This week I decided to write about Radioheads “OK Computer”. “OK Computer” was released on May 21, 1997 through Capitol Records as their third studio album. “OK Computer” shows how they had evolved from their first studio album titled “Pablo Honey” with the single off of that record being “Creep” which was more grunge, making them sound like Nirvana wannabes. “OK Computer” uses some ideas that they had for songs for their second album titled “The Bends”. A lot of fans and music lovers consider “OK Computer” to be the greatest album ever made, but depending on who you talk to that answer always changes. The Album is said to have influenced and affected rock more than any other albums of the 1990’s. The album has influenced artists like Muse and Coldplay which in their music they also have themes such as technological doom and quasi-millennial tendencies. What made “OK Computer” unique compared to other music is that it has an anti-technology theme which some people have found ironic since it is with technology that they created the songs on the album. For example, the first song on the album titled “Airbag” is about people getting in a car crash and the technology almost takes their lives but in the end ends up saving their lives. Another thing that made “OK Computer” unique and caused it to stand out to other music was the fact that it was the first rock album in almost two decades that dealt with themes of urban alienation and technologies effect on the human psyche. The album “OK Computer” has really stuck out to me as a music major student. I think it’s themes of technology was brilliant and different which makes it really stand out to the other music that came out around that time in the 1990’s. On the album there are some great guitar rifts from their guitarist Jonny Greenwood which really add something interesting and great to the album. I will use the knowledge that I gained from studying this album in the future by knowing that you don’t always have to do what is expected of you by making “radio friendly” music, make the music that you feel.
Prior to the album “What’s Going On”, Marvin Gaye came out with albums and singles that were commercial and what the record company thought that the people wanted to hear. “What’s Going On” is a political and social album that was very different than what he had come out with before. One of the influences for the album would be his brother, Frankie. Frankie served three years in Vietnam and just like most vets, he was haunted by what he had seen. Frankie was also having trouble getting respect and finding a job. When Frankie did find a job it would be as a dishwasher or as a doorman. Which is what helped fuel Marvin Gaye to make the song “What’s Going On”. Renaldo “Obie” Benson of the Four Tops is who originally came up with the song idea and told it to Marvin Gaye. Benson came up with the idea when he was on a tour stop in San Francisco and he saw a protest happening and Benson says that he saw the police beating on the protesters and asked himself
“What is happening here? One question leads to another. Why are they sending kids so far away from their families overseas? Why are they attacking their own children in the streets here?”
Benson tried to present the idea to The Four Tops but they were not interested so he ended up presenting it to Marvin Gaye and he decided to make the song. When Berry Gordy heard the album he refused to release it. Gordy called it “the worst thing I’ve ever heard in my life”. Which made Marvin Gaye come up with an ultimatum that until Berry Gordy and his Quality Control cabal came to their senses and released What’s Going On, the singer would record nothing more for the company. So it ended up getting released and became a hit. “What’s Going On” is different from other Motown records because of it’s lyrical content. The record was essentially a protest album when other Motown records were usually about love or something of that nature. What also made the album different would be all of the musicians it used to make the album. “They must have had 75 producers, at least 150 songwriters, and God only knows how many artists” said David Van DePitte who was an arranger for the album. “What’s Going On” gives me a great impression. The album was innovative for it’s time and I appreciate that.
Brian Eno grew up near two American air bases which were only five miles from where Eno lived. The bases brought a new style of music from America over to the English country side where Eno lived. The music was something different than he had ever heard before. This is how Brian Eno described the style of music:
“Feeble, weedy English pop music and then the American stuff, full of what I still find to be menace and strangeness. I listened to Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Bo Diddley, I was a listener for a long, long time – I used to sing, too, I was always singing a lot, Buddy Holly, Elvis. This was American music, African music, in the middle of the English countryside … I think the echo on Elvis’s “Hearbreak Hotel” is better than the song itself, by far. Nobody could tell me what that was, in my family. They didn’t know what to make of that sound. It turns the studio into a cave … When I was young, the most overpowering sense of wonder was inspired in me by music.”
