This was a difficult decision. The Stereophonics are one of my favourite bands, so choosing just one of their albums really made me think about them in depth. This 2001 release was their third studio album and to me the one that perfected the ‘phonics sound. Their first album, Word Gets Around, opened the door and gave the public a peak, the second, Performance and Cocktails, announced their arrival and made the public take notice. On Just Enough Education to Perform or J.E.E.P as it was known, the band produced an album that feels relaxed and has a mature, natural sound. They didn’t have to try to create the ‘phonics sound, it just was who they were and it came organically. It’s also a more diverse sounding album while at the same time holding onto who they are; lead single Mr Writer doesn’t sound like second single Have A Nice Day while a cover of 60’s Handbags and Gladrags is made to sound like it belongs on a Stereophonics album. Having had the privilege to see them live many times and meet the band a couple of times they really are the nicest guys. One example stands out, it had started snowing during their set and started getting heavier as we hung out backstage, as we were saying goodbyes, each one of them said “get home safe” to us and you really felt like they meant it. This album sounds most like them, a truly nice collection of songs (or guys) that make up a whole perfect package (or band).
Twitter and other social media are great at connecting the world and spreading the ‘word’ but how many of you come out from behind your keyboard to meet other social media users?
Recently my friend Brian and I had a small Tweet-up (Twitter/Tweep meet-up) at Rogue Kitchen & Wetbar. None of us had been to Rogue Wetbar before either and I’d selected the location because they were very active on Twitter, so we could consider the venue a Tweep too.
Have a casual get together that allows people to interact on a different level and with sentences longer than 140 characters. It gives us a deeper look into our ‘real’ personalities vs the witty, pithy, attention seeking people we are online. I’ve had a few other Tweet-ups to try to get to know the people behind the avatar, you already know you have similar interests, so get out and meet them, who knows who you’ll find. Brian and I started off as Tweeps, met up and as a result I know consider him among my closest friends. I challenge you to turn your Tweeps into Peeps and get out and get to know some of those people you follow, friend or chat with online. You might be surprised to discover brand new lasting friendships!
Dancing Elvis’, Lumberjacks, SuperDogs, Red Robinson, Giant Inflatables…these are not your typical entries in a Vancouver Parade but this was not just any parade.
In honour of it’s 100th Anniversary, the Fair At The PNE revived a lost summer time tradition…the PNE Parade. Held annually until 1995 the PNE Parade was the kick off to the Fair and highlighted one of the last major events of the season (the Fair runs the last half of August, closing on Labour Day). Led off by the indomitable Bandleader Dal Richards as Grand Marshall, this 100th Anniversary revival celebrated all the achievements, entertainment and traditions associated with the last 10 decades of the Pacific National Exhibition; including – Iconic concerts; Elvis in 1957 and The Beatles in 1964, hosted by radio legend Red Robinson. – Sports; BC Lions & Vancouver Whitecaps at Empire Stadium, Vancouver Canucks at Pacific Coliseum; – Exhibits: Horse Shows, 4H competitions, Logger Sports, Monster Trucks – Playland: Carnival Games, Fair Food – Multiculturalism: Chinese Dragon and Bollywood Dancers
Most of all it seemed like this parade featured memories, you could see and hear from the older members of the audience as they mentioned past events and family trips to the Fair. Also, from the next generations as they visit with their children and form new memories that will last for the next century of The PNE/Playland
Laugh as you might, this is actually a great album. Not only is it a classic that truly defined an era but it has some damn fine songs that stand up in any era. For 25 years (until the release of The Bodyguard) this was the best selling soundtrack of all time. This compilation is probably the best thing about the motion picture that it represents. This recording was the zenith of the disco era, everyone associated with it has been defined by it. You can’t mention the “Bee Gees” without thinking of some of the song that have become their standards; Night Fever, Staying Alive, Jive Talking, How Deep Is Your Love to name just four. You can’t say the name of the movie without picturing John Travolta, one arm up-stretched in his white polyester suit. I’m sure this was a blessing and a curse to some, the Bee Gees were able to shed the “disco” label as the fashions changed but others, were not able to come out the other side. The album was a number 1 record, won the Grammy for Album of the Year, generated five top 5 hits and sold millions. Perhaps it was the mainstream success generated by this hit soundtrack that led to the decline in Disco’s popularity. Unfortunately, with the demise of disco the backlash against this album meant many people haven’t had the chance to listen to it objectively. Hi-NRG dance, disco, ballads, pop, rock are all featured and make this a very well-rounded and entertaining soundtrack. If you give it a listen I’m sure there will be at least one track that will bring a smile to your face
Without a doubt this has to be one of the most special shows I’ve ever been fortunate enough to attend (a big thank you to my friend, David). I’ve seen Travis on numerous tours but this was lead singer Fran Healy’s first solo journey into Vancouver in advance of his upcoming solo album, Wreckorder.
Unfortunately the audience was quite small, only about 250 people. But fortunately, this allowed us to hear the songs in a way they were truly meant to be. The Vogue Theatre is a classic old theatre with acoustics built for pure sound, Fran took this opportunity to step out from behind the mic, unplug and perform completely acoustic for an entire set; a mix of classic Travis, new solo work along with engaging stories about the origins of songs. It felt like we were just a few people in a coffee house with the artist in the corner chatting with friends in between performing some songs. It was amazing!
As if treating us to an amazing set wasn’t enough, after the performance he took another 45minutes to chat and take photos with the fans signing anything put in front of him. I’m sure the venue staff were anxious to close up the theatre and get home but Fran kept chatting and didn’t rush anyone. So engaging and genuine on and off stage…a great guy.
The ongoing journey through my TopTen must have discs continues: (Find disc 1, disc 2, disc 3)
Scissor Sisters – Scissor Sisters
This is probably one of the more recent additions on my list but I think will stand the test of time and still be worth a listen years from now too. In 2004 the Scissor Sisters burst onto the scene like the 70’s lovechild of Elton John and Cher. They were a refreshing departure from the other chart topping (middle of the road) artists topping the charts at the time. A blend of disco and glam rock (heavy on the glam) one can’t help but be sucked into the rhythms and beats. Their breakthrough single a disco infused cover of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” is the best selling Pink Floyd cover in spite of being thought a sacrilege by diehard Floyd fans. Like other albums on my Top Ten this one also has a variety of sounds, although all the tracks have a 70’s tinge and disco hooks they range from thoughtful slow tracks like “Return to Oz” to twangy mid-tempo on “Take Your Mama” to full on floor-fillers like “Filthy/Gorgeous”. One thing is certain this album is never boring, there is always something fun and new coming up on the next track.
Yes, I will admit to loving this album when it came out…actually it was probably a cassette tape that I wore out in my car. Faith was George Michael’s first solo album following the success of Wham! and it marked a more mature, funky sound than the pure pop Wham! was famous for delivering. It debuted in scandalous fashion with the release of the single “I Want Your Sex” which despite (or possibly because of) censorship and controversy still managed to become a #2 single. Five more singles were released, 4 of them went #1 making him the first British male to have 4 chart topping singles off of one album. An appealing factors of this album is how diverse each of those singles and the rest of the tracks are from each other, “I Want Your Sex” sounds nothing like “Father Figure” which again sounds completely different than “Kissing A Fool”. You can listen to this album over and over without it becoming repetitive or boring (unless maybe, you keep playing the same track over and over and over and over like we did as kids)