Learning a language has got little to do with memorizing mere lists of words. It has to do with using them, and placing every single one in a meaningful setting. There is a common belief among language professionals: use a word three times and it will be yours forever.
And in addition to using words, the context in which they are used is vital for nailing them down in your mind. A word that a teacher gives to you out of the blue along with 10 more is hard to grab. Conversely, if you learn one (and only one) word from a song by your favorite artist, there is a radically different degree of involvement. To begin with, you like the artist and you care about his/her message. And if you learn what it means by looking it up on the dictionary yourself, you will place an even higher value on it, in the same way that we grow attached to something that results from a laborious process. Continue reading →
Richard’s first album of the century found him in a small label for the first time in more than two decades, and the record itself was to have a streamlined approach, with few musicians and a sound that was far removed from the layered approach that had marked/marred his 90s output. Perversely enough, the new formula worked quite magically – the record hit the Billboard Top 200, and the top 5 of the Indie charts. The truth is producer John Chelew came closer to capturing Richards’ rotund live sound than virtually anybody else – for sure much closer than Mitchell Froom.
The title of the album references a World War I song, as it is only fit since the record has a conceptual tinge of boys that grow to become soldiers only to be hit by the intricacies of destiny and the egotism and apathy of the adult world – “the fire in your eyes/how could they know”, Richard sings on the set opener, the fiercely beautiful “Gethsemane”. The first side of the record also has the Celtic-styled “One Door Opens”, probably one of the album highlights with vocalist Judith Owen (a recent associate that joins long-time bassist Danny Thompson and drummer Michael Jerome) providing a rich backdrop, something she does not only on that tune but on more than half the tracks.
This backing becomes even more noticeable in one of the closing numbers, the tension-riddled “Word Unspoken, Sight Unseen”. Richard mutes the guitar, and he lets it ring only when the intensity is such that the lyrical flow demands a sturdier backbone so that the song won’t collapse.
“Word Unspoken, Sight Unseen” is placed next to the Eastern-derived “Outside Of The Inside”, which is (appropriately enough) a song about Muslim faith and the way a radical sees Western culture. Continue reading →
The Album Is Named After A Remark Elton Made To Comedian Groucho Marx During A Show.
This was my first Elton John album. I bought it on the strength of “Daniel”, a song I had always been moved by. I admit that even back then, when I had no other albums of his, I had certain a feeling when I listened to it… a sort of hunch that told me “this guy can do better”. And now, having listened to Elton’s output both sides of it, I am sad to say that the record is not only average at best, but it is also the point where his work became saccharine for all the wrong reasons.
To me, “Don’t Shoot Me…” marks the instance where singles began having priority over albums within Elton’s career. The problem was somehow more evident in forthcoming ’70s albums like “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, and the ’80s were characterized by such an issue, of course.
Of course, the two A-sides here are so monumental that everything is forgiven for a minute. In addition to “Daniel” (a top 5 hit) we have “Crocodile Rock”, Elton’s first chart topper and a song where the farcical element that many saddle Elton with is put to the best possible use. Continue reading →
Elton’s rise to fame was not that immediate as many often think. He had been covering other people’s songs for some time, not to mention being a paid songwriter along with Bernie for longer than was fulfilling. His first solo album went unheeded, despite oozing enthusiasm from every fiber.
If anything, his career was a matter of different pieces falling into position – his lyricist, his producer, his arranger and finally his classic band. On this, his second album (and the one that broke the commercial apathy) we see the addition of two of these figures, namely producer Gus Dudgeon and orchestral arranger Paul Buckmaster. They all had some heavy names on their resumes such as David Bowie and Eric Clapton, and the moment they agreed to work with Elton anything he would put out was to be digested differently, because their experience was to be felt in the final product . Continue reading →
(If you haven’t done so already, read Part 1 of this review where “Tommy” is introduced, and the context in which it was created is detailed)
The album had 20 tracks. It was the first double album the band had released. The operatic connection was made evident through a formal overture and an “underture” which was mostly the extension of a theme called “Sparks”, also featured on the album and derived from a chord pattern found on “Rael” from the previous record.
Highlights included “Pinball Wizard” (the first single from the album) and “See Me, Feel Me”, a prayer sent to the most private space within the soul of every listener, a pronunciation of faith and endearment like no other within their repertoire. Other songs which merit mentioning are “The Acid Queen” and “I’m Free”, both very fine rockers. (“I’m Free” was to be released as a single too, and some time later an orchestrated version would be a minor hit.) Continue reading →