Nightman Listens To – My Fair Lady – Original Broadway Cast (Top 1000 Albums Series)

Oh, dear Lord, no. This is one giant WTF and should not be on a Top 1000 Albums list. Yes, yes, I haven’t heard it yet, but I already know what it’s going to sound like. I’ve seen the movie, hell, I even kind of like the movie. But musicals, in general, suck balls while simultaneously sucking the life out of me. Musicals… you’re lucky if you get two or three good songs, usually at least one centrepiece. My Fair Lady, as far as movie musicals go, has a few songs which the general public will know even if they haven’t seen the movie, but none of the songs are outstanding. Lets just get this over with.

What Do I Know About My Fair Lady: Musical, based off book, which later became a hit movie. Audrey Hepburn is awesome. She’s not here though.

Overture: It’s frantic and fast. It’s a textbook overture. You already know what you’re getting here. There’s about four seconds here to differentiate it from any other musical.

Why Can’t The English: Ridiculous talky singy. There’s only person who should be murdered here, and it’s YOU. This is just an embarrassment for all concerned. Fine in a film musical – pure torment in literally any other form.

Wouldn’t It Be Loverly: Starts horrifically. Gets gradually worse. At least this one has a memorable main line. The backing vocals are shocking. Some of Julie Andrews’ notes are ear cancer too.

With A Little Bit Of Luck: One of the things I hate most about musicals is singing with forced accents. Which means I’m basically buggered where this album is concerned. It’s so false and theatrical – I want my music, in most cases, to be honest, not acting. Of course, this is a musical so I get it’s meant to be the other way around – but as I’m listening with no visuals it just doesn’t work. The song needs to be extraordinary to get its point across. This is tripe. As far as accents go, Cockney is near the top of the list of ones I can’t abide. YOU SOUND LIKE A COCK.

I’m An Ordinary Man: More talking. I don’t care. You may as well be describing the peristalsis which occurs in your anus as your squeeze one through. Posh rapping. Women, eh, amirite? You’d prefer the Spanish Inquisition to letting a woman into your life? Hardy har. I’d prefer you and everyone you’ve ever met being skinned and set on fire than listen to this for another millisecond.

Just You Wait: Oh fuck off.

The Rain In Spain: Abortion.

I Could Have Danced All Night: I don’t mind the ‘chorus’ of this one. All else is pain and two minutes too long.

Ascot Gavotte: Noises. Marching. Then the singing starts and we all wish we were dead.

On The Street Where You Live: This one would be fine without the terrible vocals.

You Did It: Nice flutey opening descends into farce. And not good farce. The sort of farce where you’re trying to get somewhere on time but you can’t find your keys, then the car won’t start, then you get stuck behind eight cyclists who CYCLE IN A GROUP BESIDE THE FUCKING CYCLE LANE, then you get by them only to meet a tractor, before an ISIS appears in the backseat and beheads you.

Show Me: More travesties.

Get Me To The Church: Nope.

A Hymn To Him: Unlistenable.

Without You: Every single song and every single vocal delivery is identical.

I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face: Starts with ridiculous aplomb. It’s all words words words spoken in the same dumb way. Once we finally get to the ‘good’ bit it’s too little too late.

What Did I Learn: I’m fairly competent that several thousands brain cells died while listening to this.

Does It Deserve Its Place In The Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: Are you seriously asking me that with a straight face? Every copy of this wank should be wiped from existence.

Colin Larkin’s Ranking: 559.

Yeah, don’t even comment. In fact, forget I even mentioned it.

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Nightman Listens To – Jackson Browne – Pretender (Top 1000 Albums Series)

Greetings, Glancers. We’re up through the Sphincter of Musical Past once again and ironically have stumbled across some Brown. Or Browne. Jackson Browne, that is. Isn’t Jackson Browne a painter? What a loads of Pollocks. If it wasn’t clear already, I’m completely new to this boyo and this album, at least from a listening perspective, so I’m not sure what to expect. It’s about time I found something I’ll love though. These are supposed to be the best of the best, but so far this experience has been kind of like hearing your neighbours have sex when you’re a teen – you think it’s alluring and hot, and you want to listen more, but you remember they are both disgusting and frighteningly obese and too hairy. Or less alarmingly, it kind of feels like when you’re stuck with a roommate or friend who insists on playing you ‘their music’ and you just know you’re going to hate it but have to pretend otherwise. Anyway, on the surface this sounds more promising, more than all that Jazz muck anyway.

What Do I Know About Jackson Browne: Another folk singer who popped up in the sixties or seventies and probably sang about love and loss and hippies. I know I’ve heard some of his bigger songs.

What Do I Know About The Pretender: Nada

The Fuse: Tst. Tst. Tst. Piano. Shadows, nice, already my sort of thing. Vocals. Sorts very traditional American. And right on cue there’s the country sounds. Drum sound isn’t great. And right on cue he talks about a drum. A little bit of Disco in there too. Quite a lot going on here, speeding up, pausing, different sounds and styles. On first listen I like it, but it’s not quite ticking all the boxes for me. I love the main piano part, the faster pieces not so much. It then turns into Baywatch. It then turns into Welcome To The Machine. 

Your Bright Baby Blues: Slow. More Springsteen stylings. Organ. People going places fast, that old trope. It’s nice, not a lot to this one. But it’s nice. Sounds like a bunch of other average songs though – those songs you know you know but can’t name. Guitar solo. Maybe it’s a bit too close to country or something. Again it’s good but it’s lacking whatever it is that makes me truly love a song. That being said, both songs so far I’d happily listen to again and presumably they’d grow on me.

