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Thursday, February 26, 2009

GMVW # 60 : "Deep Cuts"

Gem Music Video of the Week # 60:  Deep Cuts
Song: Love on the Air by David Gilmour
(Songwriters: David Gilmour and Pete Townshend)
February 26, 2009

Thinking back on album releases, there are 3 that come immediately to mind.  The first was Led Zeppelin’s final studio album, “In Through the Out Door” back in 1979.  I remember this not so much for my own interest at the time as I do for that of several good friends (Jeff, Pete, Dave).  I also remember it for a brazen marketing ploy:  Six different album covers (several rare), which were individually wrapped in brown paper bags to lure kids into buying extra copies (I’m not sure it worked, as Zep fans in those days were not likely to be flush with extra cash in their wallets, excepting those who were selling loose joints).  Turned out it was a very innovative-sounding album for Led Zeppelin, and I believe it could have been the start of something new, but we will never know, since a few months after the release, their drummer (John Bonham) up and died on them and the rest of the group disbanded. 

The second album release that comes to mind was also a final studio effort (at least for the next 24 years): The Who’s 1982 album “It’s Hard”.  What I remember most about this release was delivering the album to several wholesale record stores in the area (my old trucking job, discussed for Gem Video # 45).  At one of these locations in Quincy, several of the employees came running outside as I pulled up.  The group of us went back inside, and a copy of the album was unwrapped and loaded on a turntable where we all kicked back and listened.  I’m certain we were among the first in the USA to do so. I liked this album, but in terms of expectations, it was a disappointment. 

The third is the one that pulled through for me: Pete Townshend’s 1985 album “White City”.   There are several things I recall about this album release.  One was turning on the radio in the car (driving down Emmons St) and catching the first single.  Or was it the first single?  The song was ‘Hiding Out’, and as it turned out, I was listening to the ‘B’ side song.  ‘B’ sides are rarely played by DJs, so I stumbled into a unique opportunity to get a glance behind the scenes before being introduced to the ‘big hit’.  I loved what I heard from this ‘B’ side song, and in terms of album depth, it was symbolic for what lay ahead. It was only later that day that I heard the ‘A’ side song, ‘Face the Face’.  A few nights later, Townshend was interviewed on BBC Radio-1 about the album, and several other songs were played.  These also sounded great. One thing I recall about the interview was Townshend being asked why he was calling the new album ‘White City: A Novel”.  He led off his answer with:  “I figured if I could get away with Rock Opera”…..getting a laugh from the interviewer.  He then went on to describe the album as a story about a guy in his 40’s (“Perhaps Jimmy from Quadrophenia”) reflecting back on his life.  A short White City movie was later produced, which focused on 24 hours in the life of this character (I watched it for the first time in many years the other night, which brought back some Lake Street memories). 

So, by the time the album was released, I was primed.  I purchased it as soon as possible and listened incessantly for weeks.  Turned out the songs I was enjoying the most were not the ones being played regularly on the radio.  The songs I enjoyed the most were the deep cuts: ‘Brilliant Blues’, ‘White City Fighting’, ‘Crashing by Design’, ‘Come to Mama’, ‘I am Secure’ and the aforementioned ‘Hiding Out’.  It got me thinking, a great album is not so much defined by its hits, as by its depth…. its deep cuts.  Isn’t this always the case?  If I’ve ever enjoyed an album thoroughly, it was the deep cuts that made it so. A metaphor for life itself I suppose, particularly in regards to the friendships you forge.

With many of the truly great albums though, it is not only what is on the album, but what is left off that defines them, which leads to this week’s Gem.  Pete Townshend was going through a particularly prolific period in the mid 80’s, first having released ‘All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes’ and then ‘White City’.  During this period, he was doing a noticeably Dylan-esque thing: Giving away songs to others.  This week’s Gem ‘Love on the Air’ is one of them.  The song was written by Townshend and given to David Gilmour for his 2nd solo album.  The video is a live version of the song done by the short-lived band ‘Deep End’ (which included Gilmour and Townshend). 

Following the Gem Video are a few of the bigger hits from the ‘White City’ album, and non-video (music only) links to several of the deep cuts.

- Pete

Gem Video: “Love on the Air”

“Secondhand Love”

“Give Blood”

Brilliant Blues (music only)

“White City Fighting” (music only)

“Hiding Out” (music only)
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About the Video: The Live ‘Deep End’ video

Video Rating: 1
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Best Feedback: Dave

Pete, great choices as usual, bringing back memories. I think of the album every time I drive by the  White City Mall in Shrewsbury............

Thanks, Dave
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Also: Fred

Awesome memories of that album and of
Lake Street
.  It was a bit of a life preserver for me during my post-college days.

....I am safe hidden here......

But it got me out.

Thanks.

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