Tag: Sun King

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 133: Of Folds And Smith

It’s never easy writing about someone I admire. I run the risk of babbling, and sounding like a gushing fanboy, instead of the award-winning journalist that I’d rather pretend to be. A couple of days ago I found a unique take on the Beatles, which allowed me to write intelligently about their work, and avoid falling into the trap of, “Isn’t that chord just before the vocals come in on ‘Sun King’ so frickin’ awesome?!”

Today I’m tackling the Ben Folds Five. First, allow me to expunge the giddy music nerd inside me: I’ll go on record that I believe Folds to be among the finest songwriters and musical minds in the business today. He is also one of only a half-dozen celebrities around whom I would be truly fan-struck and tongue-dumb to meet. Which I did (though briefly), and I totally was.

Ben Folds Five have reunited for a new album, and they’ve opted to grab their marketing machetes and slash a new path through the distribution wilderness for the disc’s release. Using Pledgemusic.com, they are offering a free download of their new track, and upgrading each of their fans to Vice President of Promotions for the BF5’s de facto label. In short, they’re shirking traditional marketing methods (which makes sense, since their music hardly meshes with the bilious pap that record companies like to promote these days), and turning to their fans to inspire their friends and family to come to their senses and check out the new record.

Yes, I still call them 'records'. A 'disc' is something in your spine or something the Tron dudes throw around.

If this sounds familiar, that’s because it was done before – sort of – in a different realm. Last year, filmmaker Kevin Smith released his brilliantly Tarantinonian Red State through the word-of-mouth of his fans, a tour, and by harnessing our culture’s new lifeforce: social media.

Apart from the fact that Smith is another one of those six or so art-makers with whom I’d love to sit down and brain-pick, there are a surprising number of similarities I’ve noticed in the career and artistic arcs of both Smith and Folds. Read more…