Eldorado- Electric Light Orchestra
What’s it about and where did the idea for the concept come from?
The story line of the album was written before the album by Jeff Lynne, the main song-writer of ELO. His idea was inspired by his fathers criticisms as he wanted to prove him wrong and show him that he can write melodic/classical music. The story is almost like a fairy tale as Lynne describes life of a character who travels around fantasy worlds during his dreams.
‘The underlying concept for the album comes straight from “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”: the main character spends most of his time either daydreaming or wishing he could. His fantasies are the usual ones — Robin Hood, Lancelot, the Old West — and they function to allow him to escape his “corridors of endless gloom.”‘
The recording side of the album?
The recording of the album was very interesting as Eldorado was the first album which the band hired an orchestra for. This gave the songs on the album a sound, which Lynne’s dad said his previous albums were missing.
This album was a massive success for the ELO and so many song are very famous but when you listen to the songs individually, I wouldn’t notice that they are part of a concept album. For example ‘Can’t Get It Out of My Head’ is a huge song on it’s own, and I have known it for a while but I have never known the song originated from a concept album.
Reviews for the album and other people’s opinions.
One person said that the songs ‘flows seamlessly’ without any ‘Hesitation’.
I think that is a very important thing with a concept album because they shouldn’t have unclear or random transactions.
‘Beatles meets the Moody Blues meets Dorothy meets Don Quixote of an album’, this is a very particular description and it is quite interesting because I can see the relation to all those things and more as the album offers such wide range of instrumments and styles of music combined.
-www.popmatters.com › Music › Reviews › Electric Light Orchestra
Connection to my FMP
The main part that was very helpful for me to analyse is the way Lynne has created the story line of the album and how he represents the story in his songs. I would also take inspiration from the way he used the classical instruments in his tunes, and also different sound effects and use it in similar way in my songs, to make them sound more complete and musical.
Frank Zappa- Joe’s Grage Act- I.,II.,III.
The concept of the album.
As Frank Zappa described it himself “stupid little story about how the government is going to do away with music.”. It is a very political and religion opinionated concept as Zappa talks about the story of a young teenager called Joe who ends up starting up a garage rock band in his garage then gets into prison and when he comes out of prison music is considered criminal. Most songs on the album such as ‘Keep it Greasy’ has quite strong sexual content and references. It is very interesting because lyrically the songs do not appear very serious (‘Crew Slut’) but musically they are very well thought out and complicated.
Musically the album is very interesting because he combines loads of different genres together. As well as that each song on the album is unique and Zappa uses different instruments for particular songs to fit the concept of each song. For example the song called “Catholic Girls” he has a sitar playing in the background from one of his other songs called ‘Jewish Princess’. One of the most complex songs on the album is ‘Keep it Greasy’ as the main time signature of the song is 19/16, but even though it is in this time signature the song still has a groove to it, which is important as the signature compliments the song itself. This is the kind of music that even though it’s very complex and technical people can still dance to it and it’s funky.
From the reviews I have read, the overall score for the album was 4 out of 5 which is a great score. People mainly implemented that songs were too long, ‘Green Rosetta is too long’,but otherwise majority of people liked the songs. People commented on how the album was ‘humorous’ but smartly written at the same time.
Relation to my FMP
The main thing I want to achieve with my album, which is similar to Joe’s Garage is the musical aspect of it. This is because for my concept album we will be experimenting with different time signatures and I like the fact that even though the songs he has written are really complex they are still very groovy and nice to listen to which is what I want to achieve with our album as well.
Porcupine Tree- Deadwing
The concept and influences.
This album was written as a screenplay by Steven Wilson and co-writer Mike Bennion. The concept of the album is, as Wilson said ‘a surreal “ghost story”‘. The main intention of Wilson was to make the screenplay into a movie and release the album afterwards, not to spoil anything. The main influences for this album were David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick. The main artists that contributed to the album musically were Mikael Akerfeldt from Opeth whom has done a lot of backing vocal and guitar parts as well for the album. The second artist was Adrian Belew who is a producer and plays multiple instruments, but his main instruments are vocals and guitar.
Watching this video was very interesting and helpful because I got to see the recording process of the album as well which links to my other research. I mean they are using the same software I am using for recording my album so it was helpful to see how they do it, in terms of set up and which amps they use, or how they mic up the drum kit. Very helpful video because there is a lot to learn from this band as the sound quality of this album and all their other albums is amazing. I will definitely use the mic set up for the drum kit even though they obviously have a lot more drums to mic up.
Relation to my album:
I think the main thing I have learnt from the way this album was written is from the lyrical aspect of it and the fact that he has written the lyrics from a script which is something I want to do for the fourth song on my album, so far I have written down a few sentences and this helped me to put them into a melody and make the sentences fit into the song. I also think that this album is very close to our genre and musically is kind of what we want to achieve.
Porcupine Tree- Fear of a Blank Planet
The Concept of the album
The concept of this album was mainly inspired by the novel Lunar Park and from the child characters prospective. The lyrical content of the album is mainly about today’s youth and how it’s slowly becoming worse and worse. As explained on Wikipedia ‘lyrics deal with two typical neurobehavioural developmental disorders affecting teenagers in the 21st century’. So, they basically talk about how kids get bored of things very easily with all the new technology and drugs which make them lose their identities.
Description of the album by Steven Wilson.
