Paul Van Dyk – Volume – The Best Of Paul Van Dyk (2009)

Trance music has never been predictable. Indeed, it is a crescendo of highs and lows in the electronic music world. Well known German DJ Paul Van Dyk put together this mix for us, a greatest hits mix showing off his music so far.

It’s a good minimalistic Trance Music sort of listening, and actually for this genre, is more quality than quantity. It’s a great way to hear some fresh tunes, so let’s jump in.

We begin with For An Angel (PvD Remix ’09) which sounds minimal and melodic for a piece of trance music. It’s a nice introduction with rapid-fire melodies and pounding beats. It’s very simple but well done.

The next piece is Home feat. Johnny McDaid (PvD Club Mix) which is a nice trippy sort of piece. It’s all similar-sounding, but mixed and done so well that it is forgivable. A nice vocal piece is here, worth hearing.

Let Go feat. Rea Garvey (VANDIT Club Mix by PvD) is more techno-based and has some unusual sounds in it. This mix flows so well, that one will be impressed by it. It’s a memorable and catchy piece. In fact, all these tunes are. The change in this tune is awesome.

White Lies feat. Jessica Sutta (Album Mix) is an acid-based experience with intertwined melodies and some great singing from our guest. It’s a nice tune to hear with a few twists and interesting sounds to boot in it.

The minimalist Nothing But You feat. Hemstock & Jennings (Original) is a truly great piece. It is a club classic, with soul searching chanting in it. You must hear this one, it’s an awesome piece with wonderful sounds in it. This album is very, very good so far, and does not fail to impress.

After that, we have Another Way (PvD Club Mix) which has banging beats and acid sounds, once again. It seems that our main man, Paul Van Dyk, uses very similar sounds. But they never disappoint, and this track is proof of it.

Forbidden Fruit (Original) is an interesting trip. Although this album does not promote drug use, it is an almost drug-like experience. A nice chilled, trippy listen.

Together We Will Conquer (Short Version) has some really interesting cut-up drum beats and some nice vocals from a guest. It’s neither overly long nor boring this album, it is purely impressive. A great listen. It sounds totally reassuring.

The next cut, New York City featuring Starkillers & Austin Leeds feat. Ashley Tomberlin (Album Mix) has a guest singer here lyrically evoking about New York City on a clubbing night. It’s a nice touch, with some imaginative thinking about it. It’s a long piece for this recording.

The bass piano-like sound that drives A Magical Moment (Original) leads into an eerie and melodic piece. Not a single track on this album mixed sounds bad or out of place. Now, that’s great modern music! It is a short 4-minute piece but sounds like great clubbing music to chill to.

Words (For Love) sounds very much like a mixture of acid noises, techno, and trance. It is so futuristic that it sounds years ahead of the R & B on the radio today. It really is great. Some great drum rolls are here too.

Tell me Why (The Riddle) feat St. Etienne (PvD Club Mix) is a nice sounding piece featuring St. Etienne with some cut-up vocal phrases from our guest. It’s a good driven piece with a multitude of well-mixed sounds.

Next up is The Other Side feat. Wayne Jackson (Original) sounds musically intense. It’s a neo-Underworld style piece that sounds really good, and tasty. It’s a pacy piece as well. Good listening, with a processed acoustic guitar in it as well. It’s 8 minutes long but doesn’t feel like it is as such.

Following up is the blistering We Are Alive feat. Jennifer Brown (Original) which has a great repeating vocal melody and bombastic drums to boot. It breaks down into a melodic and computerised tune that is very danceable.

Time Of Our Lives feat. Vega 4 (US Radio Edit) is a nice little number reflective on said time of our lives. Melody and rhythm intertwine in such a wonderfully musical way. It’s a great listen for said reflection.

Wir Send Wir & Heppner (Radio Version) is a nice way to finish the album here. It’s a German song but done so well that it could have been English in its emotion. We finish the album off very well.

If you ever need a good listen to one of the greatest introductions to trance music, or just a great mix full of great tunes, start here. You will not be disappointed. The future is here.

9/10

Primal Scream – Screamadelica (1991)

Primal Scream became a success with this album. Prior to this, they were very desperate to make some sort of success and had released some rather ordinary rock material. It’s not dissimilar a journey that fellow contemporaries Underworld had experienced. Once the single Loaded arrived, it was played heavily in clubs and underground raves everywhere.

