Tag: <span>Greatest Hits</span>

skunkanansie

A long time ago, in a blue football stadium, I saw Skunk Anansie support a certain 80s rock band (ohh ok, it was Bon Jovi, now shush). The day wasn’t a great one, the weather was crap, the PA system poor and the entire day was largely forgetable. At the time Skunk Anansie were about as popular as they got, and I can remember how disappointed I was coming away from that gig.

Last night, reformed and with a Greatest Hits package to push, they appeared in Glasgow and OH MY GOD they really delivered. It took a couple of songs to get going but it’s easily the most energetic performance I’ve seen for a while, and the crowd reacted in kind.

It’s fair to say that the lead singer Skin, is pretty out there, but she really was enjoying herself and the reaction from the crowd and soon the energy was flowing back and forth. Somehow, amongst all her bouncing around, and one epic crowd surf from the stage to the end of the main standing area and back, she continued to deliver with that stunning voice of hers.

It’s obvious that this is a band that is well versed in performing live, with very few rough edges on show, and part of me felt that they really should’ve been somewhere larger but given that usually means the horrid big red shed (S.E.C.C.) I’m certainly glad they didn’t. One thing that the O2 Academy always delivers, if the band manage to generate it, is atmosphere in spades. Accused of being the loudest audience of the tour so far, the grin that broke across the faces of the band as we raised the roof once more was a genuine sign that they too were having fun.

And that’s the one thing I wasn’t expecting. I was expecting it to be loud, vicious at times, hauntingly beautiful at others, but I wasn’t expecting it to be so much damn fun. If this band get their next album right, and some of the new songs* on their Greatest Hits package suggest they aren’t going too far wrong, then we could have another great rock band back on the scene. Welcome back, Skunk Anansie!

* note to record labels: parking new tracks on a Greatest Hits compilation album isn’t going to make us buy the album.

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Last night, which kinda snuck up on me, saw me and a few thousand others bopping along to all those wonderful old Abba hits. Yes that’s right. Abba. Or, more accurately, the tribute band Björn Again were in town.

I’ve seen them once before, almost 15 years ago now, when they played a gig at the Barrowlands. Last night we were in the ‘Armadillo’ which, whilst very nice, is entirely seated and kinda gets in the way of the dancing. Not that that stopped us mind you, it didn’t take long for us to be up out of our seats and clapping along with the best of them… ohh and I should pause at this point to apologise to the ladies sitting next to us, I’m sorry we didn’t know all the actions to EVERY SINGLE DANCE, and I’m also sorry that I was stone cold sober and not that fussed about learning them, despite your repeated attempts to coerce.

Of course it’s the music that’s the focus, and what bloody great pop songs they are too, whether the better know disco classics, the slower less familiar ballads and the, frankly, rocking Does Your Mother Know. Not that I want to remove any credit from the band who are pretty slick, well rehearsed and play the parts well. A couple of nice touches included some neat segues from Gimme Gimme Gimme! into Hung Up (the Madonna track that recently used it as a sample), S.O.S into the “sending out an S.O.S.” part of Message In A Bottle by The Police, and “Benny” even lapsed into a rap during Take A Chance On Me (as covered by Erasure.. I think…). A crowd pleasing Rockin’ All Over The World allowed the ladies to change into an even skimpier set of outfits and this is a band that knows it’s audience and how to play to it. And yes, the bulk of the audience was a fair bit “wiser” than us.

Quick Straw Poll: Blonde or Brunette? On the night it was definitely the brunette by a long way (which was good because I always preferred Anni-Frid to Agnetha).

What I still struggle to understand is why Abba’s songs appeal so much. Granted a few remind me of yesteryear, but there is a certain melancholy running through some of the tracks that seems to be at odds with both the music and the image of the band. The closing track, Thank You For The Music, being a good example; starting in a minor key with the lines:

“I’m nothing special,
In fact, I’m a bit of a bore.
If I tell a joke,
you’ve probably heard it before…

A quick change to a major key and we’re in lovely pop land for the chorus. Clever indeed.

