Wednesday, October 26, 2005


I don't mean to be such a Suzy Hangaround on this website, but I've been thinking about wildcard CDs.

Wildcard titles effectively allow someone to violate another Embarrassing LPs rule, albeit under tight constraints, without major penalty or loss of face. In my previous post I cited Kate Bush's Hounds of Love as one such wildcard -- possession of this particular title makes up for ONE oversight in either the Britpop or electronica category.

Other wildcards include:

Nick Drake Pink Moon - this is a powerful title and would cancel out the negative energy of even an emo disc. It basically negates up to three problem titles in all but the folk or soft rock categories, the latter of which shouldn't really be rearing up its ugly head anyway.

Arcade Fire Funeral - this fabulous newcomer makes up for the second Strokes album, or alternatively, ONE oversight involving The White Stripes, Sonic Youth or Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.

Michelle Shocked Short, Sharp, Shocked - absorbs the impact of ONE seminal 80s power women violation.

Third Eye Foundation's OuMoPo 1 - this disc makes up for an overabundance of Amon Tobin, Aphex Twin or Brian Eno, but not all three.

R.E.M. Automatic for the people - own this disc and I will turn a blind eye to a Tom Waits back catalogue. The usual rule for Tom Waits is a maximum of four.

Joni Mitchell For the roses - this wildcard functions most powerfully as a standalone, so if you were to have only one Joni Mitchell album and this were it, you would be allowed to have an extra chillout compilation, ONE recent Bob Dylan or Carole King CD and maybe even some Janet Jackson. If it is part of a Joni Mitchell collection, it makes up for one too many Me'Shell Ndegeocello titles (the usual maximum is two) or more than just the first Tracy Chapman release.

How do the other columnists feel about this issue?

Pushing the envelope with synthesisers and grit

Further to Marc's post on females with guitars (find it yourself, I am in no mood for hyperlinking), I am interested in exploring the inclusion of seminal 80's power women.

I impose no real limit on Kate Bush aside from the normal 'no back catalogue' thing. In fact, if you have Hounds of Love, you are allowed to have one violating CD from the Britpop or electronica categories... it's like a kind of wild card. That's right: Hounds of Love makes up for, say, a recent Oasis or Prodigy album, no questions asked.

Madonna, more than almost anyone else, is subject to the camp coefficient. More than three Madonna CDs, or more than two when combined with the likes of Kylie or funky house compilations, equates to a "no, sorry, I don't think I can make it tonight" kind of CD stack, despite the fact that some of the other discs may have merit. So you have to be careful. The general rule with Madonna is nothing after Ray of Light and no more than one greatest hits.

I do waive the greatest hits rule for the Eurythmics. But you can't have the greatest hits AND other Eurythmics CDs. The greatest hits plus one, or at the very most two, Annie Lennox solo albums is an acceptable count. Eurythmics + Madonna = a dicey equation under the camp coefficient, so in this instance less is probably more, unless you can demonstrate a special interest such as synthesiser arrangements.

Finally, Cyndi Lauper. I allow one CD because, damn it, she penned some great great tunes. If, after successive visits to the potential partner's house, I find that the existing Cyndi Lauper CD is still resting beside, on top of, or in the CD player, it will be considered evidence of continual playing, which extrapolates to indicate obsession, and contact may be severed pending assessment of other titles.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Mr Albarn's Farrago or That Whole Britpop Issue

I must make it clear. Britpop was my coming of age, so I have a rose-tinted view of it. Most Britpop to me sounds like my own personal soundtrack to The Wonder Years, sometimes even the shit, tail end of it.

Basically, Britpop falls under two categories: Crimplenism (as dubbed by Select Magazine), which is effete and effeminate and dreaming, marked *C; and Fred Perry, which is laddish and loudmouthed, marked *F.

We'll (or I'll) start with the titans first: Blur*F then Oasis*F.

Blur have made some good albums, and a couple of excellent ones. Thus, the following are allowed or not:

Leisure - no, because two good singles do not make a good album.

Modern Life Is Rubbish - essential, due to it being the audio equivalent of a British Rendering of Douglas Coupland's Generation X novel.

Parklife - yes; MLIR Part II. Not essential, but nice.

The Great Escape - yes; aside from the terrible "Country House" and "Charmless Man" singles, there are some ace tracks on here, especially "The Universal" and "He Thought Of Cars".

Blur - yes. In short, it's not as good as people say, 'but it is a good album'.

13 - as above. "Tender" is shite though.

Think Tank - no. Why? Over thought and overwrought with crap tunes and crap lyrics.

Graham Coxon solo albums - one as a curiosity.

Gorillaz - both main albums. Remix albums are a bit of a no no here.

Damon Albarn's African Music album, perhaps called Mali Music - no. Damon Albarn is not Paul Simon. And I am a believer in the Graceland-is-not-a-good-album theory.

Oasis: only Definitely Maybe. Perhaps What's The Story Morning Glory? in my more charitable moods.

Onwards with the other notables.

Elastica*F - both studio albums and Peel Sessions (lots of non-album cuts). Great.

Pulp*C - His & Hers and A Different Class deserve ownership. PulpIntro: The Gift Recordings and This Is Hardcore are nice to have. Older stuff on Fire Records, and We Love Life are unnecessary, being patchy.

Saint Etienne*C - Everything up to but not including The Sound of Water is fabulous. The masterpieces are Fox Base Alpha and So Tough. The rest is merely OK. The remixes are quite fantastic.

Suede*C - Only the first two albums.

Supergrass*F - I Should Coco is all you really need, if that.

On the fringe:

The Auteurs*C are great; Gene are patchy and karaoke Smiths, neither *C nor *F; Powder - no (neither *C nor *F, just crap); Delicatessen*F - no; Laxton's Superb*F - Laxton's Shite; Menswear*C - no; Heavy Stereo*F -no; Northern Uproar*F - ha! no. Denim*C - a bit head up arse, but I don't mind. Sleeper*F - only Smart and The It Girl. Boo Radleys*F - Wake Up! and Giant Steps only if I were you.