07 May 2011

hidden tracks and bits that don't fit

Some say the music album as we know it is not going to be the way of the future - that as we download songs one by one, we don't have to buy albums, and we make our own playlists in whichever order and with whatever mix of songs that we like.

This is true for me when I hear a song I like but don't really think much of the rest of a bands material. But where I love a band, I tend to love their albums. Maybe not all the songs on the album equally, but there will be something about the album, and the order the songs are placed that is special. So I say, the album won't be dead for some time yet.

However there is one thing that has thankfully gone out of fashion with albums and that is the hidden track. I know many bands did this in the 90's, and I never encountered one that bettered the album from being there. Do you know what I mean? you have the disc with the song list and the length of each track displayed on the album cover, but when you'll be listening to it, tacked on to the end a hidden track kicks in. The one that comes to mind right now is Crowded House's "Woodface" which has "We're still here" kick in at the end of the album after a considerable gap of nothing. Dreadful song. Unlike anything else on the album. You wish it wasn't there. You have to stop what you're doing at the end of the CD and stop it before the hidden track starts to play. A little annoying.

This brings me to an album we got this week - brand new. Fleet Fox's 2nd album "Helplessness Blues". I love their first album - it grew on me rapidly after it became something we could reliably play at my daughter's bed time, and it seemed to calm her down. Then I realised it was really very good. Then I found I didn't get sick of it with countless listens, then I became a Facebook fan and searched youTube for released live footage and then I realised I was hooked.

So along came their second album and I knew the band had spent a long time perfecting the album, and I'd read a positive review in the UK press where prior to release, and I expected a good album.  And it is a very good album - as good as their first. I liked it on first listen. However, there is one flaw with it. It's not quite a hidden track. They have quite a few songs that have 2 or 3 distinct parts, like is common in classical music. And usually it works fine. But there the 10th track on their new album has what sounds like freeform jazz in the last 90 seconds of the song. Before this track, and for the majority of this track, the album is one style, then there is LOUD freeform jazz style, then back to the original album style.

It really doesn't work. Someone should have told them before the album was released. I get the feeling we may be editing out that section ourselves...

Otherwise, love the album, look forward to what the band does in the future, and will certainly listen to this album a lot too!