Tag: Her Majesty

Day 998: Crossing Abbey Road

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This Friday marks the 45th anniversary of what I believe to be the greatest album of all time.

Before you flick lint in my beer or pelt me with wads of Big League Chew for not designating this title to Pink Floyd’s Piper At The Gates of Dawn or Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ Too-Rye-Ay, allow me to point out that there are many albums that are flawless – sometimes in spite of a number of actual flaws. Nary a wayward note blemishes Stevie Wonder’s Songs In The Key of Life, and Paul Simon’s Graceland is among the few utterly perfect slabs of 1980’s vinyl. For me, “the greatest” combines not only artistic and technical brilliance, but the subjective distinction of having served as the soundtrack to many of the most fantastic moments of my life. Your results may (and probably do) vary.

The story of Abbey Road is one of pure, primal mirth, flecked with auburn specks of encroaching melancholy. It is the last glorious and romantic trip to Maui for an otherwise doomed marriage. It marks the greatest rock band in history (an assertion I’ll stand by as wholly factual) producing one final brushstroke upon their legacy before heading their separate ways.

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This is not a happy group.

In January of 1969, the Beatles were moving in four different directions, and had been for over a year. Their plan was to return to the studio, record a back-to-their-roots album, perform their first concert since the summer of 1966 (the Pyramids in Egypt were a proposed locale, as was a barge adrift in the Atlantic), and film it all for posterity. This attempt to reconnect resulted in a cavalcade of arguments, the grandiose concert reduced to a noon-hour gig on the roof, and the temporary quitting of George Harrison. Read more…

Day 837: The Chess Moves Of Nuclear Madness

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I hate to get all gloomy and dark, but as blissful as the post-Cold-War afterglow may have been (and oh, how it was), we need to take a step back and remember that we still live in a world saturated with nukes, ready to pop out of the ground like strategic pimples speckling a teenager’s face. While it’s somewhat comforting to know that the people who really hate us are not equipped with the ability to bury us under a mushroom cloud, I still don’t feel right about this. I live near my country’s primary oil reserves – if the bad guys want to kick Canada in the crotch, I live in that crotch.

That said, it isn’t likely. I grew up with the knowledge of precisely where Ground Zero would be, based on the Soviet nuke that was perpetually aimed our way, according to the local rumor. I didn’t let this knowledge derail my existence – I had food to eat, girls to chase and weekly doses of Quantum Leap to enjoy. But the knowledge was there.

I’m fascinated by the way nuclear weapons swiftly and immediately changed the face of military strategy. The discussion went from “we’re stronger” and “we’re smarter” to mutually-assured destruction. You attack us, we die – but we attack you and you die too. Not a lot of wiggle-room for options there. But the intricacies of nuclear strategy are far more complex.

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Richard Nixon took over the presidency in the middle of an unpopular war, after having campaigned with the promise that his “new leadership” would end it. He knew that negotiating with the North Vietnamese (or with the USSR, who – let’s face it – were really on the other side of that blood-stained coin) wasn’t going to cut it. So he borrowed a page from Machiavelli and employed the Madman Theory. Read more…

Day 177: Congratulations! You Discovered The Bonus Track!

Today’s helpful article from the trusty e-quill of Mr. Handy serves to remind you that your music collection may in fact be larger than you think. Your favorite album may contain a hidden track, concealed from the general public by its omission from the album’s packaging, and designed to incite a squeal of ‘insiderness’ for those True Fans who make the effort to hunt it down.

Like almost everything innovative that ever happened in rock music, this can be traced back to the Beatles.

They also invented guitars, harmony, cowbells, and moustaches.

If you have never listened to “A Day In The Life”, the final cut on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, you need to first telephone your parents and declare that you now have evidence that they failed in your upbringing, then listen to the track immediately. Many consider this song to be among the Beatles’ finest achievements, and if you haven’t been blasted into unconsciousness by the triumphant final piano chord, you’ll hear what may be the first hidden track in album history.

After a quick 15-kilohertz tone that your dog will likely hear more clearly than you, there’s a two-second loop of laughter and gibberish that repeats and fades out. Most importantly, it only fades out because you likely listened to the CD track or a digital download. This snippet was actually laid into the vinyl album’s middle groove, so people who had turntables that didn’t automatically lift up and re-dock after the end of a side (which was most people) would hear that loop endlessly.

Also, if you play it backwards, it allegedly kind of sounds like they’re saying “We’ll fuck you like Superman.” I’m not making that up. Read more…