Arachnophonia: Sam Smith “In The Lonely Hour”

Editor’s note: Arachnophonia is a regular feature on our blog where members of the UR community can share their thoughts about items in the Parsons Music Library‘s collection. All links included in these posts will take you to either the library catalog record for the item in question or to additional relevant information from around the web.

Today’s installment of Arachnophonia is by Music Library student worker Mary (class of 2018) and features the debut 2014 album In The Lonely Hour by British singer Sam Smith.
Thanks, Mary!

Sam Smith

In The Lonely Hour

Sam Smith -  In the Lonely Hour

I chose Sam Smith’s album titled In the Lonely Hour because he is one of my favorite artists, and one of the songs in this album called “I’m Not the Only One” was the first music of Sam Smith that I was introduced to. I actually found out about Sam Smith’s music a lot later than everyone else because my friend recommended his music to me in the winter of 2014 although this album came out in May. I fell in love with Sam Smith’s music the minute I listened to this song because I loved the unique blend of classic soul, gospel choruses and acoustic instruments which made his music both soft and powerful at the same time. One of my few hobbies is to drive around and listen to music which I especially enjoy doing at night, and Sam Smith is definitely my go-to music on a chilly, wintry night. From this album, “Stay With Me” “Lay Me Down” and “Latch (Acoustic)” are also all my favorites. As the weather is gradually getting colder in Richmond as well, if you are stressed for any reason and are looking for a way to just relax and listen to good music, I recommend this album. It will be a good de-stressing moment.

Sam Smith Stay With Me Video SNL

It was 50 years ago today …

The BeatlesSgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album was released on June 1, 1967 in the UK and on June 2, 1967 in the US. It became the soundtrack for the fabled “Summer of Love” both influencing and reflecting the flower powered youth culture of the time, but its appeal has proven to be timeless.

Beatles - Sgt. Pepper album cover

The Beatles stopped touring in August of 1966, and took some time off. The group reconvened in November of that year and spent over 400 hours in the studio between November 1966 and April 1967 completing the album. (This was a far cry from their first foray into EMI Studios to record their first album in 1963 — that entire album was recorded in less than 24 hours!) This studio time led to all sorts of interesting musical experimentation and since the group had decided they were done with touring, there was no need to worry about whether the songs could be produced live on stage. The album as a whole is a fascinating almalgamation of harmonium, harpsichord, brass band, fairground noises, harp, psychedelia, Leslie speaker tweaking, multi-tracking, tape loops, full orchestra, crashing apocalyptic piano chords, dog whistles and more. The Beatles’ musical ideas required lots of technical innovation from producer George Martin and studio engineers.

Sgt. Pepper gatefold

The eclectic mix of songs was loosely held together by the “concept” of a fictional Edwardian alter-ego Sgt. Pepper Band and the songs are wonderfully joyful. From the psychedelic marching band music that introduces us to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, to the psychedelic imagery of “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” ( title inspired by a drawing by John Lennon’s young son, Julian), to the music hall whimsy of McCartney’s “When I’m Sixty-Four”, to the spiritual tone of Harrison’s sitar-laced “Within You Without You”, to the amazing shifting tones, full orchestral crescendo and avant garde surrealism of “A Day In The Life” (one of the greatest ever Lennon/McCartney collaborations in this author’s opinion), there is much to enjoy, right through to the startling tape loop ending inserted into the run-out groove of the original LPs (and included on CD reissues if you wait for it). The Beatles drew inspiration from varied sources like an 1843 circus poster (“Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite”), a TV cornflakes commercial (“Good Morning, Good Morning”), news stories about runaway teens (“She’s Leaving Home”) or car accidents (“A Day in the Life”).

An alternate take from the Sgt. Pepper cover photo session

An alternate take from the Sgt. Pepper cover photo session

There is just as much to enjoy in a perusal of the album art itself. The cover features a pop art inspired collage of various folks (famous and not so famous) that the Beatles chose as inspirational to them, elaborate gatefold sleeve packaging (with bonus cardboard mustaches and pseudo-military insignia in early pressings) and includes the lyrics to all of the songs printed on the back cover, something that had never been done before with a pop album.

Sgt. Pepper back cover with lyrics

Sgt. Pepper signaled that pop & rock music could also be considered high art or even progressive social expression and more than just disposable entertainment. Musicologists cite Sgt. Pepper as continuing the musical maturation of the Beatles as a group that began with Revolver and Rubber Soul. It was also extremely influential on the development of progressive rock with its emphasis on studio experimentation, elaborate instrumentation and insistence on pushing the boundaries beyond conventional subject matter and track lengths. The album has been an influence on countless others since its release in 1967.

Here’s a sampling of a few of (many) parody takeoffs on the iconic cover:

Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention – We’re Only In It For The Money

Frank Zappa & The Mother's Of Invention

The SimpsonsThe Yellow Album

Simpsons - "The Yellow Album"

The RutlesSgt. Rutter’s Only Darts Club BandRutles - Sgt. Rutter

Golden Throats – a compilation of critically lambasted cover songs

Golden Throats

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band consistently ranks in critics and fans listings of best albums of all time. Among numerous accolades and awards, it is ranked # 1 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. It’s included in the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry and is one of the best-selling albums of all time.

