Don’t look back [Open Thread]

With my first weekend at home since mid-December (I was otherwise in lab or out of town), I was faced with a monumental cleanup task. I’m pleased to say that I got ten, maybe fifteen percent of it done. Sure would be nice if I had floor tiles. But at least I got my rug back (it needed to be cleaned after the flood). That rug really tied the room together.
Belle & Sebastian: If You’re Feeling Sinister: Live At The Barbican: I mentioned in the Essential 90’s Albums post that the studio version of this is my current favorite album from that decade. It was only after I posted that that I went on iTunes and picked up this live version. (I don’t normally buy from iTunes but that’s the only place to get this particular recording.) This show was a charity concert (I think as part of the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival?) in which Belle & Sebastian played through every track on their second album, in order. Supposedly this was meant to supplant the original studio album, which was not a high-quality recording. It’s hard to imagine how a live performance could be suitable for this, but now that I’ve heard it I can understand. Most of the songs come through with more power and more polish, and it’s nice to hear them in the hands of a more matured band. (Also, the sounds of children in the background of the title track on the studio version always annoyed me.) Some of the tracks I was less fond of in the original receive a serious boost: “Stars of Track and Field” and “Me and the Major” in particular; meanwhile most of my favorites sound awesome. “Like Dylan in the Movies” comes out the best here, followed closely by “Judy and the Dream of Horses”. On the other hand, “The Fox in the Snow” really should sound thin and forlorn the way it does in the studio version, and doesn’t quite have the same effect here. But apart from that it’s a terrific take on this material, and I’d recommend it regardless of whether you’ve heard the studio version.
On a related note, Belle & Sebastian will be touring in the U.S. starting in February, and the New Pornographers will be opening for them. If you’ve ever clicked on my profile you may have noticed that these are my two most-played bands, so needless to say I already have my ticket. Tickets went on sale for west coast venues this weekend; here’s the tour information.

10 thoughts on “Don’t look back [Open Thread]

  1. Mason

    I had a brief discussion with Josh today about the song “Magic Dance” from Labyrinth, and he brought up the baby in the background during parts of the track, so maybe this runs in the family?
    In terms of top bands, I don’t know how to get iTunes to sum up over bands, but here are the top songs on my iTunes. Ties below are broken by some category alphabetically.
    1. Cause & Effect (Long Way Down)
    2. Dar Williams (Are You Out There)
    3. “Unknown Artist” (Theme to WKRP in Cincinatti)
    4. Depeche Mode (Policy of Truth; the album version)
    5. Fiction Factory “(Feels Like)” Heaven [hmmm…iTunes must like this; I definitely haven’t been requesting this much]
    6. Midnight Oil (Blue Sky Mine)
    7. Bob Dylan (Things Have Changed)
    8. Juice Newton (Queen of Hearts)
    9. Alphaville (Big in Japan)
    10. The Call (Let The Day Begin)
    11. Enya (Orinoco Flow)
    aside: I just found an _awesome_ cover of Orinoco Flow by the band Celtic Woman
    12. King (Love And Pride)
    13. Monaco (What Do You Want From Me?)
    aside: Monaco is a New Order side project
    14. OMD (Stand Above Me)
    15. Angelo Venuto (Sweet Caroline)
    16. Duran Duran (Finest Hour)
    17. Sting (Shape of My Heart)
    18. Barenaked Ladies (I’ll Be That Girl)
    iTunes likes that one too; I don’t request that one
    19. Blancmange (Don’t Tell Me, 12 Inch)
    20. Depeche Mode (Strangelove; the ’88 single version)
    21. Frou Frou (Holding Out For a Hero)
    22. Pet Shop Boys (Tonight Is Forever)
    23. Sting (Desert Rose)
    24. Tom Jones & the Cardigans (Burning Down The House)
    aside: this is an awesome cover
    25. Warren Zevon (Excitable Boy)

  2. Lanth

    Wow, Mason, I know exactly two of those songs.
    Since this is an open thread, I’ll take the chance to mention that every copy of the most recent mix CD you brought down has garbled versions of Track 2, Track 3, and Track 12. Any chance of us getting to hear them unscrambled? Track 12 especially sounds like it would be neat, until it goes *grrarbleepyiyiyieeerk*.

  3. Arcane Gazebo

    Mason: Generally speaking, children (or worse, infants) in the background of a song means an automatic one-star deduction from its iTunes rating in my library. “Sinister” was exempted from this (or maybe it started with six stars).
    I don’t think there’s an easy way to get iTunes to sum up over bands, short of exporting the library to XML and running a script that does this. I have a plug-in that sends data to and then they do the summing for me.
    Lanth: D’OH. Clearly I need to work on quality control (and probably replace my CD burner). I’ll put the tracks online so you guys can download them. I’ll send out e-mail with the location.

  4. Mason

    Oh, so the best comment I can give when somebody gives me music is to introduce me to a new band which has songs I really like, which in this case is Ladytron (though preliminary I think I like Beauty*2 best). They remind me of The Cruxshadows (and they seem to have some new wave influences as well, which I obviously appreicate).
    I had some clipping as well, but I am far more concerned with hearing new music I like. I can always acquire the tracks in other manners once I’ve been introduced to them.
    Anyway, thanks! It’s much appreciated!
    Lanth: Some of the songs/groups I mention are obscure (some were not released as singles, for example), but 2 (in the non-gully dwarf sense) is smaller than I’d expect. It’s probably because you’re too young. :) A couple of them are covers of better-known versions (Holding Out For a Hero, Burning Down the House, Sweet Caroline).
    Now, if I had to guess which ones you know, I would say Orinoco Flow is one of them. I would normally guess the original version of Burning Down The House as the other, but since I should match both song and title, I’ll say Policy of Truth, which has the honor of being the {\it only} Depeche Mode song among those eligible (over 40 of them) to be ranked in the pop charts in both the US and UK (I’ll suppress details of why some of their songs were eligible in one country and not the other) to go (slightly) higher in the general US pop charts than in the general UK one (15 to 16, I believe).
    Also, there’s no excuse for not knowing Excitable Boy, so maybe you know that one? The protagonist in the song rubs pot roast over his chest! How can one not love that?!!

  5. Arcane Gazebo

    Excellent, the Ladytron faction is growing. “Beauty*2″ is a very good song, and if I hadn’t constrained myself to one song per album on that mix CD it would have been there, along with “The Last One Standing”.

  6. Lanth

    Mason, the two I know are Dar Williams’ Are You Out There (one of my favorite songs) and Sting’s Desert Rose (love the CD that’s from, but don’t particularly like that track). I was going to mention that I might have heard the Enya song, but I’m not very good at remembering her wacky names.
    I’ve certainly heard the original Burning Down the House, but not the cover you mentioned, so I didn’t count that. Sweet Caroline and Holding Out for a Hero don’t sound at all familiar, but some googling reveals I do, in fact, know Policy of Truth (albeit only by the chorus lyrics, and I can’t recall the tune for the life of me). So that’s up to 4 now!

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