Down at the well they’ve got a new machine…

O.K. the question keeps coming up for me does vinyl really sound better?

This article really sums up it up. No vinyl does not sound better but we sometimes feel better about the act of playing music on vinyl.

http://pitchfork.com/thepitch/29-vinyl-records-and-digital-audio/

So to all those hipsters out there it really is a fashion thing, and for all the older vinyl enthusiasts it is as I have always thought a nostalgia thing and well let’s face it it’s a whole lot more fun to collect than mp3 files or Spotify playlists.

This morning it was for me the best album by The Band that the Band never made.

elton

For a pop star Elton John sure makes a great concept album. He also manages to get a lot of that Band feel into this album especially on the track Son of Your Father, as Bernie Taupin’s lyrics cover his interest in Western mythology.

It’s amazing how beautiful and complex those early Elton John albums are in construction. I cannot imagine any record company putting so much effort into an artist these days. It really seems that the 70’s had the idea of music as an art form not a product down. It’s a beautiful album, gate fold textured, with a booklet inside that looks like it came form the old west.

elton2

Nostalgia is flowing freely here in the household although Elton John is an artist I avoided with a passion in the past due to my own biases about pop music at the time. Just not serious enough was my thought, too poppy. Happily as I have grown up maybe poppy is not so bad. It’s really nostalgia for a time when we all took the time to sit and listen, a time when things just moved at a different pace and you did not have constant stimuli forcing it’s way into your life. Or maybe it’s just Friday and  I am beat.

Anyway happy Friday and the weekend beckons.

 

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Tryin’ to make it real…

It’s been a week of Prog Rock insanity and the family have gone the beach leaving me alone in the house with the animals and the records and the thoughts in my head.

The dog woke me up at 4:30 a.m. and I couldn’t get back to sleep. So I made coffee and played King Crimson albums form Larks Tongues In Aspic through Red and Fracture from Starless twice. I then mowed the lawn and went to work.

On the way I rocked out to David Bowie and drank more coffee.

I have been hyper ever since and it is almost 100 degrees.

Came home played Richard Thompson’s Daring Adventures, ate dinner and watched Hell on Wheels and realized there was no way I was ready for sleep.

Digging around in the pile of records I found this. I bought it the other week and forgot about it:

flack

About three tracks in I am now soothed by the soulful voice of Miss Flack and some ace arrangements, hopefully the animals keep to themselves in the morning.

 

 

Sign me up as a diplomat…my only office is the park…

As a confirmed lover of all that is space rock I am a sucker for the science fiction story in song.

The USA has very seldom managed to convincingly get the sound right though, Europe seemed to have the whole thing sewn up, even when Blue Oyster Cult worked with Michael Moorcock it sounded less than convincing.

There is however one notable exception, Jefferson Starship’s Blows Against the Empire. It is an anarchic strange record that no other band at no other time could have produced. It is not really Jefferson Starship, or what they would become, but Paul Kantner with the Planet Earth Rock’n’Roll Orchestra. The Orchestra consisted of most of the musicians from the Grateful Dead, the Airplane, blows2C.S.N.Y and whatever passers by could play along. They collectively managed to record this, the first David Crosby solo album, Sunfighter, Baron Von Tollbooth and the Chrome Nun and Nash’s Songs for Beginners in a very short time.

It was an incredibly creative period for this collective that produced some of the most memorable, strange music that scene would see.

Now it’s not space rock in the Hawkwind sense, it is however out there as far as you or for that matter anyone can go. Basically the hippies are going to steal the interstellar starship and head off to Nirvana, discover Atlantis and ball in the park. The music veers between folksy banjo fun and heavy crazed jams. None of it makes sense and yet it all makes complete sense.

I have loved this album since the weekend I sat trying to figure out what it was all about with my friend Dave. The various squalls from Kaukpnen and thunderous bass from Jack Casady along with pedal steel and strange harmonies was very confusing. Dave finally summed it all up with “it’s just a trip man…” being the last word in wisdom.

Have You Seen The Stars Tonight continues to be one of my favorite pieces of music and the opening track Mau Mau (Amerikon) is one of the most anarchic sounding things ever. No it is not Hawkwind or Amon Duul but it is out there and worth the trip “if you can feel it man” as Dave would say back then.