Linda Paloma: Harps and weirdness. Or some Spanish equivalent. Was going to say it sounded Greek or Italian as it makes me think of The Godfather, but then he said something about Mexico. Easy chugging chords in the background. Nice again. There’s a little vocal move he’s done in every song so far, you know, turning the last syllable into three. That’s the sort of thing I pick up on and get annoyed by. I can’t think of anything better word to describe than nice – it’s not doing anything for me emotionally, but it’s pleasant to hear.

Here Come Those Tears Again: Nice start. Piano mixing with guitar and drums again. Beats. Organ. Disco beats again. Backing vocals. Good guitar. I’m not sure if this is supposed to emotional – the lyrics suggest it is, but the music is pretty cheery. Maybe it’s his voice – it’s never strained and rarely varies. I prefer a little more distinction in my vocals.

The Only Child: You already know. Nice. I like this one in its opening few seconds better than the others though. Maybe it’s the strings and slower pace. Oh dear, it’s sped up. Most of lyrics are fine. I think his voice is definitely part of why it’d just not clicking, along with the weak drums and the country twinge. It feels like the sort of song Southern State US jocks don’t mind shedding a tear or two to. Heh. Tutu.

Daddy’s Tune: Same again, waiting for the drums and speed. Something about regretting relationship with dad, and not saying what you should when you could. This doesn’t really sit well with me because I regret everything I’ve ever said to anyone, usually the instant it’s out of my mouth. Oh God, where did those trumpets come from? It’s all a bit cheesy. It’s starting to annoy me now, this need to suddenly kick off the drums, almost as if he’s trying to appease an audience that isn’t interested in softer music. Or maybe this was his Daddy’s music and he’s doing it on purpose. I don’t think so. That’s two songs in a row which started perfectly well then fell apart completely.

Sleep’s Dark And Silent Gate: Cool name. Good opening. He knows how to start a song and suck you in. But he also knows how to kick you in the nuts and then laugh in your face for thinking it was going to be something you’d enjoy. At least there’s a bit of gruff in his voice in this one. This one is more pure, no backing drum shite. Phew, made it to the end without any bullshit, good job.

The Pretender: Sounds like the opening track, or what I remember of it. More lyrics. I suppose this spoke for a generation, it doesn’t really speak for me though even though we face the same struggles. This one is a little too plain and again I don’t feel the emotion.

Colin Larkin’s Ranking: 509/1000

What Did I Learn: That Jackson Browne isn’t just a folk singer with a guitar and has packed in much more depth from a musical perspective. That he’s a good lyricist, but that I don’t love his voice or connect emotionally with his songs as others no doubt will.

Does The Pretender Deserve Its Place In The Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: Well, I want to like it and given time I’m sure it would grow on it. But when comparing it something equally lauded by Springsteen or Joni Mitchell it fall short for me. The country hues never sit well with me so we’re already on a tumbling scale and Browne’s voice is too plain for me – it lacks the anger or sadness or raw power or rasp or unique quality that affects me on a personal level. On first listen, I’ve liked it more than some other albums I’ve encountered on the journey but it feels less important or revolutionary than those. It’s a no from me, but it’s fine.

Let us know in the comments what you think of The Pretender. Does this album hold special value for you, or is it one you’ve never heard?

Nightman Listens To – Incredible String Band – Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter (Top 1000 Albums Series)

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Greetings, Glancers and what the balls is this!? Lets not beat around the bush here – I have no clue what this is. Is this literally a string band? Or is it some proto-hipster name? Dear Lord, I have visions of some marching band monstrosity. I’ve never heard of the album, I’ve never heard of the artist…. I… I don’t have high hopes for this one. Prove me wrong boys/girls/strings… prove me WRONG.

‘Koeeoaddi There’: Arggh, instant vocals. Wavering all over the place. Wicker Man. Guitar. Sitar. What’s going on? Hippies. Didgeridoo? Too many things. Can’t focus on the lyrics as there’s other stuff happening. Loose structure. Now some sort of bells. Loose. Freestyle. Feels like a bunch of boys playing whatever the hell pops into their head in one take with no previous planning. Odd accent. People. Now trying Bollywood vocals. Lots of words. Other voices. Claps and clicks. Fish on a dish. Means?

‘The Minotaur’s Song’: Piano. More singing. Sounds Irish (yes, I know it’s Scottish) so that instantly puts me off. Still, it’s pretty funny though I’ve no idea if that is intentional. Lots of emphasis on certain words to give more comedy theatrical parts. Backing voices. This one has a more traditional structure, I guess. Jaunty. One of those songs I’d stick in a playlist for a party – once everyone is lulled into a false sense of security by other songs, this pops on and generates a collective ‘WTF’. Funny high pitched ‘can’. Claps. End.

‘Witch’s Hat’: Guitar. Minor. Major. Certainly. Clearly Wicker Man. Spooky. Flute jump scare. La la la. Monkey. One for drugs. The Witch’s Hat part is cool. I’m not a fan of the wavering vocals though. More la la las. Clearly taking the piss. End.

‘A Very Cellular Song’: Thirteen minutes, oh goody. Strings and things. Parts. Nice bit. Catchy bit. Goodnight refrain. They should play this in Church instead of, you know, ‘New born baby you’re a sinner and you’re fucked’ or whatever they actually play. Actually, that sounds pretty cool too. Too many goodnights. Silence. Michael Jackson. Who would Bruce? Hilarious mess. Kazoo. Saying things. Prancing hippies. Scratchy violin. Organ. More guitar mandolin stuff. Who would mouse? Burn some into muffins, chomp, 20 minutes later, and you’re on your back with your feet in a box reciting whatever random fragments pop into your head. Then laughing because someone said ‘Thierry Henry’. Voices. Talking. It’s not great guys, lets be honest. Slithering and squelching. I’ve recorded this sort of thing before and I’m fairly certain anyone with the slightest musical ability, drugs, and a 4 track has done the it to. Yeah, it goes on for a few more minutes.

