Fatboy Slim – You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby (1998)

Fatboy Slim became a household name with this release. It’s a decent listen for sure, and is a nice mixture between big beat and other electronic sounds. Let’s dive in and have a listen, track by track.

We begin with the eerie sounding Right Here Right Now which is an EDM classic. It takes a while to build up, but when it hits you, it hits very well. It’s a great dance number with many different sections to boot. It has a great midsection and climax, short story of the tune is that is a great tune to listen to, despite the fact it goes well over five minutes. It finishes with some interesting radio chatter, before leading into the next tune.

The next one perhaps is even better. The Rockafeller Skank is an optimistic and cheerful tune with some country-esque Telecaster sounding licks and some other great samples. It never bores once through the listen, and has an ear busting (in a good way) climax with more multi-sectioned goodies sound wise. A good listen.

Fucking In Heaven is ridiculous sounding for THAT sampled quote. This one seems a little overkill for that reason, it’s a good piece without sounding great. It still has its moments, sounding rather comical. It’s throwaway, but decent for a South Park sort of tune. It does have some, once again, good midsection based sounds. Nice.

Gangster Trippin is a much more listenable tune than the previous one. It sounds really good, with alternating sections as well with some alternating samples and melodies. This sort of music isn’t played much at parties or in regular day-to-day life, so it is worth a listen for that purpose. Much like the other songs on this album, it is fairly repetitive, mind you.

The next piece is fairly meh. Build It Up, Tear It Down is merely an exercise in doing that to a dance track, with mixed results. No doubt a fan favourite, but it just lacks quality. Better examples of dance tracks out there have done this sort of thing. Just very, meh.

Following that is a vast improvement. Kalifornia has some weird sound effects and samples to boot. But it’s quite enjoyable. Suitable for a road trip or something similar, it’s a good listen throughout. The beats are quite heavy for sure, propelling this piece along very well. The outro is pretty different.

Soul Surfing is a crowd pleaser. It’s sort of a mixture between a soul and funk pastiche. It’s an adventurous and nice listen. There are many different guitar based samples and some unusual breakdowns. A nice listen, but like much of the album, good, but not great.

You’re Not From Brighton is quirky. It’s likely considered by many to be a filler track, but sounds so cartoon like and different that it does necessitate listening. Sounds not like out of a Donald Duck cartoon or something similar, it sure is interesting. Guessing the tune here, not a lot of us are from Brighton, UK, either. A basic, slowed down outro leads into the next piece.

Probably the defining Fatboy Slim piece is here, Praise You is a good-vibe and uplifting piece with a piano riff, a variety of samples and many different tasty sounds. It kind of blows away a lot of the other songs on the album. It segues to and from the piano riff to an organ led midsection. It’s a good listen. There is some beatboxing here if you listen closely as well.

Following up is Love Island. This could be a reference to Ibiza, the club paradise of the world, off the coast of Spain. Google that one, if you don’t know about it. The song has a very moving intro, before launching into a static sounding acid-like piece with some interesting peaks and troughs. By this point, we recognise the album as a good, yet not great listen. It’s still worth the time if you can put that into the recording itself.

Acid 8000 finishes the album. It’s a beatastic and extended piece for a long period of dancing, in or out of home. Some pulsating sounds make up this one. “It’s so easy to get acid, you can get it anywhere,” launches the more danceable section of this one. The baby screaming is unnecessary and annoying.

This album is okay, but only okay. The main thing letting it down is the length of the album, which is excessively long. If 10-15 minutes were chopped off some of the songs, this would be a much better listen. Still, it’s better than most EDM compilations out there right now, which gives it a sort of place in history. But still, it could be bettered here.


The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds (1966)

Silly name aside, this album is one of the greatest pop/rock albums of all time.

Brian Wilson, the genius and main creative force in The Beach Boys took a break from touring due to mental health issues. Whilst the other members of The Beach Boys were touring, he was inspired by The Beatles Rubber Soul album to create this, the best album by the group, and a standout of its time. Let’s listen on and hear what it is like.

