To celebrate the upcoming release of the new 33 1/3 on Danger Mouse, author Charles Fairchild discusses five key dynamics responsible for The Grey Album for Danger Mouse Week.
One of the themes of this book is the range of things Jay-Z’s The Black Album and The Beatles’ The Beatles (aka The ‘White Album’) have in common. The links are surprising, although there is nothing anywhere to suggest Danger Mouse was too worried about forging anything other than his own compositional connections. Still its fun to think about.
Both albums are composite compilations of songs produced and performed by different people, often with no direct collaboration between many of them. They are rich, kaleidoscopic albums, full of allusions, references, and suggestions. There is a prodigious amount of stylistic promiscuity on each. Each album took hold of pieces of our collective musical past and reworked them. Both abound with themes of retrospective introspection and autobiography.
You can read the book to get a bit more on the topic. But one area of commonality is the continuing attention and sometimes obsessive concern both of these albums continue receive. Here are a few of my favorites:
Chang played 100 copies of The Beatles simultaneously. The audio file is fascinating. Stick it out until the end. Wow.
Moment of Clarity: An Oral History of Jay Z’s The Black Album
Life and Times – The Black Album
These two websites offer comment and reflection on The Black Album by those involved in making it. Well worth the time, despite the obvious and impressively unshakeable self-regard of the subject. – Charles Fairchild