A group of friends buying and reviewing albums bought from Amazon Marketplace for 1p. A monthly experiment in reassessing the music that now gets criminally undersold.

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Bought by Joel for Simon

Bought because…

When Simon asked if I’d like to do a 1p album swap, one band sprang to mind immediately. Back in December, Simon compiled a list of 2013’s best sub-two minute songs, and I suggested that he include Score, a short ‘n’ squelchy number from the Young Knives’ rather scary fourth album, Sick Octave.

The Young Knives are a band who have been with me for a while now. My first exposure to their delightful blend of anger and Englishness came when they supported The Rakes in 2006, and since then, I’ve seen them live on more occasions than any other artist. I caught them at a short-lived festival called Cardiff Calling (a.k.a. Get Loaded in the Park, a name that was presumably changed when someone saw it and went, “heh, like with drugs”); I saw them at Reading ‘07, where they previewed some of the songs that would later appear on Superabundance; more recently, I witnessed a rather more confrontational Young Knives set in Clwb Ifor Bach. They played Sick Octave in its strange, experimental entirety while we enjoyed some black and white footage of nude people.

Now, Voices of Animals and Men was the first proper Young Knives album, and it’s a very different beast to Sick Octave. Just because Simon put Score on his list doesn’t mean that he’ll enjoy this record. Still, I’m curious to see what he makes of it; I still think it’s a very good album, and while my hip, Libertines-loving friends were all rather bemused by songs like She’s Attracted To  ("You were screaming at your mum and I was punching your dad!") and Weekends and Bleak Days ("Hot summer, what a bummer") back in ‘06, I’ve always enjoyed this album’s angular riffs and its various expressions of boredom and frustration. Some of these songs are very dark indeed, not least the small-town existentialism of Loughborough Suicideand the post-death musings of Mystic Energy.

The verdict…

I have to admit I was in two minds when the Young Knives CD dropped through my door. I’d only heard two of their songs previously, one of these was Score, a great song that Joel had previously recommended for a sub-two minute playlist I put together last year. The other was Hot Summer which I’d seen as a bit of an irritating novelty song since I’d heard it about eight years ago. Based on these past experiences part of me was excited and the other part of me was adamant I just wouldn’t like the album.

I’ve also always thought that the Young Knives were just a bit wet, about as rock n roll as Scouting for Girls (I have to admit even they have a couple of songs which are quite catchy though). David Mitchell, as much as I love him, wouldn’t look out of place in their line-up. They obviously just weren’t cool enough for me at the time (or more likely it was just me being a twat!).

And that’s the beauty of the 1p Album Club. It’s about driving reappraisal of albums you didn’t think you’d like at the time, it’s about discovering hidden gems and it’s about putting your prejudice of a band’s image to one side and just enjoying their music. By doing that it also proves that one song doesn’t make an album cause, do you know what? I fucking love this album! 
I also think I finally understand what all the fuss has been about over the years - the Mercury Prize nominations, the critically acclaimed albums etc. Really it’s me who has been a bit pants for not getting involved sooner…

Anyway, onto the album. It kicks off with the excellent Part Timer before the momentum continues into the brilliant past single The Decision.
Then comes the moment of truth - Hot Summer. To be honest it’s better than I remember it was, however, I still think it’s the weakest song of the album. The lead singer does his best PiL era John Lydon impression throughout most of it but it’s not bad enough to be skippable and fits very nicely where it is.  Still, I’m surprised they chose it as a single when there are so many other stronger songs on the album.

Moving on and the album just gets better and better, without another John Lydon impression in sight. In the Pink bounces along nicely whilst Tailors proves they are not just a one pace band and that they can write softer songs. The only downside is that there aren’t more of these scattered throughout the album. Then towards the end of the album ‘Loughborough Suicide’ provides the quirkiest and catchiest song about suicide that you’re ever likely to hear.

So, what initially was a slight feeling of disappointment has now turned into an album that I will revisit time and time again. Thanks again to Joel for buying this for me, I will definitely be discovering some more of their back catalogue after this.