We start with Wouldn’t It Be Nice which is a nice whimsical song about loving someone forever. It has some interesting sounds here as well. This is what great music is about, the perfect quest of rhythm and melody into a great song. It’s mint. Just a really great song here.

The next song You Still Believe In Me is a melancholy sort of piece about self-doubt in a relationship. It’s actually better than expected, with some great keyboard songs, and bicycle bells and bicycle horns to boot. This is a really great listen, right here. The harmonies at the end are delicious.

That’s Not Me is about being yourself to a lover. It sounds so brilliantly wonderful and colourful. Is it any surprise the hippie movement dug these sorts of tunes? Everything on this album is done to perfection, no question about it. Even though there is an air of melancholy in the song, it’s great to hear.

Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder) is a classic tune by The Beach Boys. It’s slow, yet reassuring. It is such a beautiful piece to hear, and it is devoted to a lover. Nowadays, this sort of romanticism is lost on the postmodern music scene. This is great regardless of this fact. Some nice string sections are in the background here as well.

The next song I’m Waiting For The Day is a reflective piece. The sounds on this album are unconventional, with a great variation and structure of the music at hand. It’s good to hear if you are still in love with someone you have not been with for a long time. The song is great as well.

The instrumental piece Let’s Go Away For Awhile is brief, yet beautiful. It has a huge variety of tasty instrumentation here to listen to. It does follow a structure as well. It has sounds you never have really heard before, and that is what makes it seem so wonderful and fresh, even today.

Sloop John B was adapted from a Caribbean song from pre-Great Depression times. It’s a great listen, but the subject matter is very depressing. The song otherwise is fantastic to hear regardless though. It’s a good piece about homesickness and a series of unfortunate events.

God Only Knows is similar thematically to the other songs on the album. It is also one of the most famous and well-known songs by The Beach Boys. It is so beautiful and lush sounding that it is very hard to hear anything that would match this song elsewhere from other groups. A great pop song.

The keyboard and saxophone driven piece I Know There’s An Answer is a plea for being strong in turbulent times. The keyboard drives this one along very well. Brian Wilson is obviously a top notch genius at making music, as on here and other recordings by The Beach Boys will show. It never gets boring at all this record, not for one minute.

The next song is about having an affair. Here Today makes caution about being this way. It’s a really enjoyable listen. Considering that divorce rates are as common as Facebook accounts these days, this is a must listen for those who are cautious about these things. It had some interesting intertwined melodies here as well.

I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times is a sort of reflection about being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Again, despite the misery of the lyrics, we hear a varied, well-structured and lush musical backdrop to hear. It sounds audibly delicious, a nice sounding song, and album for the matter. There are some theremin sounds in it as well, now that is rare.

Pet Sounds, the title track, is another awesome sounding instrumental. It sounds sonically great. There are some weird and wacky sounds that are beautiful in this album to hear. A nice break from the other songs, and it is definitely worth a listen.

The last song Caroline, No was actually about a high school crush of Brian Wilson’s when he was younger. It has harpsichord, saxophone, tom-tom percussion and other wonderful instruments here. It sounds deep and meaningful, for this great piece of music. As it fades out, we hear a train rushing past us and dogs barking as we finish this truly great album.

This is a stone cold classic album. There is nothing like this in the history of music. Everything about this is very much near perfection. It was critically acclaimed and directly inspired The Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. You should listen to this if you haven’t already, it’s funtastic.


The Beatles – The Beatles (1968)

After the death of their own manager, Brian Epstein, The Beatles began to fall apart. There were many reasons why this was so, but their manager’s passing began this process. Sadly, The Beatles struggled to be cohesive as musicians together from then on in.

This album was intended to be completely different from the previous two albums released in 1967. It sounds like it as well. Sadly, it is not the best album that The Beatles ever did. There are great moments here though, so let’s examine this album, track by track.

We begin with Back in the U.S.S.R. which is a comical story of sexual romping. It’s a controversial topic about loving Russian girls. Airplane sounds are everywhere, and some really great guitar playing is here. It’s an interesting piece to kick off an album with. Nice job by the group.

