Electric Light Orchestra and the Beatles

a reasonable choice

Electric Light OrchestraFor my next answer to Ask Roger Anything, our contestant once again is Kelly Sedinger, the fine Buffalo-area blogger at ForgottenStars.net.

I read somewhere that ELO did the kind of music that The Beatles WOULD have done had they remained together into the 70s. Agree? Disagree? (I’m not really equipped to assess the claim, but it kind of feels right to me, at least in part.)

First, I have to note that you wouldn’t have gotten this question from Kelly two decades ago because he wasn’t a fan of the Beatles at all and likely was unfamiliar with the Electric Light Orchestra. For some reason, I remember what I believe was his first Beatles song of the week, Don’t Let Me Down, a B-side.

In  2010, I asked him: “OK. How the heck could you dislike the entire oeuvre of The Beatles for so long? I can see if one doesn’t like the more avant-garde stuff or thought the early material wasn’t as good as the later tunes. But to reject the whole eclectic eight years? And how did you finally become enlightened?”

His reply: “The flip answer is, ‘Tastes change.’ The more serious answer is… ‘Tastes change.'”

Me? Obsessing?

Anyway, I started obsessing with this. I found a list of bands with three or more songwriters. Eh. The Band, the Eagles. Nah, not the right vibe.

Reddit has a list of Beatlesque bands, but of a later period. The only one I even considered was the Christine McVie/Buckingham/Nicks version of Fleetwood Mac, which is unrecognizable from the Peter Green Days. Heck, they even have their own white album, Tusk.

I thought the snake-bitten band Badfinger could have been it. The group was on Apple Records; their first hit, Come and Get It, was written by Paul McCartney. Day After Day has a lovely guitar line by George Harrison. And No Matter What is definitely of the Beatles genre.

I began fixating on When The Beatles Hit America by John Wesley Harding, the very strange song in which “John, Paul, George and Ringo are going to be reforming as The Beatles in 1993.” Which was, of course, impossible.

But it has this section, “And for anyone who didn’t realize or know, it sounded a lot like ELO, or ELP, or XTC, ABC, YMO, BTO. But it didn’t sound much like P.S., I Love You.”

The candidates

Well, not much like Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, though the Billy Preston organ, especially on I Want You (She’s So Heavy), is very nice. Bachman- Turner Overdrive? Not really.

ABC is an interesting consideration. Wikipedia notes, “Their early-1980s success in the US saw them associated with the Second British Invasion.”

Yellow Magic Orchestra, I’ll admit I don’t know musically. It’s a “Japanese electronic music band formed in Tokyo in 1978… The group is considered influential and innovative in the field of popular electronic music… and effectively anticipated the “electropop boom” of the 1980s. They are credited with playing a key role in the development of several electronic genres, including synthpop, J-pop, electro, and techno while exploring subversive sociopolitical themes throughout their career.”

XTC was actually the band I first considered. “The band gained popularity during the rise of punk and new wave in the 1970s, later playing in a variety of styles that ranged from angular guitar riffs to elaborately arranged pop.” Eclectic, like the Beatles.

And, in the end

But Electric Light Orchestra is a reasonable choice. The group formed in 1970, the year the Beatles officially broke up. They were more commercially successful than many of the other candidates, selling “over 50 million records worldwide, making them one of the best-selling music groups of all time.” They made it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

John Lennon remarked that ELO were the “Sons of the Beatles.” George and Ringo played with ELO. Jeff Lynne played with Paul McCartney. And of course, Jeff shows up in the Traveling Wilburys with George and produced an album of his and the 1995 Beatles songs. This is a bit ironic because “In an article from the 1970s, when the writer described an ELO song coming on the radio, [George] said, almost dismissively, ‘Sounds like the Beatles.'”

Check out the 2008 article in The Guardian. ELO: The band the Beatles could have been. “Critics called them ‘dull’ and laughed at the spaceships. Did they not realise Jeff Lynne was a songwriter to rival Lennon and McCartney?” And Lynne visited the Abbey Road studios while the Beatles worked on the white album.

