Chart for stowaways – Albums 2019

These are the top albums for stowaways for last year:

  1. Hot Chip – A Bath Full Of Ecstasy
  2. Jean-Michel Jarre – Equinoxe Infinity
  3. Ladytron – Ladytron
  4. Jean-Michel Jarre – Planet Jarre
  5. Sparks – Past Tense – The Best Of
  6. The Future Sound of London – My Kingdom (Re-Imagined)
  7. Sparks – Gratuitous Sax & Senseless Violins
  8. Kylie Minogue – Step Back In Time – The Definitive
  9. The Future Sound of London – Yage 2019
  10. Dido – Still On My Mind
  11. Erasure – Wild!
  12. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Ghosteen
  13. The Chemical Brothers – No Geography
  14. The Radiophonic Workshop – Possum (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
  15. Madonna – Madame X
  16. Divine Comedy – Office Politics
  17. Rammstein – Rammstein
  18. The Prodigy – No Tourists
  19. Pet Shop Boys – Inner Sanctum
  20. Lighthouse Family – Blue Sky In Your Head

Chart for stowaways – 20 July 2019

This is our album chart for July:

  1. Hot Chip – A Bath Full Of Ecstasy
  2. The Future Sound of London – Yage 2019
  3. Kylie Minogue – Step Back In Time – The Definitive
  4. Erasure – Wild!
  5. Lighthouse Family – Blue Sky In Your Head
  6. New Order – (no12klg17mif) New Order & Liam Gillick
  7. Madonna – Madame X
  8. Divine Comedy – Office Politics
  9. Tycho – Weather
  10. Sigur Ros – Agaetis Byrjun – A New Beginning

Air – Pocket Symphony

Of all of Air‘s albums, 2007’s Pocket Symphony is definitely one of my favourites. The hits might have been eluding them by this stage, but the album was well received, and for me it remains Air‘s last great studio album (2009’s follow-up Love 2 has little to love, Le Voyage dans la Lune is a good extension of a soundtrack, and Music for Museum is a little too avant garde for my tastes).

It opens, as all good Air albums do, with something soft and gentle – in the case of Pocket Symphony, it’s the adorable Space Maker. There’s already a certain spaciousness to the piece, with a bit of melancholy as well – gone is the simplicity of the first album, and the daftness of the second – this is the sound of a group who are entirely comfortable in their skins and with their sound.

Lead single Once Upon a Time is the second track, with a lovely rippling piano arpeggio. In an earlier age, this would have been a huge hit single, but in 2007 it only got a French release and only had one b-side.

Of all people, Jarvis Cocker turns up to deliver the vocal on One Hell of a Party, and does an exceptional job. The melancholic side of Air – not really explored too deeply on earlier releases – is really rather beautiful, and Cocker’s lyrics and vocal performance are both sad and sweet.

But there’s also plenty of Air‘s traditional sound here – Napalm Love is a sweet love song, and Mayfair Song is a charming instrumental. Left Bank is another sweet, lonely acoustic piece, and their ode to pop superstars Photograph is very pleasant too.

The second and final single – and the only one in the UK, although you could have been forgiven for failing to notice its release – was Mer du Japon, a very simple one-line song which apparently was written to honour the Pacific Ocean. It’s a little too simple in some ways, but it’s a pleasant piece nonetheless.

The instrumental Lost Message follows, and then Neil Hannon of Divine Comedy fame turns up to sing the adorable Somewhere Between Waking and Sleeping. It might not have been destined to be a hit single, but it’s a great song even so, and a very worthwhile collaboration.

By this point the album is pretty much over – the vocal Redhead Girl and instrumental Night Sight close the album in gentle fashion, and it’s finished already. This may not be Air‘s most famous works, but it’s definitely one of their most consistent and finest hours.

You can still find Pocket Symphony at all major retailers. There are a few bonus tracks, either on the digital versions or using “OpenDisc” technology (no I don’t know either) on the CD.

Music for the Masses 11 – 1 March 2000

Universities, seats of learning though they may be, are not always seats of perfection, so a note from your producer saying “Please mention karioky,” as shown on the image below, shouldn’t be too much of a surprise! Just in case I forgot to mention it on Bay Radio back in 2000, there’s karioky at PJM on Wednesday night at 8pm.

show11pl

Show 11: Wed 1 Mar 2000, from 10.55am-1.00pm

Tracks taken from the playlist (Total 12 tracks). A indicates A-list (6 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 11 tracks). X indicates tracks I borrowed off friends (Total 1 track). L indicates the ones from the “library” (Total 6 tracks).

  • 1. Bellatrix “The Girl with the Sparkling Eyes” C
  • [IRN 11.00 News]
  • 2. Gene “As Good As it Gets” L
  • 3. Wannadies “Yeah” A
  • 4. Death in Vegas “Aisha” L
  • 5. Kraftwerk “Expo 2000” R
  • 6. Heaven 17 “Dive” R
  • 7. Chemical Brothers “Music: Response” A
  • 8. Basement Jaxx “Rendez-Vu” R
  • 9. Human League “These Are the Days” (Sonic Radiation) R
  • 10. Ooberman “Shorley Wall” A
  • 11. Asian Dub Foundation “Real Great Britain” S
  • 12. Bluetones “Keep the Home Fires Burning” A
  • 13. Big Yoga Muffin “Is that How You?” A
  • [Chart rundown: numbers 10 -> 6]
  • 14. James “Just Like Fred Astaire” L
  • 15. Erasure “In My Arms” R
  • 16. Dubstar “Not So Manic Now” R
  • [IRN 12.00 News]
  • 17. Moby “Natural Blues” A
  • 18. Enigma “Return to Innocence” R
  • 19. Divine Comedy “Something for the Weekend” X
  • 20. Coldplay “Shiver” B
  • [Chart rundown: numbers 5 -> 1]
  • 21. Atomic Kitten “See Ya” L
  • 22. El Niño “Friends” L
  • 23. Massive Attack “Protection” R
  • 24. Tony di Bart “The Real Thing” R
  • 25. Jean Michel Jarre “This is a Sign” R
  • 26. Sarah Cracknell “Anymore” (Faster Pussy Cat, Kill Kill Mix) R
  • 27. Muse “Sunburn” C
  • 28. Southern Fly “Maybe It’s the Right Time” B
  • 29. Charlatans “Scorched” B
  • 30. Peach “Hush” R

