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Culture Vulture Schmulture – W

In a feature shamelessly “inspired” by The Times‘s Culture Vulture, British Expat brings you the above titled (subtitled “Things you should own, if they’re the sort of thing you might like…”).

As the encroaching horizon that is ‘Z’, and the end of the greatest reign of terror this side of Genesis’s baffling stranglehold on the music-buying public of the early-mid 1980s (doesn’t it seem strange saying 1980s? What right did they have to go and change centuries??), draws nigher (I’d love to believe that was a word) – we reach ‘W’, and the greatest shock this side of Duran Duran’s baffling stranglehold on the music-buying public of the early-mid 1980s.

Waking Ned is a nice family film (save for the nudity, blasphemy, swearing, gambling…) and Wuthering Heights (the book and the Bush-ster) is always solid. But in a break with recent tradition, I take you back to the contemporaries, if that’s possible:

Two albums of the last couple of years are well worth a look, though they differ somewhat in their fanbase. Wheatus’s eponymous debut album contains the ‘smash hit’ (though thankfully no ‘forthcoming smash hit singles’ – easily the most annoying thing about the teenie-pop revolution. How can it be a forthcoming smash? Take nothing for granted. Unless, of course, it’s all somehow rigged.(sharp, but not altogether surprised intake of breath drawn collectively)) “Teenage Dirtbag”, which follows on in a Bad Touch (“You and me baby ain’t nothing but mammals, so let’s do it like they do on the Discovery Channel, here we go…”) styleeeeeee. Nice. Wheatus also features “A Little Respect”, a clear front runner for Strange Cover Version Decision of the century, taking a VERY early lead. (It was originally by Erasure. Remember them? Andy and Vince. Still, I’m sure their mothers love them very much. Disclaimer: yadda yadda yadda.)

But Wheatus lose out, and have no right of appeal. There can be only one winner. Step forward, David Gray. I first came across him last year (I’m not even going to pretend to be an original fan, I wouldn’t have known him if I’d met him in the street until then. Unless, of course, he’d introduced himself and I’d followed suit and we had a pint and a nice chat somewhere convivial) with the release of “Babylon”, up there with Badly Drawn Boy’s “Disillusion” and Coldplay’s “Yellow”, and perhaps “Funky Music” by the Utah Saints (“Funky Music turns me on, it does something to my brain, get a feeling I can’t explain.” Genius) as Song of the Year contender. If we want to pick nits, it wasn’t actually from last year, so he wouldn’t have the Mercury, say. I’ve never bought the album White Ladder, but I have worn out a few other peoples’ copies! When I listened to it for the first time, it was good. It gets better each time, and is coming up fast on AtomHeartMother in my books (that one’s especially for Danbo’, who thinks I mention the Cow Album too much, as if that’s possible) – songs such as “Please Forgive Me”, “Nightblindness” (nothing to do with REM’s “Nightswimming”, though I bet Monty Python are upset they haven’t had the chance to combine the two.) and “Sail Away” equalling “Babylon” in majesty.

I saw David Gray live at the Portsmouth Guildhall last October, he played a fifteen minute version of “Sail Away”, for which the crowd were pleased to indulge him, and seemed a genuinely nice chap – after a five minute delay, for guitar techie problems, he chatted for a while then had a word with Clune, his venerable yet stupendously good drummer and returned: “Think I’ll do one on the piano now!”

White Ladder does not have a bad song on it. I wouldn’t bother too much with earlier stuff, it’s mostly quite weak (except “Wisdom”, “Late Night Radio” and a few other songs). It’s mellow, unobtrusive but doesn’t sound wrong being played loud, like so many similar albums. It fits. Wear it.

’til next we see you on Going for Gold, goodbye. Await with breath that is baited/bated (which is it?) ‘X’.

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