Alphabetical CD Marathon: F

Fischerspooner have detractors and fans in similar dollops. I consider myself a fan, but immediately feel the need to qualify that claim. I have three albums, but find that only one and half grab and hold my attention and mostly because of the ‘stolen sounds’ they use. Whether these sounds should have been stolen in the first place is something someone else can take up with Warren Fischer and Casey Spooner.

I like the sounds; they remind me in no small measures of Depeche Mode. I remember having a heated discussion with a former girlfriend on the subject of the synthesizer sounds used on my favourite Fischerspooner album ‘#1’ (to which she introduced me); I said they had ‘ripped off Depeche Mode’, she said they hadn’t. I played some early Depeche Mode. She mumbled something and went off to stick pins in a voodoo doll bearing a striking similarity to me. Some tracks also reminded me of Propaganda and even Erasure, which is also fine, but I thought I’d leave off mentioning that to her.

#1 is by far my favourite album (I bought myself a copy when we split up) and it is not just the Eighties sounding stuff like Turn On and Natural Disaster that I enjoy listening to. Emerge is by far my favourite track on the album, despite the curious random sonic blips at 0:23 and 2:06, and I can’t think of anything that it reminds me of. This is high energy Electroclash at its best. Megacolon is also the best song I have ever heard about a rather embarrassing affliction.

The band’s second album ‘Odyssey’ leant towards Electropop with Just Let Go being the closest sounding to #1 with its crunchy beats and distorted guitar chords. I like about half the album. We Need War with its lamenting chorus and Never Win with its blatant Pink Floyd sonic references are my other faves.

I very recently got hold of ‘Entertainment’, Fischerspooner’s third album, from play.com (at half the price of Amazon I might add). In fact I delayed writing this post to allow myself sufficient time to listen to the album multiple times.

I was hoping that the band would have prolapsed back to the sound of #1. Unfortunately they didn’t. This is more pop again and the songs are not as interesting or as entertaining as previous albums. There is more sonic jiggery-pokery but it doesn’t really cut it for me. It reminds me in some respects of The Pet Shop Boys which is not a good thing given what Fischerspooner used to sound like. The album is Fischerspooner being boring.

On a really superficial note the cover of Entertainment is terrible but the CD inside is spookily nice – it is black rather than silver even on the side you play which kind of freaked me out. On this point detractors would say that the band have more style than substance I guess.

Who doesn’t like a bit of Fatboy Slim? His 1998 album ‘You’ve Come A Long Way Baby’ is a classic dance music album and never ceases to satisfy my need for big beats. I love every track on the album, even those that test the boundaries of the assertion that there is joy in repetition. For some reason I find the repetition within Fatboy Slim tracks a lot less grating than that found in Daft Punk’s music.

‘Halfway Between The Gutter And the Stars’ passed me by on CD, although I do seem to have acquired it on MP3. The only other album I have of his is ‘Palookaville’. This album features one of my all-time favourites Slash Dot Dash and a great version of The Joker featuring funk soul brother Bootsy Collins.

The best thing Faith No More ever did was to ditch their first lead singer Chuck Mosley. I use the word ‘singer’ in the loosest possible way; anyone who has heard the album ‘Introduce Yourself’ will probably agree with me. The new lead singer Mike Patton made the band what it was in my opinion and without him they would have disappeared into the MTV archives without a trace.

‘Introduce Yourself’ does contain the classic track We Care A Lot and some great music and lyrics despite the awful vocals, but ‘The Real Thing’ album is for me the pinnacle of original sounding rock. Almost every track on the album delivers on a variety of levels and the album remains one of my favourite rock albums of all time.

I used to play the album turned up to eleven to piss off the people around me in my second year in halls of residence at university. I was subjected to Adam and the Ants (the crap later stuff not the good Kings of the Wild Frontier era stuff) from one side and general chair scraping from above. Playing From Out Of Nowhere, Epic, Falling To Pieces at increasing levels of volume and then Surprise! You’re Dead! at full whack and leaving my room for the rest of the album was used as a ‘big fuck you’ on a number of occasions.

I love their cover of Black Sabbath’s War Pigs – one of the first proper metal tracks I heard as a spotty teenager tagged onto the end of a tape of a Status Quo album. I remember that, Paranoid and also AC/DC’s Rock And Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution (which took me years to identify) cementing a furtive interest in all things metal.

I loved the singles Midlife Crisis and A Small Victory, but couldn’t get on with the album ‘Angel Dust’. I used to have it on CD and got rid of it. I think I found it too dark and too close to death metal for my sensitive ears. And there my fickle affair with FNM ended until I felt obliged to buy their Greatest Hits album ‘Who Cares A Lot’ to find out what I had missed. I Started a Joke and Easy are brilliant covers and there’s some good tracks on the collection, but nothing comes close to the brilliance of The Real Thing.

I first heard the Fun Lovin’ Criminals on a music magazine cover CD – Bombin’ the L (or was in King of New York) was a hidden gem amongst the dross like Dodgy that the magazine would have us believe were the next big thing. I like a bit of hip hop and I like it when the artists don’t take themselves too seriously. Listening to Vanilla Ice bleating on about integrity and being genuine makes me laugh.

Fun Lovin’ Criminals also used some samples from Pulp Fiction on their big hit of 1996 Scooby Snacks which meant they were assured of my purchasing their album. I am a total sucker for film dialogue samples in songs. Huey Morgan is the epitome of cool and smoothness and his rapping on their album ‘Come Find Yourself’ is a delight. Tracks like The Fun Lovin’ Criminal, the cover of We Have All The Time In The World and The Grave And The Constant (showing that’s it’s not all about the rapping) seal the deal for me. Bizarrely I don’t listen to the album a lot because it is a little too laid back for me most of the time.

I have always thought of Franz Ferdinand as on over-stylised indie band who were trying too hard to have a specific sound in comparison to their peers (I’m thinking of the likes of the Kaiser Chiefs, and the Fratellis for instance) who seemed to be more natural with their music. Again, much like Elastica (see previous post) the band have been accused of plundering other band’s stuff to find their ‘own’ sound.

I think it is for those reasons that I haven’t really stuck with Franz Ferdinand beyond their first eponymous album (although I do have two others digitally they are lost amongst the GB’s of other stuff and don’t get much play) and have to… wait for it… be in the mood (yes I said it again) to listen to them. That said I love The Dark Of The Matinée and Take Me Out.

For me The Fratellis were one album wonders and reinforce my view that sometimes bands never get over the quality and energy they pour into their first albums. Their second album ‘Here We Stand’ will forever live in the shadow of their brilliant debut album ‘Costello Music’ which, like Fatboy Slim’s ‘You’ve Come A Long Way Baby’ does not contain a bad track in my opinion.

I am always in the mood for Costello Music, it never ceases to cheer me up and get me singing along. The hit single Chelsea Dagger is an absolute delight and Henrietta, Creeping Up The Backstairs, Everybody Knows You Cried Last Night… actually no, all the tracks are great, I already said that and I mean it. I love the narrative to the songs and the interconnectedness of the songs with each other, and most of all I love the amount of energy they have managed to squeeze into every track.

I have just downloaded their third album ‘We Need Medicine’ which came out last week and I am reasonably impressed so far; there’s some catchy tunes and a hint of early Arctic Monkeys which I like a lot.

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