Standout track…

Loughborough Suicide for its spoken word / catchy chorus crossover that (apart from my daughter’s ‘Frozen’ soundtrack) is my current earworm

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Bought by John for Rhys

Bought because…

Since joining this most esteemed of clubs, my swapping escapades with Rhys have tended to be restricted to selections that fall within the Indie/Alternative genre. I wanted to try something a little bit different this time round by sending a collection of songs from a bygone era.

Buddy Holly is a musical titan.  I grew up listening to his stuff in the car as both my folks were massive fans. This collection of some of his finest recordings illustrates just how influential, exceptional and visionary he was as a recording artist. Brown Eyed Handsome Man and Bo Diddley are rock and roll stompers that equal anything being recorded at the time. True Love Ways encompasses a bit of studio banter at the beginning before dropping a melody that swoons its way to heaven. Peggy Sue Got Married mocks the three minute pop song by delivering perfection in a smidgen over two.  Best of all for me though is Midnight Shift. Over a chirpy tune, Holly drops a marvellous lyric that still resonates now. Sublime stuff.

I’m not a huge fan of Heartbeat and the opening few tracks lack the strength of the back three quarters of the album. However, for 1p this is an absolute steal from a musician so visionary that even his glasses were decades ahead of the game.

Surely Rhys will like this one…

The verdict…

Buddy Holly is an artist I’ve always had an interest in through references in other things but never got around to investigating further; I love the Weezer track of the same name, I love The Lemonheads cover of Learning The Game, The Young Ones sketch about him is one of my favourites and for some reason I have vague memories of watching a film about him English class at school leading to me and my friends writing alternate lyrics to Everyday for the next few weeks.

I’ve always been put off buying a best of Buddy though by the quality of some compilations released of older artists. Not the song quality but the actual sound quality with fast buck merchants often releasing low quality recordings without any sort of re-mastering, these releases often leave me feeling short changed. Unfortunately its hard to know which releases are good and which are not especially if your knowledge of the artist is minimal.

There is an element of the poorer quality recordings on offer here but that is likely due to the singer’s untimely death which resulted in many demos being mastered and released posthumously, given the circumstances they sound pretty damn good.

This compilation was released in 1994 and was likely as a result of Nick Berry’s cover of Heartbeat from the TV show of the same name. With geek chic being all the rage at the moment and variations of his hiccup style of singing seemingly on every other synth led pop song I heard in all the trendy clothes shops my wife dragged me in today, I think another Buddy Holly revival (sorry but I couldn’t think of a more tasteful way of wording it) is long overdue.

An album crammed with perfect two minute rock’n’roll/pop classics including That’ll Be The Day, Heartbeat, It Doesn’t Matter Anymore, Words Of Love and Peggy Sue, a list that somehow seems even more incredible when you consider he died less than two years after his first chart success, it’s Buddy Holly and it’s a penny - buy it!

Standout track…

Despite fond memories of Everyday and a lot of love for Learning The Game I have plumped for the energetic Oh Boy as it stands out even though I wasn’t too familiar with it before receiving this album.

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Bought by Rob for Liam

Bought because…

Rewind 20 years ago and I’ve just seen (or heard – the exact history at this point is lost to the vagaries of time) Runaway Train for the first time. And it has resonated with me, the shy, timid scrawny 12-year old of a lad that I was, with the force of a neutron bomb. Telling the story of disaffection and loneliness (my parents had almost certainly just split up) it was poignant and heartfelt and left a massive imprint on my developing sense of self.

I saved up my pocket money and bought the record from which the single came, Grave Dancers Union, (we didn’t have a CD player at the time) from the now long-gone Monkey Time Records in Cannock one Friday after school, and have loved this album ever since.

It’s by no means a classic – it’s not even Soul Asylum’s best album – something you can only truly appreciate with a bit of time and perspective, but the reason for sending this album to Liam for a 1p Album Club review stems from a brief discussion about their finest moment in my opinion, And the Horse they Rode in onfollowing the announcement that the chaps at 33 1/3 were looking for new submissions.

Anyway, And the Horse… was available for 1p at one moment in time, and I was originally going to get it, but it was now up to 4p and as such exempt from purchase. Sitting chronologically next to  And the Horse…, and a kindred spirit in style and sound, Grave Dancers Union was the next logical offering and I hope Liam enjoys it.

