Talk:Or So I Have Read

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Clever Lyrics, Great Song[edit]

From nowhere a fantastic song. Linnell's written some great singles and this is up there with the best of the kids material. Writing lyrics is hard at the best of times but writing for kids must be even harder. Some wonderful images here which pulls off the difficult trick of finding wonder and mystery in the mundane. The guitar riff should sound familiar but Linnell's melody line on the vocal (one of his most original) really contrasts well. I've been critical of Linnell sounding semi detached from the band. Not so here. True, it was probably worked out on the piano, but the song sounds in sync. and it's a real group effort. It's also got the left of centre quirk (I think it's the lyric/melody on the vocal) that makes it sound like they might be giants. One can imagine Dads singing this with the kids in the car. Read a book by Flans would make a good B side to this. (Mr Tuck)

Now that you've outed yourself as a musician/songwriter, perhaps you can explain why you've made a number of minor criticisms against a song being "worked out on the piano"? In the end, what difference does that really make? I'm not a songwriter so I don't know how the process would change based on the instrument you're using. --MisterMe (talk) 09:01, 6 November 2015 (EST)

I wasn't criticising him for working it out on the piano per se, I just speculated that like a lot of his songs I imagined it was developed independently from the band. On more recent releases the band can sound tagged onto Linnell songs rather than it sounding like a group. So I was pleased this had a more holistic arrangement.

Lots of the guitar riffs almost certainly started life on a piano/accordion. This rather unorthodox way of doing it helps give you the Giants unique sound. Good examples would be the riff on Ana Ng (probably originally worked out on accordion) and Till my Head Falls off (a really easy piano riff) both songs are all the better for being played on guitar, but I'd argue that their origins on another instrument give them their uniqueness. The vast majority of Linnell's stuff starts off on keyboards, but he's often translated it to other instruments, far more than a Ben Folds/Billy Joel/Elton John type character would, although in recent years, he's kept a lot more of stuff on the synths. When the band worked as a duo, you had them doing all the arrangements and you'd get loads of these unorthodox eccentriticites when messing around with the drum and bass machines.

With a proper band, some of this unorthodox stuff gets rubbed off. On Flans full band material the rough edges get knocked off sometimes. Saying that they're both so left field that you still get plenty of odd stuff, just not all of it like when they were a duo. A brilliant example of this would be the song: First Kiss. The original version has all the odd jerky structure of duo Giants (although I think it is with the band format). The full band studio version is technically far better played, sung and produced but has lost the Giantess. It's MOR. I'm of the mind that it's the unorthodox touches that makes so many bands. If you look at Frank Black, he worked with technically far superior musicians when he left the Pixies and it helped make his sound bland. When you see the Giants play as a duo as I first did, there really was no one like them or their sound as who else really performs songs as multi-instrumental duo with weird home made backing tapes? When they play in a full band, I concede that there are lots of their songs that sound great from in this more formal setting, but they've lost that uniqueness because they conform to the standard band paradigm. I liked them best in their unique duo incarnation live, as they were so different. This point is kind of argued about in the Gigantic DVD with Bill Kruass preferring the original duo and Flans liking the full band and they show you the same song played as a duo and then as a full band, I think it's Particle Man. I'm will Bill. I first saw them play Particle Man with a metronome and an accordion with a bit of guitar in 1990. Bizarre sparse arrangement, but brilliant. Hearing the material live (often radically different to the album) gave it an extra dimension. Today, they're much more like a regular band when they play live, replicating the sound of the album. The left field stuff's less prominent (I don't class the Avatars of They all rubbish like Planet of the Apes as left field)

My band is a duo simply because it's easier with just two egos. We're not fit to be spoken of in the same breath as the Giants but working with just two of you stops you falling into the conventions of a group format that have often been done to death. You can concentrate on the song, and with just two of you, it's amazing how this can make the arrangement less conventional and give the song that uniqueness that you strive for. (Mr Tuck)