This album came next. It is a genuine classic in its own right. It has a fusion of psychedelic and electronic sounds done so well that their earlier mediocre rock efforts are forgivable. Let’s listen through this, track by track.

Movin’ On Up is just that. It’s a gospel house like piece and introduced the group into their new format. The stoned sounding singing from Bobby Gillespie suits this piece very well. It’s a quick and catchy piece with a variety of instrumentation to boot. The screaming guitars are fantastic here. A nice start to the album.

Slip Inside This House was originally done by the 13th Floor Elevators on their own Easter Everywhere album. It features the ‘amen break’ and some great textures and a superb bassline. Still, the Primal Scream boys here match the 13th Floor Elevators effort with this cover. It’s catchy and brilliant. Welcome to the 1990s, ladies, and gentlemen.

The next piece Don’t Fight It, Feel It is another great piece featuring female vocals which suit this piece perfectly. “I’m going to live the life I love, I’m going to love the life I live.” is chanted here. It sounds very danceable and good quality, and unlike most dance music, this is not a throwaway piece. Some tripped out sounds are here too to keep you listening on.

After that, we go downtempo and heavily psychedelic with Higher Than The Sun. It talks directly about hallucinogenic drugs and enhancing one’s experience with such experiences from that. The stoned vocals are here again from Bobby Gillespie, the lead singer. It’s a brilliant and openly druggy piece. You can easily hear how inspired these guys were making this piece.

Inner Flight comes next. Some great vocal melodies kick off a minor key track, with a psychedelic keyboard patch that sounds a lot like Coldplay’s Clocks. No second-guessing where Coldplay stole that one from. But hey, it’s chilled and relaxing. Let the music guide you on this journey, as it is tasty listening. The outro has a wonderful vocal melody to boot.

Come Together is an extended piece, going over 10 minutes long. It’s a neo-hippie call to arms. It’s an ode to music and a very good one. There are numerous sounds, well-chosen and a great sample is here about the true nature of music. If you wish to hear a song that will destroy barriers for music listeners, this should be it. It never seems boring at all through the 10 minutes at all. Smile and enjoy the numerous textures and singing here.

The original Andy Weatherall Loaded arrives with a sample from a cult film at the start, before going into Cuban style beats, piano, real bass guitar, and a melancholy slide guitar melody. Horns and fiddles join the mix too. It’s a truly great piece of music, and is very moving and enjoyable, all the way through. It proves that even using computers, human beings can create a great and emotional piece of music. The world of music never was the same after this song, in that respect.

After that, Damaged arrives. It’s a downtempo piece and sounds very gentle in approach. It sounds melancholic and loving towards a partner but has some great vocal harmonies in it as well. It’s a reflection on a past love but works well here. Some nice Fender Stratocaster sounding playing is here to top it all off amongst everything else. Good job.

I’m Comin’ Down is a very low-tempo and subdued piece. It, of course, refers to a post MDMA/Ecstasy come down, or a comedown of a drug of a similar sort. It has some truly interesting and wonderful saxophone and other electronic-based sounds here. It’s a gentle and kind piece to listen to. This album is really very awesome in many ways, and this proves the musicality of Primal Scream right here. A must-listen for relaxation.

Higher Than The Sun – A Dub Symphony In Two Parts has the legendary bassist Jah Wobble from early era Public Image Limited featured on this track. It’s very much a reprise of Higher Than The Sun and acts as an almost concept album like idea for a track. Although not officially a concept album, Screamadelica could be considered one. Some space like tripped out sounds makes up this piece. Good to hear that these guys had many ideas for our own listening enjoyment. The bassline and breakbeats are classy too.

The last cut, Shine Like Stars, sounds Syd Barrett-esque with the twinkling melody-based sound. It’s simply a nice song to finish off this album. It’s gentle and reassuring, sounding almost like King Crimson. Mint.

This album saved Primal Scream, both financially and musically. It sounds so well done, even today, blowing a lot of your mainstream R & B away. If you like to hear the most psychedelic electronic sounds out there, you should listen to this album. You will not be disappointed.