There’s definitely plenty to love; Soul Asylum’s story is one of the perennial underdog done good. From humble beginnings in Minneapolis as the third-tier supports to The Replacements and Husker Du, they were loved locally but ignored nationally. As both of those struck big, Soul Asylum floundered at A&M, despite releasing their finest body of work (Hang Time and And the Horse…). Following hiatus, and singer Dave Pirner’s growing hearing problem, the band regrouped and somehow hit the big time with Grave Dancers Union, ironically achieving far more success than their Minneapolis peers in the process.

It’s something of a double-edged sword though. Even today many people think of Grave Dancers Union as Soul Asylum’s debut, meaning their largely excellent back-catalogue of post-punk/proto-grunge alternative rock goes criminally ignored – and yet I’m somewhat propagating this myth by plugging the ‘safe’ option. But for me, this album is always about far more than just the music. This was my gateway into first The Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam and the Afghan Whigs, then Pavement, Dillon Fence and the Gin Blossoms. Even now, at the age of 33, it’s hard to find another album that has had such a profound impact on my listening habits.

The verdict…

Before this arrived my knowledge of Soul Asylum was limited to Runaway Train. I’d always mentally pigeon-holed them as 90s one-hit-wonders but when I tweeted a picture of this album on its arrival, the response showed that maybe I was wrong – there was a lot of love for Soul Asylum. A quick Google also showed that they have a career almost as old as me, so one-hit-wonders they are not.

Somebody to Shove is a strong opener with an intro reminiscent of Guns and Roses and the palm-mute and aggression of classic ‘77 punk. While it may have the refrain of "I want somebody to shove” it also has a driving sugary chorus. This and Black Gold, with its reverb-heavy acoustic and power chord chorus, quickly and firmly set the pop-rock tone for the rest of the album.

Runaway Train comes next and, despite it being the one song I already know well, it surprised me how it didn’t jar or stick out - a sure sign for how strong and consistent the early part of this album is. Runaway Train is quite simply a great song; it’s stupidly simple, stupidly good, and brought back many memories.

While the album opens incredibly strongly, it does fade off into patchy territory after track four. Keep It Up may have soaring sing along chorus you can imagine being played alongside Bon Jovi’s Livin’ on a Prayer, but it’s followed by the slightly too cheesy and cliched Homesick.

Get On Out comes next and is a fairly nothing song that just sounds formulaic. The general theme of the lyrics is "I tend to worry about stuff, but I should really stop that." Its the 90s pop rock equivalent to a Keep Calm and Carry On poster. That said, it’s nothing compared to April Fool - a cheesy song in which Dave Pirner awkwardly pretends to be drunk and sings of "doing anything to be cool". Its a shame as it’s got a phenomenally great chorus, but it also has the nauseating moral vibe of the episode of Saved by The Bell when they all sit around talking about saying NO to drugs.

Grave Dancers Union is a funny album. On the whole I’d have to say it’s a very average album but with some well above-average songs. As an album, it’s patchy, front-loaded and dated in parts, but it feels wrong to dismiss it as merely ‘average’ as the album’s strong points are really strong. The first four tracks are truly excellent and sadly it’s the fact that the rest of the album doesn’t live up to this that makes it hard to get too excited about. A band I’ll definitely be checking out more of though - a great introduction for a penny. Cheers Rob!

Standout track…

It just has to be

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Bought by Jonty for James

Bought because…

The latter part of the 90s - a period when the whole Britpop era/thing was collapsing under its own stupidity (Be Here Now is still totally unlistenable and the less said about the show I saw on that tour … ). There was an endless stream of bands desperately referencing The Beatles but sounding like nineteenth-rate Oasis copyists. It was a horrible period in (British) pop generally.

I was desperately trying to find music that didn’t sound like sub-Liam vocalists and sub-Bonehead rhythm guitarists at the time and in one of those slightly serendipitous moments I picked this album mostly because I liked the cover which I found strangely enigmatic. Santa Cruz only released this one album (and a song which was on the cover CD for The Big Issue’s 6th anniversary – obscure, huh?).

It starts with what sounds like the rumble of train wheels on tube tracks and brakes being applied, followed by a fascinating mix of classic early 90s baggy drum beat and a John Squire-like guitar line. That’s Sail On. That initial blast of music settles down to an album dominated mid-tempo tracks, lyrically mostly about someone else but expressed indirectly. Musically I can hear bits of the Beatles, Crowded House, Stone Roses, early 80s lush pop (ABC, that kind of thing). It’s this refusal to adhere to one particular genre I liked about the album.

