After the successful Moods and Moods 2, Virgin upped their game in 1994 with the launch of Pure Moods which also had a subsequent release in the US – albeit in a revised tracklist and more about that below. VTCD28 was the UK catalogue number, the front cover promising sunshine and tranquility in the form of “a contemporary soundtrack” with top billing being awarded to Enigma, Enya, Deep Forest, Mike Oldfield, Kenny G, Jan Hammer, Vangelis, The Orb and many more. Illustration: Jo Cheese. Art: Anthem.
There are 11 tracks here that first appeared on the original 1991 Moods compilation and you can read my thoughts on them in those reviews. The overlapping tracks are as follows: Jan Hammer – Crockett’s Theme, Enya – Orinoco Flow, Vangelis – Chariots Of Fire, Ennio Morricone – Chi Mai, Barrington Pheloung – Theme From Inspector Morse, Enigma – Sadeness Part 1, Praise – Only You, David A. Stewart featuring Candy Dulfer – Lily Was Here, Kenny G – Songbird, Ryuichi Sakamoto – Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence, Angelo Badalamenti – Twin Peaks Theme (Instrumental). Meanwhile three more featured on the 1992 follow-up: Jean Michel Jarre – Oxygene (Part IV), Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells Part 1 (Edit), Ennio Morricone – Theme From The Mission. However there is a significant variant in that Orinoco Flow is in 7″ form on Pure Moods as opposed to the Watermark version on Moods. The longer mix appears to be the default on the majority of contemporary compilations so the inclusion of the single edit is very welcome here.
Michael Nyman’s The Promise still has the power to instantly relax; an almost hypnotic composition in its simplicity. The edited version is here, concise yet losing no serenity. Influenced by Gloomy Winter’s Noo Awa. It’s followed by the floating sound of The Orb’s Little Fluffy Clouds, released in November 1990. They use a Morricone harmonica while Rickie Lee Jones is the sampled voice and claimed she was suffering from a cold.
Interviewer: “What were the skies like when you were young?”
Jones: “They went on forever – They – When I w- We lived in Arizona, and the skies always had little fluffy clouds in ’em, and, uh… they were long… and clear and… there were lots of stars at night. And, uh, when it would rain, it would all turn – it- They were beautiful, the most beautiful skies as a matter of fact. Um, the sunsets were purple and red and yellow and on fire, and the clouds would catch the colours everywhere. That’s uh, neat ’cause I used to look at them all the time, when I was little. You don’t see that. You might still see them in the desert.”
Svengali time: back in 1977 who would have expected Malcolm McLaren to be scoring a British Airways commercial. By 1989 he did just that, the World Face one – “Every year, the world’s favourite airline brings 24 million people…together.” Monalisa Young is the wonderful singer with Yanni assisting McLaren with the reworking of The Flower Duet into Aria On Air. Zipping back to the start of the CD and we get to hear Enigma’s Return To Innocence. Angel X (mostly) and Sandra take care of the vocals: “It’s not the beginning of the end, it’s the return to yourself, the return to innocence.”. Elsewhere an Amis people (indigenous Taiwanese) chant their Elders’ Drinking Song to open. Julien Temple directed the video, which depicts a man’s life in reverse, starting with him dying and ending with his baptism as a baby. Meanwhile Deep Forest’s Sweet Lullaby is based around a traditional Baegu lullaby from the Solomon Islands and uses a vocal sample originally recorded by ethnomusicologist Hugo Zemp in 1970. The lyrics refer to a young orphan being comforted by his older brother despite the loss of their parents.
“I admit that I stayed away from this just because of Phil Collins.” (Kurt Hungus)
So what’s his problem?
Take three tracks and check out the personnel credits.
– Sky Saw.
– Over Fire Island.
It’s Phil Collins on drums and percussion. Another Green World consists of 13 tracks but you can make your own hipster edition that omits the above trio. A bit like the US version of a Beatles album. So I was watching BBC 2’s Arena in my Harold’s Cross bedsit. The theme just grabbed me. Maybe it was the cider but I had to know more. In those pre-internet days it took a few days to find out who was responsible. Freebird provided the answer and a copy of the album on CD. I played it eight times in a row on the first day. There are five vocal tracks and nine instrumentals. Each piece grows out of a certain sense of place. If you’re curious about what it will sound like then just read the song titles.
Sky Saw – has a synth that sounds like a saw scraping.
In Dark Trees – scary and mysterious.
Spirits Drifting – eerie.
Another Green World – serene nature buzz.
Becalmed – tranquil relaxation.
