The Decembrists elevate ‘double live’ album to new heights

British boy band One Direction made its debut at the top of the Canadian and USA charts last week

One Direction: Up All Night (Columbia)

This British boy band made its debut at the top of the Canadian and USA charts last week while selling multi-platinum in a dozen other countries around the globe.

The act is an offshoot of the U.K.’s X-Factor and the five-member group is mentored by Simon Cowell (cowl being synonymous with hood or hoodie—and no I am not planting a seed for some overzealous and bigoted neighbourhood watch guy to shoot him next time Simon C. visits gun totin’ Florida).

One Direction, therefore, have lived up to their name in that as a No.1 act and they can only go downhill form here.

The boy-group has a big hit with the sly song What Makes You Beautiful that comments on a girls’ looks by going through the back door to make it seem they are not obsessed with just looks.

What makes her beautiful is that she does not know she is beautiful but then, again, I am probably over-thinking this piece of pop fluff.

The rest of the disc has bouncy, innocent and harmless teen pop that will thrill the young market it is aimed at while I listened to try and glean at least one interesting element.

I was unsuccessful but it should be noted that both Justin Timberlake and Robbie Williams (who is associated with One Direction having sung with them on the U.K. TV show) came from boy acts making me wonder if, in five years or so, one of these One Direction wonders will enter solo stardom.

All on this disc is as expected and a tad too generic.


The Decemberists: We All Raise Our Voices To The Air, Live Songs 04.11-.8.11 (Capitol)

The leader of The Decemberists is Colin Meloy who writes all the songs while boasting a college degree in creative writing.

This goes a long way to explaining The Decemberists very wordy songs and perhaps even this two-CD concert set that has one of the wordiest titles I have read in a long while.

In days gone by there never used to be such a thing as a double live album as they were more commonly known as the ‘dreaded’ double live album in that so many rock acts overindulged at the expense of their fans.

This cannot be said about this excellent and lengthy set from Meloy and Co. There are 20 songs here with about one third from their last album that hit No.1 on the album charts while their previous albums only had average sales.

We All Raise Our Voices etc. is, therefore, a fine souvenir for the confirmed fan and an excellent starter kit for those only familiar with their chart-topping The King Is Dead release.

There is no new or unexpected songs or covers here but Meloy is in fine form with his voice mixed way up front while the backing band has no problems asserting itself.

Meloy has long said he is a big fan of early R.E.M. and moreover Sandy Denny and her work with the great Brit folk rock group Fairport Convention from the ’70s.

Denny was a huge star in the U.K—a three times Brit Award singer of the year—and she was credited on Led Zeppelin IV making her something of a star in North America, but Denny’s career was cut tragically short when she died after falling down a flight of stairs.

Meloy cites Denny as a big influence and although he is male you can hear him adopt some of Denny’s phrasings on tunes like Rise To Me and Leslie Ann Levine.

Meloy also has a nifty off-kilter sense of humour that really engages the audience on these songs culled from many different gigs.

Old fans and late adopters will take nicely to this fine concert release.


Download Song Of The Week

Fairport Convention: Matty Groves Their 1969 album Leige & Lief is considered by many to be the finest Fairport album.

Sandy Denny does a superb vocal on this traditional Celtic gem as she does on her self-penned Come All Ye and another trad nugget Tam Lin.

Sandy Denny also has a five-CD box set titled A Boxful Of Treasures from her many solo outings for those as smitten as me and Colin Meloy of The Decemberists.