Whether Sgt. Pepper is an old favorite or if it’s brand new to you, this classic album / cultural touchstone is well worth a listen!

Sgt. Pepper cut outs insert

Sgt. Pepper cut outs insert

Spider Sounds: The Beatles “Abbey Road”

Editor’s Note: Spider Sounds invites members of the University of Richmond community to share their thoughts about items in the Parsons Music Library’s collection. The links included will take you to the library catalog record for the item in question, or to additional relevant information.
Today’s installment of Spider Sounds comes courtesy of Music Library Student worker Gabriela (class of 2020) and features Abbey Road, the last studio album by the Beatles. Thanks, Gabi!

The Beatles

Abbey Road

The Beatles - Abbey Road (1969)

Abbey Road may have one of the most recognizable album covers in all of rock music.
It is known for depicting the Fab Four walking across the famous London street near the studio where the Beatles did most of their recording. Apart from the iconic artwork, however, Abbey Road’s production quality and track list are undeniably stellar.

The Beatles photographed in 1969

There are several stand out songs, like “Come Together,” “Something,” and “Here Comes the Sun,” which are individually famous and could be enjoyed on their own.
However, if you listen to Abbey Road from start to finish, it is almost as if the entirety of the album is one song. The transitions from track to track are so perfect, that the flow of listening is almost medley-like.

The Beatles - Abbey Road

An out-take from the August 8, 1969 photo session for the album cover.

The album also highlights the talents of all band members, with some of George Harrison’s most beautiful songs (“Something” and “Here Comes the Sun”), Ringo’s quirkiness in “Octopus’s Garden”, and of course, the amazing harmonies between Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison in “Because” — a song that barely needs instruments.

The Beatles - Abbey Road

Another out take from the album cover photo shoot

Abbey Road is my favorite Beatles record because it represents everything I think a record should. Abbey Road was the last album to be recorded by the Beatles, and throughout the last four tracks (especially in “The End Continue reading

Spider Sounds: Billy Joel

Editor’s Note: Spider Sounds invites members of the University of Richmond community to share their thoughts about items in the Parsons Music Library’s collection. The links included will take you to the library catalog record for the item in question, or to additional relevant information.
Today’s installment of “Spider Sounds” comes courtesy of Music Library Student worker James (class of 2017) and features a greatest hits compilation from American singer-songwriter & pianist Billy Joel. Thanks, James!

Billy Joel

Greatest Hits Volume 1 and 2

Billy Joel - Greatest Hits Vol. 1 & 2

If your only experiences with Billy Joel are “Piano Man,” “Uptown Girl,”or maybe “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” — boy, are you missing out. We forgive you, but do yourself a favor and stop by the Parsons Music Library to check out Mr. Joel’s 1985 album, Greatest Hits – Volume I & Volume II.

Billy Joel performs his first show of his Madison Square Garden residency, on Monday, January 27, 2014, in New York. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP)

Billy Joel performs his first show of his Madison Square Garden residency, on Monday, January 27, 2014, in New York. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP)

We’re confident you will hear something incredibly thoughtful and provocative in nearly every track, whether it be in the melodies, timelessness, or even social commentary found in the lyrics. The worst thing that could happen would be gaining exposure to one of the most celebrated musicians of our time.

Spider Sounds

New CDs added in October!

New CDs for October 2016

Ballet Music

Atlantic Sinfonietta- Music For Martha Graham
Atlantic Sinfonietta- More Music For Martha Graham
Atlantic Sinfonietta – Music For Martha Graham III

Music for Martha Graham

Jazz

Joey Alexander – Countdown
Seamus Blake – Bellwether
John Daversa- Kaleidoscope Eyes: The Music of the Beatles

John Daversa - Kaleidoscope Eyes

Sara Gazarek and Josh Nelson – Dream in the Blue
The Fred Hersch Trio – Sunday Night at the Vanguard
Marquis Hill – The Way We Play

Gazarek/Nelson - Dream in the Blue

Charlie Hunter – Everybody Has A Plan Until They Get Punched In The Mouth
Charlie Hunter Trio – Let The Bells Ring On
Steve Lehman – Se´le´be´yone

Charlie Hunter - Let The Bells Ring On

Steve Lehman Octet – Mise en abime
Lage Lund – Idlewild
Jeff Parker – The New Breed

Jeff Parker - The New Breed

Joshua Redman and Brad Mehldau – Nearness
Catherine Russell – Harlem On My Mind
Dayna Stephens featuring Walter Smith III – Reminiscent

Catherine Russell - Harlem On My Mind

Scott Tixier – Cosmic Adventure
Steve Turre – Colors for the Masters
Ben Wendel – What We Bring

Scott Tixier - Cosmic Adventure

Opera

Antonio Carlos Gomes – Il Guarany

Gomes - Il Guarany

Classical

Leopold Stokowski – The Columbia Stereo Recordings

Stokowski  - The Columbia Stereo Recordings

Pop/Rock/R&B

Babes in Toyland – Spanking Machine
Bikini Kill – The First Two Records
Huggy Bear – Weaponry Listens To Love

Bikini Kill - The First Two Records

Kate Nash – Girl Talk
Sleater-Kinney – Sleater-Kinney
Sleater-Kinney – Dig Me Out

Kate Nash - Girl Talk

New CDs added in September!

