Here’s a concept for you, the concept album. Not to be confused with the rock opera, the concept album is, generally speaking, an album unified by a theme of some sort. We didn’t actually set out to have today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl revolve around concept albums, but that’s how it turned out. And we ended up with a doozy of a mash-up. A breathless exercise in plunderphonics, sampledelica, and a little bit of bastard pop involving two bands you might expect in this category and one you might not. The Moody Blues and Pink Floyd are veterans of the concept. Both bands also did a lot of segues on their records which is a sign of the concept album but no guarantee. The concept behind the Moody Blues “In Search of the Lost Chord” is the search for spiritual fulfillment as well as the search for a mythical set of harmonically related notes. Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” is one of the best and most famous of the concept albums. It deals with the nature of the human experience from birth and aging, to greed, consumerism, madness, and death.
Jefferson Starship is the band you might not expect in this category. In fact there’s some argument about whether the album “Blows Against The Empire” is Paul Kantner’s first solo project or the first album by Jefferson Starship or the first by the Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra. But in any event “Blows Against the Empire” is a narrative concept album about a plucky band of counter-culture types who steal a starship from the government and journey into space with the plan to restart the human race and presumably to build their city on rock and roll. Coincidentally, there’s a break in the middle of the Starship track “Hijack” that’s surrounded by acoustic guitars that reminded me of Queen’s “’39” which happens to be a story about a plucky band of space explorers who embark on what they think is a year-long voyage only to be surprised to find that Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity was actually correct and the loved ones they left behind are now all dead. So, on that happy note, let’s go searching for that lost chord.
|Moody Blues||The Actor|
|Moody Blues||The Word|
|Jefferson Starship||Home / Have You Seen The Stars Tonight? / XM|
|Pink Floyd||Speak to Me / Breathe / On The Run|
|Jefferson Starship||Sunrise / Hijack (part 1)|
|Queen||’39 (part 1)|
|Queen||’39 (part 2)|
|Jefferson Starship||Hijack (part 2)|
Sailing out into the grasshopper night to seek the righteous poison that’s the second part of Jefferson Starship’s “Hijack” from their concept album “Blows Against the Empire.” Earlier in the set we mashed up some other tracks from that album with a couple of tracks from The Moody Blues “In Search of the Lost Chord” and Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon.” See if you can follow this: We took “The Actor” and “The Word” from Lost Chord and mixed into Starship’s “Home,” which segues into “Have You Seen the Stars Tonight” and (ironically enough) a track called “XM” which we used to mix with Floyd’s “Speak To Me / Breathe [and] On the Run” from “Dark Side of the Moon” which then mixed with Starship’s “Sunrise” which segues into “Hijack” which has a false ending into which we inserted Queen’s “’39” which also has a false ending into which we inserted the shortest Beatle track on record, “Her Majesty,” which was originally found between “Mean Mr. Mustard” and “Polythene Pam” in the medley on side two of Abbey Road which is the other album in this set on which Alan Parsons worked, the first being “Dark Side of the Moon” which, like “Blows Against the Empire” features a lot of what is called musique concrete, which is what you call it when you take recorded sounds and other noises that aren’t inherently musical, and use them to make music.
As I said at the top of the show, it’s just a coincidence that this set ended up drawing on three concept albums, but with their use of musique concrete and all the internal segues, it’s not altogether surprising. And here’s another concept: we’re all out of time. So to paraphrase Mr. Floyd, “For long you live and high you fly, but only if you ride the tide. And balanced on the biggest wave, you race towards the Way Back Studios. I’m Bill Fitzhugh and I’ll be back next time with a fresh batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl. Right here, in the Deep Tracks.