Thursday, 28 September 2017

Return of the Mix Club

Well, it's been a while, hasn't it?

The idea has been floated of running another one of these, and Nancy has offered to run the administrative bit of matching up people to send and receive mixes. I think that the best place to do this might be to add your name as a comment to this post if you're interested and we'll take it from there.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Prog Rock Arrives

My CD from Rosalind arrived yesterday. Haven't had a moment to listen to it yet, but will do so and review soon.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Unsettled Weather

Here's a weather-themed mix from Ann. Not delayed in the Christmas post - it's me that's delayed. A curious mixture of thing I knew, things I didn't know, things I thought I knew but didn't, things I thought I didn't know but did, things I thought were one thing that turned out to be something else,

Forever Autumn - from Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds
A spoken intro, straight out of a 1950s scifi film (which I suppose it is really, give or take a couple of decades), and then something that surprised me with its familiarity. The familiarity of something not heard for a very long time but familiar all the same. But this is the Moody Blues, surely? At least, it's the chap who sang with the Moody Blues? I'm sure that's who I remembered it as being anyway. Smoky, dreamy and nostalgic.

The Thunder Rolls - Garth Brooks
That's Brooks, not Crooks, I guess. The thunder really does roll, which is a bit twee. Years ago when I used to spend time in upstate New York pootling along a stretch of US 20, I hatched a scheme to drive the full length of that road from Massachusetts to Oregon. I never did carry it out - I guess it's not too late - but this is the kind of music that I imagine playing on the stereo as I pass through the plains of South Dakota. Brooks has that Country Twang, as irritating to my ear as the nasal whine of the hardcore Englsih folkie, but I've been trying hard of late to come to terms with contemporary Country and while I wouldn't go outr of my way to listen to this, it's perfectly agreeable when it comes up.

November Rain - Guns 'n Roses
Is this really Guns 'n Roses? I don't really know what Guns 'n Roses are supposed to sound like because I've tended to avoid them on the basis that they would be loud, discordant and in your face. Which isn't a very sensible approach to music at all. As if proof were needed, I like this a lot. It feels a lot more like late-60s West Coast rock than 80s heavy metal and it packs in a surprising amount of subtlety. At nearly nine minutes it's hardly an exquisite little pearl though!

Ride Like the Wind - Scorpions
Isn't this the German outfit whose rather tasteless album sleeve caused some controversy recently after being pulled from Wikipedia by the moral police? Anyway, this sounds as though they're trying to be Guns 'n Roses and not quite getting there. Nothing to object to but it hasn't grabbed me yet.

A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall - Roxy Music
Bob Dylan's genius was writing songs that could be bent and manipulated in all sorts of ways and still survive to sound great. Bryan Ferry's was to bend and manipulate just about any song to make it sound fresh and original. Put the two together and you've got real class, which this undoubtedly is.

Here Comes the Rain Again - Eurythmics
What can I say? Love it to bits, as I love just about everything Annie Lennox does.

Water on Glass - Kim Wilde
Typically slick and bouncy eighties fare. The opening suggested something more exciting to come, but what arrives is pleasant without grabbing me.

Southern Freeze - Freeze
I thought I didn't know this one but I did. A disco track with a lovely warm soulful voice over a humdrum synthetic ground.

It's Raining Men - The Weather Girls
Something very familiar - the sound of countless office discos and the odd provincial gay club I've ventured into. Great fun, but should ideally be listened to in a slightly drunk crowd.

Traffic and Weather - Fountains of Wayne
I though it sounded like a great title for a song about crawling home down a snarled-up Western Avenue on a wet Friday night (I've done that a few times). In the end I wasn't sure if it was meant to be taken seriously. "We belong together like traffic and weather." Hmmm. Not my kind of thing I'm afraid.

Lightning - REO Speedwagon
More 1980s theatrical rock. It's a very American genre, this; I can't imagine a British band doing this kind of thing successfully. It would fit in well with that coast-to-coast drive and I imagine this helping me get through the industrial wastelands of northern Ohio and Indiana.

Ravel in the Rain - Black
This is something new to me, but I'd very much like to know more. Dark, dreamy and velvety with some quite delightfully lyrical flights on guitar and sax.