So, sure, ELO can claim the title. How are Jeff Lynne, ELO, and The Beatles connected?

Break-up, baseball, and JEOPARDY

Lake George

break-upHere are some Ask Roger Anything questions about break-up, baseball, and JEOPARDY. They were asked by Kelly Sedinger, the fine Buffalo-area blogger at ForgottenStars.net.

When the break-up finally comes, does New York form a country with, say, NJ and New England and maybe PA, MD, and DE? Or do we all just join Canada?

First, I do accept the premise of the question. Major Garrett, formerly of FOX and now CBS, wrote a book suggesting that America is close to Civil War. But I remain puzzled by the mechanism.

As someone in upstate New York, you KNOW there are pockets of conservatives in New York, such as the Southern Tier south of you, or much of the territory north of me, which are quite conservative. Conversely, there are liberal enclaves in Iowa.

The Greater Idaho movement, with much of eastern Oregon joining the spud state, will be difficult to achieve. Redistributing assets nationally would be a nightmare.

Still, rhetorically speaking, your larger model works. And the Canadians, if they are smart, will want to have nothing to do with a land annexation. They don’t want those gun-toting folks in their jurisdiction.

Here comes the Judge

Am I crazy in detecting a rather unsavory note in all the cheering of Aaron Judge this season as he chases home run records? Because it really does occasionally take on a tone of “Thank God a white guy is posing a threat to the record held by the black guy nobody likes.”

I can say that Barry Bonds was very supportive of Judge’s pursuit of the American League record of 61 (Roger Maris, 1961) and understood the stress of getting that 61st one. Days before the regular season ended, it was pretty clear that Judge wouldn’t surpass Bonds’ 73 HRs.

But I think your question hit on the real issue. Barry Bonds is just not warm and fuzzy. And people feel that he cheated with the Performance-Enhancing Drugs. So I don’t think it’s specifically racism, although I don’t listen to sports talk on radio or TV because I find much of it repetitive and banal.

Now some people didn’t want Henry Aaron to topple Babe Ruth’s career record of 714, even sending death threats. (When I saw a guy on the field running with Hammerin’ Hank, I was genuinely worried about the slugger’s safety.) But many people think Bonds’ career record of 762 is tainted and that it should belong to Aaron, with 755.

Favorite place within 50 miles of Albany?

I’m fond of Lake George, north of here. The lake itself is quite beautiful, and it has several amenities without being TOO touristy.

Unchange

A change you would make to JEOPARDY!? (Resurrecting Trebek is not an option.)

Actually, my wish can never happen because it seems to be too popular with the fans. I’d prefer that they stayed with five-day champions, and then they’re gone until the annual Tournament of Champions. The interview segment is fine for someone staying for a week, but most of them start to wear on me.

I don’t want to see the same people in yet another tournament. They had that awful team event a few years ago. Besides seeing Ken and Brad yet AGAIN in competition, it took away time when we might see your average champion. They seem to be keying on the “super champions,” which just doesn’t feel right. At least Ken Jennings and Buzzy Cohen, as hosts of the show, can no longer compete on the show because they’ve hosted.

Oh, and I’m against giving a bonus to people who run a category. Former JEOPARDY champ Austin Rogers makes a case for it, but I remain unconvinced.

Oh, and here’s something that Trebek used to say that I never liked, and I recently heard Jennings repeat. When all three contestants missed the same question, Alex would say, “No harm, no foul.” It’s not correct. If Player A has $12,000, Player B has $6,000, and Player C has $3,000, and they all miss a $2,000 question, who is most disadvantaged? The person with the least amount of money.

Ideal length of Ask Roger Anything

Anything, I tell you!

Ideal length
From Hootsuite

I recently found here and here the purported ideal length of everything online.

They suggest 20 to 25 words per sentence and two to four sentences per paragraph (or 40 to 100 words). Online, I find 100 words way too long visually.

The ideal domain name is eight characters. Mine is 11, and I’m not changing it.
The ideal headline is six words (any length each). If my SEO indicator says my title is too long or too short, I change it. Or I don’t. The headline of this piece is intentionally six words.