The key song for me is Vultures – just a guitar and a lyric that captures a certain kind of Anglo-melancholy which I’ve always found deeply attractive (Starsailor’s Love is Here picks up a similar theme). It’s on an old mix tape that I rediscovered a couple of years ago and brought roaring back memories of an old unrequited love from that era. This is why I picked this album out – it’s a snapshot of a memory of that time in my life. I still wonder what happened to Lyn in the years since.

Like James’ first choice, I can’t tell if this is a good or bad record, it’s too entangled in my memories with the emotions of the time. Our next respective choice, however, will be a bit of a bromance, I fear!

The verdict…

Disagreeing about music’s half of what being a music nerd’s about, right? I hadn’t seen Jonty’s ‘bought because’ section when I first stuck on Santa Cruz, and when opener Sail On hit the first chorus, that vocal slur just screamed Liam Gallagher to me. Equally, though, that isn’t quite such a negative for me. Though I was born in the early 80s, my education in music is very much as a 90s child. The first album I ever owned was Oasis’ What’s The Story (Morning Glory), which I still consider exceptional. I rate Blur too, and Pulp are an absolute shoe in for my top five bands of all time, even above the two aforementioned giants.

This Santa Cruz album, of course, comes from the era when even us Oasis fans can admit that the band’s quality was already on a downward slope that was to continue right up to the point where High Flying Birds and the cringe fest that is Beady Eye seemed like a good idea. I wouldn’t like to lump Santa Cruz in with that: Way Out is definitely better, but it carries that same hopeless, dour lyrical tone, laced with a modest hope. See my personal stand out Rocket Man, a Stone Roses-esque pop song that closes with an unlikely bleeping future scape of digital effects, a love/hate tracks that hints at the power shift that was to change British politics from then on.

Way Out could only be British: while I’d never heard of Santa Cruz before this dropped on my door mat, it reeks of our inbuilt melancholy; the outlook of a nation that prefers the expression ‘not too bad’ to ‘great’ when asked how we’re doing, and finds a certain comfort in the distinctively minor key style of acts like Joy Division, Radiohead, Portishead and Suede.

Do I like it? The most honest answer is probably that I would have liked Way Out a lot if I’d heard it 17 years ago. I can appreciate how it might worm it’s way into a psyche, like it did for Jonty, and tracks like Scissorman and Vultures still stand up to modern musical standards fairly well for me. It’s well produced, as you’d expect from a major label release, and has a nice sense of completeness as an album.

The low points – like 30 Degree Below – sound seriously dated. I can’t picture myself spending a lot of time with Way Out, but equally it’s not an album I find less than a perfectly pleasant listen. Like many albums of its era, repeat listens have suggested to me that it’s style sounds better through poorer quality speakers. Not a ringing endorsement, admittedly, but the tinny edge to my PC’s built in gurglers actually fits the tone.

At the very least, I’d give ‘Rocket Man’ a spin. It’ll take you back.

Standout track…

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Bought by James for Jonty

Bought because…

At 15, Sister Hazel were perhaps my greatest obsession. A subtle folk-rock band blessed with the limited imagination required to throw extended instrumental interludes into otherwise singer-songwriter style pop-rock songs, they sat alongside ska punk act Less Than Jake as two reasons to believe Gainesville, Florida – a place I knew nothing about – was something of a musical Mecca. I stumbled across the five-piece through ’10 Things I hate About You’, a teenage romcom claiming some high-brow references in Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming of the Shrew’, where the track Your Winter plays over one of the key scenes. … Somewhere More Familiar arrived three years earlier than Fortress, the album featuring that particular ditty, and never quite matched it, but does offer a decent sample of what the act are all about.

In truth, I’m not sure how good the album actually is. Having formed a teenage attachment, it’s hard to separate its summery melodies from my earliest festivals, dipping my feet in the dating world and blasting things in bad cars during my final school years. The band still hold the dubious honor of being the only act on that movie soundtrack I’ve never experienced live. If I try to be a touch objective, listening now they remind me of Counting Crows and The Goo Goo Dolls. I can imagine the vocals becoming grating. The jazzy licks aren’t quite as sharp or interesting as they seemed at the time, and tracks like Superman are definitely rubbish. Then again, much of the pop-rock scene that dominated the musical horizons of the start of the century sounds dated now. I’m not even sure I like the vocals, but on balance I still love the album.

