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.

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 – David Bowie – ”Heroes”

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Greetings, Glancers! We’re back with sexy spaceman himself today and listening to yet another of his most lauded efforts. “Heroes” is a song everyone knows and was another one of those Bowie hits I learned to play on guitar back in my teens. As for the album, I understand it is the second part of his Berlin trilogy which means it will be heavily inspired by the Krautrock and other euro music that Bowie surrounded himself with at the time. As for the other songs… I don’t think I recognise any of them so we’ll have to see. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Low and its reliance on instrumentals and ambiance so if this is in a similar vein I won’t be overly keen. If I enjoy some of the songs as much as the title track then we’ll be on to a winner. Lets get to it.

Beauty And The Beast: Noise. Piano. Boing. Building. Drums. Crash. Low voice. Fun and funky. Guitar. I can dig. My my.

Joe The Lion: More guitars, good good. Heavier edge than the glam nonsense. Funky again, with an industrial vibe – lots of noise. Like a lot of the backing riffs and how the vocal melodies intertwine. Guitar going buck nuts.

Heroes“: Well, not much to say about this. Immortal riffs, lyrics, melodies. My favourite part has always been the main riff going into the chorus. And of course when Bowie starts belting out the chorus. Good start to the album so far.

Sons Of The Silent Age: Slower. Drunk Dazed. Are we back in space? That riff sounds an awful lot like Pink Lady Lemonade by Acid Mothers Temple – seriously, compare them. This is more good stuff, hazy, crazy, drifty.

Blackout: Weirdness. Guitar weirdness, drum weirdness. Stabilizing. Collapsing. Piano. Vocal weirdness. Dancing. Breakdown. Guitar still going crazy like it’s in the wrong song, I always love it when guitar parts are like that.

V-2 Schneider: Phasing. Military drums. Bass. Noise. Assuming instrumental. Still, it’s good. Not much else to add. Now singing the title. I hear ‘Schneider’ I think ‘Buffy’.

Sense of Doubt: Ominous. News organs. Scary. Something coming to get me. Not a lot to this, but I like it, very good.

Moss Garden: Wind. Distortion. More instrumentals. I’m generally not a fan of instrumentals, but he’s got it right on this album. Japanese. A nice bit of calm after the previous unnerving stuff. Like wading through an ethereal pool of water and cloud.

Neukolln: This is making me hungry. Or I’m already hungry and it’s making it worse. Drippy toilet noises. Sax disaster. Honk. HONK. Weeeeeeee!

The Secret Life Of Arabia: Echo stubbed guitar. Cowboys. Drums. Singing. More nice funky disco rocky stuff. Ugh, not claps. A good ending.

So, a significant step up from Low in my opinion, which of course is worth less than nothing. The album doesn’t exactly lose its way in the second half, but instrumentals as a rule have to be exceptional to grab my attention alongside vocal pieces. These instrumentals are very good, but I prefer the first half. The harsher rock feel is more palatable for me when compared with Bowie’s glam work, meaning this is another one I’ll listen to again. Let us know in the comments what you think of “Heroes” and if you have any particular memories and opinions of it!

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 sounds 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 Bon Jovi – Destination Anywhere!

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Greetings, Glancers! We continue our mini-detour from Bon Jovi’s main releases to see what their front man was getting up to in his spare time. Last time around we listened to Jon strap on his boots and go bareback through the South, living out his Wild West fantasies. With 1997’s Destination Anywhere, the musical landscape had changed and the main band had matured. Will his second solo effort also highlight these changes or will it be a self-serving piece of masturbation? I definitely know (and like) a couple of these songs already, and hopefully there are some new ones which I’ll get into.

‘Queen Of New Orleans’ – Good intro, a clearly late 90s rock sound. Oddly deep vocals. Verse is plain, the chorus is too tame and the vocals don’t work. Mostly boring but a different pace and approach from what we know, it does veer way too close to a lot of those soft rock bands of the era who each had one hit then disappeared.

‘Janie, Don’t You Take Your Love To Town’ – This is one I’ve always liked. It feels like a Bon Jovi song, but it has that mid-late 90s drum sound. Unlike the first track, this one has good verses and a crowd-pleasing chorus. It may be formulaic, but we don’t come into an album like this expecting it to break ground. I’d never actually heard the full version of this before – the single works just as well.

