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07-18-2004, 11:06 AM
Any favorites? Yeah I know, the combination usually elicits visions of cheesy, nonsensical lyrics littered over a bombastic prog rock noodlefest that even makes the most ardent fans cringe a bit, but there are some that aren't an embarrassment, no? Hehehe, I honestly don't have many in mind but was listening to David Bowie's Changesbowie collection this morning and when "Diamond Dogs" came on I got to thinking that this might be a fun subject, so ignore my condescending (although I was kidding - wink wink nudge nudge) prog comments and come up with some of your own favorites.

Diamond Dogs is a pretty cool one with a few choice references. Always been one of my favorite Bowie albums. Not sure if he has talked about it much publicly, but most of you probably know that it was originally going to be the musical vision of George Orwell's classic <i>1984</i> but I believe he wasn't able to procure the novel rights so had to rework it some to avoid copyright infringement. Still managed to slip in a song titled "1984" with the especially memorable line, "<i>I'm looking for a party, I'm looking for a side - I'm looking for the treason that I knew in '65</i>". But to those who've read that classic Samuel Delaney epic <i>Dhalgren</i>, the adventurous saga that confronts racial identity, faith, sexuality and self-awareness in a wrecked world, the lyrics to "Diamond Dogs" also seem to parallel that story's setting and central characters. They both came out the same year so most likely just coincidence since he had to be recording it earlier, but fun to speculate anyway. And the lyrics reference the movie <i>Freaks</i> in the line "Tod Browning's freak you was" which seems to also be the inspiration for the circus freak show cover art. Rock and roll sci-fi Sunday trivia :)

<i>The Halloween Jack is a real cool cat
And he lives on top of Manhattan Chase
The elevator's broke, so he slides down a rope
Onto the street below, oh Tarzie, go man go

Meet his little hussy with his ghost town approach
Her face is sans feature, but she wears a Dali brooch
Sweetly reminiscent, something mother used to bake
Wrecked up and paralyzed, Diamond Dogs are sableized</i>

07-18-2004, 03:48 PM
Any favorites?

I was always partial to Be-Bop Deluxe for their space-age sci-fi rock. Bill Nelson and the boys were always rocking into space and looking to sci-fi for inspiration, from their debut album with songs like Rocket Cathedral, right on through to Drastic Plastic and songs like Electrical Language.

Another all-time classic was Gary Neuman's Replicas album.

Rick Wakeman joined up with Tim Rice on lyrics and Chuka Kahn on vocals to do a muscial version of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four. Not really sci-fi though. Although Yes partner Jon Anderson took us flying through space with a dude named Olias of Sunhillow on his solo album in 1975. Not a great album, but superb cover art.

Other than the odd song here and there (Tubes - Space Baby, Bowie - Space Oddity, Chapin - Star Tripper, Yes - Starship Trooper, Homeworld), not much was happening is space, until some guitar-playing dude named Arjen put together a band called Areyon.

Now prog has gone sci-fi big time, combining science themes like genetics (see Frameshift) and mysticism and the supernatural (see Dream Theater, Spock's Beard). The leaders in combining the two are The Flower Kings.

07-18-2004, 03:50 PM
Upon reading your post, Rush's 2112 came to mind. Though it hasn't aged as well as some of their other releases (Moving Pictures, Permanent Waves, A Farewell To Kings), I still enjoy spinning it from time to time.

Dave M

07-18-2004, 04:19 PM
Yes, of course. Loosly based on Ayn Rand's short novel, Anthem. Well worth the read. In the book, the outcast discovers electricity in an old subway tunnel, not a guitar.

mad rhetorik
07-19-2004, 06:52 AM
Frank Black's lyrics flirted with sci-fi pretty often. "The Happening" from The Pixies' <b>Bossanova</b> is one of my favorite songs of all time. I dig the Shakespearean-sonnet style in the last verse:

<i>they got a ranch they call
number fifty-one
they got a ranch they call
number fifty-one
can't see it all
'less your flying by
just sitting there square
baking in the sun
beneath the sky

they're gonna put it down
right on the strip
they're gonna put it down
on the Vegas strip
they're gonna put it down
and step outside
into the lights
right outta that ship
saying Hi!

i was driving doing nothing on the shores of Great Salt Lake
when they put it on the air i put it in the hammer lane
i soon forgot myeslf and i forgot about the brake
i forgot all laws and i forgot about the rain
they were talking on the 9 and all across the amy band
across the road they were turning around and headed south with me
it got so crowded on the road i started driving in the sand
my head was feeling scared but my heart was feeling free
the desert turned to mud it seems that everybody heard
everybody was remembering to forget they had the chills
then i heard the voices on a broadcast from up on the bird
they were getting interviewed by some Goodman whose name was Bill
i'm almost there to Vegas where they're puttin' on a show
they've come so far i've lived this long at least i must just go and say

Other good examples of sci-fi lyrics: Clutch's "Escape From The Prison Planet," Jimi Hendrix's "1983 (A Merman I Should Turn Out To Be)."

Mr MidFi
07-19-2004, 07:48 AM
The liner notes from Gary Numen + Tubeway Army's Replicas reissue make plain the debt Numen owed to Philip K. Dick's work in visualizing the dystopian futurescape of that album. It's a great album, and a terrific reissue too...loaded with bonus-tracky goodness.

Dusty Chalk
07-19-2004, 09:37 AM
Surprisingly, Einstürzende Neubauten. Most of the lyrics are sung in German, so it wasn't until I read the translation of, for example, "Sonnenbarke (", that I realized how much so.

07-19-2004, 02:05 PM
I think that it's appropriate that I be the one to mention Jeff Wayne's version of War of the Worlds. :D

Dusty Chalk
07-19-2004, 04:36 PM
One of my favourite two-record concept albums. Another one that is sci-fi (bordering on fantasy):

Planet P Project, Pink World

...and the Lamb... is definitely way into fantasy territory, bordering on the hallucinogenic. Does anyone understand it? I understand the part about wanting to have your libido surgically removable, but still...