Nightman Listens To – Deep Purple – Machine Head (Top 500 Metal Albums Series)!

Greetings, Glancers! It’s finally time to listen to another one of the bands known for laying the ground work for Heavy Metal. Out of all the late 60s, early 70s bands who contributed to the genre’s foundations – Deep Purple are likely the most important alongside Led Zep. I know a few Deep Purple songs fairly well – they are a band you come to early on when branching out in rock and metal’s roots, and they’re a band whose songs you become familiar with when you first decide to play guitar.  Machine Head is their most famous album, and while I’m not sure if I’ve heard all of it, I know I’ve heard most of it at various points. There was a kid who lived on the street I grew up on – his dad (who bore a striking resemblance to Gerry Adams and was therefore the brunt of much pranking around Halloween) was a big Deep Purple fan. He would blast tunes while washing his car. Just a random memory for you – you won’t get this content anywhere else folks!

But before we take a closer look at the tracklist, lets check out that album cover.

The combination of me not being as familiar with the facial features of the band members as I am with other artists, and the warped and blurred puddle marked cover mean I don’t know who’s who. The fella on the right gets the worst of it, his forehead being hoovered up into the psychedelic mire of the upper half, leaving his chin and ‘tache dangling like a swollen scrotum. Elsewhere, fake Syd Barrett is popping up looking all serious like, while on the far left a random college professor seems to have accidentally stumbled into the shoot – his faintly nervous gaze betraying his awareness of an imminent kicking by the rest of the band.

I don’t recall the album being so short – only seven songs and only one of those is over seven minutes long. The big one here is of course Smoke On The Water, but Highway Star and Space Truckin’ I know. I’m sure some of the others will come back to me when I listen. Lets see what Blackmore and co. have to say for themselves.

Highway Star‘ gets down to business off the bat with a series of charging beats and chords and a classic rock yell. The overall force and production is a little thin, weak which means the vocals and percussion lack bite. The drums are top notch, with lots of rattling fills at speed and the instrumental middle is zany fun. The extended solo in the second half is nifty too – more like a repeated series of different riffs up and down the neck. With more oomph in the production this would be an ideal driving song – that’s really the only thing letting it down for me.

Maybe I’m A Leo‘ has a fatter sound, the cymbals do still feel too tinny for my liking, but the lead riff is chunky, accompanied by a funky beat. In terms of metal – this does feel much more in the vein of ‘classic rock’ than metal, like most of the heavy rock bands of the time do. The organ shenanigans and the changes in beat also give it that 70s blues and jazz infusion which a lot of bands of the era had.

Pictures Of Home‘ opens with a splattering of drums before the guitar assault. The vocals still sound distant – they’re just not prominent enough in the mix, but it feels like everything is at an arm’s length rather than being in your face like this sort of music should be. I see Martin Birch was in the studio – usually his work is beefed up more than this, so maybe it’s just the copy I’m listening too. Again I can’t fault the playing – the song has a set structure but is loose enough to allow each member to off-shoot when they desire. Melodically, the song relies on those off-shoots to be interesting as the main vocal and core are plain, but I’m not getting much from it on an emotional level.

Never Before‘ is another slower, funk filled song. The verse raises the tempo and adds a big blues riff while the chorus brings a more notable hook. There are quite a lot of time shifts in the four minutes, including a brief pre-solo mellow phrase. It’s a simple rocker, spiced up with sprinkles of creativity lacking in chart music today.

Smoke On The Water‘ is the one we all know. Big, famous riff, strong chorus. Not a lot to add.

Lazy‘ surges into view with an electronic throng which reminds me of Money For Nothing. It then takes off into a jaunty organ jazz-fest before the rest of the band make up their minds to join in. Is it a 7 minute instrumental? It’s working well at the moment – a collection of riffs and zooming beats, but instruments rarely sustain their value for me for more than a few minutes. Like a lot of these instrumentals, this feels like a jam, except I get the impression this one was more well-practiced and performed than most – it’s tight. Ah, four minutes in we get our first vocal, interesting. Harmonicas now, followed by more vocals and screams. It’s pretty good fun.

Space Truckin‘ has that highly distorted electronic throng sound again – like a lightsaber swung through a brass tube. It’s a riff led song with a fair amount of groove thrown into the mix, and the chorus is one of the snappier sequences on the album. It builds to freak-out levels before the final chorus and the drums are once again the most noticeable instrument. Gillan then goes all Halford for some reason.

That was a little underwhelming, probably because the album is so short. There are no bad songs but even the best songs don’t hit any heights for me. The band sure knows how to play – drums, keyboards, and drums being the highlights while the bass and vocals didn’t have a huge impact on me. The production on the version I’m listening to gave the whole album an unfortunately thin sound – that’s not what you want to feel when you’re a hard playing rock band. While I eventually got used to this, it does still leave me at an emotional distance from much of the music. It is a consistent album – I’d say every song is around the high C, low B grade for me – but really Smoke On The Water is the only song anyone beyond the band’s fans are going to care about. I’ve added a few others to my playlist, but I can’t see me listening to them more than once or twice. While this may be seen as Deep Purple’s most famous record, I’m hoping it’s not known as their best.

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Highway Star. Smoke On The Water. Lazy. Space Truckin.

Nightman Listens To – Perfume Genius – Set My Heart On Fire Immediately (2020 Series)!

PERFUME GENIUS – ” Set My Heart On Fire Immediately “ | The Fat Angel Sings

Greetings, Glancers, and welcome to my first newly written 2020 Series post of 2023. I know I’m dragging this shit out like a child being torn from its parents, but I hope to finish off the 2020 series in the next couple of months. This will be album 16 of 24 (it was 25 but I removed Harry Styles for some reason). So there’s not many to go, and I’ll prioritize getting this finished before starting something else. Stop starting and start stopping, as they say. I’ll likely do some sort of Round Up ranking post at the end too, ranking the 24 albums by score and maybe some general comments.

