Thursday, November 15, 2007

Great pop cutbacks

The Onion's AV Club have just published a splendid article running through 21 average albums that would make great EPs. Among their choices are REM's New Adventures In Hi-Fi, The Verve's Urban Hymns and Kanye West's Graduation.

It's a great read... but saldy lacking in pop records. And, as we all know, pop records generally need a good bit of pruning before they make it over to your iPod.

So, here are some of my additions to the Onion's list. Feel free to add your own using the comments thingummy. It'd make my day.

Christina Aguilera - Back To Basics (2006)

In which Aguilera pays tribute to the jazz singers who inspired her by, erm, dressing up like them and singing exactly the same songs she always sings. The public duly ignored it, aghast at the thought of Aguilera screeching and wailing over the course of two entire discs. But, pared down to a more manageable size, this is a corking little album. The big band flourishes and jazz inflections actually serve to highlight Aguilera's vocal technique (it's not just shouting, after all) and the Mark Ronson track, Without You, is among the best things she's recorded.

EP Version: 1) Back In The Day 2) Ain't No Other Man 3) Candyman 4) Without You 5) Slow Down Baby 6) Save Me From Myself

Madonna - Erotica (1992)

Having hit a career high with Vogue in 1990, Madonna dragged that song's co-writer Shep Pettibone into the studio for an entire album. One of the most prolific and talented remixers of the time, Pettibone struggled when it came to writing actual songs. Tracks like Thief of Hearts and Why's It So Hard are little more than drumbeats, and Madonna - never the world's most profound lyricist - is particularly woeful here "Friends they tried to warn me about you / He has good manners," she declares bafflingly during Words. On Deeper and Deeper, Madonna and Pettibone even acknowledge their lack of ambition by slapping the chorus of Vogue over the coda. The good tracks, unusually for a Madonna album, are the ballads.

EP Version: 1) Erotica 2) Deeper and Deeper (a decent song despite itself) 3) Bad Girl 4) Rain

Radiohead - Kid A / Amnesiac (2000)

Amnesiac already appears on The Onion's list, but I reckon you need to combine both records to create a decent EP. The two albums actually derived from the same recording session - so the songs cohere perfectly. Amnesiac has the best tunes in Knives Out (pretty) and Pyramid Song (claustrophobic). Kid A provides the experimentalism and menace… Plus, in scrapping Life In A Glass House, we can pretend Radiohead never "experimented with jazz".

EP Version: 1) Everything In Its Right Place 2) Knives Out 3) Pyramid Song 4) Morning Bell (Kid A version) 5) You And Whose Army 6) Optimistic 7) Motion Picture Soundtrack

U2 - Zooropa (1993)

This is a bit unfair, as Zooropa was originally intended to be an EP accompanying the band's Zoo TV tour. Instead, in a flurry of activity partially prompted by the dissolution of Edge's marriage, the group turned in a full 10 tracks. Predictably, given the circumstances, they're not all of the highest standard. Stand-outs include the title track - a montage of three different songs that perfectly captures the chaos of the recording sessions - and Stay, Farway So Close, which is perhaps U2's most under-rated ballad. Future Batman single Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me was also started during the recording sessions, so I'm reclaiming it here for my six-track EP.

EP Version: 1) Zooropa 2) Numb 3) Lemon 4) Stay (Faraway, So Close) 5) Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me 6) The Wanderer

Prince - Symbol (1992)

Apparently conceived as a rock soap opera, this album (the sequel to Diamonds and Pearls) has a plot more confused than Terry Gilliam's Brazil. The music, too, lacks focus - as Prince tries to marry his new-found love of 70s funk with the rap stylings of his then-band, the NPG. Sexy MF, for example, wouldn't sound out of place on a James Brown album until it is spectaculraly derailed by Tony M's agressively misogynistic rap. Luckily, there is an edited version that jettisons this atrocious interruption which we can purloin for the purposes of our EP. In addition, several "classic" Prince tracks survived the NPG's onslaught, with The Morning Papers in particular recalling the glory days of Purple Rain's pop/rock crossover.

EP Version: 1) Sexy MF - edit 2) Love 2 The 9s 3) The Morning Papers 4) 7 5) 3 Chains O' Gold

The Beatles - White Album (1968)

A certain breed of Beatles fan thinks this double album ranks as the fab four's best work. They are so wrong it hurts like a spike in your ear. More than half the record is self-indulgent, druggy bollocks. The other half is frequently unfocused - presumably the casualty of the discordant atmosphere in the recording studio. Indeed, many of the better songs were essentially recorded in isolation - with McCartney playing drums on Back In The USSR and Harrison performing While My Guitar Gently Weeps with Eric Clapton after several Beatley attempts at the song proved unsatisfactory. You could probably get a decent single album out of the 30 tracks, but I prefer a more brisk stroll through this musical wasteland… and I'm subsituting the single version of Revolution for Lennon's throwing-the-toys-out-of-the-pram album mix.

EP Version: 1) Back In The USSR 2) Helter Skelter 3) Dear Prudence 4) Revolution 5) While My Guitar Gently Weeps 6) Happiness Is A Warm Gun 7) Blackbird

Labels: , , , , , ,

<< Home

Newer Posts ::: Older Posts

© 2014 Discopop Directory | Contact | Go to the homepage