Been thinking about getting back into the sax. I could never be a great player, especially after taking so many years off, but it’s fun to play the horn, any horn, even if you are just making noise. I’d was thinking about getting a C Melody because I’ve just been working with guitar, bass and piano for several years and now I’ve got an ear for the real note values (not the Bb or Eb values) that I don’t want to mess up. I turns out the C melody sounds an octave lower than concert pitch. What I really want then is a C soprano, the only sax that plays the exact concert notes.
Except I don’t want to do that. Look, it doesn’t matter what I want. I’m kinda tired right now. But I haven’t posted in month and I need to keep going here. It was a nice break. But no one else really cares about this project at the moment, so it’s all me. And this has been bugging me. So I made some index cards like before, but less half-assed. (Have I mentioned repeatedly a major strength of numerical notation is the ease with which you can write it on ordinary index cards? It’s just something I noticed is handy.)
So I just went through the main saxes (including the C ones nobody really uses) and located middle C & A440. It’s as much for myself as anyone who is interested. (Which is maybe nobody. But maybe you. It’s only you… Did you know A440 is the highest regular note on a bari sax, if it has the extra key? I didn’t.) Here you go, and I hope it is helpful:
So I was listening to this record thinking about how it moves past the usual heavy Ramones influence when the news came about the passing of Tommy Ramone. Just a bummer that has to be acknowledged. But this album starts off with the theme of overcoming bad luck, jinxes and the like. Coincidence? Yes. But what can you do with a Bad Luck Song? The Bad Luck Song might be my good luck song, and so on. Relative bummers continue on this album, with the next track Black Crow and later Robots From Hell. These songs might be a surprise if you haven’t been paying that close attention. That could be some people, right? It’s 2014, perfect time to jump on the SK train. Seriously, why not. You could’ve get hooked on the cute stuff, of which there’s plenty, but they’ve also got some regular good Rock songs. About Rock stuff. Darkness, yeah. And of course, cats, food, shopping and tennis. It’s a very typical Shonen Knife record. I don’t have to praise or defend it too much, because it seems like everyone knows what SK is about and likes them. People must exist that do not like them, but they don’t seem to say anything about it. It almost bothers me. Which is why I’m glad they’ve got some non-cute stuff on this one. This is my favorite one since, I dunno…the last several have had some standout tracks but the rest is forgettable. This one is maybe not a new top tenner, but it’s solid.
Slight disappointment in the fine print (great font, btw) is that the songs sung by Ritsuko and Etsuko (Ramen Rock and Green Tea, respectively) have no shared songwriting credit. Thought the new girls were contributing the lyrics at lyrics at least. They seem a little different then the usual Naoko songs, simpler. She just writes with them in mind apparently. And differently than the last album, Pop Tune. (Which I did not review but talked about how those songs went down live). Things are more stripped down, straight up Rock here, but not simply the typical Ramones worship, but other 70s Rock. No real specific influence comes through anymore; the last few years with a stable line-up seems to have ended a bit of an identity crisis for the band. %
Alright, I’ve got two copies of this one, both the stereo mix on CD. There’s notable differences between the two, which I’m going to focus on because trying to come up with some kind of original thought on this album is insane and pointless.
But isn’t this whole thing insane and pointless? One day someone might sit me down and say, “Look, you’ve proved your point or whatever with this record review thing. Why not [do this other thing], we’ll pay you. Real job, it’ll keep you busy. I understand this blog thing is the closest thing you’ve had to a desk job and that you only keep doing it to keep from going completely insane, but that’s enough for us. Just forget it.” I might go for that. Not counting on it, but I sure haven’t turned down such an offer. But how could I make sure, even once ensconced within the cushy chair of seated gainful employment, I don’t fully lose it for good? Most people have some thing, I’m sure you’ve said it: “If I didn’t have _____ I’d go crazy!” Would you? You’d go crazy. You’d take off all your clothes, jump out of a window screaming, run down a crowded street on broken ankles and among horrified onlookers, cut your throat with a butter knife. I’ve never done any thing quite like that. But I keep blogging just to be sure.
Maybe it’s in bad taste to bring up such things in a review of this particular album, as it somehow inspired Charles Manson to…go crazy. I’m not making any effort to unravel any of the lyrics or themes on this thing except to say as an artist, you can never second guess what your supposed message could be or what it could inspire in a crazy person, because they can literally make anything mean anything. I mean Helter Skelter is about an amusement park ride. Paul’s just really enthusiastic about it. But there I go with stuff you can read elsewhere.
I bought the first version in ’94, I remember that’s when I got a CD player and the Beatles albums were some of the first ones I got. Came in a longbox, two single CD cases. I got tired of them getting separated because when I listen to this thing it’s gotta be all the way through every time. So when they started making the dual cases I put them together. I still prefer this to the fancy slipcase foldout deal of the new reissue, and the minimalist Parlophone labels are far…uh, don’t wanna say “superior”…they tie the whole design together. The new one also has some new photos and notes, who cares. I like the zero meta commentary of the first reissue. You can make whatever you want of it. Hopefully it’s not a paranoid, murderous fantasy that you tragically manifest, but what are the odds of that, more than once. Not something you should worry about. Sorry, I keep bringing it up.
Really, it’s not something I used to think about when I listened to the thing. I’m not listening to it right now. Usually when I do these things, I put the record on repeat the whole time until I’m done with it. I prefer not do that now because there’s just so many paths to go down that could go on forever and I used to have this thing where I listened to it every year on my birthday, which is so corny it’s embarrassing to admit and I also used to get very drunk for this which I try not to do at all anymore so why bum myself out with a half-assed experience.
I try to put the whole thing entirely in it’s own context. No, you can’t cut it down to one disc, or listen to it doing the dishes or anything else. You gotta lay down and put the headphones on and every stupid thing is intentional and important. It’s a conceptual album with no concept. It’s a kind of story, like a David Lynch movie. Some things are better left unexplained. It’s just pure experience.
But I’m going to point out one major beef with the remaster, and it’s got nothing to do with compression or any kind of audiophile thing which is maybe there if you really get into that but it’s just one song I notice a big difference: While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Because that is one of those songs that is just such a classic rock pop song, you know this song even if you never sat down and really listened, and everyone makes a big deal about the Clapton solo but I do not give a fuck about that—it’s that the way it’s originally recorded is so crazily cacophonous with that high-pitch organ drone, it’s almost painful. That really blew me away more than anything, that they got away with that sounding like it did. Of course on the remaster, they went back to the original tapes and turned the organ down. Wow. That pretty much says it all.
So, if you don’t have this, I really think you need the non-remastered version. On Amazon the only option for that right now is the 1990 reissue on cassette. That’s probably not worth it. Look around. I’ll eventually try to get an old vinyl copy if I can find one in good shape at a reasonable price. It depends if I live long enough to eventually get paid. Might be worth it.