Tag Archives: Bonus Content

Guest Blogger Wendell: Black Sabbath – Paranoid

18 Mar

I love my guest bloggers, especially those like Wendell who have been following along from essentially day one . . .

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To mark the last day of 9th grade, our English teacher (Miss Reid) encouraged us to bring in albums to share.  I only remember one, brought in by a genial stoner named Kevin.

It was Paranoid by Black Sabbath.

At the time, I was making the transition from AM pop to FM album rock and had just begun to get into acts like Rush, Kansas, and Styx.  I had heard of Black Sabbath but didn’t know anything about them beyond their reputation for drugs and deviltry.  Kevin was hugely enthusiastic about sharing it – I’d never seen him so engaged about anything inside the class room.  He dropped the needle on the last song of side one – seven drum beats, an ominous guitar riff, and a distorted voice proclaiming “I AM IRON MAN” pulsed out of the tinny speakers.

I hadn’t heard anything like it before and I wasn’t sure I liked it, but boy was I intrigued.

Paranoid was the best of a string of great Black Sabbath albums in the first half of the 1970s.  If you only listen to one album from these early masters of heavy metal, Paranoid should be it.  The follow-up to their surprisingly popular debut (Black Sabbath), Paranoid hits on all gears.  As on Black Sabbath, Paranoid featured loud guitar, dark and often druggy themes with generous doses of fantasy and science fiction imagery, and an utterly uncommercial sound that garnered little radio play.

But these songs were better focused than the debut’s, and Paranoid deserves its reputation as Black Sabbath’s best album and as one of the top hard rock albums of all time.

Side one of Paranoid (the first four tracks if you don’t have the vinyl) is one of my favorite clusters of songs ever.  It starts with “War Pigs”, a grim indictment of evil in the form of generals and politicians who send the poor off to die in their wars.  ” War Pigs” rocked – its long instrumental sections and guitar solos show the song’s origin in jam sessions the band would do to fill out early concert sets.  This could have been the standout track on most albums; on Paranoid, I think it’s only the third best song – though lyrically it made the biggest impression on the teenaged me.

Next a completely different creature – the short loud blast of “Paranoid”, an driving up-tempo lament of a damaged man in deep isolating depression (ironically the word “paranoid” is not in the lyrics).  It was written at the last minute as album filler, built on a Tony Iommi riff – but filler has rarely been this good, and “Paranoid” is a popular and critical choice on various all-time great metal song lists.

Then follows the spacey “Planet Caravan.”  It’s mellow, strangely captivating and very different from anything else on the album.  To me it holds the same place on Paranoid as “The Battle of Evermore” has on Led Zeppelin’s fourth album (Zoso, 1971); both are quiet, odd, quixotic fantasy songs holding down the third spot on album sides that feature three all-time great rock tunes (“War Pigs”/”Paranoid”/”Planet Caravan”/”Ironman” vs. “Black Dog”/”Rock and Roll”/”The Battle of Evermore” /”Stairway to Heaven”).  (I wonder if Page and Plant were listening to Paranoid?)

This great album side concludes with “Iron Man” – a long dark science fiction song about a time traveler (maybe inspired by the Marvel comic character of the same name, maybe not – details do differ) who, angered by an indifferent human race, plans his revenge.  Six minutes of fast metal mayhem with heavy guitar, so it didn’t get a lot of radio play at the time – but it nevertheless has become hugely popular and probably gets more time on classic rock stations today than it did when the album was released in 1970.

Side two is also very good though no song rises to the level of “War Pigs”/”Paranoid”/”Iron Man”.  “Electric Funeral” and “Hand of Doom” are dark chugging metal tunes, “Doom” about drug addiction, “Funeral” about nuclear war.  Following the instrumental “Rat Salad”, the album closes with the long jam “Fairies Wear Boots”; Ozzy sings about fairies wearing boots and dancing with dwarves, and his doctor advises him that maybe he should be careful about the recreational chemicals he ingests.

Sometimes I wonder what Kevin is up to now – I haven’t seen him since high school.  If I ever run into him again, I’ll have to thank him for introducing me and Miss Reid’s class to Black Sabbath’s Paranoid.

I get his enthusiasm.

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Wendell has been listening to rock music for a long time because he isn’t talented enough to play it. 

