Music First Audio March Blog

CH CH CH CHANGES
It is said that March comes in like a Lion and goes out like a Lamb. Somewhere in the month we hope a weather change happens! Winter becomes Spring. Living and working on the coast we have a heightened awareness of the seasons, and Spring always seems to us a change for the better. Longer days and some sunshine is a change we look forward too.
Fortunately or unfortunately change in life is a constant. Modern life (it is argued) is even more stressful for its ever increasing rate of change. Politically and economically the last few years seem to have been grand daddies of change, but thus has it ever been. We bet those Romans moaned about all the change as the empire fell about their ears. As difficult as change can be it does have upsides, and in music, as in life, it can lead to exciting times.
Those of you that lived through the 60s and 70s will be aware of the phenomena of progressive rock music. This was all about change. With each successive album the prog rock bands of the day set out their new progressive stall. It was all rather exciting or deadly dull depending on your taste. Along came change (in the form of punk) and things became much more exciting or downright uncouth -again depending on your taste. Such is life’s great changing tapestry. We recently visited a new record store near to us. The owner was at pains to advise us that he intended to buy in new and old progressive rock vinyl as he seemed to think there was an increasing demand for it among the younger generation. They liked exploring he said. We shall see on that one!
A recent record store purchase of Amandla by Miles Davis got us thinking about the great musical artists of change. Miles is a particular candidate for the top changing man. In the field of jazz he would be one of our top bets. Just compare his Blue in Green to Back Seat Betty. Light years apart but both extremely valid we would argue. Compare the difference in his clothing between these two songs! The man thrived on change, as did Bowie.
When you grew up with Bowie (as some of us did) you could not help noticing the changes wrought album to album. For us Bowie was the archetype man of change and his change seemed to fall into musical stages as his career progressed. We all have our favourite from the various stages of his life be it Ziggy Stardust era, the Berlin period, or his last great albums. Like Miles he was a musical changing man genius who is more than ever sorely missed by us. How we wish he had lived another decade as what musical changes he may have made?
Change of course is very much a part of Classical music. The classical musical world has its fans of the early classical period, whilst others are fans of the romantic catalogue, or 20th century classics. On our trips to the proms each year we are always amazed at programmes that may feature Thomas Tallis, Mark Anthony Turnage and finish with Tchaikovsky. Talk about a contrast! One genre of classical music is built all around change, but in very minute measure. Minimalist music exists in its very small changes as the music progresses. Like change itself you either love it or loath it but you can’t but be impressed by how such a subtle change to a repetitive theme can be so mesmerising and so beautiful.
So as we look forward to the change to longer, sunnier days of Spring think about all those musical changes over the centuries, and those artists who were and are still at the forefront of musical change. So many great musical artists have managed to crossover from one genre to another whilst remaining faithful to the art form. Let us know who you favourite changer is? Don’t forget next month sees 2019 Record Store Day. Time to buy some more music? Why not try a change?

Music First Audio February Blog

IT MUST BE LOVE LOVE LOVE”

Bang slap in the middle of February comes Valentine’s Day – the day when we all go nuts for love. At Music First Audio we like to celebrate this special day not least because so much of the music we love is about the subject. Try looking for those songs which don’t feature a reference or love theme. If the song is not about love then it might be about jealousy, suspicion or dare we say heartbreak. As night follows day, heartbreak follows love in our great cannon of love songs.

But let’s put the emotion to one side for a minute and concentrate on music and why love seems to dominate music of all persuasions. Our great bard hit it on the head in his ever-popular crowd pleaser Twelfth Night with his famous phrase “If music be the food of love play on”. This play features love triangles, misadventures and romantic mistakes and can leave the audience in a complete whirl. The content reflects a night when passion, misrule and love come to the forefront. The play is often given a sound track which works so well with the love theme.

These days modern love songs are as much about lust and plan old sex rather than love in its purest sense. Nothing wrong with that but listen to a modern rap lyric about love and then listen to Rogers and Hart “My funny Valentine”. You could be forgiven in thinking they are not about the same thing and you could be right. Whether performed by Ella, Frank, Chet Baker or Miles “Funny Valentine” is just pure class. So what about songwriters who dare to break away from this universal emotion and write a song about something else. The Beatles were great exponents of the love song but supposedly at the suggestion of Paul’s aunt they wrote a song not about love. The result was Paperback Writer – a song that in a way perhaps led to their confidence to write about the taxman and a benefit for a retiring circus act. Music can be about other subjects but those subjects need to be loved by the songwriter. Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” is a political and environmental tome but even this song towards its end features her “old man” being taken away in the eponymous taxi. Did she love him or was he off his rocker? Certainly you can feel her love for her subject in the song.

Of course the theme of love is not just confined to song. Love features a lot in classical music particularly opera and ballet. Check out the incidental music to Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet”. This music is not only full of love themes but is very exciting when necessary and achingly tender as well. A great alternative, on Valentine’s Day, to those who have had their fill of “silly love songs” (thanks again Sir Paul).

So if February be our “love” month let us celebrate it with plenty of the food of love ……music. We are not known as Music First for nothing. Or should that be love first audio. Whatever your music love – love it with all your passion. We do.

All the best

From all at Music First Audio