Category Archives: Music

How strange the change from major to minor … in Beatles songs

One of the characteristic tricks that crops up in Beatles songs is the use of major and minor chords on the same note. A lot of the Abbey Road album is built on movement between C, its relative minor of A minor, and its tonic major of A major. For example, George Harrison’s gorgeous song Something is mostly in C but modulates to A when the distinctive six-note guitar riff lands on a C# (the third of the A major chord) instead of C natural (the root of the C chord) to go into the middle section (“You’re asking me, will our love grow?”).

Today I want to look at two songs from the Rubber Soul album that both use the same trick of shifting directly from a major chord to its tonic minor, and see how they use that trick similarly and differently.

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What I’ve been listening to in 2018

Here is a YouTube playlist of my now-traditional top-ten list of the albums I’ve listened to the most in the previous calendar year. (See this list of previous entries.)

I listen much more to whole albums than to individual tracks, so each year I pick the ten albums that I listened to the most (not counting compilations), as recorded on the laptop where I listen to most of my music. (So these counts don’t include listening in the car or the kitchen, or on my phone.) I limit the selection to no more than one album per artist, and skip albums that have featured in previous years. Then from each of those ten objectively selected albums, I subjectively pick one song that I feel is representative.

Here they are in ascending order of how often I listened to them. Continue reading

A Thursday in December

Starring Gandalf the Grey.

It’s probably best thought of as a sound collage, and one that I find strangely relaxing.

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Metal Jester at the Marquee in 1991

A few years ago, I wrote about the heavy metal band, Anne Heap of Frogs, that I was the guitarist for in my late teens; and then about Crossfire, the band that come out of that, and some other bits and pieces. But there is one more chapter to the story, and it’s much more impressive.

Trojan Horse, Lick That, Metal Jester

After singing with AHOF and Crossfire, Richard Whitbread went on to front a much more serious band, Metal Jester, which did well enough to get a gig at the Marquee — then, one of the top rock venues in the UK. The layout of the ticket suggests they were third on a bill of three, which would still pretty darned impressive, but as Richard elucidates below, they were actually the main act.

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Genesis: a tragedy in 15 acts. Part 2: the Collins years

Last time, we looked at the first six Genesis albums, with Peter Gabriel in the lead singer role. When he left the band at the end of the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway tour, things did not look good for the quartet he’d left behind. But they decided to carry on without him, promoting drummer Phil Collins into the lead-vocal slot. Collins would go on to sing lead on eight Genesis albums, two more than Gabriel had — but were they good?

7. A Trick of the Tail (1976)

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Genesis: a tragedy in 15 acts. Part 1: the Gabriel years

About a year ago, for reasons that escaped me then and still do now, I found myself writing a whole-career retrospective review of Whitesnake’s albums. They’re a band that I like, but who I never really loved. But for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been listening to Genesis, and I do love them.

Genesis, classic line-up (1975). Left to right: Phil Collins (drums), Steve Hackett (guitars), Tony Banks (keyboards, above), Mike Rutherford (bass, below), Peter Gabriel (vocals)

Since 15 albums is a lot to cover in a single post, I’ll be breaking this one up into two: the present post on the first six albums, with Peter Gabriel as lead singer; and a follow-up on the last nine, with Phil Collins singing.

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What I’ve been listening to in 2017

Here is a YouTube playlist of my now-traditional top-ten list of the albums I’ve listened to the most in the previous calendar year. (See this list of previous entries.)

I listen much more to whole albums than to individual tracks, so each year I pick the ten albums that I listened to the most (not counting compilations), as recorded on the two computers where I listen to most of my music. (So these counts don’t include listening in the car or the kitchen, or on my phone.) I limit the selection to no more than one album per artist, and skip albums that have featured in previous years. Then from each of those ten objectively selected albums, I subjectively pick one song that I feel is representative.

Here they are in ascending order of how often I listened to them. Continue reading