Tag Archives: The Blue Album

Rocks In The Attic #445: The Cars – ‘The Cars’ (1978)

RITA#445A debut from 1978, just like me! It’s hard to listen to the Cars these days without hearing their effect on that other incredible debut album from Weezer, which Cars’ vocalist Ric Ocasek produced in 1994. Just listen to that synth part in Just What I Needed – it’s Weezer’s Blue Album all over. In fact, you wouldn’t be too far from the truth to label Weezer as the Cars Mark II. Remove the crushing geekiness of Rivers Cuomo, and change the lyrics to something that girls would dance to, and you’ve got the Cars all over again.

Elliot Easton, the Cars’ lead guitarist once said “We used to joke that the first album should be called The Cars’ Greatest Hits”. He’s right – it’s that good. I have the Cars’ Greatest Hits record – and there’s not much in it between this debut and that compilation. In fact, this debut is a lot stronger than some bands’ greatest hits records. The Car’s Greatest Hits just has a few more mid-80s hits like Drive – the song that will forever be linked to that unforgettable video that Bowie introduced at Live Aid in 1985.

Hit: My Best Friend’s Girl

Hidden Gem: Bye Bye Love

Advertisements

Rocks In The Attic #281: The Beatles – ‘1967 – 1970’ (1973)

RITA#281The lines have since been blurred by subsequent compilation albums, but the Red and Blue Albums used to serve as an excellent line in the sand. Did you prefer the moptop Beatlemania of the Red Album, or the maturing experimentation of the Blue Album? The turning point chosen was the Blue Album’s opener, John Lennon’s Strawberry Fields Forever­ – a key moment of evolution in studio production, and a chance for the Fab Four to try out their new moustaches.

The Blue Album is definitely a more balanced offering than its counterpart. Whereas Allen Klein topped up the Red Album’s shorter running time by including many songs from Rubber Soul (presumably his favourite album), here the tracks are more evenly spread out: four album tracks from Sgt. Peppers, three from the Magical Mystery Tour soundtrack, three from the White Album, four from Abbey Road, three from Let It Be, and the rest of the songs coming from singles and b-sides. If anything you could say that the White Album is the least represented – a sprawling double-album with only three songs present – but given that this compilation collects all of their lengthier late-period songs, I guess some allowances had to be made to be able to make it a double-album, symmetrical to the Red Album. These four years could easily have been extended into a triple-album, but maybe Klein figured that a triple-album wouldn’t have had any more pulling power than a double.

I do question the inclusion of George Harrison’s Old Brown Shoe – the b-side to The Ballad Of John And Yoko. There are definitely stronger album tracks from around that period, which I would probably have substituted in its place – but I welcome its obscurity, a song that would later see the light of day on Past Masters Vol. 2, but at the time a definite hidden gem in their back-catalogue.

While I see the point of the 1 compilation – 2000’s attempt at putting all of the band’s number one singles in one collection – the Red and Blue Albums have the luxury of including album tracks. On 1, the years between 1967 and 1970 are represented by just eleven songs, while the Blue Album manages to cover the same period with twenty eight tracks (and doesn’t ever seem overlong or outstay its welcome).

For me, the only real sour note on this compilation is the inclusion of Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da – one of my least favourite Beatles songs. It’s definitely the catchiest track from the White Album, and probably only included here as it was such a hit single for Marmalade in January 1969 – with this single they achieved the notoriety of being the first ever Scottish band to hit number one in the UK singles chart.

Hit: Hey Jude

Hidden Gem: Old Brown Shoe

Rocks In The Attic #202: Weezer – ‘Weezer’ (1994)

RITA#202Last night I high-fived Rivers Cuomo.

After 18 years of being a fan of Weezer, I finally got to see them pay live last night. Of all the (contemporary) bands that I really liked in the early ‘90s, I think they’re one of the last ones – if not the last – that I’ve caught live. Everybody else I saw at the time, I think.

Weezer played a greatest hits set first, followed by an intermission (where their sound guy did a nice slide-show of some early band photos on the big screen), followed by a run through of this entire album, their debut, commonly known as The Blue Album.

This also marks the first time I’ve caught one of these nostalgia gigs where a band runs through one of their classic albums in its entirety. Or at least I think it’s the first time. I’ve seen plenty of bands on their first tours supporting their debut albums, so I may have seen something similar unintentionally in the past.

I got a lot of stick for liking this album when it came out – mainly from one friend at college who just couldn’t get his head around Buddy Holly – a poppy sing-along song if I’ve ever heard one; but I think their back catalogue validates clearly that they’re more than a one-hit wonder with flashy Spike Jonze MTV videos.

This album reminds me a lot of walking to college, through the winter of 1994, listening on my Discman. It’s funny how an album, conceived in California and recorded in New York City, can take on a whole other meaning in a grim Northern English town.

It’s one of those albums that I can listen to over and over and not get tired – a batch of tunes with great melodies, well produced (by The Cars’ Ric Ocasek). I’ve never been a big fan of their other albums – I bought Pinkerton when it came up (the follow-up to this), and I only listened to it once, naively disappointed that it wasn’t The Blue Album. Last night’s greatest hits performance really reminded me of how much I love their later single Hash Pipe though.

And it’s always good to high-five your heroes – especially in the usually impersonal environments of an arena gig.

Hit: Buddy Holly

Hidden Gem: The World Has Turned And Left Me Here