Natalie Imbruglia has done four albums but I lost interest after two. ‘Torn’ was the big hit single from Left of the Middle, the worst kept secret was that it was a cover version but it’s no less of a great song for that. A lot of the album tracks borrow their sound from other acts that were doing well at the time such as Alanis Morrisette and Portishead, but Imbruglia’s voice is distinct and good to listen to. White Lilies Island was a bargain bin buy and is not as good as the patchwork debut album although the single ‘That Day’ is great and on the whole the album has a more cohesive style about it. I was rather disappointed by the cover artwork – it all looks rather cheap and perhaps an attempt to sell the songs not the image, which backfired somewhat. I think she is the best musical act to have ‘come out of’ an Australian soap, but I guess that’s not saying a lot.
On the subject of bad artwork and ill-conceived marketing I will jump to Inspiral Carpets second album The Beast Inside which has one of the most unattractive covers I have ever seen and contains few songs of merit. I like to think that the album was a glitch in an otherwise impressive series of albums. Listening to their debut album Life conjures up fond memories of the Manchester music scene in the 90’s and contains classics such as ‘This Is How It Feels’, ‘She Comes In The Fall’ (perhaps bangs a drum also?) and ‘Sackville’, but strangely not the early single ‘Joe’ – the oldest tee-shirt I still wear (albeit in bed) is a now very faded almost see-through ‘Joe’ tee-shirt which I bought off the back of a university friend in 1990; it’s £15 well spent – 24 years old and still going strong.
Revenge of the Goldfish had an awesome cover and collection of songs; it was a great comeback after the disappointment of The Beast Inside. It’s hard to pick out favourites – the whole album is simply great – their best IMHO. Devil Hopping is almost as good with some more up-tempo tracks such as ‘Saturn 5’ and ‘I Want You’ standing out. The Caesars ‘Jerk It Out’ seems to owe something to the Inspirals. My favourite on the album is the low-key ‘Just Wednesday’ – great to sing along to as a cure for mid-week got-to-go-to-work-again blues.
INXS Kick predates even my ‘Joe’ tee-shirt – released in 1997 it saw the band at the height of their popularity – and is probably one of the oldest CD’s in my primary collection. Like Revenge of the Goldfish every track is a winner. ‘New Sensation’ and ‘Never Tear Us Apart’ (with its brilliant advert for Prague video) are particularly good and who can dislike ‘Need You Tonight’ – even yoof badboy pin-up Professor Green seems to be a fan. Obviously owing a lot to Mick Jagger’s swagger, Michael Hutchence’s vocals are great and there’s enough funk in the band’s rock to make them really accessible. I have their Greatest Hits collection also as a replacement for all their other albums that I got rid of over the years. Like Duran Duran’s compilation it is great to have in the car and as well as the Kick tracks ‘Taste It’ and ‘Bitter Tears’ get me singing along.
Another good compilation is the two-disk Best of the Beast by Iron Maiden. I was recently stunned by a friend’s ascertion that Bruce Dickinson sings flat most of the time. I can’t say I ever noticed while I was busy air guitaring – for me it’s all about the riffs, the solos and the head-banging sonic landscape which breaks over you like a tsunami of rock. As well as the possibility of flatness (I suspect I am tone-deaf and that’s why I have never noticed) the lyrics are mostly ridiculous and based on whatever book or film Dickinson was into at the time of writing. ‘Phantom of the Opera’ is probably my favourite, but I usually can’t be doing with any tracks that done have Mr Flat as lead vocalist.
I also possess The Number of the Beast on CD and love ‘The Prisoner’, the title track, ‘Run to the Hills’ and find I am having more and more time for ‘Hallowed be thy Name’. I have been into Iron Maiden since I was a wee lad and have pretty much all their albums digitally. I love it when iTunes randomly picks one of their tracks from the melting pot of musical giggage that is my MP3 collection.