Posts Tagged ‘1976

22
Feb
20

Parliament “The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein”

“Funk is its own reward.” “May frighten you.” I think someone speaks those words, in a kind of intro, or did I just imagine that? There’s a giant list of credits that reads like a funk all-star band, so I’m not sure who is doing what on any song, but I assume there’s a lot of George Clinton. There’s a couple of short songs, then the epic song, “Dr. Funkenstein,” which is a fairly slow, laconic, extremely funky whole-world of a song, with a chanted chorus and voices coming in from all over the place, speaking, singing, stream-of-consciousness. There is this pretty simple but genius repetitive guitar part that runs through it that I just want as the theme song for my life. The song is six minutes, but I wish it was a lot longer. I never do this, but I’m going to buy this song for my computer (sometimes I listen to music there, at home, when I’m not playing records) so I can just play this on repeat for hours. It’s like a TV show theme song, or a whole TV show, or movie. This record came out in 1976, and I may have heard it at a party, but probably not. I was in the phase of progressing directly from prog-rock to punk rock, but I missed the boat here. A few years later, one of the funniest and most offensive punk records I’ve ever heard, Black Randy and the Metrosquad’s “Pass the Dust, I Think I’m Bowie,” has songs that just lift directly from Dr. Funkenstein. I don’t know why, exactly, but I just keep listening and listening to this song. With all the sound effects, and odd vocals—spoken parts, some in annoying cartoon voices, some in frog-voice—stuff that would normally get on my nerves—but here it sounds like a symphony of good insanity. All of the songs on this record are good, including one of those super-long-title ones, “I’ve Been Watching You (Move Your Sexy Body),” and “Let’s Funk Around,” which exploits that tireless and seemingly inexhaustible tradition of using the word “funk” in place of the word “fuck.” The cover (front and back) is also first-rate, with members of the band, presumably, dressed for the stage, or the lab, in some kind of a 1970s television sci-fi set, a good one. I remember looking at a partial discography for Parliament—just the list of titles from the Seventies—all just excellent, mysterious titles. I wonder if these are easy to find—I mean, not for hipster prices, normal person prices—I’ll keep an eye out for them. It’s like a crime against my sensibility that I don’t own any Parliament Funkadelic vinyl.

08
Nov
18

Tangerine Dream “Stratosfear”

I’m pretty sure I used to have this 1976 Tangerine Dream record and was not too crazy about it, so it’s worth revisiting—perhaps I have grown mature, or electronic, or German, or mellow, or nostalgic. The front and back and inside images are some photo-collage nonsense that is embarrassingly dated. The first song, “Stratosfear” sounds really familiar, like maybe it was used in a movie soundtrack or maybe soundtrack music has been directly inspired by this. I can see some wintery, European landscape with an expensive car traveling over desolate roads that should be beautiful, but because of this music and the the exaggerated blue color temperature of the scene we understand that something tragic either just happened or is about to. It seems like half, or more, of the movies I see are incredibly, annoyingly blue—and my theory about this is that it’s because of the current pharmaceutical landscape in which we live. I thought about this while working at a recent grocery store job where the workers (the ones who didn’t get “laid off”) worked with a seemingly speed-fueled intensity—in spite of their being NO coffee offered in the workplace—and very little coffee brought in from outside, even. Which led me to think about all the people who are diagnosed with ADHD, etc. and are prescribed Adderall, etc. and are essentially like speed freaks all the time. I don’t know this, but it would explain a lot. So, likewise, I’m thinking, with so many people on anti-depressants, maybe this has caused an overall shift in the acceptable color temperature of commercial cinema—in order to just look “normal”—it has to be very, very blue.

The first side is astoundingly under 15 minutes long (the second is closer to 20, but still…) aren’t these progressive rock guys famous for really long songs and albums? Maybe I’m just thinking of Genesis, whose records were always like 60 minutes long. But come on, it’s not like anyone is working up a sweat here, it’s just kind of programmed and then it trickles along like a 1970s movie (that you can’t believe was allowed to take its time like that, and would never happen today). But come on, guys, a lot of trees died so this album cover could open up to reveal the letters “TD” 24 inches wide (and a photo-collaged, little, black and white, blond, German kid as big as your fingernail). Side two is so quiet and low-key I think it would only work on that original, really good LSD I’ve heard about—and playing through tube amplifiers the size of a VW, and Altec-Lansing “Voice of the Theater” speakers that would turn the 1812 Overture into a weapon of mass destruction—but here functions to expose the subtlety that is necessary for this record to make any sense at all.

01
May
11

David Bowie “ChangesOneBowie”

This record, which came out in 1976, seems to want to mark a change from sci-fi androgynous freak to good-looking mature artist, but it just rubs me the wrong way. It comes off more as midlife crisis, even though Bowie should have been much too young for that. It’s essentially a “greatest hits” record that doesn’t have a cheesy title like “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Very Best of…” But rather than approach it in context of the records the songs came from, I have to (I mean right now, for the sake of writing this) listen to it as the complete and unique art object it is.

“Space Oddity” is pure nostalgia for me, like everyone is sick of me rehashing. Blacklight posters and rootbeer incense and bad pot. But it’s just a good song, right? I’m sure there is a story behind “John, I’m Only Dancing” but I don’t care, because I can’t listen to it because it’s crap. Though, I would, some day, love to write a song with the title, John, comma, something. “John, Help Me To A Toilet So I Can Throw Up,” or something. “Changes” is a great song, and I suppose worth creating this particular record to get it out to the record buying public in a new format. “Ziggy Stardust” and “Suffragette City”–more nostalgia, but this time there is beer drinking involved. Whenever “Jean Genie” comes on, I’m just glad it’s the last song of Side One so I can take it off without listening to it and go directly to Side Two. White blues, but really white, and not blues at all.

Everyone who knows me is sick to death of me talking about how “Diamond Dogs” is one of maybe six favorite songs of all time. For some strange reason I just NEVER GET TIRED OF IT. I made the mistake, once, however, of looking up the lyrics on the internet, which almost ruined it for me, because they were NOT CLOSE to what I’ve been imagining all these years. I’ve been slowly deprogramming myself to go back to the way I used to hear it. “You’re dead,  they call them the Diamond Dogs.” Maybe it’s the cowbell, maybe it’s the way it sounds like the soundwaves are coming through some kind of viscous fluid. Maybe it’s nostalgia. I wouldn’t mind, however, NEVER hearing “Rebel Rebel” ever again. “Young Americans” has that 1980’s, Saturday Night Live, vapid entertainment sound. I think of Chicago (the city), comedy clubs, and those big pretzels, which, last time I ate one, I threw up. “Fame” is up next, White Funk, but REALLY white, and not funky at all. “Golden Years” is like a non-song with a non-hook, played as blandly as possible, and pretty much the perfect fit to end this record. It occurs to me that the lyrics might be interesting if I listened to them– after all, how do you justify calling a song “Golden Years?”– but I can’t even listen to the lyrics because I can’t listen to the song.




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