Perfume Genius then. Is this a band? A singer? Male, female, or miscellaneous? Was it in the Metal category? Generic Pop? I can’t be arsed pulling up my original post at this juncture, which would surely give me the answer I so dearly do not crave. The artwork points me in no particular direction – a topless gent who looks like he’s spent the time down a mineshaft. Is that the singer? An object of the singer’s affection? A rando? The album title suggests pain, heartache, emotion. Which is just what I need after two Hip Hop albums devoid of those. I’m going in to this completely cold – I don’t know a thing about it and I’ve never heard the name of the artist or the album at the time of writing. By the time I begin the next paragraph, I will have intimate knowledge of both having listened to the album a number of times. Lets do this.

Most of those above questions were answered in the album’s rather lovely opener. Not only is it smooth, melodic, atmospheric, and the sort of subtle opener I generally enjoy in an album, it has a potent lyric, vibe, and voice which had me hooked and hopeful. It’s a powerful opening song, but the album only matches or succeeds this potential two or three more times throughout the album’s run time. There’s a searing frustration permeating my overall thoughts, because so many songs just miss the mark. It’s like watching your favourite football team or played having a solid game, but consistently missing the final product – a misplaced pass, hitting the post, crossing the ball and sticking out your neck only for the ball to graze your scalp and go sailing out of play with no consequence. There are so many positives and potential, but whether it’s personal taste on my part or something unspoken lacking, none of the songs perfectly hit the mark for me.

It’s frustrating because it’s clear there’s talent here, and it’s clear this could have been more impactful for me. Not that my personal feelings matter to the artist, but they matter to me for the purpose of my review. Even with my frustrations, it has been a more positive than negative experience and a few songs have been added to my near-mythical car-driving playlist. The vocals are good throughout, even if they do touch on the nasal at various points, but it’s refreshing to hear something unfiltered these days and great to hear some heart, melody, and emotion in a pop album, especially after my adventures in Hip Hop recently.

In terms of highlights, outside of the opener, Jason, Borrowed Light, Your Body Changes Everything, and On The Floor are the ones to return to. Elsewhere, you can feel the Cocteau Twins influence in the messy Describe and the dull Just A Touch, and Moonbend is a clear riff on Sia’s In Between. I can’t stand Cocteau Twins and In Between is a much more interesting and powerful song, with Moonbend at best a whimpering copycat. Even with that song, and others, which didn’t grab me, there’s usually some minor point of interest – Moonbend going all Rosemary’s Baby in the middle for example. Like quite a few songs on the album, there are potent component parts, but the whole is often much duller than those fleeting moments.

Production wise, it’s top notch, which has generally been the case all the way through the 2020 albums I’ve heard so far. There’s a bit of a seaside vibe throughout and there are many good choices promoting variance in instrumentation, whether it be the harpischord in Jason or the electric pianos and organs in Borrowed Light. It’s and approach which reminds me of The Beatles where they would write the structure of their song on piano or guitar, then head into the studio and say ‘what about if we replace this part with that instrument‘ or ‘what’s that thing over there, how can we stick it into this song to give it something different’?

A few of the slower, lower register songs and more mumbled and artistic efforts don’t do much for me, and bring the overall vibe and quality down for me, making the album plod in places. Leave is a prime example – as a piece of work it’s interesting and has a lot going on in its instrumentation and lyrics, but it’s a slog to listen to. Its pace and sloth is all the more striking given it comes just before the bouncing On The Floor, with its gorgeous melodies and fun synth guitars. Your Body Changes Everything is a dramatic highlight. I would have played the vocals plain, acting as a counterpoint to the synthetic potency of the instrumentation. I’d have tried to push a little more of the drama into the vocals, really bite into those lyrics and put some theatricality into it, accentuating the emotion.

After this mid-point, the album falls into a mire of stunted melancholy. Again, it’s interesting, but a drag to sit through so many songs which never get out of first gear or whose moments of brilliance are all too brief. These are not bad songs, but in the context of a full album play through they bleed into each other and the latter half feels like one mumbled, pained ballad after another. Which, by the end of the album, leaves me feeling somewhat worn out, frustrated, and bored. Going back to the opening paragraph, the overriding feeling I get from the album is frustration – the songs I enjoyed are significantly better than the ones I didn’t, and those songs I fully enjoyed didn’t have enough to get up to an A Grade score. As a whole, it’s a strong enough album that I won’t mind hearing again in its entirety, and those standout songs are solid enough that I’d be curious to see what else the dude has done.

SCORE

Sales: 3. Didn’t set the world on fire (immediately), but seems to have done okay.

Chart: 3. Very middling, potentially a 2 depending on how you gauge these things, but it still charted Top 30 in US and UK.

Critical: 4. I struggle to give a 5 for such recent albums as critical thought can change even after a few years, but go on and give this a 5 if you want to. That’s because the album was very highly acclaimed, making many end of year charts and generally in the 90s%s in those aggregator sites.

Originality: 3. Personally, a low 3 for me. I didn’t find anything startlingly new here – it’s very much ‘just a pop album’ – but it doesn’t do much of what other pop albums these days do. It’s rich, it’s not over-produced, and it’s pure. In the grand scheme of things, maybe it’s a 2, but based on what I’ve heard recently, it gets a 3.

Influence: 2. I don’t see it influencing many people or musicians.

Musical Ability: 3. Fine, does the job.

Lyrics: 3. There’s a certain poetry there, and there’s a function to the lyrics in serving the vibe of each song. Nothing particularly fresh, no startling one-liners of new perspectives.

Melody: 3. A highish 3, but the best songs aren’t memorable enough for me and the monotonous songs don’t have enough.

Emotion: 4. Inward looking and exposing the artists fears and hopes, the album’s focus on and expression of emotion, is one of its plus points.

Lastibility: 3. We’ll see. The dude seems to pump out a lot of albums in a short space of time, and I don’t know enough about how this compares to those to say that this one, or any of them, will still be played ten years from now. Low 3 for me at the moment.

Vocals: 4. Smooth, expressive, good.

Coherence: 4. The ideas and the music hold together well.

Mood: 3. Drags in places, particularly in the second half, and not in a good way.

Production: 4. Solid.

