Ocean travel without a boat

Journal of Peter Greenwell

Month: January 2015

Serious progress is serious

operation 47

When I weighed myself this morning I was 119.1 kg. So I’m finally below 120 kg. I haven’t been under that particular target since around 2003-2004, at least. Since I’ve started this counting calories (or kilojoules rather) gig, I’ve shed 17 kg. While I’m not quite a fount of exuberant energy (yet) I do feel lighter. Clothes sit looser on me and it’s easier to get up from a chair or out of bed. That’s when my back doesn’t give me grief, which is a story for another day.

As I’ve said with nearly other Operation 47 entry here, it’s been too easy. All I do is count calories and stay under a certain limit each day. It works. The weight is falling off.

New music in January

As with the review I did in December, “new” means new to my ears, not the dictionary definition. With that established, let us move on…

First up was Queen of the Stone Age‘s …Like Clockwork. I’m not a fan of bluesy hard rock and this record didn’t grab me in any way or shape on first listen and that dissuaded me enough from a second listen. It’s a bit like the Them Crooked Vultures record I listened to in the previous review (same lead singer) and though I’m absolutely sure this kind of music has its fans and adherents, I’m not one of them. Anyhow, Led Zeppelin did this sort of thing better, let’s face it.

We come to St Etienne‘s Sound of Water. I’m still struggling to recount what it is I exactly heard on this record. At times it reminded me of Missing Persons running headlong into Madonna but in the main, the music kind of just drifted by. Not something I’d want to listen to again. Not my cup of chai – the beeps and bleeps were all wrong.

sound of water

Lastly, we have Sarah Blasko and her What the Sea Wants, the Sea Will Have recordThis one kind of drifted by as well with nothing I recall standing out. Alternative rock/singer-songwriter or something like that is what the press and fans label this kind of music.

So, three records of material that isn’t my bailiwick, That happens.

Also gave a whirl to Peter Gabriel‘s third self-titled record (“Melt”), Nazareth‘s greatest hits, Midnight Oil‘s 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 and The Clash‘s London Calling. Apart from the Nazareth record, I’ve listened to the others before, wholly or partially. I’m still not sold on London Calling being the epic work the world says it is. Maybe I didn’t get the memo.

Anyhow, that’s that for January.

The Smiths – The Queen is Dead

No difficult third album syndrome here. To put it bluntly, this record is a high water mark for all jangle pop/alternative rock acts, and in fact if it wasn’t for this record (or the band behind it), the Britpop phenomenon of the 90s would never have happened. OK, on to business. The English magazine New Musical Express voted this the greatest record of all time. Yeah well, it’s probably not that but it’s an exemplary recording by any standards. By The Smiths‘ own standards, it’s the best of their four studio records.

It’s definitely better effort than the subdued samey-sounding Meat is Murder and it’s certainly a superior effort to the overwrought and too clever for its own good Strangeways, Here We Come which succeeded it and ended the band’s career. The Queen is Dead brims with jangled melodies, compulsive beats and surprisingly, a fair deal of sweetness. There’s nary a poor track here – even by-numbers album cuts like Never Had No-one Ever and I Know It’s Over still resonate.

Of course, this record is full of wondrous highlights – from the smarm and sarcasm of the title track to the beautiful wistfulness of There Is A Light That Never Goes Out. Morrissey is in full tilt smart-aleck mode all the way through here – take note of his observations on Frankly Mr Shankly or Vicar in a Tutu for example. He still has a tendency to repeat lyrics though and that – for me – is his one major weakness. It just hints at a touch of laziness, and that he’s putting aesthetics ahead of the message itself.

It’s neither here nor there when washed up though – this record remains a classic and rightly so. If you’re new to The Smiths, track this record down, digest it thoroughly and see where Britpop was invented.

the queen is dead