Q Classic Album

Winner: Pink Floyd for The Dark Side of the Moon

Q Idol

Winner: Culture Club.

There’s always something a little strange about those latter categories, which seem to mainly consist of hundreds of different ways of honouring artists who haven’t done much for a couple of decades, but it is admittedly nice to see Culture Club receive something (see video here), and Jean Michel Jarre‘s award for innovation was definitely well deserved (see video here), and it’s great to hear zat ‘e’s in ze studio right now. He’s also looking disconcertingly young…

You can read Q Magazine’s own coverage of the awards here.

See also Q Awards 2013 and Q Awards 2012.

Live – February 2014

Five of the best live acts who you might want to catch in the near future:

Étienne Daho

Touring across France and Belgium starting tomorrow and running through till mid-April, and then with more dates at the end of the year.

Full list of dates at Songkick

Simple Minds

Their tour continues tonight in Fürth, Germany, followed by more German dates, then Italy, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Poland, Croatia, Macedonia, and currently ending in the Netherlands in June.

Full list of dates at Songkick

Cut Copy

With festivals coming up in early March in Australia, followed by live dates in the US and Canada, and then the UK and Ireland in April.

Full list of dates at Songkick

System 7

Straight out of the 1990s, with dates in Manchester, London, Leamington Spa (yes, really) and Amsterdam throughout March.

Full list of dates at Songkick

Phoenix

You’ll find them in Australia over the next few weeks, before heading to Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Spain, Sweden, Colorado, and Mexico over the summer.

Full list of dates at Songkick

The BPI Awards 1986

Noel Edmonds was at the helm on February 10th 1986 at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London. The BRIT Awards official website proudly tells us that Norman Tebbitt‘s appearance to present the Outstanding Contribution award brought “the first hint of official recognition.” Others might argue it signed a death warrant for the awards, but there we go.

This post is part of a series about the history of the BRIT Awards. You can read about the 1985 ceremony here, and the 1987 ceremony here.

Best British Album

Presented by Daryl Hall. Nominees:

  • Kate Bush – Hounds of Love
  • Phil Collins – No Jacket Required
  • Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms
  • Eurythmics – Be Yourself Tonight
  • Tears for Fears – Songs from the Big Chair

Winner: Phil Collins

Best British Female

Presented by Paul Young. Nominees:

  • Kate Bush
  • Annie Lennox
  • Alison Moyet
  • Sade
  • Bonnie Tyler

Winner: Annie Lennox

Best British Group

Presented by Joan Armatrading. Nominees:

  • Dire Straits
  • Eurythmics
  • Simple Minds
  • Tears for Fears
  • U2

Winner: Dire Straits

Best British Male

Presented by Alison Moyet. Nominees:

  • Phil Collins
  • Elton John
  • Sting
  • Midge Ure
  • Paul Young

Winner: Phil Collins

Best British Newcomer

Voted for by listeners of BBC Radio 1. Presented by Gary Davies.

Winner: Go West

Best British Producer

Presented by Howard Jones. Nominees:

  • Trevor Horn
  • Chris Hughes
  • Steve Lilywhite
  • David A. Stewart
  • Hugh Padgham

Winner: David A. Stewart

Best British Single

Presented by Roger Daltry. Nominees:

  • David Bowie and Mick Jagger – Dancing in the Street
  • Kate Bush – Running Up That Hill
  • Dire Straits – Money for Nothing
  • Paul Hardcastle – Nineteen
  • Tears for Fears – Everybody Wants to Rule the World

Winner: Tears for Fears

Best British Video

Nominees:

  • David Bowie and Mick Jagger – Dancing in the Street
  • Dire Straits – Money for Nothing
  • Paul Young – Every Time You Go Away

Winner: Paul Young

Best Classical Recording

Presented by Sir Georg Solti. Nominees:

  • Vernon Handley – Violin Concerto – Elgar
  • Julian Lloyd Webber – Cello Concerto – Haydn
  • Trevor Pinnock – Cannon and Gigue – Pachelbel
  • John Rutter – Requiem – Faure
  • Sir Georg Solti – Messiah – Handel – Chicago

Winner: Vernon Handley

Best International Group

Presented by Elton John. Nominees:

  • The Cars
  • Huey Lewis and The News
  • Kool and The Gang
  • Talking Heads
  • ZZ Top

Winner: Huey Lewis and The News

Best International Solo Artist

Presented by Midge Ure from Ultravox. Nominees:

  • Madonna
  • Lionel Richie
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Tina Turner
  • Stevie Wonder

Winner: Bruce Springsteen

Outstanding Contribution

Presented by Norman Tebbitt.

Winners: Wham! and Elton John

Special Award

Winner: Bob Geldof

Performances

Further Reading / Viewing

Various Artists – Electrospective (The Remix Album)

There are times when I really enjoy writing these reviews, and others when I wonder why I put myself through this. There’s really only one rule – I have to listen to the entire album in order while I write the review. Earlier this year I reviewed the original Electrospective compilation in its full glory, and now it’s the turn of its companion remix album.

Inevitably a remix album is always going to be a hit or miss affair, with occasional forgotten gems and occasional dross mixed in alongside one another. And so this is – but at worst, this is a journey through the story of the remix, from the early 80s extended versions to the modern reinventions, with everything in between.

Electrospective (The Remix Album) begins its first disc firmly in the 1980s, full of handclaps and drum solos, with the original 12″ versions of Heaven 17‘s Penthouse and PavementTalking Loud and Clear by OMD, and Talk Talk‘s original US mix of It’s My Life. Of these, it is the third which truly shines – perhaps because it’s the best song of this bunch anyway, or perhaps because there really is something special about this mix.

The next bunch are less exciting – Malcolm McLaren‘s Madam Butterfly drags rather over its ten minute duration, and Vicious Pink‘s Cccan’t You See and Grace Jones‘s I’m Not Perfect (But I’m Perfect for You) do little to pick things up – this is left instead to Buffalo Stance by Neneh Cherry, although Kevin Saunderson‘s techno take on this has nothing on the original.

By thus stage we’re firmly in the late eighties, an age of big shoulder pads, big string pads, and orchestral hits. Derrick May‘s club mix of Good Life by Inner City is every bit as good as the original, as is François Kevorkian‘s reworking of Personal Jesus by Depeche Mode.

But for something that’s supposed to be a chronicle of “the remix” there are some odd omissions – where’s Shep Pettibone hiding? Where are all the DMC remixes? There’s a lot missing, but in a way this feels more effective as a companion album to Electrospective than a guide to what it means to be a remix.

François Kevorkian turns up again for the next track, the totally brilliant 1990 remix of Yazoo‘s Situation, after which disc one closes with a couple of disappointments – a thoroughly unexciting version of Soul II Soul‘s Back to Life and The Orb‘s rather misguided take on Crystal Clear by The Grid. Although it is very nice to see The Grid on a compilation like this.

By disc two, we are firmly into the mid 1990s. The first track is a brilliant remix which I hadn’t heard before of William Orbit‘s incredible Water from a Vine Leaf, and another surprise follows – the amusingly energetic Cappella Club Mix of Always by Erasure.

The rest of the 1990s are less well represented, with a good but somewhat unexciting Brothers in Rhythm take of Reach by Judy CheeksPaul van Dyk‘s reworking of Passion by Amen! UK, which starts off promisingly but in the long run doesn’t really go anywhere. Then there’s Deep Dish with a pretty poor version of Wrong by Everything But the Girl.

Finally, we work our way towards the end of the decade with unremarkable versions of Around the World by Daft Punk (remixed by Masters at Work), Telex‘s Moskow Diskow remixed by Carl Craig, and the slightly better Simple Minds‘s Love Song.

