I've often thought of this as a silly term, why feel guilty about something that gives you pleasure? Perhaps because it's bad for you, but then if you eat 3 doughnuts and you feel guilt, well then that ain’t pleasure is it, that's just guilt, or nausea.
Never is the term more liberally applied when talking about music, if you like it, why feel guilty? If it gives pleasure, relish it, be warmed, feel free and lovely for the 3 mins or whatever, that you actually feel something from listening to that song. Any guilt is born from the fear others will think of you for liking it, and that's terribly sad.
When you work with music, particularly in the weird space we occupy at Adelphoi where our projects are often based on trends, the perception is that we’re on the bleeding edge of what's cool musically. OBVIOUSLY we are YO, we're like so far into the edge it's making our ears fall off. But, I am willing to admit that I gain pleasure from a rich and diverse smorgasbord of musical pleasures, a non-blinkered view at the art form, a wealth of aural excitement. Here's a few of them, you may judge me all you like I won't feel guilty….
'Face Value' by Phil Collins
Collins' 1st solo album and undeniably his best; it took a drumming gorilla to prove to most people that the opening track isn't shit and if you dare to dig deeper, rewards await the brave and guiltless. This album was ingrained on my 5 year old brain thanks to my Dad, I think then I just liked the noises. Production (co-credited to Collins) is pretty experimental and I think that's partly why it still sounds so distinctive even now. There's the more obvious elements like the drum sound which became something of a signature for Collins, and the bold step to actually not use drums in favour of programmed drums machines. The moment when he sings "When I Remember" on 'In The Air Tonight' with it’s heavy backwards slap back reverb frightened me senseless, and it’s still hugely evocative. Apparently, inspiration for the album’s themes was Collins’ divorce from his 1st wife and it's clear from the raw emotion displayed on tracks like 'If Leaving Me Is Easy'. Even the massively infectious, funk inspired 'I Missed Again's lyrics are pretty downbeat. It also has some top horns from the dudes from Earth Wind & Fire!
'Achtung Baby' by U2
Possibly the high point of this now overly tired band's creative output, the production is nothing short of genius. We've Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno to thank for that, although they needed quality raw material and it was provided in spades from a band whom at the time had seemingly already peaked creatively and commercially 4 years earlier with the Joshua Tree Album.
On release, to my ears anyway, Achtung Baby sounded like nothing else, it was like each sound was purposely deconstructed and re-built in an effort to create something new and at odds with the norm. It’s truly avant-grade in places, distorted vocals, string quartets accompanying ear-bending walls of distorted convulsing guitar, boxes of gravel for kick drums; testing the palatability of the noises that can make up a pop song. I think Achtung Baby laid the path for artists like Beck and Bjork to release albums featuring wildly catchy and engaging music presented in a mish-mash of weird noise, acid house pilfery, broken pieces of drums and guitar and cheap-sounds-good trickery.
So these two, although basically Dad Rock, were critical and commercial success stories.
Here’s a couple more songs to tip the balance…
'Man, I Feel Like A woman' by Shania Twain.
Get’s me every time, it all boils down to the chorus where the main hook is somehow extended to last another whole phrase, it shouldn’t be possible, but somehow it was. It’s like ZZ Top went into the wrong studio with a girl singer. The production is pretty damn good too, helmed by her husband Mutt Lang and he produced 'Back In Black', so how do you like them onions!?
'Animal' by Def Leopard
Well it’s another Mutt Lang production folks! It’s all California cool and massive drum sounds, Wayfarer shades and the top down. It’s featured on possibly the most overtly overproduced 80s rock album ever and that’s amongst some weighty competition. You can take the boys out of Yorkshire, but you can’t take Yorkshire out of the boys… Erm, yes you can.
Well that was fun, time to re-fasten my shirts top button and get some Yeasayer and Savages out…