Tuesday, July 28, 2009


An archetypal Goth-rock composition in every sense of the word, The Church's ‘Ripple’, from 1992, remains one of the veteran psych-rockers' more underrated singles, next to more celebrated numbers like ‘Under the Milky Way’ and ‘Metropolis’. All the elements that comprise a good Goth-rock composition are present and accounted for: the sinister-sounding, understated guitar riffs, the jittery percussion work, the ominous, cavernous bass lines, and most of all, the maddeningly cryptic, intentionally cabalistic lyrics. Check out the equally enigmatic video clip, made up of various disjointed, nightmarish images.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


A veritable modern-day Goth-rock classic that virtually defines the term "sonic cathedral", The Cure's "Bloodflowers", which constituted the title track to their often-underrated 2000 masterwork, gets showcased in a powerhouse performance at the Tempodrom arena in Berlin in November 2002. Be awed by the band's virtuosic firepower in this masterfully shot clip, which perfectly captures Simon Gallup's rock-steady bass underpinnings, Jason Cooper's percussive pyrotechnics, Perry Bamonte's superior axe-wielding capabilities, Roger O'Donnell's synth flourishes, and of course, the invariable, inherent frontman charisma of Crawley's most famous son, Robert Smith.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Wild Wood

'Wild Wood' from 1993 remains veteran British rocker and certified Modfather Paul Weller's most accomplished solo album, and it's not easy to see why. Self-assured and forward-thinking for the most part, 'Wild Wood' also constitutes a sort of loose concept album, with the primary narrator on a personal vision quest in search of redemption. The natural authority of its melodies and its inspired musical blend of pop, soul and folk also provide additional heft to its stature, making it also Weller's most stylistically varied record.

What is most remarkable about 'Wild Wood' is the fact that its songs just as evocative and atmospheric as they were upon their original release. There could never be a more apt opening than the confident power-pop of 'Sunflower', no other open-hearted confessional than the pastoral folk-pop of 'Wild Wood', and no other riff-based rocker as charged as 'The Weaver'. Elsewhere, 'All the Pictures on the Wall' has Weller questioning his artistic self-worth over a loping, blues-based groove, while 'Can You Heal Us Holy Man' mines a catchy, gospel-soul vein to wonderful effect. 'Has My Fire Really Gone Out' is another outstanding, ragged-but-right rocker, and its intensity is matched by the Traffic-informed, mid-tempo groover 'Fifth Season'. Also worth mentioning are the slower numbers here, like the gentle, earthy 'Country' and the jazzy, nocturnal 'Moon on Your Pyjamas', a lullaby written for Weller's son. The closing, eight-minute 'Shadow of the Sun' is a progressive rock-influenced epic that brings the album's overall theme of soul-searching to a satisfactory ending.

In short, the singular creative focus and all-round quality of 'Wild Wood' does make it a key record in the 90s Brit-pop movement, and it's an admirable example of how terrific traditional rock can sound in the hand of the right craftsman. What really makes 'Wild Wood' the arguable apex of Weller's career is the way it harmonises all the essential elements of his artistry into a coherent whole: the persuasive songwriting, the thoughtfully crafted production values, and of course, the always consummate and absorbed playing. For those reasons, any dyed-in-the-wool rock aficionado will be compelled to affirm that 'Wild Wood' truly possesses an edge over the rest of Weller's solo work and comprises a great rock album on its own.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Peter Gabriel's Play

Veteran art-rocker Peter Gabriel has always held a keen interest in developing the myriad possibilities of the music-video medium, working with a variety of directors to present dynamic visual representations of his singular music. No surprises then that Gabriel is rightfully regarded as one of the bona fide pioneers in the field of conceptual music video-making, intrepidly exploring all the potential imagistic aspects of the craft to create a uniquely creative body of work that is still highly resonant and evocative today.

‘Play’ is a comprehensive collection of Gabriel’s video clips over the years, and can more or less be divided into three thematic categories: the arty and crafted, the zany and fanciful, and the just-plain-bizarre. Those that fall into the first grouping include the elegant CGI-based promo for ‘Blood of Eden’, the moody, slightly surreal film for ‘Mercy Street’, the subtly haunting clip for ‘Red Rain’ and the simple but effective video for ‘Don’t Give Up’. Also of note is the video for ‘Washing of the Water’, which is composed of calming, bucolic nature-themed footage, which works rather well, even without a single appearance from Gabriel.

Meanwhile, the assemblage of Gabriel’s more madcap clips here constitute the most stylistically interesting one, the prime example being the seminal, still evolutionary stop-motion animated video for the award-winning ‘Sledgehammer’, which is almost manic in its presentation of various visual oddities. Other promos that belong to this category include the hilariously sprightly claymation-centred film for ‘Big Time’, the psychedelic and colourful video for ‘Kiss That Frog’, and the energetic, kinetic flick for ‘Growing Up’, featuring some nimble CGI-enhanced human acrobatics.

Finally, we come to the third category of promos here, and it’s one that you’ll either love with a passion or hate with a vengeance, depending on how well you handle the more outlandish facets of the music-video experience. ‘I Don’t Remember’ has a video that possesses a decidedly nightmarish quality, with disturbing skeletal nude figures roaming around in a warehouse, while ‘Games Without Frontiers’ combines shots of Gabriel doing some weird facial contortions with footage of nuclear-bomb explosions and pie fights. ‘Shock the Monkey’, meanwhile, is a promo that could have been taken straight from a film shown in a first-year psychological lecture, with disconcerting images of manic, screaming monkeys, vicious, violent midgets, and Gabriel himself prancing around in African tribal face paint and a white tuxedo.

‘Play’ is an utterly brilliant and absolutely essential addition to your Peter Gabriel collection, or any serious rock-music library, for that matter. None of the clips here look remotely dated, and the entire package gets an exceptional sonic boost with the newly minted 5.1 surround-sound treatment, which successfully fleshes out all the minute instrumental and vocal nuances of the music. Fans will also be pleased with the highly informative full-colour booklet, which lists complete video and audio production credits for each clip, representative screenshots, and an illuminating introductory essay from Gabriel himself. All in all, a very necessary Gabriel work of art, and an item that’s bound to spend countless hours in your DVD player.