Wednesday, December 29, 2010

missing again

Every now and then, labels like to remix and rerelease a tune in order to capitalize on an opportunity to reach a new set of ears. UK labels have been mining this particular vein for well over the last 25 years. Some experiments have worked while others have not.

In the 90s, it was de rigueur to mix and remix, ad infinitum. After the post rave comedown, the concept became less invasive with only a handful of singles being reswizzled. Some aimed directly at the heart of the dancefloor, while other were targeted to an ever dwindling television viewing audience through the use of commercial soundtrack placements.

These days, it seems labels are back in step with the remix game. We've seen Utah Saints and Guru Josh get a new coat of paint with varying degrees of success. Now, it's time for a rather unnecessary stab at Everything But The Girl's pivotal, dancefloor moment.

"Missing", originally issued at the second single from their seventh studio longplayer, "Amplified Heart", met with a resounding whimper when it first skirted with the UK singles chart in 1994. It reached an unimpressive peak of #69. EBTG were used to this kind of chilly chart reception even though the quality of their records were head and shoulders above many of their contemporaries.

Then, in 1995, Todd Terry was drafted in to give it the tossed salad treatment. Zing! An instant hit which raced all the way to #3 in the UK and missed out on pole position in the US by one spot. In fact, the song was such a massive success in the US that EBTG got labeled with the "one hit wonder" tag. In the UK, they capitalized on it and delivered, "Walking Wounded", one of their strongest albums and a bonafide classic.



Now, Dutch DJ, Fredde Le Grand, has been given the master tapes and brought it bang up to date with a newly reworked mix. This time, it's turned into a stadium sized anthem. No easy task considering the pedigree of the Todd Terry version.

Fedde's biggest hit to date is "Put Your Hands Up 4 Detroit", a #1 smash in 2006. He also hit paydirt with two further top 10 singles - "The Creeps", a reworking of a track by Camille Jones which hit #7 in 2007 and "Let Me Think About It" featuring Ida Corr which peaked at the runner up position later that same year. Now Mr. Le Grand puts his dirty Google fingers all over EBTG's landmark recording.



Ben and Tracey are no strangers to this situation. In 1994, Blanco Y Negro, the label to which EBTG were signed from 1983 to 1995, decided to capitalize on the success of "Missing" by issuing a hits collection (their second) and commissioning Todd Terry to give "Driving" a reswizzling. As you can imagine, they were not too thrilled with that opportunistic move.

I wonder what Ben and Tracey think about this turn of events more than fifteen years after they first released "Missing".

Monday, December 27, 2010

white hot wired soul

Many of my favorite artists have embraced social media in all its many varied flavors. One group that takes full advantage of this new connectivity is Hue And Cry. Scottish brothers, Pat and Gregory Kane, returned to the pop universe in 2008 with their magnificently funky longplayer, "Open Soul". In 2011, they will return with another slab of soul with the follow up, "Hot Wire".

Recently, the brothers Kane started recording vocals for the tracks that will make the final rundown. They documented their first day on Pat's iPhone. Let's take a look.



Pat is channeling some serious Sam Cooke like nobody's business! Often, I find it interesting to observe the creative process from inside the studio. Getting to hear Pat's raw, acappella performances as he commits them to the digital domain sends shivers throughout my body. He has one of the finest blue eyed soul voices I've ever heard.

Gregory is quite a technical boffin. He's also a musician's musician. He answers most questions regarding their detailed writing and recording sessions. In fact, Gregory is a font of musical knowledge and fascinating stories. Ask him about his painstaking work and he will gladly respond. Obviously, it's a labor of love. Oh, hardy har! Did you see what I did there?

For instance, if you wanna know about the mic Pat is using in the above clip, Greg will tell you it's an AEA R84 ribbon microphone. It has graced a few recordings I've been taken under my watchful eyes and ears in the past. On record, it gives Pat's voice the sound of hot buttered soul.

And don't be fooled by the time between elpees from Hue And Cry. These men are not slouches! In between the last studio album and the next, they released "Xmasday", a joyous and soulful album of Christmas tunes, and "Bitter Suite, Again", the follow-up to the acoustic live album they released way back in 1989!

"Hot Wire" is one my most hotly anticipated longplayers of 2011. If you were a fan of the late 80s, sophisticated soul parade which included Love And Money, Level 42 and The Blow Monkeys, you'll definitely want to investigate Hue And Cry. Greg's masterful musicality and Pat's brain shredding lyrics make for some tremendous listening.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

retro nuevo electronica tributata

The end of the year always throws up a few little surprises. Foreshadowing of the year to follow.

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark will continue their rise from the ashes with the release of the third single from their current longplayer, "History Of Modern". "History Of Modern (Part I)" will carry the torch for the elpee as Paul Humphries and Andy McCluskey continue to tour Europe and make their first visit to the US for promotional duties.

Recently, a rough mix of their cover of "VCR" - originally recorded by flavor of the moment and media darlings, The xx - made its way to the interwebs. Let's take a listen.



Nicely done! Not too much different from the original. That makes sense since anyone with ears can hear OMD's influence on The xx. It even sounds a bit like "Heroes" by David Bowie.

