Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: Various Artists, Ministry of Sound The Annual 2010

Like many other label/club/brands Ministry of Sound puts out a yearly compilation of dance music.  Unlike other dance music conglomerates they put out different versions of the Annual in different countries.  I’ve seen UK, US, Australian and German versions. I’m guessing they are attempting to pitch each collection at what they perceive to be the differing tastes of  dance music fans in each country.  With that thought in mind I picked up the German version because I thought Germany’s preeminence in the world of electronic dance music ought to result in a compilation aimed at a knowledgeable and discerning audience.  In other words, I expected the German Annual to be the most interesting of the three.  It is also three CDs while the others I saw are two.

The discs are mixed but little real thought or effort has gone into sequencing.  It’s basically just one beat-matched song after another without a break between tracks.  If you know someone who thinks big-name DJ mix CDs are just some guy playing a bunch of songs, play your favorite DJ mix CD for them and then any of the three discs in the German Annual.  The contribution of a good DJ should be obvious pretty quickly.

If this is Ministry of Sound’s idea of the kind of music their most sophisticated audience is tuned in to, I think I’d best avoid the compilations from other countries.  The German version of the Annual is basically three discs of bangin’ club music with a fairly strong emphasis on vocal content.  Much of it is cliche-ridden and fairly unimaginative.  One the one hand, with three discs there’s a lot of music here.  On the other hand, it gets old fast and you’ve still got the rest of disc 1 plus all of discs 2 and 3 to go.

08/17/2010 Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews | , , | Leave a comment

Review: Scissor Sisters, Night Work

lol These guys are hilarious.  After they released their self-titled first album, New York’s Scissor Sisters became a huge hit in Canada, Europe, and Australia.  Scissor Sisters was the best selling album in the UK in 2004.  Didn’t happen in the US. Their second album, Ta-Dah, which opened with the just-about-perfect “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin'” continued their success abroad.   Once again it didn’t happen in the US.

The band’s failure to break through in the American market is widely seen to be the result of the fact that their name, music and stage show are openly, flamboyantly and unapologetically gay.  The idea is that the general sexual conservatism, homophobia and sexual paranoia of the American music-buying market prevents them from breaking through.  Now here they are with their third album, Night Work.  They are using an outside producer for the first time.  They have a new label that is dedicated to putting in the hard promotional work that they think it will take to make the band a success in the US.  So what do the Sisters do?  Take a look at the album art.  Homophobes are gonna have their panties in a twist over this one.  Wouldn’t be surprised if Wal-Mart either bans the CD or demands an alternate cover.  The music, if anything, is even less compromising about the band’s sexual interests.   lol  These guys are hilarious.

The core members of the band are Jake Shears and Ana Matronic (vocals), Del Marquis (Guitar), and Babydaddy (bass, guitar, keyboards and programming).  Paddy Boom who was the drummer on their first two albums has been replaced by Randy “Real” Schrager who is listed on Night Work as an “additional player”.  Their music is usually characterized as club music with strong disco, glam rock and pop influences.

The Scissor Sisters go out of their way to . . .uhh . . . thrust their sexual orientation in your face.  If you cut through the sex, you find that they are a really terrific band.  Their songs are very well written, very well engineered and produced, and often brilliantly performed.  In some respects the Scissor Sisters are what Madonna has always wanted to be –  performers of edgy, cutting edge club music.  The difference is that Madonna has always been a wannabe, hijacking somebody else’s scene and hiring this month’s hot producer when it comes time to “recreate” herself again, while the Scissor Sisters are the real thing.   This is a rock solid band whose music is as hard and tight as their asses.

Will another good album from the Scissor Sisters be enough to overcome homophobia in America?  Probably not.  Too bad, that, because people who won’t listen to Night Work because the album art offends them or they can’t handle a song about anal sex are missing some fine music.  If you’re one of those people, consider that the planet has a lot of people on it and a lot of them enjoy sexual practices that are different from the ones you enjoy.  Hell, if your partner is a different gender than you, he or she probably has different sexual tastes than you do.  Get over it.  Your first step can be treating yourself to Night Work.

“Night Work”

“Sex and Violence”

07/10/2010 Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews | , , , , , | Leave a comment