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Old 08-13-2009, 02:36 PM   #51 (permalink)
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The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars by David Bowie (1972)


I have no idea what I am going to write about. But I have to keep on writing. I've taken like a week long break to refresh my mind and I don't know if I am refreshed, but too bad, I gotta keep going. Oh yeah, the album... the album...the album. I don't know what the hell I should write about. It definitely should have something to do with the album and David Bowie.

Bowie's lyrics walk the line between meaningful and nonsense, and so will this essay. As an homage of course, a freaky deeky homage to the space tarantulas and groovy Groovitrons on planet Funky. Am I doing a Bowie homage or a George Clinton homage? And what a coincidence, this is essay thirteen, the unlucky one. Thirteen is an unlucky number because of the Knights Templar. What did they find under Solomon's Temple of Groove? I bet it was pretty freaky, man. And love is not loving.

Bowie said during his appearance on the show Storytellers, that he'd been accused of helping to kill the Sixties, and that he took particular offense to that. 'The Sixties were already dead', he said 'I just helped to clear the rotting corpses'

That tickles me.

You know what I don't like and think is pretentious? I won't give you time to answer because I will say why. You see, I never really wanted you to answer, I just wanted something to say as a buffer to the next statement I will say about what I don't like and think is pretentious: albums with insanely long names that can't fit on one line of white lined paper if you're writing it down. I'm looking at you, 'Lifted' by Bright Eyes. Damn you Oberst! Whenever I was listing my favorite albums I would get pissed off whenever I came to Ziggy because it was so long and it would disrupt the aesthetic I was building when scribbling the list down in the middle of pre-Calculus in high school.

I have just read an interview where Bowie supposedly explains the plot of this album. It makes slightly more sense than the story of Scientology. I'm not the biggest fan of concept albums. I think that the simpler the plot and concept is, the better it works. I don't like dumb operas, I like albums with one loose overriding concept. Like Sufjan Stevens. Or '69 Love Songs' by Magnetic Fields.

But who cares what it's about? The goal is music, not narrative. On the surface, this album is an amazing collection of brilliantly written pop songs, that rise and fall in mood and temp but never in quality, and have their own sense of grandiosity and reach up into the sky in a very 'I'm the King of the Whole Goddamn World' sort of way. It's that which Bowie does best, an all or nothing, operatic, catchy number with vocals that pulse with emotion and character every breath he takes. Just look at 'Under Pressure'

When I hear the last song on this album, which is my favorite track, here is the image I get: Bowie on a stool, smoking a cigarette, a look of cool detachment on his face, reminiscent of William Shatner and his spoken word version of 'Rocket Man'. Then imagine that the curtains burst open just as the drums kick in and as Bowie first sings the line 'Oooh oooh ooh, you're a Rock and Roll suicide'

And then the thing becomes a laser show, with Bowie on a platform surrounded in mist that rises higher and higher as he says 'OH NO LOVE, YOU'RE NOT ALONE'

The freakiest thing about this album is how uninnovative it actually is. This album is literally Bowie putting on a weird suit, then playing songs that are some of the most accessible things you can play. It's great and a funny sort of practical joke. Imagine hearing the hype about this new 'Ziggy' album by Bowie, about how he is all dressed up as a character. You must think, 'Wow, that sounds pretty out there', but when you listen to the album, you hear a beautiful Rock and Roll homage to 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow' in the song 'Starman.' Like I mentioned previously about 'Exile on Main St.', this is not innovation, nor is it a rehashing, it is a perfection of a certain sound. And Bowie hit the f*cking mark. And always remember this:

YOU'RE NOT ALONE

YOU'RE NOT ALONE

YOU'RE NOT ALONE

YOU'RE NOT ALONE

YOU'RE NOT ALONE
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Old 08-14-2009, 08:51 AM   #52 (permalink)
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'Perfect from Now On' by Built to Spill (1997)




All of us failed to match our dreams of perfection. - William Faulkner

Few things are as effective at halting the creative flow than an obsessive pursuit of perfection. It's like a dog chasing it's own tail. The Ouroboros. The Monolith in '2001'. The green light in 'The Great Gatsby'.

I fancy myself to be a writer. At least, that's what I tell people at parties. My first novel will be called 'Dead Flowers', and I've got the majority of the chapters and ideas all lined up in my head, I have literally a fifty page biography for each of the main characters, these people are so real in my head, yet when I sit down and start writing I keep stalling after finishing the first chapter. See, I'm a perfectionist. Imagine my horror when I realized these things can't be edited after you submit them.

