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Steve Ison
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Steve Ison

11/12/2012 5:48:33 AM

Are you a fan of the song or the artist ?
Its definitely 'the song' for me...An artist might have one really cool song (or maybe 2) and never be able to produce that magic again..
There's bands like Queen that i love nearly everything they did on their first 4 albums (up to and including 'Night At The Opera' ) but Day At The Races and after the creativity for me goes seriously downhill..So i'm a fan of EARLY Queen but not later..
The same with The Police..First 2 albums Oulandos D'Amour and Regatta De Blanc -brilliant...The ones after that -its just the singles i love if i'm honest..
A weird irony is that with both those bands-they became mega global stadium superstars at the same time -for me- their creativity started going downhill....


There's very few albums (maybe 10 or 12) i love and play all the way thru..I'll always cherry-pick the coolest tracks and put them onto personal playlists..

What about you ?

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Hop On Pop

11/12/2012 5:57:44 AM

I don't think that I can separate the two. The artist IS their songs.
So, if there is a large chunk of their music that I love, I love the artist and I will give them the benefit of the doubt, even when they are releasing a bunch of crap. At least to the point where their crap outweighs the good stuff that they have released. Then, it's song-by-song.
If there is still nothing good coming out by then, I just write them the hell off.

Of course, at that point, there may be something that comes out of left field that grabs my attention again and reminds me why I loved them in the first place. (See Def Leppard and their 2006 album YEAH! as a case study.)

So, technically it is the song, of course. But, getting back to the beginning, the songs define the artist.

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Hop On Pop

11/12/2012 6:00:51 AM ---- Updated 11/12/2012 6:02:17 AM

But then you get into the whole concept of albums becoming greater than the sum of its parts.
Pull a song like "Pimple Zoo" out of Guided By Voices' Alien Lanes and there really isn't much to it. But, at the same time, it is essential to the flow of one of my favorite albums of all-time.
So, what do you say to that?

Just saw your addendum to the first post, up there.

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Chandra Moon

11/12/2012 9:56:56 AM

Mostly for me it's the song - especially the lyrics though of course it makes a huge difference how it's delievered! I've made the mistake of buying an album based on one good song and been heartily disappointed and never listen to it as only ever liked the one song!

On the other hand - some artists are just so brilliant you can almost guarantee a good album.....

Good question....... *scratches head and leaves thinking.....*

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Hop On Pop

11/12/2012 10:15:45 AM ---- Updated 11/12/2012 10:22:51 AM

Of course, fans of "the song" may find themselves disappointed by version of a favorite song, covered by another artist. Or may find themselves really enjoying a song that they did not think that they liked, but a version done by another artist.

A prime example.
"Oops, I Did It Again"
The original, Britney Spears version is a pile of crap. However, when it was covered by Richard Thompson on his 1000 Years of Popular Music, I really enjoyed the hell out of it.
He made me a fan of the song. So, in that way, I can say that I am a Richard Thompson fan (which I am). But am I now a fan of the song? I still can't stand the Britney version.

Richard Thompson - "Oops! I Did It Again"

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11/12/2012 10:21:54 AM

For me it is both. Many of the artists I admire didn't even write the songs they perform. They only became the faceplate for the song and their interpretation of the songs is really what made both them and the songs famous. So, the reality is that some of the songs they perform may not have much personal relevance to them other than they enjoyed performing them. In those cases it is obvious that I like the song but the artist must have brought something special to the table in order for me to "feel" something positive about their work.

Then there are the songs that have been done by many artists. In those cases it must be the song itself that outweighs the relevance of the artist. In some cases people are so stuck on the original version that hearing a new version makes them repulsed. But I am very open minded about new and fresh versions of songs as long as they stay close enough to the melody. Each artist gives something new to ponder about the song.

There is no doubt that follow up records often leave me unimpressed as it is hard for artists to recapture the magic they first had. But there are some artists that consistently write, produce and perform excellent music. Example's of this would be Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind & Fire, Elton John etc. I can honestly say that I love every single album those artists have released. It should be noted that those artists are also all great songwriters which means that each album was basically from their own hands. But there have been many artists who thrilled me with a great song or two but never seemed to be able to live up to their own hype by coming back with music that is equally as good as their first. This is the measuring stick that we hold as evidence of luck or absolute greatness. Generally the one or two hit wonders probably just got lucky.

As a songwriter the song always gets my attention first. But the artists interpretation of the song is just as important to me. So, for me it is kind of like in the morning when my wife comes to me and asks do you want bacon or sausage. Quite often my answer is yes! She then walks away with an air of sarcasm as she mumbles okay, sausage and bacon baby. My point is, why does it always have to be one or the other? Sometimes it is both the artist and the song. Other times it just the artist or the song. Then there are many moments when I can't stand either. Go Figure?


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Tom O'Brien

11/12/2012 6:03:46 PM

Sometimes I feel like a great song doesn't really come from the artist who happens to write it. It's as if these songs are just floating around in the common consciousness and one day, someone happens to discover it, and give it a voice. When I'm enamored by an artist, it's usually their delivery that matters. That takes you more into the areas of psychology and personality. I guess I have musical crushes, like on Neil Finn or Aimee Mann, but I'm always going to be a fan of the song first and foremost.

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11/12/2012 10:46:05 PM

Ah...a bit of "Old Home Week" about the air.