In no particular order, some of his favorite bands are The Kinks, Guided By Voices, Pink Floyd, Wilco, The Flaming Lips, Blue Öyster Cult, and Drive-By Truckers.   Don’t get him started on how American radio no longer plays good NEW rock music; classic rock is fine but you are missing a lot of excellent music if you only listen to stuff recorded before Bill Clinton was president. 

Wendell is currently living and working in the Minnesota area, and is supporting three hungry cats.

Guest Blogger Marc Rentzer: Black Flag – Damaged

2 Mar

Marc “Spike” Rentzer has a musical palette as eclectic as my own, and a playing career far more illustrious.  Although we have only known each other for a few years, we have determined beyond a reasonable doubt that we were in the same loud sweaty rock venues for the same gigs a decade before our official first meeting. 

This week’s Recording is squarely in his wheelhouse . . .

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Black Flag’s Damaged, is a hardcore punk album from the 1980’s. It’s one of the most respected albums of the genre. No other band really sounds like Black Flag, because Greg Ginn, the founder, guitar player and main songwriter, has one of the most unique styles inside or outside of the genre. When he plays, it’s unmistakably him, period.

Very few guitar players are like that.

While it starts off with a very positive statement in “Rise Above”, the devastating ending on this album is like no other. What is the real message? Is it to “Rise Above”, or to wallow in torment and keep people away from seeing the real you?

Damaged is an album of anxiety, fear, anger, loneliness, hatred, mental illness and depression. It is about an inner life of agony. Mind you, the most popular songs on this album, “Rise Above”, “Spray Paint” and “TV Party” – have nothing to do with the rest of the album, thematically (or are perhaps tangentially connected.)

Compared to the most hellish track of inner torment, “Damaged 1”, which is the final track on side two, “TV Party” is like a joke. It’s a good song and it’s about the nothingness of an unexamined modern life, with people just drinking their lives away while watching other peoples fake lives on television. But it is one thing that “Damaged 1” is not:  accessible to more listeners.

“TV Party” is funny/dark like a weird carnival in a way. By contrast, “Damaged 1” lays bare a raw, damaged psyche, hurt and vulnerable – but dangerous.

Picture a wounded beast who has been deeply tortured, pacing in its cage, in horror.

When not pacing, it’s in a fetal ball, in the corner, moaning and licking it’s wounds.

Then you walk in: The beast jumps up, but stays in its corner, back to the wall. It bares it’s teeth at you and roars at you and reaches out to claw at your throat. Imagine it’s on a choke chain and you get to come as close as you dare – and watch the beast for as long as you dare.

Well, I did this for years, when I listened to this album. I listened by putting two speakers on the floor facing each other, only 3 feet apart. I laid down between them and listened to this album over and over again at full volume – to squeeze out every last bit of truth!

“Damaged 1” is the climax of the album. On the way there, we’ve got padded cells, depression, a life of pain, sitting there like a loaded gun waiting to go off, problems so huge that maybe an atom bomb is the best answer and a part of life so agonizing that the lyrics are  shouted and begged to “make me close my eyes!”

Let’s play a game. Here are some of their lyrics:

I want to live/I wish I was dead
If I don’t get out I’m gonna die
Its hard to survive. Don’t know if I can do it
I need help before it’s too late
Earths a padded cell, defanged and declawed
Put the gun to my head and I don’t pull. I’m confused.

Now – how do we solve a problem like that? When we experience awful, life shaping pain. The pain of betrayal. The pain of early life experiences that you know will effect you for the rest of your life.

One way to solve a problem like would be to create art and have a cathartic experience.

Playing in a heavy band – and I know this – can be perfect for that sort of thing. But, there is a danger. Reliving it over and over again and defining it on your terms can be healthy, but it is a second away from wallowing.

If it were only about a sculpture, or a painting, or the cover art of this album: a dark photograph of a man with a shaved head, punching the mirror, right where his face is, with the mirror shattered and blood pouring down the fist, which is still connected to the broken, shattered mirror – that photograph could be cathartic and could hang on a wall in a gallery and be discussed.

But when it’s the songs, which are played over and over by the band in rehearsal and on tour – it can go toward wallowing  – or at least spending time within a self created world of a lot of pain. While it is healthy to face our personal pain – to focus on it all the time and with such intensity will keep ones psyche in a challenging place…because of course, filling ones head with positive uplifting thoughts does a lot more to create a happy person.