Effort: 3. Fine.

Relationship: 2. In younger days this may have spoken to me more, but where I am currently I don’t think it gets to a 3.

Genre Relation: 3. This is a strange category – a crap album can get a high score because it sounds like everything else, but a great album can get a lower score because it stands apart. This is a decent, average album which sounds like many other pop albums.

Authenticity: 4. Dude seems to feel the words and the music, and put his whole being into the songs.

Personal: 3. Starting out I felt like the album was going to be a 4, but that second half drags things down. Repeated listens show that there are only a few highlights, but no stinkers.

Miscellaneous: 3. I’m happy for there to be a heartfelt male pop guy who doesn’t seem to be following the crowd and is happy to do his own thing.

Total: 64/100

I would have guessed this would get closer to the 70 mark, but this seems fair enough. Let us know your thoughts and scores in the comments!

Nightman Listens To – Imagine – John Lennon (Non Beatles Series)!

Greetings, Glancers! This is the big one, right? This is the one John Lennon album I’ve known (about) most of my life, possibly due to the impact and fame of the title track. That song is one of the most acclaimed and famous of all time – I can’t say I’m its biggest fan – but I do enjoy it. One other song on the album that I know fairly well, is one I’ve never been a huge fan of. Of the remaining eight tracks, I don’t believe I’ve heard any of them, but we’ll soon find out. I know the album frequently makes Best Of lists, so I have high (ish) hopes.

‘Imagine’ is peerless in terms of fame and impact. It is very pretty while avoiding being twee. The lyrics I go back and forth on – simplistic and idyllic  – yes, wouldn’t a world like that be wonderful, but it glosses over too many complications and emotions. The fact that it was written by a millionaire never mattered to me, but I can understand that argument. Anyway, it’s lovely, you already know.

Crippled Inside‘ opens in similarly lovely fashion, almost like Across The Universe. Then it transforms into some honkey tonk Ringo-esque slice of whimsy. This one, I enjoy the lyrics that I’m picking up. Is he aping Dylan in the vocals, or just generic Country stylings? The music is of course a piss-take, but it’s amusing and catchy enough.

Jealous Guy‘ is the other song I knew – more from the cover than Lennon’s original. This is much better than Roxy Music’s take. I like that it’s honest, I like the strings. I appreciate the simplicity. Still, it has that dreary feel that many of the piano led Beatles songs have – a little touch of guitar or, anything really, to take away from the piano could make it better in my eyes, but most would disagree.

It’s So Hard‘ sounds like a heavier take – it takes old fashioned Blues rhythms and adds a sprinkle of sass. The lyrics, again, are amusing but I can’t take the music all that seriously. You can dress up this sort of Blues anyway you like, but it remains musically unimpressive. I could accept an argument for the banal struggles and the saucy lyrics being deliberately placed alongside cliched Blues riffs to draw conclusions between both.

‘I Don’t Want To Be A Soldier’ opens with another dirty rock sound. Lennon always seems to employ this reverb on his vocals… I never like that effect on vocals. This does feel more modern, probably thanks to the production having more colour and depth. Parts of this I think I have heard – the ‘I don’t want to be a soldier mamma’ is very familiar. Sadly it’s quite tuneless. There’s no need for it to pass the three minute mark – six minutes is inexcusable.

Gimme Some Truth’ opens the second side with a mouthful of fury. It’s angry and sweet and the same time and sees John falling back on his talent for spurting words in a sharp, poetic, staccato fashion. This is more to my tastes, not quite punk because it sounds quite pretty in places, but there’s enough harsh quality to the vocals and lyrics and guitars to align it with the heavier music of the time.

Oh My Love’ is… ooh, much more to my tastes. Slow, sad, lovely melding of guitar and piano. There’s the vocal reverb again. Luckily the melodies are wonderful too – with the lyrics combined it does veer awfully close to being saccharine, but I’ve never had a problem with that as long as its honest. This flip flops between major and minor freely which also stops it becoming too sugary. I’ve heard parts of this somewhere in time.

How Do You Sleep‘ is a pretty infamous song, but I don’t think I’ve actually heard it before. Noted as being an attack on Paul, in response to an attack by Paul, the lyrics are amusing but still feel petty. We know John was a defensive little prick at times, with a massive yet fragile ego. He would make all these attacks and mistakes and dismiss them as jokes subsequently, rather than admit to them. Of course this totalled up to him coming across as not the most trustworthy or genuine, even though I’m sure he was. Back to the song. After that loose opening the slow beat takes control and accomplishes quite a funky rhythm. Solid Cowboy strings when they come, solid solo work from Harrison I presume. Strong organ work to finish.

‘How?’ opens with a question. And continues with more questions. The verses are broken up like neat little pauses which seems to accentuate the confusion in Lennon’s mind – every thought is followed by a moment of contemplation. It’s close to being quite repetitive, but the pauses and melodies keep the sum fresh and engaging. Tasty strings in what I’m taking to be the chorus.

Oh Yoko‘ closes the album, kicking off with a pleasing relaxed jukebox pop rock song. It’s very sweet, easy melodies and an atmosphere which makes me think of pleasing memories of love and friendship and sunny days and long warm nights. It would again be twee if it wasn’t for how unabashed and heartfelt and adorable it all is. See, it is possible to come across as honest. Hell, even the harmonica doesn’t ruin things.

A much stronger second half drastically raises my opinion of the whole album – the first half features the hits, but as mentioned those hits aren’t necessarily personal favourites of mine. The more rock infused songs on the first half feel tame given the output of other bands of the time, and the melodic hooks aren’t quite sharp enough. The second half though finds almost everything hitting the mark successfully and there are plenty of songs I look forward to listening to again. Not as consistent then as the recent albums by Paul and George, but I’m happy to have found some great new music.

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Imagine. Gimme Some Truth. Oh My Love. How Do You Sleep. How? Oh Yoko.

Nightman Listens To – Connie Francis – Jealous Heart (1966 Series)!

