3

THE FLAMING LIPS:  ”THE FLAMING LIPS AND STARDEATH AND WHITE DWARFS WITH HENRY ROLLINS AND PEACHES DOING THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON” (2009)

THE FLAMING LIPS:  ”THE FLAMING SIDE OF THE MOON” (2014)

That Wayne Coyne, he does like to act out his obsessions in public, like these two dedicated tributes to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.  One is a track-by-track cover of the entire album, the other a companion piece to be synced in the manner of the legendary “Dark Side of Oz” album/movie sync, already covered in this post here.

Coyne’s genius is that he takes those brilliantly outlandish types ideas you dream up when you’re stoned, but that seem silly when you remember them in the morning (if you remember them at all).  And he makes them happen.

Hence this being The Flaming Lips third entry in the Museum of Albums, and by far from their last.

1
UNHOLY TRIFORCE:  ”SANDIN’ YR VAGINA”  (2010)
ABRASIVE, MOI?
Sometimes, like the Durutti Column’s ‘The Return of the Durutti Column’ (which you can read about here), you can wear your abrasion on the outside of your sleeve to destroy the inferior music around you.
But with ‘Sandin’ yr Vagina’ the abrasion is everywhere with emery board wrapping the cassette and sand filling it.  Then, in a perfect meeting or sound and packaging, there is the abrasive music, described as ‘metal, glass and wood noise with unrelenting harsh noise walls of junk-metal and disturbing silence’.
You can listen to a excerpt from the tape here, but you may want to make sure you have some rash cream to hand.

UNHOLY TRIFORCE:  ”SANDIN’ YR VAGINA”  (2010)

ABRASIVE, MOI?

Sometimes, like the Durutti Column’s ‘The Return of the Durutti Column’ (which you can read about here), you can wear your abrasion on the outside of your sleeve to destroy the inferior music around you.

But with ‘Sandin’ yr Vagina’ the abrasion is everywhere with emery board wrapping the cassette and sand filling it.  Then, in a perfect meeting or sound and packaging, there is the abrasive music, described as ‘metal, glass and wood noise with unrelenting harsh noise walls of junk-metal and disturbing silence’.

You can listen to a excerpt from the tape here, but you may want to make sure you have some rash cream to hand.