Or….were they just able to compartmentalize the feelings they brought out in the songs from the rest of their happy lives? It’s possible, because Black Flag was one of the most positive examples around, in terms of DIY. They lived it. They created their own band, wrote their own songs, learned to play really well and to tap into and express feelings most artists could never do.

They created their own record label and signed many other bands. Greg Ginn is responsible for most of this and was certainly the visionary – but I’m told it was a team effort in many respect with members of the band working at the label, his brother doing the album and flyer art, etc…

They toured and were part of a network that created clubs where there were none [no club in your town? Rent out a VFW hall!], created their own magazines (usually mimeographed or photo-copied) and artwork (flyers, posters, etc..). So for all the focus on hellish agony – they moved forward with a vision of relentless DIY with a fanatical work ethic. Few bands toured or practiced as much as Black Flag.

Black Flag touched me like no other band and it was specifically this album, Damaged. I wanted to feel the pain. I wanted to get into Rollins’ head and see what was there because I knew I felt that way sometimes, but couldn’t tap into it or describe it so vividly.

More than any other album, it  made me feel so alive.

Black Flag’s primal scream was in the same frequency as my own. Before I knew what mine was I heard Damaged and I recognized my inner self and the unique wavelength I shared with the universe. But their screams were more evolved because they had taken matters into their own hands and were pushing the universe back, in that dark alley. They were conscious, like Neo and his team of rebels in The Matrix [A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.] and of course, once you are awake, you can never go back to sleep.

It was my rush and my salvation to hear them shouting at me.

What is my “TV Party” which keeps me passive and unaware these days? What is my current representation of spray painting the walls, to subversively beautify what’s around me and to assert my identity and come alive as my true self? Who are the “jealous cowards” in my life who “try to control”? Are they external or internal demons? Do I “Rise Above”?

Have I?

When resistance is futile, as in the Black Flag song “Police Story” or when total freedom is elusive, to what extent do I make peace with “control”?

This is an album of existentialism and deep questions. How do I give my life meaning? How alive am I? How alive…and awake, do I want to be?

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Spike is a punk rock guitar player from New York. He played lead guitar in New York’s legendary Letch Patrol, strongly associated with the Tompkins Square Park Riot of 1988. He went on to join Iron Prostate and Furious George. He has played stages such as CBGB, the birthplace of Punk Rock, where The Ramones, Blondie and The Talking Heads took the world by storm in 1977 and was a member of the New York Hardcore scene in the 80’s. His bands have appeared in books (fiction, autobiography, encyclopedias), movies (documentaries, Hollywood productions) and television. 

Guest Blogger Joe Gola: Chuck Berry – The Anthology

12 Jan

We welcome witty wordsmith, Joe Gola, back into the guest blogger hot seat.
I hope his pants catch fire . . .

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Talking about the birth of rock ‘n’ roll is a tricky business; one would like to be able to point to the song, the moment when the light bulb went off and the teenagers of a nation looked over what the radio had made and saw that it was good.  The truth is far more complex than that, of course; tracing things backwards one can see not so much a revolution as an evolution, with contributions coming from blues, bluegrass, swing, rockabilly and folk.  Even into the early 1950s one could still hear in the proto-rock music the echoes of what came before, the ingratiating big-band cheese, or the bluesy stomp, or the down-home cowboy twang, lurking just underneath.

Chuck Berry’s first single, “Maybelline,” released in 1955, was one of those rare moments when the slow creep of organic progress was replaced by a great leap of audacity.  After a two-second tickle of guitar we are irresponsibly launched into a syncopated gold-record groove, and what’s surprising and fascinating about the song—beyond the great rhythm and general excellence of the musicianship—is the aggressive, almost insolent minimalist intensity.  There’s no apology to parents or self-deprecatory cues that this is “just” dance music; there is, really, only the rhythm and nothing else.

Just to prove it was no fluke, his second single, “Thirty Days” (recorded on the same day as “Maybelline”), is, if anything, even tougher, faster, and more self-assured.  This rambunctious hard-driving music is not “roots of rock ‘n’ roll” but the real specimen, as fully formed and legitimate as anything that has come since.  It is also noteworthy in that the recording is dominated by Berry’s guitar, since at that time early rock ‘n’ roll was still more of an ensemble sound, with piano and saxophone having equal voice.  The raw electric power of Chuck Berry (and his Chess colleague Bo Diddley) changed that landscape forever.

