Daft Punk, Gorillaz and Neu!

One of the good things about it being my birthday recently wasn’t just the fact that I got lots of nice shiny new presents, it was the fact that I could, once again, get back to emptying my bank account and filling my cd tower. Or, more appropriately, replacing cds I no longer listen to with ones that I will.

So, after a belated birthday meal at Isleworth’s Dharba restaurant with Jo, mum, dad and sisters on Friday night, Jo and I headed into London on Saturday afternoon. Our primary purpose wasn’t actually to buy cds, it was to meet up with my best mate from uni Mikey (+ girlfriend Serena and son Jaden) for a pub lunch near London Bridge. But it was too good an opportunity for me to miss, I thought. So, having had a couple of beers and a rather lovely steak in the Woolpack, we headed off to Oxford St via Bond St. And immediately got sidetracked by Foot Locker.

Having then visited Debenhams, we got a bit disorientated which led to us wandering up and down the same stretch in different directions for about twenty minutes. By the time we reorientated ourselves, Mike, Serena and Jay had to shoot off and left Jo and I to carry onto HMV. We didn’t spend too long in there, but long enough to get what I wanted.

Which was the first Neu! album. Last FM had worked its magic recently and left me desperate to hear Negativland whenever I wanted to. Which meant buying this cd. Having only given it a couple of listens, I think the album has yet to really reveal itself to me, but you can hear the influence of Neu! on the likes of Joy Division in Negativland. Hallogallo is the album’s first track and appears to be quite similiar to Negativland. Indeed, according to the album’s Wiki page, it is on these two tracks that Klaus Dinger first played what became known as the influential “motorik” beat.

I haven’t been able to listen to this album as much as I would like, but that’s probably down to the peril of buying a few cds at the same time. As the title to this blog indicates, it wasn’t just Neu! that was added to the collection on Saturday. No, I took advantage of a HMV 2 for £10 offer to pick up, belatedly, Plastic Beach and the Daft Punk collection, Musique.

Plastic Beach is not, by any means, a new listen to me. Jo bought it when released, so I didn’t need to buy it yesterday. But I do believe in supporting the artist, so I’ve always felt bad about not buying it- as if Damon Albarn needs the money… Anyway, suffice to say that I don’t think it’s the best work to come out under the Gorillaz name- that accolade falls to the brilliant Demon Days. But it’s certainly the most ambitious and, at it’s best, Plastic Beach is very, very good.

If about 4 tracks too long. I always feel like the album’s about to end just before the title track, featuring Mssrs Jones and Simonon rolls into view. I do find it a very rewarding listen though. Stylo may steal ever so slightly from Kraftwerk, but does it very well. Kano and Bashy add some energy to White Flag and I love Damon’s delivery on Rhinestone Eyes. I’m not sold on all the cameos though, Lou Reed’s in particular. It’s just annoying. On the flip side, I don’t think Mark E. Smith gets enough to do on Glitter Freeze, though the stomping beat there is right up my street. As are Bobbie womack’s aching vocals on the beautiful, but short, Cloud of Unknowing.

And so to Daft Punk. they were one of the bands du jour during my university days, but I never got around to buying anything by them, which is silly when I think how much money I wasted on crap music during their heyday. I guess the thing is, I always liked Daft Punk, but I always had someone to play them to me. Or you’d hear them in clubs or whatever. Years on, my circle of Daft Punk playing friends is somewhat smaller and I don’t go clubbing so much- if ever. If I wanna hear Daft Punk, I’ve got to buy it. Even then, I’d probably never have even looked for it had it not been playing in HMV on Saturday afternoon.

Listening to it over the weekend, I thought it was brilliant collection. All the hits that I knew and loved, but the track that really stood out for me was called Alive. I’d never heard it before, but its, trancey, beat really took hold of me. If someone asked me for a reason to buy Musique, Alive would be my reason. Forget One More Time, forget Around The World and Harder Better Faster Stronger, even Da Funk.. Yeah, definitely forget those because Alive will make you feel, er, alive.

And that’s what this is all about really, isn’t it?





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