Jealous Heart by Connie Francis (Album, Traditional Pop): Reviews, Ratings, Credits, Song list - Rate Your Music

Greetings, Glancers! When I said I was doing this – listening to every album of 1966, I really meant it. Putting aside the genres and performers I don’t like, and going all in, at least until I can’t do it anymore and end up quivering under a bog. Which brings me neatly to Connie Francis. I don’t know much about her, aside from the obvious – she’s a singer and an actress and even though her heyday was in the 50s, she’s still going today. I’ve heard some songs by her before, mostly dreary choral ballads and pop which I didn’t like. I… I just hope this isn’t country. Wikipedia doesn’t even have an entry for this album so these are indeed uncharted waters. Some dude has helpfully uploaded the album to Youtube, so if any of these song titles are incorrect or not even on the album – go moan at him.

Jealous Heart: A big swell of strings, but in the weepy old decrepit style. Then Country ballad guitars. Fuck. It’s not really Country, but I associate it as such. The voice is good, clear, if not exactly my thing. The melodies are box-ticking exercises – you hear the first part, and you can finish it precisely yourself without hearing it. There’s a whining quality in the vocals in some words. Lets hope the album is short.

If I Ever Get Lonely: A sweeter sound, but still very much that song style which I was dreading. Say what you will, the lyrics are still marginally more interesting than what’s in the charts these days. There’s something odd about the vocals – almost like they are higher or more powerful than they need to be – the band is playing around 6 or 7, but Connie’s on 11. Awful talking part. Better chorus – don’t need the backing vocals.

Everything I Have Is Yours: Guitars shimmering. That’s a more unusual vocal melody. Belted out. Becomes more generic as it progresses. Soppy guff, but she is best when she hits and holds the big notes.

If You Ever Change Your Mind: Brief string blast. Reminds me of Trailer Park Boys. Annoying backing vocals – get rid. The song themes are all very similar – someone has left but I’m still here if you want me. Have some self-respect. I’m surprised stuff like this was still flying in 1966 – it sounds like something from twenty years earlier.

Do I: Man those backing vocals are like tar in my ears, followed by someone shoving their balls in my face. It’s the same whining Country ballad tone and rhythm as several other songs. Man, it’s early, but I already need some metal.

Fair Weather Lover: More of the same. Same rhythm and tone – check. Terrible backing vocals – check. Clinky piano – check. Moaning about love instead of going and getting some – check. This would be unlistenable if not for Connie’s voice.

Ivory Tower: The ‘I love you’ part was nice, I guess.

Once A Day: It would have been great if she’d said ‘once a day, once a day, have a wank’ instead. Or eat and apple. At least this one has a different rhythm and the lyrics are more self-deprecating. Still moaning, but at least this time it felt funny.

My Foolish Heart: Good vocals. The strings are better.

I’m Falling In Love With You Tonight: Better musically – the cascading piano and little guitar runs compliment the idea of falling, and the melody is allowed to be kept pure – no interference, or not much, from backing voices. It just meanders too much.

Nevertheless: I’ve run out of things to say. I’m drained by the monotony of it all. I know I’m not the most creative when it comes to writing these things, mainly because I’m typing as I’m listening, and the music pulls down my spontaneity if it’s crap. She’s singing some stuff about love.

So Long Goodbye: So long, goodbye, and thank Vader for that. Nothing here for me.

Connie’s a good singer – no complaints there. She has a David Lynch vibe. The songs are boring, the lyrics make me want to push her down a flight of stairs – probably because she’d fall in love with me. I’m sure she’s a great person, I’ve no idea who wrote the music or lyrics, but neither are good. Just not for me at all. Is this a generational thing? Is it me?

Let us know in the comments what you think of Jealous Heart in the comments!

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: N/A

Nightman Listens To – Ram – Paul McCartney (Non Beatles Series)!

Paul McCartney / Linda McCartney: Ram Album Review | Pitchfork

Greetings, Glancers! At the time of writing, I am pumping out these Nightman Listens posts. I can’t say when I’ll get around to posting them – could be months or years from now (almost three years, present day Nightman), but I am writing a hell of a lot. Which means these reviews will probably feel very generic and samey. Oh well, there’s only so many things I can think of saying in the spur of the moment when I listen to these songs. Today it’s McCartney time again, and it looks like he was pumping out work too – this album coming a year after his last. Lets hope there’s some good stuff – I don’t think I’ve heard any of these before.

Too Many People‘ kicks us off. It’s an abrupt intro – a quick slice of guitar and a high pitch vocal before your traditional intro settles the nerves. Any experimentation doesn’t get in the way of the song being good. I don’t think he ‘sounds like McCartney’ here. No complaints, a solid song I can tap my foot too – a decent double melody in the chorus and the ‘that was your first mistake’ section. Good marching drums and a blistering solo or two betwixt the overlapping guitar parts.

3 Legs‘ is Paul aping ye olde Blues. His vocals are pretty close to mimicking the old masters and the lyrics and chorus offer some quirks to make it more enjoyable to me that your standard blues material which bands like The Stones were putting out. The final moments move into a dirty phat beat – nice.

Ram On‘ starts with a bit of piano, a bit of talking, then a bit of ukulele. It’s not as twee as most ukulele crap you hear these days, maybe because the vocals feel mournful? Is that Linda singing in the background? There’s joy in the chorus, there’s a freewheeling looseness, I love the extended ‘ahh’ vocals

Dear Boy‘ is an Angel episode, I think. I’m always a touch wary of these piano based songs now as they tend to go down the dreary route for me. This points down that road at first but veers off to the side just enough – like a dirt path within line of sight of the dreary route, increasingly shrouded by trees. Now I’m thinking about old BMX tracks I used to shoot along. It gets better as it goes on.

Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey‘ – is this an Only Fools And Horses thing? I don’t think it was around in 1970. A smooth verse, not quite melancholy, just smooth and relaxed. Great swelling of the backing instruments. Vocal ticks and banter. The middle part stretches out a little longer than I would have liked, but then it shifts presumably to the Admiral section with a new beat and tone. Paul’s doing funny voices again. I realize I’m bopping side to side as I type and listen. Then it speeds up again and a wry smile sparks up on my face. More changes in the final moments. It’s good.

