Friday, 1 February 2008

Extra Damage : Kosheen - Damage (UK, 2007) Review supplement

I now have the British edition of Kosheen's third album, Damage. I originally purchased the continental version from Germany, back in April, and you can read my impressions of that CD here. Now that I have filled the void in my collection created by the callous bastards who took this great album from me, I feel like re-appraising it. Looking back at my old review, I now realise that I like the album far more now than I did then.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Opinion of: BT

No, this is not a rant directed at a large, formerly-nationalised, telecommunications company. Rather, it is a comment concerning the American musician Brian Transeau, who uses that abbreviation as his artistic name.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

I want a revival of UK Garage

I was unable to sleep last night, how ever much I tried. Two hours of staring at the ceiling after midnight resulted in such boredom that I actually started listening to my MP3 player again, which I usually stop doing after a certain time. After a little bit of random hopping through tracks, I reached "Think about me" by the Artful Dodger. If you are not British, you will probably not have heard this. Even if you are, it is unlikely to be the first song you think of by Artful Dodger; that honour is likely to fall for the better-known, and dull by comparison, "Re-Rewind". It is unfortunate that the group are known largely for the latter track, because their best songs do not follow that song's model of singing and rapping (provided by Craig David, who would go on to make far better songs). On their first album, It's All About the Stragglers, there are four songs that I would probably place somewhere in my top twenty if I was asked to make a list of decent pop songs from the year 2000, when it was released. These are: "Think about me"; "Movin' too fast"; "I can't give it up"; and "Woman trouble". All four have aged very well, despite the collapse in popularity of UK Garage less than a year after the album's release, and the jazzy roots of the two men behind the Artful Dodger are very obvious on these songs. Aside from the drum arrangements and basslines, which are what really defines UK Garage, all four could easily be labelled "Soul", or at least "Pop R'n'B". They received some criticism at the time for making music that was "too smooth" or "too girly" and not "underground" enough (I seem to remember that being the line taken by fashionable critics, anyway), but it is quite obvious now that these productions have more longevity than most of what was considered more groundbreaking at the time.

For an obvious case of a UK Garage band so over hyped that the disappointment was almost immediate, you can look at the So Solid Crew. That large collective made songs that were very much in fashion in early 2001, but who possessed so little creativity or talent that each of their songs, and the band themselves, quickly became nothing more than a joke. It may even be possible to blame the style's decline on bands like the So Solid Crew.

Therefore, what I would like to see now, is a full revival of UK Garage (perhaps with a name change, to something that does not turn the country's name into yoo-kay), with its roots in jazzy drum and bass, rhythm and blues, and above all pop, fully intact. I want some powerfully-voiced singers, creative musicians and decent songwriters. I want lots of smooth breakbeats, funky basslines, and infectious melodies. I want the Artful Dodger, MJ Cole and Wookie back! Perhaps even the newly popular Alesha Dixon, formerly of the girl band Mis-teeq (who could have really dominated the "scene" had they tried: "Why?" and "One Night Stand" were remixed into two of the best UK Garage tracks ever, in my opinion) could try her hand at this music again.