3
WILLIAM BASINSKI: SHORTWAVE MUSIC (1998/2007)
REELIN’ IN THE YEARS
The reel-to-reel (or open real) tape recording was the antecedent to the cheaper and more accessible tape cassette which arrived later. Even if you’re too young to have experienced the technology first time around, you’ll probably be familiar at least with the image of the bulky (yet cool, by today’s retro standards) machines with their Mickey-Mouse-ears spools of tape held aloft. The technology is, in fact, old enough to be called truly vintage - the earliest tape recorders started being used in the late twenties, though it wasn’t until 1958 that they began being sold for domestic use.
Unsurprisingly, they had a phase of being used to house albums, pre-recorded onto the tape, and packaged rather like a bulky vinyl box set. The advantage for the consumer was very high audio quality for the time - the kind of quality that meant reel-to-reel was the standard for recording studio masters. Improvements in Dolby noise-reduction in the vastly cheaper cassette tape spelled their doom, though, and by the early seventies they simply couldn’t compete on price and started being phased out. You can’t keep an old technology down though, and inevitably reel-to-reel is sometimes now resurrected for the limited boutique label release that’s more interesting to own than actually play.
William Basinski has always used tape as a compositional tool, creating loops from old reel-to-reel tape decks which often play against themselves to create feedback loops. His Disintegration Loops series of albums (which you can sample here) finds its sonic material from rapidly decaying old tape loops of his own earlier material. It therefore seems appropriate that his debut ‘Shortwavemusic’ was given the limited-to-101-copies reel-to-reel reissue.
For further fetishization, you may want to check out the Tape Project, which offers a subscription service reissuing classic albums by making reel-to-reel copies direct from the studio masters. The albums span jazz, classical, soul, blues and rock, but are very selective and, be warned, the reissues do not come cheap.
Also, click on the image above to see a photoset of reel-to-reel album releases old and new. WILLIAM BASINSKI: SHORTWAVE MUSIC (1998/2007)
REELIN’ IN THE YEARS
The reel-to-reel (or open real) tape recording was the antecedent to the cheaper and more accessible tape cassette which arrived later. Even if you’re too young to have experienced the technology first time around, you’ll probably be familiar at least with the image of the bulky (yet cool, by today’s retro standards) machines with their Mickey-Mouse-ears spools of tape held aloft. The technology is, in fact, old enough to be called truly vintage - the earliest tape recorders started being used in the late twenties, though it wasn’t until 1958 that they began being sold for domestic use.
Unsurprisingly, they had a phase of being used to house albums, pre-recorded onto the tape, and packaged rather like a bulky vinyl box set. The advantage for the consumer was very high audio quality for the time - the kind of quality that meant reel-to-reel was the standard for recording studio masters. Improvements in Dolby noise-reduction in the vastly cheaper cassette tape spelled their doom, though, and by the early seventies they simply couldn’t compete on price and started being phased out. You can’t keep an old technology down though, and inevitably reel-to-reel is sometimes now resurrected for the limited boutique label release that’s more interesting to own than actually play.
William Basinski has always used tape as a compositional tool, creating loops from old reel-to-reel tape decks which often play against themselves to create feedback loops. His Disintegration Loops series of albums (which you can sample here) finds its sonic material from rapidly decaying old tape loops of his own earlier material. It therefore seems appropriate that his debut ‘Shortwavemusic’ was given the limited-to-101-copies reel-to-reel reissue.
For further fetishization, you may want to check out the Tape Project, which offers a subscription service reissuing classic albums by making reel-to-reel copies direct from the studio masters. The albums span jazz, classical, soul, blues and rock, but are very selective and, be warned, the reissues do not come cheap.
Also, click on the image above to see a photoset of reel-to-reel album releases old and new. WILLIAM BASINSKI: SHORTWAVE MUSIC (1998/2007)
REELIN’ IN THE YEARS
The reel-to-reel (or open real) tape recording was the antecedent to the cheaper and more accessible tape cassette which arrived later. Even if you’re too young to have experienced the technology first time around, you’ll probably be familiar at least with the image of the bulky (yet cool, by today’s retro standards) machines with their Mickey-Mouse-ears spools of tape held aloft. The technology is, in fact, old enough to be called truly vintage - the earliest tape recorders started being used in the late twenties, though it wasn’t until 1958 that they began being sold for domestic use.
Unsurprisingly, they had a phase of being used to house albums, pre-recorded onto the tape, and packaged rather like a bulky vinyl box set. The advantage for the consumer was very high audio quality for the time - the kind of quality that meant reel-to-reel was the standard for recording studio masters. Improvements in Dolby noise-reduction in the vastly cheaper cassette tape spelled their doom, though, and by the early seventies they simply couldn’t compete on price and started being phased out. You can’t keep an old technology down though, and inevitably reel-to-reel is sometimes now resurrected for the limited boutique label release that’s more interesting to own than actually play.
William Basinski has always used tape as a compositional tool, creating loops from old reel-to-reel tape decks which often play against themselves to create feedback loops. His Disintegration Loops series of albums (which you can sample here) finds its sonic material from rapidly decaying old tape loops of his own earlier material. It therefore seems appropriate that his debut ‘Shortwavemusic’ was given the limited-to-101-copies reel-to-reel reissue.
For further fetishization, you may want to check out the Tape Project, which offers a subscription service reissuing classic albums by making reel-to-reel copies direct from the studio masters. The albums span jazz, classical, soul, blues and rock, but are very selective and, be warned, the reissues do not come cheap.
Also, click on the image above to see a photoset of reel-to-reel album releases old and new. WILLIAM BASINSKI: SHORTWAVE MUSIC (1998/2007)
