Archive for the ‘The Verve’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: MANIC STREET PREACHERS-“Die in the Summertime” (1994).

I really liked the Manic Street Preachers in the late 90s.  Perhaps ironically, I learned about them after the strange disappearance of lyricist and guitarist Richey Edwards, and really liked the first few albums that they put out without him.  I went back and listened to their older stuff later, but I still prefer Everything Must Go.

Nevertheless, The Holy Bible (where this song comes from) is a pretty great album.  And “Die in the Summertime” is really cool.  It opens with tribal drums and a nifty almost Middle Eastern sounding guitar riff.  When it kicks in after a brief intro, it’s more raw and heavy than their later stuff–was that Edwards’ influence?

I listened to this song a few times and will clearly have to dig out The Holy Bible for another listen.

Obviously Edwards looms over the band and clearly looms over this story.

The guitarist vanished on 1 February 1995 and is widely presumed to have taken his own life, but a body was never found and there is no definitive proof that he died by suicide.

[READ: May 31, 2021] The Forevers

This was a fairly simple (and familiar) story, but it was told in a very interesting way.

Ten years ago seven friends (or maybe not friends exactly) made a pact. They performed a ritual asking for fame and fortune.  And it worked.  They have all become very successful.

Each chapter has a title from a song.  The first is “Die in the Summertime” (3:07) [by Manic Street Preachers].

Ten years later we cut to Jamie Ashby–a strung out superstar singer (who looks an awful lot like the Irish guy from Lost, who was also a strung out rock star).  He is in a bad way.

Then we meet Daisy Cates.  She is a successful model,  But the person who takes her home does not have good intentions for her.

I liked the way their two stories paralleled on the same page with a different background wash of color.

Jamie does a show and when an old geezer says he’s washed up, he punches the guy and makes tabloid headlines,  We find out in the next chapter that the geezer was Robert Plant–ha!

Chapter 2 is “The Drugs Don’t Work”  (5:05) [by The Verve]. (more…)

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mothernightSOUNDTRACK: COLDPLAY-Viva la Vida(2008).
viva-la-vidaI have a very vivid memory of listening to Coldplay for the first time.  I was driving a very annoying person to her revolting house in upstate New York.  I was delighted to be getting her out of my life, and I was listening to Coldplay’s first album, Parachutes.  I knew “Yellow” from either the radio or from some Britpop fascination of mine.  AT the time, Coldplay were considered the next Travis, whose “Why Does It Always Rain on Me” had just soared up the charts. “Yellow” was described as Travis-like and something of a rip-off (a claim thrown at Coldplay to this day).

As an indie guy, Coldplay should be anathema to me. And yet since “Yellow” I’ve always liked them, despite their ridiculous name.  And I’ve always thought of them as a sort of underdog (that whole Travis thing), even though all the entertainment magazines say they are the biggest band in the world (even bigger than U2!)

And so, here is their latest disc.  Amusingly, we had played it in the house and then suddenly the disc was gone.  Couldn’t find it for a month.  (It eventually turned up in the REM Accelerate case (those cardboard sleeves with two openings tend to hide discs).

And now I’ve given it a listen, and man is it good.  Yes, I know, they’re huge stadium anthem rock, but even though I like lo-fi indie, I also like stadium rock when it’s done right.  It’s also funny about their backlash because they haven’t really changed their style over the course of their career.  It’s not like they’ve suddenly become commercial.  They’ve just been commercial-in-waiting.  And frankly, I’d rather them be on the radio than some other Top 40 bands.

So Viva la Vida is chock full of hits, and chock full of great songs. It opens with a short instrumental “Life in Technicolor,” a string-filled 2 minute intro that sets the tone quite well.  And each of the following 3 minute pop songs are great: swells of orchestra, great punchy choruses and then…done; leaving you wanting more to sing along to.

The amount of strings on this record is really notable.  And surely the breakout single “Viva La Vida” is the most string-heavy rock single since The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony.”

The only compliant I have about the record is the three songs that last over 6 minutes.  Despite the bombast of their songs, most of Coldplay’s work fits comfortably under 4 minutes.  These three 6 minute songs are really 3 minute songs with a 3 minute coda tacked on at the end.  And, the problem is that those codas are usually just repeated instrumental moments that slow down the proceedings.  (And since I dig bands like Mogwai who make fantastic instrumental music, I know from instrumentals).  This doesn’t ruin the disc by any means, although it does tend to wreck the flow a little.  Nevertheless, the next song kicks in and you’re back to singing along.

[READ: March 19, 2009]: Mother Night

It was with some trepidation that I started this Vonnegut novel. The reasons being A) I had never even heard of this title. B) Cat’s Cradle, regarded as one of his masterpieces comes next in order, and C) it’s about Nazis…how much fun could that be?

Well, as it turns out, my fears were unfounded.

Mother Night has a few layers to it. So we’ll start with the basics. The book is written by Howard W. Campbell. The book has been edited by Kurt Vonnegut, and Vonnegut’s introduction makes clear that he tried to follow Campbell’s wishes as best he could. (All of this, of course, is pure fiction, but it’s a good one). (more…)

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