OOC Recipients 08: Rushing to the top

For the most consecutive gold and platinum albums by a rock band, first place is The Beatles, second is The Rolling Stones, and third place is the Canadian group Rush (24 gold, 14 platinum). The members of Rush have worked hard to reproduce their album sound in their concerts, so Rush concerts have been known for having lots of instruments about each musician. They have also made use of digital sampling to fill out their sound.

All three members of the rock band Rush received membership in the OOC in 1996.

NeilPeart_lost_somewhere
Lost: A middle-aged male drummer named Neil Peart. Swallowed alive by his elaborate drum kit, he was never found again.

Neil Peart – Each member has over the years had made the most of their membership by making themselves into multi-instrumentalists. Apart from drums, Peart has in the past included tubular bells, a glockenspiel, and other obscure percussion instruments, both electronic and not. Peart has been voted the greatest performing drummer by fan-zines like Drummerworld, and many fans attend live Rush concerts to hear Neil Peart do a drum solo. He certainly ranks up there with the likes of Ginger Baker and John Bonham. Peart is also the primary lyricist of the trio.

LAS VEGAS - MAY 10: Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson performs at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on May 10, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The rock trio are touring in support of the album, "Snakes & Arrows." (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) Original Filename: 81050582.jpg
Alex Lifeson

Alex Lifeson – Alex is the sole remaining founding member of Rush, and possesses the ability to play several kinds of guitars, and on occasion some keyboards. According to Rolling Stone magazine, he ranks among the 100 greatest guitarists of all time, just below Eddie Van Halen and Queen’s Brian May. As for vocals, I could find no indication of  him doing more than backing vocals for the band.

Geddy_Lee
Geddy Lee

Geddy Lee – Bassist and the voice responsible for the band’s signature high-register vocal. He actually possesses three octaves, ranging from baritone, to tenor, and then to alto, reaching into mezzo-sporano. While his vocal styling may have received some criticism, his instrumentation rarely has. Besides bass, he also plays keyboards including synthesizers. He once did a cameo with Bob and Doug MacKenzie on their album Great White North, and the song Take Off was the largest-selling single of Geddy Lee’s career. While Geddy Lee cannot strictly be called a founding member, he joined when the band was 1 month old, and happens to be a high school chum of Lifeson.

In a world where all noise are created equal VI: “Christmas” music

Only 5 days to Christmas, and you need some music. Let me help out …

It’s that time of year again, and here are some musical genres listed at Every Noise at Once that have “Christmas” in the names:

celtic christmas This is a good, Irish-influenced way to hear Xmas music: Clannad, The Chieftans, Enya, …
christian christmas  As opposed to …?
christmas  The standard fare
christmas product  More standard fare
classical christmas Another nice addition to the holiday spirit. Why do you need to hear Burl Ives or Bing Crosby for the bazillionth time anyway?
country christmas Just about any country musician will do. Too many to list: ranging from Tennessee Ernie Ford to Dwight Yoakam.
folk christmas Folk? I am unsure how they justify listing Elton John, Natalie Marchant, and Bruce Springsteen as Folk. I can see Peter Paul and Mary, and Bob Dylan, but Death Cab for Cutie? Really? My favourite Christmas song, “Calling on Mary” by Aimee Mann is listed here. More bluesy than folky, though. Most of the names listed under “Folk” are notable for pop music.
heavy christmas If you want your Christmas tunes sung by bands like Warrant, Dokken, Faster Pussycat, or Ted Nugent, you’ve come to the right place.
indie christmas For those who wish to drink their egg nog to the musical styings of Fountains of Wayne, The Dandy Warhols, Ben Folds, Andrew Bird, My Morning Jacket, Weezer, Liz Phair, among many others.
jazz christmas There are all the standard Jazz names there: Chick Corea, David Brubeck, Herbie Hancock, John Scofield, and while Miles Davis is listed, there is no musical sample available of him. Boo!
latin christmas Latino Christmas music, not Christmas in Latin. Both exist. Could confuse people.
pop christmas A near-copy of the Folk genre. In addition, you have Cher, Bowie, Mariah Carey, Backstreet Boys, Carly Simon, and too many more to list.
punk christmas If you would rather kiss under the mistletoe to Blink-182, Jimmy Eat World, or NOFX, then this is the genre for you.
soul christmas Now, wouldn’t it be a good idea to listen to your favourite carols to the vocal stylings of Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Chaka Khan, or Gladys Night and the Pips?
world christmas From what I can tell, what is listed here is mostly South American influenced.