Werner Herzog is one of the most important German directors, being one of the primary figures in the German New Wave in the 1970s, with haunting films like 'Aguirre: The Wrath of God', shot in a tropical jungle and one of the greatest depictions of madness ever on film. The main character leads a doomed expedition up the Amazon river in search of the mythical city of Gold, El Dorado. El Dorado, one of the most fascinating legends of Human creation. Every civilization has their Holy Grail myth. A myth which is the concept of perfection. Whatever perfection is in one's mind, that is what the myth can represent.

To be human is to reject and simultaneously strive for perfection.

I'm tired of trying to be perfect. Most of us didn't ask to be born. I'm tired of trying to make love to the world with my writing and my ideas. Vonnegut once said if you try and do that, your writing will get pneumonia, so to speak. From now on I'll try and write about only what I find interesting and pleasing. I want to please one person. Me. And if people like what I write then that's great. Because that tells me that I'm not alone, I'm not as crazy as I thought. And the feeling of breaking away from isolation is a nice one.

However, being alone and crazy is a little comforting too. Because we were lied to. We aren't perfect, unique individuals. Mr. Rogers lied. And to be crazy and in isolation, means, as Orwell once said 'to be in a minority of one.' And it's nice to be unique.

Some things come really close to perfect. I'd say that Apocalypse Now comes pretty close to perfect. The Hollow Men and The Wasteland by T.S. Eliot. They come pretty close. The Great Gatsby is probably the closest human endeavor that reaches the impossibility of perfection. The Sistine Chapel.

Now that I think about it, The Pyramids are pretty perfect, too. Maybe perfection exists only within the realm of mathematics and science. E=MC2. But Mathematics and Science, they are cold. Cold Perfection. They bring no emotion to them. Only enlightenment. Only understanding. Maybe that's the thing. Maybe, nothing emotional can be perfect because emotions are an imperfect and unpredictable thing.

To listen to the album is to be taken along on a ride that doesn't reach the perfection status, but it without a doubt reaches the masterpiece stage, and that's rare enough, so I'm thankful. It is a wonderland of guitars, rising and falling like the tides, with a grace reminiscent of the heavenly points of light which navigate the sky above us like galactic steamboats.

As I listen, I think Velvet Waltz may be my favorite song on the album. It is appropriately named, because it moves forwards beautifully, like a dance between two true loves. No, that can't be. That's too clichι of an image. To perfect. Too fitting. I reject it.

To use the terminology of the album, imagine a metal sphere, ten times the size of Jupiter, floating just a few yards past the Earth. Now, reality and physics would dictate that something ten times the size of Jupiter would have enough gravity to pull something puny like the Earth and the Moon in way before it got that close to actually pass us. But never mind. Appropriately, this is a colossal, ten times the size of Jupiter sort album. With only eight songs, it clocks in at just under 55 minutes.

Is perfection a uniquely human concept? Do alien cultures have the same concept? This album was recorded and rerecorded three times. The title is apt.

That eternal strive.
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Old 08-14-2009, 11:04 AM   #53 (permalink)
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well, what can i say? this is great, i know it, you know it, the people of the world know it. only thing to worry about now is getting to that 100. Godspeed, best of luck and even if you can't finish it, i can see the Editors Pick in this thread's future
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Originally Posted by mr dave
isn't this one of the main reasons for this entire site?

what's next? a thread made specifically to banter about music?
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Old 08-14-2009, 11:30 AM   #54 (permalink)
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oh wait, didn't realize it was already here, hehe.


oh, and sorry about the double post.
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Originally Posted by mr dave
isn't this one of the main reasons for this entire site?

what's next? a thread made specifically to banter about music?
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Old 08-14-2009, 01:05 PM   #55 (permalink)
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I've decided to clip a few of the albums off of my list and add new ones as my taste expands. I've done this because some of these albums do not interest me anymore, and I've also decided to try and expand the musical types. For instance, punk and indie rock populate the majority of this list, and due to a lot of these albums being in the same genre, themes begin to repeat themselves. Hopefully this will create a more diverse list and as a result, a more diverse series of essays. However, Indie Rock will still dominate this list, haha.

