Saturday, May 02, 2015

bus vibes #10 - mark ronson and u2 (not together)

hello there

a bit of a curious link to the artists, or if it is the right way of saying it, artistes, that i listened to on Friday. well, a few really - both have seen the inside of a recording studio with Simon le Bon in it, for a start, but that's not what i am talking about. no, look you see, instead i mean they are linked over the debate - a debate which might be in my mind alone - about what constitutes a "proper" album.

on friday morning, or the morning of friday, it was determined that i would listen to that Mark Ronson fellow and his latest sojourn into music. this was established by the fact that i had bought the album via one of them download things late on Wednesday, but we will get to that.

let's be up front and honest about me reviewing all this Uptown Special sh!t. i appreciate that the target audience for this album is half my age, if not younger. i tried my best to channel that idea - indeed, as point of fact i wore my Eat Sleep Rave Repeat t-shirt as i listened - as i gave it a play. the results of this were, at best, mixed. although it was nice when a lad in a van pointed at my t-shirt and gave me a thumbs up.

for the most part, this album is half baked, or rather half arsed, ideas for songs that circulate around the admittedly impressive hit pop single Uptown Funk. hence, you imagine, the name of the album. as partially baked or not as arsed as they could be, most of the sounds - i am reluctant to call them songs - are actually pretty good. maybe i am not that old.

actually, perhaps i am. track three, which i think is called Feel Right, is a good idea gone very bad. it all starts off nice, with a very splendid funky guitar off of James Brown sample. and then a rather vile black man with a formidable chip on his shoulder comes along and just starts shouting a whole load of abusive comments over it. and when i say a whole load, he really, really does have a rather vivacious potty mouth on the go. it is quite rude and not something that fits in with the rest of the "album".

best song on the album, beyond that Uptown Junk business? hard call. one of the cadets at verk said that they liked the one called Daffodils, so to that end here is a little snippet of it.

yeah, that track is ok, i suppose. it's bustin', or groovin', or whatever the hell it is that the kids these day say that things they like are. it does not, for sure, have someone going all potty mouth over it, so that makes it satisfactory.

with no artwork or booklet coming with a download thing i have no info on the songs. i would be interested in the provenance of track one, however, as it seems to borrow quite liberally from Prince's celebrated Diamonds & Pearls song. one would assume that the Ronson of Mark got some sort of permission to do it.

how is it that i came to own the album at all, never mind via a download thing? Google waved it at me for 99p. Google are doing this for 3 albums a day for the next while. today i bought something called a Furious 7 soundtrack, and an album by that nice man James Bay. the music bits he did on that Top Gear show were reasonable, and that one song he does about a bridge or something is satisfactory.

the boys and my (considerably) better half all quite like this Downtown Girl song on it, featuring that Ollie Mars or Bruno Mars or whatever, so 99p seemed a pretty reasonable amount of coins of money to pay for it. for the one play i have given it, and i am fairly certain i shall not play it again, i do believe i got the value of my coins of money.

is Uptown Special actually an album 'proper'? not really. i think it's meant as an 'experience', or as some sort of elaboration around the one song that Mark Ronson could be bothered to do properly. which leads us into a rather more famous album that it was suggested was not a proper album.

when it was released there was an allegation that Zooropa was not intended as an album at all. these were tracks, the story goes, that U2 were messing with as possible b-sides during the Zoo TV tour, but instead cobbled together as an album to, frankly, cash in on the success they were experiencing. as hard as it is for some to remember, that whole Achtung Baby era made the band the biggest on the planet - even bigger than they were during that whole Joshua Tree / Rattle & Hum period. which is saying something.

the idea that it was an 'album but no not really a proper one' was aided somewhat by the bold move of releasing it at a lower price than normal. this was a time when you had little choice to actually buy music - there was no such thing as a download, so it was purchase it or tape it off of a mate.

when the band were asked at the time if this was actually a real album or some sort of hastily put together random selection of outtakes, the band gave a considered response. the words of The Edge were "i don't think we would waste an album release". note the think element. they were, of course, to go on and very much waste an album release in the form of No Line On The Horizon, and they didn't dispel the idea that Zooropa was some sort of "oh that" thing by relegating it to an extra disc in the lavish Achtung Baby anniversary edition. in regards of the latter, the true place of the album, it seems, was in amongst some horrendous remixes that you would play once at best.

a snippet of Dirty Day? sure, why not, dear reader. or listener, since that would be more accurate.

to look at the album entire, the title track is essentially two songs welded together, presumably because they could not work out what to do with either half. this trick did not exactly hurt The Beatles when they did it with A Day In The Life. i really, really love the song Zooropa. it speaks to me in all sorts of ways. as in i often think i should have called this blog uncertainty can be a guiding light rather than superstition is all we have left.

other than that, we have Numb, the gesture of a single from the album. Numb features the band's cockney guitarist, whose name escapes me for the moment, mumbling over some awesome bass. i think Lemon was a single too, but it is an awful, awful song.

Stay, Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car and Some Days Are Better Than Others are above average. add to that The Wanderer, which is a great song and has an inspired vocal performance by Johnny Cash, and somewhere just north of half of the album is pretty damned good.

is Zooropa a wasted or not proper album? it's no Joshua Tree or Achtung Baby. then again, it's not No Line On The Horizon or most of Pop. in ranking U2 albums, "lower middle of the list" feels about right.

so, will it be more vibes on the bus next week, or back to reading? it certainly won't be more Mark Ronson, that much i can tell you. maybe some Mick Ronson, we shall see.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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