Before this review turns any more into an extended track listing, we should reflect a little on what we’ve heard. Where the original collection brought together thirty years of electronic hits, this one consists of thirty years of remixed electronic hits. And if that’s the goal, it’s pretty successful. It’s not comprehensive, and neither is it particularly amazing, but it is fun to listen to, and many of the tracks which were chosen are rare and unusual, which is all very worthwhile.

The last few tracks take us firmly into the 21st century, and the inclusion of one of The Human League‘s 2003 remixes (The Sound of the Crowd) is a pleasant surprise, even if the version itself is nothing special. On the other hand, Ewan Pearson‘s Strippedmachine version of Goldfrapp‘s Strict Machine is something incredibly special, and is a very welcome inclusion.

The closing tracks come in the form of Tom Neville‘s rather dull version of Kelis‘s Milkshake and the rather more entertaining Pass Out by Tinie Tempah – apparently he’s never been to Scunthorpe.

Ultimately, Electrospective (The Remix Collection) does what it says on the tin – it’s a fun journey through some selected remixes from the last three decades. Which is more than enough to make it an entirely worthwhile listen.

You can find Electrospective (The Remix Album) at Amazon here.

Q Awards Winners 1990-2012 (Part Two)

We’ll look at this year’s ceremony next week, but for now here’s a continuation of the list that we started last week, of all the winners to date, by award:

Songwriter and Producer

Although seemingly now discontinued, these were a couple of Q’s better awards, recognising the contributions of the people behind the music.

Best Songwriter / Q Classic Songwriter

  • 1990 – Prince
  • 1991 – Richard Thompson
  • 1992 – Neil Finn
  • 1993 – Neil Finn
  • 1994 – Morrissey
  • 1995 – Van Morrison
  • 1996 – Rod Stewart
  • 1997 – Paul McCartney
  • 1998 – Paul Weller
  • 1999 – Ian Dury / Chas Janke
  • 2000 – Guy Chambers and Robbie Williams
  • 2001 – Kate Bush
  • 2002 – Jimmy Cliff
  • 2003 – Dexys Midnight Runners
  • 2004 – Elton John
  • 2005 – Nick Cave
  • 2006 – Noel Gallagher
  • 2007 – Billy Bragg
  • 2008 – John Mellencamp
  • 2009 – Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens)
  • 2010 – Neil Finn
  • 2011 – Gary Barlow

Best Producer

  • 1990 – Paul Oakenfold / Steve Osborne
  • 1991 – Trevor Horn
  • 1992 – Daniel Lanois / Peter Gabriel / The Orb
  • 1993 – Flood / Brian Eno / The Edge
  • 1994 – Stephen Street
  • 1995 – Tricky
  • 1996 – John Leckie
  • 1997 – Nellee Hooper
  • 1998 – Norman Cook
  • 1999 – William Orbit
  • 2000 – Pete Devereux and Mark Hill (Artful Dodger)
  • 2001 – Nigel Godrich
  • 2002 – Moby
  • 2003 – Nigel Godrich
  • 2004 – Mick Jones
  • 2005 – Gorillaz / Danger Mouse

Best Newcomer

One thing the Q Awards do pretty well is having lots of almost identically-named awards. They do show a pretty good track record with the newcomer and breakthrough artists though…

Best New Act

  • 1990 – They Might Be Giants
  • 1991 – Seal
  • 1992 – Tori Amos
  • 1993 – Suede
  • 1994 – Oasis
  • 1995 – Supergrass
  • 1996 – Alanis Morissette
  • 1997 – Fun Lovin’ Criminals
  • 1998 – Gomez
  • 1999 – Basement Jaxx
  • 2000 – Badly Drawn Boy
  • 2001 – Starsailor
  • 2002 – Electric Soft Parade
  • 2003 – The Thrills
  • 2004 – Razorlight
  • 2005 – James Blunt
  • 2006 – Corinne Bailey-Rae
  • 2007 – The Enemy
  • 2008 – The Last Shadow Puppets
  • 2009 – White Lies
  • 2011 – WU LYF
  • 2012 – Django Django

