Album Reviews: June 2002


Gary Numan - Exposure - 'the best of, 1977 to 2002' (Jagged Halo/Universal)

Ozzy Osbourne was on TV the other day, as I'm sure you're well aware. He was saying that, for a long time after Black Sabbath, he was regarded as a laughing stock, but now everybody touts him as a huge influence and a legendary rock God. Now, this would have been an interesting comment, had it not been for the fact that he nicked it off Gary Numan, who said pretty much exactly the same thing about himself just a few days before. Poor Ozzy is obviously so messed up that he watched Gary's interview and then, coming down from one massive drug induced high, believed he was coming out with a soundbite of his own. Anyway, in Gary's case, it is obviously true, given the enormous amount of current acts pilfering the man in black's back catalogue.

N: Ok, let's first cast images of Sugababes from our minds, and get rid of the obvious - 'Are Friends Electric'. Why is it that artists, if we can call them that, seize upon legendary genius in raising their profile?

T: But then again, if the bands of the moment succeed in raising the profile of one of our heroes of yesteryear with the kids of today, well surely that can only be a good thing. I must confess too, that I was blissfully unaware of the fact that Basement Jaxx excellent 'Where's Your Head At' single relied heavily on Gary's own track 'M.E.' so it heightened even my own awareness. And surely sampling is infinitely preferable to the endless monotonous Pop Idol-esque covers of songs you've heard billions of times anyway that are littering the charts at present.

N: Fair point. This most insightful of any Numan compilation takes in 29 tracks that spanned Gary's career over 25 glorious, sometimes very dark years. Anyone to be touched by the music of this dark prince, whether or not they have a greatest hits already sitting atop their shelves, should invest in this fantastic work.

T: Of which for me, the superbly abnormal 'She's Got Claws' with what seems like a ridiculously off key intro featuring the trumpet sound on his synth stands out as a work of pure genius. Then again, so do all the others!

N: For a greater delve into the mind of this maestro, take a look at our archive interview. 10/10

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the D4 - 6twenty (Infectious)

Hailing from New Zealand, this band sound as much like Crowded House as Kylie resembles Ann Widdecombe. A fiercely punky sound that has prompted NME and the like to compare them to Motorhead, AC/DC and Jon Spencer, the band release this, their debut album amidst a host of largely impressive reviews and no shortage of 'single of the month' music paper columns.

T: I would have love this in 1979. And I could have understood the fascination with them back then, but here and now, I'm not so sure.

N: Some of those comparisons I just can't figure, but if we're talking spirit here from a young band, maybe Birdland. Essentially a good album, with four guys having a blast, I can't say this is going to be on my playlist for very long though. One of those albums you keep on the shelves for diversity's sake.

T: Personally I think it sounds like early Damned stuff, which, like I was saying, was great at the time, and I'm sure they'd be fun live, but not one I'd have rushed out and bought to be honest. 6/10

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Sancho Panza - Sancho Panza (my records limited)

Sancho Panza is difficult to explain. Best leave the description to the press release then - 'If you've been to Sancho Panza you know what I mean. It's not a time or a place, it fills a space, it's a race apart, it's more than one sound, it's underground, overground, all around you'. Confused? Well, that's just part of the description, so we'll leave you to make up your own minds....then again, you could just read our review and believe us.

N: Sounds like somebody is off on holiday.

T: I think they're off on a fortnight's boating extravazanza by the sound of things. The pumping dance music seems better suited to the ocean wave than the restrictions of city life. Definitely a holiday album though as you have already implied.

N: And with the group playing at Glastonbury this summer, they're certainly going to get people in the mood. A good choice of tunes, and mixing that's certainly up there with the best of them.

T: Hmm..this might well go well with the World Cup too. It beats Ant & Dec or Bubble & Dean anyway! Nice selection guys. 8/10

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The Supernaturals- What We Did Last Summer (Koch Records)

The Supernaturals have achieved more than most of you will be aware. It was in fact this very band's own tour that launched the career of a certain Mr.Robbie Williams, and they have been nominated previously with Messrs Ashcroft and Yorke for the Ivor Novello awards. The band have returned with their third album, titled as their last single was, "What We Did Last Summer".

N: While investigating the band's website last night, I have to say how impressed I was. Amongst other information, it was nice to see not just lyrics, but guitar tabs as well. But why I always confuse these with the Super Furries I am unsure.

T: They sound as much like the Super Furries as I sound like Jimmy Saville. I've always thought they sound far more like the Lightning Seeds than their Welsh contemporaries.

N: Yeah. I'm really uncertain where I make the connection too, but I would just have to say - what a fine album this is, and as I'm not terribly struck on the Super Furries, I'm now pleased to have made the definition clear - to myself at least.

T: I like both bands enormously myself. Although I think I'd have to plump for the Super Furries if we had to choose between the two. Good album though. 8/10

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The Moody Blues- The Very Best Of... (Universal/Decca)

So, anyway, you'll already know "Nights In White Satin", and "Go Now", and you may have heard the hit album "Days Of Future Past", but what else do you know by them? Come on, out with it - bugger all that's what! Well, that's all I know anyway, whether you do or not. That's all about to change though.