9/10

Pink Floyd – Atom Heart Mother (1970)

This is the first really good album of Pink Floyd’s after Syd Barrett’s departure. Understandably, this was new territory for Pink Floyd and the group was still coming to terms with the loss of Syd. Still, it’s a very good listen, despite the fact it is no Dark Side Of The Moon. It’s essential listening if you like Pink Floyd. It was also their first UK #1 album as well.

It’s likely inspired by recent acts of the time, such as King Crimson. Pink Floyd were art school students, and they treated their work as such. This is a perfect snapshot of the era.

We begin with the 23-minute long title track Atom Heart Mother. It begins with some dark electronic sounds and some trumpets, before emerging into a glorious-sounding piece. It sounds classy, and English. The band then enters the scene, with some nice drum work by Nick Mason. A motorbike speeds off as well. Layered keyboard pieces then arrive, which sound sweet. More instrumentation enters the scene, with beautiful slide guitar to paint the picture. Classical type instrumentation arrives next, and this is just the first five minutes. An era evoking trippy organ and gospel vocals match the piece after that. The gospels vocals are emotional here, proto Dark Side Of The Moon style. The drums then re-emerge into the picture, sounding suitably appropriate. The melody suddenly changes, allowing Roger Waters’s bass and David Gilmour’s guitar playing to really shine here. The latter will touch your soul here, it sounds so beautiful and wonderful. That fades out, leaving us with some chanting and well-mixed melodies. It is a rewarding listen here. We then revisit the trumpets and drum led part, before sliding into a discordant section. It sounds rather creepy. A crash like sound makes the instrumentation fall apart. Much of the previous sections of this song are then revisited, like a retrospective LSD trip. The main section is reintroduced. Violins match the main part, and the slide guitar returns. The crescendo emerges, and we finish with the climax of backing vocals. A great trip indeed.

Following is the song named If. It’s a short and melancholy based piece. It’s a devotion to emotion, and there is some gentle singing along with acoustic guitar and electric slide guitar to boot. It’s a nice little change from what has been before, but all the same, just as emotional, artistic and effective.

Summer ’68 is the last Syd Barrett Pink Floyd song. They simply added some instrumentation to this vocal cut and sounds very emotional. “How do you feel?” asks Syd. Pink Floyd obviously missed Syd’s presence, and it is a nice traditional swan song for his vocals. There is piano and acoustic guitar to match here, a nice song regardless. It nearly stops in the middle of the song but starts again. A good twist.

Fat Old Sun follows with wedding bells, to begin with, and end with, and then emerges into a smooth vocal and acoustic guitar with Roger Waters singing. It’s a rather throwaway piece, but all the same fits the album nicely.

The 13 minute long Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast is a bit of sound effect based trip for a guy who makes breakfast. There is a nice musical interlude in between the delay heavy samples here. Piano and organ enter the scene, and Richard Wright excels here with his playing. Guitar parts also occur. It’s nothing special this, but still a good listen of a guy who is making his own breakfast. The musical interlude comes and goes again. Sounds very laidback. Towards the end, the sounds repeat, like a reoccurring LSD trip. It’s a pleasant listen and ends the album nicely. We end the album feeling satisfied, as Alan leaves the scene and goes on to do other things for the rest of the day.

This is a real art based album. There are many different elements and structure in this recording. If you dig psychedelic/progressive rock and want something unusual to listen to, in a good way, Atom Heart Mother is a good place to start.

8/10

Frank Sinatra – In The Wee Small Hours (1955)

The world was a totally different place back in 1955. Colour TV didn’t exist, every person on the street wore Victorian era like clothes and there were no social media outlets either, let alone computers.

In addition, Frank Sinatra was alive and well. After signing to Capitol Records, he delivered this – the first great LP ever made. LPs were a new thing at the time, and fortunately, the music here stands the test of time.

The album is a sort of Burt Bacharach take on love. Lots of heartbreak and misery written in the subjects of the lyrics. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s observe this fine album from Frank Sinatra.

We begin with In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning which sets the scene for Frank Sinatra. It’s about reflecting on love lost. This is about the loneliness and pain associated with it. A sad but great song. Excellent stuff. The lyrics here are awesome, despite the fact that Frank Sinatra never wrote his songs.

