Electronic – Disappointed

It may be unfair to call this a mere guest appearance, as Neil has lead vocals here. In terms of composition, the song has a piano riff which was based on Electronic member Johnny Marr’s brother Ian,  prior to the release of New Order’s 6th album Republic. It was then delevoped into a full backing track by Marr and fellow Electronic member Bernard Sumner (Of New Order and Joy Division fame) Following this, Neil was invited to complete the song, and wrote the vocal melody as well as the lyrics. As you can see, a lot of the song is down to Neil you could say, and you can tell. It does definitely sound like a Pet Shop Boys song apart from the music. Some of the lyrics take inspiration from Mylene Farmer’s 1991 single Desenchante. I personally adore the song, and I love how the chords give it a somewhat ethereal quality and the guitar work by Johnny Marr is just the icing on the cake. I feel it gets overlooked despite it being their highest charting single (#6) in my home country of the United Kingdom, although that’s probably in part owed to the fact it didn’t appear on Electronics self titled debut, as it was originally included on the movie Cool World’s soundtrack. It is such a shame that the song seems largely forgotten about (in comparision to Getting Away With It), which I think is mainly down to the reason that the song for many years was only available on the Now 22 compilation or the Cool World soundtrack. It was never on an Electronic release for many years. Its not hard to see why, as Bernard doesn’t sing any of the vocals on the track it probably wouldn’t fit on a proper Electronic album. It is included on the greatest hits album Get The Message however released in 2006. A great track that is worth checking out!

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Happy Mondays – Step On

This is the Happy Mondays biggest hit in the UK (tied with Kinky Afro) and almost certainly the song that they’re most remembered for. Amazingly, this song is actually a cover version. The original is titled “He’s Gonna Step On You Again” (Which has been cited in the Guiness World Records as the first song to use a sample) and was released as a single by John Kongos in 1971. The Happy Mondays version also samples a short three note guitar sample from the original. Originally, the group were asked to cover a song for their American label Elektra, to celebrate the label’s anniversary. A tape of Elektra songs were sent to the group, one of the tracks on the tape being Step On. Shaun wasn’t keen on the idea of cover versions, but felt he could really customize the song to make it sound like an original Happy Mondays track. One of the song’s trademark phrases “Your twisting my melon man, you talk so hip!” actually came from a documentary on Steve McQueen that Shaun was watching at the time. The other phrase, “Call the cops!” was something that a regular at the Hacienda nightclub shouted frequently.Once the track was complete, Shaun was so pleased with it that he decided it was too good to give to the compilation, and ended up recording another John Kongos track (Tokoloshe Man) instead. He felt that the song should be saved for their next album and that it could end up propelling them back into the charts. An incredibly smart move in my opinion, as that album (Pill’s n Thrills and Bellyaches) became their most successful album and defined the Madchester era. Step On is a great song and was the track that got me interested in the Happy Mondays, whilst it may not be my favourite anymore, it is looked on as a classic and rightly so!

Electronic – Get The Message

Released in 1991 as Electronic’s second single, this is one of my favourite songs of theirs. Its become one of their most well known songs along with Dissappointed and Getting Away With It. It reached 8 in the UK Charts, placing it just behind Dissapointed as their highest charting single. It is worth noting though, that out of this trio of songs that they are best remembered for however, Get The Message is the only one that doesn’t feature Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys on guest or lead vocals. I think for that reason it definitely sounds a lot more like a proper Electronic song, as Dissapointed didn’t sound too far away sounding from a Pet Shop Boys track. The music was written by Johnny Marr (lyrics were by Bernard Sumner) which I think you can definitely tell, it’s more guitar driven than synthesizer driven. What I especially love about the music is how laidback it is. Its got this lovely summery feel to it which just suits Bernard’s vocal I think. The song has been repeatedly stated as highlight of their self titled debut album and I would definitely have to agree with those comments. Johnny has also said himself on repeated occasions its probably the best track he’s ever written, which considering the calibre of his work with The Smiths and the rest of Electronic, amongst other things is high praise indeed!

Unexpected gems

I found a great little store in one of the area’s of Belfast city center that I’m not usually in. Its a collectable’s store that sells comics, vinyl, VHS tapes and some CD’s. I didn’t find any Pet Shop Boys records, but I did see about half of Morrissey’s albums in the CD part for about £3 each. I also seen some George Michael singles. I didn’t have a massive look in the vinyl section (I’m small, and couldn’t even see the top shelves) but I did see Erasure – Two Ring Circus, Prince – Parade and Saint Etienne – Avenue in the vinyl section though. I didn’t buy any of them, I don’t buy vinyl unless its something I really desperately want that costs about £3. They also had Blur – Parklife and a VHS tape from a Madchester era band called The Farm that I really like but like vinyl, I don’t collect either VHS nor cassette. I eventually settled on Grace Jone’s most recent album and two Madonna singles from the 90s.

When I went into the only proper record store in city center they had a massive sale on. They were selling various albums in their 2 for £10 deal that I really wanted so I had a hard time choosing. They had greatest hits by The Cure, New Order, Kate Bush, The Farm and I’m pretty sure there were others too (I had to rush around HMV because my dad and me had two hours to get out of town and we were pushing it) I eventually settled on The Farm and Kate Bush’s greatest hits, but I’m hoping to go back in there sometime this week to have a proper look

I did order some things online too, New Order – Waiting For The Sirens Call arrived on Saturday and I’ve just ordered Madonna – American Life. So after 6 years of being a fan I’ve finally got all her studio albums! I’m ordering a few other bits and pieces this week too, so I’ll post more when they get here!