Mercy I Cry City’: Falling bits. Guitars, flutey stuff, yeah, more of the same chaos. Snakes. Yeah, pollution, that’s bad. Litter, that’s bad. Neon, that’s… bad? Yeah, everything’s bad. Apart from drugs. And shitty countryside, freezing cold, cattle-corpse stained pastures where only pneumonia and desolation lies – that’s great though. Fools.

‘Waltz of the New Moon’: Singing. Wavering. Harp or something. Music fine, vocals ridiculous. Man it just keeps going and going until you buck the cd out of the car. There’s a fire king’s daughter – there’s always a fire king’s daughter.

‘The Water Song’: Someone failing in their attempt to flush an enormous dump. Wicker Man again. Praising the little brook while sacrificing a Christian child. God made a song when the world was new. It certainly wasn’t this shite. I need a slash.

‘Three Is a Green Crown’: Starts brilliantly. Then the vocals start and it falls to shit. Beatles. This is probably the best song so far, ominous. But sort out those vocals, jeebus. Right, wrap it up, 5 minutes was plenty.

‘Swift As The Wind’: Guitar. Plant voice. Sex noise. Slapping. Again it would be nicer with some regular vocals, but that ain’t the point. Chant the demons away. Repeat.

Nightfall‘: Voice. Sitar. Nightfall. It would be lovely if it wasn’t so crap. Some nice string bits. End.

What Did I Learn: Nothing really, aside from who the band are and what it sounds like. If someone says ‘Stoned hippy poets with too many instruments make music’ then you already know exactly what this will sound like without listening.

Does It Deserve A Place In The Top 1000 Albums Ever: Once again I’ll have to defer and assume that this was influential. Indeed I can hear later bands who were possibly influenced by this. But does that mean it’s actually good? Good then and good now? No. The answer is no. I appreciate it for what it is, and I like the loose feeling. But it’s mostly junk that I have no doubt anyone else could record with similar results. By all means make the music, absolutely make it, that’s what it’s for… but best ever? Ha. HA!

Colin Larkin’s Ranking – 408

Nightman Listens To – Steve Wonder – Fulfillingness’ First Finale (Top 1000 Albums Series)

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).

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Well, that post title was a mouthful worthy of Ron (porn). Exciting times, people! This will be the first Stevie Wonder album I have ever listened to from start to finish. When I was young I knew Stevie Wonder as ‘that guy Michael Jackson sometimes hung around with’ and as I grew older I began hearing a few singles by him. The few songs I heard, I mostly liked, but never enough for me to go buy one of his albums. Time passed, and here I am, about to embark upon what will presumably be a funky journey.

What Do I Know About Stevie Wonder: Blind musical prodigy, Wonder has been around for roughly three hundred years and influenced basically everyone who is in the music ‘business’ today.

What Do I Know About Fulfillingness’ First Finale: Nothing. Never heard of it. Difficult title to say aloud.

Smile Please: Feels like Santana for about six seconds. Low, almost drawled vocals. Reminds me a little of Chinese Restaurant music. Bum diddy bum. Summery stuff. Not especially buoyant or exalting.

Heaven Is 10 Zillion Light Years Away: Nice blend of keys and guitars and weird rhythms. This is better. There’s the bass. There’s the drums. Vocals still fairly deep. Good lyrics, questioning, still relevant. Growling backing vocals. The hand claps kind of work, and you know how much I hate hand claps. I can safely say I like this one, even if some of the percussive sounds aren’t the best and even if some of the backing vocals aren’t necessary.

Too Shy To Say: Soothing piano. Dreamy, wavey, Hawaii. All very lovely. Feels like a Bond song. Builds to a not-chorus. Simple love lyrics, yearning. I like the change in notes in the ‘I really love you’ line. Very nice.

Boogie On Reggae Woman: Fart beats. Drums. Funny noises. Sweetly funky. All very catchy and it pleads you to dance along. Harmonica. The keyboard noises are excellent – funny and interesting and funky. More harmonica.

Creepin‘: Slows things down, entrancing synth. Pause. Verse and vocals. I like the melodies and music, otherworldly. I like the structure – the pauses and shifts and changes, the addition of female vocals and other instruments etc. I can’t really add more to this, hypnotic night driving.

You Haven’t Done Nothin‘: Twinkles. Very superstitious. Good vocals and nice thumping in the background. Melodies good. Political. Angry. Dense. Brass. Doo do wop.

It Ain’t No Use: Starts as a ballad. Female backing vocals? More soothing melodies and sounds. These tracks are all good and I’d happily listen to any of them again, but none have really leaped out and grabbed and shaken me yet. This one drifts along nicely too even though the words appear to be about love irretrievable. Too many voices interweaving at the end.

They Won’t Go When I Go: Slow piano. Sounds like a sad one. Great piano melodies. Again the sound is hypnotic – a lot of sounds and ideas so it isn’t practical to type my virgin thoughts while listening at the same time. Good emotional outburst after the third minute. Is it about religion? I’m only paying attention to 20% of the lyrics.

Bird Of Beauty: Drums and weird laughing instruments. Backing vocals sound like mocking. Aside from the interesting, this one feels a little tame and samey. Sounds an awful lot like a song about drugs. Language change. Percussion too chaotic.

Please Don’t Go: Nice piano again. More farting synths. So many of the vocal melodies sound similar to one another. Still good though. Harmonica again. More vocals, growing, gospel, pleading.

Colin Larkin’s Ranking: 413/1000

What Did I Learn: I always knew i would like Stevie, but i was skeptical over how big a fan I could truly be. On the basis of this album it’s clear he has made a lot of great stuff which I didn’t know existed. None of the songs really grabbed me as instantly and as long-lasting as something like Superstitious, but there are a few I would like to listen to again to see how they sink in, while most of the others were pleasant and/or funky enough that I wouldn’t mind hearing again.  There’s a wide array of sounds and imagination, I can’t see there were too many truly emotional moments, and I do feel that some of the songs, melodies, and vocals overlapped too much between songs. Above all, it’s made me keen to hear more.