The next song, Dear Prudence, is a gentle acoustic driven piece by John Lennon. The harmonies here are just fantastic to hear on this song. A good effort here, worth a listen. Some great lyrics are here too.

Glass Onion is John Lennon referencing a load of songs done previously by The Beatles. It’s lyrically a weak effort, even though the melody and instrumentation beg to differ here. It’s okay a listen, perhaps alluding to Alice In Wonderland? It’s a good, not great song though. The outro is very discordant.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da is truly a nonsensical piece from Paul McCartney. It’s difficult to tell what the meaning of this song is, although he sings about a family sort of situation. It hasn’t dated that well, but it’s enjoyable.

The short and random Wild Honey Pie is a great interlude in between songs. It sounds odd, as it is supposed to be. It’s over before you know it though.

The next song The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill is rather an uninspired story about which references Captain Marvel, and has kids singing in the background. It could have been reworked a bit, but it’s still listenable, despite it need some editing here.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps is a solid piece by George Harrison which features Eric Clapton playing a Gibson Les Paul. There is some story behind that. The song itself is actually very good, it’s a shining moment on the album. Good stuff.

Happiness Is A Warm Gun is a psychedelic piece with some additional twists and turns. It’s a good piece in terms of structure, and is a John Lennon classic. It talks about having a fix (of Heroin likely) and said warm gun, which is likely about love. A good listen.

The Paul McCartney piece Martha My Dear is lovely sounding. It’s a nice piece about a girl that Paul is singing about. A good song, even though it is familiar territory by The Beatles here. The orchestration in the background is a nice touch to the song.

The John Lennon piece I’m So Tired is about that particular feeling one gets when insomnia is experienced. It also refers to attempting to rectify a love based situation as well. It’s a better effort by John Lennon here on this album.

Blackbird is a great acoustic piece. It is so pure, simple and well done that it is a highlight of the album. You can hear foot tapping away in the background and the singing is fantastic here. A must listen. The bird chirping in the background is great too.

Piggies is a political song, if you know what it is about. It’s a good piece about the dog-eat-dog nature of Capitalism towards the rest of humanity. Hence the song title. It’s a really good listen. If you research this song on the internet, you’ll find something freaky about the history of this song.

The follow up Rocky Racoon is pretty ordinary. It sounds like a child’s story tale set to music, but seems a little weaker in relation to the other songs on the album. It just is disappointing in some respects. It’s still worth listening, but not by a great deal.

The Ringo Starr song Don’t Pass Me By is well written, but the fiddle is annoying and not really necessary. The rest of the song is decent but is fairly forgettable really. Goes on for too long as well.

Why Don’t We Do It In The Road? is filler. It could have been easily scrapped, but probably not really necessary. It’s a bit different to what the previous songs have been like, fortunately. Chugging piano and Paul’s singing drives this one on.

I Will is a refreshing break from the mediocrity of the previous few songs. It’s a nice love song about being devoted in love. This should be a great song for a good band to cover at some point. A nice, kind and gentle song.

The last song of side one, Julia, is a John Lennon ode to his own mother, who was tragically killed when he was younger. A nice and solid piece from John Lennon. Simply powerful here. The lyrics are fantastic for this song. Very, very good.

The song Birthday is an uptempo piece about the said topic. It’s better than lame Happy Birthday singing for sure, and is fast and pacing with some very good guitar work here. This puts us into a better listen so far on side two of this double album. Good work.

Yer Blues is supposed to be a blues parody. It does sound like a rather poor quality blues number here. It does have some great lyrics in the bridge, but once again, could be better done for sure. It’s a drag to listen to.

Mother Nature’s Son is a better effort and has some nice acoustic guitar and orchestrated accompaniment in the background. Foot tapping is here again as well. It’s a beautiful piece, one of the better ones on side two for sure. Paul McCartney does this very well here.

The weird song Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except For Me and My Monkey is a random piece. It’s enjoyable, but rather trashy. It’s worth listening to anyway, but lyrically isn’t inspiring.