In a world where all noise are created equal V: “Black” music …?

Music genres with “Black” in the names …

atmospheric black metal
black death
black metal
black sludge
black thrash
blackgaze
chaotic black metal
dark black metal
depressive black metal
more symphonic black metal
pagan black metal
raw black metal
symphonic black metal
unblack metal

In a world where all noise are created equal IV: names that sound like something else …

If you thought long enough about these names, they would have other (non-musical) connotations. Just sayin’. And yes, there are people who claim these genres really exist.

big room
bouncy house
catstep
charred death
corrosion
deathgrind
deep chill
deep house
deep liquid
experimental psych
fake
fallen angel
full on
funeral doom  If it was my funeral, I wouldn’t care
future garage
goregrind
gothic doom
guidance
hands up
hard alternative  Then, is it worth my while?
hauntology
jerk
lowercase
microhouse
minimal wave
nordic house
power violence
psychobilly
relaxative
rock steady
soda pop According to the samplings, this seems to be torch songs from the late 50s and early 60s.
space rock
steampunk
trapstep
vaporwave

In a world where all noise are created equal III: Absurdly obtuse genre names

Whether due to the fusion of too many genres or names which relegate the band to certain obscurity, these are ones I chose which I cannot even imagine what the sound must be like. To know, the website Every Noise at Once gives sound samples of most bands and genres they list.

alternative new age
ambient psychill  Most of these could just be labelled “techno”
ambient trance
anti-folk
antiviral pop  Pop that will never be viral … ?
crust punk
deep alternative r&b  More “deep” genres
deep happy hardcore
deep filthstep
deep space rock
e6fi From now on, genres will be given serial numbers
fidget house
ghettotech
gothic americana
grim death metal
happy hardcore
hatecore
heavy christmas
martial industrial
mathcore
melodic death metal  For your melodic death
melodic metalcore
necrogrind  Who gets to decide what the difference is between “melodic death metal” and “necrogrind”?
post-post-hardcore
progressive psytrance
progressive uplifting trance
rock noise
technical brutal death metal  For your technical brutality
turntablism  For all those turntablists out there
underground latin hip hop
vocaloid

In a world where all noise are created equal II: Futile Reinvention

Here is a list of names of genres that appear as futile attempts at reinvention of existing genres:

abstract hip hop
chaotic hardcore
brutal deathcore
deep disco Contradiction in terms
deeper house There are a raft of genres preceded by the adjective “deeper” which seem to exist.
disco polo
folk-prog
folk punk
geek folk
geek rock
grave wave A genre that admits that new wave is dead.
hard stoner rock
math pop There are a number of genres that are listed with “nerd” in front of the name, such as “nerdcore”, but this one is new to me. But “pop” implies popularity. Would you play “math pop” to be popular?
math rock
neo metal
neo soul
nu age One of a raft of genres made newer by the placement of “nu” in front of the genre name
post rock
protopunk
scorecore
screamocore
terrorcore
underground pop rap

Samplings and band names are located at Every Noise at Once.

In a world where all noise are created equal I: Genres I know nothing about

The website everynoise.com deals in some way with plotting the musical classification categories of all music that exists (to which they are aware) on their web page. The next few articles form a small sample of the nearly 1500 genres listed. On that website, if you click on a genre, you are given a sound sample. Click again, you are led to another page consisting of band names in that genre. Now, as a former college DJ, I have heard of a lot of these genres, but here is a list I have not heard of at all:

acousmatic
atmospheric post-metal
australian alternative rock
brazilian indie
brutal death metal This is actually one of many genres that are made new by placing the word “brutal” in the genre name.
christian hardcore
christian punk
classic chinese pop
classic peruvian pop
columbus ohio indie
freakbeat
funky breaks
hurban
hyphy
liquid funk
serialism
stomp and whittle
stomp pop
technical death metal Where music goes to technically die, I suppose.
triangle indie
ye ye
yoik

This is the first of a series of lists of strange music genre names listed at the site. For a complete list along with band names and music samplings, visit the site Every Noise at Once.

[Media Monday] The Difficult Listening Moment in Two Words

MacArthur Park.

