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The Solar System & Album Orbital Periods

December 26, 2020

[Albums 822 – 830 / 1001]

“They’ve turned it into a metaphor. And it’s a metaphor I refuse to lose.”
– Dodgeball deleted scene, Ben Stiller’s character (at 1:45)

Today, I’ll be attempting to turn 9 album reviews into a space metaphor.

These 9 Albums = The 9 Planets in our Solar System.

Or more accurately:

The 8 Albums that continue to be recognized as “Must Hear Before You Die” + 1 Demoted Album = The 8 Planets that continue to be recognized as “Official Planets” + 1 Demoted Planet.

And it’s a metaphor I refuse to lose!

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Planets have different orbital periods.

The greater the distance from the Sun, the longer the orbital period.

Mercury, due to its proximity, orbits the sun every 88 days.

And Pluto, the Celestial Object formerly known as a Planet, takes about 248 years to make the trip.

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In a similar way, albums have different orbital periods.

The greater the distance from the Stereo, the longer the orbital period.

Some albums, because they never stray too far from the Stereo, won’t have to wait very long between complete spins.

Whereas others, who find themselves further away, end up waiting years before their next full rotation.

And as luck would have it, these 9 albums conveniently share some of the same properties as their Solar System counterparts, as described below!

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Pluto: 248-Year Orbital Period
50 Cent, Get Rich or Die Tryin’

Just like Pluto was unceremoniously dropped from the list of official solar system planets, 50 Cent has been removed from revised versions of the 1001 Albums list.

Ironically, you can no longer find him In Da Club.

However, much like how Pluto devotees believe it was unjustly stripped of its Planet status, I imagine there are fans that will fiercely advocate for ‘Fiddy’s reinstatement.

I see the appeal, the steel drum hook on P.I.M.P. is undeniably catchy; I just don’t particularly need to hear it again anytime soon.

And as I’m unlikely to be around in 248 years, it’s probably a good thing that I heard it this week, as I might not get another chance!

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Neptune: 165-Year Orbital Period
Shamen, En-Tact

Neptune has 13 moons.

En-Tact has 13 tracks.

Coincidence?

Almost certainly.

Given that Neptune’s atmosphere is composed of mainly Hydrogen & Helium, I also appreciate that The Shamen included a track here named Oxygen Restriction.

Beyond that, there were no supersonic winds of change with regard to my appreciation of the genre; once again, my reactions to ’90s Electronica don’t seem to vary.

So if I end up having to wait 165 years before the next complete listen to The Shamen, I imagine my consistent reaction streak will remain, umm, En-Tact

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Uranus: 84-Year Orbital Period
The Residents, Duck Stab!/Buster & Glen (1978)

Uranus is a bit different from the other planets.

It rotates backwards and on its side.

It’s the only planet whose name comes from Greek mythology.

Thanks to its Hydrogen Sulfide, there’s that signature ‘rotten eggs’ smell.

And The Residents are equally unique.

Their wikipedia-listed genres include ‘avant-garde’ and ‘multimedia art.’

The band members wear masks/costumes to conceal their identities (my personal favourite ensemble that I’ve seen so far is the giant eyeball + top hats + tails combo).

I imagine that many may find their recordings somewhat pungent!

But both fans & non-fans will be able to agree, it’s definitely out there.  

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Saturn: 29-Year Orbital Period
The 13th Floor Elevators, The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators (1966)

Saturn, likely the most aesthetically pleasing planet. Also the least dense.

Of this nine-pack of albums, The Psychedelic Sounds might be the most visually striking album cover. And at a running time of 34:31, I believe it’s also the lightest of the lot.

Much like how Saturn’s rings are an undeniably neat feature, here, the notion of having a full-time Electric Jug player is indisputably cool! 

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Jupiter: 12-Year Orbital Period
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Will the Circle Be Unbroken (1972)

“Whenever you once decide that you’re going to record a number, put everything you’ve got into it…so let’s do it the first time and to hell with the rest of it”
– Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, spoken intro to The Precious Jewel

Jupiter is the biggest of the planets and Will the Circle Be Unbroken, initially released as a triple LP,  is certainly the biggest of this bunch.

I quite like the recording philosophy in the quote above: do it once, do it right, skip the overdubs.