REELIN’ IN THE YEARS
The reel-to-reel (or open real) tape recording was the antecedent to the cheaper and more accessible tape cassette which arrived later. Even if you’re too young to have experienced the technology first time around, you’ll probably be familiar at least with the image of the bulky (yet cool, by today’s retro standards) machines with their Mickey-Mouse-ears spools of tape held aloft. The technology is, in fact, old enough to be called truly vintage - the earliest tape recorders started being used in the late twenties, though it wasn’t until 1958 that they began being sold for domestic use.
Unsurprisingly, they had a phase of being used to house albums, pre-recorded onto the tape, and packaged rather like a bulky vinyl box set. The advantage for the consumer was very high audio quality for the time - the kind of quality that meant reel-to-reel was the standard for recording studio masters. Improvements in Dolby noise-reduction in the vastly cheaper cassette tape spelled their doom, though, and by the early seventies they simply couldn’t compete on price and started being phased out. You can’t keep an old technology down though, and inevitably reel-to-reel is sometimes now resurrected for the limited boutique label release that’s more interesting to own than actually play.
William Basinski has always used tape as a compositional tool, creating loops from old reel-to-reel tape decks which often play against themselves to create feedback loops. His Disintegration Loops series of albums (which you can sample here) finds its sonic material from rapidly decaying old tape loops of his own earlier material. It therefore seems appropriate that his debut ‘Shortwavemusic’ was given the limited-to-101-copies reel-to-reel reissue.
For further fetishization, you may want to check out the Tape Project, which offers a subscription service reissuing classic albums by making reel-to-reel copies direct from the studio masters. The albums span jazz, classical, soul, blues and rock, but are very selective and, be warned, the reissues do not come cheap.
Also, click on the image above to see a photoset of reel-to-reel album releases old and new. WILLIAM BASINSKI: SHORTWAVE MUSIC (1998/2007)
REELIN’ IN THE YEARS
The reel-to-reel (or open real) tape recording was the antecedent to the cheaper and more accessible tape cassette which arrived later. Even if you’re too young to have experienced the technology first time around, you’ll probably be familiar at least with the image of the bulky (yet cool, by today’s retro standards) machines with their Mickey-Mouse-ears spools of tape held aloft. The technology is, in fact, old enough to be called truly vintage - the earliest tape recorders started being used in the late twenties, though it wasn’t until 1958 that they began being sold for domestic use.
Unsurprisingly, they had a phase of being used to house albums, pre-recorded onto the tape, and packaged rather like a bulky vinyl box set. The advantage for the consumer was very high audio quality for the time - the kind of quality that meant reel-to-reel was the standard for recording studio masters. Improvements in Dolby noise-reduction in the vastly cheaper cassette tape spelled their doom, though, and by the early seventies they simply couldn’t compete on price and started being phased out. You can’t keep an old technology down though, and inevitably reel-to-reel is sometimes now resurrected for the limited boutique label release that’s more interesting to own than actually play.
William Basinski has always used tape as a compositional tool, creating loops from old reel-to-reel tape decks which often play against themselves to create feedback loops. His Disintegration Loops series of albums (which you can sample here) finds its sonic material from rapidly decaying old tape loops of his own earlier material. It therefore seems appropriate that his debut ‘Shortwavemusic’ was given the limited-to-101-copies reel-to-reel reissue.
For further fetishization, you may want to check out the Tape Project, which offers a subscription service reissuing classic albums by making reel-to-reel copies direct from the studio masters. The albums span jazz, classical, soul, blues and rock, but are very selective and, be warned, the reissues do not come cheap.
Also, click on the image above to see a photoset of reel-to-reel album releases old and new. WILLIAM BASINSKI: SHORTWAVE MUSIC (1998/2007)
REELIN’ IN THE YEARS
The reel-to-reel (or open real) tape recording was the antecedent to the cheaper and more accessible tape cassette which arrived later. Even if you’re too young to have experienced the technology first time around, you’ll probably be familiar at least with the image of the bulky (yet cool, by today’s retro standards) machines with their Mickey-Mouse-ears spools of tape held aloft. The technology is, in fact, old enough to be called truly vintage - the earliest tape recorders started being used in the late twenties, though it wasn’t until 1958 that they began being sold for domestic use.
Unsurprisingly, they had a phase of being used to house albums, pre-recorded onto the tape, and packaged rather like a bulky vinyl box set. The advantage for the consumer was very high audio quality for the time - the kind of quality that meant reel-to-reel was the standard for recording studio masters. Improvements in Dolby noise-reduction in the vastly cheaper cassette tape spelled their doom, though, and by the early seventies they simply couldn’t compete on price and started being phased out. You can’t keep an old technology down though, and inevitably reel-to-reel is sometimes now resurrected for the limited boutique label release that’s more interesting to own than actually play.
William Basinski has always used tape as a compositional tool, creating loops from old reel-to-reel tape decks which often play against themselves to create feedback loops. His Disintegration Loops series of albums (which you can sample here) finds its sonic material from rapidly decaying old tape loops of his own earlier material. It therefore seems appropriate that his debut ‘Shortwavemusic’ was given the limited-to-101-copies reel-to-reel reissue.
For further fetishization, you may want to check out the Tape Project, which offers a subscription service reissuing classic albums by making reel-to-reel copies direct from the studio masters. The albums span jazz, classical, soul, blues and rock, but are very selective and, be warned, the reissues do not come cheap.
Also, click on the image above to see a photoset of reel-to-reel album releases old and new. WILLIAM BASINSKI: SHORTWAVE MUSIC (1998/2007)