BEST BREAKTHROUGH ARTIST

  • 2007 – Kate Nash
  • 2008 – Duffy
  • 2009 – Mr Hudson
  • 2010 – Plan B
  • 2011 – Ed Sheeran

Q’s Next Big Thing

  • 2010 – Clare Maguire
  • 2011 – Lana del Rey

Best Live Act

One of the jewels in the Q Awards’s crown:

  • 1990 – Rolling Stones
  • 1991 – Simple Minds
  • 1992 – Crowded House
  • 1993 – Neil Young
  • 1994 – Pink Floyd
  • 1995 – Oasis
  • 1996 – Pulp
  • 1997 – The Prodigy
  • 1998 – Roni Size / Reprazent
  • 1999 – Stereophonics
  • 2000 – Oasis
  • 2001 – Manic Street Preachers
  • 2002 – The Hives
  • 2003 – Robbie Williams
  • 2004 – Muse
  • 2005 – U2
  • 2006 – Muse
  • 2007 – Muse
  • 2008 – Kaiser Chiefs
  • 2009 – Arctic Monkeys
  • 2010 – Biffy Clyro
  • 2011 – Blur

Best Artist

The oddly named ‘Best Act in the World Today’ Award goes right back to the Q Awards’ beginnings in 1990, but was also recently joined by special solo awards too…

Best Act in the World Today

  • 1990 – U2
  • 1991 – R.E.M. / U2
  • 1992 – U2
  • 1993 – U2
  • 1994 – R.E.M.
  • 1995 – R.E.M.
  • 1996 – Pulp
  • 1997 – Oasis
  • 1998 – Manic Street Preachers
  • 1999 – Blur
  • 2000 – Travis
  • 2001 – Radiohead
  • 2002 – Radiohead
  • 2003 – Radiohead
  • 2004 – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • 2005 – Coldplay
  • 2006 – Oasis
  • 2007 – Arctic Monkeys
  • 2008 – Coldplay
  • 2009 – Muse
  • 2011 – Coldplay
  • 2012 – Muse

Best Male

  • 2010 – Paolo Nutini
  • 2011 – Tinie Tempah

Best Female

  • 2010 – Florence + The Machine
  • 2011 – Adele

Best Solo Artist

  • 2012 – Emeli Sandé

Q Innovation Award / Innovation in Sound

Perhaps the most fascinating of all the awards, except for the couple of years when it was given to really dull and non-innovative artists.

  • 2002 – Depeche Mode
  • 2003 – Muse
  • 2004 – The Human League
  • 2005 – The Prodigy
  • 2006 – The Edge
  • 2007 – Sigur Rós
  • 2008 – Massive Attack
  • 2009 – Sonic Youth
  • 2010 – Mark Ronson
  • 2011 – Kaiser Chiefs
  • 2012 – Underworld

Outstanding Lifetime Icon / Idol Achievement Awards

I suspect that, like me, you’re totally taken aback by this slew of near-identical awards. But hats off to them for finding a hundred different ways to honour U2 and R.E.M.!

Special Merit Award

  • 1990 – Paul McCartney
  • 1991 – Lou Reed
  • 1992 – Led Zeppelin
  • 1993 – Elton John
  • 1999 – Keith Richards
  • 2000 – Jerry Dammers / The Specials
  • 2001 – Elvis Costello
  • 2002 – Tom Jones
  • 2004 – Shane McGowan
  • 2006 – Manic Street Preachers
  • 2007 – Ryan Adams