Let's hope they make the wise decision to add a little fairy dust to this and put the final mix of it on the b-side of the CD single and digital download of "History Of Modern (Part I)". In fact, how about adding parts III and IV to it, as well, lads? Right now, those tracks are just sitting on the flipside of the 7" single of their most recent single, "Sister Marie Says". You can pay me in cash for that little bit of marketing genius. Large notes, please. Thanks.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas, Mr. McAlmont

There has been a serious dearth of original Christmas songs making their way to market in the last few years. However, this year has seen numerous, high quality, festive offerings being released for the holidays, making it the jolliest season in recent memory.

Whether it's Hurts, Saint Etienne, Coldplay, Bananarama, Owl City and George Michael with newly penned tunes or Annie Lennox's beautiful longplayer of traditional carols, this Christmas is well packed with favorites for slinging garland around your tree.

With that said, David McAlmont, one of the world's finest vocalists, has contributed his entry to the ever expanding cadre of cracking Christmas songs.

"Merry Christmas Is You", a brand new song written with his current collaborator, master pianist Guy Davies, is tender and touchin. It is guaranteed to give you goosebumps and bring a tear to your eye. It's the ultimate, emotive double whammy. And David, as always, knocks it out of the park with his soaring, majestic voice.

In these glorious days of tweets and blogs, David has been one of the insightful few that has kicked down the fourth wall. He has allowed the world to have a glimpse into the inner workings of his creative process by giving his devoted followers a behind the scenes look at the making of "Merry Christmas Is You" across various social media platforms. The entire development unfolded right before the eyes of his dedicated fanbase.

David even lensed a video for his new Crimbo creation across the frozen tundra of Southwark Park in the very heart and hearth of London after last week's particularly heavy snowfall.

For those of you not familiar with David McAlmont, prepare yourself to be mesmerized by the beauty of his magnificent voice.




Egads! Apparently, pastels are back in fashion this winter. David would know. He has become one of the most fashionable popstars in Britain, following onward through an incredible lineage of suave and sophisticated singers. It's a rarefied group of smartly styled individuals which includes Bryan Ferry, David Bowie and Duran Duran. Make no mistake, David McAlmont is fashion forward and has seriously good taste in tailoring.

By the way, if you swing over to David's official website, you will receive "Merry Christmas Is You" as a free download simply by registering your name and information. We love it when pop glitterati give special audio baubles to their fans.

Recently, I had the tremendous pleasure of seeing David perform one of his very first shows on American soil. At the beginning of November, during a whirlwind trip to New York City, David enraptured a small group of attendees at Rockwood Music Hall, a new venue on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

He performed several songs from across his entire career including a few tracks he originally recorded as part of the duo, McAlmont And Butler. Two of the highlights were "Yes", a #8 hit in the UK back in 1995, and "Falling", which peaked at #23 in the UK singles chart in 2002.

Here's David's stripped down performance of "Falling" with nothing more than Guy Davies' rollicking piano accompaniment.




Sensational!

I first fell head over heels for David's voice in 1993 when I happened across the CD single of "Unworthy" by Thieves, his short lived, collaborative effort with Saul Freeman. Saul went on to produce a couple of albums as a member of trip hop collective, Mandalay.

Back then, during my tenure at EMI, I was in London for business and heard the song floating out of the sound system at HMV on Oxford Street. Immediately, I asked one of the sales staff about it and he directed me toward the bountiful singles section. "Unworthy" was mine for a snip!

I cherished "Unworthy" for a few years until I stumbled across David's self-titled, debut elpee at Rebel Rebel, my favorite record shop in NYC. Since then, I've collected everything David has graced with his vocal presence.




"Unworthy" is like a cross between Annie Lennox and "Heaven And Las Vegas" era Cocteau Twins. I simply cannot say enough amazing things about David. He's truly a gifted showman and singer. Do yourself a favor and get your hands on his back catalog. Oh, dear. That sounded a bit saucy!

Merry Christmas to you, kittens! Thanks for a splendid year.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

electronica cinematique in retrospectum

On Feburary 7, Claudia Brücken, the femme fatale of the synthiverse, returns to the pop landscape with her luxe brand of electronic cinematique when she releases "Combined", her first career retrospective.

Since 1984, when she burst onto the scene as a member of Propaganda with the dark and dangerous "Dr. Mabuse", Claudia has dotted the charts with a few musical offerings.

Her solo album, "Love And A Million Other Things", was just reissued to critical acclaim. And before Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark reunited, Claudia teamed up with Paul Humphries as Onetwo and released their debut longplayer, "Instead".

Now, "Combine" neatly captures nearly all of Claudia's finest moments on one collection including four brand new tracks. "Thank You" is the first single plucked from it for public consumption.



The track was written with and produced by the legendary Stephen Hague who has twiddle the knobs for a diverse array of acts from Pet Shop Boys to Blur, Erasure, New Order, Jimmy Somerville and Siouxsie And The Banshees.

"Combined" presents eight of Claudia's classic recordings. Propaganda are represented by the singles "Dr. Mabuse", "p:Machinery" and "Duel". "Absolutely Immune" and "Snobbery And Decay", her two singles as one half of Act with Thomas Leer, are included alongside her two solo singles from the 90s, the hypnotic swirl of "Kiss Like Ether" and the euphoric acid trip of "Absolut(e)".

