Tag Archives: Music

In Sides by Orbital. 1996

In Sides by Orbital. 1996

With some music it may only take the first few bars of the track, they somehow just sink into your soul and before you know it you’re hooked. Others can sometimes be more of a slow burner that takes time and a multitude of listens for it all to sink in. Whereas some music no matter how hard you try just does not sit right in your ears and will never get your toes tapping or your hips swinging.

I had one such song get into my head from the moment I heard it used on Channel 5 for a TV promotion of a Canadian Sci-fi show called L.E.X.X. which suited the music perfectly as images of spaceships, aliens and planets exploding helped add some visual stimulation to the audio stimulating that was already going on due to the music. As soon as I heard it I became obsessed with finding out what the name of the song was and more importantly who it was so that I could listen to more of their material.

Many moons later a friend of mine at the time had a party to celebrate his parents being away for the weekend, a regular occurrence in my social circle when I was fifteen and during the festivities the song in question was played. I immediately went over to my friend and asked what was playing and after a confab with the pile of cassette boxes he found the one in we were looking for. He told me that the Album for called In Sides and it was by a group called Orbital but he could not tell me the name of the song as he only had a copy with no track listings. I was one step closer to finding out the name of this song that had been banging around in my head.

My next step was getting some money together so that I could go buy the album so I did what any reasonable level headed person would do and only spent half of my dinner money every day for the next month. Now whether having a lunch diet of chocolate bars and crisps at one of the most important times in my body’s growth was a good idea remains to be seen as I think going out and getting a job would have been a much smarter option, but I was not the brightness throughout my adolescence. Not having a decent diet I would imagine contributed to that. But I did manage to get the money together and at the end of the month I went looking for it.

Searching high and low throughout my local record shop Ian’s Music I could not seem to find the album. Finally I got tired of looking so I asked at the counter if they had it but found out that it was out of stock so I asked them to order it in for me.  I was told it would take a week for the CD to come in which at the time crushed me, being so close and yet still having to wait, but after months of waiting what was one more week? A week passed, money was exchanged and a CD of In Sides by Orbital became my property.

It is a great feeling when a song that has been in your head bugging you for months finally has its name revealed to you. I think that I listened to The Box Part 2 on repeat for an entire evening. Once I had got that out of my system I had a listen to the rest of the album and was blown away.

Where to start with what I like about this album? I guess for a start it is the fluidity of the album that impresses me as from track to track it flows delivering one fine piece after another. After listening from start to finish I felt bad for skipping straight to The Box Part 2 upon first playing it as the album works so well in the order it is in and by jumping straight to track 4 I may have ruined the original playing a touch. That aside it was still an amazing experience. Also, the way that Orbital delivers their music could almost be called orchestral as songs will slowly build up to a crescendo before fading out into silence. Their material has an elegant way of not finishing how it has started with some people calling them long winded but I myself rarely notice the duration of each track as I get lost in them.

By far the best way to enjoy the album is through a decent pair of earphones, preferably sound excluding ones, so that you can really take in all the sounds and get a real good feeling for each track as well as listening to how the album flows. But equally it is music that can be played through a stereo, I just find earphones preferable.

Being taken on a journey each time I listen to the album in its entirety is one of the main reasons I love it as my mind drifts off to places that only I will ever see. It is an album that I will listen to while I type out the inane nonsense that filters out of my mind onto this page, an album that I cannot describe in any way than inspiring.

In short, get hold of a copy, have a listen, preferable using a good pair of earphones and hopefully it will change your perception on things and give you the feeling of escapism that it gives me. It is a massive influence on my musical history and was a doorway into an area of Electronica music that still has high status in my opinions.


Bleach by Nirvana. 1989

Bleach by Nirvana. 1989.

This article is for those of you out there whose love of Music did not start after hearing the opening bars of Smells Like Teen Spirit which left them obsessed with a 3 piece Garage band from Seattle for most of their adolescent life. My aim is to give you the reader an insight into an album that is largely disregarded due to the popularity of the two preceding studio albums from Nirvana. I feel that people should take an hour out of their busy lives and listen to each of Nirvana’s studio albums and unplugged in New York at least once. But with this article I would like to concentrate on their debut and probably least revered album, Bleach.