Rainy Days and Mondays - The Carpenters
It's cheesy, of course, but there's cheese and cheese, and Karen Carpenter's distinctive variety was always more than a lump of plastic-wrapped cheddar. Nothing too subtle, and not especially pungent either. I wouldn't seek this out but I wouldn't be dismayed if it came up in the mix.

Tender Falls the Rain - Randy Crawford
It's difficult to have too much Randy Crawford. Not one of her monuments, perhaps, but very welcome.

I Won't Let the Sun Go Down On Me - Nik Kershaw
A familiar slice of 80s synthpop. Nice; nothing special for me.

Windy Town - Chris Rea
Chris Rea always sounds to me like Leonard Cohen fronting Dire Straits. There's not much of the profound poetry of the former, nor the lyrical guitar of the latter, but the effect is always agreeable.

Fairytale of New York - The Pogues and Kirsty McColl
A real (Christmas) cracker to finish with. So familiar it doesn't need a comment from me, save to say that the juxtaposition of the rough-and-ready voice of Shane Macgowan with the trained voice of Kirsty McColl was an act of genius. The band are fabulous as ever and this is my favourite of all the ubiquitous Christmas songs.

An interesting and on the whole very enjoyable mix. Thank you Ann!

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Nichole's Christmas Mix

Well, there has been an embarrassment of riches here, with two cds from Nichole, each containing over twenty tracks. I have to confess that I have only been listening to the Christmas mix so far, and enjoying it hugely. So, here's my review ...

Deck the stills - Barenaked Ladies

A charming little opener, that reminded me of a round on 'I'm sorry I haven't a Clue' with the challenge being to sing the song 'Deck the Halls' using only the words Crosby, Stills and Nash. It made me smile.

There's no place like home for the holidays - Leon Redbone

A lovely sonorous little tune, in the western tradition - I could imagine Bob Wills singing this one. I love this man's voice, and definitely want to hear more of his work.

I'll be home for Christmas - Matchbook Romance

A complete change of tack, with an imposing intro of majestic guitars, bass and drums leading into a rather twee song that's at complete odds with the music behind it. An oddity, but quite fun as a Christmas tune.

Please come home for Christmas - Willie Nelson

Back to the country vibe with an old favourite now, singing a maudlin song about somebody wishing their wife would come home for Christmas (or if not Christmas, then by New Year's Night). Delightful, in that so-miserable-it's-cheerful C&W way.

Little Drummer Boy / Silent Night / Auld Lang Syne - Jimi Hendrix

This was a set that I hadn't heard before, and I'm mightily impressed. Hendrix truly was a genius with the electric guitar, producing sounds and emotions that were uniquely his own. I love the way he manages to bend notes and add vibrato to them without losing the sustain. The only thing that would make this better would be to lose the rather superfluous and unnecessary drum beat behind the guitar.

Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow! - Dean Martin

A smooth classic, with not much to say about it really, other than to wonder just who would eat popcorn at Christmas, exactly?

Have yourself a merry little Christmas - Ella Fitzgerald

Another classic, but a version that was new to me. Very much appreciated.

Even Santa Gets the Blues - Marty Stuart

Another genre to add to the mix, with some very laid back blues and some virtuoso guitar work. Another artist to add to the list for further investigation.

Blue Christmas - Elvis Presley

A classic live performance from the King on the 1968 NBC TV special, that reminds us exactly how much we lost when Elvis died.

I want to spend Christmas with Elvis - Debbie Dabney

The perfect companion to the previous track!

Santa Baby - Eartha Kitt & Henri Rene

Another loss to the world of music, Eartha Kitt really did have an amazing voice with an effortless delivery that sounds like melted chocolate. Delicious.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Barenaked Ladies & Sarah McLachlan

A bouncy, upbeat version of this carol, that turns into an extended medley, but this didn't really grab me as much as I thought it might.

Christmas in Prison - John Prine

A rather charming little ditty about spending the festive season behind bars.

O Holy Night - Wynonna Judd

This seemed a touch over-produced to me. I think that I would prefer to hear Wynonna Judd singing a cappella rather than with the rather twinkly and sugary musical accompaniment here.

