Absolute Beginners – The Musical (V2386) (1986)

The Smiths, Jesus and Mary Chain and the Absolute Beginners movies/soundtrack. With teeth bared, those were the three bones New Musical Express gnawed on at length during my initial year in the UK. But if NME found it tricky not to fall over themselves with superlatives for the two former phenoms, the latter proved somewhat more divisive. I remember a contemporary Lowry cartoon that illustrated this well. To paraphrase: Two blokes are shown discussing the movie. “I hate that Absolute Beginners.” “Yeah, me and all. Have you seen it yet?” “Nah.” “Me neither.”

Though some of it’s rotten of course, the album’s not too bad for something that is someone’s idealised version of a cool past which didn’t really exist and says more about the time it came from than the time it was supposed to be about. If you see what I mean. Then-hot Langer and Winstanley use “Jazz” string bass and vaguely Latin American percussion to colour the proceedings and add coherence to a project of diverse performers and writers. It certainly sounds more of a piece that many movie soundtracks. The Bowie title song is good in a way that has more in common with Diamond Dogs’ theatricality of than the phoned-in commercialism of Tonight.

I bought the cassette version when it came out. It had several more songs than the Lp, though I hadn’t heard it for years until I found this in Ashford.

Not to be outdone...here's my 1986 paperback movie tie-in copy of the Colin MacInnes novel--posed on the inner sleeve of the soundtrack album!

Published in: on May 12, 2011 at 5:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Style Council – Our Favourite Shop (TSCLP2) (1985)


(London, England) – It’s the latest wheeze in creative problem-solving and now crowdsourcing has delivered its verdict on Our Favourite Shop, the sophomore album by England’s the Style Council: a fairly resounding “not bad.”

Researchers broadcast the album on the music crowdsourcing web site Crowdsurf.com to gauge opinions. They were startled by their findings with comments ranging from “It’s pretty good” all the way to “3 out of 5 stars”.

“The thing with crowdsourcing,” explained Crowdsurf.com spokesperson Rebecca DeMornay, “is that it can gather large amounts of information and is relatively inexpensive to obtain; it’s also surprisingly accurate at judging things as arcane as, say, the weight of a water buffalo or the relative ‘okay-ness’ of a Style Council record.”

“There were over 6,000 people taking part in this event, ” continued DeMornay, “And so, by averaging the control group’s reactions, we now know that Our Favourite Shop is an alright-ish record.”

Some participants compared Our Favourite Shop favourably to Culture Club records from around the same time and said that it was “clearly miles better than that fucking John Miles’ horrorshow ‘Music (Was My First Love)'”, but that it “certainly wasn’t as good as Innervisions or Sticky Fingers or, you know, an actual classic.”

No one involved said the record was absolutely shit.

DeMornay said that some placed blame for the Lp’s “fair-to-middling” reception on singer Paul Weller’s vocal limitations: “While there’s no doubting his passion,” offered one participant, “his singing does seem a bit laboured.” Others cited the band’s “right-on” political stance as “obsequious and obvious.” Many claimed that, while they liked the record well enough, they found it hard to get through the whole album without putting on something different: “It’s uncanny,” said one 46-year old who used to have the US version of the album, which had a slight different track-listing and was retitled Internationalists, on cassette, “I feel the same way about the Jam and Paul Weller solo albums as well.”

“I think I prefer ‘Have You Ever Had It Blue’ [from the Absolute Beginners soundtrack Lp] to [the OFS song from which it was re-written] ‘With Everything To Lose’,” added another contributor.

While the overall contents of the actual record were judged slightly above average, over 90% of those responding rated very highly both drummer Steve White and the band’s suits.

Editor: note the Internationalists fanzine inserts above, available for £4.10 for fan club members and £5.60 for non-members.

Published in: on July 18, 2012 at 7:02 pm  Comments (8)