Flipping through dollar bins is a time-honored tradition, especially at Toronto’s own Sonic Boom. Our friend Eric is sifting through the $1 records one-by-one, and learning lessons along the way. The rules are that he has to listen to the entire record, and not to do any research about artists before listening to avoid any contextual bias.
The Moody Blues – A Question of Balance (1988)
COVER: Very neat fold out vertical sleeve with a swirling scene of human injustice, including an elephant and Einstein, our greatest scourges. I don’t quite get it but it’s rad. The inner sleeve contains pictures of the band decked out in psychedelic colours. Looks as though the band is pretty into chess and vans.
THOUGHTS: Moody, sure, but not particularly bluesy. Lyrically it’s mostly hippy bullshit. Mind you, I’m not against hippies but I’m not a fan of vague general preachiness under the guise of timeless folksy wisdom. You know, meadow bullshit.
The music is ok though, particularly the second half. It’s all pretty schmaltzy, but they throw in some nice melodies and rock grooves and guitar solos and shit.
WHAT I LEARNED: My instinct to not be drawn to bands with “Moody” in their name needs a little review.
BEST TRACK: “It’s Up to You”
The guitar part makes me thinks of a cool dog driving a convertible.
AFTER GOOGLING: The Moody Blues is a massively popular band that is completely off my radar. I’m okay with that.
The Alan Parsons Project – Eve (1979)
COVER: Babes in mourning? I’m down with that… I guess.
THOUGHTS: I know that Alan Parsons is some super producer for ‘70s rock bands I was supposed to be into when I was fifteen. With a mixture of pop, progressive rock and classical bits it’s somehow simultaneously weird and utterly innocuous making it super hard to describe. Pop music made by men who love vans (is van rock a subgenre?) As far as content goes: 1/3 of the songs are about someone who is a bitch (gender neutral), 1/3 is motivational and 1/3 is instrumental. This is known as the golden ratio.
WHAT I LEARNED: That ELO is much more coherent than I give them credit for.
BEST TRACK: “Secret Garden”
It sounds like a Super Tramp song without lyrics, but with all of the “bah dooby ooby woo woo woo ahhsss” intact. Great track to listen to while driving a van.
AFTER GOOGLING: Parsons was a sound engineer with Pink Floyd and the Beatles, two fairly popular bands. But most notably his project was responsible for the “fuck you classic” Don’t Answer Me.
The Screaming Blue Messiahs – I Wanna be a Flintstone (1988)
COVER: A cool guy in shiny suit and shades holds a very relaxed Fred Flintstone on his outstretched palm. INSTANT SELL. The only record sleeve art I can imagine more appealing is Snagglepuss lounging on a tight tush.
THOUGHTS: Some “wanna be sedated”, some “wanna zig zig ah”, some “want a girl with a short skirt and a loooonnnnggg jacket (!)” and some wanna be a Flintstone, specifically a “little baby Flintstone” as is the case for the Screaming Blue Messiahs. Obviously the song is about the lyricist in some strange turn of events becoming a little baby Flintstone (Pebbles?) and describing the experience. Add a ton of samples and a steady drum beat and guitars and you got yourself a single. In other words, it’s a Kids in the Hall skit song.
Also included on side two is the non-extended mix and a song that’s not about being a baby Flintstone.
WHAT I LEARNED: More songs should be about wanting to be baby cartoon characters.
BEST TRACK: “I Wanna be a Flintstone” (Extended Mix)
The extended mix contains more samples, including a long segment of Fred being an asshole to his new ghoul neighbor. Remember when all those monsters moved next door to the Flintstones and did weird shit, but were still decent and grounded people? I think the same formula could have saved Friends.
AFTER GOOGLING: I Wanna be a Flintstone was released 5 years into the cult Screaming Blue Messiah’s career and proved to be their biggest hit. There is a joke there but I honestly think it’s a great legacy. So inspirational, in fact, that I’ve begun work on “Snagglepuss Enters Stage Left on a Tight Tush.” Stay tuned.