Peace - Norah Jones

Ah, a simpler arrangement - just a piano and Norah Jones singing. Lovely.

Christmas Time is Here - Diana Krall

Continuing the mood, this is a surprisingly mellow, if not downbeat rendition.

White Christmas - Otis Redding

Otis has a mighty fine voice, but an annoying habit, I say, an annoying habit, I'll tell you one mo' time, an annoying habit of repeating, repeating certain bits of the lyrics.

Frosty the Snowman - Jackson 5

Ah, another wonderful classic from the days when Michael Jackson didn't actually look as white as Frosty himself.

Feliz Navidad - Jose Feliciano

I was expecting a bit more classical guitar on this track, rather than the smooth, lounge jazz that it turned out to be. Good all the same, and it has sort of grown on me.

Zat You Santa Claus? - Louis Armstrong


A lovely opening, with whistling, icy wind and sleigh bells before old Satchmo's gravelly voice asks the question in the title. A great bit of jazz.

Love for Christmas - Felix Gross

This sounds like an oldy, and it's another bit of jazz although of the more restrained variety than the preceding track. Great stuff, particularly the smoky sax solo.

Trim Your Tree - Jimmy Butler

More jazz, and Jimmy Butler manages to make his offer to 'trim your tree' sound utterly filthy, promising to bring along his 'hatchet and beautiful Christmas balls' and will sprinkle his 'snow' with abandon. Ban this sick filth now! ;-)

Santa's Secret - Johnny Guarnieri & Slam Stewart

I laughed out loud at the revelation of Santa's secret being his reefer habit. A wonderful gem of a song and utterly unexpected.

I have a Little Dreidel - Barenaked Ladies

Ah, this is much better than the previous medley, although it does sound a bit rude ...

The Christmas Song - Joe Williams

A lovely, laid back version of a classic. I particularly liked the haunting sax playing way back in the background somewhere.

Auld Lang Syne - Lou Rawls

A perfect end to the disc, with a stunning a cappella rendition of the song.

All in all, an excellent Christmas compilation with the vast majority of the songs being new to me and all enjoyable. Thanks, and this is one disc that will certainly be getting hauled out on an annual basis.

Now for the second disc ...



Tuesday, 30 December 2008

A Very Special Christmas from Neil - Review

Merry Christmas Everybody - Slade

Great start to the mix! I don't think this song has gotten much airplay here, but it sounds like an instant classic. Very catchy and very rock and roll, and the scream "It's Chriiiiistmas!" towards the end is excellent.

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday - Roy Wood

Another 70s era song, but with a more 60s feel. Upbeat and fun, the saxophone line really moves it along, like three girl backup dancers. I'd never heard this one before either, and it's a fun one.

Fairytale of New York - The Pogues and Kirsty Macoll

This one I have heard quite a few times before, as a friend of mine is a big Pogues fan. It's a sad story - bringing "maggot" and "faggot" together in rhyme as they were always meant to be - but uplifting in the end. It's a nice change of pace from the standard holiday tune and a good addition to the mix. And I really like Kirsty MacColl's voice.

Santa's Laughter - The Attery Squash

"Santa's laughter mocks the poor, you've known it all along" - a jolly and cynical little tune. Not a bad one, nor is the sentiment out of place, but it's a fairly forgettable song.

Christmas Wrapping - The Waitresses

The Waitresses! Quintessential early eighties sound - somehow I missed or forgot about this Christmas story-song. I really like their sound - a favorite!

Donde Esta Santa Claus - Augie Rios

This one is so bad it's good - like Cheesy Poofs, for instance. It's sung by child in a Spanish accent - the many many many whys of this song are probably not worth pondering - and I think he even sings "I know that I should be the sleeping" even though the googled lyrics show no unnecessary "the"s. Anyway, huge hit for me - thanks for including it.

Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree - Mel and Kim

Cutest version of this song I've ever heard. I also enjoyed the youtube clip, with more comedy.

Hazy Shade of Winter - Bangles

The Bangles did a nice job with this classic. I think they brightened up the original with all their energy. Not one of my favorite songs, but I did enjoy hearing this version.

