Round 2 – Group 3:
The third group out in round 2 features four round 1 group winners. Didn’t take long did it?
What did take a while though was separating these four high quality albums. Maroon 5’s second album It Won’t Be Soon Before Long bettered Maiden and Eminem in group 145 and contains their familiar blend of funky rock/pop. It has one or two very strong moments with Kiwi, Makes Me Wonder and Wake Up Call. Only in places does it fall short but it doesn’t really do anything wrong at all – it’s a solid album which gets beaten by three other very good albums here.
It took a lot of deliberation to decide whether Enya’s beautiful collection of ethereal new age soundscapes should better this 1995 compilation album by The Carpenters.
Intepretations is the perfect title for this album as it showcases not only the beautifully constructed melodies of original artists like Bacharach, Lenon/McCartney and Sedaka but also the wonderful arrangements of Richard Carpenter all topped off by Karen’s wonderful vocals.
Enya’s 2009 Best Of (which easily easily destroyed her Alt/Grunge Rock counterparts back in group 170 ) also features some beautiful moments of instrumental layers and vocal textures. Enya using her lush vocals as if they were synth chords or even pan pipes! Whether it is the dramatic rythmic nature of Storms In Africa, the piano-led piece Watermark, the captivating Caribean Blue or the beautiful ponderance of ‘Only Time‘, Enya enchants from start to finish.
I Long To Be Close To Them
The Carpenters meanwhile are more rooted in that soft easy listening pop and of course Intepretations is a compilation of covers which are given star treatment. The luxuriant vocals of Karen coupled with the production and arrangements of Richard combine to produce *the* definitive version of songs such as Superstar, Rainy Days and Mondays, (They Long To Be) Close To You and of course the totally out of place alien welcome anthem Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft.
The Carpenters somehow bettered the mighty Guns N’ Roses back in group 69, a group which saw the elimination of Supertramps’ fine 1974 album Crime Of The Century. For an hour-long album, Intepretations does well to retain quality which only lowers in a few places. I’m not entirely sold by Bless The Beasts and The Children or the version of When I Fall In Love but the overall experience is a high quality one which edges it above Enya. The fact that Intepretations has come through two groups of such high quality music is a testament to the charm and majesty of this album.
All I Ever Wanna Do Is Slang
The group winner though was an obvious choice once I’d given all four albums several play-throughs. Def Leppards ‘departure album’ Slang.
Slang is hardly anything like other Leppard albums. Released in 1996, argurably the toughest time to be a soft-rock act, Leppard did what other bands of their ilk didn’t
or couldn’t. They morphed their sound and came up with an album which features plenty of audio distortion and solos which are obscured by a wall of guitar. This album is more like grunge than cheesy spandex rock. Slang is an album that sways between uptempo and mid-tempo and at times it even swaggers more than those classic oeuvres Hysteria and Pyromania. Tracks like Work It Out and Slang sounded positively modern back in 1996 and hell, still do. This album is tight, flows effortlessly and serves up some top quality tunes like the pulsating Deliver Me, tragic love ballad All I Want Is Everything and the philosophical questioning of Where Does Love Go When It Dies?