Tag: popular culture

Popular Culture 20130111 — The Electric Light Orchestra: On the Third Day

On the Third Day was the third album released by the band, issued 197311 in the US on United Artists and 197312 in the UK on Warner Brothers (they had previously been contracted to Harvest).  It made #52 in the US but did not chart in the UK.

Jeff Lynne produced the record and wrote all of the material with one exception, and you can tell that immediately.  I did not think that it was a very good album, but that is just an opinion.

That is not to say that it was a bad album, but I sort of hold a band like ELO to a higher standard.  In all fairness, they had some stiff competition, since The Who released Quadrophenia that year, The Rolling Stones released Goat’s Head Soup, and Pink Floyd released Dark Side of the Moon!

Popular Culture 20130104: The Electric Light Orchestra — ELO 2

It has been a while since I started this series.  My contributions here, and at my other regular blogs, have been quite spotty for a number of reasons.  Part of it has to do with it having been the holiday season, and things get a bit odd then, but for the most part the holiday season treated me pretty well, except for when it did not.

Another distraction, one that is absolutely necessary for me to do, is to work on cultivating my nascent consulting business.  I write well, am a great scientist, and have skills that include things from analytical chemistry to health and safety expertise to technical writing to expert testimony.  One of my friends that I met here who does consulting work has agreed to work with me over the telephone to assist me in establishing my business.  Any others who might be able to help are strongly encouraged to pitch in as well, because I am sick and tired of feeling useless!

In any event, it is time to get back to what I do well in this series, or at least I think that I do, and that is to provide embedded music, some historical background, and my commentary to bands that catch my interest.  With this in mind, we shall look at the second effort from The Electric Light Orchestra, called ELO 2.

In my opinion it is a very much better album than their debut one.  The band had settled down a bit, and Jeff Lynne was very much in control, for good or ill, by then.  Let us get started!

Popular Culture 20121221: Christmas Songs

I apologize for not being around much lately, but I have been busy doing Christmas baking and sorting out some personal issues.  Monday I shipped off two boxes of goodies, one to the former Mrs. Translator for her and the two sons that will be able to spend time with her for the holidays, and the other to Eldest Son and his bride who are unable to come home for Christmas.

Contents included Black Walnut/Cream Cheese Pound Cake, Hickory Nut/Cream Cheese Pound Cake, Apricot Bread, Black Walnut/White “Chocolate” Chip Toll House Cookies, and of course Lizzies, a family Christmas tradition.  I got word from both of them that they each got their goodies in good condition on Wednesday.  Hat tip to the USPS for providing excellent service and a very good price with Priority Mail.

There are some really good seasonal songs playing these days, and I shall share some of them with you tonight.  Most of them are from my childhood, and many of them are from Goodyear’s Great Songs of Christmas, Volume 5 from 1965, so I would have been eight at the time.  I rooted around through my vinyl and alas no longer have the record.  Others are from different sources.

Popular Culture 20121123: Thanksgiving: (Almost) Everything You Know is Wrong

Yesterday the United States celebrated yet another Thanksgiving Day.  I think that Thanksgiving is a marvelous holiday, but it is hardly uniquely American.  As a matter of fact, it is hardly recent, if you can call something that supposedly began in 1621 as recent.

As a matter of fact, celebrations of the harvest at about this time of year go back millennia.  It is known that the Egyptians has such a celebration, and it seems that such festivals have occurred off and on in all agrarian civilizations since prehistory.

However, we shall confine our discussion to the US holiday (Canada has a similar one, celebrated in October due to the earlier onset of cold weather).  Almost all of our “knowledge” about this festival is imparted in children in the early years of grade school, and almost all of it is either very speculative or is created from whole cloth.

Popular Culture 20121109: The Electric Light Orchestra

The Electric Light Orchestra, also known as ELO, were a pretty good British band that officially formed in 1970.  Like many British bands of its era, ELO went through huge personnel changes over the years.  We shall confine our discussion to the band(s) from 1970 to 1983, sort of like what we did with The Moody Blues not that long ago.

The band were founded by Roy Wood (previously leader of the decent British band The Move), and Jeff Lynne (previously from the band The Idle Race, which also had Wood as a member for a while).  Interestingly, The Move continued to record and release records whilst ELO was being formed, largely to pay the bills.

Popular Culture 20121026: Fast Food

We normally think of fast food as somehow uniquely American and of recent origin, but that is just not true.  Certainly modern American fast food is different from what in the past qualified and in other places qualifies as fast food, but the concept is nothing new.  Before we start, let us define fast food.

To me, fast food had the following characteristics:

-  The serving establishment has a rather limited menu

-  The food is prepared ahead of time, or is very quickly prepared and reaches the customer in only a few minutes, like ten or fewer

-  The food can be eaten either with only the fingers or with minimal utensils, like plastic “silverware” and throw away plates, cups, and bowls (with some notable exceptions)

-  The food is designed to be consumed quickly, in less than half an hour and often much less, also with some exceptions

-  More often than not, fast food is relatively inexpensive

Note that nothing to do with nutritional value fits into my definition, nor does any specific type of food.  I think that my definition is sound.  By the way, when I mention brand names I am neither endorsing nor denigrating those brands.  I do this simply as a matter of reference so that we are all on the same page.

Popular Culture 20121012: Rituals for the Deceased

I originally was going to write about the new Dark Shadows motion picture, but circumstances have intervened.  It turns out that my dear friend’s mum’s twin brother died either late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning, alone except for his little dog.  My friend called me around 9:30 Thursday morning to go next door and try to comfort her mum, and I was honored to do so.

Her mum was a basket case.  She and her brother were Christmas Day babies, 65 years ago Christmas past.  I have a brother, but not a twin, and my brother and I are separated by 14 years.  She and her brother were separated by fewer than 14 minutes, so they grew up together.

I did comfort her, and she cried in my arms.  I could not do much except to try to let her know that I really care, and she appreciated that.  Now for the culture part.

Popular Culture 20121005: Here Comes Honey Boo Boo

Of all of the horrible crap on TeeVee, the TLC program Here Comes Honey Boo Boo amongst the worst.  As a matter of fact, this program is the epitome of redneckery.  This trainwreck revolves around overweight child beauty pageant contestant Alana Thompson, now seven years old, her obese and incredibly stupid mum June, her three sisters (all four of the girls have different fathers), and her father.

I really do not know where to start.  This program is so vile that it would require instruments not yet invented to measure its offensiveness.  But it is my job to give my opinion, and remember I do not always write about things that I like.  

Popular Culture 20120928 — Jethro Tull Thick as a Brick Side 2

Last time we covered the first side of the 1972 album.  The link in that piece goes to the history of the record and has a link to the wonderful album cover and you should look at that if you have not already.

Since this is one long (21:06 minutes) song, we shall do like we did the last time and break it into chunks.  Just hit the pause button after each chunk and we shall discuss.  For your convenience I have also posted the entire lyrics before the embed.  Here we go!

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.

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.

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.

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