The Eels’ standout song ‘Novocaine For The Soul’ will always remind me of TV show Trigger Happy TV. It was released as the lead single from their 1996 debut album, Beautiful Freak. Have a great weekend.
Making up for the lost morning this week, we have a double-header. It’s always a good time for Mazzy Star. The band formed in Santa Monica in 1989 from the group Opal, a collaboration between guitarist David Roback and his then-girlfriend, ex-Dream Syndicate bassist Kendra Smith. Relationships being what they are, Smith left early in the band’s life and Hope Sandoval swiftly became the lead vocalist. In 1996 the band released its third album Among My Swan, for which David Roback wrote all the music apart from the mysterious ‘Look on Down from the Bridge’. That sound was pure Sandoval; it is the closing track on the album.
Despite the 2-Step influences on this track, Roy Davis Jr. shows his class with the soulful downtempo vibe that he wraps around Peven Everett’s vocals. And don’t get me started on that horn. Not sure which mix this YouTube version is, but it’s the one I like. He pressed ‘Gabrielle’ on Chicago’s Large Records while still part of house-music innovators Phuture.
Good morning folks. ‘Midnight in a Perfect World’ is at the heart of DJ Shadow’s genre-defining album Endtroducing…… Trip hop, hip hop, electronica, the work is based around a piano sample from David Axelrod’s 1969 song ‘The Human Abstract’. Mr. Axelrod had become a rich vein for exponents of sampledelia. Have a great week.
Again, I end the week with a touchstone track from the 1990s. From their 1996 album Being There, ‘Sunken Treasure’ was the song that helped Wilco break from the shackles of alt-country. Despite its slow tempo, it became a regular crowd pleaser at Wilco gigs. With his tongue firmly planted in cheek, Tweedy’s voice sounds slightly scruffy as he repeats “I am so out of tune with you, I am so our of tune with you.” The signs of greatness were there and the band would scale to the creative summit over the next 5-6 years.
In 1996, the album Fuzzy Logic introduced Super Furry Animals’ brand of hallucinogenic rock. ‘Hometown Unicorn’ was the debut single off the album. Franck Fontaine claimed to have been abducted by aliens in 1979. It was the perfect subject matter for some outer-worldly imaginations. Have a great week.
Off the 1996 album Electriclarryland, Butthole Surfers’ ‘Pepper’ sounded too much like Beck‘s Loser. That would be easy to criticise was it not for the band’s use of spoken verses – a treatment that would be taken to another level again a year later on the Eels classic ‘Susan’s House’. Have a good week.
Red House Painters’ singer-songwriter Mark Kozelek has featured a lot this week, but before I sign off for the weekend, here’s a guilty pleasure. His song ‘Have you Forgotten?’ is sublime, but on viewing the featured YouTube clip, I’m completely distracted by Audrey Tautou. For those that can appreciate the beauty of the song, it is off the Red House Painters’ long player Songs for a Blue Guitar.
This weekend marks the beginning of a holiday hiatus. I’m taking some time out in July, but will return in August. In the meantime, this weekend, I will throw out some decidedly less cultured guilty pleasures. It should set me up for a lot of credibility-mending when Samuelsounds returns, which can only be good.
The closing scene of the Alejandro González Iñárritu’s movie Babel features the sound of Ryuichi Sakamoto’s ‘Bibo no Aozora’. This hauntingly beautiful instrumental is a world apart from Sakamoto’s early work with electronica pioneers Yellow Magic Orchestra. The Magic Numbers would borrow heavily from this piece for their song ‘The Pulse’ in 2010.
Now I’m getting carried away … one more rock out before miscellany returns. 1997 was an astonishing year for British bands. Radiohead, Spiritualized, The Verve, Supergrass and Prodigy would all release their defining albums – a creative nirvana that drew the best out of all those around. Mansun’s debut long player, Attack of the Grey Lantern, was one such treat. Opening with cinematic/John Barry overtures of ‘The Chad Who Loved Me’, the unconventional album built up impressively to the glory of ‘Wide Open Space’, which had been released as a single a year earlier. Paul Oakenfold would go on to chop up Paul Draper’s distinctive voice and darkly comic lyrics into a crossover dance anthem.
When not penning classic comedy (‘My Lovely Horse’) for Father Ted, Neil Hannon was writing The Divine Comedy that is ‘Something For The Weekend’. With the dandy air of Scott Walker, Hannon had his breakthrough in 1996 with The Divine Comedy’s fourth album Casanova. It exudes humour and was suitably given a helping hand by Chris Evans in the early years of TFI Friday. Have a great weekend.
Aka DJ Shadow, Josh Davis burst onto the scene in 1996 with his debut album Endtroducing… The album’s cover featured two gents rifling through vinyl, because that is exactly what he liked to do. Instrumental hip hop was the purpose and the samples were collected from rare grooves far and wide. ‘Building Steam With A Grain Of Salt’ samples Lexia, H.P. Riot, Jeremy Storch, Frankie Seay and the Soul Riders. Who? Exactly.
Look at me, look at me. With the long-awaited release of The Fat of the Land, The Prodigy went from quirky UK techno outfit to something much bigger: Keith Flint was pushed up front; his look and words courted controversy; Liam Howlett’s visceral sound turned heads; and the album’s image of an alert fiddler crab said it all. A marketer’s dream, The Prodigy would crack the US.