REELIN’ IN THE YEARS
The reel-to-reel (or open real) tape recording was the antecedent to the cheaper and more accessible tape cassette which arrived later. Even if you’re too young to have experienced the technology first time around, you’ll probably be familiar at least with the image of the bulky (yet cool, by today’s retro standards) machines with their Mickey-Mouse-ears spools of tape held aloft. The technology is, in fact, old enough to be called truly vintage - the earliest tape recorders started being used in the late twenties, though it wasn’t until 1958 that they began being sold for domestic use.
Unsurprisingly, they had a phase of being used to house albums, pre-recorded onto the tape, and packaged rather like a bulky vinyl box set. The advantage for the consumer was very high audio quality for the time - the kind of quality that meant reel-to-reel was the standard for recording studio masters. Improvements in Dolby noise-reduction in the vastly cheaper cassette tape spelled their doom, though, and by the early seventies they simply couldn’t compete on price and started being phased out. You can’t keep an old technology down though, and inevitably reel-to-reel is sometimes now resurrected for the limited boutique label release that’s more interesting to own than actually play.
William Basinski has always used tape as a compositional tool, creating loops from old reel-to-reel tape decks which often play against themselves to create feedback loops. His Disintegration Loops series of albums (which you can sample here) finds its sonic material from rapidly decaying old tape loops of his own earlier material. It therefore seems appropriate that his debut ‘Shortwavemusic’ was given the limited-to-101-copies reel-to-reel reissue.
For further fetishization, you may want to check out the Tape Project, which offers a subscription service reissuing classic albums by making reel-to-reel copies direct from the studio masters. The albums span jazz, classical, soul, blues and rock, but are very selective and, be warned, the reissues do not come cheap.
Also, click on the image above to see a photoset of reel-to-reel album releases old and new. WILLIAM BASINSKI: SHORTWAVE MUSIC (1998/2007)
REELIN’ IN THE YEARS
The reel-to-reel (or open real) tape recording was the antecedent to the cheaper and more accessible tape cassette which arrived later. Even if you’re too young to have experienced the technology first time around, you’ll probably be familiar at least with the image of the bulky (yet cool, by today’s retro standards) machines with their Mickey-Mouse-ears spools of tape held aloft. The technology is, in fact, old enough to be called truly vintage - the earliest tape recorders started being used in the late twenties, though it wasn’t until 1958 that they began being sold for domestic use.
Unsurprisingly, they had a phase of being used to house albums, pre-recorded onto the tape, and packaged rather like a bulky vinyl box set. The advantage for the consumer was very high audio quality for the time - the kind of quality that meant reel-to-reel was the standard for recording studio masters. Improvements in Dolby noise-reduction in the vastly cheaper cassette tape spelled their doom, though, and by the early seventies they simply couldn’t compete on price and started being phased out. You can’t keep an old technology down though, and inevitably reel-to-reel is sometimes now resurrected for the limited boutique label release that’s more interesting to own than actually play.
William Basinski has always used tape as a compositional tool, creating loops from old reel-to-reel tape decks which often play against themselves to create feedback loops. His Disintegration Loops series of albums (which you can sample here) finds its sonic material from rapidly decaying old tape loops of his own earlier material. It therefore seems appropriate that his debut ‘Shortwavemusic’ was given the limited-to-101-copies reel-to-reel reissue.
For further fetishization, you may want to check out the Tape Project, which offers a subscription service reissuing classic albums by making reel-to-reel copies direct from the studio masters. The albums span jazz, classical, soul, blues and rock, but are very selective and, be warned, the reissues do not come cheap.
Also, click on the image above to see a photoset of reel-to-reel album releases old and new. WILLIAM BASINSKI: SHORTWAVE MUSIC (1998/2007)
REELIN’ IN THE YEARS
The reel-to-reel (or open real) tape recording was the antecedent to the cheaper and more accessible tape cassette which arrived later. Even if you’re too young to have experienced the technology first time around, you’ll probably be familiar at least with the image of the bulky (yet cool, by today’s retro standards) machines with their Mickey-Mouse-ears spools of tape held aloft. The technology is, in fact, old enough to be called truly vintage - the earliest tape recorders started being used in the late twenties, though it wasn’t until 1958 that they began being sold for domestic use.
Unsurprisingly, they had a phase of being used to house albums, pre-recorded onto the tape, and packaged rather like a bulky vinyl box set. The advantage for the consumer was very high audio quality for the time - the kind of quality that meant reel-to-reel was the standard for recording studio masters. Improvements in Dolby noise-reduction in the vastly cheaper cassette tape spelled their doom, though, and by the early seventies they simply couldn’t compete on price and started being phased out. You can’t keep an old technology down though, and inevitably reel-to-reel is sometimes now resurrected for the limited boutique label release that’s more interesting to own than actually play.
William Basinski has always used tape as a compositional tool, creating loops from old reel-to-reel tape decks which often play against themselves to create feedback loops. His Disintegration Loops series of albums (which you can sample here) finds its sonic material from rapidly decaying old tape loops of his own earlier material. It therefore seems appropriate that his debut ‘Shortwavemusic’ was given the limited-to-101-copies reel-to-reel reissue.
For further fetishization, you may want to check out the Tape Project, which offers a subscription service reissuing classic albums by making reel-to-reel copies direct from the studio masters. The albums span jazz, classical, soul, blues and rock, but are very selective and, be warned, the reissues do not come cheap.
Also, click on the image above to see a photoset of reel-to-reel album releases old and new.