N: I thought I was really going to hate this, but could it just be my impending grey hairs that leave me to draw a different conclusion entirely? I know that my mother's generation would tell me that these were the days when songwriting was songwriting. There I would to draw a split definition regarding our meanings of the term.

T: I think there was great songwriting in the fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties and now. There's no difference. And you don't have to worry about your hair. Ginger people don't go grey as quickly.

N: Bastard.

T: They just go bald faster...

N: You can talk!

T: My, what a comprehensive review this has been! 6/10

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Paul Oakenfold- Bunkka (Perfecto/Mushroom)

The legendary workaholic DJ has finally released his debut album as an artist with a 'fuller exploration of his personal musical heritage'. Hopping on board to help out here and there are Ice Cube, Nelly Furtado, Asher D from So Solid Crew and Jane's Addiction vocalist Perry Farrell, amongst other highly prestigious names from the world of music. How does it all gel together? Read on.

N: How his mind must work to create this soundstage out of all this chaos. In his own words, or someone else's at least - 'Ready Steady Go'.

T: This must be a difficult review for you to do, seeing as you've already pretty much reviewed it in your excellent article this month?

N: That being the case, we know of my thoughts - and yours?

T: I think there's no way anybody can deny Paul Oakenfold's unquestionable talismanic genius over the years and there are certainly flashes of it spattered randomly over the finer points of this album, but then there are moments that leave me cold here as well. That said, the highspots are worth waiting for, so I would say that this is a more than worthwhile investment for any lovers of dance music, particularly on the darker moments such as 'Nixon's Spirit'. Well worth a spin.

N: Pah. Dance music? I think this should be filed under 'music', considering its influences. 8/10

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Various- Wow - What A Rush (Volume 7) (Stage One Music)

What is Trancecore? Well, if you ask the most hardened dancehead, they will tell you it's charged with an 'agressive hardcore beat, but includes melodic, trance inducing undertones'. And anyway, that's what it says on the press release.

T: I think the reason that the word trance is used here is because to me, this stuff's so mind numbingly dull that you can't help going into one.

N: OK, as a standalone club night, this works. I like trance, but everything has its time and place, and perhaps a Monday lunchtime isn't that time and place. However, I stand by my original comment, I like trance, and as that, this isn't at all bad.

T: As it's a compilation, I'll admit that there are one or two better moments, but on the whole it bores the crap out of me. Sorry. 5/10

N: And in the words of the Monty Python team...and now for something completely different...

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Various- 200% Nu Energy (Dynamix Recordings)

You know the score - hardcore.

N: It's a pity this had to play second fiddle to 'Wow 7' really, because this isn't that different and after a while it all gets a little crowded.

T: But does it get crowded with attractive nubile young ladies or sweaty, pretentious ape like nugget heads, that's what I want to know!

N: Speeding up the tempo, the place for this is in the club, and not someone's sitting room. Can you imagine Caroline Aherne's Royle Family sat on their backsides listening to this on the Amstrad. Well, perhaps this is a bad analogy. I almost expect the Prodigy's Keith to leap in with some cutting edge comment.

T: My arse you can. Well, actually I agree entirely, but someone had to say it, didn't they? 6/10

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Various - All Our Bunnies In A Row 'Luaka Bop 2002 Sampler' (Virgin)

An unusual blend of tracks from the Luaka Bop stable...

T: It's quite interesting how totally cuckoo the majority of these tracks sound. They come across like they've escaped from your local hospital for the mentally deranged and are banging at your bedroom window insisting on playing you their version of "God Save The Queen" on their gold plated kazoo.

N: Sublime sounds that have been resurrected to settle together in one enormous chillout session, padded walls provided. How the hell did David Byrne find himself here?

T: I think I could answer that. Dig out his collaboration with Brian Eno, "My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts", and you'll see exactly what I mean. Fancy some roast earwig with your tea Nick?

N: As a sampler of what the label has to offer, which it is, I cannot fault it. Medium rare please by the way. Thank you. 9/10

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Kelli Ali - Tigermouth (One Little Indian)

It's now three years, unbelievably, since Kelli Ali broke away from the chains of Sneaker Pimps with the intention of reinventing herself for a solo career. Which she seems to have done effortlessly. After all, you couldn't really tar the two bands with the same brush.

T: One of those albums where I like most of the tracks, but the few that I don't like, I REALLY don't like! Thankfully the stronger ones save it from lowering the score too much...unless of course nasty Nick has other views...

N: From her days with the Sneaker Pimps, Ms Ali has discovered a far more commercial bent. On first hearing the single, I was really unsure, ultimately pushing our own score down, but on hearing this in the wee small hours of Sunday morning at the label website, I'm warming to this.

T: It's when she goes a little TOO commercial that it bothers me. There are some superb tracks here such as "The Infinite Stars", but tracks like 'Here Comes The Summer' are a little twee perhaps for my liking.

