Tag: The Beatles
We’ve decided to start posting music podcasts here on GMBM. We’ve actually got a ton of them in storage, but we don’t want to overkill you with them, so we’ll see what happens. Each podcast will be presented in a single MP3 file, with a flow of the music in mind. You can usually get more information on the individual tracks (or the albums they are from) by clicking the titles in the tracklist.
Here is the first one we are throwing your way:
PODCAST: The Politics of Aging
“Sgt. Pepper’s Paradise” – Guns N’ Roses vs. The Beatles vs. Jimmy James
“Fine Line” – Paul McCartney
“Coffee & TV” – Blur
“Once Upon a Time” – Air
“Le Premier Amore” – Anaïs
“Golden Age” – TV on the Radio
“Strange Overtones” – David Byrne & Brian Eno
“A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger” – of Montreal
“Just a Friend With the Clap” – Shirley Ellis vs. Biz Markie
“Go There With You (Radio Edit)” – Chin Chin
“Bull Black Nova” – Wilco
“Longing for a Frozen Sky” – Ernst Reijseger, Patricio Mura & Gianluca Frau
“Divine” – Sebastian Tellier
“Tonight” – Koop & Mikael Sundin
A couple weeks ago, a remastered version of the entire Beatles catalog was released, alongside (The Beatles: Rock Band). Considering the timelessness of their contribution to both music and sound, in general, this was excellent news. I decided to dive in with Abbey Road, which is probably my favorite Beatles record.
Now, I suppose it’s kind of dumb to review an album that’s already been around for forty years and is, by any measure, considered a classic. So there will be nothing here like: “Starr’s “Octopus’s Garden” seems to be much less off putting than his previous contributions, and fits well with the rest of the record, despite its overt quirkiness.” I mean…no shit. Right? We all know the album. There are, however, two main observations I would like to divulge.
First of all, the remastering job on this record is top notch. Apparently, someone spent four years tweaking the catalog and it certainly sounds like it. Though some of the gruffness is properly still in tact here and there, it really sounds as though this is a newly produced work. But it’s not. It’s the Beatles. As a result, there is a strange phenomenon that occurs when we listen.
See, the Beatles normally make a listener feel kind of happy. It’s positive music, with colorful sound choices throughout. Listening to these remasters, however, an undercurrent of mild depression sets in. We hear not just what can be done with music, but what was done with music a long long time ago. Because the dynamics of the sound are as crystal clear as any of the music today, we must begin to ask ourselves: “What the hell happened to music today?”
Not all music, of course. But popular music. In the 60’s, the Beatles were on the radio and everyone loved it. It was difficult to wrap ones mind around, for it was such a revolutionary sound for the time, and yet it was so accommodating that no one was really afraid to try. Fast forward to your radio today and we have to settle for Lil Wayne and Lady Gaga? Considering how much money is being thrown at trite crap like that, you’d think the coked out execs could at least afford to make it sound decent. What the hell happened?
But I digress. After all, this is article is filed under “Good Music” and indeed, the Beatles are.
The second and final point I’d like to hit on is something that has always bothered me about Abbey Road. I’d like to submit it for discussion so that when they remaster the album again in 2020 or whenever, it may possibly have a chance at being debated.
Here we go…
If we are not afraid to enhance the sound of The Beatles, I believe we should also not be afraid to enhance the order of the songs. That being said, there is one fundamental flaw with the flow of Abbey Road. I believe now, and forever so shall, that “Here Comes the Sun” and “Come Together” need desperately to swap positions on the record. If you do not believe me, burn yourself a copy with these songs interchanged.
As it stands, “Come Together” kicks off the album and “Here Comes the Sun” ushers in the second half. It would make more sense to the flow if “Here Comes the Sun” started off the whole thing, leaving “Come Together” to fill in what should be an edgier, more minimalist space between “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” and “Because.” Additionally, this would put more songs in between “Here Comes the Sun” and “Sun King.” Those two “Sun” songs so close together detracts from what would otherwise seem to be an intentionally woven theme. If my proposed changes were made, we could have one “Sun” song for each half of the album.
I know most people would not have ever really thought about that. Most people have already accepted Abbey Road for what it is and are likely resistant to the idea of this change. But consider this: my proposed order actually is the order on some of the older cassette issues of Abbey Road. That is how I found out, unintentionally going down that path. Now that I’ve been there, however, I will never go back.
Switch and see! Switch and see!
Maybe you have heard and maybe you have not. The deal with this album is supposedly as follows…
Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse get together with a steady slew of above average vocalists and record an album. Enter David Lynch providing photography for an accompanying, limited edition, one-hundred page book and DAMN. This is going to be completely bad ass.
All systems ready to go until mega-recording label, EMI, pulls the plug entirely for some undisclosed legal reasons. How does the ever-innovative Danger Mouse handle this little snafu? He releases everything but the music – including the CD. Once released, it will actually be a writable CD-R (and packaging) which will be branded with the label, “For Legal Reasons, enclosed CD-R contains no music. Use it as you will.”
The idea here is for interested listeners to seek and pirate the music, burning it to the CD-R and circumventing EMI altogether. This is not a difficult task already, as it’s been leaked through all the standard bit torrent sites. A minute and a half of looking around, and it should turn up somewhere. For those not familiar with torrenting, NPR has a stream of the disc, which you can access by clicking here.
All that aside, what of the music?
Well, the touch of Sparklehorse is definitively there. In the case of Danger Mouse, it’s a bit more ambiguous. Danger Mouse is a pretty damned expansive artist and producer. He makes up one half of the cartoony Gnarls Barkley, and has also produced albums for the likes of Gorillaz, Beck
and The Black Keys. He initially earned his notoriety for The Grey Album, a mash-up of Jay-Z’s The Black Album with The Beatles’ The White Album. All that behind him, his Midas touch on Dark Night of the Soul is there. It’s just difficult to figure out which specific elements are affected. This is possibly to his credit, though. We know a Van Gogh without having to analyze the direction of his brush strokes, right?
The songs all stand alone just fine. Side by side, however, there seems to be a bigger picture to the thing as sometimes it is difficult to tell that one song has ended and another has begun, but for the change of vocalist. And how about those vocalists? The Flaming Lips contribute to the ambient, Phil-Collins-if-Phil-Collins-was-cool(er) opener, “Revenge.” Frank Black and Iggy Pop lay it down on two of the more rocking tracks (“Angel’s Harp” and “Pain”). Julian Casablancas of The Strokes chimes in on “Little Girl” and James Mercer of The Shins lends his voice to “Insane Lullaby.” Suzanne Vega and Vic Chesnutt rise from relative obscurity to sing on “The Man Who Played God” and “Grim Augury.” Then there is David Lynch, himself, popping up on the eerie title track, as well as “Star Eyes (I Can’t Catch It).”
Musically, it mostly compliments Lynch’s macabre visual style. There are, however, moments on Dark Night of the Soul, which are anything but dark. Sometimes these moments last for two or three song stretches. Sometimes these songs sound so colorful and touch something so intangibly comfortable (despite their lyrical content), that a person might want to shit himself in gleeful abandon. And yet again, it all works as a rather well arranged whole.
Though it may seem difficult to top Gorillaz Demon Days or anything by Gnarls Barkley, for that matter, Dark Night of the Soul may resonate as Danger Mouse’s finest production yet. Likewise for Sparklehorse. It is certainly their deepest.