I didn’t need to say anything else, didn’t I? MacArthur Park is that unlistenable 1968 hit whose only strength lay in the instrumental piece. How often does Jimmy Webb need to remind us that someone left his bloody cake out in the rain, then strech the metaphor until it loses all focus and meaning? But, ah! it’s that 90-second instrumental near the end that rescues it. That 90-second piece often impinges on younger ears as cliche beyond belief. But that is only because this original recording has appeared so often in advertisements, theme songs, and the like in the decades since, that it in fact has become cliche. Stuff like that only happens to really good music (unfortunately). And that 90-second part is so different from the rest of the 7-minute tune that it doesn’t seem to belong. And it’s the orchestration, not the words or the vocalist, that won the Grammy in 1969. For your edification as well as for a bit of nostalgia, here is the 90-second passage in question:

[mp3t track=”Richard_Harris_-_Part_of_MacArthur_Park.mp3″]

But of course, this is the difficult listening moment, and I’m afraid that wasn’t difficult enough to listen to.  And no, I won’t subject you to Richard Harris’s singing, or even Donna Summer. What I will do is to play for you the Cockney version by The Burtons. The whole thing reeks of Morgan Fisher.

Facts About Canada

I have some things to say in response to Mark Rayner’s article, as personal reflections. BTW, Rayner did the usual good write-up job with these kinds of articles. But you know, I can’t read these kinds of “What is a Canadian” article without making a lot of mental responses. Here are my responses to a selection of his articles.

Gordon LightfootInternational Stars. The Canadian vocalists who obtained international fame which Rayner focuses on are the later stars of the past 20 or so years. One exception is his mention of Joni Mitchell. Contrasting the music of Joni Mitchell or The Band with anything in the past 20 years is interesting. For one thing, raw talent is passed up for what becomes instead a compromise between good looks and talent. Today’s talent are more the product of focus groups than anything. In the past 2 or 3 decades, I doubt that anything will have the same staying power as a song like “Big Yellow Taxi” or “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”. The only really compelling conclusion is that our music has become more American. I only thank God he didn’t mention Justin Bieber.
Toronto Maple LeafsHockey. My connection with hockey is that my dad drove the Zamboni in Maple Leaf Gardens back in the late 60s/early 70s when rooting for the Leafs actually meant something. Strangely, I was never that much into hockey, and only vaguely know the rules. I also find it obscene that, as of late, the season now goes into mid-June. I don’t know what impression that gives the rest of the world, but trust us you guys, we do have other things to do with our spare time aside from watching or playing hockey. Frankly, since the Leafs are probably now one of the worst teams in the NHL, and have been for decades, I wouldn’t mind if the team got sold to, say, a franchise in Florida or something. Hey, it isn’t that far to go if you want to see them that bad … want to see them lose that bad.
Tim Horton’s. Nope. Not a fan. Coffee’s too weak; and I can taste the lard in the doughnuts. Oatmeal raisin cookies are OK, but sometimes they seem to be half-cooked. Starbuck’s has me spoiled for coffee. I am not fond of most of their pastries either, but the quality is more even from store to store. I’m fussy about my pastries. And thank God, since it keeps me from over-eating even more than I already do. There are few to no 24-hour Starbucks franchises, and thank God for that too, since that keeps my caffeine addiction levels at bay. If they put addictive rocket-fuel derivatives in Timmy’s coffee as Rayner quipped, it didn’t work on me.
The CBC. The CBC may be needed to keep the zombies at bay, but I think that it serves as a foil to media to the south of us. I think this is important, since I wish to be informed of the talent arising in our country (in all fields, not just entertainment), and of news. This kind of thing does not fare so well when it is done commercially, but it is necessary to keep us from being alienated from happenings inside our own borders. What Rayner doesn’t mention is that they also have CBC Radio 3. What Radio 3 is, is an internet feed of streaming music from Canadian talent. I think this is an incredible service, and if you are looking for music that is really different from what your local radio station is playing, then I highly recommend tuning into it. And what’s best, there are no ads, and very little to no chatting from announcers. It’s like listening to college radio non-stop (to me, that’s a good thing).
William Shatner. I don’t think readers of my blog will believe me if I come out in agreement with whatever fawning remarks Rayner has about Shatner. Not after all those crappy album covers I’ve had of him prior to 2010. OK, I admit his “I AM CANADIAN” rant parody was pretty good.

Click on any image to get to the originating blog or website where the image originated.

Happy Canada Day, everyone!