Sentimentality can go a long way, and my first dabbling in 1p Album Club fits in to just that category: this isn’t an album that many of my current social circles have likely ever heard. Is it actually an unheralded gem of the pop rock world, or has it dated worse than I did when I listened to it? Over to you, Jonty… (I’ll be better to you next time!)

The Verdict…

Sister Hazel are a band totally unknown to me. Weirdly, James sent me this album which is from 1997 and the first album I sent him is also from 1997 (and considerably different).

I should explain one detail – I’m deaf (hence my twitter tag of @deafjonty) but can hear music with some degree of accuracy. Oddly, I can only hear bass sounds in one ear and high in the other so there are gaps in my hearing. It meant that listening to this album on an iPod took me a heck of a long time to get to grips with the music.

I found it initially rather one-dimensional. Talented musicians playing quite intricate rhythms and melodies (on an iPod, this album is very messy-sounding). However, as time went by and after playing it through speakers, it’s sorta won me over. It’s an interesting album – it’s in the vein of classic US acoustic rock with a distinctly country feel. It never quite teeters into country music but skirts it. There’s a weird multiple time thing going on – I got the impression that one part of the band were playing a different song to the others, which if memory serves me right was a bit of a common thing in the latter parts of the last decade of the century.

It’s quite hard writing about an album that, as James says, is part of his own personal mythology. I think I’ve heard this at the wrong time in my life – I’m not as receptive to its themes as I might have when younger (and judging by James’ age at the time he discovered this album, I’m a lot older!). There’s something about US bands that turned up in the latter part of the 90s which I find bit disconcerting. They’re so desperately trying not to ape grunge that they veer off into other musical territories which don’t quite work.

Having said that, there are some songs which I’ll keep listening to: Cerilene’s a lovely wistful song about a passion for a girl and the desire to keep her in your life; All For You is a great little song about wondering why you like someone when you’re not sure how that is.

In summary, an interesting first choice from James. A little less musicality (if you get what I mean) and it would have been a very good (rather than merely good) first choice

Standout track…

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Bought by Stan for Dave

Bought because…

I noticed that the majority of the albums being reviewed for 1p Album Club were from a certain period in time and there was a massive lack of representation of the 80s - a decade of excess, hair spray and shoulder pads. I am a child of the 80s and anyone who knows me knows that I am the biggest champion the decade that some people claim taste forget. So my mission is to educate people that the 80s truly were a decade that produced brilliant artists and albums.

Some people snigger at the mention of Duran Duran but these guys for a period of time were the biggest thing on the planet. They were the big hitters of the British new wave revolution of the 80s and one of the pioneers of the MTV music video. The Birmingham band released Rio in 1982 and just take a look at the album cover; it’s iconic with that beautiful pop art lady that blazed over our friend Mike’s t-shirt for a number of years. I have picked to send this to Dave as he more than anyone will give a fair review and honest review to what I consider one of the great time capsule albums that boasts three hits singles and, in Hungry like The Wolf, one of my favourite singles of all time. It’s one of those albums you can almost hear the women screaming over it like a live concert.

I have no doubt that Dave will enjoy it. To everyone reading this - give this album a chance and embrace one of the best party albums you could buy for 1 English Pence. So sit back enjoy a little taste of the album that made hair spray sales for men go up 1,000% and without a doubt realise you know more lyrics from Rio than you previously though you ever did.

The verdict…

Despite having a penchant for 80s pop, I’ve never been a huge fan of Duran Duran. I’ve got a soft spot for A View To A Kill, and think Ordinary World is a bit special, but the likes of The Reflex, Girls On Film and Rio have always left me a little cold. As for their cover of 911 Is A Joke… Shudder! However, it’s important to enter these things with an open mind, so I decided to give Duran Duran another chance to impress me.