The cross-cultural success of his early singles led Berry to soften his tone and widen his audience with a friendlier sock-hop sound—if your parents overheard they would know that it was only dance music and not an armed insurgence—but with each new release a growing cockiness can be heard, a musician’s understanding that he is on to something good.  Even if “Roll Over Beethoven,” “School Days,” “Rock and Roll Music,” “Oh Baby Doll” and “Sweet Little Sixteen” were squarely aimed at the kids, they are still killer rock songs.

Many artists might well have peaked with “Sweet Little Sixteen”; it’s a perfect pop record, a seeming culmination of everything that this good-time dance music was moving toward.  Berry’s masterpiece was still to come, however, and this is where he changes from being an entertainer to being a giant.  From the first notes, 1958’s “Johnny B. Goode” is like a lightning bolt that obliterates the past and sends us flying ass-first into the future.  There’s no cushion, no warning, no friendly “hey, kids, let’s dance!” introduction, there is only a sudden barrage of guitar that throws us into the groove before we are even properly prepared.  We’re suddenly back to the punk-rock rush of “Thirty Days,” where there is no time to breathe or think because our rocket car is only barely under control. What is the song’s message?

The message is simply this: you are either with us or behind us. 

The key thing here, though, the little thing that changed history, is that Berry’s guitar and voice have fully achieved the snarling superhuman self-assurance that would turn out to be the final ingredient in the rock ‘n’ roll stew.  This belief in the state of being bulletproof leads us directly to “Wild Thing,” “You Really Got Me,” “Satisfaction,” “Black Dog” and “Blitzkrieg Bop.”  And here’s the proof: even now, in the twenty-first century, “Johnny B. Goode” doesn’t sound like an antique.  Crank it up full volume for unsuspecting teenagers and their eyes will only widen and fail to roll.

Lots more great stuff followed, of course, and any Chess-era anthology you pick up will be chock-full of gems.  Two of my personal lesser-known favorites to look out for are the bouncy “Back in the U.S.A.” and the buzzsaw fun of the blistering “Thirty Days.”  There are some amazing live clips on YouTube as well, and it’s also worth tracking down the 1987 documentary Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll for a more in-depth look at the great man’s history and legacy.

Tell Tchaikovsky the news!

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Joe Gola is the author of The Satanic Bridegroom, a novel of lust, madness and submarines. His various crimes against the literary world are detailed at http://golarama.com

Guest Blogger Rebecca Safeer: Hector Berlioz – Symphonie Fantastique

22 Dec

I love having guest bloggers to provide a different style, a different view on the recordings we are exploring.  This week I am pleased to introduce Rebecca Safeer, who stopped by my office every day during the summer to hear what I was listening to that day . . .

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My first reaction to this piece was, “Wow, this is long.”  And it is.  The piece is a little under 50 minutes long.  And that is how many times I probably listened to it.  

Over the past two months the count on my iTunes is at 45.  And after listening to a piece that much I can tell you that it is an amazing piece of music.  At first I didn’t like how long the piece was but I continued to listen to it in its entirety until I appreciated every part of it.   

Symphonie Fantastique is a piece of music from the Romantic period.  During the Romantic period (from about 1800 to about 1910) music was written with an emphasis on color.  The color that a piece of music shows is based on its instrumentation and the range at which those instruments are used.  During this time there was also the discovery of writing what is called program music.  This means that instead of writing a piece of music to show off all you can do with an orchestra or an ensemble, you wrote music based on a story or a theme.   

Berlioz does both of those things perfectly with his Symphonie Fantastique.  You can tell right from the beginning that the score is supposed to be accompanied by some type of story.  Berlioz envisioned a tale of an artist.  And each of the five movements are meant to be the development of this theme and to show various episodes in the life of the artist. 

There are many different sounds in this piece.  There are parts in which it feels like you are at a ballet and you could be floating on a cloud whilst listening to this peaceful music.  Then there are sections with a call and response between the higher instruments and the lower instruments.  However the best part about this piece is how the emotions of the artist that Berlioz is trying to convey come through by listening to the arrangement of the score.  You can feel the pain and suffering through the excitement build up by the horns and the timpani.  You can hear the love and freedom of the waltz theme when you hear the harmonies between the violins.  You can hear the triumph with the beautiful sound of the french horn. 