Crappy Album Covers #315 — Embroideries of crappy album covers

Here is the second send-up to Tarkus that we have seen here in the CAC blogosphere.  It is one thing to have a crappy album cover like the ugly ELP 1971 LP, but it is quite another to have the armadillo tributed on a piece of embroidery for a wollen pullover.

Not much info on this LP, except that this is the first of at least two prog tribute LPs, the second attributed to Gerard (sans Ars Nova) in 2002.

CD Universe still sells used copies of this 1994 limited pressing CD. It was a limited pressing, because Shrapnel Records is just a tiny record label with a limited distribution. Nevertheless, little info exists on Derek Taylor.

But a ton of information exists on another Derek Taylor, the one who died in September 1997 who was The Beatles’ publicist. No relation.

Worst Lyrics: A review of a review

There was an article that appeared on Friday on MSN.COM, which tried to poke fun at some of “the worst lyrics of all time” by artists who presumably should have known better. I had a problem with the article, just like the lyrics, the smart-aleck comments from the author of the MSN article were not well-thought-out and thus almost as poorly written as the song lyrics the author criticizes.

Whether I do a better job with my smart-aleck comments is anyone’s opinion, but then I’m not working for MSN.

“Swingin’ in there
Cause she wanted me to feed her,
So I mixed up the batter
And she licked the beater”
–Warrant, “Cherry Pie”
I agree that this is a food metaphor gone wrong. It works better if you see the video. But I think the lyrics were never meant for adult minds who naturally would be bothered by the overdone food metaphors, but for adolescents with raging hormones who probably don’t care if this is from an overrated 90s metal band as long as the video has lots of jiggle.
“It’s a black fly in your Chardonnay,
It’s a death row pardon two minutes late;

And isn’t it ironic… don’t you think?”
–Alanis Morrisette, “Ironic”
It is obvious that Alanis Morrisette never bothered to look up ‘Ironic’ in a dictionary, and as much has been said since the song came out in 1996. It wasn’t just the quoted lyrics that were bad, the whole song suffered from the same problem. Most abuses of the word seemed to suggest that she really meant  ‘bad luck’ or something similar. Proof that famous musicians never lost a dollar by being inarticulate.
“I drew a line,
I drew a line for you.
Oh, what a thing to do.
And it was all yellow.”
–Coldplay, “Yellow”
This was picked out as being the worst lyric snippet from Coldplay’s first American hit, ‘Yellow’, released in 2000. It’s the kind of thing that means more to the writer than the listener. The song went gold for some other reason than the lyrics. The song seems to end up being about not much at all, but purportedly is about devotion.
“If the light is off
Then it isn’t on.”
–Hilary Duff, “So Yesterday”
I can’t argue with these lyrics. Reminds me of Me and Bobby McGee. Remember? “Nothin’ ain’t worth nothin’, but it’s free”. Nobody can say the obvious better than Kris Kristofferson. But Duff, even with all of her overly-marketed million-selling albums, can’t come close to this. She just comes off like an under-aged bimbo with nothing useful to say. (Yeah, I know she’s not underage anymore).
“These other guys, they wanna take me for a ride,
But when I walk their talk is suicide”
–Paris Hilton, “Stars Are Blind”
Lots of 60s musicians sang the obvious. But it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Kristofferson said it in a way that it became a rallying cry for those who rejected materialism, and embraced simplicity. You were convinced that Kristofferson had “been there”, and knew your pain. You would easily forget that he was a Rhodes Scholar at Merton in Oxford, with a Bachelor’s in English Lit. Being able to achieve that is not the mark of phoniness, it is the mark of a true artist, deserving of our respect and admiration.

Sorry, I can’t find any information on Paris Hilton except for a bunch of videos of what appears to be her performing fellatio on a record company exec in a fleabag hotel with the curtains drawn. Maybe next time.

“You know you love me, I know you care,
Just shout whenever, And I’ll be there.
You are my love, You are my heart,
And we will never ever-ever be apart.”
–Justin Bieber, “Baby”
News flash!!!!! 16 year-old Stratford, Ontario native Justin Bieber has the writing talent of a 16 year-old.

The only reason this kind of drek sells is that there is nothing better for the buying public, that they are aware of. The market is flooded with under-aged, under-talented kids, surrounded by marketers who want to bring back the days of The Jackson 5, and Donny Osmond. The video stations and other media organs are flooded with this stuff, while really good music is out there, waiting to be listened to.

