Sunday, March 16, 2008

Discovery and Rediscovery

One of the benefits of getting older is that you have plenty of interests that wax and wane, only to emerge again after many years. That's rediscovery. I often experience rediscovery with music.

Back in the mid 1980s, I had a college roommate who was into New Age jazz. In those days, New Age was a fairly new category. Some of the music wasn't all that new, but those older works fit nicely into the category. In that category, which I haven't thought about in ages, my old roommate introduced me to artists like Kitaro (who we mispronounced at the time to rhyme with guitaro), Vangelis, Tangerine Dream, Hiroshima, Philip Glass, and Mike Oldfield. Purists might disagree with placing some of these into New Age, but that's really not significant.

Recently, I rediscovered Mike Oldfield's classic album, Tubular Bells. For those unfamiliar with this classic, most likely you have heard the first part, only you think of it as being from the soundtrack of "The Exorsist."

I love the piece, which fills the entire album, split into two parts only because we still pressed music onto vinyl in 1972. Oldfield played more than 20 instruments on this piece pioneering the technique of mixing so common today. On side two, he debuts what he calls Piltdown Man, where he imitates a caveman voice.

It isn't lost on me that the full 47-odd minutes of Tubular Bells isn't for everyone, though chances are pretty good that everyone will find a portion they like. Still, it's fairly eclectic and either you get it or you don't. If you get it, you can listen to it over and over. If you don't get it, you probably won't listen a second time.

So I bought a copy of Tubular Bells on CD last friday, and finally I get to hear the entire piece without stopping to turn over the tape or album.

In addition to that, this weekend I discovered a new Pink Floyd concert DVD called Pulse. This is probably my new favorite in my collection, overtaking the Eagles Farewell I Tour. Both are excellent concerts, both spill over onto a second CD. The Eagles concert is a relaxing experience that can be enjoyed when you're tired and simply want to listen to something catchy. The Pink Floyd concert is more of an immersion experience. The first disk has a plenty of material I haven't heard because I stopped paying attention to Pink Floyd after Roger Waters left the group. While I like Waters work, frankly, he isn't missed in the concert.

The second disk is Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety, with a few songs from other albums tacked on at the end. I never get tired of that album, but this version includes just enough live music nuances to keep it interesting. Unless you have seen a concert DVD already, buying one is basically a crapshoot. It's nice to roll a 7 from time to time.

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