I absolutely love this piece.  Thanks to Avri for letting me be a guest blogger.  I really enjoyed listening to and learning about this recording.

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Rebecca studied Spanish Language and Literature at Stony Brook University.  She has studied music since 4th grade and graduated with a music minor.   

While studying in Barcelona, Spain she kept a blog which can be read here

Rebecca teaches middle school science and is proud to see many of her students’ experiments integrate science and music.

Guest Blogger Todd Michael Rogers: Benedictine Monks of St. Maurice and St. Maur – Salve Regina

17 Nov

I have met some fascinating, brave and talented people over the internet.
Todd is more all of the above than most.

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There is honesty in truth.

The song skips as the computer bogs.

Lyrics can change.

Shapes melt over time.

reverb against stone. honest words and echoes.

*

change is inevitable.

repetition is remembrance is forget

cry out until others join

*

a crash of waves

maps are made by man

true shapes cannot be understood

amen. hallelujah.

*

ageless voice
cassette warble.
this song is only three minutes old.
echoes are new to those who just hear them.

it ain’t so bad.

*

\ˌa-do-ˈro Tə\

To sit in the middle of a garden of rocks, before the sun rises, waiting for them to hatch.

Amen.

*
interlude:

These works have been sung since 1218, traditionally as the last song of the day, and share a title with the last prayer of the rosary. They were composed in the middle ages by a crippled monk named Hermann, who was left at age seven to rot in a monastery. The last of his shapes remain in Germany, held tight after his death and kept safe from decomposition as the world changed around them for seven hundred years. The songs force an honesty on the listener. Music is just shapes of waves, changing.

*

There are eleven short hymnal tracks after the first five movements. The last dying prayers before the end. Change is inevitable, the record will end and the shape of what the songs meant will change as I walk away from them.

I choose to walk away now, halfway through the recordings. Not a popular choice for a reviewer, but the songs now mean something to me. I am afraid anything else might change them again. If I still believe they are treasures and not stones, I will keep them longer.

I don’t think I would have chosen to end it like this, I think the record had an effect on me.

Shapes change in the light, truth can be seen with honesty. With truth comes change.

Do give it a listen.

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Todd Michael Rogers is an American game designer.  He is the creator of Spell Saga, as well as a founding member of French Toast Gaming Co.

A former sketch comic turned aspiring novelist, Todd has been designing games since he was six years old.  He is married to a poet named Meagen Crawford. They live in Nashville with a dog named Ellie.

Spell Saga is a tabletop novel – a solo cardgame combining the best parts of your favorite novel and that video game you almost completed – and is available to preorder along with all kinds of extra content here.

Guest Blogger Doron Klemer: Jorge Ben – Africa/Brasil

10 Nov

Time for some more guest post-y goodness, this time from my jet setting brother, coming to you from wherever it is he has woken up and found himself today.  I have often said that Doron is a music fan who blogs about books, while I am a book lover blogging about music . . .

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I have been following my brother’s blog of beats since it began, and meant to write a guest blog for some time.  Things kept getting in the way, (work, books, ending up in new countries by mistake, etc), as I watched some of my favourite bands and albums drift by without any comment from me.

And then, a month after I returned from northern Brazil for a prolonged vacation taste-testing caipirinhas and making sure the World Cup took place without (too much) incident, my brother prodded me to maybe write something, and what album was coming up shortly?  Jorge Ben’s 1976 album,  Africa / Brasil.

Since I was, at that very moment, working on a book about visiting both Africa and (South) Brazil, this seemed too good to pass up.

D in Brazil

D in Brazil

I usually immerse myself in a country’s music when I arrive there, as a way to both pick up its language and intonations and also some cultural background.  This time in Salvador de Bahía I somehow never got around to it, a strange state of affairs given that one of the only reasons I ever wanted to learn Portuguese was to be able to sing along to ‘Más Que Nada’ and the Lusitanian Manu Chao tracks I loved so much.

That is to say:  I had no idea who Jorge Ben was/is, (although this record was voted by Brazilian Rolling Stone as being one of the Top 100 Brazilian records of all time), and so here are my unadulterated thoughts on this album as I listened to it for the first time.

Enjoy the ride.