Released in June 1989 it received positive reviews but failed to reach the US Billboard album charts selling 40,000 copies in North America. Its bleak lyrics and heavy riffs were at the time competing against albums such as Madonna’s Like a Prayer, Queen’s The Miracle and Aerosmith’s Pump, and the mainstream market was not quite ready for this sound. It would only gain recognition firstly after the release of Nirvana’s second album Nevermind when Bleach was re-released in 1992 and then later after the Death of Kurt Cobain, where all material by the trio was bought en masse. Bleach subsequently reach number 6 in the Top Pop Catalog Chart and sold over 4.0 Million copies worldwide.

But enough statistics!

Let me tell you what I love about this album. From it’s opening Bass riff it drags you down into a beautifully bleak sound that is not quite Heavy Metal, nor is it Rock but the foundations of an entire Genre that would rise out of the rainy region of the Pacific North West of America. Grunge.

I will admit that I probably did not own this album until maybe 1992 or ’93 but in my defense I was 8 years old when it was released and at the time was still worshiping 4 mutated reptilian New Yorkers. Even after it became part of my ever expanding music collection it was hard to see past Nevermind. However my years have learned me and made me realise that although Nevermind is a masterpiece my love of Bleach and In Utero runs deeper. Whether it is because I played Nevermind too much? Probably! Bleach just has that raw energy to it that comes so often with debut albums.

Normally reviewers will advise certain songs that you should skip to because they jump out at that person when listening but I feel that the album has a wonderful fluidity about it and should be enjoyed in its entirety on the first consumption. Picking it apart would be an injustice to the piece of work as often in this MP3 age tracks of albums are disregarded because people are not familiar with them or have not found the time to truly listen. But as this is a review I will list a few of the songs that people should pay specific attention too.

We open with, Blew. Krist Novoselic delivering a truly dirty opening Bass riff  before bursting into life with electric guitar, feedback, drums and rough vocals. It has an almost anthem sound to it and is a true classic that purely and simply starts the whole thing off. Then comes Floyd The Barber that chugs along at a more melodic pace. The first verse begins with the story of a man going to get a wet shave, by verse two it has moved onto the man being strapped into the Barber chair and then sexually molested. And by the third verse the Barber has been joined by his friends where they take turns torturing and finally murdering the man. About a Girl which is arguably one of Nirvana’s finest pieces of work and could be called the calm amongst the storm on this relentlessly heavy album is proven so by the exquisite acoustic version performed in New York during their Unplugged set. It was also used in one of the Guitar Hero games for all of you out there that need a popular culture reference to help you along. Negative Creep which is a lyrically cynical attack on Cobain himself and his own personality flaws, a reoccurring theme across all of his songwriting. It is also one of the heaviest tracks on the album which has lead to it being covered by the Californian Metal band Machine Head. You might also want to check out School, Love Buzz, Swap Meet. In truth I could name all 13 tracks on the Album and point out the pro’s of each but I don’t think that would make for an interesting read. Instead I will leave the conclusions of the reader and their opinions down to their ears and whether they feel inspired or repelled by this article.

I would like to think that you would be able to pick this album up for a couple of quid in a back row of any Independent record shop but sadly this is probably not the case. However, with the wonders of the World Wide Web a copy could easily be delivered to your doorstep with a minimal drain on your income. I would be equally surprised if you can’t find a friend who has the album stored away ready for an all important nostalgic day. If you don’t know anyone who would have it in their record collection then you need to search out and discover better friends.

Finally, I think that I should add something profound to get you to acknowledge this album if the ramblings above haven’t done so already. Nirvana may have ignited the World music stage back in 1991 with the release of Nevermind but it was back in 1989 when Bleach debuted that the fuse was truly lit.

1994. The best year of modern music?

1994. The best year of modern music?

It was brought to my attention over a few beers by an outspoken friend of mine that one of the finest years for modern music was 1994. He may have even said to me ‘The best year ever for music was 1994.’ At the time I agreed with him having experienced this time in music myself.

