Tag: popular culture

Popular Culture (Music) 20120615: The Moody Blues – Peak and Decline

Last time we discussed Seventh Sojourn, considered by many to the finest album made by the band.  Tonight we shall examine the time after that record.

After Seventh Sojourn was released, The Moody Blues were the top record selling band at the time, and had reached their zenith.  Their success brought a huge world tour.  As a matter of fact, the tour, although broken up into a couple of legs commenced in October 1972, in the US (with at least 13 dates played in late 1972).  They then took a break until the European leg started in September 1973, playing at least 33 dates (some were back in the US).  They played another 12 at least sets in Japan, Hawaii, and California in January and February of 1974.  

Popular Culture (Music) 20120608: Still More Moodies – Seventh Sojourn

Last time whe discussed Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, and this time we shall discuss Seventh Sojourn, which is the last of what I term the “canonical” Moody Blues albums.  I say this because there were some major changes after the record which we discuss, and their sound was never quite the same.

Many people consider this to be their finest record, and I do not intend to argue with them.  Although my personal favorite is still In Search of the Lost Chord, Seventh Sojourn is certainly a wonderful work.  I have an hypothesis about what that is so, and shall share it with you in a bit.

Once again Tony Clarke produced the record and Phil Travers provided the cover art.  It was a gatefold album, in accordance with the deal that Threshold Records had with Decca because of the expense of the cover format.  I also have an hypothesis about why they insisted on that format.

Popular Culture (Music) 20120601: More Moodies – Every Good Boy Deserves Favour

Last time we discussed A Question of Balance, and tonight we discuss their next album.  Released on 19710723, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour was the seventh album by The Moody Blues, and the sixth one with the Edge, Hayward, Lodge, Pinder, and Thomas lineup.  As we shall see next time, by then they had pretty much determined that the original lineup were really quite a different band than the one that was created when Hayward and Lodge joined.

Although not my favorite album by them, it has some really high parts (punintentional).  It charted at #1 in the UK and at #2 in the US, not a trivial accomplishment considering the great music of the period.  Once again Tony Clarke produced it and Phil Travers supplied the cover art for the record.

The album is unusual in several respects.  First of all, the title itself, according to Wikipedia, is a mnemonic memory aide for the treble clef:  E, G, B, D, F.  Secondly, the cut “Emily’s Song” was written by Lodge for his new daughter.  Finally, it is contains the only work written by all five band members.

Popular Culture (Music) 20120525: Moodies – A Question of Balance

Last week we discussed To Our Children’s Children’s Children, and this week we shall listen to the next record, A Question of Balance.  I personally like this album very much, second only to In Search of the Lost Chord.

No band members were changed, the same five performing since the second album, this one being their sixth.  Tony Clarke produced, just as he had since the second album.  This album has on it one of their high charting singles, “Question”, and is just marvelous.  Many of the songs from this album became staples for live performances.  Phil Travers once again provided the cover art.  It is their second record on Threshold Records.

Popular Culture (Music) 20120518: Yet More Moodies

Last week we discussed On the Threshold of a Dream, and this week the next album by The Moody Blues, To our Children’s Children’s Children.

The band were the same lineup as from their second record, and after being released on 19691121 charted at #2 in the UK and at #14 the next year in the US.  This is really a very nice album, although not my favorite Moodies one.

This album follows the trend that The Moody Blues were an album rather than a singles band because the only single from it failed to chart.  We discussed this last week and came to the conclusion that the ideas that they were expressing were simply too complex for one or two songs.

Popular Culture (Music) 20120511: Still More Moodies

I was going to take a break from this series and write about the 1969 TeeVee show Turn-On.  It aired only one episode, and some stations cut the feed during the show, and some Mountain and Pacific Time Zone stations never aired it at all.  If anyone knows where there are links to content, please let me know.  I am one of the few people to have seen the entire first (and only) episode ever to be aired.

Last time we finished up about The Moody Blues third album, In Search of the Lost Chord.  I really thought that this was a fine piece of music.  Their next album, released on 19690425 on Deram Records, it charted at #1 in the UK and at #20 in the US.  This record was really the one that locked their commercial (and artistic) success.

Whilst not as complex and the previous album (the five played only 12 instruments rather than the more than 30, although Hayward played both 6 and 12 string guitar, so the total really should be 13), it is very charming.  Whilst not a single song stands out as extraordinary, as a whole it is a marvelous piece.  Have you heard?

Popular Culture (Music) 20120504: More Moodies

Last time we talked about the origins of The Moody Blues and some of their earlier work.  We ended on “The Best Way to Travel” from In Search of the Lost Chord.

I was called away to help my friend do something to get ready to attend a wedding the next day, so we shall finish that album tonight and start on the next one, On the Threshold of a Dream.  That was also a fine album.

Popular Culture (Music) 20120427: The Moody Blues

I am very fond of The Moody Blues, although regular readers know that I am at heart a fan of The Who.  This short (probably two or three installments) was suggested to me by my dear friend Steve.  He and go back to the eighth grade, and we still speak almost every day, sometimes more than once per day.

To digress, I am very impressed with modern high speed communication.  We live almost 900 miles apart from each other, yet can communicate by telephone for essentially no cost since we both have unlimited cellular minutes.  When we were in the eighth grade, a landline station to station call cost around 25 cents per minute, end we lived only around 15 miles apart at the time.  How things have changed!

In any event, The Moody Blues were one of the older bands from the UK, having formed on 19640504, with the lineup appearing after the fold.  Mark I was not horribly successful, but Mark II were spectacular.

Popular Culture (Music) 20120420: Jim Croce

James Joseph Croce (aka “Jim”), was born on 19430110 in South Philadelphia.  If a tragedy had not intervened, he likely would still be with us.  Unfortunately, he was killed in an aeroplane crash on 19730920, not yet 31 years old.

Croce had the unusual ability to write both comedic and serious material with aplomb (I always wanted to work that word into a piece).  Only a few writers have been able to do this, and for the most part he wrote his own material.  He did record some material written by others, but what artist has not?

He also had the ability to attract a very diverse listenership.  My father was about as opposed to popular music as could draw breath, but love “You Don’t Mess around with Jim”!  Let us take a few minutes to look at the way too short life and listen to some of the work of this talented writer and performer.

Popular Culture (Music) 20120413: The Lovin’ Spoonful

First of all, I apologize for missing Wednesday’s installment of My Little Town.  If anyone is interested why, I shall be happy to explain in the comments.  Briefly, yesterday was very busy.

The Lovin’ Spoonful were a short lived band that several well known hits.  Their music was more catchy than substantive, but better than much of the pap that was available at the time.

This is the only time that I intend to write about them, but they were quite popular for a few years.  There is controversy about the origin of the name for the band, and we shall address that first.

Popular Culture (Music) 20120406: Love Songs

Love songs are a huge part of popular music, and have been since liturgical music lost its primary place.  I certainly shall not try to cover centuries worth of love songs, but rather just give a few that I particularly like.

We shall cover the mid 1950s to the fairly recent era.  Since I have not kept up with popular music for some years, I leave it to readers to contribute more recent contributions.

Popular Culture (Music). Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show

Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show were sort of a strange band.  Whilst they were not nearly as profound as bands that I prefer, they were also not annoying.  They did not pretend to be profound, and some of their early material was actually pretty good.

They are best remembered for “The Cover of the Rolling Stone“, a piece that I found to be quite witty and clever.  They did an excellent job of self parody on this number, and it paid off for them in that they did indeed make it there after it charted.

I intend to concentrate on the years from 1968 to 1976, although they in various reincarnations continued for a long time thereafter.  Most of their good material is from that era.

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