“Lucky that my breasts
Are small and humble
So you don’t confuse
Them with mountains”
–Shakira, ‘Whenever, Wherever’
It’s like saying we’ll get along fine as long as you don’t stare at my boobs. It NEVER works, ladies. It just makes the problem worse.
“I ain’t never seen
An a**like that
The way you move it
You make my pee-pee go
‘Doing-doing-doing'”
–Eminem, “A** Like That”
News Flash!!!!! 38 year-old Marshall Bruce Mathers III, known by his stage name Eminem, has the writing talents of an 8 year-old. Sometimes his mother helps him.
“I’m as serious as cancer
When I say rhythm is a dancer”
–Snap, “Rhythm is a Dancer”
Besides a German-to-English dictionary, the German dance group Snap! should have also used a rhyming dictionary to see what else might rhyme with “dancer” that might work better than “cancer”.
“You’re beautiful
You’re beautiful
You’re beautiful
It’s true”
–James Blunt, “You’re Beautiful”
I have always seen this song as “just another love song”. One that is not very inspired with tired lyrics and a new musical sound behind it to make it palatable.
“We built this city on rock and roll.”

–Starship, “We Built This City”

I have to go beyond what the MSN author has said and further state that these are also the most phony lyrics in rock history. The particular lineup of Starship which sang that hit had none of the founding members of Jefferson Airplane in it. Grace Slick doesn’t count, since she was not a founding member. So, no, they don’t earn the bragging rights they seem to claim.
“Against the grain should be a way of life
What’s worth the price is always worth the fight
Every second counts ’cause there’s no second try
So live like you’re never living twice
Don’t take the free ride in your own life”
— Nickelback, “If Today Was Your Last Day”
Another winner for the most cliches per square inch. A close contender could be Harlan Howard’s 1958 song “Pick Me Up On Your Way Down” (played by every imaginible country musician — the one I heard was from Buck Owens). At least Harlan was just trying to be clever, but Nickleback just looks like they’ve been reading too many motivational posters.
“I would do anything for love
But I won’t do that.”
–Meat Loaf, “I’d Do Anything for Love”
Mr. Loaf has been with us for three decades or more, bringing us lyrics ranging from mundane to just plain sucking out loud. I would call this one mundane. At least it’s vague, and that means he left something up to my imagination for once.

There were more in the article, but I have had little more time to explore them. Just thought I would cover the worst cases.

(Images may be disturbing) Crappy Album Covers #138 — Food on Vinyl VII

Album_Cover_Crap_222_-_amright_com This is the last (I promise) of the Herb Alpert parody covers I have.

Jabberwocky is an audio montage troupe in the tradition of Negativland and Plunderphonics. All these folks use spliced audio sequences and multi-track audio in order to make social commentary on media, popular culture, sexuality, war, and religion.

You can download the whole album (In the tradition of Plunderphonics and Negativland, audio and artwork are open-sourced) and cover art here.

Album_Cover_Crap_203_vinylhaven_com It is said that donkeys like carrots, so one can hold a carrot on the end of a stick in front of the donkey, and this makes them move forward, thus overcoming stubbornness.

That’s the cliche I think the album depicts. The idea is that the donkey never gets the carrot, but hopes that it does. Kind of like the deal that Badfinger made with Warner at the time this album came out, 1972. This album was the last one made for Apple Records, essentially ending their close association with The Beatles.

Other bloggers have noted confusion about the name Badfinger and Ass being on the same cover. It is a pet peeve that I have had of most bands since the early 70s, in that the metaphors are so mixed up that the message is completely lost. Usually a sign of what is inside the cover.

This LP peaked at #122 with its single “The Apple of My Eye” peaking at #102 on Billboard.

Crappy Album Covers #137 — Food on Vinyl VI

Album_Cover_Crap_227_-_amright_com Here is the Lawrence Welk organist Bob Ralston, who while trying to be Alpert-esque with the album lettering, has still managed to do this album cover without being covered in food, to his credit.

Judging by Ralston’s youthful appearance, this album probably dates to about the same time as “Whipped Cream”.

Album_Cover_Crap_225_-_amright_com “Sweet Cream and Other Delights” is a 1978 album by the all-girl funk/soul trio from Detroit called Sweet Cream.

When working as backup singers, they would be featured on many albums as “The Ridgeway Sisters” or “The Ridgeways”.

The three Ridgeway sisters (Gloria, Esther, and Gracie) have been singing as a group since age 4, 6 and 8 respectively. At most recent report, only Gloria has survived the three, the others having passed on in this decade, while still in their forties.

