I'm not quite sure what happened last Friday, but the guests went away disappointed. No music. To celebrate, I'm back, but in a dilemma. You see, iTunes 8.1 renamed the Party Shuffle playlist to iTunes DJ. What's a track compiler and commenter to do, eh? Continue on as normal, that's what...
Crystal, by New Order, from Get Ready. New Order, a band that grew out of the ashes of Joy Division, seem to reinvent themselves over and over. Get Ready came after the sublime Republic, very late (after Bernard Sumner's experiments with Electronic), but it was well worth the wait. Crystal is the first track on the album, and I remember starting to play it, wondering. It starts off slowly and quietly and then, wham, a driving rock beat driving the song forward over and around Sumner's vocals. Brilliant track.
Slowhand Hussein, by Dzihan & Kamien, from Freaks & Icons. Electronica and acid jazz from Austria (their names are pronounced Gee-hahn and Kammy-en) with some influence from the mid-East, at least to my ears. The cover of this album is an absolute hoot. Anyway, the track is slow and haunting with a kind of clappy beat. I well recommend trying this album out if you're into that kind of acid jazz.
Fourth Rendez-Vous, by Jarre, Jean Michel, from Rendez-Vous. The fifth studio album — depending on how you count — from Jean Michel Jarre (Wikipedia helpfully noting that he dropped the hyphen in 1991). This track a bouncy electronic number with a strong melody.
Set Your Body Free, by Inner City, from Big Fun. Detroit House music, from the band that brought you the Good Life and Big Fun. (Well "band" is stretching it, since there were only two of them.) Funnily enough, they were bigger in the UK than in the US. A typical house beat laid down, with Paris Grey's vocals soaring above; not bad at all.
3x5, by Mayer, John, from Room for Squares. Mayer's first album is truly excellent, and one that my wife introduced to me before I'd caught up with the rest of the world. Man, can he play the guitar. This one is about someone writing home about his travels, but he doesn't have a camera ("no 3x5s") and so can only describes what he sees.
It's a sin (7" version), by Pet Shop Boys, from It's a sin. From the CD single, to be precise. Neil singing about how everything he sees, says, or does (with a nice double-entendre on "does") is a sin; essentially railing against his Catholic upbringing. I remember going to Wembley Arena to see them on this tour: mad japes with nurses and beds and angels' wings and whatnot. A pretty mad video too, if I recall, with its visions of hell.
The Morning Fog, by Bush, Kate, from Hounds of Love. You either like her or you don't I find is the reaction from most people. I like her, although this is not my favorite album from her by any means. Consequently I don't know this track well, but it seems to be about being reborn again, coming out of the fog.
Under Pressure [Live], by Bowie, David, from Hallo Spaceboy. Number 1 from Bowie and Major Tom this week, and number 2 from PSBs, since this is from the CD single, and Neil and Chris remixed it. Pretty well, I might add, even merging in our dear old friend Major Tom. Anyway, this is a not-bad live version of the Bowie/Queen hit, although I understand this is not Freddie Mercury's voice.
Ashes to Ashes, by Bowie, David, from Scary Monsters. The second appearance from both Bowie and Major Tom this week. A really complex song, I think. Is it about drugs? (Think about the emblematic video with Bowie-as-a-clown, and the line "Major Tom's a junkie".) Is it is about Bowie himself? ("I've never done good things / I've never done bad things / I never did anything out of the blue.") Is a children's nursery rhyme warning against Major Tom? (Back to the drugs again.) Dunno, but it's good to hear it again.
Push the Limits, by Enigma, from The Screen Behind the Mirror. Sometimes I can take Michael Cretu, and sometimes I think he just runs out of ideas half way through an album. This first Enigma album was all Gregorian Chant, which worked quite well for me, but this one he fixates on Carmina Burana way too much. This track is one of the ones that doesn't and I think sounds better for it.