“…this kind of terminally bored kid, anywhere between 10 and 15 years old, who spends all his daylight hours in his bedroom with the curtains closed, playing on his PlayStation, listening to his iPod, texting his friends on his cell phone, looking at hardcore pornography on the Internet, downloading music, films, news, violence…”
The album is very opinionated and it is a bit over the top, because it is true that children are being influenced by the media and all the modern technology but I like to believe that majority of youth is still not as corrupt as he describes them to be.
Musical aspect of the album.
Musically this album is amazing, this is manly because Porcupine Tree consists of Steven Wilson who is mainly good at producing and song-writing, but he is also an outstanding guitarist and lead vocalist. The fact that he is so involved with the production of his music shows in this album and all other albums, he has actually remixed each album into 5.1 surround, which is a very high quality recording. Gavin Harrison who is a very skilled drummer because he can play time signatures and is very technical but he also plays with a lot of feel. Richard Barbieri who is the synth and keyboard player, very good at what he does, very experienced and especially good in progressive rock and post-punk. Colin Edwin, who is mainly a bass player but also plays double bass, fretless bass and guimbri. Edwins focus is again progressive rock which is what he is best at.
From watching a few interviews with Steven Wilson where he has talked about the quality of his recording and the sound he produces is really the best.
He has spoken about the composition of the album and said that the songwriting comes first and then they put everything in order so it flows smoothly. As an example ‘Anesthetize’ which is 17 minutes long, this song has been written over time and has separate parts which fit together so it’s almost as if there were songs inside a song.
Relation to my FMP
This album has helped me to look into recording further and make sure that I am involved with the recording process as much as possible to get the best possible sound quality.
Jethro Tull- Thick As a Brick
This album is described as ‘”bombastic” and “over the top” parody of the then-prevalent vogue for concept albums’. This album is meant to describe the poem of fictional character (8 year old boy) who is supposedly a genius. The main inspiration for this album came from the previous album that the band has written which was described by critics as a concept album even though it was not meant to be one. There were a few songs on the album which had a similar concept but because of these criticisms Ian Anderson the guitarist and main songwriter of the band has decided to write a concept album in response to the criticism. Because he was so inspired it became one of the biggest albums which was written in prog rock genre rather than the usual folk or blues.
Musical aspect of the album
This album is actually really interesting because the whole album is one continuous song which is 43 minutes long. Even though it is one continuous song there are still some breaks in the song which give the album more of a character, rather than just this one boring piece of music. The album is very interesting in terms of composition because it changes so much which makes it prog, rather than just rock or blues. All the instruments used in the album compliment the time signature changes and tempo changes, which is very interesting to look into as I want to include different instruments in my FMP, hopefully some recorded life but mostly put into the songs in the mixing process, using logic.
Instrumentally this album has a wide range of different types of instruments including the violin, trumpet, saxophone, string section, xylophone, lute, harpsichord and a timpani.
Recording and Mixing
This album was actually recorded in about two weeks and instead of preparing material before hand, the band just sort of wrote is as they recorded because the album was a bit of a joke to get back at the critics. Ian Anderson himself, has actually written the lyrics every morning before recording, because he really wasn’t focusing on the songwriting process as much as he usually does. Once the album was written it took about two to four weeks to mix so it was all done in about a month or two which is very quick.
Connection to my FMP
What I have found most useful about researching this album is actually the recording aspect of it, this is because I don’t have much time to record my FMP either. And I do have to song-write as I go along, and mix as well so this is very interesting the fact that they have done their album so quick. I am still spending more time on mine than they are but this just shows that quality material can be recorded in just two weeks if you put the work and effort into it. I mean another part of the album that is very interesting, is the fact that it’s one long song. This is because, when you hear the whole album it blends together seamlessly which is what I want to do with two songs on my EP, I want to blend together ‘Grow’ and ‘In My Dreams’ so it was definitely useful to listen to how they did it with all the bits and pieces that fit together.
The Moody Blues- Days of Future Passed
Concept of the Album
This album was meant to be an adaption of Symphony No. 9, by Antonin Dvorak, as the band’s label at the time wanted them to recreate The New World Symphony, unfortunately the band couldn’t come up with any material for the Symphony but they did write different ideas which the label liked anyway. The initial idea of this concept album was as described by Christopher Rendine, ‘The concept of the album centers on the isolation of one day in the life of the everyman (presumably a Tuesday in the summer) from dawn to night.’. This is the main concept of the album which is very interesting, the message a received from the album is that we should enjoy everyday and that everyday of life is incredible.
Recording and composition.
This album was said to be one of the first prog rock albums. It was released in 1967, and it was a huge step for progressive rock music, the label didn’t know how to promote the album as they have never released anything like it. This album is instrumentally very diverse, it includes the usual rock instruments, guitar, drums, bass but it also includes an orchestra, which then essentially created a mixed composition of classical rock sounds combined with classical music.
I have now completed the band research. This has really helped me with my song writing process especially with my lyrics writing. It has helped me understand what a concept album should contain and different ways people write their own albums. I mean Jethro Tull has written his in the studio, basically every morning before recording. Then Electric Light Orchestra have written a whole story before writing the album so they based all the lyrics on their story. In my case I am writing my lyrics every week and the story line is always briefly set but because the stories which are true and we know of rather than made up I write the lyrics as we record. I do write them in advance so they are prepared for the recording but I haven’t prewritten the whole story line as it is more suitable for this EP to do it that way. I did have two songs prewritten only because we don’t have much time to complete our EP but even those two songs I have written, without pre thinking about them too much. This gives the EP a more realistic feel as they are real life experiences we are writing about.