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MaryNYS

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Reply with quote  #1 
Hi all,

The song for this week is Happy Days.  
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Al Forsyth

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Reply with quote  #2 
Mary,

Dissonance meets harmony.  Brian-style.  From the depths to the light!  Two songs as one?  



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Deb#1

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Reply with quote  #3 

Cacophony to euphony.


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Merry Christmas Saint Nick"

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Cretanwelsh

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Reply with quote  #4 
Imho the disposable production and Brian-lite arrangements on Imagination hurt its big songs most - Let Him Run Wild, Cry & perhaps Happy Days most of all. The tracks that work best tend to be the less ambitious efforts - Dream Angel (sotw a few weeks back) probably being my favourite.

As a concept Happy Day feels more showpiece than authentic soul-baring. (Something also true of other examples in Brian's solo catalogue where he has attempted to dramatise his own mythology). Can we really believe that in making a heartfelt personal statement Brian dug up an unused 'Halloween' piece from 1970 (which I love) and fitted it on to some other, cheerier song fragments he had in the locker?

Structurally I'm always surprised at how successful it is, despite the overall effect of the production -but that's mainly due to the harmonies, I think, - in particular on the 'Raining in my heart' chorus & leading into the 'Happy days are here again' section (which also is a lovely thing in itself) . Now those harmonies I do find believable.
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John B

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Reply with quote  #5 
one of my three (3) favorite songs on the album, along with 'Where has Love Been?' and the title track. 

it's true: even sorta-great songs such as 'Lay Down Burden' and 'Cry', have bother-some production issues to me, as Cretan welsh alludes.  Adult-contempo format radio won, I lost... Not that concerned myself about how much of soul baring it is, and I have no problem with 'My Solution' being used when no one except us knows it exists.  the harmonies win the day--so true, but also the other parts of the song, the nature part and the says you're lookin cool part.   Solid song.   

'Dream Angel'?  Really?  not my choice.  But we all agree on Brian's great harmonies.
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Cretanwelsh

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Reply with quote  #6 
You're right, JB - there is no need to refer to 'My Solution` for proof that Happy Days is not a product of inspiration but rather something worked-up as a self-conscious showpiece. And if that sense of inspiration isn't important to you anyway, fair enough!
Certainly just because it's a showpiece doesn't mean it's bad. Midnight's Another Day is that kind of thing, I think - although much superior, especially the demo version.
I really do like Dream Angel, though. It's wholly unpretentious & heartfelt both in lyrics and vocals. And, most of all, I like the instrumentation.
As an album, it's not so much the adult-contemporary tag that bothers me with Imagination. If it sounded like Brian-does-adult-contemporary that would be fine with me (as in NPP - in fact overall the songwriting is more consistent on Imagination than on NPP). My dissatisfaction with it is just that instrumentally it lacks texture, fine detail, 'feel'. Even nice songs like Where Has Love Been end up sounding pretty vacuous. And it completely compromises the big songs - prime example being the greatest song on the record, the mighty Let Him Run Wild.
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John B

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Reply with quote  #7 
ha.  Cretan Welsh is funny, and usually right.  usually.   and I know that England owns the language and we get it second hand, so words for Americans can have a slightly different meaning, such as: football, touchdown, maul, bomb, pitch, scrum, ruck, and offsides (yes, reading 'Rugby for Dummies' right now, since one of my kids will soon play, immediately after his Disneyworld Pop Warner Superbowl).  Do you know the comedian from Wales, Dave Swan?  He used to have this whole bit about "fags are cigs and puffs named McCoy."  It ended with the punch line, (with fruity voice), 'no I don't blow out candles...I'm the REAL McCoy.'   

But.  'self-conscious showpiece' is a pejorative phrase.  Sounds 'bad' to these American ears.  Similarly, the inference that a song lacks proper 'inspiration' is 'bad', too, m'kay, as Counselor Mackey would say.  Pretentious.   Another bad word.  Unless I'm missing something.  If 'Dream Angel' is not, but 'Happy Days' IS pretentious, then I am a pretentious music fan.  Guilty as charged.  Reminds me once, I had a date in about early 1990 with a woman from Brooklyn, who told me the song 'Rio Grande' was pretentious.  There was no second date.  I never even went back to Sizzler Steak House again, so foul was that experience! 

Showpiece reminds me of a showroom, or vapid models on game shows gesturing to prize boxes.  That's not 'Happy Days' or 'Rio Grande' or 'Midnight's Another Day'.