The song Sexy Sadie is a great sort of tale about said woman who John Lennon lusts after. Fictionally of course. It is actually well written and there is some great piano work here, which Radiohead were inspired to write Karma Police from. But that song is completely different to this one, it’s a nice number here.

Helter Skelter is a proto hard rock/heavy metal piece. It’s not quite that, but sounds fantastic compared to everything else on this double album. It just kicks ass. Everything about it, from Paul’s singing to the harmonies and drumming, is just spot on. A must listen for anyone who wants a reference point for heavier rock and roll. It’s an extended piece with many twists and turns. The ending is fantastic.

Long, Long, Long is a subdued piece compared to what was offered previously. It works very well here. It’s an acoustic and organ keyboard based number with very quiet and subtle singing. Maybe Miles Davis got the idea for his album In A Silent Way from here? But it’s a good listen. The ending is different, too.

The directly political Revolution 1 is an interesting one. It’s one of the highlights of the album, and has some very decent lyrics in it. “If you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain’t gonna make it with anyone anyhow,” is a great line, for example. It rocks very well, and is worth listening to for sure. Catchy too. It cautions about any sort of political revolutions of any sort, brilliant.

The next song Honey Pie is very much an old fashioned piece by Paul which harks back to pre-1960’s jazz and big band music. If you are a fan of this sort of thing, you may enjoy this one. It’s not outstanding, but still, it’s okay. The lyrics are very whimsical.

Savoy Truffle is a rather silly piece about food and the experience of different tasting desserts. It’s a foodie anthem that is quite catchy. Good work from George Harrison. The brass section here is great.

Cry Baby Cry is a nice childlike song with some psychedelic lyrics for us to hear. It refers to a medieval setting with kings, queens and other noble like characters. Simple and effectively done, the calm before the storm here.

The extended piece Revolution 9 is a weird one. It harks back to John Lennon’s experiments on his own experimental albums done around this time with Yoko Ono. It sounds like a strange LSD trip, and is not really necessary here. Sure, it is well pieced together. But it isn’t needed here at all. Only worth listening to once for most people here.

We finally finish here with the beautiful ballad Good Night. It’s a good way to finish off this album. It’s another childlike lullaby here. Good stuff.

This album is a big mish-mash of things. Unfortunately, it is not as good a listen as the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band or Abbey Road albums. Still worth having in your collection as a history based record, but even then, this could have been bettered.


Frank Sinatra – Songs For Swingin’ Lovers! (1956)

Before The Beatles, rock and roll had a mild introduction into the world of music. Jazz was still the main form of music listened to at this time. Frank Sinatra had a career turnaround with his album released in 1955 In The Wee Small Hours. It was a great record, and paved the way for future classics done by “old blue eyes”.

This is completely different from the album released the year before. Instead of laments about love lost, we find ourselves swinging to happy, positive songs about being in love with someone special. It’s definitely a different listen, so here we go.

We kick off with the upbeat You Make Me Feel So Young referring to the youthful love experience at hand. It alludes to childhood delights and the wonderful feeling of bliss involved. This album sounds great from the word go, it’s a lovely piece.

The next piece, It Happened In Monterey refers to a love that was magical met long ago in Mexico. Now, this piece of music does seem lyrically melancholic, but musically is anything but. Frank Sinatra seems happy about it all, and it is a great listen. Obviously, he misses the lady in question. But it’s a well orchestrated piece here for sure.

You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me refers to a love that never dies, and in fact, intensifies over time. Could one these days make a successful pop song like this? Doubtfully so. It refers to the habit of love needed “as regularly as coffee or tea”. Nice stuff here.

You Brought A New Kind Of Love To Me is really inspired. It’s so classy sounding, and outright great listening that one is tempted to fall in love with the music here. Better than most contemporary artists out there today, and that is saying something right here. It sounds sort of suspenseful too.