Hey. I've been lurking for the last year or so, finally decided to butt in. First of all, I wanna make this clear beforehand: I do generally appreciate your musical insight, and even though I'm more of a modern TMBG fan than you so I rarely actually agree with your assessments, I still find them interesting and look forward to hearing what you have to say. That being said, I feel like by this point you're basically blaming the band for the fact that you continue to listen to them even though they're now making music in a genre you don't seem to like anyway, which is actually an issue of taste rather than quality. The fact of the matter is that John and John simply aren't the same people they were three decades ago. They've said as much in interviews; there are songs they won't even play now because they "don't feel that way anymore". And, to be honest, I can't imagine why John and John would want to go back to their extremely limited toolbox from before now that they have much richer sounds to work with, and especially now that they've found a lineup of human musicians they seem to work with fairly harmoniously. You can argue all you want about being artistic, but there's just no way this isn't just plain more fun for a musician. This is what John and John do now, and though every modern TMBG album has some unique aspect to its overall sound, they've pretty much settled what they're going to be. And when you say things like, if you got a chance to produce a TMBG album, you'd get them to go back to a duo format, that's... not really helpful now? That's just pushing your own idea of what the band "should" be, and while Bill's opinion is perfectly valid from the standpoint of a fan and makes a fine debate in the context of a documentary, you can bet that they wouldn't be on seemingly okay terms if he'd still been working with them and acted like that when the full band came in. A good producer would take what the band clearly is now, the kind of music they apparently want to make, and help make that better and more unique. Skeleteleteleton (talk) 19:39, 7 November 2015 (EST)

Perhaps I should be clearer, I kind of went off on a slight tangent in explaining the thing of piano to the original question. I tend to agree that they did the right thing in going with the band on the live show. In bigger venues, the duo was restrictive and I think they tired to being unable to replicate the songs from albums more accurately. Around Apollo 18 you could see they'd had enough as the songs post 92 benefited from a broader brush of a group. At the time they were trying to being a big band, a chart band, and the duo thing just wasn't going to work on mainstream commercial level.

I just prefer them writing and a duo and recording with extra musicians on an ad hoc basis like they did earlier in their career. A more extreme example of what I'm saying was done by Nigel Goodrich the Radiohead producer when he worked with Paul McCartney he said, to to Macca, I just want you on the album, not the band. Because I think he felt that the band (who were technically great) were just detracting from what made Paul, Paul. He was also rather critical of some of the material and performances which McCartney said he'd not had to deal with since the days when he had Lennon being blunt with him. The final album was great.

Finally I'm think you make a good point on the artistic v fun thing. I think they have had fun with the band. But the duo thing gave them the uniqueness. I'm interested to see that they are playing a duo show again soon, I wonder if they'll ever have a go at just doing the duo thing again? Out of interest did you ever see them play as a duo? (Mr Tuck)

Linnell the Logophile[edit]

I can't tell you how many words I've learned and/or felt compelled to look up because of TMBG (Mr. John Linnell in particular). Now I have a new one: chronophage. I thought surely he made this one up to fit the context of the song, but it's actually a real term that comes from the Greek for "time eater". There's actually a clock in England that is referred to as the Chronophage (you can read more about it here). What may surprise even the most hardcore linguist is that there's an entry on Urban Dictionary that calls a chronophage a time waster--someone who will "literally eat your time". I believe I've seen it all now. --MisterMe (talk) 09:40, 23 October 2015 (EDT)

Lindell's certainly not patronising the young audience with that kind of vocabulary! It makes a change from stuff being pitched at a low level so it doesn't go over the heads of the kids. Linnell's writes tune that goes over the heads of the parents too. Good stuff. (Mr Tuck)
That's amazing--thank you for sharing! I love learning new words from TMBG songs too, and this is a great one. And wow, that clock! So freaky but also cool, and it seems like exactly the sort of thing he'd be interested in. --Self Called Nowhere (talk) 20:04, 23 October 2015 (EDT)

Test it out![edit]

Thematically this is a return to Put It To The Test and I like it for the same reason, but I also like that it expands the concept and dryly presents wrong information without constant "just kidding"s, which tend to be an issue with stuff that tries to (too safely) prove a point about not believing everything you read. The narrator is serious, thus reminding the listener what it's really like to be presented with dubious information. Good. -- Sonderling (talk) 13:38, 23 October 2015 (EDT)

I see what you mean, I do prefer this to put it to the test, which was a bit detached scientist explaining to a kid (which I guess is what the album was trying to do). Here Linnell's written a song that emotionally resonates with it's young audience. Great tune too. The recording reminds me sonically (though in no other respect) to Experimental Film.(Mr Tuck)
It reminds me most of Aaa with it's slightly ominous tune and silly(for lack of a better word) lyrics--MidoFS (talk) 13:26, 8 February 2017 (EST)