14th September 2002
Here's my typically restrained review of Spirit of SSL v7 - sorry it's taken a while coming, but that's largely because my review copy of the CD took a long time to arrive!
I was so taken with Alec's If-You-Like-That-You'll-Love-This feature in his review of Spirit of TECC v3 that I'm going to do the same thing here.
BTW., the cover-art is a masterpiece.
Anyway, I've heard much, much worse on SoSSL's (and will shortly do so again, as I can tell from Sacha's name next to track 5) so let's be generous and open with a frankly unmerited 7/10. No, hang on, 6/10 is more realistic.
IYLTYL: Portishead's Mysterons
IYLTYL: Weather Report's Birdland
Anyway. I could have written this song on the back of a fag-packet in about thirty seconds, and no doubt the Stone Roses did exactly that. Not coincidentally, it takes about thirty seconds of the song to hear absolutely everything it has to say. I considered giving this a 4/10, but I'm going to go with 5/10 because I think that's actually more insulting: the implications of utter mediocrity seem more appropriate than 4/10's implication of something interestingly unpleasant. I'll save the sub-five marks for Sacha.
[Much, much later] I can't believe that took nearly five minutes. Not to mention that the MP3 takes up four and half perfectly good megabytes of disk space. (Insert old-fart story about how the whole Unix installation used to fit in that amount of space when I were a lad.) For this song, I recommend use of the lossless compression filter dd bs=470k count=1. Don't try this on Bohemian Rhapsody, kids!
IYLTYL: The Lightning Seeds' Change
6/10, I suppose.
IYLTYL: Ennio Morricone, anything from the soundtrack to The Mission (there are two excerpts on SoSSL v1 if you're interested.)
About seven seconds in, you hit the ``next track'' key.
Then you have an attack of integrity and go back and listen all the way through the whole damned thing.
Call me self-centered if you will, but it seems to me that Sacha long ago gave up any pretense of choosing music that he actually likes; around volume 4, he started choosing purely to annoy me, and he can deny it all he likes but we both know it's true. This time, he's gone for an irritatingly anodyne excrescence. It manages to combine the flatulence of Kiss (``Shock me! Put on your black sweater!'') with the futility of Poison (OK, I know Emma chose that one, but it could so easily have been Sacha). But, truth to tell, it never comes close to the levels of pestilence achieved by the likes of Entombed's Like This with the Devil (or LLLLLKKTHTHTHISSWITHTHTDDDVVLL to give it a title bearing a closer phonetic resemblance to what is actually sung).
I'm giving this song 3/10 primarily in order to annoy Sacha, because I know he likes getting zeroes. Truly, this is not bad enough to merit a really low mark. But it's profoundly pointless. (How very Zen.) Basically, if Kylie did metal, this is what it would sound like. (And when I say that, I mean it to sting.)
IYLTYL: sticking your head inside a metal dustbin and getting several close friends to hit it (the bin, not your head) with baseball bats.
There's no denying that this is pleasant, but it's a long, long way from being I Get a Kick out of You, which Alec chose back on Spirit of SSL v3. So let's just go 6/10, shall we?
IYLTYL: Dean Martin, Ain't That a Kick in the Head?
I could write pages about how mediocre the Stones are/were. In that All Time Top Five Over-rated Artists chart, they are top by a country parsec. It truly astonishes me that they were ever considered ground-breaking or innovative (this in an era that already had the Beatles!) or indeed any good at all. Yet it seems you can't heave half a brick without hitting several dozen rock critics who nominate Keith Richards for their guitar halls of fame. (Actually, hitting several dozen of these critics with bricks may not be a bad idea. I'll try it some time.) And you can hardly turn on Channel Four without seeing some festulent Z-list celebrity claiming that there is profound poetry in the lines ``Well I'm driving in my car / and a man comes on the radio''.
With all that said, I can't in good conscience claim that this is a bad song. But it doesn't begin to justify the Stones's ludicrously inflated reputation (and neither does any of the other songs on the Sticky Fingers album, which is what I'm most familiar with). I guess justice suggests a 5/10, but deep in my heart, I long to mark this much, much lower.
IYLTYL: Coldplay, Trouble
IYLTYL: all of Radiohead's OK Computer, but no doubt you already have that. Quite right too.
It helps that it's sung with such an emotional honesty, too. It's not an intense vocal performance, because the song doesn't call for it: it doesn't need West-End-style vocal gymnastics or a virtuoso Soul-Diva performance. It just needs someone to sing the song like they mean it, which is exactly what Dido does. 9/10, then.
IYLTYL: the rest of the No Angel album, I guess. You might also like to try early Suzanne Vega, and here I am thinking primarily of the Solitude Standing album.
Basically, if Bjork sang this, it might just be interesting. But she didn't and it isn't. Another 5/10, I guess.
IYLTYL: Bjork, Hyperballad
C'mon. Honestly. Can you really listen to the main riff without wanting to go ``Oooh!'', ``Foxy!'' like Garth in Wayne's World? 'Course you can't. And don't tell me that the bit where he goes ``I'm about to take you on a journey now'' isn't a desperate attempt to do ``Look out, baby - Ah'm a-comin' ta git yer!'' (And I do mean ``desperate''.)
At first I was inclined to give this a high mark just for being Foxy Lady. But then the rapping bit started, and what had been merely an inferior cover became an actual desecration. The lower-sixth-form cod philosophy doesn't help either. ``Life is what you make it / Never try and fake it''. Per-lease.
And to top it off, the rapper then throws in an ``Aye'' which is flatly impossible to hear without thinking of Ali G.
Please. Do yourself a favour. Chuck this in the bin and go buy a copy of the One True Foxy Lady. 2/10 for the bits of the original that shine through all the crud.
IYLTYL: do I even have to say it?
IYLTYL: The Television Personalities, I Know Where Syd Barratt Lives
Anyway, it gives me no pleasure to do this to a Pink Floyd song, but I have to say 5/10. Sorry.
IYLTYL: U2, Bullet the Blue Sky
IYLTYL: anything by Joni Mitchell.
I believe the White Stripes are widely seen as The Future Of Punk. Didn't anyone notice that The Past Of Punk was rubbish? What makes anyone think it's going to be any better this time? 2/10.
IYLTYL: actual music.
IYLTYL: anything by Joe Cocker - for example, Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood.
IYLTYL: Anything by Ella Fitzgerald. The Gershwin Songbook is the obvious place to start, since the songs are mostly classics.
IYLTYL: Paul Simon, Peace Like a River
IYLTYL: Peter Gabriel's Passion, the soundtrack album to the Scorsese film, The Last Temptation of Christ. (Oddly enough, Terry used to be very keen on this.)
Man, that's a lot of 5/10s. Nearly a third of the tracks.
Final comment: wot no mas track? SoSSL is not the same without either an unpleasantly repetitive Michael Nyman track or a relentlessly overplayed early-eighties ``classic'' rock/pop track.
(on to Volume 8.)