Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Peter Murphy

The ever-gaunt Peter Murphy was once the frontman for Bauhaus, one of the truly monolithic Goth-rock outfits that ruled the musical wasteland of the early 1980s. Since the cult band went their separate ways in 1983, Murphy has embarked on a sporadically successful solo career, which earned a modicum of critical acclaim and a modest presence on the contemporary charts; he also caught some flak for trying too hard to be an overly melodramatic, second-rate David Bowie (admittedly, his most obvious musical role model).

Notwithstanding any unfair, hostile criticism that might have been levelled at Murphy, you can find some positively inventive gems when his solo output is taken into serious consideration. Here are three stellar examples of Murphy's artistry, a trio of tracks that display differing aspects of Murphy's musicianship.

First up is the minor modern-rock hit "Cuts You Up", a slightly leftfield but wholly attractive and elegant number that conforms to the basic tenets of an archetypal pop song (verse-chorus-verse).

Next is Murphy's raucously sly cover of Pere Ubu's difficult art-rock sculpture "Final Solution".

And finally, Murphy shows off his unique crooning skills in the haunting, beautifully spectral medieval ballad "A Strange Kind of Love", complemented by a suitably atmospheric video.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Scooby Snacks

One of the most obvious music-video tributes to maverick director Quentin Tarantino lies in the clip for Fun Lovin' Criminals' effervescent "Scooby Snacks". Replete with Tarantino-influenced motifs like a bank robbery gone awry, improbably cool protagonists, car chases, and the Criminals themselves disguised as a kitschy lounge band, the short film takes the award for one of the mid-1990's most distinctive promo videos. The so-called "Scooby Snacks" of the song title is actually a thinly veiled reference to diazepam, or Valium tablets, providing the video with another Tarantino-esque point of reference (in this case, to designer drugs).

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I Advance Masked

A historic meeting between two great guitarists of modern times occurred in 1982, when Police guitar sorcerer Andy Summers teamed up with King Crimson supremo Robert Fripp for the "I Advance Masked" album, a virtuosic, oftentimes astonishing fusion of rock-inspired pyrotechnics and avant-garde filigrees. Check out the bizarre video for the angular, mind-boggling title track, which boasts Summers's archetypal spare, space-making grooves, and some requisite Frippertronic effects from Fripp.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Mercy Street

One of Peter Gabriel's lesser known singles is the subtle, vaguely unsettling "Mercy Street", a carefully sketched account of the troubled life of semi-obscure poet Anne Sexton. Anchored by an undertow of almost ambient-sounding electronics, and underscored by some insectoid percussion and an achingly beautiful CMI pan-pipe sample, "Mercy Street" remains one of the indisputable highlights from the veteran art-rocker's 1986 hit record "So". Check out the moody, atmospheric black-and-white video clip, which brilliantly displays the darker side of the surrealist movement.