New Music Through Old Ears: Pitbull Taylor’s Perfect Circle

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This week, entertainment editor John Turnbull checks out new albums from the guy who used to be the drummer in Queen, the bloke that sometimes sings for Tool and some tosser who calls himself "Mister Worldwide".

New Album by a Sporadic Artist

A Perfect Circle — Three Sixty

For many bands, greatest hits albums are a great way to have a release in the market when they can’t be bothered writing any new songs.  For others, they’re a contractual necessity, thrown together by an overpaid record company exec with little regard for track order or context before going out to a long lunch and lamenting that he’s about to lose his job because of the scourge of piracy.

A Perfect Circle are a little different. Originally formed as a Tool side project, featuring frontman Maynard James Keenan with guitarist/composer Billy Howerdel, the group has featured a rotating cast of members including Josh Freese (Vandals, DEVO) and Jeordie White (also known as Twiggy Ramirez from Marilyn Manson).  The current lineup includes James Iha from the Smashing Pumpkins, who must be loving working with someone who is slightly less intense than Billy Corgan.

Since forming in 1999, A Perfect Circle have released a grand total of three albums, which isn’t really a deep catalogue to be mining for a Greatest Hits set. Compare this to Queen, who released nine albums before 1981s Greatest Hits and you have to wonder — are there three times as many great songs on Thirteenth Step as there are on A Night at The Opera

While the answer is obviously no, that doesn’t make this a bad album. And, to be fair, nowhere on the packaging does it say the words Greatest Hits, so maybe I’m being too harsh.

On the other hand, if you’re a fan of A Perfect Circle, you already own all of these songs, with the exception of new track By and Down. The song has all the hallmarks of A Perfect Circle classic, with dark, near-incomprehensible lyrics over a complex, shifting musical canvas.

Naturally, A Perfect Circle are way too cool and indie to make a video for the release, so here’s five and a half minutes of a logo on black. Oooh, moody.

If you like bands like Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson, Three Sixty is a good introduction to A Perfect Circle. If you prefer artists like One Direction and Miley Cyrus, this album may not be for you.

Best tracks: The Outsider, The Hollow, When The Levee Breaks

Sample lyric: ‘What’s your hurry, everyone will have his day to die.’ (The Outsider)

Verdict: 7/10 — you don’t have to be a goth to enjoy A Perfect Circle (but I’m sure it couldn’t hurt). 

New Album by an Artist Unafraid of Soiling His Legacy

Roger Taylor — Fun on Earth

Years ago, way back in 1968, drummer Roger Taylor recorded six songs with his band Smile, which also featured a young guitarist called Brian May. When lead singer Tim Staffell left to form a band called Humpy Bong, Roger and Brian joined Freddie Mercury and John Deacon to form Queen and went on to become one of the most influential rock bands of all time.

During the late 1980s, Roger Taylor formed a side project called The Cross, releasing three albums including 1990s Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know. At least one word of this title accurately describes the album.

I mention these non-Queen projects to manage your expectations for Fun on Earth. If you’re hoping for another Queen album, you’ll be sorely disappointed. If you’re expecting something more along the lines of Smile or Brian May’s lesser solo albums, you might actually find something to like…

Forever trying to escape the stereotype of the singing drummer, Taylor really seems to be trying on Fun on Earth, which is certainly good to see after years of flogging the dead horse that is Queen + Paul Rodgers, and collaborating with musical luminaries as significant as Five

Recorded over a period of five years, Fun on Earth features a wide variety of styles reflecting Taylor’s diverse musical taste. The instrumentation tends towards the simple guitar, bass and drums, with some weird hurdy-gurdy style interludes now and again because why not?

Somewhat amusingly, Taylor has hit the publicity circuit to promote the album. He doesn’t seem to be enjoying the experience very much…

This isn’t the best album that you’ll hear this year, or even this week. On the other hand, if you know a Queen fan, there are worse things you could buy them this Xmas.

Best tracks: Sunny Day, Say It’s Not True, Quality Street

Sample lyric:Back from the badlands, with the wind and the silence.’ (Quality Street)

Verdict: 7/10 — better than I expected. Well played, Roger.

Album I Expect to Suck

Pitbull — Global Warming Meltdown

There were a lot of options that cried ‘this sucks!’ this week, but the man who likes to call himself Mister Worldwide narrowly beat out Lady Gaga, One Direction and Britney Spears on the basis he was almost guaranteed to be totally crap.   

If you’ve never heard of Pitbull, then I envy you, my friend. Born Armando Christian Perez in Miami Florida, Pitbull is one of those annoying shouty rappers — lacking the talent or flow of Jay Z or Eminem, but with confidence and exuberance to spare. Like many sub-par MCs, Pitbull relies on collaborations to add hooks and commercial appeal to his music — it’s a rare thing to find a Pitbull song without a guest star.

Despite his apparent lack of musical talent, Pitbull has released seven albums since 2004, which suggests a quantity over quality approach. Previous hit singles including Feel This Moment, International Love (with convicted woman-basher and general scumbag Chris Brown) and the annoying catchy single Timber, featuring skank-about-town Ke$ha

You may or may not be disappointed to learn that this is essentially a reissue of Pitbull’s first album Global Warming with a couple of new tracks thrown in for good luck. New tracks include collaborations with Kelly Rowland from Destiny’s Child and more from good old Chris Brown — well, why wouldn’t you want a man of his calibre to appear on your album?

Pitbull is also something of a philosopher…

More than living up to expectations, Global Warming Meltdown is spectacularly awful. The samples are cheesy as hell (Macarena, anyone?) and Pitbull’s musical contribution seems to be limited to him shouting “Mister Worldwide!” on every freaking track on the album. 

We get it, dude. You’re worldwide. You suck internationally. 

Best tracks: Timber, Don’t Stop The Party (which sounds terrible to me, but my wife seems to like).

Sample lyric: ‘A billion’s the new million, you heard me Sensato, it’s Mister Worldwide.’  (Global Warming)

Verdict: 1/10 — the aural equivalent of sticking your genitals in a fan

Ch-check it out…

Corrina Steel — Borrowed Tunes

Corrina Steel is a Syndey based singer/songwriter who has released three solo albums over a ten year career. With a mix of country ballads, Southern infused rock and laidback slices of life, Steel has steadily built up a loyal following in bars around the country.

Borrowed Tunes features interpretations of country, rock and gospel classics, with covers of songs by artists as diverse as Kris Kristofferson, Primal Scream and Peter Allen. Steel takes these tunes and makes them her own, often taking them so far from the original that it takes you half the song to realize that it’s a cover…

Recorded with collaboration with guitarist Mike Anderson, Borrowed Tunes is a great album to put on over dinner with friends.

Verdict: 7/10 — well worth checking out.

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