What really struck me was how many of the songs I knew… all of them in fact. I think this surprised Louise as some of the songs aren’t heard often and don’t feature on the ubiquitous Abba Gold (although I’d suggest you skip that and get the Definitive Collection instead). Ring Ring, Honey Honey and Super Trouper being the notable “non-Gold” tracks. I credit my knowledge of Abba to both an ex-girlfriend, who played them constantly in her car, and to my Gran who had a copy of an Abba album that was always my choice when I was allowed to put on some music (wish I could remember which one, I’m tempted to say a Greatest Hits compilation but not sure which one, that was probably back in the late 70s early 80s…).

And in a nice piece of timing, you can tune in to ITV tonight at 9pm and hear some of Abba’s greatest hits and learn how they influenced others including Bono and Lulu (hmmm not the greatest selling point…).

Abba are one of those bands that everyone knows at least one or two songs of, in fact, I bet if you took a little time you’d be surprised at how many you knew. Go on, how many Abba songs can you name off the top of your head. Bet it’s more than one.

What it does mean is that you spend the entire evening singing along and wake up the next morning with a decidely delicate throat. Worth it though.

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I’ve been ripping some more CDs to my PC recently, and thanks to an iTunes smartlist I can confirm that today I will mostly be, randomly, listening to tracks from the following albums:

Blimey, that was a longer list than I thought it would be, should be an eclectically interesting day. I’ve listened to some of these ages (years) ago, others are brand new (why don’t ALL CDs come with that little pull tab to help get the cellophane off?), but having spent all day re-listening to “The Seahorses – Do It Yourself” I’ve been feeling a tad nostalgic.

Now, there’s a great album. Whatever happened to The Seahorses?

Editor’s note: I should really link all these through my Amazon Associate and see if I can earn more than the £1.43 I already have in the past three years… but that’s an awful lot of work. We’ll see if I get the time later… in the meantime, if you DO decide to buy one of the above, any chance you could just paypal me 30p or so? Ta. DONE. And of course you can check I’m being true to my word.

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I grew up in a musical household. Lots of records and tapes lying about, music constantly played in the car and kitchen. My Mum was a screaming Beatles fan, my Dad favoured folk music in various guises. Both of them enjoyed rock music, Status Quo and the like, but it was an album sleeve with black and white concentric circles that caught my eye. I snaffled it, and took it upstairs to my little portable record player. The first shock, which I guess is the right word as I was only about 9 or 10 at the time, was the picture spread across the gatefold sleeve. I can remember blushing, and feeling a little naughty, but it only served to heighten the expectation as I lowered the needle into the leader track on the LP.

I sat, baited breath, as the needle crackled along the track until a strange sound issued forth. It sounded like a man but not singing anyway I’d previously heard, a strange warbling noise in a strange language. The track was Mustapha, the album was Jazz, the band was Queen.

And that’s how it started. I spent the rest of the day playing that album over and over and over. The next day I pestered my Dad to get him to take me to the library so I could see if they had any other albums by this ‘new’ band. They did, and I returned home having borrowed The Game, and Queen II. I decided to play Queen II first, and was immediately convinced that I had the wrong group. Aside from the bloke singing it was a different sound altogether, heavy and dark, hardly playful, but I checked the album sleeve and it was the same people. The Game was next, and again it sounded different. Bouncy, pop songs, big booming bass on a couple of tracks. I was getting more confused by the minute, except for the fact that I loved every single dark, bouncy track I’d heard.

I now own every Queen album on both vinyl and CD. I own two copies of Greatest Hits I and II, with one of each in a gold boxset (supposedly never to be touched until I caught a nephew playing them – we’ll miss him). I have several singles, most of the videos but no t-shirts. I never saw them live and I still get a tear in my eye when Freddie Mercury, addressing the rumour that the band was to split at a gig recorded at Wembley in 1986, says “We’ll stay together until we fucking well die”. I produced and hosted a tribute show on our local hospital radio when he passed away. I still have most of the “My Greatest Hits” tapes I made up, featuring my favourite album tracks like Sleeping on the Sidewalk, ’39 and Stone Cold Crazy. I joined the fan club.

My name is Gordon McLean, and I am a Queen fan.

(This post was brought to you by Karen, and with a little help from Adrian – even if they don’t realise it!)

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