History: Artist Peter Blake, best known for his creation of the Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover, reached out to Paul and asked him to create some music to go along side his latest exhibition. He requested that it have a Liverpool feel. Similar to the collages that Blake was known for creating, Paul took a hodgepodge of Beatles chatter in the studio, interviews with random people taken off the street, bits of his Liverpool Oratorio as well as some new music to create this sound collage. The album is actually a collaborative work, with credit being given to Paul, Youth, and the Welsh band Super Furry Animals on various tracks.
My own personal history and initial prediction: This is another one I didn’t even know existed until I started looking up things for this blog. I’m doing my best to keep an open mind with this one because it definitely sounds really weird and I don’t know what to expect. But we’ll give it a shot.
Review: It’s interesting to me how after listening to the first The Fireman album I absolutely hated it, the second one I found much improved but not for me, and now we get here, which could very well be another album of theirs for how out there and techno inspired it all is, and I actually enjoyed it? Like I’m legitimately surprised that I did. It was still very weird, but I think I’ve started to actually understand just what they are going for here. It’s all very abstract and odd, and I’m not saying I will ever pull this out again, but at the time I was into it. Maybe it helped that I was working on my own abstract painting at the time, and I just sort of let the music travel while I let my paintbrush move about.
There’s also the fact that this features a lot of Beatles sound clips. Ever since the Anthology I’ve loved hearing those, the little intimate and silly moments in the middle of their recording sessions. But Super Furry Animals in particular really makes it great. “Peter Blake 2000” starts off really annoying, so if you decide to give that one a go, be patient with it. It’s just a word repeated over and over, but they change and move the tempo so that it ceases being a word and becomes a sound, and then slowly leads into another sound that eventually becomes a word. They then take a clip of George saying “do what you want to do” and manipulate that until it becomes a bass groove. The track is nearly 17 minutes, but it continues through so many changes and manipulations that I was never bored. I’ll admit that their contributions make Paul and Youth’s pale in comparison a little bit, or at least it shows that they’re more skilled at this whole thing, but when I was listening I didn’t know whose was whose entirely and I still felt like they were part of the same whole – just some parts I liked better than others.
And I did enjoy the other parts. Youth’s contribution has a horribly pretentious name I don’t want to type out in its entirety, but it starts out so chaotic that it’s hard to fully follow, but still keeps you fully invested. And Paul isn’t completely helpless in all this either, as I really like the way he starts off “Made Up” as seeming like this mellow journey around Liverpool talking to people and pointing out things and then becomes more and more abstract as it goes. The whole thing then ends with “Free Now,” the other Super Furry Animals contribution, which touches on all the themes that came before and brings it all full circle.
It’s certainly not the kind of album I would recommend to just anyone. If you want to hear snippets of the Beatles in the studio, there are plenty of other ways to do so. It’s definitely the kind of thing you have to keep an open mind and/or be in the right mood for to really appreciate. But if you are in the mood for something nonstandard, I definitely think it’s worth giving a shot.
Next Time: Paul returns to more traditional rock music with Driving Rain.