Tag Archive: Popular Culture

Sep 22 2012

Popular Culture 20120921: Jethro Tull — Thick as a Brick Side One

Last time we sort of did the history about this record, and tonight we shall deal with the first side of the album.  It is quite complex, and is just one long song called “Thick as a Brick Part I”.  Obviously, the second side, to be covered next time, is called “Thick as a Brick Part II”.  Here is how I suggest that you read this blog.

Open a second entry of this in a new tab (if you are using Firefox or other browsers that support multiple tabs).  If not, just open a second browser window.  Use the second one to play the music, and I will give you prompts when to go back the the first one for discussion.  I believe that will be the most efficient way to cover one long (22 minutes, forty seconds) bit of music.  I am going to break it into chunks at what I deem to be different songs.

Sep 15 2012

Popular Culture 20120914: Jethro Tull — Thick as a Brick

Last time we discussed the second side of the Jethro Tull album Aqualung, and a fine album that was.  It was critically and commercially well received, but many of the critics expressed the opinion that it was a concept album, with which Ian Anderson strongly disagreed.

There are various accounts of the reason behind Thick as a Brick, and Anderson has been quoted as saying that he wanted to record it to be a parody of “serious” concept albums.  However, in an interview he mentioned some bands that had yet to release a concept album before Thick as a Brick hit the stores.

My personal feeling after reading quite a bit about this is that Anderson did indeed want to write a parody of concept albums, probably because Aqualung was perceived to be one and Anderson had not intended it, and Anderson’s huge ego made him misremember certain facts about just what albums he was parodying.

Sep 08 2012

Popular Culture 20120907: Jethro Tull — Aqualung Side Two

It has been a while since the last installment due to several reasons, all of them good.  Tonight we shall finish up Aqualung, one of their better efforts.

The link above has the history around the album, so tonight we shall just concentrate on the music.

Aug 25 2012

Popular Culture 20120824: Jethro Tull — Aqualung

Aqualung is the forth album by Tull and many people think that it is their best.  I favor Thick as a Brick, but it is still an excellent album.  Rumor has it that critical comments about Aqualung spawned Thick as a Brick, and we shall discuss that in a bit.

It was released on 19710319 on Island Records in the UK and Reprise in the US.  By this time Anderson had completely taken control of the band, and all of the songs are written by him except for the title track which was cowritten by his wife at the time, Jennie.  Anderson, along with Terry Ellis, produced it.

The band lineup was different than that of Benefit, with Jeffrey Hammond replacing replacing Glen Cornick on bass and Barriemore Barlow replacing Clive Bunker on drums.  Remember, Jethro Tull has had more personnel changes than many bands.  Otherwise the lineup was the same as on Benefit.

Aug 11 2012

Popular Culture 20120810: Jethro Tull, the Beginning

One of the most complicated bands in many ways is the British band Jethro Tull.  They are complicated in their music, extremely complicated in their personnel, and almost mind bogglingly complicated in insofar as why I adore a limited set of their work and either care not a fig or actually dislike the rest.  I have such a love/hate relationship for any other band.

I do not understand why I feel this way, but I do.  At their best, they are superb.  When they are a bit off they are still better than most bands, but the material that I dislike is just awful, at least in my view.

This is why it has taken me so long to get started with this series.  I generally try to write about things that I have unambiguous feelings, usually bands that I really like.  Sometimes I write about horrible acts, like Ray Stevens, who really never did anything of real merit.  But to write about a band that can move me greatly with some material and with other material make me say, “What IS that?” is quite different.  Please bear with me!

Aug 04 2012

Popular Culture 20120803: Leroy Jethro Gibbs

NCIS is really a good TeeVee program.  The writing is realistic, the characters well developed, and the mysteries usually pretty good, often with last minute twists.  Of all of the characters, Gibbs (played with aplomb by Mark Harmon) is by far the most complex.

This piece is not intended to be a history of the show, but rather my take on the personality of the character.  Various scenes that I remember may be used to illustrate my points, but once again this is more of a character analysis of Gibbs than a narrative of the program.

