Spirit of SSL v5

3rd April 2001

Spirit of SSL v5, front cover Spirit of SSL v5, back cover
  1. Mogwai - Punk Rock (alec)
    Er, this isn't really music, is it? I mean, OK, it's interesting enough, but not something I can imagine wanting to go back and listen to again and again. Hmmm. Don't know what mark to award here, so I'm going to wimp out and say

  2. Entombed - Like This With The Devil (sacha)
    Well, what a total, unexpected shock to find that Sacha's choice is an offensively formless chunk of random noise scarred by lyrical abominations and instrumental incompetence of the very highest rank. There's certainly been nothing in his history of his choices on previous SoSSLs that would have led us to think him a musical illiterate with no more taste than a small piece of wood. After all, we're talking about the man who brought us Mr Bungle's Squeeze Me Macaroni on SoSSL #3 and Guns & Roses' Nightrain on SoSSL 4 ... Ah. I see now where my argument falls down.

    I've never awarded a negative mark out of ten before (and I believe that Sacha has somehow avoided the cherished Zero Out Of Ten accolade, despite his unparalled sequence of unalloyed garbage.) But for this alleged song, I think the time has come to award the first ever negative mark. I also have pleasure in awarding Sacha the coveted Lifetime Achievement Award For Choosing Crap Music.

    STOP PRESS: having had a nice, relaxing weekend - with a bit of sunshine even - and having listened to this song again, I now realise that I wasn't nearly harsh enough about it. Please forgive my temporary aberration. I hereby change my mark to

  3. Groove Armada - Dusk, You & Me (chrisg)
    Mmmmm ... Nice.

  4. Creedence Clearwater Revival - Born On The Bayou (nich)
    It's hard to get excited about this, but it passes the time pleasantly enough. For some reason, I expected Creedence Clearwater Revival to have a soppy-sounding girl singer in the style of Stevie Nicks or somesuch - so the grinding blues vocal was a pleasant surprise. But really, this is hardly advancing the boundaries of Music As We Know It, now, is it? It's the sort of thing you expect to have down quiet in the background when you go to an American-style restaurant.

    And does it really have to go on for quite so long? I think two minutes or so would be more than ample.

  5. Coleman Hawkins & Ben Webster - Shine On Harvest Moon (george)
    I really like this. I love it when jazz musicians don't play as though they have something to prove - when they don't sound like they're ashamed and reluctant to play the actual tune, as though everything has to be improvised. This performance is recognisable as what it is, really well phrased, with a gorgeous smoky feel to the lead. All that said, isn't it a bit ... well, you know ... ordinary?

  6. R.E.M. - Bang And Blame (dino)
    What's the big deal with R.E.M. exactly? They're huge, right? Is there any reason whatsoever for this? They're so average. Surely the least irrational explanation for their dispropotionate popularity is mind-control rays from outer space? I mean, honestly. They're just a couple of blokes with guitars. Their songs are dull, their arrangements are pedestrian, their lyrics are at best glib and at worst fatuous. ``Bang and blame'' indeed!

  7. The Jam - Start (alec)
    A certifiable classic. All that texture, aggression, horn stabs and - gasp - even a tune. Says all it has to say in two and half minutes minutes, then shuts up. How about that, then? Are you listening, Born on the Bayou?

  8. Coldplay - Spies (mark)
    Hmmm. Interesting. I'll need to listen to it again, but there's definitely something hypnotic and powerful about this. It's the first thing I've heard by this band, and I like it enough that it won't be the last.

  9. The Cardigans - LoveFool (matthew)
    My first reaction to this was that it was ``Pop music'' in the pejorative sense - the aural equivalent of Chinese food in that it's pleasant enough at the time, but five minutes later, your world is exactly the same as it was before. On a second listen, I'm inclined to be more positive: you have to admire the craftsmanship and the slickness even if it's not exactly earth-shattering. I can't actively object to this song any more than I can to Peckham-style alleged sweet-and-sour pork balls, but neither can I imagine it having any effect on me or anyone or anything. A pleasant waste of bandwidth.

  10. Foo Fighters - Everlong (sacha)
    I'm just not going to get drawn into this.

  11. Roy Harper - When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease (mike)
    Interesting, and - which is a bonus on a Spirit CD - not actively unpleasant to listen to. I could live without the weird echoey voice treatment though. It might help a bit if could understand the cricket jargon. What's the significance of the man at silly mid on? Who knows? And why oh why is this song so damned long? Yours, disgusted of Tunbridge Wells.

  12. Stevie Ray Vaughan - Honey Bee (francesco)
    Rock and roll!

  13. Ibrahim Ferrer - Silencio (sarah)
    Intriguing blend of balladeering, Latin, Hawaiian and, and, well, something else anyway. Something odd. I can't tell yet whether I'm going to actually like it once I've heard it a few times, so the safe mark to award is probably -

  14. The Cure - Jumping Someone Else's Train (alec)
    They do say that the Cure are an acquired taste, don't they? I think I can just about see what this is getting at - in the same way the people often catch a glipse of what the point is to (say) Hendrix before they actually get it. I have to say that flat, insistent, Smiths-like guitar sound really irritates the intestines out of me though. Still, I'm going to give this the benefit of the doubt, expecting that when I've listened to it a bit more, my mark will go up or down by two or three points.

  15. Piano Circus - Sextet (mas)
    Surprisingly pleasant.

  16. Radiohead - Creep (misha)
    OK, I realise this is very old-fashioned and all, but the language on this does bother me. It's a jolt every time. Well, I guess that's what they were aiming for, so good luck to 'em. But it doesn't win any points off me. Shame because otherwise this is excellent - a deep, irresistable, slow groove, wiped-out vocals, and sonic assaults from the guitar which are all the more effective for not being constant. So let's see, all in all -

  17. Emma Kirkby - Ruhe Sanft (fred)
    I never know what to say about classical selections. There's obviously so much more going on here than I can hope to pick up from one or two listens, and that gradual emergence of perceived complexity is one of the most rewarding things about classical music. That said, I'm just going to go right ahead and mark it on the basis of one listen. I can't say I go a bundle on the sound of the female classical singing style (give me Bono or David Coverdale any day!) but still - at the very least it's nice to listen to, and there are obviously hidden depths which I guess I'll spot eventually :-)

  18. Sex Pistols - My Way (john)
    This made me laugh out loud in the first couple of bars. It's sort of a shame that the band has to come in for the second verse, but I suppose that makes two separate jokes, and the first one alone would grow thin quite quickly. If ever a song was due this sort of deconstruction treatment, the execrable My Way is definitely it - what can you say about a song which requires its singer to declaim, with a straight face: ``Regrets, I've had a few / But then again, too few to mention / I did what I had to do / And saw it through without exemption''? What a crock.

(on to Volume 6.)

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