The next song, Too Marvelous For Words is a very lovely piece devoted to a direct love in one’s life. It still sounds upbeat and positive that it lifts the mood up high in a positive way. It refers to Webster’s Dictionary and birds as well. A great listen.

After that, we have the wonderfully sung Old Devil Moon referring to a look in a partner’s eyes on a great night out together. Lyrically, it is just so good here. Suitable music for any modest dinner party with friends at home, this album is.

Pennies From Heaven refers to a dream like state of thinking where coins fall out of the sky. Perhaps Syd Barrett got his ideas from these sorts of lyrics? Maybe, maybe not. It’s another really great sounding tune though. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Love Is Here To Stay is a lovely piece about eternal love and feeling good about it. These days, people are lucky to survive a marriage longer than 2-3 years. But this is a blissful song. No questions asked. The music here is quality, not quantity.

The next piece is the now classic tune I’ve Got You Under My Skin. It’s one of the most famous songs from Frank Sinatra ever. Why is this so? It’s a great performance, period. Frank Sinatra sings along very well here, a must listen. The suspense and instrumentation here is terrific.

After this, we have I Thought About You which is a reminder of love at hand. It’s another swinging number that just sounds great. This album is consistent all the way through, which is why it deserves its place in history as one of the best albums not just by Frank Sinatra, but of all time. Mint.

We’ll Be Together Again is a reminder of a love that is being missed. But hold on, it’s not totally dreary. In fact, Frank Sinatra pulls off the need and desire for a lover so well here, it’s a great little number. A nice listen.

Makin’ Whoopee refers to making love in the title and the lyrics indicate this too. It’s a lovely song, showing off Frank Sinatra’s cheerful and crooner style voice here. Nobody does this sort of music better than Frank Sinatra himself. A nice piece.

The lovely piece Swingin’ Down The Lane is very old fashioned indeed. It’s a joyful ode to love and dancing. It puts a 1950’s style imagery of lovers in your mind that are dancing to this sort of music. Great stuff.

The subtle sounding Anything Goes is a lyrically nonsensical piece about people’s love and individual preferences in life. A nice, yet strange piece. It is still as enjoyable as the other songs here, mind you.

How About You? is the last piece on the album. It has our singer telling us what he enjoys best, and asking if you also enjoy the same things as well as much as Frank Sinatra does. A nice way to finish this album.

This is truly a great listen. If you love vocal jazz in a pop context, do start here. It’s one of Frank Sinatra’s best albums too. Give this album a whirl, it still sounds as good today as it did in 1956.



Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975)

It was a strange time for music. The mid 1970’s was all about progressive rock. This was both positive and negative at the time. Of course, Pink Floyd took notice and crafted a more progressive rock style into their music. This album is proof of that.

It’s actually devoted to Syd Barrett, their original guitarist and songwriter. Apparently after recording The Dark Side Of The Moon, Pink Floyd were stumped to know where to go musically. Memories of their old band mate inspired this album’s material. Ironically Syd himself walked into the studio when the band were recording the Shine On You Crazy Diamond parts. How sad and strange…

That being said, this is a superb listen. Let’s dive in and have a listen to the album.

We begin with Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Pts. 1-5) which has ethereal sounds, a keyboard based flute and the feeling that we are going to be transported into something really great here. The lonely flute melody sticks out, it’s not a fast track, and it never was intentionally so. Some trippy keyboard sounds back up this part of this song. David Gilmour’s Fender Stratocaster then enters. My God, it’s good. His playing sounds fantastic here. The sound is nice and bright. Mysteriously, the sound almost fades into oblivion, before we hear THAT four note guitar figure, which sounds ghostly. Nick Mason and the others come into play afterwards, driving the song rhythmically. The song just flows and evolves here. It sounds mega emotional, even though there are no lyrics here just yet. The sound slows down once more, just before going uptempo again. Pink Floyd sound like a solidly united musical front here, not willing to back down for anyone or anything. Then Roger Waters finally starts singing the chorus, and goodness, it is mind blowing. A nice development of things, clearly being about Syd Barrett. It’s a lament for their lost band member, and the performance here is fantastic. After all this, we have Dick Parry playing a beautiful saxophone solo and some trippy and interesting guitar parts in the background. The song then fades out gracefully and nicely as well, before we jump into the next piece on the album.

