Friday, April 23, 2021

Iron Maiden - "Phantom of the Opera" from the album Iron Maiden

Having emerged from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, which very famously took a lot of their inspiration and their energy from British punk, Iron Maiden, at least initially, probably had to be a little careful about acknowledging the progressive features in their music. Later on, of course, when they could do whatever the fuck they wanted, they'd cover Jethro Tull and Nektar, play guitar synths, and write songs about "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner".

But if the band in its youth wasn't talking about prog elements, really, all you had to do to find them was listen to "Phantom Of the Opera." The band wasn't going to divide the song into subtitled movements with Roman numerals attached, but they totally could have.

0:00   I. Introduction and Phantom Theme -- The theme is stated at 3/4 speed four times, then we're off and running.

2:06   II. Opera Ghost -- Breakdown, including the Chorus. The breakdown is the toughest and dirtiest and most punk section of the song, but those backing vocals ("Don't you stray") totally remind me of Yes

2:48  III. Christine -- Dave Murray's lyrical solo anticipates the harmonies to come.

3:20 IV. Stairway to the Cellars -- Harris' bass run a descending stairway, as Stratton and Murray enter in harmony, high above, in the eaves of the opera house, I guess, looking below upon the Phantom as he takes the steps down to his torture chamber. I suppose Stratton--a huge Wishbone Ash fan--wanted more harmony parts like this, and that's why he was fired.

4:34  V. The Phantom's March -- The riff is inexorable. Nothing can stand before it. Bedrock over which first Murray, then Stratton solo. And don't you think Stratton's is the better one?

File under: Works adapted from the original by Gaston Leroux

Friday, April 16, 2021

Godspeed You! Black Emperor - G_d's Pee AT STATE'S END!


So, I finally received the new Godspeed You! Black Emperor CD on Wednesday and have been listening to it during drive time since. When I first got wind of the record, I'd heard that they were using short wave radios as an instrument, and that really piqued my interest because my favorite ambient album of all time (by Holger Czukay) does that and it's really really weird and all-around spooky.

So I was excited about the record because of that--but they really don't do that much with the idea, using the recorded radio broadcasts basically as introductory prescript and then dropping them after that. A wasted opportunity in my mind.

BUT-- at the end of the third track, there is a beautiful passage of about five minutes, perhaps named "Ashes to Sea or Nearer to Thee," that is absolutely *stunning*.

The album is solid throughout, and features the electric guitar moreso as their recent albums have done, but that one section makes the album worth getting, worth listening to, and worth knowing.

File under: Canadian Post-rock Ensembles, Numbers Stations