All of these singles are combined - natch! - with four brand new works including the previously mentioned "Thank You" and "Night School", a second collab with Stephen Hague. Also featured is "This Is Not America", the David Bowie/Pat Metheny classic, recorded as a duet with Paul Rutherford of FGTH. The final new track is "In Dreams", a cover of Roy Orbison's "Blue Velvet" soundtrack gem in collaboration with Andrew Poppy.

Also included are two tracks from Claudia's current ensemble, Onetwo. The first is "Sequentia", which has remained previously unreleased until now, and "Cloud 9ine", a co-write with Depeche Mode's Martin Gore.

Unfortunately, for all the great material on "Combined", there is one glaring omission - "When Your Heart Beats Out Of Time", her duet with Glenn Gregory, he of Heaven 17.

The song, which has never made an appearance on CD, originally appeared on the soundtrack to the film, "The Shape Of The Universe (A Souvenir Of Insignificance)". Considering the track is controlled by ZTT, I'm surprised it isn't included on Claudia's forthcoming collection.



However, it looks like the extended version of it will make its debut in the digital domain very shortly when Salvo, one of the world's premiere reissue labels, releases the compilation, "The Art Of The 12". Oh, those cunning linguists!

Salvo's licensing deal with ZTT, the original house of excess, continues to turn up long out of print and much sought after gems. In the meantime, the single version of the Brücken/Gregory duet remains unavailable in the realm of zeros and ones.

Here is the full tracklisting for "Combine". Some tracks make their appearance on CD for the very first time.

1. Dr. Mabuse (A Paranoid Fantasy)
2. Duel
3. (The Beta Wrap Around Of) p:Machinery
4. Absolutely Immune
5. Snobbery And Decay
6. Kiss Like Ether
7. Absolut(e)
8. Delicious
9. Cloud 9ine
10. Thank You
11. Sequentia
12. Light The Way
13. This Is Not America
14. Night School
(…Encore…)
15. In Dreams

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

all you need is eyeliner

The mighty Duran Duran deliver a double shot of goodness today. Firstly, they've unleashed the vid for their latest single, "All You Need Is Now". Let's take a look.



The boys are in fine fettle. Lots of eyeliner is the order of the day. Didn't they do the black jacket and tie shtick when they reemerged victoriously with "Ordinary World" back in *cough, sputter* 1993? And what's with the aluminum foil background? Budgetary constraints, lads?

Secondly, Duran Duran released their new longplayer today. Huzzah! Their thirteenth elpee, christened "All You Need Is Now", will require a deeper dive in between the moments of madness as we run up to Christmas. I've lived with it for about a week and I'm busting at the gut to write about it.

After several listens, it appears that Simon still loves to sing at the top of his range. This always causes problems for Monsieur Le Bon when the band hit the road. Often, in a live setting, he has to reach for the high notes from deep within and his voice tends to get a little screechy. Let's hope he does his vocal exercises before the boys go out on their impending, worldwide trek. Come around for some tea and honey, Simon. We'll make sure your pipes are in tip top shape before the tour.

I noticed a couple of things now that I have the proper artwork and credits. For instance, Dom Brown steps closer to being an official member of the group as he is credited with writing contributions on seven tracks on the album. Do they dare deliver him into the kingdom of Duran Duran with a permanent residence?

And don't forget, kittens, the album will feature three additional tracks when the band releases the physical configurations at the beginning of February.

Most importantly, they are doing it all without being signed to a label. DIY for Duran Duran, darlings! Excelsior!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Swedish Christmas spectacular

What do you do when you've made a gazillion dollars as one of the biggest songwriting teams of all time? For Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, the bearded half of ABBA, you write a Christmas tune and torture the staff of the posh hotel you own in the heart of Stockholm by having them sing it for you. Then you further embarrass them by making a little video.




It's not a patch on "The Winner Takes It All"! I guess the guys have a lot of time on their hands. Who am I to question their business acumen? After all, ABBA are one of the progenitors of the "band as brand" belief.

I've been to Hotel Rival. It's a lovely, boutique hotel in the heart of Södermalm, the southern island of Stockholm. Numerous restaurants and cafes are dotted around that part of the city. I've been to most of the eateries in that part of town having spent a lot of time in the many studios which are tucked away in the alleys and basements all around that area of the mighty, Swedish capital.

Enough idle chat. Enjoy the jolly meriment provided by the men of ABBA. Merry Christmas, kittens! May all your days be filled with glitter and kisses!

Friday, December 17, 2010

one too many times to the well

Here's Duffy's latest single, "Well Well Well".

I hear you roll your eyes in sarcastic disinterest as if I had somehow posted something I didn't know was well past its sell by date.

Take a listen to it. Watch it. Srsly! Go ahead.



Her vocal affectation attacks my ears like a rabid cheese grater. Such a shame, as I really like "Rockferry", her debut platter.

Then, unknowingly, as my eyes flitted across the credits on the single sleeve, the following words sent my system into anaphylactic shock - "Co-produced by Stuart Price". *abrupt record scratch*

Stuart, babydoll. What's with this bit of slumming? Duffy must have paid him a sizable chunk of the cash she copped from her Coke commercial.

Please keep it cool, Stuart. We're watching.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

mixing it up with Bryan Ferry

Bryan Ferry is always up for a nifty reswizzling. So far, we've been treated to post productions of "You Can Dance" and "Shameless", two jewels from his current longplayer, "Olympia".

