August 19, 2007

Music, Work, A Bite To Eat, A Visitor And Some Album Cover Art

I honestly don’t know why I can’t get into what is considered Rock these days. Maybe it’s the lack of art in the music, or the lyrics that seem to reflect the narcissism of today’s youth, or the obnoxiousness…or something.

This evening I decided to stay home, catching up on work that was delayed thanks to the computer virus problem I had earlier in the week, and listen to some stuff from my teens, of which I have quite a lot, and work my way into my twenties, via a long playlist from the library in my computer.

I started with the Jefferson Airplane, staying away from the more familiar singles like White Rabbit and Somebody To Love, sticking to material like She Has Funny Cars, My Best Friend and DCBA 25 from Surrealistic Pillow, Last Wall Of The Castle and Rejoyce from After Bathing At Baxter’s, the 2400 Fulton Street version of Won’t You Try/Saturday Afternoon and Wooden Ships, and a few of their ballads.

It was pretty refreshing, I must say. There was something really clean in their sound that you just don’t hear much anymore, a certain instrumental and vocal clarity, despite the exponentially advanced audio technology available today.

And the music and lyrics were completely original, not derivatives of past recordings by other people or imitations of other musicians’ styles.

Perhaps that’s the problem with today’s Rock – maybe everything’s been said, and there’s nothing left to do but reiterate…

G-d, I hope not.

Dinner break included a bunch of ravioli (stuffed with both beef and ground Italian sausage) a food friend made this afternoon and, thoughtfully, brought some over to impress me. She did, it was awesome. I ate it with some Napa Valley Bistro roasted garlic sauce “with fresh herbs & Napa Valley pinot noir”. For a change of pace, well: last week, said food friend and I were reminiscing on the cheaper wines we’d drank while teenagers, and out of pure nostalgia I ordered a couple of bottles of Yago sant’gria (remember that stuff?) on line and put them in the refrigerator when they arrived. I had a couple of glasses with dinner and it went well not only with the meal, but with the music as well.

Eric Clapton, CSNY, the Who, Marmalade, The Guess Who, The Doors, then…

Having listened to such guitar greats as Jorma Kaukonen and Eric Clapton, it seemed appropriate to listen to some Steve Howe (Yes and Asia) and some Jan Ackerman (Focus), while getting back to work.

Or so I thought, however: as the evening was getting rather long in the tooth, a neighbor stopped by on a break from his Saturday night bar hopping to repay a C-note I’d loaned him a few days ago, and I poured him a generous glass of my favorite tequila, Sauza Tres Generaciones.

I also fired up the cawfee pot, as this meant it was Kona and brandy time for me.

Both of us being about the same age and fans of Yes and Focus, the music was fortuitous – we ended up talking about the art of Roger Dean, who did a number of Yes album covers, such as Fragile, Tales from Topographic Oceans and Relayer among numerous other projects. Coincidentally, I am in the process of obtaining a copy of an old book of Roger Dean art, called Views.

The Relayer cover was a masterpiece.

Prior to Dean’s Yes covers, I’d considered the art on the cover of Santana’s Abraxas to be numero uno, ichiban, numbah one.

The Roger Dean album covers are legendary – when I lived in San Francisco, there was an art gallery on Geary Street that featured Yes cover Roger Dean art as about 90% of its inventory and seemed to be doing quite well.

After three tequilas, my neighbor departed for another round of the bars and now it’s about a half hour later. The live version of Yes’ Awaken is about halfway through (it is 18 ½ minutes long, it is the only other track on the album side it shares with Wonderous Stories on Going For The One). Showcasing the keyboard brilliance of Rick Wakeman, it’s easily one of my favorite Yes pieces. On the studio version, recorded in Switzerland, Wakeman did most of his part in a church, miles away from the recording studio, because he liked the sound he got from the powerful organ therein, and to say the result was spectacular would be an understatement.

Yes has been around for nearly 30 years, and though Progressive (Art) Rock hasn’t been popular since the mid 1980s, they still sell out coliseums, stadiums and concert halls whenever they tour.

The key, I believe, to a band being a super-group on their level is there being no one or two lead musicians in the band, rather all members are equally the lead musicians, all are true masters of their respective instruments and there is utterly perfect team integrity, every member of the band flawlessly complements every other member.

If the Republicans in Congress worked that way, the Constitution would still count for something and the socialist Democrats across the aisle, along with the liberal media, would be as irrelevant as Chihuahuas yapping from behind a chain link fence.

by @ 1:06 am. Filed under Just Talking, Music
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5 Responses to “Music, Work, A Bite To Eat, A Visitor And Some Album Cover Art”

  1. University Update - Windows Vista - Music, Work, A Bite To Eat, A Visitor And Some Album Cover Art Says:

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  2. Ken Taylor Says:

    Great analogy my friend. Thanks for the Rock and Roll memories also. I grew up in the SF Bay Area and my next door neighbor at one time were the parents of John Fogerty. CCR before they became famous used to practice in the garage and I would listen all night to the great music while my dad would call the police because of the noise.

    The Fogerty boys were the older guys in the neighbor and we used to play football in the street with them playing perminant QB. I was in my later grade school years and early teens.

    When they recorded the first album they gave me one of the first copies. I listened to it until I wore it out. Hey they were a couple of guys from the neighborhood and not celebs so I never even thought about getting signatures and saving the album. Wish I had now. I could retire on its sale on E-Bay ! LOL

  3. Seth Says:

    Ken –

    I grew up listening to CCR, and even now have a lot of their music in my library, and listen to it from time to time. They were a great band.

    I used to own a solo album John Fogerty released in about the mid 1970s.

    Too bad they didn’t give you one copy to listen to and a second, autographed, shrink-wrapped copy to save for the ebay retirement sale. :-)

  4. Shoprat Says:

    I think the worst thing to happen to popular music of all sorts was MTV. Now a female vocalist’s posterior counts for more than her vocal abilities. Mama Cass, in spite of her awesome talent, would have never stood a chance. When it became visual rather than overwhelmingly musical the music suffered. Back in the days when you had to know how to sing some of our current popular stars would have never been signed. Our tastes in music may be different but I too wonder what happened.

  5. Seth Says:

    Shoprat –

    You make an excellent point. Music today does seem to be “packaged” based on how it will play in videos.

    I still enjoy listening to the Mamas and The Papas, I have a whole slew of their songs. Cass Eliot’s voice pretty much made the band.

    Personally, if I want to “watch” music, I’ll go to a concert. :-)