Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Odds & Ends...Tidying Up

Sorry for the distractions, but the Colbert situation was/is fascinating to me. Also, I've had a couple discs on continuous play(!) But, I am now ready to take a brief respite from the new Neil Young and new Pearl Jam albums. So, I'll be posting a review of something else (currently listening to a Dylan classic, by the way) by tomorrow at the latest.

Also, I saw the request for a post about something by Ween. I double-checked my collection, and the closest thing (alphabetically) was Weezer...sorry.

A quick follow-up on the Public Enemy/Nation of Millions as the Sgt. Pepper's of rap concept:

I originally took Amillionmonkeys-Rob's comments at face value, deferring to his admittedly deeper knowledge of rap music, particularly post-mid-'90s. However, a thought has occurred to me (I know, I know, it doesn't happen often!) subsequently, regarding the relative influence of Chuck D's vocals and the Bomb Squad's production. That thought is, "How much rock music really sounds like Sgt. Pepper's since it was released?" And, I think the answer is "Not much". To the extent that Sgt. Pepper's had some grand influence, wasn't it more in the concept of designing an album as something more cohesive than a mere collection of songs? And, spending more time in the studio on production gimmicks? And, multi-track layering of sound? And, the introduction of sound effects as something other than a novelty? Etc.

In other words, it wasn't that too many talented artisits copied the Beatles' sound. It was that they started to pay more attention to the things to which the Beatles were paying attention. That's where I think the similarity exists. Prior to Public Enemy creating a cohesive album of socio-political message songs, rappers mainly concerned themselves with themselves, especially their "skillz" as rappers. Prior to Nation of Millions, most rap sampling was very limited and simplistic, never this multi-layered. So, while certainly true that not much else sounds like Nation of Millions, subsequent albums by other artists might have been influenced by many of its aspects, tangible and intangible. Or, maybe the Dust Brothers were already concocting the multi-layered samples that would become the tracks for the Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique, and De La Soul/Prince Paul were already on track to produce 3 Feet High and Rising, which was both sample-intensive and a "concept" album. I don't know, just a thought.


Blogger rabidt said...

I like this extension of the Sgt. Pepper's theme. I would think that many people were influenced by Sgt Peppers and Public Enemy, and never once tried to sound like them. In fact, within the last week I saw an interview with John Lurie, jazz musician and actor, where he was speaking of his albums with his band the Lounge Lizards. He said that he noticed that their first few albums jumped around in styles too much from track to track, and that he felt that both he and his audience would get more enjoyment out of something “like Sgt. Pepper’s” where it takes you on a journey step by step, etc. So, when writing his most recent album, he kept that in mind, and felt that finally he made an album he considered a success. (This interview was probably 10 to 15 years ago, so I can’t say exactly which record this was, but based on what I know of his music, I doubt that anyone else compared it to Sgt. Peppers).

Other thoughts:
I’ve seen Chuck D mention the Clash as one of his influences.

I like many artists who say that the Beatles are the reason they started playing music, but they don’t sound like the Beatles (of any era).

Many excellent guitarists mention Clapton as an influence. (!)

I’ve read plenty of comments from musicians who say that everyone compares them to someone they’ve never heard.

So, influence can mean many things, I suppose. Gotta run.

1:00 PM, May 03, 2006  

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