The next song Welcome To The Machine begins with some mechanical noises, before launching into an acoustic number about railing against the record industry. It’s easily the weakest song on the album, and even then it’s worth a listen. Some brilliant playing is here, Pink Floyd had no equals with the sort of music that they were making in this era. It’s more a sonic journey this one, but hey, Pink Floyd were experts at this sort of thing. After more Theremin like noises, the song ending is rather strange. Without spoiling it, it is worth following along for the listen.

Have A Cigar is a very funky piece again about the trappings of the music industry. It is musically better than the previous song, with a friend of theirs (Roy Harper) singing this song. There are many descriptions of the nasty business of the album based record industry of the time: “And did we tell you the name of the game, boy? We call it riding the gravy train…” Obviously Roger Waters was fed up of being prodded by record executives to sell more records. Indeed, this is true of many rock bands, why sell out to compromise artistic integrity? There is no point, but the funky guitar solo at the end rocks hard, segueing into the next song.

Wish You Were Here is a sad acoustic ballad about missing someone who you have not seen in a very long time. It may or may not be specifically about Syd Barrett, but is likely so. It’s a great radio ready number for the masses. It uses a comparative analysis to observe different situations at hand. The slide guitar and melodies here are beautiful, a very nice song indeed. The wind blows this track away at the end, before we enter into the next piece.

The next piece, Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Pts. 6-9) revisits the first part of the album, just in a very different way. We have some different keyboard and guitar based melodies here this time, whilst still keeping the theme of the album going. It is very well structured here. It then suddenly burst into a shuffle sort of groove based section here, before leading us back into the main melody of the song. It sounds a bit more messy a mix than the first sections of this song, but it is intended to be so. High pitched keyboard sounds propel this number along. We then go back to David Gilmour’s stunning guitar parts, and Roger Waters sings about the long lost Syd Barrett legend that the band dearly missed. The backing vocals are mint here as well. The whole piece is thoroughly consistent throughout. The trippy riff comes in after the singing is complete, and then we finalise our musical trip with a beautiful, almost jazzy section to boot. The keyboard brings a groove based piece to light with more funky, quacky sounding guitar playing. We then return to familiar territory with the ethereal keyboard sound, and lastly enter the final, very relaxing section of this song. After some gentle music, we conclude the album here, feeling very satisfied.

This album is just as good as Dark Side Of The Moon, although not as popular. It should be essential listening for Pink Floyd fans though. A very decent and overall excellent musical accomplishment. Pink Floyd were at their best with Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here. It’s a great listen here, don’t miss it.


Van Halen – Balance (1995)

It seemingly was all over for Van Halen at this point. Some of the rot had set into the band. It went way back to 1985 when show master singer David Lee Roth had left the band. Then Sammy Hagar arrived, splitting the fan base. Their output slowed from then on in.

If that weren’t enough, Sammy Hagar and Eddie Van Halen were constantly fighting. There was also Eddie’s claim he was “clean and sober” at the time, which wasn’t exactly true. He was drinking constantly and on painkillers as his hips were shot, and taking other drugs as well. Everyone inside of the Van Halen circle were unsure about their future.

But Balance is a decent record. Okay, it is not Van Halen’s best by any measure. But Eddie’s tone sounds great here, better so than any other “Van Hagar” record that was recorded. His constant evolution of tone and sonic ability still shines through this record, and the rest of the band sound empowered because of this. It’s a good, but not great listen. So let’s hear it.

The Seventh Seal begins with wind chimes and the freakiest Buddhist chanting that you will ever hear, before crashing into an okay rock song that dates back to the very early days of Van Halen. The guitar riff by Eddie Van Halen is pretty good though, and the whole thing sounds different. It’s a better piece off this recording. The lyrics on this one, are very biblical. A nice effort.