WILLIAM BASINSKI: SHORTWAVE MUSIC (1998/2007)

REELIN’ IN THE YEARS

The reel-to-reel (or open real) tape recording was the antecedent to the cheaper and more accessible tape cassette which arrived later. Even if you’re too young to have experienced the technology first time around, you’ll probably be familiar at least with the image of the bulky (yet cool, by today’s retro standards) machines with their Mickey-Mouse-ears spools of tape held aloft. The technology is, in fact, old enough to be called truly vintage - the earliest tape recorders started being used in the late twenties, though it wasn’t until 1958 that they began being sold for domestic use.

Unsurprisingly, they had a phase of being used to house albums, pre-recorded onto the tape, and packaged rather like a bulky vinyl box set. The advantage for the consumer was very high audio quality for the time - the kind of quality that meant reel-to-reel was the standard for recording studio masters. Improvements in Dolby noise-reduction in the vastly cheaper cassette tape spelled their doom, though, and by the early seventies they simply couldn’t compete on price and started being phased out. You can’t keep an old technology down though, and inevitably reel-to-reel is sometimes now resurrected for the limited boutique label release that’s more interesting to own than actually play.

William Basinski has always used tape as a compositional tool, creating loops from old reel-to-reel tape decks which often play against themselves to create feedback loops. His Disintegration Loops series of albums (which you can sample here) finds its sonic material from rapidly decaying old tape loops of his own earlier material. It therefore seems appropriate that his debut ‘Shortwavemusic’ was given the limited-to-101-copies reel-to-reel reissue.

For further fetishization, you may want to check out the Tape Project, which offers a subscription service reissuing classic albums by making reel-to-reel copies direct from the studio masters. The albums span jazz, classical, soul, blues and rock, but are very selective and, be warned, the reissues do not come cheap.

Also, click on the image above to see a photoset of reel-to-reel album releases old and new.

DE LA SOUL: “3 FEET HIGH AND RISING” (1989)

HITS, SKITS AND COMIC BOOKS

3 Feet High and Rising broke new ground in hip-hop on its release, becoming an instant classic and offering a lighter, more playful and colourful alternative to the hardcore politics of Public Enemy, or the rising gangsta rap genre.

The playfulness extended to both a comic about the making of the album being featured in the artwork and also short comedic vignettes in between songs, commonly known in hip-hop as skits. This particular innovation is said to be a creative idea introduced to the band by their producer Prince Paul, whose preoccupation with maintaining thematic unity across an album would later lead him to make his own full-blown concept albums as a solo artist.

De La Soul themselves would reuse the skit in several subsequent albums, but it was quickly taken up by other artists and absorbed into the fabric of the hip-hop album and helping to extend its form. The Wu-Tang Clan’s 1993 debut ‘Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)’ is laced with skits and intros like the famously gruesome ‘Torture’ intro to M.E.T.H.O.D. M.A.N.

Rappers are natural storytellers in many ways, inventively parading a kaleidoscope of characters in front of the listener, and the arrival of the skit encouraged the vaudevillian dimensions within hip-hop performance to really come to the fore.

3
ALICE COOPER: “WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE” (1975-2001)
ELTON JOHN:  “CAPTAIN FANTASTIC” (1975-2006)
EMINEM: “THE MARSHALL MATHERS LP” (2000-2013)
MEAT LOAF:  “BAT OUT OF HELL” (1977-2006)
MIKE OLDFIELD:  “TUBULAR BELLS” (1973-1999)

SEQUELS, THREEQUELS AND QUADRILOGIES

One tried and tested way to revive a flaccidly ageing rock career is to go back and revisit the era of your biggest popularity.  This might involve hooking up for aural ex-sex with your old producer (Bowie/Tony Visconti) or simply having a fling with your original musical style (Madonna’s ‘Confessions on a Dancefloor’ for example).