Now, in conjunction with The Vinyl Factory, the UK's premiere company for vinyl collectibles, Bryan Ferry has revealed two limited edition 12" singles sporting some nifty remixes of two more tracks from his current tour de force.

The first 12" includes remixes of "Alphaville" by Leo Zero and Time + Space Machine. Remixes of "BF Bass (Ode To Olympia)", exclusive to the second 12" single, arrive courtesy of Boogie Corporation and West End Wolf.

A limited edition with only 300 copies of each 12" pressed for worldwide release.

Let's take a listen to the sprawling, nine minute mix "Alphaville" which was loving crafted by Leo Zero.



That one's got a bit of Roxy sparkle on it. Perhaps it's just a little on the longish side. It could do with a bit of tailoring. A nip here, a tuck there. In the recent past, Leo Zero has sprinkled a bit of reswizzling dust on tracks for Paul Weller, as well as Florence And The Machine.

So far, only a short taster of the sinewy and sexy West End Wolf remix of "BF Bass (Ode To Olympia)" has turned up. Here's a snippet of it accompanied by some behind the scenes footage of le photo shoot for the album cover.



Synthy synths and bass pops, ahoy!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Kylie catastrophe

Sound the sirens. Ring the alarm. Kylie's latest single, "Better Than Today", has crashed out at #32 on the UK singles chart this week. *gay gasp*

Everyone's
favorite Aussie pop rocket has not had a showing this dismal since "The One", the final single from "X", limped apologetically into the chart at #36 back in 2008.

With all the promotion afforded Kylie's last two singles, it does leave me scratching my head in wonder. I guess the days of releasing more than three singles from an album are over.

Kylie was always afforded the assurance of a top ten placing. And an album like "Aphrodite", which is filled to the teeth with great sounding, hit driven material, shows there is very little room for growth outside an act's fanbase.

I'm curious to see what Camp Kylie decides to do with the "Aphrodite" campaign from this point forward, especially with a world tour slated for next year. Perhaps the expanded deluxe edition that's been hinted at is about to materialize.

nu-di-ty

Tits! Violence! Sex! Meat! Crazy, bearded men! Huzzah! What more could you ask for from a new Scissor Sisters vid?

"Invisible Light" is the third single to be plucked from "Night Work", their current longplayer. While the content of the clip is not particularly unusual for Jake, Babydaddy, Ana and Del, it's the fact that the single itself was the buzz track which set up the promotion of the album. An unusual move these days, and it gives the epic track as second lease on life.

Monday, December 6, 2010

snow and happiness

It's been a busy time around So Hip It Hurts HQ, kittens. With a new business launching this week and a possible podcast in development for next year, the days have been filled with a flurry of activity. But enough excuses. Let's get to the music!

I'm a little late with this, but Hurts have a video for their forthcoming Christmas single, "All I Want For Christmas Is New Year's Day".



Epic! My current Crimbo favorite. This year is shaping up to have the most amazing Christmas tunes on record.

Hurts continue to deliver some of the best pop music of the moment. Without being too retro, they sound fresh without ever going all electro. Always striking the perfect balance of melancholy and euphoria. Suave and sophistication for the masses. And they are singlehandedly bringing the waistcoat back into fashion.

If they could only break out of the lower region of the singles chart. A massive hit would surely put them over the top.

Friday, December 3, 2010

lucky charm


Swedish duo, Roxette, will return to the land of the living on February 11 with "Charm School", their first album in nearly a decade.

The first single plucked from their forthcoming eighth longplayer will be the cheekily titled "She's Got Nothing On (But The Radio)". It shows Per Gessle has lost none of his clever wordplay.



The single will hit the "shops" on January 10 and a video for the it should surface shortly. It will be followed by Roxette's first world tour since Marie Fredriksson was sidelined by a brain tumor in 2002.

Recently, Per and Marie road tested their live band Roxette when they headlined the "Night Of The Proms” concerts in front of more than 600,000 enthusiastic fans in Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands.

Look sharp! Roxette have returned.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Do they know it's Christmas?


Seemingly out of nowhere, much like the first, early snowfall of the season, Coldplay return with an unusual single. They've been toiling away in the studio on their forthcoming, fifth longplayer with Brian Eno at the helm.

Before we hear the fruits of their labor, Coldplay released a Christmas themed tune today to whet our appetites. "Christmas Lights" doesn't feature all the trappings of a festive single. No sleigh bells. No gifts under the tree. Not even a hint of evergreen.

It's a bit of a pub tune in the tradition of "Fairytale Of New York" by The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl. The gorgeous, piano led melody has all the hallmarks of a classic Coldplay recording. The feeling of the song reminds me of some The Waterboys' finer moments.

Chris Martin and co. even snuck up on us with a vid which they lensed for "Christmas Lights". According to eyewitness reports, it was shot last week in London on the South Bank of the Thames opposite Embankment. Viva London!



Ah, yes. The old community theater shtick. It always works a treat. So rustic. So humble. Time to break out the Christmas crackers and mulled wine, kittens.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Kylie's snow job

Everyone's favorite Aussie pop rocket has recorded a retro, Disney-esque rendition of festive chestnut, "Let It Snow". Kylie's Christmas carol will be available from all fine digital "shops" on December.



I wonder if that's a glimpse of what we can expect from Kylie's next project. She plans on recording orchestral and acoustic versions of her biggest hits. Step away from the studio, Kylie. That sounds like a potential fail if there ever was one.