As we relive our lives in what we tell you…

The Genesis album was the first time I was really disappointed by Genesis. I had enjoyed much of Abacab and thought that Duke was a great album.

I think I may have originally bought the album on the day of release, I remember then being disappointed by the cover. It really must be the ugliest original Genesis album cover ever, which is saying a lot considering it’s predecessor and it’s many versions.genesis It looked a little sickly as I carried it to the counter to pay.

Today when I bought this used copy in Goodwill  I had a deep sense of shame at buying it, I was worried someone may notice what I was buying. That sickly brown, yellow cover with strange children’s toy shapes scattered around. I did however realize that for the majority of people this would be more familiar than the Lamb or Foxtrot.

Then to the music, it all starts off well with Mama, possibly one of the best later Genesis singles, I remember I went out and bought the 12 inch single I liked it so much, That’s All seemed like a pretty harmless pop song that was not too offensive. Home By The Sea and Second Home By The Sea constitute the long song on the album. I remember earnestly trying to explain to friends that this was Genesis still showing their prog roots and acknowledging their older fans. As I listen to it today it is the other highlight on the album but it never reaches prog territory really. It is fairly intense but no flesh eating plants here or apocalyptic visions.

Then it all derails on side two with the offensive Illegal Alien, I remember trying to find some humor in this song as it could only be a failed joke but it is really not even remotely funny. This is the point I really remember thinking things had derailed. When I bought the album this was the moment I was dreading listening to this again. I have images in my mind of the stupid almost racist MTV video as the song plays.

At this point I gave up, it is too hard.

My verdict after sitting down with a cup of tea and listening to Supper’s Ready is that side one is actually a lot better than I thought it would be. If they got rid of Illegal Alien and Just A Job To Do for the cringe-worthy factor alone then it would be an o.k. album.

Sometimes I don’t know…

Today I went to the last resting place of vinyl, it was a bizarre Goodwill warehouse filled with large piles of stuff. Hidden in the corner being ignored by the diggers for gold in the bins and piles was a section for vinyl. All the discarded vinyl from who knows where. None of it was sorted and it was a literal pile. It almost made me tear up at the thought that at one point these had been well loved possessions. All for 50c a piece how can you go wrong. The funny thing is there was less Mangione and Streisand in this vinyl landfill.

As I rooted around feeling like a grave robber I found a Todd Rundgren album.todd The live album Back To The Bars from 1978. I almost passed it by, Rundgren is an unknown quantity, he is either accessible or too far out there. Like Zappa he has a catalog that is not easily defined and therefore is a little scary to just plunge and a live album at that.

In the past I have owned two Rundgren albums. A Wizard a True Star and Initiation and a couple of Utopia albums one of which was a weird Beatles pastiche. Now I only own one but I think I will be getting more.

I have a very good friend who idolizes both Zappa and Rundgren. It is easy to see why, they are both highly unpredictable and incredibly varied and versatile in their music. When listening to Rundgren he almost has a physical reaction to it jerking around as if every note being played is having an impact on his body.

Rundgren at times sounds like Prince before Prince was really around and then he messes with your head like Zappa. He has a truly amazing voice that moves between genres in the midst of songs from soulful to folk to blues shouter. Then he hits you with a pop hook that could drag you to the dance floor all of the time amidst this intense almost progressive rock sound that is filled with melody and fun and pop sensibility. It is strange to think he is not bigger on some level.

To the album. It has Daryl Hall and John Oates on it, Stevie Nicks takes the time to warble along and it even has Spencer Davies turning up.

Thunderheads are rumbling in a distant overture…

Wow I  woke up and I feel like I have the entire Rush catalog of music in my head. From the dodgy synth driven to the bombastic double necked guitar rock outs.

Last night was Rush at the Moda Center in Portland. Every Rush song you may want to hear and some not so welcome in my opinion. 3 hours plus of music.

Every guitar and bass in the world was played and at a volume just this side of painful.

The usual great cameo appearances and cartoons and the bands questionable acting skills on display.

I have to admit it was a great three hours finished off by the recording of an amazing polka version of Closer To The Heart over the pa. Proving that Rush may be the most likable band to play progressive whatever it is music.