Screamadelica (Boxset)

I got this delightful boxset for my 18th birthday. Screamadelica has been a firm favourite album of mine since I first heard it around two years ago. The album is a genre defying mix of guitairs, trippy electronics and even a slight hint of gospel on some tracks! Despite this though the album sounds so cohesive and regularly crops up on lists of the best albums of all time. Anyhow, this boxset was made to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the albums release in 2011. The boxset is tremendous value, it cost around £70 but has so much in it: vinyl of the album, a book, art cards, a tour replica T-shirt, not to mention four discs of music and a DVD of music videos and the making of the album. A fantastic boxset, if you’re considering this I strongly recommend it!

Michael Jackson Canvas #1

This is the first of three canvases of Michael Jackson that I have on my wall. As you can see the canvas’ main picture is that of a picture from Dangerous Tour, with a smaller image of a picture from the iconic Bad photoshoot. For once I actually bought these in a store. I got these about two or three years agoin a store called Wyse Byse which is near the shop my mum works in. Interestingly, Wyse Byse actually used to have a few Michael Jackson related items, I got all of my canvases and two money boxes from there. Its been a while since they’ve had any MJ collectables there though, but I’ve got loads of various MJ bits and bobs so that’s probably a good thing!

Electronic – Disappointed 12"

Well as I’m sure you’re all aware, I love Electronic, and particularly Disappointed, their gorgeous collaboration with Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys. On 18th of May 2012, me and my Dad went into town, and into a small little memorabilia shop that sells VHS tapes, vinyl, comics, books and an assortment of different things. Sitting dead center in the vinyl rack was this little gem which took me by surprise, Electronic aren’t an artist I would find in town at all in record stores! The record itself only cost £1, and is in really good condition, there is a mark under the title that you can probably see, but honestly in real life it doesn’t actually look as bad as that. Even though its not much, its one of my favourite songs in the world ever and I am so happy I found the vinyl of it!

Too Many People

Personally, I think this is one of Pet Shop Boys most overlooked B-sides! It was the B-side to their equally overlooked single, I Wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind of Thing from their 5th album Very. During this period the group tried to make b-sides that reflected the sound of the corresponding A-sides, personally I can’t see much resemblance between the two tracks. In any case, Too Many People is a very addictive song, particularly the chorus I find. Its also very catchy, its incredibly hard to get it out of your head once its in there I think! Of all the songs on Alternative, I think this is possibly one of, if not the, most commercial sounding tracks on the compilation. It’s refreshing I think, Pet Shop Boys B-sides tend to be incredibly experimental so its nice to have a more straight forward song so to speak. The song also has a very simplistic arrangement, its danceable without ever sounding weighed down with unnecessary synthesizer effects. The song’s title lingered in Neil’s notebook for ages, and the track itself was finished once Very had ceased production. Lyrically its also rather straightforward, it’s simply about the different facets to our personalities that we all have, and how we all utilize these various persona’s in our day to day lives in modern society. A particularly interesting observation I read on the very informative Pet Shop Boys Commentary site, is that the song also carries with it a certain degree of irony although I can’t be sure if it was intentional or not. This being that as Neil being a song-writer, he can assume different roles and personas in some of his songs if they’re not autobiographical, which automatically gives the song a whole different layer of meaning. One of the things that struck me most when I first heard the song was that I could very easily envisage Bernard Sumner of New Order singing the track. Neil and Chris seem to agree, it’s very New Order sounding in style, particularly in the chorus and piano line I think. A great song, that is also very overlooked!

A Very Unusual Birthday

As some of you may or may not know, I entered adulthood and turned 18 on the 15th April, nearly a month ago now. My birthday was good, I got spoilt rotten with presents, had a meal and did all the usual things that such a special birthday entails. Absolutely nothing though, could have prepared me for the shocker that was to come several weeks later, but first of all I must explain the original plan. I was having a birthday meal on the 15th, and my Aunt Jo-Ann had ordered something to be delivered by the day itself, so that I could open it in the restaurant in front of my family. It was a joke gift (or so she told me), something which is very much a common thing for my family to send on birthdays and Christmas or various other occasions.This hadn’t worked out though: the present hadn’t arrived and a waiting game ensued. My mum said that it was best to forget about the gift as it was likely not going to arrive at all. She asked me did I want to know what the suprise was, but I maintained that it was best not to as the present could still arrive (I thought that it was from something like Ebay. I’m glad she hadn’t told me actually as if I was told my Aunt had contacted them to do this and they didn’t for whatever reason I would have been so upset). During this period, I then became as ill as anything the week before last with a stomach lining problem and it had made me seriously miserable as I worried my epilepsy was coming back and I couldn’t eat properly. Yesterday would change that though, Dad came in with an envelope, and I could tell that the present had arrived. I opened the envelope and saw a picture of Pet Shop Boys, and said to Dad that it was a good gift because I needed a picture of them for my wall, then Dad told me it was extra special because it was from them. I looked again and literally went numb with shock

On it the picture said “For Clare” and was signed by both Neil and Chris, I could have absolutely cried my eyes out with joy! Literally, you have no idea how much that utterly floored me. I sat basically shaking for about ten minutes. I didn’t actually cry, I think I went numb with shock to the point were I lost the ability to convey any human emotion at all. Even the mere thought that two people I’ve looked up to so much ever since I started listening to their work actually know who I am… it’s just the weirdest feeling.

It turned out that my Aunt had emailed their management saying that I was a massive fan of theirs and that I was turning 18 soon, so she asked would they be able to sign something or do something to that effect at least. Obviously as I live in Northern Ireland the options are somewhat limited. My Aunt had received an email back with the guarantee from the management that they would be delighted, and the rest is history. The thing that makes it extra special for me is the fact that they’ve been working on a new album (woo-hoo!) yet took a little time out from their busy schedule to do a seemingly small gesture that meant the absolute world to me. Such small acts are always the kindest I say, and the fact they did it for no money or any other reason just makes it extra special, and proof that they really do value their fans.

To Neil and Chris, you’ve made my birthday one I’ll never forget, and given me another reason why I love your music but moreover, personalities so much. Thank you ❤