Also, for those interested, here is a list of the additions and those who got cut:

Quote:
ON:
1.Apologies to The Queen Mary – Wolf Parade
2.Quality – Talib Kweli
3.Richard D. James Album – Aphex Twin
4.Music Has The Right To Children – Boards of Canada
5.The Low-End Theory – A Tribe Called Quest
6.Screamadelica – Primal Scream
7.Since I Left You – The Avalanches
8.Bitches Brew – Miles Davis
9.Requiem Mass in D Minor – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
10.Everything All The Time – Band of Horses
Quote:
OFF:
1.Histoire de Melody Nelson – Serge Gainsbourg
2.Pet Sounds – The Beach Boys
3.Ramones – The Ramones
4.Radio City – Big Star
5.Parallel Lines – Blondie
6.Forever Changes – Love
7.Surfer Rosa – Pixies
8.Kind of Blue – Miles Davis
9.Automatic for the People – REM
10.Three EPs – The Beta Band
So here is the revised remaining list:

15. Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd
16. Trans-Europe Express – Kraftwerk
17. The Velvet Underground & Nico – The Velvet Underground
18. Let It Be – The Replacements
19. Bee Thousand – Guided by Voices
20. Odessy and Oracle – The Zombies
21. Maggot Brain – Funkadelic
22. Loveless – My Bloody Valentine
23. Nevermind – Nirvana
24. Marquee Moon – Television
25. Slanted and Enchanted – Pavement
26. Deceit – This Heat
27. F# A# Infinity – Godspeed You Black Emperor!
28. The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses
29. Is This It – The Strokes
30. Songs of Love and Hate – Leonard Cohen
31. Ambient 1: Music For Airports – Brian Eno
32. Siamese Dream – Smashing Pumpkins
33. White Blood Cells – The White Stripes
34. Spiderland – Slint
35. Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes
36. In The Attic of the Universe – The Antlers
37. Repeater – Fugazi
38. The Low-End Theory – A Tribe Called Quest
39. The Cars – The Cars
40. Zen Arcade – Husker Du
41. Pink Moon – Nick Drake
42. Merriweather Post Pavilion – Animal Collective
43. Dear Science – TV on the Radio
44. Weezer(The Blue Album) – Weezer
45. Tago Mago – Can
46. IV – Led Zeppelin
47. Who's Next – The Who
48. Blue – Joni Mitchell
49. Music Has The Right To Children – Boards of Canada
50. My Aim Is True – Elvis Costello
51. This Nation's Saving Grace – The Fall
52. ...Endtroducing – DJ Shadow
53. The Perfect Prescription – Spacemen 3
54. Quality – Talib Kweli
55. Are You Experienced – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
56. First Utterance – Comus
57. Chairs Missing – Wire
58. Double Nickels on the Dime – The Minutemen
59. Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! - Devo
60. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot – Wilco
61. Kaleidoscope World – The Chills
62. Black Monk Time – The Monks
63. Unknown Pleasures – Joy Division
64. Apologies to The Queen Mary – Wolf Parade
65. Sail Away – Randy Newman
66. Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? - Of Montreal
67. Starsailor – Tim Buckley
68. In The Court of the Crimson King – King Crimson
69. The Queen Is Dead – The Smiths
70. The Joshua Tree – U2
71. Psychocandy – The Jesus and Mary Chain
72. No New York – Various Artists
73. Nebraska – Bruce Springsteen
74. Dire Straits – Dire Straits
75. Second Edition – Public Image Ltd.
76. Crazy Rhythms – The Feelies
77. Sonic Boom – The Sonics
78. Dust Bowl Ballads – Woody Guthrie
79. Screamadelica – Primal Scream
80. Since I Left You – The Avalanches
81. Bitches Brew – Miles Davis
82. The Sun Sessions – Elvis Presley
83. King of the Delta Blues – Robert Johnson
84. What's Going On - Marvin G.aye
85. There's a Riot Goin' On – Sly and the Family Stone
86. Richard D. James Album – Aphex Twin
87. Horses – Patti Smith
88. Legend – Bob Marley
89. Turnstiles – Billy Joel
90. Straight Outta Compton – NWA
91. Electric Warrior – T.Rex
92. Everything All The Time – Band of Horses
93. Tea For The Tillerman – Cat Stevens
94. Kinda Kinks – The Kinks
95. Los Angeles – X
96. Kick Out The Jams – MC5
97. The Soft Bulletin – The Flaming Lips
98. Laughing Stock – Talk Talk
99. 1990 – Daniel Johnston
100. Requiem Mass in D Minor – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
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Old 08-14-2009, 01:09 PM   #56 (permalink)
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Really liked this essay DM. I'm also a (recovering) perfectionist. If you don't believe me you could go check out the Nick Cave review in my journal... the short three paragraphs is far from perfect but check out the link in there of the same album review. Now that was ridiculous of me! Looking forward to the next essay. =D
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Old 08-14-2009, 01:52 PM   #57 (permalink)
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Definitely looking forward to Wish You Were Here.
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Old 08-14-2009, 09:53 PM   #58 (permalink)
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In The Aeroplane Over the Sea is one of the most brilliant pieces of music I've ever heard. Your review was illuminating to me to say the least. Excellent.