Producer: None.

Notes: Reasonable… had severe ups and downs (I went from being half decent to completely dying on my rump). Nonetheless, entertaining from where I was sitting.

The Divine Comedy – A Secret History – The Best Of

If you were around in the mid 1990s, you can’t fail to have noticed The Divine Comedy. Hit after hit, each delivered like an old time show tune, with hilariously ingenious lyrics and a huge amount of fun.

Their singles compilation A Secret History is a little out of date now (it came out in 1999) and it concentrates, perhaps wrongly, on the singles up to that point, rather than their best known and loved songs. It suffers a little from having all their best known singles clumped up at the front, but it’s still a great compilation.

National Express is first up, complete with the brilliant bit about how “It’s hard to get by / When your arse is the size / Of a small country”. This leads into what is undoubtedly their best song, 1996’s exceptional Something for the Weekend. If you don’t remember where you were the first time you heard the tale of how “he” found something in the woodshed, you have to be suffering from some kind of selective amnesia.

The hits keep coming, with Everybody Knows (Except You) (1997), the excellent Generation Sex (1998) with its quite unprecedented line about injecting “The sperm / Of worms / Into the eggs of field mice / So you can look real nice for the boys.” If there’s a common theme, it’s one of great little pop songs with brilliant lyrics.

Becoming More Like Alfie (1996) is no exception. If you’re not from the UK (I am), a bit of a geek (I was/am) and a former wearer of free NHS spectacles (I was) then this song might not mean so much to you, but for me it ticks a lot of boxes.

There’s a distinct lack of pre-1996 tracks on here, which is surprising given the three albums and five EPs and singles they put out prior to Something for the Weekend, so nearly everything is taken from one of the three post-chartbreaking albums. The Summerhouse, from 1994’s Liberation, the first of the tracks from their early years, is a sweet song about returning to your childhood haunts.

The next few tracks, such as the updated version of The Pop Singer’s Fear of the Pollen Count are perhaps a little less charming than some of the earlier ones. The latter moments of the album are, for the most part, chronological, as though whoever compiled it made a conscious decision to put the hits at the front and everything else towards the back.

Songs of Love is as close as you get to the Father Ted theme, but is a bit disappointing for not being the real thing. I’ve Been to a Marvellous Party from the Noël Coward tribute album Twentieth Century Blues is brilliant and never stops being funny. The Certainty of Chance with its beautifully frightening coda, is quite wonderful.

Finally, you reach the end, and you might well be starting to ask yourself what else is actually missing. Well, everything they’ve released in the 21st century, such as Come Home Billy Bird for starters. Also the Father Ted theme in its original form and faux-Eurovision entry My Lovely Horse really should have found a place on there somewhere, and that is an unforgiveable omission. But what is there is extremely good, and makes for an extremely strong compilation.

So what have we learnt? Well, it’s certainly true that out there in the rest of the world, pop songs with lyrics like “I’m Jeff Goldblum in The Fly” are few and far between, and that’s a real shame. The Divine Comedy may not have stuck in the public consciousness for long, but I think it’s fair to say they achieved greatness in that time. And A Secret History is a fair appraisal of their most successful period.

A good place to start looking for A Secret History would be on iTunes.

Chart for stowaways – 29 September 2012

Generally unexciting charts all round this week. Pet Shop Boys continue their all round chart invasion, and a few little things are shaking around, but that’s about it. Here are this week’s top 10 albums:

  1. Pet Shop Boys – Elysium
  2. Apollo 440 – The Future’s What it Used to Be
  3. Saint Etienne – Tiger Bay
  4. Metroland – Mind the Gap
  5. Marsheaux – E-bay Queen is Dead
  6. Jean Michel Jarre – Essentials & Rarities
  7. Pet Shop Boys – Very
  8. The Divine Comedy – A Secret History – The Best of
  9. Various Artists – Electrospective
  10. Saint Etienne – Tales from Turnpike House

Chart for stowaways – 25 August 2012

I suspect maybe as testament to how ridiculously busy I’ve been recently, the album chart for stowaways has gone totally loopy this week:

  1. Jean Michel Jarre – Essentials & Rarities
  2. Frankmusik – Do it in the AM
  3. The Divine Comedy – A Secret History – The Best Of
  4. Sébastien Tellier – My God is Blue
  5. VCMG – Ssss
  6. Ladytron – Gravity the Seducer
  7. Marsheaux – E-Bay Queen is Dead
  8. Pet Shop Boys – Format
  9. Hot Chip – In Our Heads
  10. Saint Etienne – So Tough

On the singles, VCMG enter at number three, while Pet Shop Boys continue their unbroken  nine week hold on the top spot.