For Mike Oldfield, largely forgotten by the early nineties, rather than launch a new concept to a largely disinterested public he decided to revive an old one:  ‘Tubular Bells’, the 1973 blockbuster whose shadow he had never really escaped from under.  ‘Tubular Bells 2’ relied on much of the musical material of the original and reminded everyone where its origins lay by recycling the iconic artwork of the original as well.    The album hit number one in the UK and significantly revived his career, but the temptation to keep knocking out sequels proved too strong and by the time of the fourth version in 1999, the public seemed thoroughly bored with the idea (‘Millenium Bells’ failed to chart).

Meat Loaf followed suit the next year with a sequel to 1977’s ‘Bat out of Hell’, reuniting with producer Jim Steinman for the first time since the early 80s.  If the Bat series means anything, it is the coming together of the two, although they fell out over Steinman’s lack of involvement as a producer on number three (he was ill for a long period at the time).

Alice Cooper’s 1975 Welcome To My Nightmare certainly does have a story with a protagonist ‘Steven’, one that was continued in ‘Alice Cooper Goes To Hell’ the following year (although you had to wait until 2001 for an officially titled sequel).

Elton John’s 1975 concept album ‘Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy’ dealt with the relationship between himself and his songwriting partner Bernie Taupin, and the 2006 follow-up ‘The Captain and the Kid’ charted how their lives and working relationship had changed in the thirty years since.

And then more recently there is Eminem, revisiting the site of his biggest glory, ‘The Marshall Mathers LP’.  Eminem loves a good sequel concept:  his first three albums were named after the different personas he uses in his performance, as if each one were an act in a variety show.  Albums four and five capped the show with ‘Encore’ and ‘Curtain Call’.  Then, he framed his showbiz comeback from pill-popping purgatory as ‘Relapse’ and ‘Recovery’.

In fact, hip-hop in general is rather fond of an arbitrary sequel:  think Jay-Z’s ‘The Blueprint’ series or Little Wayne’s ‘Tha Carter’ with four volumes apiece.  

With Alice Cooper’s continuing storyline, Mike Oldfield’s continuation of musical themes or Elton John/Bernie Taupin’s reexamination of their relationship, the logic of providing sequels seems pretty sound.  All the others, though, leave themselves wide open to accusations of opportunistic branding of their music, making them the cherry coke of albums if you like.  With pop stars increasingly branching out into fragrances and shoewear lines to maximise their earnings though, it’s hardly a surprising trend and one we’re likely to see a lot more of in the future (hello Justin Timberlake).

ALICE COOPER: “WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE” (1975-2001)
ELTON JOHN: “CAPTAIN FANTASTIC” (1975-2006)
EMINEM: “THE MARSHALL MATHERS LP” (2000-2013)
MEAT LOAF: “BAT OUT OF HELL” (1977-2006)
MIKE OLDFIELD: “TUBULAR BELLS” (1973-1999)

SEQUELS, THREEQUELS AND QUADRILOGIES

One tried and tested way to revive a flaccidly ageing rock career is to go back and revisit the era of your biggest popularity. This might involve hooking up for aural ex-sex with your old producer (Bowie/Tony Visconti) or simply having a fling with your original musical style (Madonna’s ‘Confessions on a Dancefloor’ for example).

For Mike Oldfield, largely forgotten by the early nineties, rather than launch a new concept to a largely disinterested public he decided to revive an old one: ‘Tubular Bells’, the 1973 blockbuster whose shadow he had never really escaped from under. ‘Tubular Bells 2’ relied on much of the musical material of the original and reminded everyone where its origins lay by recycling the iconic artwork of the original as well. The album hit number one in the UK and significantly revived his career, but the temptation to keep knocking out sequels proved too strong and by the time of the fourth version in 1999, the public seemed thoroughly bored with the idea (‘Millenium Bells’ failed to chart).

Meat Loaf followed suit the next year with a sequel to 1977’s ‘Bat out of Hell’, reuniting with producer Jim Steinman for the first time since the early 80s. If the Bat series means anything, it is the coming together of the two, although they fell out over Steinman’s lack of involvement as a producer on number three (he was ill for a long period at the time).

Alice Cooper’s 1975 Welcome To My Nightmare certainly does have a story with a protagonist ‘Steven’, one that was continued in ‘Alice Cooper Goes To Hell’ the following year (although you had to wait until 2001 for an officially titled sequel).