Girl In a Time Machine - The Fast Ood Rockers

I didn't care for this one the first time I heard it, but it really grew on me with a few repetitions. I found a youtube video that clarified the Christmas connection - there seems to be a big story behind the song. Unfortunately, I've never seen a Dr. Who episode - maybe if I had, I would like it even more!

Christmas - The Who

This one just doesn't sound like a holiday song to me, despite all the repetitions of the word Christmas. The lyrics are interesting and seem to question the Christian salvation dogma, so that's cool. But unfortunately I've never had more than fairly lukewarm enthusiasm for The Who.

Driving Home For Christmas - Chris Rea

I got to know Chris Rea on a previous Mix Club CD, from Alan, and it's nice to hear him again. This is a sweet song I can imagine getting lots and lots of radio play around the holidays.

Gaudete - Steeleye Span

This is gorgeous! I'd never heard it before, nor much of Steeleye Span. I'm very fond of acapella singing and multi-voiced harmonies. Definitely one of my favorites, and I'm sure I'd like more of their music, especially if they do more of this sort of thing.

In Dulci Jubilo - Mike Oldfield

This one got off to a nice start, a simple instrumental arrangement of the Christmas carol, but by the time the electric guitar came in, I felt like I'd heard enough of that melody.

Ring Out, Solstice Bells - Jethro Tull

One for the pagans! This one definitely lifts the spirits, or reminds me to lift a glass of spirits, something like that.

Snowflakes - Pizzicato 5

I'm not sure if Pizzicato 5 is ironic or post-ironic, but I love them. This song is two brief minutes of fey charm.

Child of Snow (Poppoya) - Miu Sakamoto

I really like this one - the singer has an absolutely lovely voice. Very clean sound.

Finlandia (Op. 26) - John Sibelius

It goes like this: You're walking in a blizzard in the mountains in some very cold northern place - say, Finland - and you're all alone except for maybe an elf and/or dwarf companion, but definitely no wizard who could throw a fire ball and warm things up for you. And it's so f*ing cold and the wind is blowing so hard that you can only take a single step, and then you have to stop and store up energy for the next step. And that's how you go through the beginning of the music, one slow step at a time in this hostile, frozen world. And then after awhile the wind and snow start to let up. You're still going slow and you still have icicles in your nose and eyelashes, but it's getting a bit easier and you start to consider the possibility of survival. A bird flies overhead - life! Then down below you, you see the distant valley with smoke rising from chimneys, and now you have something to live for, because where there's smoke there is probably a cup of hot chocolate or maybe tea, somewhere. You make your way down into the valley, quickening your pace as the sun emerges from behind gray clouds. As you approach the town, you hear music, happy music, coming from the town square. You keep walking until you get there, and what you find is a party - a big party with dancing around a giant bonfire, and big mugs of warm, spiked cider. You dance with a stranger, and suddenly all the strangers want to dance with you. You're light on your feet despite your fatigue, and lighter still when they lift you onto their shoulders and bear you to the stage where the band is playing. On the stage is a throne, and the people are crowning you king! Because you are the most awesome person they've ever seen! And now you're king of the whole town! Wow, that kind of sobers you up for a minute, so you take some time to contemplate the long journey you've made and where it's landed you. You remember the cold for a little while, but soon the coronation music recalls you to the present where you are king, you are awesome, and you are warm.

Middle of Winter - John Otway

I think this is my favorite of the mix - definitely the one that stays in my head the most and that I keep coming back to. He seems to have the perfect voice for the endearing and pathetic character of the song who stands freezing outside his ex-girlfriend's house. I could definitely listen to more of Mr. Otway.

Overall, an A+ mix that cheered my holiday, with several new favorites - especially Gaudete and the last. Thanks!

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Mix Club 8

Hooray,
got my cd this week and it is great. Thank you Nancy I am enjoying it very much. It's a nice mix of duets,both older and modern, and, being a "trekkie", I was very impressed with the William Shatner track. This is what I hoped for when I joined mix club some tracks I did n't know but with a similar age and taste to my own. Once again, very pleased. Thank You Very Much.
Ann.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Just Arrived

A holiday mix from Neil (a John Otway track is as good as a signature.) Thanks - can't wait to listen, maybe with a cup of mulled wine.