‘Midnight In Chelsea’ – There’s that beat again, except this time it sounds like some RnB fluff. I’m not sure what audience Jon was going after with these songs – it would alienate his core crowd and the people who listen to generic chart fluff aren’t going to be interested in hearing some old white guy do it. Still, this is better than the first song, lyrics seem okay, and the chorus has potential. It doesn’t quite paint the picture of America that he wants it to, but it’s fine – the chorus is a grower, but it goes on for a minute too long.

‘Ugly’ – Hmm, that riff seems familiar. Maybe I have heard this one before. Yeah, it’s one of those songs. We’re all ugly sometimes, except some of us are more often than others. And we’re all in different environments which mean different outcomes to feeling or being u-g-l-y. Still, it’s fine, average or slightly better.

‘Staring At Your Window With A Suitcase In My Hand’ – Experimental country. I like the verses. They are nothing new, we’ve heard this stuff by Bon Jovi and other bands before. As you know by know, I’m a sucker for those atmospheric, shadowy songs – this doesn’t quite fall into that category, but it’s close. Again it’s just okay – nothing bad, nothing really good, just ordinary.

‘Every Word Was A Piece Of My Heart’ – Odd vocals. Gruff but low. Ordinary verse, decent bridge and chorus, but lacking those extra pieces to push it over into the good song territory. These songs are simply too samey and forgettable at the moment. Weird middle vocals and solo.

‘It’s Just Me’ – Madonna drums. More weird vocals. Ordinary verses, reflective lyrics, decent bridge, average chorus. You know the drill by now, and unless the album picks up in the second half it’s going to be a very forgettable experience. Hmm, this one just keeps going doesn’t it? Solo flapping to end.

‘Destination Anywhere’ – A more respectable one all around this is. It has the same weird not quite country sound as other songs on the album. The verses are fine but luckily the chorus does the trick, even if it does come from nowhere and doesn’t connect well with any other part of the song.

‘Learning How To Fall’ – More drum loops. This all seems ill-advised. More low. Some harmonica. Plain verse. Brief bridge. Plain chorus. Next.

‘Naked’ – Funky. This one at least is different. I imagine this is more like the sound he wanted to go with for the album, but it still feels like a lot of those other one-hit wonders of the era. ‘You can’t fake it when you’re naked?’ I don’t know about that…

‘Little City’ – More drum bits and bobs. Better guitar. Better vocals. It has the atmosphere and the shadows. Verses are okay, if it can pull off a good chorus then this could be a hidden gem. Eventually we reach a ‘sha la la la’ piece. It almost makes it but stays tantalizingly out of reach of true goodness. Ah well. Then it tacks on a minute of crap to the end.

‘August 7 4.15’ – Hmm, this seems more like it. Faster tempo, Springsteen vocals, catchy bits. Verses and bridges better than the chorus. Still, that’s two better songs near the end, but still not enough to save this from being a sleepy time record for sleepy sleep sleeps.

‘Cold Hard Heart’ – Closing with a ballad then. Or, something slower at least as this seems too downbeat to be a ballad. This is actually much better than almost anything else on the album, that is obvious from the opening minute. Good verses and great chorus. Three good songs to close – add a couple of the singles and you would have a pretty good EP.

That’s that then. An unfulfilling bore in all honesty. Points for trying to be different, but points removed for not fully committing to it and making something interesting. There are maybe only 4-5 decent songs here, the rest are filler and belong as B-Sides or on the studio floor. Tell me I’m wrong in the comments! Next up, the boys reunite and unleash Crush!

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).

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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 Madonna – Bedtime Stories!

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Greetings, Glancers! The last time we spoke of Madonna, she had released her most controversial and sexually charged album to date – Erotica. It was fine, and while I loved many of the ideas, most of the music didn’t make my nuts tingle. With Bedtime Stories, Madonna wanted to remind fans and the population at large that she wasn’t merely some orgasmic vixen but that she had other layers and furrows – like we all have. As you would expect, the album was yet another major success and proceeded to break new ground for Madonna while influencing later artists. But what do I think of it? Looking at the track list I see the album garnered four singles, though only one of them I can remember from the name; I’m sure once I hear some of the others I will remember them too. As always, listen along, weep at my thoughts, and drop your comments below!

Survivor‘. Beeps. Drum sounds. Voices. I don’t think I’ve heard this, but it’s very 90s RnB. Different sound from anything she had so far. It’s quite plain and tame actually. I don’t think the melodies would lodge in my head.

Secret‘. Guitar. Noise. Vocals. Better melodies. I was about to type that I don’t recall this, but the chorus sounds familiar, pretty sure I have heard that piece at least. I do like the different direction of sound, but neither of these two songs are emotional or melodic enough to grab me on first listen.

