When I started writing this series of Listens To! posts, my idea was to:
A: Listen to the tonnes of albums I have acquired over the years that I hadn’t bothered to actually listen to yet and give my thoughts as I listened for the first time.
B: Catch up on those artists that I was aware of/liked certain songs by, but whose albums I had never listened to in their entirety.
C: Potentially get some new favourites based off what I heard or by recommendations from my billions of readers.
D: Because there are a tonne of albums which always appear on best of lists which I have never heard.
As a musician, music fan, and human with working ears, I feel that I should give these a go. To get some focus, I decided to go to 2000 Edition of ‘Colin Larkin’s All Time Top 1000 Albums’ because it looks fairly comprehensive (and there are a few extra sections listing top 100 albums by genre which cover selections left out of the main 1000 which I will also try to cover).
Greetings, glancers. It’s time for you to wail and gnash your teeth once more as I proclaim the greatest albums ever to be kind of crappy. Today I tread into the terrifying land of 80s synth based pop, ginger-headed melodies, and regrettable fashion choices. It’s another album I know zero about by a band who have had a few singles I’ve enjoyed and a few I have not. It’ll be interesting for me to hear if they can make a coherent whole album, or if they are the singles band that I know them as. Synth music, especially a lot of the chart stuff from the 80s has never sat well with me, partly because it came out of Disco (which I never loved) and eventually became today’s generic dance music (which is terrible). For a while when synths were first used, they had a purpose and a focus, but songs soon became overburdened by the instrument to the point of ridicule, or were not used with any sort of smarts, or just sounded crap. Maybe there isn’t any synth on this album, I have no idea. Only one way to find out.
What Do I Know About Eurythmics: Lennox-based pop duet who had a string of hits in the 80s and early 90s, employing Annie’s big mouthed vocals and lots of electronic sounds.
What Do I Know About Savage: Zilch, never heard of it. In fact, looking down the track listing I don’t recognise a single song.
Beethoven (I Love To Listen To): 80s drum beats with a slight squeak. Wind noises. Growing. More drums. Disaster. Ridiculous, laughable, dated sounds. Repeated vocals. Silly speaking. Fading from ear to ear. Additional silly bleeps. It sounds so tame and feeble and horrendously outdated. At least the lyrics are interesting. Shift towards fake strings, better for a few seconds. Laughter. And on it goes.
I’ve Got A Lover (Back In Japan): Bits of guitar or something. Beat and simple set of notes. Catchy enough chorus. Vocals like a yawn. Middle bit. Didn’t go anywhere. Goes on for a bit more with a few additional swerves and throbs and vocal bits.
Do You Want To Break Up: Clicks and twinkles. Guitar bend. Nuts. Baywatch. Beats mess. Vocal disgrace. More yawning. Low bits. High bits. Playing with the tempo. Ridiculous chorus. Repeat with assorted bits.
You Have Placed A Chill In My Heart: Sigh. More wafery fluffy beats. Keyboard bits and bassy bits and vocal tics. It’s oddly infectious though, but pretty plan and not very interesting. Enough.
Shame: Non-Tubular bells. Louder. Shame. Cersei’s breasts. Thumpy beat noise. Better melodies. Wondering if I’ve heard this, but probably not. Rolling Rs. Best song so far, I could listen to this again. Not too much though.
Savage: Organs. Churching. More soft beats. Anti-things lyrics. Gentle. Savage. Harp sounds. Drums and guitar kick up a notch. Aircraft flyby sounds. Guitar solo. Air. Ooohing. Fading out.
I Need A Man: Harsher vocals. Bluesy husky. Sexy? It has a different sound from the other tracks so far, but isn’t as heavy as it could have been. Better vocal delivery. Funny Status Quo guitars. Bababababababay.
Put The Blame On Me: Funky disco guitars. And funky disco beats. A sound more suited to me. More interesting melodies, especially on the title line. Piano falling downstairs. Weirdo noises and speaking. Unnecessary words. Howl. A good song, but like most others here the song seems to run out of ideas long before it ends and has a minute or more of filler at the end – throw in a few more variances or twists, don’t simply let the song fade to nothing like a watery fart.
Heaven: Uppy downy bass. Synth. Whispers. Heaven. Falling back on boring sounds and habits. A third of the song done and nothing doing. Too much of this feels like music for dickheads to dance to. No further substance or interest. Into the final minute we get a slight change, marginally better, but too little too late.
Wide Eyed Girl: Rain on a caravan roof. Faster. A View To A Kill. More yawns. More squeals and tics. Live bit. Attempted crazy guitar. Gets more raucous towards the end.
I Need You: Bits. Acoustic blast. More bits. Guitar repeat. A little bit of blues. Faking. Laughter. All very basic, but shows you don’t need all the blips and blaps.
Brand New Day: Last song up. Vocals only. A brave thing to do when you’re known for your synth and backing music. Grunts and backing vocals. We all know Lennox can sing, it’s a pity she arses about too much on too many of the songs. In comes the synth and noise. At least this one does feel like it was well planned beforehand. Drums now. This feels more like an opening track than a closing one. Gospel. End.
What Did I Learn: Not really anything I didn’t know about the band already, except that the lyrics are more interesting than I’d previously paid attention to.
Does It Deserve A Place In The Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: I would say no. Of course maybe it was another important step for electronic pop. The first songs drag on as the sound and style don’t appeal to me personally, and it all feels rather bland and dated. It doesn’t help that many of the vocals are grating and the melodies are not memorable. Once we get over that bump there are a few songs with greater quality, providing more ideas. I was expecting plenty of big choruses and tunes I that would have me whistling along instantly, but that never happened. As always with these albums, first listens are not the same as subsequent listens, but having gone through it once there isn’t enough to make me want to go through it again.
Another album down, and another which didn’t quite make the grade for me. But what about you? Is this one of your favourite albums and are you seething that I have failed to understand it? What makes it special for you? Let us know in the comments!