Elton John’s 1975 concept album ‘Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy’ dealt with the relationship between himself and his songwriting partner Bernie Taupin, and the 2006 follow-up ‘The Captain and the Kid’ charted how their lives and working relationship had changed in the thirty years since.

And then more recently there is Eminem, revisiting the site of his biggest glory, ‘The Marshall Mathers LP’. Eminem loves a good sequel concept: his first three albums were named after the different personas he uses in his performance, as if each one were an act in a variety show. Albums four and five capped the show with ‘Encore’ and ‘Curtain Call’. Then, he framed his showbiz comeback from pill-popping purgatory as ‘Relapse’ and ‘Recovery’.

In fact, hip-hop in general is rather fond of an arbitrary sequel: think Jay-Z’s ‘The Blueprint’ series or Little Wayne’s ‘Tha Carter’ with four volumes apiece.

With Alice Cooper’s continuing storyline, Mike Oldfield’s continuation of musical themes or Elton John/Bernie Taupin’s reexamination of their relationship, the logic of providing sequels seems pretty sound. All the others, though, leave themselves wide open to accusations of opportunistic branding of their music, making them the cherry coke of albums if you like. With pop stars increasingly branching out into fragrances and shoewear lines to maximise their earnings though, it’s hardly a surprising trend and one we’re likely to see a lot more of in the future (hello Justin Timberlake).

PEARL JAM:  “OFFICIAL BOOTLEGS SERIES” (2000-PRESENT)

IF YOU’RE GONNA DO IT ANYWAY, WE MAY AS WELL MAKE YOU PAY FOR IT

In 2000, Pearl Jam had the bright idea that if fans were going to make bootlegs of all their concerts, then the band might as well do half-decent recordings of them themselves, put them out and make some money from it.  They try to record every concert and the series now runs into several hundreds.  There is clearly a market for them, too - some of the releases have even sold well enough to appear in the US album chart.  In fairness to Pearl Jam, they have tried to make the releases affordable as well as good quality, avoiding some of the pitfalls of the illegal bootleg market.

Other artists soon cottoned on that this might be a good idea:  Tori Amos also has an ongoing series now called ‘Legs and Boots’.  There are even now companies like Concert Live who specialize in recording concerts and pressing up the results almost as soon as the concert has finished so you can take home a CD as a souvenir.

PEARL JAM: “OFFICIAL BOOTLEGS SERIES” (2000-PRESENT)

IF YOU’RE GONNA DO IT ANYWAY, WE MAY AS WELL MAKE YOU PAY FOR IT

In 2000, Pearl Jam had the bright idea that if fans were going to make bootlegs of all their concerts, then the band might as well do half-decent recordings of them themselves, put them out and make some money from it. They try to record every concert and the series now runs into several hundreds. There is clearly a market for them, too - some of the releases have even sold well enough to appear in the US album chart. In fairness to Pearl Jam, they have tried to make the releases affordable as well as good quality, avoiding some of the pitfalls of the illegal bootleg market.

Other artists soon cottoned on that this might be a good idea: Tori Amos also has an ongoing series now called ‘Legs and Boots’. There are even now companies like Concert Live who specialize in recording concerts and pressing up the results almost as soon as the concert has finished so you can take home a CD as a souvenir.

PSY:  “PSY 6 (SIX RULES), PART 1” (2012)

THE EP:  GANGNAM STYLE

K-Pop, even more than J-Pop, has lots of elaborate packaging with each new group seemingly trying to outdo the others with their fabulosity.  I will do another feature on this somewhere down the line, but for now, let’s just marvel at Psy’s fishbowl container for his 6-track EP ‘Psy 6 (Six Rules), Part 1’ (Part 2 is due sometime this year).

If you like album packaging with the surprise element of fifty Kinder Eggs at the same time, then Psy’s your man.  Both the package and the artwork inside are playful and GREAT and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with for Part 2.

PSY: “PSY 6 (SIX RULES), PART 1” (2012)

THE EP: GANGNAM STYLE

K-Pop, even more than J-Pop, has lots of elaborate packaging with each new group seemingly trying to outdo the others with their fabulosity. I will do another feature on this somewhere down the line, but for now, let’s just marvel at Psy’s fishbowl container for his 6-track EP ‘Psy 6 (Six Rules), Part 1’ (Part 2 is due sometime this year).

If you like album packaging with the surprise element of fifty Kinder Eggs at the same time, then Psy’s your man. Both the package and the artwork inside are playful and GREAT and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with for Part 2.

