On Saturday 30th March we featured Gentleman the 1973 studio album by Nigerian Afrobeat genius Fela Kuti.
It was written and produced by Fela and recorded with his Africa 70 band. The cover artwork’s depiction of a monkey’s head superimposed on a suited body is a reference to the album’s title track, which Fela composed as a commentary on the colonial mentality of Africans who adhered to European customs and clothing.
In a retrospective review, AllMusic’s Sam Samuelson gave the album five stars and called it “both an Africa 70 and Afro-beat masterpiece.” Robert Christgau from The Village Voice explained that the horn work that introduces the title track “embodies the contradictions of that song’s anti-European message”, the album is carried “off into the bush” with “two eight-minute Africanisms”.
Gentleman is often regarded as the first major masterpiece in Fela’s canon. We wouldn’t disagree!
On Saturday 23rd February we featured LCD Soundsystem’s self-titled debut studio album released in January 2005. The album encompasses genres that range from dance-punk to electronica.
Critically acclaimed upon release and nominated for the 2006 Grammy Award for Best Electronic/DanceAlbum, the album includes the band’s breakout single “Daft Punk Is Playing at My House”, which reached number one on the UK Dance Chart in March, 2005.
In a review in Rolling Stone, LCD Soundsystem were described as”both underground hitmakers and bona fide album artists.”Whilst Drowned in Sound critic Gareth Dobson called it “a disparate yet cohesive collection of songs” and said that “the majority of LCD Soundsystem is an excellent thump into 2005.”
I think we agree; it is as banging as they claim!
A jump to Saturday 2nd February for our next event which features Music Has the Right to Children the debut studio album by Scottish electronic music duo Boards of Canada. It was released on 20 April 1998 in the United Kingdom by Warp and Skam Records the album was produced at Hexagon Sun, the duo’s personal recording studio in Pentland Hills south-west of Edinburgh.
The brothers Michael Sandison and Marcus Eoin create a distinctive style of electronica featuring vintage synthesisers, degraded analogue production , samples, field recordings, and hip hop-inspired rhythms. In interviews, the band has identified Devo, Wendy Carlos, DAF, TV and film soundtracks, Julian Cope, My Bloody Valentine, 1980s pop music, and Seefeel as influences for the album’s sound.
MHTRTC received critical acclaim and has been acknowledged as a landmark work in electronic music, going on to inspire a variety of subsequent artists including Gold Panda, Lapalux, Tim Hecker, Leyland Kirby, Bibio, Four Tet, and Ulrich Schnauss . It has been included on various best-ever lists by publications such as Mojo and Pitchfork who stated that the group “tapped into the collective unconscious of those who grew up in the English speaking West and transcribe(d) the soundtrack.”
At our Saturday 29th December event the membership voted (it was a close call) to showcase The Doors eponymous debut album released in January, 1967. The Doors features the band’s breakthrough single “Light My Fire” a pared down version of the 7 minute album track. It has sold 20 million copies, and is a fixture in many all time best album lists.
The Doors’ final lineup formed in mid-1965 after Ray Manzarek’s two brothers left and Robby Krieger joined despite having only been playing the electric guitar for six months . The group also featured jazz-influenced drummer John Densmore and the charismatic, and later iconic Jim Morrison on vocals. After a short spell with Columbia Records the band was picked up by Elektra Records having been spotted playing live by Jac Holzman at the London Fog and Whisky a Go Go.
The Doors was recorded on four track tape at Sunset Sound Studios in Hollywood in August and September 1966. Kreiger and session musician Larry Knechtel played electric bass on several songs in order to give some “punch” to the sound of Manzarek’s Fender Rhodes keyboard bass. For “The End”, two takes were edited together to achieve the final recording which would later feature prominently in Coppola’s 1979 Vietnam War film Apocalypse Now.
Sean Egan of BBC Music opines, “The Doors took popular music into areas previously thought impossible: the incitement to expand one’s consciousness of opener ‘Break on Through’ was just the beginning of its incendiary agenda.”
Judging by the turnout it still lights your fires!
Our Saturday 17th November event showcased Talk Talk’s classic 4th album Spirit of Eden, Parlophone Records 1988.
