Music for the masses
YEAH yeah, yeah, we know what you’re like. There’s nothing on the telly and there’s nothing you fancy going out to see. You want to stay in because it’s snowing outside, you haven’t had the notion to wash your hair, you’ve finished your book, the magazines are all full of the same old claptrap about how to look like your favourite celeb without spending more than 50 notes, and plastic surgery is out of the question. (It’s not that you can’t afford it, it’s just that you really like the way you look. And besides, look what happened toMickey Rourke).
So waddya gonna do? Well, we have some options for you in the areas of viewing and listening. Some you’ll love, some you’ll laugh at. But remember: one person’s joke is another person’s sad story.
Mixing both is the season’s biggest CD box set – it’s from Garth Brooks, you’ve probably seen it
in the shops, and it weighs a load. If you’re not a fan of the behatted country superstar, skip the next few lines. If you are, then you can expect the following: a six-CD set; 70 songs (11 of them previously unreleased); a Lost Sessions disc; and an All-Access DVD, available only with this set, featuring exclusive interview footage, music videos and (here’s the gag or jump for joy moment) a photo gallery of more than 150 images).
If GB doesn’t tickle your fancy, then how about U2? Despite the curious absence of the likes of A Day Without Me and The Fly, and the even more curious presence of Sunday Bloody Sunday (and the major conundrum of why they’re packaging together the kind of material that every U2 fan already has in one format or another), it seems likely that U218 Singles and its accompanying U218 Videos (the cover of each is directly linked to the recently published U2 on U2 book) will be on many people’s shopping lists this Christmas. Each has a carrot – the former a section of a gig from Milan, the latter a making-of segment and different versions of various songs including Beautiful Day, Vertigo, One and Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own.
Don’t fancy U2? Then how about The Beatles? How about Love? What
could have been a bona-fide travesty
is actually an amazing feat of bittersweet sonic symphony. You needn’t be a Fab Four trainspotter in order to pick out snippets of this, that and the other from here, there and everywhere as fifth Beatle George Martin and his son Giles remix more than 100 studio masters into what can only be described as mindbending music.
Slightly less ordinary, but still maintaining a common link with The Beatles, is the Oasis collection, Stop the Clocks. Again, selective track listing perhaps means that some of your favourite songs aren’t on here, but if you’re an Oasis fan that’s hardly going to bother you.
All the buttons are pushed with George Michael’s Twentyfive collection. Housed across a threeCD package (up-tempo material/ ballads/obsc urities) is the sum and substance of Georgie boy’s solo career. Impressive as it is, it remains dinner party fodder, unlike Sugababes’ Overloaded: The Singles Collection, which sees the UK female trio trouncing bland British r’n’b with restless if invigorating musical styles. By comparison, The Sound of Girls Aloud: The Greatest Hits sounds common as muck.
If it’s Irish you want, step into the kitchen. While U2 will probably seize the day sales-wise, spare a thought for the best Irish compilation album of the year: The Cake Sale. Selling like, well, hot cakes, the album comes with no bells or whistles (although there is a BellX1 connection in album co-ordinator Brian Crosby) but lots of great songs from the likes of Damien Rice, Glen Hansard, and Crosby’s band colleague Paul Noonan. And all proceeds go to Oxfam. So if there’s one charity record you’ve got to buy this season, you know which one it should be.
Fancy the biggest box set of the year? Know the difference between Tim Buckley and The Zodiac Cosmic Sounds? Forever Changing: the Golden Age of Elektra 1963-1973 is most definitely for you. It contains more than 115 tracks from the vaults of one of the most open-minded major US record la- bels of the ’60s and ’70s. From the soft rock of Bread and the boutique folk of Phil Ochs to the psychedelia of Love and twisted proto-punk of Iggy Pop, it’s all here, along with booklets, photos, memorabilia and memories.
As for DVDs, top of the pile for any music fan actually isn’t a music DVD but Series 6 of The Sopranos. Series 5 ended with Johnny Sack in jail, Tony Soprano killing his cousin and sanctioning the hit on Christopher’s girlfriend Adriana. The new series sees Tony and his crew looking into the future and not liking what they see, Tony receiving a major setback in his personal life, and heretofore minor characters Vito Spatefore and Phil Leotardo coming into their own.
if the Mob too tough for you, then perhaps Neil Young’s Heart of Gold is more your thing. Directed by Jonathan Demme, this gentle and poignant two-disc set captures Young on stage in Nashville as he premieres his 2005 Prairie Wind album. Disc 1 is the gig, and disc 2 features more goodies, including smart and informative featurettes and a rare clip of the Canadian singersongwriter guesting on the Johnny Cash show in 1971.
Other music DVDs you need to look out for include Pet Shop Boys: A Life in Pop (excellent retrospective documentary), Dylan Speaks (the almost mythical 1965 press conference that Dylan gave in San Francisco) and, last but not least, Christy Moore Live at the Point, a bumper package (35 tracks) tailor-made for those who like their folk music rugged, funny and soaked with sweat.
And on that sopping note, may we wish you an odour-free Christmas and New Year. Peace and goodwill, etc. Except toWestlife, of course.
Watch without prejudice... Festive fare from George Michael (left) and the Pet Shop Boys