Tag Archive: Charles


So its been a long time since my last post (April 15th to be exact).  So I decided to start a new segment about something that I am passionate about, music.  So here is the first in what I hope is a long line of Bands you should know!

So for the first installment of my Bands You Should segment, I am featuring one of my favorite UK bands that most people haven’t heard of.  Kasabian.  I first heard Kasabian back in 2005, the first time I went over the pond to London with my now wife.  We took a train to Guildford where we were picked up by her cousin.  As we drove through the Guildford streets to his place (where I would drink Guinness for Guinness with him for about 5 hours, till our train back) I heard a band that was unique, it was like nothing I had heard before, a mix of rock, electronic and 60’s pyschedelia, it was something that I wouldn’t have thought that I would like, but I did and it sounded great and had great guitar work and bass lines.  So I asked who it was and was told that it was Kasabian.  I should’ve bought the CD there when I had the chance, when I got back I couldn’t find it and ended up buying their self titled debut CD from Rhapsody.
Kasabian did have brief exposure in the US.  The first track, Club Foot, off of the debut album was used in Pontiac commercials, I believe for the Australian built GTO (Holden Monaro) and I believe it was also used in an episode of Alias.  Other songs from the album also made it to the videogame world.  Still they never quite got the recognition I thought they deserved. They’ve gotten some US recognition over the years and just recently played at the Coachella Music Festival, but still haven’t qiute taken off, which is why I’m writing this, I hopefully can at least get a few of you to check them out.  So now onto the band.
Kasabian was formed in 1997 in Leicester England by Tom Meighan, Chris Edwards and Sergio Pizzorno.  Meighan was the lead vocalist, Pizzorno was backing vocals and guitar and Edwards was bass.  At the time of formation, they had another lead guitarist, Christopher Karloff, who left in 2006 and was replaced by Jay Mehler.  Kasabian also used a whole list of studio drummers, until 2004 when Ian Matthews became the full time drummer.  As of now, May 2012, the lineup is Meighan, Edwards, Pizzorno, Mehler and Matthews.
Back in 1997 before they were Kasabian, they were called Saracuse, at this point they started recording at a studio in Leicester where Edwards was an engineer, Bedrock Studios.  The first public appearance they made was at the Viper Rugby Club, playing for Edwards own 18th birthday, soon after they were being noticed and decided to change their name.  The name they chose was Kasabian, it was a name that Karloff picked up while researching Charles Manson.  Linda Kasabian was his getaway driver.  For some reason Karloff thought the word sounded good and it stuck with him and the rest of the band.

Kasabian 2004

Their self titled debut album, Kasabian, was released in 2004 to generally positive reviews and good sales.  They have been described as being a cross of Primal Scream and the Stone Roses, I can hear the influences there, but to me they’re a bit more psychedelic and electronic then the other two acts.  During the recording of Kasabian the band decided to live in a farmhouse by Rutland Water so they could concentrate on the album undisturbed.  At this point Kasabian still didn’t have a full time drummer, they used various drummers including their current keyboard player, Ben Kealey on drums.  While they were recording in Bristol they met Ian Matthews who played on a few songs on the debut, notably Processed Beats, Beneficial Herbs and Butcher Blues.  When they decided to tour, they asked Matthews to stay, and he’s been with them ever since.  Tracks of of the album have been in numerous movies, commercials, TV shows and video games.  My most notable tracks off of the album are Club Foot, Processed Beats, Reason is Treason, L.S.F, Test Transmission, Cut Off and Butcher Blues.

Empire 2006

Kasabians 2nd album, Empire was released in August of 2006.  The band faced some issues during the recording of Empire, which eventually lead to the departure of Karloff, who was one of the main songwriters.  It was announced on their website that he had left due to creative differences.  Even so, he had contributed to at least three of the songs on Empire.  When asked why Empire in an article in NME, Tom Meighan said “Empire is a word used by the band to describe something good”.  The recording of Empire took a mere two weeks, allegedly while on tour with Oasis.  Empire was received well also and hit number 1 on the UK Albums Chart.  While not my favorite album, I thought Empire was good, it showed growth in the group along with the growth of their music and it did have some good tracks.  My notable tracks from Empire are Empire, Shoot the Runner, Sun/Rise/Light/Flies, and By My Side.

