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Electric Light Orchestra – Out of the Blue (1977)

[Album 749/1001]

This album title, Out of the Blue, might be the most misleading title of the 1001 list.

As when I hear the phrase, Out of the Blue, I would infer that something has happened either:

a) spontaneously
or
b) in an unprecedented manner

Given that each member of the group is credited with playing seemingly dozens of instruments on the album, it’s hard to believe this was a spur-of-the-moment, live-off-the-floor jam!

And although the album art has a space theme, there have been similar styles & sounds previously performed by other artists in our galaxy,

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That being said, I give full credit to Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) for their exemplary employment of the The Uptown Funk 70/30 principle.

I’ve argued that if you want to write a catchy & durable hit, it has to be comprised of 70% familiar material (to hook listeners) & 30% completely unfamiliar (to keep listeners intrigued).

ELO probably does it better here than anyone else has / does / or will, likely because they have the ability to simultaneously sound like both themselves & like such a variety of sources.220px-ELO-Out_of_the_Blue_Lp

The precise percentages, of course, vary on each track.

After some semi-rigorous data collection & statistical analysis, the double-album overall breakdown would be approximately:

25% Beatles (emphasis on McCartney, particularly on tracks like Mr. Blue Sky)

20% Queen (a few tunes drifted in a Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy direction)

10% Brian Wilson (a couple of Heroes & Villains-y descending patterns)

10% ABBA (I’ve been finding myself singing Waterloo after listening to side 1)

5% Harry Nilsson (A bit of a Without You feel at times)

30% ELO (much of which likely ended up being used as source material for subsequent artists…)

The best news for me as a listener?

I already liked all of those artists individually.

As luck would have it, with a healthy amount of ELO added to the mix, they work quite well together too.

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Verbalize the Positive

Side 3 of the LP is named, Concerto for a Rainy Day.

This title was not at all misleading – it worked perfectly on a rainy morning today as a soundtrack for putting puzzles together with my daughter!

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The Cult – Electric (1987)

[Album 748/1001]

The rhythm guitar.

Is there a more underappreciated role in a band?

The lead singer & lead guitar share the 4-letter sequence ‘lead’ in their job descriptions.

The drums & bass are often described as being a cohesive unit, as the rhythm section (heck, there’s even a genre of music named drum ‘n’ bass)…

What about the rhythm guitarist?

Not to take anything away from Billy Duffy’s lead guitar work here but frequently on The Cult’s Electric, it is the rhythm guitar that drives the song.

Perhaps most notably on a couple of the singles: Love Removal Machine and Wild Flower.

Take out the rhythm riffs? The songs simply wouldn’t have worked as singles, maybe not even as album tracks; the rhythm part is that essential.

But like I said, not to take anything away from Billy Duffy…as he also supplied the rhythm parts here!

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I’ve learned I have ‘a type’ when it comes to Rock.

While I found much to like throughout the album, on the two aforementioned singles, The Cult did an amazing job of addressing each of the items of my Rock Song Wish List.

Killer rhythm riff, instant hooking listeners?  The_Cult-Electric_(album_cover)

Layered intro, ideally with a snare hit just before the downbeat?

Tambourine in chorus, to bring it up a notch (with bonus marks for hand-claps)?

Singer jumps to (or stays in) a higher octave in the chorus, also in the interest of notch-bringing up-ness?

And toss in a solid solo after a couple of choruses?

Yes please, to all of the above!

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Verbalize the Positive

My personal favourite rhythm guitarist is Paul Langlois (The Tragically Hip).

Last Thursday, as a way of bringing Canadians together (while staying home & keeping physically apart), he led a terrific live sing-a-long of the hip song, Courage, from his front steps!

Sebadoh – Bubble & Scrape (1993)

[Album 747/1001]

Would you rather…

a) be compared to good artists in their prime?

or

b) be compared to great artists at their off-peak?

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In Sebadoh’s case, I found Bubble & Scrape often reminded me of either:

a) A mid-90s Matthew Sweet/Nada Surf mashup220px-Bubbleandscrape

Depending on the track, it might have been Sweet backed by Nada Surf (Two Years Two Days) or vice versa (Forced Love)

or

b) Good songs from Great Pavement & Sloan albums (like Here from Slanted and Enchanted & I Can’t Sleep from Never Hear the End of It)

The comparable Sebadoh tracks would be Homemade and Fantastic Disaster, respectively.

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So would you rather a) or b)?

I suppose either option would be a nice problem to have!

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Verbalize the Positive

In the absence of current sporting events, I’ve been enjoying the vintage hockey/baseball games being shown on Sportsnet.

The Jays are currently up 2-1 in the 1992 World Series vs. Atlanta, I’ve got a good feeling about game 4!

John Prine – John Prine (1971)

[Album 746/1001]

A contender for the most potent song name of the 1001 list?220px-John_Prine_self-titled

Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore

I really like that message of actions speaking louder than words.

And I was amazed by Prine’s ability to create such vivid scenes with his lyrics on his self-titled debut.

A few samples:

“There’s a hole in daddy’s arm where all the money goes” – Sam Stone

“Well, a question ain’t really a question, if you know the answer too.” – Far From Me

“Steady losing means you ain’t using, what you really think is right” – Quiet Man

And both his melodies & words spoke loudly & effectively here.

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Verbalize the Positive

This post has been sitting in the ‘draft’ folder for a week or two, as I was unsure if I wanted to say anything else about the album.

After reading about his battle with Covid-19, I decided it was time to click publish.

I’m thinking of you today, John.