WE’VE GOT A FUZZBOX AND WE’RE GOING TO USE IT:  “RULES AND REGULATIONS EP” (1986)

ETCHY AND SCRATCHY

For their debut EP, shambolic girl quartet We’ve Got a Fuzzbox and We’re Gonna Use It (later just Fuzzbox) released an 12” etched disc for indie label Vindaloo.

The nicest thing about it wasn’t the yelpy music but the etching on the second side:  lovingly hand-scratched self-portraits by the girls themselves.  Not exactly the shimmering laser cut etched discs put out by Split Enz in 1980, but you could literally feel the pain of compass on plastic.

WE’VE GOT A FUZZBOX AND WE’RE GOING TO USE IT: “RULES AND REGULATIONS EP” (1986)

ETCHY AND SCRATCHY

For their debut EP, shambolic girl quartet We’ve Got a Fuzzbox and We’re Gonna Use It (later just Fuzzbox) released an 12” etched disc for indie label Vindaloo.

The nicest thing about it wasn’t the yelpy music but the etching on the second side: lovingly hand-scratched self-portraits by the girls themselves. Not exactly the shimmering laser cut etched discs put out by Split Enz in 1980, but you could literally feel the pain of compass on plastic.

ABBA:   “ABBA GOLD” (1992)

MONEY MONEY MONEY

Such has been the impact of Abba Gold since its initial release in 1992 that it has become almost a franchise of its own.

Released and re-released in a wide range of packages - with and without DVDs, with special ‘signature’ covers, ‘Abba Gold’ also has its own sequel (‘More Abba Gold’) and a range of songbooks for many different instruments.  It has spawned an Abba biography with the same name, and the compilation even has Elizabeth Vincentelli’s book and audiobook dedicated to examining the ‘Abba Gold’ phenomenon, giving it a seal of scholarly gravitas.

It has been well noted that during the 1980s, you could barely give Abba LPs away to your granny, so unhip had they become.   So, when the time seemed right for a reappraisal in 1992, parts of the group’s history were airbrushed away to put the focus squarely on the classic music.  No photos of too-tight jumpsuits or oversized t-shirts with pictures of cats on them.  Just the odd photo of the band looking far more serious than most people remember them from the seventies and that iconic reverse-B logo, embellished with the small graphic crown that has become the symbol for the Gold franchise.

Of course, much of the reason this particular Greatest Hits (already the second biggest seller ever in the UK) has sold quite so many copies and become a worldwide phenomenon is the musical Mamma Mia!  First appearing on the London stage six years after Abba Gold’s initial release, the compilation is effectively the soundtrack to the musical and the film that followed it (you really don’t need Pierce ‘Nightingale’ Brosnan or Julie Walters versions of your favourite songs).

There are other iconic Greatest Hits such as Queen’s and The Eagles’ that have endured along the decades, refusing to be replaced by modern updates.  You have to remember though that Abba Gold’s achievements have happened in a much shorter time frame and it may well go on to be the biggest of all time.

ABBA: “ABBA GOLD” (1992)

MONEY MONEY MONEY

Such has been the impact of Abba Gold since its initial release in 1992 that it has become almost a franchise of its own.

Released and re-released in a wide range of packages - with and without DVDs, with special ‘signature’ covers, ‘Abba Gold’ also has its own sequel (‘More Abba Gold’) and a range of songbooks for many different instruments. It has spawned an Abba biography with the same name, and the compilation even has Elizabeth Vincentelli’s book and audiobook dedicated to examining the ‘Abba Gold’ phenomenon, giving it a seal of scholarly gravitas.

It has been well noted that during the 1980s, you could barely give Abba LPs away to your granny, so unhip had they become. So, when the time seemed right for a reappraisal in 1992, parts of the group’s history were airbrushed away to put the focus squarely on the classic music. No photos of too-tight jumpsuits or oversized t-shirts with pictures of cats on them. Just the odd photo of the band looking far more serious than most people remember them from the seventies and that iconic reverse-B logo, embellished with the small graphic crown that has become the symbol for the Gold franchise.

Of course, much of the reason this particular Greatest Hits (already the second biggest seller ever in the UK) has sold quite so many copies and become a worldwide phenomenon is the musical Mamma Mia! First appearing on the London stage six years after Abba Gold’s initial release, the compilation is effectively the soundtrack to the musical and the film that followed it (you really don’t need Pierce ‘Nightingale’ Brosnan or Julie Walters versions of your favourite songs).

There are other iconic Greatest Hits such as Queen’s and The Eagles’ that have endured along the decades, refusing to be replaced by modern updates. You have to remember though that Abba Gold’s achievements have happened in a much shorter time frame and it may well go on to be the biggest of all time.