The Apple iPod stands to revolutionise everyone's personal stereo experience. But not this blogger yet. He's not yet sold on the way that iTunes catalogues tunes on his hard disk, nor with the proprietary format that Apple uses for music files - he's still on mp3 and prefers it that way. aac doesn't really allow for file sharing, which is today's version of lending your CD out to your friends so that they can have a listen.
Also, I think that there is more to follow on the solid state memory front - a hard disk means moving parts, and it is this blogger's view that as flash memory gets better and better, the need to carry round a hard disk drive - for that is what the iPod is, essentially, will get less and less.
In the meantime, however, the fact that CD stackers are now redundant is a plus. This ties in well with my post.
I went and saw Simple Minds, INXS and Arrested Development recently.
Not really my choice of gig, but having said that, I enjoyed myself immensely.
Arrested Development were good, and Speech sings a mean rendition of 'Redemption song', however, without crucial early member, Headliner, I felt a bit cheated.
INXS did quite well, even though it was clear that singer JD Fortune was about to lose his voice. Fortune has a voice that is quite close to the late Michael Hutchence's and they did reasonably well. My complaints from their set mainly centres around the fact that apart from 'Don't change' (off Shabooh Shoobah) and 'Original sin' (off The Swing) they didn't do any more earlier stuff.
But Simple Minds.
You know, I wasn't really a Simple Minds fan back in the day. I remember thinking that 'Love song' was pretty cool, and also 'Someone somewhere in summertime', but I wasn't really prepared for the ripsnorter of a live set that these guys put in.
I told my travelling companions that they would start with 'Love song' and finish with 'Waterfront', and sure enough they did, although, I checked their set list online, which had them doing 'Alive and kicking' last which I'm sure isn't right. Also, I was a bit surprised to find them leaving off 'Promised you a miracle' and 'Someone somewhere in summertime'.
But all that aside, what I remember of Simpler Minds was largely of their earlier New Wave period where they were largely synth heavy. Live they're still a very much ROCK!! proposition.
And even though only Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill remain from the original line-up - although drummer Mel Gaynor pretty much qualifies as he was in the 'classic' line-up - I still thought they were the real deal.
Incidentally, Burchill has aged disgracefully.
So I went back through the bargain bins and picked myself up a copy of The Best of Simple Minds together with Early Gold - a compilation from their first 6 albums.
It's really quite revealing the change that happened to this band.
Early Gold starts with two songs from their first album - Life in a Day, and these songs suggest both a punk and glam rock influence as well as an underlying suspicion that this band should not have been in the studio at this point in their careers.
Reel to Real Cacophony is represented by three tracks - and these show a darker edge, most notably a heavy Joy Division influence in the tracks 'Changeling' and 'Premonition'.
Empires and Dance appears to have a huge almost industrial feel - and given that this was the heyday for bands like Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle, this is hardly so very surprising. the 3 tracks represented give a great idea of what this album must sound like.
Sons and Fascination and Sister Feelings Call were recorded and released at the same time, and are well represented by 3 tracks on Early Gold. The Best of includes a fourth track - 'Theme for great cities' (from Sister Feelings Call) which is an instrumental. There appears to still be a proto-industrial influence here, although it's waning. The overall feel is terribly typical New Wave, which is really where audiences started noticing this band. 'Love song' and the almost funky 'Sweat in bullet' are off Sons and Fascination and are pretty good examples of the work of this period.
The last album represented by the early compilation is New Gold Dream - which appears to be pretty much pure New Romantic. There is a fairly obvious Cure influence showing itself here, as well as an overt Roxy Music one, and the more polished stadium rock sound that they ended up with over the late 80s is starting to exert itself - notably on 'New gold dream (81-82-83-84)' and 'Glittering prize'.
The Best of is divided into two disks. The second one is pretty much the nineties onwards, which is kinda interesting, as it shows quite well how the band managed to completely lose their way.
The first disk has some overlap with Early Gold, but given that Early Gold includes album cuts, and not the hated single edits of The Best of, this is not too bad. It isn't in chronological order, though.
Sparkle in the Rain is the next album represented by these compilations. The tracks chosen for The Best of - 'Waterfront', 'Up on the catwalk' and 'Speed your love to me' - show a very much rock edge where the stadium rock feel is starting to gain traction. It appears that this was the last album where Kerr sounded like a strangled cat, as by the next album, his voice had been cleaned up immeasurably.
It's probably Keith Forsey's fault that the band went into free- fall, quality wise from about this point. On the soundtrack to the movie, The Breakfast Club, their contribution, produced and co-written by Forsey, 'Don't you (forget about me)' changed their sound to production line stadium rock and led to the first of many unfavourable U2 comparisons.
Their next album, Once Upon A Time was really them milking this teat and probably the only redeeming tracks, 'Sanctify yourself' and 'Ghostdancing' really give an idea of what the band were really capable of during this period.
After this, the band's stuff is a mixed hotchpotch of ideas half-baked and not really properly realised. Although, I am reliably informed that their two most recent albums are a return to form of some sort.
The good thing about all of this, is that you can take Early Gold and The Best Of and create a bitching playlist for your iPod.