By Madeline Bocaro
© Madeline Bocaro, 2020. No part of this site may be reproduced or reblogged in whole or in part in any manner without permission of the copyright owner.
An album with a reflective metallic cover can attract the attention of a passing boat or plane,
if you ever need to be rescued from a deserted island.
Here are some Desert Island Disc suggestions…
And they’re always helpful for getting a good tan.
Horace Silver’s album Six Pieces of Silver was released in 1957. This American jazz pianist / composer / arranger was a highly influential and groundbreaking artist. He initiated the Hard Bop style of playing in the 1950s. Silver played with Stan Getz and later joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers prior to forming his own quintet, recording for the Blue Note label. Silver organized what would become the standard jazz group configuration of tenor sax, piano, bass, trumpet and drums. His Latin piece ‘Señor Blues’ is a jazz standard featuring Donald Byrd on trumpet appears on this album. It was also a single.
Horace Silver’s acolyte Chick Corea did a fusion style piece called ‘Captain Señor Mouse’.
Listen: Chick Corea ‘Captain Señor Mouse’: https://youtu.be/hqYXt6IV_nc
Silver Apples were a pioneering electronic duo from New York. Their fantastic self-titled 1968 debut album has a gorgeous and highly reflective silver cover! Their music, unprecedented for 1968 was totally unappreciated until recently. The only instruments were with home-made oscillators and drums – no keyboards. They were a huge influence on Kraftwerk, Can, Blondie, Moby and more. Their music has been sampled many times.
My favorite tracks are linked here. There’s a nice mix of ‘Love Fingers’ by Super Numeri on the sound collage compilation The Enochian Way CD (2005, Counter Records Japan).
Listen ‘Oscillations’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDSYzAPCB-Y
Listen: ‘Love Fingers’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvZLQSPT3Wg
The Monkees released the soundtrack album to their film Head in 1968 (scripted by Jack Nicholson). There are full songs and also some snippets of instrumentals, sound effects and dialogue. The reflective silver album cover was to mirror the ‘head’ of the listener as they heard the album. In 2019 Rhino re-released the album using foil paper, and limited-edition silver vinyl. The 1994 CD issue was just plain gray – not reflective. There are now versions on silver vinyl.
Listen: ‘Porpoise Song’ (Theme From Head): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2eHOUNCdbcU
Stravinsky Silver: Nine Masterpieces Conducted By The Composer Igor Stravinsky is a compilation of his works performed by The Columbia Symphony Orchestra released in 1970. It’s a 6-vinyl set (including some rehearsals) released by Columbia Masterworks.
‘Infernal Dance’ from Stravinsky’s ballet, ‘The Firebird‘ has since been widely sampled in pop music. In actuality, Stravinsky’s response to the wild success of his 1910 masterpiece, The Firebird was to blow everyone’s minds with The Rite of Spring, which Leonard Bernstein described as “the best dissonances anyone ever thought up, and the best asymmetries and polytonalities and polyrhythms and whatever else you care to name.” The uproarious audience response (actual rioting ensued) was even more caustic than when Dylan went electric! Here is a great description of the event…
“After months of grueling rehearsals, the lights finally drew down at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées that evening. The Rite began with a solo bassoon squeezing out a riff so high in its register that it sounded uncannily like a broken English horn. This alien sound was—apparently and unintentionally—so strange that chuckles erupted from the bourgeoisie in the mezzanine boxes and rippled through the crowd below. The dissonant opening gave way to the martial assault of the second movement, “The Augurs of Spring,” and the dancers—choreographed by the legendary Vaslav Nijinsky of the Ballets Russes—bounded on stage, moving squeamishly and at jagged angles. As recounted in the daily newspaper Le Figaro and in various books and memoirs since, the chuckles turned into jeers, then shouting, and soon the audience was whipped into such a frenzy that their cries drowned out the orchestra.
Many members of the audience could not fathom this new music; their brains—figuratively, but to a certain extent, literally—broke. A brawl ensued, vegetables were thrown, and 40 people were ejected from the theater. It was a fiasco consonant with Stravinsky’s full-bore attack on the received history of classical music, and thus, every delicate sense in the room. “One literally could not, throughout the whole performance, hear the sound of music,” Gertrude Stein recalled in her memoir. The famous Italian opera composer Giacamo Puccini described the performance to the press as “sheer cacophony.” Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring is now hailed as the most sweepingly influential piece of music composed in the early 20th century, a tectonic shift in form and aesthetic…
– Jeremy D. Larso, Why Do We Even Listen to New Music? April 6, 2020
Listen: ‘Le Sacre Du Printemps’ (The Rite of Spring) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3SvnwGVem4
Listen: The Firebird Ballet Suite (1945) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2c7LqxQbhVA
Also see my review of the new Sparks album, which has a track called ‘Stravinsky’s Only Hit’
Sparks: A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip
The Stooges Metallic K.O (1974). You will want the 2x version (Metallic 2x K.O) released in 1988, which includes both complete 1974 concerts. There’s not too much reflective silver on the cover, but the racket this album makes will certainly attract the attention needed for your potential rescue from a desert island. A metallic colored vinyl version with silver sleeve was released by Skydog / Jungle Records for Record Store Day 2016 which is sold out. (I got one). It was also released on gold vinyl.
