Strangely's Bazaar 12 (Ronan)
Strangely’s Bazaar: 12
For the next few weeks (from now until Christmas) I will be recollecting and reminiscing on the past year, and highlight what 2005 will be remembered for in music terms. In 2055 hopefully somebody will look back on that outdated piece of junk, the internet, and come across this article and remember what music used to be like once upon a time. To keep you interested I’m not going to tell you what the rest of the articles deal with, so you’ll have to come back and check every week. Mwahaha!
2005: The Year of...
Part II: The Double Album
As well as being the year of the “returning legend”, 2005 will be remembered for being the year of the double album. Double albums are always difficult prospects – some work, and a lot fail. But there have been many good ones, for example The Beatles’ White Album, Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness, Cody ChestnuTT’s The Headphone Masterpiece, and rock’s first double album, Blonde on Blonde by Bob Dylan. Although some older double albums (e.g. The Who’s Tommy, and The Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street) have since become single albums. Then there’s some albums incorrectly labelled as double albums – greatest hits packages for example – these are box sets rather than proper albums.
There’s always a certain difficulty in making double albums. Listeners and also critics usually tend to prefer one part to the other, and thus one disc gets much more play, and more exposure than the other. This makes a lot of people split the album in two and release them as two separate parts and release them a few months apart. This usually allows the record company to make more money as well, so they probably encourage the artists to do this. So, what I’m trying to say is that some albums can be double albums, but in two parts. A bit like...
System of a Down’s Mezmerize and Hypnotize. Instead of releasing them as one album, the band decided to release them separately. Hypnotize has just come out (November 2005), but Mezmerize has been out since May. As you may recall, our Brandon didn’t rate Mezmerize highly, but while he may view it as rubbish, I thought it was pretty good. And I hated System of a Down before it – and I do mean ‘hate’, ask any of my friends. But Mezmerize was more than just being heavy for the sake of it; the music was actually that – music. Both parts of the double album were recorded last year – at the same time, and were originally planned to be released as a double – thus it fits the requirements.
Part I of this feature discussed the return of that legend – Kate Bush. This long awaited return was topped off with a double album. Aerial, her eight studio album, and first in twelve years, marked a supreme return to form for Bush. And features a song called ‘Pi’ (I don’t know where to get the symbol on my keyboard, and it mightn’t show up in your web browser anyway, even if I could). ‘Pi’ is one of the most innovative songs of the year – not bad for a woman who has been out of the business for more than a decade. But I won’t go into too much detail here, because, after all, I am going to review Aerial in the very near future. But it did feature the world’s best guest musician – Rolf Harris playing the didgeridoo and performing spoken word duties a la William Shatner on ‘The Painter’.
Everybody’s favourite former Nirvana drummer also released a double album this year. No not Dan Peters. Foo Fighters own Dave Grohl. The album, In Your Honor, was very much a two-part affair – much like Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below double album. One of the discs on In Your Honor is a full-on rock disc, and the other is a stripped-down acoustic disc. Grohl said the double album was “really amazing. The good thing about doing it is that you split it up so that there's no middle ground. So the rock stuff is the most rocking stuff we've ever worked on, ever.” Probably the most talked about thing about the album, however, was that track about Kurt Cobain – “Friend of a Friend”. Too much has been said about it already, so I’m not going to bother.
But the king of the double album for 2005 has to be Canada’s own Bryan Adams. Not content with being mainly known for ‘Everything I Do (I Do It For You)’ and ‘Summer of ‘69’, Adams came out of the pop wilderness and released three albums in 2005. Two of which were country or quasi-country albums. One of these, Cold Roses, was a double album. The albums are much more acoustic than his earlier albums, for example his 1983 album Cuts Like A Knife. There are no really radio-friendly songs here, you would never hear any of them in a club the same way as you might hear “I got my first real six string...”
Alright, alright, that joke’s been done many times before, but I couldn’t help myself. And now if I actually ever get to meet Ryan Adams, he’s going to punch me in the face. Oh well, it will be something to tell the grandkids. But the double album, Cold Roses is one of my favourite albums of the year. Both discs are excellent (although the first one is a little more excellent), and judging by my positive review for Jacksonville City Nights, his next album, 29, due out in December, should be something to really look forward to.