Monday, October 06, 2014

A to Z - M is for Marvellous

Also for Madonna and a couple more too.

I'm running very close to hitting 1000 posts ... I may have to think of something special to mark that milestone. I'm oh so welcome to ideas !

But now - while I'm half ignoring Star Trek Original Series reruns (it seems a bit of a letdown compared to today's scifi), that gives me a perfect opportunity to do the M post ... (These posts involve a lot of Youtube surfing, which I don't like doing when watching other YT vids)

First up is Clannad, who have two albums in the M's. We see Macalla and Magical Ring. Macalla is mostly pop, Magical Ring is more traditional/atmospheric. They're both outstanding albums in their own right and it's tough to find highlights from them. But ... I found something with the two best from Macalla, it's the happy Closer To Your Heart and the more plaintive Almost Seems Too Late To Learn. Spot that 80's special dancing.

Clannad were always led by the marvellous voice of Maire Brennan. It's so flexible, able to adapt to the poppy songs as well as the more traditional Irish folky songs like the beautiful Coinleach Ghlas An Fhómhair. And ... it's one I can happily sing along to ! My voice has a strange range. It can't follow voices like Michael Stipe with Losing My Religion but it is suited to the ranges groups like Clannad and Tori Amos use. Well, I would sing along if I could understand the Gaelic.

Soundtracks ! There's a few in here but I'll pull out Tomas Dvorak's Machinarium as a major highlight. It's from a point and click game with a massively charming robot. I'd thoroughly recommend it but get the soundtrack as well, it's an excellent piece of music. Highlight ? Clockwise Operetta.

Dubstar come in next with Make It Better. The song Stay is my highlight here, with its dancy melody and the chorus line "Sarah Makes It Better". Hearing a voice that pure definitely makes my day better. Yes, there's a bit of autotuning in there but most of it is that wonderful Sarah voice.

Dire Straits brought out a bunch of albums and I think their most underrated and I think one of their best is Making Movies. There's a collection of amazing tracks on here, most of which I've linked before. Romeo and Juliet has the guitar interplay with keyboard and we see similar on Expresso Love. Nah, this time it's the turn of Skateaway for the story that it tells.

Another soundtrack - Mars Attacks was a B movie classic when it came out and when we went to see it, I was dissolving into laughter in the opening scenes. They started with one spinning ufo. Then a few more joined in formation. Then another formation and another until the screen was full of these off axis badly spinning wholly cliched saucer ufo's. I found that hilarious. And all the while, there's the equally cliched opening title music playing. A truly classic movie that I need to watch again. Soon.

On to games - when I saw Master of Magic and Master of Orion on sale on Good Old, I couldn't resist. They were why I came out of uni with a 2:2 Hons MEng instead of 1st Hons MEng. Too much gaming - bad me. Master of Magic took the Civilisation theme but moved it into a fantasy setting with magic. It had different races with their own characteristics and limits. Moo was Civ in space. Both games had decent music with the power to drive you nuts cos of their repetition. It's good to hear it again.

Game soundtracks like Master of Magic are a real nostalgia kick. They hail from the days of the original Soundblaster cards. These did music using the OPL3 FM synthesizer chip. It was pretty simple and cheap. Although some fancier people with deeper pockets used cards like the Gravis Ultrasound which had a whole up to 1MB of memory on board to help make music ...

Enigma are in here with MCMXC A.D. It's one of the all time classic albums and not just for making Gregorian Chants trendy. My highlight is the lengthy Sadeness. Don't tell me you don't join in with the heavy breathing lady ? Enigma caught the imagination by coming out just at the right time with something totally unique.

Madonna is another with a pair of M albums in here, first is MDNA which follows the dancy Confessions on a Dance Floor. It's not quite as good (Confessions was exceptional) but is saved by tracks like Turn Up The Radio. The other M for Madonna album is Music with tracks like ... Music. Yep, I like the title track best on this one.

Time to whip through a few quickies :

Pink Floyd turned the corner into the 70s with Meddle. It was a more electronic form, characterised by the groundbreaking One Of These Days.
Miami Vice was a series I missed (too young - bah) but it always had great music like Glenn Frey's Smuggler's Blues (sadly no video because various muppets have DMCA'd it - boo hiss).
I mentioned Tori Amos earlier ? Midwinter Graces was Tori Does Xmas and it was a good album too. Highlight - Our New Year.
Pink Floyd are also here with A Momentary Lapse Of Reason, their first album without Roger Waters definitely setting a different tone. It's far more bland but is still worth a listen for uplifting songs like Learning To Fly.
Mike Oldfield comes in with his Moonlight Shadow collection, it has excerpts of all his classics.

After Dire Straits, there was the Notting Hillibillies with Mark Knopfler applying his guitar play to a more country style. And it kicks off pretty well with Railroad Worksong.

I occasionally hear songs or hear them mentioned and wonder : "In a 13,000 track library, how come I don't have this ?" And one such song was mentioned by that ever wonderful lady Miss Kim. Especially for her : Moon River. She mentioned it on one of her videos, which led to me buying a Henry Mancini collection with lots more classics as well as Moon River. Well worth it.

I'm a collector of Air's works now. Again, a little bit different to the norm and thus, highly interesting for me as a collector. Variation is good. And it all started with Moon Safari, with the sublime tracks All I Need and You Make It Easy. Love them. (Especially as I can sing along!)

Old classic ? Led Zep are in the M's with their Mothership collection. I have to say, I find a lot of their stuff average. But ... But. Stairway to Heaven ! Is there a better rock n roll song ?

Last one ! Honest. Cor, this one has turned out longer than I thought. I picked up an Andrew Lloyd Webber "Musical Masterpieces" collection a while ago. There's some good stuff here. Lots of tat too. But the tat gets forgiven with tracks like Don't Cry For Me Argentina.

N's will wait for a bit - adding the soundtrack to Final Fantasy 7 has put a bit of a gap in the schedule ... It's massive !

Back soon :-) In the meantime, all ideas welcome for a 1000th post.

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