Album of the Week

Album of the Week 20

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Rattle & Hum – U2 1988

Rattle and Hum is a hybrid live/studio album by Irish rock band U2, and a companion rockumentary film directed by Phil Joanou. The album was produced by Jimmy Iovine and was released on 10 October 1988, while the film was distributed by Paramount Pictures and was released on 27 October 1988. Following the breakthrough success of the band’s previous studio album, The Joshua Tree, the Rattle and Hum project captures their continued experiences with American roots music on the Joshua Tree Tour, further incorporating elements of blues rock, folk rock, and gospel music into their sound. A collection of new studio tracks, live performances, and cover songs, the project includes recordings at Sun Studios in Memphis and collaborations with Bob Dylan, B.B. King, and Harlem’s New Voices of Freedom gospel choir.

Although Rattle and Hum was intended to represent the band paying tribute to rock legends, some critics accused U2 of trying to place themselves amongst the ranks of these artists. Critical reception to both the album and the film was mixed one Rolling Stone editor spoke of the album’s “excitement”, another described it as “misguided and bombastic”.

What a difference from a Youtube clip 10 years previously !!

Album of the Week 19

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First Water – Sharks 1973

Sharks are a British rock band, formed in September 1972, by the ex-Free bass player, Andy Fraser, upon his departure from Free.They were signed to Island Records and were highly rated by critics, especially for Chris Spedding’s tasteful guitar work.The initial line-up consisted of Fraser (bass, piano), Snips (real name, Steve Parsons) (vocals), Spedding (guitar) and a Canadian, Marty Simon (drums).

This debut by the band Sharks resembles, lead vocalist Snips sounding like he gargled with Kim Carnes and Paul Rodgers’ mouthwash, that gravel voice Rod Stewart made the most of accompanied here by guitar great Chris Spedding, drummer Marty Simon, and bassist Andy Fraser.

Andy Fraser had originally contacted Chris Spedding, in July 1971, to discuss playing in his first post-Free band, Toby. When Fraser formed Sharks a year later, he contacted Spedding again and, this time, they agreed to work together. Fraser had already recruited his friend, Marty Simon, so auditions were held for a singer, to complete the line-up. Robert Palmer and Leo Sayer were turned down in favour of an unknown 21-year-old from Yorkshire, Steve Parsons, also known as Snips, originally spotted by Island A&R man, Muff Winwood. Snips had previously fronted a Hull-based band called Nothingeverhappens. Parsons “played one song of his, “Snakes and Swallowtails” and he was in”, Spedding later told Melody Maker.

Sharks First Water

Album of the Week 17

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Diamond Life – Sade 1984

Diamond Life is the debut studio album by English artist Sade. It was released in the United Kingdom on 16 July 1984 by Epic Records.

Music critics acclaimed Diamond Life and it was also a commercial success, winning the 1985 Brit Award for Best British Album. The album charted highly in the UK and US, and was later certified multi-platinum in both countries. Diamond Life sold over six million copies worldwide, becoming one of the top-selling debut recordings of the era and the best-selling debut album by a British female vocalist, a record that stood for 24 years. It was also among 10 albums nominated for the best British album of the previous 30 years by the Brit Awards in 2010, losing to (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? by Oasis.Pitchfork placed the album at number 10 on its list of The 200 Best Albums of the 1980s.

Personnel

  • Sade Adu – vocals
  • Stuart Matthewman – saxophone, guitar
  • Andrew Hale – keyboards
  • Paul S. Denman – bass

Additional musicians

  • Dave Early – drums, percussion
  • Martin Ditcham – percussion
  • Paul Cooke – drums
  • Terry Bailey – trumpet
  • Gordon Matthewman – trumpet

Album of the Week 16

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Houses of the Holy – Led Zeppelin 1973

Houses of the Holy is the fifth studio album. Although critical response was mixed, it became a commercial success later receiving a Diamond (over 10-million albums sold) I think is shows true diversity of the band with move from blues rock.

Some songs from the album had initially been tried out in earlier sessions, such as “No Quarter”, which was first attempted during a session at Headley Grange Estate, in East Hampshire. Both guitarist and producer Jimmy Page and bassist / keyboardist John Paul Jones had installed home studios, which allowed them to arrive at Stargroves with complete compositions and arrangements.

As stated the album was a stylistic turning point for the band. The composition and production laid foundations for subsequent releases, nevertheless found its rightful niche

The album largely abandoned their previous music’s weighty, dark blues rock distortion in favor of a clean, expansive rock sound as evinced by Page’s sharper, brighter guitar tone. It was also likely the most eclectic musically of their albums, swing rhythms on “Dancing Days”, and experiments with reggae and psychedelic music on “D’Yer Mak’er” and “No Quarter”, respectively. Its been called “a diverse collection of rockers, ballads, reggae, funk, and fifties-style rock ‘n’ roll”. It was also likely to be the most eclectic musically of their albums.

The cover art for Houses of the Holy was inspired by Arthur C. Clarke’s novel Childhood’s End. The cover is a collage of several photographs which were taken at the Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland, by Aubrey Powell of Hipgnosis. This location was chosen ahead of an alternative one in Peru which had also been considered.

Line Up & Credits

  • Robert Plant – lead vocals
  • Jimmy Page – guitars, production
  • John Paul Jones – bass guitar, piano, electric piano, Mellotron, organ, synthesizer, synthesized bass, backing vocals on “The Ocean”
  • John Bonham – drums, backing vocals on “The Ocean”

Production

  • Eddie Kramer – engineering, mixing
  • George Chkiantz – engineering
  • Keith Harwood – engineering
  • George Marino – mastering (remastered CD)

Cover Design

  • Hipgnosis – sleeve design
  • Aubrey Powell – cover photography