Q Inspiration

  • 1992 – B.B. King
  • 1993 – Donald Fagen
  • 1994 – The Kinks
  • 1995 – David Bowie / Brian Eno
  • 1996 – U2
  • 1997 – Patti Smith
  • 1998 – Blondie
  • 1999 – New Order
  • 2000 – Joe Strummer
  • 2001 – John Lydon
  • 2002 – Echo and the Bunnymen
  • 2003 – The Cure
  • 2004 – Pet Shop Boys
  • 2005 – Björk
  • 2006 – a-ha
  • 2007 – Damon Albarn
  • 2008 – Cocteau Twins
  • 2009 – The Specials
  • 2010 – Suede
  • 2011 – Fatboy Slim
  • 2012 – Pulp

Lifetime Achievement

  • 1997 – The Who
  • 1998 – R.E.M.
  • 2003 – Duran Duran
  • 2004 – Roxy Music
  • 2005 – Bee Gees
  • 2006 – Peter Gabriel
  • 2007 – Johnny Marr

Q Icon

  • 2003 – Jane’s Addiction
  • 2004 – U2
  • 2005 – Jimmy Page
  • 2006 – Jeff Lynne
  • 2007 – Sir Paul McCartney
  • 2008 – Adam Ant
  • 2009 – Marianne Faithfull
  • 2010 – Bryan Ferry
  • 2011 – Noel Gallagher
  • 2012 – Dexys Midnight Runners

Q Outstanding Contribution to Music Award

  • 2005 – Paul Weller
  • 2006 – Smokey Robinson
  • 2007 – Johnny Marr
  • 2008 – David Gilmour
  • 2009 – Robert Plant
  • 2011 – Siouxsie Sioux

Q Legend

  • 2005 – Joy Division
  • 2006 – The Who
  • 2007 – Ian Brown
  • 2008 – Glen Campbell
  • 2009 – Edwyn Collins

Q Idol

  • 2006 – Take That
  • 2007 – Kylie Minogue
  • 2008 – Grace Jones
  • 2009 – Spandau Ballet
  • 2010 – Madness
  • 2012 – Brandon Flowers

Hall of Fame Award

  • 2010 – Take That
  • 2011 – Queen

Q Awards 1990-1993

The first couple of years of the Q Awards seem to have been largely forgotten by the internet, falling into that early 90s gap before everything was reported and recorded. With this in mind, here’s everything I could find out about the first few years of the awards…

1990

The inaugural Q Awards were held in October 1990. This much is beyond dispute. Apart from that, though, it isn’t easy to find information about what actually happened.

Best Album

Winner: World Party for Goodbye Jumbo

Best Reissue / Compilation

Winner: Beach Boys for Pet Sounds

Best Live Act

Winner: Rolling Stones

Best Act in the World Today

Winner: U2

Best New Act

Winner: They Might Be Giants

Best Producer

Winner: Paul Oakenfold / Steve Osborne

Songwriter Award

Winner: Prince

Merit Award

Winner: Paul McCartney

1991

October 1991 saw the second ceremony, with the following winners:

Best album

Winner: R.E.M. for Out of Time

Best live act

Winner: Simple Minds

Best Act in the world today

Winner: R.E.M. / U2

Best new act

Winner: Seal

Best producer

Winner: Trevor Horn

Songwriter award

Winner: Richard Thompson

Merit award

Winner: Lou Reed

1992

In October 1992 the third awards ceremony took place. Here’s a picture of Brett Anderson out of Suede at the awards.

BEST ALBUM

Winner: R.E.M. for Automatic for the People

Best reissue / compilation

Winner: Bob Marley for Songs of Freedom

BEST LIVE ACT

Winner: Crowded House

BEST ACT IN THE WORLD TODAY

Winner: U2

BEST NEW ACT

Winner: Tori Amos

BEST PRODUCER

Winner: Daniel Lanois / Peter Gabriel / The Orb

SONGWRITER AWARD

Winner: Neil Finn

Q Inspiration award

Winner: B.B. King

MERIT AWARD

Winner: Led Zeppelin

1993

In October 1993 the fourth awards ceremony took place. Here’s a picture of Brett Anderson again, this time with Morrissey.

