Photo taken by Ben Parks
I like collecting LPs. I don’t actually own a turntable, but there’s something very special about going into a record shop and finding something that you didn’t expect to.
The other day I came across this LP, the soundtrack to the cult classic Quadrophenia, based on the Who album of the same name.
Quadrophenia holds a special place in my heart, both the album and the movie. The album because it’s one of my favorites, if not my favorite. The movie? Well, I’m enamored with mods and rockers.
Also, the movie showcases Brighton, England, as the heart of the mod-rocker fight in May 1964.
The photo is actually one of the back of the album; I really like the pier in the background and Jimmy in the foreground–the picture is very pretty, and instantly pulls you in.
In this age of mp3s and iPods, being able to hold something in your hands, to hold music between your fingers, is a wonderful thing. There is little joy to be found upon discovering a song on iTunes, but to find an album in a record shop? Now, that’s something to smile about.
The other day I went on a trip to my local record shops, which was a welcome journey. While there, I picked up a new CD! Hurray! I’ve been dying for new music.
The CD I got is Burn the Maps by The Frames. It’s a strange, unpredictable little album by the Irish rockers. The album opens with “Happy,” a mostly instrumental tune with the vocals mixed to the background. Burn the Maps definitely takes at least two listens to get used to, but I’ve noticed that a lot of really good albums do (Tommy, Arthur, etc).
“Fake” is a poppy little number, perhaps disposable but its the most readily accessible to the usual pop fan.
There’s plenty to like about the album–soaring violins, Glen Hansard’s rough vocals, and the ability of the album to transport you to a completely different place.
The album is not one that I would recommend starting out with if you’ve never listened to The Frames before. Try Set List first.
A good, live version of their song “Keepsake.”
My love for The Who began in my senior year of high school. It was a long, slow process, this becoming attuned to a “new” band, but it seemed like the world was kicking me in the seat of my pants to listen to them.
My first encounter was the summer before senior year. I was at a Shakespearean acting camp, and as luck would have it, I wore my Beatles shirt the same day as my friend Nick wore his Who shirt. “Who are they?” I asked. Nick listed their most famous songs–“Baba O’Riley,” “Pinball Wizard,” etc–and I stared at him like an idiot.
Flash forward three months. I sat in art class, and my teacher played The Who to get himself psyched for their concert. I liked it enough, but didn’t think anything of it.
A couple months later I was looking online at Beatles and Queen fan art, when I noticed a few of the artists also drew The Who. Intrigued, I went to the library and listened to a few Who albums–Greatest Hits, Tommy and Quadrophenia. With the opening notes of Tommy‘s “Overture” I was hooked.
So, what have I been listening to as of late?
This time, it’s Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) by The Kinks. It’s a concept album, following up their brilliant The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society.
This album is one that evokes an emotional response from me. The first time I heard it, I felt really angry and uncomfortable. I don’t know why. For a few months, I only listened to it that one time. Now I’ve given it a second listen, and can say that I really enjoy it. It takes a powerful piece of work to inspire emotion from me. This being ticked off is of a different sort than say, being force fed tripe Top 40 (I’m looking at you, Taylor Swift).
“Some Mother’s Son” may be my favorite track on the album. There’s something quite mournful about it, given the topic of soldiers dying to protect their homeland. The juxtaposition of soldiers fighting and children at play is a powerful, haunting one. It really makes you think.
Ray Davies’ writing is something special. While other rock bands of the era were focusing on strange moves from rock (“Revolution 9” by The Beatles), or elevating rock to a more artistic level (Tommy by The Who), Davies stays focused on what he knows: life in England. Though not joyfully nostalgic like Village Green Preservation Society, Arthur takes a good look on opportunity poor English life post-World War II.
First time Kinks concept album listeners should start with Village Green Preservation Society. It’s easier to get into.