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Country: Europe, NL, Netherlands
When I received this book, I couldn't believe the time she must have spent putting this together! Everything is hand-written and the watercolor art is to die for! This was definitely a labor of love to all her loyal and faithful fans.
It is a diary of her time visiting England. This book is simply enchanting. She a very witty writer and I could get lost in this book. My husband even liked it, he now wants to visit England more than ever. :)
Thanks Susan Branch for such a lovely book!
"Album oriented music" refers to the idea that an album should not be evaluated on the basis of any single selection, but on the basis of the collection as a whole. It was a notion that went hand-in-glove with the idea of "concept album," in which every single selection was in some way related to every other selection in the collection. "Rock opera," which involved piecing together selections to create a narrative, was not too terribly far behind--and a double album release was considered a test of creativity, prestige, and the ultimate marketing coup. All four of these were signature ideas of 1970s popular music, and all four reached a final critical mass Pink Floyd's 1979 THE WALL, which put a punctuation mark to decade before the on-rush of the excessive synthesizers and flashy music videos that characterized much of the 1980s.
Most bands go through cycles in which the musical ideas of one particular bandmate overrides those of the others--and in the late 1970s Pink Floyd fell under the near-absolute domination of Roger Waters. Originally given to psychedelia and progressive styles, and often tinged with a certain meloncholia, Pink Floyd became darker still, with the 1979 THE WALL the ultimate result. So ultimate, in fact, that Waters left the band shortly thereafter, declaring that Pink Floyd had run its course. As it happened, he was greatly mistaken: although he was no longer a part of it, the band continued on with significant success.
Although it received broad critical approval and sold extremely well, THE WALL was not immune to criticism even in 1979. Then as now, it was a work that you either really liked or disliked--and a good many of those who disliked it were Pink Floyd fans who had been so enthusiastic about the band up to that point. It was, they complained, musically bloated and the story it told was trival. I myself, eighteen when THE WALL was first released, was not particularly enthusiastic about it, and for exactly those reason. Over time, however, my opinion has shifted.
It is indeed musically bloated. I suspect this actually arises from the techology of the day. In 1979 record buyers expected each side of an vinyl album to run at least twenty, twenty-five minutes, and the entire album forty-five minutes to an hour. Anything less and the buyer felt shorted. Even at this run time most albums contained significant filler, songs that weren't necessarily bad but which didn't measure up to the best of the cuts. It logically followed that a double album would have double the music--and there indeed are a number of points in THE WALL where one feels the music has been spread a bit thin with repetitions designed to meet the quota of minutes the format required.
The story is indeed trivial--but only if you regard it in the way you have been told to do so. When THE WALL was first released, a great many critics focused on the narrative element and rushed to tell us all about it. THE WALL is about a rock star named Pink Floyd. His father was killed in the war. His mother was suffocating. His school years were hell. His wife left him. The pain cuts him off from the world and now he uses drugs and alcohol that drive him into a personal chaos which he himself ultimately condemns. Yep: that's THE WALL. Okay, sure.
But THE WALL is not a narrative in the sense that it starts at point A and continues on to point Z, and if that is what you expect you are bound to be disappointed. It presents its events with a certain randomness, touching upon one, detailing another, returning to the first, flashing back and forth between traumas in what seems to be a drug-laced and nightmarish confusion. The album famously opens with what can only be described as a classic stadium-rock sound--only to collapse suddenly into a plaintive, often industrial sounding series of vignettes that speak of man and the machine. Selections float to the surface of this wash: "Mother," "Goodbye Blue Sky," "Young Lust," "Hey You," "Nobody Home," "Comfortably Numb," "Run Like Hell," all of them bitter, angry, despairing, with snips of sound and phrases and melody that reference each other in much the way a tangled mind might.
The great failing of THE WALL, at least in my opinion, is in the last few minutes of the recording, when the rock star suddenly jolts into a fit of self-evaluation and self-condemnation in a serio-comic sort of way. I've always found this bit a little forced, and I think the overall concept would have been better served with a more direct build toward the same anthem-like statement that opened the album. But I have to say that, all things considered, this is a trivial complaint; while THE WALL may be flawed, and while its easy to second guess the band that created it, it hangs together remarkably, exceptionally, extraordinarily well.
Bleak? You bet. Glitchy? And how. Flawed? Absolutely. Does any of this undercut its singular value? Not hardly. Worth the cost? And then some.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer