Wednesday, November 24, 2021

All Circuits Are Busy

It took a lot longer than it should have done (Waiting for my birthday, breaking my headphones, iTunes being bloody iTunes...) but I finally managed to listen to Blue Banisters all the way through. It is, no surprises here, superb. 

Belatedly reading some of the reviews, the consensus seems to be better than Chemtrails, not as good as NFR. Too early for me to say where I stand, yet, but it's like picking the brightest diamond in the diamond mine, isn't it? Depends where the light's shining that day.

It was curious to find I'd heard five or six of the fifteen tracks before. I hadn't realized. It's always hard to say, when that happens, whether the songs you've heard seem stronger just because they're more familiar or whether they were trailed early because they're the stronger songs.

Either way, Text Book, Arcadia and the title track make an astonishingly powerful opening trio. The track that really tore me up, though, turned up almost dead center at #9.

Dealer sounds unlike just about anything I've heard from Lana before. The vocals alternate between a smooth jazz croon (Miles Kane, on the verses) and anguished, abrasive yelling (Lana, in the chorus). There's even one part where she sounds like an AI. Meanwhile, the backing track ticks along like a cross between Portishead and a metronome. 

It reminded me at times of Julee Cruise, Sneaker Pimps and very much Arctic Monkeys circa Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino, which turns out to be no kind of leap at all since Dealer was originally conceived as part of Lana's lost collab with Alex Turner and Miles Kane's supergroup Last Shadow Puppets.


According to the invaluable Lanapedia, both Dealer and Thunder, also on Blue Banisters, derive from that project, with Dealer being "unchanged" from the LDR/LSP recording.

As is the way of all things Lana, there happens to be a "demo" version of Thunder on YouTube, which may or may not also be "unchanged" from those sessions. Several contributors to the thread that follows suggest the demo is superior to the final version but that's always the way, isn't it? 

It's very different, that's for sure, sounding a lot more like Dealer than Dealer sounds like anything else on Blue Banisters, full of the same woozy, off-kilter swagger you'd expect from that team-up. It almost has to be the same crew, doesn't it?

 I love both takes. I'm just happy we have them both.

I would love to hear the whole of that lost album, though. What it must be to be so gifted you can leave stuff like this in the vaults, eh?

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