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Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Second is better than first. Part 4.

George writes:

Some groups/singers make a series of albums that show an improvement on their predecessors, and reach a peak before tailing off, with the occasional damned fine album in amongst a load of nonsense. Dylan.

Some bands release a series of humdrum albums that fail to show there is any depth behind a series of brilliant singles and suddenly release an absolutely stunning album. The Rolling Stones.

And some bands make a second album that is far far superior to its predecessor  I’m wrong there, 604 is a splendid album, but it is really not better than Light and Magic. The second release is  a moodily magnificently majestic masterpiece of dark electronica. It is one of my most played albums. And it does not contain any tracks reminiscent of the theme tune to Are You Being Served (namely Paco!) that appear on the debut. Not that P.A.C.O.! Is a bad song. Oh no!!

In my music room (yes, MY music room), I used to have a strict No Other Humans No Cats policy, but our most recent house arrival (below) has a need to be very close to either of us at all times, and now that he has learned to behave himself (ie not play with the damned hifi cables) he will lie in a sunny spot and sleep, then move to the shade and sleep, oblivious to any racket coming from the speakers. But he does seem to be a bit disturbed by tracks CSKA Sofia and Now That I’ve Found You.  

Light And Magic has no effect on him whatsoever. But man alive it has an effect on me, in that it has to be played at idiotically antisocial volumes when next door is vacant (which is most of the time). As with 604 when the lead vocal is by Mira Aroyo the delivery is flat almost atonal. It certainly adds to the dark atmospheric of the album. For some tracks the vocal (not sure if it is Ms Aroyo or Helen Marnie) can be rather disturbingly “breathy” or an almost spoken delivery. Anyway, not a conventional sing-along to the music. Lyrically the tracks are not exactly heartwarming (such as Seventeen, maybe the best known track on the album). It just seems to build on the debut. After opening with two blistering tracks (True Mathematics and Seventeen) you might think it’ll tail off. Not a chance, as you will hear with track 3:

I think that’s a Ms. Aroyo vocal. And hear how well-constructed that track is with those slight variations throughout? 

And you’d think, well, three great songs, well, it’s downhill from now.. The best song on the album is track 6. And then there’s track 11 disabuses any notion of a drop in quality:

Thank christ the neighbours are out. And it just keeps on going, track after damned fine track, to The Reason Why, and the final “hidden” track on my cd (a 2 minute-ish instrumental).

But despite, or because of(?), the feel Light And Magic is a must-have album.  And even though there’s nothing light about the music, it certainly is magic. It’s a bloody brilliant album.  And it’s another example of Second Is Better Than First.

Thank you kindly.

CC writes - a band I'm not familiar with so interesting to hear. Pleasant enough but not really my cup of tea.
Any plans for the first two Roxy Music albums to feature in this series?

1 comment:

  1. Re. Roxy Music, the series is "second is Better than First" so no.