Can’t Stop Lovin’ You follows. It was one of the singles off the album. It seems rather soppy in approach, even for a “Van Hagar” song. It still affects one emotionally, but we cannot but help think that these songs could be better done. But still, it’s a good flashback tune anyway. Nice vocal harmonies here though.

The next song is the polarising Don’t Tell Me (What Love Can Do). It was originally designed to be a vastly different song, but Eddie Van Halen disliked the original. So this version comes across as a badass piece, despite it being originally written in memory of Kurt Cobain after his suicide. Strange, but a fairly ordinary song anyway, despite the intention of the song.

After that, we go to Amsterdam. Sammy Hagar, being a bit of a pothead, no doubt loved this song as sort of ritualistic piece. But, it has some great riffs and playing by the band in general. It’s a more cheerful uptempo number by Van Halen, and one of the better songs on the album. It’s about the city in Europe where all the tourists go to smoke pot. A good effort here.

Big Fat Money is a song about desiring money. It’s a great uptempo rock number which paces very quickly. Alex Van Halen shines on here, and there is a jazz guitar solo in the middle. Nice to hear, even if the song is rather rubbish anyway. At least it is positive and fun.

Strung Out is a short instrumental that was recorded years before Balance was. It’s Eddie doing a muck around on a piano. Rather unnecessary for this album, doesn’t need to be here at all. But hey, at least it is short. It segues into the next song.

The piano driven Not Enough is a song about love being not enough from another person. It’s a rather depressing listen, but a good one. It has a great line in the song: “Because my heart will always be…yours honestly.” It was a hit single at the time, and is no doubt a good listen, even if it feels uncomfortable to listen to throughout.

The following song, Aftershock, is more or less a continuation of the previous song. It has some pretty sweet guitar playing by Eddie Van Halen. It sounds as though the band were about to fall apart, even on this recording. Still, it’s a great number to here, and there are some great guitar tapping and harmonics here. Nice.

Doin’ Time is an Alex Van Halen drum solo. It’s actually pretty good, although unlike his live stuff, didn’t go on for 20 minutes or longer. It’s just a short and decent piece with a variety of different drums and drum sounds here. A nice change from the other songs.

Baluchiterium is another instrumental. Plenty of instrumentals on this album, it is here mainly to show off Eddie Van Halen’s playing here. It’s a good listen, and the outro in particular is very psychedelic. Just an interesting and quality piece by the group, although Sammy Hagar is missing here, mysteriously.

The next song, Take Me Back (Deja Vu) is about reliving a good time that is being sorely missed. It relates this experience to memories about a certain place, “Some desert island off Morocco”. It has an acoustic guitar in it, too. A nice number from the group here on the album.

The last song on the album, Feelin’ is a good way to finish off this album.  It has some good playing by Eddie Van Halen, but you can kind of hear that the band were sick of each other at this point. Still, it rocks hard.

The album which was considered a balanced effort by the group (hence the title of the album) went to #1 and was the last real effort by Van Halen for many years. Still, it is a good listen and shows that Van Halen still had a few musical tricks up their sleeve. Ironically, the album artwork was changed in Japan due to it being considered offensive. It is still a good listen, although not a great one.


The Verve – Urban Hymns (1997)

This is it, ladies and gentleman. The greatest of them all. It’s a musical nirvana here, and no, we are not talking about Kurt Cobain either.

This possibly could be the greatest album ever, or at least in the author’s opinion here. The reason? It’s the most positive and bold statement out there from an artist in all history. Yes, we are talking from classical music onto today’s postmodern 21st century offerings. It’s just great. So, here we go, let’s observe this, track by track.

The most famous song from here begins this album. Bittersweet Symphony is no doubt a great tune from the word go. It has a beautiful string section and pounding drumbeats, before launching into modern poetry about the beauty in life. Literally. Some great and memorable lyrics are here, concluding by saying: “I’ll take you down the only road I’ve ever been down…” A truly great piece of music. It sounds semi psychedelic too. London was swinging again in the 1990’s for sure.

