Graham Coxon: The Spinning Top

Graham Coxon The Spinning Top

The Spinning Top is a 70-minute folk concept album. Unless you’re a raging fucknut, the phrase ‘70-minute folk concept album’ should rank somewhere between ‘Nazi themed gang-rape’ and ‘Jo Wiley’ on the scale of vomit-inducing horror. This is especially the case given Coxon’s history of self-indulgent lo fi prior to the fizzing pop-punk cluster-bomb that was Happiness in Magazines.

So when the fiddly finger-picked guitars of opener Look Into The Light flitter in and utterly fail to be Spectacular, you could be forgiven for expecting the worst. Then something kind of weird happens, because, far from being the beard-scratching scrotum-ache you’d imagine, Look Into The Light is actually overwhelmingly lovely. It clearly doesn’t explode in your face like the aforementioned track, instead it gently nuzzles its way into your brain and sits there emitting warming rays of melodic charmĀ until you fall in love with it.

It sets a pattern for the rest of the album; pretty tune after pretty tune stumbles from the speakers and quietly but persistently tugs away at you until it has your full and undivided attention. Admittedly there’s also a fair bit of proggy flap-doodle on there, but it is a Graham Coxon concept album, after all.

The ‘concept’ is apparently the story of a man’s life from birth to death, but, seriously, if you care about that sort of thing you’re an idiot and I don’t want you anywhere near me. However, although there are moments of drag – the gloopy repetition of Caspian Sea being a case in point – as a whole The Spinning Top holds together surprisingly well albeit despite, rather than because of, Coxon’s ‘experimentation’.

Given the choice, you’d have much rather Coxon had made another Happiness in Magazines but – hey – it’s an imperfect world we live in, and The Spinning TopĀ  is a pretty decent alternative.

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19 Comments

  • Mark Zeitgeist
    Posted July 1, 2009 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    How do you justify the “you’re an idiot” if you’re into a concept album? That’s such a throwaway sentence. Was it just stuck in because the rest of the review had no personality?

  • Posted July 1, 2009 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Erm, so there are some nice songs and you don’t like the idea of a concept album and anyone that has a different position on that is an idiot.
    I quite fancy one of those fizzing pop-punk cluster-bombs though….
    And I fancy having a listen to this album too

  • Posted July 1, 2009 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    I agree with Mark and Nick; the concept album remark is a bit strong isn’t it? I’m not a big fan of ‘em, but probably quite a few records in my collection probably qualify, and not just the Pink Floyd ones. Kraftwerk made them. And wouldn’t Diamond Dogs qualify?

    I was listening to Parklife on the way in to work today. It’s holding up pretty well, I think.

  • Posted July 1, 2009 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Nowt wrong with a concept album, they just have a bad name from the worst excesses of prog, but even some of those weren’t bad (Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway par example).

    Off the top of my head, The Who – Tommy/Quadrophenia, The Kinks – The Village Green Preservation Society, The Streets – A Grand Don’t Come for Free, and more recently that Neon Neon album all about the rise and fall of John DeLorean… even Sergeant Pepper’s. There’s loads of great concept albums.

    I lost interest in Graham’s solo career after about three albums, but this one does sound good.

  • Posted July 1, 2009 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    The Wall is a concept album.
    The Wall is ace.

    Argument over…

  • Posted July 1, 2009 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Unless you want to carry on, obviously.

  • Posted July 1, 2009 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    I don’t like The Wall. Apart from In The Flesh and Comfortably Numb. And I like Pink Floyd.

  • Posted July 1, 2009 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Thumper, we are like twins, I agree. I didn’t like the Wall at all apart from ……

    I still fancy one of those cluster bombs

  • Posted July 1, 2009 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Twins Nick? That sounds spooky. Let me see if that old Twins Telepathy business works: I’ll try and guess what you’re thinking about.

    *concentrates*

    Is it naked women?

  • Posted July 1, 2009 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    It is now.

    The more I tyhink of it, the more I hate “all in all you’re just a nother brick in the wall…”
    It’s not exactly shine on you crazy diamond is it?

  • Posted July 1, 2009 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Wow, two posts in and Piggy is already getting complaints. Love it.

    In all honesty I think he was referring to caring about the actual concept of this album, rather than concept albums in general.

    But anyway, most concept albums are a bit stupid. Even the ones I like.

  • Posted July 1, 2009 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    No, Nick. It’s better.

  • Posted July 1, 2009 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    You seriously think that SH?

    Wow….

  • Posted July 1, 2009 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    Oh my. My basic problem with concept albums is this: I cannot for the life of me understand what the ‘concept’ actually adds in terms of enjoying the album from the point of view of the listener. Essentially it’s superfluous, self-indulgent flam for the entertainment and amusement of the artist not the listener. Thus I don’t really understand why someone listening to a concept album should give a flying fuck about the concept. It strikes me as being, at best, a bit sad. Although if you actually liked a record because of its ‘concept’ then that really would make you a frightful tosspot.

    This evidently isn’t the same as saying that a concept album is inevitably a bad album (although bands that go down this route do have a habit of crawling right up inside their own arses).

  • Posted July 2, 2009 at 12:37 am | Permalink

    If you don’t trust a songwriter to explore a number of ideas around one theme within the space of 15 songs or so… that could be your loss.

    ‘Frightful tosspot’… hmmmm.

  • Posted July 2, 2009 at 1:10 am | Permalink

    If they can do it while writing decent tunes, fantastic, but I’m not going to give some dullard with a guitar a round of applause just because he pulled a thinky face.

  • Posted July 2, 2009 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    So your blanket ban on concept albums is revoked, provided they are good. I think that’s what the ‘pro’ camp have been saying all along…

    Good!

    *poos pants*

  • Posted July 2, 2009 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    I think you’re being harsh in your judgement of the concept album.
    Perhaps you were affected by one as child.
    War of the Worlds was it?
    I understand…that was shit.

  • Desigol1979
    Posted July 8, 2009 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    What about ‘Six’ by Mansun? A concept Album about Taoism that was a Late 90’s Classic.

One Trackback

    By on January 11, 2010 at 3:06 am

    the art of war…

    …He wrote that . . ….

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