20 Nov 2007
1000 albums to hear before you die - parts 2 & 3 
The Guardian's 1000 albums to hear before you die continues with parts 2 and 3 covering the letters 'D' to 'M'.

The FACts are:

The Durutti Column 'The Return of the Durutti Column' (1978)

"Former punk turned avant-garde jazz-classical guitarist Vini Reilly and veteran jazz drummer Bruce Mitchell were one of music's oddest but most inspired couplings. Their Factory debut combines fragility, melancholy, birdsong and electronic effects to produce soundscapes of breathtaking, fragile beauty."

ESG 'A South Bronx Story' (2000)

"A compilation that shows how three sisters from the Bronx in the early 80s tried to play slick funk but ended up sounding like a wonky African-American version of Joy Division. With congas. It nevertheless sounded hypnotically brilliant, and set the template for every subsequent strand of mutant disco and punk funk."

Happy Mondays 'Bummed' (1988)

"The work of two drug-addled geniuses - frontman Shaun Ryder and Factory Records' resident producer, Martin Hannett - this second Mondays album bettered most of the Madchester explosion it preceded. Bummed is a record of thrillingly raw white-man funk, built on menacing grooves, surefire pop hooks and Ryder's surreal drawls."

James 'Stutter(1986)

"Before Madchester, and before the Horlicks rock of Sit Down became ubiquitous, James were an invigorating prospect: a folk-pop band apparently engaged in a bout of pro-wrestling with their instruments. Their debut album clangs like a grand piano tumbling downstairs - leaving singalong melodies in its wake."

Joy Division 'Closer' (1980)

"The arrival of Joy Division's second album in the aftermath of Ian Curtis's suicide brought with it a shadow of death that disguised Closer's expressions of life: the clattering energy of Atrocity Exhibition, the metallic pop of Isolation and the virtuosity of Curtis's baritone. Still, its final songs, The Eternal and Decades, are untouchable in their manifestations of abject despair."

Magnetic Fields '69 Love Songs' (1999)

"Stephin Merritt's meticulous modernisation of the Great American Songbook is an absurd folly - a giddy explosion of wit, whimsy, inspiration and ambition that is matchless in its achievement. Every imaginable romantic experience is refracted through every imaginable genre of music, with moods and sounds glittering like mirror-ball lights across a disco floor."

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Special mentions for 808 State's excellent Ex:El (on which Bernard Sumner guests on vocals) and the ground-breaking 'My Life in the Bush of Ghosts' by Brian Eno and David Byrne. Peter Saville designed the cover and he talked about working with Eno on that project in the recent Creative Review blog interview.

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Peter Saville colour wheel
Biting Tongues

In the grey days of late 1970s post-punk Manchester, youth culture was a serious affair: every musical performance was measured mostly by the conviction of its delivery. The term 'New Wave' opened up free vistas where acquired skills could once again be exercised after punk's monochrome blur. It could be applied to anything from a James 'Blood' Ulmer record to the latest Throbbing Gristle release, Magazine to Swell Maps. Move outside that terrain into Sun Ra, Parliament, Frank Sinatra and Martin Denny, and your options were suddenly without limit...

Then came Tony Wilson's Factory Club (at the Russell Club in Hulme) offering an open invitation to experiment that was taken up when Ken Hollings, Howard Walmsley, Eddie Sherwood and a few others decided to make some noise to accompany their 16mm silent epic Biting Tongues. A further performance followed a few weeks later, when Colin Seddon and Graham Massey disbanded their Post Natals project and joined up. The film itself, a flashing series of negative images, became a memory; the name remained.

- extract from the LTM Biting Tongues biography

Factory Records

The Durutti Column