Crappy Album Covers #134 — Still more frickin' sunshine

Frickin’? Friggin’? I wish they had a dictionary for the correct spelling of expletives.

Album_Cover_Crap_156_showandtelmusic_com_Greatest_Picks Lillian Southard Robinson looks like a kindly enough elderly woman in the picture. The kind that would give an extra quarter to the paperboy, and who would visit shut-ins twice every week. In the middle ground of the photo is a quote from the Gospel of St. John 4:35, which she quotes as: “Look on the fields/They are white to harvest”.Funny. My copy of the Bible (NAV), says the fields are “ripe to harvest”. Finding the word “white” required me to dust off my wife’s King James Bible.

I was almost willing to forgive her for this almost white supremacist-sounding reference, until I discovered that the very next verse talks about the Grim buy tramadol 100mg online Reaper receiveing his “payment”…

Hoooo—kay… Next album …

Album_Cover_Crap_174_Flickr The Summons Team (?) is here to proclaim their belief in “The Man of Reality”.Now if only the record cover reflected some reality: where do they plan to plug in their electric guitars and keyboard? Also looks like the dude in the foreground lost his drum kit. It happens, you know. Some thief sneaks into the studio, stuffs the drum kit, seat, and bass drum in his shirt pocket, and escapes through the door un-detected by security cameras. Happens all the time. So the drummer had to force himself to smile in this photo.

So, I guess that means this is the first ever record album to come without batteries. (A strained pun, I know).

Crappy Album Covers #133 — Hicks from the sticks

Album_Cover_Crap_164_showandtelmusic_com Felix Lorentz will sing your requests whether you want him or not. He comes out of his shack near the lagoon to the bar in the nearby village and rips the mike out of the hand of the entertainer that was scheduled to arrive, and yells out “I take requests!”After a few moments of stunned silence, someone says in a timid voice: “Can you sing ‘Tiptoe Through the Tulips?'”

Someone else pipes up: “Happy Birthday To You!” “Row, Row, Row your boat!” It was then Lorentz realised that he had barged into an old folks home, an the bar was next door.

Album_Cover_Crap_162_showandtelmusic_com_Greatest_Picks Ahh, the games you can play with a title like “Wild Country”. A hootenanny gone wild…wild music by wild musicians….Your wildest guesses won’t know who is on the playlist. Wild musicians: “Your Cheatin’ Heart” played by Jimi Hendrix. “Achey Breakey Heart” played by AC-DC. “Till I Gain Control Again” by Pink Floyd.

None of them made it to the sessions for this album, but thank you for your purchase of this fine vinyl record album, and thanks for coming out.

Crappy Album Covers #132 — More happiness

cover6 Another album cover which has been fodder for the CAC blogs, “Return to Oz”, from a Leo Sayer wannabe named Dardy. If anyone can tell me something biographical about Dardy, drop me a comment.
Album_Cover_Crap_161_showandtelmusic_com_Greatest_Picks This dynamic fun machine also produces happiness. Every home should have one. This one has a flat tire, so it can only produce mild sanguinity. It’s all you can do until the Dynamic Duo purchases a tire tube at Wal-Mart’s next clearance sale.

Brothers In Arms: A belated review of the versions

Not really having heard the original Dire Straits version of “Brothers in Arms” when it came out (it was one of these things I was planning on “getting around to”), my first experience with the song was through protest singer Joan Baez in 1988, with a radio-only compilation back when I was a university DJ. I feel that it was at least her best since “Love Song To a Stranger”, another song that grabs my emotions in a similar way.

Brothers in Arms is about a quintessential Baez theme: anti-war. It is hard to listen to lyrics like “There’s  a million different worlds/and a million different suns/we have just one world/and live in different ones” and not get choked up.

I have heard some remarks in recent blogs regarding the appropriateness of a woman singing this song. Well, I think that war is not just a “man’s issue”. It is an issue for all mankind. I feel no conflict with Baez singing this song. Women have sons, brothers, and husbands that are lost in war, too.  And when you hear Baez sing, believe me, any questions of appropriateness quickly fly out the window. She definitely makes this song her own.

[youtube zJeNPS2tLdA]

She does a better job of the vocals than anyone I have heard, including Mark Knopfler, the writer of the tune. But there is an element missing.The music in the background serves as a vehicle for her voice. It is maudlin, and its mediocrity doesn’t become obvious until the song’s ending where the musicians no longer have the power of Baez’s voice to carry the ending.