The songs were written by vocalist Mark Hollis and producer Tim Friese-Greene and the album was compiled from a lengthy recording process at London’s Wessex Studios between 1987 and 1988. Often working in darkness, the band recorded many hours of improvised performances that drew on elements of rock, jazz, classical and ambient music. These were heavily edited and re-arranged into an album in mostly digital format.
Spirit of Eden was a radical departure from Talk Talk’s earlier and more accessible albums. Compared to the success of 1986’s The Colour of Spring, it was a commercial disappointment. However, many critics argue that Spirit of Eden represents the beginning of post-rock: it’s textured guitars, glacial tempos, an emphasis on dynamics, electronica, ambience and minimalism paved the way for bands like Sigur Rós, Mogwai, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Low and latter-period Radiohead.
In 2008 Alan McGee wrote: “Spirit of Eden has not dated; it’s remarkable how contemporary it sounds, anticipating post-rock…. it’s the sound of an artist being given the keys to the kingdom and returning with art.”
Our Saturday 13th October event showcased Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, the first original hip hop album featured by AudioCollective.
Public Enemy formed in Long Island, New York, in 1986, known for their politically charged music and criticism of the American media, consists of Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Professor Griff, Khari Wynn, DJ Lord, Sammy Sam, and the S1W group.
Their first 4 albums all attained either gold or platinum status and were, according to critic Robert Hilburn in 1998, “the most acclaimed body of work ever by a hip hop act“.
It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back their second studio album was released on June 28, 1988, by Def Jam Recordings an album noted for its strong social commentary. Recording sessions took place during 1987 and noting the enthusiastic response toward their live shows, Public Enemy intended with Nation of Millions to make the music of a faster tempo than the previous album for performance purposes. The album charted for 49 weeks on the US and sold over one million copies in the US alone.
Since its initial reception, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back has been regarded by music writers and publications as one of the greatest and most influential albums of all time.
“Bass, how low can you go…? ” Come and find out!
The September event featured the first album of the late great Nick Drake on Saturday 8th.
Five Leaves Left was recorded between July 1968 and June 1969 at Sound Techniques in London, England.
Until the 1990s Drake’s albums had been critically and popularly ignored of the remastered version in 2000 resulted in positive retrospective reviews from the UK music magazines. John Harris wrote in Q that “the record’s abiding impression” was of “a hesitant, slightly troubled soul peering at the straight world and wondering what will become of both him and the people he beholds”. In Uncut Ian MacDonald said, “A fine debut, Five Leaves Left … (which) remains singular – cool and shady amid the celebratory sunshine of the late Sixties.” but subsequently Drake and Five Leaves Left begun to be reassessed more closely. The release Among his various backing musicians, Drake was accompanied by Richard Thompson from Fairport Convention and Danny Thompson of Pentangle. Robert Kirby, a friend of Drake’s from his youth, arranged the string instruments for several tracks while Harry Robinson arranged the strings for “River Man”. Producer Joe Boyd described Drake playing on a stool in the centre of the studio while surrounded by a semi-circle of instruments. The studio’s environment was an important factor as it had multiple levels to it which enabled the creation of interesting sounds and atmospheres.
Last year AudioCollective had a holiday in August but there was no slacking this year as we celebrated the summer with an FREE all day reggae festival: SWAN LOVE on Saturday 11th August!
Thanks to the kind offer from our friends in the Chequered Souls we have borrowed a bigger PA and have invited DJs Paul Phillips, Everton Latchford, Greybeard and Herbal Haze to spin the biscuits. The latter three making long (eagerly…?) awaited returns.
SWAN LOVE featured a celebration of ska, rocksteady, reggae and dub from the formative years right through to the present day….well 1981 anyway… including screenings from a selection including The Studio One Story, The Harder They Come, Countryman and Babylon during the day and lots of visuals to accompany the music too.
WE HOPE YOU ENJOYED THE PARTY!!
The July AudioCollective event featured Leftism the 1995 release by Leftfield. Leftism is the first studio album by English electronica Leftfield, released on Columbia Records. It contained a mixture of new tracks along with reworked versions of previous Leftfield singles made by the duo Paul Daley and Neil Barnes . The album contains guest spots from musicians not associated with dance music at the time such as John Lydon and Toni Halliday from Curve plus reggae vocalists Danny Red on “Inspection” and Earl Sixteen on “Release the Pressure” and Lemn Sissay on “21st Century Poem”.
The album was described as progressive house, although some journalists found that label too limiting, suggesting the album incorporated many genres. After completing the album, the duo initially were not pleased with it.
On its release, the album was well received from the British press with positive reviews from the NME and Q. The album was nominated for the Mercury Prize in 1995 but lost to Portishead. Leftism sold well and was released months later in the United States. Critics have praised the album as one of the major album-length works of dance music, with Q referring to it as “the first truly complete album experience to be created by house musicians and the first quintessentially British one”.
The June AudioCollective event featured the 2011 Mercury Prize winning Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea album by PJ Harvey. Polly Jean Harvey, MBE (born 9 October 1969) is an English musician, singer-songwriter, writer, poet, and composer. Primarily known as a vocalist and guitarist, she is also proficient with a wide range of instruments.
Harvey began her career in 1988 when she joined local band Automatic Dlamini as a vocalist, guitarist, and saxophone player. The band’s frontman, John Parish, would become her long-term collaborator. In 1991, she formed an eponymous trio and subsequently began her professional career. The trio released two studio albums, Dry (1992) and Rid of Me (1993) before disbanding, after which Harvey continued as a solo artist. Since 1995, she has released a further nine studio albums with collaborations from various musicians including John Parish, former bandmate Rob Ellis, Mick Harvey, and Eric Drew Feldman and has also worked extensively with record producer Flood.
Among the accolades she has received are the 2001 and 2011 Mercury Prize for Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea(2000) and Let England Shake (2011) respectively—the only artist to have been awarded the prize twice. In June 2013, she was awarded an MBE for services to music.
The May AudioCollective event coincided with the Cheltenham Jazz Festival and featured the Journey in Satchidananda album by Alice Coltrane. JiS is Alice’s fourth solo album whose title (and title track) reflects her inspiration by Swami Satchidananda.
Alice Coltrane (née McLeod, August 27, 1937 – January 12, 2007), also known by her adopted Sanskrit name Turiyasangitananda or Turiya Alice Coltrane, was an American jazz pianist, organist, harpist, singer, composer, and swamini. One of the few harpists in the history of jazz, she recorded many albums as a bandleader, beginning in the late 1960s and early 1970s for Impulse! and other major record labels.
Tracks from the album reflect her interest in Hinduism, Indian music and the culture of North Africa and the Midle East. “Something About John Coltrane” is based on themes by her late husband, John Coltrane.
This is a truely inspirational album and will be complemented by music from similar spiritual jazz artists such as Pharoah Sanders and Don Cherry. Sounds like a great night is in store!
The Stooges is the debut studio album by American rock band The Stooges. It was released on August 5, 1969, by Elektra Records. Two songs, “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and “1969”, were released as singles and the album peaked at number 106 on the Billboard album chart. “1969” was featured on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs at #35. It is considered a landmark proto-punk album.
According to music historian Denise Sullivan, The Stooges was “disavowed” by most critics; Sullivan nonetheless called it “a rock’n’roll classic”. On release Edmund O. Ward of Rolling Stone called it “loud, boring, tasteless, unimaginative and childish”, while Robert Christgau deeming the record “stupid-rock at its best”..
In retrospect, Will Hodgkinson called The Stooges “charged and brutal garage-rock”, and Pitchfork critic Joe Tangari said it was one of the essential forerunners to the punk rock movement of the 1970s; it and the Stooges’ next two albums were later deemed “proto-punk landmarks”, according to Mojo. Daryl Eslea, writing for BBC Music, called the album “rock at its most primordial. … [the] album is the original punk rock rush on record, a long-held well-kept secret by those in the know.” Mark Deming of AllMusic commented, “Part of the fun of The Stooges is, then as now, the band managed the difficult feat of sounding ahead of their time and entirely out of their time, all at once.”
The February AudioCollective event at The Swan on Saturday 24th featured Richard D James by Aphex Twin
Richard D. James Album is the self-titled fourth studio album by British electronic musician Richard D. James, under his pseudonym Aphex Twin. The album was released on 4 November 1996 through Warp and we’ll be playing the vinyl reissue released on 18 September 2012.
Richard D. James Album was composed by James in his Macintosh computer, and took several years to complete—more than his previous efforts. The album features lush string arrangements and unstable time signatures. It also has slow ambient melodies, reminiscent of James’ earlier work, built over faster breakbeats and drum programming; this sound draws elements from jungle and drum and bass. The bonus tracks feature modulated vocals by James.
Whatever your opinion of the relative merits of James’ two previous albums Selected Ambient Works Volume II (1994) and …I Care Because You Do (1995), it is the eponymously titled Richard D. James album that introduced Aphex Twin to the wider world. The album charted in the UK, peaking at a lowly number 62 but received acclaim from music critics, and NME listed it as the 20th best album of the year. The AC crew enjoyed the electronic meltdown!!
Stop Making Sense on Saturday 27th January 2018
Stop Making Sense the 1984 concert film featuring a live performance by Talking Heads. Directed by Jonathan Demme, it was shot over the course of three nights at Hollywood’s Pantages Theater in December 1983, as the group was touring to promote their new album Speaking in Tongues. The movie is notable for being the first made entirely using digital audio techniques. The band raised the budget of $1.2 million themselves. The title comes from the lyrics of the song “Girlfriend Is Better“: “As we get older and stop making sense…”
Track listing; Psycho Killer, Heaven, Thank You for Sending Me an Angel, Found a Job, Slippery People, Burning Down the House, Life During Wartime, Making Flippy Floppy, Swamp, What a Day That Was, This Must Be the Place, Once in a Lifetime,Genius of Love (as Tom Tom Club), Girlfriend Is Better, Take Me to the River (Al Green, Mabon “Teenie” Hodges), Crosseyed and Painless.
A fantastic film enjoyed by a great crowd at AudioCollective
Pulp Fiction on Saturday 30th December
No film score was composed for Pulp Fiction; Quentin Tarantino instead used an eclectic assortment of surf music, rock and roll, soul, and pop songs. Tarantino chose surf music as the basic musical style for the film, but not, he insists, because of its association with surfing culture: “To me it just sounds like rock and roll, even Morricone music. It sounds like rock and roll spaghetti Western music.”
The soundtrack album, Music from the Motion Picture Pulp Fiction, was released along with the film in 1994. The album peaked on the Billboard 200 chart at number 21. Estella Tincknell describes how the particular combination of well-known and obscure recordings helps establish the film as a “self-consciously ‘cool’ text; use of the mono-tracked, beat-heavy style of early 1960s U.S. ‘underground’ pop mixed with ‘classic’ ballads such as Dusty Springfield’s ‘Son of a Preacher Man’ is crucial to the film’s postmodern knowingness.” The soundtrack is central, she says, to the film’s engagement with the “younger, cinematically knowledgeable spectator” it solicits.
Portishead’s Dummy On Saturday 18th November
We showcased the band’s debut studio album originally released on 22 August 1994, by Go! Beat Records. The album received critical acclaim, winning Portishead the 1995 Mercury Music Prize. It is often credited with popularising the trip hop genre, and is frequently cited in lists of the best albums of the 1990s. Although it achieved only modest chart success overseas, it peaked at number 2 on the UK Album Chart, and saw two of its three singles reach number 13. The album was certified gold in 1997 and has sold two million copies in Europe. The album was certified double platinum in the UK in 1996, for sales exceeding 600,000 copies. It had sold 825,000 copies in the United Kingdom as of September 2011.
The album will be played on new equipment supplied by the AC crew (we’ll be testing out our new high fidelity TIDAL streamer) and also include discussion (not too heavy!) video footage (of the performer) and a chance to bring along and play your own related vinyl.
The Velvet Underground & Nico is the debut album by American rock band the Velvet Underground, released in March 1967 by Verve Records. Accompanied by vocalist Nico, the album was recorded in 1966 while the group were featured on Andy Warhol‘s Exploding Plastic Inevitable multimedia event tour, which gained attention for its experimental performance sensibilities and controversial lyrical topics, including drug abuse, prostitution, sadomasochism and sexual deviancy.
Though the record was a commercial failure upon release and was almost entirely ignored by contemporary critics, The Velvet Underground & Nico is now widely recognized as one of the greatest and most influential albums in the history of popular music. In 1982, musician Brian Eno famously stated that while the album initially only sold approximately 30,000 copies, “everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band.”