“This album never ages, always inspires. It should be issued immediately to every human being capable of wonder and imagination.” (DMax801)
When I was 14 I wrote a “how to listen to Unknown Pleasures” on three pages of foolscap. It’s still inside the album’s sleeve but reads like juvenile twaddle now. DMax801 touches on something relevant though; Another Green World works best as a solitary pursuit. Close your eyes, open the windows and try to pretend you’re somewhere else. The jungle, in a lighthouse or lying face down in tulips outside Amsterdam.
“The aural equivalent of a park on the moon — oneness with nature under conditions of artificial gravity.” (Robert Christagau)
You could also make the same case for John Martyn’s One World. My 3.00am “on the decking” record of choice. Small Hours being most appropriate. In 1981 Phil Collins released Face Value. The many highlights include the vice-soaked In The Air Tonight, the experimental conga vs. piano Droned plus Hand In Hand which sounds like Moroder battling a children’s choir. You also get the slinky post-disco shuffle of I’m Not Moving and a surprising cover of Tomorrow Never Knows.
Take that Kurt Hungus.
In America, Pure Moods is fondly remembered as a compilation that “bottled the essence of commercial new age music.” You can read more about that in Mina Tavakoli’s extensive review here. Those late night commercials also appeared over here; clogging up late night ITV and MTV with their seductive promise of soothing zzz tranquility. Call it narcoleptic commerce. Pure Moods (US) contains 17 tracks. In: DJ Dado – X Files Theme, Adiemus – Adiemus, David Byrne – The Last Emperor (Main Title Theme), Sacred Spirit – Yeha-Noha (Wishes Of Happiness & Prosperity), Geoffrey Oryema – Makambo, Mark Isham – My Wife With Champagne Shoulders. Out: Vangelis, Ennio Morricone (Chi Mai), Barrington Pheloung, The Orb, Praise, Malcolm McLaren, Kenny G, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Brian Eno. And track 13 is listed as The Theme From Twin Peaks – Fire Walk With Me however it is just the original instrumental theme from the series. And sneaking over the border, Pure Moods (Canada) has 15 tracks, losing Enya and Angelo Badalamenti.
And there’s more: Pure Moods (Australia) is an interesting one as it includes the most mysterious Michelle’s cover of The Piano main theme, Alessandra Ruffini’s The Flower Duet From Lakme (see Malcolm McLaren above), David Foster’s Love Theme From St Elmo’s Fire, Santana’s Flor D’Luna, Jeff Wayne’s Eve Of The Year, Deodato’s 2001, Vienna Orchestra’s gorgeous Pachelbel’s Canon, Francis Lai – Theme From Bilitis, London Symphony Orchestra – Space Oddity and Acker Bilk’s Stranger On A Shore. Meanwhile Pure Moods (Sweden) which appears to have been the primary European release contains 18 tracks. The following are unique: Bjorn J:son Lindh* & Staffan Scheja – Lake District, Eric Serra’s Big Blue Overture, Gabriel Yared’s Betty Blue Theme and Gary Moore’s bleak opus The Loner. Finally Pure Moods (South Africa) (blue sleeve) takes in Rob Roy – Home From The Hills, Hildegard Von Bingen – For The Trinity, Robbie Robertson – Makh Johi (Heartbeat Drum Song), Elbosco – Nirvana, Clannad and Bono’s – In A Lifetime, Ian Anderson – In Maternal Grace and ends with Mike Oldfield’s Killing Fields Theme.
This photo was taken in September 2018. My Moods collection has grown since then.
Row 1: Moods (UK), Moods 2 (UK), Pure Moods (UK), Instrumental Moods (UK), Celtic Moods (UK)
Row 2: Cinema Moods (UK), New Pure Moods (UK), World Moods (UK), Pure Moods (US), Instrumental Moods (US)
Row 3: Pure Moods II (US), Celtic Moods (US), Pure Moods III (US), Pure Moods IV (US), Pure Moods: Celestial Celebration (US)
Row 4: Pure Moods (Australia), Moods (Australia), Moods II (Australia), Moods (The Netherlands), Pure Moods (South Africa)
Row 5: Movie Moods (Sweden), Pure Moods (Sweden), Pure Moods 2 (Sweden), Pure Moods 3 (Sweden), Ambient Moods (UK)
The Orb – Little Fluffy Clouds
Michael Nyman – The Heart Asks Pleasure First / The Promise
Brian Eno – Another Green World
Lest we forget
Malcolm McLaren – Aria On Air
Here’s a commercial for the 17 track US release.