Sunday 05 December 1999
THE DOORS: THE COMPLETE STUDIO RECORDINGS (Elektra)
For any Doors fans yet to replace their worn-out vinyl copies: a boxed set- just in time for Christmas - of the group's six studio albums, complete with dinky replicas of the original packaging, plus a CD of demos and alternative takes. I realise that it's not particularly cool to admit you're a Doors fan these days, so I'll take this opportunity to present some evidence for the defence. First of all, Jim Morrison and co may be famous and infamous for their unstructured, extended extemporisations but most of their output was snappy, focused pop. Their debut album, for instance, has five tracks which are under two-and-a-half minutes long. Second, there have been few other groups in which each member plays with such a distinctive individual personality, but is also so responsive to what his bandmates are up to. Last, Morrison may be mocked for some of his more adolescent attempts at poetry, but he was an absolutely stunning singer. Be warned, though: these remastered discs restore the rude words which were cut from the original releases, and it's not necessarily an improvement. NB
BEN SIDRAN: THE CONCERT FOR GARCIA LORCA (GoJazz; dist by New Note)
Recorded in Lorca's family home near Granada for last summer's centenary, using the poet's own piano, this is an extraordinary album by any standards. Sidran, a pianist and vocalist whose career includes playing with the Rolling Stones, co-writing the psychedelic anthem "Space Cowboy" for the Steve Miller Band, and publishing a doctoral thesis on black music's roots, presents a learned journey in to Lorca's life and art. As well as singing Lorca's translated verse, Sidran discourses on the links between flamenco, jazz and blues, and poetry and jive-talk, all the while accompanied by sax, bass and drums. You can see the whole thing live when Sidran appears at the Pizza Express in London from next Wednesday to Saturday.
ANIMALS ON WHEELS: NUVOL I CADIRA (NTone)
Once you are labelled "experimental", as has happened to Andrew Coleman aka Animals on Wheels and many others on NTone, it can be hard to escape the tag. Animals on Wheels, though, have been producing ever more beautiful music, and although Nuvol I Cadira still has a couple of tracks ("A Plus Tard" and "How It Destructs") that should have been left to die in the laboratory, it's their most restrained and melodic work to date. It's hard to believe experimentation had anything to do with it and that Coleman didn't know exactly what he wanted to achieve when he went into the studio. Most of Nuvol I Cadira consists of perfectly formed, organic tracks that sound naive and melancholy simultaneously. The melodies meander over sustained minor chords, gentle electronic doodling and laid-back, shuffling breakbeats. It's ambient but with a wider range of emotions. And when occasionally the pace does pick up you also get added humour, as on the excellent "Dial Up Infinity" with its sample of what sounds like a grown-up on Sesame Street asking for a date. I think Coleman can consider his experiment a success.
GEORGE MICHAEL: SONGS FROM THE LAST CENTURY (Virgin)
This album of cover versions sneaks into the shops tomorrow with an amazing lack of pre-publicity, but, to be frank, all the advertising in the world wouldn't turn it into a bestseller. If you were to judge the songs of the 20th century by this reverential selection, you'd assume that they had been almost uniformly delicate, muted and slow to the point of being turgid, and that includes the mere two tracks which hail from the past three decades: the Police's "Roxanne" and U2's "Miss Sarajevo". Michael concentrates on the 1930s to 1950s,with acoustic jazz-club arrangements to match. His glossy voice, however, is more suited to contemporary pop. And he'll never be a crooner until he gets over his breathy habit of singing "and it all" as "hand hit hall".
Top 10 albums
1 (2) Steptacular Steps
2 (3) Come On Over Shania Twain
3 (1) All The Way Celine Dion
4 (5) The Man Who Travis
5 (4) Westlife Westlife
6 (6) On How Life Is Macy Gray
7 (8) Invincible Five
8 (10) The Greatest Hits Cher
9 (13) Charlotte Church Charlotte Church
10 (11) Willennium Will Smith
Top 10 singles
1 (2) The Millennium Prayer Cliff Richard
2 (1) King of My Castle Wamdue Project
3 (-) Every Day I Love You Boyzone
4 (-) Northern Star Melanie C
5 (-) Back in My Life Alice Deejay
6 (-) Talking in Your Sleep Martine McCutcheon
7 (3) She's the One Robbie Williams
8 (5) If I Could Turn Back ... R Kelly
9 (6) I Try Macy Gray
10 (-) Big Boys Don't Cry Lolly
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