It’s hard to choose one track because this performance is like a symphony and needs to be heard in its entirety (although it consists of sides from 2 different Stooges gigs). It is literally the sound of The Stooges imploding.
See my complete story about Metallic K.O.
Metallic K.O: The Stooges Crash & Burn
Grand Funk Railroad‘s 5th album, E Pluribus Funk (released in 1971) has a great opening track, ‘Footstompin’ Music‘. The round cut-out cover (overlaid with a silver film) features a silver coin. The album title is a play on the USA’s motto, E Pluribus Unum. The back cover has a photo of Shea Stadium on the back of the coin, commemorating the fact that Grand Funk beat The Beatles’ attendance record there. Grand Funk tickets sold out in 72 hours.
Daryl Hall and John Oates a.k.a. ‘Silver Album’ was released in the summer of 1975. On the glamourous, super shiny reflective cover the handsome duo were styled by David Bowie’s makeup artist, Pierre LaRoche, formerly of The House of Arden who also did the fabulous makeup for The Rocky Horror Picture Show. This album features the Hall and Oates hit ‘Sara Smile’.
My next choice for its silvery reflective property would be the album Jailbreak by Thin Lizzy (1976). This has several great tracks including the title song and their hit, ‘The Boys Are Back in Town’.
The post-Hoople Mott album Drive On (1976) had a nice silver cover in the UK, but the USA album was in lovely blue foil – not as reflective. The band consisted of former Mott members Overend Watts on bass, Dale (Buffin) Griffin on drums), Morgan Fisher (organ/synth) plus two new members; Nigel Benjamin (vocals), and Ray Major, (guitar). I was lucky enough to see them live in 1975 when they opened for Sparks at Philharmonic Hall in NYC! Def Leppard’s Joe Elliot covered several of these Mott songs with his side-band Down ‘N’ Outz on their album ReGeneration in 2010.
I love every song on this album, as well as the band’s next configuration as British Lions!!!
You can’t go wrong with the 62nd Johnny Cash album Silver (1979).
The first pressings of PiL’s Metal Box (1979) came in an actual silver metal film cannister in which you can store your valuables or preserve food on a desert island. This was the second album by Public Image Ltd., released in 1979. Later reissues were in a standard cardboard vinyl sleeve. It was released again as Second Edition in 1980. This album features the up-front throbbing bass of Jah Wobble and Keith Levene’s guitar and of course, the whining of John Lydon. Their take on ‘Swan Lake’ is interesting.
Listen: ‘Swan Lake’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GwrRGxYmY8
On the band’s 25th anniversary, Cheap Trick released their third live album titled Silver, recorded in their hometown, Rockford, IL in the summer of 1999. During the gig, they performed one song from each of their albums. One of my favorites is their beautiful ballad ‘Voices’ from their 1979 album Dream Police, which begins with whispers…
The best place to start would be at Andy Warhol’s silver factory. Nico wrote a beautiful song for Andy when he was still working there. ‘The Falconer’ is from her 1970 masterpiece Desertshore which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
The falconer is sitting on
His summer sand at dawn
Unlocking flooded silver cages
And with a silver din arise
All the lovely faces
And the lovely silver traces erase
My empty pages…
Beside his singing silver waves
And his dancing rebel race
That compose ahead of timeless time
A sound inside my candle light
Angels of the night
Here is a wonderful version of ‘The Falconer’ from the soundtrack to Philippe Garrel’s film Le Lit de la vierge
Read my story about Nico’s album Desertshore: https://madelinex.com/2017/12/19/nico-desertshore/
Another piece related to Andy’s factory was written for the 13 Most Beautiful film consisting of several Warhol superstar screen tests, released in 2010.
‘Silver Factory Theme’ (For Billy Name) is by Dean & Britta. It’s a gorgeously haunting echoing guitar, tambourine and drums instrumental.
‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’ is Paul McCartney’s contribution to Abbey Road (1969). How prescient of him to write a song about a student killer who murders three people; a classmate, a teacher and the judge in one short song. We were fooled by the deceptive oom-pahs of the tuba and a clanging anvil into thinking that this is a jolly little song. (It’s even more eerie since round one of the Manson Family murders occurred on the same evening of the album cover photo shoot). Now the tune sounds brighter and more uplifting (despite McCartney’s band-mates’ protests, calling it ‘granny music’). On the 50th anniversary remaster released in 2019, we can fully understand the importance, simplicity and beauty of Paul’s bass lines.
Listen: 50th Anniversary Remaster 2019: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HuXFfq79I8
Read my story all about Abbey Road on its 50th Anniversary:
For a very short time (beginning in May 1960) The Beatles were known as The Silver Beatles (shortening the suggestion of Long John and the Silver Beatles during an audition to back Billy Fury on a recording). At the time, Stu Sutcliffe and Pete Best were still in the group, and they were playing R&B cover songs (by Chuck Berry, Little Richard, etc…). Perhaps it was for the best that they dropped the word ‘Silver’ from their name.
Phoenix Records,1982 Audiofidelity record Co. U.S.A. pressing.
This is a rare album with drummer Pete Best.
Side 1: Searchin’ / Take Good Care of My Baby /Money. Side 2: To Know Him Is To Love Him / Three Cool Cats /September In The Rain /Crying, Waiting, Hoping
‘You Got the Silver’ is on The Rolling Stones album Let It Bleed. This is the last Rolling Stones track that Brian Jones played on. Brian plays autoharp, the quiet stringed instrument heard in the right channel. This was recorded in April 1969. Brian was fired from the band in June. He died on July 3.
Let’s blast off in Hawkwind’s ‘Silver Machine’ – a single released in 1972!!! One of the best song intros ever!
It flies sideways through time
It’s an electric line
To your Zodiac sign
It flies out of a dream
It’s anti-septically clean
You’re gonna know where I’ve been
In my silver machine
Watch (Live at The Roundhouse in 1972 with Lemmy & Stacia and lots of bubbles!): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdTFeW8FCto
The Rolling Stones track ‘Silver Train’ appears on their 1973 album Goat’s Head Soup. It was written by Mick and Keith for Johnny Winter who released it before the Stones’ version came out, on his album Still Alive and Well. I love the promo film with Mick Taylor’s slide guitar and Jagger wearing one of his fabulous Ossie Clark jumpsuits, in electric blue velvet – with matching eye shadow!
Listen: Johnny Winter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hutQV0eCdE
Watch – Rolling Stones promo film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOUetwr3h04
The 1973 debut album by Silverhead, 16 and Savaged is Glamtastic! The band featured singer Michael DesBarres (later of Detective) and Nigel Harrison (later of Blondie).
Listen: ‘Rock Out Claudette Rock Out’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjOPJKicr8Y
Listen: ‘Hello New York’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHoaBuoDXCo
Listen: ‘16 and Savaged’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f23FgGnSxGE
‘Silver Shapes’ is by 1970s Glam rock band Zolar X from Los Angeles. The band dressed and existed 24/7 as though they were space aliens, resplendent in silver latex, Martian makeup and antennae. They had extravagant stage sets and even spoke their own alien language. Their singer’s name was Ygarr Ygarrist. Although they made some recordings, the band was never signed, nor did they release a record. A compilation of demos was released in 1982 called Timeless (a deluxe edition was released in 2004)., Zolar X reformed in 2005 (without bassist Zory Zenith who was incarcerated and replaced by Jett Starsystems). They played gigs to great acclaim.
There is a Zolar X documentary in the works called Starmen On Sunset. I will be first in line to see that!
Zolar X toured the USA in 2005/2006. The band released limited CD compilation called ZAP! You’re Zolarized with unreleased tracks, and music for the Zolar X documentary. X Marks the Spot was released in 2007 on vinyl and on CD. Their roster of longtime fans include Jello Biafra, Steve Jones of The Sex Pistols and Los Angeles DJ Rodney Bingenheimer.
Hidden cities floating in a skyway
Landing in the deserts late at night
Silver Shapes, approaching from the shadows
Multi-brains from planets far and bright
Figures of emblazed imagination taking on human form.
Slightly different from the population,
bringing on a change of mind reform
Golden cosmos seekers of eternity
Technologist from time and space
Cybronauts programmed for recovery
Challenging invaders of faith
Keepers of a parallel dimension
Messengers with a clue, selecting chosen few who believe
to beware of those who deceive
Look-up look high, look-up to the sky
Silver Shapes in the sky, Silver Shapes in the sky
ELEE VOW KARDOMVOU, ELEE OKK NEBBULOR [repeat]
‘Miss Silver Dime’ was co-written by Ian Hunter and Earl Slick for Ian’s 1977 album Overnight Angels which was only released in the UK. Ian disavows this album, however many of us think it’s great. Def Leppard’s Joe Elliot covered several of the songs with his side-band Down ‘N’ Outz on their album My ReGeneration in 2010.