The odd orchestral Christmas tune is lovely. No need to infuse your hits with valium and xanax, darling.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Christmas Hurts


I never thought of Hurts as the sort of lads that would embrace the festive season. Looks like Theo and Adam have delivered one of the most magnificent Christmas tune since "Last Christmas" by Wham!

I'm completely in love with it. "All I Want For Christmas Is New Year's Day" will be available from iTunes on December 14.



It's grand and glorious! Who doesn't love Christmas bells? Let the shopping begin!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tracey on the dancefloor

Well, this seemed to swoop down out of nowhere. "Without Me" is a new Tracey Thorn song. It's a collab with Chicago DJ, Tevo Howard, which hit the "shops" this week.



Deep, dark and forlorn. It's all a bit "Temperamental" era EBTG. And that's no bad thing, my lovelies! Tracey continues to delight and surprise.

Monday, November 22, 2010

new, now, next


Ladies and gentlemen, get the glitter ready! Duran Duran will return on December 21 with their thirteenth longplayer, "All You Need Is Now". Knobs were sufficiently twiddled by man of the moment, Mark Ronson.

The cover art was revealed only minutes ago. That is the power of the interwebs, my children. Looks like Lord Nicholas of Rhodes had a bit of fun with photoshop and a box of fonts.

Actually, the artwork was created by contemporary English multimedia artist Clunie Reid.

You'll be able to download a nine track version of the elpee from iTunes before Crimbo. Then, in February, the Brummie lads will make deluxe editions of the physical configurations available with the tracklisting expanded to include three additional tunes.

The tracklisting for the nine track, digital edition of "All You Need Is Now" will feature the following songs.

1. All You Need Is Now
2. Blame The Machines
3. Being Followed
4. Leave A Light On
5. Safe
6. Girl Panic
7. The Man Who Stole A Leopard
8. Runway Runaway
9. Before the Rain

Next week, Simon, John, Nick and Roger will be shooting a vid for the title track from the album. It will be directed by Nick Egan who's no stranger to pointing a camera at the boys. He committed them to digital celluloid for "Ordinary World" and "White Lines (Don't Do It)" in the early 90s.

Since the album is supposed to be a return to the sound that made Duran Duran a household name in the 80s, I can't help but think Russell Mulcahy would've been the perfect choice for director of the first single from the new longplayer.

Join us now, my friends. We hail you!

Today marks the official promotional launch for "Credo", the forthcoming longplayer from The Human League.

The first single from the elpee, "Night People", is available in the "shops" today. They've also lensed a vid for it which, in a stroke of serendipity, follows a cast of characters as they go through their weekend evening rituals. Wherever did they come up with such a genius concept?










I love the sound of this single. Repeated listens encourage the chanting of the chorus. The key to most singles from The Human League is contained within several blends. There's the one between Phil's urgent, booming voice and the chirpy tones emanating from the trilling vocal boxes owned by Susan and Joanne. Then there's the balance between the warmth of the vocals and the icy race of synths. Of course, there's the insidiously insistent chorus draped against a backdrop of stark, electronic instrumentation.

As for the video, I'm not sure I'm pleased with the current trend of "heritage" artists not making appearances in their own videos. I guess we can trace the line all the way back to hoary old rockers, Aerosmith, toward the end of the golden age of music video when they decided to let pretty boys and girls frolic around in cornfields instead of showing off in their own mini, music flicks.

Anyway, let's salute The Human League's mighty return! Huzzah!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

leave your cornflakes in your freezers



We are only about 48 hours away from the grand reveal for the new single from The Human League. "Night People" and its attendant vid clip will debut on ver League's official website on Monday morning.

In the meantime, the album version of "Night People" has hit the interwebs! Let's sneak a little listen.



It's like the missing link between "The Sound Of The Crowd" and "Empire State Human".

The "Night People" chant is infectious. The lyrics, robotically delivered on top of a slightly militaristic track, are seriously bizarre. Phil Oakey's ominous vocal tones tower over the track. Suzanne and Joanne deliver their lines in counterpoint with Phil in the verses in some sort of dueling shopping list of commands for the dancing masses. The song trails out with a completely different chorus coda which lifts everything into an arms akimbo moment.

It's the unmistakable sound of The Human League! "Night People" will be available on Monday, November 22. "Credo", its parent longplayer, will hit the "shops" early next year. Huzzah!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Kylie's arcade

Kylie Minogue does not waste a precious moment of promotional momentum. Hot on the heels of her star turn with Taio Cruz on his new single, "Higher", Kylie pops out her own video for "Better Than Today". In case you haven't been paying attention - If you haven't. Why not? - it is Lady Minogue's third single from her current longplayer, "Aphrodite".

The video contains numerous recognizable images lifted from across the spectrum of pop culture. In fact, it's a melange of mixed media including references to Pac-Man, Daft Punk and Rocky Horror. She even has a gaggle of glam rock chicks wearing feathered frocks!

Watch Kylie whip her hair back and forth!



Surely, this is a foreshadowing of Kylie's forthoming Les Folies tour. She is such a petite kitten! N'est-ce pas? So lovable.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

getting high with Taio and Kylie

Could Kylie be vying for a chart double? Hot on the heels of her next single, "Better Than Today", everyone's favorite Aussie pop rocket has lent her vocal talents to a new version of Taio Cruz's next single, "Higher".

