Alec's take on Spirit of Mirk

21st August 2001


So, going on for six months after I sent the Spirit of Mirk CD to Alec, I finally got his comments back. They were worth waiting for! I think it's fair to say that his and my perceptions of these songs are not totally in accord ...

        - Mike.

Date: Tue, 21 Aug 2001 10:26:15 +0100 (BST)
Subject: SoMirk review

OK, I'm very bored, our internet connection is down and it's too early to play
Quake so here goes ...

(rude words censored for those of a sensitive disposition)

P.S. I'm feeling outspoken so apologies in advance but I'd rather be harsh than
polite any day.

    "That was the dullest 73 minutes of my life" (quote overheard mere seconds
    after this review and subsequently suggested by Nich as a working title)

1) Hendrix

    What can I say - I just don't dig Hendrix and yes, I do think he's highly
    overrated as a guitar player (tho' saying he's sh*t, as I have done on many
    occasions, may be overstating my case).

    P.S. on returning to this having listened to the whole CD I should add that
    although I personally don't like Hendrix much it's the one track that gives
    me the most hope for your musical salvation.

2) ...

     Oh sorry, it's still Hendrix ... "scree wail twoingg mwahhh" - yeah yeah
     "GET ON WITH IT!"

2) It Bites

    I've actually seen these guys live (at least, I think it was them) doing a
    fabulous Genesis tribute night and they were brilliant but this track (as
    with many on this CD) is a shiningly AWFUL track choice from a band that's
    done some pretty good stuff. If Genesis circa "And Then There Were Three"
    decided to make Lamb Lies Down II (i.e. a BAD thing) then this could be on
    it ... (there's 1:51 left on the counter but I can bare no more) ... NEXT! 

3) (I'm not going to look in case it prejudices me)

    1:30 in and I'm still waiting for something on which to base an opinion ...

    2:45 still waiting ...

    Nope, sorry that track (Dada) appears to be devoid of content.

4) Peter Gabriel (damn, I looked)

    Hmmm, I hadn't heard this track pre Spirit of Mirk but it sounds very
    "So/Mercy Street" era. It's probably brilliant for auditioning speaker
    cable insulation or marmite sandwiches or something but it's dull as
    dishwater for actually listening to.

5) Aretha Franklin

    OK, apart from the spoken intro this is alright (although personally I'd
    have chosen "Say A Little Prayer"). I was just going to say I'm getting a
    bit bored around the 3:30 mark when it finished - nice timing.

Let's see now, from previous experience of listening to this CD I seem to
remember that around about this point I start seriously wishing for something
to liven things up a bit (The Sex Pistols or The Pixies maybe?)

6) Joni Mitchell


7) Paul Simon

    Again, I actually have a lot (well, a bit) of time for Paul Simon (in
    particular, Graceland was brilliant). But this ... if music were pizza
    then this would be a medium ham and mushroom.

At this stage in the proceedings I have a theory. When asked about "great
albums" I tend to use the phrase "the whole being more than the sum of the
parts". Well one of the problems I have with SoMirk is that the "whole is
considerably less than the sum of the parts". Now I realise this is not your
fault, it's a compilation not a concept album and I'm sure I'd enjoy (ish)
some of these tracks in isolation, but seriously - if I hear anything else
"nice" in the next 15 minutes I'm going to have to go for a coffee.

8) Quake II

    Bugger, bang goes the coffee punchline, but seriously ... why? Don't get
    me wrong, it's a great COMPUTER GAME but you surely cannot believe this is
    one of the top 20 all-time greatest pieces of MUSIC ever made. I can only
    assume you went barking mad for a second there.

9) The Rutles

    !$&!! (that's the sound of me physically jumping in my seat)

    Something with a beat .. it was just so unexpected ... or ... was I set
    up by the forboding Quake soundtrack? ... ah ha! I'm on to you.

    P.S. still crap tho'

10) Spinal Tap

    No, sorry - I don't understand why you think this is funny. In summary ..

