Gonna eat them words…

Sometimes we music snobs (and by “we” I mean “I”) say things in the heat of debate that we end up regretting. Over the course of this blog (and especially my last one—I’ve mellowed somewhat since then), I have been quick to offer my opinion on certain things  that, in hindsight, make me out to be a musical elitist or just plain idiotic. I am quite the stubborn guy when it comes to my music, and I will continue to offer my “opinions du jour” as I see fit, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I won’t—occasionally—change my mind. Which I will do right now, about a couple of things. Cleanse the palate, so to speak.

#1. I have said that I cannot abide “Best Of” compilations. I have always felt that taking little bits and pieces from An Album is tantamount to drawing a Salvadore Dali moustache on the Mona Lisa in magic marker. It’s just something that you don’t do. Artists spend a lot of time (at least they used to) creating an album as an artistic “statement”, sequencing the tracks to create a certain flow or overall consistent “feeling”,  and by cherry-picking the hits off said album and compiling them, even chronologically, is destroying and ultimately tarnishing the legacy of both the artist and the album itself. As a consumer, I also felt that buying these compilations was just plain lazy. But here’s the thing. The compilation album was, indeed, an integral part of my musical education growing up, and acted as an introduction and a springboard to an artist’s back catalog. For example, my first introduction to The WHO was Meaty Beaty Big And Bouncy, which has the dubious honor of being the first real compilation of early WHO music; there would be, over the years, many, many, many inferior comps by this band shoved down our throats, but this remains the most compact, and best, of the lot. The WHO’s discography, while undeniably above average, was quite spotty, especially early on and especially later on. The middle period (1967 through 1973) was pretty much perfect. But MBBAB gathers up all those wonderful early songs between the years ’65-’66, and is all anyone really needs from that period, completists and WHO obsessives aside. The Blue and Red albums by The Beatles were my introduction to that little band from Liverpool and kick started a lifelong obsession. The older I get the less patience I have for second rate material, and most artists go through a period where sub standard albums are the norm, usually a decade or so. Bob Dylan and Neil Young, I’m looking at YOU. Which makes a compilation of the one or two great tracks per album from this period so appealing. So I’ve had a change of mind, and even though I’m still an album kind of a guy I see the benefit in owning a few of these.

#2. “The Beatles early years were crap, the Beatles didn’t really become the Beatles until Rubber Soul”, I said. Well…this was one of my more egregious statements, wasn’t it? They released some really wonderful, endearing and enduring groundbreaking singles during their early years, so I must apologize. I have, over the past few months, come to realize this. Without these early singles the Beatles would never have become THE FRIGGIN’ BEATLES! They were a tight little rock and roll band back then, and both Lennon and McCartney would never again record anything as purely joyous and rockin’ ever again. The way Lennon shreds his vocal chords on Twist And Shout or McCartney’s spot-on Little Richard delivery on any number of tunes shows a different side of the band and is just as important as their later work. So there.

#3. The flute. The damned flute. Ever since my tirade on this benign little instrument I’ve been hearing it everywhere. The reason for my initial hatred stems from, most likely, Jethro Tull. The flute always conjured up images of prancing gnomes and unicorns being serenaded by mythical barbs singing the praises of Zeus. The flute should NEVER be used as a lead instrument, I’ll always believe that, but, when used sparingly it can add a nice flavor to certain songs. Still don’t get the appeal of Jethro Tull, though…

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