Michael Jackson tour programmes

These are the tour programmes my mum got after seeing Michael Jackson in concert twice. The tours here are the Bad Tour and the Dangerous tour. My mum and my Aunt and Uncle seen him live on the Bad Tour, during the second leg in Cork in 1988. We actually live about 2-3 hours away from Cork, but my mum who was actually the same age as Michael (there is actually only 18 days between them) had been a fan right since The Jackson 5 days and had followed his career the whole way through. My other aunt and uncle and their cousins seen Michael on the Bad Tour in Bristol on the same leg. In fact, me and my younger cousin are the only people in my immediate family that never saw Michael live. On my Dad’s birthday, mum took him and my brother Colin who was 7 at the time to see Michael in Dublin for the Dangerous tour in 1991, 3 years before I was born. It was my brothers first concert, and to this day he can still remember the shock that went through him when Michael entered the stage simply by jumping up through the floor. He couldn’t quite believe that it really was the man himself. We still have some pictures from both tours and a Dangerous tour T-shirt, but these programmes I will always treasure!

Michael Jackson Opus

By far my most expensive music memorabilia that I’ve got, I got this in May of last year. The Opus is a massive (and I do mean massive, the picture doesn’t do it justice but I honestly can’t lift it) book that is more of a tribute to the work of Michael Jackson, it was released in December 2009, six months after his untimely death. The the purple and pink thing at the bottom of the picture is actually my leg, so it is pretty huge. I loved the book from first sight, but initially had it down as one of those things I would love to have but would never get, my mother did tell me though that one day I’d have it. There was talk of me getting it as a possible present for finishing my GCSE’s but due to money issues at the time that didn’t happen. However, we had a stroke of good fortune at the start of 2011 and came out of those troubles, and my parents decided to give me and my brother a massive present to make up for the previous year or so which had been pretty terrible. So in May, I ordered my Opus online from the official MJ site, lets just say, it wasn’t cheap. It was delivered by special delivery two days after it had been ordered, and needless to say when the gate went that day I nearly screamed with excitement! It is gorgeous, its very glossy, so the pictures (and there is loads of them) look fantastic, and the fan art section at the back is particularly adorable. It wasn’t cheap but it was worth every penny

The Killers – Read My Mind (Pet Shop Boys remix)

Well this is a nostalgic track for me! I adore the original Read My Mind, and this brilliant remix by the Pet Shop Boys ever since I first heard it in around 2007-2008. It was the first time I had ever heard any of their work. In fact, first time I heard this I remember hearing a voice that wasn’t in the original, and rather embarrassingly I couldn’t work out who it was. Obviously, I know now that it is indeed Neil Tennant singing. As you can imagine, this remix does mean that little bit more to me than most, given that its my two favourite groups together! The remix is definitely more dance oriented than the original, and has a particularly brilliant electro breakdown. For me, this sounds pretty much like what a proper Killers/Pet Shop Boys collaboration would sound like, and I really hope that a proper collaboration happens soon! It is featured on Pet Shop Boys Disco 4 album, but only on the Read My Mind single if your a Killers fan looking for a copy. It seems to be a popular remix, and hopefully a foreshadow of a future collaboration between these two groups! Great remix!    

Madonna – Gimme All Your Luvin!

So Madonna’s new video premiered today, and the hype for MDNA on March 26th is in full swing! I have to say, the lead single is different from what I was expecting but still good nonetheless! It was produced by Martin Solvieg and features Nikki Minaj and M.I.A. Its incredibly retro sounding and is insanely catchy, its been stuck in my head since first listen! I love the little cheerleader chants too, I think they’re good fun and will sound brilliant live. I wasn’t overly excited though when I heard that Madonna was collaborating though, purely because I don’t think she needs a collaboration. On that note I have to say I think the respective guest vocals of Nicki Minaj and M.I.A don’t add that much to the song, although I’m not a fan of Nicki Minaj anyway though I do like M.I.A’s work. Its already excited me more than 4 Minutes did which is a good sign, although I am hoping that the album will be a bit more introspective. Never the less, a really enjoyable song, and I’m so excited she’s back!

The Killers – Why Don’t You Find Out For Yourself

One of my favourite Killers songs, although it is somewhat of an overlooked gem! This is a cover, originally done by Morrissey on his Vaukhall and I album. Any Killers fan will know how much Brandon is a fan of Morrissey (If memory serves me, he’s more a fan of Morrissey than he is of The Smiths). It was performed on Zane Lowe’s Radio 1 Session and featured as a B-side on the UK CD single. Unlike many cover versions, for me this one sounds pretty like the original, and I think more than anything it highlights how much Brandon Flower’s voice echo’s a vocal style similar to that of Morrissey’s, at least in earlier Killers tracks anyhow. The song itself was featured in a 7″ boxset version of Hot Fuss, as one of the 11 B-side tracks on the album. I wish it was released on Sawdust, as its probably my favourite Killers cover version!