Friday, 28 June 2013

Cassette experiment day 103 - Jean Michel Jarre 'Oxygene'

Living in the shadow of a famous father can’t be very easy.
Julian Lennon struggled to live up to the successful musical standards set by his iconic Dad. I imagine the pressure on little Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John to be an accomplished ivory-tinkler may also be fairly strong.
And when your Dad was the ‘Oscar’ winning composer of the music for ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ you could have been forgiven for choosing a life down any avenue other than a musical one. But little Jean Michel, son of soundtrack man Maurice Jarre didn’t shy away from music. In fact he made his own extremely successful career out of it.
I’d love to tell you at this point that my first foray into electronic music in the 1970s involved those iconic Germans, Kraftwerk. But it wouldn’t be true. Actually my first electronic 1970s love was Jean Michel Jarre’s second album, ‘Equinoxe’, bought, just like the Boomtown Rats LP discussed two days ago, from my Mam’s catalogue. Grattan’s and Kay’s catalogues were the 1970s equivalent of Amazon, but with a more limited choice of things to buy and a more relaxed, weekly way to pay for your LPs or clothes or toys.
Our cassette of the day today isn’t my catalogue purchase of 1978, but Jean Michel’s breakthrough album from 1977, ‘Oxygene’.
It’s a six track album (and as we know from right back on day 1 I love six track albums!) with the tracks imaginatively titled ‘Oxygene (Part 1)’ through to ‘Oxygene (Part 6)’.
If you’re looking for some pointers then it’s the even-numbered tracks that are more obviously commercial – let’s not forget that ‘Part 4’ was a top 5 hit single back in Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee Year, sharing the same chart with those other electronic classics ‘Magic Fly’ by Space and ‘The Crunch’ by Rah Band.
The odd-numbered tracks have more of an ambient feel - musicians, of course, don’t exist in a vacuum, and I can’t imagine after hearing ‘Part 5’ that Maurice’s boy hadn’t, like the rest of us, spent some time listening to Kraftwerk’s classic ‘Autobahn’.
There was a follow-up album to ‘Oxygene’, including parts 7-13, released twenty years after the first six parts first saw the light of day.
I very much enjoyed listening to the first six parts again today. They proved the ideal soundtrack to a big traffic jam in Knaresborough.
Label – Polydor
Year – 1977

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