Getting past the title track, which is still a bit too smug and chintzy for my liking, I was pleased to discover that I really enjoyed a lot of this. I’d never realised how good a pure pop song Hungry Like The Wolf is before, and was pleased to be able to re-evaluate it, but I was even more surprised at how atmospheric this album is in places. The Chauffeur, which ends the album, is positively creepy, and the fact that Simon Le Bon’s vocals seem emotionally disconnected really add to this effect. This was a different side to the Duran Duran I thought I knew, and it’s a side I liked a lot more.

Lonely In Your Nightmare is another haunting song, with a coldness to the synths that is very effective, whilst Save A Prayer is pretty beguiling, with a really good chorus. The difference between some of these album tracks and their better known pop hits reminded me of hearing Simple Minds’ excellent, yet austere, Empires & Dance when I previously knew them solely for Don’t You Forget About Me.

I’m genuinely grateful to Stan for buying Rio for me, and it’s nice to have my original opinion on a band challenged. I’d probably still use The Reflex as a song to pop to the bar to if I was dancing at a wedding reception, but at least now I know they’re capable of much more. A pleasant surprise.

Standout track…

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Bought by Rhys for Michael

Bought because…

A few years back during a bout of insomnia I was flicking through the TV stations late at night when I stumbled across a documentary about Jake Thackray. The next day I went out and bought an album and he’s been part of my life ever since.

A singer songwriter made famous in the 60s writing weekly topical songs on the TV show Braden’s Week and then in the 70s for That’s Life, the guy has such a way with words, his songs are often like big long funny tongue twisters about anything from death (The Last Will and Testament of Jake Thackray) to men pretending to be nuns (Sister Josephine) to the infidelity of a police man’s wife (It Was Only A Gypsy). His Wikipedia entry refers to him as a “North Country Noel coward”, I’ll say no more than that.

The minute I saw that there was a 1p Jake CD available I had to buy it for someone straight away and seeing as I had just agreed to a 1p swap with Michael who had listed folk first on his list of musical preferences it didn’t take me long to decide who to buy it for.

I do prefer Jake’s live material to his studio work as his songs are so unconventional that when he works with a band it sometimes feels a bit too safe compared to when he’s live and can take extra liberties with his timing but any opportunity to share Jake’s work with other people gets me really excited and I hope this CD gives Michael the same buzz as I got when I first heard the incredible and unique Jake Thackray.

The verdict…

I’d never heard of Jake Thackray when this arrived from Rhys, and by the cover it looked like a crooner in the ilk of Sinatra. It couldn’t have been further from Old Blue Eyes. The very in-depth liner notes explained that Jake was a “Singer-Songwriter in the French Tradition”, which raised an eyebrow before the CD went in the player. In layman’s terms I’d label Thackray as a comedy singer, in the broadest sense. Unlike modern incarnations of the genre such as Lonely Island and Tenacious D, Jake doesn’t wade near aggressiveness or confrontation, and it’s heightened because of this and even though it was recorded in the late 60s and early 70s, it still felt fresh. He attended Durham University and his northern dialect and diction make him stand out from the crowd.

He is accompanied most of the time with just one guitar, playing exceptionally, and his lyrics are intricate and weave a story throughout each song. Lah-Di-Dah sees him put behind his differences and get on with his in-laws for the sake of his wife with lyrics like "And so I’ll smile and I’ll acquiesce, When she invites me to caress, Her scabby cat". Sister Josephine reveals a highly regarded Nun as a man and as we slowly realise this, his lyrics keep adding to the hilarity. The most ludicrous, The Hole, had me laughing out loud even after a couple of listens.

It is an album you have to listen to though. I first heard it in the car and I wasn’t paying too much attention and soon realised I’d missed a tonne of intricate layers that all added up to a big pay-off. On my second listen I did what the liner notes say: “Pull up a chair, sit down with a glass of something and imagine Jake right there in front of you”.

My favourite on the album is The Lodger and not only as it has the funniest concept, but also it’s a live recording and you can hear how he feeds off the audience.

One drawback though is as it’s a Best Of there are 21 tracks ranging over 10 years and after listening twice through, I was exhausted! Great, but maybe 10 tracks at a time.

Thanks to Rhys for introducing me to Jake. A 1p success.

