Sunday, 1 February 2009


50. kd lang: Watershed

The stream flows, rises and ebbs; though superficially genteel, it covers (under a sky of blue wide as the eye can see) the incessant wearings and polishings of a soul, a great stone, as it sits amid the water, part of it but wholly itself, learning to love itself and its open, vulnerable and yet (because of that strong vulnerability) strong heart. It is alone. Only if it thinks it is.

49. JANET JACKSON: Discipline

The Situationist was this. She wasn’t what you thought you were getting (put those Kleenex boxes away, chaps). The setting looked steely and grey but she was rebuilding herself, also learning to love (again?); not needing to set aside that vulnerability but rather come to terms with it, programme it in, use it in her music. Discipline because there’s still – there’s ALWAYS! – work to do, and that includes more than rebuilding just one person.

48. GNARLS BARKLEY: The Odd Couple
47. THE SHORTWAVE SET: Replica Sun Machine

Still that vulnerability; the Mouse curses an uncertain future but won’t let it lie. Remember JB, let those MVE ghosts guide you back to life from Thamesmead to Santa Monica; but all souls here are intact, praying, running from the past (for their lives, although only half of them will readily admit it) but critically also running TOWARDS something. Or someone.

46. SPARKS : Exotic Creatures Of The Deep

Dare I use the phrase “hometown heroes”? Mais oui. In the sublime air, letting the chimp drive (while they know he will be gone soon), the Maels gleefully dance around the Morrissey maypole, have delirious nights of dubious origin and OH YES remind us all of that little vital beast called New Pop. The song is not remaining the same, oh praise LA.

45. THE B-52s: Funplex

Now we accelerate (the BETTER way) back to Georgia , and the mall is on the eve of its destruction since our hippies thankfully WON’T be quiet. The spent society could atomise – hey, it’s happening! – but these carefully cheery sprites are built to survive everything; like AC/DC and Status Quo, their furrow will be eternally fruitful. Play in the sunshine!

44. EDWYN COLLINS: Home Again

In the sunshine, a bird – one he knows well, one he has had to learn the name of, again – sits on a bare branch, staring contentedly into the middle distance. The bird’s body is his home, his voice calls out to all who can hear him, lost at times and perhaps confused, but not for long. Bit by bit he builds a new nest for himself, from which to watch and twill in his inimitable way.

43. ABC: Traffic

And this bird still sings, though you had to work to hear him. Back in the 1981 he knew, some remarkable Caledonians reported back on their impressions of America ; now it is his turn. Was anyone expecting Beauty Stab 2? Yet that was only part of his current message; a quarter of a century deeper into the whole of his heart, he remains obsessed with detecting and destroying falsehoods, looks, rootless signifiers, knowing now, more than perhaps it did in 1981, that the look alone will not sustain us. The 1981 sister feels his call.

42. PAUL WELLER: 22 Dreams

So, surprisingly – or not – does the man who once pretended to be his enemy. You had to read his story like the book which came with it; he takes everything he now knows – everything he strained so hard not to listen to back then – and comes up with pictures more lucid than ever. He worries about his son running away from him, he salutes Alice Coltrane, he even gingerly tries some free improvisation. This is his partly pastoral tale (since the city and influences of Sound Affects remain inescapable, whether he likes it or not), and maybe you had to be there at the beginning to understand his destination, but this rougher Aerial gave no less profound reception.

41. BARRY ADAMSON: Back To The Cat

Meanwhile, back in the city it is night, the night is coming on. It is hot. Words, actions are evaporating or hanging in the air, the eternal and evanescent sliding by each other. Lucid in all this, the trustworthy Mancunian telling the story (as trustworthy as Tony W and as lovable) is full of knowledge, relish, full 3D depths and curves, shiny scarlet in the darkness.

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