Getting Too Old For This Shit

Up to my tits in work and really worn out at the moment. I’m lucky enough to like what I do for a living, but there are times when I want to retire and live a life of leisure, blogging, and t-shirt designing. Which is another way of saying don’t expect much here for the next couple of weeks.

Download: Up Against It – Pet Shop Boys (mp3)

This is one of my absolute favourite PSB tracks, from their 1996 album Bilingual. It also has one of my favourite lyrics of theirs in “Such a cold winter, with scenes as slow as Pinter”.

Something for the Weekend

Been listening to the new Róisín Murphy album all week so I thought I’d jump in my time machine and go back 20 years (blimey) to her very first record which is still terrifically sexy and goofy.

We play this a lot in the car and the kids sing along to it, thankfully they have no idea what ‘I dreamt that the bogeyman went down on Mr. Spock” means.

Something for the Weekend

How great were Lady Miss Kier and Deee-Lite? Really bloody great, that’s what.

Lucky Dip

Download: Catwoman – Shakespears Sister (mp3)

Speaking of bands that didn’t last very long. This Glam-stomping track is from their second and last album Hormonally Yours.

The Way She Used To Be

Pick up any Chill Out/Trip-Hop compilation CD from the end of the 20th century (there were lots of them) and you’ll see a whole host of bands who only flickered very briefly and are almost forgotten now: Sneaker Pimps, Smoke City, Olive, Dubstar, to name a few. They all had a signature song – usually because of it being used in a film or television commercial — but then failed to make much impact beyond that.

London duo Mono were another of those. They released one half-decent album Formica Blues in 1997, and then – poof! – they broke up. The album mostly follows the standard Trip-Hop template of drowsy electronic beats over movie-soundtrack instrumentation, but this single verged away from that into Saint Etienne territory and is all the better for it.

Download: Slimcea Girl – Mono (mp3)

Trip Hop Don’t Stop (Bonus Beats)

A couple others that are contenders for my bestest evah Trip Hop/Electronica/Knob-Twiddling albums:

Buy: Lamb – Lamb (album)

Buy: Blue Wonder Power Milk – Hooverphonic (album)

Seeing as what goes around in pop music usually comes around again, you’d think we were about due a Trip Hop revival of some kind given the length of time since it first started. But maybe for a genre to be revived it has to sound dated and a bit cheesy at some point and it still sounds new and fresh out of the wrapper to me.

Trip Hop Don’t Stop

Apart from a brief Britpop blip when I bought a couple of Oasis and Blur CDs I spent most of the mid- to late 1990s listening to Trip Hop or its mutant offspring Downtempo, Chill-Out, and Electronica. It was the soundtrack when I was dating my wife, and on our honeymoon in New York I bought a copy of Felt Mountain which I heard for the first time in our hotel room so it definitely defined an era for me. Though some of it was derided as trendy background music for designer boutique shopping and middle-class dinner parties, I thought it was the best thing to come out of Bristol since Cary Grant.

I had to pick myself up off the floor when I realized that it’s been over 20 years (20!) since Massive Attack released Blue Lines which, along with Portishead’s Dummy a few years later, pretty much defined Trip Hop and opened the gates to a flood of bands mixing up stoned beats with moody electronics, crackly samples, and cinematic strings. But my favourite Trip Hop album was by another mob from Bristol, the gloriously woozy Come From Heaven by Alpha. I have no idea how well known the album is (probably not much) but it’s felt like my precious secret love since it came out in 1997.

Alpha sloooowed their beats and samples down to a crawl to make hypnotic, somnabulent music that sounded so dosed up on cough mixture it didn’t have the energy to get out of bed — there’s even a track on it called “Nyquil” which I assume is meant to be a joke. With the two lead singers’ emotionally-bruised fragility it drifts along in the most beautiful, foggy haze, like comedown music for the mother of all hangovers (or drug highs, whatever turns you on.) Not that I have those sort of nights anymore, but this first track especially still sets me adrift on memory bliss.

Download: Somewhere Not Here – Alpha (mp3)
Download: Rain – Alpha (mp3)
Buy: Come From Heaven (album)

Something for the Weekend

Is it too soon to be nostalgic for the late 1990s?

What’s it all about?

The sentimental musings of an ageing expat in words, music, and pictures. Mp3 files are up for a limited time so drink them while they're hot. Contact me: lee at londonlee dot com




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