I will give you another less critical word that I think is fair to describe both 'Imagination' and 'No Pier Pressure' (and anything Joe Thomas does) which is craft.   There can be 'good' craft and 'bad' craft.  An example of the latter would be Joe Thomas trying to get Brian to perform a live version of 'Caroline, No' that has a 'Sade-groove.' (and I LIKE Sade.  but that would be 'bad').   Craft can be neutral, even "good," like Smokey Robinson, Cole Porter.  I don't think Brian has to suffer in real time to produce a song, or else it's not really inspired.  I dissent on that theory.  Plus, a 'Love You' fanatic should appreciate Brian's penchant for irony.  'Happy Days are here again' references a democratic party reemergence.  Brian is well aware of all the 'there he goes again, more about Brian's childhood abuse and mental illness', etc.  So, I see the intentional use of the 'My Solution' part of the song--as premeditated Halloween/boo! shorthand by Brian (rather than to have a screed about that' maniacal bleep-hole Landy, thank God he's gone and I am free).  That's not Brian's personality, but in a way, that is the song--but with knowing self-referenced dark humor (using a Halloween metaphor, and then saying, 'and now, Halloween is over'). 

Don't see 'Where Has Love Been' as vacuous either.  Do we doubt the lyrics?  I don't. 

I will agree that the lyrics overall are better on 'Imagination' than on 'No Pier Pressure' (for example, these songs in comparison to 'Tell Me Why' or 'The Last Song' or 'Guess You Should Have Been There'.  But, based on Brian's melodies, harmonies, vocals, and arrangements, altogether, I would give 'No Pier Pressure' the decisive nod.   =better craft.
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Cretanwelsh

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Reply with quote  #8 

Talking of words, I don't think inspiration implies suffering in English anywhere. But perhaps Dave Swan could enlighten me! Wales is no Texas by acreage but I've never heard of Dave. Not sorry really, his act sounds awful.
Showpiece' does have a pejorative connotation in Wales too. But it isn't damning. It just suggests it isn't the most satisfying kind of art.

I like your points on Happy Days, John. I must admit the nod to party politics went straight over my head. But your parties are just wings of the same bird anyway aren't they?

Very interesting that you hear it as Brian in his glory satirising the mythology that encumbers him whilst at the same time speaking the truth in it. Theoretically I see your point. All I can say is, I personally don't get that from 'Happy Days' . I can hear cynicism, perhaps, but not laughter.


I pretty much agree with you about NPP vs Imagination. NPP is far better record, in terms of arrangements and production.
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John B

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Reply with quote  #9 
...but the comedian did the bits so earnestly and without self-consciousness, we busboys, cooks, bartenders, and wait staff laughed. Maybe if you had to watch comedians do the same act for 5 or 6 nights a week, and then for months at a time, you'd laugh too.  Awful, sure, but still funny.  and I didn't even get to his long American Cowboy bit, that ends, with him crawling on his stomach across the stage with the mic, and he has a fake arrow through his head and he says, 'No, Zeke, don't go down there! It's not a bacon tree like I thought, it's a hambush!'  

Could it be we laughed because...how dare he make that joke?   yet he does.  again and again and again and again..

You know, CR gets 'Love You' SOOO well, I've always thought she (he) must be American and only pretending to be European.  Until right now, with that different wings of the same bird comment.  Unless...it's an obvious trick to throw me off track!   I am not fully sure about the Hatch Act applications now after the midterms but with 2020 candidates already announced, so I must still be careful while at work. 

So, CR, if you were on the level with that remark, the U.S. has this president right now...
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Cretanwelsh

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Reply with quote  #10 
Quote:
Originally Posted by John B
...but the comedian did the bits so earnestly and without self-consciousness, we busboys, cooks, bartenders, and wait staff laughed. Maybe if you had to watch comedians do the same act for 5 or 6 nights a week, and then for months at a time, you'd laugh too.  Awful, sure, but still funny.  and I didn't even get to his long American Cowboy bit, that ends, with him crawling on his stomach across the stage with the mic, and he has a fake arrow through his head and he says, 'No, Zeke, don't go down there! It's not a bacon tree like I thought, it's a hambush!'  

Could it be we laughed because...how dare he make that joke?   yet he does.  again and again and again and again..

You know CR, if you were on the level with that remark, the U.S. has this president right now...


Perhaps Trump is the Dave Swan of American politics?

He is an incongruity in the party-political landscape after all. Let's hope he isn't the new norm!

My comment was a only lighthearted variation on the old thing about two stagecoaches going the same way throwing mud at one another. In European democracies we tend to see a wider range of ideology on the ballot papers -and in our governments- for good or not.

Even the UK, which is democratically backward, a bit like the US, has a major democratic socialist party. Socialist! There's another word that seems to mean something different that side of the Atlantic.
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John B

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Reply with quote  #11 
no, to the first sentence!  

When did the president tell jokes?  or allow people to laugh AT him?   Also, Dave was friendly to staff each day, which helped.  We wanted him to get laughs for his bad jokes, because he was a 'nice person' to us, and he did not have to be. 

I was afraid you were repeating the lazy false equivalency cliche' we hear from ...(selfish/almost entirely white, male, & slacking) proponents of Nader, Bernie, and Michael Moore at his Bill Clinton-hating worst).  They want mandatory allowed support animals on their flights, if they bite you, they'll sue YOU, and bans on tackle football, all non-PC humor on college campuses, and sodas or they'll take their ball and go home.     

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