BEST ALBUM

Winner: Sting for Ten Summoner’s Tales

BEST REISSUE / COMPILATION

Winner: Beach Boys for Good Vibrations

BEST LIVE ACT

Winner: Neil Young

BEST ACT IN THE WORLD TODAY

Winner: U2

BEST NEW ACT

Winner: Suede

BEST PRODUCER

Winner: Flood / Brian Eno / The Edge

SONGWRITER AWARD

Winner: Neil Finn

Q INSPIRATION AWARD

Winner: Donald Fagen

MERIT AWARD

Winner: Elton John

Epilogue

It would probably help if I had a copy of Q Magazine to hand, so I could tell you a little more about what happened, but unfortunately all my back issues are stored away somewhere half way round the world. I’ll report back, some day in the future…

FURTHER INFORMATION

Various Artists – Electrospective

The basic way this blog works is that when I’m reviewing an album, I listen to it in full, and while doing so write what I feel about what I’m hearing. How, then, do I tackle a two-and-a-half hour long compilation? I feel the skip button may be seeing some usage on this occasion.

Electrospective is the centrepiece of a recent record company campaign to get us buying mid-price synth-based albums of which I heartily approve. The compilation is a fascinating and wonderful journey, encompassing maybe ten tracks from each of the primary decades of electronic music. But its omissions are also fascinating. Perversely, almost, it contains none of the pioneering sound of Jean Michel Jarre or Kraftwerk. The early 1980s focus rightly on OMD and The Human League, but there’s no sign of Soft Cell or Frankie Goes to Hollywood. The late 1980s largely forego the “indie dance” and trip hop movements in favour of pop and soul. But then, if you were faced with the task of compiling a forty-track journey through the history of electronic music, how would you tackle it?

Electrospective opens, as all definitive electronic compilations should, with Delia Derbyshire‘s 1963 version of Ron Grainer‘s essential Doctor Who theme. Fifty years on, in an age where literally anybody can make music with their portable telecommunications devices, it’s difficult to picture the boffins of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop slaving away generating tape samples and cutting them into exactly the right length to sync and make quite astonishing music. In a sense it’s unsurprising that they didn’t really succeed with the syncing (Derbyshire also revisited the theme in 1967 to create a rather more orderly but definitely less charming version).

Some of the other early tracks are a little odder. Roxy Music‘s Virginia Plain is, I can only assume, here to show some of the early electronic experimentation in which popular acts of the early 1970s were indulging, and it has a few nice Moog sounds in it, but frankly it’s largely tolerable at best. Even Brian Eno, introducing this album to its first taste of ambience, fails to impress particularly with Here Come the Warm Jets (1974).

The 1970s start to look a lot stronger after this, with Tangerine Dream‘s Rubycon and Can‘s brilliant I Want More before launching into another unmissable moment with The Normal‘s Warm Leatherette. The final trio of Cabaret VoltaireTelex and Simple Minds round of 1979 in less compelling fashion, and you should be clear by now that electronics is firmly planted in the world of music.

We then enter the 1980s in typically variable fashion. OMD‘s excellent Messages carries into Ultravox‘s more questionable SleepwalkThe Human League‘s astonishing The Things That Dreams are Made Of is followed by rather more questionable choices from Duran Duran and Heaven 17, and then a distinctly dodgy choice of remix for Yazoo‘s Don’t Go.

The mid-1980s are, as you might expect, rather stronger. Together in Electric Dreams is perhaps a little unnecessary, coming as it does only five tracks after the previous Human League moment, but then West End Girls mixes into Who Needs Live (Like That), and you’re definitely reminded that the eighties weren’t nearly as bad as everyone seems to suggest.

All this is not to say that this album is without its surprises. Nitzer Ebb‘s Control I’m Here is an unexpected pleasure, as is Soul II Soul‘s Back to Life (However Do You Want Me), which ends the 1980s a couple of tracks into the second disc.

