Late Night Stargazing

I’ve been meaning to post something by Celeste for a while, and was reminded that I’d not got round to doing so when I caught her performing tonight’s selection on the Glastonbury coverage earlier today.

Let me put that right, right now.

Sounding like a cross between Amy Winehouse, Adele and Macy Gray (and nothing to do with Daphne), this is just….beautiful:

Celeste – Strange

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

The Divine Comedy have (another) Best Of album out, entitled Charmed Life: The Best of The Divine Comedy.

Everyone in their right minds loves a bit of Neil Hannon, so here’s a couple of tunes which appear on said album which you’ll know, the first because it ended up being the theme tune to one of the greatest sitcoms ever (or maybe it was the other way round, I dunno), the second because it’s just great:

The Divine Comedy – Songs of Love

The Divine Comedy – Everybody Knows (Except You)

And here’s one which I love, but was disappointed to see wasn’t included on the album:

The Divine Comedy – If…

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

The late great Leonard Cohen has a new compilation album out, so I guess his estate is still paying off the taxman.

It’s called Hallelujah & Songs from His Albums, which I suppose is better than calling it a ‘Best of’ and certainly more accurate than referring to it as a Greatest Hits album.

Almost all the songs you would expect are here: Suzanne, Bird on a Wire, Chelsea Hotel #2, Who By Fire, I’m Your Man. I was a little surprised that First We Take Manhattan doesn’t make an appearance, but even more surprised that the Hallelujah mentioned in the album title is also missing. Sort of.

For the much-covered classic does open the album, but not the version we’re familiar with, oh no. Instead, we have his unforgettable live performance from Glastonbury 2008:

Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah (Live at Glastonbury)

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

A few weeks ago I mentioned in passing how much I like Embrace’s first album, The Good Will Out.

I’ve listened to it again since then, and would like to retract that.

And clarify.

Other than the singles from the album, and the title track (which remain ace in my humble opinion), it’s a fairly dull and pedestrian affair which, were I ever to be pressed to make such a list, would not make my Top 100 Favourite albums ever.

However, (as my History teacher used to dictate), I do still really love the singles and the title track from the album in question.

As evidence, this is what they sounded like before Chris Bloody Martin got his dull, dirty hands on them:

Embrace – The Good Will Out

See? Not so bad really (even if the end is ripped off from Hey Jude).

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

Here’s three words I never thought I’d type: Dubstar are back!

You remember Dubstar, right? Had a couple of successful Britpop-era electronica pop records: Stars, Everywhere, Not So Manic Now and a really rather great cover of Billy Bragg’s St Swithin’s Day? Yes, that Dubstar.

When I say they’re back, they actually resurfaced in 2018, released an album called One which totally passed me by.

But now they’re back! Back! BACK! with a new album of mostly new material called Two.

I’m always a little wary of bands returning: I genuinely can’t think of a single band who has reformed and released records of the same standard as they did first time around. Don’t give me Take That as an answer, I’ll be dealing with them some other time.

I’ve not really given Two anything more than a cursory listen yet – it sounds just fine on first listen – so I may be wrong and this is the triumphant return one hopes for.

But it does include, as a final track, a cover version which is a pretty bold selection:

Dubstar – Perfect Circle

I’m undecided what I think about that.

Here’s the original:

R.E.M. – Perfect Circle

I have many different versions of R.E.M. performing that Bill Berry composition live, but on most of them something is not quite right – either Stipe’s lead vocal or Mike Mills’ backing vocal is just a little bit off.

This is the best the version I have, recorded for VH1’s Storytellers show, after Berry had left. Not only is it pretty much perfect, it includes Stipe saying “Hi Bill!” towards the end, an acknowledgement of the songsmith on this one:

R.E.M. – Perfect Circle (VH1 Storytellers)

Just beautiful.

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

I can’t quite recall why I’ve had this song on my brain all week – I think a different cover version much have popped in something I watched, but I can’t quite put my finger on what it was.

Anyway, whatever it was, it made me want to revisit not the original, but this cover, by the late great Man In Black, from Volume IV (or 4, if you prefer) of his Rick Rubin-produced American Recordings series, which is just perfect for some late night introspection:

Johnny Cash – In My Life

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

A few weeks ago, I posted a tune by the mighty FC Kahuna which featured chief Super Furry Animal Gruff Rhys on guest vocals.

And here he is again, popping up on the opening track from Simian Mobile Disco’s wonderful 2009 album, Temporary Pleasures:

Simian Mobile Disco – Cream Dream

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

I know I don’t exactly have the best reputation amongst the blogging community in terms of replying swiftly to the kind comments which folks leave, but my responses have been even more tardy than usual recently.

I have the WordPress app on my phone, which alerts me whenever someone leaves a comment, and it is here that I usually read and reply – but at the moment, for some reason, it won’t actually load them up for me to read.

Doubtless there will be an update along soon enough to rectify it, but until that happens I don’t have chance to read and reply until I next log on via my laptop, which I don’t do every day. I spend all day tapping away at a laptop; more often than not it’s the last thing I feel like doing when I’ve finished my actual job for the day.

So my apologies if you think I’ve been rude by not replying to a comment you’ve left sooner than I have done recently.

To make up for it, here’s a bit of classic trance-trousers for you: DJ Tiesto’s In Search of Sunrise Remix of Delerium’s Silence, in all its 11:34 majesty:

Delerium feat. Sarah McLachlan – Silence (DJ Tiesto’s In Search of Sunrise Remix)

Llŷr and I once went to a Gatecrasher event at Cardiff ice rink (Gatecrasher, for those not in the know, being a club night renowned for their love of all things trance) – all muscly meats with their tops off, jailbait girls wearing as little as possible accompanied by regulation-issue furry knee-high boots.

I think it may have been a New Year’s Eve event, as the night was packed with superstar DJs (the identity of whom I cannot remember) doing 2-3 hour slots before being helicoptered off to their next venue somewhere in the UK to play a probably identical slot, whilst a resident DJ plugged the gaps between each set with more repetitive beats and lasers.

This meant that each superstar DJ missed the end of the previous one’s set, and so had no idea that each one before them had ended their set with this remix of this tune.

Which, in turn, also meant that we must have heard it at least four times that night.

It’s testament to what an absolute banger it is (and possibly to the amount of drugs (everyone else had) taken) that the crowd went mental for it every time.

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

Given that it’s my favourite Nick Cave song, you’d expect me to dislike any attempts to cover Into My Arms. Why mess with perfection, right?

Wrong.

For there was nobody more surprised than I when I heard Ane Brune’s version on her 2017 album Leave Me Breathless, a record packed full of cover versions of songs I love done in a totally unique way.

Which is odd, because I’m pretty sure that had I first heard this sound-tracking an advert for anti-perspirant or some such I probably would have hated it.

As it is, loads of weeping strings and steel guitars somehow give this an almost pastoral feel.

Check it out for yourself:

Ane Brune – Into My Arms

I still prefer the Dark Overlord’s version, of course, but that’s pretty good.

More soon.