Monday, December 06, 2004

MC MC'S ALBUMS OF THE YEAR: PART III

Top 50 Reissues and Compilations: nos 30-21

30. BRIAN ENO Here Come The Warm Jets
Why doesn't Brian do Noel Cowardy shouty pop any more? It's a scandal that he doesn't; his voice is liquidity at its most tactically insolent. It can sneer sneezes of sex ("Baby's On Fire," riding piggyback over the dual bass tracklines and not allowing itself to be derailed too obliquely by Fripp's semen[tick] guitar), it can transform from self-directed mourning ("On Some Faraway Beach," which I want played at my funeral) to mirror-breaking cackles in one microbreath (slamming straight into "Blank Frank" which needless to say must also be played at my funeral). And the "Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch" invents David Byrne as a replacement for the Bryan Ferry dismantled throughout "Dead Finks Don't Talk." This is one of several pop and supra-pop Eno albums remastered this year, but thankfully Warm Jets still sounds as though its recording seeped involuntarily from the mousehole of a dank cellar at the wrong end of Ladbroke Grove.

29. ANNETTE PEACOCK My Mama Never Taught Me How To Cook
"Capitalism without a social conscience is dangerous and inevitably destructive" indeed. The continuing failure of Annette's masterpiece I'm The One to resurface on CD - in its original multicoloured foil sleeve, mind - is an oversight worthy of your picketing the offices of BMG and pelting their windows with cold tongue and salad until they do reissue it. However, this two-on-one packaging of X-Dreams (1978) and The Perfect Release (1979) will do nicely for now, especially the former, which serves as a female version of Warm Jets (complete with Chris Spedding on guitar, alongside Mick Ronson, Brian Godding etc. etc.) through the deleteriously delectable "Real And Defined Androgens" (the missing link between Patti Smith and Missy Elliott) to the still extraordinary retake on "Don't Be Cruel" - listen to Sheryl Crow's "All I Wanna Do" and then this, and wonder how and why this didn't similarly storm the charts when it should have done. Oh, and can we have Skyskating and I Have No Feelings out again as well, please?

28. STAVELY MAKEPEACE The Scrap Iron Rhythm Revue
I remember "Edna" being Noel Edmonds' Record of the Week, actually, two years before "Mouldy Old Dough." And "Slippery Rock '70s" is a theme tune waiting to be adopted by a Channel 4 sitcom. Otherwise, Messrs Woodward and Fletcher demonstrate here over the space of about a decade and a half a dissolved/resolved pop mentality which is bounteous, bonkers, spermatozoeic, sinning and lots of other things which Blue are not.

27. ADAM AND THE ANTS Dirk Wears White Sox
Kings and Prince also got the redux treatment this year, but it's Dirk which sounds the most startlingly contemporary of the three - "Animals and Men" namechecks Marinetti four years ahead of Art of Noise/ZTT, while classics like the full-length "Cartrouble" make this the album Franz Ferdinand are yet to make - with or without the alleged assistance of members of the A*****e W***e B**d...

26. 10cc The Complete UK Recordings
On import, and therefore rather pricey, but ultimately indispensable, 2CD package containing the Manc lads' first two albums in their entirety plus all non-album B-sides. Todd Rundgren waltzing with the Neptunes via Trevor Horn, but more of that when I get to the lengthy and detailed dissertation on 10cc as part of my ongoing 1974 piece, which at current work rates should appear circa May 2048, assuming you and/or I live that long. If "Fresh Air For My Mama" had been written and performed by Brian Wilson, you would all be kneeling in awe at its font.

25. VARIOUS Rough Trade Shops: Indiepop 1
As exclusively predicted (if not prompted!) by me over a year ago, the C86 revival is slowly gathering apace/dust (delete where applicable). Really the C86 movement merits a box set all of its own, but it's shocking to be reminded of the quite brutal power of something as seemingly innocuous as the Shop Assistants' "Safety Net" or the where-the-hell-do-you-put-THIS? of AR Kane's incipient "When You're Sad" (can somebody at 4AD or elsewhere reissue the Lollita EP quicksnap?). A shame about the unnecessary contemporary product placements (Aberfeldy, ahem) but this needs to be but the first in an extremely long series. Fresher sounding than you'd imagine.

24. ROBBIE WILLIAMS Greatest Hits
Just admit it.

23. THE RESIDENTS The Residents' Commercial Album
40 one-minute pop songs reductio ad profundum, now out again for the next generation to get it right. The accompanying DVD of video film accompaniments is a bit Vision On down at the ICA circa 1972, but "The Art Of Being Polite" might be the greatest ode to deflated love since "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'".

22. THE MANIC STREET PREACHERS The Holy Bible (10th Anniversary Edition)
Cemeteries are, I suppose, designed to be the loneliest places on Earth. Yesterday lunchtime it certainly seemed that way. I felt as though I were in the middle of a huge, abandoned playground - houses whose windows were smiling in a 1972 kind of a way just the other side of the far fence, while behind me a new extension to the John Radcliffe Hospital was being built, thereby obscuring her view to the city. At the top of the Old High Street in Headington, next to Somerfields, was a makeshift kiddies' funfair - a bit Phoenix Nights, what with Shakin' Stevens' "Merry Christmas Everyone" blasting out at 10 dB over the tannoy - and that really, if inadvertently, upset me.

Sitting in the middle of the graveyard, sun shining wanly through the reluctant cloud, I felt that everyone else had been called back to class/life, and I was the only one in the entire world who thought that it was still playtime.

So everything's been made available again in connection with this record; the original album itself, a US remix of the same album, B-sides, Radio 1 sessions, demos, outtakes, a bonus DVD...everything you could possibly want. Except for the one person it will never be able to retrieve, even though his voice warns you throughout the entire record that irretrievably is soon come - released on the same August Bank Holiday Monday as Definitely Maybe, it was found that the public of 1994 was more attuned to big, simple words and big, simple (if genius-laden) gestures ("Rock And Roll Star!" "Live Forever!" "Cigarettes And Alcohol!"). We couldn't for one nanosecond entertain (?) the possibility that There Was An End. Some of us still can't.

IT'S NOT GOING TO BRING HIM BACK

THAT DOESN'T MAKE HIM, OR HIS ART, WORTHLESS

REMEMBER

21. THE HOMOSEXUALS The Homosexuals' CD
A curious aesthetic twin to the entry at no 28, this group's concept of pop was literally that, a succession of buds which popped out of their predecessors, with the result that superficially straightforward songs like "Hearts In Exile" and "Soft South Africans" never quite go where you expect them to; they dissemble themselves, pause for breath, run out of space, carve some more space in a different dimension - always just beyond our grasp. You end up having to listen sideways to get it, as opposed to face up (to it).