Following that, we have Mood Indigo. It uses the colour to reflect the mood and is an unhappy piece with reference to reflections on love. Many people can connect with this album, as no relationship is perfect. A nice piece though.

Glad To Be Unhappy follows. Frank Sinatra sings about the difference between idealistic love versus the reality of love. It’s a really good piece and can be mood provoking in sadness. A nice listen for the lyrics especially, as well as the melody.

I Get Along Without You Very Well is a great piece about moving on from a disappointing relationship. It sounds like Frank is singing about a lover who he is somewhat still infatuated with. It’s a good retrospective and reflective piece.

The next piece Deep In A Dream follows and it is about a dream of romantic illusion. It’s very descriptive and sounds very loving. It’s a sad reflection of the lack of love for a girl long gone. Nice work here by all parties who made the song. Mint.

The following song I See Your Face Before Me is a great reflection on the obsessiveness of a lover who our main man used to have. The whole album is also a concept album, perhaps unofficially so. Still, it’s a great listen all the way through. “I can’t erase your beautiful face, before me.” Wonderful lyrics indeed.

Can’t We Be Friends? is a lament for a sad outcome in a relationship. It’s about finding someone who at first, seems open to a relationship, but then uses that quote to turn down yourself. It’s another sad tale, but a rewarding listen.

When Your Lover Has Gone is about the split of lovers in affairs and other areas of romantic and sexual matters. The loneliness in Frank Sinatra’s voice here is outstanding. Given that this was the 1950s, the performances sound dead-on perfect with relation to lack of editing by digital means, as that did not exist at the time. A brilliant mood swinger here.

A question in What Is This Thing Called Love? It’s a sort of song for people who don’t know how to cope with love lost. It makes perfect sense to anybody who has had serious love in his or her life. Brilliant stuff.

The follow up Last Night When We Were Young talks about a past experience of love, long gone. The orchestral background in this album is really fantastic. Melancholy abounds everywhere here. It’s a very sad song indeed. Frank sounds very deeply emotional at the end of this song.

I’ll Be Around talks about hovering around for a lover who has already been taken. A very deep and meaningful piece about said scenario. Brilliant. Absolutely worth listening to.

Ill Wind begins with a clarinet melody before talking about a nasty scenario with the weather at hand. It loosely talks about love and disappointment with love. A good effort, and a nice performance by all.

The next piece It Never Entered My Mind talks about difficulties of coping with errors in relationships. It is a sad reflection on things, and being solitary in life without a love to be with.

The following song Dancing On The Ceiling is about using imagination to reflect on love lost. In a very unhappy state, our story unfolds to reveal how Frank Sinatra copes with it. An unusual song, but essential listening all the same.

I’ll Never Be The Same reveals how someone is destroyed by a failure in a romantic relationship. Frank Sinatra is underrated with his singing voice – and pulls every single song and note-off magnificently. A great job.

This Love Of Mine is the last song here. It concludes a truly great listen, and album. This song focuses on the loneliness of hurt from love. Brilliant job here by all involved.

Frank Sinatra broke with this album and began an upward trajectory with his music. He has recorded a huge amount of material throughout his life until he passed away in 1998 – some good, some not-so-good. This is likely one of his best recordings, if not his very best. This is hugely underrated today and is an absolutely essential listen.

If you like crooner style vocal jazz and want a starting point, begin here.

9/10

Radiohead – OK Computer (1997)

Radiohead was just getting started here. After the release of The Bends in 1995, people gave attention to the band seriously for the first time. This continued after OK Computer’s release.

Yes, here we go! This album is known to be one of the greatest albums of all time. There are many great tunes on this album. Let’s take a listen.

Airbag begins this album, sounding very eerie and creepy. Thom Yorke’s falsetto reigns high here. It’s an effective song about an airbag that stops people from dying in a car crash. Odd and eerie indeed. “In an interstellar burst, I am here to save the universe.”

Paranoid Android is a really great song. Although rather depressing, it is an interesting listen. The James Bond-like riff in the breakdowns is fantastic. There are some rather cynical lines throughout this piece, adding to this great song. Nirvana style quiet/loud dynamics are ever-present here as well. A well-structured exercise in intelligent and artistic listening.

