Balearic Mike`s Musical Diets / Week 1: 17/01/2021

Friends of Balearic Mike will know that he’s been keeping a kind of on-line musical diary of late – cool medium sized posts on Facebook, enthusing about what he’s been listening to. I mentioned these posts in the footer of Mike`s interview, and now he’s very kindly offered to compile and share them here….

Words and selections by Balearic Mike. 

balearic mike pet shop boys introspective

This week I have been mostly listening to … some old favourites …

An underrated masterpiece. I’m currently annoying Balearic Wife with this…Beastie Boys – Hot Sauce Committee Part Two – Capitol Records 2011

Sadly, the final Beastie Boys LP from 2011. I didn’t really listen to it a lot at the time that I bought it. I’ve no idea why not, as it’s an absolute killer – easily as good as any of their previous albums. I struggle to pick a favourite with this band as everything is great, and this deserves to be as highly regarded as the rest. Tracks like Nonstop Disco Powerpack, Too Many Rappers – featuring Nas, Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win  – featuring Santigold, and Long Burn The Fire are up there with anything from their back catalogue. I love the chapter in the Beastie Boys Book when they go into the detail of all the fake samples the credited on the LP. The names, label and cover art is all wonderful. Rest in power Adam Yauch, and Phillipe Zdar.

LPs I will never tire of listening to in a million years…The The – Soul Mining – Some Bizarre 1983

Perfect, weird, outsider pop. Songs about love, longing, regret, isolation… you know, the fluffy subjects. All delivered over a truly visionary soundtrack of technology and live instrumentation. The piano breakdown played by Jools Holland on the LP version of Uncertain Smile is worth forgiving him a million Hootenanny’s, and GIANT is one of the most truly pioneering pop songs of the `80s – fusing early drum machines with African Burundi style drummers, and building effortlessly from a heart-breaking exploration of the soul, to a crescendo of chanting and percussion. No wonder it’s become a modern Balearic classic. Infected and Mind Bomb also have a special place in my heart, but Soul Mining takes the prize.

LPs I will never tire of listening to in a million years continued…Talk Talk – The Colour Of Spring – EMI 1986

Another LP with not a bum note in sight. This was such a departure from their previous album, and you can say that about each album Talk Talk released. They began their career on EMI at about the same time as DURAN DURAN, and they  – at that point – fitted nicely into the post-New Romantic synth-pop boy band mould. However, each LP saw them move slowly further and further away from that initial starting point, and by The Colour Of Spring the band resembled the kind of sun-kissed explorers who could be found on the dance-floors of Ibiza`s night clubs – with frontman Mark Hollis sporting long centre-parted hair and little round John Lennon style sunglasses. The music evolves slowly from record to record and by The Colour Of Spring it’s the beautiful, slow, spacey sound of increasing musical sophistication. It’s also got Life’s What You Make It on it – a track added at the last minute to placate the label, who couldn’t hear any singles – which is one of the most Balearic pop records ever released. It’s a tough call between The Colour Of Spring and Spirit Of Eden, but today this one just edges it. Just astonishing, and very Balearic…Rest in power Mark.

Another LP I’ll never tire of hearing is…David Bowie – Station To Station – RCA 1976

45 years old today, and the very definition of “all killer – no filler” with just 6 tracks of pure, unadulterated brilliance and invention. The sound of a genius on the verge of completely falling apart, just before putting himself back together. At this point, Bowie is telling the rest of the world what pop music is going to sound like for the next decade. The title track is 3 brilliant records in one. Golden Years is Dave doing funk just as well as James B and George C – and I don’t say that lightly. Word On A Wing and Wild Is The Wind are two of the loveliest songs, and greatest vocal performances he ever laid down. TVC 15 became a big live favourite for Bowie fans, and Stay is one of those often overlooked tracks, but just might be one of the funkiest things David ever made. I’ve always thought of Low as my favourite Bowie LP – and it probably still is – but more and more I choose to play Station To Station first – though that might just be the librarian in me wanting to stick to chronological order…

“It’s not the side effects of the cocaine,
I’m thinking that it must be love.”

When records look as good as they sound …Pet Shop Boys – Introspective – Parlophone 1988

A limited edition 3×12” pressing with lovely big Alexander Robotnick /Fuzz Dance inspired big picture labels….I couldn’t really choose a favourite between Please, Disco, Actually, Introspective or Behaviour: a run of pop perfection that few bands or artists have ever matched – I mean we’re talking Prince, The Beatles, Bowie, Stevie Wonder levels of greatness here! – but Introspective just edges it today. Kicking off with the disco epic Left To My Own Devices – produced by the genius of Trevor Horn – this LP sees them perfectly in tune with the dance-floors of the time. Frankie Knuckles produced I Want A Dog. We have possibly their most Balearic number in Domino Dancing – maybe that honour goes to Paninaro? Hi-NRG morphs into house on Always On My Mind / In My House, there`s a great version of I’m Not Scared – covered by Eighth Wonder and now a DJ Harvey revived gem – and a very faithful version of Sterling Voids It’s Alright. Perfection.

“I want a dog,
A chihuahua,
When I get home to my small flat I want to hear somebody bark.”

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