Madness Feat.Sway-’Sorry’

 

Time to dig your baggy trousers out of the back of the wardrobe folks! Madness, the British saviour of 80s Ska, are back! Oh yes.

If you’ve been going mad (geddit?) as a result of their absence from the musical landscape, then you’re in for a treat.

They. Are. Back. Oh yes.

They’ve made some friends too evidently. New single ‘Sorry’-released on the 5th of March- features not one, but two guest vocals: Hip Hop master Sway (who’s a mercury award winner, no less) and newbie rapper Baby Blue, who brings a ‘woman’s touch’ to the procedings.

‘Sorry’ is already huge-notching up nearly 100,000 plays on Madness’ website- so its success upon rlease is pretty much a given.

It’s an infectious blend of Madness’ trademark iconic Cockney ska sound and Sway’s urban, up to the minute Lahndahn hip hop vibe, all mixed in with Baby Blue’s lite MC-ing.

It’s a chirpy, humourous little number that solidly reaffirms Madness’ status as the premier British Ska act on the block.

Written for  Entertainment Wise

P Diddy (featuring Keyisha Cole) ‘Last Night’

 

P Diddy-otherwise known as Puff Daddy, Puffy, Diddy, ‘whatever-the-hell-else-he-feels-like-this-week’- is back.

Not that he ever really went anywhere. More’s the pity.

He’s releasing new single ‘Last Night’, taken from his Gold Certified album ‘Press Pla’y, on the 12th of March.

Featuring American R’n’B starlet Keyshia Cole, it’s a rather subdued affair for one of Hip Hop’s greatest exponents. In fact, subdued is being generous.

Bloody boring is more apt. Its soporific, monotonous beat is enough to send even the most raving insomniac to sleep. It’s dull, samey and, frankly, utterly forgettable.

Coles vocals are textbook pretty, sure enough, but they do absolutely nothing by way of injecting any ‘life’ into what is a very poor effort from the Daddy (or should that be Diddy?) of American R’n’B.

Buy if you’re a dedicated bad boy (or girl) for life-or the sleeping pills have stopped working. Otherwise? Don’t bother forking out your hard earned cash; it’s really not worth it.

Written for Entertainment Wise

The Aliens-’Setting Sun’

Question: What do you get if you cross the feel good vibe of 60s hippy pop, the kooky electronica of David Bowie circa the early 80s, and the gruff melancholy of 90s indie?

Answer: The Aliens (comprising Gordon Anderson, John MacLean, and Robin Jones)

Their new single ‘Setting Sun’-lifted from their forthcoming debut release ‘Astronomy for Dogs’ (more kookiness!)- is a miasma of melodies, a melting pot of sounds, colours and influences.

It’s ‘busy’ and bustling, brimming with perky poppiness, yet tempered with growling indie vocals. This dichotomy of sounds makes for truly (not to mention surreal) listening. Throw into the mix a fade out chant of ‘We are the aliens’ to the tune of what sounds uncannily like Queen’s ‘We are the Champions’, et voilà, you have one of the most innovative and daring tracks of recent years.

Prepare for invasion: The Aliens have truly landed. And they’ve brought some damn good sounds with them.

Written for Entertainment Wise

LCD Soundsystem-’North American Scum’

LCD Soundsystem isn’t actually a soundsystem at all. He’s a man. And a very talented one at that.
Not only is he is a prestigious DJ, but he’s also a co founder of DFA Records. All this in between churning out music under the guise of Grammy Award winning (oooh, get him!) LCD Soundsystem.

Talented and busy.

North American Scum-released on the 5th of March- is the lead single from their much anticipated follow up album Sound of Silver (which, fact fans, was recorded in a silver foil covered studio. Quite why is another matter).

So. North American Scum? What’s it like then?

Well it’s, er, shouty. Ok, so he’s dropping some tres impressive beats and there’s a kicking baseline, but the grating slurred vocals are a little difficult to get past.

Oh, and it’s a tad repetitive too. North American Scum alludes to the fact that-genius, this- he’s from North America (not England. He’s very keen that you should be clear on this.), the scum part? Is anyone’s guess.

Buy if you like LCD’s previous efforts. Or, you know, North America. Otherwise, this is thoroughly underwhelming.

Written for Entertainment Wise

Take That-The Ultimate Tour

 

Ten years ago millions of teenage girls’ (and, you know, probably a few boys’ too) hearts were broken. Because it was a decade ago that one of the biggest boy bands of all time called it a day. That band? Take That, of course.

 

And now: they’re back. Older? Definitely. Wiser? Who knows?

 

Hailing from Manchester the boys broke onto –and pretty much created, in the UK at least- the boyband scene in 1990. Within six years they had sold a massive 15 million albums and become one of the UK’s most loved and successful band since the Fab Four.  No doubt about it Gary Barlow, Jason Orange, Howard Donald, Robbie Williams and Mark Owen were huge.

 

But it couldn’t last forever; Robbie Williams’ departure in ’95 was the first crack in their glossy veneer. And just one year later, on February the 13th 1996 Take That officially split.  The fallout was the stuff of legends: telephone help-lines were even set up to deal with the predicted teenage outpourings of their devastated fans. 

 

Those fans have now grown up, are  all in their twenties (and thirties, and forties, and…), and should probably know better than to lust after members of an unattainable boy band, but  for them the news of Take That’s reunion will surely have been the shock of a lifetime. Likewise, the news that not only were they were reforming (minus the Robster), but they were also going on tour.

 

‘Take That-The Ulimate Tour’, released on the 23rd October, was filmed in Manchester earlier this year on the UK leg of that tour.  ‘Take That-The Ultimate Tour’ sees Gary, Mark, Howard and Jason strutting their stuff just like in the good ‘ole days. Ok, so they may be a little (sorry boys!) heavier, and on the wrong side of 30, but, whadd’ya know the boys (sorry, men) have still got it. Obviously the hoards of screaming girls in the audience thought so too.

 

 

Naturally, all the old standards are there:  ‘Babe’, ‘A Million Love Songs’, ‘Pray’, ‘It Only Takes a Minute’. It’s their greatest hits album come to life on stage basically. They’ve been jazzed up a little but essentially they’re the still the same tunes that we all know and love (or not, as the case maybe). There’s also a rather commendable Beatles Medley: from one Fab Four to another.  Resplendent in gothic dress coats, red Butlin’s style suits, and various other sartorially questionable outfits they belt out the hits one right after the other. The dance moves might be a little less energetic, sure, but the camaraderie is still very much there.

 

The DVD release also features a wealth of bonus features and a bonus live CD-phew, spoilt, or what? ‘Take That-The Ultimate Tour’ might not be to everyone tastes (hint: if you didn’t like Take That back in the day, chances are, you still won’t like them), but for those who rang into the help-lines ten years ago, chances are this will be the best thing since sliced bread. Buy it for the Take that fan in your life, they’re sure to love you forever. Or until the next tour, at least.

Written for Entertainment Wise

The Ordinary Boys-’How to Get Everything you Want in Ten Easy Steps’ (B-Unique)

The Ordinary Boys’ third album ‘How to Get Everything You Ever Wanted In Ten Easy Steps’, released 13th October, could have been in very real danger of being eclipsed by front man (Samuel) Preston’s antics this past year- appearing on that bastion of quality programming ‘Celebrity Big Brother’, his whirlwind romance and marriage to fellow Celebrity Big Brother contestant Chantelle Houghton, and his very recent and very public admission that he has in fact married a “bimbo” (no!? really?! Gold star for you Preston for observation) and other such tabloid courting comments- and that would have been a shame. No, really it would.

Why? Because The Ordinary Boys are actually (whisper it) pretty decent. There: it’s out in the open now. Alright, so they’re never really going to be the type of band that inspire wild hedonistic legends nor be forever carved into the annals of rock ‘n’ roll history for their mighty musical prowess or their ability to smash up an entire drum kit (or, whatever) and bite off the heads of small flying mammals (arise Sir Ozzy), but you know, sometimes, ordinary (geddit?) is good. Great, even.

And that’s what ‘How to Get Everything You Ever Wanted In Ten Easy Steps’ is: great. So great in fact, it’s being touted as a more worthy follow up to their platinum selling 2004 Debut ‘Over the Counter Culture’ than the actual follow up (‘Brassbound’, released in June 2005, in case you were wondering). Note to all failing bands out there: meet and marry your very own bimbo all within the space of nine months, it works!

‘How to Get Everything You Ever Wanted In Ten Easy Steps’ is bold, brassy and brash. It’s very Madness-esque, with more than a hint of ska influenced stylings, with a touch of Adam and the Ants and Japanese electronica in the vein of Plustech Squeezebox thrown into the mix for good measure. Swaggering, livin’ it large beats, punky, funky rhythms tell of today’s obsession with all things ‘celebrity’. Wait a minute? An album that ‘discusses’ our celebrity obsessed culture, sung by a front man who has himself spawned hundreds of column inches in the ‘sleb gossip mags? Oh, the unparalleled, delicious irony.

Irony aside, ‘How to Get Everything You Ever Wanted In Ten Easy Steps’ sees a return to form for ‘The Ordinary Boys’, they’ve gone back to basics and come up with an album that is surprisingly sparkling.

Written for Entertainment Wise

Sugababes-’Overload: The Singles Collection’ (Island)

 

Seems like nowadays everyone wants a slice of the ‘Greatest Hits’ pie. Acts that have been around precisely the same amount of time it takes to blink super fast releasing ‘Best of…’ compilations, what’s that all about? No longer the preserve of rock fossils who are calling it a day after like a million years together and a thousand studio albums, ‘Greatest Hits’ efforts are being churned out an alarming rate by acts that are increasingly still wet behind the ears and have plenty of mileage left in them; masterminded, the cynics might say, by record execs increasingly hungry for cash.

 

 Kudos must surely go to those cheeky Welsh Hip-Hoppers ‘Goldie Lookin’ Chain’ for having the swaggering savvy to rip it out of this trend and actually dare to name their debut album ‘Greatest Hits’-sheer unbridled genius.

 

Anyway. The latest ‘Greatest Hits’ offering comes from those perky princesses of urban pop: The Sugababes. They release ‘Overload: The Singles Collection’ on the 13th of November, just in time for the Christmas present buying frenzy (there’s those pesky cynics again). Of course The Sugababes are practically veterans in today’s capricious and difficult to keep-up-with industry-it’s easy to forget that they’ve actually been around a whole six (count ‘em) years.

 

Ok, so there’s only one original member remaining, but that’s beside the point. The Sugababes started out as a group way back in 1998 and released their debut single (the critically acclaimed ‘Overload’) in 2000 and their debut album ‘One Touch’ the following year. There have been three line-up changes since then (Siobhan Donaghy quit in 2001, replaced by Heidi Range and other founding member Mutya Buena quit in late 2005, replaced by Amelle Berrabah) but fundamentally the group have changed little. The Sugababes’ brand of contemporary urban-tinged music effortlessly bridges the chasm between the bubble gum pop (or, rather: pap?) so beloved of the ‘tweenie’ market, and the more sophisticated, urbane palate of the 20-30s record buying demographic.

 

And they’ve got the statistics to back it up: four Number One UK singles, three triple-platinum albums, single sales of two million, and album sales of five million. They’ve collaborated with some of the biggest (and most respected) producers in the industry.

 

‘Overload: The Singles Collection’ needs no introduction; all the hits are there, right from the early experimental days of ‘Overload’ and ‘Run for Cover’ through the middle years and funky pulsing beats of ‘Round Round’ and ‘Freak Like Me’ and the beautiful ballads ‘Shape’ and ‘Too Lost in You’ to the more current slinky sassiness of ‘Push the Button’ and ‘Red Dress’. There are a couple of brand spanking new tracks thrown in for good measure too: new single ‘Easy’ sees the girls exploring a darker sultrier sound, it’s a sexy, saucy record that just begs to be danced too. Preferably round a pole.

 

‘Overload: The Singles Collection’ is pure pop perfection at its very best, it’s destined to be another runaway hit for the one girl-group it’s ok to like. Buy and listen with pride.

Written for Entertainment Wise