A friend recently introduced me to a great show on VH1 Classics. I've never been much of a music video channel kinda gal but this show is worth watching, it's called Classic Albums. It features one great album and spends a hour highlighting how it was made by interviewing the performers, sound engineers and producers. It's fascinating. Last night I watched Classic Albums - Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon... twice.
Dark Side of the Moon is one of those albums I've long loved but rarely listen to. I think it's because I can't really listen to just a song, I have to listen to the whole album and who has time to listen to entire records anymore? This episode of Classic Albums featured Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Alan Parsons to name a few. They show old footage of performances then, by contrast, show David Gilmour standing there grey haired, in a perfectly conservative crew neck sweater, playing guitar today. It's so bizarre! He was really quite lovely in the 70's and here he is nearing his 70's and still rocking. With bifocals in hand, nonchalantly pecking seemingly random notes out on an ancient synthesizer, he twists a knob and conjures up the beginning of On the Run. Later, he stands casually strumming a guitar then he opens his mouth and there it is... that great vocal. The man sings Breathe as if it were 1973. David Gilmour now looks like my favorite uncle Richard for God's sake. It sort of blew my mind. Watching Roger Waters play the trippy beginning of Money is also super cool. You even get to hear an early demo recording of the song. I guess I just couldn't get over the fact that these guys are all so normal looking now. And there's not a bong in sight. It just goes to show that no matter cool or rebellious you may be, you still get old. Still, all of their Money sure seems to keep them well preserved.
The very best part of the show is getting the opportunity to hear completely familiar songs dissected. It's amazing. They get the original sound engineer (in this case Alan Parsons) to essentially "play" the mixing board with the master recordings. (I also saw Daniel Lanois "play" the board on the Classic Albums - U2: The Joshua Tree. Loved it!) It's such a good time. They occasionally mention band drama but mostly it's about building music. So great!
I loved seeing photos of those women singers featured on the album. I've always wondered who they were. The band also explains all of those strange ramblings heard throughout the record. You learn what the heck is being said and were it comes from. You also come to realize what a miracle those old albums are. They shouldn't even exist considering the limited technology.
It all got me thinking about my favorite albums. You know, those records that are so great you don't have to skip any tracks? There aren't many but here are my "desert island" picks:
Abbey Road - The Beatles
Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd
Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen
Hotel California - The Eagles
I hate that they are so predictable but I just love them. I'm also sorry that I can't think of more modern albums for my list but I just can't think of any. I'm sure I have plenty of modern faves but I don't think I cold stomach putting them in the company of these classics.
I'd now like to tag Shandon, Trooperdog and Norman and see what they're favorite albums are. Their lists are bound to be much more interesting than mine.