some sort of day of release stuff for you. except today isn't day of release and, strictly speaking, neither of these were bought on day of release.
what albums? well, let's have a look at what our friends at HMV were advertising as being the new releases for the week. one of them is one i got. and, now that i think, another one is one i got last month. as i did with the one i got from there yesterday. this is getting confusing.
yeah, the Slash one is one i got for my (considerably) better half via getting it with the edition of Classic Rock magazine last month, as was the case with the last Slash album a few years ago.
i also got the U2 album last month, free, as did all Apple iTunes clients. i just happened to not be a complete dick about getting it as quite a few people decided to be.
also, after having something of a challenging weekend, i decided to at last treat myself to Holly's new album, released two or three weeks ago.
what, i suppose you are asking, sort of idiot goes and buys a CD that he was already given the music off of, legally, for free? this sort of idiot would be the answer, if you want to use that term of reference.
why buy it? i loved the album, so the collector in me wanted a "proper" copy of it, and it was that good i wanted the extra tracks too. simple as that.
do i feel it was worth it, or do i think i have been hasty and wasted money? more the former, to be honest. in particular for the inside cover picture, which shows Larry The Drummer and Adam The Whatever looking exceedingly old and tired, whereas Bono The Singer and Edge The Guitarist seem to be somehow clinging to their good looks.
OK, to recap - seldom is a foot put wrong on the "album proper". excellent music, some of the band's best lyrics this century, and the whole thing works really well. the question i guess, would be as to whether or not the extra disc is worth the cost. i am assuming that this is the only version anyone is planning on buying, yeah? there is, in the light of the freebie, no reason at all i can think of as to why they even bothered with the single disc, as per iTunes version of the album.
disc two, or the bonus disc if you will, look you see, is one that i have only played the once so far. but i liked it, and will play it again. but it does come with problems.
at face value this is five tracks, is it not? looks like there is a compelling case not to purchase the album, for are five tracks really worth twelve notes of pounds? except it isn't five tracks.
track three there is called Acoustic Sessions. that turns out to be some 22 minutes of acoustic versions of tunes off the album. 5 or so songs i think. as it does not sound like a live set, but rather them recorded on separate occasions, i have no answer for you as to why they were stuck together as one. it makes even less sense that they are when you hear The Troubles, with the "alternative version" being pretty much an acoustic version, like the ones all stuck together.
i am sure there is a reason why they didn't simply have the acoustic versions all as separate tracks, as CD technology allows for, but i have no idea what that reason could be.
inside linear notes have that typed look. there's some sort of lengthy history of the band included that, frankly, i could not be arsed to read.
the two new tracks, Lucifer's Hands and The Crystal Ballroom, are pretty good by the way. if they were included in the album proper then they would not have felt out of place at all. so if you like the album itself these are all win, if you didn't then you will not. simples.
it remains, of course, fashionable to bash U2 at all times. best of all of late is Mr Money, Noel Gallagher, lambasting U2 for giving away an album and saying how he would much rather charge more money for his. i have no issue with musicians making money - the more the better - but Noel's obsession with it was already tiresome and now somewhat pathetic. if you can bypass the "must hate because everyone is hating them" approach, you may find you rather like this album.
happier things, then, and some new music off of Holly Johnson, in the form of an album called Europa.
how much chance is there of me saying anything particularly negative about any venture or endeavour by any member of Frankie Goes To Hollywood? not much chance. yes, i am heavily biased. Frankie were, are and always will be number one for me. so there you go, i have declared it, any views here will not be unbiased.
that said, the most baffling thing about this release is its timing. it's a vibrant, buzzing affair, carrying with it the sounds of Spring or Summer. why on earth was a decision taken to release during the dark, cold days of Autumn and Winter? if the idea was to "lift the mood" during the changing seasons, well, alas, not even Holly can do that.
it did, however, make my bus ride this morning a most happy ride. rather than reading as usual i sat and listened to this. there is not a bad track on it, and some truly outstanding tunes. favourite so far? In And Out Of Love is amazing. and Dancing With No Fear. giving them two a spin will let you know if you will like the whole album or not.
much of this album serves as a stark, sharp reminder of how much the world has missed the vocals of Holly Johnson. yeah, yeah, the fuss, the controversy and all that helped make Frankie famous, but neither the fuss nor the controversy would have ever existed if it were not for the great singer, the awesome band and the amazing songs. it's a rare talent Holly has, one that i am delighted he has shared with us once more.
does this solo album make me wish for a Frankie reunion? no. i do wish the five of them would make peace and be nice to each other, but all of them have expressed a view that there's no wish to work together again. why would you want to see a band you love do something that they didn't love doing?
sorry these reviews are far from polished, but done on the basis of one listen!
so, if you are out there wondering "is it OK to actually just like U2 for the music still", as far as i am concerned yes. if you are out there wondering if a new Holly Johnson album represents some class new pop sounds, the answer is, as far as i am concerned, oh hell yes.
i wish you much happy listening if you try either, or indeed both.
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!