New CDs for September 2016

Pop/Rock/R&B

Beyonce – Lemonade
Bratmobile – Pottymouth
Pink Floyd – The Wall

Beyonce - Lemonade

The Runaways – The Best of the Runaways
Screaming Females – Castle Talk
Siouxsie and the Banshees – The Best of Siouxsie and the Banshees

The Suffers

The Suffers – The Suffers
Team Dresch – Personal Best
X-Ray Spex – Germfree Adolescents

X-Ray Spex - Germfree Adolescents

Opera

Benjamin Britten- Billy Budd

Billy Budd

Avant Garde

John Cage and Sun Ra – John Cage Meets Sun Ra: The Complete Concert, June 8, 1986, Coney Island, NY

John Cage Meets Sun Ra

New CDs added in March!

New CDs for March 2016

Classical

Helene Grimaud – Water

Helene Grimaud - Water

Opera

Giuseppe Verdi – Attila
Giuseppe Verdi – Oberto

Verdi - Oberto

Verdi - Attila

Pop/Rock/R&B

David Bowie – Blackstar

David Bowie - Blackstar

Jazz

Snarky Puppy & Metropole Orkest – Sylva

Snarky Puppy - Sylva

Blues

Buddy Guy – Born To Play Guitar

Buddy Guy - Born To Play Guitar

New CDs added in February!

New CDs for February 2016

Classical

Alexsandr Scriabin – Complete Preludes
Jean Sibelius – Symphonies Nos. 5 and 6
Jean Sibelius – Symphonies Nos. 6 and 7: “The Tempest” Suite No. 2

Sibelius -  Symphonies 6 & 7

Jazz

Joey Alexander – My Favorite Things

Joey Alexander - My Favorite Things

Pop/Rock/R&B

Florence + the Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

Florence + the Machine - How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

Spider Sounds: Simon & Garfunkel “Live 1969”

Editor’s Note:“Spider Sounds” invites members of the University of Richmond community to share their thoughts about CDs (or other items in the Parsons Music Library’s collection). The links included will take you to the library catalog record for the item in question, or to additional relevant information. Today’s post is by Cate, one of Parsons Music Library’s student workers and features a classic live album by Simon & Garfunkel. Thanks, Cate!

Simon & Garfunkel

Live 1969

Simon & Garfunkel - Live 1969

I have a special liking for Simon and Garfunkel. They were one of the few artists my parents could agree on, so they made up much of the soundtrack for long car trips, and I remember falling asleep to the music thinking of flower crowns and the Mystery Machine from Scooby-Doo.

As always with Simon and Garfunkel, the melodies are lovely, woven with simple but really poetic lyrics.

I don’t usually go for live recordings, but listening to the audience was a lot fun. Art does most of the talking, understated and clear, introducing the band politely and quietly prefacing their new song “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (a hit with the crowd, unsurprisingly). The album, like one of their songs, starts softly and builds in intensity before letting us go with a gently wit an echo of the melody, and (except for the end) the crowd responds in kind, quiet so that they can listen but becoming more and more excited as the concert goes on.

Hearing the concert performance itself is a real treat. They sound freer; the harmonies swoop higher and swing lower, the guitar is more fevered, the words, still soft, are exposed and bittersweet. A band accompanies them for a few songs, giving “Mrs. Robinson” a more energetic vibe, closer to that of the Lemonheads‘ cover than one would expect from Simon and Garfunkel’s traditional sound. But my personal favorite track, “The Sound of Silence” is just the two of them — more ragged here, and beautiful as ever.

Like awesome music from a couple of guys with a guitar? Stop by the Parsons Music Library and check Simon & Garfunkel — Live 1969 out. Don’t like awesome music from a couple of guys with a guitar? Stop by anyways. We’ve got awesome music in every variety ready to be listened to.

New CDs added in January!

New CDs for January 2016

Jazz

Herbie Hancock – Future Shock

Futureshock

Pop/Rock/R&B

Adele – 25

Adele 25

Aerosmith – Honkin’ On Bobo
Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color

Sound & Color

Drake – If Youre Reading This Its Too Late
Elle King – Love Stuff
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly

To Pimp A Butterfly

Lamb of God – VII: Sturm und Drang
Bettye Lavette – Worthy
Mark Ronson – Uptown Special
Mavis Staples – One True Vine

Mavis Staples - One True Vine

Tame Impala – Currents
Taylor Swift – 1989
The Weeknd – Beauty Behind The Madness

The Weeknd - Beauty Behind the Madness