Ignored Obscured Restored
The LP (long playing) record album was introduced by Columbia Records in 1948. At the time, shellac “78s” (records played at the speed of 78 RPM – revolutions per minute) were the standard. “45s” (7 inch discs with one song per side, played at 45 RPM) were introduced by RCA in 1949. For many years, the recorded music market was dominated by singles.
With the introduction of stereo LP and high fidelity reproduction equipment, the album slowly became the dominant format, reaching its heyday with ‘70s rock music.
Even though cassettes, then CDs, took over from the vinyl record format, the album was still the preferred way for fans to consume their music. But with the evolution from physical records to digital devices that began 20 years ago with the iPod, today streaming services like Spotify are the dominant listening format.
The digital formats have had an unintended consequence; their convenience in selecting songs and building playlists has returned us to being singles consumers. Most people, especially those under 40, rarely listed to full albums – sadly, me included.
But that’s not without exception. There was one 2021 album release that I tend to listen to from start to finish – St. Vincent’s (aka Annie Clark) Daddy’s Home. Yes, it’s that good!
The album title refers to the real life situation of her father being released from prison after being convicted in 2010 for his involvement in a stock manipulation fraud.
“Live in the Dream” is the fourth track on the album. It starts as a dreamy dirge reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s “Us and Them”, from their Dark Side of the Moon album, builds to a crescendo with a screaming Clark guitar solo, then drops back to its wistful beginning.
“The Melting of the Sun” follows.
“The Melting of the Sun” has a ‘70s soul/funk/R&B feel. St. Vincent takes a little from Sly Stone and a bit from Stevie Wonder and makes it her own. I dig the sounds of the clavinet and electric sitar.
The song opens with the line “So sorry, missed the party/Hello, on the dark side of the moon.” I find it hard to believe this is a coincidence.
It has been reported that St. Vincent took inspiration for the writing of this album after rooting through her dad’s record collection. If true, that would bring us full circle.
Listen to the whole album. Then listen to it again. You will be rewarded for the familiarity.
Enjoy… until next week.