Standout track…

The Lodger by Jake Thackray on Grooveshark

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Bought by John for Rhys

Bought because…

Some albums are very much of a time or place. For me, this is one of those records. My family moved to Essex from East London when I was still young, but I kept in touch with mates from my Newham days and almost every visit back in 1998/99 was soundtracked by Rafi’s Revenge.

Listening to the record again with modern ears suggests it’s not the world beater my teenage self considered it to be. The drum and bass rhythms that underpin many of the tracks sound very dated at times and the occasionally political lyrics are a little bit wannabe Rage Against The Machine to really make any impact.

That’s not to say this album still doesn’t pack many punches though. It remains an innovative record and it can still serve as a great soundtrack to getting ready for a Saturday on the sauce. Having got to know Rhys a bit since we started this swapping lark, I just have a sneaky suspicion he will see value in this record and that this will be a chance for him to rediscover an album he also perhaps liked in his younger years…

The verdict…

Asian Dub Foundation supported Rage Against The Machine when I saw them at Wembley back in 2000 but due to some bad last minute planning our trip from Pontypridd to Wembley and finding a hotel for the night took longer than expected and we ended up getting to the arena half way through ADF’s last song; at the time I wasn’t bothered but in hindsight I’ve often wished we’d arrived half hour earlier.

I’ve listened to Rafi’s Revenge more than any other 1p album I’ve received mainly because I couldn’t make my mind up about it and I still haven’t.

When they are MCing/rapping (whatever the correct terminology is) I really like them but the instrumental parts bore me. Tracks like Naxalite and Black White are great Asian tinged, politically and racially charged rap songs but on the other hand tracks like Charge are little more than a couple of loops and almost feel like unfinished songs.

I don’t own or listen to anything remotely similar to ADF so I turned to Wikipedia for help but they list Rafi’s Revenge as Bhangra, punk, dub, drum & bass and breakbeat. I know nothing of any of these genres except punk (I do own a Squarepusher album but have yet to pluck up the courage to listen to it) so won’t embarrass myself or insult anyone who reads this by trying to pass off comparisons I’ve just read elsewhere on the internet as my own; I’ll just leave you with that list of genres because if that doesn’t mean anything to you then a list of similar artists won’t either.

Overall I’ve played this album about a dozen times and I’m still undecided about it. I’ll definitely be listening to this again although I think I need a break from it for a while.

Finally, I wish we’d turned up at Wembley half hour earlier all those years ago even more now that I’ve heard this cd.

Standout track…

Naxalite which is bursting with punk energy and by far the poppiest track on the album

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Bought by Andrew for Jamie as part of our Big Christmas Swap

Bought because…

I chose this album because the vibe I got from reading his “likes”, was that he likes heavy music, but also digs a good melody. 

Cave In are a massively underrated band (who I admittedly had forgotten existed until today), and I figured they loosely fall under the category of “all things grunge” which Jamie likes. There are some huge tunes on this album and I hope Jamie likes it!

The verdict…

I actually burst out laughing when I opened this…but in a good way. I knew Cave In from when I was younger as I’m sure most of us do and I quite liked them but was never a committed or paying fan. They were hugely unpopular amongst my friends, partly because they weren’t Good Charlotte or One Minute Silence and partly because they covered some nonsense by Led Zeppelin and the other half of my friends were Led Zep loving arseholes. But despite me liking the Cave In stuff that’d appear on Kerrang! their most lasting legacy in my life was that their name became the punchline of a lewd joke from my youth. 

I was very interested in this album when it arrived, they were heavily publicised at the time and it was a period where I probably read about bands more than I had the opportunity to hear so I knew all about how Dave Grohl burst into flames the moment he heard them and despite barely knowing what the new stuff sounded like, I knew that their old-school fans were so disappointed by the new sound that they’d hang around outside venues hoping to hear old songs at sound-checks… but I obviously had no idea what that sound was. I did briefly want to own Jupiter but that never happened - so it was nice to finally spend some time with this seemingly storied and journeyed band that I knew literally no fans of.