Although I hadn’t heard your music before this year, the great singer-songwriters have that rare ability to reel listeners in right away, as you certainly did with me on your debut here.

All the best to you & your family – I was thoroughly impressed by your debut and I am looking forward to catching up on the rest of your discography!

Artist of the Week IV – Quiz #13

ArtistoftheweekIV

Exceptional Artist of the Week IV Series logo by Sarca @ caughtmegaming

2020 Artists of the Week (so far):

The CurePublic Enemy, Steely Dan, Taylor Swift, Venom, Chuck Berry, Dixie Chicks, Billy Idol, Randy Newman, Jay-Z, Alanis Morissette, Pulp

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My thanks to all who have participated in the “Artist of the Week” quizzes so far.

Congrats to all those who correctly identified Pulp last week.

The results after 12 weeks (as of Thursday morning – results submitted after that time will be added to next week’s spreadsheet):

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after week 12

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Ready for Quiz #13?

It won’t be wrong!

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Quiz Rules/Format
(Same as last year, feel free to skip to the quiz if you know the rules already)

Your Task: Name the mystery Artist, ideally with as few clues as possible.

Correctly guess the artist on the first clue? 500 points.

After scrolling down to the second clue? 400 points.

Still don’t know after the fifth clue? 0 points, but a crisp high-five for participating.

I’ll use google translate to put the correct answer at the bottom in Arabic (if you read Arabic, that’s fantastic, but no cheating by reading ahead!) and you can translate it back to the language of your choice to confirm your answer.

In the comments, please enter your POINTS earned (not the artist name) and I’ll keep track of the running totals in a spreadsheet.

In addition to eternal bragging rights, the winner at the end of the year may even get something as prestigious as a digital certificate.

Here goes!

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Artist of the Week #13
Record POINTS Earned (Not Artist Name) in the comments
(scroll down for additional clues)

For:

500 points…………………American band, formed in 1964. Though several musicians that played in the group went on to successful solo careers, the Rickenbacker-playing Roger McGuinn was this band’s only constant member.

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400 points……………….They have a quintet of albums on the 1001 list: Mr. Tambourine Man (1965), Fifth Dimension (1966), Younger Than Yesterday (1967), The Notorious ______ Brothers (1968), and Sweetheart of the Rodeo (1968)

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300 points……………………Former members include David Crosby, Gene Clark, Gram Parsons. And given it was the 1960s, their avian band name naturally featured an intentional spelling error

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200 points………………..According to Peter Griffin, this is the word

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100 points………………..The artist is The B______s

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Answer: بيردس

(Please post your points earned in the comments section)

Thanks for playing!

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Verbalize the Positive

Nothing beats a jangling 12-string rickenbacker!

Youssou N’Dour – Immigrés (1988)

[745/1001]

“I have no idea to this day what those 2 Italian ladies were singing about. Truth is, I don’t want to know. Some things are better left unsaid.”
– The Shawshank Redemption

An all time great film & scene.

But if you’ve seen The Shawshank Redemption, this is not new information.

Roll the clip!

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Why do some albums have such a significant gap between recording & release dates?

I assumed, in most cases, it would be because the albums weren’t very good.

However, the opposite has been true with several of the 1001 albums.

Whether it was The Modern Lovers, Tonight’s The Night, or Back at the Chicken Shack, it wasn’t a lack of quality keeping these records from seeing the light of day.

And considering Immigrés was recorded in 1984 (and according to Wikipedia, not Immigresreleased until 1988), Youssou N’Dour is now a part of that good-album-with-curious-release-delay club.

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Even after multiple listens, I have no idea to this day what Youssou N’Dour is singing about.

That being said, even if I don’t know what he’s singing, it’s still possible to be quite moved by how he’s singing.

Though we’re not exactly incarcerated like the inmates at Shawshank, for listeners feeling a bit stuck these days, these rhythms provide the same sort of day-brightening experience.

Especially in the case of the title track, it was such an uplifting melody.

But as for the lyrics?

Much like Morgan Freeman’s character in The Shawshank Redemption, the truth is, I don’t think I want to know.

Some things may be better left unsaid.

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Verbalize the Positive

Season 3 of The Ozark has arrived!

The Afghan Whigs – Gentlemen (1993)

[Album 744/1001]

“Hot Diggity Dog, where have you been all my life?”
– Geoffrey from Fresh Prince of Belair, S2E16

This was Geoffrey (the Butler)’s reaction when seeing a woman, named Karen, for the first time.

Karen had surprised him while Geoffrey was outside.

Despite arriving from across the street, this was their initial meeting.

And Geoffrey was instantly enamored.

As shown below!

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“Hot Diggity Dog, where have you been all my life?”
– Geoffrey from 1001albumsin10years.wordpress.com, Album #744/1001

This was Geoffrey (the blogger?)’s reaction when hearing a band, named The Afghan Whigs, for the first time.220px-Gentlemen

The band had surprised him on his iPod while Geoffrey was outside for a run.

Despite being music that would be the very definition/precise geographic location of ‘up his street,’ the band’s 1993 album, Gentlemen, was their initial meeting.

And Geoffrey was instantly enamored.

As hopefully shown by the words above!

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Verbalize the Positive

A tip of the hat to my friend Mark for hosting a fun & incredibly difficult weekday Facebook quiz.

For the last 7 weekdays, his daughters have been making a morning craft & he’s posted a photo with the question, WHAT IS IT?

I’m 1 for 7 so far – here’s a photo of the one I guessed correctly!

whatisit