First and foremost, Gibbs is damaged goods.  He was always in trouble when he was a kid, often rescued by his father, Jackson (played by the wonderful Ralph Waite).  Some of these incidents are told in flashback, and the young Gibbs is played by Sean Harmon, Mark Harmon’s son by Pam Dawber.

Jul 28 2012

Popular Culture 20120727: John Alec Entwistle

I apologize for being absent last week.  I had a nasty cold and started on this very piece but just did not have the energy to finish it.

I am still doing background on the series about Jethro Tull, but and not ready to start writing the piece yet.  They were much more complicated insofar as the band lineup goes than most of the bands about which I have written, so it is taking some time.

Tonight we are going to look at who I consider to be the greatest rock and roll bass player who ever drew breath, Thunderfingers, aka The Ox.  But he was much more than a great bass player.  He was outstanding on brass instruments, and much of the early work by The Who has a lot of French horn in it.

He was also an accomplished songwriter and singer, and many of his songs were performed by The Who.  Songwriting is much more lucrative than merely performing, so he was always to get more of his songs on records.

Jul 14 2012

Popular Culture 20120713: Random Thoughts

I am not quite ready to start another long series about music just yet, but probably will begin next week.  Due to popular request, Jethro Tull will be the focus when we do get started on that.  I promised something lighter than last week, so here are a few random thoughts about my likes and dislikes in popular culture, past and present.

First of all, today is Friday the 13th.  I am not superstitious, but many folks are.  Not as many as in the past, but still many are.  Interestingly, friggatriskaidekaphobia is of quite recent origin, not being much noticed until late in the 19th century.  Reasons to be afraid of this combination of date and day are quite nonscientific.

Friday has been considered an unlucky day for a long time.  The reasons for this are unclear, but Chaucer mentioned it in the 14th century.  Twelve has always been considered a “good” number (we still use dozens, have twelve hours for each half of the day, and many other examples) and 13 is thus imperfect, and a prime number as well.  One popular idea is that because of Judas, 13 (including Christ) at a table is bad luck.  A similar idea also appears in Norse mythology.  Actually, the numbers 2 and 8 have a more scientific basis for being “good”, since they describe the number of electrons required to acquire the noble gas configuration in the elements.  In any event, I consider any Friday the 13th just another day.

Jul 07 2012

Popular Culture 20120706: The Hateful American Family Association (With Poll!)

I am not ready to start a new, long series about music just yet, so tonight we shall discuss the hate filled, venom spitting American Family Association (AFA).  This is one of the most conservative, evangelical groups that exists and qualifies as being termed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

I go back a very long time with the AFA.  When I lived in Arkansas, their radio stations were everywhere (as they are now) and they had also started a website, afa.net.  They also run a radical news organization, onenewsnow.com (ONN).  It is interesting that this could be pronounced either “one news now”, or “one new snow”.  I like the latter better because their “articles” are a big snow job for the most part.  It is ironic that ONN is also the acronym for Onion News Network, and their stories are often more realistic that the AFA ones are.  I commented on some of their news articles and drew the wrath of the son of the founder.  I wish I still had the emails that he sent me; they were mean spirited and nasty.

Before we get very far into this, let me make my philosophy clear.  I am not a believer in any religion, but I am not one of those “evangelical atheists” who want to make it difficult for believers.  I just do not think that public funds should be expended to promote any religion, regardless of what the particular religion is.  Likewise, I do not think that public funds should be expended to suppress any religion.  I am a live and let live sort of person, unless someone threatens me or my loved ones.  The AFA, in my estimate, threatens all of us who do not agree with them.

Jun 30 2012

Popular Culture (Music) 20120629: Live Moody Blues

We shall finish this rather long series with some live material from the canonical work of The Moody Blues.  My aim is to present some of my personal favorites, recorded during the period that they were contemporaneous at the time that they were released.

There is a really nice set of videos on YouTube about the Isle of Wight festival in 1970, but they do not fit into the format for this series because they were excerpted from a documentary about the festival and have lots of talk and not much music.  They are worth checking out, but this in not the venue.  When you do, check out the first on when they have some cameras on the back of the sound system.  Notice that many of those Hiwatt amps are labeled “WHO”, and a few are labeled “TULL”.  Yes, they also played there.  What a concert!

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