The Epic 2017 Project #177: 170626
Mika – Life in Cartoon Motion (2007)
Life in Cartoon Motion is the debut album released by British singer/songwriter Mika. The album was produced by Greg Wells and Mika himself, mixed by Wells, with co-production on two songs by Jodi Marr and John Merchant. It was released via Island Records on 5 February 2007 in the United Kingdom, and via Casablanca Records on 27 March 2007 in the United States. The album’s lead single, “Grace Kelly”, stayed at number one on the UK Singles Chart for five weeks straight and became a number-one hit in many countries.
The album debuted at number 1 in the United Kingdom, selling 7.8 million copies worldwide since its release.The Life in Cartoon Motion album cover has since been used in a commercial for the iPod Touch. It was the fifth-best-selling album in the world during 2007
The Epic 2017 Project #174: 170623
Don McLean – American Pie (1971)
A protégé of Pete Seeger, ‘American Pie’ was Don McLean’s second album. It was intended as a unified work, as McLean had said that he was influenced by the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper album and envisioned American Pie to be a similar piece of work. Believing that an artist’s work should stand by itself, McLean generally did not offer explanations for his song’s themes or meaning,though he did describe the title song as involving “a sense of loss”. The album was dedicated to Buddy Holly, a childhood icon of McLean’s, and was released in 1971 on the heels of the ’60s, the defining decade of McLean’s generation. It has a melancholy feel and rather sparse arrangements. At the time of the writing McLean’s first marriage was failing and the optimism and hopefulness of the 1960s was giving way to the nihilism and hedonism of the 1970s.
The album’s title song though, made McLean a household name. The single was a number-one US hit for four weeks in 1972. In the UK, it reached No. 2 on its original 1972 release and No.12 on a reissue in 1991. It was listed as the No. 5 song on the RIAA project Songs of the Century and a truncated version was covered by Madonna in 2000 and reached No. 1 in several countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.
The repeatedly mentioned “day the music died” lyric refers to the 1959 plane crash which killed early rock and roll performers Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens. The meaning of the other lyrics has long been debated, and for decades, McLean declined to explain the symbolism behind the many characters and events mentioned. However, the overall theme of the song is the loss of innocence of the early rock and roll generation as symbolized by the plane crash which claimed the lives of three of its heroes
The Epic 2017 Project #168: 170617
John Martyn – Solid Air (1973)
Solid Air was the fourth studio album from the late folk singer-songwriter John Martyn, released in February 1973 by Island Records.
The album was recorded over eight days and features instrumental contributions by bassist Danny Thompson and members of Fairport Convention.”Solid Air”, the title track, was dedicated to a friend of Martyn’s, Nick Drake, who would die of an antidepressant overdose 18 months after the album was released. Martyn said of the track
“It was done for a friend of mine, and it was done right with very clear motives, and I’m very pleased with it, for varying reasons. It has got a very simple message, but you’ll have to work that one out for yourself.”
The album features an avant-garde cover of Skip James’ “Devil Got My Woman,”here retitled “I’d Rather Be the Devil” and performed with heavy use of Martyn’s Echoplex tape delay effect.
“May You Never” became something of a signature song for Martyn, becoming a staple of his live performances. Released in November 1971 as a single in an early form, the song was re-recorded during the Solid Air sessions. Eric Clapton covered “May You Never” on his 1977 album Slowhand. When Martyn was presented with a lifetime achievement award by Phil Collins (a collaborator of Martyn’s) at the 2008 BBC Folk Awards, Clapton sent a message saying that he was “so far ahead of everything else it was inconceivable” and acknowledged the extent of his influence on “everyone who ever heard him.”Martyn and his band, including John Paul Jones on mandolin, played “May You Never” and “Over The Hill” at the Awards Ceremony.
A remastered CD was issued by Universal Records in October 2000. This CD was packaged in a card slipcase, and featured a remastered version of the original album with the addition of a live version of “I’d Rather Be The Devil”. Solid Air was given a further remastering and repackaging when a double CD reissue curated by John Hillarby was released in 2009, and which included several alternate studio and live versions.
The album cover is an example of schlieren photography demonstrating the ‘solid’ nature of air.
The Epic 2017 Project #146: 170526
Carole King – Tapestry (1971)
The second album from Carole King, released in 1971 on Ode Records and produced by Lou Adler is one of the best-selling albums of all time, with over 25 million copies sold worldwide. It received four Grammy Awards in 1972, including Album of the Year. The lead single from the album — “It’s Too Late”/”I Feel the Earth Move” — spent five weeks at number one on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Easy Listening charts. And in 2003, Tapestry was ranked number 36 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time
The Epic 2017 Project #135: 170515
Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)
The seventh studio album by Elton John, released in 1973. The album proved to be extremely popular, selling over 30 million copies worldwide, and is regarded as one of his best. It was recorded at the Château d’Hérouville in France after problems recording at the intended location of Jamaica. Among the 17 tracks, the album contains the hits “Candle in the Wind”, “Bennie and the Jets”, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” plus “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding” and “Harmony”.
Originally intended as a regular single album, the experience in transferring from Jamaica to the château proved to be conducive to producing such quality material that it was released as a double album.
In 2003, the album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and ranks at number 91 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
The Epic 2017 Project #131: 170511
Elton John – Madman across the water (1971)
This was Elton’s last album to feature his regular touring band (Dee Murray and Nigel Olsson) on only a single song. Later band member, percussionist Ray Cooper, makes his first though. As with allsongs during this period, the lyrics were penned by Elton’s writing partner, Bernie Taupin. This was the last album to be recorded at London’s Trident Studios, although subsequent albums would be remixed or overdubbed there. Caleb Quaye and Roger Pope wouldn’t play with John again until Rock of the Westies in 1975, following Murray and Olsson’s departure from the band.
Madman Across the Water only reached No.41 on the UK Albums Chart, spending just two weeks there, and has been the lowest-charting album of his career to date. The album fared better in North America, peaking at No.8 on the US Billboard Top Pop Albums and placing at No.10 on the year-end list of 1972. It received Gold by the RIAA in February 1972, achieving $1 million in sales at wholesale value just in the United States.
The title song was set to be released on John’s previous album Tumbleweed Connection. However, it was set aside and was re-recorded for this album. The earlier version (with Mick Ronson on guitar) was included on the remastered Tumbleweed Connection CD.
When it was released in ‘The Classic Years’ collection, it was the first album not to feature any bonus tracks. One known track recorded at the time, “Rock Me When He’s Gone”, was released on the 1992 compilation Rare Masters. The song was written for and recorded by one of John’s long-time friends, Long John Baldry. This was John’s first album in which he plays his piano and no other keyboards and the first album on which Davey Johnstone played, a role that would continue for decades, and he contributed acoustic guitar, mandolin and sitar; he would join John’s band full-time for Honky Château.
Madman across the water was Elton’s fourth studio album
The Epic 2017 Project #130: 170510
Joan as Policewoman – The Deep Field (2011)
Joan as Policewoman is American musician, singer/songwriter and producer Joan Wasser’s stage name. She began her career playing violin with the Dambuilders and played with Black Beetle, Anthony and the Johnsons, and Those Bastard Souls. Since 2004 she has released her solo material as Joan As Policewoman. This includes five studio albums (of which ‘The Deep Field’ is the fourth), one EP, a number of singles and a collection of covers. Throughout her career, she has regularly collaborated with other artists as a writer, performer and arranger.