The Hang of Music: Revolution #1

Prepare yourselves, because I am about to REVIEW MUSIC.

For those (see: “all”) of you to whom this blog is new, this will be my first “The Hang of Music” post. More explanation will be given in a later post. But ground rules will be given here.

I am going to listen to an album I have never heard before. This is not a difficult thing, as there is an ocean of music out there, and I am just one drop. Regardless, I am going to sit here and review an album I have never heard before. I will listen to it all the way through, in one sitting, and make notes on it.

Then you get an album review. Simple as.

Now you can see how, for my opening gambit, I ended up reviewing this:

My first thought was to remember the first time I heard “Back in the USSR” at karaoke, being performed (quite well, I seem to remember) by my then housemate. And thinking how unlike what I then thought the Beatles were like the song sounded. Since then, I’ve heard more of their stuff.

And I’ve heard even better songs of theirs since.

Irritatingly, not on this album. Unlike the lightning bolt I got when I heard “Taxman”, or when I rediscovered “Girl” from my old radio alarm clock, there was no crowning song like that and although I think I laughed in surprise once, I don’t know why and it wasn’t for long.

Oh yeah, I remember why; it was the end of Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da. Pretty cool outro, I thought. I liked the song more than the fact that it’s mostly just vocables would let on.

Actually, I hate vocables, and I think that may be a serious barrier to my enjoying the Beatles. As I type this, I can hear “shooobie doo all right!” WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? Especially when followed by lines about changing the constitution. I can’t believe I’m being told to change my mind, change the world, then being told “shooobie doo all right!”

A lack of patience for nonsense lyrics can be a problem for appreciating 60s music. Ah well.

What an LP looks like.

One of the problems with listening to old LPs is the track transitions. I was quite annoyed with the shocking transition from “Julia” to “Birthday”, and it’s taken me ’til now, checking the wiki, to realise that “Birthday” was the beginning of Side 3. That abrupt jarring change from one track to another is actually a good side start.

My other real problem with approaching this album was “Revolution 9”. Yes, “Revolution 9”, which is just an avante garde arrangement of sounds.

That I like. I like experimentation. It’s worth doing, and I can see that songs like that were the start of Prog. Which I also love.

What I don’t like is that nothing else on the album sounded even remotely similar. There was no blend from “normal” music to more surreal stuff, it just seemed to lurch in out of the blue and away again. A good album would give some warning, and have more than just an isolated song that was just noise. Not that it’s not a good album, I just expected more… weirdness. Or more “Twist and Shout”. Not less.

Yay for picking controversial albums to start on, as I know that a load of people will be annoyed if I say I’m not much of a Beatles fan, and that this album is not their best, even. I liked some bits of it, but really, a lot of it was just too tame. Too lightweight.

Maybe I’m a bit biased. My relationship with the Beatles has never really been perfect.

But, on a cool note; It took me a while to work out where I heard “Cry Baby Cry” before:

And I can’t help but think that Bowie nicked the Mother Superior reference in “Oh! You Pretty Things” from “Happiness is a Warm Gun”. So I suppose I can’t be too annoyed.

Anyway, watch me soar, I’m out of here. Hope you had anywhere near reading this as I did researching and writing it!

After all, out of the two of us, I’m the one who gets to listen to new music.

EDIT – Crap, errors in the first post! The problem with having an internet is that factual mistakes are inexcusable; just because Bowie was weird prog-pop, doesn’t mean he ever used the words “Mother Superior”! It was “Homo Superior”! Crap on a stick!

Ah well, hopefully no-one noticed. Not even you!

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Posted on June 21, 2011, in Music, The Hang of Music and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Ahh The White Album! Lewis, like you, holds the view it is quite disjointed. I also agree, to a point, but it’s also one of my favourite Beatles albums! It contains one of my favourite tracks of all time – Helter Skelter. I am disappointed you didn’t comment on it, since, apart from Revolution 9, it’s the most controversal track, with the whole unfortunate Charles Manson incident. When I first listened to the album it was something I awaited for and really enjoyed it.
    I think The Beatles were breaking up at this time and therefore some tracks (like Blackbird) was written and recorded by ONE member only (Paul McCartney in the case of Blackbird). This may explain the disjointed-ness. Lewis also said, this album would have been better as one disc, rather than a double. He commented the other day that there were a lot of “fillers” in it. I understand what he meant, but I like the songs. It’s not as complete an album as “Revolver” or “Rubber Soul” – my other two favourite Beatles album, but if you listen to the songs individually rather than as an album, they all have their own merits.
    But I know you are an album man, which explains why you gave it an average/poor review.
    Jess (the comment box even gave me somewhere to publicize my website! ace!)

  2. Charles Manson incident? I wasn’t aware of this. TO THE INTERNET.

    [Returns with a few minutes more knowledge]

    I see… He’s an odd fellow that man. I’m glad to hear that **only** put forward bizarre, hateful racist scenarios in connection to “Helter Skelter”, not that he actually put them into practice whilst listening to it.

    It is a good song though; one that would be better for fewer racist megalomaniacs. Most songs are.

  3. Oz….he murdered a bunch of people. And wrote Helter Skelter (misspelt) on a wall in blood…… I don’t know what you read, but he’s a murderer. Look up Sharon Tate?

  4. Actually, after looking up stuff again, I’m now unsure if it was Charles Manson himself, or just followers that committed the murders. Either way, they were horrific murders, connected to the song Helter Skelter (somehow?! Although, I’ve never heard ‘go kill lots of people’ in the song), and Manson was involved. Having heard that the song was involved, I was interested and slightly worried on hearing it….but as I said I liked it, and don’t understand how it could be misunderstood in such an awful way!!

    Also, on a side note Marilyn Manson created his stage name from the names of a movie star (Marilyn Monroe) and criminal (Charles Manson).

  5. I know, it’s awful. He is a horrible man. I was just pointing out I was expecting an actual example of atrocities with the lyrics smeared in blood on the wall. And I was glad that it was, as far as cursory fact checking goes, just a part of his sick worldview, not an actual single event like when they murdered…

    Oh, wait, the song WAS directly involved in a specific event:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Manson#Tate_murders.
    Even fucking better.

  1. Pingback: The Hang of Music: Maximum the Rei Rei Rei | A Hatful Of Napalm

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