Sellouts?

Head Banging Corner
Sorry, no loud guitar riffs or extended drum solos here as the title may have suggested.
This corner is dedicated to musings/questions about music I have or have come across with.
Your inputs are highly appreciated.

An artists’ shift in style can sometimes be a gauge of their versatility. A classic example is the Beatles; from their earlier “yeh-yeh-yeh” sound, to the psychedelic imagery of Rubber Soul, the eclectic Revolver and of course the groundbreaking Sgt. Pepper’s which transformed pop into art with a capital A.
But not all evolutions can be considered creative, especially when deemed driven for commercial intentions.
Some critics call these “sellouts”.
Top of the hat, here are three I consider examples of this observation.  Don’t get me wrong. I do like these albums. Entertaining. But I feel a little of the “soul” of the artist was sacrificed for purposes other than pursuing their passion.
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Breezin’ – George Benson

Benson’s cover of Gabor Szabo’s classic was like a breath of fresh air during its release.
His upbeat rendition, together with orchestral background paved the way for the pop-jazz fusion genre. Shades of  CTI (Benson’s former label) goes hip. Unfortunately, the monster hit of this album was his vocal rendition of Leon Russell’s “Masquerade”. I say unfortunately because when this guy discovered that he could sing, he just sang and sang and sang . . .Nakalimutan na ata niya na may daliri siya para mag gitara (seemed like he forgot that he still had fingers that could play the guitar). Subsequent albums bear that out.  Benson started shedding his jazz feathers in favor of a more pop image.

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461 Ocean Boulevard – Eric Clapton

With this album, Clapton started to establish himself as a rock balladeer rather than the 60’s guitar hero he was. I love this album. But the sleek production shows the pop concessions which make  Clapton’s sound loose it’s “edge”. Note that Layla And Other Assorted Love songs preceded 461 by just 2 studio albums. Could this be the reason why EC’s critical popularity began to wane? I can’t really tell. But fact is, Clapton prominence the following decade was buoyed just because of the release of his Crossroads, a retrospective which reminded his fans of how great he was. And in recent years, his next bigger sellers were Unplugged and Back to the Cradle, two albums which are more reminiscent of pre-461 Clapton. But then again, I can’t blame the man. Mahirap talaga sundan ang Layla (Layla was a tough act to follow).

Layla  was truly a tough act to follow; an act which I consider to be the pinnacle of this guitar god’s career.

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Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only The Piano Player – Elton John

Again , I must admit that this is one of my favorite Elton John albums.. At its best, it is a very enjoyable piece of well-crafted pop/rock. But again, I find this album wanting of Elton’s “poetic edge”. Somehow, Crocodile Rock doesn’t just cut it like Honky Cat. Where is the melodrama of Tiny Dancer (Madman)? Where is the adventurism of Tumbleweed? Or the moving Monalisas and Madhatters (Honky Chateau). Or the poignancy of Sixty Years On (Elton John). As with Benson and Clapton, it seems that the Elton John/Bernie Taupin duo started trotting towards a more commercial pop flavor starting with Don’t Shoot Me.
I don’t know if this is a gauge, pero tignan nyo nalang yung mga cover designs nung mga sumunod na album (but just look at the cover designs of the succeeding albums). In any event, this shift in style made Elton John the real first pop superstar of the 70’s.

Changes are inevitable. And I am not one to question whether these changes are for the good or bad.

Sellouts? Your guess is as good as mine. But I just get to thinking sometimes – what if Benson stuck it on with Creed Taylor (CTI). What if Derek and the Dominoes reunited? What if Elton John wasn’t bisexual? What if Yoko married Paul instead?  What if Amoeba moved to Manila? What if the world is flat? What if . . .

To view full thread and replies: http://www.wiredstate.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=11897

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