N: I'll go along with your comments, when she's good she's very very good, but otherwise it's not quite there. Do you think she may have listened to Shirley Manson though?

T: Well you couldn't pick a much better role model if she has! 8/10

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Soul Hooligan - Music Like Dirt (Maverick)

Soul Hooligan are a trio of musical obsessives from Essex working in the half-light of London's breakbeat sound.

T: This sounds unbelievably like the Gorillaz to me.

N: Having let these pass me by somewhat, having only previously caught occasional TV and radio slots, I'd agree, but this rocks.

T: But gently. Yes, it echoes Albarn's recent incarnation, but it doesn't rip them off. It's a cracking album by the sound of things actually. I am struggling to see the Buffalo Springfield comparison noted on the press release however. Even so, this deserves regular airings on the office sound system, so impressed are we by it.

N: To be honest, I can't see them doing as well as their primatic counterparts, just why though I don't know. They're every bit as good. I suppose, had they led the pack, we might be saying the sameof the Gorillaz, but that's not to give them their dues. 8/10

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Hot Rod Circuit - Sorry About Tomorrow (B-Unique)

Having toured with Jimmy Eat World and At The Drive in over the last year or so, Hot Rod Circuit have come into their own of late with the release of this, their third studio album "Sorry About Tomorrow".

T: Big, glorious, emo choruses that make you feel good and lovely power chords pretty much sum this up.

N: By now you may have recognised that I don't go a bunch on music of this ilk, but there are always exceptions to every rule. And after all, they don't sound a bit like Green Day. Where was I coming from?

T: Oddly enough, they sound more like a friend of mine's local band, My Awesome Compilation who always go down a storm live. It just looks like they weren't in the right place at the right time, and these guys were. Still, it's extremely enjoyable in an emo kind of way. 7/10

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Farrah - Moustache (Ark 21 Records)

With an album named in honour of bass player Mike's uncle, whose ludicrous moustache can be seen pictured on the inside sleeve, Farrah are an indie band in the Supergrass mould, except they're from York.

N: Music is a long and winding road. To travel all the way from York before you get noticed by Stewart Copland's brother and get your deal, Farrah play pop with a nice vein in lyrical content.

T: Certainly, and the band I compared them with in the intro is probably the best likening I can give you for any clues as to how they sound. Except with less of a snarl than Gaz Coombes possesses. Probably if you asked John Power to sing lead vocals on the Supergrass boys' far superior (to Cast)'s lyrical abilities, would you come up with something like this.

N: Not exactly the most original of bands, they have a lot to thank the likes of Weezer and Wheatus for, but ultimately inoffensive and sure to make a great album to play on a long journey, although clocking in at a shade over 30 minutes, it'll get me to my girlfriend's at least. 8/10

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The Anniversary - Your Majesty (B-Unique)

Influenced by the Cars and Devo, this Kansas five piece have a 'unique and yet familiar sound all of their own, and put a new twist on emotional hardcore' apparently. Time for the atomicduster dissection.

N: A likening to Damon Albarn's earlier presentations, foppish melodies pound along, and am I the only one who can see images of Brett Anderson circa 1992?

T: Was it you I was talking about with the gold plated kazoo in our earlier review? I cannot see either of those two comparisons that you make in your comments! Not even remotely. In fact, to the band's credit, I am finding it extremely difficult to pinpoint where any of their influences may have come from. I can perhaps relate to the Blur / Seymour reference more so on track three, "Peace Pain & Regret", but other than that I'm really not sure. What I would say though is that it seems a really fresh and original album that is pleasing to the ear.

N: I don't know why, but it's a pity that I really can't fault this. Ultimately enjoyable, and was their name apt timing or just a coincidende? 9/10

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Muse - Hullabaloo (Soundtrack) (Mushroom Recordings)
Muse - Hullabaloo (Live At The Zenith, Paris) (Mushroom Recordings)

You can't really complain when a live / B-sides double album and a DVD of live shows with a documentary of one of your fave bands plops onto your doormat can you. Can you?

N: Muse are definitely taking the Radiohead route in some ways, and in others crossing over to greet the Kerrang! crowd. Sublime meets head on bollocks in the a clash of the titans.

T: Couldn't have put it better myself mate. One thing's for sure though, Muse have built their enormous and ever growing fanbase on quality songwriting, raw energy fulled live shows and more than a little hard work. One of the bands that actually deserves all the success it's had and more, this compilation shows just why they have endeared themselves so richly to the kids of today. And if they can continue to churn out music of such depth for even a year or two longer, then it won't be just endearing, but enduring too.

N: A collection of rarer Muse, alongside that of the Le Zenith, Paris live show audio CD, while the visual show meets the viewer alongside that of a feast of audio treats on the VHS and DVD. What more could any Muse fan ask, then again, you've already answered that. But is it becoming too easy nowadays?

T: Well they haven't got complacent yet. So fingers crossed for the future. 9/10

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