Friday, January 10, 2014

I Bought it for a Song

Some might say that buying an album because you really like one of its songs is a little excessive - why not just download that song? Or at least listen to a couple of others before you commit to the whole thing?

Still, this is something I've done often, and while purchasing an album with only one track that's definitely any good can occasionally lead to disappointment, I find more often than not that the other stuff is pretty good too. Heck, half the time, the song I paid for isn't even the best one on there!

Here, then, are five albums that I bought for a song but ended up loving all over:

Playing My Game by Lene Marlin
I'll start with Playing My Game, since it's the album that triggered this blog post. I first heard Sitting Down Here a very long time ago; Radio 2 gave it quite a few plays when it came out in April '99 (I'd have been seven years old, just for reference - my mum would put Radio 2 on in the car on the way home from school).

I rediscovered this song a couple of years ago, and once I knew what I was looking for, it didn't take me long to find its parent album in a charity shop. Buoyed by nostalgia, I snapped it up, and it swiftly transpired that Sitting Down Here wasn't Marlin's only gem. Unforgivable Sinner is a spectacular hate-pop anthem with a top chorus, and So I See is a triumphant-sounding corker. Even the softer songs like Flown Away and A Place Nearby - the ones I initially found rather boring - have gradually worked their way into my heart. The latter track is particularly worth a go; only upon listening to it properly did I realise how truly heartbreaking it is.

"Still I hear your last words to me: 'Heaven is a place nearby, so I won't be far away. And if you try to look for me, maybe you'll find me someday.'"


Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell by Meat Loaf
Okay, so here's a confession: I really, really like I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That). I honestly think it's one of the best songs ever written, from the preposterously drawn-out introduction to that brilliant, perfect duet at the song's climax. Oh, and if anyone ever complains that you never find out what "that" is, you can tell them they're wrong. More on which here.

The unabridged twelve-minute version. Accept no substitutes.

I was hesitant to buy the album at first because I'd Do Anything for Love was track one, and I figured that the rest of the disc would just be filled with...well, filler. But, after picking up the CD from a second-hand record shop, I found that I was incorrect - there are plenty of other stunning power ballads to be found here. Check out Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through, in all of its romantically dogged glory:

Other highlights include the closing track (Lost Boys and Golden Girls) and a backward-glancing tearjerker called Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than the Are (the clunky title belies the tragedy). Set any pre-held notions aside for a moment, and have a listen:


Two Wounded Birds by Two Wounded Birds
Meat Loaf and Lene Marlin are great, but I can't have paid more than £2 for either of those albums - even if the other tracks had been awful, I wouldn't have been too miffed to have footed that bill for one good song. So here's a slightly higher-stakes example: I bought this one from Spillers after hearing To Be Young on the radio and falling for its accelerating, Pretenders-esque charm:

Fortunately, the album was just about worth full price. There are lots of fun moments, but the best track - the one that puts even To Be Young in the corner - is the crashing and euphoric It's Not Up to You:

Pro Tip: Play this song really loud.

Just...that chorus. Mmmm. This band have broken up now, sadly - they timed it really badly, too, robbing me of the chance to see them live at Swn Festival. Major dang, y'all.


The Royal Society by The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster
After hearing Rise of the Eagles on MTV2 and being very much blown away (the cool name and bonkers video helped), I resolved to find out more about the song's authors. I eventually came across their album in HMV, but the price tag made me think twice about purchasing - I don't remember the precise amount, but it was definitely in excess of £10. Was the "fly like an eagle" song really worth that much?

Well, no, but its album sure was. The Royal Society is a very noisy record, but if you can get past that, you'll find all kinds of psychobilly brilliance beyond, including the somewhat well-known lead single Mister Mental:

Some time later, I was thrilled to hear this song while watching Shaun of the Dead on DVD. It's in the bit where Bill Nighy turns into a zombie.

Once again, several songs surpassed the one that sold it to me - Rise of the Eagles is still awesome, but its genius pales in comparison to that of Temple Music:

Cal-pol! Cal-pol!


Poses by Rufus Wainwright
Admittedly, by the time I bought this album, I was well aware that Rufus was supposed to be amazing. Still, I'd only ever heard one of his songs - it was The Consort, which I came across on radio. That song's presence on Poses was why I bought this album over, say, Want One.

I still maintain that The Consort is the album's highlight (mainly because of its jaw-dropping orchestral arrangement) but, by crikey, the rest of Poses is no slouch. Take track one, for instance: Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk is a sugary-sweet piece of lilty loveliness, and said loveliness has only been slightly dulled by a long stint as my morning alarm.

My favourite part is the ending (the "please be kind if I'm a...mess" bit)

Actually, I've changed my mind - The Consort is only the second- best track on this album, because Poses itself must surely be number one. That piano line, that lead melody, that Rufus-ness! It's all too beautiful.

Merry weekend, y'all.

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