The song is usually more important than the artist to me, but only in a limited sense. That being that I have expectations from the artist after I have made the personal connection to his song, and will be greatly disappointed in there is no follow through.

Two examples from my own experience. First, the great Steve Ison song "Girl on the Train" drove me deeper into the artist, where I was rewarded with more excellent songs. In fact he inspired me to record "Girl on the Train" in my own different, but I hope, successful version of the song. So the positive experience of the song drove me seek out a greater rapport with the artist.

Second example is my years of being a part of Lars Mars, where I wrote, played, arranged and produced most of our music with the guys. Since Glenn and I write most of our songs, but the others have contributed as well, a listener might very well react positively to some of our music, but not in it's entirety. We have a somewhat homongenous sound, but we try to express things as differently as possible so as to stay fresh.

Thirdly, the stuff I do solo, as Kurt Kurtley, is likely to evoke similar opinions from listeners, as a solo guy rarely expands his style, or has as great a happy zone as when he plays with lifelong music mates.

Did this make sense?

Anyway, glad to converse with old friends again, it's been a long, long, long time...

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Steve Ison

11/13/2012 4:00:10 AM ---- Updated 11/13/2012 4:12:29 AM

Todd..I can't think of an album i've listened to where enjoying the 'concept' is so important to enjoying the album..So i'd still skip tracks..
THe Beatles White album is one of my favourite albums ever and -to me -it has a 'concept' of dark haunted childhood rememberings (most great albums allow you to conceptualize with your own imagination ) That stll dosn't stop me skipping 'Don't Pass Me By' 'Revolution 9' (after the take me back intro) and sometimes Obladioblada and Yer blues (depending on mood)..Very few albums i'd always want to listen to all the way thru..Maybe Hunky Dory and Forever Changes off the top of my head..
Richard Thompsons version of 'oops' is fantastic (what a great voice he's still got ) but i loved the Britney original as a song..I mean it was obviously a very cool song to me even dressed up in modern dance pop clothes which isn't my thing..

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Steve Ison

11/13/2012 4:07:05 AM

Stoneman..Actually that point you saying about songs being updated in a multitude of styles - i often really hate -if its done for the $$$$$
Yuk 80s band Bananarama ruined 'Venus' by Shocking Blue...UB40 managed to murder nearly every track off the Harder They Come Harder They Fall' soundtrack and make a killing doing it..
Someone (luckily i've forgotten) even had the nerve to try and take on The Detroit Emeralds sublime 'Feel The Need In Me' and got a hit by sucking all the soul n life force out of it..
The 80s has alot to answer for..

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Steve Ison

11/13/2012 4:11:12 AM

Well Kurt you took your creativity and added a distinctive fresh angle to 'Girl On The Train' -even changing the rythm -which makes it almost a new track -so its like a total bonus for me..I love both tracks for different reasons..
For some reason i never knew you were part of Lars Mars !
Nice one man..A great little band !

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Andy Broad

11/13/2012 7:13:22 AM

I don't think you can separate the two. A song is nothing until it's performed. If it stands out lyrically without performance, then it's poetry (and some peotry needs to be performed to work).

Some songs only work with certain performers, for me no one can sing "Got My Mojo Working" except Muddy Waters, the song is bound up in his personality, does that make it bad song? Only when sung by the wrong person.

If songs were valid soley in their own right, then you could program them into a computer and have an instant hit with no need to pay the artists....

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Hop On Pop

11/13/2012 7:29:55 AM

"Richard Thompsons version of 'oops' is fantastic (what a great voice he's still got ) but i loved the Britney original as a song..I mean it was obviously a very cool song to me even dressed up in modern dance pop clothes which isn't my thing.."

But would you sit down and choose to listen to the Britney version? Did you do so? On purpose?
Just curious.

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Steve Ison

11/13/2012 8:14:04 AM

"But would you sit down and choose to listen to the Britney version? Did you do so? On purpose?
Just curious."

No...But if i've obviously heard it plenty of times without choosing to and (because its such a good song ) it dosn't piss me off

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Hop On Pop

11/13/2012 8:20:32 AM

I can dig it.

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Bob Elliott

11/13/2012 11:46:23 AM

Skipping Yer Blues???? I might skip TO "Yer Blues," but never skip over it.

I mostly listen to albums more han playlists. I think of albums like paintings o something. Tose are h works to me. I make my own music by albums even though I know most of my listeners just grab what they like off the albums and put them in playlists.

I just grew up loving albums, and I still do, and that's how I think, and for he longest time I have always been making what I think of as another album.

Right now I have a cool album I'm working on, some of the new stuff I posted is on it.

And I'm obsessed with that regardless of how other people view any of it, I have a deep obsession with finishing my albums.

And I tend to think of other artists based on the albums.

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The Dorroughbys

11/15/2012 7:33:58 PM

just on the observation of bands 'going downhill' over time, esp after they become famous. I think it's difficult for an artist to sustain themselves through a career by reproducing the sounds of the their first few albums. Take radiohead, I like it all up to and including Kid A, but then they got too electronic and fragmented in their approach, which made Thom York's lyrics and voice sound too depressing for mine. But it would have been equally hard for them to have just gone on making the same stuff over and over, even though the fans would have loved it. Same with Bowie, lost me after ashes to ashes - but he had to try something new and it just didn't come off for mine, mostly anyway.

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