West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum 2009

While the third release, West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum wasn’t released until 2009, there were signs of things to come when two tracks, Fast Fuse and Thick as Thieves were released on an EP in 2007.  The EP didn’t get much promotion, if any so no one really knew what was coming in 2009.
West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum was Kasabians first album without Karloff as head writer, for this release Pizzorno took over and did a fabulous job.  This is the first Kasabian album that has a theme throughout also.  The name comes from a group of mental institutions that were constructed in the 1880’s across West Yorkshire England.  When asked by NME on June 12th 2009 why it was chosen as the title, Pizzorno said “The album isn’t about the place, I just heard it on a TV documentary, and the words just struck me.  I love the way it looked and the feeling it evokes.”  In another interview, with T4, the band mentioned that each track of the album is meant to represent a different inmate within the asylum.   Once again, they debuted at number one with West Ryder.
To me this was and is a great album, right up there with the first and far above Empire.  While I thought Empire showed growth in themselves and their sound, West Ryder shows another level of writing and musicality.  The basslines, keyboards, drums and even the guitar parts are to me more complex and the production is great.  This album to me sounds like it should’ve came out in the late 60’s early 70’s.  There are still hints of Empire and Kasabian in it, but its truly a great album.  My notable tracks are Underdog, Swarfiga, Fast Fuse, Take Aim, Thick as Thieves (which my father says reminds him of a McCartney tune a bit because of the begining melody), Vlad the Imaler, Secret Alphabets (which has a great bassline) and Fire.

Velociraptor! 2011

Work on Velociraptor, Kasabians fourth release, began in late 2010.  It was the second album written and composed by pizzorno. The first track released from the album was Switchblade Smiles.  It was made available as a free download for people that pre ordered the album from their own website.  It was also made available on the Kasabian facebook page as a free download.

Once again the new album continued to show growth and excellent writing.  The sound and style changed a little from the previous albums, but still has that 60’s and 70’s feel to it.  The album garnered critical acclaim with Antiquiet giving it 4 1/2 stars out of 5 while saying “Kasabian has found a way to channel everything you love about The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Radiohead while still keeping the unique sound that sets them apart from the contemporaries like Coldplay, Muse and The Killers.” and NME saying “Kasabian have lived up to expectations and believe the album is a huge step up from their previous albums.”

For me Velociraptor was definitely a good album, to me I think West Ryder was a bit better but still Velociraptor is a solid album with some really good tracks that makes me look forward to whatever Kasabian has coming in the future.  for me the best tracks on this one are Lets Roll Just Like We Used To, Days are Forgotten, Velociraptor!, Acid Turkish Bath (shelter from the storm) which is kind of an epic, I Hear Voices (which has a bit of 80’s synth pop in it) and Re-Wired.

Conclusion

For me there are few bands out there than can combine everything from psychedelic  60’s and 70’s rock all the way up to 80’s synth pop and get away with it.  Kasabian can.  They can hold their own with any of the big names out there today.  Their sound is different from anything I’ve heard in a while and unique.  They have great bass lines, guitar work and solid vocals and lyrically they get better every album.  I highly recommend checking them out.  I would start with the self titled release Kasabian and work your way up.  Check them out at their website www.kasabian.co.uk , http://www.vevo.com/artist/kasabian or at the online music store of your choice. You’ll hear the progression in their music from the begining to the end and it’s a musical trip well worth taking, your ears will thank you.  So give them a shot and thanks for reading!

