Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Somewhere, Under The Rainbow...

A couple of weeks ago, I hooked up with some friends to watch The Dark Side of the Rainbow. You know the one.  You watch the Wizard of Oz while listening to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, and just enjoy the moments of coincidental synchronisation. I first saw this about 10 years ago at University - but some of my friends hadn't seen it so we threw it up on a big projected screen and ran the sound through a great system.

The DVD I was able to score had already been cued up with the music, and came with overlays showing the matching points of reference. OK, some of them are a real stretch - but when you see Dorothy reacting to sounds on the album, or watch the tornado dancing in time to The Great Gig in the Sky - it seems to be more than just a happy coincidence.

It was a lot of fun, but I came away with a few thoughts.  Firstly - The Wizard of Oz is a great film, and beautifully filmed. Whole scenes that are just stunning to watch. Secondly, The Dark Side of the Moon is a great sounding piece of art - even though it has been overplayed and overpraised for many years.  Return to it from time to time and check it out.  And thirdly - it is an album. Remember those?

Back when I was a kid, bands made albums - complete works that were meant to be listened to as a whole.  Yes, they often pulled singles from them, but generally the tracks had a unified theme or were planned to sit one after another. And I'm not necessarily referring to the great 'concept' albums, or the prog rock monstrosities of the 70s.

But in these days of the 30 second attention span, bands don't make and listeners don't seem to want more than one or two tracks. (Yes, I know this is a generalisation.) Many 'bands' (and I use the term loosely) these days are singles oriented. The kids I know at school tend to download their songs, or buy compilations, and generally aren't worried about having complete works.

I know, I know. It's a different world, a different time.  But I remember the first time I listened to Mountain's Nantucket Sleighride, for example, and was blown away by the whole thing. From beginning to end it was brilliant. Or Jethro Tull's Thick as a Brick Would we have had this 43 minutes saga (yes, it's divided in two parts, but it is one song) in these times of two minute gratification? It wouldn't be financially viable for a band to record and release a beast like that.

But there are still bands around making albums. And I still take great delight in finding old gems that somehow I missed first time around.

Speaking of which, have you heard the new Lynyrd Skynyrd I'm listening to? It was released in 1976.

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