Smile Away‘ opens with a slower count than I Saw Her Standing There. Does this feel a like Status Quo? I think it does. Talky vocals. Funny lyrics. The whole album so far brims with a sense of fun and humour, like Paul is 100% happy to be recording whatever the hell he wants. Sometimes that can be bad for the listener – this is a bit of nonsense – but it’s infectious and catchy. The whole band lets loose in the last minute or so.

Heart Of The Country‘ has that music hall, Arthur Askey feel to the vocals. Paul loves all that stuff, I…. don’t. More vocal tics. Still, it somehow isn’t annoying – again I think it’s that Paul is having such fun which translates to me as something I can’t dislike, even if I never choose to listen to it again.

Monkberry Moon Delight‘ opens with another stonking rhythm – piano, up down bass, jangling guitars, and shouting vocals. I like it. I’m not sure why he choose the vocal approach, but I like it. I can’t grasp any rage or such on the lyrics but to be honest I haven’t been paying attention. There’s Alice Cooper meets Hallowed Be Thy Name in the guitars. Could have had a minute cut out though.

Eat At Home‘ feels like a more traditional old school rock n roll number. And it’s still fun – a cool combo of riffs, Linda’s vocals heighten things again. None of these songs are amazing but they do have Paul’s trademark melodic sensibility, and they are stupidly fun which means most of the cracks or reasons for me to complain are smoothed over.

Long Haired Lady‘ is another song with an abrupt opener. It sounds like it’s about sex. Linda, lots of instrumentation. Lots of changes in tone, including your standard Paul sound. This probably has my favourite production of them all so far. It does feel a tad stretched at times – particularly towards the end with the repetitions of ‘love is long’ – or is it ‘love is love’? A good minute or so could have been chopped from this too.

Reprise‘ is more of Ram On.

The Back Seat Of My Car‘ opens in somber, night-drenched fashion. The verse takes it into major key territory which completely takes it away from what I was expecting. Of course it’s still nice, but I was hoping for something else. Like the other songs this one goes in a few different directions, with new instruments popping up to aid those transitions. I’m still surprised (not really the correct term… pleased maybe) that it sounds so fresh and modern. It doesn’t feel dated to me in any way – but of course I’m not someone who listens to the radio every day to hear what actually is modern. A mini epic, but doesn’t quite do it for me.

Another Day‘ is a sweet little song of simple observances. Pure love, and again the joy drips from every phrase. It’s very easy, laid-back happiness rather than the either abundant or forced sentiments found in The Beatles stuff. It feels simple musically, but there is quite a lot going on – not just the changes in time and tone, but little flickers and accentuation of a particular instrument.

Oh Woman, Oh Why‘ opens with a throbbing beat, then the guitar joins for a neat groove. Then the vocals and wtf. I mean, he’s a Beatle, he can do whatever the hell he wants. It’s a little Led Zep, a little Bon Scott. Again, it’s Paul what he wants and having fun with it. I probably would have taken a straighter vocal over this, but it’s not bad.

Well that may just be the best solo album yet. Some of the other albums have more highs, but this feels like the most consistent, certainly the most fun. All Things Must Pass was great, but that last bonus disc lost me, Plastic Ono was hit and miss. That being said, the best songs here are, in my current estimation at least, a notch under The Beatles best stuff. This is mostly low B grade material, but it’s almost all in that category while the other albums had a range from A-D. That means the bulk of the material will make my playlist, but whether they drop off or remain in my, sigh, STAYLIST is up for future debate.

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: 3 Legs. Ram On. Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey. Smile Away. Monkberry Moon Delight. Eat At Home. Long Haired Lady. Another Day.

The Nightman Scoring System (c) Music Review Master List!

Greetings, Glancers! I mentioned in my last post that I was going to go back and give my favourite albums, and anything else I’ve heard, the Get Rekt treatment. I completely forgot that when I’d been doing this for The Beatles that I was posting them under the Nightman Scoring System series instead. That works out nicely as it provides a neat differentiation between movies (Get Rekt) and music (Nightman Scoring System). Even though it’s basically the same approach – score using an unbiased system breaking a product into twenty equally weighted categories.

While it was easy to do this with movies, because I had already posted lists of my favourite movies of each year and had a ready-made master-list, I did not have anything similar for music. This post changes that. This post will similarly be updated with albums, scores, and links to reviews, the differences being that I’ll continue to update the music I review, and instead of going year by year, I’ll post alphabetically by artist. In the early days, there won’t be many artists, but as time goes on and my reviews batch up, you’ll see the array of artists expand.

If you’re interested in any of the artists and albums below, or my thoughts on them, please have a look around and share your own thoughts. Enjoy!

Bad Bunny – YHLQMDLG – 58

Biffy Clyro – A Celebration Of Endings – 63

Bob Dylan – Rough And Rowdy Ways – 64

Chloe X Halle – Ungodly Hour – 68

Code Orange – Underneath – 61

Deftones – Ohms – 60

Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia – 74

Enter Shikari – Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible – 57

Fiona Apple – Fetch The Bolt Cutters – 67

Ghostmane – Anti-Icon – 54

Jessie Ware – What’s Your Pleasure – 58

Lady Gaga – Chromatica – 74

Lil Baby – My Turn – 51

The Beatles – Please Please Me – 81

The Beatles – With The Beatles – 71

The Beatles – A Hard Day’s Night – 92

The Beatles – For Sale – 80

The Beatles – Help! – 93

The Beatles – Rubber Soul – 90

Nightman Listens To – Roy Orbison – The Orbison Way (1966 Series)!

Roy Orbison The Orbison Way | Life Of Vinyl

Greetings, Glancers! We ‘re getting through these 1966 albums at a fair old pace. Or at least I’m listening to them frequently – I can’t guarantee when you’re actually going to see this post given that, at time of writing I haven’t even published the 1966 Series announcement post yet. But enough of that. Roy Orbison is one of the greats, but yet another who I haven’t listened much to beyond a few hit singles. I’ve certainly never heard a full album by him. That changes today. I know nothing about this album, except that it has twelve songs and clock in under thirty minutes, so I’m expecting quick pop rock songs with strong vocals. Let’s do this.