A few nights later I pondered his statement and decided to do a bit of research on what albums were released that year. My discovery sparked a number of different thoughts and feelings, some of the albums I knew had had a direct influence on my life at the time, others I had picked up on a few years later and some just outright astounded me that they had all been released in the same twelve months.

This amazing array of music made me think that if the music was so good that year what else of note happened and if 1994 was just a particularly good time in our planet’s history?

United States President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin signed the Kremlin Accords a series of treaties that stopped the programmed aiming of nuclear missiles at any nation.

Brazil won their fourth FIFA World Cup in the United States, beating Italy on Penalties.

The cinema also had a good year as films such as Forest Gump, The Shawshank Redemption, Pulp Fiction, Four Weddings and A Funeral, The Madness of King George and Ed Wood found their way onto the Big Screen.

The Republic of South Africa voted in its first Black President Nelson Mandela in its first fully representative multiracial election. He served for 5 years and his administration focused it’s time on undoing the apartheid legacy, and reducing poverty.

But this article is about music.

The music of 1994 helped influence the way I now listen to and love music. It introduced me to a whole new variety of genres from Dance to Metal and Hip-hop to Pop, before the year in question I had spent my time listening almost exclusively to a three piece Garage band from Seattle. It also paved the way for an eclectic personal back catalogue. Two albums in particular opened my eyes to something more than just Grunge music.

Firstly, Ill Communication by The Beastie Boys found its way into my hands and before long into my heart. Inspired after hearing ‘Sabotage’ on the radio I went out and bought the album. Upon first play I was surprised by the mixture of Jazz, Punk, Funk, Hip-Hop and Rock that drifted out of the speakers at me, it took quite a few listens and a bit of patience for me but I figure it out. It’s a collection of songs that should not really be on the same album together, but somehow they work. This made it clear to me that they were more than just a bunch of white guys making some gimmick Rap songs. They were, in fact, a group of accomplished musicians making inventive and original music. In my opinion their finest work.

The Second album was Music For The Jilted Generation by The Prodigy. A friend from school leant me the cassette and I took it with me on a family holiday. It never left my personal stereo for the whole week we were away and for that entire week all that I heard was the musical genius of Liam Howlett. Ever since I have followed his, Maxim and Keith’s careers with fascination as they continuously make thumping dance music. The mix of rave, heavy riffs and deep base lines still sets my heart pumping and feet tapping to this day. I believe Kerrang Magazine had called it the heaviest album of the year. In a year that included Far Beyond Driven by Pantera, debut albums from both Korn by Korn and Burn My Eyes by Machine Head and the second studio album of Trent Reznor’s material The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails this was a bold statement indeed.

Other albums that hooked me in at the time were Dookie by Green Day, a short but sweet piece of modern punk rock The Holy Bible by The Manic Street Preachers a journey into the darker side of their work and Troublegum by Therapy? a masterpiece of heavy rock if ever there was one. All three of them received a lot of playtime and still get dusted off every now and then for a replay. Their best album on all counts by a country mile.

Indie music was taking the industry by storm and the media fuelled battle between North and South England began with the debut album Definitely Maybe by Oasis and with the release of the third studio album Parklife by Blur, with this pairing British media had their two contenders. Other bands from all over the British Isles that were being labelled in the same Britpop category were releasing material. From Sheffield His ‘n’ Hers by Pulp, released their fourth album. Londoners Dog Man Star by Suede, were getting in on the action, Irish four piece No Need To Argue by The Cranberries from Limerick and Bradford based How To Make Friends and Influence People by Terrorvision. Trip Hop was still making noises from Bristol with Protection by Massive Attack and Dummy by Portishead and British music in general had a good year. The Second Coming by The Stone Roses gave us a second and last album by the four-piece from Manchester. The Division Bell by Pink Floyd showed that old masters were still making good music in what would be their last album to date.