The 1990s are, of course, where electronic music comes of age. A whole slew of enormous, exceptional, and very well chosen hits follow from Depeche ModeMobyThe Future Sound of LondonDaft Punk and Adam FMassive Attack turn up, as indeed they should, but here they are represented by the slightly disappointing choice of Inertia Creeps, by no means bad, but a track which surely belongs in the middle of Mezzanine rather than here?

Air‘s wonderful Kelly Watch the Stars and St. Germain‘s Rose Rouge are here to represent the rest of the late 90s French invasion, which is inevitably followed by the experimental indie of Radiohead and The Chemical Brothers.

Finally, our potted history of electronic music has brought us into the 2000s, by which time “electronic” had definitely ceased to be a label for weird experimental noises or extravagant expressionism. It had, in every imaginable way, gone mainstream. In a good way.

Goldfrapp hammer this home beautifully with the essential Strict Machine, and then Dare by Gorillaz leads us through to a string of 21st century floor fillers. Eric Prydz‘s probably Bo Selecta-inspired Proper Education with its Pink Floyd elements leads us into some less interesting tracks from David GuettaDeadmau5, and finally a total abomination by Swedish House Mafia. Not a great ending, admittedly, but a fair assessment of the journey of electronic music over the past half century.

Make no mistake – in terms of meeting its remit of compiling a handful of tracks from every decade of electronic music, this is a great release. But it’s difficult to ignore the many omissions – you can’t help but feel that perhaps a themed or era-specific compilation might tick the boxes a lot more convincingly. In the end, all you get is fleeting glimpses of particular acts and eras. All told though, for all its failings it’s a great listen, and I can’t help but recommend it.

There’s also a companion remix album, which we’ll touch on in a future week. If you’re in the US you can find Electrospective here; if you’re in the UK try here; and if you’re anywhere else then you’ll have to fend for yourself.

The BRIT Awards 1990

The annual British music industry bash had been growing in every way for a number of years. In 1988, it decided to improve itself by stopping being quite so corporate. In 1989, it changed its name to the BRIT Awards and nearly destroyed itself. After the unmitigated disaster of the 1989 ceremony, the 1990 awards switched to a different venue and was altogether a little more self-conscious.

The ceremony would sadly see the last public appearance of Freddie Mercury, but on a lighter note would also see Fine Young Cannibals justifiably return their awards in reaction to a video of Margaret Thatcher choosing her favourite pop song (How Much is That Little Doggie in the Window? although it sadly didn’t win any awards in 1990).

For now, though, it’s February 18th 1990, we’re at the Dominion Theatre in London, and Cathy McGowan out of The 1960s is your host for the evening.

There’s also an introduction video here.

Best British Newcomer

Presented by Tina Turner. Nominees:

  • Lisa Stansfield
  • Shakespears Sister
  • Soul II Soul
  • The Beautiful South
  • The Stone Roses

Longer video here.

Winner: Lisa Stansfield.

Best British Producer

Presented by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Nominees:

  • Coldcut
  • Dave Stewart
  • Kate Bush
  • Peter Gabriel
  • Steve Lillywhite
  • Stock Aitken Waterman

Winner: Dave Stewart.

Best Classical Recording

Nominees:

  • Jeffrey Tate – Piano Concerto 24 & 25
  • John Elliot Gardner – St Matthews Passion – Bach
  • Nigel Kennedy – Four Seasons – Vivaldi
  • Ricardo Chailly – Walton – Façade – Stravinsky
  • Simon Rattle – Porgy & Bess – Gershwin

Winner: Simon Rattle.

Best Soundtrack/Cast Recording

Presented by Sinitta, who gets carried on on a stretcher. Nominees:

  • Aspects of Love (Original Cast Recording)
  • Batman (Prince)
  • Beaches (various artists)
  • Henry V (Simon Rattle)
  • The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (Michael Nyman)

Winner: Batman.

Best British Group

Presented by Iron Maiden. Nominees:

  • Erasure
  • Eurythmics
  • Fine Young Cannibals
  • Simply Red
  • Soul II Soul
  • Tears for Fears

Video here.