The video for the single has been lensed and the interwebs have it in their Google dirty clutches.



Is it me or does Taio seem uncomfortable in Ms. Minogue's presence? The poor guy has zero sex appeal. He doesn't have that certain something, that twinkle, that je ne sais quoi needed to ascend the heights of superstardom. Kylie, on the other hand, oozes star quality from every pore.

After the tepid performance of Kylie's last single, "Get Outta My Way", perhaps her "people" think a star turn on Taio's new slab of wax will increase her already omnipresent profile and solidify her chances of a top ten placing on the singles charts.

Could Kylie have a US hit on her hands courtesy of this duet? The universe wonders, watches and waits.

Monday, November 15, 2010

ballet for boys

There are two schools of thought about Pet Shop Boys' current hits collection. The first one marks it as an appropriate distillation of their hits in celebration of the 25th anniversary of "West End Girls" rising to #1 in the UK singles ranking.

Fair enough. It gave them the opportunity to tantalize their fans with a new song and a DVD of classic BBC television performances. The new single, "Together", won't be released in its physical format until November 29. Sadly, this might be the first single from Les Boys to miss the top 40.

With "Ultimate" barely scraping into the top 30 of the UK albums chart, along with it being scheduled for release in the US in February, it really underscores the rather useless exercise it has become for many fans.

However, I have a theory. After the release of their last brilliant longplayer, "Yes", followed by a live touring spectacle, PSB needed something to bridge the gap between the end of the "Pandemonium" tour and their next most incredible thing. Did you see what I did there?


And so, this March will see the release of "The Most Incredible Thing", the highly anticipated collaboration between PSB and choreographer, Javier De Frutos.

This promises to be another in a long line of interesting career twists for Neil and Chris. It will stand proudly alongside similar PSB projects like "Closer To Heaven", "Battleship Potempkin" and "Concrete", all of which took great pleasure in pushing the boundaries of the pop idiom.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

looking for a new direction in an old familiar way

Well, this certainly doesn't require much explanation.



Could this possibly be the most fabulous publicity photo of the year?

Exciting things abound for The Human League. Their new single, "Night People", is less than eight sleeps away, kittens. They have even lensed a video for it. It will be premiered when the countdown clock on their website winds down. Get the glitter ready!

Ver League are part of the pop lineage that follows the thread from Bowie through Roxy Music to Kraftwerk and Donna Summer. Surely their new longplayer, "Credo", has a lot to live up to. But their long pauses between albums has paid sonic dividends in the past. Silence is golden. Then, upon their return, the sound is pop magic.

ornamental Lennox


Annie Lennox is no stranger to the musical charms of Christmas tidings. You might remember, way back in the hazy 80s, that she covered "Put A Little Love In Your Heart" with legendary soul man, Al Green, for the Bill Murray movie, "Scrooged". It was her first foray outside Eurythmics.



"Put A Little Love In Your Heart", originally a hit for Jackie DeShannon in 1969, was not Annie's the first encounter with Christmas. Eurythmics recorded "Winter Wonderland" for the album, "A Very Special Christmas", in 1987.

Now, in 2010, Annie Lennox has a new home for her music after 27 years on RCA, the label to which she signed as part of Eurythmics. The first fruits of her labor is "A Christmas Cornucopia", a lovely collection of carols including one newly penned song, "Universal Child", which was released as a download-only single in October. Annie had previously showcased the song on "American Idol Gives Back" which aired on television back in April.

Surprisingly, she has lensed a rather elaborate looking and beautiful shot video for one of the album's tracks, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen".



I love the sonic quality of this . Overall, the production is organic yet still manages to pull in contemporary elements. It's sounds quite medieval and has a traditional flavor to it. In fact, the entire album is heartwarming, festive and joyful.

It's a nice change of pace for a collection of Christmas songs these days. Annie has managed to take a rather pedestrian exercise, in label terms, and sprinkled a little magic fairy dust on a holiday elpee. Let's hope this rejuvenates Ms. Lennox and puts her in the mood to give us an amazing album in the very near future.

The tracklisting for "A Christmas Cornucopia" consists of the following twelve songs.

1. Angels From The Realms Of Glory
2. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
3. See Amid The Winter's Snow
4. Il Est Le Divin Enfant
5. The First Noël
6. Lullay Lullay (Coventry Carol)
7. The Holly And The Ivy
8. In The Bleak Midwinter
9. As Joseph Was A Walking
10. O Little Town Of Bethlehem
11. Silent Night
12. Universal Child

Merry Christmas, kittens!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fyfe for fighting


Ellie Goulding is about to re-release her debut longplayer, "Lights", with seven additional tracks. The expanded elpee, re-titled "Bright Lights", will be promoted by a new single, a cover of Elton John's first hit, "Your Song". Here's the full tracklisting for the album.

"Bright Lights"

1. Guns And Horses
2. Starry Eyed
3. This Love (Will Be Your Downfall)
4. Under The Sheets
5. The Writer
6. Every Time You Go
7. Wish I Stayed
8. Your Biggest Mistake
9. I'll Hold My Breath
10. Salt Skin
11. Lights
12. Human
13. Little Dreams
14. Home
15. Animal
16. Believe Me
17. Your Song

And Ms. Goulding decided to lense a video for the new single. It looks very earthy crunchy. Fields, sunshine, flowing locks of golden hair. It's as if she might turn to the camera at any moment and share her favorite brand of shampoo with us, her close, personal friends.