Does It Deserve Its Place In The Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: I don’t know how this compare’s to Stevie Wonder’s other albums or how influential this one was, how many copies it sold or singles it spawned. It’s the first album of its type that I’ve heard in my rundown of the Top 1000 albums and while it is consistent, and while it is good, it lacks those few songs which interact with me on a personal level. It’s only a few moments since I’ve stopped listening, but I can’t recall one truly great song that I want to instantly play again. My personal thoughts then would be a solid maybe, tending towards a yes – it should be included. There’s no way I could give it a definite no, but based on my own flawed personal tastes, I know I have heard better, and hope I hear better as my journey continues. Feel free to comment if this is one of your favourite albums, and let me know of any other Stevie Wonder records you would recommend.

Nightman Listens To! Eurythmics – Savage (Top 1000 Albums Series)

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).

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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.

Colin Larkin’s Ranking: 367/1000

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!

Nightman Listens To – Duke Ellington At Newport (Top 1000 Albums Series)

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Greetings, Glancers. We’re back once again to treat our ears and inferior minds with music to make us better people. Having said that, I immediately don’t have a good feeling about this one; it’s jazz, and jazz and me go together like Israel and Palestine. What can I say, I’m just not a fan of the brass.

What Do I Know About Duke Ellington: He was (is?) a Jazz musician

What Do I Know About Live At Newport: It’s a live show? At Newport?

Well, that was quick. Before I hit play, I will say that as I was typing this I saw that there is the original recording and a 1999 remaster clocking in at over 2 hours. I… I think I’ll stick with the original for now, thanks. There’s only five tracks, which probably means they’re all ten minutes long. Yippee!

‘Festival Junction’ opens with clapping and a very polite and unnecessary introduction. More clapping. A new thing. Tom And Jerry. Smooth. Fast and uppy downy. Mad skills. Piano. More. Drums. There’s the beat. More claps. Here we go, cats. I can imagine both weird 50s dancing and weird 50s hoodlums tipping their caps. In sync. Sounds like they’re having fun. It’s not annoying me in any way, but it’s just background noise for me. I’m sure if I’d been there I may have been swept up in the live atmosphere. it sounds like twelve different TV gameshow themes being played at the same time. Some squeals now. Those high notes do nothing for me, sir, but the crowd seem to be creaming all over them.

‘Blues To Be There’ starts with another spoken intro. Are all these new or improvised pieces that no-one has heard before, so they need to walk them in with words? Or was that just the style of the time? Slow, bluesy piano. Cymbals. Brass. It, and most jazz, still makes me think of Tom And Jerry, and I don’t think that’ll ever change. Halloween moment. Again it’s fine for me to have in the background, but I’m not a fan of music for background purposes. Who keeps shouting ‘yeah’? More twiddly now. Clapping. Oh, wait, not over yet. I wonder if anyone is going to move into the house across the road. It’s been empty for a year, and the sold sign has been up for about three weeks now. Actually, the sold sign split in half thanks to the wind the other night. It’s Friday January 27th as I write this, people usually move in on Fridays, right? More clapping. No, still going. People still write and listen to and release jazz, right? Young cubs I mean. It’s not about to die out. Every time I hear a car engine pausing outside I think it’s going to be someone new moving in over the road. End.

Newport Up‘ sees another introduction, man these hip cats sound so square. Fast, bouncy, skirts swirling, feet kicking. This one builds a frantic pace and has plenty of solo moments backed by exuberant backing blasts. Sorry guys, but again by non-jazzy ears are looking out for hooks rather than freestyle, so I can’t be the most objective about this. I like it, sure – it isn’t annoying and I appreciate the speed and skill of playing. But technical artistry is one thing, crafting memorable music that I can recall at a moment’s notice is another. Now it sounds like Archer. 

Jeep’s Blues‘ is immediately sex music. Tom And Jerry sex music that is – you know, one of those moments when the girl cat comes in and turns her eyelashes into a beckoning finger. It also sounds quite a bit like The Pink Panther in places. Yes, 99% of jazz music I know comes from cartoons – that’s why I’m listening to this – to increase my knowledge and better myself. What exactly are you doing? Yeah exactly, so shut up. It ambles and rambles on, nothing to see or hear here I’m afraid.

Diminuendo and Crescendo In Blue‘ is apparently two tracks merged together for this live outing. Piano and percussion. Then crazy horns. So this is ticking along nicely, I can’t really differentiate it from any of the previous tracks, probably because I’ve already forgotten them. It’s softer now, someone is clapping their hands, and someone keeps yelling. The shouting is quite annoying because I’ve no idea why he’s doing it. Is this good? Is that why? The crowd is damn well into though, maybe he’s just stoking the fire. Again, great skills on display, but the music isn’t my sort of thing and I’ve never been able to stand too much brass. That beat just keeps going on, this guy keeps playing, and the crowd is getting louder. It’s funny as he seems to be playing whatever the hell he likes. But again, it’s minutes and minutes of what my philistine ears determine to be the same few notes. Obviously it’s not that, but that’s how it seems. How hasn’t this guy fainted yet? Now the pianist is doing weird shit. Must be his turn now. Now they’re all at it. It still sounds like gameshows and cartoons and Dick Van Dyke movies. I’ll admit my foot got tapping in literally the final minute, and those final screeching notes are horrific and brilliant, but it’s over now and I can’t say I’ll ever listen to it again. Someone’s talking now. End.