Finally, after all these years, I sat down and had an un-interrupted, quiet, sustained listen to Dire Straits doing the original song.

[youtube k5JkHBC5lDs]

Its strength is its weakness: Knopfler’s Gibson guitar. When most people talk to me about Dire Straits’ Brothers in Arms being a “good song”, they are referring to the guitar work. The words of the song, which Knopfler nearly mumbles his way through, takes a back seat to the the guitar playing. In a real sense, the problem is the reverse of the Baez problem: while the voice is just “kind of there”, it is just a vehicle for the guitar. And as Baez shows us in no uncertain terms, the lyrics of the song have their own power in the hands of the right vocalist, making the most of what are powerful, poetic lyrics.

If only we had Knopfler’s guitar, and Baez’s voice doing that tune … we can only dream.

Crappy Album Covers #128 — Channelling the Great Rock Legends

Album_Cover_Crap_168_MinstrelOTMorning_John_Bayley The design element (there is only one) that John Bayley uses combines all of the most incoherent elements of late-60s album design, hoping it will amount to something, for this 1976 album, “Minstrel of the Morning”.

Lessee … what do they throw in? A clay tiger, a kid in a lotus position (who will surely become warped when he gets older), a nearly comatose woman in a flowing dress (the feeding tube was temporarily disconnected for the photo shoot), a sitar, a mandolin, John Bayley channeling Mr. T, and a Wal-Mart circular rug, curtains, a painted over Roman blind, and some artificial plants.

A copy of this was sold on E-Bay last year for $75.00

Album_Cover_Crap_171_Flickr The closest explanation for this disaster of an album cover is … okay, some guy goes to the Harlem branch of the Salvation Army store in New York City, buys a random mixture of men’s, boy’s and lady’s clothing, then goes to the neighbouring soup kitchen at the Habour Light, and tells four jobless hoboes that he is willing to pay them two cases of beer each if they will dress up in these clothes for an album cover. At this point the hoboes still hadn’t bargained for mascara being part of the deal. But hey, there’s two cases of beer on the line. Each! That wasn’t so bad, but then the photographer told them they had to bathe first.

One of the hoboes angrily responded “What’s wrong with our personal hygeine? We take a bath every February 29th whether we need it or not!” That was almost the last straw, and after nearly an hour of thinking about it, they realised that they won’t be able to afford that much beer for a very long time, so they grudgingly obeyed.

This is why “They have got to rock and roll.”

(May be disturbing) Crappy Album Covers #127 — Plastic Surgery Disasters II

Album_Cover_Crap_186_Flickr This is the kind of thing that gives the LGBT community a bad name. Don’t know the artist, album or anything else about this disaster of an album design.

This is worse than an album cover, because it is a picture disc. Notice the hole punched in the center, near the price tag? Yeah, you take this, put it on your turntable, and watch this guy/girl/whtever rotate as he/she/it sings you some tunes.

Don’t picture this as a rotating CD, because CDs rotate too fast. You need to imagine can i buy tramadol over the counter this rotating at 33 1/3 rpm, where you could still make out some of the details as it spins.

I am usually a curious hound for finding out about most CAC’s but the blog I got this from also didn’t know, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to know.

Album_Cover_Crap_159_showandtelmusic_com_Greatest_Picks This appears to be by a member of the profession that is responsible for disasters like the one above.

With this album design, I would say that John Butterworth should stick to medicine.

Crappy Album Covers #115 — Trophy animals and trophy women

Album_Cover_Crap_195_Flickr First, let’s talk about trophy animals.

Kind of reminds me of the 1986 college radio smash hit “All I Got Were Clothes For Christmas” by Happy Flowers.

Also, looks like the musician is getting friendly with his trophy deer.

There is no info on who this person is or why he has the logo for the American Lung Association painted upside-down on his forehead.

Album_Cover_Crap_192_Flickr Everything was going romantically until Ethel noticed trophies of a beheaded blonde and redhead on the wall, and remembering she is a brunette, she concluded that George must be a collector. Things became tense after that.

Yes, trophy women. That is, women’s heads as wall-mounted trophies. This should have been the album cover for Fine Young Cannibals’ “Hunters and Collectors”.

Elliot Lawrence was an American Jazz Pianist and band leader during the late 1950s. He won two Tony Awards for his compositions in TV and film in the early  1960s.