Ellie is pulling a Fyfe, the new term which refers to covering a classic song and sticking it in a television commercial. All of this nonsense started earlier this year when they used Fyfe Dangerfield's rendition of Billy Joel's "She's Always A Woman". So, why not plunder a signature tune from another ivory tinkling singer/songwriter?

Here's the John Lewis advert with Ellie's warbling of "Your Song" placed loving over the top of it.



Heartwarming. N'est-ce pas, mes chattons? Not sure what this is going to do for her career. But she will certainly benefit from a the higher profile it will give her. Can't say it will translate into more success for her beyond that.

My cynical side knows it's an industry cash in. My practical side knows Ellie needs to do something like this in order to "build her brand". We shall wait and see what happens. This pop malarkey is a funny game.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

big daddy of the rhythm


Rarely does a label produce a truly perfect singles collection. Often, it feels like someone in the finance department out them together. It's as if they randomly decided they needed some new "product" out there to shift among the dwindling number of music consumers. Sometimes a quick rehash for cash is thrown out there like chum to the ever fewer circling sharks in the water. Always hoping for a bite.

However, when someone decides to do it right, fans of a particular group will lavish praise on that collection. Also, any mistakes will come to light by the trainspotters.

Recently, the UK division of Sony decided to release "That's The Way I Like It: The Best Of Dead Or Alive". A collective yawn was heard across the kingdom. In fact, anyone who owned "Evolution - The Hits", released in 2003, probably passed over this latest DOA compilation.

However, there is cause for celebration. The new collection features ALL of Dead Or Alive's singles released on Epic. Each track is represented by the version that appeared on the original 7" single. Huzzah!

You see, more than half of these tracks have never previously appeared on CD. That's a shocking surprise to most people considering we're more than two decades into the existence of the shiny, silver configuration. The skimpy booklet is the only cause for complaint.

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of DOA's seminal, electro-disco classic, "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)", I present to you the tracklisting for "That's The Way I Like It: The Best Of Dead Or Alive". Please send your youth regimens to me scribbled on a cocktail napkin.

"That's The Way I Like It: The Best Of Dead Or Alive"

1. You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)
2. That's The Way (I Like It) (7" Version)
3. Lover Come Back To Me
4. In Too Deep (7" Remix)
5. My Heart Goes Bang (Get Me To The Doctor) (7" Version)
6. Brand New Lover (7" Single Mix)
7. Something In My House (7" Single Mix)
8. Hooked On Love
9. I'll Save You All My Kisses (7" Remix)
10. Turn Around And Count 2 Ten (7" Single Mix)
11. Come Home With Me Baby (7" Mix)
12. Misty Circles (7" Version)
13. What I Want (7" Version)
14. I'd Do Anything (7" Version)
15. Lover Come Back To Me (Extended Remix)
16. My Heart Goes Bang (Get Me To The Doctor) (American Wipe-Out Mix)
17. Something In My House (Mortevicar Mix)
18. You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) (Murder Mix)

As a healthy bonus, four extended remixes, - all of which have never appeared on CD (according to the liner notes on the back inlay card) - have been tacked onto the end of the collection. Each one features more than a daily serving Pete Burns' cavernous bravado. But if my memory serves me correctly, I have "Lover Come Back To Me (Extended Remix)" and "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) (Murder Mix)" on a couple of other compilations.

"What was my first Dead Or Alive purchase?", I hear you ask with wide-eyed wonder?



Oh, the countless dollars I spent on the many configurations. Designers sure were having a field day back then. And Dead Or Alive certainly didn't spare any expense on their packaging. The double pack gatefold 7", the remix 12", the picture disc and much more. It seemed endless. And then there was the small matter of the special 12" releases from Japan. Oy!

I first saw the video for "I'd Do Anything" - a sleazy, funk workout - on MTV back in the day before they applied standards and practices to their programming.

Pete Burns' playful presence and raw sexuality commanded your attention. Look at those cheekbones! The simplicity of the video certainly had impact. Besides, who doesn't love a hot, serif font?




Just imagine how it affected the teenage version of me.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

now that's what I call music


It seems like it's been a very long time between albums for the mighty Duran Duran. However, a quick look at the calendar will reveal that it has only been three years since their last meisterwerk, "Red Carpet Massacre".

Yes, you read that correctly. Although, many people have slagged off that particular beat heavy longplayer, I believe it's quite special. It's a Duran elpee for the 21st century groove. Great songs. Inventive. On the cusp of something more interesting.

Shitty promotion was handled expertly by Epic, the label from which the lads have extricated themselves. Let's face it, children. "Nite-Runner" should have been the first single.

Now? A new album. "All You Need Is Now" will be their thirteenth longplayer in 30 years. Yikes! That reminds me. I must get some hydrating lotion for my the delicate wrinkles around the corners of my eyes. I prefer the ones with soothing botanicals, natch.

Produced by knob twiddler of the moment, Mark Ronson, "All You Need Is Now" will hit iTunes in its downloadable configuration on December 21. Huzzah!

Physical configurations of the elpee, including a CD and some limited edition versions replete with nifty packaging, will be available in February. With all design elements being overseen by Lord Nicholas Of Rhodes, I bet cash money some of those special editions will be pricey!