I’d Rather Be Your Lover‘. Portishead. Falls apart at vocals. Better in verses. Sexy without being as obvious as the last album. It doesn’t make the melodic impact again. Disaster rap. As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t recognise many of the song names, possibly that’s because the album didn’t have any obvious hits that I would remember 20 years after the fact – and we tend to most readily remember songs with melodies which have an impact.

Don’t Stop‘. 90s RnB pop beats. Oh dear. Terrible lyrics. No, absolutely awful lyrics. This one is trying to be sexy, I think, but it’s juvenile and clueless. Nothing positive to say about this one I’m afraid. There’s about 100 seconds of material here, yet the song is almost five minutes long. Sort it out.

Inside Of Me‘. Sex breath. Let your mind conjure some images from that phrase. At least this one feels sexy. A strange girly voice. Better melodies. Lyrics don’t appear to be about sex, more about sadness and hope. This is the best song yet, though that isn’t saying much. Still, it’s another good Madonna song that I wasn’t aware of.

Human Nature‘. Screeching RnB. Express yourself, don’t repress yourself. Yes, but more importantly – don’t be a dick about it. Sweary lyrics. Another new voice. A reaction to the public reaction to her last album? Or related to some relationship? So, good lyrics, silly music, melodies of no consequence.

Forbidden Love‘. More slow, smooth beats. Even though I don’t like a lot of these songs, the Production is always right on the money for the period. It’s another case of bland versus followed by a marginally better chorus. She sings with a more traditional Madonna voice this time around. The first part of the chorus hints at something great, but it fizzles out. This is one of the better songs on the album so far.

Love Tried To Welcome Me‘. Hiss. Strings. Good? Guitar. Jangles. Promising. Smooth RnBeats. I feel like this would have had more impact if it had a different production or backing music. It’s already stripped back, but those beats don’t really work. This one is quite sad, quite good, and the chorus is fine. Doesn’t reach the heights. Feels like a good one for a rainy day window view.

Sanctuary‘. Words. Familiar melody. More beats. Odd pipes. Bass. Quite unusual, though quite nice. Mysterious. A lot of songs on the album don’t feel like Madonna songs, maybe because these are not straightforward, simple pop songs like we are used to. More spoken words. The melodies are a little repetitive here, but still hypnotic.

‘Bedtime Story’. Throb sounds. Sex sounds. Portishead again. More threatening tone. Back beat. Feels like a centerpiece. There’s the dated beats. It does feel sort of dreamy in a warm, sultry, heroin snuggly way. It’s all monotone though. I don’t mind this one, has the shadows, has the nice dark tone I love for night driving with the warm air grooving, or drifting off to sleep in a daze.

‘Take A Bow’. Ah, I know this one. It’s quite sweet. It feels like a tacked on song to the end of a darker album. Still it ends up being a highlight for me. It’s quite funny how different this is in tone from everything else. I like this one – I can’t see it changing anyone’s world, but there is an innocence, a Michael Jackson vibe, and easy hooks.

Looking at the cover art and with the backlash from her previous album I was expecting this to be a more mainstream, melodic, pop-based affair, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This is a dance album, ‘bedtime’ simply means sex, and none of the songs really work as obvious singles, outside of the final track. Credit for continuing to experiment and try different things but it’s not to my tastes. Most of the songs are too… empty? There isn’t any emotion or enough variance – experiment all you want, but you still need something to pull people in and keep them. The album was a success so clearly I’m in the minority. Since when has anyone listened to me anyway?

Let us know in the comments what you thought of Bedtime Stories. Is this one of Madonna’s best, or are you a n’fan (not a fan)? Next up it’s ah… it’s Evita. Don’t cry for me, but I really don’t know much about the music from it, aside from the pun I just made. I think I’ll listen only to the actual songs, not the other guff that is probably included too. Adios!

Nightman Listens To – Roxette – Pearls Of Passion!

Greetings, Glancers. As you’re probably aware if you frequent this place, I have been revisiting the sounds of my childhood and filling in the gaps of those artists I used to listen to, but who have since made albums which I haven’t heard. The main artists in this series are Bryan Adams, Madonna, and Bon Jovi – massive artists whose songs have been a part of my life, but whose many albums I may not have heard all the way through. As I near the end of this journey, I realised there was one more band who I used to listen to al lot in my youth – mainly because they were my older brother’s main choice for long car journeys. If you already read the title of this post, you’ll know that band is Roxette. If you didn’t read the title, then surprise – that band is Roxette!