Track 1:  kicks straight in with a jangling rock guitar and shakers, before vocals roll over the top with some Umbabarauma’ing.  I then hear Ben’s voice for the first time, an infectious rising and falling of fun, backed up by a female chorus.  He sings, chants, talks and babbles his way through the opening number: “Joga bola, joga bola…jogador…’  A football fan!  How fitting!  And the song is just fantastic…

Track 2:  Starts slowly and funkily, and tells the story (in Portuguese naturally) of a mystic from 4,000 years ago – not the most obvious subject for a 70’s disco track, and not quite as much fun as the opening tune, but Ben’s voice, cracking on the high notes, is highly listenable.  What’s next, what’s next?

Track 3:  Suddenly, I’m listening to a Portugese-speaking Bob Dylan, with backing music by Serge Gainsbourg.  This is, as it sounds, a very, very good thing.

Track 4:  For the first time, the album feels to have gone off the boil a little.  Even a repetitive refrain of ‘Jogador do futebol’ cannot quite keep my interest in this slightly dull track with warbled lyrics.  Next!

Track 5: …and suddenly we’re back in cartoon-music territory.  There’s lots of talking, and it feels like things are getting a bit same-y…  I’m feeling a little disappointed.

Track 6:  Talking of things getting a little samey…  surely I recognise that chorus?  Halfway through this number I reach for the interwebs:  yes indeed, I am listening to Rod Stewart’s Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?  (there’s a pretty simple answer to that questoin, surely?).  It turns out this track is where Rod got his chorus from.  Unfortunately, the song itself is not very good.

Track 7:  Like Manu Chao decades later, there is a running theme throughout all of these songs which, not having learned much in music class at school, I can only describe as the ‘whoopie whoop’ instrument.  This is all over the stripped-down tune ‘Xica da Silva’ (a ‘negra’ as we are told: such epithets are apparently commonplace in South America, even these days, as any football/soccer fans will know if they followed the Luis Suarez saga).  I find the song a little boring.  Next!

Track 8:  The story of Jorge next, and it’s great:  a female backing choir, a gnarly-voiced spoken tale of George who flies, apparently.  Toe-tapping fun is back again!

Track 9:  Things have slowed down a little for another sung/spoken tale of a footballer which gets me interested in the music again, (although I am sick of ‘that’ instrument, whatever it is).  The song is called The Number 10 From Gávea, which I believe is a reference to Zico when he played for Rio team Flamengo, a Brazilian legend and a guy I once stalked at a hotel in Japan when he was their national manager.  True story.  And a sweet song.

Zico

Zico

Track 10:  Some funky guitar and African drums liven up this upbeat track.  I am flagging, though.  This started out as so much fun, but it’s ending by exhausting me, the aural equivalent of drinking caipirinhas on the beach:  the first half dozen are great, but by the tenth, you are pretty sure you shouldn’t be doing this anymore…

Track 11:  Lots of shouting to start this one, and it doesn’t calm down, which actually gets a little grating after a while.  This is a slow-burning goodbye track, heavy on the sax, fade out to end the album.

And there I am, left with the feeling that it would have been good to listen to this on vinyl so I could just listen to the first side.

Some final thoughts:

-I could feel the Brazilian sun on my face again listening to this, but by the end I felt sunburned.  In my ears.

-This album for a while made me wish I had an afro.

-You should read my bookblog, and read my upcoming book ‘Benfica to Brazil: a year of football.

Owned before blogging? No.
Heard before blogging? No.
Heard of before blogging? Not even.
Recommend? How do I know what you like? Sure, why not, there are some funky tracks, and Portuguese is a gorgeous language, (at least when sung or even spoken by Brazilians: Portuguese spoken by the Portuguese themselves just gives you an idea of how Russian would sound if Russians gave up on pronouncing 80% of the vowels in words). Yes. Let’s go with yes.

Post Script:
I was at my beloved Benfica to see them beat Monaco in a Champions League match days after listening to this album for the first time.  What did I find playing on repeat in my brain throughout the match? “Joga bola jogador…”

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Doron is a writer, traveler, tour guide, linguist and (in the interests of full disclosure) the brother of this blog’s author. What, you thought nepotism ended with George W?

Not good enough for England, so tries out for Brazil

Not good enough for England, so tries out for Brazil

Doron was also tempted to put ‘International Man Of Mystery’ on his latest batch of business cards, but decided he wasn’t quite 17 anymore.

He currently resides in Lisbon, Portugal, (since there are no World Cups or Olympics on at the moment), where he gives walking tours of the city to unsuspecting tourists.

