1.) Eye To The Telescope: KT Tunstall
2.) M6: Mike & The Mechanics
3.) Foreigner: Foreigner
4.) Love Songs: Various
I Didn’t See This Coming
M6 is an organic album, lots of stripped back semi-acoustic rhythms, along with Rutherford’s accompanying electric guitars with his trademark musicanship. Packed with gorgeous vocals from Paul Young and Paul Carrack, Carrack especially sounds delicious on If Only and Asking For The Last Time.
For all its charm and musical chops and despite containing not one bad song, there is still something about M6 that doesn’t quite levitate it to the echelons of great albums.
Maybe it’s the lack of an absolute belter like ‘All I Need Is A MIracle‘, ‘Silent Running‘, ‘Another Cup Of Coffee’ or ‘Living Years‘ or maybe it’s the lack of diversity. It was the follow up to Beggar On A Beach Of Gold which certainly felt a bit different from previous Mechanics album. For the record, I think M6 is a superior, albeit safer album than Beggar. What Will You Do?, Asking For The Last Time and Did You See Me Coming are all brilliant songs, could it have a longevity problem? Well it still sounds great after 20 yrs but I guess time will tell!
Tell Me What Your Telescope Says
Eye To The Telecope paints marvellous mental imagery inside the listeners brain. Take Silent Sea, the nautical themes of which enhance this songs ability to conjure images of a rainswept harbour. With this debut album, Tunstall proved out of the blocks, that she’s a serious musician.
All those hours busking with a loop pedal have certainly honed her craft and if you look through her telescope you’ll discover some wondeful compositions. Sure the minor hits
of Other Side Of The World and Suddenly I See along with critical acclaim greatly helped to bring attention to a wider audience (Eye To The Telecope was nominated for the 2005 Mercury Music Prize) but dig deeper and you’ll find a quite beautiful and rewarding album here beyond those pop friendly songs.
It’s more stripped back than M6, certainly no keyboards here but splashes of beautiful grand piano. The guitar-led tracks generating a mid tempo ‘folky’/’stompy’ style while the slow ones are atmoshperic and moody, highlighting Tunstall’s vocals which are reined in and delicate on Under The Weather and Through The Dark but full-bodied on Another Place To Fall. Black Horse & The Cherry Tree is simply wonderful, possibly my favourite track here. I’ll let my heart do all the talking and put Eye To The Telecope atop this group!
Feels Like The Worst Time
Foereigner’s self-titled debut is possibly the weakest of the Gramm/Jones era with the exception of Inside Information but it’s far from a weak album. For a seventies rock band they certainly use their fair share of synthesisers all over the place on this album. That electronic sound would grow stronger on later albums of course but here it is more sporadic. The hits are still absolute bangers, Long way From Home still rocks along nicely, Cold As Ice sounds as fantastic as ever and while Feels Like The First
seems a bit more tired, the core of that song is still very strong aswell.
Outside of those three the style flip flops between ballads (Fool For You Anyway / Damage Is Done) and classical rhythm and blues (Headknocker / At War With The World). On the whole, the repertoire here maybe a bit narrow for some but you do get Starrider which comes across a bit hippy/psychedellic, and despite the second half being weaker than the first half, the album does end with a very interesting and experimental I Need You. Not a great album but one that laid the foundation for Foreigner to go on and produce some very strong albums afterwards.
Love Songs, despite its length, is an excellent blend of real pop classics. It may have beaten Adele’s 25 to second place in group 201 but while giving Foreigner’s self-titled debut a run for its money, it eventually couldn’t live with the higher caliber of albums we are seeing in round 2 as so aptly demonstrated here.
Despite excellent songs like Crush by Jennifer Page, Something About The Way You Look Tonight by Elton John, Shania Twain’s You’re Still The One, Leanne Rimes How Do I Live and onto the superbness of You Do Something To Me by Paul Weller and classics Have I Told You Lately (Rod Stewart) and I’ll Stand By You (The Pretenders) it’s still a compilation let down by Boyzone sucking all emotion and feeling from No Matter What (is there a cover that they didn’t murder?) and the barely mediocre Even After All by Finlay Quaye which is a shame.
I did discover one thing though. High by The Lighthouse Family was a song that I used to slate when it came out, I thought the singer was tuneless and the song was pathetic, now 20 yrs later I find it a charming little song. Maybe I’m turning into an old fogey?