The semi-psychedelic and otherworldly Subterranean Homesick Alien is here next, showing a depth of surreal sounds. It’s a little easier to listen to compared to the first two songs on the album. But still, about a disturbing subject, however.

The ode to Romeo and Juliet is here next is Exit Music (For A Film). It starts off with a clanging acoustic guitar. Thom Yorke’s voice then sets the scene, then it has a variety of instrumentation that builds up to a crescendo. A very close to the bone subject.

Let Down is next, and yes, it is very depressing. It shows the fragility of the human race and some people’s actions. Thom Yorke and the group pull this off perfectly.

Karma Police is a great piece driven by piano. There are some rather bizarre lyrics through this piece. It sounds as though we are talking about someone psychotic here. The ending is a great one, Very nice.

The robotic Apple computer voice-driven Fitter Happier has a strange set of poetry and scary sort of lifetime. It sounds mega depressing. But it is really good to hear this relatively short cut on the album.

The political, and honestly so, Electioneering arrives next. It talks about political direction. It’s a much more optimistic piece. Some phrases such as, “I trust I can rely on your vote.” Very intellectually inspiring. The main chorus makes sense 100%.

Climbing Up The Walls is likely inspired by a science fiction and horror sort of environment. It’s got some distorted drums, sound effects, and climactic chorus present. The lyrics are freaky as well. A good horror like a piece for everyone here. Enjoyable. The twist at the end is super freaky on a psychological basis.

No Surprises sounds like a song about suicide. It is a poetic and simple piece with acoustic guitar and glockenspiel, which sounds great together. It’s a good radio-style jingle. It sounds great, even today.

The next piece, Lucky is a bit lighter. It was recorded in 1995 but added to this album as an afterthought. It fits perfectly though. It is a slow, almost ballad-like piece. Very good though. The only thing is that there are lacking some really good riffs. Still, a very good listen.

The last one, The Tourist, is a slow and moving piece for the end of the album. It is very suited to the album itself. It is a good song, even if it is not a great one.

This album has received critical and commercial from all areas of the music world. In fact, it is a great listen, so ensure that you give this a whirl.

Unforgettable and not regrettable for a listen. In 2017, a remastered anniversary edition called OK NOT OK Computer with loads of unreleased songs were added to another CD. This will be reviewed at a later point, but this is one truly impressive album.

9/10

The Incredible String Band – The 5000 Spirits Or The Layers Of The Onion (1967)

Although The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter album by The Incredible String Band gets more credit than this album, by far this a better one. Delivered in 1967, this album is a great psychedelic trip. In fact, it’s brilliant all the way through and is one of the most underrated albums ever.

Here we go, track by track.

The beautiful song Chinese White begins. It sounds so natural and beautiful with all the instrumentation here. The singing here is reassuring as well. It has a beautiful and surreal edge to the song. A very nice start to the album.

After that, we have a flute and acoustic guitar-driven No Sleep Blues. It has a country and Nick Drake-like folk approach to the song. This is art – set to the music of course. A wonderful and joyful listen. You can hear all the variety throughout, it’s very musical indeed.

Painting Box is a trippy and lyrical number that points to a great sense of psychedelia by the group. There is a sitar-like sound and some beautiful lyrics here. A nice song, and sounds not at all dated, even today.

The Mad Hatter’s Song is a trip, Alice In Wonderland-style. It’s a trippy experience featuring a vast imagination of different characters. It’s a true trip musically, of course. Some nice piano is here as well. What a nice tune. It’s an extended piece for the album but sounds really nice.

The next song is Little Cloud. This piece begins with some wonderful vocal harmonies, then leading into an acoustic and bongo piece. It has a nice chant after the chorus, which is an interesting twist. It’s a perfect portrait of an era long gone.

Following up is The Eyes Of Fate. It’s a great almost Spanish guitar sounding piece. The singing here is really fantastic too. It is simple and wonderfully beautiful. There is some awesome chanting here too. A nice touch, very Hippie like.

Blues For The Muse is a short and sweet piece, very uptempo. It sounds very inspired and has some great references to guitars. Oh yeah, there is a harmonica here too. Good job to these guys, it is a great listen.