Crawling Back‘ opens a little like YNWA. A similar arpeggio. Sweet, low vocals. Strings come in on second verse, vocals, go a little higher, still smooth. They go higher again. I wish he’d taken the melody a little higher and really pushed for it, but he goes in a different direction. The strings complement and accentuate. He pushes it at the end, and it’s good.

It Ain’t No Big Thing‘ opens with something which sounds like an organ, just before the guitar joins. The verse is very Beatles, but he comes into his own for the chorus as the vocals soar. It’s another broken-hearted song of lost love, even if he’s making light of the subject. Great stuff on the ‘I’m dying’ line at the end.

Time Changed Everything‘ starts neatly, nice dynamic between vocals, keys, and drums. Very sweet vocals and melodies again, more doubt in the lyrics. I like how the melodies change four or five times until the chorus finally comes, the chorus acing as a crescendo.

This Is My Land‘ has swelling strings, harmonica, and another familiar arpeggio. Sublime vocals again. I think the music is better than the actual vocal melody, but it’s hard to complain about something so endearing and well-performed.

The Loner’ starts out with an interesting string introduction, reminiscent of Egyptian/Arabian scenes in old movies. I think at this point we accept the vocals are going to be good, that’s a given. Nice swells at various points, a climbing and falling melody at others.

Maybe‘ seems like a more traditional ballad. There are stabbing guitars and drums to counter the central piano lines. It’s a little plain, but still gets by on charm.

Breaking Up Is Breaking My Heart‘ is much faster than anything else on the album so far. That definitely spices things up as things were getting a little slow and samey. The song continues to build with extra bass and beats and sudden strings in its second movement. Fun melodies go with the lyrics. Great stuff. Just wish it hadn’t faded out.

Go Away‘ spices things up further with its more unusual arrangement. For large parts it’s Roy and no instruments, but it gradually builds into a more traditional ballad. Groovy instrumental piece in the middle with organ and guitar.

A New Star‘ opens like an old-fashioned Country ballad. It gets better, thanks to Orbinson’s vocals and another nice choice of melody. There’s a lot of twinkling, some sweet violins join the fray. It stays away from the standard pop song structure, which is both to its credit but also makes it feel a little directionless.

Never‘ has sprinkles of fun, shambling along breezily and making me think of a lot of the cliched Swinging Sixties sounds. There is throng in the background which could be horn, keys, or guitar. It definitely sounds happier and more light-hearted than the other material.

It Wasn’t Very Long Ago‘ has a touch of Sixties London too. Slow and steady, nice peaks in the vocals, great melodies – especially the lead refrain.

Why Hurt The One Who Loves You‘ starts with sleepy bass and piano like a dance hall from the 1930s. It feels like a song to slow dance to, but the lyrics say otherwise. A drifting end to the album.

Well, I think I can safely say that was the best ‘new’ album I’ve heard from 1966 so far. I always knew Orbison was a great singer, and this showcases his abilities quite well. There isn’t as strong a single as something like Pretty Woman but I’d happily listen to the whole thing again. I would probably get bored with the whole over time as many of the songs tread similar ground musically and lyricially, but at least structurally things are kept interesting by introducing many different elements – changes in time and pace, and plenty of instrumental choices which the so called crooners generally were not adventurous enough to try. I can easily grab a few of these for the playlist as I ferry the family to and fro in the car.

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: It Ain’t No Big Thing. Time Changed Everything. Breaking Up Is Breaking My Heart. It Wasn’t Very Long Ago.

Let us know what you think of The Orbison Way in the comments!

Nightman Listens To – Lil Uzi Vert – Eternal Atake (2020 Series)!

Eternal Atake' Finally Dropped, Everyone Say Thanks Uzi - PAPER

Mother-fuh… Just when we thought it was safe to return to the 2020 series after last time’s dismal effort by Lil Baby, we have Lil Uzi Vert. Without hearing a single second of this guy’s music or voice, I’m already thinking it’s going to be crap based on his name alone. But let’s give him the due time and attention we give to everyone in this series, and who knows, surely it can’t be as bad as My Turn was. Right?

Even if it is better, I still anticipate cheap beats, lyrics about money, counting money, spending money, misogyny, coming from the streets, and more autotune. Such is the way with modern Hip Hop. That’s fine, but at least make it good. Does the album art give any more hints about what the music will be like? It looks futuristic, three people (or two people, and one disco-ball headed entity) standing on what appears to be a moon or an asteroid, staring at what appears to be Earth while an old school Space Saucer hovers in the distance. So… a little bit weird? Something Sci Fi or futuristic sounding? Leaving? Distance? Or is it just cool artwork with no meaning? By the time you read the next paragraph, I will have listened to the album multiple times.

It’s a better album than My Turn, lets get that out of the way. It suffers from the same flaws as Lil Baby’s stain – auto-tuned vocals, repetitive lyrics and lyrical themes which barely go beyond sex and money, but it improves in both areas and is significantly stronger in other key aspects. It’s still not very good, and it’s not something I’ll ever listen to again, but at least it’s not as obnoxiously awful.

I’d like to continue with the positives but it seems easier to continue scooping the tripe first. The name – we know how I feel about having ‘Lil’ in your name. Why not just call yourself Uzi Vert? A perfectly good name. The album has 18 tracks – way too many, but as previously discussed that’s what people do these days. The more songs on an album, the more streams it gets. It stifles creativity and encourages repetition. It encourages putting crap on an album which otherwise would have been left aside. But that’s just another example of the album fading as an art form. Although, as a positive, this album does feel like a coherent whole thanks to the production allowing one song to flow into the next and the little skits throughout.

Still, even as none of the songs are over the four minute mark, 18 songs is a lot. There is variety in the music, but not enough to keep from it feeling like a slog in a single sitting. A 14 or 15 song album would have likely given me a more positive outlook – throw out a few of the lesser tracks and you’d have an album I could see myself popping on in the car. I begrudgingly accept that most listeners will not be listening to this in a single sitting though, so this may not be a criticism depending on how you consume music.