What Did I Learn: I still don’t like jazz. Or ‘get’ jazz. Whatever. This is fine but doesn’t sound any different from most other jazz I’ve heard. All I can say is thank God they invented the guitar and the amp and all the rest.

Does It Deserve Its Place In The Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: Well, it sure as hell wouldn’t appear in mine. But presumably this was a landmark for jazz, or live albums, or a combination of both. I’d love to see the crowd as it sounds like they are losing their minds. Again, I don’t really have any frame of reference to compare this with. Show me some bad jazz and let me see how it makes me feel, and then I’ll listen to this again to see if it’s any different. That’s always a good marker for getting into a genre you’re not familiar with. Show them a turd, then show them a diamond. As I have no clue what I’m talking about, this gets a 2 for maybe as I simply can’t give it a definite yes because I didn’t really like it, and I can’t give it a no because people who know better would throttle me. With their feeble jazz hands.

Colin Larkin’s Ranking: 460/1000

Nightman Listens To – Joy Division – Closer (Top 1000 Albums Series)

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).

1359308396_Closer Joy Division

Greetings, Glancers! Once again I embark on a voyage through time to expose my brain to the supposed classic albums of the past. Today we look at one of the most revered cult bands ever in Joy Division, and their album Closer. I’ll let you in on a secret; come Closer; in my younger, more songwritingy and singingy days I was compared favourably to Ian Curtis, though I’m not sure why. I sound more like Michael Jackson when I sing, and while my lyrics tended to fall on the darker side of the human condition there was also plenty of humour and nonsense and childlike wonder. I think people thought I looked a bit like him too. I have probably heard many parts of this album but never paid it much attention. While on paper Joy Division always sounded like exactly the sort of band I would listen to, what I’ve heard over the years never enamoured them to me, as well as the fact that I’m not much of a New Order fan or of all the stuff which came out of Manchester in the aftermath. Moving on.

What Do I Know About Joy Division: Led by Ian Curtis, an enigmatic front man who killed himself at 23 after suffering from increasing bouts of depression and epilepsy. The remaining members went on to form New Order. Every time there is some new Indie resurgence, new bands point to Joy Division as an influence. Famed for a gloomy sound blending post-punk, pre-grunge, and synth sounds.

What Do I Know About Closer: The band’s second and final album.

Atrocity Exhibition: Drums. Funky bass. Scary noises. Morrison vocals and poetry. Scratchy guitars and the odd tin drum blast. Lots of distortion of noise and throbbing. This is the way. This is the end? There is an emptiness or coldness to the sound. Reminds me a lot of In Utero. There’s a repetitive quieter thirty seconds in there which isn’t really necessary.

Isolation: Faster, odd synth noises. This one seems familiar but those synth sounds are quite silly. Bass prominent again as expected, but something annoying about it. Sounds more upbeat musically but I suspect the lyrics are not. I don’t like the effects on the vocals. Heavier drums now. Sudden end. Then comes back. Then ends.

Passover: Funky drums. Solo descending notes. Riff. Bass. There’s so much space and emptiness in the verses. There’s a sinister tone with this one thanks to the relentless beat, near spoken vocals, and eerie guitar. It’s the first song where the guitar feels prominent.

Colony: Drums and bass and guitar chugging together. I’m not convinced that the vocals work as well here, or maybe it’s that strange effect on them. The guitar begins playing something different from the drums and bass which sounds bizarre, clashing but not sounding 100% out of place.

A Means To An End: Another thumping, monotonous beat, more jagged guitar, this one sounding more like a traditional riff. I appreciate the vocals, but I do find them getting on my nerve – too plain and cold and emotionless – it works for me on one off listens, but a succession of songs with no variance in the delivery make everything feel too similar. On the flip side, it all adds up to a more potent, chilling whole album.

Heart And Soul: Funky bass and nice drums. Emerging synth. Like a low chant. Of course now they throw in a different effect on the vocals. Sounds more like Morrison. Still the style and delivery is the same. Mesmeric middle. Sudden heavier drum. More words. More sound. End.

Twenty Four Hours: Nice guitar tone. Chattering sounds. Unusual beat. Very Holy Bible. Slower. I still say these songs would sound even better with a less dry vocal delivery. Best song so far, superb stuff. Little shift at the end for a final surprise.

The Eternal: Hissing hisses. Stalking bass. Funeral march piano. More great stuff. Not typing, too busy listening. Sad. Inevitable. Vocals waver slightly into being off key which I assume was on purpose, adding to a sense of futility. Guitar flickery bits. Garden sprinkler ending. Piano mistake.

Decades: More percussive pieces to give lifeless industrial feel. Sudden comedy synth. I wanna die in your arms tonight. Later more 80s drums and synth come in. Beat and rhythm constantly changing. Blasts of backing organ synth stuff. The ‘where have they been’ section is the warmest stuff musically on the album.

Colin Larkin’s Ranking: 279/1000

What Did I Learn: I wouldn’t say I’ve learned anything, but I definitely appreciate them now that I have listened to them. I like the coldness and intelligence and approach and originality, but I don’t think there is enough variance musically or emotionally to convert me to being some die hard fan. There is great stuff here though and I can see why so many love it and love Curtis. I’ll definitely listen to it again.

Does It Deserve Its Place In The Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: I’ll have to say yes, although it’s plain to see that this will alienate many people and it’s clearly something that select groups of people will want to listen to. The style is cold and otherwordly, definitely not the stuff of charts past, present or future. As well as the obvious influences on New Order and everything which came from there, the band (I’m not sure if it was this album specifically though) continues to influence new artists and those on the fringe. Teens, kids, and the placeless and questioning will continue to uncover this album for decades to come.

What are your thoughts of Joy Division and Closer? Let us know in the comments!

Nightman Listens To – Simon & Garfunkel – Bookends (Top 1000 Albums Series)

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).