Brian Eno has done many things in his career. He has made his own albums, produced other artists albums, created artwork and even created an Ipad app. Brian Eno created the Ipad app titled “Scape” with help from Peter Chilvers, who is also a musician and software designer. Eno also created an art piece titled “77 million paintings”. “77 million paintings” is an art piece that does not show just one picture. It shows paintings on a screen but they change and they never repeat. While the paintings are going there is also Eno’s music playing in the background. The Ipad app is an app that helps you create your own ambient music. It has different colors and shapes, each with it’s own musical cue. The more you play the app the more shapes and colors appear, letting you create more music.
One thing that sets Eno apart from other recordings today would be the fact that Eno can create an art piece and put his very own music to it is brilliant. I do not know of any one else today that can say they have created something like that. Another thing that would set him apart would be his recording style. Eno can be recording a song and not even be paying attention and create a great song. Eno has a great impression on me as a listener and as a music industry professional. I think learning about Brian Eno has greatly influenced me to make great music but not because I have to, but because I want to.
Before the album “Revolver” most of the songs The Beatles wrote were about girls and love. On “Revolver” the lyrics were about other things like loneliness, innocence and in the case of the song “Taxman” they wrote their first political song. To help influence them on the album was their growing competition with The Beach Boys. When The Beach Boys released their album “Pet Sounds”, The Beatles said that it was a great album and made them strive to make an even better album with “Revolver”. Another non-musical related influence would be LSD. LSD influenced only a couple of songs on the record, which was “Yellow Submarine” and “Tomorrow Never Knows”. “Taxman” was influenced by the taxes they were having to pay that they felt was unnecessary so they decided to write a song about the taxes they were receiving. “Eleanor Rigby” was the only song on the record that had none of the members play any instruments on the song. It was only orchestral with Paul McCartney singing. Paul McCartney decided to try something new on the album by making his own effect by manipulating the sound and created tape looping. He would use EMI glue to stick the tape together and run it through as a loop. On “Got To Get You Into My Life” they used a double-tracked horn section which was innovative for the 1960’s. The Beatles also did double-track on other songs on the album. The Beatles was also the first to use compression on individual instruments to help boost their volume and to smooth out the signal. As a student in the music industry The Beatles have been a huge influence in my life. The album “Revolver” is one of the greatest albums and I truly do appreciate everything that The Beatles did with the album “Revolver”.
Prior to “Pet Sounds” The Beach Boys sang songs about surfing, girls and cars. To go from songs like “Surfin’ USA”, “I Get Around” and “California Girls” to “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and “God Only Knows” was a huge change that not everyone was behind. The members of The Beach Boys were Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, David Marks and Bruce Johnson. For the record, “Pet Sounds”, Brian Wilson wanted to do something different than what his band had done before. Therefore, Wilson decided to produce his own album. With the lyrics he enlisted Tony Asher to write the songs.When making “Pet Sounds” Brian Wilson was influenced by Phil Spector. Brian Wilson thought that Phil Spector was the greatest. The way Phil Spector used multi-track recording greatly influenced the way Brian Wilson decided to record “Pet Sounds”. Another one of his influences was The Beatles. During the 1960’s there was a competition going on between The Beach Boys and The Beatles. Brian Wilson wanted to create an album that would be better than The Beatles. To set itself apart from other music on the radio in the 1960’s Brian Wilson had to do something different. Wilson and Tony Asher created lyrics that was the opposite of what other bands were putting out at the time. The lyrics they wrote for “Pet Sounds” were not all about love and girls, they were about personal things that happened in their lives. Brian Wilson also decided to speed up “Caroline No” half a beat which was not a production technique that was used at the time. “Pet Sounds” is one of the greatest and most influential albums of all time. I love the fact that it did not sound like the typical Beach Boys sound and that they decided to go with a different sound. Also, as an aspiring producer myself the album really is very inspiring.
My name is Amber Haynie. I am 22 years old from Houston, Texas. I currently am working on my Music Production Bachelor of Science degree at Full Sail University. Since I was young I knew that I wanted to work in the music industry. I enjoy a wide range of music. I like to listen to everything from pop to rap to indie to oldies to folk. I guess I would say that indie it what I primarily listen to. I have not yet decided my primary focus in the music industry yet. There is so many areas in the industry that it is hard to choose just one main focus. I will have to eventually choose but for now I’m leaving it open. This is my first blog to write so I hope you enjoy my posts.