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Speaking about Aja, Steely Dan’s sixth album, guitarist Dean Parks said of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, “perfection is not what they’re after, they’re after something that you wanna listen to.” No other quote encapsulates the music of Steely Dan better. Indeed, on Aja, as evidenced by its sales, they really did find something you wanna listen to and, arguably, found perfection. It is what Parks said next that hits true poignancy in regards to Aja’s follow up: “… we would go past the perfection point until it became natural.” 1980’s Gaucho is evidence of what a Steely Dan album sounds like when it stops just before perfection- the sound of a band desperately striving for flawlessness but ending up with a finished product on the wrong side of their goal.
The wonderful thing about The Flaming Lips is their ability to be profound without sounding pretentious. Unlike, for example, some of the prog-rock bands of the ‘70s, whose big themes often got lost in dense mysticism, The Flaming Lips remain down-to-earth. In recent years their personality has arguably become a little tacky and directionless, sounding more like a random quirky word generator than a band. However, at their peak, The Flaming Lips were able to ground their existentialism in accessible idiosyncrasies. Twenty years ago, they achieved this balance to perfection. Presenting life in all its beauty and heartbreak, with gorgeous melodies and lush instrumentation to match the richness of its themes, The Soft Bulletin remains the band’s crowning achievement.
We thought we wouldn’t be able to top the excitement of all our recent BBC coverage – Michelle was interviewed in April and Club Rockhaq was live on air in May – but we did! Firstly, one of our most prolific Community writers Mark Wong led a surprise Club Rockhaq workshop at Leicester Central Library last week. Mark is now teaching English in Vietnam so made a super special flying visit to a selected group of Club Rockhaq writers.
In 1994, listeners got a tantalisingly brief glimpse at the real David Byrne, one they would have to wait a decade to witness again. On his self-titled album, Byrne raised the veil slightly; just enough to let his most personal song writing to date into the world.
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