But the suggestion I’m going to ignore most vigorously is that the ideal blog post is 1,600 words (or roughly 7 minutes of reading time). I don’t remember the last time wrote nearly that long. Even the pieces I write to figure out things for myself don’t go nearly that long:

Salman Rushdie attacked at Chautauqua –  786 words
Searching the Mar-a-Lago compound – 1063 words 
My linkage posts are 600 to 700 words

I’m not interested enough in many topics to write 1600 words. I do make a point of writing at least 300.

This is where YOU come in

On the other hand, I’m REALLY interested in whatever you are interested in asking me. And I have no rules about how long your questions ought to be. There are no off-limits topics. This does not mean that I won’t obfuscate my responses, generally to protect the privacy of another.

Do you know why I request that you Ask Roger Anything? Is it because I’m basically a lazy blogger that wants you to help me create content? No. Well, maybe, a little. But it’s mostly because you might ask something I hadn’t thought of. I say, “Hey, that could be interesting!” Or probably I’ll mutter, “How the heck am I going to answer THAT? And I only have myself to blame!”

I will answer all of your questions, usually within a month. Leave your questions and whatnot in the comments section of the blog. OR you can also contact me on Facebook or Twitter. On Twitter, my name is ersie. Always look for the duck.

If you want to be anonymous, tell me, and I will accommodate that. But you have to e-mail me at rogerogreen (AT) Gmail (DOT) com, or send me an IM on FB and say that.

This post is 384 words long.

Moody Blues, Dylan, the Boss, solo Fab

Smile Away

Bob_Dylan_-_Love_and_TheftIn response to my most recent Ask Roger Anything request – you can STILL ask! – TWO music questions.

My old buddy Kevin, who grew up in my area, but who I didn’t know until college, asked:
What are your favorite albums by 1) the Moody Blues, 2) Bob Dylan and 3) Bruce Springsteen?

The Moody Blues is easy. While I have a few albums on vinyl that I haven’t listened to in forever, I never got any on CD or as downloads, except for a greatest hits CD. So the only album I can remember without looking it up is Days Of Future Passed. And I liked it not just based on its themes of dayparts, but the fact that a 1967 album could generate a hit half a decade later. Nights In White Satin went to #103 pop in 1968, but to #2 pop for two weeks in 1972.

My first favorite Springsteen album was Born To Run, the album that got him on the cover of Time and Newsweek simultaneously. And Darkness On The Edge Of Town was a very strong follow-up. Born In The USA is, naturally a great album, but I heard it a bit too often in the 1980s.

I should note that c. 2000, my late brother-in-law John asked me what I wanted for Christmas or my birthday. I said any Springsteen CD prior to 1992, most of which I had on vinyl. He bought me Asbury Park, both Born albums, Darkness, and The River, the two-record set which I had never owned.

Around 2006, my sister Leslie bought me We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions. Some great songs, done well. But many of them appear in the two-CD Live in Dublin that came out in 2007, and they’re even better.

Zimmerman

Considering the vast number of Dylan CDs I now own, it’s peculiar that I never bought a Bob album in the 1960s. It’s due in part to the fact that I had belonged to the Capitol Record Club in 1966/67, where I got the bulk of my Beatles LPs, not to mention albums by the Beach Boys, Lovin’ Spoonful, and others. Bob was on Columbia. The ONLY Dylan song I owned was from a cheap compilation album, The Best of ’66, which had I Want You.

In fact, the first Dylan album I purchased was for my high school girlfriend, the double album Self-Portrait, which came out in 1970. I wasn’t impressed, and I’m not even sure whether SHE liked it.

Eventually, I bought a few LPs – John Wesley Harding and Nashville Skyline. But it wasn’t until CDs came out that I started to backfill my Dylan collection: Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde On Blonde, and my favorite, Blood on the Tracks.

I had pre-ordered Love and Theft, which was to be released on September 11, 2001. After I left work early that day – we all did – I was riding my bike home and I went past the record store. I stopped, got the album, and stood around the store awhile as the television was recapitulating the awful news of the day.

