Monday, September 07, 2015

Lunedi Lunacy

It appears that "concept albums" have been around since the 1940s: according to the Wikipedia entry Woody Guthrie's Dust Bowl Ballads was one of the first.  But they seemed to have reached a zenith in the 1960-70s with Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Tommy, Dark Side of the Moon, and The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast.

The last named was based on William Roscoe's children's poem written in 1802 which reappeared in 1973 in picture book form.  Retold and expanded by William Plomer and illustrated in his signature graphic style by Alan Aldridge it reflect the temper of the psychedelic 70s.  In 1974  Roger Glover, late of Deep Purple, used it as the inspiration for his album and the subsequent rock opera that came from it.  Glover recruited a large cast of well-known rock musicians to perform on the album including Ronnie James Dio of, amongst other groups, Black Sabbath.  The one minor hit to come out of the album was "Love is All" with Dio on vocals.

In 1976 Halas and Batchelor, turned the song into a cartoon short using the Aldridge designs as their starting point.  The cartoon become a cult favourite in Europe particularly in France where a new TV channel used it as an quick stopgap anytime they experienced technical difficulties.  It's popularity in North American was the result of it being shown on children's programmes on several emerging networks including Nickelodeon.  As their unwary parents slept in of a Saturday morning a new generation was "tuning in and turning on". 

I rememeber the album being a particular favourite of my first roommate Ray and his friends when they would  wander into the apartment in a mellow mood from the clubs as the sun rose over St James Cemetary.  I recall having my early morning coffee before the start of a Sunday 0630 shift to the sounds of Saffron Dormouse and Lizzy Bee or Sir Maximus Mouse and running out the door to catch the 0615 subway with the sounds of Love is All echoing in my ears.

September 7 - 1911:  Guillaume Apollinaire is arrested and put in jail on suspicion of stealing the Mona Lisa from the Louvre museum.


Anonymous said...

I don’t as a rule ‘mine’ the comments on the few blogs I read to discover the company I’m keeping, but today I put two and two together and realized who you are (and the company you keep, so to speak). We’ve actually ‘met’ before in the comments of Michael R’s blog when you agreed with my description of the ‘What’s the meaning of this!’ demeanor of dachshunds.

As a major fan of ‘Tommy’, a standard-issue fan of ‘Sgt. Pepper’, a late-bloomer fan of ‘Dark Side of the Moon’, I hope the rest of ‘The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast’ is better than ‘Love is All’. I had never heard that ditty before, and [I’m sorry] hope never to hear it again.

Enjoyed in the earlier post rediscovering Blossom Dearie’s ‘They Say It’s Spring’ and being introduced to Julie Wilson, though I must say I much prefer Jackie Cain’s version of ‘Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most’.


more cowbell said...

I am not one for videos, but I rather enjoyed this. I'm glad the frog came back down the giant beanstalk. It was disturbing to see him morph into various heads without the benefit of feet.

Ur-spo said...

groovy like wow.