Today’s 1001 Albums adventure is another collection of albums heard by less than 5% of the listchallenges.com community. While some of these artists are relatively obscure, there’s some pretty big names in there too, so hopefully this isn’t too unfathomable a collection. Let’s roll…
Girls Against Boys, ‘Venus Luxure No 1 Baby’ (link)
I’d not heard of this act before I pressed play on the album, so it could have been anything as far as I knew. What it actually is, however, is a Fugazi offshoot with an unusual guitar-2 basses-drums line-up, adding an aggressive low-end heaviness to the insolent grungy indie style they work with. Released in 1993, you can see echoes of their style in later Deftones, Rival Schools and others, even if the two-bass line-up never caught on.
Baaba Maal, ‘Lam Toro’
Apparently designed as Maal’s crossover – not entirely successful – ‘Lam Toro’ is a mishmash of traditional Senegalese music, bad guitar solos (on ‘Minuit’) and dated Shaggy-ish reggae (on the single ‘Yela’). The unevenness doesn’t make for a satisfying listen, in spite of Maal’s best efforts vocally. This is exasperatingly difficult to find online, despite having been released on an Island Records subsidiary.
John Martyn, ‘One World’ (link)
The mumbly jazz-folk oddity is better known for ‘Solid Air‘, a hard-to-categorise 1972 effort. This is equally difficult to pigeonhole, being a kind of folk that incorporates elements of jazz and funk and then submerges them under a bunch of effects. It’s no surprise to see Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry credited on ‘Big Muff’, a loose dub-like funk in keeping with Martyn’s album title, but completely unlike any of the other folk albums I’ve heard from this time. Martyn, a stranger to me at the start of the project, is an interesting character.
Method Man, ‘Tical’ (link)
One of at least three Wu Tang solo projects on the list (’36 Chambers’ is the only full cast album on the 1001), this one is the one that sounds most like the band’s debut, not least because it too features the song ‘Method Man’. Apparently by design there’s cheap keyboards all over it, Emerson, Lake and Palmer are sampled, while a ridiculous version of ‘Mr Sandman’ sung by a choirboy is the most unusual gamble here. It’s competent but oddly unsatisfying.
Fred Neil, ‘Fred Neil’ (link, see note below)
Available on Spotify rolled into a compilation called ‘The Many Sides of Fred Neil’, this is best known for ‘Everybody’s Talkin”, later a hit for Harry Nilsson (the album was later re-released as ‘Everybody’s Talkin”). It’s a folky record that’s okay but dull, which incongruously ends with an avant-garde attempt at a raga that goes on for eight minutes. It was the 60s, what can I say? The album opens with ‘Dolphins’, which serves as a clue to Neil’s future career: never keen on touring or promoting his work, Neil abandoned music in the 70s and spent the rest of his life working in dolphin conservation.
The Only Ones, ‘The Only Ones’ (link)
Woozy junk anthem ‘Another Girl, Another Planet’ is a staple of punk compilations but the band’s three-album career is otherwise mostly forgotten. On this evidence, the band could do with re-appraisal, as this is one of the most dexterous punk albums I’ve heard. Featuring horns and keyboards augmenting the familiar two-guitar/bass/drums line-up, the band can make a three-minute song sound like an epic rock song, and Peter Perrett’s languid voice oddly works over whatever backing it’s given. The band are, apparently, still together following an appearance in a Vodafone advert and a Libertines endorsement, although the three albums are still all we’ve had.
The Undertones, ‘Hypnotised’ (link)
We covered ‘The Undertones’ last year, a just-about-competently-played punk album best known for ‘Teenage Kicks’. On ‘Hypnotised’, the band maintain the helium-Ramones energy of their debut but add a few more musical influences and a bit more musical proficiency that leads to a better album. It starts with ‘More Songs About Chocolate And Girls’ (a Talking Heads joke maybe?) and that pretty much summarises the lyrical thrust, while backing vocals, keyboards and ‘My Perfect Cousin’ all appear.
Next week: Hold onto your MySpace profile, set your MSN Messenger to ‘away’ and pause that DVD of ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ as we’re going into the 2000s!
Status update: 854 listened to (85%), 147 remain.