British music was also making waves across the pond with Sixteen Stone by Bush becoming massive in the United States and the American market was having a good year also. Grunge may have seen the death of its involuntary hero as Kurt Cobain commit suicide, although MTV Unplugged in New York by Nirvana did get released, but the Seattle Rock scene lived on with Jar of Flies by Alice In Chains an acoustic EP recorded over two days as a break from extensive touring,  Superunknown by Soundgarden their breakthrough album that brought them notoriety and Vitalogy by Pearl Jam.  The US Rock genre in general continued to produce good work with many diverse acts publicising quality music such as Purple by The Stone Temple Pilots, Weezer by Weezer, Smash by The Offspring, Live Through This by Hole, Welcome To Sky Valley by Kyuss, Grace by Jeff Buckley, Mellow Gold by Beck, and Monster by R.E.M. Mainstream music in the States gave as good as everyone else with CrazySexyCool by T.L.C, Bedtime Stories by Madonna, Ready To Die By Notorious B.I.G., Illmatic by Nas and southernplayalisticadillacmuzik by OutKast adding credit to the year from the RnB/Soul market.

So looking at the list of material above I think I will have to agree with my highly opinionated friend that those twelve months were possibly one of the greatest in modern music history. You may disagree, if so I am willing to hear your argument and open to listen to the reasons you give for an alternative year. But for me it’s all about 1994.

Below is a more comprehensive list of albums and their release dates including many more artists not mentioned above:

Jar of Flies by Alice In Chains. January 24th

Dookie by Green Day. February 1st

Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain by Pavement. February 2nd

Troublegum by Therapy? February 7th

Mellow Gold by Beck. March 1st

Point Blank by Nailbomb. March 8th

The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails. March 8th

Superunknown by Soundgarden. March 8th

Vauxhall and I by Morrissey. March 14th

Far Beyond Driven by Pantera. March 18th

The Division Bell by Pink Floyd. March 30th

Live Through This by Hole. April 12th

Give Out But Don’t Give Up by Primal Scream. April 12th

Weight by Rollins Band. April 12th

Let Love In by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. April 18th

His ‘n’ Hers by Pulp. April 18th

How To Make Friends and Influence People by Terrorvision. April 18th

Smash by The Offspring. April 19th

Illmatic by Nas. April 19th

Parklife by Blur. April 25th

southernplayalisticadillacmuzik by OutKast. April 26th

Stacked up by Senser. May 2nd

Weezer by Weezer. May 10th

Ill Communication by The Beastie Boys. May, 23rd

Seal II by Seal. May 23rd

Lifeforms by The Future Sound of London.  May 27th

Purple by The Stone Temple Pilots. June 7th

Regulate…G Funk Era by Warren G. June 7th

Welcome To Sky Valley by Kyuss. June 28th

Music For The Jilted Generation by The Prodigy. July 4th

Portrait of an American Family by Marilyn Manson. July 19th

Burn My Eyes by Machine Head. August 7th

Niggamortis by Gravediggaz. August 9th

Dummy by Portishead. August 22nd

Grace by Jeff Buckley. August 23rd

Without a Sound by Dinosaur Jr. August 23rd

Snivilisation by Orbital. August 23rd

The Holy Bible by The Manic Street Preachers. August 29th

Definitely Maybe by Oasis. August 29th

Change Giver by Shed Seven. September 5th

Stranger Than Fiction by Bad Religion. September 6th

File Under: Easy Listening by Sugar. September 6th

Ready To Die By Notorious B.I.G. September 13th

Monster by R.E.M. September 23rd

Protection by Massive Attack. September 26th

Deliverance by Corrosion of Conformity. September 27th

Divine Intervention by Slayer. September 27th

Under The Pink by Tori Amos. October 2nd

No Need To Argue by The Cranberries. October 3rd

Dog Man Star by Suede. October 10th

Homegrown by Dodgy. October 17th

Everybody’s Got One by Echobelly. October 25th

Bedtime Stories by Madonna. October 25th

MTV Unplugged in New York by Nirvana. November 1st

Wildflowers by Tom Petty. November 1st

Korn by Korn. November 7th

CrazySexyCool by T.L.C. November 15th

Sixteen Stone by Bush. December 5th

The Second Coming by The Stone Roses. December 5th

Vitalogy by Pearl Jam. December 6th