Ian Hunter wrote a rock ballad based on Sid Vicious called ‘Silver Needles’. It’s a studio track added to the 2nd disc of Ian’s live album Welcome to the Club (recorded in 1979, released in 1980). The tune reminds me of ‘I Got Nothin’ on Iggy Pop & James Williamson’s Kill City album.
You’re just a stranger in the past
Just another mug that could never last
You came up slow but you burned out fast (didn’t ya)
It ain’t Silver Needles on the run
No it ain’t Silver Needles on the run
It ain’t Silver Needles on the run
Shh you make me feel so bad…
I seen in some music paper that you was gone
And I went right out and wrote you a farewell song
Boy, they had you dead before you was born
And it’s a shame – you were such a great mover
But it ain’t Silver Needles on the run
No it ain’t Silver Needles on the run…
Quicksilver Messenger Service formed in San Francisco in the 1960s with their psychedelic/jazz/classical California sound, led by singer Dino Valenti. Here’s ‘I Found Love’ from 1971.
‘Silver Horse’ is an enchanting, magical and comforting lullaby sung by Yoko Ono in a small, high pitched voice in childlike wonderment. It resides somewhere between a prayer and a dream. It’s on the first album she recorded after John Lennon’s death, Season of Glass (1981). In the first two verses Yoko resists false hope when she encounters new vistas; ‘a house I’ve never seen before ‘/ ‘a stream that’s running gently’. They stir up repressed traumatic memories that instill feelings of trepidation.
Yoko finds hope in an imagined silver horse, then realizes that he doesn’t have the wings to whisk her away. She resigns herself by being positive, ‘No wings? Well, it wasn’t so bad you know’ and resumes her life as it was. In the last lines, Yoko identifies as a wandering soul (Furaibo 風来坊 – ‘a person who comes like a wind.’)
See my full story about Yoko’s album Season of Glass:
‘Silver Surfer’ is by the UK band Warm Jets, named after the 1974 Brian Eno album Here Come the Warm Jets. This is a fantastic spacey song bordering on glam, from their 1998 album Future Signs on Island Records.
Silverstar and the Jukebox Angels released their self-titled Glam debut album in 1998 on Crash City Records. I loved the song ‘Tambourine Girl’ and some others (‘Tiger Beat’, ‘Supergroover’ and ‘Star Baby’ all reminiscent of The Sweet and T. Rex. They also had a really cool band logo. They have dropped off the face of the earth; Rob Small was on vocals and guitar, piano and percussion, Laura Kurban and Jess Taverna on backing vocals / percussion, Dave Malone on bass and Pete Flood on drums.
Brian Eno’s beautiful instrumental ‘Silver Morning’ is from the Apollo film soundtrack, released in 1983 and remastered in 2005.
A 5-CD collection of songs by Simple Minds called Silver Box was released in 2004, including their unreleased 12th album called Our Secrets Are the Same, planned for 1999. It includes unreleased demos, radio and TV sessions, plus live recordings between 1979 to 1995. Here is ‘Glittering Prize’
Silvery from London released their debut album Thunderer And Excelsior in 2008. There are at least three amazing songs; ‘Action Force’, ‘Horrors’ and ‘The Nishikado’. Their quick-paced melodies are heavily influenced by Sparks, Queen, David Bowie and Blur.
Watch: Action Force: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_J1N6MmtODs
Watch: Horrors: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVj01JUPvd4
Watch: The Nishikado: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXQ-5-6fZi8
The Flaming Lips have double album released in 2009 called Embryonic with a song called ‘Saggitarius Silver Announcement’. Wayne Coyne confirms that the lyrics imply that “Surrendering to our primitive desires and obsessions is the only way to pure freedom.”
Our earliest silver memory from childhood must be that of Hershey’s Kisses. The solid milk chocolate candies appeared in 1907. They were individually hand-wrapped for the first fourteen years. An automated machine took over in 1921. The candies were named for the ‘kissing’ sound that the machines made when they poured the chocolate.
In 1942 during World War II aluminum foil was rationed in the USA. The machines were then used to make chocolate paste for soldiers. Production of Kisses resumed after the war ended. 80 million Kisses are produced daily. Now, due to the varieties, each kiss has a little tag indicating the flavor, or they can be personalized with messages. I have noticed that the thinly swirled droplet at the top was replaced by a shorter stub many years ago. This was due to complaints that the tops were breaking off in transit.
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