The album is coming along...we have one more song to mix, and then it's off to the mastering process. Before the album can be mastered, it has to be sequenced--a process of figuring out which song should go where. There are a few ways of going about this--one is to think of the overall story of the album, while also looking at the flow or movement of one song to the next. Another approach is to front-load the album with the best tracks--the theory being that your second track should be the best, and that if it sucks, no one will listen any further. I'll be trying for the first approach, but everything is up in the air until I send that final file to the manufacturer. I'm happy to say that I am on schedule for an October release.
I was going to keep the whole record under wraps until release...but it's getting harder and harder to do that. So, here is the latest mix we've finished for the song "Now That The Curtain's Drawn"--which will be the last song on the album. It's definitely one of the more mellow songs on the album, but the production (especially the latter parts) is indicative of the direction I'm taking on this album.
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036: Carole King – Tapestry (1971)
I am a big fan of female singer-songwriters--typically more so than their male counterparts...Kind of the opposite of most men--or at least those that chose the inductees to this list.
Somehow, though, this album has always escaped my attention.
I've heard many artists cite this album as a major inspiration. I had never heard it until earlier this year.
The songwriting here is, without question or even the need to state it, perfection. Having never really heard the album before, I had heard at least 10 of the songs before. The simplicity of the songwriting is criminally deceptive.
Over on the Counterbalance blog, Carole King gets flack for even attempting to sing her song that Aretha made famous. Taking nothing from Aretha: for my money, I love the bare bones and understated approach of Carole's (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman and the classic Will You Love Me Tomorrow?
The song Beautiful comes in a little too sweet at first--and then digs itself into your awareness. Maybe it's the psychedelic melodies of the verses? I loved seeing her mash-up of this song with Sarah Bareilles on the Grammy's.
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035: David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust... (1972)
I had also never heard this record before.
I AM embarrassed.
I had tried several times to get into David Bowie, but chose subsequent albums as my attempted entry point. It didn't work.
This album, for the most part, still feels really modern. I can hear the influence it had on many artists that I've loved since--The Flaming Lips, Damon Albarn, Belle and Sebastian, and even Pink Floyd.
The production on this album is so diverse and impressive, revealing the deep intelligence and sophistication of the producers (David Bowie and Ken Scott, who worked with the Beatles, Elton John and Pink Floyd).
This is one of the best concept albums I've ever heard. It doesn't really even matter what the concept is: how intelligible it is, or whether you identify with it. It's just so cohesive and the songwriting is first-and-foremost and tight. Not to mention how bold it must have been then, or would be even still.
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I remember seeing the movie Velvet Goldmine when I was in college, which was inspired by this album. I walked out of the theater after the credits rolled, like "what the what?"--it was too much for my small-town Florida mind.
Whether it would mean more to me now after a repeat-viewing...I do really like this album.
I have a deep respect for Carole King the songwriter. I like the capable, stark and simplistic way that she delivers her songs. I still wouldn't say I'm a devotee (maybe it's her vibrato that holds me back??).
I plan to come back to Ziggy Stardust when I have some time. I really enjoyed this album, and hope to branch into other Bowie records too. One week to look at two records--especially when it was my first week of grad school--is just not enough to really absorb an album fully. But if the goal here is exposure--and it is--then my work here is done.
034: The Band – Music from Big Pink (1968)
033: Ramones – Ramones (1976)
Want to listen ahead, or see some posts you may have missed? Check out the full list of the 100 Greatest Albums here.