        Comedy in all it's many resplendent forms = funny
        Spinal Tap = not funny

11) Simpsons

     Also quite funny (tho' I've never watched it on a regular basis). You know
     what ... I like it ... in fact you're dangerously close to this being the
     best track on the CD!

12) Abba

    And again - another poor track choice from a band that's done some great
    stuff (...<thinks>... damn, none spring to mind but they've done loads of
    great stuff).

13) DC Talk

    (phew, that coffee was long overdue)

    I'm really searching for things to like and I've come up with the whubba
    whubba sound used in the background at intervals throughout the track. Ah
    yes, this is probably the most influential whubba whubba sound to have come
    out of the 20th century music industry since since the famously hairlipped
    lead singer of Plugh gave us the unforgettable "You're my rubber lover".

14) The Eels

    <stop press> this track is alright!

    Mind you, I took their CD back after a week 'cos it wasn't good enough to
    appear in my top 650 - still ... well done, a good effort!

15) ooh ooh I know this, it's a bit crap but ... NO! ... The Waterboys

    Now this really takes the biscuit. I would rate the Waterboys as excellent
    but you've done it again. Please tell me this is the only Waterboys track
    you've ever heard and that you didn't actually select it in favour of, well
    practically any other Waterboys track I can think of.

16) Simon and Garfunkel

    Yeah, they're great ... ham and mushroom but great.

17) Sting

    "Hello, my name is Alec Turner and ... (gulp) ... I LIKE Sting"

    There, I've said it, now let's press on before someone sees this on my

    Oh, and I appreciate the resonance of including this track on a "Spirit of"
    CD. Just the sort of thing I enjoy trying to do on SoSSL.

18) Sly and the Family Stone

    Hmmm, my foot appears to be tapping slightly - I may decide to pursue this
    funky music style further. 

    2:30 - then again (nothing specifically bad happens at this point in the
    track you understand, it's just that it's still going and I've become

19) Louis Armstrong

    Hurray! At the eleventh hour a stone cold, certifiable f***ing classic!

    In last years HMV millenium music poll I nominated this as the greatest
    track of all time.

20) Michael Jackson?, oh sorry - Phil Keaggy

    ... no, I've stared into space looking for a poetic final paragraph for a
    full 2:29 now but nothing comes to mind, I shall have to consult Roger's
    Profanisaurus ... this track "Yaffles The Yoghurt Canon"

Having got to the end I realise I haven't given any scores but I'm so taken
with my "ham and mushroom" analogy that I'm going to give each track a food
rating instead.

1) Hendrix                      dahl
2) It Bites                     egg soup
3) Dada                         rocket lettuce
4) Peter Gabriel                a very small profiterole
5) Aretha Franklin              chocolate mousse
6) Joni Mitchell                Yakult
7) Paul Simon                   ham and mushroom pizza (thin 'n crispy)
8) Quake                        unidentifiable grey liquid
9) The Rutles                   bag of frazzles
10) Spinal Tap                  cabbage stew
11) The Simpsons                jelly
12) Abba                        Nutella spread sandwich
13) DC Talk                     Pizza Hut eat-all-you-can salad bar
14) The Eels                    cornish pastie
15) The Waterboys               a pineapple ring
16) Simon & Garfunkel           ham and mushroom pizza (deep pan)
17) Sting                       jam dougnut
18) Sly ...                     pork char sui
19) Louis Armstrong             Cappuccino
20) Phil Keaggy                 more Yakult

Believe it or not I actually thought long and hard about these and I think I've
managed to sum up my cullinary feellings toward each track quite well. Anyway,
it appears to be tomorrow morning and I'm still writing this so I'll call it a

... Alec



In a subsequent email, Alec explained that ``I asked around the office for the name of a really "sloppy" indian food ('cos I'm not that fond of sloppy myself, preferring chicken tikka) and Nich came up with Dahl''. And also that ``Yakult is a rather nasty, small yoghurt drink.''

(I will resist the temptation to defend my musical choices, but can't help mentioning in passing that these comments come from someone whose top-ten compilation includes Kraftwerk's The Model.)

        - Mike.

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