Musings on music, old, new, popular and obscure. Post punk, metal, hip-hop, funk, and rock in general. A music fan with a desire to lose boundaries on what should and should not be listened to writes about experience in music from a listener's perspective, hopefully unhindered by prior expectation.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Tiny Music...Songs from Various Record Shops VI -- How to Compose Popular Songs That Will Sell by Bob Geldof

First, a brief interlude. Coloured vinyl is a pretty, pretty thing and I never miss a chance to show it off:

Tiny Music...a series of entries on recent and seemingly random purchases. Why I made them, and why, perhaps, you ought to do the same--or at least take up the methodology!

I was in the middle of placing an order for Bob Geldof's How to Compose Popular Songs That Will Sell in its deluxe, super-fancy, signed edition when I was called to be informed I was being laid off. Naturally, I'm not crazy--$100 was not something I could, now, easily part with for a relative frivolity, even with the temptation of a bonus DVD, a handful of demos, a lovely bound book and the signature of "Sir" Bob (as an Irish citizen, he cannot actually be knighted, and is in fact "Bob Geldof, KBE," and not a sir), disappointing though the loss may be.

Geldof's controversial as he is a self-described loudmouth (indeed, the compilation of his hits with his time coupled with those from his Boomtown Rats days is called exactly that) and he has amassed a fortune alongside his extensive charity work, which has soured many to the idea of him. That and debunked reports that allege untruths about the usage of Live-Aid funds have not helped anything, either.

But, in much the same way that I'm mystified at the claims that Geldof has used either concert for aggrandizement of his music (I encourage you to look in major record stores for Rats or Geldof solo albums, even the re-releases that happened around the time of Live 8 but were not heavily advertised or available, nor was this practice remotely unusual with titles now 20-25 years old), this isn't the place to talk about his activism except as a means of framing his existence for those unfamiliar with his music, which, of course, started with the Boomtown Rats before anything else. When the group broke up, Geldof began an intermittent string of solo albums starting with 1986's Deep in the Heart of Nowhere and seemingly culminating in 2002's Sex, Age and Death. Only last year was this album released, and I've yet to open it--which seemed like a good idea when I was about to purchase the fancy edition. Now, I suppose I may as well go ahead!

Geldof's solo work has often been representative of the era from which it originated, beginning with the thoroughly 80s production of Deep in the Heart of Nowhere,  and on into the more relaxed 90s production of 1990's The Vegetarians of Love and 1992's The Happy Club. Vegetarians does have one of my favourite atmospheric tracks of all time, "Thinking Voyager 2 Type Things." The track is long and meandering, but based around acoustic instruments of various types, feeling somewhat pastoral as it builds and sweeps under Geldof's periodic rumblings and ramblings--sung, rather than spoken, in many parts--until it builds in a periodic chorus. He co-wrote it with ex-Rats bassist Pete Briquette (née Patrick Cusack), who has been a steady bandmate of his through most of the years since the Rats up to and including this album.

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