Undoubtedly, now that they are free from the shackles imposed by "the suits", "All You Need Is Now" will appear on Duran Duran's own label. Let's hope it lives up to its hype.

dancing with the czars

Red alert, kittens! The video for the new Pet Shop Boys single, "Together", has made its way to the interwebs.

The clip was shot in Estonia, one of the Baltic countries bordering Russia. Geography was one of my favorite subjects at school, by the way.

Let's have a peek.



Color me underwhelmed, petheads. This has a whiff of lazy desperation. I am perplexed by PSB's decision to show nearly four minutes of dancers half their age. Neil and Chris merely make cameos in their own vid. Scandalous!

This is a far cry from their imperial visual work. Let's face facts. It's quite possible their fans will not be showing this clip much love.

I get the "ironic" nature of their presentations, but here they are simply being boring. Very squaresville for Les Boys. Better have a rethink after this one, lads. Keep in mind that this is coming from a longtime PSB devotee.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

otherworldly Underworld



Busy times for me, kittens. Haven't had a free moment to attend to my little corner of the blogosphere. Thankfully, nothing worth writing about happened over the last few days. However, with new albums in my sweaty hands, watch out for a flurry of activity in the approach to Christmas.

This week, Underworld premiered two new vids from their current longplayer, "Barking". First up is third single, "Bird 1", an eerie, throbbing track which is much darker than the previous singles from the elpee.



Well, that was slightly more exciting than watching paint dry. I guess that video budget isn't as robust as they would have liked it to be.

Next up is a bonus clip they produced for "Diamond Jigsaw". Underworld, like many artists, have thrown convention out the window by lensing vids for various album tracks whether or not they are intended to be for promotion around a single. It's the wild west, children.


A slightly trippy and otherworldly video for Underworld. I do hope they washed those jeans, particularly the one around the gentleman's face.

"Diamond Jigsaw" is a much more jaunty and euphoric number compared to many of their previous efforts. It's bordering ever so closely to a pop song! In fact, it's not a million miles away from Underworld Mk 1 when they were a rock/dance hybrid after the demise of Freur.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

landing strip



Natasha Bedingfield is about to return with "Strip Me". It's her third or forth longplayer depending on how you reconcile "N.B." and "Pocket Full Of Sunshine", which have overlapping tracks and were released in the UK and US respectively.

Poor Nat. She's a talented lass, but she is about to become the latest casualty of the Gaga effect. Take a look at the title track from her forthcoming elpee.



She's lovely. The song is nice enough. I can tell you without looking at the credits that the song was written, at least in part, by Ryan Tedder. He's a good enough songwriter. However, he will probably suffer the same fate as Gregg Alexander. Every single he wrote sounded like a rehash of "You Get What You Give" by his short-lived band, New Radicals.

Anyway, I would like to see "Strip Me" become a hit for Nat. Unfortunately, after the spectacular flop of the album's first single, "Touch Me", it appears her latest elpee might not last past the carving of the turkey.

big soul


Undoubtedly, Cee Lo Green has a top notch, old skool soul album on his hands with "The Lady Killer". Without sounding like a pastiche, he wraps his unique, husky rasp around a clutch of retro tracks and delivers them with gusto.

"It's OK", the Motown inspired second single from his forthcoming solo longplayer, is another tale of lost love. This time it's much less acerbic than his previous platter, "Fuck You", which is still nestled comfortably inside the top 10 of the UK singles chart. Those Brits are classy!



Not sure the literal lyrical list will work the same wonders as it did for its predecessor. No matter though, it sure is fun to follow along. All it's missing is a bouncing ball.

By the way, doesn't our cheeky chap sound like Al Green? Smokin'!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wilde life



Kim Wilde is a lovely creature. Happy to have her amongst the "pop"ulation once again.

On November 19, she will release "Real Life", the second single from her current longplayer, "Come Out And Play".

While we wait for the video to be produced to perfection, Kim stopped by one of Germany's most popular programs to perform an acoustic version of her latest platter.



She is a charming thing, indeed! Glad to see her trademark pout is still in place.

keep feeling fascination

I am utterly fascinated by "Olympia", the latest longplayer from Bryan Ferry, and its accompanying promotional campaign. It really has captured the attention of Mr. Ferry's fanbase. The use of various forms of media, along with the creativity imbued into the nearly year-long lead time, has turned the album into an experience rather than just the release of a new elpee.

For instance, some of the album's tracks have been given a bit of room to breathe through the production of some very interesting behind-the-scenes clips.

Let's take a trip into the inner sanctum of the studio where Mr. Ferry discusses his musical musings and current collabs.



I was most impressed by the use of the boy's voice from the Westminster Choir. It gives "Heartache By Numbers" an angelic sheen in the chorus. And who doesn't like Jake and Babydaddy's snarky bitchiness? All meant with love, I'm sure.



I love watching Nile Rodgers groove along with his guitar. He's got a laid back, funky kinda cool reserved for only the best musicians.

"Shameless" is scheduled to be plucked as the next single from "Olympia" with mixes from Groove Armada, Mylo, Pete Tong and more. Watch Tom Findlay from Groove Armada as he's clearly chuffed about having worked with the legendary, Bryan Ferry.

For some reason, the squiggly, high pitched keyboard line reminds me of a similar sound in "Everybody" by Madonna? Yes, kittens? You tell me.