He also writes two blogs, one on his book-buying addiction and another on football. This latter has turned into a project to to publish his first (but hopefully not last) book on his travels and adventures following the FIFA World Cup across the globe over the past 16 years, and his newly adopted team Benfica across Europe this year.

The project can be found and funded here.

Doron likes dogs, but does not like squidgy foods.

Bye!

Bye!

Guest Blogger Johanna Pinzler: The Beatles – Abbey Road

21 Jul

Love of my life, mother of our daughter, writer of a guest blog post . . .

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My Mom used to tell me about her college roommate and best friend who was obsessed with George Harrison. She had a full length picture of his first wife, model Patti Boyd, and she amused herself by throwing darts at her crotch.

I’m not sure why I felt compelled to share that tidbit but I’ve always wanted to tell that story and this seemed like the appropriate moment.

My mother was a tremendously huge Beatles fan . . . or at least that’s how I perceived her as a kid. She certainly had all the band’s albums (or got them in the divorce) and although she didn’t play them much there they were, stashed under the record player along with some of my other favorites by Aretha Franklin and Carole King. Sometime in junior high or early high school I found them and played them and they were very much a part of my self-guided musical education.

With a few exceptions (Prince, Billy Joel, REM) I wasn’t all that interested in the top 40 by the time I hit high school. I was aware of it and even enjoyed a lot of it but I wasn’t obsessed. I was obsessed with musical theatre soundtracks, Motown and the Beatles (at some point The Doors slipped in there too). I always felt somehow out of sync musically with many of my peers but I liked what I liked and as an adult I can look back at my teenage musical tastes and think I was actually pretty cool in a “screw you I’m totally retro” kind of way.

Abbey Road has always been one of my favorite Beatles albums jockeying for position with Revolver and The White Album, but the way Abbey Road really stands out is that I never want to skip any of the tracks when I am listening to it.

With the advent of CD and now Mp3 I am a frequent abuser of my skip button. I do it all the time but never with Abbey Road. Every single song is a work of art and tells a complete (or somehow connected to another in the same album) story.

I had heard that the Beatles were never all in the same room when they recorded this album in the spring and summer of 1969.

It turns out that isn’t entirely true. According to Ian MacDonald in his book “Revolution in the Head: The Beatles’ Records and the Sixties” they weren’t getting along all that well and there was a lot of tension but the 4 of them did get into the studio a few times, in fact some of the most complicated harmonies The Beatles ever sung were done all together on the tracks “Because” and “The Sun King.”

I find this to be a relief because the album is so genius that it makes me sad as both a musician and a fan that this kind of brilliance could be created in any way other than as an ensemble.

I mean the first four tracks alone are “Come Together”, “Something”, “Maxwell Silver’s Hammer” and “Oh! Darling.” Come on!

It would be hard to top that but then this album also contains, “Here Comes The Sun”, “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”, “Octopus’ Garden”, and as part of the crazy medley on the B side, “She Came in Through The Bathroom Window.”

I teach communications and theatre students at two different colleges in the greater New York area and it gives me chest pains how many of my students only know about The Beatles as some great band from way back. They may know the occasional Beatles song because they still get played and covered by other bands but they don’t “get it.”

It should be part of any kid’s musical education that they have to listen to the Beatles canon.

They just don’t make music like this these days.

It makes me sound like an old fart (hell, it’s not even considered my generation’s music) but there is something so complete about the music The Beatles wrote and recorded especially the later albums. They are eminently singable, feature insanely remarkable musicianship, have meaning, and without them so much of what has followed in Rock and Roll, and really all music, simply would not exist in the same way.

So I say Abbey Road (and The White Album, Sergeant Pepper’s, Revolver and Rubber Soul) should be required listening for all the young whippersnappers out there.

And while I’m at it, get the hell off my lawn.

—–

Johanna Pinzler has an MFA, a husband (who you may be familiar with) and a daughter.

Most often she can be found on subways reading her Kindle while she commutes from Brooklyn to the Bronx and the Upper East Side where, depending on the day, she teaches Theatrical Directing, Public Speaking and Voice and Speech.

In her alternate reality she is a Professional Director . . . she recently returned from Sonoma County, CA miraculously having been paid to do what she loves.

In her past life she got paid to sing rock and roll and show tunes in piano bars.

Go to johannapinzler.com to see pictures of productions she has directed and hire her as an acting coach.

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