Boxing clever (and why I love Tindersticks)

The Monkey album, ‘Journey To The West’ came out today and it’s really rather good. I’d anticipated having to give it a number of listens before warming to it. I figured it’d be awkward and difficult to get my head round, but it’s actually pretty accessible. There’s some lovely little Albarn melodies and flourishes throughout and, while there’s still far too much to get your head round on the first listen, you’ll certainly find yourself going back for more.

The only way you can get this on vinyl is via the special edition by The Vinyl Factory, which is £65 before P+P! As much as I love Damon’s music, I’m not shelling out that kind of cash on a one album. It’s one of many, similarly insane, projects that have been put before the record-buying public of late. When Radiohead announced the ‘In Rainbows‘ project, back in October of last year, the media made bold claims about the impact it would have on the music industry and how free music would be the way forward. Far from it, it turns out. The actual legacy of the experiment is the ‘discbox’ effect, with prices ranging from ‘a little steep’ to ‘taking the piss’. Primal Scream have one for ‘Beautiful Future’, also created by The Vinyl Factory. You get the album, on double vinyl, plus a 12″ with one remix on it, a poster and a fancy, but flimsy booklet. All for the knock-down, bargainous price of £50 + P+P. No, seriously! There’s one for the new album by The Verve, which features the CD/DVD and double vinyl (featuring two bonus tracks) and a booklet with ‘exclusive artwork’. £40 to you. Likewise, Portishead‘s ‘Third‘ came in a box with double vinyl, an etched 12″ of ‘Machine Gun‘ (available elsewhere for £4) and a USB stick with digital files of the album and some videos. Once again, £40. The new Oasis album will also be available in a £50 special edition and there are plenty of others that you can seek out in your own time. As nice an idea as they initially seem, it’s starting to feel like the record companies have grabbed at this concept as a way of trying to prop-up flagging sales by fleecing the hardcore fans for as much as they’re willing to pay.

Obviously, I’m in the minority in that I buy a lot of records and thus I’m exposed to a lot of these ‘special’ editions, whereas perhaps the casual fan is less aware of how common these are becoming. However, that doesn’t make them any more palatable. The original Radiohead discbox is a delight. Worth £40? Probably not, but it was justifiable as a ‘one-off’, a treat, a nice item for the collection. But, now they’re coming thick and fast, I’m finding myself tempted by many options and therefore choosing to buy none of them. The minute these become an acceptable indulgence, my record-buying budget goes out the window. I know, I know; I’m moaning about something I can just ignore. If I think they’re too pricey, I can just not buy them. But they’re so pretty!

Two more things before I go. Firstly, I was flicking through the Later – The First 15 Years DVD the other day and came across a truly joyous performance from Al Green. Sure, at times he does Grandad dancing and smiling that much is probably bad for your health (well, your jaw at least) but he just oozes enjoyment and I found myself grinning like an idiot by the end. Watch it yourself right now:

I’ve spent most of the last few days listening to the music of Nottingham’s Tindersticks. Why had nobody told me about them before? I knew they were there but I’ve no real recollection of hearing much of their stuff previously and I’d never read anything that made me want to investigate, but I’ve really been missing out. Delicate but ambitious indie music that isn’t ashamed to wear its soul and jazz influences in public, their back catalogue is an absolute joy. The first two albums, both, confusingly, called ‘Tindersticks‘ are avilable now in expanded, double CD format and I cannot recommend them highly enough. That said, I’d also recommend all of their other studio albums, so you won’t go wrong, whatever you go for.

Here’s some YouTube-age to begin the love-in.

This is the track, ‘For Those’, rendered so beautifully on the Bloomsbury disc that accompanies the reissued version of their second album and in demo form on the debut’s bonus disc.

A vintage Jools performance – firstly, ‘No More Affairs’

and then ‘Talk To Me’.

Finally, this is the much-revered, ‘Tiny Tears’, accompanied by some random footage, as it average You-Tuber’s wont.

Good, aren’t they? If you’ve just fallen in love, thank me later. If you already knew, why didn’t you tell me?