The first AC night after the summer recess was selected from four post punk / new wave classics including The Gang of Four and The Cure
The groups selected Joy Divisions seminal classic Unknown Pleasures released on 15 June 1979 on Tony Wilson’s Factory Records label. Recorded and mixed over three successive weekends at Stockport’s Strawberry Studios in April 1979, the album was produced by Martin Hannett, who incorporated a number of unconventional recording and production techniques into the group’s sound. The cover artwork was designed by artist Peter Saville. It is the only Joy Division album released during lead singer Ian Curtis‘s lifetime.
July 22nd’s event was the last before the summer recess, it was a beautiful warm evening and made all the better by Revolver, the Beatles fantastic offering. Released on 5 August 1966, it was the Beatles’ final recording project before their retirement as live performers and marked the group’s most overt use of studio technology. As such video footage of the band was more difficult to come by but we did find these great clips. Beatles Revolver
Debate rages on as to whether it was their best album but despite that everyone, including a host of new attendees enjoyed the night.
June 17th featured Endtroducing... . This is the first classic album selected by the membership and was a fantastic night.
We featured lots of video footage of Joshua Paul “Josh” Davis (born June 29, 1972) better known by his stage name DJ Shadow. For the uninitiated he’s an American record producer and DJ. He first gained notice with the release of his highly acclaimed debut studio album, Endtroducing…... He has a personal record collection of over 60,000 records.
Look out for other back catalogue releases and work from the likes of including Unkle, Cut Chemist, Massive Attack Blackalicious, Zack de la Rocha, Keak Da Sneak, Mos Def, David Banner, and Dr Octagon and anything on MoWax, Quannum Projects or Solesides.
See our DJ Shadow YouTube playlist
April 30th 2017 Miles Davis – Kind of Blue
DATA SHEET Will’s Davis facts!
A night of classic jazz and wonderful video footage of Davis’s ensemble sextet, consisting of pianist Bill Evans, drummer Jimmy Cobb, bassist Paul Chambers, and saxophonists John Coltrane and Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, together with pianist Wynton Kelly on one track.
After the entry of Evans into his sextet, Davis followed up on the modal experimentations of Milestones (1958) by basing Kind of Blue entirely on modality, in contrast to his earlier work with the hard bop style of jazz.
Though precise figures have been disputed, Kind of Blue has been described by many music writers not only as Davis’s best-selling album, but as the best-selling jazz record of all time.
See our MILES DAVIS YouTube playlist
April 1st 2017 Radiohead – Kid A
DATA SHEET Radiohead info’ from Will
We showcased electronica with this Radiohead monster from 2000. Some initial sonic issues were remedied and the live gig videos made the night feel like a true listening experience. More new friends joined us and we made our first group LP selection for the June event; DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing…
Kid A is the fourth studio album released on 2 October 2000 by Parlophone. On the verge of a breakdown after promoting Radiohead’s 1997 album OK Computer, songwriter Thom Yorke envisioned a radical change in direction. Radiohead replaced their rock sound with synthesisers, drum machines, the ondes Martenot, string orchestras and brass instruments, incorporating influences from genres such as electronic music, krautrock, jazz, and 20th-century classical music. They recorded Kid A with OK Computer producer Nigel Godrich in Paris, Copenhagen, Gloucestershire and their hometown Oxford, England.
See our RADIOHEAD YouTube playlist
March 4th 2017 David Bowie – Aladdin Sane
DATA SHEET Bowie news and views….
The inaugural AudioCollective event at The Shush Bar in The Swan Pub in Cheltenham. A great success we think and the first step in creating a local music listening community, thanks to the awesome Bowie back catalogue.
Aladdin Sane is the sixth studio album released by RCA Records on 13 April 1973. The follow-up to his breakthrough The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, it was the first album he wrote and released from a position of stardom.
NME called the album “oddly unsatisfying, considerably less than the sum of the parts”, while Bowie encyclopaedists Nicholas Pegg describes it as “one of the most urgent, compelling and essential” of his releases. The album cover featuring a lightning bolt across his face is regarded as one of Bowie’s most iconic images.
See our BOWIE YouTube playlist