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As I say, they were my brother’s choice so there was a fair bit of ribbing and mocking going on between us. In truth of course, I’ve always had a thing for high emotion and power ballads and Roxette have more than a few of these in their discography. Looking down their studio albums, there are at least four albums I have zero knowledge of and one which I have maybe heard one song from. I am more familiar with their earlier albums as those are the ones my brother had, but I can’t say I’ve listened to any of them since around 1995. Of those 5 albums, maybe 1 or 2 of them I have not heard all the way through. In other words, these posts will be filled with memories, some good songs, some naff songs, and hopefully a few hidden gems. Lets start from the top with their 1986 debut Pearls Of Passion.

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Looking down the track list of the album, there are maybe only two song titles I recognise, but I’m sure I’ll remember a few others. Don’t bore us, get to the chorus!

Soul Deep: Drums, I Am The Resurrection. Trumpets. Woo oooh yeah. High, powerful vocals. I remember pieces of this. The chorus is kind of catchy, it’s a light, fun pop song but nothing memorable.

Secrets That She Keeps: Fading in, whirling vocals. 80s drums and twinkling. Wah oh waohwaohah. Catchy verses. Per chorus. Typical 80s pop, bound to fill anyone of a certain age with nostalgia, even if you haven’t heard this. I remember this one too. Key change. Guitar solo. All showing their ability to write a good hook, which they would hone and perfect in next albums.

Goodbye To You: Fast drums. More 80s sounds. Goof, fast paced vocals and verse melodies. Blending of Marie and Per. You don’t get double acts like this anymore. A perfectly good chorus. I don’t remember this one, but it’s my favourite of the three songs so far.

I Call Your Name: Drums and funky bass and guitar. More atmospheric 80s stuff, that little burst of synth underneath everything else. The chorus is simple, just singing the title a few times, but I like the melodies. It’s another good one -no crap songs yet, not too much cheese to date things, the melodies could be transported into a more modern form and the songs would be as strong. No killer song yet, but consistently good.

Surrender: More twinkling. More 80s drums. More atmosphere. This one sounds familiar. Per leading the vocals for now. Guitar now and bigger beat. And now Marie takes the lead. The voices do compliment each other, even though for the most part they don’t sing together – each take their own section. I can imagine this playing over any number of 80s movies.

Voices: Synth. Lots of synth and keyboards and atmosphere. Rich in mood. Good bridge. Good chorus (both voices together). Why did so many songs in the 80s talk about ‘border lines’? This is another good song, though they missed a trick by not adding in one more melody in the chorus between the ‘ooh oohs’ – I can hear it in my head and it fits perfectly.

Neverending Love: Keys and 80s drums and muted guitar. The verses and bridge don’t really work, but the chorus is good enough. This one does sound pretty cheesy, even for me. Drums and overall sound changes in the middle instrumental section.

Call Of The Wild: Synths like a pan pipe, and you’ve guessed it – atmosphere. More frequently changing melodies. None of the melodies do much, the chorus puts in a decent effort but it doesn’t quite pull it off.

Joy Of A Toy: This is one I recognised from the title only. It’s a faster paced song compared to the last two, and those minor hooks work well – the ‘woo oh’ in the bridge for example, and the chorus melody is okay. There are moments in the synth intro which remind me of the desert levels in Mario 64.

From One Heart To Another: Starts like a ballad. Both singers together. Gentle. Synth, drums, and Per for the first verse. Now Marie takes the verse. Together for the chorus. All very nice. Of course it’s cheesy, but it feels genuine.

Like Lovers Do: Faster paced, sounds more fun and lighthearted. More sharing of vocal verse duties. Nice absence of drums for the pre-chorus. It’s fairly catchy, like a few of the others.

So Far Away: Last song. Slow. Moody. Uppy downy synth. Slow drum and some sort of sitar noise. Great chorus with great vocals. The verses aren’t anywhere near as powerful, but are possibly deliberately underplayed to heighten the chorus. What was that lyric? Matron. Marching drums.

All in all this was a better debut album than I was expecting. Like the four other artist I have covered so far in my main Nightman Listens series (Bowie, Jovi, Adams, Madonna), I was expecting this to be an average affair with only minor hints of what the artist would later produce. This has all the hallmarks of Roxette already in place, and while they would go on to write much bigger and better hits, many of the songs on this first album are enjoyable pop rock. This makes me more excited to see what comes down the line, especially when we listen to their biggest albums and of course those recent ones that I know nothing about. Let us know in the comments if you have heard Pearls of Passion and what your thoughts and memories are of it!