Enough…let us talk about cheery stuff…

Luckily there is more than one hue to the music I’m listening to… I don’t mercilessly torture myself by replaying HitNRun in the hope my teeth stop grinding, my mind stops seething and my ears stop begging for it to stop.

“What have you been listening to then, Simon?”

Well, I’m glad you ask.  Some old, some new.

Sol Invictus by Faith No More is on the receiving end of a lot of love.  It gets out a lovely Mike Patton patterned blanket and wraps it around your shoulders, keeping you warm and delightfully snuggled in.  It has a lovely sense of familiarity about it but isn’t merely retreading old ground.  A sense of communal joy comes out of the speakers; a conviviality at the new-found spark of union and rediscovery of the fun of working and playing together exudes from the music.  To these ears, much like their last studio album Album Of The Year (a real favourite of mine), this works best as a body of work listened to together…unlike, say, Epic or Angel Dust, there are no “singles” here.  You need to have 39 minutes available to listen to the whole album.  And Mike Patton’s voice remains something quite indescribable.  Delicious, but not actually capable of being described as anything other than Mike Patton…which is to say a voice without description.

A long drive saw me dip back in time to 1982 and Prince’s 1999.  A sublime album.  There is a flux about the performances on this double album that really took me aback.  I’ve been listening to this album for a fair few years now, to listen to it the other day was to hear it afresh.  There is a beauty in the juxtaposition of electronica and organic instrumentation that I had forgotten about.  As I put the CD in the player, the musicianship displayed on this album had entirely slipped my mind.  I had prepared myself for the workouts of Let’s Pretend We’re Married, DMSR and Automatic, after the 1-2-3 of 1999, Little Red Corvette and Delirious but had completely forgotten the second half of the album.  There is an argument to be made that this is Prince’s greatest album.  I heartily recommend you going back and listening again.  The lyrics are free of cynicism and (serious) bombast and there is an edge to Prince’s creativity, an edge that had just been midwife to Dirty Mind and Controversy and was about to go into labour with Purple Rain and the rest of the 80s catalog that makes so many musicians sing his praise.

A disciple of Prince’s, Terence Trent D’Arby’s Introducing The Hardline According To sounds as fantastic now as it did back in 1987.  All of his work is worth investigating…man he’s a talent…but this is a helluva first album.  From the monstrous opening of If You All Get To Heaven, through the hit singles to Let’s Go Forward…magnificent…and then, just when you think he’s run out of puff with Rain…Sign Your Name and As Yet Untitled/Who’s Loving You finish the album and you stop sobbing and draw breath.  This is a glorious statement of intent but such a maverick man.  The follow, Neither Fish Nor Flesh, up is superb and his insistence on following all the decent artists by putting unreleased material on his b-sides…oh, how I adore TTD.

And now a double hit…SJD…Sean James Donnelly.  I’ve been revisiting Southern Lights – please treat whatever ears you have and go out and buy this album and listen it on your stereo and then try and fight the smile and the warmth it makes you feel.  There is a little of me that despises the fact that Z have picked up his “from a to b or not to be” as their advertising jingle…but there’s also a part of me that celebrates the fact Sean Donnelly has received a chunk of money which allows him to go back into the studio, financially secure, and create.  Superman, You’re Crying is genius.  The whole album is genius, actually.  I’m lucky to have moved to NZ when there’s such a creative mix releasing music: SJD, The Mint Chicks, The Finns, Kids of 88, UMO to name but 5 of them…obviously Pyjama Club should be mentioned too BECAUSE…

The other album I’m gloriousising (is that a word?  It is now.) is Saint John Divine – SJD’s latest release.  This is a beautiful album, all the more so for (to these ears) the influence of Neil Finn on Mr Donnelly.  Not in a let’s-harmonise-the-bejeesus-out-of-this-song-about-melancholy, but in that this sounds so mature.  It sounds earthy.  It sounds authentic.  The album of a grown-up man.  Just like most of Neil Finn’s (and all the other Finns’, if truth be told) music for some time…I mean…One Nil…what an album…and oh what a man can achieve with a Wendy and a Lisa…(stop it Simon…enough!)…um…sorry…Saint John Divine.  This sounds like the culmination of a journey for Sean Donnelly.  It is such a delight.

So there we are.  Music I’m adoring.  But, before I go…

I’m a lucky man.  Lucky…it appears to be my motif… anyway.  Check this out MUSIC – now…I confess a vested interest: I worked with one and I taught the other… but lord they make music that sends me back to the time when Adam and the Ants actually were and forward in time to a moment when Blur still are.  I know there are a million other influences and the Nielson Brothers are looking in shock at their computers, believing an echo of themselves/not themselves is rebounding and resounding around and about the place.  Godspeeeed, Trendees, godspeeeed.

There.  Music that makes me joy.


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