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There’s a vast swath of music you, but more specifically I, have never and will never listen to. Each of us who claim to be genuine lovers of music will know of certain artists and albums, and know that we should listen to them, but haven’t and may never; that is ostensibly the purpose of these posts. For me, a lot of what most critics deem as the most important and best music of the 20th Century comes from the mid 60s – mid 70s US. My base knowledge has always been from the same period, but from Britain – Beatles, Floyd, Zeppelin, Who etc, while my general love of US music comes from later periods. That means that artists such as Bob Dylan and Simon and Garfunkel have always passed me by. I know the hits, I know who they are and what they do, but not specific albums in full. I like to say I’m a US folk fan, but really Joni Mitchell is currently the only person I can claim to be knowledgeable about (and her styles changes frequently and drastically). I can say that the songs I know of from S and G I have enjoyed, but nothing has made me seek out more beyond simply thinking ‘I should listen to more of their stuff’. It changes now!

What Do I Know About Simon & Garfunkel: A folk-loving pair, known for their songs of love, loss, and rebellion, their harmonies, melodies, and hair. Lots of big selling hits everyone knows and loves.

What Do I Know About Bookends: Nothing… I don’t think I’ve even heard of it before looking at Larkin’s list. Looking down the tracklist I recognise two songs – one of their biggest, and one which The Bangles covered.

Bookends Theme: Plinky plonky acoustic guitars. A very short track always makes me think that the album is going to be a concept album. This is too short to really go anywhere.

Save The Life Of My Child: Loud throb followed by Irish style jig rhythm. Lots of stuff going on here, backing howls and vocals, whip cracks, and other effects. The guitars and vocals seem to be drowned out by all the extras. Heavier and more experimental than I would have expected. A strange one.

America: Slight electric before leading into the acoustics and vocals I know the due for. I haven’t heard this one, seems to be some sort of protest or patriotic song. Again some unusual twiddly stuff going on in the background. It’s fine, doesn’t do a lot for me though, maybe I’d like it more after a few listens.

Overs: This one has an even more gentle sound, good, sweet vocals, what I can pick up of the lyrics first time around seem interesting, but the melodies are too whimsical and loose to grab me. A lot of playing with time, pausing, and volume on this one. Feels like it’s over before it’s begun.

Voices Of Old People: Okay, so they’re being literal with the title. Snippets of what appear to be old people talking. Talking about stuff. It works well on Dark Side Of The Moon with a musical accompaniment. This is just voices. Essentially pointless.

Old Friends: I think I’ve heard this before, or parts of it. Gentle, I like the strings growing and falling and weaving. More loose vocals and construction. Then it turns into a nightmarish episode of Bewitched. 

Bookends Theme: And we fade back in to this. Singing this time. Sad, lonesome, whimsy.

Fakin It: Presumably the second half will be a little bit more commercial. We get off to an almost Beatles style folk song. A more traditional song, plenty of backing stuff in the production, good melodies and guitar. Still room for more outlandish stuff, with a spoken piece and an interesting ending.

Punky’s Dilemma: Lots of breakfast related lyrics. Nice stable beat, giving way at various points to Beach Boys harmonies. All very gentle, managing to stay on the right side of twee. More sounds and clicks and voices and whistles. All of these songs seem to pass me by though, like a whisper on a street.

Mrs Robinson: Obviously everyone knows this one, and it stands out from the rest of the album by having clear hooks. It’s a terrific song and I was expecting a few more songs like this on the album but so far nothing has come close to either sounding like this or being as good as this.

Hazy Shade Of Winter: I love the Bangles version of this, but until now I’ve never heard this original. So far, the Bangles version is heavier and has vastly superior vocals which is surprising. It’s still good and if I’d heard this one before The Bangles one I don’t know whether I’d prefer the original As it stands, I like The Bangles one more.

At The Zoo: Another two and a half minuter. Starts slowly before tumbling into a groovy pace. What’s it all about? Sounds like a skeptical attempt at poetry. Pick a thing, then write a different thing linking the first thing. Not much going on here musically, pretty simple stuff.

Colin Larkin’s Ranking: 338/100

What I Learned: Simon and Garfunkel can be more experimental in their sound. I knew them for their light folk infused rock and I suppose I should have expected them to be more than just that.

Does Bookends Deserve To Be In The Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: I’ll have to defer to the old favourite maxim of this presumably being influential and a product of its time for it appearing in the Top 1000 albums of all time. Personally, upon first listen there is almost nothing here which would make me recommend this or include it in the Top 1000 albums. A couple of obvious stand out tracks and one or two more which would probably grow on me after multiple listens, but it’s too light and airy and doesn’t speak to me on any personal level as a whole.

So, aging hippies out there – what am I missing? Is this truly a product of its time, or do its reaches extend beyond the realms of space and time? Let me know what other albums from Simon And Garfunkel are good. I did like this, but not enough for me to want to go and listen to it again – I wish I did as previously I’d liked everything I’d heard by them. Sound off in the comments!

Nightman Listens To – The Verve – Urban Hymns (Top 1000 Albums Series)

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).

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Greetings, Glancers! Today we go back to the height of Britpop, the time when a younger Nightman was in school, playing N64, drinking beer between classes, and carving lyrics into school desks with a compass.

No, the other type
No, the other type

Today’s album is an odd one in that I don’t really understand how I missed it, given that I’ve liked every song from it that I’ve heard, and with two of them being two of my favourite songs of the decade. I may well have heard it all, as chances are that it would have been played in the background at a house party or shared on a school bus trip, but I can’t confirm this one way or the other so here we are.