I didn’t listen to the album for well over a week. But when I did, I LOVED it, especially the run that began with the third track, Summer Days. I played this album a lot, and it made me happy in a very sad time.

Solo Fabs

Julie, who I’ve known for a few years – I have a pic of her holding my daughter when L was a baby – wants to know:
 What is the best solo Beatles album?

Oh, my, I have been musing on this forever. Conventional Wisdom would put All Things Must Pass by George and Plastic Ono Band by John at the top of the list. These would be totally legitimate choices, especially ATMP, which proved that John and Paul underestimated their younger bandmate. I just watched Concert For George from 2002, and it reminded me just how much I loved Wah Wah.

Yet, and maybe it’s because I’ve listened to it recently, that I’m picking Paul’s (and Linda’s) Ram. Your folks would know that when it came out in 1971, it was savaged by much of the music press. Part of this was a function of the less-than-kind things John said about the album.

Really? Yes

As this 2021 review noted, “The record… saw the singer lay down a blueprint that would eventually help build some of the most notable genres around. You can trace everything from Britpop to pure jangle indie back to this record.” Too Many People, for instance, was a jab at John, much more subtle than John’s How Do You Sleep on his Imagine album.

From All Music: “In retrospect, it looks like nothing so much as the first indie-pop album, a record that celebrates small pleasures with big melodies, a record that’s guileless and unembarrassed to be cutesy. But McCartney never was quite the sap of his reputation… There’s some ripping rock and roll in the mock-apocalyptic goof Monkberry Moon Delight, the joyfully noisy Smile Away, where his feet can be smelled a mile away, and  Eat At Home, a rollicking, winking sex song.”

When I played it recently for the first time this century, I said, pretty much to myself, “Damn, I really LIKE this album!” And I remembered it amazingly well.

Oh, and I have a great affection for the Ringo album, which featured all four of them, not all at the same time. Do the Travelling Wilburys count as “solo”? Because I’d stick that first album in the mix.

Ask Roger Anything, and he’ll probably obsess about it

Of signs and the late Jim Seals

AskYes, it’s time to Ask Roger Anything. But in fact, it’s ALWAYS Ask Roger Anything time. When people ask me something on Facebook or in the comments of the blog, and I don’t know, I will probably obsess about it as I try and find out.

For instance, on June 7, if you were to search Yahoo, the first piece one would find would be my October 2021 post Musician Jim Seals is 80 and Alive. I then had people noting that his Wikipedia page listed him as recently deceased. But I couldn’t find anything definitive, which is to say, a source I recognized. ((What IS Noise 11?) Finally, Variety indicated that he had passed away.

On June 6, when I posted about a sign near my house,  someone asked where the original item was now located. Good question. I called the state library, the city Department of General Service, and several others.

One of the things I learned as a librarian is that when you keep finding people who say, “It’s not us. It could be them, but I really don’t know”, it’s time to recalibrate.

So I wrote to an Albany list on Facebook, which generated a lot of conversation about the CONTENT of the signs but not what I was looking for. So I looked at the William G. Pomeroy site; they are the people who put up the new sign. I noted that the Grant Recipient is the Pine Hills Neighborhood Association. I contacted an officer who I knew personally. They are now on the case, and I can let it go.

Getting back to the point

Knowing that I can only do so much, I’m STILL asking you all to Ask Roger Anything. It broadens my horizons, which I like to pronounce as HOR-i-zins, for some reason. What are your deep, dark secrets that you want me to psychoanalyze? I’m just as qualified as the next random person on the Internet.

I SHALL answer your questions, usually in the thirty days. Leave your questions, suggestions, et al in the comments section of the blog. OR you can also contact me on Facebook or Twitter. On Twitter, my name is ersie. Always look for the duck.

I will keep your anonymity or pseudonymity. (My spellcheck LIKES pseudonymity.) E-mail me at rogerogreen (AT) gmail (DOT) com, or send me an IM on FB and note that you want to be unnamed. Otherwise, I’ll list your actual name.

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