And the lack of polish is a major selling point.

The sheer length is the main reason it might not get a full spin for another 12 years.

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Mars: 687-Day Orbital Period
Associates, Sulk (1982)

Mars & Earth have some similarities.

Both are terrestrial planets, both have seasons, both have similar amounts of dry land.

Yet they have their differences, notably in temperature & atmosphere composition.

Much like terrestrial planets, different Scottish bands from the ’80s may share some similarities.

And the synth-pop of The Associates’ Sulk hits relatively close to home.

Though when the musical atmosphere consists of more synth than pop, it gives off a little less warmth, a little less of that earthly feel.

But future visits still seem plausible.

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Earth: 365-Day Orbital Period
Orange Juice, Rip it Up (1982)

“I play Kind of Blue every day – it’s my orange juice.”
– Quincy Jones (referring to Miles Davis, Kind of Blue)

Comfort music, I hear you Quincy.

There’s no planet more comfortable than earth and no album from this set that would be more comfortably placed, firmly in the middle of ‘my wheelhouse.’

It was pretty clear, pretty quick that I’d be a fan of the post-punk / jangle-pop sounds found on Rip it Up.

A part of a healthy routine indeed.

Though perhaps instead of once a day, once a year will suffice.

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Venus: 225-Day Orbital Period
The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, Hypocrisy is the Greatest Luxury (1992)

“I’m Venus, my atmosphere’s super hot
I spin backwards in a way that the Earth does not
I’m closest to the Earth in distance and size”
– Hopscotch, The Planet Song

According to Urban Dictionary (not sure what the appropriate MLA Citation format is for this source), “spitting fire” is defined as “when an individual raps crazily good.”

That would certainly be an appropriate description of Michael Franti’s work here.

The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy’s brand of intellectual, industrial hip hop would also be the subgenre of hip hop that would be closest, in distance and size, to my cuppa.

And although the album is almost 3 decades old, replace ‘Television’ with ‘Smartphones’ in Television, the Drug of the Nation, and the themes continue to be as relevant as ever.

As Venus spins clockwise, Hypocrisy is the Greatest Luxury runs like clockwork, and will remain in regular rotation.

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Mercury: 88-Day Orbital Period
Gram Parsons, Grievous Angel (1974)

Did you know that Mercury is the closest planet to Earth?

Or that it’s also the closest planet to every other planet?

It’s also capable of reaching temperatures as high as 800 degrees Fahrenheit and as low as minus 300 degrees Fahrenheit!

I imagine reactions to Gram Parsons & the country rock of Grievous Angel may be similarly polarizing.

Either an ice-cold hard pass or a scorchingly warm embrace.

And it’s the latter for me, every 88 days!

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Verbalize the Positive

Cheers to Kevin @ buriedonmars for helping inspire this idea!

From → 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s

16 Comments
  1. What a truly wonderful post. The idea, the graphics, the execution. Fabulous, Geoff.
    Finishing the year on a real high. Unless, of course, you are going to reveal what your Earth’s moon album is?

    • Very much appreciated, Bruce – and an intriguing idea, the album(s) with an orbital period of 27 days, that would be an elite group!

  2. 9 in one blow. I thought about a calico bonnet from Mercury to Alpha Centauri.

  3. Great post! I love how you blended 9 albums together in one post and done so brilliantly. This post if out of this world.

    • Much appreciated, John – I hadn’t considered the ‘orbital period’ idea before a few weeks ago. Some albums have even shorter periods for me, I don’t think I could wait 88 days before listening to certain favourites again!

  4. I think Macca had one called Venus and Mars too. Cool stuff taking 9 albums and making a review out of it. You can take the next 9 days off lol

  5. Oh my goodness! I deserve no credit for this idea! Do this a few more times and you’ll be at 1001 in no time. I still stand by that 13th Floor Elevators would be better musically without the electric jug. It is so annoying!

    • The credit is deserved! It’s like the film Sliding Doors, if we don’t have that comment conversation, I end up on a different timeline where the post may not exist!

  6. jprobichaud permalink

    Great idea for a post. And cutting a swathe through your remaining albums list at the same time!

  7. This is brilliance. Proximity to stereo is definitely a factor. And Pluto was robbed.

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