Tag: Vocals

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 862: Uoy Tpurroc Ot Sdrow Dnasuoht A

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I was fifteen years old when my dad utilized his extensive technological prowess to produce a cassette recording for me of all the Beatles’ so-called backward messages. By “prowess” I mean he played a reel-to-reel tape backwards. It wasn’t tricky.

Playing music backwards is a phenomenon that has existed since the advent of recorded music. Occultist and all-around weird cat Aleister Crowley  suggested in 1913 that anyone who was wishing to become fluent in the language of magic should listen to phonograph records backwards in order to train their brains. The realm of avant-garde music has experimented with backwards music for decades. But apart from the occasional squonked-brain traipse through the Beatles “Revolution 9” (forward or backward – there’s very little difference), I don’t care much for the avant-garde.

Luckily, the more ear-friendly genres under the canopy of rock music have toyed with stashing backwards lyrics – known as backmasking – within the folds of some well-known songs. Sometimes it’s done as a joke, and other times it’s because rock musicians are clearly in league with Satan and have devised a way to plant subliminal backwards messages in their music in order to corrupt our children and get them to take up smoking. Or something.

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One evening whilst under the strictly medicinal effects of marijuana, John Lennon accidentally played the vocal track for “Rain”, his band’s new single, backwards. He loved the effect, and within a few short months the track was released with a snippet of lyrics at the end played backwards, sounding a little like John had picked up a foreign language during Ringo’s extended drum fill. Their accompanying album, Revolver, featured two backwards guitar solos, but it was the vocal message that really weirded people out. Read more…

Day 499: A Neophyte’s Morbid Spiral Into Doom Metal

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It occurred to me today as I was tidying up my kitchen and listening joyously to Michael McDonald and the Doobie Brothers sing “What A Fool Believes” that perhaps I should pen an article about doom metal.

To be clear, the sum total of doom metal CDs on my shelf is zero. While I respect the shredding musicianship of some of the masters of various genres around the metal spectrum, the style is simply not something I find myself in the mood for. Sure, I went through an “angry youth” phase, and leaned a little on the grunt of good grunge or the plucky plunk of punk, but I simply don’t get that angry anymore. And when I do, the music that balances my needle is usually something peppy from the ska closet.

I simply have no time for a genre of music whose entire thesis appears to be little more than “Life sucks. The world sucks. We’re all going to die. It’s going to be rather unpleasant.” It doesn’t interest me.

All the more reason I should slap my better judgment in its pimply little face and write about it.

Doom Metal bands are required to be able to stand spaced sporadically apart, looking miserable and "deep".

Doom Metal bands are required to be able to stand spaced sporadically apart, looking miserable and “deep”.

Doom metal is apparently played at a slower tempo, with thick, crunchy guitars and a lot of distortion. From what I can tell, doom metal is the stuff you’d play in a movie scene when the deranged, blood-splattered killer is stalking the hallways for his next victim, dragging his half-severed leg behind him and scraping his well-used machete along the plaster wall. Come to think of it, that scene might be decidedly more creepier somehow if you were to play the Monkees’ “Last Train To Clarkesville” instead. Read more…