What I Know About The Verve: After a number of unsuccessful albums (which I believe had quite a different sound from the one they converted to on Urban Hymns), The Verve struck gold and became one of the biggest acts in Britain. it didn’t last and they split up shortly after their biggest success with singer Richard Ashcroft going to a solo career (though they returned a decade later with another album). Incidentally, Ashcroft’s Song For The Lovers was one of my favourite songs of that decade too. The had a number of big singles in the late Nineties, and though lumped in with other Britpop acts, they didn’t truly fit that genre.

What I Know About Urban Hymns: Most of my friends had it, and I almost bought it myself a few times. With songs like Bittersweet Symphony and The Drugs Don’t Work, the album was a monster hit winning several awards and becoming a staple of indie house parties and school bus trips all around the country.

Bitter Sweet Symphony: Hmm, you know I never really enjoyed this one, possibly because it was overplayed to ridiculous levels and appeared on everything from TV Ads to movie soundtracks to probably political campaign messages and sports broadcasts. Maybe it’s because I preferred the similar The Chad Who Loved Me by Mansun. Maybe the video was also endlessly played and irritated me. It’s clearly a good song, but I find it way too repetitive and a good minute, if not two minutes too long.

Sonnet: This is more like it – even though this was a single I don’t think it got the recognition it deserved. This is one of my aformentioned favourite songs – not only because it is brimming with personal nostalgia, but I remember absolutely loving it at the time too. The mixing between the weird, almost country bass, the acoustic and electic guitars, Ashcroft’s gorgeous vocals, but most importantly that epic chorus all blend to make four minutes of bliss. Unlike the first track, I have a a feeling I could listen to this multiple times every day and never tire of it. It’s filled with so many moments I savour – the repetition of ‘my head is gone’, the twinkly piano after the first chorus, the middle section, and of course the strings. Give me strings and there’s a 90% chance I’ll love you.

The Rolling People: Funky intro, with wacka wacka guitars. This sounds more like your typical Britpop song. I don’t recall hearing this one before. Ashcroft sounds like a much deeper vocal version of Robert Harvey here. Sounds like a fairly standard plodding rocker. Spacey middle section, only half way through. Becoming a little like an Oasis track, and sounding a little like Liam. Groovy extended ending for dance purposes only. Pretty average album track – I’m looking for lost gems, remember!

The Drugs Don’t Work: Well, what can we say about this one? Brooding, heart-breaking, addictive, beautiful perfection. It’s obvious I adore everything about this song, one of the finest songs of the decade. Give me haunting melodies, strings, and emotive lyrics and performance and I’m yours.

Catching The Butterfly: Swirly guitar distortion. Uppy downy vocals. Fluttery. Lucid dreams. Another loose, trippy song which hovers along without any major hook but decent enough to cruise or sleep to. Unnecessarily long.

Neon Wilderness: Fading in with guitar effects. Spacey, distant, near spoken vocals. Drums. Nothing in time with anything else. Fine. Overlapping vocal bits. Is this going to turn into a more traditional song or continue in this vein, as this sort of thing gets boring after a couple of minutes. Fading out. At least it was short.

Space And Time: Acoustics. Interesting. Nice verse. Nice chours. Yay, it’s a song I don’t know which I love! And it manages to take me back to the mid-nineties even though I haven’t heard it. Give off an Oasis vibe. Melodies are good, nothing overly emotional but still good stuff. Changes subtly enough over the running time to keep from going stale.

Weeping Willow: Piano and swirls. Drums and the rest. Indie vocals. Another promising one which I don’t think I’ve heard. I have vague memories of people talking about this one. Slight Stone Roses vibe. A bit grittier and heavier, whilst retaining that overall swirling trippy tone. Catchy enough chorus. Last vocal part is exactly same melody as part of Champagne Supernova. 

Lucky Man: I was never overly in love with this one, when up against the two biggies it always felt a little too plain. Still a good song though. It’s the same feeling I have for Karma Police – I am aware it’s a great song, I just don’t get the feels for it the same as I do for others.

One Day: Organ. Gospel. Pleasant, very nice. With a stronger melody in the chorus this would be a classic, but they choose a more dreamy approach then going all out for something with an obvious hook. It works in the verses as I expect a glorious pay off in the chorus after all the build up.

This Time: Wibble wobble. Rapping. Regret. A different sound. Nice chorus melody, if only it had some strings or a bit more force behind. Wah wah. Should have ended it after the second chorus or gone in a different direction, as it stretches off too much into nothingness, but again this is short-lived.

Velvet Morning: Country. Another soothing ambient song merged with the more obvious Indie angst guitars. Soft, and yawning, and always seems just on the verge of getting louder. It breaks into a more traditional section a couple of minutes in with good vocals to offset the dreamy parts. Good stuff, good ending.

Come On: Drums. Higher pitched vocals. Sounds like what many Indie bands of the time were putting out. It’s an okay rock song, but not exactly inspired. Possibly the heaviest, most energetic song on the album, but that isn’t saying a lot. Of course the album isn’t going for that sound, but this song clearly is yet it still feels a little lethargic or over produced rather than simply letting loose and playing. A bit of shrieking and swearing at the end to spice things up, feels a little silly, but whatever. It’s a foot-tapper.

Deep Freeze: Oh, it’s a good old hidden track. The previous song was a decent enough way to close the album, but lets see what this one is all about. Noises. Sounds. Baby crying. So, standard extra track fare then – pointless.

Colin Larkin’s Ranking: 213/1000

What I Learned: That it’s good to catch up on history; this missing piece of my teenage years has finally been filled in. I expected the album to be more akin to the rest of the Britpop scene, and while much of it does fit in to that ilk, The Verve have retained their own sound throughout. The better songs are still the singles, and there are a few fillers for my ears – songs which meander too much and go nowhere. Likewise there are a few strong tracks which I has not previously heard which I enjoyed and will gladly listen to again. I can’t recall if any of the other The Verve albums appear on Larkin’s list, but I’ve always wanted to hear those too, so I’ll search them out.