The album is actually really good, strong sounding quasi-progressive quasi-emo quasi-hardcore - it rocked and it sulked and I couldn’t help but think that I’d really have benefited from this as a teenager. I could totally see why Andrew would think to get me this based on some of the artists I listed, it’s kind of a mix of all my old favourite Alt. Rock leanings. If the album had a downfall it’d probably be lyrically, some of it sounding a little like the rhyming of a local teen band, which probably wouldn’t have occurred to me at all in 2002 - but it isn’t necessarily for me to judge the emotional expression of a man from across the sea. I’ve listened to the album a zillion times since getting it and I’d definitely like to get acquainted with more of their catalogue, which is a pretty good sign. An adventure ahead!

An album like this really does highlight the strengths of the 1p Album Club and of music ownership in general, I could have streamed this album in full at any time in the past few years but I get the impression that if I had I’d have given it a few songs before my whim took me back to Blue Nile or some other favourite. The commitment of ownership has seen me stick with an album that is out my regular listening habits and from a group I never took all that seriously in the first place - and I’ve reaped the reward of enjoyment. I generally don’t bother to watch the DVD/Multimedia content on these things but seeing as Andrew was kind enough to buy it for me I thought I would and it really was nice to see these guys playing huge stages while remaining massive massive goofs, a highlight being an impromptu wrestling match which seemed to be won with The Walls of Jericho submission, another old favourite of mine. Seeing these guys giggling their way through their tour made me really glad to see that these guys are still going as the band really did seem to mean the world to them and it’s hard to not to warm to that. Thanks Andrew, I really enjoyed this.

Standout track…

Hard to pick a decisive favourite as the record is nothing if not consistent, but it’s Joy Opposites. though the Dark Driving video on the DVD might be my actual favourite recording.

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Bought by Rhys for John

Bought because…

After sending John some more testing albums lately I thought I’d reward him with an album he is sure to love this month. I first heard This Is Who You Are by The Beautiful Mistake when a friend lent it to me, I put it in my car on a trip to Birmingham and it stayed there all week.

At first I was captivated by the stunning My Reminder which I put on repeat for about an hour, then Cold Hearts got put on loop then Wide Eyes. Everytime I played this album I seemed to discover a new gem.

I promptly bought myself a copy and gave my friend back his assuming he’d be anxious to get it back but he said “Not sure I’ve even listened to it”… and I still don’t think he has which is a shame because I’m even more sure he’ll like it more than John will.

This is one of my favorite albums of the past decade and My Reminder is one of my favorite tracks ever.

The verdict…

In fairness to Rhys, he has sent me some excellent albums since I started participating in this whole swap malarkey a few months ago. He’s introduced me to the delights of Cay, amused me with Billy Bob Thornton, surprised me with the Bloodhound Gang, confused me with Alec Empire and brought a big smile to my chubby chops with Mariah Carey.  His hit rate has therefore been pretty good. It is therefore inevitable I suppose that the cup run was going to end one day. 

I hate writing anything negative about the selections made for me by Rhys. It feels like my inability to connect with a 1p emo inspired mid noughties album is letting us both down in some way.  I can only reassure Rhys that it’s not him, it’s me….

There is nothing inherently wrong with The Beautiful Mistake as a band and this record is reasonable enough. The melodies they peddle are fine, the musicianship is reasonable and the singer has a decent voice. The production of the album is good and the lyrics are OK. The record also has a little bit of depth, something emo bands often struggle to achieve without getting it badly wrong (Staind) or shouting (most overrated bands between 2000-2004). That alone deserves to be commended.

My problem with this album is that it is merely OK. It feels a little bit like The Beautiful Mistake are going through the motions. In reality, I suspect the band were aiming for the big league by incorporating a slice of Keane or a splash of The Fray into what I imagine was previously a more standard emo brew. Unfortunately, the end result is a tepid album with few memorable moments. When it goes for straight out emo, it’s far superior to more successful and well-known peddlers of the genre. However, the gold standard emo album for me is Diary by Sunny Day Real Estate and we are well below that. A fairer target for it would be The Devil and God Are Inside Of Me by Brand New, but it lacks the guts and grunt that made that album so special because too many of the tracks here are aiming for bigger venues. 

The Beautiful Mistake are a reasonable band and this is a reasonable record. The problem is just that – they are reasonable in a musical world containing so many good or excellent singers and bands. Reasonable is forgettable and I fear that is the fate that will befall this album as it nestles to collect dust in my collection.

Sorry Rhys.

Standout track…

My Reminder is a good track that stands up well.