I hardly said a word

I’ve had a thoroughly splendid week in terms of listening pleasure. I had an interesting conversation about musical snobbery and what makes a good pop song during several hours in bar that played the most chronic selection of shite I’ve heard in some time. A quick comment about how the Girls Aloud track playing when we went in was probably the best thing that they’d managed in about two hours spiraled off into something far more complicated. Anyway, the conversation leads me nicely to my first point of interest this week, Lily Allen.

A few months ago I read that she’d posted a couple of new tracks on her Myspace and I made a mental note to have a listen at some point. I finally did that today and I’m pleasantly surprised. There were some decent tracks on debut album; sampling Allen Toussaint is always good by me and ‘Alfie‘ is pop genius, but for the new record she’s gone in an electro-pop direction. The two new tunes are splendid, in particular the first offering, ‘I Don’t Know’ which has an enjoyable quiet/loud Girls Aloud/Sugababes feel to it. Not that I imagine she’d be especially thrilled with the comparison. The second track, ‘I Could Say’ sounds a little like a Pet Shop Boys ballad. Anyhoo, whatever I think, I’d recommend having a listen via the link above.

Speaking of the PSBs, they recently recorded a cover of Madness‘My Girl’ while rehearsing for a live performance with Suggs. On this delightful demo, Neil takes lead vocals and it’s a wonderfully quirky take on a classic tune. You can access it via the ‘exclusive tracks’ page in the ‘Product’ area on their website. Or you could just click here. You choose, why don’t you?

A final true ‘pop’ moment before moving on. As I’m pointing out rather splendid bits of popular music that I’m rather fond of, I’ll give a quick mention to Rihanna‘s ‘Don’t Stop The Music’. Now, I know this isn’t exactly new and I know that you probably cut your ears off after the ninety-seventh time you heard ‘Umbrella‘, but this is a true pop classic. Meticulously crafted, never quite as fast as you think it’s going to be and yet deceptively uplifting. Ver Tube allows a listen below.

I’ve been living with Weller‘s ’22 Dreams’ for a week now, and it’s almost as good as the reviews are suggesting. Let’s get one thing straight before we go on – it ain’t a five-star kind of album. It can’t be, really, because of its quite deliberate ebbs and flows. A few tracks add nothing, and the final, noodly instrumental track, ‘Night Lights’ really outstays its welcome. But it’s a definite four-star kind of album and one which repays repeated listens. That’s not especially surprising when you bear in mind that there are 21 tracks to absorb. Apparently, the deluxe edition has sold out already, but you’ll not be missing much if you’ve not got it. ‘Rip Up The Pages’ and ‘Love’s Got Me Crazy’ are the additional tunes – both rather good, and probably more deserving of a place on the main album that some of the more fanciful farting about, but all of that stuff does rather add to its charm. Have a listen via the link below and make sure you do it in one sitting; it works better that way.

I should just finish by noting the fact that a true great, Bo Diddley died earlier this week. If you know nowt about the man or his music, you should probably get that sorted. One of the ‘Chess‘ collections should suffice. Some far more professional and worthy tributes can be found via the following links:

1. Richard Hawley’s tribute on the BBC site

2. First ten minutes of Gary Crowley’s show, filling in for Tom Robinson on 6music on Friday 6th June

3. Mark Lamarr’s ‘God’s Jukebox’ from Saturday 7th June. Various tunes and references throughout.

Really I need a rapper to just talk bollocks over the start of this, and then I’ll have loads of readers

Sitting here, air-drumming along to ‘A Certain Trigger‘ as I am, I am reminded of just why I love music so much, and spend so much of my hard-earned cash upon it. It really can pick you up, give you a massive great shake and set you on your feet again.
Whilst purchasing a few bits and bobs in Morrisons earlier, I was drawn to their ‘Chart CDs for £7’ offer. Naturally, the choice isn’t exactly broad, and I enjoyed smirking at the big pile of unloved Athlete albums, but I was reminded that I’d toyed with picking up the Rihanna album a few weeks back. ‘Umbrella‘ started off as something I found quite annoying – quite possibly simply because lots of people like it, but it grew and grew until I finally realised that it’s a piece of perfect pop. Factor in the new single, ‘Shut Up and Drive‘ and I was sold. Turns out that the album is really good record, and that the pop masterclass is present for pretty much the duration. I’m not ashamed to admit my liking for pop – the Girls Aloud and Sugababes singles collections are both fantastic sets – but I have to confess that I didn’t imagine a few months back that I’d be enjoying a Rihanna album quite so much.
I also didn’t imagine I’d be particularly impressed by an issue of Q magazine, but lo-and-behold, the new ‘Songwriting issue‘ is a great record. Interviews with Stipey, Bjork, Rufus Wainwright and Nick Cave amongst many others and Cash For Questions is Girls Aloud. The Editor’s note suggests it’ll be normal, lists-r-us fodder next month. They do have a sense of humour, mind. On the letters page, someone’s written in to point out that there’s a Scandinavian magazine called Q. The Q response is, “Do they do lists?”