Winner: Fine Young Cannibals.

Best Music Video

Presented by Bobby Brown. Nominees:

  • Billy Joel – We Didn’t Start The Fire
  • De La Soul – Eye Know
  • Eurythmics – Don’t Ask Me Why
  • Farley Jackmaster Funk – Free At Last
  • Four Tops – Loco in Acapulco
  • Guns ‘n’ Roses – Paradise City
  • Holly Johnson – Love Train
  • Janet Jackson – Miss You Much
  • Kaoma – Lambada
  • Lisa Stansfield – All Around the World
  • M – Pop Muzik
  • Neneh Cherry – Manchild
  • Paul McCartney – My Brave Face
  • Prince – Batdance
  • Queen – Invisible Man
  • Salif Keita – Nous Pas Bouger
  • Simply Red – If You Don’t Know Me by Now
  • Tears for Fears – Sowing the Seeds
  • The Alarm – A New South Wales
  • The Beautiful South – Song for Whoever
  • The Cure – Lullaby
  • Tina Turner – Simply the Best

Fortunately nobody had to read out that full list of nominees! Video here.

Winner: The Cure.

Best International Group

Presented by Ray Davis, a little too keen to remind us that The Kinks still exist. Nominees:

  • Bon Jovi
  • De La Soul
  • Guns ‘n’ Roses
  • Gipsy Kings
  • Milli Vanilli
  • U2

Video here.

Winner: U2.

Best International Newcomer

Presented by Gary Glitter, back in the days before we knew what we know now. Ugh. Nominees:

  • Bobby Brown
  • De La Soul
  • Guns ‘n’ Roses
  • Neneh Cherry
  • Paula Abdul

Video here.

Winner: Neneh Cherry.

Best International Solo Artist

Presented by Adam Ant. Nominees:

  • Bobby Brown
  • Gloria Estefan
  • Neneh Cherry
  • Prince
  • Tina Turner

Video here.

Winner: Neneh Cherry.

Best British Female

Nominees:

  • Annie Lennox
  • Kate Bush
  • Lisa Stansfield
  • Mica Paris
  • Yazz

Winner: Annie Lennox.

Best British Male

Nominees:

  • Chris Rea
  • Cliff Richard
  • Phil Collins
  • Roland Gift
  • Van Morrison

Winner: Phil Collins.

Best British Album

Nominees:

  • Eurythmics – We Too Are One
  • Fine Young Cannibals – The Raw and The Cooked
  • Simply Red – A New Flame
  • Soul II Soul – Club Classics Vol 1
  • Tears for Fears – The Seeds of Love

Winner: Fine Young Cannibals.

Best British Single

Voted for by the listeners of the Simon Mayo Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 1, and presented by Simon Mayo. Nominees:

  • Band Aid II – Do They Know it’s Christmas
  • Jason Donovan – Sealed With a Kiss
  • Jason Donovan – Too Many Broken Hearts
  • Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers – Swing the Mood
  • Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers – That’s What I Like
  • Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers – Lets Party
  • Lisa Stansfield – All Around the World
  • Marc Almond & Gene Pitney – Something’s Gotten Hold of My Heart
  • Phil Collins – Another Day in Paradise
  • Simple Minds – Belfast Child
  • Sonia – You’ll Never Stop Me
  • Soul II Soul – Back to Life
  • Various Artists – Ferry ‘Cross the Mersey

An astonishing number of nominations, three of which were for Jive Bunny, but fortunately they didn’t manage to win. Unfortunately, um… well, watch the video here.

Winner: Phil Collins.

Outstanding Contribution

Winner: Queen.

Performances

  • Lisa Stansfield -Been Around the World
  • Neneh Cherry – Manchild
  • Nigel Kennedy – Vivaldi’s Four Seasons
  • Phil Collins – Another Day in Paradise
  • Soul II Soul – What is Soul II Soul

Further Reading / Viewing