The autotune is front and centre and Uzi often sounds like he raps, straining from the back of his throat. Like he’s taking an unending series of Lil Dumps. The breathless delivery is impressive, but when he’s going on one of his faster runs the lyrics often descend into repetition – the same lyric repeated and zero variance in the delivery, no change in tone or emotion. Which suggests he likely said it once in the studio and it was then copied and pasted. It probably sounds better live, if he can even do it live.

It’s unfortunate, because the album is peppered with moments which reveal a stronger voice; the little skits, the moments when he does allow himself to scramble free from the overly produced, digitized vocals which seem to populate the charts these days. Those moments show someone which a flair for humour and performance, but for 90% of the delivery this is blocked. As much as the vocal delivery is held on a leash and any imagination and individuality is dragged down, the lyrics allow this to escape. The humour is mostly juvenile, but I’m a juvenile kind of guy who isn’t averse to the odd chuckle over sexual double or single entendres. I get the impression that the guy wants to make a full blown comedy album, but either lacks the talent and scope to do it, or that he’s too afraid/been advised not to do it. You can be funny without talking about sex and the dude needs to find a way to write about other shit. But maybe this is all his life is – being rich and having sex. Eventually that gets incredibly dull for the listener.

I may not be giving the album enough credit when it comes to musical variety. Every song does have a different hook, whether that be a variance in the beat or a nod to a particular instrumental style. The impression that the album lacks variance comes from a mixture of the repetitive nature of the vocals, the similar lengths of each track, and the similar pacing and structure of each song. This is where the improvements could be made and to truly push the album into B grade territory. There’s good stuff here, but it’s prevented from coming out or restrained by reliance on cliche and marketability. It’s two steps forwards/one and a half steps backwards music while Lil Baby’s was like walking backwards into a volcano. A volcano of shit.

While songs do vary, none of them stand out. I could just as easily pick any of them as a single, or none of them. Each song seems designed to groove to – there’s nothing to chill to, nothing to completely bust out to. The vibe is one note and overall there is no peak, no trough. It cruises along, never going about 20 mph, like one of those chavs who circle beachside towns in their mutant Toyotas, except it doesn’t even have the decency to obnoxiously rev or impatiently overtake an elderly driver. It just rolls slowly along, doing little to draw attention to itself.

With that said, I struggle to recommend any individual songs as highlights, or to even recall which one is which after several listens. There’s the one with the funny bit. There’s the one with the sci-fi stuff. There’s the ones with a choir style backing. There’s the Backstreet Boys one. There’s the one that goes BUHLISSYBUHLISSYBUHLISSYBUHLISSY. There’s positives in how coherent it is, how connected the album is, and how it could be argued as being in the style of a concept album, but there’s negatives in there not being a stand-out and in there simply being too much of it. The greatest positive I can give the album is that at no point did it piss me off, have me skipping songs, or have me punching the stop button due it being crap. Like a certain other recently reviewed album by one of the Lil clan.

SCORE

Sales: 4. We’ll keep it a 4 because it’s so difficult assessing what sales even are these days. It’s platinum in the US, but has done significantly less well everywhere else. Few people outside of the US gave a toss.

Chart: 4. It stayed at the top of the charts for a couple of weeks in the US. It also topped the charts in Australia and Canada.

Critical: 4. Mostly positive, made many end of year lists.

Originality: 3. Not my area of expertise – to me there seems to have been an endless series of rap albums mixing Trap and synth-wave and other shite. But other critics have commented on it breaking new ground, so who am I to argue.

Influence: 3. I guess. It sold lots. Plenty of kids will hear it and dream about being rich and ‘playing with kittens’.

Musical Ability: 3. Sure.

Lyrics: 3. Thematically, there’s a limited range. But stylistically, a fair amount of flair, personality, and humour.

Melody: 3. A solid set of semi-decent hooks and moments, frequently brought down by greater moments of repetition and monotony.

Emotion: 3. I’m being generous with the 3, it’s maybe a 2. But I rate humour highly, so any album which clearly is trying to be funny, and sometimes succeeding, gets an extra half-point from me.

Lastibility: 3. People who like this sort of thing will surely keep listening.

Vocals: 3. They’re fine. Nothing special, sounds like every other person who performs in this style.

Coherence: 3. Holds together nicely with some songs flowing neatly into the next, and the little skits suggesting a running story.

Mood: 3. Fun, stick it on with friends. Not much else.

Production: 4. Very solid, very sci-fi oriented with samples in the same vein. As always, the digital beats never pack enough punch.

Effort: 3. No comment. Except that one.

Relationship: 2. It’s the humour which connects me. Not much else in the lyrics or music I can relate to.

Genre Relation: 4. For better or worse, it sounds like everything else.

Authenticity: 3. Sure. Though at some point all this crap about shagging a thousand women a week and buying Lambos loses its credibility.

Personal: 3. Do I go 2 or 3? It seems odd to say I’ll never listen to an album that I’ve rated a 3 again, but I won’t. It’s a very low 3. I can appreciate it for what it is and understand that others will love it, but within a week of this being posted I doubt I’ll be able to recall a single melody. Still, I mostly enjoyed it while listening.

Miscellaneous: 2. Decent artwork. A double album version was released a week later. Not enough to get a 3.

Total: 63/100

A decent overall score considering what other albums have been getting. Let us know in the comments what you think of Eternal Atake!

Get Rekt – Future Music Review State!

Greetings, Glancers! It seems like I’m persisting with this whole Get Rekt/Nightman Scoring malarkey. You’ve likely seen my Get Rekt movie update – if you haven’t, click here. While I’ve already spent, some may say wasted, considerable time working my way through my favourite movies of all time and scoring those with my fair and unbiased system, I haven’t really done the same on the music side of things.

