Wednesday, January 11, 2012

New Order: Power, Corruption, & Lies

In my teens I got into Joy Division.  I thought of New Order as the crappy pop band they turned into after Ian Curtis killed himself.  But when I went to college the dude who worked at the record store I went to gave me a cassette of an early New Order live show & I had to admit it wasn’t too far away from my beloved Joy Division.  I found a cassette copy of Power Corruption, & Lies & became a staunch supporter of the “Those first couple of New Order albums are where Joy Division was headed” school of thought.
The last time I tried to listen to Power, Corruption, & Lies was on tour with my biological son a couple years ago.  I thought it was a good record & he’d be into it.  His reaction was something like, “Are these guys gay?  This sounds gay!”  So re-listening to it without thinking about Joy Division I get what he means.  It’s an early 1980s dance record.  One of the first successful attempts to take the dance floors back from disco.  I still think it’s mostly awesome.  “Age of Consent,” “Blue Monday,” “Leave Me Alone,” “5 8 6,” & “Ultraviolence” would all be on a New Order’s Greatest Hits for me.  The only song I think of as a clunker is “We All Stand” & that’s probably just compared to the rest of the album.  Just check out this record & if listening to it makes you gay, you were probably gay in the first place.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Brian Eno: Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)

I got this album back in 1995.  I knew the song “Third Uncle” from Bauhaus covering it & then the Eno version appeared on a history of industrial music compilation & of course I was familiar with Eno’s ambient work & acting as a producer on a ton of albums I liked.  So I was pretty stoked by the idea of an album that sounded like “Third Uncle.”  & that’s not at all what this album is.   I listened to this once & filed it away as more or less sucking.
In 2002 I stumbled across an interview with Eno & became a big fan of him as someone talking about music & read a few of his books & Jessica Bailiff gave me a copy of Another Green World & I really love that album (which is the album after Taking Tiger Mountain), but still didn’t bother to give this album another chance.  So I finally re-listened to this & I still think this is pretty awful.  It’s basically quirky & witty 1960s pop in the style of Herman’s Hermits, The Beatles, & Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd which for me is not a great thing.  It also reminds me of some of the hometaper pop music of the 1990s (the thing that makes that genre work for me is the fact that I’ll probably only listen to the tape once).  I don’t know why I don’t like most of the songs on here while I really like Another Green World as they really are stylistically similar, but I know that I don’t.  For me, make sure you’ve heard “Third Uncle” & after that move on from this album.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Sisters of Mercy: Floodland

This was the first Sisters of Mercy album I ever got.  It was 1991 & I’d just started getting into goth music & they had this for $9.99 at Phar-Mor.  I’d mainly been into the more shoegaze & almost metal end of goth & The Sisters were my first experience in the dance & fashion aspect that really would define the genre.  As I went on tours over the next decade I saw & heard a hundred bands inspired by this album & heard the singles at the clubs all the time & the idea of actually listening to this album on my own just didn’t occur to me anymore.
The re-listen was odd.  It kicks in with “Dominion/Mother Russia” which seems like a pretty great song, but it is really melodramatic & long.  When the sax kicks in, the image of that walrus playing a saxophone comes to mind.

To me the songs that are successful are the dance singles.  “Lucretia My Reflection” has a bassline that I end up playing half the time I pick up the bass & “This Corrosion” which clocks in at almost eleven minutes somehow almost works even at that length (though the idea of a pop song being extended to that length is a little off to me) with it’s highly dated & bizarre choir backing vocals.  Strangely the song “Colours” which I probably hated as a kid (“why does this just have four lines over & over for seven minutes?”) is a new favorite for me & the one song on here that I could really see myself doing a version of (though I probably wouldn’t have the guts to make it more than two minutes long).  In the end as a whole this album mainly works for me as nostalgia & the dance music works as dance music, but I don’t understand why this was the album for a whole genre to be built around & I think if I listened to their whole catalog I would see The Sisters as a singles band instead of an album band.  Though I guess I don’t understand the idea of derivative music as a goal.

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