Monday, 29 April 2013

Desert Island Discs 13 Alaska by Miracle Mile


13 Alaska by Miracle Mile 2003

This was a tough one . I've got a real soft spot for the pre Marcus Bicycle Thieves as it is the discovery bit (bought on impulse after a review in Q)  and Candids as it was never off the car stereo as my future wife and I drove around California , also I've always been a sucker for  songs about famous people.

When I did the list I originally chose Limbo (Lights of Home one of the best things Trev and Marcus have done) , however last night I made the mistake of playing Alaska and it has gone and sneaked in the back door, so I've had to post this before I play another one and have to do a rewrite..

The cover has you peering between  leaves in on someone's private memories which is what listening to the lp is like. It always gives me a sense of looking back , a mood that tunes into my own memories so that the words start to evoke specific times , places and details , piggy backing on Trevor Jones's original intentions.

The instrumentation is smooth without ever being bland, ranging for the stark piano or guitar to the layered ,where each new listen brings a discovery or a new/forgotten delight.


Seventeen songs and the quality never dips. Ones that I was less keen on initially grow to be firm favourites where initial go to tunes become old friends

anyway here are my five favourites moments

1) the chorus and the fade out of Alaska a one scene story  - "a simple truth or a telling lie"

2) the backing vocals to Wilful like being wrapped in a duvet , and another great fade out

3) the guitar playing on the intro to weather wise before it kicks into a completely different direction (with another killer chorus)

4)   The slightly skitterish backing beat to Malkovich and the slight pause before "high hopes come crashing down"

5) Not my memory or my history but a sadness and celebration to be shared on the so personal it is almost painful Sister Song

Anyway you can buy the lp direct from Miracle Mile's website here and I'd recommend also investing in a bottle of malt to accompany. In fact whilst you are there I'd buy the lot

Here are a couple of tracks that I've mentioned

Weatherwise - Miracle Mile

Sister Song - Miracle Mile

On a related note the new lp In Cassidy's Care is now out (you can also get it from the website and early listens suggest that over time it will also be battling it out for a place on the list

11 comments:

  1. A tough choice indeed...

    You hit the nail squarely on the head with your comment about integrating personal introspection/memories with that of a songwriter/poet/artist. It's a rare but extraordinary experience when that "connection" is made...

    I love your "5 favorite moments!" Wicked difficult! Mind if I give it a go?

    1: Alaska - ditto: intro & outro - swirling, icy atmospherics entwined with warmest guitar tones ever. And that chorus!

    2: Weatherwise - Melvin's phenomenal pedal steel throughout, especially the soaring solo and outro following Becca's "Hope floats" cameo. Fantastic playful lyrics, "Kiss my ass and call me shorty, coming up fast approaching forty." Who says MM has no sense of humor?

    3: Boo Said - chimes & drums right after "That was the moment..." followed by the haunting lyric, "The white swan joined me on the road and twenty feet above it flew, Stayed there for a mile and oh, I swear that it was..."

    4: Mermaid - MC's glorious church organ & piano throughout. Astonishingly perceptive lyric.

    5: Sister Song: right after "Scattershot memories coming alive" haunting mellotron seeps into "The day you got lost, the day you got found." Also, TJ's stirring vocal - "Go sister... Go!" Finally, the delicate little guitar outro. Perfect. Most profoundly affecting song I've ever heard...

    #13 - DESTROYER - "KAPUTT" (2011)

    - Deja vu... bonkers, beautiful & full of surprises.

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    1. And who said we had no sense humour?

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    2. forever grateful for your destroyer tip - would never have bought this in a million years without your post on hissyfit

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    3. That's TT's call really David.
      That boy digs up some wonders.
      I wonder if he has a day job...?

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  2. Thanks both David and Tim. 'Alaska' seems to have connected with those who've taken the time and... I thanks you for your investment.
    I love my 'moments' in songs too, so am always intrigued when folk do the same dissections to MM songs.
    Marcus and I recorded a lot of this in his kitchen, while the finishing touches were made to the studio. His nanny's Italian boyfriend was visiting and sat at the kitchen table reading a book on fishing as I stood next to him singing... he seemed indifferent by my passion...
    I'd hate to break the spell but; one or two thoughts regarding your moments:
    Alaska: I wrote the lyric on a beach in Corsica. Di had told me the story of this unsettling couple she'd seen on the tube. The story is pretty much as she told me; including the plastic baby... The effects on the start and end go the track are largely BJ Cole's treated pedal steel; we wanted to suggest the sound of the underground... The warm guitar is me on Marcus's blonde semi Epiphone.
    Wilful: The great Geraint Watkins came in to play Hammond organ. It was the first track that we'd played to an 'outsider'. The playback finished and he pronounced the track (in his beautifully thick Welsh brogue) as: "Just lovely; it sounds very expensive..."
    Boo is a complicated tale; the white swan has connections to 'Sister Song'. Love that you both love it. My most vivid memory of a time that is largely a blur is playing the song to my mum off a cassette in her car, just before we scattered Kerry's ashes in Cracoe up in the Yorkshire Dales...
    Thanks again for listening. A bottle of malt is always a good idea...

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    1. Thanks for the detailed notes Trev
      This is why you will regret that drink offer as if we ever do get out act together to meet up I'll be forcing you back over your complete back catalogue (wont be bringing splints and sledge hammer though)

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    2. Always happy to discuss my belly button with all and sundry; but particularly with friends.

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  3. What I like most about Trevor Jones's songs is the unique ability to reconnect me to the past, my own one and even someone else's. Few people like him can create hand-crafted, profound epiphanies, made of memories (his own and the listener's), of quotes and of subtle references which make up full stories. Vice versa, he can take a story (any story) and deconstruct it into lyrics, ranging from the familiar to the highly literate. And it all makes perfect sense.

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    1. very nicely put anon - thanks for your comment

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  4. A beautiful record. Although Marcus was onboard with Slow Fade, this is the album that brings his talents to the fore.It really does sound rich and 'expensive'.
    The title track is one of their best but my standout tracks are 'Beautiful Mirage'.I adore the sound of that intro.Takes me back to my childhood in the sixties. Memories of some kids tv programme that I still haven't put my finger on.
    and 'Under My Tongue'.The sad subject matter.Those poor people keeping pictures of their loved ones under their tongues until their images fade away.Gets me everytime.
    'Sister Song'. A song so personal I feel like I shouldn't be listening.
    With such a strong back catalogue Miracle Mile are one of those very few artists that will have votes for favourite album pretty much split evenly, I would think. Same goes for my #13 EBTG - Idlewild. This was a 90th minute substitute. It was going to be 'Language of Life', but after Tims vote the other day I've been playing EBTG non stop (well ,inbetween listening to Miracle Miles 'Cassidy's Care',that has shot it's way to my no.1 album of the year so far).After listening again to 'Idlewild' I had to go for it.Songs of longing, for either a place a time or a person. It's what they do and I love them for it.
    Phil

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    1. So far we have all gone for different EBTG lps . Idlewild would probably have been my 2nd choice. I do love Language as well - especially the Road - shame Ben Watt doesn't "do vocals" anymore as his contributions have got better with each EBTG lp

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