I’ve been examining this recently, and I’ve been considering writing my Favourite Albums Of Every Year Lists too, but I’ve been seriously struggling with those. I tend to absorb movies more easily than I do albums, even though I’ve loved music longer and with more passion. Whenever I try to make these lists for my favourite albums, they’re inevitably populated with the same small handful of artists, which makes it look like I have narrow tastes. Which couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s just that… I find it easier to call a film a favourite when it is flawed than I do with an album. If music is flawed, or not to my tastes, I probably won’t enjoy it. Certainly not enough to be so brazen as to put it in a so-called Favourites list. If a movie is flawed, I can still quite easily admire it for its technical ability and cultural significance, often enough to say it could, just maybe, squeeze, into one of my favourites lists. I’ll still vote for what I love over what I respect though.

So, if I can’t do a solid list of favourite albums by year like I did for films, I can’t really follow the same plan with Get Rekt. What can I do? Alphabetical? Still go year by year knowing that I may only have five albums instead of ten? Ignore favourites and just go Get Rekt on everything I’ve ever heard? That’s an option, and that’s what I’ve been doing with my 2020 series. I think that’s the way to go, that or I simply go artist by artist through my favourite artists. But that may be dull and repetitive, more so than usual around here.

That’s it, really. I didn’t come into this post with a conclusion in mind or a decision formed. And I still don’t. I just came into the post wanting to let you know that I want to, somehow, translate the Get Rekt format over to music, so that people can moan and grump and rage over the arbitrary scores I give albums. I’m not going to stick a list of albums here, like I did with the movie post. Not yet anyway. Instead, at some point in the future I’ll write a new post which I will plan to continually update as and when I write Get Rekt music reviews. So far, I’ve reviewed some of the (apparently) best albums of 2020 (which reminds me that I should probably do something similar for 2022 – fuck 2021, I guess), and I’ve updated some of my Beatles reviews with Get Rekt notes. I could go back and do retro Get Rekt updates for all of the Madonna, Bon Jovi, Roxette, Bryan Adams, David Bowie, and other artists I’ve regularly covered here too. I think I’ll do a mixture of that, and a mixture of my favourite albums. Won’t that me fun? Keeps me off the streets, I guess.

Nightman Listens To – Sounds Of Silence – Simon & Garfunkel (1966 Series)!

Takes From the Top: Recording Simon & Garfunkel's 'The Sounds of Silence' | Songwriter 101 | BMI.com

Greetings, Glancers! This one is a surprise. I assumed this would be in the Colin Larkin’s Top 1000 Series instead, but apparently not. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, given that I already listened to Bookends which is considered one of the best albums of all time, but I thought it was muck. I know there’s another one or two albums by them on Larkin’s list I’m going to have to suffer through, and now this one has been added to the mix. Maybe this is the anomaly and I’ll like it. Probably not. I had high hopes for these guys, but Bookends killed it for me. At least I know I like the title track.

The Sound Of Silence: It’s as haunting as beautiful as ever and this is one of the songs which made me think all of their music would be like this. This seems to be a different version than the one I’m used to. The production of this version I’m listening to is rubbish, but I’ll blame the YouTube upload on that.

Leaves That Are Green: A bouncy, near harpsichord start which sounds like wholesome folk fun. That main keyboard or whatever it is piece is lovely, bouncing and climbing and falling. Melodies clear, harmonies sweet, the lyrics are a little hammy and folk trope ridden.

Blessed: A deliberate out of tune string bend intro and more prominent drums give this a heavier feel. The vocals start with a loud shout… this all makes me feel the whole thing is a satirical look at certain religious types. There’s some weird noise stuff going on, couple with the shouting and talking and the string-bend gives it all an unusual tone. So far, it’s much better than Bookends. 

Kathy’s Song: This sounds more like what I was expecting – finger picked `guitar and smooth vocals for a lonesome folk feel. It’s all too rambling for me to truly enjoy – too much of a story than a song, but nothing wrong with it.

Somewhere They Can’t Find Me: A more uptempo song with a more overt rock or jazz feel. The harmonies on this one are a little messy – definitely could have been tightened up. I appreciate the strings and the little extra pieces added to spice it up and it’s different from everything else so far – it’s short, and reminds me a little of The Cure.

Anji: This actually compliments the previous song – there’s a similar down the scale riff. Seems like this is an instrumental. It feels like you could almost sing the lyrics of the previous song over this one.

Richard Cory: Another story. These folk guys sure love writing lyrics about people who don’t exist. This one feel like a Beatles song. There’s a touch of satire in the lyrics, the melodies are rambling and the vocals verge on Dylan-esque at times.

A Most Peculiar Man: Another story. Organ and nice flickering guitar. It’s all very nice while lacking a killer melody. Another lyric touching on suicide. The lyrics get a little silly – just a collection of lines which barely fit the confines of the song’s rhythm. I don’t usually mind that, but here it doesn’t work.

April Come She Will: More sweet finger picking and nice sounds. This is the stuff I like about folk – when it’s gentle with a touch of sadness or something bittersweet, but it needs the melody to back it up. Melodies here just about work while still sounding similar to much of the rest of the album.

We’ve Got A Groovy Thing Goin: Drum intro. Then groovy organ and beats. Better melodies. Marginally heavier. Benefits again by being brief.

I Am A Rock: Subtle guitar intro with soft and clear vocals. What’s it going to build to. That was sudden. Slight Mamas & Papas feel. Nice guitar parts and soft organ backing. The most obvious chorus since the first track.

Thank goodness. That was considerably better than Bookends. That now gives me renewed hope that I’ll like other stuff by the band. This is more like what I expected from the band – simple, gentle folk songs. There is humour in the lyrics and the usual pastoral stuff. The overall word to describe all of this is nice – it’s inoffensive, simple, it’s music to have in the background which no-one is going to be put off by or pay much attention to. Few of the songs have something to tip them into greatness, but there is enough variety that I imagine I’d get more out of a second listen. I also imagine though that I’d get bored with most of the songs only a few listens after that.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Sounds Of Silence.

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: The Sound Of Silence. The Leaves That Are Green. April Come She Will. We’ve Got A Groovy Thing Goin.