-john

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Well I was going to give a shout out to Mr Charles Dickens yesterday, since it was his birthday, but I knew that John Williams was today, so I figured have one big party for the two of them.  Plus, they both have been huge influences in their respective fields.  So Since I’m a day late, I’ll start with good ole’ Chuck as his good friends used to call him (in a fact I made up for this blog)

Charles John Huffman Dickens was born in Landport, Portsmouth, England (why do they always list the county and city?) on February 7th 1812, incidentally, there was also an 8.8 on the Richter scale earthquake that day along the Mississippi river in New Madrid, it was powerful enough that islands disappeared and lakes were created, but back to Charles.  His was one of 8 children, originally growing up in Portsmouth, but the family started to hit hard times so they moved to Camden Town in London.  His parents were always living beyond their means and eventually his father was sent to debtors prison.

His first story was published in 1833, in the Monthly Magazine, A London Magazine.  The name of the story was A Dinner at Poplar Walk.  After Poplar Walk he became a political journalist.  Although, somewhat unexpected he didn’t write articles, instead he used sketches to get his point across.  He also became an editor for the Bentley’s Miscellany.  He was editor for 3 years before leaving the position.  During this time he also worked on Oliver Twist, he Old Curiosity Shop andBarnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of ‘Eighty.  These were all published episodically each month, then eventually turned into books.  This was something that Dickens Pioneered that is still used today.

Dickens also would perform readings of his most popular works, he would also incorporate his life into his books, such as experiences he had growing up and later in his life a train wreck he survived.  He wrote many great novels and stories throughout his career and inspired current and future writers for decades if not centuries.  Sadly he died at the age of 58, young by today’s standards.  He wanted a regular funeral and even had a burial spot picked, but after his death he was buried in Poets Corner at Westminster Abbey, he was then and still is one of Britain’s greatest and most popular wiriters.  There is so much more to tell about him, but I still need to talk to about John Williams, so if you want to know more about Dickens there are plenty of resources availible.

Now onto….John Williams. John Towner Williams was born on February 8, 1932 in Flushing, Queens, New York.  His career spans almost 60 years, he is a classically trained composer, pianist and conductor.  His father was the drummer in the Jazz quintet the Raymond Scott Quintet. 

The Williams family would eventually move to Los Angeles where John would eventually attend UCLA. While in LA he also studied with the Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.  In the early 50’s he was drafted into the Air Force where he was the conductor for the Air Force band (not a bad gig) After his military service he moved back to New York where he enrolled in the Julliard School.  While in New York at Julliard he worked as a Jazz Pianist throughout the city, He even met and worked with Henry Mancini.  He also was the bandleader and music arranger for some Frankie Laine albums.

After Julliard he moved back to LA.  He began composing music for TV and films, a couple of the most notable ones would be the Lost in Space theme and the music for the pilot of Giligans Island.  He was prolific in his composing and began working for MGM.  On the first few films he shared credit, the first film where he was the sole person was Because They’re Young.  After that his film scoring career really started to take off.  He scored such films as, Valley of the Dolls (1967), Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969), Fiddler on the Roof (1971), Images (1972), The Poseidon Adventure (1972), The Towering Inferno (1974), Earthquake (1974, The Cowboys (1972) starring John Wayne.  

In the mid 70’s an up and coming film maker named Steven Spielberg took notice of Williams also,  Spielberg asked him to write a couple of film scores for him and John accepted.  Once again they were blockbusters, Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).  During this time Spielberg was talking to a good friend of his named George Lucas.  George Lucas was working on a small film at the time, Star Wars (1977) and needed an epic score to match the space epic.  Lucas approached Williams who would eventually agree.

In the late 70’s Williams scored Superman (1978) for Richard Donner, then it was back to Lucas and Spielberg for For Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

John Williams has scored some of the most recognized movie music of all time and continues to do so.  Most recently he has composed music for Munich (2005),  The Phantom Menace (1999), Attack of the Clones (2002), Revenge of the Sith (2005), The first 3 Harry Potter movies, after a short break he came back with  Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011) and War Horse (2011). With five Academy Award wins, four Golden Globe Awards, seven BAFTA Awards, and 21 Grammy Awards and With 47 Academy Award nominations he could very well be one of the greatest composers of all time, American or otherwise, and 80 years old he doesn’t seem to be slowing down. So here’s to you John Williams Happy Birthday!

 

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