Friday, April 24, 2009

Just back from a short vacation and ready for the upcoming roll out...the books have arrived at the publisher so I expect to have some firm details and dates on distribution shortly.  Amazon is showing that they expect to ship the week of  May 2nd.  

Read a lot of reviews of the new Tinted Windows album while traveling.  Virtually every review mentioned Big Star as a reference point (along with some of the other usual suspects).  But it got me thinking about a point that's long been on my mind: most of today's power pop songs are really just chord progressions with somewhat indistinct or predictable melodies draped across them.  Play me a song and I can almost hum the melody as I'm hearing it for the first time.  Big Star (and Badfinger and the Raspberries and...) wrote songs that had distinct and fresh vocal lines that were supported by inventive arrangements (not crunchy jangling chords through a Vox AC30 or whatever).  The first few times I heard Radio City I was just knocked out by how unpredictable it all was...and how perfect it sounded.  It took a lot of listenings for me to get really familiar with what was going to happen next.  That's one element that makes for a truly great record.  

3 comments:

Larry said...

Yes! Well, kind of . . . I was a big fan of Badfinger and The Raspberries in the early-mid 70's (enduring the scorn of my peers), but Big Star - and especially Radio City - was something . . . more. The other two had Beatle-esque hooks and melodies which were rare at the time, and even some interesting arrangements, but the songs were kind of predicable (and I'd even say that, to some extent, about the songs on #1 Record), but I'm still surprised (and thrilled) 35 years later by the twists and turns in the songs on Radio City. The Raspberries and Badfinger crafted wonderful pop songs that sounded great on the radio (real or imagined) - and Badfinger even managed to slip some real feeling into them - but BS used 60's pop elements to craft a much more idiosyncratic and personal style. Unmatched to this day IMHO.

Bruce Eaton said...

Thanks Larry. Couldn't agree with you more and I should have been a little clearer in what I was trying to get across. In fact, if the phrase "twists and turns" isn't in the book somewhere, it's one that has always been in my mind when thinking about Radio City's song structures. I think at the top you have Radio City, then the "classicists" as I refer to them (Badfinger, Raspberries etc. – and I think you could make a good case that #1 Record does indeed fall into that category) – artists who wrote songs rather than chord progressions and then developed arrangements around them – and then you have most of what gets labelled power pop today. It has all the style and trimmings but lacks the substance and inventiveness that really made Radio City truly great.

roller coaster teacher said...

Good luck on the book release, Bruce! I don't know anything about Big Star or Radio City ... but best wishes! - Mimi