The next song is so wonderful. Sonnet is just that, modern day English poetry. It has some lyrics which are so inspired. “Eyes open wide, looking at the heavens with a tear in my eye.” It’s a very nice piece indeed. Great to listen to as well. The album sounds so well produced and mixed, a good example is this song.

The Rolling People is a psychedelic and hard rocking number. The lyrics here are really trippy and interesting. Guitarist Nick McCabe does really well here, showing that despite the tensions in the band, he could do an excellent job at artistry. The whole band pulls this off fantastically. A great job here, never a dull moment in the whole seven plus minutes or so that this goes on. A great piece. The outro is out there in terms of sonic production.

The Drugs Don’t Work is a sad lament about Richard Ashcroft’s father dying. It still sounds great, and was a hit single. But, all the same, it’s a melancholy piece about that subject. It’s a nice piece about losing a loved one, and has a beautiful string section to boot. Nice work here.

The next piece, the wah-wah and feedback heavy looped guitar parts of Catching The Butterfly arrives and we are dazzled as a result. It’s a great piece that has some great drumming in it, too. It has some artistic lyrics in it too, “In my lucid dreams”. Boy, can these guys make music! The band does very well here.

The brief glimpse of an urban trip Neon Wilderness arrives. It’s a short trip into oblivion with some great sound effects and heavily drug influenced lyrics. It’s a nice addition to the album, although not the best song on it. It’s still very good listening though. The harmonies are great here.

Space And Time is a beautiful piece. It combines destiny with love, and is so reassuring sounding that it makes you want more from the group. Richard Ashcroft pleads that he cannot make it alone, and has some romantic sensibilities in the music here at hand. It just sounds wonderful. A great tune.

Weeping Willow is a trippy song. It is much more rhythmic based than previous songs, and just seems a little weaker than the other songs. But, it is still a powerful statement nonetheless. It has some deep introspection here, mind you. “I hope you see what I see, I hope you feel what I feel…” It’s a great statement from Richard Ashcroft, with drug references towards the end. Like you noticed though.

The next song is so beautiful and wonderful, you will be dazzled in awe. Lucky Man should be a depression killer for anyone going through struggles. If you ever listen to this piece, consider yourself lucky. It’s an audio treat for everyone to hear. Brilliant. “I hope you understand,” sings Richard Ashcroft. We sure do on this record. It will bring tears of happiness to your eyes.

The slow ballad One Day is surreal and impressionistic in its approach. It’s another great piece to sink your teeth into. Some melodic riffs and Richard Ashcroft’s simple singing drive this piece along very well. It some ways it talks about personal sacrifice for happiness. But the song sounds so cheerful that it is a great listen indeed. There are repeated lyrics are here towards the end, giving the song emphasis. Another good song by The Verve.

This Time is a great melodic and wah-wah pedal based piece with melodies that are unforgettable. It’s about making things happen in life, and Nick McCabe’s playing on the guitar will inspire you to take your own musical interests further. It’s a great number here, and like all the others on the album, a great listen. There are some great arrangements here on this song for sure.

Velvet Morning is a super trippy piece with some subtle slide guitar as well. Sounding like a million dollars, it’s a drug influenced trip that will take you into the next dimension of music listening. It just works so well, along with all the other cuts on the album. The string section here is beautiful too. A nice effort by the group.

The last track is the Come On/Deep Freeze hybrid.

The former is a great jam based tune with great bassline and guitar parts to boot. It’s unlikely we have ever had something so good in musical history for a simple jam. Still, it sounds musically accomplished and thorough here. Even after the majority of the singing concludes, the jam breaks down musical barriers for us to enjoy. Brilliant.

After several minutes of silence, we have the interesting second part of the hybrid, which is a montage of excellent sounds. It sounds intellectually well thought out, and we finish the album here.

This album is damn near perfection, at least musically. Anybody who had a glimpse into the music of Britpop in the 1990’s, or who may just want a great positive spin on life musically should check out this album. It’s really that good. Fans should check out the deluxe remastered re-releases with loads of extra tracks, rarities and goodies on them.

An awesome listen.