The White Album review was spot on in your description of the group.

I look forward to reading more of your thoughts...especially can't wait for Odessey and Oracle.

Oh BTW, I'm a little disappointed you won't be reviewing Pet Sounds. I would have liked to hear what you had to say about it.
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Old 08-18-2009, 04:02 PM   #59 (permalink)
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'Wish You Were Here' by Pink Floyd (1975)


It was a hot summer day, the fifth of June, when Sid Barrett strolled into Abbey Road studios, hair and eyebrows completely shaven, overweight, clutching a plastic bag, a specter, once captain of a band which, since the release of their previous album, 'The Dark Side of the Moon', was the biggest album in the world. It took a while for them to recognize him.

The irony is that he showed up the day they were working on the final mix for the song 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond', a direct tribute to him. He sat down for a while and had a conversation with the band, but when they played him the song, he showed no signs that he understood the relevance of the song. He showed up at David Gilmour's wedding later on that day, and then disappeared. None of them would ever see the man again.

After he left, Roger Waters broke down and wept.

I just watched a part of a documentary/TV series called 'Lords of the Revolution', it was about Timothy Leary. Turn on, tune in, drop out. Turn off your mind, relax and float down stream.

He's either cited as a hero and philosopher or a foolish, dangerous man who brought a whole generation to it's knees with six words. I think he's a little bit of both. He opened up doors to the consciousness and more so than any other single person, ignited the Sixties.

LSD destroyed people. It also saved people. There are plenty of stories out there about it's effects. The story of Daniel Johnston is a chilling tale about what LSD can do to someone who is already mentally unbalanced. Then there is the story of Sid Barrett, somebody who lost complete touch with the world, because of LSD.

It's a testament to Sid's effect on his band mates that for a lot of their career, they looked back and talked about him. Some of their best songs have to do with insanity, a subject they became obsessed with after Sid left.

However, I wonder how much of a loss Sid Barrett actually was. All of the bands best work is done after he left, with the possible exception of 'Jugband Blues' in my mind. If Sid Barrett didn't go crazy, Roger Waters wouldn't have led the band, and he wouldn't have taken the band in the direction that it did. And without him leaving, there wouldn't be a David Gilmour, who, despite not being in what people would call 'a guitar band', produced some of the best solos in Rock history. And without him leaving, the band would lose some of their most memorable songs, and the majority of this album wouldn't exist.

But who knows, maybe if Sid stayed on board, a Lennon-McCartney relationship would have spawned with him and Waters that would have produced even greater songs. You can spend all day contemplating the 'what if's' in history.

You could argue that acid did more damage than good. Actually, I truly believe that to be the case. If acid never came into prominence, the psychedelic movement may not have existed, but that's really the only genre to suffer. The drug of choice in Andy Warhol's Factory was speed, not LSD. Bob Dylan did his best work hopped up on speed.

Pink Floyd make a great album here, with just five songs, the shortest being 5 minutes and 8 seconds. They just don't cover insanity and their fallen band mate, however, they cover consumerism and the rising tide of conformity. 'Welcome to the Machine' seems to be a product of them just finishing 1984. It's a dark and foreboding song, but somehow still catchy. Perhaps the best song on the album is 'Have a Cigar', without a doubt the funkiest song Floyd has ever done, perhaps the best hook Floyd has ever done,('We call it Riding the Gravy Train!), and interestingly enough the only Pink Floyd song with the vocals done by someone not in the band.

It must have been a hell of a thing to follow the monumental album of the decade, and Floyd did a hell of a job, and in my mind, made a superior album.
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Old 08-23-2009, 02:37 AM   #60 (permalink)
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I just wanted to drop by and tell you I finally listened to all of Funeral by The Arcade Fire and that it was the very first album so far to make my cry.
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