The Hedgehog’s Song sounds wacky, with slide guitar and bongos. Surreal lyrics abound here too. Obviously, an album like this is designed for some serious tripping. But listening to this album sober is fine on its own.

What’s next is The First Girl I Loved. It’s a retrospective journey about one’s first woman to have. It’s highly romantic lyrically, and there are some proto Led Zeppelin acoustic guitar playing here. It’s a great listen.

The next song is You Know What I Could Be. It’s a very Syd Barrett sort of song lyrically. The chorus has a good lyrical message here. Very psychedelic in approach as well musically. The part at the end is really cool stuff.

My Name Is Death is a tale about Mr. Grim Reaper himself. It’s a subdued tale talking about him. It’s a nice, subtle change from the music on the radio today. Good stuff by The Incredible String Band.

Gently Tender is a nice nature-based piece lyrically. It’s image evoking and powerful in intention. This is real psychedelia everybody, and it sounds really very good indeed. The song has an intelligent approach to its timing of the instruments in the song.

The last track Way Back In The 1960s is a nice song to finish the album. If you are like these guys, you will listen with nostalgia-based feelings. The 1960s was indeed a great era for music and culture, the likes which will not be done again. Very good indeed.

This album is really underrated. In fact so much so that it makes some of the albums of the time, let alone today, look like a joke. Fortunately, this is not a joke of any sort this album. It is one of the greatest psychedelic records ever made.

9/10

Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures (1979)

The real dark side of rock and roll begins here. This group of young men with singer Ian Curtis made dark and scary look awesome. They were a favoured cult sort of band until Ian Curtis’s suicide. Their influence is still broad and wide today in the rock world.

The music here is brilliant. It paints a sort of apocalyptic environment and sounds mega dark. Let’s give this a look, track by track.

Disorder begins our dark journey. And it’s very heavy, both musically and lyrically. A great start to one of the greatest recordings of all time. It specifically talks about relationship issues. A good listen. Some nice synth sounds are here as well.

Day Of The Lords arrives. It’s the closest these guys got to heavy metal. It rocks and sounds awesome all the way through. There is a large Black Sabbath style of phrasing in the guitar work. An excellent listen here. Everything fits here perfectly. Ian Curtis’s baritone voice expresses urgency at the end, an interesting twist to the song itself.

The following song called Candidate is a more typical piece from Joy Division. It has some pseudo-Industrial music sounds and some dark, introspective lyrics. The bassline here is quite prominent, but there is plenty of room for the rest of the song to breathe. Not a bad effort.

After that Insight arrives. It starts off with the sound of the elevator in the recording studio being activated by Ian Curtis, then launching into a rather lyrically disturbing song. Indeed, Ian Curtis had an undiagnosed mental health disorder of some sort, and this is reflected in the music here. The sound effects are interesting here.

New Dawn Fades is a very lonely and miserable sounding piece. It flows very well. It launches into the song with lyrics such as, “A loaded gun won’t set you free.” Disturbing all right, but still very good. If you dig dark melancholy, give this a listen.

She’s Lost Control begins with some awesome electronic drum sounds, and then some delayed and unusual vocals and lyrics from Ian Curtis. It’s about perception, either the narrator or the lady involved has lost control. It’s a freaky concept nonetheless.

The next song Shadowplay begins with a bassline, before launching into a rocky number. The band obviously had a lot of musical ideas on their albums, and this is by no means different. It’s a good listen. The ending especially is great.

After that, Wilderness arrives. The bassline drives this number and sounds very rhythmic and catchy. It’s obvious that Joy Division placed careful attention to each of their individual songs during their career. This one is about travel, a nice little number indeed.

Interzone is an uptempo rock sort of number. It is an interesting piece about going around in the city. It’s enjoyable to listen to and has some great guitar playing here. This is a great album for sure.

I Remember Nothing is a long and extended piece. But it’s never dull. In fact, there are some dark and interesting elements to this song. It features a lot of trippy sort of sounds, including glass being broken. It’s a great way to end this dark and excellent listen.

This album was critically well-received, and since has become a cult classic over time. It’s the definitive album that is a hybrid of punk, and the styles of bands that came afterward, such as The Cure. A great listen, one of the greatest albums of all time.

9/10