Does It Deserve Its Place In The Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: It’s obviously an integral part of the closing stages of Britpop and was one of the most commercially and critically successful albums of the year, with a host of singles which spanned the globe. On that basis, as well as the fact that it did a lot to influence later artists who wanted that looser, baggier indie rock feel, it feels justified to see this in Top 1000 albums of all time. However, I can’t commit to saying that it would be high on my personal list given that only two of the songs truly resonate with me. I was never a huge fan of the Britpop scene, finding an awful lot of it too samey and reeking of tramps, and instead went for the bands who were either on the fringe, offered a little more, or went in a completely opposing direction. If I listen to the album a few more times I know that a couple of other songs would continue to grow on me, which may make me rethink my ranking.

Let us know in the comments if you feel this deserves a place in the Top 100 Albums Of All Time – is it one of your all time favourites, or did you despise it upon release. Feel free to share your opinions on the album and the review below!

Nightman Listens To – REM – Life’s Rich Pageant (Top 1000 Albums Series)

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).

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Greetings, Glancers! In today’s edition of Nightman Listens, I, Senor Carlos Nightman, listen to an album by indie, enviro-weirdos REM. REM always pop up on best album lists and they are generally spoken of by bands and artists I like. I’ve never felt a desire to listen to them much beyond the few singles I’ve heard, and although a few friends rate them very highly, most of the people I know who are big fans, are dicks. It’s time for me to learn a bit more abound them and decide for myself, and the best way to do that is to have a gander at one of their albums.

What I Know About REM: For a while in the mid nineties, REM were one of the biggest bands on the planet. They were around long before then, and have been around since. Michael Stipe is the lead singer and both his face and voice annoy me. They are a little too preachy and whiny for my liking, but they have made a number of songs that I’ve enjoyed. I admit I know very little of their catalogue as a whole, and have only heard one complete album – Automatic For The People – it’s good, but not as amazing as people like to say. That should do it.

What I Know About Life’s Rich Pagaent: It’s an album by REM. Looking down the track list I don’t recognise any of the names.

Begin The Begin: Riff. Strangled chords. Annoying Stipe voice. Fine melodies. Everything a little tinny or plain. Growing. Hiccups. Birdy. More music. End.

These Days: Fast. Sounds like The Bangles. Annoying Stipe voice. Nice drums. Annoying Stipe howl. Again okay melodies, but nothing grabbing, nothing emotional, nothing memorable. Attempt at a solo. Back around for repeat. End.

Fall On Me: Softer and acoustic mix. Lower vocals. Attempts at emotion. Failed attempts. Ok chorus, but nothing great. The best moment was the opening 8 or so seconds. Decent middle section, but too light. Sounds like faux hippy happy balls.

Cuyahoga: Decent opening. Ruined by appearance of boring drums, usual guitar, and annoying Stipe voice. Crappy idealistic lyrics. Bell. Bored already. Same melodies churned out on each song so far. Decent middle section. More whining.

Hyena: Laughter. Smiths-esque pacing. These drums are horrendous. Stipe howls. Jangling guitars. This is probably the least interesting, least inspired album I’ve listened to so far in this Top 1000 run through. I just feel into a mini-coma during one of the verses, then yawned and re-emerged for the final chorus.

Underneath The Bunker: Nice rip off riff. Is this an instrumental? The guitar isn’t great, there are quite a few notes which don’t quite connect. Voice. End.

The Flowers Of Guatemala: Nice intro, but oh so twee. Sounds like a One Direction ballad. Not long before Stipe’s howls come along. One trick Stipe. How much more of this crap is there? Ok, very basic solo. I get the simple solo thing, I do, but here it sounds like people who can’t play their instruments thinking they’re amazing.

I Believe: Banjo. Finally, someone can play. And replaced with more Smiths licks. Same old tempo, same old melodies, same old drums. Come on, raise the bar. Give me a hook. No no, not a howl Stipe. Jeebus. More dodgy lyrics culled from other places. It’s isn’t clever. France. To be fair, I can’t say that any of the songs have been bad, but I certainly can say that every one sounds like a copy and paste of the one before, and that none stands out. It’s as coherent as a blood spill.

What If We Give It Away: Drums. The Drums, as Brando once said. Moaning about money. What if you did give it away? Another howl. You know, if they changed the tone of the guitar, changed the drums completely, and replaced Michael Stipe with a singer, some of these songs might be good. This is what we have though. Another middle section which is better than the rest of the song. YAWNING.

Just A Touch: Shit, I was doing something else and didn’t realise this had started. Faster, drums finally better. There’s about 1% of Nirvana in the chorus. Organs and by God more murderous howling from Stipe. Who the fuck handed this eejit a microphone? Someone needs to Delorean that shit. I give up. Even when it’s different it’s the same. Is this them thinking they are being heavy? I’ve taken heavier dumps.

Swan Swan H: A little different, but the same effing melodies and Stipe balls.

Superman: Bla bla bla.

Colin Larkin’s Ranking: 162/1000

What I Learned: Not a lot. 80s REM sounds an awful lot like 90s REM, and Stipe’s voice is still as annoying as a wasp behind your eye.

Does It Deserve Its Place In The Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: Absolutely not. There is, for me, nothing original, nor anything memorable here. It sounds like a thousand other half-assed soft rock albums. Out of the few albums I’ve virginally listened to from Larkin’s list, this is the weakest, and to think it appears at number 162 (and that there are 3 REM albums higher on the list) is a shocker. Does this hold some cultural significance? I can’t think of any reason why this should be included in any Best lists. And I am right.

Let me know in the comments why you think I’m wrong and why this does deserve a place in the Top 1000 albums of all time. Is it one of your favourites? What happened to you to make you say such things?