Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tanita Tikaram - 1988 - Ancient Heart

Review by Jose F. Promis
Singer/songwriter Tanita Tikaram's debut album, Ancient Heart, stands as one of the most underappreciated albums of the 1980s, and she, along with Tracy Chapman, preceded the 1990s' onslaught of female singer/songwriters by almost a decade. Tikaram, who was only 19 when this album was released, created a melancholy and wistful work, mature beyond her years, of startling originality and honesty. While this album may be considered folkish and artsy, it never stoops to the clichйs that dominated those styles of music in the later Lilith Fair years. Her near perfect signature song "Twist in My Sobriety" is a stark, sinuous, desperate torch song that managed to garner a bit of radio and video airplay in its day and sounded like nothing else then or since. Other highlights include the lovely and more upbeat "Cathedral Song," "World Outside Your Window," and "Good Tradition"," as well as the jazzy "For All the Years" and the haunting "I Love You" and "Valentine Heart" — the latter being one of the album's true highlights. Ancient Heart is a smoky, world-weary album, that, years after its initial release, does not sound one bit dated and has effortlessly stood the test of time. The definite highlight of Tanita Tikaram's career.
1 Good Tradition Tikaram 2:49
2 Cathedral Song Tikaram 2:51
3 Sighing Innocents 3:31
4 I Love You 2:45
5 World Outside Your Window Tikaram 4:52
6 For All These Years 5:13
7 Twist in My Sobriety Tikaram 4:50
8 Poor Cow 1:56
9 He Likes the Sun 5:26
10 Valentine Heart 4:04
11 Preyed Upon 5:03


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

J.M.K.E. 1986-2002 Discography

Gringode Kultuur (Culture of the Gringos) LP/CD TWINLP 13/TWINCD 13, Finland 1993
Sputniks In Pectopah CD TWINCD 27, Finland 1995
Jäneste Invasioon (The Invasion of the Rabbits) CD TWINCD 31, Finland 1996

J.M.K.E. Biography by Toomas-Erik Mathäus
Villu from Velikije Luki (the band, not the city), Venno from Verine Pühapäev, Tarvo from Novikov and Mati from somewhere formed J.M.K.E. in Tallinn on January 18th, 1986. The original singer, Mati, left the band soon afterwards, leaving Venno on drums, Tarvo on bass, and Villu on vocals and guitar, sometimes working together with guest singers (with Tõnu Trubetsky from Vennaskond they played under the name "Vürst Trubetsky & J.M.K.E."). For the first three years they mainly played concerts in Estonia, and a couple of times in Latvia, Lithuania, and Russia. It was almost impossible to travel outside the U.S.S.R. in those days, especially if the KGB took an interest in you. J.M.K.E. came into vogue due to their lyrics, whih were at the same time angry and funny, ironic and melancholic, full of care yet cynical, and also because of their peculiar melodic yet hardcore punk rock. They became the most popular punk band in Estonia, and remain in this position until now. In 1987 Villu wrote "Tere Perestroika", initially singing it alone with guitar. Later the band made numerous different versions of the song. It became a big hit because of its humorous topicality, and in 1988 won hands down a song contest on a popular Estonian TV show. The prize, a holiday in Europe, never arrived. In 1988 came the first line-up change – Tarvo skipped from J.M.K.E. to Röövel Ööbik and a new bass player, Lembit, joined the band. In 1989 two men from Helsinki, Joose Berglund and Jorma Ristilä, founded a new record label, Stupido Twins, with the aim of publishing some Estonian bands. J.M.K.E.'s "Tere Perestroika" was release # 001. The winds of change in the Soviet Union had already blown some chains away, and so J.M.K.E. were able to travel abroad for the first time in April 1989, playing their first concert in Finland to middle-aged communists at the Leftist Forum in Helsinki. Later that autumn they recorded for Stupido Twins their first LP, "Külmale Maale" (To the Cold Country), which was the first Estonian rock record made abroad. Maximum Rock'n'Roll called it "absolutely excellent". At the end of 1989 Venno moved to P.V.A. declaring that J.M.K.E. has become too commercial for him, and Ardo took his place. The band toured Estonia, the Nordic countries, and Germany, made a couple of EPs, and only by 1993 started to record a new album, "Gringode Kultuur" (Culture of Gringos). Meanwhile Estonia had regained its independence and J.M.K.E. couldn't continue with their anti-Soviet songs (what was the point?), so they found their new "enemy" in the invading burger-culture, increasing poverty, and other early-capitalistic distresses. Lembit left the band in 1994 and was replaced by Sten. J.M.K.E. got also a new drummer, Andres, who plays the majority of gigs nowadays while Ardo, who is constantly travelling somewhere, has played on all studio recordings up to now. Their third album, "Sputniks in Pectopah" (1995), is an eclectic collection of popular Russian songs, sung in high energy Russian. The cover versions include the national anthem of czarist Russia, old revolutionary marches, soldiers' songs from WW2, and melodies from popular cartoons. In January 1996 J.M.K.E. celebrated their 10th birthday with the longest lasting concert of their history presenting on stage almost all persons who had ever played with the band, permanently or temporarily, and with a cassette-only-release, "Rumal Nali" (Silly Joke, on Fucking Cunt Records). This contained old D.I.Y. recordings mainly from 1986 and 1987. J.M.K.E. didn't make their first "tidy" studio recording until 1989 in Finland although by that stage they had enough songs for three or four albums. It was just impossible to release punk rock records under the vigilant glance of sickle and hammer. J.M.K.E. have gradually abandoned their directly political slogans and now tell more varied stories than before. Their newest album, "Jäneste Invasioon" (Invasion of Rabbits, 1996), is a good example of their present character. Besides, it can be considered J.M.K.E.'s best product since the legendary "Külmale Maale".


Totally Fuzzy